13 May 2016

Memories of this day, plus a regret

Jeez oh man,

I just spent the last hour reading about the presidency of Jimmy Carter. It is not my intention to single out his history as particularly exasperating; I’m just dryly reporting the facts of my afternoon. Tomorrow, I’ll read about Reagan. Wish me luck.

At half past ten o’clock this morning, I was talking to a librarian. What happened is this. I walked to the library to check out a book. The library’s system showed that the book was available. But when I looked at the place on the shelf where the book should’ve been, there was no such title. So I asked for help. The librarian, after searching her own computer, said: “Oh!—that book hasn’t been checked out since October.” And I asked, “What does that mean?” And she said, “That means the book is probably lost.”

Again, I’m not trying to stir up controversy; I’m only reporting the truth, for the sake of the people.

What else happened today? After the library debacle, my sweetheart and I decided to take a pleasure stroll. So we unfolded a large map of the surrounding areas, and marked an “X” over a place that we knew we had never before visited… When we got there, we saw a perfectly round lake with a silver pier on which was a lone fisherman casting his line. Instead of walking on the paved path that circled around the lake, we decided to survey the nearby houses. These structures were enormous: they were more than four times larger than any abode I’d ever seen in my life; and they were built so close to each other that simply looking at them made me claustrophobic. And the color of one of the houses was mustard yellow.

But the strangest thing was that there were no humans anywhere in sight. It was as if all of the homes had been vacated. Or they might not ever have been inhabited in the first place. No one was standing in any of the yards. No children were on any of the porch swings. There were no lights in any window. Not a car in any driveway. Yet plain white vans were stationed at odd intervals along the boulevard.


My biggest regret in life is that I never learned another language. (There’s still time, I know, it’s never too late—but, before improving myself, allow me to complain a little.) One of the things I find sad about my country’s culture is that many of us know only American English. Each language is a poem of its own—why wouldn’t we want to embrace as many as possible? I wish that I could read Dante in the original; I wish I could read Cervantes; also Tolstoy, Proust, Lucretius, Goethe, and Pindar. And I’d really love to be able to read the Qur’an. (As it is, I can only enjoy translations of all these works.)

I wonder how language got started. Or maybe it never had a starting point; maybe it’s always been going, so to speak. Is the sense of smell a type of language? Why do we living creatures suffer the urge to reproduce our own kind? Are we a symbolic utterance of something extradimensional? Perhaps we are, one and all, the words of GOD?

For every thing that lives is Holy.

(That’s the final line of my favorite book by William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.)

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