Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another bad taste in the mouth

DON'T TALK TO ME about superstitions; I find them too useful to abandon them to the embrace of science. No sooner did I write about Harry's memorial service than I have another brush myself. Mortality's in the air.

A blog is no place for intimate personal details: enough to say that massive chills and high fever sent me to hospital, where the service was wonderful though the food not quite inspired; after six nights, including a last bounce-back following too optimistic a release, I was back on Eastside Road a week ago. I'm on the mend, but warned: seventy-five has more physical limitations
than sixty-five.

So why bring the matter up publicly at all? Because it turns out some of you readers care about these things. I appreciate that. There were long nights when I contemplated all sorts of things -- night thoughts after hearing Mahler, someone wrote once somewhere, the title of a book I think. I saw Goyas behind my closed eyelids; that damn dog gazing up out of his pit. Oddly, no aural hallucinations that I can recall. Much thought of Montaigne: how I'd love to converse with him, in his tower of books. 

I thought of the ghost community of readers of this blog, and I thought about freinds and family. Community means more and more. I think of those citizens of Paestum, 2500 years ago, and what their life must have been like, mediating between agriculture and trade; negotiating class and economic differences; attending, often privately, to the public shrines of the gods who meant the most to them; meeting in the market place and the temple; citizens, family members, individuals.

We feel too often, I think, that we aren't subject to similar preoccupations; but for me another look at death, even though not all that close, brings out the universality of life -- universality and continuity. Modern man thinks he's a private individual, and to an extent he succeeds at that. But before and behind that we've been governed by the same instincts and desires for thousands of years; strip away technological advances and not that much changes. 

(And we're also not individuals at all, of course, but immense populations of cells many of whom act as little sub-units of their own: but that's another story.)

Thanks for the good wishes, everyone. I hope to get back to Sicily soon.