From the sublime to the ridiculous in three easy steps

Seek and ye shall find, the saying goes. But whether found and sought are one, who knows? Yesterday, between the covers peeking, in three different books I found (though hardly seeking) lines as sweet to me as an unplanned tryst with a lost love I never knew I’d missed.

So far from linear, this ocean we think of as time! The waves are never the same, though they often rhyme. Things unsought reward unconscious seeking. All creation dwells at last beyond critiquing.

Here are the three, in order as I found them:

Everything has its mouth to manifestation; and this is the language of nature, whence everything speaks out of its property, and continually manifests, declares, and sets forth itself for what it is good or profitable; for each thing manifests its mother, which thus gives the essence and the will to form.

– Jacob Boehme, De Signatura Rerum (translator unknown)

That we are surrounded by deep mysteries is known to all but the incurably ignorant. But even they must concede the fact, indeed the inevitability, of the judiciously spaced, but nonetheless certain, interruptions in the flow of their high art to interject the word of their sponsor, the divinity that controls remotely but diligently the transactions of the marketplace that is their world.

– Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savanna

When the bear thinks,
It does not think of us.

– Paul Zimmer, “Lessons From the History of Bears”


Odd, I thought, that the day selected to go up to State College would be the same day on which I made the trip six years ago, according to the Butternut Chronicle. (The fact that the days of the week match up is spooky enough – possible because this was a leap year, giving us an extra day.)

At the coffee shop where I went for lunch (my own packed sandwich, plus their coffee), all the tables were taken, so I sat at a counter two stools down from a young woman typing away on her laptop. I had grabbed a copy of Jon Stewart’s America: The Book from a stack in the new books display to read while I ate. I took off my knit hat with some misgiving, conscious of the fact that my hair would stick out in all directions. But from the moment I cracked the cover of America I began giggling and chortling uncontrollably. Not having TV, I’d never come in contact with this guy’s brand of humor before. Damn, he’s good!

After a while, I noticed that the woman I was sharing the counter with kept glancing in my direction. Soon, I noticed she opened a new window on her screen, and I recognized the tell-tale Blogger “dashboard.” (I have very good peripheral vision.) She typed a few lines, looked my way, typed a few more lines.

What could she be blogging about, I wonder? “OMG, I believe I have just spotted the famous local gadfly and blogger Dave Bonta! He’s even better looking in person than in that photo on his webpage!!!” Or, more likely: “Boy, this place sure fills up with weirdoes over lunch. It’s bad enough that there are a couple of demented-sounding locals talking loudly at one of the tables. But you wouldn’t believe the guy who just sat down next to me. He has just about the worst case of hat-head I’ve ever seen, he’s wearing some kind of dirty old flannel shirt, jeans that look like they could stand up by themselves, and I can’t even begin to describe what he’s wearing on his feet. And he’s sitting there giggling to himself! His pack is on the stool between us. It is definitely large enough to hide a knife. I’m going to publish this now so there will be some record of my last moments on earth…”

On the other hand, maybe she just had a crick in her neck.


My big accomplishment of the day was to spend 84 cents on a new pocket notebook. I like to think of it as a low-tech laptop. Reading Jon Stewart followed immediately by Paul Zimmer – a consummate wordsmith – did strange things to my mental equilibrium. As I stood outside the library waiting for my ride, I compiled

A Short List of Silly Words for Strange and Ridiculous People

Omphaloskeptic. Someone who isn’t convinced of the value of belly-baring fashions in women’s apparel.

Pedantophile. Someone who admires the writing of George Will.

Iraqnophobic. Someone who doesn’t fear the consequences of invading Iraq.

Unbornicator. A politician who uses abortion as a wedge issue, screwing over the electorate.

Fear Mongrel. The offspring of a terrorist and a coward.

Factotempolecat. A skunk surrounded by status-conscious yes-men. George W. Bush.

Cucaranchero. Karl Rove.

Loremipsumizer. A blogger.

Bloglodyte. A Blogspot blogger.

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