My visit to Abilene this last week has been quiet and refreshing after teaching two courses during the second part of Summer school. Humble thanks to my colleagues Doug and Loni who co-taught one course with me at UNT. First online course to prepare me to teach online in the Fall.
Between discussions with the Buddy-Friend-Guy and visits with momma at the nursing home, I got to see my aunt, Martha, and my cousin, Trisha. Lots of nice eating spots we have discovered this time around. The more local, the more food and the lesser price we find.
And, of course, read and reread Bashō-Sensei. The book in my hands belied my practice over the last decade to keep my research materials digital so I could have them ready for contemplating. Some things must be in book form, must travel with me especially in physical presence to pay respect to the material accomplishment of my teachers from history: “I wanted to travel light, of course, but there were always certain things I could not throw away for either practical or sentimental reasons” (Bashō 1966, 99).
I’m not quite sure why I chose philosophizing since when I write, I would rather capture something in poetry than explain it in prose. Not that a philosopher need avoid poetry. Parmenides’ fragments are entirely from a long poem with many lines and diverse meter teaching us that there is no change, no difference, no nothing, only one Being. Still, the “profession” of academic thinkering requires most philosophers to focus on the essays. Not meaning those “treatments” of Montaigne which have their own poetic voice but the more straightforward essay that tells you what you are going to read, tells what you are reading, and then reminds you what you read.
My point in this meandering: I don’t mind journaling my experience and making poems. I do mind being asked to lay my thinkering out so that it can be understood in the quickest fashion possible. I suppose I should appreciate more than I do those who have perfected the art of the clear argument. There are places where this comes in handy–giving directions, arguing a legal cause, explicating a scientific theory, demonstrating a logical proof, etc–yet while I have appreciation for the skill of it, it tends toward the just-so.
I should probably stop this… too much of my blogging and journaling pushes back against the expectations of getting credentialed in the 21st century. It is a sure enough trail for most folx to run along to get recognition on paper.
Taking up quick paths:Tweet
Most, forgotten at the start;
Few, arriving whole.
Slow as ice melting
In shade of early spring time
The Way opens up–
Befriend diligent travelers
Ready to flourish
—Reading Bashō-Sensei, 13Aug2019
Slow. Steady. Like the Tortoise in Xeno’s paradox who always stays ahead of Swift-footed Achilles not because the great hero is lazy or too full himself—like the Hare in Aesop’s moralistic variation. Rather, because whomever begins first cannot be surpassed by who begins after. A usually unremarked consequence of this differential parable recognizes that we could as easily replace the armored reptile with Parent and the naked hero† with Child. The illusion of change occurs not from the Child going beyond the Parent but from the Child at last becoming the Parent, that is, an armored, plodding reptile racing to stay ahead of what ever may be approaching from behind. The armor is really no more than the heavy plates of tradition held by the chains of desire.
Coffee shop workersTweet
Busy themselves for “busier”
Confused younglings stare
As their mothers explain what
Will make them happy
Craving milk, sugar, coffee
Child learns serious desire
Reading Bashō-Sensei at Starbucks in Abilene 13Aug2019
A rigid theme leading the chorus until antistrophe makes the chorus an actor wearing Apollo’s Mask of Reasons.
†In Ancient Greece, heroes and warriors may have fought clothed in armor, but they raced and disported themselves in the nude. Gymnast actually means someone who practices without clothes, GYMNOS meaning “naked.”
M. Bashō. 1966. The Narrow road to the deep north and other travel sketches. Trans. N. Yuasa. New York: Penguin.