Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Comfort at the Bottom of a Swimming Pool

There’s comfort at the bottom of a swimming pool. And the world sits and waits for dignitaries with lots of silly hair and not a lot of dignity to decide its fate everybody shaking their head saying who put HIM in charge or who put HER in that position.
Somewhere in Italy, little old ladies quietly enter the piazza, to gossip, to go to work, to appraise all the American girls and boys passing by during their trip abroad. They are sure of themselves because thousands of years ago their grandfathers and some of their grandmothers ruled the world. In Ireland little old ladies with windswept and kind faces go to church too. And they gossip too. But they aren’t so sure of themselves. Their grandparents were called savages and they did not rule the world. None of this matters to the small child running through some pastoral scene in some provincial town where it’s raining, and she catches a toad, and she splashes through the mud, and her home warm and bright and clean and she returns, without the toad, to snuggle with her big fat cat, and sleep until dinner time and not think about Camus’ question: Should we kill ourselves or not. Or Wittgenstein's theory that language is created by the community. It refers to nothing in the physical world but merely acts as a conventional way to unite animals, to give them a common sort of ground, dinner is only dinner as long as the child and the child’s mother and everybody in the whole wide world call it dinner.
When she goes to Italy and her name is Cecilia and she meets another little girl, same age, slurping up the same gelato flavor, whose name is Che-cheal-lee-aa (Cecilia, in Italian) her eyes get big like saucers. They stare at each other, careful not to drip their gelato. Her sister takes her back to the restaurant where her family still is. Che-cheal-lee-aa goes home. Her eyes don’t get big when she hears Nietzsche or de Beauvoir, or Bertrand Russell speak about life’s most fundamental questions. They glaze over like the donut she eats the next morning for breakfast. Does she already know all the answers? One gets the sense that she does and that’s why she hasn’t thought of them yet.

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