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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Schiller, move over

Writing fiction has taught me to distrust first reactions, first thoughts. They may turn out to be original and/or interesting but it's a long-odds bet. First thoughts are mostly based on what's gone before which means they tend to be banal. Or repetitive. Or the latest trot on a well-ridden hobbyhorse.

Consider these words: age, old, retired, anniversary. Consider them against present-day information sources and opinions. What might be our next step? In my case - at 3 am today - I dwelt on decay, chronic pain, doctors' waiting rooms, reduced physical performance, bleared eyes, debilitating nostalgia - all the usual suspects. In fact a series of whinges. I resented these easy connections; wanted to do better.

I thought about the words' real meanings and what they have in common. Passage of time is one link and immediately my mind took wing on another first reaction: time passing takes us nearer the grave and is therefore bad. Another unenlightened whinge.

I tried again. Passing time is the asset we spend in getting to know things. Passing time comes burdened with opportunity which we don't always take advantage of  (Careful! There might be another whinge there.) A decade goes by and we know more about this and that. Or should do.

"Age" can mean a lengthened perspective. "Old" may proclaim a wider database. "Retired" brings fewer distractions. An "anniversary" is merely measuring tape.

Yesterday my music teacher, V, told me how to shape my mouth to sing the sound "oo". A joyful lesson but then music and what it does for me is mainly joy. Music is based on an understanding of time and is simultaneously a glorious way of marking time's passage. There, I'm out of the doctor's waiting room.

11 comments:

Avus said...

Aging reflections in the wee small hours are seldom good for us, RR. I think of time as a static and it is us (and everything else)that is passing through it.
Someone, somewhere, said "old age is not for cowards". Something with which I can agree.

Lucy said...

Yes, get yourself an afternoon kip, Marcus Aurelius!

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus: The aim of this post was to encourage everyone to have second or, preferably, fifteenth thoughts; to think beyond the first reaction. Age was invoked only as an example of a subject that rarely gets beyond the first reaction.

As to your apophthegm surely it is not only defeatist but could go either way: are you admitting to being a coward or claiming to be brave?

Lucy: Usually I can fake the fact that I lack a classical education. But with this I'm in doodoo. I can't for the life of me decide whether it's intended to be complimentary or a slagging off. A third option comes to mind: you sought to be ambiguous. If so I'll give you that.

Lucy said...

I would never seek to slag you off, not ever. Ambiguous would probably be my preferred option but really I was just trying to be a smartarse, I think, and a rather off the cuff one. I suppose I am trying to acknowledge your brave and stoical attempts to philosophise your way out of your baleful three o'clock dark broodings on the these sad matters and impart the results of this to the rest of us, while suggesting things might look a bit better after a little more rest. Probably didn't quite carry it off though.

Marcus Aurelius features in the film Quo Vadis, I think it was. Eats a bad apple as I remember it.

Avus said...

I enjoy Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" very much, as does my daughter-in-Oz. Lucy was definitely offering a compliment. Reading his stoical reflections has stood me in good stead in the times in my life when I have needed them.
Although I don't (yet) intend to follow his apophthegm, "The hut smokes, I will move out".

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Careless of me that "slagging off"; it isn't your style and I've profited many times from your style. And of course your content.

Still unaware of what Marcus Aurelius represented (now clarified by Avus) I wondered if your intention was ironic - the way one might call some weak-kneed dweeb a Superman. I don't know why I even thought that; again it isn't you.

So MA is stoic, and stoicism is a growing necessity as one gets older. Stoics by definition don't whinge and not-whingeing was at the heart of what I wanted to say. But not stoic as silent - stoic as resourceful; re-examining locutions that trigger whingeing and winkling out new strength and comfort from them. An ambitious project which tumbled over through inanition (which is gradually taking over from rebarbative as my personal show-off word).

The question of an apology arises and, I think, falls way. We avoid apologising to each other I seem to recall. If something's wrong we try and rectify it and leave the general intent unspoken. Come to think of it I may have laid an apophthegm: Lucy's the sort of friend you don't need to apologise to.

It's got a ring to it. Or does it have murkiness which I haven't yet recognised?

Avus: Thanks for the revelation about MA. Stoicism is a good thing but may turn bad if applied to excess. It may evolve into a turning away from things and people, an unwillingness to employ one's assets. VR who only complains about small matters occasionally urges me to greater efforts. saying: it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Incidentally, whatever happened to grease caps?

Lucy said...

Saod-masochism means never having to say you're sorry...

(What is an apothegm anyway?)

Lucy said...

Sorry, apophthegm.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: And how about soda-masochism? (For bread enthusiasts).

That hard-to-spell word, the French seem to like it, we prefer aphorism (eg, "Tomorrow is another day") or - since it seems apt under the circumstances - "marching to the beat of a different drummer". Perhaps not.

Marly Youmans said...

For me, both music and writing are ways out of time--that is, they destroy my normal sense of time. Getting lost is so very pleasurable.

Roderick Robinson said...

Marly: Both writing and music are potentially fields of discovery and there is nothing more absorbing than to experience something new and beneficial invading one's life. Writing however is lonely; with music one has a partner - the composer. I finished up my first lesson attempting to sing an aria from Magic Flute, shrewdly chosen by V. On my second or third attempt I had to break away, turning my back on V, in tears. Legitimately together with Mozart! Anything seemed possible.