Continuing our series on Safety Myths – see them all here
Dylan Thomas captures the criticality of facing death, in the throes of life, in his classic poem: ‘Do not go gentle in to that good night’.
Sometimes when things cannot be stated by propositional definition they can only be spoken in Poetics. The study of Poetics is foundational to SPoR (https://safetyrisk.net/spor-and-myth/).
This poem by Dylan Thomas is about death and silence.
The inevitability of death is offensive to Safety, this is why Safety denies death in zero.
Safety doesn’t talk about death, it speaks about ‘fatality’ and counting.
When it comes to death, the denial of death in zero is the global mantra for safety.
‘The Denial of Death’ by Becker ought to be foundational reading for safety people.
Safety doesn’t talk about ‘fallibility’, such are its many silences on critical things that matter. In the face of the delusional myth of zero, Safety cannot speak the ‘f’ word. The only place you can read about fallibility and risk is in SPoR (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/).
When your mantra is zero and compliance is the ideology, the myth of civility in safety reigns supreme in its many silences. The last thing Safety wants to do is upset anyone by talking about things that are critical to personhood, ethics or helping. This is why critical thinking is demonised by Safety and any dissent is deemed ‘toxic’.
Yes, if you are going to criticise Safety, do so gently. In that way everything can stay the same and the civility myth can stay in its rightful place. When it comes to life and death, why is Safety silent on so much (https://safetyrisk.net/category/safety-culture-silences/)?
Poor olde Safety silent on what matters and noisy on petty issues.
However, in SPoR we are not silent on the following:
· Embodied learning
· Cultural semiotics
· Wicked problems
· Care and helping
· Common good
· Social contract
· The unconscious
· Collective unconscious
· Alternatives to closed systems
· Prophetic imagination
· Holistic ergonomics
In the poem Thomas suggests we not go gently because such is deemed by Power as acquiescence. (He wrote this at the time of his father’s death and, in the light of his own death, would be one of his last poems).
SPoR is not silent on what matters, where Safety is.
In a simple Discourse Analysis just look at what Safety talks about and doesn’t talk about.
SPoR will not go gentle into the good night.
The meaning of the poem is that death cannot be avoided but that it mustn’t go unchallenged. What Thomas warns against is the danger of civility. Silence fosters acquiescence.
Despite the inevitability of death, Thomas urges not to go gently that is, to think about death and come to terms with it. The denial of death only leads to psychosis, immaturity and delusion. Such is the myth of Zero, myth of immortality and the delusional linguistics of prediction in safety.
Thomas doesn’t suggest that we get angry at Death nor, that we ‘fight’ death but rather, not deny reality as Zero does.
The juxtaposition of this poem also puts the importance of life and being in perspective. When I used to conduct funeral and memorial services, loved ones always wanted to ‘celebrate life’. Often there would be a table set out of semiotic artefacts, a slide show and music unique to the person who had died. Such celebration in the face of death is helpful. It serves as a reminder when gathered around a coffin, that our own vulnerability and fallibility are real, and such should help us focus on what we should live for.
In the face of death, we should think of life and being. This is why we don’t get up in the morning and think ‘safety’. Such an obsession (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-as-a-mental-health-disorder-obsession/ ) is a psychosis. There is nothing more destructive to life, living and learning than safety obsession.
The other theme of this poem is the reality of time. Life is short so live life, seize the day. The last thing we need is a lecture by ‘killjoy’ safety on a crusade of superiority happy to deem others ‘complacent’.
However, the nature of this poem is pastoral. It is a poem of advice, help and care, the villanelle structure helps this effect. The structure also helps give the poem a forward motion. The poem is not about looking back in grief, though we ought to know how to grieve but, is an invocation to look out for each other. The poem is a call to humanness, to community – against the myth of civility and silence fostered by the ideology of zero.