“What if our universe were a concept like cosmic ether, or phlogiston, or the conspiracy of the Elders of Zion?”
- Umberto Eco, The Force of Falsity
It all seems so plausible, so
within reason. What we call rain
covers the city, having reached
that part of its story. This wet road
lies like a hair in the tub,
which could not have but fallen there
under some inconceivable design or
laws we study and then think no more on.
The air fairly crackles
with information we’ve amassed
and fitted into a transmission system
perfected in a series of false starts
and failed experiments (though failure
is a kind of success) based on ideas
and theories built up and washed away
like dunes over millennia.
Today’s truths, one for each of us,
coalesce from the fog like a solid tree
out of the mirage of a lanky stranger.
Tomorrow some will remain and some
will have fallen aside like veils
in an houri’s alluring pirouette—
the promise of what lies
beneath, and the lies
of what is promised.
Beliefs become heresies, heretics
prophets. What’s believed
occludes what is.
We’ve come to distrust the provenance,
or if not, risk our certainty down the road,
skittering on a surface become slick
with new weather. If “fake news”
is tonight’s lead story, is that true or false?
Whose ideas have filtered down to us
through the cosmic ether?
How long will inner fires
burn before someone finds
they were never there at all
except in the inchoate furnace
of our common mind? Will we
ever get to the bottom of it,
this conspiracy of being?
We wait to see if mists clear,
turn our searchlights
to the midnight clouds.