‘If’ is temperamental and hardly worth
the effort it requires to hold it still.
‘Then’ is non-committal, swings back’n’forth
then comes, then goes, then pendulums at will.
In separate states ‘they’ push’n’pull apart;
good order suffers – everyone’s confused.
‘Then’ makes a mockery of a clean start.
‘If’ takes liberties (not to be excused).
What if/then in union these two are brought
to heel; made to see reason; in a sense?
What if/then, as bridled, these two are taught
to harness the logic of consequence?
. Then good reason will support a good guess;
. therefore, what follows will also impress.
To the reader: If/then logic is a basic tool of computer programmers. Coded scripts embed consequential actions that take place according to if/then decision-making processes. Evaluators use if/then sequences to unravel cause and effect relationships. And, our socio-cultural institutions apply If/then statements to establish and reinforce behavioural codes of conduct; law and order. Without a logical connection between ‘if’ and ‘then’ the two stand at odds and create confusion.
To the poet: The sonnet relies on a sequence of nested references that by association resonate with a reader’s interest. To engage curiosity, a loose level of ambiguity creates intrigue; and to add a twist, many sonnets feature what is known as a volta. The volta provides a turning point at which the direction of the poem changes; moves towards some form of resolution. In this sonnet the volta consumes the final quatrain; setting up space for the answer which comes in the final couplet.
Why do we fear what we don’t understand?
What makes ignorance the beast that it is?
Why do we crush what we cannot command?
How does good reason make sense of all this?
Does logic lend favour to a good cause?
Does logic distinguish fiction from fact?
Does logic consider the pregnant pause?
Does logic rationalise the random act?
Sadly, the answer is ‘no it does not’.
Some things defy logic; leave us confused.
Some things are awkward, contentious and hot.
Some things intrigue us, and leave us bemused.
. A reasonable logic is common sense.
. A logical reason is consequence.
To the reader: Common sense contributes to the real-life application of experience in the face of new circumstances. In a logical sense, taking a ‘common’ approach to problem solving is a bit hit and miss. Logical approaches reduce the impact of bias and error; distancing head-strong habits from heart felt emotions; favouring the cool calculation. All very-well, but hardly suited to the quirky-nature of human behaviour. We do what we do often to deliberately defy logic, to be unpredictable … don’t ask me why!
To the poet: The challenge was to defend common sense. Over logic; which at best, questions irrational sentiments and contributes to good judgement. To address the challenge, the sonnet’s three stanzas rally to explore “Why… Do… Some things …” Ironically, through logical entanglements, the final couplet struggles with the delivery of a summative punch.
The strength of argument is undermined
when a salient point is overstressed.
For combative sake, such is underlined;
brought to fore, emboldened and overdressed.
At front of mind keep things staid and subtle.
Let the main point grow from a single source.
Hold back on highlights, their shine can scuttle
gentle persuasion (a more useful force).
Let the shape of things assume a pattern.
By design, logic itself will unfold
its grand plan; and in good time, unflatten
that which by rights should have its credits told.
. Let the emphasis be a natural stamp.
. Let the logic of truth light its own lamp.
To the reader: Fashion often begins as a bold statement that gains mainstream approval. Singularity becomes popularity. The norming effect absorbs distinction. Peaks of interest wane; become mundane… we simply lose interest in the fad. Used sparingly, boldness is an effective attention grabber; useful in assembling interest, drawing a crowd and gaining focus. Overused, it’s a crude and ugly device.
To the poet: “Are all things to be boldly underlined?” Impacts can pack a punch and leave a lasting impression; as in a bruising affair. Then again, there’s a lot to be said for the subtle approach that through imperceptible gradations alters a line of thought or a chain of events. In poetry, novel nuance is equal to brazen boldness; our good-readers are alert to ambiguity; they’ll stop without a red-light flashing.