The Parthenon Question

Nine PM.

I tried to take a nap, but lying in bed, I could only hear echoes of the Steve Khan music I’d listened to very early this morning. Now I feel wooden like a zombie or some undead person. I’ll avoid Dr Pepper after this, for it kind of poisoned my system. Just before seven o’clock tonight it cleared up, giving us two hours of sunshine. Hearing Khan’s music vaguely recalls Ulysses to my mind; I was exposed to both as a senior in college, when also my mother had cancer and needed surgery. After Joyce I started reading Sons and Lovers on my own time, a beautiful book by D.H. Lawrence, back when our minds were not enslaved by a brainwashing god and government and it was okay to think and feel something human.

Much more recently I read Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf, who raises the question of whether the beauty of the world would endure or rather perish, and what will it take to preserve it. This is still an issue today, for those of us with open eyes and a feeling heart. While the world seems to be dying, we let the humanities fall to ruin: the things we used to live for that were worth living for. Woolf was undecided on this question, but I’m sure she wished for the beautiful things to last perpetually, like the trip to Greece to see the Parthenon at the end of the novel: a fitting climax and perhaps a statement of triumph for the works of humankind. So now, who’s going to write the next Jacob’s Room to answer the same question for our time?

Save the Liberal Arts!

Six forty.

They expect rain at seven o’clock this morning. I feel pretty miserable with this cold in my head, but I try to work around it.

I went to the market as I usually do in the morning and saw nothing extraordinary. No rain came down, though I prepared for it with an umbrella. I returned to my accustomed raspberry Snapple tea this time after two days of orange juice, and it has rejuvenated me a bit. I was pondering something last night: just because you can grasp an abstract idea, does that qualify it as valid? Does an aptitude for metaphors mean that reality actually is a shadow of the spirit world? Why do we have intuition— or is this merely a word and not a faculty? And then another part of me tells me to shut up, as these questions are useless child’s play. It is childlike to ask questions to infinity. So what is philosophy for, if it raises more questions than it solves?

Seven fifty. Then again, life without inquiring spirits would be pretty dull. It would hardly be life at all when all opinions were readymade for you to adopt for your own. Unfortunately, this is the future we face unless we turn it around. I believe that we’re better than mindless automatons in this country. Don’t defer your logic to spiritual leaders and politicians who are no more informed than you are. I visualize a world that is one big peripatetic school, a place of free and original thinkers living full lives, happy as only human beings can be.

Natural Science

As I write it is 100 degrees out and 85 degrees inside the house. It’s making me feel lightheaded and kind of dopey, but it could be a lot worse. Also there’s some smoke in the air from wildfires around in Oregon. This morning I noticed how the sun was a big copper ball through the haze. Not very pretty, though there’s nothing anyone can do about it. The firefighters are doing the best they can… And so to Keats. Endymion is only about 30 pages long. I was thinking earlier about the difference between reality and truth. Now I don’t know again; the eternal beautiful and true probably doesn’t exist simply because it is a thing that flatters human senses and makes us feel good. It’s hard for me to believe in anthropocentric ideas right now. They are fictions made up by people to validate themselves— and that’s exactly why they are not true from a perspective of science and nature, or even philosophy. Maybe this is difficult for some people to understand. The natural world doesn’t revolve around humankind, and really our existence came about by a happy accident. Human beings are incredibly vain. We think the world is here for us to plunder, even as it’s described in the book of Genesis. Adam names the animals he is to live with, etc etc. I don’t believe this is true at all. And so with Keats, there’s this idea of a beautiful truth tailor made for people to enjoy. I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. We have to get along with nature on its own terms, not in human terms. Our failure to do this will make our lives more difficult than ever in the future.

So I guess my faith in poetry has dwindled for the time being. It just seems irrelevant to me anymore when I can see our ecology going down the tubes, and all because of our shortsighted selfishness. Science has gone from geocentric to heliocentric and now to the center of the universe being merely a hypothetical point in space. And at that center you will not find a human being.

I suppose science really is rather hard for people to grasp because of its objectivity and remoteness from human things, especially when you look at astronomy and physics. It leaves you feeling rather cold and uncomfortable… It makes me want to dust off my old textbooks on biology and astronomy again. It’s quite a different place from church or from WordPress.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 95 degrees. After Saturday it’s going to cool down somewhat.