Monday, July 30, 2012

Skinner Box


I am mortal inside this humble structure,
but I have the threat of hell
and a promised portion of paradise.

I have senses,
exquisite,
but I exert my will
to deny them what they want
at least a third of the time.

My fears and frailties
(generally)
fail to penetrate
my (un)consciousness,
and I am blindly dependent
on the drug of destiny.

By any objective measure,
I prove the science I abhor

and the effectiveness of the Skinner Box.

From Wikipedia:  A Skinner Box "permits experimenters to study behavior conditioning by teaching a subject animal to perform certain actions (like pressing a lever) in response to specific stimuli, like a light or sound signal.  When the subject correctly performs the behavior, the chamber mechanism delivers food or another reward.  In some cases, the mechanism delivers a punishment for incorrect or missing responses.

Poetic Words (List 1).  Submitted to Open Link Monday at Real Toads.

30 comments:

flipside records said...

Ouch. This is brutal. And fantastic. And terrifying. And familiar.


This is my favorite part:
"I have senses,
exquisite,
but I exert my will
to deny them what they want
at least a third of the time."

And this also, chills me to the bone:

"By any objective measure,
I prove the science I abhor"

Your final line would have been mind-blowing without the picture and explanation, particularly if I had just recalled on my own what it was. Which I did not. So this is really a moot point. :)

Sylvia K said...

So, they live in the same kind of boxes that we do, huh!!! I'll be damned!

Fireblossom said...

One can invent a lot of obscene and hilarious things that "B.F." might stand for in "B.F. Skinner". Just sayin'.

I'd probably be getting electrocuted all the time.

hedgewitch said...

A poem that appears sedate and formal on the surface and is wild and snarly underneath--the opening lines really work for me, with the suggestion that all we really are is Someone's experiment.

flipside records said...

Shay, you'd probably disobey in order to receive the shock, which I do anticipate that you'd love.

M.Z., I actually arrived here first from Real Toads. Now I'm coming by from my own link. :) So glad you got in first. Excellent contribution. You set the bar high today.

Brian Miller said...

but the key question right now is...will you still eat at chick-fil-a...smiles...sorry, had about enough of them today myself...shock therapy is good for some things...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh I know the inside of that box. It takes a damn ridiculous number of electric charges to get us to change our route. I so relate to this poem. Brilliant topic.

Far Beyond The Ridge said...

Oh, mz
My...
I have never agreed more with anything i have ever read. I was amening all the way through.
But i think you do better than me, i'm half more than third and not quite usually. So that threat of volts loom large. I rebel and revolt against the science, but it's too late, i'm in the cage~i can tell. But if i could escape, i would.
When you said you were gonna let fly the arrows, i didn't see this one coming.
Well done
Rick

Archna Sharma said...

This is a wonderful piece. I really like how simple it looks for you to share the truth. I think we are humble inside, especially within the vessel the carries our hearts.

I like that you've carved out your own portion and hold yourself strong in that place.

kaykuala said...

The conditioning therapy. I bet it may even have been done on humans but on the sly by some unscrupulous governments!

Hank

Heaven said...

I specially like your opening salvo...and yes the skinner box works effectively for others ~

manicddaily said...

Ah. A bit creepy but powerful. K.

Daydreamertoo said...

Yep, big brother is upon us all. We are the rats and money is the food we may get treated too if we play ball.
Very thoughtful and very clever write MZ

Susan said...

Well done!! We forget 1984 and Walden Two, but they are upon us. This is my favorite part:
" I have senses,
exquisite,
but I exert my will
to deny them what they want
at least a third of the time."

I truly identify with both the "exquisite senses" and the rebellion.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I prove the science I abhor.. So true that we are all subject to certain conditioning, whether we are conscious of it or not: working for rewards (however paltry) or for fear of punishment others have devised on our lives. It's not easy to break free of the Skinner box.

Laurie Kolp said...

Strong piece rings true.

ShoeBox said...

I love this poem. Denial of senses, at least a third of the time. Hmmmm, more for me I think. To recondition is exhausting work. I like to think I have more control than to obey the light, the sound, the reward. However, I might just be a rat. Who knows.

Kim Nelson said...

How cleverly you use Skinner's box to illustrate the confines and consequences inherent to this journey.

poemsofhateandhope.com said...

Completely fascinating- and some brutal lines here- The threat of hell, or a portion of paradise- maybe this spoke to me about relationships - and maybe one day finally learning to listen to your senses....I'm sureim a thousand percent wrong- but this is the kind of feeling it evoked...re-read and re-read this- I found it challenging (in a good way!)- and defo thought provoking

Tara Pohlkotte said...

as a psyc major and a poetry lover, this spoke to my heart :)

Day Dreamer said...

Sometimes our impulses drive us 'to do' in spite of all other influences!

Powerful!

Kay L. Davies said...

"and I am blindly dependent
on the drug of destiny."

We each have our own drug of destiny, don't we?
An amazing write, MZ.

K

Serena said...

Yes, yes, yes! You must be in my head or at the very least, spying on me. :) BTW... I love the name of your blog except I must confess... until very very recently I had no idea there were so many... I happened to recently stumble on Poets United and I tell you the world has opened and has invited me in! I love this!

lucychili said...

all sorts of contexts seem a bit like this.

perhaps part of the journey is finding a context

then trying to answer it well?

stark image

vivinfrance said...

As a metaphor for human life, this is rather worrying. But I think you have it about right!

Dave King said...

Snap!
Well having just been ratty mesel' I must say I was a tad green-eyed seeing what you have done with this.

Love it, though!

Fred Rutherford said...

Really strong MZ. Love the metaphor, the Skinner Box has always been a favorite of mine, I don't know entirely why, but ever since learning about it in class way back when, it always just stuck with me. The drug of destiny, a promised portion of paradise- love how you move from pt. a to pt b here. Terrific write. Thanks

Steve King said...

"By any objective measure,
I prove the science I abhor"

For me this is the hinge of the poem. An astute observation and admission. The poem is a very powerful metaphor. Great job.

Yousei Hime said...

Been here. Read it. So...everything they said...ditto for me. ;)

Lolamouse said...

I'm having a conditioned response to the words "Skinner Box!" Ahhhh! Heart racing, hands sweating, mind going blank, fear of failure....Oh Lord! I'm back in PSYCH 101 and beginning my career in psychology!