Religion, Legitimacy, and Government in America, A Just-So Story

by Bill Benzon

I don’t remember when it was, but it was years ago, before religion had become such a prominent factor in American politics. Perhaps it was during my graduate school years, the mid-to-late 1970s. Whenever, it came as a shock to learn that America was more religious than Europe. It’s not so much that I had thought the reverse. I rather doubt that I’d thought much about it one way or another. The shock, I suppose, was simply that America was such a religions nation.

Religion has been much more visible in American politics of the last two decades and America remains more religious than Europe. This would come as no surprise to readers of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, but I hadn’t read it and, to be honest, still haven’t (though I’d read The Ancient Regime and the Revolution years ago). I have, however, read The Fourth Great Awakening & the Future of Egalitarianism, by the economic historian and Nobel Laureate Robert William Fogel. Fogel argues that American society and culture has been driven by cycles of religious revival. The first three cycles, starting in roughly 1730, 1800, and 1890, have been recognized in standard religious history, while the Fogel himself has proposed the fourth, dating it to the 1960s. He characterizes it as a “return to sensuous religion and reassertion of experiential content of the Bible; rapid growth of the enthusiastic religions; reassertion of concept of personal sin; stress on an ethic of individual responsibility, hard work, a simple life, and dedication to family.”

I rather doubt that either Tocqueville or Fogel would have predicted that one day the United States Capitol Building would be stormed in the names of a recently defeated President, Donald Trump, and God, with many of the belligerents believing Trump to be God’s instrument. They would have found that shocking. I did, as did many other Americans.

To put the question in its starkest form: How is it, then, that religious belief can be both foundational to American democracy and a profound threat to it? Read more »

Monday Poem

Illinois man arrested for spray-painting
swastikas on gravestones  —
NY Daily News, 5/31/18


….. skinhead:
a thing shrink-wrapped in pink tissue,
shorthand for fear

….. epidermis of a skinhead:
a nonsensitive layer of skin
covering the true skin, or corium;
or the outermost living layer of an animal,

a layer so thin it flakes like filo 
when touched even lightly
by love or veracity

….. corium:
true skin the sheathing of ordinary saints,
a tougher, deeper covering than that
enveloping the shrunken skulls of
those who graffiti grave stones 
with swastikas;typically absent
in skinheads

Jim Culleny

Jack Garman

by R. Passov

A little more than five years ago, in a nice home in Sugarland Texas not far from where he once worked, Jack Garman gave me several hours of his day. I had reached out from New York, saying that I was a random retiree interested in learning about his career. Something in the way I phrased my introduction made him want to give me some time. As I got to know Jack, I came to understand that he knew what he wanted to say was special, that he liked an audience and had gladly told his story time and time again.

Five years from a stem cell transplant which provided a hopeful path in his fight against blood cancer, he had reserves of energy. I recorded our conversation. As much as possible, I’ll let Jack speak in his own words.


When I joined NASA, in April of 1966, since my birthday was in May, I could still claim I was 21. My wife, Sue, a Rockwell brat, moved to Houston in 1964. Since she wanted work but didn’t have a college degree, NASA hired her to be a Math Aid.

Sue helped NASA engineers see what they were doing. Those were the days before CRT screens (cathode ray tubes) were attached to computers. If output from a computer belonged on a graph, a plotter was engaged. Plotting was done by hand onto glass surfaces by women who knew how to translate output from a computer onto a graph, and who also knew how to get coffee for the engineers.

My father was a banker and had moved the family to Lebanon, Jordan in the 1960’s as then Lebanon was the West of the Middle East. Since there was no family left in Texas, Sue and I just went downtown and got married. Read more »

Dewey Really Does Beat Truman

by Michael Liss

Let’s talk about voter suppression. Not about whether it’s good or bad or legal or moral (you can get more than enough of that virtually 24/7), but about what practical implications it might have.

I have looked at the 35 Presidential Elections from 1880 to 2020 to see how tight they were, and where modern forms of voter suppression might have impacted past results.

I made a few assumptions. The first was to limit it to just suppression, and not include potential crossover votes. To make that a bit clearer, if you have an election that ends up 50-50, I propose to simply eliminate votes from one side, not add to the other. I set the bar at two suppressed votes per hundred (I’m going to call that a “Suppression Penalty”), which I think is conservative, given the extent of some of the new laws being passed. Applying that 2% Suppression Penalty, would it have changed the results of some of the closest and most controversial elections of the past?

Obviously, this is a crude method. Some states engage in suppression, others do not, and different forms of suppression will have disparate impacts. But I thought the exercise was worth it, as ever-increasing sophistication in targeting, along with a sense of anything goes, will encourage more use of the tactic. Read more »

Radical Education And The Sublimation Of The Erotic Imagination

by Eric J. Weiner

Photograph by Ren Hang

Through the academic grapevine, it came; a story of an eminent sociologist who argued that he wouldn’t want to work with graduate students who he couldn’t fuck. The infamous statement was allegedly said in a faculty meeting in the 1990s at a progressive urban university where they were considering an official ban on faculty-graduate student sexual relationships. Most, if not all, of the female faculty at the meeting were appalled and offended. They accused the professor, to varying degrees, of being misogynistic, prurient, boorish, patriarchal, naïve, profane, immature, and, most stinging of all, willfully blind to inequities of power and the abuses that surely follow. He laughed good-naturedly, as was his wont in the face of intellectual disagreement, and tried to explain the reasoning behind his admittedly provocative statement.

He believed that adult women (and men) have sexual agency and should be free to pursue whatever consensual sexual relationships they desire; to argue for its regulation in the service of comfort and/or protection is to infantilize both women and men and repress, from a Reichian perspective, the “unified erotic impulse” of sexual desire, tenderness, and empathy.[1] Specific to women, he argued that feminist-driven policies that inadvertently deny, diminish, and/or discipline women’s sexual agency and freedom do not serve women’s liberation from male supremacist ideology, but provides the “self-perpetuating basis of a sadomasochistic psychology that is in turn crucial to the maintenance of an authoritarian, hierarchical social order.”[2] Policies that discipline the unified erotic impulse would impose a form of repressive libidinal desublimation in the name of liberation.[3] Regulating and disciplining sexual desire denies a women’s right to choose who, where, and when to fuck; furthermore, if equality is a precondition of sexual agency, then any erotic attention is “always already” problematic. Power between two (or more) intimates is never equal. He emphasized that he was not reasserting a notion of sexual freedom that ignores or denies the structural reality of male supremacy and the unfair burden it places on women who demand and deserve sexual freedom without apology. His argument, in other words, was not driven by self-interest, i.e., he didn’t actually want to have sex with any of his graduate students. He was fully aware of how “sexual morality, [even when it arises from the left] in a patriarchal culture becomes a primary instrument of social control.”[4] Nevertheless, he believed that policies that ban sexual relationships between graduate students and professors, in the final analysis, place too much emphasis on preventing sexual coercion and “undercut feminist opposition to the right.”[5] Equally concerned about the pedagogical implications of the proposed ban, the professor agued that it contradicted the progressive and critical modalities of education that they all supported and practiced. I am told the professor went on to link the imperative of sexual freedom to the praxis of radical social change. I do not know how the meeting ended, but I never forgot the story. Read more »

The Persistence of Pyramids

by Akim Reinhardt

Church Officials
The Merchant Class
Skilled Crafts Workers
The Goddamned Peasants
The Unbelieving Under Class
Criminals to Be Caged & Tortured
Those Whom We Will Publicly Execute

White Catholics
White-Skinned Jews
Model Minority Asians
White-Skinned, Anglo-Latinx
American Indians as they are Imagined
Dark-Skinned Hispanic Latinos and Latinas
American Indians in Real Life, Not Your Fantasies
African or Indigenous Americans, Depending Where You Are

Harvard and Yale
Princeton, Cornell, Columbia
The Other three Ivy League Schools
Other Elite Private Colleges/Universities
A Small Number of Elite Public Universities
United States’ Elite Military Academy Universities
Flagship Public Research Universities in Most U.S. States
Second Class Public Research Universities across the United States
Former Teacher’s Colleges and Other Underfunded Public Universities
Real Colleges You Have not Heard of and Think, Huh, Is That a Real College?

4-Year Colleges
Community Colleges
Accredited Online Colleges
Sham, For-Profit Online Colleges
Secondary Schools (aka High Schools)
Middle Schools (aka Junior High Schools)
Primary Schools (aka Elementary or Grade schools)
Daycare Single Mom Sends Child to While Studying for GED

Associate Profs
Untenured Assistant Profs
1-Year Visiting Assistant Professors
Lecturers on Renewable 1-Year Contract
Long Term Adjuncts Who Keep Showing Up
Grad Students with New Syllabi and Fragile Dreams
Come-and-Go Adjuncts Juggling 6 Classes at three Schools
Politician Who Teaches PoliSci Class & Votes to Slash Ed Funding

The PhDs
The Medical Degrees
Law/Engineering Degrees
Other Hip Professional Degrees
Various Master of Sciences Degrees
Various Master of Art/Philosophy Degrees
Bachelor of Science Four Year College Degrees
Bachelor of Arts Four Year Degrees: Social Sciences
Bachelor’s of Arts Four Year Degrees in the Humanities
Associate of Arts Degree from a 2 year Community College
M.A., B.A., or A.A. Degrees from an Accredited Online Colleges
Four Year High School Degrees from Expensive Private High Schools
Four Year High School Degrees from Very Selective Public High Schools
Four Year High School Degrees from Open Admissions Public High Schools
General Equivalency Diplomas Earned Taking an Exam Instead of enduring HS

3QD Readers
Elite Mag Readers
NYT/WaPo/WSJ Readers
Tabloid Newspaper Readers
People Magazine and SI Readers
Facebook and Twitter Doom Scrollers
Young Adult Fantasy/Sci Fi Book Readers
Small Children Reading Cute Children’s Books
Readers of Graffiti on Doors of Bar Bathroom Stalls

Honest Critics
The Numb Underclass
The Blind Underclass Strivers
Paranoid, Neurotic Middle Classes
Justifiers, Rationalizers, & Excuse Makers
People Who Embrace, Profit from these Pyramids
Precious Children of Embracers & Profiteers of Pyramids
Parents, Furiously Indignant I Dared Slight their Precious Children
Me, Despite My Money & Credentials, Skulking Down Here Like I Belong

All of ‘Em
Eight Billion
Or Thereabouts
And Still Counting
The World’s Many Souls
Drifting and Stumbling About
Each 1 a Human Stone Slotted into
Pyramids of Social, Cultural, Economic
Ranking, Status, Power, Privileges, Opportunity
Perhaps Knowing, or Not, That They Are Very likely
Stuck in Those Slots, More or Less, for All of Their Days
Wallowing in Resentment or Finding a Way to Look Past It
Because At Least They Can Write their Name in Capital Letters

website is the

A Walk on the Wild Side

by Leanne Ogasawara


Like clockwork, every year around the spring equinox, the ducks and egrets would return to the river in Tochigi. And sprigs of green grass would start sprouting in our lawn. This was when people started taking to the hills to pick mountain vegetables, herbs, and other wild foods. My son loved looking for ferns and fiddleheads. In Japan, this meant warabi (bracken fern), zenmai (osmund or cinnamon fern) and kogomi (ostrich fern). We enjoyed going “baby fern hunting.” The delicacies could be found along a trail a bike-ride away from our house. Like little coiled springs, the fiddleheads seemed waiting for just the right moment to unfurl.

Old like dragonflies, ferns once covered prehistoric forests. My son and I loved imagining ourselves wandering in a never-ending fern forest as gigantic dinosaurs soared in the skies above our heads. The mist-covered hill near our house, just waking up from winter was the home of fiddleheads, lilies and dogtooth violets. And there was an ancient shrine standing guard at the summit.

Mountains smiling in early spring” –Borrowed like so many things from China, the poetic trope was made famous in Japan by the Northern Song painter Guo Xi, whose poem about mountains smiling and laughing in spring appeared in an poetry anthology in Japanese known as  漢詩集 「臥遊録」 Chinese Poetry Anthology Dream Journey Jottings:


 “Mountains smiling in early spring” was an image much appreciated in Japanese haiku. After what must have felt like an unendingly long period of cold and depressing “mountains sleeping,” the mountains in March would seem to almost “spring” to life again.

笑= can mean smiling and/or laughing: oh, how this has tormented translators of Japanese and Chinese… Read more »

Next Year in Prenzlauer Berg

by Rafaël Newman

Berlin, 2005 (photo: Jens Sethmann)

By a quirk of the calendars, Passover, the annual commemoration of the flight from bondage, is precisely coterminous this year with Academic Travel. This latter, a twice-yearly feature of the university in Switzerland at which I am guest teaching this semester, is that institution’s “signature program”: a week-and-a-half course, typically offered in a location outside Switzerland, focusing on a topic arising from that site. A chance for students to read a city, as it were, like a text.

This year, for obvious reasons, Academic Travel has been canceled – or rather, radically curtailed, with students in the university’s home city of Lugano, in the canton of Ticino, required to produce negative virus tests before traveling merely to other parts of Switzerland, all reachable by train and bus, instead of, as in years past, flying to more appealingly distant locations, such as Poland, Greece, Turkey, and points further afield. For now even relatively nearby destinations, such as Italy or France, have been ruled out by the authorities, shrinking the offerings for the spring semester’s Academic Travel to the familiar hotspots of the Swiss grand tour – Lucerne, Zermatt, Geneva – which are then to serve as makeshift staging grounds for courses on topics in environmental science, history, economics, and the like.

And thus the Jewish festival of Passover, a holiday explicitly celebrating escape from plague, freedom of movement, and the crossing of borders, falls during a period in which students, under threat of contagion, are subject to personal restriction, and are confined within the borders of their current national location.

The convergence of a traditional commemoration of ancient release from bondage with a frustrated travel project in the present is especially poignant for me, perhaps yet more so for my students, since the course I am teaching them in regular session, on “Jewish Writing in German”, involves among other things the reading of three texts that treat themes of migration from a variety of perspectives, and in each of which a Passover scene figures centrally. Read more »

In Praise of Anthologies

by Philip Graham

I discovered my ideal radio station by accident.

In the fall of 1979, my wife Alma and I took up a brief week’s residence in the Paris apartment of a friend, a pause before we’d fly to West Africa and then live in a small upcountry village in Ivory Coast for over a year. In those days, graduate students in anthropology often sought a Claude Lévi-Strauss benediction before heading off to their first fieldwork. On the nervous morning of Alma’s scheduled meeting with the founder of Structuralism, she needed a weather report to help her decide what to wear. In those pre-smartphone days, the radio by the bedside was the place to search for just that. I pushed the On button, but before turning the dial I paused at the unmistakeable voice of Randy Newman. What was he doing on a French radio station?

He was singing “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.”

Alma and I laughed—we’d tuned to a song that predicted the weather! She looked out the window into the blue sky of that warm September day. “Well,” she said, “maybe we’ll take along an umbrella, just in case.”

A Chopin étude followed Newman’s song. Now my attention was more than caught—what sort of station was this? The Supremes’ “Baby Love” came on deck next, then sinuous Raï music from Algeria, and after that a French psychedelic band popped up whose name I still wish I’d caught, and so on. Every new song arrived as a surprise. That radio station, with its gathering of unlikes and frissons of unpredictability, had, I realized, the soul of an anthology.

I have always loved anthologies. Read more »

On the Road: Explorers, and Where to Explore

by Bill Murray

Trans-Siberian Train

Larger than life writers always have that one extra experience, the one that puts your trip to shame. Lawrence Ferlinghetti did when, having achieved the Russian east coast via the Trans-Siberian railroad, he was ordered clear back across the continent because of paperwork. His calamity leaves most of us with nothing to say about our own, more ordinary trips.

If you want to write about the world, you still have to do the trips. You have to see for yourself what better writers were describing. You have to go, so you see how they say what they say.

Patagonian Chile

Doing trips yourself is a way to stretch a little, to stand in the great explorer’s footsteps. You need to go to a few ends of the earth. Throw rocks in the Straits of Magellan. Stand and consider how odd it is that the nearly Antarctic tip of South America came to be known as Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire. Imagine being as far from home as Ferdinand Magellan and his crew, sailing to a place no European had ever seen and spotting huge bonfires onshore, where tribes called Yaghan and Ona kept fires constantly stoked for warmth.

The Yaghan wore only the scantest clothing. They smeared seal fat over their bodies to fend off the wind and rain and cold. Canoeists adept at navigating the straits’ channels and tributaries, they hunted the sea. Three centuries after Magellan, Charles Darwin wrote of the same people “going about naked and barefoot on the snow.” Read more »

Periodicity, “Postmodernism”, and the Excesses of the New Realism

Justin E. H. Smith in his Substack Newsletter:

Shortly after September 11, 2001, Bruno Latour for example began to suspect the intellectual fashion to which he himself had contributed so much was at least in part responsible for creating a global environment in which “we each have our own truths”. This realization came for him when, returning to his native village in Bourgogne and speaking with the common people who work the Latour family vineyards, he learned that, for a good number of them, “their own truths” told them it was “the Jews” who brought down the Twin Towers. Other science-studies luminaries too, who had previously delighted in stoking the idea that science is but a discourse alongside others, came to realize that they shared at least some responsibility for a wide array of suspicious attempts to join the narrativity train, to spin the past according to taste, such as the Creation Science Museum of Petersburg, Kentucky, or the crypto-creationist Discovery Institute, both of which were, if run by reactionaries, nevertheless effective illustrations of the usefulness of postmodernism.

The reckoning with what “theory” had wrought was broad and various. Even the Catholic postmodernist philosopher Jean-Luc Marion felt compelled, in the preface to a later edition of his 1982 apophatic summa, God Without Being, to reply to critics who worried that he was tiptoeing right up to the brink of atheism. Don’t worry, he reassured them, notwithstanding the title of this book, God is.

More here.

Moshe Behar on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of Antisemitism

Moshe Behar at the University of Notre Dame’s website Contending Modernities:

I am a non-white Mizrahi Jewish academic who has been studying Israel/Palestine and the history of Jews in the Middle East for two decades. My family hails from Ottoman Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, and the Greek islands of Zakynthos and Corfu. All too many of us were murdered by Nazi Génocidaires (and rest assured that we will not forget or forgive). Precisely because of this scholarly and biographic background I was embarrassed to read the letter sent by England’s Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, to all university vice chancellors. Utilizing an authoritarian tone devoid of understatement, Williamson demanded that all universities in England adopt formally what is called “the working definition of antisemitism” drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Born in 1976, Williamson has been a Tory politician for 25 years. He and his party have not been noteworthy for their passionate activism against racism, antisemitism included. Nor did Williamson find it problematic to serve under Boris Johnson, author of Seventy-Two Virgins (HarperCollins, 2004), a novel that disappointingly recycled antisemitic tropes and stereotypical portrayals of Jews and other British minority ethnic groups.

The letter Williamson authored is littered with antisemitic tropes.

More here.

How Ancient ‘Deer’ Lost Their Legs and Became Whales

Joshua Rapp Learn in Discover:

The largest animals that have ever existed on our planet descended from a miniature deer-like creature that walked on four legs in the swamps of ancient India.

Cetaceans include everything from dolphins to whales. They are fairly unique among mammals in that they live permanently in the sea — something they share with only a few other types of live-bearing, warm-blooded species.

But their evolutionary ancestors weren’t always the seafaring types. In fact, just 50 million years ago, ancestors of all cetaceans were small creatures called Indohyus that waded through swamps on four legs.

Indohyus basically looked like a tiny little deer, a deer the size of a cat,” says Hans Thewissen, a professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University who has studied whale evolution for years and wrote the book The Walking Whales: From Land to Water in Eight Million Years.

How did these creatures go from that to blue whales the length of about two city buses? It took a lot of small changes over tens of millions of years.

More here.

Imagination is a powerful tool, a sixth sense, a weapon; we must be careful how we use it

Paul Giamatti and Stephen Asma in Aeon:

Like other artists, the actor is a kind of shaman. If the audience is lucky, we go with this emotional magician to other worlds and other versions of ourselves. Our enchantment or immersion into another world is not just theoretical, but sensory and emotional. How do actor and audience achieve this shared mysterious transportation? This shared ritual draws upon a kind of sixth sense, the imagination. The actor’s imagination has gone into emotional territories of intense feeling before us. Now they guide us like a psychopomp into those emotional territories by recreating them in front of us.

Aristotle called this imaginative power phantasia. We might mistakenly think that phantasia is just for artists and entertainers, a rare and special talent, but it’s actually a cognitive faculty that functions in all human beings. The actor might guide us, but it’s our own imagination that enables us to immerse fully into the story. If we activate our power of phantasia, we voluntarily summon up the real emotions we see on stage: fear, anxiety, rage, love and more. In waking life, we see this voluntary phantasia at work but, for many of us, the richest experience of phantasia comes in sleep, when the involuntary imagination awakes in the form of dreams.

More here.

Sex and the City: Imagining a Bombay with women in charge

Rafia Zakaria in The Baffler:

I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE to visit Bombay, but the city, or rather the ghost of it, lingered in the plotline of my Pakistani childhood. Both sides of my family were from Bombay: on one side were Iranian exiles from the uprooting of the Qajar dynasty in the 1920s, and on the other, Muslim businessmen from the heart of the city. Both sides decided to leave after Partition in 1947 and come to Karachi, where I was born. Disparate as their worlds may have been in Bombay, they had merged in Karachi, then a desert backwater. Neither seemed particularly sanguine about the choice, a judgment I made based on the frequency with which the magical Bombay of their memories and imaginations appeared in conversation. As a Pakistani born in the place wrested from India and the British, I could not go and see the city of Bombay. Naturally this has meant that I relish any chance to catch a glimpse of the “real” Bombay, even if it is provided via the very unreal creations of Bollywood or, more recently, the reality dramas dished up on Netflix. I devoured Indian Matchmaking in an afternoon, the tone and timbre and accent of matchmaker “Seema Aunty” as familiar to me as the soundtrack of my childhood, made up of just such gossipy fare exchanged by my migrated grown-ups. Then came The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, and now another one, a show called Bombay Begums.

Unlike Indian Matchmaking and Bollywood WivesBombay Begums is a drama, its protagonist played by the actress Pooja Bhatt, a once-upon-a-time Bollywood star looking to make a comeback in the relatively less-ageist environs of the Netflix drama. Her character, Rani Irani, is the just-ascended CEO of a powerful bank (the fictional Royal Bank of Bombay). Having beat out many men for the job, Irani has a lot to prove and she sets about doing just that. She is clad in the most resplendent silk saris, many of which hang in her office, a deliberately feminized backdrop to the conversations about sex or money or bribes that take place in the cream upholstered and tastefully backlit space.

More here.

The infamous “trolley problem” was put to millions of people in a global study, revealing how much ethics diverge across cultures

Karen Hao in the MIT Technology Review:

In 2014 researchers at the MIT Media Lab designed an experiment called Moral Machine. The idea was to create a game-like platform that would crowdsource people’s decisions on how self-driving cars should prioritize lives in different variations of the “trolley problem.” In the process, the data generated would provide insight into the collective ethical priorities of different cultures.

The researchers never predicted the experiment’s viral reception. Four years after the platform went live, millions of people in 233 countries and territories have logged 40 million decisions, making it one of the largest studies ever done on global moral preferences.

new paper published in Nature presents the analysis of that data and reveals how much cross-cultural ethics diverge on the basis of culture, economics, and geographic location.

The classic trolley problem goes like this: You see a runaway trolley speeding down the tracks, about to hit and kill five people. You have access to a lever that could switch the trolley to a different track, where a different person would meet an untimely demise. Should you pull the lever and end one life to spare five?

More here.

Sunday Poem


patches, unlike the smooth silk loveliness
of the bought,
this made-ness out of self-madness
thrown across their bones to keep them warm.
It does.

under the patches a smooth silk loveliness
of parts;
two bodies are better than one for this quilting,
throwing into the dark a this-ness that was not.
It does.

of the splintered irrelevance of doubt, sharp
hopes, spear and splice into a nice consistency as once
under the pen, the brush, the sculptor’s hand
music was made, arises now, blossom on fruit tree bough.
It does.

exegesis of the will captures and lays
haloes around bright ankles of a saint.
Exemplary under the tree,
Buddha glows out now
making the intolerable, accidental sky
patch up its fugitive ecstasies.
It does.

From the making, and, made, now making
certain order—this excellent despair
is laid, and in the room the patches of the quilt
seize light and throw it back upon the air.
A grace is made, a loveliness is caught
quilting a quiet blossom as a work.
It does.

And do you,
doubting, fractured, and untaught, St. John of the Cross,
come down and patch the particles and throw
across the mild unblessedness of day
lectures to the untranscended soul.
Then lotus-like you’ll move upon the pond,
the one-in-many, the many-in-one,
making a numbered floral-essenced sun
resting upon the greening padded frond,
a patched, matched protection for Because.
And for our dubious value it will do.
It always does.

by Phyllis Webb
Poet’s Choice
Time/Life Books, 1962