Tost, Tony. 2003. "I Am Not the Pilot". Cortland Review 22.
Mesmer's subject is unable to subscribe and certainly no lawyer. Tost's subject is not a pilot and unable to "analyze complicated data". It's simple:
I am not a pilot, and I cannot assert anything with 100 percent certainty.
Nor could you if you weren't a pilot. If you are not:
Repeat after me, 'I am not the pilot,
I will not attempt to fly the ship.'
There is a clear theme of amateur passion. We can make certain demands of "seasoned professionals" but, if we are not pilots, and we most assuredly are not pilots, then we may wonder about both whether "the data is correct" and "how realistic the sky is". That's for pilots to say.
Pilots are wonderful and much like us, but we are not pilots.
[We] have not taken the test
that allows [us] to take over the controls as of yet.
This poem, it seems to me, gestures at what Wyndham Lewis called "the art of being ruled". In recent years we have been faced with a particular problem of control (a beatiful, difficult, thing, Drew Gardner reminded us). We are apparently unable to subscribe, as Mesmer put it. We are not pilots, we are "not part of their operation", and we don't claim to "understand that whole 'brotherhood'". I don't know if things have changed now that we also "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals", as Obama so eloquently put it.