Next Places

Posts related to my book “Next Places”

A cold, alien chill shoots up our spines. What chill, what alien that it is a chill, frightening, threatening being? How, alien? Who am I that something not me can enter being, unwanted, unwelcome?

The body, full of spots of hot and cold and not so hot and less than cold, is alive. Food we take in our mouths becomes thermal energy, reconstructed by the body to provide heat against the colds of day and night, animating us, we move and think and be. What colds, what hots are us; which alien?

Alien? Alien! Some external notion, ever suspected or thrust away? Persons, sickness, retches, the colds of total shiverings, all me? What alien? What me? Some feelings of body I read and like. Others I don’t seem to like? Me? Alien?

Who I am, who am I not? Other persons: bodies, minds, they affect me, taking over thoughts, creating desires, fears, angers, loss of concentration. I want…I don’t…want. What edges, where is the me which is not anyone else? What love, what hate…them, my self?

Mothers’ work! All of us, all our flesh conceived by others, still imagined. The me I love, the me I love less, not so separate.

The me I am, the me which is other which is else, spinning webs of self-trap, imagining that I am hermitted in life. What family, what friends, where does love begin and fear end? What is lust, sickness, that I fear my own feelings and call them alien?

Kill the aliens; kill the fear?

The problem: my chill and rear.

The solution…?

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When I (we) was young, maturity seemed like some end-point toward which…Adulthood a place which possessed its own knowledge and meaning which would become somehow obvious; achieving, falling-into this state.

For more than twenty years we took on the mantles of parenthood, thinking it was grown-up and adult, perhaps in contrast to our children who were small, needed care and guidance, and… who then grew-up.

All these outward facets of being adult have passed. We are here, now alone, now without the others to tell: yet consultants, friends, but not as adults to anyone, certainly not to ourselves.

What will be next – post-adult – beyond the imagination of becoming mature, a category whose outline blurred; what occupation, what place in the world, what to do, who and how to be?

Past-adulthood: a time to re-think, to re-consider; new problems, new notions of activity, a more powerful sense of boredom with more time, shelter no longer a house, where is there to be “at home?”

 

I like the idea of being (called) a humanist. I try to interpret and understand the notions of humanism and being a humanist through the outlook of being a writer-teacher.

I believe that all humans are a part, each an aspect of this world in physical and conceptual senses. I attempt to take the ideas of the human condition which all of us have thought out, and get them into the minds and lives of everyone’s todays and tomorrows.

I do not merely reject spirituality or whatever visions through which life is seen and lived, but I am sure that life’s problems must be thoughtfully considered, and new analyses applied to new times.

I don’t like everything about anyone, least of all myself. It is not my wish to make anyone feel good merely by playing with their moods. Rather, I wish to praise their confidence in being able to deal with the world as it is, and will be.

I study them as persons like myself, also urged to write and teach and study, trying to walk with them and their ideas as they would peruse today’s world.

I need a great deal of privacy and down-time to absorb what is happening in some constant epochal battles with being in the world. I like to live in the words and minds and ideas of the world’s great writers, thinkers and doers. Thus, I deal in the lives and words of persons who are mostly now dead; whose words, ideas, and products such as books and musical texts have survived. I study them to see how and why they have survived, to see what and how they said, attempting to place myself in their thoughts and times; and bring them in ours.

I play their music in order to discover what they have written in it.

All this I try to tell to others, and especially to urge their own studies that it may become a useful part of their own lives. I like the idea of being a humanist, and want these ways of being and thinking to live actively and thoughtfully in our lives: toward visions of the future.

Yesterday, for the first time, I looked out the windows of my new office; looking out upon the Great River flowing downstream past the East Bank University, a scene of tranquility and beauty – from that distance.

The eastern sky, blue, looking forward to winter’s late dawn over white frozen river’s flowing, and brilliant morning sun. People, Lilliputian from my eighth floor view, reduced to manageable dimensions; I find pleasure in the vision of distance and the distance of vision.

I wonder, now, how that will be: whether I can enlarge vision to fill the conceptual immensity of deep river’s gorge; whether I will ponder anew the riddles of Heraclitus’ flux upon river’s surface or within its current, flowing; whether the frozen aspects of winter will cast my thoughts into some capriciousness, yearning for activity or for inaction; whether I will get lost, searching among the clouds of season’s beings and changings, for the other sides of this globe; whether my mind will drift beyond the beyond I look out upon, into the vastness of being and imagination?

Ahh-h, today is another day. What day is it? Well, I don’t really know. The weather is, well, regular for this time of year.

Awake, my love.

Time to get up.

What time?

Time to get up. Another day. Who am I, you ask? That’s a silly question. I am your husband, your life’s companion.

Get up. Don’t dawdle, thinking, brooding. What’s there to think about.

Now. Get up. Another day.

What time, what day, what weather? Where are we?

Right here, right now. Time to get up. Another day. Just like the others.

Just as good… No worse.

Now the earth is growing old. We are here, observers of the days of our lives, watching. But we have seen it all; all the stories have been told, and we have heard them several times; all the births, the deaths, the goings and comings, we know them.

Living out each day. They’re all the same. Growing older, I suppose, with the earth, yearning a little to rejoin some universal imagination.

No matter now, nor any tears to shed…

H (age 30).  Help! I am stuck. I am at the end of my rope. Running about the edges of a cul-de-sac, I have seen what there is so many times, I forget to look because it is all memorized. Help me! I want to get out of here.
H (age 70).  Really? That’s too bad. Why don’t you just stop. Get off, get out. What’s the problem?
H (30). Help me! I’ve put in so much time, energy, my life. My life…is here. I can’t get out, can’t give up.
H (70).  Are you stuck on being stuck? Have you fallen in love with what you are doing so that finishing, at this point, will leave you with nothing to do? Are you afraid to hang your work out in public like Monday’s wash? They’ll find out it’s you, you know. The torn and tattered underwear will give you away.
H (30).  But I want it to be right. No mistakes. I’ve put so much time in this. Help me!

H (70).  O.K. I’ll help. But only if you stop at this task of fifty years which you want done yesterday. You took on a difficult task. What did you expect, you thirty-year-old genius? Mistakes, embarrassment? Too bad. You wanted to be very good, but didn’t expect the high prices?  Everything’s inflated, especially your ego dancing still, just above the plateau of the do-able. Easier to deflate your ego than to complete this task? The impasse is you…not your work.
 

I taught how people think about success, and he asked about self-satisfaction; perhaps the only thing which lasts, which serves the psyche more, the outside judges less (or damn them!).

Ooh-h-h! I breathed deeply, the breath expanding, invading all the areas of my body where the edges of hurt reside. Self, I thought, where are you so I can feed you, so I can satisfy you?

My self answered back, that place-in-me which ranges from a rather bitchy aesthetic which prefers the whipping of birch bark on frozen days, on sauna-ed flesh’s excesses, to a gluttonous obesity of countenance whose satiety is reached only at near collapse, that self answered back with some sort of sardonic grin which blinded me and turned-off thinking.

I worried. It worried me. It pushed, bent, I wanted to run into the mirror so its silvered surface would dissolve and welcome me into Lewis Carroll’s domains behind; so I could look out, protected, and glance at my self glancing at its self looking for some satisfaction, pleased…

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