Monday, November 24, 2008

The Hairy Brain

I was sitting in a 8000 level Philosophy class one day while the 5 men around me argued about Schopenhauer's ideas about emotion. I had read the material, and though it was meaty at times and downright confusing at others, I was completely at a loss as to why these men were arguing on a particular point. It sounded to me as if they were trying to mull over the idea of the sky being blue.
For a moment, I smugly noted to myself that I was still the smartest kid in class. I would just space out until they caught up with my intellect. And then...a thought that rent my world into a million tragic pieces. Maybe the thoughts they were discussing weren't simple. Maybe they were hard, very very hard and difficult and brainy. And maybe the thoughts were so far above my head that I didn't even understand what I didn't understand. And to myself, my sad and bewildered self, I said..."I had a brain....but it flew away."
And I heard nothing else the rest of that class period. I looked out the window towwards the beautiful Belmont gardens and imagined my brain, wings and all, sitting in a tree outside the building. I could see it, but it did me no good to have my brain unconnected and wholly severed from my body.
I saw my brain there, and it saw me. We regarded each other, and I'm sorry to say that my brain looked as if it wanted to be left alone. Therefore, you won't be surprised to learn that I left the class and never came back. But don't worry, I'm still paying loans on that class.
I can't say what caused me to doubt myself so severely that day, although I know we are all prone to bouts of self-doubt. But I still really enjoy this piece, and thought you might as well. It remains one of my personal favorites of all time. (That is, of things I have written. It falls very far down the list when confronted with Jane, William, and Jo.)
I hope you enjoy it! And if you don't, you are probably just too stupid to get it.
I had a brain, but it went away.
It flew away one fateful day
And perched atop an obliging bower
To sit and rest among the flowers.

It sat and sang and looked awhile
And saw some things that made it smile.
A hare he saw below his tree,
And said, "He reminds myself of me!
His thoughtful stare, his pensive eyes,
I'll engage him in some exercise!
The hare also chose this quaint little hill,
I know there must be in him some good will.

“Good hare,” said he “how are you today?
Have you noticed that I have flown away?
…Yes, a good trick it certainly is
I do not think that I will be greatly missed!”

“Great thinker,” said hare “I am relieved to see you
Just sitting there, resting in cool misty dew.
Surely it was time for your vacation and rest,
For you have pondered with the best of the best!
Great thoughts you have thought, beautiful songs you composed,
You have known what the mighty knowers know!
But now I must entreat you to stop all this work:
Let the lesser ones learn in the murk where they lurk.
Give them a chance to know you are ahead
Let them wrestle thoughts while lying in bed.
For now keep all thoughts of whither or thither
Out of your presence! Only think of dinner!
It’s only your pleasure that you should think of
Debate not of ‘goodness’, think not of ‘love’!”

“I must admit that is for what I had hoped”
Said the brain in the tree to the hare on the slope.
“I have noticed myself so greatly ahead
That lately I care not what others have said.
Surely they will never understand or amount
To more than the mud in Shakespearean fount!
(Aha! What a joke! They wouldn’t comprehend
What I just meant! They would only pretend!)
Dear hare, how happy I am to find
Someone else with an eager, keen mind!
We must sit and talk and sing and be merry
And laugh at the poor lesser vessels that tarry!”

“So we will!” said the hare “We will laugh at their folly!
We will speak of our wonderful selves and be jolly!”

“Speaking of wonder,” said the brain to the hare
“I have not met one like you anywhere!
You are so clever, so lithe and so fast
I’m sure there is no one you cannot run past.
You are quicker than quick! You are lissome and fine!
You are as fast of body as I am of mind!”

“It is true,” said the hare, looking puffed and proud
There is nothing I cannot outrun but the clouds.
It’s a gift, it’s a prize, it’s an honor to be sure
To have such a talent, so raw and so pure.
Of all the creatures on earth I have yet to meet
Another with such beautiful, soft, nimble feet!

(I’ll whisper you something, if you will come near
No, I’m not afraid; I do not want any to hear
The things that I tell you could hurt or offend
Those poor, slow ones that would not comprehend.)
Some days it’s a burden, you know, dearest brain
To see dawdling folk just resting and laying
By the trees, on the flowers, in the grass, by a brook,
Why, I have even known them to sit down and look!

They have no just reason for the way they recess
They have done no acts of service! They couldn’t care less!
These inferior creatures do not rush into deeds,
Indeed, they have no appreciation for speed!
If not for myself, I fear their lack of exertion
Would bring about the most dreadful denunciation!
I try to keep them in line, you can see
Though they never think to be grateful for me.
Their laziness is astounding, it is rampant and sad.
If not for my good watch, oh the life they would have!
Yes it is quite shocking; I must admit it is so
It is always on my mind, wherever I go.

I have been thinking of ways to give aid
To give some kind of remedy to their careless ways.
I’m afraid, however, there is nothing to be done.
Slow ones care little but for lying in the sun,
Sitting and talking and singing with friends,
Wasting their day until the day ends.
No they will not hear me, they simply do not care
For the wisdom I have I am “putting on airs”
(So they say, though you know it is far from true
You can see, brain, there are no ‘airs’, don’t you?)

Let us agree together on this fair day:
Dear brain let us shake hands and proudly say
We will not ever slow our body or mind!
We will never become like the poor lesser kind!
Our wit and our swift will be a lesson for all
Who have fallen away, who are missing it all!

“We are great!” said the brain. “It is true!” said the hare.
And together they sat awhile longer and stared
At the valley below, and the climbing green hill.
The white hare stood motionless, stood very still.

He turned and watched as a small clumsy being
Crawled past where he, the hare, had been sitting.
Before the hare knew what to do
Something strange happened, of which I can tell you.

The slow little green thing, the tortoise by name
Shouted out “Look hare! I have won our little game!
Hurrah for me! Hurrah! I have done it at last!
I knew if I kept on I could catch up, though you are fast!
Say hullo and good job, for I have done what you thought
Couldn’t be done, and have won the whole lot!”

The hare, so quick, so fast, so nimble
Sulked quietly back down the big grassy hill.
Away from the tortoise who had won the race
And was never again known to show his face.

The brain, my brain, flew back to me
And told me of adventures in a faraway tree.
The things he had learned he said mattered the most
Were the things that he learned from the hare on the slope.

1 comment:

Jack said...

now i will have nightmares of internal organs growing "hare" and flying.