A Philosopher In Christchurch. Poem by Michael Walker

A Philosopher In Christchurch.

Rating: 5.0

(Karl Popper (1902-1994) .

Indeed it was you, Karl, who left Vienna
not a moment too soon, as it turned out,
bound for Christchurch to teach philosophy
and also, for terms, science in Dunedin.
You must have wondered at the Southern Alps.
Did they remind you of the Dinaric Alps
in Greece? You did a fine demolition job
on Plato's 'The Republic', a closed society.

You drew a line in the sand
between science and pseudo-science,
and your third world of knowledge
is more truthful than the other two.
But tell me, did you find in the Deep South
an open society, or too many of its enemies?


A Philosopher In Christchurch.
Karl Popper lectured in NZ universities in the 1930s. He wrote a bestseller'The Open Society and Its Enemies', Volumes I and II while in New Zealand. He left this country to teach and write in England, where he was knighted. The poem is also an Italian sonnet
Dunedin and Christchurch are conservative cities. Dunedin, in particular, I have heard called the Deep South, and all it implies.
Terry Craddock 25 June 2016

'Indeed it was you, Karl, who left Vienna not a moment too soon, as it turned out, bound for Christchurch to teach philosophy' leaving Vienna in the late 1930s before the dark Nazi plague permeated a golden sunset civilized society would be the perfect catalyst to watch through the isolated distant lens of Christchurch, Europe descend into brutality invasion war mass genocide, where better to write a bestseller 'The Open Society and Its Enemies', Volumes I and II. It is easier to contrast differences in society, that we grew in when immersed in another, the similarities differences in people cultures beliefs are highlighted in spotlight differences, again loved the beauty in an understated style of implications

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Terry Craddock 09 March 2017

I have also read Plato, 'The Republic', Aristotle, Socrates; plays by Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, in there social context; I have read science and pseudo-science; therefore the light of Vienna in the 1930s swallowed by an unexpected unimaginable Nazi tragedy sweeping across Europe, I find even more intriguing straying from your original theme, because the German Jewish poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic Heinrich Heine predicted it a century before it happened. The lesson in history is when the most advanced society in Europe can fall so far, it means other societies can fall from the apex of civilization into barbaric beliefs and persecution. The lesson of history is morality and the virtues of human rights upheld, by good hearted people and not technology saves and enlightens. It seems also that those who love and appreciate nature and beautiful places often explore society to exquisite depths, but freedom loving societies seem easy prey for hawks of war. Societies have golden ages because achievement are taken for granted and freedom not valued honoured fought for can be easily lost. I think you would have to know both New Zealand and Europe in this time period to delve the depths of this poem. Those of us who travelled and lived in different countries and cultures see and love contrasts we seldom voice in words, but we do enjoy themes of contrast within the writing of other artists other minds.

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Michael Walker 08 March 2017

At least you have read and appreciated this slightly academic poem. Thanks to you.

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