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


  • Stefan Benz University of Mannheim




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


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.

Author Biography

Stefan Benz, University of Mannheim

Stefan Benz studied English, History and Philosophy at the University of Mannheim and Swansea University, Wales, and graduated in July 2016. His final thesis focused on Richard Powers's Orfeo“, and investigated the “Social, Political and Philosophical Implications of Bioart.” Since August 2016, he holds a position as PhD student and instructor of American Literature at the University of Mannheim. His dissertation project is concerned with posthuman conceptions of consciousness in American Poetry after World War II. Therein, he addresses the question of how poetry provides alternative and fruitful perspectives on the nature of consciousness.




How to Cite

Benz, Stefan. “‘Sing[ing] of the Middle Way:’ Michael McClure’s Venture for a New Mode of Thought Between Science and Mysticism”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, May 2018, doi:10.5283/copas.291.