Saturday, November 17, 2012

So I did sit and eat.

I happened to find this poem in the introduction to Waiting For God by Simone Weil, which volume I happened to find in a box of not very random books that a friend shipped me (he was intending to enter a monastery and so wanted to give away his posessions.) The timing was good; my students had all chosen a poem to memorize this week and I was on the look out for my own poem. I wanted something that would be interesting and meaningful to me, as well as accessible to them. Maybe they won't remember hearing their teacher recite this poem, but I hope that when this poem (or even this idea) crosses their paths in the future, they will have a place for it in their heart, even if they don't know why.
I felt an instant flash of recognition and acceptance when I read it, although I don't remember ever hearing it before. Perhaps someone once recited it to me and I began to weave an understanding around it, forgetting the inspiration.
Petty note: Why does "sinne" sound so much better than "sin" to me?
by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of lust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull? Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Friday, November 9, 2012

trop de cafe, actually

Why did I think a 4:00 mondo latte was a good idea? And on a Friday too. How miserable. The immediate reason was that we had just had an exhilarating and exhausting day at the Museum of Art with our delightful students and colleagues, and I did not think I could make it through Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights immediately following this excursion without espresso. But this was my first major caffeine in 3 days owing to a bad cold.

Terrible idea! I would be seething with anxiety but I'm sick and depleted, so it's more like ennui. Father D told me that in days of Patristic yore, there were not so much Seven Deadly Sins as Eight Nasty Thought Patterns, the worst of which was ἀκηδία- the "noonday demon" of apathy and spiritual torpor.
He looks about anxiously this way and that, and sighs that none of the brethren come to see him, and often goes in and out of his cell, and frequently gazes up at the sun, as if it was too slow in setting, and so a kind of unreasonable confusion of mind takes possession of him like some foul darkness.
I would like to connect this to one of the most wonderful and important lines in Eric Rohmer's L'Amor En L'Apres-Midi (Love in the Afternoon) but I am afraid I can't remember it or find it because I get intimidated by the French internet. Something about how the wife always feels anxious or lonely or sad in the afternoon... gosh darn it. I guess you had to be there. I think the whole movie is "about" ἀκηδία. There is probably a good reason for lumping it in with sloth, but I think the distinction could be important for people who sit around drinking coffee and reading Nietszche or Kierkegaard, or drinking coffee and feeling like they probably should be reading some Nietszche or Kierkegaard to exalt their buzz a bit. Am I spelling Friedrich's name correctly? Rats!

I don't have much to say about the election, except that I wish I could whoop and holler with most of my young, smart, educated, kind, sincere friends. It would be so easy and such a relief to give in and be a part of my generation. It's sort of hard to always feel like a crusty, grouchy, stiff conservative. I grant you that it is probably not as hard as feeling that one is way marginalized by our society and one is deprived of basic rights, so I'm not trying to be a martyr here. I'm resigned to being a fossil at 24, but grant me a little envy of my cohort every four years. The fossil has a bleeding heart on the inside!

Does anyone else feel this way? This is Major Tom to Ground Control.