2018 Journal

An occasional record of thoughts and questions

8 October 2018

Think of the soul as the experience of inwardness, the cumulative body of memories, impressions, thoughts, insights, knowledge that one carries, and adds to, moment by moment. Whether there is anything of soul that will survive death, I doubt—but I don’t know, nor does anyone else. What I do know is that what I’m calling soul is my primary reality. Everyone and everything I care about is in my soul, carried within—people, places, ideas, causes, values, books, paintings, journeys, discoveries, all contact with nature, and much else. My ailing son is there. My ailing wife is there. My parents are there, along with other vanished loved ones. All that matters to me, all that defines me, is reflected, recorded, treasured in my soul.

24 April 2018

Three kinds of gluttony are kin: gobbling too much food, too much distance, too many sensations. So the man seriously obese from gorging himself is akin to the man who flits constantly from place to place without settling, and to the man who compulsively seeks new stimuli. All are gluttons, and the price of gluttony is to be bloated without tasting what you eat, what you see, what you experience.

28 March 2018

As I walked this morning, I found myself recalling Yeats’s epigraph to his volume of poems, Responsibilities (1914): “In dreams begins responsibilities.” I might amend this to read: “In imagination begins responsibilities.” If we can imagine a world at peace, a world free of racism, a world where humans live in harmony with nature, a just and sustainable world—if we can imagine such a society, then we have a responsibility to help bring about what we’ve imagined. The catch, of course, is that one can equally well imagine accumulating money or power or fame. In fact, the most destructive people in our society appear to be motivated primarily by such dreams.

7 January 2018

The universe is an astounding, all-engulfing puzzle.Those who wonder about it most deeply and persistently become mystics, philosophers, or scientists. Most people take this wonder for granted, either accepting pre-fabricated explanations (typically a religious or political creed), or else ignoring the enigma altogether. They are more curious about what’s on TV than about the cosmos, life, or consciousness. As humans retreat deeper and deeper into our own constructions (including the Internet and “smart” devices), they may forget that we are immersed in a vast, ancient, non-human reality—a reality that will eventually reclaim us and all our works.

1 January 2018

Matthew Arnold is reputed to have said that “Journalism is literature in a hurry.” Blogs might be described as journalism in a hurry, and tweets as blogs in a hurry. The hastier the process of composition, the sloppier the language and shallower the thought.