Wednesday, March 9, 2016
TRANSITIONING INTO A HIGHER LEVEL OF LOWER LEARNING
Two of my favorite songs of late. I hear a sweet echo/quote of "Love Reign O'er Me" at the end of David Bowie's last official album-released song, in the swirl of the windout, after the big punch. Mariam The Believer gets real gone--I really want to find this on vinyl.
Heading back to the Northwest today feels kind of weird. I'm totally psyched, but it's weird. The transition to KC was abrupt and happened suddenly; I jumped feet first into a work routine and life here and there was a weird stop action freeze frame thing that happened. Ordinary life went on in Eugene but I was no longer there, and keeping in touch became something to practice, not as easy as it was twenty years ago.
This is pretty ordinary stuff (change), and nothing brings that home like the transitions of parents into different levels of care. Belongings, surroundings, and routines change suddenly. The material things and the great luxury of privacy that helps define personhood in our culture can be dismantled in a matter of days or even hours. Privileged people go from a house to an apartment to a room among many rooms. "Getting settled" is a funny phrase when everything is bound to change. I haven't led the charge on this with my folks; my older siblings have. It is tough stuff. The lesson for me is: let go, early and often.
I have been on a helluva roll with audiobooks, and like them better than reading, at this point. To listen to Patti Smith's voice, or Herbie Hancock's voice, that's a new experience entirely. The music of stories started as music, long before the printing press. I've always been a reader and always will be, but as I get older, I wonder if the profession of literature in recent centuries didn't make a practice of overvaluing literature, as kind of a nerd's marketing move. Power brokers intimidated people with The Bible long before there were such things as Thomas Hardy scholars or post-structuralist literary critics making us feel dumb. Radio preachers still strut the scripture as pseudo-scholars, and that makes me wanna gag.
Libraries and bookstores are cathedrals to me, but different gods and different energies keep stories alive and it goes back to letting go. The audio library in your phone weighs so much less than the bookshelf furnishing the front room. Don't move my books, I'm not dead yet!! Toggling between a musician's autobiography and a Spotify playlist of that artist's music is a new and nimble way to explore and learn. (It seems natural that audiobooks could develop hyperlinks somehow. If I'm reading about Kind of Blue, stopping the action to give it a listen makes sense.)
I keep waiting for an audiobook that is kind of a dud but when you go from Herbie Hancock to David Byrne to Patti Smith, that is some cool shit!