Defense of King Midas

Nine twenty at night.

I had a sad dream a while ago about my mother; she was lonely and wanted me to drink with her. But it’s not like she visited me from beyond the grave. I simply remember her: she’s a part of my nervous system, which chucks up these images, randomly or otherwise, I couldn’t say for certain. But it’s also true that next month marks twenty years without her, so she’s been on my mind subconsciously. I can recall the first book I finished reading after she passed away: Typee by Herman Melville, and it felt so strange being in the house alone all day and night. Additionally I had the rest of the family to deal with, a totally different culture from Mom and Dad. Is it fair to call her a thoughtless epicure or was there more to her character than that? 

First of all, I wouldn’t say that hedonism is ever totally thoughtless; in some ways it’s an intelligent lifestyle. When two or more people get together who agree on pleasure, life can be paradise for them temporarily. The toughest dilemma ever for me was the decision between Epicurus and Zeno, or between Dionysus and Apollo. King Midas was given a pair of donkey’s ears because he preferred the music of Pan to that of Apollo: he was spiritually deaf, for Apollo represented the divine. But surely there’s another perspective on this story. Certainly Pan’s pipes produced a music that was very pleasing to the ear, though it wouldn’t be preachy like a moral sermon, but rather something sensual and fun to experience: it would make you feel good. And the real virtue of Midas’ preference was the rarity of it. Any garden variety person would have picked Apollo’s lyre, but King Midas was different from the norm. So I guess that’s sort of like my mother, sipping brandy and collecting gemstones from television offers. She was one of a kind. 

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On a Beatrice

I don’t know. While Mom was alive, I wanted a woman who resembled her. But with her dead, there’s no yardstick to measure other women by. And after all, Mom was the only woman like herself. The mold has been broken. I don’t look at other women the same way anymore. Since her death, I don’t really want another such relationship. It was full of pain and grief that I medicated with alcohol. What made our relationship so painful? What was frustrating about it? We were too close to each other. Enmeshed, and for too long. Thirty five years of knowing somebody is a long time. At least for now, I’m not much interested in women. The sun is going down and the sky looks cold like winter. I’m only beginning to learn who I am.

My next relationship may be much different from the one with Mom. She may have totally other qualities that I admire. Why am I so crazy about L—? She is the epitome of grace, though she herself is oblivious to her charm. She doesn’t esteem herself as highly as I do, which adds to her credit. She is built nothing like my mother, being tall and slender, light and supple. The shape of her head is worthy of sculpture, and her smile warm and fizzy. I missed seeing her in church this morning, though consciously I thought of her not until now. L— is a love from afar like the idealized loves of Dante, Petrarch, and Sidney.

Homage: Keletso and Mermaid

I was thinking about how mediocre my blogging is, and no better than anybody else’s. When using Reader and sorting through the blogs I follow, I find only a couple that are exceptional. I make a point of rewarding these with a like and a comment. Maybe I’m in a caffeine mood swing, on a low right now, but blogging seems such an amateurish thing. People with no credentials try to give advice on this or that or, like me, spam the domain with opinions and reports on their daily lives. Other bloggers want to sell something, or themselves; promote a product or a popular belief. Scrolling through it all is tiring. I don’t even like revisiting my own posts.

However, on occasion I encounter someone’s post with a keenly intelligent question or observation. These bloggers are young, bright, genuine, and fresh in their thinking. They strike me as being like 21st Century Candide figures, simply asking questions that no one else would think of, or dare to articulate if they did. I have in mind two young people, both from the so-called Third World. They seem to blurt problems and puzzles to stump the sagest among us. They do this effortlessly, spouting truth as if it rose from the reservoir of nature itself.

Therefore I call on Keletso Chris (Forgotten Lifestyle Blog) and Mermaid (A Mermaid’s Pen) to stand up and take a bow. Kudos and keep up the stellar work!