Thursday, August 27, 2015

Taking Notes

You hear the expression "All hat and no cattle," a day or so ago--probably in reference to former Texas governor whose thoughts of a presidential nomination are all but exhausted--you are reminded of a similar trope you used in connection with yourself, "A load of notebooks, but nothing to put into them."

For a time, you tried to fill notebooks with such observations as the number of out-of-state automobile license plates you saw parked on the four hundred block of Cochran Street, where you lived just off the famed Los Angeles artery, Wilshire Boulevard and the Miracle Mile.  

At the time, your mother had her hair done at a salon on the north side of Wilshire, a block to two west of La Brea--probably Detroit Street or Cloverdale.  You enjoyed visiting her there because the salon supplied its hairdressers with magnets with which to keep a supply of hairpins at hand.  So long as your mother was there, you could manage to be able to play with one of these magnets, an activity that afforded you the opportunity to note in your various notebooks things that shared attraction with magnets and those metals that did not.

This memory gave you a direct link to the inordinate number of pocket-sized notebooks you have lying about your studio, with no one gathering spot for either the empties, the filled, or works in progress.  Picking up a used or still viable notebook today, you're met with a wide swath of observation, showing to great effect how far you've come from cataloging which metals have magnetic attraction and which don't, and which out-of-state cars are parked perhaps a hundred twenty miles north of the four hundred block of Cochran Avenue, the four hundred block of East Sola Street

Of the two subjects, magnetism still holds attraction for you, not to the same, simplistic degree the magnet and hairpins at Staber's Beauty Salon, but nevertheless with a focus on the chemistry you observe between things as disparate as ideas, concepts, and parallelisms.  At one time, you might have been led by the possible connections into thinking the universe was governed by mystical properties of causality.  

These thoughts led you through superstitions--the pitcher in a baseball game clutches a resin bag, not to dry the moisture from his fingers but rather for good luck--to openly questioning friends who had rabbit's feet key chains about whether they;d noticed any upswing in their good fortune, and a deliberate watchfulness on your part relative to walking under ladders.  

Your adventures with throwing a pinch of salt over your shoulder came to an abrupt stop and with it your notions about superstition when your father, watching you with the salt throwing, asked you, "What are you, some kind of a wise guy?"  But now, you had yet another aspect of phenomenology to investigate to see if there indeed was an equivalent of magnetism or chemistry.  You had yet to come by the word "phenomenology" at that time, but that did not stop you; you became what you thought was religious.  

Again, that question from your father, who taught you a good many useful things such as how to shave and how to get the object ball in rotation pool to come back to you after you struck it with the cue.  After asking you if you were some kind of wise guy, he explained that he meant no ridicule, only sincerity, with his observation that all things have consequences.  Other persons may not see the same consequences you intended when you did something, he explained, or when you were conspicuous for not doing anything when something may have been expected of you.

To that, he added, "Whatever you chose to be, be a good one.  There is great satisfaction in knowing you attempted to do well at your choice.  But make sure the choice is yours."  This led you to ask if that meant it was okay for you not to be a lawyer if you didn't want to be a lawyer. Your father said it was perfectly all right, but it would probably not be a good idea to discuss your choices with your Uncle Leo, who indeed was a lawyer.

From this background, you fought your way and are in many ways still fighting your way through the quicksands of naivete and a general willingness to accept things at the face values assigned to them by individuals you'd been taught to respect .  In this educational battle, you find a binary system built on trust.  You either trust everything to be what it seems or you question everything you encounter as though it were a suspect in a sophisticated mystery, where a given suspect may not be guilty of murder but is still a potential perpetrator of a lesser crime.

Whom and what things do you trust?  Whom do you more or less distrust on sight?  Not to let yourself off without examination, how trustworthy are you?

For the moment, let's leave it at this:  You've had to fill many a notebook with observations of chemistry and magnetic affinity  to reach this point.  Best if you keep taking notes. 

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