Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Secret Men's Business

Walt Whitman wrote:

A batter'd, wreck'd old man,
  Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home,
  Pent by the sea and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months,
  Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken'd and nigh to death,
  I take my way along the island's edge,
  Venting a heavy heart.

  I am too full of woe!
  Haply I may not live another day;
  I cannot rest O God, I cannot eat or drink or sleep,
  Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee,
  Breathe, bathe myself once more in Thee, commune with Thee,
  Report myself once more to Thee.

My hands, my limbs grow nerveless,
  My brain feels rack'd, bewilder'd,
  Let the old timbers part, I will not part,
  I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me,
  Thee, Thee at least I know.

  Is it the prophet's thought I speak, or am I raving?
  What do I know of life? what of myself?
  I know not even my own work past or present,
  Dim ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me,
  Of newer better worlds, their mighty parturition,
  Mocking, perplexing me.

  And these things I see suddenly, what mean they?
  As if some miracle, some hand divine unseal'd my eyes,
  Shadowy vast shapes smile through the air and sky,
  And on the distant waves sail countless ships,
  And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.

Our old friend Walter raises several very good points with this.  One concerns the Mathematician, aka the Magician.  The doer of magic, so-called, because so few understand it.  So few also comprehend the effort it takes, the years of preparation and study, enduring confusion, suffering privation with a single purpose in mind:  to Know.  Nor do they see the power that must be summoned to create such original works. 

At some point the Magician must bid goodbye to his powers and see his works blossom or not, float or sink as they will, without him to steer them.

Another is the Grieving Man, so full of woe and venting a heavy heart.  Where does he come from?  Where does he go when at last he disappears?  To quote the great Leroy Carr, "The blues, they come, the blues they come, nobody knows where the blues come from; the blues they go, the blues they go, and everybody's happy when the old blues go."*  It must serve some divine purpose, as everything in existence (which existence is the divine itself) must do.  The clever part is in finding it out.

One final word, and if this isn't making sense, then check the title again.  Things can be hidden in plain sight, like the Parables. What I'm really interested in knowing is this:

Why is there new hair growing on my ears that  was never there before?  What possible benefit could that bestow upon me?

Am I turning into some sort of Hobbit?

* Leroy Carr (1905-1935) was a blues pianist who lived only to age 30 but within that short time influenced generations of artists including Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Count Basie, and T-Bone Walker.  The lyrics come from the song "Papa's on the housetop."

And would you LOOK at the size of those hands?

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