In Media Res

'Charon,' by user h-k-d (Hartwig HKD) on Flickr

[Image: “Charon,” by user h-k-d (Hartwig HKD) on Flickr. (Used under a Creative Commons license.)]

From whiskey river:


Each of them can’t decide if there is a God
or if there is a self.

Do I have an I? one says
to another who seems distracted, looking out what might have been a window.

What is the difference between a self and a soul?
Is it true that one god is in relationship to each of us?
Or is the each of us an illusion, and we are the god we are looking for?
That’s what the distracted one is thinking and what
she wants to know,

and she wishes that other person would stop bothering her,
and she wishes she had more time to think about these things,
although she has all the time in the world.

(Marie Howe [source])


Les géographies solennelles des limites humaines…
(Paul Eluard, Les Yeux fertiles, p. 42)

(“The solemn geographies of human limits”)

Car nous sommes où nous ne sommes pas.
(Pierre-Jean Jouve, Lyrique, p. 59)

(“For we are where we are not.”)

But how many daydreams we should have to analyze under the simple heading of Doors! For the door is an entire cosmos of the Half-open. In fact, it is one of its primal images, the very origin of a daydream that accumulates desires and temptations: the temptation to open up the ultimate depths of being, and the desire to conquer all reticent beings. The door schematizes two strong possibilities, which sharply classify two types of daydream. At times, it is closed, bolted, padlocked. At others, it is open, that is to say, wide open…

And what of all the doors of mere curiosity, that have tempted being for nothing, for emptiness, for an unknown that is not even imagined?

Is there one of us who hasn’t in his memories a Bluebeard chamber that should not have been opened, even halfway? Or — which is the same thing for a philosophy that believes in the primacy of the imagination — that should not even have been imagined open, or capable of opening half-way?

How concrete everything becomes in the world of the spirit when an object, a mere door, can give images of hesitation, temptation, desire, security, welcome and respect. If one were to give an account of all the doors one has closed and opened, of all the doors one would like to re-open, one would have to tell the story of one’s entire life.

But is he who opens a door and he who closes it the same being?

(Gaston Bachelard [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Last Night I Drove My Son Home

from his friend’s house, where they were filming
a movie starring my son in a love triangle.
My son, fifteen, has never been in a love right angle,
or even a love straight line, as far as I know.
He stopped talking two years ago —
to me, I mean. I got this secondhand from a street informant
I’ll refer to here by her code name, Little Sister.

A warm night, windows rolled down — my cheap car
requires physical cranking. (Not even a CD player!)
Purchased in 2003 when he was ten and still kissed me goodnight
and may even have held my hand while we watched
old movies. (No cable TV either!) Yesterday
he made me kill a giant bug, and I briefly saw
that ten-year-old again.

Full moon — I could see him looking up at it,
following it as I turned and we lost it to the trees.
September, but moist like August. I ached
for a few soft words between us in that silence.

On a sidewalk near the park a young man sat,
face in hands, a friend standing helpless above him.
I slowed down. What’s that guy doing? I said aloud.
Is he OK?

I see him too, my son said.
As the friend helped the man
to his feet, I sped on.

My son hummed an old song about the moon
that I didn’t know he knew. My son, the star
of a movie I’ll never see. I just get
these vague coming attractions.
I caught him in a lie or two this week.
Every exchange a house of cards — all it takes
is a deep sigh, and they come tumbling down.

I’d have hummed along with him,
but I didn’t want him to stop.

(Jim Daniels [source])


If I were God, I would make a world exactly like this one. I love its inconsistencies, its contradictions. I love it that this river flows around stones and finds its own way. I love it that people are free, even to be selfish and to think they own beaches and mountaintops and have the right to keep the poor off them. I love it that things change, that the boundaries of nations and the fences of the rich get torn down sometimes. I love it that some people think we have many lifetimes while others think we have only this one. I especially love it that no one knows for certain, even if they think they do.

I love it that there are little clovers here in the grass beside me as I write, the same kind I have known all my life, and that this morning there was a bewildered-looking moose that I have not known at all standing in the mist at the edge of this river.

I love it that I am sixty years old and my hair is gray and my hand against this white paper is showing age spots and I am sitting on a wedge of land between a river and a stream on a Monday afternoon in July. I love it that I don’t know exactly where I am, because it helps me to remember that I don’t know exactly where Earth is in this galaxy, or where this galaxy is in this universe, or whether I have only this lifetime or many lifetimes. I love supposing this one is the only one, because it keeps me mindful of how precious everything is.

(Pat Schneider [source])

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  1. I like the Bachelard piece. You might recall that I once proposed a ‘therapy’ system inspired by the liberating power of door imagery:

    This also put me in mind of a favourite H.G. Wells short story, The Door in the Wall:

    And that in turn reminded me of a line by Andre Breton:
    “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing it cannot name.”

    • Ah, Mr. Froog… always good to see you. (Naturally, you bump into consciousness every time Something Big happens over there. Lately there have been even more Somethings than usual. Which presupposes of course that you are in fact still “over there.” ???)

      Thanks for pointing me to that ’ville post, which I hadn’t read before — it went online about a year before I’d visited the site for the first time. You may have been onto something. If only… if only… (The blogger’s lament: never enough readers to satisfy!)

      I never had the chance to experience this myself, but a good friend once went through a form of regression therapy: the therapist “walked” the subject into the past via what sounded to me like, um, call it lightweight hypnosis. The idea was that the past could be explored as a big, multi-level underground building, the various floors accessed by stairways and/or elevators; the objective was eventually to get to the bottom floor, which consisted of a single hallway at the end of which were, yes, three doors — one on each side, and one straight ahead. As you stood there trying to decide which to open, you’d find yourself resisting even touching the doorknob of one of the three… and that, of course, was the door behind which you would find what you most needed to find (not necessarily most wanted to find). My friend’s description of the “journey” — which took several sessions (the journey took that long, not the description!) — kind of raised the hair on my forearms.

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