Friday, April 13, 2012

Love Lifts the Leaden Ladder

(Twelfth post in the A to Z Challenge)

Love seemed an obvious topic for L. The word is cited often. The concept is used to explain almost everything. To defend the good and the bad. The novel and the cliche. The living and the dead.

Dido died for it. Romeo died for the seeds of it. Jesus died with the promise of it.

Dante drew a lifetime of creation from the idea of it. Cervantes established the novel on the back of its folly. It graciously gives poets a second topic to dwell in beyond death.
Take away love, and our earth is a tomb! - Robert Browning, "Fra Lippo Lippi"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Keys to Success in a Kafkaesque World

(Eleventh post in the A to Z Challenge)
Before we fork over our tax refunds to the next self-appointed gurus of life, media, power and the arts, I offer three parables. They are key-related.


I had locked my keys in my car and was thus in a bit of a pickle. When an older, wiser man walked by, I waved my hand in a tentative greeting. He saw it and strolled over, at a friendly pace that made it seem he might have a moment to spare.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


(Tenth post in the A to Z Challenge)

Joy is a marvelous increasing of what exists, a pure addition out of nothingness. - Rilke
Myth often takes us into dark places. Drama demands yearning and loss. But even infernos have dynamics. Let us not forget the joy as well.
Oh gather it, Angel, that small-flowered herb of healing. Create a vase and preserve it.  - Rilke
Joy does not come to us as easily as it should. A noise distracts. Responsibilities demand. Excuses comfort. This brings resiliency, perhaps, but at a cost.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Islands, Inward Journeys, Infections, I Don't Know

(Ninth post in the A to Z Challenge)

"I don't know."

I utter this phrase a lot, and it gets me into trouble. I should probably know better. Socrates said, "all I know is that I know nothing." He was put to death. 
No man is an island...

To say, "I don't know" is not taken as open-mindedness, but evasion, or lack of effort. Life come with so many pre-packaged answers. Pick one, please. An open mind is an open wound. Grab a bandage. Disinfect.
Everybody's shouting, which side are you on?
The journey inward demands constant tolls paid outward. Community taxes our time. Our dreams. Hopefully it repays this some day.

Monday, April 9, 2012


(Eighth post in the A to Z Challenge)

You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. - Heraclitus

Odysseus returns home from 20 years of war and wandering dressed as a beggar, no longer welcome in his own homeland. He still owns the property, even the kingship, but home is not as he left it. His son, then an infant, is now grown. His dog, then an ace tracker, is minutes from death and covered in dung. His fortunes have dwindled and the palace is overrun by suitors to the throne. One wonders if the beggar disguise was even necessary. Odysseus was always rather pleased with his own cleverness.
Nothing endures but change. - Heraclitus
Odysseus, a man of action and not lament, goes about reversing the change as best he can: through slaughtering the unfaithful. While Achilles grows more human throughout The Iliad, Odysseus seems to journey in the opposite direction in The Odyssey.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Games Go On

(Seventh post in the A to Z Challenge.)

Whenever tragedy strikes, the sports world wonders whether it should cancel, postpone, acknowledge, or find a way to play more patriotic songs. A bloated shuffle of self-importance and nonsense consumes attention for a few days. We talk about the Real World rearing it's ugly head. We remind ourselves 'It's only a game.'


'A child's game' we call them, slotting them into properly subservient places, as if children's enjoyment negates the possibility of adult meaning (we say the same thing with children's and YA literature). To make our sports more properly adult, we add things like money lines, merchandising, paid gurus and tribalism. We mine each league for reflections on the larger culture.

Games have long intruded in life, probably even before things like language and meaning did. So it is little surprise they show up in some of our earliest literature.

The second-to-last book of The Iliad pauses the larger action to focus on Patroclus's funeral games. The war is not yet over. Neither side has anything but loss to celebrate. The Greek have lost many, including Patroclus, the most beloved comrade of Achilles. The Trojans have lost Hector and seen his body brutally dragged around the walls.
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