A very narrow range of relevance
The Abby Farson Pratt story
I’m always writing about the same thing, only in slightly different ways.
I was going to say something boring and predictable about how strange our children are, but here are two recent photographs of them instead.
Winter has been exceptionally mild. I’m sure it’ll break our hearts soon enough, but I remain greedy for spring.
A colleague told me that some of my other colleagues voted me the “The Most Mom-Like,” which is also like being voted “The Least Cool.”
After a long pandemic hiatus, we’ve been going back to church again, and I have found it so heartening, as a resumption of ritual and gathering with our community.
The following remark has felt very true to me lately:
“Blaise Pascal once said that instead of despairing over a loss of faith, one should simply go to mass and join in rituals such as prayer and song, in other words mime, since it is precisely this that will bring back faith. The external transforms the internal, brings about new conditions. Therein lies the power of rituals. And our consciousness today is no longer rooted in objects. These external things can be very effective in stabilising consciousness. It is very difficult with information, since it is really volatile and holds a very narrow range of relevance.”
— Byung-Chul Han, “I Practice Philosophy as Art,” ArtReview
In other words mime.
I do not think I had lost faith, but this “miming,” in Han’s words, has been rejuvenating. I feel reconnected to a tradition and a practice that nearly escaped me for the two long, hazy years of the pandemic. The liturgy comes rushing back to me. I marvel at how quickly Moses has picked it up. I pass the peace, take the bread and wine, and feel rooted once more, in a communion of saints/sinners.
One consequence of hearing loss: The perpetual feeling of missing out. Of being on the social edge. Of exclusion, unintentionally. You, rudely, don’t hear small asides and are often cutting people off mid-sentence. You carefully watch other people’s faces, the flicker of an eyebrow or the shift of a gaze, and you realize you are not in on the joke; you do not even know what is happening; you missed the point entirely. You feel like you should be better at lip-reading by now. You are not great company, in other words. It is too tedious to tell other people that you do not know what is going on. You would be telling them all the time.
Blind Spot, Teju Cole
Flights, Olga Tokarczuk
The Living Mountain, Nan Shepherd