The Baby Winnims

February 6, 2012

Such eyes could be the pearls that we can’t see.
Each movement could be a breathed image so
Consummate in reflection that when we
Try to compare cheap wine with fine Bordeaux
And foolish ecstasy with foolish love,
—just, you know, to feel your pulsing accuracy—
You  become like the sky you can’t possibly see above
The  surf, a cuttlefish, say, but one free
From its watery origins, one that appears
To disappear. Poof. Gone. So gone its mind
Becomes a coral reef. So gone our fears
Become just like the blind leading the blind
With eyes so full of tears. Child, if we stay
Together, I will eat you. Swim away,

Baby Winnims, swim far away.

Advertisements

10 Responses to “The Baby Winnims”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    Sometimes it is just a matter of letting the words lead. Get to the understanding part later. It’s become something of a running joke for me to say to Thomas Davis: Yikes! Did I really say that? He is awfully acute in his readings, and he is willing to spend the time and the thought wrestling with what I have written. You can’t ask for too much more than that. (Of course, sometimes you have to admit, you’re going down the wrong track. And I have been known to put something on the blog that might be better labeled ‘research and development’ and left on the cutting room floor.)
    Here’s Wallace Stevens writing to a colleague who wanted an explanation of a poem: ‘I don’t think you’d understand it unless you wrote it.’ This seems to me to be essentially correct. Should you be interested in reading a little more on this idea, you might try “The World as Meditation”—both the Stevens’ poem and my thoughts here:
    https://extrasimile.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/the-world-as-meditation/
    Trans-rational? Yeah, great. I like it. Mega-true.
    (And let me add: while I’ve really only read ‘A knot’, I’d say you’re on the right track. Keep working.)

  2. Anna Mark Says:

    I’d like to do this more, Jim:
    but I often write stuff that I don’t know what the hell it means, trusting my subconscious to have some integrity even if I don’t. And trusting (what to me seems) the rather odd music the words make. And trusting my sense of—well—when the thought has been thought through.

    I read the poem, at first, open to find what it was you were meaning through it, but as my reading progressed, the poem became more about the meaning that I brought to it. I know that there is always a balance of both when reading anything (we have our “lenses”), but your freedom of expression and freedom to let go of overt meaning freed me to allow the words to wash over in meaningful ways, in “trans-rational” ways ; ) How’s that for a made up word?

  3. extrasimile Says:

    Okay, let’s see if I can wrap this up. The ‘baby winnins’ might—just might—be baby talk for ‘the baby wins’. A thought from Wallace Stevens is appropriate here.
    Reality is the beginning not the end,
    Naked Alpha, not the hierophant Omega,
    Of dense investiture, with luminous vassals.
    It is the infant A standing on infant legs,
    Not twisted, stooping, polymathic Z,
    He that kneels always on the edge of space
    In the pallid perceptions of its distances.

    The baby wins. The baby always wins.
    I grow more and more interested in the idea that this may be a ‘conversation’ between brain and mind…but who is it that is speaking, the brain or the mind? Or do the two share the mike (as it were)? This is something I’m going to have to think more about. Once again, John and Thomas, I thank you. You’re spoiling me with your perceptive comments. And thanks too to those of you who are reading along.

  4. fivereflections Says:

    I’m looking forward to reading more comments like these, on your future posts. I thought at first, Baby Winnims was a child’s interpretation of Baby Winnie-the-Pooh – just a shot in the dark – possible grandchild somewhere on the ranch!

    I enjoy John and Thomas comments here as well. Hope the winter is gentle for all.

    sincerely

  5. Thomas Davis Says:

    eat the child, not each the child in the third to the last line. Ugh.

  6. Thomas Davis Says:

    Hmmm,I have been thinking and thinking about this. You and John both know I love sonnets. But what to make of this one?
    I love the discussion about writing poems that you don’t know the meaning of–sometimes even after finishing them. Poetry, at least to me, always comes together out of some deep place in us, and sometimes, I suspect, I get the meaning of my own poems wrong.
    It did help to know that Winnims is a made-up word. I couldn’t make head nor tails of it, so have been, as usual, trying to think my way through that which couldn’t really be thought through, but knowing that helps me make more sense of the sonnet.
    The sonnet begins with a discussion about the Baby Winnims:
    Such eyes could be the pearls that we can’t see.
    This line sets us up with the idea that the Baby Winnims eyes could be, but may not be, as valuable as pearls even if we don’t see the pearls in them.
    Then an almost breathless sequence of lines:
    Each movement could be a breathed image so
    Consummate in reflection that when we
    Try to compare cheap wine with fine Bordeaux
    And foolish ecstasy with foolish love,
    What wonderful language: “a breathed image so/Consummate in reflection…”
    Again, as with the eyes, each movement could be, but may not be as cheap wine is to fine Bordeaux or foolish ecstasy with foolish love.
    There is hesitancy in this language about Baby
    Winnims. Then:
    —just, you know, to feel your pulsing accuracy—
    You become like the sky you can’t possibly see above
    The surf, a cuttlefish, say, but one free
    From its watery origins, one that appears
    To disappear. Poof. Gone.
    pulsing accuracy is tied to the idea of foolish ecstasy, but in the unthinking pulse of feeling “You become like the sky you can’t possibly see..a cuttlefish…but one free from its watery origins, one that appears to disappear…”
    Both of these becomings seem to talk about metamorphisis, changing from you to sky, from cuttlefish to cuttlefish free of water: So gone its mind becomes a coral reef.
    So gone our fears
    Become just like the blind leading the blind
    With eyes so full of tears.
    Then the chilling part:
    Child, if we stay
    Together, I will eat you.
    And then the salvation of the beast, the poet, the one making the sonnet speech:
    Swim away,

    Baby Winnims, swim far away.
    As I see this the poet is attracted to Baby Winnims even though he sees in the Baby, humankind perhaps?, that the qualities he wishes to see are hidden if they are there at all. The Baby is simply “a breathed image” brought out through reflection, not sight. In his emotions, his pulsing accuracy, the poet becomes transformed, metamorphized, but only in the sense of that transformation being related to impossible things free of mind. In this state of impossible metamorphisis the poet’s fears are like the blind leading the blind, leading nowhere.
    But then the realization that Baby Winnims (humankind?) is not what it should be with eyes as glorious as pearls, the poet, not trusting himself, warns Baby Winnims, and himself, of the fear that he will give in to his base instincts and each the child. He saves himself by trying to force the child to swim away.
    At least that’s what I decided that I make of this.

  7. extrasimile Says:

    Big eyes, fast swimmers…my, doesn’t somebody have an active imagination. Still…
    How’s this for a working definition of a ‘winnim’: that which does not yet have a name. The great advantage of this definition is that it makes sense out of my title. The baby winnims just hasn’t been given a name yet. That’s obviously what I meant. Plain as day. (Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) A winnim is also a ‘flip’ palindrome. It reads the same front to back and back to front, except you have to flip the first and last letters upside down. There aren’t many flip palindromes out there.

  8. John Stevens Says:

    You know how ‘widgets’ was a term invented by economists to be a metonym for any or all products in the economy?
    I suggest you should get a patent on ‘winnims’ and flog it hard as a name for any or all species of creatures. It’s got a great future!
    The crazy thing is, I can already see those winnims: big eyes, fast swimmers, shoals and shoals of ’em … !

  9. extrasimile Says:

    Yes, John, I completely understand. I was just this morning contemplating putting a notice up giving you and Thomas leave to pass on this one. And I do this now. The Baby Winnims. No, this has nothing to do with a chance to win Nims Island. In truth, I don’t know what it means; it simply came to me (which is another way of saying: I made it up); the poem started with this name—which is not how I usually start a poem. The rest of the poem (like fish feeding on an underwater carcass?) sort of gathered around it. The best I can do is say that it strikes me as something you might say while chucking a newborn baby: ‘There’s a good baby winnims.’ You may groan here and stop reading….but I often write stuff that I don’t know what the hell it means, trusting my subconscious to have some integrity even if I don’t. And trusting (what to me seems) the rather odd music the words make. And trusting my sense of—well—when the thought has been thought through.
    So what do it think this is about? There is the concern of a parent talking to a child. There is an odd sort of movement of attempted emergence from the water. There is the cuttlefish—a sea creature if ever there was one, and one that lives by camouflage. Water is obviously something that I’m always close to when writing (though I rarely go to the beach) and the parent/ child thing is also something I find creeping in to things often (though I do not have children) and the cuttlefish…(No, I have never been scuba diving), but philosophy of mind is something I’m interested in and the cuttlefish sort of struck in my mind after having looked at some videos. Does the cuttlefish have a mind? Go ask Descartes and he would tell you no. (What are you crazy? A cuttlefish?) However, there is a way of thinking about the mind called the situated self, which sees the brain as a vastly complicated device for maintaining equilibrium in a creature that moves. It sees the brain as using the mind as a complex modeling device that creates models of the perceived environment and using these models to relate to the world. You know how they say it is relatively easy to duplicate the brains ability to do, say, math problems, but how difficult it is to duplicate the brains ability to control the body—pick up a cup without spilling the water, that sort of thing. Think what the brain of the cuttlefish does when it allows it to duplicate the patterns of a coral reef.
    Now, the mind and the brain are not the same thing. One can have an unimpeachable knowledge of one’s mind, but one had best consult a neurologist for serious brain issues. And the relationship is a complex one. Might the Baby Winnims be about this relationship?

  10. John Stevens Says:

    I’m a bit stuck this time, Jim. Are you still on Anselm’s Island?
    I like the feel of the lines and the use of the sonnet form in modern service. And I like lines such as “Such eyes could be the pearls that we can’t see” and “Child, if we stay/ Together I will eat you. Swim away.”
    Not recognising the word ‘winnims’ I looked for it in the dictionary, Wikipedia and through a google search – finding only references to ‘winners’, some clever IT software with a similar name, and the chance to Win Nims Island (a family film on DVD)!
    Ah, serendipity!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: