It is easy, as a politically engaged person, to wonder how other people cannot be politically engaged. This evening, I sat down to write about bills currently being considered in the CT State Legislature, and maybe comment on some Federal legislation, and, if I had energy, talk a little bit about the latest in town politics. There is so much to write about.
Yet it has been another long hard day, and I don’t have the energy to write that post. It is a useful reminder of how people cannot not have the time or energy to become more involved politically.
I do spend time trying to balance out my writing, my studies, my work, my tasks around the house, my responsibilities to various committees I serve on and at times, it just seems as if there isn’t enough time.
It begs the question, what really does matter? I think that’s a useful question to ask. I find I ask it of people in political discussions. For many, it seems to be a question of getting ahead, or simply not falling further behind. Underlying that is the question of who is getting ahead or not. Are we concerned about ourselves? Our neighbors? Our country?
Back to social constructs and the social contract, at least when there is time to think about such things.
And so, I confront the blank page once again. I think of the ground outside, with the recent snow, you’d think it would resemble a blank white page as well, but the dog has run everywhere. With the fatigue that comes after a snow storm, it would seem easy for the mind to be blank, perhaps as some sort of tired enlightenment, but the mind is not blank, it is just tired, with all the random thoughts floating around, and no energy to organize them.
I’m reading “Song of Myself” for the Whitman class right now, yet I don’t have the energy to join in the singing of myself. Fiona will be in the ensemble in her school production of Xanadu. Olivia Newton-John mixes with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and from Kubla Khan I see a link to William Butler Yeats’ Byzantium.
This isn’t a link in my thinking, it is a link on the poetry website where I briefly read a little Coleridge, followed by a little Yeats. On Facebook, I’ve been getting into various discussions on politics and find myself coming back to my underlying religious beliefs to challenge the assumptions of conservatives.
I also read people reflecting on Auschwitz. A friend showed me a disturbing video shot from a drone flying through Auschwitz, and my mind goes back to that powerful essay, No News from Auschwitz” by A. M. Rosenthal.
Slowly, I am catching up on tasks that are long overdue, but I don’t have energy to tackle more of them this evening, so I look back at the no-longer blank page, hit publish, and head off to bed
As part of the Walt Whitman course I’m taking online, I watched a fascinating interview between Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan and Harvard professor Elisa New. I’ve often blog about court decisions, but I’ve rarely thought about them as a literary form and the interplay of court decisions and other literature.
At one point, Justice Kagan, speaking about a poem said,
So reading this made me think a little bit harder about what I was seeing every day, in a way, that I guess, great poetry can do-- is to make you notice things that you don't notice in the world.
It struck me that we need Judges and Justices that read poetry; that notice things that normally aren’t noticed.
In another section she talks about quoting other judges
All the time, I use what other judges have said. And if I'm a judge and I have this amazing quote from Louis Brandeis-- man, I make sure to use that quote, right? Because it's an amazing quote, and because Louis Brandeis said it gives me a kind of credibility.
It was a wonderful discussion.
Today, I have been cleaning up some of the dangling fragments of ideas for blog posts on my computer. There are so many ideas bouncing around in my head that I would like to explore. I decided I would write a blog post exposing and exploring some of these ideas.
I was going to title the post something like, palimpsest. It is a wonderful word, dating back to Cicero, talking about writing over something, such as on a parchment that has been scraped off and is being reused.
Yet the idea of palimpsest that I always go to is from Judge John Woolsey in his decision about James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Joyce has attempted — it seems to me, with astonishing success — to show how the screen of consciousness with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions carries, as it were on a plastic palimpsest, not only what is in the focus of each man’s observation of the actual things about him, but also in a penumbral zone residua of past impressions, some recent and some drawn up by association from the domain of the subconscious.
It is such a wonderful quote, and I often think about this blog, with its ever-shifting kaleidoscopic impressions and the penumbral zone residua of my own past impressions, sometimes written about, sometimes, just in fragments, sometimes not even yet in fully formed thoughts.
But now, I’ve written my blog post of the day, exploring literature, legal decisions, and the plastic palimpsest underlying my own blog, so I’ll have to explore the incomplete fragments in a later post.
The forecast has been published. The state of emergency declared. The travel ban goes into effect in an hour. Friends are posting on Facebook about their plans. Others are texting about the weather in their areas. Where I am, the weather remains calm. I wait for the storm to start, for the last tasks to be completed so I can head off to bed. I reflect back to other storms. I’ve weathered them okay and hope this storm won’t be bad.