Tomorrow

Has ever such a simple word been filled with such hope, such longing, such terror and such fear?

Little Orphan Annie with her eyes towards the future spreads her arms wide, belting out the word. What joy and hope that curly red head inspired even to this day that a single word can inspire a song and the thrill of anticipation. With a glass half full, the future is a beacon and a boon. Promises not yet fulfilled are a thing of beauty so long as they remain unbroken.

But there is also the tomorrow of Macbeth, that poor, doomed, half mad man.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time…

– Act V scene 5, Macbeth, William Shakespeare

Has ever a word so encapsulated the monotony of plodding time without punctuation of passion? Time passes and passes swiftly by but without verve,  without emotion are we but zombies filling seats,  pushing paper,  dragging our way through for want of anything more.

What is tomorrow to you? Faced with these options, I think of Lewis Carroll ‘ s White Queen: “The rule is: jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today!”

Hot Day Cold

Outside, it’s hot. Hotter than summer has been and muggy. The humidity joins with the heat to create a fog of sweat – causing sticky sauna fumes that moisten your clothing and stick to your skin. You expect this sort of sweltering miasma in the middle of July or the dog days of August. Sirius didn’t get the memo, though and has moved his blitz to September.

In the meantime,  the office is so cool that there’s condensation running down the glass of the building like you’re walking into a giant glass of lemonade. In fact, the stickiness from outside lingers and crusts, drying upon your skin in the chill. To exacerbate this, my desk is directly under the air conditioning vent. I sit here shivering with my dried sweat flaking and I can feel my vocal chords tightening, my voice growing huskier and hoarse while the post nasal drip becomes my new coworker, peering over my shoulder and irritating while I try to work.

This is the weather that finds it easiest to make people sick. Schools spread new germs, but add to that the summer sickness from temperature extremes lurking to capitalize on weakened immune system. For someone like me in remission with an autoimmune disorder, it’s a woeful threat impending!

Let autumn find its way here soon!

The moral law

The good will is the will which acts from freedom and respect for the moral law.

-Immanuel Kant

I like Kant. I don’t agree entirely with his precepts, but I like them a lot overall. The moral law is an obligation that binds all people without exception. In other words, right and wrong is something outside of our individual standards and something that applies to all. From the perspective of a society, this does make sense. As a concept, this is referred to as the Categorical Imperative.

The Categorical Imperative really encompasses three major concepts: universalizability, human dignity, and reciprocity. Universalizability is similar to the “Do unto others” rule – you want to behave in a way that is conscious of the fact that others could act in the same way that you do. Human dignity involves the consciousness that you deal with other thinking, feeling people. When you engage in an act, to be moral, you should treat people as an End, not a Means. (This is most contrary to the John Stuart Mills view of the benefit of the many outweighs the benefit of the few utilitarianism.) Finally, reciprocity might similarly be labeled fairness; the idea of holding yourself to the same standards. You should be subject to being legislated as well as being legislator. In other words, we must recognize that in the same way we judge others, we are judged.

These ideas are rather compelling and both ethically and reasonably appealing. This philosophical ideal can be broken into three major premises.

First, we are all equal. We can’t hold ourselves to a different standard,  because we are all human. We all have differences, but our ethics ought not deviate from individual to individual.

Second, the consequences of our actions are morally irrelevant. To make this clearer, the idea is that we are only morally responsible for what is in our control. The consequences of our actions are not something we control. Therefore we can only be responsible for our own actions. Ideally, this seems reasonable, but it is a basic syllogism which has inherent tendency to fallacy. Nabokov’s “I am not another” is brought to mind. From the legal perspective,  the cry comes up, should you have no responsibility for foreseeable consequences, at the least? “If you cut me, do I not bleed?” Still, from an idealistic state of mind, this isn’t a wholly absurd premise.

Finally, your will is within your control so it is the proper basis of moral evaluation for your actions. Because we can control our will, in thinking before acting, we have that moral compass of should and shouldn’t. A philosophical sort of conscience.

It is notable that for Kant there is a distinction between intellectual thought and practical morality. There is much that is idealist in this, but a little idealism may make for a brighter day. The ethics and morality are a sweet relief from Plato’s absence of sentiment and eagerness for logical purity. Today is a good day to appreciate Kant, even where my legal mind rebels.

Silence

There should be a hundred different words to describe silence because it falls into a thousand variations, each with their own mood and meaning. How inadequate is our language to provide us with only the one? And the offerings presented within a thesaurus are doubly insufficient for the needs.

Think for a moment of the silence you hear when you step outside in the evening when a large snowfall has recently ended. The crisp air, the white blanket muffling the world and the dark sky overhead work together to quell all noises. When you stand out in it — I remember doing so in the middle of the street as a child, watching the streetlights on either end of the block changing with no cars, or bikes, or people in view — the world in silence feels open and wide, but private to behold. All of it, the snow, the clouds, the silence is there for you, so long as you can stand the chill.

Compare that to the silence of sorrow, once your tears are done and breathing has slowed. Sitting on the floor with the old carpet against your skin, your clothing rumpled and askew, but the exhaustion that drags upon body and mind too great to muster the effort to rearrange or adjust them, and so you remain still. Around you, the world is silent, leaving you to your grief, your self-awareness, and the strange sense of being separated from the rest of the world by a nonexistent pane of glass that keeps you in the emptiness.

How can the same word apply to these both? What of the silence you share with a companion who understands and feels no need to invade or break the instance of communion? All of these are unique, distinct, and deserving of recognition, yet the only word that seems to apply is still the tempered, tentative and wholly inadequate silence.

The Waiting Room

When I was younger, (more foolish, idealisic, smarter?) I did a vast amount of writing. Poetry and plays were the lifeblood of my muse. Always a little off-kilter and irrelevant, my sardonic humor was always present. Reflecting further upon Nabokov,  I was nearly tempted to pull out the very first three act play I had written when I was seventeen.

Inspired by the classics, The Waiting Room was my teenage surrealist view on gods and the quandary of insanity and the afterlife. How childish it must be! Every role aside from two was designed to be played by the same person – every person in the Artist’s life (the Artist being the main focus and character) related to some mythological god in the great boardroom of the beyond known as The Waiting Room. The place where the gods play with lives. Cassandra, ill-fated oracle is the only other role not duplicated and, true to form, in the alternate setting of “The Real World” she looks the same, still speaks in rhyme, and is a homeless vagabond in the Artist’s alley.

The concept is clever, Greek chorus aside and stage practicality discounted. The gods of countless stories, Greek, Indian, Norse and Chinese all staking their claim on a man of troubled genius has a reasonable entertainment to it. The woes of the Artist in the Real World, however, must be a childish attempt at understanding the pains that drive us.

A work worthy of a rewrite perhaps, but a little too close to my heart at the moment. How dare I contemplate the final destination of any person’s spark or spirit, when I continue to imagine and converse with the one I have lost? I know he is not there. I know it is a method of coping. There are no knocks upon the wall or moving objects, nor would I want to imagine him fettered to this world by my need.

I remain skeptical, religiously private, and willfully uncertain what is out there. But who would wish upon anyone they loved an enforced lingering? What horror that would be to deny anyone the ability to go to whatever might be! I know that my remembering and imagining is the fuel for my dreams and the inspiration for my conversations with nothing. Even to imagine he watches or hears elsewhere is disturbing in a way I never thought it might be.

Enveloped in grief, the absolute certainty of my youth is visible as the fragile dreaming it was. Ephemeral, hopeful, but aspiring to posit upon that far beyond my ken. And now that I am faced with such, I review the concept but am overwhelmed at the audacity of taking on such a scope.

Before I reread, let alone rewrite, I return my play to the folder of old writing and put it back on the bookshelf. Maybe someday.