17 January 2010

But Life Got in My Way


The blog is not a diary or journal, and as such it serves other purposes. Though I suspect Thoreau’s journal when read today actually sounds at time like a blog, though perhaps a bit more focused than my own, but extensive nonetheless. Finally, Thoreau must have considered that after his death someone would do something with his work, even as Anne Frank revised her own diary expecting to live and go on and become the published writer she desired to be. Thoreau must have written his journal with one eye on the public eye.

And sometimes when I write I have to transmute the personal to the impersonal. Because the personal is just too uninteresting and particular, concerning no one else but myself finally. Here, at Of Clay and Wattles Made, I mean to take some more general viewpoint, and transmute my own vulnerability to a less precarious, less vulnerable position, and to search within the particular for some grander insight. And thinking that there is some such thing--some grander insight into experience-- must be what the transcendental is all about, and finally, is also proof of the existence of God: there is something out there beyond the particular. This is something I am re-learning from Phillip Roth’s books, most recently in The Counterlife.

And so this week has brought immense changes; no, the week hasn’t brought these changes but the week served as the stage for them. There have been leavings, and good-byes, and absences and partings. Impending deaths. And more impending leavings. Sadness accompanies this movement.

Life is replete with loss; loss provides boundaries to life, I suppose, for the loss helps define what is not lost. An emptiness can only exist in a fullness; presence defines an absence. I don’t think this dialectic relieves the experience of the loss, but perhaps it offers some relief from it. I don’t mean this insight to be homiletical: I have grown so weary of the preachy homiletics that lie at the basis of so much public speech and religious sermonizings.

But I am seeking comfort. And comfort arrives from contextualizing, and discovering the web in which the particular strand has place. Without the web, the strand cannot exist, and without the strand, the web has no integrity. And that always seems to return me to the necessity of my own self-sufficiency. I have to have faith in my capacity to keep on keeping on, which is the opposite of thinking my burdens are too much for me to bear. That the losses I experience do not pull from my substance though they do influence it.

The complexity of life obviates most accusation, and trying to discover my complicity in events takes great effort, even great strength, and sometimes I am not up to the challenge. I cannot always separate my pains from those of others, and so I end up experiencing both.

I remember once studying for a final exam in the English Romantic period, and standing on some height, dramtically clutching my hands to my heart and collapsing onto some (softened) surface crying out lines from a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed.” At moments such as these, I recall Shelly’s dramatic cry. And sometimes I weep.

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