Think Again – Either/Or – Rather Neither/And

Think Again – Either/Or – Rather Neither/And


Tell us about a time you made a false assumption about a person or a place — how did they prove you wrong?

Considering the prompt, and assumptions about place. When we think about things we frequently dichotomise, a place could be Utopian or Dystopian. In reality places seldom have either/or characteristics, but usually neither/and. Within the place nestle veiled complexities, subtle nuances, bending with ripeness, stretched thin with decay, bristling with possibilities, invisible detours but detours nonetheless. Perhaps we could avoid preemption and foreclosure with assumptions; perhaps we could be more bashful, thinking rather in manifolds and multiplicities?

I would like to share a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, who puts it so beautifully:



“Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here

with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,

sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:

the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned

and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.

Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.

Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,

and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches

turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave

and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.”

From “A large number”, 1976

Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Taken from: 08/07/2014


I first discovered Wislawa on the roy hamric journal here She won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996.



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