Dis-peerage: Words and Pictures

Writing can well be compared to breathing —

— breathing out reminds me I am alive,

and breathing out also foretells death.

But the camera throws a death unliving

while words may yet live again.


Shallows’ Eve: Un-conditional

‘One more time’, said our hostel-mate.

I (likely) mis-quoted: “I do not know what it would mean for a past conditional to be true.  E.g. — dearly do I hope I did n’t say ‘e.g.’ — if you had gone to a different window your passport would n’t have been rejected this morning.”

Still I do n’t know what it should mean, but that ‘s not the point.  It was meant to impress and it worked.  Is there any lasting value in blowing another person’s mind indiscriminately?

Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity.  For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water.

~Nietzsche, The Gay Science 173 (trans. Walter Kaufmann)

In short, what value is there in the crowd when the crowd is n’t truly seeking the benefits (by braving the dangers) of wading past the shallows.  Thinkers such as Ghazali and Kierkegaard compare the search for wisdom or knowledge as diving into the sea.  The sea is dangerous — it swallows many and returns few.

This is why trying to be deep is a waste — it smacks of wanting to laugh at dangers without pursuing any lasting end.  In short it is being gulped by the shallows.

Mis-reminding: Wishing Time Would Stand Still

Too often I lie half citizen to the dream-world and half aware of the directions my musings may choose.  Re-calling scenes and faces and moments to remembrance, I wonder what profit such exercises may offer.  Yet I can ill afford to suppress such habits – they are too ingrained.

The picture fleshes out my own longing – to share in the joys such a space offers; the joy time well-shared.  Tonight it is that dust-scoured basement but quickly the picture can shift to a tranquil moment in the outfield, to climbing that tree’s low-hanging arms with my sister, or to traversing the fields of Oxford, or merely sprawling on a mildly uncomfortable couch drinking in words far beyond my comprehension whilst amused by the most welcome of sounds—rain on a reading day.

Consistently such images arrest me and I can do little but wish to be back there.  Worse, I wish that time would stand still so I could again appreciate the presence of being there.  Surely such a wish should never be granted, however.  To arrest time at this very moment would require halting all motions, both perceived and imperceivable.  That would require that I too experience a forced pause – I do n’t know that my mind could appreciate the experiment.  At least, it is n’t what I ‘m asking for.

Perhaps I merely desire to experience time without obligation.  But that can’t be it either: the burden of obligation better helps me appreciate that time which is left for leisure.  In the case of Oxford, our common travails made us better fellows – to one another at least.  In such a case I wish not that the burden be lessened, but that time might be extended.

Extension – that seems to hit the ear a bit better.  What do they say, ‘youth is wasted on the young’ or some such?  I desire to be revisited by the thrill of such times and to have the energy to meet it well.  This carries a certain desire that time might be modified, or at least that I might be, but in truth I can do little to affect the past in such manner.  I return to Heraclitus too often, but I should note that while we never set foot in the same river twice, change is not so great that all is unrecognizable or that we always scramble to meet time well.  What can be done but to seek opportunities to greet the present as we might such welcome scenes of the past?

Funny Sayings I: ‘Sorry for the Book’

In a society with such a short attention span (I’ve probably already lost you twice in this first sentence) it’s common for friends to insert ‘sorry for the book‘ if their answers to our questions don’t fit twitter’s character limit.

My response to this: never apologize for a book unless you can’t be found in it.

That’s actually a legit concern of mine – as the possibility really grows that I and my friends will start writing books that they will somehow prove worthless…something to toss on a C.V. and footnote or place on a bookshelf and even should the pages by happenstance be leafed through some day what a tragedy would it be if we won’t be recognizable in those pages.

Maybe if we learn to articulate ourselves – at least in our major works – perhaps then we shall be one step closer to having a voice….’till we have faces….