Tuesday, March 29, 2005

At My Witt's End

Trey keeps asking me why I bother reading Wittingshire anymore. For some reason I can’t help it. Back in what seems like the Pre-Cambrian days when Jonathan and Amanda permitted comments on their blog, I tried to establish some kind of blog-neighbor kinship with Amanda:

I too, adored Return of the King!

Your family sounds so nice – we want to homeschool too!

Merry Christmas!

Short of e-mailing her a picture of an apple pie, I had been as e-neighborly as I could. I feel very warm and oddly protective of this total stranger and I still don’t know why. Is it that she homeschools their children in the Pacific Northwest -- something I envision for Trey and I?

(When Trey and I were first engaged I gave him a copy of A Wrinkle in Time, and a few pages in he knew exactly why I had given it to him – I am both much like the angry young Meg and her scientist mother – Trey is the spitting image of Charles Wallace and of Mr. Murry. It somehown limns both the lonely children that he and I were, and the happy family we hope to build.)

Amanda’s husband Jonathan is a research fellow at the Discovery Institute. Funnily enough, it is through their blog that Trey and I became aware of the pervasiveness of the ID movement and it’s neo-creationist agenda. When Trey read the first post of Jonathan’s expressing his ID-leanings, he exclaimed “There goes the time-share in Cabo!”

Were Trey to become a Fellow at the Center for Jungian Psychology in Seattle, would our children be permitted to play with the Witt’s, were we to be actual neighbors? At this point I think it would just be too awkward all around. For example, I totally support their not having a television, but then Amanda writes something about how their children love nature programs but get upset when they are biased in favor of macroevolution. Huh? What? At the age of seven? Besides, I have spoken out virulently against her husband's research, research that moved their whole family hundreds of miles away from their home state. I guess we wouldn't be drinking wine and watching The Thorn Birds together or anything. I don't blame her. I stand by my man and she stands by hers.

I wonder if they ever felt the same way about us – “they seem nice and smart– if only they weren’t so misguided!” , although I'm sure they no longer bother with our blog, especially after my anti-ID ravings and liberal (yep, intended!) use of the word “fuck.” I suspect they don’t consider non-Christians as equals. But then, Trey has heard me scream “WHAT THE -- I give up!!” sometimes upon reading their blog.

Trey often remarks that the only differences between he and I are our genders. I agree. I think the same is true of the Witts. (At least in their blog personae – I can’t presume to really know these people.) But I find interesting is how pronounced it seems to be with those two: AW’s warmth, sense of relatedness, rapport with the natural world, and natural empathy provide a gendered foil to JW’s vibe of extreme logos -- I find his prose near unreadable, not for the ideological content but for its hermetic stench of superiority. Amanda’s landscape photographs express such joy at the beauty of the natural world, a sense of the sublime, of humility before great beauty and complexity. They express a pure and sincere yearning. To me, at any rate. I enjoyed their post on "What Useless Skill Are You?" he was Latin, she Regularly Metric Verse. [Trey and I got the same answers, except I was Latin!.]

At any rate, I initally got all crotchety over today’s entry on Robert Frost, “terza rima” and the Terri Schiavo case. This is the paragraph that sent me over the edge:

And I should say that this pattern of rhyme is called "terza rima" (aba bcb cdc ded efe)-- a set of interlocking rhymes that the poet Dante invented for his Divine Comedy, probably to symbolize the Trinity. The middle line of each stanza is a hanging rhyme; that is, it needs the next stanza in order to complete the rhyme. So you could call it expectant, or ongoing, or infinite. You could call it holy.

I did not know until a half-hour ago that the concept of Holy Trinity was apparently coined by Tertullian in the 3rd century. But it is pretty obvious that the archetypal power of three-ness – of which the Trinity is but one manifestation -- predates Christianity – the three-faced Greek Moirai; the Erinyes number three, the hurdles in all fairy tales number three as Paris has to choose which of the three goddesses was fairest; Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva; Osiris/Isis/Horus, alchemy’s tertium non data, you name it: it’s a magic number! Yes, Dante was most likely invoking the Trinity, but the ontological punch of terza rima is NOT because of the Trinity, but the fundamental and archetypal holiness of THREENESS that undergirds all these tropes.

It drives me crazy when people think that a deep principle is the province of their religion alone. Wotan hung himself upon the Tree of Life long before Christ, whose birthday month belongs to Capricorn, the astrological symbol of duty and sacrifice, of occult power and the agony of embodiment. Again the time-honored tragic interchange of forest for trees, tenor for vehicle: an acceptable mistake for students in Critical Interpolation but not when it results in things like, oh, The Crusades. I was all fierce about this when I started writing, but now feel something akin to resignation: I'm suddenly reminded of how I felt when I found out that my best friend Beth was no longer allowed over at our house: we lived on the military base, and gossip got around fast that my parents were divorcing, and her mother thought it “inappropriate” that Beth be exposed to a home mid-wreck.

I feel the "holiness" of terza rima too. I see my God when I look at the ripe, coelenterate moon over the city, at Venus’ delicate shadow transiting the Sun, or when Trey and I openly wept under the Natural History museum’s enormous whale last Friday. But I suspect that were I to walk over with a pie, the Witts might prefer it happen when they were out of town. It's probably best that way -- to gently leave our pies on each other's doorsteps since it's impossible for us to convert each other, as much as I think she and I feel a kindred ache when transfixed by an infinite canopy of stars, a creche of paperwhites.


Blogger Donkey Patrol said...

I feel like I could comment a lot right now...about holiness, about general revelation, about the inherent Spark of the Divine imbued in all human creativity and genius, but I'm going to forego that conversation now (and by doing thus, I kind of feel like I'm waltzing over to Treaiey and Lillet's with a fresh pumpkin pie...mmmm) for the sake of addressing an issue that has become a central issue in my life-regardless of whether I want it to be there.

I work, to an extent, in higher education. Day in and day out I'm forced to deal with people who have willingly insulated themselves and their children from the big bad world that wants to huff and puff and blow their worldview's doors in. You guessed it, people, I'm talking about homeschoolers. Lillet and Trey here is my advice: DON'T EVER FREAKING HOMESCHOOL YOUR KIDS!!!!! Some of the most paradoxical people I've met over the last year are homeschooled parents and students. Their brains have become supersaturated with knowledge and information; they probably know more at 17 years of age than I will ever know. But while being sage in their knowledge of the 'world' they have become social mongoloids. Their simian social stage is testament to what insular education and coddling can do to a young person-make them useless.

I'm actually going to paraphrase one of my favorite Scripture passages when I say what does it profit a [homschooled] man when he attains all knowledge and wealth, but loses his [homeschooled] soul? While some parents may believe that keeping their kids away from pinko hellcats and little Charles Wallace (Madeline L'Engle is one of my favs, by the way) may make them a better person, it only tears them down because it prohibits them from learning how to interact with most people in the world, i.e. people who are different than they are. While I'm sure that you'd attempt to make your household an egalitarian scholastic utopia (we can dream can't we?), I think even despite your best efforts you'd produce a kid who was a social retard and couldn't converse with conservatives like myself...who are sweet. It's the Achilles' Heel of homeschooling-insularity breeds infantilism in regards to social progression.

So don't homeschool your kids. Because one day I might have to interview them for a job or admission into a college, and they would get my typical eye roll and heavy sigh. I wouldn't wish that on even your kids.

Also, we will have to talk more about this over snails and drinks at what bistro again?

4:14 PM  
Blogger Ashbloem said...

Apparently if I was a useless skill, I would be French. I am a disgusting hedonist, guided by existentialism or nihilism, depending on the weather.

Sounds about right.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Lillet Langtry said...


I am a) un peu jalouse que tu were French, as it makes me feel so prudish to have my Latinate roots so evident, b) am desolee que tu as mal au Boston mainetenant c) don't know whether or not to delight in or rage at the fact that French is a "useless skill"..

mille tendresses


8:08 PM  

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