Thursday, May 2, 2013

Analysis of "Stuck at the Beginning" by Hal Sirowitz

Original poem reprinted online here: "Stuck at the Beginning" by Hal Sirowitz
Originally read: February 2, 2013
More information about the Poet: Hal Sirowitz

I find this poem humorous because on one hand the poem mocks epigraphs or maybe old Greek Philosophy or maybe both.

So the philosophical quote, "The beginning of a circle is also its end" has some serious thinking power behind the thought.  Once someone enters a circle, there's no end.  Kind of an allegory of a vicious cycle that, in general, is used to prove points like, "karma," or "history repeats itself."

But the inclusion of the translator foreshadows a sense of the absurd.  Wouldn't it be good enough to just say the quote is by Herakleitos?  The inclusion of the translator shows a sense of specificity which (circularly) goes with the contents of the poem.

Past me wrote, "Funny advice, but poignant.  You can't start something if you 'cant' (verses) wont, or don't"The traffic circle image is a tricky one.  Sure, a person cannot start a cycle if he/she doesn't enter one (or forcefully pushed away); yet, someone already inside has actively pushes the other away.  Therefore, from an onlookers standpoint, circular movement is avoided not by choice, but by circumstance.

But this is what the father says to the speaker (which goes back to the epigraph).  However, the insight could be from the father or the speaker (which contrasts the specificity of the epigraph).

Then you're stuck at the beginning
just sitting there in your car,
disproving Greek philosophy,
hoping the Romans came up
with a more useful axiom.

Humorous in a couple of ways.  The straight up simple way of disproving.  This more says something about how philosophy is viewed than the actual "philosophical process."  Situations create exceptions to the "rule."  So those broad philosophies may not be for an individual.  Also, the poem reinforces a circle in a sense -- from Greeks to Romans (not much change since Romans adopted Greek works into their own society).  So it's a cycle that never stops but is absurd to the observer.

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