Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring in central Maine has gone haywire, as is its wont. Snow rain sleet rain snow, interrupted by heart-stopping blue skies and a raw wind, interrupted by snow rain sleet rain snow. Etcetera. Today, however, the forecast is meek. A perfect day for driving back and forth and back and forth doing dumb stuff like taking the smelly poodle to the groomer.

Now, in the new morning, two crows are shouting at each other as they careen among the tree tops. The washing machine churns a load of towels. The poems of Tu Fu trickle through my thoughts.

Last night my friend David sent me this remark from a biography of Marcel Proust:
"[There's] a kind of law of literary biography: someone who plays a walk-on part in real life may become an important character in a book, because an image, which coincides with one's secret expectations, may resound in the imagination for a long time; in contrast, old friends, brothers, even lovers, may disappear without trace."

The poignancy of memory . . . Who is important in a life, and who is not? . . . Who ranks that importance--the life itself or its after-the-fact collator? History is a melancholy business.

I've been mourning the chaos in Brussels, of course; mourning also the hideousness of our national politics. The poignancy of memory sandwiched against the brutality of lived experience . . . it's no wonder people pretend that the old times were better. "Pull the blankets over your head," the voice urges. "Go back to dreaming."

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