‘Mind’ by Richard Wilbur

Mind in its purest play is like some bat
That beats about in caverns all alone,
Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

It has no need to falter or explore;
Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
And so may weave and flitter, dip and soar
In perfect courses through the blackest air.

And has this simile a like perfection?
The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
That in the very happiest intellection
A graceful error may correct the cave.

I got up this morning wondering about Wittgenstein’s idea that if a lion could speak we couldn’t understand him. This makes sense because, sometimes, when humans speak my own language I can’t understand them either. It seems that Wittgenstein meant we could not begin to conceive of a lion’s experience of life and the older I get, the harder it is to conceive of another human’s experience of life, unless it is a sort of metaphysical understanding – something beyond words. I wonder if I could apply that to a lion, despite Wittgenstein.

Thus, you will see that Richard Wilbur’s poem gave me some small clarity for the day; although I did wonder if language, rather than the mind, was more like a bat. I do not believe all thought is language-based…which brings me to another of Wittgenstein’s ideas which was that language is the cage whose walls we keep climbing. Whichsoever, the cave is dark enough for silent contemplation.

Posted on December 15, 2011, in Art, Philosophy, Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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