Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fun to cadres, cryptic sound

OUR SKINS ISOLATE our bodies from the matter surrounding them, but provide sacks for the uncountable millions of organisms whose unknowable agendas and interactions compose our physical selves. We are each of us a corporation, not an individual.

Our minds, however — they take the other direction, defining each of us as a component, an infinitesimal part of a galaxy of thoughts, memories, concepts, phrases, not-yet-imagined operas, forgotten epics, lost philosophies.

I owe that realization to a book read thirty years or so ago, Gregory Bateson's Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity, and the Human Sciences). I'll have to dip back into that soon; I'll let you know what I find.

Having taken far too long a vacation from other blogs I've enjoyed in the past, and being sequestered in a quiet room in the Sierra with neither computer nor television, and no desire to deal with anything requiring more than a few minutes' attentiveness, I've just visited Dan Visel's magnificent With Hidden Noise, inspiring for its intelligence, invention, and discipline.

Let me draw your attention to one superb invention, his re-statement of Henry James's novel The Sacred Fount

(It doesn't hurt that I've just read a fascinating book about Oulipo, which I promise to report on when I've access to a more efficient conceptcatcher than this iPad.)

With Hidden Noise is among other things a blogquivalent of a commonplace book. I take that as a practical inspiration, and add here, as the first in what may prove to be a long string of such items, a paragraph that struck me recently:
"My countrymen," said Mistral, when I saw him in Maillane, "are not slaves like the men of Nice and Cannes who sell their soil to foreigners, or to syndicates from Paris and lose all individuality and freedom. We, on the contrary, have each our own land and home, our liberty and independence from  our own toil, and therefore we have kept the local character of our old Provence. Fools prefer similitudes. They understand them better. When they see differences they try to smooth them down to the monotonous level of their own low instinct. The wiser man loves difference; difference ind dress, in speech, in life, in looks; difference that has given Provence the loveliest women of all France in some other towns, the handsomest men in others."
—Theodore Cook, Old Provence, p. 62; Jan. 18, 2012
reformatted August 17, 2012

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