Monday, September 29, 2014


If curiosity were money, you'd be well off.  You have more curiosity than currency.  Sometimes the moment becomes so fraught with curiosity that you are almost stunned into a motionless stupor, wondering which book to pick up first, which search engine to consult, which line of which poem has the key, which short story or novel has the voice, which essay has the outcome.

If enthusiasm were money, you'd be considered a spendthrift, somehow made the subject of an intervention by one of your more rational and thoughtful components.  You spend enthusiasm on projects, on flowers, on dogs, on listening to music.  

You spend enthusiasm on pressing the delete button to send the wrong words to cyber limbo.  Then you come back to the keyboard or the pen and start again, taking out loans against tomorrow and your need to be op and alert at an early hour.

Can an aspect of a self turn in another aspect of a self, wanting in the bargain some form of conservatorship?  Can the rational aspects of the psyche accuse the others of collusion, a word often used in tandem with conspiracy.

These are not idle propositions.  They are based on a fascination for the noir and hardboiled and dimly lit stories and poems and music, but they do not define a man who is dark and cynical himself.  Among the more glorious sounds and harmonies you're aware of, there is the choral section of Beethoven;s Ninth Symphony, the part based on the poet Schiller's "Ode to Joy."

One of the more memorable dramatic experiences you've experienced in recent years is a podcast video segment, sponsored, you believe, by a bank in Portugal.  It begins with a single musician sitting in a town square, turning his cello.  A little girl approaches, puts a few coins at the cellist's feet.  He begins playing.  Soon, another musician appears out of the crowded square, then another and another, until there is the equivalent of a full symphonic orchestra, playing the main theme from the final movement of the Beethoven.  Soon, the musicians are joined by a full chorale.  Together, they send surges of joy bouncing off the walls, the people; the entire square is a stunning mass of performing joy.

In his way, in that symphony, the Ninth, Beethoven has taken us on a roller coaster ride, swooping down to depths of despair and gloom.  Then, as if to show us how we embody the conversation between the dark and the heights, he gives us that final, emphatic, glorious hymn to the resonant frequency we can achieve.  All we have to do is stop, open up the doors, then listen.

As if to emphasize his intentions, Beethoven, himself not a happy or outgoing man during his lifetime, now completely deaf, writes some of the most amazing string quartets the world has ever heard.  He, of course, heard the music within his interior self.  You cannot hear these string quartets--two violins, a viola, and a cello--without a radiant sense of connection with the species of which you are apart, friend and stranger alike.  At times, when you hear such music, you hear it with dearest departed friends and family.

All you need to get oriented are the first four string quartets Mozart wrote and dedicated to Haydn.  You could throw in some of the piano sonatas Haydn wrote.  You could throw in Beethoven's Violin Concerto for a lark, the Ninth Symphony, then those final dead quartets and with these, you'd have a language with which to begin understanding the vocabulary of story.  You would not think it out of the ordinary to like dark, murky story while still considering yourself in such battered terms as a romantic, a positivist, an optimist.

What is it about dark?  One thing is the promise dark brings of light, night's promise of day, Mozart's gut wrenching adagio from the Clarinet Concerto in A Major, moon's promise of sun, and all the other possible one-two-punch combinations that come to you as you consider these things.

Which gets us right down to where we should be in the sense of humanity having its dark, sometimes creepy, sometimes cynical and misanthropic aspects as offsets of romanticism, of reach, grasp, attempt.

Which brings us to exquisite gardens, say for an example, the Portland Rose Garden, and its opposing aspect, a clump of volunteered plant or shrub or flower, growing in a crack within a slab of sidewalk.

Which brings us to starting over when that activity becomes necessary.  For every time you rip a page from your note pad or press the select all button on a MS Word or Mac Pages document, then follow through with a swipe at the delete button, you are tipping your hat, nodding your head to the keepers, the pages you liked enough to take with you.


Behind the exultant, soaring feeling you get when your fingers are flying over the keyboard, and the project it going well, yelling out to you, "Keeper, keeper, keeper." there is an equally live feeling that comes from hitting the delete.  You've allowed yourself to fail, opened the doors to it, invited the neighbors in to celebrate.

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