Friday, March 9, 2007

lax on wisdom, part two (under water)

as the life of the body is made up of many elements in lively motion and lively interchange (and in strict but deeply mysterious order) so is the life of the town.

exchanges are made by words and gestures, even, most importantly, by glances: life imparted from one being to another: given without loss, but taken with gain. given & taken (& ready to give again).

as the living body, whole body, out & in, has a texture, so has the life of the town. a tone & a texture, changing from moment to moment & yet in many aspects remaining the same.

this is the texture of life, a texture that is woven as closely as on a continent, and as closely on a rock (with one living man) as on an island.

it is to perceive this texture that we have seeing eyes, hearing ears and feeling hands. it is not only to be warned by it of dangers, nor invited by it to desire, but to enjoy, to appreciate it from moment to moment in its life and in its passing.

our contact with life, with the flow of life, is a physical contact: spiritual, too – but physical none the less.

to touch life, to know life, we must somehow bang into it: though if we stand off it, it will come, & grasp us.

I swam again today. clear water. slow-moving shadows over the rocks. the rocks themselves not white or grey: more pink & white; blue & grey. a strange man, gardener, comes and swims too: scrambles lithely over the rocks and undresses behind one. naked swimmer, washing the dust of the garden, he says, from a thin & muscular brown and white body, looks amphibious, even on land, and most at home in the water.

the undersea vision, even at shallow depths, is almost narcotic. whatever is seen is seen with such peace, such composure. to look thus wide-eyed at all phenomena would surely be a kind of joy, a kind of psychic nourishment. we glide above objects, seeing them through glass, through the heavy, light-charged water: fallen rocks are the walls of a valley: below them a sleeping plain of smooth, white sand.

sea calls to the blood, waking those members farthest removed from the heart to a new circulation: the blood within, the brine without, calling to each other as day to night, night to day.


- Robert Lax, August 21, 1969, from the “A Greek Journal” published in the book “Love Had A Compass”, pp. 215-216

[See: lax on wisdom, part one and lax on wisdom, part three (survival)]

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