may 23/RUN

2.4 miles
1.5 mile loop + .75 loop + extra
62 degrees
94% humidity/ dew point: 61

Humid and thick and sticky. Hard to breathe. Yuck! I already miss the fresher, cooler air. Oh well. Decided to run a few miles this morning before the rain arrives. It’s supposed to rain here all weekend. Lots of other people–runners and walkers–had the same idea. I should start getting up much earlier, when it’s cooler and less crowded. Heard some woodpeckers and a bunch of other birds that I couldn’t readily recognize. Don’t remember much else from my run except that there were lots of puddles on the sidewalk, lots of dripping trees. At some point during the run, I got a nice little shower when the wind nudged some wet leaves and they misted me. Recited “What Would Root” a few times. When I finished my run I recited it into my phone.

What Would Root, may 23

Listening back to the recording, I’m pleased with how I remembered almost all of it and struck by how many birds I can hear in the background. As I listened to the line, “that they were a part of my body, I could not doubt; they were living and enervated and jutting out”, I thought about how I am not entirely sure what “enervated” means. Looked it up and was surprised: exhausted, fatigued, weary. I was thinking it would mean the opposite of that but as I think about the rest of the poem it makes sense. The next line is, “I sat down” and a few lines later the narrator says, “I lay down beneath my own branches.” So, does that mean rooting is akin too resting here? Stepping away from the world, “to nuzzle into the earth”? Or maybe it means being restored, revitalized–for me, that fits better with the color green. I love the world Farris creates here and I want to lay beneath my own branches and nuzzle into the earth–at least for a while, until this terrible pandemic is over and the assholes who are making it much worse are gone.

Speaking of the pandemic, we are entering a new phase. Things are opening back up and it seems like some people think this means things are getting better. Who thinks this and why? I can’t decide how much of this attitude is coming from “actual” people, and how much of it is propaganda designed to get us to risk our lives for the sake of spending money. I do not like this phase; I like it less than the last phase.

Found this poem after using the search word “green.” I want to think about it some more as it relates to my vision and how I see color and forms.

I Look Up from My Book and Out at the World through Reading Glasses/ Diane Seuss

The world, italicized.

Douglas fir blurs into archetype,
a black vertical with smeared green arms.
The load of pinecones at the top,
a brown smudge which could be anything: a wreath
of moths, a rabbit strung up
like a flag.

All trees are trees.
Death to modifiers.

A smear of blue, a smear of gold that could be a haystack,
a Cadillac, or a Medal of Honor without a neck to hang upon.

I know the dog killed something today, but it’s lost in fog.
A small red splotch in a band of monochromatic green.
And now, the mountain of bones is only a mountain capped in snow.
It’s a paradise of vagaries.
No heartache.
Just an eraser smudge,

All forms, the man wrote, tend toward blur.

added 6 april 2024: Here is the source of the “All forms tend toward blur” ending:

The specific reference is on page 243 – the quotation below gives a lot more context to what Bryson is talking about with that particular phrase:

Chardin’s solution to the problem of defamiliarisation is to cultivate a studied informality of attention, which looks at nothing in particular (figs. 13 and 14). He shows no signs of wanting to tighten up the loose world of the interiors he presents. On the contrary, his own intervention is unassuming, and seems so ordinary as to relax rather than heighten attention. This is clearest in his compositional technique. Usually com- position involves a staging of the scene before the viewer, a spectacular interval or proscenium frame between the subject and the scene. The placement of the wafers in Baugin’s Dessert with Wafers, for example, is calculated with immense and evident pains. But Chardin avoids composition of this self-conscious kind. He does not want to disturb the world or to reorganise it before the subject, as though to do so would be to keep the viewer at arm’s length and to push him or her out from the scene, when what is valued is exactly the way the scene welcomes the viewer in without ceremony, to take things as he or she finds them. For the same reason his compositions tend to avoid priorities: one thing is not intrinsically more important than another; to suggest otherwise would be to upset the evenness of regard as it moves with equal interest and equal engagement across the visual field. Chardin undoes the hierarchy between zones that composition normally aims for, by giving everything the same degree of attention, or inattention; so that the details, as they emerge, are striking only because of the gentle pressures bearing down on them from the rest of the painting.

For the same reason also, all the forms tend towards blur–perhaps Chardin’s greatest formal innovation–as though he were trying to paint peripheral as well as central vision, and in this way to suggest a familiarity with the objects in the visual field on such intimate and friendly terms that nothing any more needs to be vigilantly watched. The scene contains no surprises and harbours no shocks, and vision can relax its grip. The blurring of the forms marks a kind of homecoming of the subject into the ground of being: the sign that we really are at home in this world is that we no longer have to strain our eyes.

The balance between ‘Medusal’ vision and ‘anti-Medusal’ vision is a delicate matter, and Chardin’s preference for an informal blurring of forms can be thought of as a critique of still life’s tendency to dwell for too long on the face of familiarity, and thereby to produce visual unease. But the balance can be upset by another potent force, that of display. (pp. 241-244)

Chardin and the Text of Still Life by Norman Bryson. Critical Inquiry, Winter 1989, Vol. 15, No. 2. (jstor)