PDF file for http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/2.devotionsfinal.pdf.
Original version of the Devotions poem.
It's amazing to think that nearly several aspect of life has layers and layers and layers beneath it. For example, I was writing Question Reality to piece together the barebone "matrix/structural" elements of my fragmented mind in concern of human relations to the environment. But an additional layer was the EXPERIENCES and ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS of writing QR. Plus, three years of events have passed by since the actual widespread public distribution of the writing. Even more layers!
Considering the environmental conditions of writing this Devotions poem, I think I started writing parts of it when I was at UCLA in 2003-2004. I submitted a set of 100 poems to the University of California Press, which obviously was rejected for publication. I looked back at my poems and realized how childish and babyish they were. I do say the first 100 repetitions of any activity are probably crxp, but the 101st repetition might render something VERY cool. I think my better poems started routinely cranking out as soon as I hit poem 101. Though in the very beginning, I wrote some very powerful poems without even realizing it. My first best poem I ever wrote was "6 Billion Ways on How to View a Moderate Cube of Space" which accounts for the Prism of Place Effect. I submitted this poem to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference and was informed that this poem reached the "finalist" pile. Which is just hippy dippy for me being a scientist writing poetry (sounds sinful, doesn't it?).
Coming to think of it, whenever I come to achieve something that is outside the realm of my parents' value systems or knowledge regime, I don't seem to get the same satisfaction of completion. For example, when I created art for an entire year outside the context of my father's research, I only derived self-meaning. It was then until I was able to associate this creative science writing and art with my father's research (as well as returning to the university), an upwelling of satisfaction and motivation and desire and willpower arose within my depths. I felt the same way with 5k and 10k runs. I kept winning awards in my age division (when I was 18 or 19) but I somehow received no satisfaction from it. Maybe it was also because I was kicked out of high school as well. I guess you can call this behavior as "intellectual homing behavior." Thanks Bub. I'm addicted to my parents' value systems. Thanks a lot!
To get back to the Devotions poem, I had to come back to the piece about three times before I could complete it. I know I had major segments constructed before I started writing QR in the summer of 2004, but I remember coming back to it during the 2004-2005 year to revise the poem. I think Devotions is one of those poems that kept inspiring me to write the book.
It is definitely a cumulative appreciation poem: "from my self, to my environment," which essentially thanks everyone I had come to know at that point in my life. The first segment of the poem represents my family, friends, and teachers, and those few people who made me go through the final "tipping point" convincing me to write Question Reality--most notably Dr. Paul Dayton, Dr. Jeremy Jackson, and Seth. The Tipping Point People, I shall call them. Getting burned made me stronger, "No one can truly get to know me, unless they have questioned reality." Getting burned forced me to put myself together, to package my mind and its perception of reality. Wow, maybe that's why Tariel understands my brain, another questionner of reality. Hmmm. Tariel was the final tipping point. And then the wave crashed over and QR was published.
The second part of the poem is trying to identify the potential audience: the Listeners, the Skeptics, the Openminded, the Desperate--and hopefully QR becomes "a synthesis that might make sense to someone out there." The Discovery and the Order of the Obvious. Well, dxmn it, someone's got to do it. Order the Obvious!
The Devotions poem was a great way to start a manuscript--at least for my staying inspired to write it.