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August 02, 2010


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What is there to say of the color green? We might best simply recognize the power it has to instantly bring the distant forests a little closer. Have you ever been in the presence of a dark green when suddenly you detect the smell trees, as if someone waved a branch in your direction - even in the midst of a gray city?

Today I reread Calvino's "Invisible Cities" and found this line that complements well the thoughts I had when I sent you the message you quote above:

"...the traveler's past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreigness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places." (28-9)

My Dear Borges,

Is Calvino's book one of the books you lug from place to place around the world with you? I like to imagine that...

Well, I just took down my copy and turned to page 28-9, and there discovered I had underlined the same exact passage and scribbled something maybe from Kierkegaard (?) in the margin: life while lived forward is only understood backward-- but the past too is only undertood through the journey forward...

In that way, I guess, my time in Assisi perhaps had less an impact on my time in Tochigi as the opposite-- it's interesting to think about, really, don't you agree?

Marco enters a city; he sees someone in a square living a life or an instant that could be his; he could now be in that man's place, if he had stopped in time, long ago; or if, long ago, at a crossroads, instead of taking one road he had taken the opposite one, and after long wandering he had come to be in the place of that man in that square. By now, from that real or hypothetical past of his, he is excluded; he cannot stop; he must go on to another city, where another of his pasts awaits him, or something perhaps that had been a possible future of his and is now someone else's present. Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.

PS: You know I also love green above all the other colors (maybe because as you know I am a St Patrick's Day baby).... or maybe it is just like you said that green draws us back into simplicity-- or nature.

Did you ever hear the story about the Buddhist deity who tells a young boy-- in a dream-- "you can have everything in the world you ever want, riches, power, fame, if you can only close your eyes and not think about green." Of course, the boy spends the rest of his life trying to do that. but everytime he closes his eyes all he can think of are the mossy ferns that carpet the forest floors of Norway..... he tries and tries again and only after a liftime of being utterly unable to not imagine green, finally one day he does it: he sits for a long time and thinks of nothing at all. Opening his eyes he realizes that it's because he already has everything he already wanted.....

You know, what makes trying to ascribe specific meanings to any dream such a treacherous undertaking is the fact that the same dream will seem to mean different things as you remember it at different stages of your life. Dream of danger and you might think that it means you are acting foolhardily until one day you look back and realize that what it... Read More was really trying to tell you is to start taking real chances.

Maybe I'm just clueless, but it usually takes me a good five years of living to figure out what any major dream was trying to tell me. And that, Peony, was a major dream. LOL.

The dream indicates a subconscious preoccupation with the idea of losing the use of your hands. Although this is obviously frightening, the fact that the injuries are in the form of stigmata suggests that losing the use of your hands would mark the ending of a long period of deeper, spiritual suffering.

You may be most conscious of the importance your hands when you are using a computer, so losing the use of them would mean you could no longer translate, blog, or use FB.

The dream therefore suggests that while you fear the idea of giving up these activities, being able to do so would be spiritually liberating. The fact that the injuries in the dream are not self-inflicted indicates that you are subconsciously groping for an external reason to cease these activities and embark on a new phase in your life.

For more on a lesser known aspect of Francis of Assisi’s life see The Saint and the Sultan.

Hi Don!

Wonderful to hear from you!!! Did the magazine arrive yet? Hope soon.... That book looks fascinating. I had never heard of it. I have been enjoying reading your blog and looking at those photos of Central Asia... just fabulous. How long were you gone this time? I'll email you.. So much of my conversations these days take place on facebook--this time about kazanzkas' Saint Farncis and Zorba; Yahweh the Jealous and Effendi Nasredin Hodja (am I tempting you? hehe). Wish you would come back in disguise. Anyway though...want to catch up with you. Headache... so more asap.

this, for Don

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