Tuesday, January 21

afternoon: contraria sunt complementaria

Flipping through a now-full notebook, hitting something I thought was important enough to try really remembering on almost every page...

Niels Bohr: "A great truth is a truth of which the contrary is also a truth."

The truth is that in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion.

— William James, Varieties of Religious Experience

I never finished Varieties, but now I think that I will.

As stung by tempests
A wave I have seen
Dash itself against the rocks,
So in these bitter hours myself only
Am by my thoughts destroyed.

— Anonymous, tran. Arthur Waley

I wrote that down, I'm not sure why, without quite knowing what it meant. There's another one on the page facing it, in big parentheses with a little arrow pointing across. I don't remember if it was given as an alternate translation, or just another poem in the same chapter.

Like a wave that when the keen wind blows
Dashes itself against the rocks –
It is my own heart only
That I shatter in the torments of love.

— Anon., 10th c.
tran. Waley

morning: anamnesis

It is early in the morning, and in a little while, I will be analyzing Latin verbs in sentences about Caesar and the Ides of October. Sentences like Idibus Octobribus has dedi litteras, quo die, ut scribis, Caesar Placentiam legiones quattuor.

A moment ago I was reading What Would Toshiro Mifune Do? and thinking about the only Kurosawa film I have ever seen in its entirety.

Ikiru is actually a great film. I remember that everyone who was watching with me walked away in disgust during that seemingly interminable wake scene. Now that I think about it, that scene might have been the truest part of the whole thing. Or perhaps not. I've likely forgotten as much as I remember, because that's the way it works. I don't believe like I used to that art can really carry the whole weight and shape of the truth, but sometimes it can come close. It's just that we forget. We read the words, we hear the song, and for a moment or two we get it. Then we move on, and we forget.

What would life be like if we could remember all the true things we know, all at once?