Tag: philosophy

Mixed Metaphors

Rallying troopers for a
hopeless charge with the
empty pledge that future
targets will soon be in place and, going forward,
onward plans exist to provide sufficient operational gear
retrospectively some time sooner or later this year
is rather like waiting for hoofbeats to die away into distance before
closing the stable door.

Cue picture, followed by some additional thoughts:

Don't shut the stable door after the horse has bolted' - meaning ...

I don’t really know what else to say … but somehow or other I can’t leave it there. Like many others, perhaps, I’m torn between a profound wish to support the national effort and the burning urge to criticise the hell out of it.

To do whatever it takes is a fine slogan but simply reacting to events may not be enough when the initiative must be seized so that we get ahead of the curve. If preparations have been left too late, our leaders should (a) acknowledge past mistakes and (b) move heaven and earth to rectify the worsening situation. When so much is at stake, the powers-that-be will not be forgiven for dishonesty nor pardoned for inaction.

Who knows what the future will bring? We all have our hopes and fears, more of them shared than we may yet realise. Upheaval and opportunity go hand in hand.

A little personal example comes to mind: I can’t spend time with my grandkids but can see them online and, mindful of their interrupted schooling, send them video readings from factual books with pictures – dinosaurs and explorers the chapters requested so far!

Silver linings, perhaps … but let’s not count our chickens. Nor mix our metaphors, for that matter. So easy to lapse into banality when you’ve had it, er, easy. And what can I say, I’m a comfortable baby-boomer in a first-world country? It’s true. I also have the great privilege of age, having enjoyed my three score and ten. As the old film title said, I’m All Right, Jack! And as the old blues puts it, I’ve had my fun if I don’t get well no more … 

I’m fine (touch wood!) and rediscovering simple pleasures: reading and writing, listening to music, hearing birdsong. I’m also heartened by the selflessness and bravery shown by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. It behoves us all to think of others in our actions – and, yes, inactions! Such times bring out the best and worst in humankind.

Cue song, then, music offering as much solace as anything can when we are feeling so many mixed emotions. And where else could you find such a potent blend of humour, remembrance and philosophy?

 

 

image: The Phrase Finder

source: rhetoric from https://randomwordgenerator.com

Deadline

pretend you are permitted just one message
and all that you ever meant to say is now
restricted to
a few last words – allow yourself a vital
gasp of air while whirling emotions seek to
resolve themselves into fresh phrase
and novel sentence and the moment of truth draws near –
please, you cry, more time required for anything approaching
honesty! none left? oh well, then, something to do with love …

 

Image result for paragraph

 

image: YouTube

source: paragraph from https://randomwordgenerator.com

Still Here

It is still here in our tired smiles –
mouths fighting gravity in search of simple
pleasures, that old innocence of shared
laughter and sweet companion tears shed
in common sympathy – our soul shelter from the
cold that creeps
into every heart,
that dirty liar who whispers still we stand and fall alone.

 

Friendship in the Time of Technology | HuffPost

 

image: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

source: implicit from https://randomwordgenerator.com

 

A Word to the Wise

I’ve never been one for New Year Resolutions. There’s a natural rebel inside me who kicks against rules of any kind – especially those I try to impose on myself. I mean, really, who wants to be told what (and what not) to do by a finger-wagging fool who can’t even follow his own instructions?
And yet … come the turn of the year I always feel in need of a little gentle encouragement. I’m looking for inspiration from someone who’s been there, done it and bought the T-shirt. And who better than Anton Chekhov, a physician who was also a playwright often compared to Shakespeare and perhaps the most influential short-story writer of all time?
Image result for anton chekhov
First, a few random quotes …
Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
Love, friendship and respect do not unite people as much as a common hatred for something.
Any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day living that wears you out.
We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.
Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.
Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress; when I get tired of one, I spend the night with the other.
In a May 10, 1886 letter to his brother Alexander, also a writer, Chekhov noted six principles of a good story.
  • Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature.
  • Total objectivity.
  • Truthful descriptions of persons and objects.
  • Extreme brevity.
  • Audacity and originality: flee the stereotype.
  • Compassion.

 

Finally, here are a few pieces of encouragement and advice Chekhov wrote in letters to Russian writer Maxim Gorky in the late 1800s.

 

“You ask what is my opinion of your stories. My opinion? The talent is unmistakable and it is a real, great talent. For instance, in the story ‘In the Steppe,’ it is expressed with extraordinary vigour, and I actually felt a pang of envy that it was not I who had written it. You are an artist, a clever man, you feel superbly, you are plastic—that is, when you describe a thing, you see it and you touch it with your hands. That is real art.

There is my opinion for you, and I am very glad I can express it to you. I am, I repeat, very glad, and if we could meet and talk for an hour or two you would be convinced of my high appreciation of you and of the hopes I am building on your gifts.

Shall I speak now of defects? But that is not so easy. To speak of the defects of a talent is like speaking of the defects of a great tree growing in the garden; what is chiefly in question, you see, is not the tree itself but the tastes of the man who is looking at it. Is not that so?

I will begin by saying that to my mind you have not enough restraint. You are like a spectator at the theatre who expresses his transports with so little restraint that he prevents himself and other people from listening. This lack of restraint is particularly felt in the descriptions of nature with which you interrupt your dialogues; when one reads those descriptions one wishes they were more compact, shorter, put into two or three lines.”

 

Like all good teachers he begins by praising achievement before offering a single word of criticism – and even then he is constructive, offering his student a positive way forward.

Don’t know about you but I can’t think of a better way to start 2019!

Let’s hope it’s a good year for us all …

To A Granddaughter, Aged Four

Here’s another stab at a poem I posted a while ago. I think it’s sufficiently different to warrant a fresh outing. Click this link to see the original version – Beached

 

So you – sights set upon horizons – ask
For tales of bygone days when I was young
And just set sail myself. What spring to mind
Are moments when, for me, an unknown world
Emerged in truth from sugar-coated sham –
Awakenings in sudden storms, high seas.

The shore you leave with newly-opened eyes
Is where I ended up once time and tide
Grew tired of play and cast me skin and bone
Above the last-gasp breaker. Don’t confuse
These stray salt-streaks upon my face for tears
Nor think me thoughtless when I let fine sand
Fall soft through slackened fingers, so to speak,
For childhood’s visions are as hard to grasp
As specks of gold to sift from sediment
Or meanings to distil from mists of time.

And who can truly claim that he recalls?
So much is lost in transit – fire burned down
To faintly-glowing embers – vivid frames,
From floors of cutting-rooms, rough-spliced at random.

Take your pick. I’d sooner sit before
The fire and dream aloud than watch some movie
Made of smoke and mirrors. Photographs,
Those barefaced little fibbers, capture skin
But hardly give a hint of what’s within.

I’d show you glossy albums packed with stills
Or reels and reels of camera-conscious motion
Should any trace remain of who I was
And what it felt like out upon on the ocean.

No slideshow, then – nor sideshow, come to that,
When all you want is just the Main Event!
So ask me, as you do, what it was like
When I was five – or six or seven – or eight.

I’ll close my eyes and wait for anecdotes
To wander into view – old vinyl plucked
From deep within my whirring jukebox brain –
Epiphanies that sing again, their joys
Released and any sadness alchemised
By healing time and telling into mirth.

So at the death we journey towards birth.

 

Image result for boat on tropical beach

 

Image: Pinterest