The Janus-face of proximity & distance, beauty & opportunity cost is making itself felt along various avenues right now--work, life, work-life, memory.
In a strange & wonderful essay titled "Circles," Ralph Waldo Emerson tells us: "The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end...We are all our lifetime reading the copious sense of this first of forms."
Reading back through my own words & work I've posted in this space over the past few months, the movement and gravity have a distinctly circular flavor & energy—and life, these past weeks, has been filled with echoes, shadows & repeats of events, locations, people from various points in my life, along with completely novel experiences, places, friends. A curious mix of déjà vu and unfamiliarity, surprise.
And so, refractive and reflective energies abound in my work & mind.
Later in that same essay, Emerson writes: "...the heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses, it already tends outward with a vast force, and to immense and innumerable expansions...Every man is not so much a workman in the world, as he is a suggestion of that he should be."
A new year comes whenever we enter into it, perhaps.
The word "pareidolia" doesn't appear (as far as I can track, anyway) in any actual 'ancient Greek' texts, even as a phrase. The genesis and pedigree of the word is fairly nebulous, and it appears most consistently only on Wikipedia-related pages and a handful of websites. Nevertheless, I like this kenning (a combination of para+eidolon, which, in English, amounts to beside + imago/phantasm/double). I like its hyperbole and warp--how it turns upon itself, becoming not-quite-the-thing-which-isn't-quite-the-thing-anyway.
Near the end of "Circles," Emerson tells us: "Character makes an overpowering present...Character dulls the impression of particular events...True conquest is the causing the calamity to fade and disappear, as an early cloud of insignificant result in a history so large and advancing."
When I first read this, the absolute, over-weening swagger of this idea threw me out of the essay completely. The idea of living on top of one's own life, tearing and burning through it as a conquistador held (and still holds) little appeal—and much that is alarming.
But this time, reading the section again, I'm struck by what may be more of an undertow: the power of dullness. Of fading, forgetting. Conquest as a relinquishing. As letting go & letting be, perhaps. This is a lesson I'm interested in pursuing into my new year. Into the next round of days, months, friends, lessons, work.
In what is almost the penultimate sentence of the essay, Emerson reveals: "The way of life is wonderful: it is by abandonment."
I think I'll keep on with Emerson for a little while.