On a gloriously cool and sunny afternoon, I sit on the deck, ruing the disappearance of the tiny, pale green leaves, which have given way already to the yellow-green leaves (soon to be followed by the dark green leaves). The seed pods on the silver maple are bright red, though you’ll need binoculars to see them. Before long they’ll be less red and scattered everywhere.
Ohio buckeye trees are sprouting here and there across the yard—I know they won’t do well in those shady places but find it difficult to pull them up. I did recently remove large chunks of the ferns that have been inching their way across the terraced garden under the bedroom window.
Chickadees, cardinals, goldfinches arrive and depart. But the junkos are also still among us. There are more junkos than people in North America. Soon they’ll be fanning out across the pine woods of Canada. A fitting subject for a children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown, don’t you think?
On such an afternoon, I find it difficult to focus on Tony Judt’s Thinking the Twentieth Century, which I’ve been doing a pretty good job of making my way through. For example:
To be a revolutionary Marxist was to make a virtue of your rootlessness, not least the absence of religious roots, while clinging—even if half-knowingly—to a style of reasoning which would have been very familiar to every Hebrew school student.Or how about this one?
For Hayek, in short, the lesson of Austria and indeed the disaster of interwar Europe at large boiled down to this: don’t intervene, and don’t plan. Planning hands the initiative to those who would, in the end, destroy society (and the economy) to the benefit of the state. Three quarters of a century later, this remains for many people (especially here in the U.S.) the salient moral lesson of the twentieth century.I’m more inclined to return to a potted essay on Plato’s theory of ideals that I’m working on:
And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands, and is radiant with intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence.In my view, “becoming and perishing” is a part of truth and being. These days we stand in daily awe of the “becoming” part. Consider the serviceberry over there at the edge of the woods, just now creeping into bloom. My mother, who died in 1980, loved this humble, spindly shrub that does it best to look like a tree. So do I.
What to do, what to do?
The skies are clear. Heck, get the fire pit out from under the deck and await the appearance of Venus, which (according to my NASA web report) should be sitting smack dab in the middle of the Pleiades tonight!