the last days…

Wilrijk & Middelheim
photos from Brabant,
the European Parliament, and
Antwerp

arbor in Stillewater.jpg

Anecdotes:

We saw a strange movie the other night. I was wildly amused: although bored at times and put off by some of the surrealism, I recognized much that is familiar in Synecdoche, NY. By “familiar,” I do not mean flattering, but I have to admit that I could see myself, my logic, and some of my life experience reflected in the mangle of enactments and re-enactments. The funniest part, however, was the company with whom I saw the film – I knew they were suffering through on my account and I love them for it. 🙂

Another day:

“You like to fight,” she said, and continued: “I don’t.”

Not really, I thought about the first. I know, about the second.

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“I’m a magnet for conflict,” I told some friends later in the day. “Do you really think so?” they asked. I do. It’s the concept of valence; whether I want to be or not, my attention is drawn to tension. The more others try to get by, pass, or otherwise slide around it, the larger it looms in my consciousness. What, I begin to wonder, is so bad or terrible or fearful or otherwise so undesirable that someone would prefer to ignore it?

Sometimes I feel trapped, as I watch others “read” me, attributing their meanings to what I say, to what I’m doing. I understand that they perceive me making things worse, yet I only say the things that I say because I perceive it as a contribution along a path to resolution.

You have a balanced head,” the photographer said.

“People pick out only one part,” he said, “but the overall, the whole, is balanced.” I never saw this man before, he knows nothing about me and didn’t ask. But I felt seen. “Artists,” a friend later scoffed, teasing me about how easily I was seduced, “they know just what to say to get what they want!” 🙂 Maybe. It was quite an experience, though, in the moment, before and after listening to four piano pieces that sorted, scattered, and then re-organized my consciousness.

my pen.jpgThe concert began with Sonate in sol groot by Franz Schubert (opus 78, D894, 1826), played by Charlotte Otte. The familiar enough romantic classicism enabled my thinking to settle, slowly sorting and separating the intertwined threads of a book review, a job application, an upcoming presentation, the beginnings of the dissertation, and a chapter for an unrelated publication… so many ideas to be placed, positioned in counterpart and harmony, composed to produce a whole…

Then came Schonberg. The dodecaphony destroyed my ability to conceptualize, not that I had been thinking in any concentrated or focused way before, its just that I had been aware of thoughts and now there were none! Jasper Vanpaemel’s rendition of the Cinq pieces pour piano (opus 23, 1923) wrenched me out of myself. Next he played Etude nr 4 (1999) by Pascal Dusapin: the minimalism allowed the neurons in my brain to resume firing in a more-or-less normal manner. Finally, during the last piece, Variationen uber Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (1862) by Franz Liszt, my mind felt whole again, recomposed.

egg sightings and guerilla gardening

  • Sacred comedy offers its own rich twist on these, the lingering last days. What was I doing with my head on the ground, nestled among last fall’s composting leaves and this spring’s still fresh green shoots?!
  • Did I actually hit the right note (!), “consecrating the tonality” of Do, Re, Me as I learned about the socialized difference between 7 and 12 tone scales?
  • How bad/boring is The Sound of Music? (“It’s 50 years old!” Ah, the troubles of teaching (some) young people today – they want to absorb videos passively rather than actually think!)

no conclusions
Interactions with different individuals, across generations, nationalities, and contexts … yet similar themes (or at least references) emerge. I find myself betwixt and between, too aware or completely clueless. Sometimes, paradoxically, both at the same time.

Thanks to all who teach me, reflecting back the many parts of myself.
It isn’t all – or only – narcissim! 🙂
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