The first in the sense of arriving, of trading one home for another, of holding the first in your hand always and the second like a light. There is tenuous hope and homemaking. Whole small parks appear in your living room complete with turf and there are big, lively dinners and sometimes you walk upstairs to forty people on your couches talking about divestment. Everything is different. Yet the same cross is lit on the same hill and the same streets rumble with the same construction and the same spotlight sweeps the city as it makes its familiar rounds during the night.
The second in the sense of the Whitman collection and of (parts of) organisms, of leaving scraps of poems in your lab notebook, of reading your microbiology textbook side-by-side with Freire. Of majors and minors and making useful knowledge and community organizing and speaking with, not for. Settling into an intersection of studies that feels worthy, that falls in a scale between a microscope and a neighbourhood.
The third in the sense of turning them over. Of a better conception of friendship and a deeper gratitude for family. The weight of an entire year dissolves. There is tenderness. An enduring peace. A pull to catalogue instances of care, an inquiry into grace. (It is easy to talk about tenderness but not how it follows a wound.) You go for walks and the birds implore you to go light, to go wisely, to go slow.
The fourth in the sense of the ones that are burning up on their stems as we speak, of wanting to walk all the way up to the florist on the 6000-block who hangs her flowers in birdcages and bring home a bouquet to sit on the windowsill, of wanting right this instant as the cars zoom by in the dark to go back and get that picture of quiet fall, of trees wading in fog, that you missed this morning en route to class. Last November you looked up and autumn had come and gone and taken with it the colours — not this year.
We permit the state to ascertain the universal educational deficiencies of its citizens and establish one specialized agency to treat them. We thus share in the delusion that we can distinguish between what is necessary education for others and what is not, just as former generations established laws which defined what was sacred and what was profane.
Durkheim recognized that this ability to divide social reality into two realms was the very essence of formal religion. There are, he reasoned, religions without the supernatural and religions without gods, but none which does not subdivide the world into things and times and persons that are sacred and others that as a consequence are profane. Durkheim’s insight can be applied to the sociology of education, for school is radically divisive in a similar way.
The very existence of obligatory schools divides any society into two realms: some time spans and processes and treatments and professions are “academic” or “pedagogic,” and other are not. The power of school thus to divide social reality has no boundaries: education becomes unworldly and the world becomes noneducational.
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
for John Berger
as the brick of the afternoon stores the rose heat of the journey
as the rose buds a green room to breathe
and blossoms like the wind
as the thinning birches whisper their silver stories of the wind to the urgent
in the trucks
as the leaves of the hedge store the light
that the moment thought it had lost
as the nest of her wrist beats like the chest of a wren in the morning air
as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them to each other in the teeming dark
hold everything dear
the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay’s small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil
the pledge of offered arms, the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot
but given as a torch
hold everything dear
the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them
the justice of a grass than unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching
the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days
as it sinks to become what it loves
memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed
the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door
the yearning to begin again together
animals keen inside the parliament of the world
the people in the room the people in the street the people
hold everything dear
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese, via.
This is moving me deeply right now.
Wall above my bed plastered in maps, this one my favourite.
When I was eighteen, I put a map of Antarctica on the wall of my room in the fleabag residential hotel that was my home. It represented a kind of cold hope beyond suffering and passion, beyond society and personality, beyond the familiar and ordinary, a landscape for extremists. That pure far world still fascinates me, that world north or south of trees, of cities, of almost everything, seemingly even of color in those images of white expanses through which white and drab animals move, under a pale or cloudless sky, the elemental earth, the other world at the ends of the world.
—Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby