Four Years After 9/11

In 2005, I began writing this blog.  It had something to do with the privacy or public notion of words.  I was thinking that morning about the impermanence of life…of all of the floating papers of our lives…of art.   And so this blog was born at the remembrance of those papers fluttering to the ground, from those broken buildings and from all that is ephemeral, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

It is an interesting thing to go back to September 2005 and consider the words that I chose to write down…a blog was born out of those words.

 

WORLD TRADE CENTER

Memory

Posted on September 11, 2005

 

I was spinning my wheels that morning.  There were things to get done as always and so I busied myself with those rituals when one of the children called upstairs to me, “Mom, what is the World Trade Center?”

 

 

As I remember it, I stepped out from the bathroom, into the hall where I could see the television clearly.  A voice said, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.”

 

 

As I set myself down on the couch, a plane hit the second tower.  Smoke and flame billowed heavenward… it was truly something that seemed unbelievable.  It remains so.

 

 

It is very early in the morning.  I’ve just come in from the studio…it is only right that I should remember in the silence of this first bit of morning the many who lost their lives and the families they left behind, shattered and rebuilding to this day.

 

e. e. cummings

http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/eecummings/11909

here’s to opening and upward,

to leaf and to sap and to your

(in my arms flowering so new)

self whose eyes smell

of the sound of rain and

here’s to silent certainly mountains;

and to a disappearing poet

of always, snow and to morning;

and to morning’s beautiful friend twilight

(and a first dream called ocean)

and let must or if be damned

with whomever’s afraid

down with ought with because

with every brain which thinks

it thinks, nor dares to feel

(but up with joy; and up

with laughing and drunkenness)

here’s to one undiscoverable

guess of whose mad skill each

world of blood is made

(whose fatal songs are moving in the moon)

I have enjoyed a beautiful half moon tonight….walking from the studio to the house!  Good night, dear world!  Be kind to those who are lonely or hopeless tonight.

In the Classroom

Posted on September 12, 2005

 

I played two songs for my students this morning.  One was Deja Vu written by John Fogerty and the other was Wake me up When September Ends by Green Day.  I thought there were common themes in these two pieces of writing and that the melodies were rich, emoting ‘stuff’ that the students could think about, given the circumstances in Iraq.

 

Just recently they have been considering Ray Bradbury’s short story, All Summer in a Day…and there are also some parallels there; with the seven years of rain….and issues of isolation, sadness and abandonment.  The image of the sun gives us some insight about  hope and its potential in very dark moments.

 

After listening, I distributed both sets of lyrics and led  some rich discussion about ‘seeing the writing on the wall’. I felt pleased that the people sitting in front of me were going to take some learning with them.

 

As a follow-up, they will first write a comparison of the two songs and their themes and then go on to discuss which song they prefer and why it is preferred.

 

Finally, they will find a pathway into the lyrics and write their own narrative based on thoughts that surface as a result of considering the writing of these two powerful songs.  I was excited when one of the boys came to ask me if he could write from a voice in the song Vietnam by Creedance Clearwater Revival.  Good!  I told him that I was especially pleased that he had extended the suggested activity as it will mean more to him this way.

 

It was a very rewarding day in the classroom.

 

This writing has provided me a brief shift in posture and in focus.  Now I must return to the studio where work is really pushing forward.  I hope that the energy can be sustained.

 

The Little Prince: What does this mean? Ephemeral?

Little prince rosesChapter 15


The sixth planet was ten times larger than the last one. It was inhabited by an old gentleman who wrote voluminous books.

“Oh, look! Here is an explorer!” he exclaimed to himself when he saw the little prince coming.

The little prince sat down on the table and panted a little. He had already traveled so much and so far!

“Where do you come from?” the old gentleman said to him.

“What is that big book?” said the little prince. “What are you doing?”

“I am a geographer,” the old gentleman said to him.

“What is a geographer?” asked the little prince.

“A geographer is a scholar who knows the location of all the seas, rivers, towns, mountains, and deserts.”

“That is very interesting,” said the little prince. “Here at last is a man who has a real profession!” And he cast a look around him at the planet of the geographer. It was the most magnificent and stately planet that he had ever seen.

“Your planet is very beautiful,” he said. “Has it any oceans?”

“I couldn’t tell you,” said the geographer.

“Ah!” The little prince was disappointed. “Has it any mountains?”

“I couldn’t tell you,” said the geographer.

“And towns, and rivers, and deserts?”

“I couldn’t tell you that, either.”

“But you are a geographer!”

“Exactly,” the geographer said. “But I am not an explorer. I haven’t a single explorer on my planet. It is not the geographer who goes out to count the towns, the rivers, the mountains, the seas, the oceans, and the deserts. The geographer is much too important to go loafing about. He does not leave his desk. But he receives the explorers in his study. He asks them questions, and he notes down what they recall of their travels. And if the recollections of any one among them seem interesting to him, the geographer orders an inquiry into that explorer’s moral character.”

“Why is that?”

“Because an explorer who told lies would bring disaster on the books of the geographer. So would an explorer who drank too much.”

“Why is that?” asked the little prince.

“Because intoxicated men see double. Then the geographer would note down two mountains in a place where there was only one.”

“I know some one,” said the little prince, “who would make a bad explorer.”

“That is possible. Then, when the moral character of the explorer is shown to be good, an inquiry is ordered into his discovery.”

“One goes to see it?”

“No. That would be too complicated. But one requires the explorer to furnish proofs. For example, if the discovery in question is that of a large mountain, one requires that large stones be brought back from it.”

The geographer was suddenly stirred to excitement.

“But you– you come from far away! You are an explorer! You shall describe your planet to me!”

And, having opened his big register, the geographer sharpened his pencil. The recitals of explorers are put down first in pencil. One waits until the explorer has furnished proofs, before putting them down in ink.

“Well?” said the geographer expectantly.

“Oh, where I live,” said the little prince, “it is not very interesting. It is all so small. I have three volcanoes. Two volcanoes are active and the other is extinct. But one never knows.”

“One never knows,” said the geographer.

“I have also a flower.”

“We do not record flowers,” said the geographer.

“Why is that? The flower is the most beautiful thing on my planet!”

“We do not record them,” said the geographer, “because they are ephemeral.”

“What does that mean– ‘ephemeral’?”

“Geographies,” said the geographer, “are the books which, of all books, are most concerned with matters of consequence. They never become old-fashioned. It is very rarely that a mountain changes its position. It is very rarely that an ocean empties itself of its waters. We write of eternal things.”

“But extinct volcanoes may come to life again,” the little prince interrupted. “What does that mean– ‘ephemeral’?”

“Whether volcanoes are extinct or alive, it comes to the same thing for us,” said the geographer. “The thing that matters to us is the mountain. It does not change.”

“But what does that mean– ‘ephemeral’?” repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question, once he had asked it.

“It means, ‘which is in danger of speedy disappearance.'”

“Is my flower in danger of speedy disappearance?”

“Certainly it is.”

“My flower is ephemeral,” the little prince said to himself, “and she has only four thorns to defend herself against the world. And I have left her on my planet, all alone!”

That was his first moment of regret. But he took courage once more.

“What place would you advise me to visit now?” he asked.

“The planet Earth,” replied the geographer. “It has a good reputation.”

And the little prince went away, thinking of his flower.