It might seem odd to many that for me, entering into this virtual platform feels rather like a great plunge–a plunge that is rounded about with not a little anxiety and misgiving. I have to ask myself many different questions if I am to embark on “putting myself out there” on such a vast scale as the information highway allows.
Who exactly am I to address? It might be best to simply transcribe my letters or correspondence with you, Jonathan, and so give the outsider a vantage from which to scrutinize or perhaps gain insight into our unique exchange, reaping from this whatever knowledge or entertainment might me a valuable addition to the possibly unknown recipient’s life. It may very well be that this is the best course to take. My other option would be to write in a more general manner that would be speaking to whomever might be directed to, or have stumbled upon, this site. In this case I must ask myself what would be so alluring as to draw someone’s undivided attention, and withal their precious time, to the reading of an online avowal. I also know that any notion of what has come to be known as blogging will never be part of my life such that it would detract from either tangible acts of discovery in actual bound books with covers and real pen and paper, or warm-blooded correspondence where the other’s face and body are present. It may be in the very writing of this post that I will begin to discover what the future holds for a virtual Many Arrows.
So where does one start? And yes, I am always including you my friend in any question or consideration written here.
I’ve been reading the copy of Pascal’s Pensées that you sent to me not that long ago. I needn’t tell you how brilliant it is. I was drawn to it because of several films I happened to watch from the French director Eric Rohmer. He is quite obsessed with Pascal and uses the wager in at least two of his films (My Night at Maud’s and A Winter’s Tale). I have been wondering about Pascal’s notion of “custom being our nature”, and how this applies to the iconoclast within society–namely the artist–and if one can ever escape the customary influence completely.
Let me give you an example. I was driving the kids to school yesterday morning, and in a rare moment of inspiration, decided to put on some music for the trip. I chose The Decemberist’s Crane Wife, beginning with part one and going forward in chronological order. As we motored down the valley I paused the song now and again to embellish and explain the songwriter’s interpretation of the Japanese cautionary tale, and it didn’t take long until I was moved to tears by the beauty of the song. Of course I attempted to mitigate my emotion by widening my eyes to create a larger space to hold in the brimming tears (for I didn’t want the kids to see their stalwart father crumbling under a musician’s influence), and I did that strange cough when I was explaining things, coupled with long pauses, to get a hold of myself and hide my being so moved. When I was pulling into the circus ring of my son’s school, the line “and all I ever meant to do, was to keep you….my crane wife” whelmed the tears so that they streaked down my cheeks and I had to turn my head down and to the left and wipe the hot salt trail with my sleeve.
So I ask you Jonathan, or anyone, is this customary? Is such a reaction to beauty and authenticity commonplace in our culture? Is reading Hugo von Hofmannsthal on his birthday and feeling an overwhelming connection to a dead Austrian poet normal? And Trakl, my God, how is one to reconcile such an astonishingly felicitous obsession with death to a biopolitical environment that sees this as pathological? And biopolitics have become the custom. Were we born with hearts too large for this technologically foreshortened world? You said in your last letter that you would lay down your life to save a final pair of moths. I am thrilled when you relate such sentiments, and I believe that the more our care grows for what are seemingly insignificant creatures to most, the more our capacity for love burgeons. Perhaps our ire looms in proportion in order to protect the fragility that is our compassion. You ended by saying “And I will always criticize myself to understand how to love and empathize more with all. That’s my meaning. It even includes the good humans.” One would find it difficult to improve on such a statement.