Wrong, Wrong, Uncertainly Right

Flickr.com: '041/365 - Skeptical,' by Artamir78 on Flickr

[Image: “041/365 – Skeptical,” by Artamir78 on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license; thank you!)]

From whiskey river:

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that—well, lucky you.

(Philip Roth [source])

and:

Theories of Personal Identity

The photograph;
the past life;
the long lost
black sheep who’s become
the shoe that fits.
The ghost town,
a.k.a. the rummage bin,
that old sweet song.
The suitcase; the hotel
room; the surprise
box lunch; the plain
brown wrapper. The umbrella
someone opened in the house.
The alphabet, or perhaps
I mean a river, or a well.
The skeleton in the closet.
The writing on the wall.
The telltale heart.

(Jan Zwicky [source])

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The Resonance of Things

'Resonance,' by user sky rim on Flickr

[Image: “resonance.,” by user skyrim (Ahmed Mahin Fayaz) on Flickr.com. (Used here under a Creative Commons license.)]

In lieu of my customary whiskey river Fridays post today — computer crisis last weekend, and other real-life obstacles (all pleasant) since — I thought for today I’d just direct your attention to the source itself.

Particularly, take a look at the excerpt from Jan Zwicky’s poem:

Practicing Bach

There is, said Pythagoras, a sound
the planet makes: a kind of music
just outside our hearing, the proportion
and the resonance of things — not
the clang of theory or the wuthering
of human speech, not even
the bright song of sex or hunger, but
the unrung ringing that
supports them all.

Is the cosmos
laughing at us? No. It’s saying

improvise. Everywhere you look
there’s beauty, and it’s rimed
with death. If you find injustice
you’ll find humans, and this means
that if you listen, you’ll find love.

(Jan Zwicky [source])

Not a bad note to round off (or to kick off) any week at all, hmm?

 

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Exquisite Creatures, Singular Moments

'Al otro lado del reflejo' (lit., 'To the other side of the reflection'), by Oiluj Samall Zeid on Flickr

[Image: “Al otro lado del reflejo” (lit., “To the other side of the reflection”), by Oiluj Samall Zeid on Flickr. (Used under a Creative Commons license.)]

From whiskey river:

This summer, of all I’ve read and copied out, because I wanted to keep the words close and to feel them come from my own hand, here’s this little passage from Proust: “To reach the end of a day, natures that are slightly nervous, as mine was, make use, like motorcars, of different ‘speeds.’ There are mountainous, uncomfortable days, up which one takes an infinite time to pass, and days downward sloping, through which one can go at full tilt, singing as one goes.”

That’s me in my motorcar dress, windows open, hair flying.

Sometimes I am grateful he knows. (And that he knew me before I was born! And that the words awaited me all these years!)

Sometimes I feel stripped bare and found out.

(Lia Purpura [source])

and:

Recovery

And when at last grief has dried you out, nearly
weightless, like a little bone, one day,
no reason in particular, the world decides to tug:
twinge under the breastbone, the sudden thought
you might stand up, walk to the door and
keep on going… And in the seconds following,
like the silence following the boom under the river ice, it all
seems possible, the egg-smooth clarity of the new-awakened,
rising, to stand, and walk… But already
at the edges of the crack, sorrow
starts to ooze, the brown stain spreading
and you think: there is no end to it.

But in the breaking, something else is given — not
that glittering jumble, shrieking and churning in the blind
centre of the afternoon,
but something else — a scent,
like a door flung open, a sudden downpour
through which you can still see the sun, derelict
in the neighbour’s field, the wren’s bright eye in the thicket.
As though on that day in August, or even July,
when you were first thinking of autumn, you remembered also
the last day of spring, which had passed
without your noticing. Something that easy, let go
without a thought, untroubled by oblivion,
a bird, a smile.

(Jan Zwicky [source])

and (italicized passage):

What do you mean by you? If you are the universe, in the greater context that question is irrelevant. You never were born and you never will die, because what there is, is you. That should be absolutely obvious, but from an egoistic perspective it is not obvious at all. It should be the simplest thing in the world to understand that you, the ‘I’, is what has always been going on and always will go on, coming and going forever and ever…

What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.

(Alan Watts [source])

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Groping at (but Never Grasping) Mystery

[Video: “Who Done It?” by Harry Nilsson (on 1977’s Knnillssonn album). The string opening is reportedly the only so-called “Nilsson” recording not actually written by Nilsson himself; it’s the Allegro movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Opus 127. (The Adagio movement is referenced in Jan Zwicky’s poem, below.)]

From whiskey river:

Nirvana is this moment seen directly. There is no where else than here. The only gate is now. The only doorway is your own body and mind. There’s nowhere to go. There’s nothing else to be. There’s no destination. It’s not something to aim for in the afterlife. It’s simply the quality of this moment.

(Jane Hirshfield [quoted many places around the Web, apparently sourced from a PBS documentary on the Buddha])

…and:

There is the moment when the silence of the countryside gathers in the ear and breaks into a myriad of sounds: a croaking and squeaking, a swift rustle in the grass, a plop in the water, a pattering on earth and pebbles, and high above all, the call of the cicada. The sounds follow one another, and the ear eventually discerns more and more of them—just as fingers unwinding a ball of wool feel each fiber interwoven with progressively thinner and less palpable threads, The frogs continue croaking in the background without changing the flow of sounds, just as light does not vary from the continuous winking of stars. But at every rise or fall of the wind every sound changes and is renewed. All that remains in the inner recess of the ear is a vague murmur: the sea.

(Italo Calvino [source])

…and:

Beethoven: Op 127, Adagio

1.

Here at the end of summer
the heart talks to itself,
a thin stream braiding
over a lip of rock.

To go through a wall, then another—
galleries of silent, stone-ground light.
To go through, to that third room on the other side,
to empty the forest of your thoughts, the forest of your lungs,
this is where the heart goes in late summer,
the empty forest. Even the sunlight is alone.

In the third room, the heart sits on the floor
talking to itself. A little stream,
braiding over a lip of rock.
It is saying what it has said
from the beginning, no doors, no windows,
if anyone could hear.

(Jan Zwicky [source])

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