The Near-Death Experience of a Cartesian Philosopher

Night hare_A Johnson (c)
‘Night Hare’


The Near-Death Experience of a Cartesian Philosopher

Animals he regarded as automata … devoid of feeling 
or consciousness. Men are different: they have a soul
- Bertrand Russell on Descartes 

There was a man who saw the soul as for man alone,
so dogs and the poor rest must go without.
He made a shout of it, as if knowing best,
but the real test came when he himself fell upon death’s floor
and on his hands and knees he saw amongst the dust
creatures with eyes, with blood the stuff of any blood:
a hare can die as well as any man, have its spark 
clean shot from its heart in a sharp rendering, its soul
lending light to the big behind-the-scenes white.

Returning from this, the man was wide
to open his framework entire, and straight
from his mind’s laboratory, he 
let all the living creatures out,
himself included. 

From O My Swan (Flarestack, 2003)


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