John Berger, 1927-2017

And now John Berger gone. Who’s had more power and sway over my grown mind than any other. A whole man, upstanding.

This from his essay on the Chauvet Cave:

We have no word for this darkness. It is not night and it is not ignorance. From time to time we all cross this darkness, seeing everything: so much everything that we can distinguish nothing. You know it, Marisa, better than I. It’s the interior from which everything came.

The meaning there is, nothing is lost. And yet what a loss.

His love for the world shone in the care of the balance of each syllable.

Not a word he wrote was not about, in, and of, intimacy.

 

Student Blog: Piles of Distinct Pieces

At the end of oh a long day. Woke at 2am to a possum scratching noisily at a hatch to the crawlspace under my bedroom window and that went on some hours. Now after office hours, teaching, teaching prep, and an edifying but mind-twisting course at the local REI on orienteering with map and compass – now a glass of white wine and a big fat artichoke steaming to be had with butter and garlic, and in the gap as it steams one more blog for you.

So here’s a blog, as all these have been so far, on seeing freshly. In this case, seeing what’s real in the daily, unique in the ostensibly interchangeable. A very William Carlos Williams sort of blog.

Pennies, for instance, we act as if one were as good as another. Look at them better, though, and each is its own creature, has its own smudges, patina, has carved its own arc through the ether to your pocket or your change jar.

pennies

Or stones. Everyone talks about snowflakes. Fuck snowflakes. Stones are very different from other stones. Why don’t they get some fucking press?

stones 2

Why’s this matter. We live in a world system that’d make a given face, a person, interchangeable with every other, if it could, and maybe it could. To recuperate one penny or scrap of stone from all the others and say – this. In that plain ordinary moment attention is love, squishy yeah but that’s the word for it, and nothing the world commodity system raping the earth and our spirits can do will undo the moment, and the system has to fall back and die.

Doesn’t fall back far. Doesn’t die for long. But does a little, does a bit, and’s good and good again.

Student blog: Wandering Words and Sights

Another student blog for yehs from my Art of Compost class now entering its sixth and final whirlwind week. Picture compost aloft in circuits in different densities in fitful gales.

This one, on the face of it, a travel blog, but under its careful surfaces, the transits are interior. Meditation with landscape as alterity mirror.

Something about the introspective quiet of this blog (you can find it here) puts me in mind of John Berger, whose Shape of a Pocket we’re reading this week.

I had a dream in which I was a strange dealer: a dealer in looks or appearances. I collected and distributed them. In the dream I had just discovered a secret! I discovered it on my own, without help or advice.

The secret was to get inside whatever I was looking at – a bucket of water, a cow, a city (like Toledo) seen from above, an oak tree, and, once inside, to arrange its appearances for the better. Better did not mean making the thing seem more beautiful or more harmonious; nor did it mean making it more typical, so that the oak tree might represent all oak trees; it simply meant making it more itself so that the cow or the city or the bucket of water became more evidently unique!

Beautiful man. That is eunoia, Christian, beautiful thinking.