Monday Aphorism: Living On an Island

What’s misleading is that so many people live here. It seems like a city. It looks like a city. And there is plenty to do here. There is no great reason to leave, and unless you do, you don’t begin to ask where the next place is.

In any direction, in every direction, in each direction there is land, land, land, not so full of very much. It goes on, so that looking forward does not see any end, any point where there is someplace…else.

Arriving, it is now a pleasure to look back, to see, and think, to contemplate where I was: that it is an island, an urban jewel in the midst of oceans of land.

Never mind that it is frozen tundra much of the year (today, especially). Never mind the jerks, the banality of copyists trying to be not-so-great from too afar. Never mind the eras of too early maturing teenagers now middle aged who thought they were somewhere…in the big times which got older, faded, tired.

Here, looking down upon Ol’ Miss, the Great River, I see city everywhere, bustling through a wind chill which threatens in each moment.

The steams of city rising tell me that I am in the middle of an island, heavily populated, cut-off from the elsewheres of life which grant meaning in the news of today, every day.

Living on an island, trying to image-ine it big enough so its edges create the dialectics of newness.

So its perspectives of the distances of clear vision grant new understanding and do not stifle.

  • Karl Rogers

    The planet Earth is an island.

    When I visited Easter Island, the home of the Rappa Nui people, called by them Rappa Nui — a strange and haunted island, with a terrible history that hangs over it like a shroud — I was particularly disturbed to learn that the stone heads all looked inwards and were positioned along the coast, all except for the oldest one, the first one, which was in the center of the island, on a small hill, looking outwards over the Pacific Ocean….

    I was disturbed to learn that each stone head was a site of a tomb, representative of an ancestor, looking inward, over the people…..

    …an island which was named Rappa Nui by the Rappa Nui.

    The oppressive intovertedness of this strange, isolated island was everywhere…. of a people marooned, looking inward, the horizon of their vision being themselves, each other, while their ancestors surrounded them and watched them all, with their backs to the vast world beyond….

    …this seemed like a prison island to me.

    And then I learned of how the Rappa Nui finally snapped under the strain of this incestuous confinement of this island, and how these people waged an awful, destructive civil war upon each other….

    …this war only ended when the remaining people began to attack the ancestors, pushing down their stone head markers, and smashing them.

    The surviving Rappa Nui moved to the cliffs, built stone houses, and looked out over the sea. It seemed to me that these people waited and dreamed of escape. A new religion grew amongst them, as they watched the sea birds sore free and high on the thermals, and they dreamed of becoming birdmen and flying off, away from this prison island. They saw the birds nesting island — a small pinacle of rock jutting out from the crashing waves, about half a mile from the foot of the cliffs….

    The solution must have come to them in a flash. They could escape the island if they climb down the cliffs, swim through the crashing waves, make it to the birds’ nesting island, take an egg, and carry it, undamaged back to the Rappa Nui… where, somehow magic would prevail and the egg would transform the champion into a bird and he would fly free… fly away… perhaps to seek rescue for his fellow, or perhaps they must rescue themselves.

    But, alas, no one succeeded. Those that did not fall from the cliffs and die, drowned in the sea. And those that made it to the rocky pinacle, if they were not dashed against it and managed to fend off the birds and steal an egg, were unable to bring it back intact.

    And thus the desperation of the Rappa Nui continued until the European devils arrived, bringing alcohol, slavery, disease, and death.
    All but a few Rappa Nui were killed. The few remaining families are once more trapped on the island, the stone heads have been put back up for the tourists to marvel at their mysteries, and, once more, the gaze of the inhabitants of the island has turned inwards…. into poverty and isolation.

    Many Rappa Nui have adopted Christianity now. A religion that promises escape at the end of life… rebirth in Paradise. Perhaps Easter Island (or Isla de Pascua, as the Spanish named it) is an apt name… again, the Rappa Nui put their hope of escape around the symbol of an egg and ascending man.

    The planet Earth is an island.

    We have surrounded ourselves by satellites, looking inwards, their gaze beaming our image over a billion televisions, beaming our voices over a billion phones, where even our desparate flight to a pinance of rock we call the Moon was a few photo opportunities. Photos of the Earth. Photos of a man in a white suit, holding a flag, or playing golf. A image of a human footprint. A small step for [a] man; a giant leap for mankind.

    They returned, but only brought back a few rocks…. to be greated by more photo opportunities.

    We islanders are looking inward…. Man is the Measure of All Things.

    Have we become the Rappa Nui?

  • Karl Rogers

    The planet Earth is an island.

    When I visited Easter Island, the home of the Rappa Nui people, called by them Rappa Nui — a strange and haunted island, with a terrible history that hangs over it like a shroud — I was particularly disturbed to learn that the stone heads all looked inwards and were positioned along the coast, all except for the oldest one, the first one, which was in the center of the island, on a small hill, looking outwards over the Pacific Ocean….

    I was disturbed to learn that each stone head was a site of a tomb, representative of an ancestor, looking inward, over the people…..

    …an island which was named Rappa Nui by the Rappa Nui.

    The oppressive intovertedness of this strange, isolated island was everywhere…. of a people marooned, looking inward, the horizon of their vision being themselves, each other, while their ancestors surrounded them and watched them all, with their backs to the vast world beyond….

    …this seemed like a prison island to me.

    And then I learned of how the Rappa Nui finally snapped under the strain of this incestuous confinement of this island, and how these people waged an awful, destructive civil war upon each other….

    …this war only ended when the remaining people began to attack the ancestors, pushing down their stone head markers, and smashing them.

    The surviving Rappa Nui moved to the cliffs, built stone houses, and looked out over the sea. It seemed to me that these people waited and dreamed of escape. A new religion grew amongst them, as they watched the sea birds sore free and high on the thermals, and they dreamed of becoming birdmen and flying off, away from this prison island. They saw the birds nesting island — a small pinacle of rock jutting out from the crashing waves, about half a mile from the foot of the cliffs….

    The solution must have come to them in a flash. They could escape the island if they climb down the cliffs, swim through the crashing waves, make it to the birds’ nesting island, take an egg, and carry it, undamaged back to the Rappa Nui… where, somehow magic would prevail and the egg would transform the champion into a bird and he would fly free… fly away… perhaps to seek rescue for his fellow, or perhaps they must rescue themselves.

    But, alas, no one succeeded. Those that did not fall from the cliffs and die, drowned in the sea. And those that made it to the rocky pinacle, if they were not dashed against it and managed to fend off the birds and steal an egg, were unable to bring it back intact.

    And thus the desperation of the Rappa Nui continued until the European devils arrived, bringing alcohol, slavery, disease, and death.
    All but a few Rappa Nui were killed. The few remaining families are once more trapped on the island, the stone heads have been put back up for the tourists to marvel at their mysteries, and, once more, the gaze of the inhabitants of the island has turned inwards…. into poverty and isolation.

    Many Rappa Nui have adopted Christianity now. A religion that promises escape at the end of life… rebirth in Paradise. Perhaps Easter Island (or Isla de Pascua, as the Spanish named it) is an apt name… again, the Rappa Nui put their hope of escape around the symbol of an egg and ascending man.

    The planet Earth is an island.

    We have surrounded ourselves by satellites, looking inwards, their gaze beaming our image over a billion televisions, beaming our voices over a billion phones, where even our desparate flight to a pinance of rock we call the Moon was a few photo opportunities. Photos of the Earth. Photos of a man in a white suit, holding a flag, or playing golf. A image of a human footprint. A small step for [a] man; a giant leap for mankind.

    They returned, but only brought back a few rocks…. to be greated by more photo opportunities.

    We islanders are looking inward…. Man is the Measure of All Things.

    Have we become the Rappa Nui?