Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fortune or Misfortune?

I mediated at length on Aristotle's thought of fortune and misfortune for how many weeks and months, I don't recall. How many years. I read Anthony Kenny's Aristotle on the Perfect Life, a thorough academic account of the Nichomachean Ethics, six or seven years ago, but conscious familiarity with Aristotle goes back to my ninth year. I've read the McKeon Edition from age 21. This thought of fortune and misfortune that seemed to haunt the philosopher, which haunts me, possesses centrality to Aristotle's life and thought.

I don't account for this in a fishing blog as if to pump up the ante in an obviously foolish way. Who cares about philosophy or Aristotle? Isn't this an inappropriate subject to raise? It's not that anyone else should care, and to hope many would take interest would be rather foolish, but people by and large randomly get jogged into taking note by this or that account happening to lean in their direction, no less, unless the habit of their scanning intelligence simply rejects any further process of the information.

A lot of people at least seem to care about the founding of the American nation, but very few seem to ever consider that the philosophical principles involved in the thought of the founders depended not only on the political philosophy of John Locke (17th century England), but Aristotle's this-worldly perspective nearly 2500 years ago in Athens, Greece. A countermand to Plato's otherworldliness, without this affirmation of happiness in this life, thinkers who took up the task of affirming life here on earth from the Renaissance forward wouldn't have had the same leading advantage.

Central to American life--the pursuit of happiness. At least by my reading of Aristotle, happiness is what he's all about. His mentor Plato never talked him out of it. During his teens and young manhood, he led a riotous partying life, selling herbs to get by, so I assume he knew a good time full well, and though Plato clearly straightened him out, the elder philosopher never robbed him of his heart. Aristotle wrote on just about everything. The concept of the university with its academic departments takes the basic blueprint from the range of Aristotle's subjects, just as the modern academic setting seems to take its partying culture from the habits of his youth. But through everything he accounted for in thought and writing, the passion--the happiness--is the motive carrying his enormous intelligence.

I've often thought of him at Round Valley Reservoir. This afternoon I came alone and stayed alone. A week ago, I thought I might drive over and enjoy my solitude. I told Mike Maxwell a few nights ago I want to get him on lake trout, but if I were to go this coming week now half done, this time I would need to be by myself.

And the lakers? I did speak to a fisherman as I packed in. He told me during the coldest weather we've had yet, he caught them consistently. If you've followed this blog recently, you found me wondering if I could garner any evidence to support an assumption. For whatever reason, I believe, lakers come in close during severe cold. So there you go. A piece of evidence anyway. About 50 degrees today, reservoir water is plenty cold despite recent days in the 40's or so, but severe cold does affect the environment differently in total. I have no idea how lake trout respond to whatever measurable differences, but apparently, they do.

I didn't even think of lakers as I departed early this afternoon. I got up and didn't want to go. Went outside expecting 60-degree weather to make refusal even worse, but temperature felt about 48. Nevertheless, something stirred, and though I felt wretched gathering stuff from a disorganized mess from too little time to keep order, I got everything and my black Lab Sadie in the Honda, drove off, realized I forgot to take my BP medicine and resolved to take it later.

I decided I didn't want to spend the day with depression here, no matter the many things I need to get done. Bliss on Interstate 78 in a matter of less than 10 minutes. Last night I read Sven Birkerks' editor's essay for issue 84 of Agni, the literary journal of Boston University, my wife's alma mater, this journal just so happening to be my favorite among many I've read and do read. He wonders about the accessibility of the primary level with the tremendous digital overlay increasingly demanding attention. I considered that I made a choice today. A choice of a kind much easier for me to make in recent years. The sort of job you have to work has a lot to do with your fortune or lack of it, and I am certainly not just referring to monetary amount. I see people worse off than me, and degradation of human life affects me in ways I find difficult to bear, though which would I prefer: to witness and respond, or to scan the reality out of my awareness?

As for the primary level, without it, bless human life on this planet its farewell, because what primacy equates to is nature, without which we can't even breathe. In any case, I don't suffer the same plight as Birkherts. So long as I will continue to make this choice to place my boots on the ground, I will touch the primary level, because my outdoor habits go way back and deep, deep underground. When I get outside, I don't remain in a distracted bubble. Birkherts I find fascinating. No other voice I've found as yet better informs me of the artistic and literary scene today.



These trollers caught a rainbow trout right out in front of me. A sure sign of better fishing to come.

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