Let it snow

Oz lives in a city where the winter snow falls rarely.

The temperature may dip into the teens for days, the ponds and lakes may freeze, but the snow does not seem to want to come this far, to this place, leaving its snowy white blanket on the Colorado mountains, or the plains of Nebraska and the Dakotas. The trees here, naked and open to the elements, shiver in the wind. Older now, Oz knows the cold is hard on the body. It stings the face, the ice that forms on the sidewalks and roads is an ever present hazard, a fear of a fall and a broken leg or arm.

snow-cabin

Oz recalls younger days, other places where the snow showered the land and blanketed the earth. When snow flurries swirled about. Oz stood in a snow globe world. It was a lovely thing.

Certainly, for the reason that school was cancelled, but also because it transformed the land into a wonderland. There was sledding, snowball fights, building snowman, and the general beauty of seeing a familiar world transformed into an unfamiliar one. When a snowball in the face sweetly stung. When frostbitten hands and feet were ignored as long as one could stand the pain. When falling off a sled was a source of amusement to one and all.

Let it snow. The father or mother of the child knows, that at the end of the day, the child will sleep.

On a more serious note, one recalls standing in the snow alone watching the flakes floating like feathers to earth. A child lifts his or her head to the sky, opens his or her mouth, and goes about the task of catching a flake upon the tongue, experiencing the momentary thrill of the cold before the flake transforms into water.

Let it snow again, a child remembers simple things.

“His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and dead.” James Joyce’s The Dead.

winter-fence

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a man hears what he wants to hear

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. Paul Simon

sparrow

True then, true now – a man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.

A sparrow lights on a branch outside my window, momentarily there, he looks up and down, in stoccatatic movements, he shakes his wings, he swings his gray-brown rump to and fro, like a man who is late to work and waiting for a bus, his head ever alert, wondering has he missed something; now thinking, where shall he go; the sky above is gray and white, a cold and bitter wind blows about him, about us all. See him and the image is stamped upon one’s mind. Now he is gone.

And yet, there he still is, forever on the branch, giving one pause to wonder endlessly where birds go in the rain and the snow.

all theory is gray

Oz is sipping his coffee and watching the sun rise in the east. In the matter of a few minutes, the color of the sky, first inky black turns to crimson red, then orange and yellow and blue.

Oz was thinking of gray, the color the sky was all of yesterday. Then, it was, that Oz chanced to come across a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from Faust: First Part.

“All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.”

Goethe was German and wrote the two lines as one:

“Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.”
Faust 1, Studierzimmer. (Mephistopheles)

Language and grammar, and the human capacity for understanding restrict our ability to experience thoughts and images. Alas, it is what it is, it is what it seems, and therefore “gray” as Goethe remarks.

Weeks earlier, Oz came across an obscure piece of writing about the weather, gray skies, and how we perceive the same day differently. It was written in 1906. Little can be found about the author, Susan Hanna, other than that she was business manager of the magazine, The Mount Holyoke. One must assume the magazine is associated with the college Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the oldest of the Seven Sisters, the female counter part to the Ivy League schools.

The world is the “same old place” my dear friend and here are Susan’s thoughts:

“Yesterday was dark and cold and dreary. The sky was gray, the snow was white; the trees black against the gray and white. The wind came around the corners with an angry cry, and whipped the dry bushes, and swept the snow across the path. The world was angry, it knew not why. It was tired of the ceaseless tossing and motion; tired of being the same old world forever.

Today is different. There is the same white snow, the same sky, and the same trees. But today is not yesterday; for the wind swirls the snow in a circling dance; it draws the bushes and twigs out from their hiding places. It bends the trees in rollicking laughter at the very joy of living, – of being the same old world, in the same old way.

Today is not yesterday, but why is today, today?”

Today the sun rises in the east to chase the gray away. The sky at night was inky black. At morn it turn to crimson red, then orange and yellow, now blue.

yellow-morning-oil

Tous les matins du monde sans retour

Tous les matins du monde is a 1991 novel by Pascal Quignard, which was simultaneously made into a French film. The film starred Gérard Depardieu as an aging viola player in the court of King Louis XIV, looking back on his life. The book is like a series of still life paintings, capturing successive moments in the life of composer Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and his student Marin Marais.

Gentle reader, we struggle to make sense of life, to find meaning in its moments, looking for direction, a way forward.

Pascal deals with the subject of art. Can it be taught? Do words suffice to explain the art of the viola? Is not the music felt? It is an emotion, and therefore incapable of literary discription. Once notes are transcribed, Monsieur Saint-Colombe believes, they become like a painting, nature morte.

the five senses, Lugin Baugin,
the five senses, Lugin Baugin,

 

Nature Morte

The subject of still life (nature morte) paintings comes up in the book through Sainte-Colombe’s friendship with the painter Lugin Baugin. Saint-Colombe requests of his friend a painting of his room after the apparition of his dead wife comes to him. Gentle reader, is there not irony in the capture of nature in a painting, and the idea that nature though captured is dead to all the senses excepting the eye?

Tous les matins du monde

But it is not he death of nature I wish to discuss. Rather it is the enigmatic meaning of the title, Tous les matins du monde.

The phrase is not delivered in the book until Chapter 26, and then it is delivered by the author as a comment on the passage of time:

“Tous les matins du monde sont sans retour. Les annees etait passees.”

Gentle reader, though we are tempted to translate literally as “without returning,” the better meaning is never to return. Each morning, each moment passes, and is gone. A painting, a thought, real to the eye and the memory is still dead to the world.

pocket-watch-sand-2

 

Are You There?

newport-lighthouse-poster

The daily question the Wizard of Oz asks is, “Are you there?”

The question is directed at those who stumble across his blog and glance at a word or two before moving on. Where they are going and where they have been do not interest Oz because those places are unknowable. Oz is curious about the gentle reader who comes across his story and then moves on.

Are you there?

The search for intelligent life in the universe is an ongoing process that has yet to produce any results. Oz learned that SETI (the funded project) was suspended a few years back due to lack of funds, and, dare we say, interest?

All this reminds young Oz of the times when he traveled with dear old dad in the family car.

When he asked his father, “Are we there yet?” Dad would reply, “No, but we are here.” Dad could have replied, “Wherever you go, you are there.” No, he would leave that bit of nonsense to Buckaroo Banzai. For Dad lived in the moment. He was patient. He was kind and understanding. Now dad is gone and Oz is left with only the memory of an old man who liked to travel, who liked to walk here and there, who said many things a young Oz did not understand then, but does now.

And now Oz wants to know, “Dad, are you there?”

It is, at times like this, when Oz is melancholic that he pulls out an old and worn copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. On a dog eared page is the quote by the forever befuddled Arthur Dent:

You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”

“Why, what did she tell you?”

“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”

Oz returns to his thoughts of his father, to the walks along the Oregon coast and the conversation.

‘I am listening,’ he wants to say to his father, ‘it is just that I don’t understand.’

signs-oregon

5 Subtle Ways Political Parties Intimidate the Other Side

Blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah!

Oz is frustrated with the the state of politics today. Maybe that is why Oz is leaving. Just where Oz is going to, he is not sure.

sheep
Blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah, blaah!

Oz is not taking a political stance here. Not Republican, not Democrat, not Libertarian or Green, just American, if that is still a possibility.

Here is George Washington speaking of political parties. Oz will give the quote and leave it at that.

“[Political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Opinions or opinionated

We all have opinions.

Obviously, some are right and some are wrong. It is just that all opinions, with the exception of racist and sexist rants, need to be heard. Instead, it seems to Oz that a fence has been erected and both sides are yelling at each other.

We have become opinionated, which means, ‘firmly or unduly adhering to one’s own opinion or preconceived notions’.

Nobody is listening.

Which leads Oz to thinking about five ways both sides intimidate the other:

  1. Hear me roar. There is a sense of power and exhilaration in yelling. There is a simplicity in the fact that we can speak and not listen.
  2. We parse words. When we do listen the words we hear become weaponized. Words matter, for sure, but the thought and meaning behind them is obscured by the meaning that is attached to them. Potato, potatoe, let’s call the whole thing off.
  3. We dissect others with the cold sharp scalpel of our own raw intellect, feeling justified when we know ourselves to be in the right, and others to be in the wrong.
  4. We act and speak reflexively. Like cattle, or worse, like lemmings, we march on to the precipice where there is no return, no hope of understanding, no commonality.
  5. We have met the enemy and he is us. Walt Kelly’s observation in the comic strip Pogo is true today.
pogo-we-have-met-the-enemy
Walt Kelly, Pogo, comic strip, Earth Day 1970

That ‘s the way the year ends

sparkler

“I don’t think…” then you shouldn’t talk, said the Hatter.” Just type and blog and pray it doesn’t matter.

Alice had a crazy thought. If she talks to herself, is that a conversation?

That’s the way the year ends, not with a bang but whisper. If thoughts turn into words then conversations never end. Hoping that it matters. Here’s to another 365 days of chatter!

Oz wishes you, my friend, a very happy new year.

evening-milky-way

From where I sit, it looks much the same. The world is a wild and wonderful place.

But I feel I am going round in a circle. Or, I wonder, is it circling me?

“That depends on where you sit, and what you see, and nothing else,” said Oz.

So, said the Mad Hatter: “In Wonderland, we only go around in circles, but we always end up where we started.”