Friday, April 27, 2007

At Another Keyboard

While playing the piano last Sunday, I looked to the lower right of my music to check the time--just as if I were working at my tablet PC. Has the tablet become my time/production/creativity medium and monitor?

Thoreau, speaking of one technology of his day, said "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us."

If wireless web technology rides on us to any degree, what is the best, most proactive response?

Lines from Auden's "Lullaby" (with a nod to Whitman and a phrase from Wordsworth)

Cliché and contention in abeyance . . .

People can be "Mortal, guilty, but to me/The entirely beautiful."

To embrace others with their opposing natures is a beginning point for authentic love.

Another point of beginning is to embrace those that are pure and even rascally pure--that we might be surprised by joy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Love and Be Silent"

Let me deconstruct a moment, one week after Virginia Tech.

How much does tragedy compound itself when publicly philosophized upon?

Perhaps the real message of the book of Job is not so much the problem of suffering, but the problems associated with philosophizing on and responding to suffering (see Blog entry for 6/8/06).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A W.H. Auden Day Book

Tragedy challenges us to generalize authentically.

If I were to publish a book with literary inspiration for each day of the year, I would have the same line for every day, taken from W.H. Auden's "September 1, 1939."

I would hold this line because each day, "a plank in reason breaks," compassion confronts suffering, and true dichotomy dictates:

We must love one another or die.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Donne on Easter Morning

A few days ago, Easter Sunday, I went into my sleeping daughters' room to get a basket of laundry to wash. I entered the room with a slight misquote of John Donne:

Still let them sleep, Lord . . .

This line from the "Holy Sonnets" has a fuller context, of course: the speaker ecstatically calls for the resurrection of the dead, then recants:

But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood.

Pasted from <>

I would hate to hold back the resurrection of the dead, or any other cosmic event, to fit my own time frame. But in a minor way, I need, day by day, the living to sleep a little longer so that I can consciously renew myself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gifted Girl

In "Reflections on Wallace Stevens," Randall Jarrell writes that "A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightening five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great." Notice that the poet does not cause the discharge of energy, but persistently tries to puts herself/himself in the path of it. The poet prepares, then, for the gift, which comes powerfully beyond him or herself.

Jarrell's statement came back to me as I thought on the implications of an exchange with an energetic young girl.

On Monday my daughter, preparing for her 7th birthday party, created a gift bag out of two pieces of copy paper stapled together on three sides and decorated. She let me know that I could use this bag to put her present in after--I believe she said--I made the present.

Charmed, inspired, and subtly compelled, I bought her a box of water colors and put it in the bag. She put the gift to use right away.

My daughter possibly defined for me, by this dynamic, what giftedness is.

Giftedness is the preparation to receive gifts.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sublimating toward the Sublime

Last Saturday night toward bedtime, my 9-year-old daughter was lobbying for the password so she could play a computer game, and I resisted. After a few earnest/angry attempts, her last words came defiantly from a distance as she headed for her bedroom. I don't exactly remember the words, but this was their spirit-- "Fine! I'll write a book!"

Later my daughter returned with sincere excitement and told me something of her book idea.

Nobody asked her to use creativity as a consolation prize for pleasure denied.

How many better choices, how many deeper things, are the result of preempted ease?