Friday, January 15, 2010

"courage is the first virtue.

without it we can't practice the others." so said the english writer samuel johnson.

as far as i know, we've two basic fears. the first the fear of falling. and lately i've been increasing my exercises, feeling wobbly in the shower. a 30 minute power walk, a few minutes on a balancing board, and fifteen minutes hopping up and down on a mini-trampoline.

this fear the foundation of childhood. we fall. we stand. we stumble down steps and tumble out of bed. in nightmares we try to fly. and sometimes succeed. what a glorious feeling that is.

our second greatest fear: exile. being thrown out of the tribe means starving to death. without the help of others we can't provide for ourselves. and we'll go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned.

this is the secret of franz kafka's writing. he demonstrates again and again how we lose ourselves accommodating to circumstances. alas, this very act of self-abandonment never saves the protagonist.

what struck me watching television in japan, circa 1986: how group-solidarity instilled in the very young. this kind of social cohesion seemed unimaginable. and scary. we learn that if you identify too much with the captain you'll go down with the ship.

here are some slides from that first trip:

rationality cuts both ways, to free us and to bind us. i've been scanning photographs of guatemala and belize. if you don't learn to make logical connections, you exist in a world of magic. and that world can vanish at any point.

ruins remind us one may fall from a great height, no matter how secure we may feel. alas, 9/11 exactly that kind of event. the greatest erections in the world collapsed in minutes.

i like the simple streets of belize and the island life. how can we live with nature without submitting to the fears its mysteries cause?

weather-beaten boards seem more true to me than castles of stone. perhaps they can ride out the waves when the sea rises.