Sunday, August 5, 2007

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Yesterday I revised my blog profile and adjusted my masthead accordingly. Today, newly affirmed in my status as a nobody, I find myself in one of those moods of "not wanting to die just yet." I want to lounge and luxuriate for a while in the idyll of nobodiness. I want to start again and this time finish reading James Joyce's Ulysses (I've already begun) and re-read Hugh Kenner's books about Joyce and other American, Irish, and English modernists. Already, time seems to have slowed down for the enjoyment of these activities and for savoring, too, the most trivial acts of daily routine.

I happily discovered the other day that my sense that events in my life were now repeating themselves with accelerating speed was but a foolish illusion (and one that I'd have done better to reject than to accept and pay lip-service to—"Time is passing so fast!"). I discovered this upon examining how often it seemed to be that we were once again running the automatic dish washer. It had come to seem that the time between one running and the next was getting shorter and shorter. But I discovered that this impression was quite false and had been formed because I was focusing on the days when we ran the dish washer and ignoring the days we didn't run it. And there were more days we didn't run it than there were when we did. It was as though I had been ignoring the spaces between the notes of a melody. Ignoring the silences.

As I was warming up my computer moments ago, I opened Kenner's own book titled Ulysses and, reading its thematic quotation (from Plato's Republic), felt a tremor:
And it was a sight worth seeing to behold the several souls choose their lives. And a piteous and a laughable and amazing sight it was also. The choice was mostly governed by what they had been accustomed to in their former life...
      It so happened that the soul of Odysseus came forward to choose the very last of all. He remembered his former labours and had ceased from his ambition and so he spent a long time going round looking for the life of a private and obscure man. At last he found it lying about, ignored by every one else; and when he saw it he took it gladly, and said that he would have made the same choice if the lot had fallen to him first.
            – Plato, The Republic, X-620, trans. A. D. Lindsay
What to make of this "synchronicity"? How did it happen that the first words that fell under my eye should be so perfectly apt? Mere chance? No, I don't think so. Angelic intervention, then? Again, no, I don't think so...unless the angels that intervene in our lives are the wraiths that emanate from our own psyches and hover around us continually. The haunting mists we saw shrouding the Vermont hills two weekends ago come to mind. There weren't any the day I took the photo below; alas, I had been too agog of the mists the days before to think then of photographing them.

I'll be glad to think of my psychic wraiths as "angels," for I am well-disposed toward angels and it's comforting to think that I can have them in my life still, even though I seem at last to have succeeded in cleansing my belief of "God."

For I had read this book by Kenner a few years ago, including of course the thematic quote. In fact, I had read Plato's Republic many years ago (Edith Hamilton's translation), and it is conceivable (if improbable) that the passage struck a chord with me even then—even though I don't think that the young man I was then was looking forward to becoming nobody:
And it fell out that the soul of Odysseus drew the last lot of all and came to make its choice, and, from memory of its former toils having flung away ambition, went about for a long time in quest of the life of an ordinary citizen who minded his own business, and with difficulty found it lying in some corner disregarded by the others, and upon seeing it said that it would have done the same had it drawn the first lot, and chose it gladly.
I'm glad today, and determined to be glad tomorrow, for the silences in my life....


  1. I remember having dreams like that; can remember what I was smoking at the time.

  2. "...dreams like that": like what, precisely?