Sunday, January 19, 2014

twice forgotten, willa cather, remembered

These 2 dates were accidentally left out yesterday's post. Up early this morning, I was stricken with terror.  Did I forget to explain the Willa Cather reference brought up back in November?  [11/ 9] Doesn't sound like me. In that case, did I forget to include that journal entry in yesterday's blog post? I guess. Apologies, Cather and readers.


"'This is the tragedy of effort and failure, the thing Keats called hell.  This is my tragedy, as I lie here by the racecourse, listening to the feet of runners as they pass me by. Ah, God! The swift feet of of the runners!'"  (Katharine Gaylord, "A Death in the Desert", The Troll Garden, Willa Cather.)

It's nearly unbearable at be so near vitality while in a state of unwilled inertia. Especially when thoughts of recent capabilities present themselves in rude contrast.  Katharine is a famous and magnificent singer; her illness has stolen further opportunities to experience the joy of making her music.  This is theft not only of joy in participation but in the joy of reminiscence, the thing Wordsworth calls a "serene and blessed mood."   Katherine cannot even speak of this loss,  calling it (in what I deem to be a devastatingly beautiful phrase) "too tragic and too vast."
The tragedy is clear, easily appreciated; but this vastness is harrowing to me.  Is it in relation to the cosmos, the very real expanse of a trillion-fold galaxies?  Is it under the compulsion of the eternities with which may or may not join everlasting Being?  Or is it a vast microcosmos-- colonies of innumerable bugs, trampled, spat, ignored? The molten grit in the glass-blower's figurine?  Whether written large or written small, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the thought of vastness.  It goes beyond fathomless, approaches the sublime, and leaves me with what Joseph Conrad calls "the paralyzing sense of human littleness."

12/ 15/ 13

Yesterday was my 38th birthday. There was brunch, cake in abeyance, and a rendition of the Birthday Song as performed by two unbearably precious nieces and an inordinately handsome nephew.  Typical of fresh arrangements of old standards by a trio all aged in the single digits, this version was masterful in its seeming extemporaneousness-- beginning pianissimo in unexpected unison, proceeding to alternating triple crescendos crowned by ingenious dissonance then, effortlessly, breaking into unheard-of rounds-- now in sensible succession, now jazzy riffs.    

Applause. Bravos. Mirth. Cold bacon . . . in abeyance . . . because (most tunefully yet) . . . And maa-a-ny moor-a-or.

Gravid, grave caesura . . . cold bacon. Mirth.

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