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I am here

by Zettel 

Posted: 09 June 2007
Word Count: 239

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I am here

'Where are you?'
Well here I guess
'No, where are you?'
In my head,
in my brain
in the cells,
the synapses and nerves
that must be where I am
or that is what Iím told

'No, where are you?
If I love you
where is my beloved?
I love your mind
not your brain
your loving heart
not your cells
your unquiet spirit
your strength of will
So I ask again
where are you?'

I am here in these words
for I have chosen these
just these, not other words
I enter the world
through this poetry I write
If you love me
I am here
in the words I choose
and my deeds
to which my words give sense

'Now I know
where to look
where to seek you out
my question now becomes
what are you?
what kind of thing is this
that I should feel such love?'

I am thought
I am will
I am beauty seen
knowledge understood
I can make words mean
choose evil or the good
I am lover I am loved
liar killer cheat or friend
if there my heart is moved
through regret remorse and guilt
my evil to amend
Where am I? I am here
I have gathered up these words
to build just this
and not another thought
I am spirit I am mind
brutality or tenderness
I am soul transcending death
I am consciousness

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Comments by other Members

Tina at 09:17 on 16 June 2007  Report this post

Coming in late to this I am surprised that no-one else has posted on it as I was gripped instantly by your writing.

Something in me makes me say that I think this is a very brave piece although I am not sure quite why?

It feels very well structured and I like the pacey dialogue and tight verses.

Thanks for posting

James Graham at 20:09 on 20 June 2007  Report this post
As you probably know from previous comments, philosophy isnít my subject, but in this poem I like the way youíve attached philosophical questions to a real relationship. Where am I, where are you? What is the locus of our being? We exist in our own heads, but how much of you is in my head and how much of me is in yours? Many people in close relationships, love relationships, must be aware - even inarticulately - of such paradoxes. We sometimes feel the strangeness of intimacy.

But I keep reading your poem in different ways. In particular Iím not sure to what extent itís a dialogue. If the last section, from ĎI am thoughtí to the end, is not the speakerís monologue but the other personís reply, that works better for me. The speaker has just asked the key question, ĎWhat are you?í and this is her reply. What her reply amounts to is to say, ĎI am like youí. There are so many aspects of common humanity that we share - thought, will, beauty, potential to be Ďliar, killer, cheat or friendí, and so on - that to a great extent I am you and you are me. My being is comparable to your being.

If you do mean these closing lines to be in the voice of the other person, maybe they could be enclosed in quotation marks. But if Iíve misunderstood, Iíd be interested to know how you see it.

Taking this a little further, Iíve wondered if one or two earlier passages in the poem are in the other personís voice - in fact, everything that follows each question in the first three sections. If this were so, the whole poem would be a dialogue. But reading again, it seems these are monologue after all. Could you clarify?

The poem does provoke thought about those questions of being and consciousness, and the apparently inexorable separateness of individuals. If I were to choose one quote I think it would be these lines - a profound thought simply expressed:

What kind of thing is this
That I should feel such love?


Zettel at 23:15 on 13 July 2007  Report this post
Sorry for the delay in responding guys - been away.

Tina thanks - really glad you liked it.


I've put in punctuation to represent the way I thought of it in writing.

The problem of 'other minds' is one of the deepest in philosophy but like many issues can become a bit anal in analysis.

Essentially the question is - how do we know the of the existence of another mind? As an issue in epistemology (what it is to know something) this for me is difficult but less interesting. Most people operate with an intuitive idea that what is most precious about them is who they are. That is the unique individual person that they are. But this is clearly more than this body in this space at this time. This is my narrative, my (his)story. This collection of thoughts, memories, experiences that defines me, the me I am to myself and to others who know and love me.

And there is a tendency for us to use what we might call the language of 'innerness' and 'depth' to try to express what it is about ourselves and others that we find so precious. The fact that we do not 'read minds' 'see' each others private, 'innermost' thoughts is irreducibly part of what makes us precious to ourselves and others to us. That we must make an effort to understand another, to relate to another, to love another, and crucially and notoriously, we can get it wrong, is what makes it so precious to us.

The way our 'inner' selves become accessible to others is through language. And the philosphical complexity, comes in at this stage for a famous, unresolved philosophicl debate, revolved around the question 'can there be a (completely) private language?' One side to this dispute answers 'no' and the consequence of this is profound for it argues that to have an conception of others we need language and language is primarily a 'social' phenomenon. It is the conclusion from this that most baulk at. If language is a social phenomenon, without which we cannot have any meaningful sense of 'consciousness' of others, then it is only through our consciousness of others that we begin to arrive at a sense of 'self'. And love is perhaps the deepest expression of this.

My poem was only an attempt to pose the issue of consciousness in such a way that it demonstrates in what, as language drives us to say, its depth consists.

I don't believe either consciousness or mind are the province of science. They are the domain of poetry for they are and should remain, a mystery to be contemplated rather than a problem to be resolved. A true scientist for me is one who is filled with wonder at the existence of the world, however hard he tries to describe it. A true philosopher is one who is filled with wonder at the existence of language however hard he tries to show, not explain its possibilities.

The poet is the ultimate philosopher.

This begins to sound like gibberish - so I'll stop. Thanks as ever for the comments.



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