Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

A Man Said to the Universe -- Stephen Crane

       
(Poem #1200) A Man Said to the Universe
 A man said to the universe:
 "Sir I exist!"
 "However," replied the universe,
 "The fact has not created in me
 A sense of obligation."
-- Stephen Crane
       (War is Kind & Other Lines: XXI, 1899)

No collection of poetic views on religion would be complete without today's
little gem. Many of Crane's poems seem overly simplistic; indeed, some of them
seem to degenerate into mere tautologies, or even worse, platitudes. However,
if you ask yourself *why* Crane wrote those particular lines; if you note that,
MacLeish notwithstanding, some poems need to mean as well as be, and ask "What
did he mean by that?", the results are invariably thought-provoking, and often
enlightening.

Today's poem is remarkably straightforward for Crane - indeed, it seems almost
Biercelike in its attitude and expression. There are no deep Zenlike moments of
revelation hidden beneath a deceptively void surface, no mind-twisting
experiments in cognitive dissonance, just a dryly ironic commentary on some
people's[1] attitudes towards the higher powers. And indeed, when you think
about it, a number of religious practices *can* be viewed as announcing to the
universe (or the deity of your choice) "Sir, I exist!", and then sitting back
in complacent expectation. (A more prescriptive analogue of this observation
can be found in the saying "Heaven helps those who help themselves"[2], though
it could be argued that Crane doesn't imply any help even for those people who
*do* do more than proclaim their existence).

And tangentially, I am reminded of one of my favourite absurdist
science-fictional religions, Greg Egan's "Church of the God who Makes No
Difference". I believe Vonnegut had something similar too, though I can't
remember the details of that one.

[1] ironic poems are, of course, always about someone else :)
[2] which can, if nothing else, be used to justify a second serving of dessert

martin

64 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

ClickForth said...

The Vonnegut novel that addresses religion that Martin is talking about is
Cat's Cradle. Great little book.

Bryan

maherjnd said...

You've got the poem wrong! The universe says "The fact creates in me NO
sense of obligation." Big difference.

maherjnd said...

Never mind. I just reread, and you do have it correct. Sorry.

Kathy Sue said...

Please subscribe me to this service, whatever it is about. Your comments on Stephen Crane's poem, "A Man Said to the Universe," with an enjoy-life insight and humor along with analysis that takes me back to my college days as an English major, make me feel good!

Cris said...

This information is very interesting, I really enjoyed, I would like get more information about this, because is very beautiful, thanks for sharing! costa rica investment opportunities

Isma said...

Hello .. firstly I would like to send greetings to all readers. After this, I recognize the content so interesting about this article. For me personally I liked all the information. I would like to know of cases like this more often. In my personal experience I might mention a book called Generic Viagra in this book that I mentioned have very interesting topics, and also you have much to do with the main theme of this article.

Anonymous said...

screw spammers

Anonymous said...

Crane was a naturalist. This poem isn't anti-religion. It's anti-self importance. Self importance, today, sometimes comes in the form of religion. But the atheist who thinks he has everything figured out is also the butt of this poem's joke.

Anonymous said...

The poem posits existence as a bare fact without any significance whatever to any power beyond the one who asserts their existence. "The fact" presumes the truth of the implied assertion of a claim of significance. "However" precedes and encapsulates "the fact" of the minimal claim of existence. The Universe thus has the last word in interpreting what thereby appears to be a naive and possibly presumptuous assertion of even an elementary claim to significance. The poem echoes the sun in Red Badge of Courage and other signs and symbols representing emptiness in Crane's work. For example, throughout the century there was a succession of alternative authorities held up for scrutiny and dismissal, beginning most famously with The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Hawthorne, and ending with the Naturalistic wastelands of Crane, late Twain, and Frank Norris (McTeague, 1899).

This poem is about personal meaninglessness and potentially everything built upon it--only the voice of the "man" remains and even that is in question. Without a referent outside of himself, he is alone in all of nature to succeed or suffer without knowing whether it means anything or not -- at least as far as nature's witness can ascribe. Crane seems to say, " if you are looking for meaning in the natural world, nature is mute." or "don't fool yourself, there is nothing in the natural world that gives you meaning." One obvious application is the tendency to think of evolution as "intentionally promoting" anything important to man. The only natural alternative left also comes from this era: the nihilism of Friedrich Nietzsche. Socialism, Communism, National Socialism and their softer brothers, Fabianism and Progressivism, invent, based on Hegelian dialectics, a theme of intentional self promotion through a collective. But these are variants of the Naturalistic dead end pointed out by Crane: all guarantees are self-delusional at best. Is the end of man really dead to all possible alternatives?

Anonymous said...

actually, although CAT'S CRADLE does have a fake religion in it, the religion you are probably thinking about is in the book THE SIREN'S OF TITAN: "The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent."

generic cialis said...

Excellet small poem, thanks for share.

Anonymous said...

Please make a distinction between atheism and naturalism.......... I don't see any real difference lol

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

John Edwards said...

I have to agree with everything in this post. Thanks for the useful information.
psychic readings

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Anonymous said...

Hi, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was practical.
Keep on posting!

Feel free to surf to my web-site :: diet plan for women

Anonymous said...

WOW just ωhat Ι was seаrching for.
Came hеre by ѕearching for grаnite in
edmonton

Ѕtop by my wеbsіte ... quartz engineered stone

Anonymous said...

Get Monsters As opposed to Alien Whole Movie - Accessible for Free
By law?

Also visit my page - casino euro

Anonymous said...

Bose Encompass Sond System Is regarded as The Perfect
Sound Units

My weblog :: viewsonic Pro9000 best price

Anonymous said...

Crane was a naturalist. This poem isn't anti-religion. It's anti-self importance. Self importance, today, sometimes comes in the form of religion. But the atheist who thinks he has everything figured out is also the butt of this poem's joke. is bubblegum casting legitimate

Anonymous said...

Hello! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so
I came to look it over. I'm definitely loving the information.
I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!

Exceptional blog and great design and style.

Also visit my homepage; Dr Beats (http://www.homolaicus.com/public/Beats-By-Dre.html)

Anonymous said...

Good web site you've got here.. It's hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays.
I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!



Also visit my site; Anti Aging Moisturizer

polo outlet said...

http://www.superbagsmarket.com/
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/louis-vuitton-bags-c-1.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/hermes-bags-c-2.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/prada-bags-c-3.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/chanel-bags-c-4.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/gucci-bags-c-5.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/burberry-bags-c-6.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/celine-bags-c-7.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/balenciaga-bags-c-8.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/christian-dior-bags-c-9.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/chloe-bags-c-10.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/bvlgari-bags-c-11.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/bally-bags-c-12.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/coach-bags-c-13.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/michael-kors-bags-c-14.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/mcm-bags-c-15.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/fendi-bags-c-16.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/mulberry-bags-c-17.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/marc-jacobs-bags-c-18.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/miu-miu-bags-c-19.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/ysl-bags-c-20.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/tory-burch-bags-c-21.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/givenchy-bags-c-22.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/ferragamo-bags-c-23.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/lancel-bags-c-24.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/loewe-bags-c-25.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/tods-bags-c-26.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/paul-smith-bags-c-27.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/dg-bags-c-28.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/alexander-wang-bags-c-29.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/bottega-veneta-bags-c-30.html
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/specials.html
http://www.guccishoesuk-2014.com/
http://www.polo-ralphlaurenonline.com/
http://www.michael-korsmas.com/
http://www.thebeatsbydre.net/
http://www.northsclearance.com/
http://www.michaelkorsstates.com/
http://www.ralph-laurenhome.com/
http://www.polo-outletstore.com/
http://www.oakleysunglassesfactory.com/
http://www.canada-gooser.com/
http://www.monsterbeatsbydres.com/
http://www.michaelkors.so/
http://www.burbagssale2014.com/
http://www.salongchamppairs.com/
http://www.newcoachfactoryoutlet.com/
http://www.north-faceoutletonlines.net/
http://www.barbour-jacketsoutlet.com/
http://www.marcjacobsonsale.com/
http://www.coachxfactory.com/
http://www.moncler-jacketsoutletonline.com/
http://www.mcmworldwides.com/
http://www.woolrich-clearance.com/
http://www.superbagsmarket.com/
http://www.nike-jordanshoes.com/
http://www.moncler-clearance.com/

Anonymous said...

I really like your blog and have one with similar information. If you have time check it out.black motorcycle clubs in atlanta ga

Anonymous said...

And in order to roll, and each rider gets to experience the potential of the new `Enhanced Power
Now` feature. Kari's husband asks her to invite her
back so there's no ill will amongst the men in the group, so it's location de quad marrakech airport code back and forth.
WiFi & Java: The China smart phone also supports Email, msn, facebook, ebuddy, google
map, twitter, Pintrest. Your risks are similar to traditional quad
bikes, so that you dont have to have possession of the ball.


Here is my web site: best riads marrakech tripadvisor (http://en.wikipilipinas.org)

protectionist democracy said...

I have read this marvelous post. Thanks for sharing information about it.

Awais Hameed said...

To acquire exclusive, take a look at & smashing news involving Bangladesh State policies, ICT & Phone system Industry, Criminal offenses & Data corruption, Economic expansion, Energy, Aviation along with Op-ed stay linked with Online Reports Paper, Your Lead Reports and join free. 7d news

Awais Hameed said...

Exchanging within the foreign currency market is not invariably going to get difficult. The truth is, most traders have realized great good results and profit over the latest fx news right now. Do certainly not leave just about any trading gemstone unturned. orkney news today

Awais Hameed said...

Just as one arts along with crafts low cost supplier is regarded as a fast-rising business in our marketing sector. There are generally newly founded businesses that will deal additional in martial arts and products. micro news agency

Awais Hameed said...

Though the business involving art have to be infallible. Where you acquire the artwork is equally important as what we buy. A good source that could stand guiding what that they sell is surely an imperative. business in arts

Awais Hameed said...

Be able to acquire merchandise at affordable by adding from north america using methods created to save people money. Talk of cutting down or eradicating freight prices and brokerage house charges. united small business

Anonymous said...

good
Mengobati Ambeyen Tumor
Mengobati Ambeien Wasir Tumor
Obat Ambeien Tumor
Mengobati Ambeien dan Wasir Tumor
Mengobati Ambeyen Parah
Obat Ambeien Parah
Mengobati Ambeien Wasir Parah
Mengobati Ambeien dan Wasir Parah
dari kelamin keluar cairan nanah
kelamin keluar nanah
dari kemaluan keluar nanah
kenapa dari kelamin keluar nanah
Dari Kelamin Keluar Nanah
Kelamin Pria Keluar Nanah
Kemaluan Pria Keluar Nanah
Dari Kelamin Pria Keluar Cairan Nanah
Kelamin Wanita Keluar Nanah
Dari Kelamin Keluar Nanah
Di Kelamin Wanita Keluar Nanah
Dari Kelamin Wanita Keluar Cairan Nanah
Ujung Kelamin Keluar Nanah
Dari Kelamin Keluar Nanah
Kelamin Keluar Cairan Nanah
Dari Ujung Kelamin Keluar Cairan Nanah
obat ampuh kondiloma akuminata
pengobatan kondiloma akuminata
obat untuk sakit kondiloma akuminata
obat Alami kondiloma akuminata
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata Apotik
Obat Ampuh Kondiloma Akuminata di Apotik
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata
Pengobatan Kondiloma Akuminata di Apotik
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata Alami
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata Ampuh
Pengobatan Kondiloma Akuminata Herbal
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata Tanpa harus ke Dokter
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata Tanpa Dokter
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata
Pengobatan Kondiloma Akuminata Tanpa ke Dokter
Obat Kondiloma Akuminata
Pengobatan Kondiloma Akuminata
Obat Alami Kondiloma Akuminata Tanpa Operasi
Pengobatan Kondiloma Akuminata Tanpa Operasi
Resep Obat Alami Kondiloma Akuminata
Resep Obat AMpuh Kondiloma Akuminata
Resep Obat Tradisional Kondiloma Akuminata
Resep Obat Herbal Kondiloma Akuminata

anouk lnes said...

I believed it was going to be some boring outdated post, but it Spartagen xt seriously compensated for my time. Ill post a hyperlink to this page on my weblog. Im positive my site visitors will come across that incredibly helpful.Considerably, this post is really the sweetest on this notable topic. I harmonize with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings. For more ==== >>>>> http://www.healthcaresups.com/spartagen-xt-exposed/

Obat Herbal said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Anonymous said...

Logistically it takes time to swap out a technician to a new van and we do not want to overwhelm ourselves, although the sooner we switch the sooner we start saving. best 500 dollar mountain bike

graniet tafelblad said...

I have to say I am amazed by your article. Indeed coupons is very useful specially to online consumers.

Post a Comment