Cello Player

                                                          CELLO PLAYER

A diffuse glow appears on the orchestra pit.

The music begins softly;  a faint, lilting melody rises…

Light slowly illuminates a tall girl playing the cello.

 

She plays the cello in total harmony.

Her body rhythm flows smoothly through brown hair and slim arms,

blending beautifully with the cello and escaping through the strings.

 

While she plays, my heart swings along her bow.

Sighing, the strings gently free the melody.

 

Hearing notes dance and leap,

tonal patterns bursting into stars,

her brown eyes ignite the music into a cosmic cry…

 

The chords slowly drift into empty space.

Her cello idles lazily at her shoulder.

She reduces the room to stillness.

 

So, too, I am reminded of my own rhythm.

In time, my strings will grow slack.

And I, too, must approach silence.

 

 

 

Some Flowers For A January Morning

After all the rain we’ve had in Southern California, it’s nice to see a clear sky.  On days like this my mind turns to flowers and their natural beauty.  Flowers with their wonderful symmetries and forms never fail to inspire me.  Here are some photos of flowers from Southern Oregon and Southern California:

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Some Thoughts About Scrapbooks, The New Year And Writing

My baby scrapbook, published by Richard G. Krueger, Inc. and designed by Ditzy in 1946. It was a gift from my godparents Aunt Jackie and Uncle Ralph.

My baby scrapbook, published by Richard G. Krueger, Inc. and designed by Ditzy in 1946. It was a gift from my godparents Aunt Jackie and Uncle Ralph.  At that time my name was “Rodger” Weiss, but was soon changed to Robert Weiss.

“Life may be a stage, but I wish I didn’t have a reserved seat!”–Uncle John from Aunt Jane’s Nieces by L. Frank Baum

Usually in the month of January I peruse my many scrapbooks.  I begin by looking at my baby scrapbook with its satin sheen cover and remarks about me by my mother, Twyla.  It takes me back to my childhood days of the 1950s, when people left their doors open, kids had vacant lots and piles of sand to play in, and lemonade stands were plentiful with lemonade one cent a cup.

However, time goes on and memories begin to fade as new memories take their place.  The almost unbearable slowness of  early childhood is exchanged for the almost unbearable speed of late adulthood.  And New Year follows New Year.  I think of lines by Robert Clairmont from Forever X:

When wrinkles cut your brow

And love goes gaily by,

Sing:  Young, old, tiny, tall,

Whatever happens, happens to all

When we leave this Odd Old Ball.

Indeed, this earth truly is an “odd old ball”.  Events follow events, triggering other events.

Like any mathematical curve, life has points that mark a change of direction.  Some of these points are obvious:  marriage, the birth of children, the loss of a beloved family member.  However, other points are not so obvious and I must admit that I envy Truman Burbank for he is able to “rewind” his life from the time he escaped his set up world to his birth.  Thus, he can see how certain events changed his thinking and further actions.  I am not so fortunate.  And when I look through old scrapbooks only pieces of experiences remain, so I have to reflect and guess at events that might have caused my life to shift dramatically.  Such critical points mark the essence of theater, novels and other writings where an author can juggle them and insert them where s/he wills.  Perhaps, that sense of power and completeness is what attracts us to literature.  The writer plays God just as Christoff does with Truman.  However, the individual must depend on his/her own wavering memories to try to understand the meaning of his/her life.

Crystal Spirit

 

CRYSTAL SPIRIT

 

Blue eyes hide a myriad of worlds.                                                                                                                                                                  Indian artifacts flow from nimble hands.                                                                                                                                                     Proud spirits of ancient chiefs keep watch.

She is a lady:  tall, noble, elegant.                                                                                                                                                                 She loves words, the magic of their sounds.                                                                                                                                             Colors are her joy:  red, blue, green…

A crystal of light shimmers                                                                                                                                                                         and traverses space on a cloud of thought.

 

 

How A Handful Of Pebbles Contained The Universe, Part 1.

For thousands and thousands of years, people had only two words for quantities:  “one” and “many”.  Even ancient languages reveal this fact.  When people saw an aggregate of stones, they referred to them as “many”.  And when they picked up a single stone they used the word “one”.  “I have one stone not many stones”, they would say.  It must have seemed obvious to them.  Little did they know that by using these terms they were blocking off the awesome universe which surrounded them.

At some mysterious point in time, someone must have picked up the stones individually and wondered how to designate them.  Perhaps, one person wanted to exchange his “many” for another person’s “many” in a business matter.  How could each determine that he wasn’t cheated except by counting.  Stones, then, were no longer simply a collection of “many”, but had special identities or designations.  Thus, from such primitive beginnings the world of number was born.  The simplest numbers uncovered were the “counting numbers” or “natural numbers”.  The numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 came into being, which followed 1.

The Babylonians and Egyptians needed numbers to measure fields and the shapes of the fields necessitated some rudimentary elements of geometry for buying and selling properties.  However, it was the ancient Greeks that studied number as something that had its own existence independent of human needs.  Indeed, to Pythagoras, all things were numbers.  Men and women were numbers and he assumed there were only ten heavenly bodies, since 10 had special significance.  In fact, Pythagoreans worshipped the “tetrakys”, a triangle composed of four rows of dots.  The first row had one dot, the second two dots, the third three dots and the fourth four dots.  When the four rows were added, the sacred 10 was the result.  Everything appeared to represent perfect balance and harmony until…  Yes, even in this well-constructed world, irrationality stuck out it’s ugly snout.  Someone constructed a square with sides one.  When a diagonal was added, the length of the diagonal had to be the square root of 2.  Pythagoras’s own theorem led to the unhappy result.  The irrational could be dealt with later.  But there was still one important number missing:  0.

The Greeks never could find 0, and this fact imposed strict limits on what they could do with numbers.  For zero, we have to go to another country, India.  The Indians had long had a concept of nullity.  It came from their philosophy.  It came from their religion.  When “0” joined the counting numbers, a major step was put in place for solving equations, the construction of the Cartestian plane, and, in today’s world, the binary system which is the basis of computer circuitry.

In the Middle Ages, the first algebraic equations were born, arising from Arabic countries.  The mysterious x and y of algebra represented an abstract way of thinking hitherto unknown in mathematics.  The Greeks may have been the philosophers of number, but the Arabs were not only philosophers, but active participants in extending the range of number to greater practical and theoretical heights.  However, algebra and geometry were still separated.  It required a major step to bring them together.

Where Is The Frog?: Something To Think About

So, where is the frog?

Somewhere there's a frog. Can you find it?

Somewhere there’s a frog. Can you find it?

Camouflage creates its own kind of illusion.  Nature thrives on it, and optical illusions often befuddle humans.

S. Tolansky, a former Professor of Physics at the University of London, wrote a small treatise dealing with visual illusions.  And he argues that camouflage is a practical use of optical illusions.  Camouflage is used by animals and plants primarily as a means of protection from predators and by humans for warfare.  But all illusions are dependent on the health of the eye;  severe astigmatism can destroy the illusion featured below.  Yet, it is well to remember that things are not always what they seem!:oi-1

“There Is No Such Thing As An Abstract Student: Sukhomlinsky Speaks To Teachers

Alan Cockerill, who is the leading supporter and promulgator of Vasilii Sukhomlinsky’s educational philosophy in the English-speaking world,  has recently translated some chapters from Sukhomlinsky’s seminal work:  One Hundred Pieces of Advice for Teachers.  I include an excerpt that Alan published in one of his newsletters:

“Imagine that all the seven-year-old children commencing grade one were required to complete exactly the same physical work, carrying water for example.  One is already exhausted after carrying five buckets, while another can manage twenty. If you force the weaker child to carry twenty buckets it will overstrain them.  The next day they will not be able to do anything and may end up in the hospital.  Children’s capacity for intellectual work is just as varied.  One understands, makes sense of things and remembers things easily, storing them in their long-term memory.  Another experiences intellectual work completely differently, taking in the material very slowly, and storing knowledge in their memory for only a short time;  though it often happens that the slower student achieves more significant success in their studies and in their intellectual development than the one who found it easier to study in the beginning.  There is no such thing as an abstract student to whom we can mechanically apply guidelines for instruction and education.  There are no prerequisites for ‘success in study’ that are the same for all students.  And the very concept of ‘success in study’ is relative:  for one success in study means getting an ‘A’, while for another a ‘C’ is a major achievement.  The ability to determine what each student is capable of at a given point in time, and work out how to develop their intellectual capabilities further, is an exceptionally important component of educational wisdom.”

Note:  Alan Cockerill’s Sukhomlinsky page is located at:http://theholisticeducator.com/sukhomlinsky