08 November 2018

Late and Soon

In a far away place held in by tall trees and still-thick brush in this late autumnal season. It is quiet here—I came for the quiet—and a chance to begin a reset and refocus in my life in retirement. I like the silence: except for the click of the computer keys under my fingers (and the inevitable back space as I make too many missteps) there is only the sound of my breathing and the gulp of my coffee. Coffee is another good reason to arise in the morning. I love my coffee in my mug: I feel grounded in the grounds.
            But the noise of the world assaults me here anyway. On theair plane into here and from 32,000 feet I hear that Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Not that I really care about the fate of Sessions, but I despair that Trump is carefully surrounding himself only with those who can be loyal to him. He is behaving like a dictator, like a King. I can hear him screaming odf his most recent enemy in the early has been revoked because he is critical of Trump and asks piercing questions to which neither Trump nor Sanders can adequately (or even honestly) reply. This morning early I read that Ruth Bader Ginsburg (one of the citadels protecting the democracy from the obsessive, narcissistic rule of Trump and his Republican lackeys). And I read of another mass shooting in California where now at least eleven have been murdered because our gun laws are protected by the paranoid NRA and its money-needy congress members.
     Why do I read the papers? But more, why even if I didn’t actively look too readily at the papers or their internet facsimile,  the bulletins and notifications would flash across the top of my screen while I was engaged in some more productive, even interesting project. I wonder why it is that I don’t just turn off the intrusions of the banners and notifications. Ah, but even if I did so, I know that I would still check regularly not just the political terrain but all other terrains as well: who won the Nobel Prize; where is Bob Dylan playing next; what did the reviewers think of this movie or play or performance; what does Paul Krugman today think of this or that. The news, etc. represents for me a distraction from the dreams of any night and the useful struggles of every day. So too does my email that I check too often (making by that statement a judgment, I know) to wonder if anyone is calling me out of the present situation.
            There is in these times too much to call me away from myself. I justify the escapes by insisting that these awarenesses are essential to my stances in the world. I use them to justify me. Unlike my friend I do not beat on doors nor lick envelopes or join organizing committees. I speak and I espouse belief, and I seek from the outside defense for what I feel on the inside. Perhaps it is this realization of my quietism that rationalizes my obsessions with the internet and news media. Or do I seek justifications for my current political positions with some outside supports, as if I am not sufficient in belief. I am reminded of Thomas More’s statement in the play A Man for All Seasons. He says, “It is not that I believe it but that believe it.” Perhaps it is that I am not so secure.
     The times offer me too many escapes from myself. I take too many available escapes from myself. Emerson reminds me that a man thinking is always alone, but thinking is often too hard. And it may be that I cannot bear so much aloneness and so I allow the world to avoid the sense of being alone. But isn’t what is wrong with the world that people would not be alone and enter thought. Here what I mean by thinking (by entrance into thought) is the active building of connections: the capacity to follow one statement with the next—with some presence of logical reasoning, a willingness to construct an argument linking one statement to a next  one. (It might be that most statements are arguments in some form? I recall a statement by Gregory Bateson who wondered if most conversations were not an attempt to avoid a fight?).
     I have some private business in which to engage, and I should instead direct my gazes there.