October 2011

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Attending the first of a series of meetings with the general title of “aspects…” I was alarmed at once by the lack of thought and study which had preceded it, and by the sense that the organizers thought they were engaged in doing something which would surely shake the earth. Some of the best and weightiest of minds had grappled with this area of inquiry and of life’s experiences, and here some lighter weights sought to exert and to insert their presence onto the world’s literatures.

I, a mostly outsider, mostly hoping to find some thought and talk, showed up a few minutes early. The room, a chemistry lecture hall which rises from about the sixth row, was virtually empty except for the two gatherers and a few others. A silly sense of consternation reigned, especially since the organizers had expected a full house based on a previous discussion series a few years earlier, on the subject of “Structuralism.”

They had wanted – it appeared – a full room, rather than the most interested, possibly most thoughtful half dozen. Even unprepared they wanted to play in a large arena, as if their mere presence and selfness would carry the day.

After several minutes of re-forming, a geologist talked about aspects of change, geologically speaking. The talk, well-prepared and delivered, talked about geology as a theory of change, itself. It was quite straight-forwardly descriptive. It was not informed by any such theory out of some deep and I sense hopefully mystical sense of what is change which seemed to lurk in the organizers’ wonderings.

The organizers, hoping that some theory of theory of theory would emerge, seemed disappointed, but capable of being informed. Left with the problem, not of change, but of publicizing the series, they will regroup and look for larger audiences.

I, inspired somehow by an underlying spirit of the meeting that the problems associated with change are central to most everything, swallowed my cynicism and became curious. It was this experience which moved me toward the study of Heraclitus who thought “all is change,” and toward the idea that the paradox of change and permanence are central to most everything else…

The end of a long summer’s drought, a seemingly gentle rain woke me early. Steady fall, the love of the sound, like ocean’s washings lulling my sensibilities. Now, a year past the mundane worries of new roof’s imperfections, my mind is given over to the morning’s review of my recent world, much filled with life’s major events: marriage, sickness, impending death of some older members of my family.

Rain steady, the backdrop to a Vivaldi string sonata melding as planned into the droplets: gently wavering. Now, teaching, a telling to a group of world students, who is the great behemoth of the West; where we may be heading. A love of teaching…to those who want to understand. This year, a clear resentment that we are involved, even deeply responsible for: the world’s killings, for some sense of injustice, for increasing terror and terrors – all in the name of justice.

Rain, like lullabies driving me by easy steps, into a wondering about life’s visions: for me, you, all of us, and in what name? What God; what gods, of life, of death, I keep thinking that we are telling ourselves to betray some trust, sacred in the hands of humanity. Rain, steady, bringing to my mind words like: inevitable, fate, destiny. These thoughts, usually more harsh, ebb and flow with the loves of being and of being, with you.

A rainy day, soon to take a long walk around the lake of my city’s living, abandoned to the very few who will love with me, the sound, the wet, the fogs of rain-altered vision.