The morning after a day and part of a night of snow. When it started, the world was as it usually is. When I looked out this morning, the world was white and black and color seemed a bad afterthought,  the rag-tag bits of a party where, tipsy, you said a little too much.

Visitation. That's the word that names what I felt.  We have been visited by this snow, this whiteness that changes everything, re-balances the world, challenges our senses to make sense of this white silence staring back. The eye scans for landmarks to anchor itself--finds the dark trees. The ear, bereft, deaf, panics for a moment, then sharpens to its work, listening for what it knows is there inside the quiet--the wind chime the world is as the wind sweeps, creeps, sidles, prowls, noses the world, snuffling, gliding by. The old world gone, this new world must be named but first be felt--its haunting blankness, overwhelming power--the challenge of this visitation is to locate ourselves within it.

But isn't this snow storm a dramatic instance of the truth that all that comes to us is a visitation? The phone call that startles; the face that comes around the corner; the green noses pushing up through the snow because their time is coming closer; the sun that lances or glows; the voice that calls from downstairs; the thought that bubbles up; the dream that tells its other truth; the mate we find ourselves with; the life that trails behind us like a tail; the life we see in the mirror's eyes--and isn't each of us a visitor in another's life, a visitation, like the snow, from another world?
 


Comments

Allan DiBiase
03/19/2013 9:43am

the visitor's tracks

when you finally make it to the outside door after a night of snow and see the tracks that lead to and from your door....the bell unrung, the steps unswept, the lintel unmarked. you might wonder who had come in the night? who was it that thought to visit and then turned away, tracks leading down the slope from the barn and onto the frozen pond?

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03/19/2013 9:56am

I think it's the beautiful quiet mystery created by what you've written, Allan, that brings the opening of Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight" to mind:

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

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Allan DiBiase
03/19/2013 3:13pm

That's very fine....thanks.

I've taken to going to bed fairly early. Sleeping a few hours. Then getting up and reading sometimes online (contact lenses out) on a laptop. By this time the fireplace has achieved exactly what Coleridge describes above. And Katie will come sit close to me on a pillow.

The fire at this stage is like a lapse of time. Barely flickering if at all before it becomes a mere glow---not a flame in sight---- remembered by a little heat. One does not think this way at twenty or twenty-five.

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Allan DiBiase
03/19/2013 3:39pm

The commentary on Keats:

"Negative capability describes the capacity of human beings to transcend and revise their contexts. The term has been used by poets and philosophers to describe the ability of the individual to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being. It further captures the rejection of the constraints of any context, and the ability to experience [phenomena] free from epistemological bounds, as well as to assert one's own will and individuality upon their activity."

I think I regard "transcend and revise their contet" as a bit different from "to perceive, think, and operate beyond any presupposition of a predetermined capacity of the human being." And then the writer goes further "It further captures the rejection of the constraints of any context, and the ability to experience [phenomena] free from epistemological bounds, as well as to assert one's own will and individuality upon their activity."

I guess tuning up to your environment, deliberately, is a kind of transcendence. The revision I think is not to the context but to the self. We transcend our selves through sensing our rootedness in our particular landscape/s. I feel that is something that both Thoreau and Wittgenstein explored. Something today that I read in Thoreau was about "life without metaphor". Can I find that?

Not easily. But in reading through all the entires in Blake for March 19th....simply could not help but be impressed by how Thoreau describes particulars of what he observed on his walks and how these feed or integrate into his "mental life". It is truly a demonstration of reading or opening to the sensed context in order to let the mind be guided by it.

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