Monday, January 28, 2013

Three voices in time & a squirrel

Is this the place with the free peanuts ?? .... I am not sure why I started, but the first autumn after I had moved into this house I began providing peanuts for the neighborhood squirrels. They progressed from eating outside, to coming into the patio and eating there on rainy days, to coming into the patio all of the time, to taking peanuts from my hand. Sort of silly. But, everyone, even squirrels, needs a sanctuary now and then -- or, at the very least, a refuge from the outside world.

Because it was January

Sort of picking up on where I left off a few days ago ....

Another of my mantras (which you have seen written here before) has been this: "By the time I was age twenty-five, I had done everything there was to do on earth in one form or another, in one sense or another, in one way or another."

Believe me, I had.

So, now, a year or two or three down the road beyond age twenty-five (hmmmm ....), why do I feel like I have missed out on so much?

I think the answer is relatively simple. A man is never satisfied. Never, ever, never.

I do believe man is from Mars and woman is from Venus, and had written as much long before someone else wrote a book to that effect. It should be obvious to the simplest of minds. (Unfortunately, it is not.) But, in terms of satisfaction, man and woman are the same. This is the snake in the Garden of Eden. This snake's name was satisfaction, curiosity, insatiability.

One of my favorite characters with whom I have become acquainted from my study of history and with whom I occasionally bring into my posts is Sir Richard Burton. I do not mean Richard Walter Jenkins, AKA, Sir Richard Burton, the 20th Century actor, the husband of Elizabeth Taylor, the Welshman. I do mean Sir Richard Francis Burton, the 19th Century soldier, the explorer, the writer and translator, who lived the life of ten men in the span of a single lifetime.

Perhaps, Burton's most remembered comment in response to a question about why he lived the life he did was this: "Starting in a hollowed log of wood -- some thousand miles up a river, with an infinitesimal prospect of returning! I ask myself 'Why?' and the only echo is 'damned fool! ... the Devil drives!'"

I wonder if there is enough vinegar left in me to ride shotgun another time or two with the Devil. You do not recognize the expression? Use your imagination.

A thought about crazy & crazy

All one has to do is to look at a photograph of Franz Kafka to know that he was a bit crazy. Well, if you prefer, use the words strange, different, odd. Maybe, off in his own world. I still choose to use the word crazy.

Whatever you might think, I think there is no more strange, different, odd, crazy short story (or, if you prefer, novella) than Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." I re-read it a few days ago, probably for the thirty-third time. If you never have read it, you should receive a refund on the money spent for your education.

Before I become too insulting and sarcastic, I will slide over a touch. Many writers, critics and educators have a tendency to consider science fiction to be third-rate fiction. If it were not for that fact, I think Kafka's marvelous masterpiece would be qualified as science fiction. Show me other "ordinary" fiction that even verges on being so far "other worldly" when placed alongside "The Metamorphosis." Then, tell me how you would categorize it in your library.

I mean, categorize it other than being a story written by sort of a madman.

The man standing next to you

A few days ago, the son of a man I knew briefly in Florida a lifetime ago sent me an email asking one question about his father. I had mentioned this man in passing in a post a while ago, but had not done so in a clear and understandable manner. The son had seen my post, and he had a question.

I replied in an email back to him with an honest and truthful answer, but I did not offer any other information or commentary.

I had met this man after he had been in the Marine Corps and before I was in it, and the arrival of the email from the son surprised me and stirred some memories and gave me a reason to smile: If you lived to be one thousand years of age, you probably could not guess the question he asked or the answer I gave to him. I will never tell you, either. I can keep a secret.

Life is a wonder. You never know who might be standing next to you on a tram or sitting on the stool beside you in a bar or who is just ahead of you in the line at a fast-food restaurant. You never know .... do you? And, on rare occasion, you might be amazed if you actually did know.

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