not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the awful and awesome world is

the point, killarney, july 2013

all  potentially exists always

perhaps it is the illusion of time, the extension between happenings which has convinced us otherwise

perhaps it is because we cleave to the ease of luxury that we are astonished by brutality

reflections of sky in water on rock, killarney, july 2013
from:  The Sixth Meditation: Faces of God,  Jack Gilbert

It is convenient for the old men to blame Eve.
To insist we are damned because a country girl
talked to the snake one afternoon long ago.
Children must starve in Somalia for that,
and old women be abandoned in our greatest cities.
It's why we will finally be thrown into the lakes
of molten lead.  Because she was confused
by happiness that first time anyone said
she was beautiful.  Nevertheless, she must be
the issue, so people won't notice that rocks
and galaxies, mathematics and rust are also
created in His image.


                                       The forest must
not show the other face: slugs and grubs,
nematodes, and greenhead flies laying eggs
so their white larvae squirm in the filth.
Tent caterpillars, high in the trees, swarm out
from their offensive shrouds to eat the green
luxury bare.  Spiders cast their nets in the dark.
Aphids gorge on lice.  The braconid wasps lay eggs
under the skin of sphinx caterpillars so the larvae
will bore their way out through the host.
The other faces of God are not mediated by our
heart's need.  We are not stone, nor even jungle.
We are animals haunted by love.  Not spirits
buried in flesh, but the flesh itself.
And the spirit we are is not separated from it.


There is a god who prepares the locust in the blind
earth for seventeen years, to have it born without
a mouth.


  1. Wow! It is as you stated that the 'dark' exists in contrast to but along with the white suffused space that we believe or interpret to be the 'good'. Human proclivities are directed toward the desire that there be the absence of pain and anguisht in the belief that our maker is all good.

    Fernando Pessoa views of his existence to be existential.

    I always Love reading your insight.

    Gracias for sharing

    1. "Human proclivities are directed toward the desire that there be the absence of pain and anguish in the belief that our maker is all good."

      sadly, yes. we're fools.

      what would our lives possibly look like if we never suffered? we would be paste in a cupboard.

      existentialism - shouldn't we claim responsibility for our actions whether there is a god or not?

      i think we should live our best assuming that there is a god. equally we should live our best assuming that there is not.

      now, what does it mean to live our best?


  2. Amazing photographs, Erin, just beautiful. They make me think of a Bible verse in version says 'he rides on the wings of the storm'. I think of that every time we have a good storm.

    Poor Jack. I just feel sad for him after reading that poem. I want to hug him and bring him some warm broth, pat him on his back and say, "There, there. There, there..." xo

    Psalm 104:2,3 - "The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind."

    1. and in your way, marion, in your beautiful way of empathy, wanting to take jack under your arm, we should want to take one another under our arms always. what a painful and difficult and praiseworthy thing it is to be alive.


  3. Around the age of five I began to question the notion that the universe is arranged so humans can thrive. I was aware of hunger then, and was blaming God and my parents for not providing enough food, enough security in the cupboard. Yet, even back then, I knew the struggle was experienced by all life. You remind me of this continuous search for a benevolent and reasonable universe.

    1. rosaria, again and again i can only be grateful to have read your memoirs, to know a little of what it was to be you in your younger years.

      just the other day i was marvelling about the construction of the world through seasons. at first i had the too quick mind to think, aha, the world was not made for man. if the world had been made for man then instead of having two months of growing for berries, strawberries would grow through the snow in january, blueberries would grow through the frost hardened ground of april, raspberries burst into being in july, etc., so that food would be staggered throughout the year and there would always be plenty for the larder. what a foolish thought! then what of our bounty of hunger? what of privation? how dull all the berries would be if we could eat them at whim. it would be like eating paste. they would not have their miraculous flavor so poignantly hinged to waiting.

      this is not to say then that because of privation the world was made for man. my god, i hope man is not so important. if we are, then oh, we have failed even more than i have imagined. it is instead to celebrate the hunger of all things.


  4. I love that you include both words awful and awesome in your title. We forget the etymology of "awesome" in our everyday use of it for "wonderful."

    I wonder if this linguistic forgetting reflects cultural forgetting too. I try to read and reread how much life and living have changed in the last 150 years, to try to understand how hard it was before the luxuries of machines. (! oxymoron??) We don't seem to have anything hard built in, and many parents (not you!) try to protect kids from any hardship. A mistake! Of course the awful world is, as you say, and hardship will come in any case.

    A beautifully powerful post, with photos stirring and evocative.

    1. "I wonder if this linguistic forgetting reflects cultural forgetting too."

      ruth, i think societally if we spend any of our efforts it is just here between language as it really is and how we wish to perceive/wield it. of course we use the same wedge between ourselves and our bodies, which is the same as trying to create a larger gap between ourselves and our mortality. and too, of course we are fruitless in our efforts in these regards. language is, despite our blunderings and ignorance (oh, my ignorance!), what it originally was, a telling toward the truth, not the truth itself. if only we could lean our ear closer to listen past all of the sounds to that creature which utters the sounds. there is something begging to be recognized. it contains elements larger than right or wrong, attractive or ugly, comfortable or uncomfortable. societally we strive for safety and luxury but these are only aphrodisiacs for the ego. we want to be heady in the moment of ourselves, and again, distant from our mortality, the impossible position for mortals:) instead, we should strive for distance from our ego so that we might hear and see past our own dissonance.

      oh! i get frustrated because of course there are about a thousand things to be said that are all linked and i have a paltry mind and even more of a beggar's tongue but i do not want us to be lazy. or worse, indifferent. i want us to see (and by that i mean I want to always see and to know, even in my actions, in my responses to the world, that all bounty is just that, bountiful, and contains such wrenching complexity, that on its most basic level is basic, All is in fact All, no matter the bitter taste.



"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))