Friday, April 26, 2013

Memory Thread; Brian says it is a DIORAMA, not a Dollhouse; Michele yawns

We're at Montezuma's Castle, where Montezuma probably wasn't, either. These children (two of mine and my nephew and niece) are looking at the miniature replica. Now these children are all in their forties, with children of their own, three of them. We didn't take many vacations and this was a good one. This was another of the things we did, a red rock excursion in a pink jeep in Sedona, Arizona. It was a spectacular place and HOT in the summer. As they say, you wouldn't want to live there.
I love children's thin arms! Arms that are neither heavily muscled nor flabby, but just right for the things children need to do.
I guess I am thinking about family tonight because I just finished Early Morning; remembering my father by Kim Stafford. Reading it I found out that William Stafford was a lot more complicated person than I had suspected, and so honorable that it approaches rigidity and even comes out at the other side. There is an amazing passage quoted from a late essay, "Sometimes, Reading" about reading that was accepted by the Ohio Review  but was not published until after William Stafford's death.

"He reports what happened when he first opened a copy of Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy on the eve of World War II, in the library reading room at the University of Kansas. When he looked up from the book, he says, he found "a changed world, deeper but full of wonder and excitement, not to be trusted, but infinitely ready for revelation. Why hadn't my professors told me about this new hemisphere? They had cheated me, Or didn't they know, , ,? He reports that his world began to unravel: What held it together/ through all those years of my childhood / separated into hundreds of little pieces . . . I couldn't hold on anymore." But this loss came with a great gift which accompanied him for the rest of his life:
"a new expanse became mine, wild, reckless (so reckless it could be conservative, too), a rampage of gusto: Galileo (thought experiments), John Henry Newman (two and two only self-evident beings, myself and my creator), Pascal (the awful silence of those infinite spaces), Kierkegaard (drink from your own well, purity of heart is to will one thing), George Eliot (in death they were not divided), Tolstoy, Gandhi, Saint Teresa (let mine eyes see thee, sweet Jesus of Nazareth), Goethe (man is a creature for a limited condition), Wittgenstein (we must unlearn what educated people know) . . ." He concludes with consolation, as if to a younger companion on a dark road: "... and my world now reels on, the world of literature, of superfact. But ok, big and scary as it is.
It feels ok.
Cross my heart."
(from Remembering my Father, pp 254-255)

This is amazing to me and wonderful, partly because I have thought of Nietzsche as crazy and St. Teresa, Newman, Tolstoy and Wittgenstein,  even Gandhi as at least a little bit "off." Reading has been my life, but my few great shaking experiences mostly took place outdoors and had to do with sunlight, wind and sudden thought, untriggered by reading or by conversation. So this is hard for me to understand, but still I feel it is quite powerful. And important.
Good night and dream about philosophers and wild thought!
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1 comment:

  1. More of the wonders of memory. I remember that trip fairly clearly, but the keys are odd. I know I didn't go on the jeep excursion, and I remember clearly that I didn't want to, but not why. It seems like the kind of thing I would have enjoyed.

    And even more strongly, I remember the two things that were most important to me that trip. The 'big little' books that I discovered with the small sum of money alloted me for in-the-car entertainment, and that the soda machine would occasionally give up cans to those with no money (who weren't really supposed to have pop).