Articles

The Floor Above

I could not say what floor it was —
because I did not know
what floor I lived on —
only that it was the floor above
where silence seemed to dwell —
unless it was because I could not hear
what was there
because of the noise of others
who lived with me.

It did not have a pretty or a friendly face —
instead the faces where I lived
were filled with images of things
I feared —
and a television against a wall —
the chatter of petty minds and petty faces 
the constant hum and drum behind the wall —
which I ignored —
for it was nothing more than noise to me.

But it had a telephone —
which reached another world —
the world of those I loved —
those no longer here
but whose messages I could hear.
They were both beautiful and tragic
and reminded me of the life they lived.
Love erased in a single moment
haunted eternally by the voice of those they loved —
recorded on a telephone.

They pretended to be happy
their voices filled with enthusiasm 
hopeful the ancient ones they had loved 
would reappear
found and loved again 
but not without a hint of uncertainty —
that kind of hope. 
Nonetheless it was persuasive 
and so, I plastered them to my body —
like a shield —
and traversed
the landscape of what I feared.

The Second Floor

Not too high, not too low.
Close enough to the ground 
but not far above it.
Not as high as the sky
but high enough to see the sky —
The middle ground.
High enough to see the branches of a tree —
the people who grow beneath them —
the voices and the traffic on the street
breathing  
under the sun and under the moon —
touch the sky.

The Man in Green

In a land by the sea between the living and the dead —
I saw a familiar man —but could not be sure who he was —
The sun traveled inside and poured from his face 
as he approached with a friendly gait —
a handsome man —
but whose beauty was secondary to the jacket he wore —  
a shade of green, not too dark, not too bright —
the length shorter than is customary for a man
reached the edge of the spine.
I marvelled how different it was from anything I had seen —
and knew its touch was something I could not leave behind —
The man in green — who was otherwise modestly dressed —
took pride in the craftsmanship of this vessel of his —
and opened the door to an inner world —
where major keys lay bare inside  —
and saw it was not finished yet. 

What is a Writer?

What is a writer, if nothing more than a pair of eyes, absorbing information from the environment, experiencing it, processing it, and finally expressing those perceptions through language? There are exceptions, of course, at least in theory. Educated claims, made by persons devoted to understanding a riddle, plucked and gleaned from limited resources, but which without all the pieces of the puzzle, despite dedication, are the valleys and peaks of scholarly visions. But this is the nature of curiosity and passion — a relentless pursuit for answers, the truth. These attempts are by no means futile or insignificant, but help construct a semi-coherent picture of what may have been. The intention to distinguish fact from myth is a noble pursuit.

And so, the subject which has rightfully fascinated investigators since antiquity, a trend which will likely continue indefinitely, is Homer, the greatest epic poet of all time. Linguistic variations of his epic poems suggest that Homer may have not authored both The Iliad and The Odyssey. But then again, investigators can only place his birth between a span of time, centuries apart. Just think of that. Not decades but centuries. Now that is what I would call a huge mystery. And one must not forget that these works were based on an oral tradition, so once again, there are more questions than answers. Homer was also presumably blind. Really? That’s an incredible claim. Perhaps he suffered from an eye disease later in life. Science has proven that eye diseases prevail in later life. And so, the verdict is out on that one, and for good reason, for it leads to a simple but significant question: How could a poet perceive what he expressed without the use of his eyes? My guess is that Milton would throw that theory into the trash.

Libraries: The Pros and Cons

Pros and cons, you say? What reason could possibly invalidate the use of libraries? Why would some stay away from this resource, this goldmine, so essential to our expansion of knowledge and understanding, which anyone can access, and which many do? It is beyond me to fully explain the reasons for this, for I do not possess that authority. However, I can submit an uneducated guess. But in order to do so, we must first begin with the pros:

The benefits are exponential. The brains of persons who consume immense knowledge are strengthened. Harnessed with the power of the Sun and the wind, branches are flooded with the energy of electricity, the lightning of thunderstorms, all bathing under the supervision of the most beautiful star, which is the source of our existence. The brain is irrevocably altered, brightened. Our brain function capacity increases. This brain is the master system of our existence. It controls our every movement, both internally and externally, and responds at the speed of light, while allowing us to remain blissfully ignorant of its power — perhaps intentionally.

For if it were possible to understand its vast complexity, we most likely would not survive that knowledge. We would be instantly struck down from the intensity of that light. And so, the brain is a benign organism, as well, for it knows us better than we know ourselves. It has its reasons. And those most likely act as a protective shield. It knows, for example, how many challenges we already experience while trying to understand a minuscule portion of its system, and so deems it wise, to maintain that percentage in perpetuity. Why? Because, though we are the most pitiful specimens it has ever come across, it still loves us. It knows it would be an exercise in futility (and cruelty) to grant us the authority to access the maze of its peaks and towers. Such a foolish expedition would be the last line in the slim volume on “The Wisdom of Homo sapiens,” as recorded in “The Books of Time”  … And so on their hands and knees, begging, knowing at that moment they were nothing more than a faint and imperceptible object, pleading and begging their soul to flee its paltry shell…their spark expired.

And so, those disciplined souls who cherish the ritual of the revolving doors of knowledge granted through the lending of books may one day reach a conclusion similar to the one above. But those who are utterly incapable of participating in this ritual, mostly for reasons of discipline deficiencies, well, they may be, unwittingly, granted some added protection.

I once borrowed a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, and I became mesmerized. Several months passed — perhaps six, or more, or even a year? — before I appeared before the librarian and explained what had happened. Oddly enough, the librarian chose not to punish me. Instead, she told me:  “Just keep it.”  Perhaps she did this out of pity? Or perhaps she knew I was a vulnerable soul would forever be shielded from experiencing the consequences of the knowledge stated in the previous paragraph?  If so, I am thankful. And I dedicate this piece to the stewards of scholarship and knowledge throughout the world who alone preserve the history of civilization.