deadmanstown:

"There is something magical about youth and ‘Bobby Jean’ sings like a dirge reminding you that the kid you once saw in the mirror is gone, and he is not. It’s not closure that Springsteen’s plain words give you, but they seem to be pointing to an open ended grief - in some regard, life is loss. If you can mourn that loss then you can also wake up tomorrow a brand new creature.

You can choose to listen to Springsteen’s songs on several different levels, but actually singing them forces you to get below the surface. ‘Bobby Jean’ is written in about as plain language as you can get, but there is profound loss lying below those simple words.

The more I sang ‘Bobby Jean’ the more I realized regret and the energy that is born out wanting a thing, or missing who you were. ‘Bobby Jean’ helps you realize the difference in who you thought you’d be and who you are - how you see the world and how it really is. 

Springsteen writes with such plain language that you may not initially realize what songs like ‘Bobby Jean’ are accomplishing down in your heart. One minute you’re singing about a girl, the next your whole life is laid on the table to be examined. These songs help you feel like you have a place in your own life. This is your world too, sometimes you just need Bruce to remind you.” - Ryan Culwell

deadmanstown:

"There is something magical about youth and ‘Bobby Jean’ sings like a dirge reminding you that the kid you once saw in the mirror is gone, and he is not. It’s not closure that Springsteen’s plain words give you, but they seem to be pointing to an open ended grief - in some regard, life is loss. If you can mourn that loss then you can also wake up tomorrow a brand new creature.

You can choose to listen to Springsteen’s songs on several different levels, but actually singing them forces you to get below the surface. ‘Bobby Jean’ is written in about as plain language as you can get, but there is profound loss lying below those simple words.

The more I sang ‘Bobby Jean’ the more I realized regret and the energy that is born out wanting a thing, or missing who you were. ‘Bobby Jean’ helps you realize the difference in who you thought you’d be and who you are - how you see the world and how it really is.

Springsteen writes with such plain language that you may not initially realize what songs like ‘Bobby Jean’ are accomplishing down in your heart. One minute you’re singing about a girl, the next your whole life is laid on the table to be examined. These songs help you feel like you have a place in your own life. This is your world too, sometimes you just need Bruce to remind you.” - Ryan Culwell

"What is wanting [in Twain’s description of his brother Henry’s death in Life on the Mississippi], apparently, is the tragic imagination that, through communal form or ceremony, permits great loss to be recognized, suffered, and borne, and that makes possible some sort of consolation and renewal. What is wanting is the return to the beloved community, or to the possibility of one. That would return us to a renewed and corrected awareness of our partiality and mortality, but also to healing and to joy in a renewed awareness of our love and hope for one another. Without that return we may know innocence and horror and grief, but not tragedy and joy, not consolation or forgiveness or redemption. There is grief and horror in Mark Twain’s life and work, but not the tragic imagination or the imagined tragedy that finally delivers from grief and horror… . In old age,…[Twain] was finally incapable of that magnanimity that is the most difficult and the most necessary: forgiveness of human nature and human circumstance. Given human nature and human circumstance, our only relief is in this forgiveness, which then restores us to community and its ancient cycle of loss and grief, hope and joy."

— Wendell Berry, “Writer and Region,” What Are People For? (via settledthingsstrange)

"For with us pity for others is the price we are anxious to pay for the privilege of our self-pity."

Robert Penn Warren. World Enough and Time: A Romantic Novel. Random House, New York. 1950. Pg 7.

One thought on this: pity is not compassion, but it seems similar.

"In Martinique, I had visited rustic and neglected rum-distilleries where the equipment and the methods used had not changed since the eighteenth century. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, in the factories of the company which enjoys a virtual monopoly over the whole of the sugar production, I was faced by a display of white enamel tanks and chromium piping. Yet the various kinds of Martinique rum, as I tasted them in front of ancient wooden vats thickly encrusted with waste matter, were mellow and scented, whereas those of Puerto Rico are coarse and harsh. We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake. We are right to be rational and to try to increase our production and so keep manufacturing costs down. But we are also right to cherish those very imperfections we are endeavouring to eliminate. Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour."

— Claude Lev-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques. The underlying philosophy of liberalism, and the consumer culture it generates, condensed into nine sentences. (via ayjay)

Teaching, and Now, Retirement*

On May 31, I resigned my faculty position teaching English at a small high school. The school solely served at-risk students who had been removed from the home for various reasons; most of them had gotten in trouble with the law, but all of them came from extremely dysfunctional families. As, probably, do a great deal of students in America. I have deeply loved my students, but I can only describe that love as a running of one’s hand backwards against the grain of wood. That doesn’t sound pleasant because most of the time it wasn’t (much of love isn’t pleasant, yes?), but I have been shaped by it. I will always feel that grain, and even when my hand is at rest, I’m sure there will be the phantom brush across my knuckles. I taught for six years, and I don’t believe I’ll enter education again; not because of the education system, but because I’m on the cusp of middle age and I’m beginning to realize with some anxiety that if I don’t free up some time to accomplish the things I set out to do when I was 20, then there will be no more time.

Fittingly, I was reading Marilynne Robinson’s “Home” this morning:
“None of this had mattered much through all the years of her studies and teaching, but now, in the middle of the night, it was part of the loneliness she felt, as if the sense that everything could have been otherwise were a palpable darkness. Darkness visible. That was Milton.

Those grown children had, almost all of them, bent their heads over whatever work she gave them, even though their bodies were awkward and restless with the onset of adulthood, fate creeping through their veins and glands and follicles like a subtle poison, making them images of their parents and strangers to themselves. There was humor in it of a kind that might raise questions about the humorist.

Why do we have to read poetry? Why ‘Il Penseroso’? Read it and you’ll know why. If you still don’t know, read it again. And again. Some them took the things she said to heart, as she had done once when they were said to her. She was helping them assume their humanity. People have always made poetry, she told them. Trust that it will matter to you. The pompous clatter of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ moved some of them to tears, and then she had talked to them about bad poetry. Who gets to say what’s good and what’s bad? I do, she said. For the moment. You don’t have to agree, but listen. Some of them did listen. This seemed to her to be perfectly miraculous. No wonder she dreamed at night that she had lost any claim to their attention. What claim did she have? Could it be that certain of them lifted their faces to her so credulously because what she told them was true, that they were human beings, keepers of lore, makers of it? That it was really they who made demands of her?”

That credulity; that trust.