all your visitors will not be Catos

i was reading the “Lives” by Plutarch last night, Life of Cato, and became quickly aware: the joy of participating in one’s community, in passionately engaging with it… to be able to interact with a system that–though it suffers from corruption and greed from time to time (Rome)–is rooted in vertical growth and nurtures human industry, creativity. Plutarch brings to light wonderful details surrounding the subjects of his lives, he presents LIVES in fact, as opposed to dry histories. one great anecdote of Cato’s life is that he was known for staying up late philosophizing and drinking wine and would many times be seen in the morning after one of these late nights of thought carefully tending his garden up on a hill, pruning his bushes, in just his under-tunic, which was fairly transparent in the early morning light. Cato was also known for not ever missing a senate meeting, a rare accomplishment because of the tedium of some sessions and the sheer number of them in the year. he was known to show up early and to leave last, often sitting there in his robe reading quietly before the session; his acumen with the laws of the senate was unparalleled and he became known for his ferocious honesty and assiduity in following through with an argument. at one of the senate breaks, Cato decided to explore the empire a little, to travel around with several servants and not announce himself, in other words, to show up as a common citizen… not the soon-to-be censor of Rome. he wanted to see about how hoi poloi would receive just another member of the republic: to ascertain the state of his nation as a provincial guest, traveling. he comes into a region where he finds that people are not particularly polite to visitors. Plutarch states that he upbraided them:

“Foolish people, lay aside this inhospitality. All your visitors will not be Catos. Use your courtesy to take off the sharp edge of power. There are men enough who desire but a pretense to take from you by force what you give with such reluctance.”

Mhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmm. the power of courtesy. disarming courtesy.

let us think of that in this time of such misused power: disarming coursesy.

and that a guest in our homes, in our villages, could be anyone, a god, cato, a beggar, a beggar-god. so receive them with courtesy, generosity, and an open heart.

new world order


silences and meditations.

reading and chewing the words, carrying them to the world, throwing them over the anvil, ting, ting…

here’s a quote of recent, (from “The Great Philosophers,” pp. 267)

…”to own up means, for Heidegger, to hold on to anxiety rather than flee it. If you CHOOSE (ital.) to do that–and, in anxiety, your normal unreflective pressing into possibilities has broken down, so you do have to make a reflective choice–you will be thrown into an entirely different way of being human.”


what is this “choice”? it is involved with becoming oneself, with becoming a creator, rather than a reactor: (as opposed to “the decider” as Mr. bush says)… the choice is to look away from established norms, trends, spoon fed values, and DWELL in the region of the unknown, in that region where one sits, pondering the shape of clay, letting the brush rest on the back of her leg, walking over that steep butte on the off chance the next shot is just beyond your scope of experience, where the light may be magic…
i love nothing more than this expression of being thrust into an entirely different way of being human… this man or woman, strong enough to sit with anxiety, not to “flee into inauthenticity”, is masterful in being and can embrace fortune and misfortune as the groundwork for strength, the strength to dwell, the strength to be weak.
a favorite poem (i read it for the first time eight years ago, sitting in the sun porch of a farmhouse in walla walla) by derek walcott (1948):

I, with legs crossed along the daylight, watch
The variegated fists of clouds that gather over
The uncouth features of this, my prone island.

Meanwhile the steamers which divide horizons prove
Us lost;
Found only
In tourist booklets, behind ardent binoculars;
Found in the blue reflection of eyes
That have known cities and think us here happy.

Time creeps over the patient who are too long patient,
So I, who have made one choice,
Discover that my boyhood has gone over.

And my life, too early of course for the profound cigarette,
The turned doorhandle, the knife turning
In the bowels of the hours, must not be made public
Until I have learnt to suffer
In accurate iambics.

(end quote)

AWAY, now!

this represents to me the hunger to see the sky open, to see the words of fire written along God’s spine, experience the sex of diva, and having the fortitude to learn the skills, the world-honed technique of BEING in time, and how those become a single thing, to-be-time, one-is-time. i’m time… and the patience requisite to follow one’s craft, as craft writes us…. as we turn to the world for experience, for wisdom, for the shy tiger of being hiding below our scantlings.