It just occurred to me that it's time to continue the thread of KC. I mean thread with the meaning the Greeks gave to the material the Three Fates worked with, thread as a symbol of life. What could be more concrete than the conception, construction, and the dissolution (when the material finally breaks down or when--remember it's the Three Fates--it's simply (or not so simply) the time the thread should wear out or be broken) of the clothing put together by that thread as a figure for birth, living, and death?
I'm, so far as I know, still in the construction phase. But each step is a step towards, a step away from, on the time-line of our days. Every step is a step towards the darkness I came out of. I'm thinking, these days, that my death is a return to my original situation, and I'm heartened by that. A full circle back, a circle every single living thing completes. My species is life. Thus, my fate.
I've been actively wrestling with this for the last four months.
And with my own past, for what's our past for if not to wrestle it down to the ground, to claim primacy over its domination by integration instead of rejection?
And, as always, Time, what I started with, above. Time looms larger now, during these active transitional days, as summer wanes to fall, green is now interspersed with brown, the gold of the morning is beginning to have both the steel and the mellowing tan of autumn in its light. Time is the air we breathe, and a different tang is in our mouths.
Rather than waste your time, I'm announcing a hiatus for a while. Thanks to those who've followed KC so far.
Gray and the secrets of gray, this morning.
That's said, I see, too casually, since gray, for me, invokes winter, which is always the longest season, no matter how long it lasts.
But still, it's spring-gray that the day displays; it's a take-it-or-leave-it deal, the way it always is. And I, starving for more of this life, for every morsel of it, will, gladly, take it. For one thing, it makes me look more keenly at the light--and, just as I write this, I look over my left shoulder out the window at yellow sun! No. . .just a tease, the universe winking. Maybe.
While I was writing this morning, a friend sent me a lovely poem to which he appended a beautiful photograph. His timing could not have been more felicitous, for I was, with thanks, with the Muse, and as I read the poem, looked at the intense yellow of the budding flower, the warm, slowed-yet-busy-depth she brings deepened, the sure power of the tide I ride felt stronger.
Ah. . .I'm watching a squirrel come down a tree, thinking, He knows his work, what's mine, today? when another quick burst of sun flashed, then disappeared. This is not just about patience; it's about the nature of truth.
He who does not study the weather cannot measure the self.
That's about as clear as I can be about why I almost always begin with the weather, the light, for nothing begins without light.
There's light; there's dark; there's what we make of this cycle. It is wonderful, deep, and mysterious that light/dark not only limn our material journey but our internal one as well. It seems one of the few truths that make humans a community, that explain us to ourselves.
Years ago I used to say that there are 360 degrees to a circle but only one center. And what I meant was that there are many ways to get to the one center. I still believe that. It is one of the few things I believe.
What is the "personal"? Why would a writer tell the world his obsessions unless he can, like the Great Confessor, Whitman, turn them into a wind that blows away, explodes, the terrified, traumatized, stultifying conventions that stifle so many? And Whitman is one in a million. He's only one degree in the circle. Where's Shakespeare? Is he Falstaff or Hamlet or Lear or Juliet or Desdemona or the various unnamed clowns? Or is he all of them? And, in this crass age, in which people tell everything out loud into their cell phones in waiting rooms, the noisy superficialities of ego mask what the "personal" really is.
Here's Jaques, the dark cynic in As You Like It--
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts. . .
The "personal" is the way a person makes his way through the light and dark, the way he chooses--or not--to use language to explore his journey.
First, I apologize for the lack of sequence you encountered yesterday. I've written to and gotten a reply from the folks who host this site, and I'm waiting for them to fix the issue. I hope that today's entry appears where it should, as the first thing you found when you clicked.
Saturday! Saturday was the first magical word, a word with true power, that came to me when I was a boy. Girl followed, but Saturday has pride of place.
The first day after a week of school, a week of having-to, of being under adult power. My day.
I either slept late or bounced out of bed, eager to get out onto the quiet suburban streets to see...to see whatever there was to see, to look into trees, at houses, down the length of streets, to feel the sky stretching forever over my head, to feel a world where there were no limits. When I was a boy, Saturday was the best book I ever read. Saturday was forever; it was the future. It was parent-free. It was the world my eyes and feet discovered. I was unafraid. I was free. Saturday was the language I was learning to speak.
No doubt about it: this is a "My heart leaps up" spring day.
Work ahead, which I look forward to, being outside for hours.
So interesting how different people come to things: Richard Brody, in The New Yorker, thinks that the sentence that I take to be so simple and so significant at the end of The Life of Pi, is "vapid" and "hollow." He thinks the movie is superficial, its "theological" aspect shallow. I'm stumped by this, by his misreading, bringing in the Holocaust as evidence of the "better story" that God (apparently) chooses, which has nothing to do with what the movie is driving at--and, in fact, nothing to do with what Pi is asking at the end. And not one word about the minute by minute hallucinatory beauty of the film, which is so much a part of its impact and meaning.
The final thing Pi says still stays with me, since it's opened a door I'm standing in front of.
I finished the first phase of rebuilding the picket fence. Two mistakes that cost me time: I still move too fast; I still don't see or ask myself, at each step: Now, what am I doing? Have I accounted for each thing? Before I nail this in, is it right in every way? And because I don't, I have to do it over. What is this...blankness in me that rushes ahead, heedlessly? You'd think, by this time...but, no. Yes, yes, a work-very much-in-progress!
Could it be more beautiful outside? Hard to imagine how--maybe if sanity were declared, the Jihadists were condemned, outloud, by the ordinary Muslims who want to live a normal life; the Evangelicals were dismissed by thoughtful Christians who get it that any form of intolerance is not the love that they say Christ preached; the Fascists of every kind were exposed as the psychopaths they are. . .well, you see where this is going.
Shakespeare, as usual, gets it right, in As You Like It--knowing that the only poetry of spring is song:
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green cornfield did pass,
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.
Looking out into a glowing early spring world, I could not, this morning, help thinking of Boston, and, beyond Boston, the plague of madness the world is now suffering from. This convulsion of sectarian violence is not new to human history: what would be new would be its cessation, reason supported by generosity and good will.
I don't know what my morning's thoughts have to do with the beautiful, ambitious, and provocative movie I watched last night, The Life of Pi. A boy adrift on the Pacific with a Bengal Tiger as his only companion. A brilliantly simple idea, its idea incarnate in the situation. Not one stupid or coercive moment in the entire film, which makes it, in this era of special effects--the key one being explosions--unique.
I'm thinking of the moment near the end, the moment the film insists that we pay close attention to, when Mr. Richard Parker, the tiger, does not look back at Pi before he disappears into the Mexican jungle. After the 227 days they've spent together, after the relationship they've developed, the tiger does not turn back for a final look. He pauses only to peer into the jungle and then he stalks into it.
It's this, I'm thinking, that seals the point that their being together was a. . .visitation, in Christian vocabulary, an epiphany. But an epiphany of what? This challenge is then deepened by the other story the narrator tells: which story is true, he asks his listener, the novelist? Which does he believe? Which is the better story? The story of the boy and the tiger, the novelist says. "And the same applies to god," the narrator says, smiling.
The entire movie--its terrors and splendors--and it is rich in both--comes to this moment, this deep, resonant truth.
A beautiful day welcomes me back! On the third day on this nuclear-level anti-biotic, and it's living up to its reputation. The rusty hinge feels, once again, oiled; I can swallow without expecting to choke. The codeine is out of my system. Phew!
I spent all day yesterday in bed killing green pigs and trying to make sense of Samuel Pepys, who, from page one of his diary, plunges us into the details of his life in London in the 1660s. What a busy man; what a dangerous time for England, just before the Restoration, at the end of the Protectorate. But so many names started to blur, and I realized that I didn't know enough about the period to be able to properly understand what was going on. Now that I'm in my right mind, I'll do some background reading, then dive into Pepys again.
The codeine-blur, the day without gravity called to mind the stoned years, the light I wasted. Aiee! Long gone days, but it takes only a few seconds' thought to be embarrassed by the choices I made. I take comfort, though, in what I learned and what I practice: that the best teacher is embarrassment. I've been well taught.
Back to work today; we'll see how that goes. I'll work slowly, carefully, work myself back into working. I'm pleased that I've been able to write during this siege--though the quality of what I wrote isn't high, I kept at it, stayed in the game. That's what counts.
Back to the light. . .
For the first time in three nights, I slept...it was the codeine in the cough medicine, so now I'm not-quite here. There's a part of me in the next room, looking at me typing. My eyes are still filled with sleep. The impulse to sleep, the pull to the bed is very strong. Out of the nowhere of memory, the Sandman comes to mind. Remember the Sandman? A gentle story for children.
I'm on a heavy-duty anti-biotic--10 days without, alas, wine. Not even a price to pay to not have an inflamed throat that feels like a hinge that has rusted shut.
I thought I might work today, but until this codeine disappears, my only work will be to trudge back to bed and manage to get into it without tripping.
The sore throat is even more sore, inflamed, and now a cough's begun. I feel cold all the time. Hopefully, I'll see the doctor today.
As it turns out, the weather's turned chilly, wet, and gray: hard to find a better mirror for how I'm feeling. The wise thing is to be grateful that I had four good days of work on the fence and arbor. Ok, easy enough.
The hardest thing is that I cannot sleep; for the last three days I've been up in the middle of the night because my throat hurts so much: rusty razors on fire. So I get up, go downstairs, make tea with honey, then go downstairs to watch TV until I'm so tired that I know I'll fall asleep.
So what's on at 3am? Informercials about sex gadgets and bowel movements, about how to get rich, about the ultimate kitchen gizmo that solves a problem nothing else in the history of mankind has ever solved, movies that the actors must still have bad dreams about. I've joined another demographic I knew nothing about. I stare with eyes that feel swollen; I wrap myself in a blanket. The house occasionally plinks or sighs, or there's a sound that says that something's fallen, though I can never find anything broken or out of place if the noise is startling enough. I sit in the dark, hardly breathing, and when I look at the clock, two hours have passed. At 5am, for three nights, I've heard the wild chatter of birds, the heralds of the dawn: braided, convoluted, insistent.
The magnolia's all-but bare, more branch than tulip flowers. The Weeping Cherry lasted three days, first delicate white, then delicate pink, and now green. The world's turning green: look through the budding armatures of the tops of the big trees and the sky's stained light green. Because of this, the daffodils, the narcissi, hyacinths, the tulips are even more luscious, even more delightfully carefree.
Wordsworth captures this surprise, this joy:
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
"Natural piety": perhaps this is the phrase I've been looking for these months, as I parse my antipathy to religion yet my intimate sense of the mystery of just being alive.