Something Strange

Gil, the crew chief, came over to our table.

"We got nothing more coming in until after lunch. Maybe we get a salmon boat then, man." He grinned. Bald-headed and squinting he always looked happy. He was a good chief and a good man and we all liked to work for him. "Come back after lunch and see what's going on, man."

"Okay, man."

"Yeah, man. Go into the town. See what's going on in the town. You might see something strange."


"Yeah, man. School just let out. Maybe you see something strange. Maybe come across it,"  Gil grinned broadly and showed the yellowed stubs of teeth. "Yeah, man, something strange."


On Greatness, Again

In spite of the many accounts of historians and biographers, there is no chain of choices and explanations for a particular man's rise to power, or his technological invention, or scientific discovery, or work of art. Great men act according to obligation: the mysterious obligation of a lineage, both genetic, historical and divine.
Verily, greatness is a destiny thrust upon men by gods and it will more often destroy men than make them memorable. For divine destiny is more often a fatal, life-shortening curse, than a gift. For the few who have their achievements remembered, there are multitudes of similarly disposed talents who through some sort of bad luck died early—struck down by angrier gods—or succeeded but were not acknowledged (e.g. Wallace who theorized about evolution contemporaneously with Darwin; or Tesla and Edison; the list of painters and writers is a longer one; the list of warriors and hunters still longer).
But in this, the Epoch of Middle-Class Equality, of scholarship and domestication, greatness is peddled as achievable by all. Universities teach men and women to be creative in the arts (MFAs) and in business (MBAs). Self-help books abound. Middle class men call themselves alpha men, and women proclaim themselves the equals of men. Drugs and surgeries improve their bodies and computers provide assistance and reminders.
The divinity inherent in greatness, its wellspring in mystery, its terrifying irrationality, is subsequently repudiated through the reasoning of lesser men, through their scholarship and history telling. Greatness, they argue, can be reduced to charts and 10 step programs. The great man of history appears as someone who was manufactured and that other men can replicate.
In the historical post-mortem of the great man the scholar makes no acknowledgement of the terrifying and irrational and the great man's courage before it, his lack of hesitation, his grace, his inability to see any choice, or probability of success. For in greatness there is no calculation, there is no cost-benefit analysis, no weighing of alternatives for and against. Greatness is the push beyond measure, a man alone obligated to trespass upon divine lands.


On Cowardice

1. It is not nearly enough to conduct the epoché. A man must have the courage to live the way of life that he seeks to understand. To really fucking live it, regardless of consequences, scholarship must be suspended along with judgment.
4. Objectivity: an admission of cowardice.
11. Understanding arrives in silence. To understand is to no longer need to write.


The Osprey

Today was the opening of the fishing season and I went into the shed and rigged up a rod with a lure and went down to the dock. I made some casts and thought about the better fishing that was over in the channel, and all the good spots that I had fished as a boy and young man. But I didn't have a boat to get over there and now someone else owned that property and it would be trespassing to walk onto it. So I continued to cast out into the very weed-less waters around the dock.
I could see I would not catch anything. There was no activity in the water. The lake was brown and dead. It was a late thaw for the ice and it had gone out only two weeks before. Spring had begun on the land and the birds were active and building nests and the trees were budding and the animals had returned from winter, but under the water the spring had not yet come. None of the underwater plants had started to grow. The water was still to cold. The fish were in some other place. They were not yet ready to spawn. I did not know where they were.
Across the lake I watched a great black bird soaring back and forth over the water. The bird was hunting the water for something. I saw the angle in his wing and his white head. It was an osprey. He must have been six feet across in the wings. The great osprey stopped in the air, flapping its wings dramatically, and held itself over the water, studying it. Then he soared high and dove, crashing through the surface of the water and then flapping out of the water, he soared along the height of the pines, hunting the lake.
The osprey had seen something. I didn't think there were fish yet but the osprey was hunting them. The osprey again hovered on beating wings and dove and crashed into the water and he came out and gliding low across the lake and towards me on the dock and soaring over me, I saw in his talons he had one, he had a fish. The osprey had caught one. It looked like a little perch. The osprey circled back and showed me again the perch he had caught and I watched him soar along the tree line and down the channel. For the great hunter the spring had come.
Copyright © Moraline Free