may 6/RUN

7 miles
st. kates and back
60 degrees

Ran with Scott on a beautiful spring morning. Sun, shadows, a welcome breeze. We ran over to St. Catherine’s University, across the river. RJP has almost decided to go there (hopefully she makes up her mind tonight) and we wanted to check it out. I’m impressed and excited to visit her next year. We talked a lot more in the first half of our run; we were both tired the last 2 miles. Scott talked about some Threads exchange involving Drake, Kanye West, and a diss track. We heard a creaking tree and I said it sounded like the squeaking gate we heard yesterday afternoon while we were walking. The mention of the gate reminded me of Marie Howe’s poem, “The Gate,” which I recited for Scott (of course I did). We talked about many other things but I just remember discussing what a wonderful campus St. Cates is and how great it will be for RJP.

On the sidewalk just outside of campus, we encountered several sidewalk poems that are part of the Public Art Sidewalk Poetry project. Scott took a picture of one:

November/ Marianne McNamara and Scott’s feet

November/ Marianne McNamara (2009)

Autumn winds drag leaves from the trees,
clog the streets in dreary finale.
Bare branches crisscross the heavy sky.
Icy rain spatters, ink-blots the pavement.
I settle at the window, stare into the black flannel, search the woolly lining of the night for winter.

I was unable to read this on the sidewalk, so I’m glad I could find it online. How hard is it for someone with good vision to read? I like the idea of this project, but in practice, it doesn’t quite work. Scott suggested they should use black paint on the letters, to make them stand out.

10 Things

  1. smell: lilac, intense
  2. tree shadows, more filled in than last week
  3. a loud leaf blower
  4. a safety patrol on the corner near Dowling saying I hate you, I hate you — who was he talking to?
  5. the soft trickle of water falling from the sewer pipe near the 44th street parking lot
  6. mud and ruts filled with water at a construction site on the edge of campus
  7. feeling a fine film of dust on my face near the end of the run
  8. more than a dozen signs in the grass outside a liquor store, each one said the same thing: wine sale. Scott: I guess they’re having a wine sale
  9. running down Randolph encountering 3 or 4 sidewalk poems, none of them marked on the map
  10. noticing a faint white thing flying through the air, high above us: a bird? a plane? a trick of the light or corrupted data from my eye to my brain?

the allegory of the cave, part 1

I want to read the cave parable and think about its shadows, but I want to read it in the context of The Republic so I’ve been searching my shelves for my copy. Which class in college did we read this for? Probably The Individual and Morality. Maybe a philosophy class? Anyway, it is very hard for me to find one book among almost a thousand. When we moved in I organized them, but over time, books have moved. Also, it’s dim in our living room and I have a lot of trouble reading book titles with my bad eyes. Yesterday I asked RJP to help, and she found it! Maybe I’ll try reading some of it out on the deck this afternoon. Reading physical books, as opposed to e-books, can be hard; there’s never enough light unless I’m reading it under my special lamp (designed for sewers and cross-stitchers and 80 year-olds with bad eyes and me). Reading outside in natural light helps.

an hour spent outside reading and dozing off and reading again . . .

First, two links that connect Plato and his cave with poetry:

Reading through the allegory, I cam accross these lines:

. . . the eyes may be confused in two ways and from two causes, namely when they’ve come from the light into the darkness and when they’ve come from the darkness into the light. . . whether it has come from a brighter life and is dimmed through not having yet become accustomed to the dark or whether it has come from greater ignorance into greater light and is dazzled by the increased brilliance.

518a, The Republic / Plato, trans. G.M.A. Grube

Of course, I immediately thought of two of my favorite vision poems (what I’m calling them) by Emily Dickinson. And of course I have both of them memorized — but not her punctuation.

We grow accustomed to the Dark
When light is put away
As when a neighbor holds the lamp
To witness her goodbye.

A Moment — We uncertain step —
For newness of the Night
(We Grow Accustomed to the Dark/ ED)

Too bright for our infirm Delight
The truth’s superb surprise

. . .

The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.
(Tell all the truth but tell it Slant/ ED)

I remember Plato’s cave and the shadows and the inability to access Truth, but I didn’t remember him discussing how both too little light and too much light blind us. The emphasis, as I recall, was always on darkness = bad, ignorance, the problem. Was I just not paying attention in philosophy class?

Searching for “plato cave,” I came across a video about it and decided to watch it:

The School of Life

I’d like to write more about what I find to be missing (also what’s helpful) in this account, but I’ve run out of time. Here’s one more video for comparison that I just started watching. When I have time, I’ll reflect on both:

After Skool