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Archive for the ‘pensees’ Category

great fools

There is an apostolic injunction to suffer fools gladly. We always lay the stress on the word “suffer,” and interpret the passage as one urging resignation. It might be better, perhaps, to lay the stress upon the word “gladly,” and make our familiarity with fools a delight, and almost a dissipation. Nor is it necessary that our pleasure in fools (or at least in great and godlike fools) should be merely satiric or cruel. The great fool is he in whom we cannot tell which is the conscious and which the unconscious humour; we laugh with him and laugh at him at the same time.

An obvious instance is that of ordinary and happy marriage. A man and a woman cannot live together without having against each other a kind of everlasting joke. Each has discovered that the other is a fool, but a great fool. This largeness, this grossness and gorgeousness of folly is the thing which we all find about those with whom we are in intimate contact; and it is the one enduring basis of affection, and even of respect.

G.K.C.

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castles in the sand

We’ve found each other.
Half surprised, bashful,
We stand together alone,
Then bend to build a sanctuary
Around us,
Defining this, projecting that,
Like children on the beach
Building castles in the sand,
“To protect us from the sea,”
We say.
“This is our cove, our love,
Us two, you, me, we…”
When beyond our walls we hear a voice,
Then see our Father’s face,
An intrusion,
Coarse, like the sands beneath our tender feet.
“Playtime’s over, kids,” and we kick, sulk,
We do not want to leave, to give
Up what we have so recently
Received.
We frown, displeasure in our brows,
As the Father gently sweeps our castles
Off their feet, then,
Eyes widening,
Watch
As from beneath the sands He raises blocks of stone
Where once our shaky spires stood, piling
One atop the other, beautiful
Temple around the
Cornerstone.
“Thus shall you love, thus shall you live,
Not as the world, but as the Word.
For I have given once, and shall I not once more,
If you would but give in, shall I not
Give?”

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connu sous le nom de (a.k.a.):
Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire sur le bord du printemps

What follows is not so much a translation as a transposition

***

It’s the end of Winter Break. Tomorrow, Spring Term begins even though spring time has not yet come. But it is the beginning of something new, nonetheless, and coming down from Minnesota to Ithaca, it does feel as if, not that spring has come, but that I have come to spring.

On the way back from the Commons after a serendipitous purchase, I forget I’m on a different bus, and end up in a corner of the school I have never seen before. And since I’m in no hurry, it being an hour before dinner, I decide to take a walk.

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you and i are not snobs

you and I are not snobs. We can never be born enough. We are human beings;for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery,the mystery of growing:which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves. You and I wear the dangerous looseness of doom and find it becoming. Life,for eternal us,is now,and now is much too busy being a little more than everything to seem anything,catastrophic included.

Miracles are to come. With you I leave a remembrance of miracles: they are somebody who can love and who shall be continually reborn,a human being

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question

– Introduction of New Poems, e.e. cummings

it's no use trying to pretend that mostpeople and
ourselves are alike. Mostpeople have less in common with ourselves than the squarerootofminusone. You and I are human
beings;mostpeople are snobs. Take the matter of being born. What does being born mean to mostpeople? Catastrophe
unmitigated.

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provocations

for the person who brought kierkegaard into my life:

i hope know you’ll find this interesting 🙂

Provocations, “arguably the most accessible and complete Kierkegaard volume to be published in decades.”

And it’s free, too. I haven’t read it yet, though, so I can’t guarantee if it lives up to its promises, but the ball’s in Kierkegaard’s court now, not mine 😛

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at the neck of the hourglass

So this is my last night in Singapore. After all the rushing about, I’ve finally forced myself to sit down, reflect, and write.

It’s been really busy, the past few months. The earlier reunions start off safe; birthdays, or just a casual meal, and everyone congratulating each other on having survived secondary school, JC, army, or even the first few years of university: it all depends on the congratulatee. But soon the gatherings start to have a faint hint of the impending separation in the atmosphere. And then the gatherings become overt farewells, and the pace picks up. Lunch, dinner, lunch, high-tea, dinner, supper, overnighters… and then the airport, and photos and hugs and waving and watching the glass doors slide shut behind other people; soon it’ll be my turn. My turn to walk through those glass doors, to pass the departure gates and the flight attendants on the way to my seat, to watch the ground peel itself away from the plane, further and further and further away, and the people and buildings and patches of grass getting smaller and smaller, and then, cloud.

It’s like I’ve been living in a huge passenger plane all my life, and my fellow passengers are my friends and family, and now I’m getting up from my seat, and slowly walking towards the open door at the end of the aisle. The light pours in from the open door; it is from there that I must jump. And along the way, I pick up speed as I put on my sky-diving gear, and I high-five family and friends who are seated along the aisles. And the remaining length of aisle contracts under my advancing feet, until I can see the people in front of me, jumping off one by one, and soon it is my turn, and I glance back, see the faces one more time, and then I jump. And I see cloud.

Cloud, and not the distant land below; featureless cloud, featureless as my impression of my destination. Sure, I’ve heard stories of this Land where I’m going, seen it too, through pictures, moving or not. But they remain isolated images, glimpses through the cloud. There are no memories of smell, of sound, of taste, and no memories of events and emotions associated with those memories of sense. My destination is a distinctive Other, a new kind of new, different from any place that I’ve visited for the first time back here in Singapore. In Singapore, no place is really new; an air of familiarity lingers in even the most novel of circumstances, in the air, the people, the food, the weather; an air of familiarity that comes with having spent a fifth of a century of my twenty year life in places which are but variations on a theme. But America. America is different. I might as well be going to a mythical land. After all, my only impressions of both places are solely through stories and pictures. And it doesn’t help that my destination shares the name of the home of Odysseus.

So I will hurtle through the cloud – horizontally in the literal and vertically in the metaphorical sense. And yet, though I will be moving a great speeds, I will feel like I’m hanging in limbo, suspended in the timeless zone between the departure and arrival gates, the doorways to other worlds, passing zoneless time. I imagine that’s what a grain of sand would feel like as it passes through the neck of the hourglass: behind it, the sands of its past, relentlessly pushing it forward to a single point; before it, its future, spreading out larger and larger into the open and unknown. And at that exact point between irrecoverable past and unknowable future, it hangs for what seems like an eternity. Or what Odysseus must have felt, standing at the open gate of his house, his family and home of many years behind him, and all the road before him. The foot that crosses the threshold separating home from the rest of the world takes an eternity to land on the earth that belongs to the Outside, the Other, the Odyssey.

Tomorrow, I shall take that step. Tonight, I sleep.

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What the men on the moon might have sung, post Apollo 11:

(a.k.a. the dark side of the moon landing)

courtesy of Elton John, Harry Nilsson and (yes) Ernie! I think Ernie says it the best, and says much more, too

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