Thursday, September 30, 2021

Helen, Pensive

    Helen knew the look
    And feel of her
    Trojan archer, yet
    Set aside as she was
    Waiting the war out
    Reflected much more
    On her own momentum,

    Guilt, some had said    
    That she’d assented
    Too readily; yet she’d
    Been abandoned
    And betrayed, left,
    While Achaea played
    Games, left again

    As Hector and Paris
    Fended or fell. Now
    They’d set her here
    Like an antique vase,
    No one of moment
    Seeing her face,
    Her troubled brow.


Friday, September 17, 2021

A Hunter-Gatherer's guide and Post-Traumatic Growth


On 8-25-21 I was trimming branches out front, sawed most of the way through an especially large one which kept hold of my saw as it fell to the ground.  Unfortunately for me I held onto the saw.  The fingers on my right hand were bent back.  I thought they might be broken, but when I got up found that they weren’t.  However, something in my hand hasn’t completely healed.  When I write with pen and paper, as I do in my journal, pain increases with each line.  Fortunately my hand seems fine when I type.    

I’ve begun A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life by Heather Heyling and Bret Weinstein.   Quite a bit on this subject appears in science magazines, and I wondered if I would find anything new.  Perhaps I have:

From page 7: “Conscious thoughts are those that can be communicated to others.  We define consciousness, therefore, as ‘that fraction of cognition that is packaged for exchange.’  This is no trick.  We have not chosen a definition to make an intractable question simple.  We have chosen the definition at the epicenter of what people mean when describing a thought as ‘conscious.’”

I have gone on a bit in the book but keep coming back to this idea.  I recall Susan, in our early days of getting to know each other, telling me that I wasn’t in touch with my emotions.  She urged me to write her some poetry so I could find out what I felt emotionally, and that worked.  No doubt it worked before Susan urged me to do it.  I was writing poetry long before I met her, but I never thought of it in the terms she used.  

In one of the reviews I read recently, a poet (whose name I can’t recall) was asked the purpose of poetry and he said something along the lines of “a poet writes in order to find out what he thinks.”   That seems right as well.  I do not seem able to sit down and think my way to answers.  That probably wasn’t always true, but it seems to be true now.

In the 9-11-21 issue of ScienceNews is the article “Roads to the Good Life, Happiness and meaning are not the only ways to get there” by Sujata Gupta.  She begins “In December, my husband, our 5-year old daughter and I tested positive for COVID-19.  Life, already off-kilter, lurched.  Smell, taste, breath – were they normal?  The air smelled only of cold; everything tasted vaguely of cardboard. . . Prior to the sickness, I’d been researching pandemic fatigue, a term used to describe the boredom that can arise during a protracted crisis like the one we’re in now . . . research [of Shigerhiro Oishi and his team] suggests that the ingredients of a rich life come not from stability in life circumstances or in temperament.  Rather . . . it arises from novelty seeking, curiosity and moments that shift one’s view of the world. . .

Gupta goes on in a rather stream of consciousness fashion. One needn’t assume that we are all at risk for PTSD.  “A large body of literature shows . . . that natural disasters and other traumatic events can trigger a phenomenon known as post-traumatic growth: a transformation that gives people a newfound appreciation for life and a desire to help others.” [Gupta here quotes SN Online: 4/3/19]

“Growth” sounds unrealistic when applied to someone 86 years old, but perhaps I’m wrong.  I’ll have to give that some more thought, and I should probably give up sawing large branches from trees for fear of losing my ability to think.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Personal, technical problems & Garrison Keillor


Yesterday I spent an afternoon and evening as we all periodically do when our computers misbehave, or we think they do.  Yesterday I wasn't able to access wi-fi; which is usually the fault of my router.  After rebooting several times, I thought perhaps my router had failed; so I got a new one from my closet and went through the aggravating trial and error one must go through to set one up, unless one is a techie who does this all the time.

After getting my new router to work, I discovered that I had access to the internet through Mozilla Firefox, but I still didn't have access to my email through Mozilla Thunderbird.  I then recalled a few times in the past when I had access to the internet but not my email; so I hoped that my email would be back this morning, and it was. 

However I still couldn't access the photographic forums and the ongoing discussions I was in.  I could no longer type my password in the space provided for it.  Perhaps I have been banned I finally wondered.  Moderators can do that for all sorts of reasons, and they don't need to explain themselves to the real or imagined offenders.

After checking to make sure my new router was functioning properly, I checked my email system and found they were once again coming into my in-basked without hesitation.  The first one I read was the following from Garrison Keillor:

"I am thinking about moving to Texas so that I can be in open disagreement with the powers that be and express this freely, instead of living in colonies of liberal progressives where I must put tape over my mouth except when among close personal friends. Freedom of speech is watched closely where I live and we all know it. “What exactly is it you want to say that you can’t?” you wonder. It is something that, were I to say it, I’d be kicked out of the Democratic Party and my library card would be confiscated and I’d be barred from Amazon and Starbucks and the Episcopal church would make me sit in the Penitents’ Corner. So I’ll keep it to myself. . . ."

The moderators would make short work of Keillor if he voiced such an opinion on one of the photographic forums.  I myself occasionally think of moving to Idaho, but then I don't talk or write as much as I used to, so it's probably okay to stay here.