02/20 VISION

In the tumult of men and events, solitude was my temptation; now it is my friend. What other satisfaction can be sought once you have confronted History? –Charles de Gaulle

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Indeed.  Where else but in my solitude can equilibrium’s vision be sought (much less found), if the following selection of February 20 events from “confronted History” is representative of “the tumult of men and events”:

1513 Pope Julius II (aka The Fearsome Pope and The Warrior Pope) died and was laid to rest in a huge tomb sculptured by Michelangelo [In those days, Catholic artists regarded such Popes as ‘Patron’ Saints

1839 U.S. Congress prohibits dueling in the District of Columbia [What a bad idea this turned out to be, given that since then, no one in D.C. has had a clue how to better resolve differences]

1907 President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded “idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, and insane  persons” from being admitted to the U.S. [Unfortunately, there has not been a comparable act excluding such persons from becoming politicians]

1909 F.T. Marinetti, Italian poet, published the first Futurist Manifesto in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro and in Venice, including the statement “We want to glorify war – the only cure for the world.” [Evidently a utopian exception to “The cure is worse than the disease”]

1927 Golfers in South Carolina were arrested for violating the Sabbath [Talk about playing a-round!]  

1933 Congress completed action on an amendment to repeal Prohibition in the U.S. [and “I’ll drink to that!” rang out across the land]

1942 Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, was born [Coincidentally, the cartoon character Pruneface premiered (in a Dick Tracy comic strip) the same year]

1996 Gangsta rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg acquitted of murder in 1993 shooting of alleged gang member [Draw your own conclusions]

2002 The Pentagon stated that its recently created “Office of Strategic Influence” would not spread falsehoods in the media to advance U.S. war goals. Office was shut down six days later (Feb. 26) [Apparently the bummed guy in this snapshot was the last to get the message]:

Love’s labor lost. Lament in SOLITUDE. But despair not. It seems that Love, like the passions and madness of history, is where you — and a buoyantly young Julie Andrews — find it. So don’t be [Venetian] blind, it’s/all around you/everywhere.

 

 

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THIS POST IS FOR THE (LOVE)BIRDS

Now that NATIONAL BIRD DAY (see previous post) has come and flown, it’s time to transition from birds and bird song to love and love songs, in preparation for February 14 (VALENTINE’S DAY, aka ‘Woe To Guys Who Ignore It Day’). Let us begin the béguin*, boys and girls, by gauging your romantic wherewithall with this simple question:

*French for flirtation

Assuming that dealing with This Thing Called Love leaves you Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (and, if it doesn’t, you must be either a robot or a Republican), I suggest getting back to basics, starting with having that Old Fashioned Love in your heart:

Relationships are like music: it’s essential to hit the right notes, but man does not live by instruments alone. For example, without lyrics, the title to the above song might just as well be Yabba Dabba Doo. Here is the same song sung with sweet words of undying love:

I hope that the above is starting to get you guys in a romantic frame of mind. With little more than a month left before V-Day, I have only six more posts to fill your hearts with enough good old-fashioned love to pass muster with your SO. So, mister, rest assured I will work Night And Day to ready you to be in the I’m In The Mood For Love spirit.

 

 

ALL’S FARE IN LOVE AND FOUR

With my mind drawing blanks and little time to spare
….as this post comes due, I hope you will bear
with four poems previously published, not saying where….
but near in spirit to my last post’s bill of fare:

LOVER BOY

Narcissus was too perfect for sex or pelf;
He longed only to gaze in love at himself….
The moral of which is that, even in myths,
Too much reflection may be your nemesis.

THE BOOK OF WISDOM

Thou shalt not commit adultery,
Nor shalt thou covet thy neighbor’s spouse.
Shouldst thou succumbeth to temptation,
Thou shalt not covet in thy neighbor’s house.

FAIR WARNING

And so, when wise men say to you
Love’s a game for dreamers and fools….
Buddy, beware
That a lady fair
Doesn’t play by the wise men’s rules.

TREASURE CHEST

\/    Madame’s cleavage so fair; yet
xx    he must pretend not to see;
~~   he knows well the song:
/\    Let it beLet it be.

She may say, if he peeks,
he’s just looking for thrills….
but innocence is a broad, and she
gets There’s ogle in them thar hills.

ROMANCE WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY

To a romantic girl, all roads lead to Romeo. –Evan Esar

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August is ROMANCE AWARENESS MONTH. I’m not sure why a month is needed to raise awareness of romance (a week, or even a day, seems more than sufficient to awaken all but the most world-weary of libidos)….however, if it must take a month, I suppose August will do as well as any other. But then who needs Valentine’s Day  — enough is enough!

That may sound tantamount to telling Cupid to take a hike, but before you Romeos and Juliets go Roman off in a huff, be aware I have nothing against romance so long as it doesn’t get out of hand….which, as it happens, makes the title of my previous post (DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD) appear as if I’d simultaneously had today’s post in mind. Alas, I am not that far-sighted, but as a killer of two birds with one stone, and as a preview of coming attractions, I must admit the title was prescient (and I assure you that the two birds killed weren’t lovebirds).

Anyway, what can I say about romance that hasn’t already been intimated by many others? Not much, I’m happy to say, because it comports with my creative energy level in these dog days of August. Therefore, I shall turn to those others who have already waxed eloquent about puppy love and the like, and relieve myself of further arduous cogitation:

Love is the emotion that a woman always feels for a poodle, and sometimes for a man. –George Jean Nathan

Romance has been elegantly defined as the offspring of fiction and love. –Disraeli

Marriage is a romance in which the heroine dies in the first chapter. –Cecelia Egan

This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, Doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. The doc says, Well, why don’t you turn him in? And the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally irrational, crazy and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs. –Woody Allen

Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties. –Jules Renard

The realist always falls in love with a girl he has grown up with, the romanticist with a girl from “off somewhere.” –Robert Frost

Fools rush in where bachelors fear to wed. –Evan Esar

Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. Women have a more subtle instinct: what they like is to be a man’s last romance. –Oscar Wilde

By the time you swear you’re his, shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is infinite, undying —
Lady, make a note of this: One of you is lying.

–Dorothy Parker

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There’s too much fraternizing with the enemy. –Henry Kissinger

In as much as we began this romantic excursion with several punning allusions to Rome, it seems fitting to close with scenes from one of my favorite films, the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck romantic comedy, ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953):

IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING

In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. –Tennyson

As I write this on the eve (March 19) of posting it on the first day of spring, it might as well be spring because, as a once-upon-a-time young man, I’ve been turning to thoughts of love since I discovered it many springs ago….then I discovered that I hadn’t discovered it, but by then, it was too late to undiscover it. Or something along those lines. Love can be so confusing.

Anyway, like spring itself this year in Ohio, I’m getting a head start. I need time to gather spring songs for this post, an idea which arose out of my time songs post on March 10. But there seem to be even more love(ly) songs with “spring” in the title than with “time” in the title– so many, in fact, that it’s going to be hard to limit my spring song list to fewer than I’d love to share. But at least the title of this post suggests where to start:

For song #2, how about two for the price of one — both “spring” and “time” in one title:

Next, a long-forgotten spring song that’s a particular favorite of mine because its lyrics (by George Marion Jr.) are a marriage of exquisite simplicity and sophistication:

Wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly, the weather is turning colder. Now it looks like….

Well, it could be worse. If you live in the southern hemisphere, spring will not arrive for six more months. Fancy that! Fie on thoughts of love so late 😦 — why should those ‘down under’ wait?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

Then be not coy, but use your time.
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

–Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Carpe diem.

A QUESTION OF DEPRESSION

Countless studies have shown that people who suffer from depression have more accurate world views than nondepressed people. Depressed people do not nurture the cheering illusion that they can control the course of their lives. And they understand, all too acutely, the basic conditions of existence: that their lifespan is just a brief blip in the cold sweep of history, that suffering is real and ongoing, that they and all the people they love are going to die. That outlook is known as depressive realism. Depressed people might be unhappy, but–when it comes to these big-picture, existential matters–they are generally more right than the rest of us. –Kathryn Schulz, author of BEING WRONG

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The National Institute of Mental Health lists six forms of depressive disorder/depression: major depression, persistent depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and bipolar disorder (aka manic-depressive illness). NOT listed is Depressive realism.

I have never given much thought to depression (in the listed sense), probably because no one I’ve known (that I’m aware of) suffered from depression. However, the Schulz quotation strikes a chord because I’ve “suffered” from realism for years (since I’ve been free of inherited Catholicism), but without becoming depressed as a result….though heaven knows I have good reason to be (and perhaps should be), given that I “understand, all too acutely,” the reality Schulz cites. Why am I not (by N.I.M.H. standards) depressed? Why isn’t everyone depressed?

There are palliatives available before depression might come into play — for some, there is no shortage of such catholicons as drugs, alcoholism, power addiction, and yes, religion, to hold the wolf of reality at bay or serve as “the cheering illusion” that all’s well that ends well. Who knows, maybe all does end well, after all….but, given the mean time in the meantime, you could’ve fooled me. Life seems to imitate a product designed and built (sooner or later) to fail, but am I depressed? No….and, I take it, neither are you. Why not?

Well, it’s not as if life were an unmitigated disaster, that’s why — at least, not for most of us. The half-full part of the glass, I wouldn’t miss for the world. Even if our futures get short shrift, if our talents go under-appreciated, if we see ignorance, arrogance and greed thrive — even if love goes south — was it not “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?” No matter what is terribly wrong with the world (thanks to both the Creator, if any, and the created), we see in small children not original sin, but original innocence (perhaps our original innocence), the sheer joy of being alive, the promise of hope….and we hope to God or Fate that their promise doesn’t go up in smoke.

After due consideration, my take-away from all of this is that if we really want to get it right, do not go gentle into that good night*; there is a more challenging way: depressive realism. Think about it. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.*

*from the poem by Dylan Thomas

 

 

LOVE IN BLOOM – WHO WAS THAT GUY?

A WEDDING DAY LOOK-ALIKE

My love is like a red, red rose —
Don’t ask why; a poet just knows.
She’s the fairest flower aborning….
Even first thing in the morning.

She’s been the blessing of my life —
I bet you think that she’s my wife.
You say someone put that wedding band on her finger.
On the other hand, there’s such a thing as a dead ringer.