On Homesickness. - The second time I went to New England was after a prolonged time in the deep south. My tenure at Louisiana State University had come to a close (relativel...
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Interstellar Cosmic Universal Randomness
As random as Bruce Willis in a pink Easter Bunny suit. That's pretty random. Where random is the root word in the phrase, "interstellar, cosmic, universal randomness." And when you frame it that way, it got me to wondering, how random is anything once you go cosmic?
Years ago I walked into the Newscenter in Easton, a book store not known for its poetry selection or for books beyond bestsellers and classics. And on the end cap was a book called "The Shadow of Sirius" by W.S. Merwin. I had heard of Merwin before, but never read him, and had no inclination to pick that book up--it was thin with a pale gray cover, no reason to notice it. But I picked it up, bought it, read it cover to cover. Merwin became a heavy for me. A short stretch later, a former boss/mentor and I went to see Merwin speak/read at the Folger Theater in D.C. In the audience was my former adviser from Washington College, who waited in line with me to go meet Merwin and get books signed. I have not met most of the writers I most look up to. Merwin is one of the few. Looking back, I don't think picking that book up was random.
Both of us understood
what a privilege it was
to be out for a walk
with each other.
I turned in Merwin's thin, gray book to those words yesterday. They wouldn't have meant anything different to me until recently, but they landed right where they were supposed to, cosmically speaking.
Sirius, the Dog Star, is the brightest star visible from any part of the Earth. An interstellar all star. It's easy to spot on winter and spring evenings. And I dig that it is described as "white to blue" in color.
Stars and birds have grabbed my attention a lot lately. Those sky dwellers that leave us at once feeling grounded, but knowing ours is not the only lot, and that we are somehow connected. A view from the back deck, accompanied by books, accompanied by pilsner, conversation, love, watching the birds move about above, or intuiting us moving about beneath the stars. Victor Hugo feels the intermingling of the soul and the stars:
He was there alone with himself, collected, tranquil, adoring, comparing the serenity of his heart with the serenity of the skies, moved in the darkness by the visible splendors of the constellations, and the invisible splendor of God, opening his soul to the thoughts which fall from the Unknown. In such moments, offering up his heart at the hour when the flowers of night inhale their perfume, lighted like a lamp in the center of the starry night, expanding his soul in ecstasy in the midst of the universal radiance of creation, he could not himself perhaps have told what was passing in his own mind; he felt something depart from him, and something descend upon him, mysterious interchanges of the depths of his soul with the depths of the universe.
The intermingling of the soul and the stars. The terrestrial and the heavenly. This universal scale, the cosmic perspective; it is from that balcony that random dissipates, gives way to the underlying pattern.
Merwin's big book of selected poems is titled, "Migration." He is a poet of the birds and the stars. And late in his Sirius book, he turns to the thrush,
O nameless joy of the morning
tumbling upward note by note out of the night
and the hush of the dark valley
and out of whatever has not been there
song unquestioning and unbounded
yes this is the place and the one time
in the whole of before and after
with all memory waking into it
The song of the thrush brings the cosmos from the sky, from the night, into the now, waking with all memory. Timeless to temporal.
Random. Like Bruce Willis in a pink Easter Bunny suit. Chuck Palahniuk says of the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, that they, "seem like greater steps toward faith and imagination. Like cognitive training exercises."
Maybe that's how it goes. The Willis Bunny is a step toward faith and imagination. Or maybe, a dude in an Easter Bunny suit isn't random in the connected minds of those who conjured it.