Visionary Park

Dystopian Playland on Harmony

In a yet to be published part of Whispers I wrote “Where do the others live, the ones who sent us here? The ones who exiled us to the earth?”


One restless night, I dreamed about a dystopian planet named Harmony. All the poets, writers, artists, and seers of Harmony had been banished. Eventually they all died out and nobody grew up to replace them.

After a very short time, that alien world with a desperate name withered and almost died.

After a very long time Harmony’s dominant species finally realized their terrible error so they tried to manufacture new artists and poets. Sadly, nobody could find any books on “How to Make an Artist” or “How to Make a Poet,” and definitely not “How to Make a Prophet.” Their people flew from Harmony out to the faraway stars but they found no thinkers they could understand. Too long ago Harmony’s rulers had exiled their visionaries to alien worlds that were long forgotten and out of their reach. At the time nobody thought much about it.

Harmony built effigies and habitats. Harmony made studio replicas. Harmony put desks covered with pens and notebook computers in a place of memory and reverence. It was a theme park complete with carousels, a roller coaster, and ice cream stands.

They named it Visionary Park.

People thronged to see the effigies of the long-gone creative souls but all they saw were wax statues. The walls were all bare. There was no art, no poetry, and there were no books. Nobody remembered what books were, what purpose they had, or what might have been in them. Nobody knew how to make new ones anymore.

So, it was too late. And not long thereafter everyone was gone. The planet Harmony became a desert. It was dead.

The End

Is this poetry or is it history? Remember the Stalinist Purges, the Maoist Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the Nazi book burnings, the Holocaust, the Inquisition, endless Jihads still raging today, the exiles of every Prophet and the martyrdoms of many, the persecutions of the Baha’is in Iran, and oh, so many more on a smaller scale, all in the name of maintaining the status quo and social harmony.

“Art at its most significant is a distant early warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen.” (Marshall McLuhan)

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Whispers

Poetry. Dissociation. Exile.

The swirls of paint
the patterns of cloth
the random clouds
the fallen leaves
fragments floating
just out of sight

they ride the dust of sunbeams
and hide behind mirrors
to wait for me
in my exile.

They watch and wait
beyond my reach
hovering at the edges of my vision.

Disembodied
silent
unreachable
untouchable.

Song fragments well in my head
shards of poetry and insight echo
I try to grasp as they drift away
songs hold answers.

Fragments might re-form
might become whole again.

Amidst the static
ancient choirs float on ether
only a few finely-tuned
poets and musicians receive them
the clues to meaning are in the fragments.

Don’t let the melodies disappear
don’t forget the whispers
save the fragments.

Musicians jam with electric guitars
wailing poets write rock songs
their fragments must mean something
or nothing at all.

Whispers from and about nothing
accidental meanings clearing up mysteries
and making mysteries afresh.

Artists draw glyphs to stand for fragments
correspondences, metaphors,
patterns, avatars.

They don’t know their symbols’ origin
but the exiles, the poets, they know
musicians know
exiles know them and quiver
suddenly they cry
they cannot explain it
they cannot remember
cannot tell all they know
no-one knows every level of meaning.

Joni Mitchell sings we are stardust
we have to get back to the garden
an exile hears her song and softly starts to cry.

Is the way to understanding
found in the secret places
painted on a talisman
poured from a chalice
embodied in crystals
invoked by chants
or by charms
or a totem
or a rune
a stone
tablet
jewel
icon

Is it found in sacred places?

Look into the jewel
containing other worlds
other realities
is the answer alive?

does it seek me as I seek it
or does it simply wait?

would I recognize it
do rituals unveil it
do books describe it?

Everyone is whispering
all the time
except the Prophets.

No Prophet ever whispered.

Only Prophets know all secrets
speaking truth in symbols
placed behind numinous veils
embellished with ineffable beauty.

Night's Golden Spiral

 

The Name Enoch

In the sacred writings of the Baha’i faith we read, “How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made!”
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

Enoch is my true name and my given name, Cary, fits me well also. Cary derives from Germanic pre-English and means “dweller in a castle” or a fortified town. Its various forms are similar to Carl with assorted spellings and derivatives. Some of its feminine forms are Karen (with multiple spellings) and Carla. Cary rhymes with Harry, Larry, etc. It does not rhyme with “hairy.” People frequently mispronounce or misspell my name though it should be quite simple to say. The ‘a’ is short like in cat or have, the second syllable rhymes with ‘eee’ and the first one is accented.

Cary Grant This is my namesake. My parents told me they named me after Cary Grant.

Shortly after I became a Bahá’í in 1963 I took the middle name of Enoch. My parents had failed to give me a middle name and I wanted one. I eventually made it legal so it appears on my passport and other documents. Enoch who received only the briefest mentions as a prophet in the Old Testament occurs frequently in Apocrypha and related works of unknown origin. One of the translations of his name is Wise teacher which was what I aspired to be.

The Prophet Enoch sees a vision of a future Bahá’í House of Worship. (My personal interpretation! I am not a Biblical scholar. Nevertheless I’m aware of and sensitive to some of the inner symbolic meanings.) I feel it is important to stress that some of the Fundamentalist Christian views of Enoch are purely superstitious and mythological. Enoch did not physically enter into heaven because it is impossible and has never happened in the literal sense. Such stories contain symbolic rather than literal meanings.

“If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station…. The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men.”
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)

…the habitation wherein the Divine Being dwelleth is far above the reach and ken of any one besides Him. Whatsoever in the contingent world can either be expressed or apprehended, can never transgress the limits which, by its inherent nature, have been imposed upon it. God, alone, transcendeth such limitations. He, verily, is from everlasting. No peer or partner has been, or can ever be, joined with Him. No name can be compared with His Name. No pen can portray His nature, neither can any tongue depict His glory. He will, for ever, remain immeasurably exalted above any one except Himself.
(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah)
Bahá’� House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois

O Son of the Wondrous Vision. I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover. – Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words

This was what I read that directly inspired me to take the name Enoch:

And the vision was shown to me thus: Behold, in the vision clouds invited me and a mist summoned me, and the course of the stars and the lightnings sped and hastened me, and the winds in the vision caused me to fly and lifted me upward, and bore me into heaven. And I went in till I drew nigh to a wall which is built of crystals and surrounded by tongues of fire: and it began to affright me.

And I went into the tongues of fire and drew nigh to a large house which was built of crystals: and the walls of the house were like a tesselated floor (made) of crystals, and its groundwork was of crystal. Its ceiling was like the path of the stars and the lightnings, and between them were fiery cherubim, and their heaven was (clear as) water. [ … ] I fell upon my face. And I beheld a vision, And lo! there was a second house, greater than the former, and the entire portal stood open before me, and it was built of flames of fire. And in every respect it so excelled in splendour and magnificence and extent that I cannot describe to you its splendour and its extent.

And its floor was of fire, and above it were lightnings and the path of the stars, and its ceiling also was flaming fire. And I looked and saw therein a lofty throne: its appearance was as crystal, and the wheels thereof as the shining sun, and there was the vision of cherubim. And from underneath the throne came streams of flaming fire so that I could not look thereon.

And the Great Glory sat thereon, and His raiment shone more brightly than the sun and was whiter than any snow. None of the angels could enter and could behold His face by reason of the magnificence and glory and no flesh could behold Him. The flaming fire was round about Him, and a great fire stood before Him, and none around could draw nigh Him: ten thousand times ten thousand (stood) before Him, yet He needed no counselor. And the most holy ones who were nigh to Him did not leave by night nor depart from Him. And until then I had been prostrate on my face, trembling: and the Lord called me with His own mouth, and said to me: ‘ Come hither, Enoch, and hear my word.’ And one of the holy ones came to me and waked me, and He made me rise up and approach the door: and I bowed my face downwards.

Bahá’� House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois

BOOK OF ENOCH, Chapter 14
From: The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament
by R.H. Charles, Oxford: The Clarendon Press

Note that the inner and outer walls of the 19-story tall Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois are constructed of concrete embedded with crystalline quartz.
Exterior Detail
Two of the images here are from the Bahá’í Media Bank which allows them to be reposted on the Web. I lived in the Wilmette vicinity for two years. That was what directly inspired me to get into photography. I made the exterior detail photograph above.

Fragments of biblical references to Enoch are scattered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is one of them.
Fragment of an Enoch scroll
One book is part of the Eastern Orthodox version of the Bible and not considered apocryphal by them. There are many possible and equally meaningful interpretations of these passages. If you question mine then read on.

There’s a unique circumstance that enables me to put forward such a free interpretation of scripture. The historical Enoch –assuming that one ever existed– wrote nothing that has survived and that’s verifiably from the historic Enoch. What comes down to us is called Pseudepigrapha because later writers took the pseudonym of a prophet to give weight to their writings. As an example, many Biblical scholars attribute the entire book of Isaiah to three authors from different time periods. That shouldn’t detract from their symbolic spiritual validity. They sound and feel inspired. There is historical evidence that the prophecies contained in that book were fulfilled.

I feel free to do the same thing with poetry and to some extent with nearly any insightful writing I come across. Another example is the e-mail signature line I’ve used for many years.

“Behind all these manifestations is the one radiance, which shines through all things. The function of art is to reveal this radiance through the created object.” — Joseph Campbell

The author doesn’t mean the same thing that Bahá’ís mean when they say “Manifestation.” To be brief, he doesn’t accept the individuals Bahá’ís know about as necessarily revealers of sacred text (Founders of the world’s great religions) but only as wise or enlightened teachers. But when Bahá’ís read the quotation they immediately leap to an association that’s meaningful to them. Such words and associations transcend the life of the writer. Thus those words may endure for a very long time.

“Countless works of art have been truly inspired and that inspiration stays in association with the work and is mirrored in the heart and the mind of the receptive viewer.” — Otto Rogers

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Visionary Park

Anaconda_roller_Coaster-fromwikicommons

In Whispers we read: “Where do the others live, the ones who sent us here? The ones who exiled us to the earth?”

One restless night, I dreamed about a dystopian planet where all the poets, writers, artists, and seers had been banished. Eventually they all died out and nobody grew up to replace them.

After a very short time, that world with the ironic name of Harmony withered and almost died.

It took a very long time but Harmony’s dominant species finally realized their terrible error so they tried to nurture new artists and poets. But nobody could find any books on “How to Make an Artist” or “How to Make a Poet” and definitely not “How to Make a Prophet.” They flew from Harmony out to the stars but found no thinkers that they could understand. Too long ago they had exiled their visionaries to alien worlds that were now long forgotten and out of their reach.

They built effigies and habitats. They made studio replicas. They put desks covered with pens and notebook computers in a place of memory and reverence. It was a theme park complete with carousels and a roller coaster.

They named it Visionary Park.

People thronged to see the effigies of the long-gone creative souls. Sadly all they saw were wax statues. The walls were bare. There was no art, no poetry, no books. Nobody remembered what was in them. Nobody knew how to make new ones any more.

So it was too late. And not long thereafter everyone was gone. The planet became a desert. It was dead.

The End


bloggershandbook Is this poetry or is it history? Remember the Stalinist Purges, the Maoist Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian Killing Fields, the Nazi book burnings, the persecution of the Iranian Baha’is, or farther back to the Christian Inquisition, and oh so many more on a smaller scale, all in the name of maintaining social harmony.

“Art at its most significant is a distant early warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen.”
– Marshall McLuhan