Friday, 15 June 2018

Launch of Lighthouse 17

I attended the launch of Gateway Press's "Lighthouse" issue 17 in Norwich last night. It was compered by the tireless Julia Webb.

I read the issue on the way home. The theme was science - poetry, flash, short stories and essays. Many interesting pieces. My favourite ones were by Anne Bailey (poems) and Marc John (an SF story, sort of).

Anne Osbourn's article begins by discussing specialism, not only in science. She points out that there are benefits to society with having specialists, but the resulting breakdowns in communication may be dangerous. I agree with this. Scientists and artists/writers (or their representatives) need to transmit their findings, to help the public appreciate the latest Tate exhibition, atonal symphony, global warning, number theory, etc. After all, it's the public who pays them. It's the public who deserve to know why some charlatan performance poet or ivory tower pure mathematician is publicly funded while people are dying through lack of NHS funding. Outreach and Open Days are good things.

Half way through, the article turns to seeking common factors between the arts and sciences. It's here that I begin to have trouble. She writes that they both "involve a combination of creativity and technical competence", and that they "depend on the ability to define a problem ... and extract the essence of the problem in hand". Even were this so, it also applies to knitting a cardigan, preparing a cake, etc. It's how humans do things.

Then she writes that "The ultimate objective for both is to pinpoint the truth, and to communicate this clearly and succinctly to others for appraisal". I don't think it is. Her conclusion is that "We all look at things in different ways. Together we can draw on our strengths and differences to build up a patchwork of understanding, a better approximation of the truth". I try not to use the word "truth" in such circumstances - it means too many different things. Truth in logic is so far from the Truth in religion that it's misleading to use the same word. Besides, it seems to me that poets have backed away from claiming to be Seers, to be seeking great Truths.

I have abiding doubts about Valerie Laws but at least her article "Poetry and Science, Beauty and Truth" ends with "if there is more than one kind of truth or beauty, that is all the more cause for celebration".

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