Existentialist? Moi?

Art, music, poetry

As in the normal course of things, I am knocked sideways by my eldest, at eighteen, posing me questions that have no answers I can provide, and certainly not in the moment.  These are questions I have asked myself, forgotten, asked myself again, forgotten, and then forgotten to ask myself again.  Are you still with me?  His curiousity sends me running for my books,  in a sorry attempt to throw light on his questioning.  What I am failing to grasp, is his curiousity is the answer.  And I am delighted and anxious in the same heartbeat, knowing myself that digging deep is hard, and what always gets made is a hole. And the hole only ever gets deeper and bigger , the more you dig.  But he is a natural gardener of life, he will cope with the worms and snails, the pests and the droughts; he will water the shoots, he will nourish the blooms, and glory in the birdsong , accept the seasons’ joys, and deal with the inevitable losses. In the meantime, I scurry to my library of books, to once again attempt to master the myriad of philosophies that have been thrashed out over millenia, by men more erudite than me, more learned, just – more.  Living is the meaning, living within the paradoxes , living in the absurdity which we are privileged to be experiencing. Personally, I like the model Socrates lived, a humility towards the human experience, choosing always to question , choosing always to pour light on how we arrive at values we live by, daring to pose alternatives to populist thinking, encouraging the genuine challenge to moral authorities.


In the same week, I enjoyed the distraction of a virtual trip to the American Library of Congress.  It holds some fascinating archive material, and I fell in love with the Japanese prints they hold.  I understand the excitement the Impressionists felt, and can see the influence they had on them.  At the same time, I was drawn to a poem that I had come across earlier in the month.  Stanley Kunitz wrote ‘Layers’,  and he is a poet that I have enormous respect for.  I first read his work, after he had died, having come across his obituary.  He died  aged 101, and was a poet at a time when poetry was read with fervour.  I put his poem to the prints I had found, and married some music to the project.  It is worth a visit, I think!!

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