“Sing[ing] of the Middle Way:” Michael McClure’s Venture for a New Mode of Thought Between Science and Mysticism

Stefan Benz


This article examines the epistemological concerns of Michael McClure’s poem “Double Moire for Francis Crick” (2010). Beyond showcasing McClure’s persistent interest in the natural sciences as well as in the Chinese and Japanese mystical traditions, this poem lyrically appropriates the physical phenomenon of the moiré effect and thereby exemplifies how a cooperation between these different modes of thought is profitable and necessary to reform established ways of knowledge production. Via a close reading of the poem’s borrowings from paleontology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, and its appropriations of Taoism and Zen Buddhism, this article discusses the dimensions and scope of McClure’s epistemological endeavor. Significantly, “Double Moire for Francis Crick” does not synthesize the two presented perspectives into one but overlays these to create a third combined structure which is ‘between’ the original structures of natural science and mysticism, allowing for a combination and alignment of insight produced in either mode of thought.


Michael McClure; Poetry; Epistemology; Moiré Effect; Natural Science; Mysticism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5283/copas.291


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