Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter solstice

Winter solstice occurred a few hours ago--it's an instant, a unit of Planck time, not a day.

The smallest unit of time is incomprehensible.


We capture it in a mathematical statement, gratuitously plastered above.
We've got a lot of Planck times to get through before Imbolc arrives.
***

I just finished a wonderful novel, Requiem, Mass., by John Dufresne. I won't spoil it here (couldn't if I wanted to), but while I read in the wintry darkness this morning, I stumbled across these words:
We all feel more than we can imagine. We all imagine more than we can remember. We all remember more than we can know. And we all know more than we can say.

Amen.

And then he talks of Planck time. This is a long passage, and perhaps I should ask Mr. Dufresne's permission before tossing it out here.
Any meaning is better than none. Ask any Catholic or Hutterite or Hmong. You believe in a God who, in his exquisite loneliness, created the universe and little you. Or you believe that we, in our terrifying loneliness, created God. Doesn't matter which. Ask any Vietnamese child kneeling in the mud, praying, choking on her tears, feeling the hot muzzle of an M16 at the nape of her neck, hearing the screams of her grandparents, inhaling the sting of smoke and cordite, knowing that this soldier here behind you, dear, is about to make his own meaning by firing a burst of bullets through your head. At that moment there is no arrow of time for you, there is no there, no then. There is only this singularity, this big bang. At that moment you are borrowing energy against time and shaping your brief life into a quantum of meaning.
Not sure this would make sense in June. Makes sense now.

3 comments:

Sean Nash said...

I'm not sure that would ever make "sense."

\, one more thing to read when i get the chance.

(yeah- i know it's a backward checkmark. i'm not going to e-mail apple in a request for a real one on this keyboard)

Sean

doyle said...

You're the only one that commented on this one publicly, but I'll tell you a secret.

John Dufresne responded when I asked about using his words. He was cool with it.

And I will tell you something else as well--I rarely read fiction I like. My favorite novel is Hardy's "The Mayor of Casterbridge". A few people have come close--Michael Malone ("Handling Sin" will make your sandwich pass through your nose), Steve Amick ("The Lake, A River, The Other Lake" is sublime), but this one by Dufresne is a mind-bending life changer.

Makes me proud to be human.

It's nothing like Galway Kinnell, but that's OK, too.

nashworld said...

OK- Stop it for now. Wow. Once June gets here, I will ask about these again. I'm sure I could just go back here... but I'm not that good at navigating digits.

Isn't it great that authors are now so keen to reply here? Osha Davidson is a member of our marine bio network... (we chat about his books quite often there). Not all authors will do that though. I think it shows a new connectedness that is very very appealing to me.

If you could read the report cards from my youth... (mom has a ton of elementary school grade cards) they say things like: "finally got Sean to read fiction this semester!", etc. I am the kid who would take the "S" volume of the World Book home for the weekend. Amazing I made it. Heh.

I have no idea what that comment referenced, but... the only fiction I remember (there were more I read for sure) was "Call It Courage." Funny now how I look back at that one from a sailboat in the Bahamas.

I have a guy (storyteller) that I like to read who is far less academic than these... who I'd never print here amongst those respectable folk you mention. That's a future conversation.

ps- It's not a "sekrit" if you tell it here. ;-)