Parenthesis and antithesis

The heat and humidity, which makes the birds so happy (and the dawn chorus so full) is bad for my brain. Bear with me here, folks! At this rate, I’ll have to slink through the summer in borrowed thoughts. (Barring inspiration, I could pay more attention to the look of the site, borrow codes from sites I admire. (You can see I already took the momentous step of introducing an Image yesterday, which necessitated learning to use a free image hosting site and the photo-touchup software that’s on my machine. (For anyone who’s wondering, it’s the Egyptian glyph KA, which refers to the undying part of the soul – the “spirit” or doppelganger – which in ancient times, according to Bika Reed, was understood by analogy with an egg in the womb of BA, the overall soul-complex.)))

If the oviducts of my imagination fail to produce any original thoughts soon, the stewpot will beckon. I could turn Via Negativa into a regular potpie of pithy quotes and striking images, maybe even build up a real readership! All sorts of folks who don’t have the time or patience to struggle through my usual fare would begin stopping by for Pearls of Wisdom – presuming I could keep my more swinish tendencies at bay. (Like insulting the present readership by implication – bad bad bad!)

Today, I’m off to town (first time in three weeks!), so I’ll cut the crap right here and retrieve a pearl of sorts that you won’t read anywhere else. You may remember me writing about my niece Eva, who is eight years old and a bit precocious in the spiritual sense. I reprinted her first-ever poem, which she wrote over a year ago. The beginner’s luck didn’t last, but she did send me a poem about a month ago that was impressive in its own way. I wrote back with praise and what I hope were encouraging remarks. Here’s the poem:

Why?

Why do people kill?
Why do we have wars?
Why do we cut trees for houses?
Why did we invent the nuclear bomb?

Why? Why? Why?

Everything is a question to me.
Why does the world have so much evil,
and sadness,
and kindness?

Why is the world like it is?

–Eva Bonta, April 6, 2004

Here’s how I responded. I don’t know how much of this she understood, but I’m a firm believer in not talking down to children.

Hi Eva,

Good work! What can I say? I still ask these questions, too. A lot of people would rather avoid wrestling with tough questions like these, and prefer to settle for easy answers. Why do they do that? That’s a question that’s not so hard to answer: because people want to feel safe and secure. Who can blame them? Very few people are brave enough to face up to the basic unfairness of existence.

I like the fact that you added “kindness” at the end. That’s a mystery too: why love when it’s easier to hate?

I don’t know whether a willingness to ask big questions will make you a happier person. But it will stretch your mind and make you wiser – and a better poet. You know what they say: the brain is a muscle, it needs to be exercised. I’m glad you’re giving yours such a workout!

Dave

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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