is there a way i can filter my Facebook newsfeed, so i donít have to see when people post "Likes" to grammatically incorrect and/or logically flawed accolades to a certain religion, in a week when so-called, self-proclaimed members of this religion have just put a bullet in the head of a F O U R T E E N year old girl -- and then said (via their *official* spokesman), that yes, she "had been the target," and that her "crusade for education rights" was an "obscenity," and that if she survived, they would certainly try to kill her again ("Let this be a lesson.").
in a week when they have done this, you can hit "like" on some pastel-pink postcard that suggests that the most important thing to ask a man when he comes for your daughterís hand is "how close" he is to your god?
well. in that case. that official spokespan who thinks little girls who want to go to school should be shot in the head -- it looks like he would pass your test pretty well, wouldnít he?
who are these people who can be so blissfully blinkered, as to think that *that* is not also their religion? that they are not a party -- no matter how removed and how "powerless" (oh please) -- to all those "incorrect interpretations" of the "fundamentalists"? iím sorry. who are WE? because i say it too -- "this is not our religion" -- "our religion is about peace..." oh yes. except. you know what. if it is about peace. or all these other awesome things that allow us to sleep in our nice, clean beds at night. maybe we need to take a break from clicking "Like" on the cute little pictures in pink cursive script, to do something about the colossal case of brand confusion that we have here.
I look up the word "corral" (because I find that Iím building a rather questionable metaphor with it, and I need to know just how questionable..). I donít find a straight answer of course (which means that the metaphor remains a little too questionable; I canít talk about any pastures beyond it; etc.). But I do see that they have this:
Today my cleaning lady thought it necessary (as she handed me a bunch of leaves she had picked from my garden), to explain what one can do with basil: "Sai, questi vanno con pomodoro, un poí di aglio, poi si mischia tutto..."
I am both indignant and suddenly insecure: Do I come across as someone who does not know what to do with basil...? Because that would be a problem.
Yesterday it was Maria-Antonietta the Crazed Curtain Woman who messed with my inner peace. I am walking back up the hill from the post office (thank you, Webank, for sending my new bancomat so promptly), and enjoying the afternoon sun, when I hear frantic honking, and then a car screeches to a halt beside me, and Maria-Antonietta leans over to speed-scream at me in her Letís-See-How-Many-Times-I-Can-Interrupt-You-Per-Second, Loose-n-Lazio Italian. Then she drives off again mid-sentence (my mid-sentence, and hers).
For some reason, I think of my motherís driver in Karachi, with his four good shirts (before we gave him some of my fatherís...) and his paan-stained teeth and his way of not looking you in the eye, ever. He has more class than this woman.
Then I feel bad -- how can I make such an insulting comparison? Jumaís too good to be in the same paragraph with that nut-job.
6.19 - If something is difficult for you to accomplish, do not then think it impossible for any human being: rather, if it is humanly possible and corresponds to human nature, know that it is attainable by you as well.
6.21 - If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. Harmed is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance.
At Ai Tre Scalini, a couple sits down -- after a charming three minutes in which the girl, brown-haired and worry-faced, confesses: "We have not reserved, we have not reserved..." Simone tells her itís alright. Her accent seems, well, accented. She circles her mouth around vowels the way Claudia Cardinale would, like sheís in a land that isnít her own.
They sit down; they are each given a menu. He asks immediately, naturally, he is still looking at his menu but it is like breathing, an awareness: what would you like to drink.
What would you like.
What would I like?
I would like for you to ask me, what I would like.
I would like for you
to want to know.
I would like for you to be
that you might not.
In what I like to call the Kakapo Chapter (also known as "Heartbeats in the Night") of Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams has this wonderful line (among a gazillion) about a certain kind of owl that is native to New Zealand:
One night we saw a morepork, which is a type of owl that got its name from its habit of continually calling for additional pigflesh.
He doesnít say if he actually heard the morepork. I suspect that if he had, he would have commented (in that Awesome Adams Way) about how it doesnít sound like itís saying "more pork" at all, and how itís quite likely that the person who first decided to call it a morepork was probably delusionally hungry at the time.
Last weekís post was about poetry, and today I find that I have more. So this post is dedicated to that fabulous, now-extinct ancestor of the morepork* -- the morepoetry.
*Also known as the ruru, the boobook and the Southern Boobook -- this bird has literature in its blood yo!
Anyway. For class this week (the one I take, not the one I teach -- sigh...), we had to read "The Glass Essay" by Anne Carson (in her book Glass, Irony and God), and I found that I didnít like most of it. Itís not because it was poetry (and I *did* think it was poetry -- despite a classmateís skepticism -- but Iíll harrumph about that properly another day...) -- I find that I can love lots of kinds of poetry -- the kind that ryhmes, the kind that doesnít, lyric, narrative, etc. (any kind of poetry as long as itís not *my* poetry...). But this felt a little too wispy and ethereal and diaphanous for me. Still, I liked the parts where she has more of the concrete than the abstract (like the toast-talk with her mother; like the moment where she goes from arguing about swimsuits and rape to understanding -- "the frail fact drops on me from a great height" -- that her mother is afraid for her; like the first phonecall in which she finds her father quicksinking into dementia -- "I heard his sentences filling up with fear"...). So I went looking online to see what else I could find of the more concrete Ms Carson...
Iíve embedded the whole video, but be warned -- itís 42 minutes long (good for a train ride, good for wallpapering your personal headspace in the subway, and -- if youíre a weirdo like me -- good for a couple of sessions on the elliptical). The first thing she reads is her Essay on What I Think About Most, which starts the way everyone should start everything:
And its emotions.
On the brink of error is a condition of fear.
In the midst of error is a state of folly and defeat.
Realizing youíve made an error brings shame and remorse.
Or does it?
Letís look into this.
Lots of people including Aristotle think error
an interesting and valuable mental event.
In his discussion of metaphor in the Rhetoric
Aristotle says there are 3 kinds of words.
Strange, ordinary and metaphorical.
"Strange words simply puzzle us;
ordinary words convey what we know already;
it is from metaphor that we can get hold of something new & fresh"
In what does the freshness of metaphor consist?
Aristotle says that metaphor causes the mind to experience itself
in the act of making a mistake.
He pictures the mind moving along the plane surface
of ordinary language
that surface breaks or complicates.
At first it looks odd, contradictory, or wrong.
Then it makes sense.
And at this moment, according to Aristotle,
the mind turns to itself and says:
"How true, and yet, I mistook it!"
From the true mistakes of metaphor a lesson can be learned.
Not only that things are other than they seem,
and so we mistake them,
but that such mistakenness is valuable.
Hold on to it, Aristotle says,
there is much to be seen and felt here.
Metaphors teach the mind
to enjoy error
and to learn
from the juxtaposition of what is and what is not the case.
There is a Chinese proverb that says,
Brush cannot write two characters with the same stroke.
that is exactly what a good mistake does.
I love the idea that "metaphor causes the mind to experience itself in the act of making a mistake." I love the idea of "the mind moving along the plane surface of ordinary language" and of how, "suddenly that surface breaks or complicates" -- how "unexpectedness emerges." I love the idea that -- the *fact* that -- "mistakenness is valuable."