On Reverse Wizardry

January 25, 2011

Eternal Sunshine of the Inner Self
Image by SonOfJordan on Flickr.

Through a recommendation (I shall restrain myself so as to not bore you with the details — so do not tempt me) I was introduced to Nietzsche through his collection of aphorisms in “Human, All Too Human”. I found a copy in the university library — admittedly, there were numerous copies, but since I only had use for one, that is what I borrowed. The book has been my companion on my long commutes since.

Ah, indeed, I do realise that makes me appear a slow reader, if I divulge that I have had it for three weeks, which translates to 30 hours of train rides — but, to my defence, every morning and every evening I travel through rather mundane British countryside; which never the less manages to be among the most beautiful scenery I have ever beheld. Half my time on the train is thus dedicated to pressing my nose against the glass of the window, studying the hills and fields that I know so very well — almost by heart — as if I seek some deeper truth I hope thusly shall be revealed.

So, shall the time I spent reading the work be summarised, it is probably closer to 15 hours, which I believe a more accurate estimation. And, Nietzsche himself stated in a version of the preface that “I betray the fact that this book is hard to understand –that it stimulates confusion.” I cannot say it stimulated confusion, but the act of understanding someone else’s thoughts has always been a laborious one.

Never the less, this afternoon, not long after I had departed London, I could close the book and declare myself done; I had read and considered the last set of aphorisms, and I could turn to the — perhaps paramount — task of understanding them fully; at least to the best of my ability.

One of the last aphorisms is #627: Living and Experiencing:

[W]e are finally tempted to divide humanity into a minority (a minimality) of those who understand how to make a great deal out of very little and a majority of those who understand how to make very little out of a great deal; indeed, we encounter those reverse wizards who, instead of creating the world out of nothing, create a nothing out of the world.

Yes, admittedly, Nietzsche was an existentialist, and a pondering such as this is not at all unexpected. What caught my eye, however, was that it rang so true in its appeal; the irony in the observation being that although it is within human ability to see beauty wherever one turns, it is also human to fail to hone this ability — this talent.

Maybe — I am merely philosophising on my own, inadequate level here — the ability to see the world as a beautiful place (to be a wizard) is innate, only that it is lost as the human creatures outgrow their childhood to be lost in the present, too occupied with the mundane to realise that beauty is plentiful therein.

I am the eldest of a cinquain of sisters, and have thusly been blessed in appreciating the vastness of the infant mind, despite my own tender age, as I have seen my sisters grow up alongside myself. In regards to one’s own view of the world it is simple — too simple — to grow forgetful, and it is near impossible to remain objective. But in regards to the world-view of others it is easier to avoid subjectivity.

When I think of my sisters as they outgrew their infancies, I think of smiling faces with glittering eyes; the sparkle therein being the fire of wonder. And sometimes, as I recall this imagery, I think that a mature mind in a baby’s all-seeing apparition would go mad with the stream of influence to which it is exposed — for a child sees everything that the world offers. They are purely objective.

A young child does not pay much attention to the constructs of the world; what they see is the world as it is. They can crawl in what seems the most insignificant of spaces only to return with a treasure which is trash to everyone else. But to the child whose treasure it is, it is a part of the world into which they have been brought; their infantile minds believing that it is utter and complete truth, having no opinion about the worth — or lack thereof — of existence. If something is, then it is; a child’s world is not more complicated that so.

Many people fail to hone this ability to see the little within the large as they mature and grow up. They no longer see the innate beauty of things, but pass judgement upon it instead; they reverse the wizardry with which their childhood was endowed. Maybe that is why I am the only one on the train who childishly presses her nose against the glass as we fly across the countryside; I see such beauty in a world that others consider perfectly mundane, somehow, perhaps, who knows, having escaped the reversal that defines the adult mind.

Yes, to the defence of the native Britons, I am an infant in their corner of the world; but as a person, I have grown and matured into adulthood. In that sense, I am them. And still, they bury their faces in the blotted ink of the newspaper, whilst I breathe silver upon the glass of the carriage. My mind still retains the infancy theirs have suppressed; the reversal robbing them of the ability to see the beauty of it all.

I think this is very much at the world’s loss, and I believe there would be such benefit if “mature minds” could only kneel like wizards in the grass once in a while, having found a hidden treasure that although being worth noting, still manages to be worth the world.

Although I readily admit this is a liberal interpretation, I think this is what Nietzsche meant~.

The Perfect Flower

January 8, 2011

Image by Anders Adermark.

The task was simple enough. She was to find the perfect flower.

It was to be white, and sweet-smelling. But it also had to be not far removed from bud, and with double petals.

It seemed simple enough.

With those directions the green riding hood set out, young, but not little — and dressed in green because red did not become her at all. It may have been beige too, but the colours of her attire are of no consequence to her story.

The green riding hood had not ventured far before she found a flower. But red, and in full bloom, it was far from perfect.

One with double petals was blue.

A sweet-smelling one was not white.

One was in bud, but covered with thorns and not perfect at all.

Indeed, the entire forest, it seemed, was abloom, although none of the floral faces was perfect. The perfect ones seemed hard, if not impossible, to find. Still, she had her task, and it was to be fulfilled. So she ventured further, unwilling to admit defeat.

All of a sudden a sweet scent reached her through the warm mid-summer air, and she followed it to its source. It proved white, but although fine, it was not perfect.

Though white and endowed with a sweet scent, the flower had a single row of petals, and was withering, far removed from bud.

The green riding hood looked at it, sighing, wondering: Why could it not be perfect? Why had it to be merely fine?

Had it not been for a persistent voice in her head, whispering: “Beyond, beyond, beyond!” she might had settled with a flower that was merely fine, but as it was, she continued her search, leving the mere fineness beyond.

As so often happens to young women searching for flowers in the woods, the green riding hood eventually stumbled upon the same, merely fine, flower anew.

She sat down by its side, brushing against the blossom itself, wondering why the fine, but not perfect, flower could not be endowed with a double row of petals, and be nearer to bud. Indeed, after this long an excursion, she would have settled with a sole row of petals, but the flower being withered was what rendered what otherwise would have been perfect, merely fine.

Despite there was a voice still in her head telling her to move beyond, beyond, beyond! she could not leave the flower. It was fine — better than any she had found thus far — but is was not perfect. Never the less, she remained by it, waiting for the solar cycle to encourage the flower to turn away from her; for she could not be removed on her own accord.

It seemed strange, she thought, that something that was fine and perfectly acceptable could not be perfect. The voice and its “Beyond!” reminded her thusly, although she herself doubted — as much as she feared — there was any flower more perfect to be found.

The flower before her was sweet-smelling and white; what if all the other flowers were equally fine, and there were no perfect flowers to be found? What if the ones with double petals were red, and the ones still in bud would bloom with the most horrendous of scents? What if the white, sweet-smelling bloom before her was indeed perfect, only that her doubts failed for her to realise and conclude that indeed was so?

As the day passed and the flower followed the sun’s path with its floral face, the green riding hood sat by its side, unable to leave it, waiting for it to turn away on its own accord.

Springtime Promenade

June 13, 2010

Bluebell Beeches

One morning in late May I caught the first train to the rural outskirts of London and was rewarded with the most beautiful of springtime sights.

Hilltop Town

It did not take me long to wander downhill from the station and through the old town that resides in the valley beneath the modern settlement. Before the first half an hour had passed I could overlook the western part of the town of the hilltop which I had climbed.

Keeping Gate

Having cleared the town and its outskirts, I found myself passing through the barrier that separated the urban and the rural countryside: a charming gate blushing with rust.

Dust Road

The first field put me in a feeling of sheer delight, the rolling slopes encouraging me to believe I was one with the sky as the wind played with my long skirt. Eventually, I reached a dust road that promised to carry me as far as I wished.

Dandelion Hill

My springtime walk took place late in May, and I found the first generation of dandelions had allowed their sparkling gold to fade to the hue of cotton-like copper I so adore.

Bluebell Forest

I shall always with fondness remember my first visit to a forest whose atmosphere was adorned with the sweet, perfumed scent of bluebell hyacinths.

Power Line

Although I had walked for almost five consecutive hours, it was still bitter-sweet to know I had reached my final destination and my springtime walk had come to an end. Never the less, my first introduction to the British countryside did nothing but cement my affection and enamour me yet more.

[This post features pictures taken during the walk detailed in Weightless Adventures.]

Thank you Vil for helping upload these pictures when my Internet connection laughed at me!

Weightless Adventures

May 24, 2010

blue bells
Image by lone snapper.

It was a wonderful morning as she awoke, the sun tickling her face as it was filtered through the curtains she had drawn the evening before. A whisper of a breeze floated through a window, only barely open. Even before she opened her eyes, she knew an amazing day was to mature from the fairytale morning.

An impromptu vase stood on her windowsill as she went downstairs, the plastic cup filled with flowers that had spread their lovely scent overnight; the sophisticated jasmine with its sweet tones, the heavenly blue forget-me-nots that twinkled in the morning light. There were the vanilla notes of the cow’s parsley and the precious, barely distinguishable whisper of the pink clematis.

Running to the train station to catch the first train of the morning, the air played with her golden hair and long skirt — in her mind she was the essence of times past, and nothing could delight her more.

Travelling thorough landscapes she knew she would never tire of, she all but flew out of the front carriage of the train, floating down the swindling road on the hill that climaxed in a valley with the town above her and the rolling hills before her mesmerised eyes.

Her path led her through the oldest parts of the town, the small houses crooked and aged, their lacquered doors however smiling kindly at her as she passed, the lace curtains modest eyelids concealing the lives of those who lived within.

Eventually, she found herself by the edge of a field, its rolling expanse a terrestrial wave frozen in its ascent, the height swindling and exhilarating from where she stood; the queen of the richness of the grassy sea.

In the sunlight, the grass shone with the fresh vigour of spring, as if it was the scalp of a creature so modest about its beauty it had hidden from sight under ground. As the wind played with the grassy curls, she, who stood in the midst of the ocean, would not have been surprised had a ship sailed past in the distance.

Eventually, the path upon which she travelled led her into the depths of a forest, the beeches embracing her with their grand architecture; their canopies a fair peridot ceiling, their silver stems the pillars of nature’s grand halls.

The floor of that ball room was covered with music, the light — all but heavenly — lavender blue bells softly dancing where they stood, gilding the atmosphere with their melodious, scented notes.

For a while, she stood, mesmerised, the sight before her so foreign, so beautiful. In her native lands, those she adored with all of her heart, the forest floors were adorned with the white stellar sparkles of windflowers, their fresh, musky scent a stark contrast to the sweetness that for the moment tickled her senses.

The metallic field of dandelions past the height of their bloom followed, the silver seeds filling the air as the heavens breathed, the copper of their stems a reddish hue adorning the grass, the few flower heads that remained a treasured sparkle of gold.

Walking upon the small lane that carried her across such fields, past farmhouses and small cottages, the sunshine kept her company, caressing her face and arms with its gilding warmth.

For a while, the hum of electricity through cables suspended above her head was all that interrupted the calm indifference of the eternity in which she had found herself, the modern reminder however soon again replaced with the twitter of blackbirds and robins in the canopies above, their duets only occasionally joined by a pigeon’s deep, velvety coo.

In the little village she thereafter reached, she realised her lovely adventure had come to an end. No matter how much she desired to spend the rest of her life suspended in the weightlessness nature’s freedom offered, she knew she had to return to the life that had granted her this dream-like escape.

Once back at home, with her remaining exam pocking for her attention, she looked out through her window into the sunny, all but Mediterranean afternoon, knowing her wonderful experience on the countryside of the land she so adored would remain with her forever; it having been validation of the enamoured beliefs which once had brought her there.

[Pictures taken during the adventure can be found here: Springtime Promenade.]

Candy Coated
Image by jakevol2 on Flickr.

The entire day had been spent in front of the computer, that modern marvel that had replaced the versatility and charm of pen and paper with sterile pixels. Chemical formulae, mathematical equations and labelled compounds had each figured on the back-lit screen, each as important as disinteresting. Fundamental as the concepts were, they had failed to appeal to her curiosity and imagination.

Despite the occasional diversion, in the shape of more inspirational writings on evolution, individual thoughts, or general prose, she felt the day had been a waste. Surely, a lot had been accomplished–but nothing of value. The day could have been spent in countless more appealing ways: the map on her wall could have been coloured and life granted to her imagination’s continent at last, or its inhabitants could have been allowed to speak and contemplate–to come to terms with who they were and what their desires were.

The notes scattered before her–with their chemical compounds and skeletal formulae–tasted bitterly in her sight. It felt silly an entire future could depend upon something that so evidently was not for her. Having forgotten who she once had been, she had failed to savour the challenge. As long as she managed to rise with the earliest birds the following morning and travel for hours to attend an assessment a mere half-an-hour in length her efforts would not have been in vain. Beyond that, she found her mind preoccupied with other desires and dreams.

The indoor air had grown stuffy, the illumed room an isolated space outside which darkness already had fallen, the skies a fading blue as the sun dipped beyond the clouded horizon. Failing to mimic the splendour of the sun the street lights spilled copper onto the ground. In an instant the decision was made, and even before she had risen and collected her pink-lined coat from where it had spent the day; in the shadows of oblivion.

Exiting her little cavern of light–the home she once had feared she never would find–she wandered aimlessly into the evening, swallowed by the mild air and veiled by the murkiness. The atmosphere was perfect; cold enough to numb her senses, but without painfully nibbling her fingers and nose. No mists accompanied her breaths and her thoughts were clear–cleared, perhaps, for none swirled beyond her eyes.

Blackbirds sang in the rose and blackberry thickets the winter winds had stripped of their grandeur. Yet, symphonies were delivered from within their blackened expanse, the birds marvelling over the beauty of the evening. Their melodies reminded her of the songs she had savoured in another life; one lost, but never forgotten. That life had been lived in-between dusk and dawn upon the misty fields of mid summer. It had been an untroubled life, and as such, destined to never last beyond the span of summer itself.

Peculiarly, the birds spoke in a different tongue. She knew their vowels and the other-worldly sounds that emanated from their silken throats, yet, there was an element to their tune that was foreign; ethereal in the silver context. The many miles that separated her lives were evident in the accent of the avian musicians, so soft it was barely perceptible, its nature impossible to palpate. Still, despite their novelty, the sounds soothed her senses, the spring evening reminding her of those long-lost summer nights.

The Last Days Of Summer

August 19, 2009

fence and lake in sepia tones

Two days ago the mists of November floated with a conqueror’s conviction through the air and the atmosphere was that of a world set on fire by the sun’s very last beams. The world of this day, younger than the one which brought me such melancholy, is more summer-like, but not any more cheerful.

Though the sun blazes with the conviction of the last weeks of summer, the rest of the world had lost its strength. Winter and its hounds of autumn may be gone for the time being, but the wounds it inflicted upon its prey of summer’s fairness still remain. The maiden of summer, the one I hold so dear, she has been hurt and her strength has been lost through the cuts in her rosy skin.

Nature is like a beast wounded for the moment, putting on a face of no concern while suffering in silence. And though the winds played with my hair whilst outside, their enthusiasm was gone; they had lost the motivation they usually prod with possessing, their laboured play was more of a task to be fulfilled than a joyful activity in which to find delight.

The last flowers of the season are beautiful and bright in their colour, but their green is not as healthy as their counterparts several months back were. There is a tint of brown to all aspects of the late summer’s world, scars of fatigue that are carelessly hidden with limited success.

It is with melancholy in my mind that I walk among the riches which have grown tired of their own appeal. I wish for summer to last forever more, and still everything around me makes me realise that summer soon will be gone. Nature knows it, as does all who have felt that their energy is not what it once was, that their stamina has been lost through the passing of time. Though we are tired, we attempt to remain cheerful with an insincere smile playing upon our saddened lips.

Summer will return once more, having rested during the part of the year which now soon is to come. I can however not fully appreciate the promises whispered into my ears by the tired winds as I feel that my acquaintance with summer has been all too short this year .

Weeks ago, summer was everlasting and its aged days were nowhere in sight. Now, I am in the midst of them, dubious feelings residing in my heart. I try to remain cheerful, as does summer, but some attempts are destined to fail; some battles were always intended to be lost.

Perhaps my sadness — concealed by constructed smiles — is a reminder of mine, employed to engage my person in more productive tasks. For truly, my life is slipping through my fingers in vain, as does the viscous diamonds of water when attempted to be gathered from a pond.

My life’s summer has only started, but as this summer already has grown old, so am I also told nothing lasts forever. Though the summers of one’s life are perceived to be long, they are not when contemplated in retrospect.

That is the reason for why no tasks must be delayed and that one must cease the moment and soar whenever the opportunity is given. For is one doubts and passes up on the chance of a lifetime, it may go on to be lost to one for evermore, never to return.

Catch the day without regard for its elusive nature, see it as a butterfly which is to be chased across the fields of life, finally to be caught at sunset in the net of one’s own being’s construction. Everything comes to the one who has the patience to wait, but at times virtues are to be disregarded from and one has to soar from the shoulders of one’s own giants when the time is right — even if it is premature.

All who has the strength of conviction to attempt to attain the goals for which they reach are to be successful. But only so if they ever dare to spread their wings and truly fly.

A Shard of Eternity

July 14, 2009

Tooth of Time

In summer I travel to the most pleasing of places; a tongue of land in the vast sea upon which the winds are allowed to roam as freely as they desire, chasing the clouds away with their gentle whispers. The sun always shines in the paradise of my summers; a sparkling orb upon a cornflower blue sky, the sea applauding its daily performance from below.

As I wander barefoot by the velvet water’s edge my feet are kissed by the white-lipped waves, my song having broken the silence that has reigned for so long. Gazing into to hazy distance, above which cotton-clouds are floating past, I can see a hint of land by the horizon, and when darkness falls the shimmer of a city aglow can only barely be perceived. My summer’s paradise allows one to escape civilisation and reality to simply live and be alive by the ocean’s edge.

The beach is scattered with limestone, its tint blue, as if it paid tribute to the sky that warms it, and the ocean which has birthed it. As my bare feet, one after another, slowly are placed upon the surface of the smooth stones, they sing melodiously, their structure so fine, so fair! Sometimes, when the winds play with my long hair and the ocean sprinkles my face, I believe that I can fly.

One day, as I wandered upon my own horizon, my gaze wandered to the surface which supported me. My eyes’ journey was rewarded by the most beautiful of blessings; a shard of time itself. A stone in the shape of a shell lay before my feet, its organic origin now mineralised into limestone. It laid warm and smooth upon the palm of my hand.

My treasure and forever companion ever since is half a billion years of age, spared from the tooth of time for an eternity, it seems. What a fortunate cosmic coincidence it was that allowed me to encounter this treasure by chance alone!

This small piece of eternity is now mine to always caress.

The Noblest Flower

April 18, 2009

Hepatica Duo

In previous years I have always claimed the windflower to be my favourite flower due to its fairness and elegance. Its appearance on the forest’s leaf-covered floor is a true sign of spring, and as the flowers grow tall and and plentiful during the last weeks of April the atmosphere is adorned with a green scent I very much believe to be the smell of spring itself.

In the Anemone nemorosa six petals the colour of purity and innocence surround a centre composed of a cloud of golden suitors swirling around modest green maidens in a frozen dance of courtship. It is a scene which I can spend a long time studying, simply because there is such beauty in the petite; one’s reward for leaning in to take a closer look.

This spring I believe my fondness to have found another — equally worthy — flower by which to be enamoured; the Hepatica nobilis.

The Hepatica is as elegant as its distant cousin the Anemone, however a flower more modest and well-mannered. While the windflowers cover the entire forest floor to form a lush carpet upon which the sun shines, the liverwort takes care to preserve its reputation by growing in clusters farther apart, making a tête-à-tête with it an experience much more intimate and pleasurable. So whilst the anemone attempts to with their numbers prove something to the rest of the world, the Hepatica is certain of itself and grows only where calmness is more abundant.

As the liverwort knows itself well and conjures its elegance from such knowledge, it also dares to differ. Whilst the windflowers only dare to shine as brightly white as they always have — some finding even such an anonymous appearance too much and allow their petals to blush pink — the Hepatica understands how to be unique and not two of their plants have flowers the same colour; the petals in a single grove often shifting from the deepest of velvet blues to the brightest of scarlet pinks. Every once in a while — does one only care to see to the small — one comes across a Hepatica vastly different from all else, their petals light-blue, light-pink, or even sparkling white.

The Hepatica is the most noble of the spring flowers with its bright white and lustrous gold that adorn the centre of a midnight blue rosette. Upon closer inspection it is revealed that the pale and fair suitors are bowing to honour the golden maidens in the centre, as if their modesty was paid every respect in the world.

The foremost proof of the liverwort’s nobility is however its colour, as it is as blue in petal as royalty is in blood. And indeed, this has been recognised by botanists of ages past, for is there any other reason for why its medicinal name has been gilded with the sophisticated ring of nobilis?