Friday, April 6, 2012

One More Thing

It's been near twenty years since I first plugged a modem into the digital connectness of America Online. "You've Got Mail." Though I was ennyman then and and ennyman I've remained, there are many things that have changed. The first was when AOL opened up to yet a wider galaxy called the World Wide Web.

Over the years endless varieties of online communities and groups have formed, re-formed and disappeared. Over the years an endless stream of eNewsletters and other kinds of communication of entered and ceased from entering my inbox. I can tell when my interest has waned. As much as I used to enjoy them I find myself opening them less and less. They become just one more thing in a world of many things...

It is our response to these things that says they have value or no value to us. As they lose value, we become weary of them. Whereas before our interest was electro-magnetic, in the end that power has dissipated. It becomes driftwood to which we have become indifferent in a sea of driftwood.

Currently, of the half dozen or so eNewsletters that magically appear in my daily batch of emails the ArtDaily is one that always gets my attention. And there is a second to which I feel an affinity, The Floating Library. It's a blog that seems dedicated to churning up thought, dredging the deeper spaces beyond the sparkly little fireflies that glimmer briefly in the universe of time.

I can't even recall how I found it, but as with all gardens of forking paths in life, we resonate with certain things and inner instincts prod us to investigate further. I find a quote by Rilke, and links to Borges, and I know I've found a mind after my own heart.

Today's blog post there was titled Marginalia. It is a collection of notes from the margins of the books of medieval scribes and copyists.

On another occasion, Sineokov shared The Yellow Rose, a short, short story by Jorge Luis Borges, which many decades ago was my first introduction to this Argentine literary giant, enriching as a dark veil.

I did not know Pessoa at the time, but he and Rilke and Goethe are all here in The Floating Library. Each somehow had a way of seeing. Perhaps it was their shared vantage point, from the deepest dark trenches of their own inner labyrinths.

Yesterday I was feeling the weight of this thought, the idea that is so poignantly captured by the author of Ecclesiastes after he had embraced everything and was so painfully aware of his nothingness, the idea so pointedly presented here in Borges. And I wonder... why does the meaninglessness of it all somehow comfort us when so beautifully put into words like this. Is it because we are persons made in the image of God, and noble and the awareness of a beautifully profound idea, even tragic, affirms our nobility? Is it a divine paradox?

So it is, I offer this blog entry as one more thing...

A Yellow Rose
When on that afternoon or the next the renowned Giambattista Marino died - he whom the unanimous mouths of Fame (to use an image dear to him) proclaimed the new Homer and new Dante - the still, silent event that was essentially the last in his life had already taken place. Burdened with years and glory, the man lay dying in a wide Spanish bed with tall carved corner posts. It is easy to picture a quiet balcony a few steps away, facing the sunset, and, down below, marble statuary and laurel trees and a garden whose terraces are reflected in a rectangular pool. A woman has placed a yellow rose in a vase; the man murmurs the inevitable verses of which he himself, to be honest, is rather weary:

Crown of the garden, pride of the lawn,
Springtime's jewel, fair April's eye ...

Then came the revelation. Marino saw the rose as Adam first saw it in Paradise, and he felt that it lived in an eternity of its own and not in his words; he felt that we may mention or allude to a thing but not express it, and that the tall proud volumes casting a golden haze there in a corner of the room were not (as his vanity dreamed) a mirror of the world but only one thing more added to the world.

This illumination came to Marino on the eve of his death, as perhaps it had to Homer and Dante as well.


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