Monday, April 23, 2012

The ages of man .... a postscript

I was having difficulty deciding what to use as "art" for this post when the thought came to me that I feel much like Prometheus must have felt when he was chained to a rock atop a mountain. Once I decided that was the solution, I had a difficult time deciding which painting to use between "Prometheus Bound," completed by Peter Paul Rubens in 1612, or this one, "Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan," done by Dirck van Baburen in 1623. I chose Baburen for a few reasons, not the least of which is that his style emulates that of one of our "old friends" -- Michelangelo Merisi, known to the world as Caravaggio. This piece shows Hephaestus (Vulcan) fashioning chains to secure Prometheus to a rock as Hermes (Mercury) watches and the eagle destined to devour the liver of Prometheus hovers in the corner. This was the punishment handed down by the all-god, Zeus (Jupiter), to Prometheus for giving the gift of fire to mankind. The ordeal went on until a son of Zeus, Alkeides (Hercules/Heracles), freed Prometheus. My circumstances are less complicated than this, of course, but my story and that of Prometheus generally run the same course. The name, Prometheus, incidentally, means "he who thinks ahead," a characteristic I like to believe I possess more than most. In the meanwhile, as I think ahead, I wonder who or what will free me from the chains that have bound me since the dawn of 2012.

There are no answers here

Will Durant is a man who walked the earth not too many years ago. I have written about him in a number of posts. He is one of two men I consider to have been the wisest contemporary to my own early years of wandering the Earth. Once upon a time, he said these words:

"The most interesting thing in the world is another human being who wonders, suffers and raises the questions that have bothered him to the last day of his life, knowing he will never get the answers."

I spent some time a few days ago talking with the man who lives across the street. He is one of those who spends his time on his knees pulling dandelions and blowing leaves from his yard. When he is not doing this, he is mowing his lawn or sitting in a chair staring at the grass as it grows in his yard.

I told him that I was seriously considering buying a boat. He thought it would be a bad idea for me to do so. They are so expensive to run and to maintain, he argued, and a person spends more time working on them than he does enjoying them. This he knows, although he admits he never has owned a boat. It is an opinion based on opinion, and nothing more.

While we were talking, the man who lives next door to the "yard man" (my nickname for the "prince of dandelions") joined us and asked if we had seen what the fellow who lives in the house behind the yard man was doing. (For ease in identification, we shall label the man next door as "hot rod." His hobby, I learned from yard man's wife, is street drag racing -- yeh, really.)

So, with no further conversation, we went to yard man's back yard (my first time there, and I was absolutely thrilled at its absolute perfection -- yeh, sure) and looked across the way. The man behind (who, henceforth, shall be known as "brush burner") was burning tree branches and other assorted odds and ends in his back yard. It was very obvious that he was losing control of the fire. (An entire pine tree was ablaze by then.) Another neighbor next door to brush burner came running over with a garden house to extinguish the flames.

While the yard man and hot rod were debating the merits of calling the police department and/or the fire department, I was quizzing yard man's wife about brush burner. From what she told me, apparently, brush burner gets drunk periodically and starts burning things in his back yard. She pointed out the partially melted and extremely warped siding on his house. This, evidently, was the result of one of brush burner's previous afternoon, drunken escapades.

After telling hot rod I would appreciate watching him make a run some night, I adjourned to my house while yard man and hot rod resumed debating the pros and cons of calling the authorities. (Best for me not to become involved in that aspect of neighborhood antics.) By the way, for all the street racers roaming the sea of blogs, I will mention that hot rod said his street runner was pushing more than five hundred horsepower.

You see now, maybe, a glimpse of suburban life in mid-America -- at least in my neck of the woods. You see now, maybe, why I say life is a joke and people who think otherwise are deluding themselves. Anyway, it turned out to be an interesting afternoon.

This post is meant to serve as a comparison of life across the street in contrast to life on the blogs. I have thoughts and opinions regarding this, but will not mention them beyond saying that the blogs have been interesting and fun -- but, a disappointment to me in the sense of them being a discussion medium. I had hoped to find people who were opinionated and were not hesitant about spending a few minutes writing open and honest responses to my words. Mostly, it seems to me, the blogs appear to be made up of mutual admiration/feel good groups of individuals. There is nothing wrong with that, but I am the type who looks for answers rather than compliments.

During my journalistic existence, I encountered many people -- ordinary and celebrity -- who had interesting thoughts to share and opinions to offer. During my prison existence, there were many people -- staff and inmates -- whose lives were sometimes fascinating and occasionally beyond belief. There almost certainly are people who roam the blogs whose lives and experiences are equally tantalizing, but, it seems, they mostly hide in the shadows. The time has arrived for changes on my blog.

Whatever happens to this blog, it is time for me to stop using it to ask questions or to seek opinions, thoughts and beliefs, while hoping there might be some responses forthcoming. Whatever happens to me, it is time for the chameleon to rise to the surface once again and to take on another persona; time for me to move from one age to the next; time for a new incarnation to evolve.

There are no answers to be found here, so I will search elsewhere for the conversation which eludes me here and look elsewhere for those who wonder, suffer and raise the questions that have and will bother them to the last days of their lives ....

The music

Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line" is easily among my all-time favorite songs. I have used it on my blog in the past. Rafferty died last year, essentially from the effects of a lifetime of heavy drinking.

I am using his song again here and now, but with the rendition Bonnie Raitt performed on the David Letterman Late Show a bit more than a week ago. I do this for two reasons. Bonnie is a wonderful singer, in my mind, and it always is a pleasure to listen to her .... and, my ex-wife No. 2 and our daughter happened to be rocking and rolling through New York City at the time of this performance and were at the Letterman show that evening. So, what you are watching here is what they saw live. Girls just like to have fun.

Find Gerry's version of the song, too, and listen, listen, listen. It is pure beauty. Close your eyes and allow your mind to drift. To repeat myself .... it is pure beauty ....

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