Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

in the maze of contradictions

The hero may have a thousand faces. But I'd settle for just one good profile, consistently shown and recognizable. It need not be handsome. Just consistent. Oh, and maybe heroic.

Lately I notice more than usual that I'm filled with inner contradictions. I don't really mind that I don't always make sense to myself. I like to imagine that I could have a theme, though, like one of those old five-paragraph essays in high school. A stray sentence or two might deviate, or contain a needless grammatical error. Overall, though, my conclusion sentence would match up perfectly with my subject sentence.

I'm fascinated by the notion of what I'll term "historical cloning". I don't spend much time wondering if Ted Williams will still hit .400 if he is cloned someday by the crygenetic-clonemasters. But I do see all sorts of possibilities for things beyond my literal imagination, or my moral ken. But without resort to all that science, I wonder if it's possible to just make me make sense to myself a bit more.



I spent today exhausted, because landing at 1:30 a.m., arriving home at 2:30, and being unable to get to sleep until 5:00 a.m. (I rarely sleep well after long air flights) makes me sleepy at work. But here I am being contradictory. In fact, I slept on the plane both coming and going on my business trip, didn't sleep until 5:00 because I was on the the computer, and went into my office slightly later than usual. So the narrative changes, depending on how one spins the facts.

It's a bit like movies remade by radically different directors. One of my favorite films is David Mamet's version of that classic play, "The Winslow Boy". The storyline covers a trial revolving around a boy expelled from school for allegedly stealing a postal money order. The Mamet film, though, deals with the background facts--what would a taxing matter like this mean for the family involved. I just found on ebay, though, the original 1948 film, with Robert Donat, whom I always find excellent and overlooked. I just got it in the mail today, and it looks like it's more of a conventional courtroom drama, not the Mamet-style background drama with little court action. The same story, deftly done--but completely different emphases.

I read Wendell Berry's novel "Jayber Crow" yesterday. I'm almost finished--it's simply wonderful. Its Kentucky setting reminds me, somehow, of small town memories that are part of my consciousness, but which do not always live on the surface. I remember small towns life as a way to live within one's ambiguity and contradictions without shame, because small towns must tolerate eccentricity. Others who grew up with me, though, rememember only the difficulty of living life under the whole town's watchful eye. I can see both sides--I guess I am contradictory on this point.

I think lately what a maze of ideas and stray notions I've become. I love, for instance, the curious Bene Geseritt chant from the Frank Herbert novel "Dune"--"I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. When it is gone, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain". But what is this quote, really? A bit of fiction about a fictitious order in a fictitious future chanted by people who followed ideas that, if not utter fiction, I would almost certainly find nearly enchantingly wrong-headed. But in a tight space, I might chant "I must not fear" anyway.

I'm a person of strong values and strong opinions. But how do I reconcile all my values and all my opinions, when they don't align, and when my conduct sometimes differs from both? In this regard, a small part of me envies the ants--the nitric acid says "go to the food"--one goes. The nitric acid says "fight! fight!", then it's time to defend the nest. But I'm no arthropod.

I bought a copy of the children's book Sarah Plain and Tall. I am interested in the story of someone who moves from New England to Kansas to be a mail order bride. How would one reconcile oneself with the change of everything one is and knows? It's a curious question. I don't have an answer.

I went one time to Unity Village, in Missouri, where folks think positively and something called Silent Unity enters incessant prayers for abundance. In the parking lot, a "maze" is painted on the asphalt. The day I was there, someone was walking the entire maze as a spiritual exercise. I started to walk the maze, circling, thinking, daydreaming, wondering. But then I "broke the maze", and just walked over the painted lines to leave. As I left, I felt a little self-conscious. After all, I could not even walk the maze.
But perhaps there's some metaphor there. I try to walk the circles, but sometimes the circles defeat me. Sometimes I just feel I'm going around and around. But something tells me it's not how I circle the maze that matters--it's how the maze is changing me. We'll see as time evolves how, if at all, I am changing inside.
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