Delight Springs

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Small steps & solid foundations

5:40 a.m. Annoyed that I can't get a wifi connection out back on my writing porch this morning, but I'm not going to take the time right now to go and investigate the cable and router etc.  Mobile Blogger app's not available either, thanks to an unfortunate pool incident I'd rather not go into.

I do have my notebook and Notepad, though, so here we go. Web publishing doesn't have to be instantaneous and Right Now, the specious present will wait. My wireless high-wire act must go on.

[5 hours later, service restored, specious present reclaimed]

I've been thinking about how in my own mind the connection between walking and spacefaring is intuitive and obvious, but may be opaque to others. Woke this morning with a thought that may begin to clarify, prompted I guess by my subconscious processing of a video moment I registered the other day.

Cool how frequently that happens, by the way. John McPhee has written of the crucial importance of always having a working draft in process and in mind, so that little light bulb revelations like the one I'm about to describe get a chance to glow.

But first, let me snatch one more digressive reflection: three Super Earth exoplanets reportedly have just been discovered only 22 light years away.  Hey ho, let's go! Meanwhile, back on the only home we've ever known...

This morning's waking hunch: on Monday I referenced a new report on the humanities (lately written of, in the Times, by David Brooks and Verlyn Klinkenborg)  and growing worries that they're being allowed to wither in the shadow of economic distress and public demand for educational cash-value (i.e., jobs). The report's website includes a trailer, in which some young schoolkids are being made (presumably by a teacher) to watch Neil Armstrong's "one small step/giant leap." One says "it doesn't look like much of a leap to me."

Paucity of imagination is the inevitable result of starving the disciplines and the activites (like walking, and spacefaring) that feed it. See the connection? My intuition's becoming more intuitive to me, at least.

While orienting at Rhodes last weekend we heard from history prof Tim Huebner, whose work on the Civil War includes overseeing the Shelby Foote archive. Tim told us, kids and parents alike, that it's a mistake to think of humanities courses as something to get "out of the way." Do you get the foundation of your house out of the way, in order to build it? Or is it always there, always supporting everything you do? Right.

And speaking of Shelby Foote, who lived just a couple of stone's throws down the East Parkway from his papers' permanent abode in the beautiful Barret library at Rhodes: I love what he told Paris Review about work and life, in 1999... and of course I love that "superb edifice" he and his pal Percy built to last on the bluff at Brinkwood. In their published correspondence, not long before Walker's death but already more than a decade now since Shelby's, he wrote: "My god, my god. Fifty years... (!)"

The importance for life and the human search, of a firm foundation, cannot be overstated.

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