'Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking...'

Friday, February 17, 2017

a poem...

Untitled



I want to meet my father Avraham the wandering Aramean,
ask him if he had ever heard the Voice before that day,
ever seen that Angel like a flaming pillar with the Name inside
him as an onyx stone might be set in a piece of marble.
How to recognize the Voice of the One who happens
along if not by those imperious commands - 
quit father’s house kindred homeland quit all that’s dear,
go, go now, go to the Land, don’t bother with where
you will go, I will show you the Land you will know it when you see it.
Just go; always go; forever go. There will be rest at the end.
O my father Avraham tell me at length of the terror
that still tosses nations about like motes in an April windstorm.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

yeah, it's the Guardian, but still...


     See, I don't really want to care how people live out there. I have problems of my own. This, however, is an abuse of language, and that I do care about: 'Transgender soldier is first female to serve on British army frontline'. That's a lie, and as such it is an attempt to do violence to the order of being itself.
     Though it count for nothing, I must say no, this man is not 'the first woman to serve' on the frontline. He's a man, serving on the front line while suffering from the delusion that he is a woman. That several venerable institutions have colluded in supporting this man's delusions is irrelevant to the question at hand. As for the man in question, frankly, he's not my problem, but I'm not going to look into the night and call it day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

i hear the humanities are dying...


     It always puzzles me that we commend the study of one or another of the humanities, not because of the discipline itself, but for the sake of some ancillary benefit. So, study history, not because the study of history is worthwhile for its own sake, but because it instills something called 'critical thinking'. In fact, 'critical thinking' seems to be the universal yield of all the varied humanistic disciplines. It hardly matters which one you choose, for no matter how arcane it may seem, you will nonetheless obtain, develop, or somehow find yourself with 'critical thinking', or, even more impressive, 'critical thinking skills'. (What, after all, is a degree worth if you don't develop skills?) As a sales guy, let me tell you, that is a bad pitch, because it takes attention away from the discipline(s), and places it on some 'skill' abstracted from any particular course of study, a skill moreover that one can probably attain through the study of mathematics, say, or economics. What, one might reasonably ask, is the point of studying history, or classics, or neo-classical architecture, and not finance or mechanical engineering, if one can get 'critical thinking' from them all, and the later might just yield gainful employment in the bargain? I studied history all those years ago, because I found that I liked studying history in a particular place with particular people and that was that. The result is that I learned how to study history, which was the point.

Friday, October 14, 2016

'o the humanity!'...

     Amidst all the Election Insanity and Rumours of War, this appeared in today's Columbus Dispatch. Someone had An Idea, you see.

This could have been avoided if those in charge had watched enough classic television:





Thursday, October 13, 2016

reading the news...

And who but Rumour, who but only I,
Make fearful musters, and prepared defence,
Whiles the big year, swollen with some other grief,
Is thought with child by the stern tyrant War,
And no such matter?   

                                    Henry IV, Part 2.

let's try this again...


    Well, here's where I begin to grow skeptical and wary of all these quick condemnations of Herr Donalt, including my own. It bothers me when a consensus forms so quickly, so easily, that adopting the regnant position is practically a reflex that entails no risk and no second thoughts while erasing all complexity.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

an aside...


     Well, here's where I begin to grow skeptical and wary of all these quick condemnations of Herr Donalt, including my own. It bothers me when a consensus forms so quickly, so easily, that adopting the regnant position is practically a reflex that entails no risk and no second thoughts while erasing all complexity.

tradecraft...

     It's been a while since I waxed all aphoristical. It's a perishable skill, like playing the flute, say, or reading the news without praying for death.

   

a heartfelt query...

     Yeah, I'm still a compatibilist. Why don't we get a convention every now and then?

Monday, October 3, 2016

another revision, because i sometimes show my work...

A Satisfactory Conclusion



     He felt the woman standing over his shoulder and looked down, shaking his head and laughing softly.
     Never thought you’d find me
     The woman leaned on the bar and said, I knew I would eventually.
     Should have known better I guess. 
     I guess. There was silence for a minute or so, then, Want to finish your drink?
     He held up his glass and looked through the scotch, bemused at this turn in his affairs. That’d be good. 
     Take your time, I’ll be outside.     
     I’ll be along directly. 
     He watched her leave, finished his drink, then all unhurried wrote something on a napkin. He left it with some money on the bar and carefully walked across the nearly empty space, admiring once more the high coffered ceiling with its intricate designs.
     When he reached the revolving door, he stopped, smiled slightly, said to himself, So this is how it is, and walked into the light of midday.

a story, revised...

A Very Short Story



     He felt the other standing over his shoulder and looked down, shaking his head and laughing softly.
     Never thought you’d find me
     The other leaned on the bar and said simply, I knew I would eventually.
     Should have known better I guess. 
     I guess. There was a pause, silence, then, Want to finish your drink?
     He held up his glass and looked through the scotch. Yeah. That’d be good. 
     Take your time, I’ll be outside.
     I’ll be along directly.
     He watched the other leave, finished his drink, then all unhurried wrote something on a napkin. He left it with some money on the bar, carefully stood and slowly walked across the nearly empty space, admiring once more the high ceiling with its intricate designs.
     When he reached the revolving door, he stopped, smiled slightly, said to himself, So this is how it is, and walked into the light of midday.

a story...

A Very Short Story



     He felt the other standing over his shoulder and looked down, shaking his head and laughing softly.
     Never thought you’d find me
     The other leaned on the bar and said simply, I knew I would eventually.
     Should have known better I guess. 
     I guess. There was a pause, silence, then, Want to finish your drink?
     He held his glass and looked through the scotch. Yeah. That’d be good. 
     Take your time, I’ll be outside.
     I’ll be along directly. 
     He watched the other leave, finished his drink, then all unhurried wrote something on a napkin. He left it with some money on the bar, carefully stood and slowly walked across the bar to the door leading to the street. When he reached it, he stopped, smiled slightly, said to himself, So, this is how it is.
     With that, he opened the door and walked into the light of midday.

Friday, September 16, 2016

a poser...


     I returned to my much neglected German lessons this morning, only to be confronted by this question: Ist eine Fliege wichtig [Is a fly important]? O my friends that is a matter of profound theological consequence.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

a story...

An Encounter in Time



     There once was a boy, and he sat one afternoon in the middle of his living room holding a toy tractor. He knew it was his living room, but he did not know why. He studied the toy tractor in his hand, studied it with the seriousness that only a boy of one year can afford to lavish on such a small, commonplace object of devotion. He knew the tractor was his, you see, just as he knew the living room was his, though he knew not the words Tractor, Living, or Room. He had also just realized that were he to set the tractor on the floor and turn away from it, the tractor would remain where he had placed it. This was a new thing, as though the world were coalescing around him as he moved through it, forming itself ever more permanently so that he could for once take his eyes off something without it slipping from being. That freed him up so that he could do something like study a toy tractor with such seriousness without worrying that those other, larger people who somehow held the key to his world would slip from being. He did not know it, of course, but he was on his way to forgetting the transience of all things, setting himself up for the grief of loss later when people and things would in fact slip from being into...well, that’s for another time. For now, we have a tale to tell of this boy who could finally stand on his own, but who for all that could not simply amble down the hall and into the wide world. Little did this boy, barely one as he was, realize that he was about to be visited by someone, someone only he could see, someone at once terrifying and delightful. 
     The boy, you see, was about to be visited by an Angel, and not just any Angel, o no, but one of those we call Archangels, though again, only the boy could see him as an Archangel. To the rest of the other, larger people in the household he would seem like their neighbor John, a kind fellow to be sure, but one who never seemed to be able to hold his life together.
     Suddenly there came a light tap tap tapping on the front door. The boy did not look up from his tractor. There was another, louder rap rap rapping on the door, and what sounded like someone falling against it from outside. The boy’s father, one of the larger people in the household, appeared from the kitchen, drying his hands with a dishtowel and muttering incomprehensibly. He opened the door, and in fell John, his clothes wrinkled and hair mussed from sleeping on his couch the night before. 
     ‘O, sorry,’ he said as he rose and stood all unsteadily. He was obviously and even painfully drunk. No, this was no hangover - he long ago had passed three sheets to the wind. It would be a long while before he got them back. The boy’s father helped him to a chair in the living room. 
     ‘What brings you by?’
     ‘Hmm?’ John asked, looking up a bit befuddled. ‘O yes, I just wondered, have you any...the...th...thea?’
     ‘Thea?’
     ‘Yeth...th...no, tea...tea...have you any tea?’
     ‘Would you like us to make you some tea?’
     ‘No no...no no...loose leaf tea...I was sitting...,’ at this the room seemed to pitch and roll, causing John to sway first to the front then to the back, then from side to side, as if he might fall out of the chair, but he gallantly pulled it together at the last second. He continued, ‘I was in my apartment...thinking...thoughts...and realized I wanted some tea. But I have no tea, so I came...to search...for tea....’
     ‘I think we have some Earl Grey.’
     ‘Good, good....’ At this, John spied the boy in the middle of the living room. ‘Young Master Elias! You’re so big!’
     His voice had changed, though the boy’s father seemed not to notice. Instead of the slurred drawl of a drunkard, John spoke with a poise and clarity that gently drew the boy from his revery. As the boy turned to the source of such a kind summons, his father stopped in mid step - all was suddenly still, so silent, and the boy was as it were embraced by a sentient kind of light that spoke to him as it were. It seemed to the boy that John smiled at him as no one had ever smiled to him, not even the larger people who lived with him. 
     ‘Yes my young friend, you are so very big of a sudden, as you would say of course.’
     The boy started to laugh and clap his hands while speaking his barely year-old tongue in return.
     ‘That is so,’ said the Archangel. ‘You are very perceptive to notice. Not a lot of the larger people would you know.’
     The boy laughed as he awkwardly stood to walk over to John. He was taken up in an ever more intense embrace of light and laughter as they spoke of many mysteries, though of course John never used words quite exactly. The boy understood that this strange creature was his friend, would always be his friend. In fact, he had been Young Master Elias’s friend from long before time began, as we would say of course. ‘I thought it time we got to know each other,’ he told the delighted child. John told him of the wonderful and terrible world into which he had been born, and of the One who had made this fabric of gossamer to show, in its own way, His truth, beauty, and goodness. This One, who was strangely Three (the boy laughed with pleasure when he heard that), would always be Elias’s ultimate Friend, the One who had set John as a protector for the little one until the day of his death. ‘O yes, that,’ John said. ‘We’ll have more to say about that later.’ And the boy understood it all.
     Then John said it was time for him to leave. Young Master Elias’s lower lip started to quiver a little, and he made as if to cry. ‘O no no no, my friend, I’m always around, though you won’t always be able to see me, and you have your mother and father who love you, and all their friends who are looking out for you.’ And there was another sort of embrace of light, and John as it were placed what you might call a finger on the boy’s chin and lifted the boy’s face to his own. ‘One last thing. This is very important. Don’t be afraid, no matter what happens. Don’t be afraid. It’s ever so much harder to protect you when you’re afraid.’
     At this, all the many sounds of the boy’s world returned in a rush, sound upon sound - the air conditioner in that window with its wheezing compressor, the cat scittering across the kitchen floor, and of course his father’s voice.
     ‘Just sit there and rest, I’ll get that tea.’
     John seemed to snore for a moment, then roused himself. ‘Wha...? O, tea...good, good...need some tea. I don’t exactly feel like myself right now.’              Young Master Elias stared at the drunkard slouched just so in his wrinkled clothes and mussed hair for a long time, then returned to his study of that toy tractor. If anyone had looked closely, they would have seen that he never ceased to smile that whole evening.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

something for this here election...

     Today we here in Ohio vote in our minor, inconsequential primary. This really is shaking out as the most important Presidential election since, o, 1980. So, it seems meet and right to keep these words from our first President in mind as I head to the polls. 


'In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated,' George Washington's Farewell Address.

Friday, March 11, 2016

electionisticalnexcitementnpunditry

Five more days and we here in Ohio will once again put the *swing* in swing-state. I am as yet undecided, though in good apophatic form I know those whom I shall not vote for. 

Sanders certainly is out - he's better as a gadfly in the Senate - and Kasich, should he remain on the ballot, shall be as a vessel of dishonor. As for the various strageric schemes to throw a spanner into Trump's hair, they're all too complicated and have only a faint chance, if any, of success. Besides, I can think of fates worse than Trump. 

If Romney screws this up I'm setting everyone's shoes on fire.

Incidentally, early this morning in New Albany I saw a fellow putting out signs for the Kasich campaign. Lea Ann and I speculated that perhaps he was an in-law who felt obligated to at least do something. I admired his quixotic dilligence in the face of certain, humiliating defeat. 

Anyway, the Ohio Primary is almost upon us. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Monday, March 7, 2016

a translation...

Antonio Machado, ‘Sobre la tierra amarga...’



   Upon the bitter land,
the dream holds labyrinthine
roads, tortured paths,
parks in flower and shade and silence;
   deep crypts, climbing above stars;
icons of hopes and memories.
Tiny figures that pass and smile 
- an old man’s melancholy toys - ;
  friendly images,
at the path’s flowered turn,
and roseate chimeras
that make a way . . . far away

Friday, February 26, 2016

today's fun thought...

     The most extreme manifestation of American Exceptionalism is the breathless condemnation of any manifestation of American Exceptionalism. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

rambling rambles about nothing at all...

     I need to start exercising again. Fell out of the habit thanks to the long bout of flu, infected sinuses, and general plaguiness. Still not back to full - in fact, I've lost my voice for like the fifth time or so. O well, this can't continue forever, no no no it can't I say. It's time for a return to cardio! Sounds like a movie - A Return to Cardio. 'Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks star in this Romantic Drama about two men who fall for the same woman in the same town after The War, and then return years later, each unbeknownst to the other, to rekindle their lost kindle with her - A Return to Cardio'.
     So like, yeah, I need to start exercising again. 

nothing to see here...

     Seems Noam Chomsky has seen fit to say something about The Donald. I don't really care about Chomsky, so no, I won't be reading the article in question. That would cut into my free time. I will simply note here the inevitable convergence of the twain, like the Titanic and its Iceberg riding the currents of Absolute Will.

it's like christmas has come early...

     O boy o boy o boy o boy o boy Facetube gave us cute virtual stickers we can use for anything! It’s like we’re kids again! Kids with debts and jobs and lawyers and doctors and accountants boy do we need accountants and kids and cars that need fixing and lawns and roofs and an ever growing list of regrets and doubts about whether we ever made the right decisions when pushed to it...but yay, we got some badass virtual stickers! Woohoo!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

thoughts on this here election cycle...

     It seems that the fate of the Republic is at stake in this latest Hunger Games, Presidential Edition. That is simply not true. The fate of those who will live through the final death and fall of the Republic is at stake. That's totally different.
     Have a nice day.

Monday, February 22, 2016

a poem...

When it is Nearly Winter



A thunderstorm comes tearing from the west,
and once again the ground is thick with leaves
wet and matted, mottled brown and yellow; 
some few fly about the gathering dark
of early evening in November, as
curled shavings fly before the carpenter’s plane.
These are not yet the shortest days, but when
the dark slams down upon those rushing home, 
those who have seen so little daylight while
they worked or slept or ate in tiny rooms,
it seems an almost perpetual night, the day
an errant dream lost before we’re awake,
like some frolicsome snake we glimpse as it 
streaks out of sight along a garden path.

a query...

     Are we certain that Socrates isn't the villain?

Monday, February 15, 2016

the game's afoot...

     This, from Senator Elizabeth Warren, is making the rounds on The Social Media:


     Well spotted, Senator Warren, well spotted. There is no such clause. In fact, you will not find in The Consitution a clause that requires the Senate to do anything in particular. Article 2, Section 2 makes that clear:

'...and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, [the President] shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.'

     The Senate can move with alacrity to a floor vote; the Senate can lollygag about as committee after committee vet chronologically a nominee's personal and professional life. If a gaggle of Senators wants to block a nominee, they are welcome to try. It is the prerogative of the Senate if so moved to allow a nomination to wither and die. Whether any given gaggle can so move the Senate is an open question. We answer it by means of all the Politics.      
     So, Senator Warren, you are correct, but what you say is not the whole truth. I do applaud your embrace of a plain-text reading of the Constitution, and encourage you to read farther, and deeper, in that work and the works of those who drafted it and saw it through a rather punishing ratification. (Hint - that was some first class Politics right there.) As you read the text, you might find all Penumbras disappear, but that is intermediate to advanced reading. For now, focus on the Article at hand concerning the various powers and prerogatives of the President and the Senate with regard to the appointment of Supremes. It will take practice, but with determined hard work you will improve over time. I have faith in your abilities.

Friday, February 12, 2016

wintery winter strikes again...


This is from a few nights ago. We had our usual early February Snowpocalypse. I've been too ill to go outside, but my wife tells me the city managed to survive. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

a poem...

Two-Fifteen A.M.


Who will conjure memory
at the end, conjure hope itself
from nothing at all? Stripped
bare, like tree limbs in a storm
one raw spring night, each 
must reckon with elements,
powers of the air, as light
as nothingness itself seems
when it seems most like being.

something from Denys...

     '"Suddenly" means that which comes forth from the hitherto invisible and beyond hope into manifestation. And I think that here Scripture is suggesting the philanthropy of Christ. The super-essential has proceeded out of its hiddenness to become manifest to us by becoming a human being. But He is also hidden, both after the manifestation and, to speak more divinely, even within it. For this is Jesus [hiding himself], and neither by rational discourse nor by intuition can his mystery be brought forth, but instead, even when spoken it remains ineffable, and when conceived with the intellect, unknowable,' [Epistle III, translated by Alexander Golitzin, Mystagogy: A Monastic Reading of Dionysius Areopagitica, p. 45, altered slightly].

I've noticed...

     Haydn's music is good for you, especially when you're awake in the night with the flu. 

good times...

     This time last year I was in Denver. That was only one stop in my whirling travels across the High Plains and back again. I may have been a madman. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

from today's reading...

     Here is Marina Tsvetaeva on Boris Pasternak:

'He is unique and indivisible. His verse is the formula of his essence. The divine case of "couldn't be done any other way". Wherever there may be a dominance of "form" over "content", or of "content" over "form", no essence ever set foot. And you can't copy him; only garments can be copied. You'd have to be born as another him,' [Art in the Light of Conscience, pg. 22-23]. 

The same of course can be said of Tsvetaeva herself. She goes on:

'Of the demonstrable treasures in Pasternak (rhythms, metres, and so on), others will speak in their turn - and doubtless with no less feeling than I when I speak of the non-demonstrable treasures. 

'That is the job of poetry specialists. My specialty is Life.'

Monday, February 8, 2016

late night pre-Lenten thoughts...

     The virus night shift is much more efficient and determined than the day shift. The nose is running and there's the coughing and the fever. It's hard to read while blowing le nez, so I'm listening to music.      
     I know what you're thinking dear reader - the earthquake in Taiwan, my cold, they're roughly the same in terms of how they raise the problem of suffering in a world created by a just God.
     Time to open another box of tissues. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

a translation...

Aeschylus, Agamemnon



But he who gladly shouts of Zeus's victories
shall make himself to be wise in all things -
Zeus who sets men on the path to wisdom,
who as Lord decreed that we have wisdom through pain -
Zeus lets fall before our hearts, even in sleep,
pain that brings loss to mind once again:
in such bonds man comes to be of sound mind,
a violent grace, from gods poised on the quarterdeck.

just a thought...

     Aeneas never should have left Dido. You know it's true, don't try to deny it.