Category Archives: Thoughts

The clod, or the pebble?

"Love seeketh not itself to please, 
 Nor for itself hath any care, 
But for another gives its ease, 
 And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair." 

So sung a little clod of clay 
 Trodden with the cattle's feet, 
But a pebble of the brook 
 Warbled out these meters meet: 

"Love seeketh only Self to please, 
 To bind another to its delight, 
Joys in another's loss of ease, 
 And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."

— William Blake, “The Clod and the Pebble”

More than just a story

Whenever we reminisce or try to find meaning in our lives, we tend to look at separate moments in an overall context or series of events that occurred. We look at moments as parts of stories that happened, in which we are just characters. I do this so often that I suppose I’m a narrativist. Often, I even approach the search for meaning using tools typically employed in literary, or interpretive, study.

This article has me rethinking that position. In our stories, most of the irrelevant details that make up the bulk of life are left out. Novels and films skip over the parts that don’t progress the story, and we do as well. Yet, these boring parts do still happen. Life includes all the boring things like driving our cars to and from work, events so trivial that we don’t even recall the trip when we get home. Our driving was on autopilot and we were elsewhere daydreaming. It’s difficult to reconcile a position that looks at the stories in life for substance, when the greater portion is made up of all these other events.

It’s possible that narrativists are missing something important in the boring bits.

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Nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen

…the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old…

— Kerouac

If by whiskey, you mean…

A 1952 speech by Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, Jr., a lawmaker from the state of Mississippi, on the subject of whether Mississippi should continue to prohibit (which it did until 1966) or finally legalize alcoholic beverages.

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

This kind of sums up politics.

Into the middle of nowhere

From the description:

Children at play in a woodland nursery provide a rare glimpse into the imagination, ours and theirs.

I can’t recall ever watching pure imagination unfold like this. Given nature as a toy chest, two logs become an airplane and the children pile on.

“Where do you want to go?” He asks his passengers.

“Into the middle of nowhere,” she says with a giggle.

Sufficient, but knows nothing of practical gardening

He said that he would acquire no knowledge which did not bear upon his object. Therefore all the knowledge which he possessed was such as would be useful to him. I enumerated in my own mind all the various points upon which he had shown me that he was exceptionally well-informed. I even took a pencil and jotted them down. I could not help smiling at the document when I had completed it. It ran in this way —

SHERLOCK HOLMES — his limits.

Knowledge of Literature: Nil.
Knowledge of Philosophy: Nil.
Knowledge of Astronomy: Nil.
Knowledge of Politics: Feeble.
Knowledge of Botany: Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
Knowledge of Geology: Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
Knowledge of Chemistry: Profound.
Knowledge of Anatomy: Accurate but unsystematic.
Knowledge of Sensational Literature: Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
Plays the violin well.
Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

— Dr. Watson