February 03, 2012

A Diary By Any Other Name....

Last night was invigorating reading-wise - I ate up free Kindlic samples of Wendell Berry's "Art of the Commonplace" and "Life is a Miracle". He comes recommended by Betty Duffy and I'm suitably impressionable. Also read beginning of "Diary of a Part-time Monk" about a guy who loves beer and Christianity and combined the two by having a beer-only Lenten fast. Arguably beats a beer-less Lenten fast.

Wendell Berry wrote so poetically, so enrichingly of his native Kentucky, in a way that reminded me of Donald Hall's superb "Seasons at Eagle Pond". He says that those who think they understand life, and want to "control it" are in a sense, giving up on it. The actual sentence I'm thinking of goes:
"A little harder to compass is the danger that we can give up on life also by presuming to 'understand' it - that is by reducing it to the terms of our understanding and by treating it as predictable or mechanical. The most radical influence of reductive science has been the virtually universal adoption of the idea that the world, its creatures, and all the parts of its creatures are machines."

The fun yesterday was consumeristic (ironic in the face of reading Berry, who titled one of his essays, 'Why I Won't Buy a Computer'). I signed up for streaming Netflix, at $7.99 a month. And so I'm still feeling the faux fumes of euphoria over that silliest and yet most dangerous of attachments: entertainment. It's a cornucopia! We immediately watched the first episode of PBS's "Downton Abbey" rather than having to start the season mid-way through its second. "Downton Abbey" is wondrously photographed, with sleek looks of hidebound libraries and regal old oil paintings. It also has the witty cachet of snappy dialogue. I especially enjoyed finding some new potentials and adding them to my quiver, or to what Netflix calls the "instant queue". Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" found its way there, as did something called "Winter's Bone", "Middlemarch" and a documentary on how ancient Greece civilization dissolved.


I can still feel a glimmer of vestigial vacation, a feel of beach and breeze. Moments collected and savored include the night when the tide was low and all sorts of "interesting" sea creatures lay about, like the nearly clear "turds" that resembled either intestines or jellyfish or some combination thereof. My niece and brother and I came across many UBOs - unidentified beach objects - of varying degrees of ugliness. I recall too sunlit mornings of surpassing brevity - the days we hardly knew ye!


Surprisingly, I felt downright chipper for this morning's dental bleed, I mean clean. The hygienist was easy on the eyes if not teeth. It went relatively swiftly ("if it 'twere done, may it be done quickly"). My dentist makes an OCD-sufferer look like Odd Couple character Oscar Madison. He brushes his teeth five times a day, in the morning and at night and after each of his three square meals. Consequently he brings to his dentistry a keen desire to make mountains out of molehills. He seems disappointed and distraught when he can't find anything wrong, as if he let the patient down.

1 comment:

BettyDuffy said...

Glad you're enjoying Berry. He can make you feel guilty--because he's so right, and getting to what is right is so hard.