And then there's Friaturday ... when I wax metaphysical

In the right mood, it occurs to me that Tiger is a liitle corner of the universe,
bounded by muscle and fur. Then again, so is a rabid dog.  

I know, I can only use the double-name days so many times, but it's been a long week.

On Friday I attended shabbat services at Fairmount Temple as part of a work effort (encouraging discussion about women's personal experience of abortion, rather than political rhetoric, within the congregation and beyond). It's the second time I've been to services there recently. If you know me, you know I am not a churchgoer - was not raised as one, although as a young elementary school student I went through a period of seeking and went to church with everyone I could get to take me. What I ultimately got from that was that most churches weren't where I wanted to spend my time. But I've never really stopped being a seeker, in my own contrarian, skeptical, and somewhat distracted way.

I was struck during the services by a particular phrase in one of the prayers that says that the day of shabbat is "a piece of eternity." This is such a fascinating concept to me -- a sort of immanence -- human action deliberately inviting the infinite into this finite space. Having gone to look into this phrase [potential essay?], I see that to anyone who studies these things, it might be a common idea, but ... It strikes me. And it is not unlike the spiritual side of yoga, although different in physical manifestation, in which part of what you are doing is using physical effort to connect to the piece of the infinite you carry within you.

I have always been very interested in the concept of immanence, as opposed to transcendence. A preoccupation with transcendence, it seems to me, can lead to a kind of cruelty, a disregard for the things of the world or for the lived experience of individuals. Immanence, on the other hand, imbues the physical, lived world with an importance people need to attend to.

Gives my mantra of "notice what you notice" another layer of meaning, perhaps.

Readings: On Friday, not much besides Borrowers. On Saturday, more of Nalo Hopkinson's New Moon's Arms, and skimming various internet findings relating to my metaphysical meditation above, wherein I found this quote from Isaac Bashevis Singer, whom I love dearly and truly. It's from his Nobel laureate lecture, given 12/8/1978:
The high honor bestowed upon me by the Swedish Academy is also a recognition of the Yiddish language - a language of exile, without a land, without frontiers, not supported by any government, a language which possesses no words for weapons, ammunition, military exercises, war tactics ... The truth is that what the great religions preached, the Yiddish-speaking people of the ghettos practiced day in and day out. .... In spite of all the disenchantments and all my skepticism I believe that the nations can learn much from those Jews, their way of thinking, their way of bringing up children, their finding happiness where others see nothing but misery and humiliation. To me the Yiddish language and the conduct of those who spoke it are identical. One can find in the Yiddish tongue and in the Yiddish spirit expressions of pious joy, lust for life, longing for the Messiah, patience and deep appreciation of human individuality. There is a quiet humor in Yiddish and a gratitude for every day of life, every crumb of success, each encounter of love. The Yiddish mentality is not haughty. It does not take victory for granted. It does not demand and command but it muddles through, sneaks by, smuggles itself amidst the powers of destruction, knowing somewhere that God's plan for Creation is still at the very beginning.
 Also, coincidentally ... synchronistically? ... from the chapter in Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird on finding your voice:
Look at the two extremes. Maybe you find truth in Samuel Beckett--that we're very much alone and it's all scary and annoying and it smells like dirty feet and the most you can hope for is that periodically someone will offer a hand or a rag or a tiny word of encouragement just when you're going under. The redemption in Beckett is so small: in the second act of Waiting for Godot, the barren dying twig of a tree has put out a leaf. Just one leaf. It's not much; still Beckett didn't commit suicide. He wrote.
Or maybe truth as you understand it is 180 degrees away--that God is everywhere and we are all where we're supposed to be and more will be revealed one day. Maybe you feel Wordsworth was right, maybe Rumi, maybe Stephen Mitchell writing on Job: "The physical body is acknowledged as dust, the perpetual drama as delusion. It is as if the world we perceive through our senses, that whole gorgeous and terrible pageant, were the breath-thin surface of a bubble, and everything else, inside and outside, it pure radiance. Both suffering and joy come then like a brief reflection, and death like a pin."
But you can't get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don't have much truth to express until we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in to. When we have goin in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in--then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home. (pp 200-01)
Writings: Friday, not so much.
Saturday, well, this long monster of a blarg. And also looking at voice in the opening section of the ToT in light of notes from group last week, but trying not to stay there ... also trying to get back into those dragony bits towards the end.

Made a big realization that I am at (the beginning side of) the end stage of writing this book, and this is a place I have never been before. No wonder it feels so unsettling. Trying to make analogies to other big things I have finished in the past ... my epic undergrad career (!!), my MA thesis, past-due big-baby pregnancies, etc. ... to help guide me.

Dinners: Friday, pizza with artichokes, prosciutto, and basil (from Dewey's), and salad and red wine, with my friend Dallas, after temple.
Saturday, party food at Bottlehouse (first time we've gotten there, because we are behind the curve on these things. we will be back!)

Soundtracks: Friday, I'm not sure.
Saturday, David mentioned thata Current (Minnesota public radio indie music station) dj had said something about wishing Lloyd Cole had been her boyfriend, so ... the Rattlesnakes album by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Also, a really great r&b genius mix based on Etta James' "The Wallflower."

Random things: Friday afternoon, the kids and I spotted a teenage boy in the neighborhood up the hill with a truly admirable bright lime green mohawk (and I say that as an individual who once upon a time had a lime green mohawk of my own). Z was a little critical of how it was falling down some in back. She observed that it would be much easier to stand a mohawk up if it were cut from an afro.

Saturday morning there was an entire flock of robins outside the door to CIM - I mean, like, 20 - 30 rust-breasted robins, all puffed up in the cold, jumping back and forth from the snowy ground to the bare branches of a small round tree with tiny red berries hanging from its very tips.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the concept of immanence. I think I live that way, but never thought about it specifically.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. It is a rich concept. I am glad you find it useful.

      Delete
  2. I've never been a religious person, nor have I aspired to be one. But I do constantly seek to improve myself and often feel that spirituality is something I need to integrate into my life somehow, but what type and how? The philosophy I'm most attracted to is Zen, but I'm clearly not a zafu-sitter. I lack the focus for meditation and staying in the moment and accepting everything all the time is fuckin' hard, man.

    I was not familiar with the word immanence, but I think I know the concept. I'm reminding of the JD Salinger story "Teddy," wherein a child describes his sister drinking milk as "pouring God into God." I still find this to be a striking image. I like my spirituality grounded on earth and in daily life. I like the idea of God as "The All." Not just that God is IN everything, but the God IS everything; the total sum of everything that exists. I suppose you could take it a step further and add the eternity piece: Everything, All the Time. Include past, present, and future.

    So if you start from there, there's kind of no point in "sitting in a field smiling beatifically," as Anne says, because God is as much your own messy house and whiny kids as it is a guru on a mountaintop.

    On the other hand, using the word "God" to describe any of this might be muddying what would otherwise be clear water.

    I've been rolling these ideas around in my head for years, waiting for something to coalesce or clarify itself and turn into something I can use. Don't think I'm there yet.

    Maybe if you pour the transcendence into the immanence and stir it up...

    I need more coffee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez, that got long, huh? While my own blog sits empty today...

      Delete
    2. You put the transcendence in the immanence and you drink it all up ... Doctor!

      I love the Salinger quote.

      Delete

Post a Comment