Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Garden of Forking Paths

Daily Post prompt for today was:  Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

Just this past week, I was teaching the story "The Garden of Forking Paths" by Jorge Luis Borges  to my university class on Modernity in Literature.

  It's a wonderful story  - a spy story wrapped around a meditation on time.   One of the main characters says this about time:
"...In contrast to Newton and
Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He
believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent,
convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one
another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries,
embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these
times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both
of us. In the present one, which a favorable fate has granted me, you have
arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me
dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost."

To me, this applies to the decision points of my life.  At age 67, I can look back and see them.  At age 18, I decided to go to Saint Joseph College, in a town far from home. Had I decided to go to West Chester State, in my home town, my whole life would be different. I would have probably married the fellow I was dating at home, had children, had lived in my home town all my life, and so on.  

If I follow Borges' philosophy, on another parallel level , I AM doing just that. 

I could go on and on , through the many decision points of my life, and imagine my life as it is lived on those other levels.  It becomes dizzying!

Borges has another one of his main characters leave us with this bequest:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Long Ten Days

It's been a very long ten days.  February seems longer than usual, due in part to the miserable weather ( today we have snow/sleet/ black ice/ rising temperatures/rain/fog)  but due also to my worrying about my university.  The conflicts over our new president escalated , to put it mildly.  I don't feel like telling the story here.  Suffice it to say that we aired our dirty laundry in the press, and much angry response has appeared in the comments section of every news article and on Facebook and Twitter.  I have said many rosaries, since that prayer is one I am able to say when I am distressed and distracted. I have faith that something good will come from this debacle... eventually.

Enough of that.

Here's a wonderful poem by Jane Hirschfield that Garrison Keillor read on "The Writer's Almanac" yesterday morning:

Hope and Love
by Jane Hirschfield

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one—
not knowing even
that was what he did—
in the blowing
sounds in the dark,
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

"Hope and Love" by Jane Hirshfield from The Lives of the Heart. © Harper Perennial, 1997. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Voice Work

Today's Prompt on The Daily Post:  Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

I couldn’t think of anyone at first. Needed a woman with an American accent.

Then another blogger was talking about Sylvia Plath.  Sylvia Plath was a gifted poet but an emotional disaster, and she committed suicide at the age of 32. I loved her voice.  If she had lived, she would be 84 today; she could still be writing!  What a loss.   But since she is gone, I tried to think of someone else.


Possibly, Mariska Hargitay, because I love her breathy voice. But it’s not really me.


Then I thought of Kathleen Turner. She would be good. She looks more like me, too.  Though I don’t look as good as she does.  But it’s the voice that matters here.