A Study in Castleton Green

This morning I thought it’s no good to go from my apartment building straight into Starbucks, and sat down on a bench next to the pond, the one in front of Starbucks. I took a moment. A quarter attempt at stopping time. I waited until I could feel my posture, the bench under my behind, the way I held my chest and balanced my head on top of it, how the wind brushed gently over my cheeks, the warmth and moisture in the air, the smell of the trees and fish and algae, the distant sounds of cars and construction workers drilling, always hammering away with the dreams of the rich.

As I was indulging in my senses I was thinking of a recent email from Simon, from the North. I have no user tracking and no Google analytics on my blog, so I do depend on emails from readers for feedback. It’s nice to receive friendly, compassionate, like minded emails. Not for business, just a sharing amongst humans. 

As I was sitting at the pond I was thinking of language, and that the Vietnamese language is indeed such a distant accent of English, that linguists would go as far as calling it a different Sprachraum altogether. I giggled. How pretentious! I still had Neil Oliver in my ears, and how he pronounces “to go home”. I love the simplicity of the Scottish “o”, how it beams straight forward to the next letter, whereas the English perform some complicated artistry with the vocal apparatus in order to arrive at the end of it.

As so often these days, I was thinking of my childhood. “You’re different”, “You’re not like us”, “Alfons. Your name sounds strange.” The things the other kids living on the countryside said to me. “Where did they hear that first?” I’m thinking now, “Where did they learn such phrases? What happened to them, what was their harsh fate, in order to be able to think like this, in order to be able to talk like this?” My chin was leaning on my hand, my elbow on my thigh, my foot up on the rim of the pond. With my eyes I followed the goldfish in the pond. “There’s so many different types of goldfish in this pond.”

Castleton Green is a type of green color, dark green. Green is associated with nature, harmony, balance and youth. It fits the pond, and is a nice play on today’s blog title and the color Scarlet, my thinks.

Yesterday night I read stories from books written by a German lawyer, Ferdinand von Schirach. Fähner, The Cello, Funfair. True crime stories, touching stories, and quite shocking. Schirach seems to write from a perspective where he protects and sugarcoats for the ones he deems to be the good, the innocent, the victims, the righteous. Strange stance, for a lawyer, if you’d ask me. How can we overcome experiences of harassment and negligence? I think Moshé Feldenkrais had a lot to say to that account. A string with a noose is just a very poor choice. In fact, no choice at all. “Death is the end of all suffering, and all good things as well,” Moshé Feldenkrais used to say. Moshé Feldenkrais said we need choices, that’s why he’d been teaching so many ways of one movement. Only with a multitude of choices can we truly choose, and are we truly free.

A short goldfish with a very red and very big and very round head surfaced from the Castleton green water and nibbled at some debris that’s been pushed around by the light breeze. Food, not food, food? His big round mouth opened and closed and opened and closed.

They somehow failed to process me in school. They failed to make my mind compliant. They failed to make me trust and believe in them. How many of my kind are there? Scrap goods. But unlike waste, scrap has value.

This morning, before coming down to sit at the pond, I was listening to the podcast episode History, Truth & the imagination by Neil Oliver. He talked about Homer, and how Homer was one person or maybe many people, and he talked about the moment The Iliad was put to writing. Somehow that stroke him as the most important thing of it. The writing. But as I was listening I was waiting. I was waiting for Neil to come through with the story of The Iliad as it was before writing. But he didn’t mention it. Not a word of it. I felt being sold short, sourly so. I don’t know why, why didn’t Neil mention it, he of all people. “Why didn’t you mention it, Neil?” Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote it down, though, in her book The Enchanted Hour:

“In ancient Greece, a rhapsode did not read from a book. He was the book. His memory held, among other works, the two great epics of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey. He would pull them from the shelf and read them aloud, so to speak, when he recited them.” 

“Today, if you pick up a printed and bound copy of The Iliad or The Odyssey, what you may notice first is not the richness of the storytelling but the sheer size of the thing. It is still incredible to think that once upon a time people commited them to memory. Not only would a good rhapsode have both stories stored in his head, but he would be able to pick up either tale at any point and recite onward without a hitch. This is mastery of a sort that has become foreign to most modern people [..] few of us today have anything approaching the interior resources of a rhapsode.”

Well, maybe rhapsodes existed only after the books were written. Tomaito tomato. I shall read a bit now. Sherlock Holmes The Complete Novels And Stories is the book I purchased yesterday, I passed up on Homer. Even though the book with its golden covers and carefully crafted typeset looked gorgeous on the shelf. No, the English tongue it is, or should I say the Scottish, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1887 A Study in Scarlet, “What say you to that, dear reader?”