1.20.2022 – we have no reason

we have no reason
to abandon belief in the
ever-present better

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

We should recover a sense of the malleability behind what is built. There is no predetermined script guiding the direction of bulldozers or cranes. While mourning the number of missed opportunities, we have no reason to abandon a belief in the ever-present possibility of moulding circumstances for the better.

I felt this was kind of appropriate for the 1st anniversary of the Biden Administration.

Which isn’t so important for the start of the Biden efforts as much as it is important for the end of the previous administration.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

12.30.2021 – nearly ashamed lest

nearly ashamed lest
it detain our attention
or attract gratitude

I asked my wife to go watch the sunset over the May River on Christmas Eve.

I had a lot of reasons.

I wanted to go was the main reason.

I often find that working from home, I can get to Friday and never been further from home than our daily walks.

And, We were alone with no kids at home and could go without worrying what might happen at home.

It was a warm night for us anyway in December.

It was a few days after the Winter Solstice so the sun would be setting at its most southern point in the sky over the river.

And also because of the solstice, it was conveniently timed at around 5:30 PM.

We got to the park on the bluff overlooking the river just as the sun disappeared.

I wanted to run from the car to get to the dock to catch a photograph of the scene.

I thought of the photographer Ansel Adams, and his often repeated story of how he was driving with friends in Arizona and spotted the sunset scene of a small church at dusk with the moon rising over the horizon.

He pulls the car over and in a frenzy calls on his friends to help with the camera, tripod and other equipment.

The high point of the story for most photographers is when Mr. Adams admits he couldn’t find his light meter but he did know the amount of light the Moon gave off and was able to mentally calculate the exposure setting for his camera.

Thinking of this I hurried to the river front with my iPhone out.

The scene itself of the sun setting on Christmas Eve over the May River, as I took it in, took away my urgency.

I have used the quote, “A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me,” before.

I wanted to the take a picture to show I was here and that the scene mattered to me.

But when I got there, all I wanted to do was look.

Look and listen.

You could hear the birds and you could here the sound of the passage of water as the tide came in.

And somehow, you could hear the silence.

A few other people were there but for the most part, it was a private viewing for my wife and I.

I thought of this quote about a scene as described by the same author of the prior quote, “like an impartial judge, modest and willingly literal-minded about its own achievements, ashamed lest it detain our attention or attract our gratitude.”

It is odd, but I thought that about the scene I was seeing.

The river, the water, the clouds, the sun setting and the sounds.

I felt it was a scene, that with all its elements, was modest and willingly literal-minded about its own achievements, ashamed lest it detain our attention or attract our gratitude.

It was a fleeting moment to be sure.

One of a kind and special.

A moment to be remembered.

But at the same time …

Of all things, a passage in the book, “How Life Imitates the World Series” by Thomas Boswell came to mind.

Mr. Boswell tells the story of how an interview in the dugout of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore with then Orioles Manager, Earl Weaver, went over long.

All of sudden, Mr. Boswell, writes, he became aware that the National Anthem was playing and the game was about the start.

The two stood up for the anthem and Mr. Weaver stopped telling the story he had been in the middle of.

The anthem came to end and and Mr. Weaver went to run out to home plate to give the lineup card to the umpires.

Mr. Weaver said to Mr. Boswell, “I’ll be right back and finish that story.”

Mr. Boswell writes that he thought this was crazy and that he was way over staying his time and apologized to Mr. Weaver and said he would get out the dugout as the game was about the start.

“Oh don’t worry about that”, said Mr. Weaver, “We do this every day.”

*Words in the Haiku were adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

In a valley so steep that its gelatinous walls seem never to have been warmed by the sun, a drop of hundreds of feet ends in a furious brown river clotted with stones and brambles. As the train curves around the mountainside, a view opens up along its length, revealing that, several carriages ahead, the burgundy-red locomotive has taken the unexpected decision to cross from one side of the valley to the other, a manoeuvre it proceeds to execute without so much as pausing to confer with higher authorities. It makes its way over the gap, and through a small cloud, with the brisk formality one might associate with the most routine of activities, to which prayer and worship would be at once unnecessary and theatrical supplements. What has rendered this supernatural feat possible is a bridge for which nothing in this setting has prepared us – a perfectly massive yet perfectly delicate concrete bridge, marred by not the slightest stain or impurity, which can only have been dropped from the air by the gods, for we cannot imagine that there would be anywhere in this forsaken spot for humans to rest their tools. The bridge seems unimpressed by the razor-sharp stones around it, by the childish moods of the river and the contorted, ugly grimaces of the rock-face. It stands content to reconcile the two sides of the ravine like an impartial judge, modest and willingly literal-minded about its own achievements, ashamed lest it detain our attention or attract our gratitude.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

12.26.2021 – sensing the darkness

sensing the darkness
cold of night through the window
when we were children

Adapted from the book, The Architecture of Happiness (2009, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

We feel as safe as we did when we were children being driven home in the early hours by our parents, lying curled up on the backseat under a blanket in our pyjamas, sensing the darkness and cold of the night through the window against which we rested our cheek. There is beauty in that which is stronger than we are.

According the The New York Review of Books, this is “A perceptive, thoughtful, original, and richly illustrated exercise in the dramatic personification of buildings of all sorts.”

What I find irrestible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, I would.

12.14.2021 – to look around me

to look around me
as though I had never been
in this place before

I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I tried to reverse the process of habituation, to dissociate my surroundings from the uses I had previously found for them. I forced myself to obey a strange sort of mental command: I was to look around me as though I had never been in this place before. And slowly, my travels began to bear fruit.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

12.13.2021 – everything being

everything being
of potential interest,
layers of value

I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I tried to reverse the process of habituation, to dissociate my surroundings from the uses I had previously found for them. I forced myself to obey a strange sort of mental command: I was to look around me as though I had never been in this place before. And slowly, my travels began to bear fruit.

Once I began to consider everything as being of potential interest, objects released latent layers of value.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

12.4.2021 – if lives dominated

if lives dominated
by a search for happiness
travel reveals much

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest—in all its ardour and paradoxes—than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems—that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on whereto travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.30.2021 – sensitivity

sensitivity
on entering a new space
actively aware

Even before coffee, when I wake up, I go to the window and open the blinds to look at the sky.

A new day, a new sky.

Maybe not coffee awake, but awake enough to be actively aware of the new space.

Depending on my mood I may mumble the rhyme, Red sky at night, sailor’s delight – Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning.

I was asked recently where did that saying come from and I was happy to report that, for me, the most important recorded early use is from Jesus.

In the Bible, Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus says, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (NIV)

There is an essay and discussion on this saying and its Biblical roots at the United States Library of Congress.

In the Question and Answer section of the LOC website, in an essay with the attribution, “Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress”, the author states:

The colors we see in the sky are due to the rays of sunlight being split into colors of the spectrum as they pass through the atmosphere and ricochet off the water vapor and particles in the atmosphere. The amounts of water vapor and dust particles in the atmosphere are good indicators of weather conditions. They also determine which colors we will see in the sky.

During sunrise and sunset the sun is low in the sky, and it transmits light through the thickest part of the atmosphere. A red sky suggests an atmosphere loaded with dust and moisture particles. We see the red, because red wavelengths (the longest in the color spectrum) are breaking through the atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths, such as blue, are scattered and broken up.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Here in coastal South Carolina, the sky seems to be most often a lighter shade of sky blue than I am used to seeing.

When I was in college, my what-was-then-called-a-minor, was the field of History of Art.

Really I took History of Art classes because the college I went to was blessed with a bunch of professors in the field who loved to sit back and tell wonderful stories about art and artists.

I was happy to sit back and listen.

I can replay those lectures in my mind.

They weren’t so much lectures, they were single person plays.

I can feel the passion as this one Professor told the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, on the run from the law, desperately painting paintings to sell for the money to live on until he dies from the anguish of being a fugitive just as his pardon is at hand.

This same Professor told a story about the The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, a fresco ceiling painted by Annibale Carracci, that is in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome.

He told how the Palazzo Farnese had become the French Embassy in Rome and was only open to art scholars on Sunday Mornings so if you wanted to see The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne, you had to show up on Sunday Morning.

The Professor related that if you got there early enough, you could watch the Piazza Farnese outside the Palazzo slowly fill up with a WHO’s WHO in the art world of who was in Rome that weekend.

The lecture was continued about the fresco, when the Professor paused, he looked out at us and smiled and said, “Good ice cream in the Piazza Farnese.”

But I digress.

When I started this I was thinking about another Professor in the History of Art department.

This Professor loved light and talking about light.

This was the feller who told us we had to visit an Art Gallery three times – In the morning for white light, in the afternoon for warm light and at night for electric light.

He was also the feller who advised us that to see paintings in the proper perspective of the painter, we had to sit on the floor.

I rarely have opportunity to visit any Art Gallery three times but I do sit on the floor (or at least drop to a knee).

He felt that the bright blues of Tuscan Renaissance Art was caused by the bright blues of the Italian sky.

He felt that the bright blues of the Italian sky was due to Italy being so narrow and having the sea on either side.

I grew up in the State of Michigan with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron on either side of me.

Sorry to say that along with being the Great Lake State, my meteorological friends also tell me that Michigan is one of the most overcast locations in the 48 states.

Maybe second only to the Seattle area.

If the lakes had any impact on the colors we saw in the sky, we most likely were not able to see the sky to know it.

Even before I have coffee, I check the sky.

Much like that the coffee will be ready because of the timer on the coffee maker, I expect to see the sky.

There have been some mornings of gray clouds but for the most part, when before I have coffee. I check the sky, I WILL see the sky.

A few miles from the coast, influenced by the sea, its a blue sky that is new to my sensitivity.

Hard to explain in the words that I have, but after a lifetime of overcast, you just feel better seeing it.

Feeling better, then I have coffee.

*I based this haiku and several others like it from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

On entering a new space, our sensitivity is directed towards a number of elements, which we gradually reduce in line with the function we find for the space. Of the four thousand things there might be to see and reflect on in a street, we end up being actively aware of only a few: the number of humans in our path, perhaps, the amount of traffic and the likelihood of rain. A bus that we might at first have viewed aesthetically or mechanically—or even used as a springboard to thoughts about communities within cities—becomes simply a box to move us as rapidly as possible across an area that might as well not exist, so unconnected is it to our primary goal, outside of which all is darkness, all is invisible.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.29.2021 – setting off to find

setting off to find
pleasures that will cost neither
money nor effort

Road Trip along Port Royal Sound to Edisto Beach

Life in the low country of South Carolina is slow.

We live in a town of less than 30,000 people.

Last week we visited another town of 2,000.

It is a tourist area with lots of things to do that cost money.

There are also lots of things to do that don’t cost money.

There are lots of things to do that take a lot of effort.

There are lots of things to do that don’t take a lot of effort.

Make some sandwiches and fill a water thermos.

Pack some folding chairs.

Drive off to the beach.

Sit on the Atlantic coast of the United States of America and watch the ocean for free.

Free but priceless.

A fee to see anything else seems a sham.

I know the beach isn’t for everyone and everyone has their special place.

I remember that feller, Andy Rooney and his bits on the show Sixty Minutes.

Mr. Rooney once made a TV Special about view America from the Air.

It was a cluster of helicopter shots of famous American sights, Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, etc., with Mr. Rooney’s narration about the spot explaining why folks wanted to go there and see the spot.

Right in the middle of the film, there was a helicopter shot of a water front cottage.

Mr. Rooney said that this was a view of HIS favorite spot.

But, NO, he was not going to identify it as then other folks might go there.

Mr. Rooney was willing to share the view of his favorite spot but he didn’t want to share the spot.

The funny thing for me was that I knew where his favorite spot was because it was where one of my cousins lived off in the Hudson River Valley and it was a local secret that everyone knew Mr. Rooney lived there in the summer.

For me, I have said it before, I am lucky.

For me, a trip to the coast costs me neither money nor effort.

It is my favorite spot.

I don’t care who knows it.

I don’t care who knows where it is.

To find it, face north and turn right real sudden like.

It is for everyone.

It is free.

I wonder what the rich people are doing?

This haiku and several others like it, are adapted from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and Mr. de Botton’s comments on the book, Journey around My Bedroom written in 1790 by Xavier de Maistre.

de Maistre, de Botton writes in de book, “living in a modest room at the top of an apartment building in Turin, de Maistre pioneered a mode of travel that was to make his name: room travel”.

Millions of people who, until now, have never dared to travel, others who have not been able to travel and still more who have not even thought of travelling will be able to follow my example,’ explained Xavier as he prepared for his journey ‘The most indolent beings will no longer have any reason to hesitate before setting off to find pleasures that will cost them neither money nor effort.’ He particularly recommended room travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robbers and high cliffs.

Unfortunately de Maistre’s own pioneering journey rather like his flying machine, did not get very far.

The story begins well: de Maistre locks his door and changes into his pink-and-blue pyjamas. With no need of luggage, he travels to the sofa, the largest piece of furniture in the room. His journey having shaken him from his usual lethargy, he looks at it through fresh eyes and rediscovers some of its qualities. He admires the elegance of its feet and remembers the pleasant hours he has spent cradled in its cushions, dreaming of love and advancement in his career. From his sofa, de Maistre spies his bed. Once again, from a traveller’s vantage point, he learns to appreciate this complex piece of furniture. He feels grateful for the nights he has spent in it and takes pride in the fact that his sheets almost match his pyjamas. ‘I advise any man who can do so to get himself pink and white bedlinen,’ he writes, for these are colours to induce calm and pleasant reveries in the fragile sleeper.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.28.2021 – such a factual

such a factual
description seemed little
help pinning down why

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I began word-painting.

Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.

But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.

The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.

Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.

Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.

But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.

The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.

A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.

One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.24.2021 – began word-painting

began word-painting
the descriptive passages
came most readily

Word painting.

Back in 2019 I was spending, on average, two hours a day in my car, commuting to and from downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

I began this week day trek in 2009.

In my car, I was surrounded.

Surrounded by words.

There were the words on the radio.

Sports talk radio.

NPR.

Whatever station might be in range.

Then there words to the songs I might be listening to on the radio.

Or the songs on my phone that I played in my car.

The words in the books on tape I listened to by the carload.

Then there the words along the way.

The words on billboards.

The words on cars and trucks.

The words spray painted on walls.

And finally the words that I could make up from the letters on cars license plates.

I would play a game I called FREEWAY SLOT MACHINE.

I liked the middle lanes.

In Atlanta, I usually had my pick of 5.

I liked the one to the inside of the far left.

With the HOV/Peach Pass lane, that means the 3rd lane from the left.

I felt that in case of an accident, I could go left or right.

To play FREEWAY SLOT MACHINE, I would watch the lane in front of me and the lanes to my immediate left and right.

I watched for the make of a car or license plates by state.

Anytime I got three across, three FORDS or three HONDAs or three cars from Florida, I won.

Drove my wife nuts if I tried to play when I rode with her.

She couldn’t understand how I could concentrate on something like that when I should be driving.

The Atlanta commute WAS and IS awful but it is not demanding.

I found that, for the most part, the commute was made up of people who had resigned themselves to getting to work best they could.

It was closer to being in line at the DMV than the opening of Walmart on Black Friday.

It was … deadly dull.

I had grown up driving on freeways in Detroit and Chicago.

In those places, people still thought that how you drove and how fast you drove, could make a difference on when you got places.

In Atlanta, you got in line and waited your turn.

Too be sure, there were still the occasion driver, either a newbie or an Ausländer, and if they saw 30 feet of empty freeway, the got in and accelerated to close up the gap and looked for the next gap to take.

There folks would be all over the road and boy oh boy, did they stand out.

And because they stood out, you remembered their car.

You would see their car up by Pleasent Hill Road where the traffic started to pile up.

And you would see them when you saw it, still next to you, as you exited at Armour Drive in downtown ATL.

You could see it because in the back and forth of traffic, in all the different lanes, it never made much difference as everyone slowly made their way into the city.

Surrounded by words and bored to death I became to assemble words into nonsense sentences.

Occasionally one of these sentences would stick in my mind and I would yell it out loud over and over and over again.

Something like ‘Two Men and Trucks under Saddebrook Road called Injury Lawyers asked how is my driving call 1-800’.

I would sing these sentences out loud until they became even more meaningless.

It was mental activity along the line of zoochosis, like a wild animal stuck in a cage at some roadside attraction.

At this same time, out of my office in ATL, I was working with a TV station in Knoxville, Tennessee.

A reporter at that station was famous for writing election day Haiku and at election planning meetings she would be called on to recite her haiku which became the station meme (tho no one called it that) for that election.

Over the years, this reporter and I began exchanging haiku about elections and then random events.

Then came the day when one of my goofy word sentences fell into the traditional 5 – 7 – 5 syllable pattern of a haiku.

Then it happened again the next day.

I wrote those down at the time, though now I cannot remember what ones they were or if I saved them.

This became part of my day.

Through out that day, when ever someone came in my office or if I ran into someone in the hall, instead of a greeting I would recite my haiku.

Everyone loved it.

Or at least that’s what it seemed to me.

I did not ask of course, but I knew.

I knew when one day, I greeted my friend, Dave Myer, with

Sometimes, each day is …

making shoes for dead people

who no longer walk

Dave smiled and kept walking, then turned around and says, ‘okay, that was pretty good.’

And that’s how all this started.

Most often these haiku caught the mood of my commute or the mood of my brain at that moment as influenced by all the words that surrounded me.

I never put much thought into them.

I never put much thought into what there were.

Until I started writing them down.

Until I started writing them down and putting them online.

After writing them down, I often felt the creative process behind the words could use a little explanation.

Sometime these explanations were like turning on a faucet in my brain and words, sometimes very random words, and thoughts, sometimes very random thoughts, just poured out.

And this lasted until March, 2020.

Then that process came to a halt.

Covid hit.

I worked from home.

No more commute.

Then I was downsized.

No more Atlanta.

I landed on my feet on the Atlantic Coast.

Instead of being surrounded by words I am surrounded by the visuals of living near the ocean in the south.

Palm trees.

Spanish moss.

Blue herons, egrets and ibises.

The beach.

The ocean.

Stunning visual overload instead of words surrounded me.

Instead of assembling words into 17 syllable strings, I turned to translating what I saw into words in 17 syllable strings.

If you know the history of digital TV, the folks who created digital TV took a cable with an existing analog TV signal on it and plugged it into a computer.

The computer screen displayed all sorts of seemingly random characters.

The programmers, just like in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Gold Bug, set to decoding what the saw.

As in the Gold Bug, the hero thinks the letter E shows up the most often so the most reoccurring character in the coded message must be an E, the programmers identified the most reoccurring character in what they saw and told the computer that when this character showed, the monitor should display a white pixel and then so on and so on (yep, your TV today is still IF THEN DO LOOP) until finally all the characters were identified and we watch Digital TV.

Sometimes the stream is delayed and you see odd little squares on your TV where there was no code to decode.

The point is that these incredible scenes are coming into my brain through my eyes, and I try to turn that view, to decode what I see, into words.

Recently I read this passage in the book The Art of Travel.

I began word painting.

That phrase stuck with me.

I like it.

I began word painting.

I began word painting because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive.

Add that I try to do this in 17 syllables.

Are my word paintings accuate?

I don’t know.

Maybe it is not for me to say.

They might be nonsense.

I am not planning on writing anything profound.

I am really not planning on writing anything.

I am not planning on anyone reading what I write.

Just a goofy creative outlet.

Maybe some form of personal therapy.

On the other hand.

They might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

The haiku for today is adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

I began word-painting.

Descriptive passages came most readily: the offices were tall; the top of one tower was like a pyramid; it had ruby-red lights on its side; the sky was not black but an orangey-yellow.

But because such a factual description seemed of little help to me in pinning down why I found the scene so impressive, I attempted to analyse its beauty in more psychological terms.

The power of the scene appeared to be located in the effect of the night and of the fog on the towers.

Night drew attention to facets of the offices that were submerged in the day.

Lit by the sun, the offices could seem normal, repelling questions as effectively as their windows repelled glances.

But night upset this claim to normality, it allowed one to see inside and wonder at how strange, frightening and admirable they were.

The offices embodied order and cooperation among thousands, and at the same time regimentation and tedium.

A bureaucratic vision of seriousness was undermined, or at least questioned, by the night.

One wondered in the darkness what the flipcharts and office terminals were for: not that they were redundant, just that they might be stranger and more dubitable than daylight had allowed us to think.

The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

As I said about most of his work, neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here