Saturday, December 8, 2012

Volunteer Reptile Care, Aristotle Implies the Good of Environmentalism

Volunteer reptile care for N.J. Audubon was my idea--and a naturalist's--for my son. The notion coincided. If you've read earlier posts, you may know that Matt has been interested in and endeavoring with reptiles and amphibians from the age of four. Sigmund Freud famously wrote that children live in the unconscious of their parents. When I was a boy, I went into the local wilds alone and actually collected reptiles, amphibians, fish, and a variety of anthropods. Today in New Jersey, it's illegal to collect reptiles and amphibians. My son and I are on the side of the law. Our field trips involve observation and photography. But in 1970, I had at least 20 terrariums and aquariums in my parents' basement. Intensely interested in zoology and reading constantly at the age of nine--Aristotle most significantly--I aspired to study animals in captivity, as I phrased my idea, and attempted to produce a complex methodology of study. At that young age I did learn that I was not ready for that level of abstraction and procedure.
Originally, Matt spent time with the naturalist and the reptiles while I hiked the sanctuary or read as I waited. But for the past three years or so, Matt and I have been a team, taking weekend escapes for a half hour, sometimes an hour. This time has at least the value of all the week in between. Sometimes I go alone and it's just the same. Matt's busy with many activities in his teens now.

Friday, December 7, 2012

After Taking Photos, I Turned and Breathed, Alone at Round Valley Reservoir

Alone again at Round Valley, I could have been a thousand miles from civilization, hadn't I the notion lurking in the background of my mind about the reservoir's nature as an impoundment. But wonderful nature this is and I felt no subtraction at all. Surface calm like a sheet of ice, my steel weight penetrated surface tension with a simple plunk, dropped 20 feet or so by the inevitability of physical law, and I set the rod between stone upright to attend to photos and writing while I waited.

After taking photos, I turned and breathed as though the intake of my chest had a subtle equivalence to the distance of those hills, feeling the space between to be a presence.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Talking Heads, Eternal Love, Music of all Kinds and The Rainbow of Rock Music at Round Valley Reservoir

Couple of weeks ago, I pulled into my neighborhood to hear "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)" by The Talking Heads as it played on the radio. Appreciating the artfulness, the melody reminded me of a girl I knew in high school. I walked inside my house and ordered from Amazon Speaking in Tongues by the Heads. For the past week on the road, I've been absorbed in the music, especially "Pull up the Roots."

Poet, statesman, and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote that he was God enough to descend to the daughters of men. Such apparently pompous language doesn't do well today, so the Heads seem to express the same notion in an oblique way. Baby likes the people playing suggests it. Women put the checks on men's God possession, which, without the community implied by children, would alienate a man from the earthly mortal he is, or move him to commit unjust acts. Adolph Hitler believed his mission was ordained by Jesus Christ.

That may be a strange way to interpret Goethe and the Heads. But what I really mean is Goethe wasn't being ironic, as if what he really felt was contempt for women, while being one with God was what mattered instead. He meant the whole of life, sex and divinity alike, are valuable. God allows rather than denies. But it can be taken another way and that's the twist I played with. The religious righteousness motivating some has led to the likes of the Nazis who wanted the people killing for a thousand years' glory of their Fuhrer. If any worshiped Hitler it was sick indeed. But isn't some other worship besides a lust for power?

I have to hear the Head's instrumentation as the vocals slur, partially producing novel lingual patterns, and certainly challenging rational faculty by interesting twists, rather than my getting much of anything by reading the lyrics on the web. The Heads are masters of driven beat and subtle percussion. Both techniques accompany youthful zest, impulse itself not being something to repress, but master by allowance. I have seen sophisticated dance in this music. "Pull up the Roots" features rising and falling tones--the crescendo of the refrain may be transcendent--that give the impression of wise, knowing restraint.

Whatever happens is fine with me if I do my best, which isn't to say I wouldn't like to see people do better. Whatever is finer than the place we live in is simply its imagined abstraction, implying the possibility of achievement. I breathe Round Valley air as I fish while otherwise reading Camus, and my lungs expand while I know that no division exists between this atmospheric dome and outer space. I feel astonished, as if I have taken my first breath of life. The dark side of the moon is a return because it is embraced by the planet I stand upon. I like dipping bait in this water of window pane clarity. I "still" fish like I did as a young boy.

I spend hours all week on the road absorbed in music. My first semester of college, I took a classical music class, and naturally felt interested intensely. Music had always been in my life, my father a musician. The professor was a wonderful man who told the class that a college education is necessary to understand how the world we live in works and has come to be. And then he looked directly into my eyes and said, "Unless you are a genius." This wasn't really news to me. I had been thinking very hard on what to do as my alternative to the conventional route of professionalism. In his notebooks, Camus remarks that a bookshelf is a university.

Musical appreciation, the professor explained, is itself at least a talent. I add that it is an interaction between form, energy, information; an activity which, of course, partakes in reality, since music heard is the fact, although music is not only received but enacted. I pointed out in a recent post that existence is eternal. But the orchestration of reality that a fine appreciation of music implies is limited as an event, a situation like any other. Pink Floyd is famous for pointing out in Dark Side of the Moon the senses are all life can be. This is not to depress, not in my experience, but remind the listener that everything does come down to the ordinary.

Otherwise, I might as well be the Voyager Space Probe, taking in information as well as letting it go, revolving observations and ideations like a wheel inside a wheel, which is absurd. I had a friend in the choir my father directed who absolutely loved the B-52's "Rock Lobster," similar to the Talking Heads, which he may have also appreciated. Euphony happens with another or others; it never really happens entirely alone. Love--whatever and whomever it's for--is a cosmic power felt, but not in essence an emotion. Evaluations, emotions about things, people, situations are bodily, while love moves the spirit beyond, before it must come back. Love is the unifying  power of existence, which human beings enact as if they are gods, whatever or whomever loved absolute, a yes to something eternal, which cannot be negated. 

Values certainly may seem to get negated because affirmations must always slip away as time overtakes the past. But the return, at least of the essence of people and things we love, is inevitable.   

I was not the greatest vocalist in my father's Episcopal choir, although I sang with passion and by rigorous criticism. My father had favorite performers. His artistic standards stood at the highest level in his profession, the choir world class. A boy two years my senior expressed artistic excellence as a soloist, which I didn't envy, but admired greatly. I always understood that my true asset as a chorister (for 13 years) was my head. If I used it primarily to sing, I certainly did also to understand my situation.

A woman with bows in her hair has no comparison: violin tones of a bow on strings tie indelible knots, just as physics theory suggests that the universe is a string vibration like music. Nothing is better than this.

To consider value, it's important to remember no known entity in the universe is as complex and powerful as the individual human brain. All the computers in the world are like Thomas Aquinas's naming his own work chaff by comparison to the brain: certainly computers prove worthwhile, but not better than man himself.

Round Valley all to myself today. I caught the 24-inch rainbow photographed.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Glorious Air Ringing With Mozart's Laughter World Wide

Got to Round Valley late, glorious 64-degree air ringing like Mozart's laughter superseding vocal chords. High transmission frequency and atmospheric pressure, molecules dancing like moves in Hesse's Glass Bead Game transporting the essence worldwide. Biplane dipped and rose, once yards over water, camera not handy. No one I spoke to caught any, but someone saw a rainbow trout of about 28 inches.
Thought how wonderful it is to be able to just step out of stress and breathe in the air. I love the stress of work. But if I didn't walk away from it, I might talk like Ernest Hemingway: "They get you in the end."

Insane old man with his compromise. The wife he took to replace the love he destroyed. And though they called Thomas Aquinas "the Dumb Ox," and Hemingway never endured such slander, perhaps lack of patience drew the suspicion. It is ironic what became of Aquinas. A failure at school, he went on to become one of the greatest Western minds. So if your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock 'n roll, you have to educate by chaff.

Which Aquinas named written work one day, tossing his aside for posterity. Can't say my parents were shut outs, since my dad, a musician, directed a rock concert in a church and later worked with Paul McCartney and other popular greats. 

Apparently, McCartney does not only do huge, corporate-sponsored concerts as if he never practices or participates otherwise. I don't know the details, but the American Boychoir School--Dad was the Director--is a world-touring organization that does not only perform sacred music. They have a large repertoire. 
Mom couldn't resist the thrillers either; she used to sing lines from rock songs passing through her head.
I'm the eldest child in the family photo below. Dad can be much more handsome than he looks. That's why J.C. Pearce claimed photography's an art. A camera takes an impression, is deceiving if the photo is mistaken as a "copy."

Camera shutter opened and closed so fast, the way we appeared vanished faster than the blink of an eye. Besides, the photo's a standing arrangement and no amount of research could exhaust the influences on what made it. I like how I appear ready to face anything. That's how I really was and often am, but the notion that the photo represents me suggests that problem with mistaking concrete images, as if they contain a Shakespearian character essence without unlimited room for improvements and corruptions alike.
I believe in character essence, but I firmly do not believe in the tragic flaw--Shakespeare's idea--as something absolute and unchanging that others may know and understand, if, on the contrary, something absolute does guide an individual's endurance to positive achievement.
Shakespeare was good at dramatizing fools.
So much disappointment in people, and confusion, can be eliminated by patience and what poet John Keats called negative capability, the suspension of false self-assertion and of passing judgment too early. Tragic results of interventions range from unnecessary breakups of relationships to lethal consequences. 
When Josey comes home, we'll begin to learn Roman eyes mean many and all things. It's your move, but I got the news. We play more than chess. A flat board never could settle such a score. Hesse's books remain good, but don't forget Supertramp. The band is second hand information from George Bernard Shaw. Shaw took it from William Henry Davies, when he wrote the preface to Davies Autobiography of a Supertramp. 
The name of the road you're on may mean many things.