I’m not particularly fond of One Hand Clapping. I’ve even told people not to buy it or read it — advice hardly necessary, since only three or four people — and I mean that quite literally — ever have. And yet it’s full of good writing, and the writing is sincere, sometimes quite moving, even poetic. So then, what is the problem? In a nutshell, my own ignorance. I don’t mean to say I’m not ignorant now, far from it; but, back then, I was even more so. I was ignorant of myself, and therefore ignorant in my view of the world around me. The writing, too, as good and poignantly mediocre as some of it is, also reveals a certain amount of pose; it’s poisoned, in fact, by my need at that time to appear right and somehow all-knowing, which are nothing but symptoms of blindness, fear, and insecurity. (Funny — for symptoms I almost wrote synonyms.) To put it another way, I wish I hadn’t written about politics. Yes, many of my observations in that realm were true then, and true now. But many others are limited by name-calling and a species of conspiratorial buy-in, if I may put it that way. Nowadays, I won’t even utter, let alone write, the names of those who think they are in power. I don’t live with my head in the sand either. I just happen to think there are better ways to live my life than pointing fingers and squawking about others’ shortcomings. I’m not here to solve the problems of the world. I’m not here to be right. I’m here to learn, and to see, and to root out, and to let fall away, the causes of those problems as they exist in myself.
As the old Sixties song goes, “It’s all too beautiful.” Too beautiful for anything else.
That being the case, in addition to the entry I posted yesterday, here is one I still like:
Our neighbor, dressed for work, came outside this morning and picked a small bunch of roses from the bushes that line the narrow sidewalk in front of his house. When he was done, he paused to study the plants, then held the roses briefly to his nose and went into his garage. A couple of minutes later, he backed his van into the driveway, closed the garage door by pressing a button in his van, and drove away. Now the house will remain empty for hours, the front blinds closed, the clocks ticking, the faucets dripping, the dust mites rummaging around in the upholstery, the pictures staring blankly from the wall, crucified and forlorn, the refrigerator humming periodically and blowing its warmth on the kitchen floor, sighing through great wads of lint while breakfast stains harden on the counters and the telephone goes unanswered in an unheard symphony of stagnation and stale air. All the while, outside, the surviving roses will whisper secrets and add their scent to the fresh spring air.
May 11, 2004 — One Hand Clapping,
a daily journal in two volumes,
March 17, 2003 — March 15, 2005