Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holidays in the slumber of a night-mind

"I feel like I have to smile and give the world a wink."
The holiday season is upon us and the world seems particularly irksome and intrusive right now. Thanksgiving groaned under the weight of retail just a little more this year and I wonder how long it will last as a holiday.

But its passing means I can decorate a Yule tree with Bertolt looking on. Still, I try to remember why I am doing this.

I feel like I have to smile and give the world a wink, which is of course the first of subtleties. Did a wink mean anything until we had language so we could express two things at once? I wish the world well at this time of year, but I wish it would also leave me alone.

Perhaps it is the light, and traditionally, that means the lessening of it. It is now thoroughly dark at 5:00 in the afternoon and the morning seems a thousand miles away, if miles could be measured in time...

...which they often are, but I just want to escape time and space and go to sleep like much of the rest of the world. I accompanied some friends to the Zoo her in Seattle the other day and was reminded that most beings are, like the maple trees and oaks, sensibly asleep right now. I don't know if the sloth bears were sleeping but I didn't see them. I saw no Tyger Tyger burning bright. Like a true Seattleite, the Komodo Dragon wasn't from here and it was desperately soaking up radiation from a sun lamp.

Perhaps it is all the Hawthorne. I do not mean the plant, but rather the counterpoint of Melville. This will be no place for a review of Hawthorne and I do not pretend to make any scholarly pronouncements. Rather, as a writer, I afford myself a chance to read him from something of a professional perspective, and the (now) obscure tales from Twice Told Tales, Mosses  from an Old Manse and The Snow-Image are wonderful at this time of year.

"Alice Doane's Appeal," for example contains a number of frightening aspects besides visitations from the dead who seem to populate New England as deeply as they do Japan. Hawthorne,  captivates me like the strange "Village Uncle" captivates a rapidly vanishing audience as the raconteur slowly dies at Thanksgiving.

But dark nights and dark books call for one another. Ebeneezer and I will make our annual acquaintance again, and I will once again ask why a "Scrooge" is not a byword for a reborn benevolent businessman. It doesn't seem fair, but then I remember that the world isn't fair. The other kind of Scrooge is much more ubiquitous and therefore we need a convenient Dickensian name.

I am not sure how much I will be posting here for a while since part of the reason I am returning to Hawthorne is to revisit basic texts that made the others that made me, either in reaction and rejection, or emulation and exercise. Since The Shadow Well died its peaceful death this Fall, it is time to return to basics and find new paths beneath the tangled woods.

The mud is dark but the Moon glints on its surface. The air is cold, and since the rest of our lives seem so vast in this abyss, I wish you Happy Holidays: the time for small events of beauty.

1 comment:

  1. Some of you may actually recognize the composition of this picture. Yes, it is un homage, but no, there is no alternative version of this that is "closer to the Page."