Monday, September 05, 2011

Scattered Thoughts on Labor Day

1. I like the new Blogger interface. Very clean and easy on the eye.

 2. I've had a long weekend spent mostly alone, since m'lady has gone off to visit her sister. Some chores done, a nice evening bike-ride, a good movie, a lot of reading. I've had a very nice relaxing time.

 3. The movie was Preston Sturges' Hail the Conquering Hero. I've now seen five Sturges films and have a couple more on my to-watch list. Sturges is a recent discovery for me, and I think he's one of Hollywood's best directors and writers ever.

 4. I'm listening to a LocalGrass podcast as I write.

 5. This weekend I began reading Thornton Wilder's The Eighth Day. This novel may not constitute a forgotten book, but it is certainly a neglected one. I'm only about a hundred pages in, but I think it's pretty amazing. Starting on page 106, Wilder summarizes what it means to be a "man of faith." He says that men of faith are "mostly invisible."
You brushed shoulders with a man of faith in the crowd yesterday; a woman of faith sold you a pair of gloves. Their principal characteristics do not tend to render them conspicuous. Only from time to time one or other of them is propelled by circumstance into becoming visible--blindingly visible. They tend their flocks in Donremy; they pursue an obscure law practice in New Salem, Illinois. They are not afraid; they are not self-regarding; they are constantly nourished by astonishment and wonder in life itself. They are not interesting. They lack those traits--our bosom companions--that so strongly engage our interest: aggression, the dominating will, envy, destructiveness and self-destructiveness. No pathos hovers about them. Try as hard as you like, you cannot see them as subjects of tragedy.
And this:
We did not chose the day of our birth nor may we choose the day of our death, yet choice is the sovereign faculty of the mind. We did not choose our parents, color, sex, health, or endowments. Barriers and prison walls surround us and those about us--everywhere, inner and outer impediments. These men and women [of faith] with the aid of observation and memory early encompass a large landscape. They know themselves, but their self is not the only window through which they view their existence. They are certain that one small part of what is given us is free. They explore daily the exercise of freedom. Their eyes are on the future. When the evil hour comes, they hold. They save cities--or, having failed, their example saves other cities after their death. They confront injustice. They assemble and inspirit the despairing.
That's great stuff. Makes you think. I've been a Wilder-fan since I read Our Town in high school, and a couple of years back I read many of his other plays, which have the same startling qualities. I recommend.

 6. OK, what am I going to do today, this last day of my long (but not lost) weekend. Make some killer potato salad for a cookout Wednesday night. Go for a bike-ride/run (if the weather holds). Read. Maybe try to write a poem.

 7. I'm meeting my friend Abraham for coffee tomorrow morning. Abraham blogs meditatively at La Vie Graphite. Something he said in his most recent post: "This day cannot be replicated." I'm thinking the poem I write today will begin with that thought.

 8. Two of my musical heroes are Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis. Now I find that they've been collaborating! Here's a sample:

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