I felt, though I couldn’t have expressed it at the time, that Mozart’s music became more beautiful—inexpressibly, unbearably beautiful—when heard through the scrim of impotence and longing that was the Salieri filter.
I am screaming in her face. I use my baby name for her, at the very moment of her adult and individual success. I am aware that I am asking her for something. An apology? A disavowal? Reassurance? Or maybe I am warning her, emitting a shrill alarm. Mind the gap between us. One victory is permissible, but take care.
You want your identical twin to be beautiful, to confirm that you are beautiful, but you also want her to be ugly, to confirm that she is uglier than you.
“If a dance is perfectly danced this is something objectively real. It enters into the treasure. One must never feel that this ends and disappears because it is over in time. We don’t see where it goes to but everything that comes up to the required quality becomes an act of worship. It is far truer worship to dance properly than to do a prayer half-properly.” ~ J.G. Bennett
Meditation at Lagunitas BY ROBERT HASS
All the new thinking is about loss. In this it resembles all the old thinking. The idea, for example, that each particular erases the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown- faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk of that black birch is, by his presence, some tragic falling off from a first world of undivided light. Or the other notion that, because there is in this world no one thing to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds, a word is elegy to what it signifies. We talked about it late last night and in the voice of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone almost querulous. After a while I understood that, talking this way, everything dissolves: justice, pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman I made love to and I remembered how, holding her small shoulders in my hands sometimes, I felt a violent wonder at her presence like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat, muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her. Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances. I must have been the same to her. But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread, the thing her father said that hurt her, what she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings, saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry. *
He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.
– From Screwtap Letters
We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it, so that for us light is on the edge—the last thing we know before things become too swift for us.
∆ C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (HarperCollins. January 1, 2005)
Annealing can produce durable patterns, but isn’t permanent; over time, discontinuities creep back in as the system gets ‘cold-worked’. To stay in love over the long-term, a couple will need to re-anneal in the felt-presence of each other on a regular basis. From my experience, some people have a natural psychological drive toward reflexive stability here: they see their partner as the source of goodness in their lives, so naturally they work hard to keep their mind aligned on valuing them. (It’s circular, but it works.) Whereas others are more self-reliant, exploratory, and restless, less prone toward these self-stable loops or annealing around external intentional objects in general. Whether or not, and within which precise contexts, someone’s annealing habits fall into this ‘reflexive stability attractor’ might explain much about e.g. attachment style, hedonic strategy, and aesthetic trajectory.
I tend to agree with the theory that if you want to keep a memory pristine, you must not call upon it too often, for each time it is revisited, you alter it irrevocably, remembering not the original impression left by experience but the last time you recalled it. With tiny differences creeping in at each cycle, the exercise of our memory does not bring us closer to the past but draws us farther away.
| Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
The limits of Guess culture are perfectly illustrated by the “no worries if not” meme. Like “no pressure,” or “I’m fine either way,” the phrase is an indirect attempt to harness the freedom of Ask culture.