Art and Science in “The Second Person” by C. Dale Young

C. Dale Young

Divided into 4 parts, The Second Person by C. Dale Young examines first the physical body with its emotions and sensations, then moves into the scientific where death and sciences attempts to heal become a major focus before moving into a 27 poem series of triptychs that merge the two. Finally, the book shifts focus and expands its view to examine the world. Young’s poems comfortably flow between the inner and external world as is common in other current poets, but they also shift between scientific and emotional views of the world: one poem for example, shifts between the idea of the mathematical notation of summation that the symbol represents and a less literal view that moves the purely scientific term into the emotional world of the patient who is saved by the summation of the Doctor’s education.

C. Dale Young’s greatest poems are where he demonstrates his own dual nature as a medical doctor and a poet. While his poems about life and love in the first section of The Second Person are well-written and powerful in their own way, they do not serve to separate C. Dale Young from other current poets who write one similar topics such as Carl Phillips. It is not until the second section of The Second Person that one is able to see the true power of Young, and where his unique experiences and perspective shifts his poetry away from the mass of writers. By this I mean that his first section of poems doesn’t resonate as much has the latter sections and, in turn, his poetry doesn’t shift from being “good” to being “memorable” until he begins focusing on his unique perspective.

though infinite, can never meet © by Norma Desmond

One of the most powerful lessons for myself in this book is the power of finding one’s own voice and one’s own topics. What makes a poet memorable for me is not necessarily just the skill in putting words on a page, but what separates the poet from his (or her) contemporaries; for example, I find both Byron and Wordsworth excellent poets, but I prefer Byron because of his unique perspective on the world and the uniqueness of his poems about the mind in contrast to Wordsworth’s focus on nature like many of his contemporaries. It’s very hard to imagine Carl Phillips writing a poem about mathematical notation but not one about lying in a lover’s arms. While there is nothing wrong with writing about similar topics to other poets – after thousands of years, everything has been written about at least once – bringing a fresh and unique perspective to poetry is what makes a poet the most memorable for me.

The subject of science with poetry is especially interesting to me due to my dual Physics and English background; I’ve found that the most useful lessons I’ve had is learning to balance separate elements for science and humanities. As I see how Szymborska balances wit with seriousness, Phillips with experience and body, or Young with science and art, I’ve come to see the importance of balancing a poem’s content on the cusp of ideas rather than forcing one way of thinking through the poem. The most powerful poetry does not have to be all knowing, and it is possible to acknowledge that one does not have all the answers.

Medieval society was transformed by trade and “burgers.”

In medieval societies, the most widespread result of the revival of trade and urban life was the slow decay of federalisms and its inherent lack of loyalty and the infighting it promoted. Because of the increase in the power of the kings, countrywide courts were established that allowed the spread of “real” justice rather than piecemeal justice handed out by the local Baron. Increases in trade allowed for the creation of a money economy which promoted both the urban life and trade with other countries which increased the flow of ideas into Europe.

The developments of urban towns also created a new class of people — the burgers (from the German word Burg or Fortress) — who were entirely outside the feudal system. This gave them the power to change society. The burgers gained charters from the kings which they then used to free themselves from the remaining influences of the feudal system and allowed them to govern themselves which greatly increased individual freedoms. Because trade centered around the urban center, the cities themselves accumulated large amounts of money which were then used to build universities and cathedrals.

As a result of these developments the old systems such as feudalism, knights, barons, and feudal contracts were undermined and new systems grew to replace them — universities, guilds, cities, trade, and cathedrals.

“Cinema Paradiso” as a Example of Art, Culture and Community

“Cinema Paradiso” shows just how important art, culture and community is in human lives. For many people in western societies art is something that hangs around the peripheral of their lives never fully entering or leaving. But for Salvatore art was the focus of his life through his youth and adult hood; art and movies were the common threads that connected his entire life together. For the townspeople art was also important to them but not as all consuming as it was for Salvatore.

The Cinema Paradiso itself was the figurative and literal center of the town in the early and mid years it was in operation. Eventually, as the community was able to connect to the outside world more and more the Paridiso was slowly forgotten, until it was finally sold and demolished. During it’s early years of operation the Paridiso was for many people was the only way for them to escape the pressures of living in Sicily after the Second World War, large numbers of soldiers died leaving families broken, the land was poor and work hard to find. As with “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” the people gravitated to a single area to try to find some semblance of happiness in their lives.

Secondly, but some may argue most importantly, “Cinema Paradiso” shows just how art can effect the human condition. The Cinema Paradiso is not just the community’s center in the movie, but it is also the artistic center. Although to someone living in America the movies were considered normal nothing overly special to the people that went to the Cinema Paradiso the movies were a way of keeping in contact with the outside world and the only source of art in the town. To the townspeople as Alfredo said, “[they] think it’s the center of the world [but once you leave you realize it is not.]” In the context of the movie this idea is what lead Alfredo to push Salvatore out of town, he knew that the only way for Salvatore to grow artistically and make movies is by leaving the “backwater” town and force him to connect with the world. This is happening even today as certain types of people move across the country to other areas where more artistic is encouraged.

A minor theme in the movie is that of censor ship in artistic expression. It points out what some people consider art (such as kissing) other consider pornography and that censorship like all things is best left to the majority to decide. Censorship has a huge impact on the lives of people in a community, one can argue that censorship could be the major reason for the stagnation that effected the community and convinced Alfredo to send Salvatore away. Censorship as it pertained to the Cinema Paradiso evolved over the life of the theater from the beginnings when all kissing/romance scenes were edited out to the middle when romance/sexuality was allowed to the end when the theme of the films were specifically as evidenced by the movie posters) adult in nature. But the question is “Does censorship follow desire or desire follow censor ship?” Thats is did the censorship in the movie lessen because there was no public support for it, or was the desire for censored materials increased because they were censored? In Cinema Paradiso specifically it was the former rather than the latter because all the townspeople celebrated the first uncut movie. However in the “real” world it depends on the situation, for example in democratic societies it is frequently the former, that is people no longer want to be told what they can not do, yet in totalitarian societies it is often the latter. Censorship is a risky business in all matters not just art , the goal is to censor enough that society does not rampage and gut itself from the inside out in pursuit of pleasures, but not so much as to cause a stagnation of thought inside a community.

Art may be at peripheral of our lives but it is all around us, just look at any building for a moment, everything from the painting on the walls, to the carpeting, to the design of the grounds is art. Although the carpets are quite often ugly, they are still art, although most people just see the lanes of concrete surrounded by grass as a walkway they were designed by an artist. Even English courses are not an English course it is a course on art, the art of writing, real English courses deal with nouns, verbs and past-present participles, yet even still it is not considered an art course. Instead it is considered to be a course that teaches you how to use and understand English appropriately. Art is extremely important to very few people because frankly it doesn’t pay the bills. Unfortunately because of this art’s impact on our daily lives is very low for the majority, however what art does do is help to shape our thoughts and feelings without a conscious effort in ways that other things cannot.