I wake, lay on my side, palms together and feel myself pulled out, expanding as though the Big Bang is me, and I’m pulling/pulled out.
It’s the 55th day since my brother passed and I feel him inviting me to explore with less seriousness, with more play and laughter. Laughter – well, now, that’s a big order and yet when we gathered for his memorial, we laughed hysterically, but that was a different kind of laughter. This is more grounded in joy as though my collar bone extends outward to hold balance with a bucket of source on each end, and my shoulder blades reach outward and down, dripping like honey, and my heart opens with more room to breathe.
I breathe, breathed, souled with delight.
Yesterday, Neal Stephenson spoke about his latest book FALL: or Dodge in Hell.
The book is influenced by John Milton who in the 17th century wrote the epic poem “Paradise Lost”. I knew Milton dictated the words because he had gone blind, but I didn’t know he was a swashbuckler in his youth. The poem shows the fall of the angel Satan who then tempts Adam and Eve. I’m curious to read this almost 900 page book of Stephenson’s as “Dodge” is the name of the main character, and Satan in “Paradise Lost” says “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
Stephenson, like many of us, is struggling with this last election which is pulling us into dystopian times. He’s concerned with the loss of facts, which he suggests if we’re interested in knowing the evolution, we read Barbara J. Shapiro’s book, A Culture of Fact: England, 1550–1720.
This is the synopsis of the book from Amazon’s site:
Barbara J. Shapiro traces the surprising genesis of the “fact,” a modern concept that, she convincingly demonstrates, originated not in natural science but in legal discourse. She follows the concept’s evolution and diffusion across a variety of disciplines in early modern England, examining how the emerging “culture of fact” shaped the epistemological assumptions of each intellectual enterprise.Drawing on an astonishing breadth of research, Shapiro probes the fact’s changing identity from an alleged human action to a proven natural or human happening. The crucial first step in this transition occurred in the sixteenth century when English common law established a definition of fact which relied on eyewitnesses and testimony. The concept widened to cover natural as well as human events as a result of developments in news reportage and travel writing. Only then, Shapiro discovers, did scientific philosophy adopt the category “fact.” With Francis Bacon advocating more stringent criteria, the witness became a vital component in scientific observation and experimentation. Shapiro also recounts how England’s preoccupation with the fact influenced historiography, religion, and literature―which saw the creation of a fact-oriented fictional genre, the novel.
Because we’re currently inundated with a masterful and disturbing manipulation of information, it’s fascinating to consider the origin and importance of facts. Can we have a democracy without an agreed upon source of information, an agreed upon meaning of words?
Okay, back to me as I look out on the ridge. I woke today aware of expansion but also balance. Since reading Culture and the Senses: Bodily Ways of Knowing in an African Community by Kathyrn Geurts, I’m more aware of the essential nature of balance in my life. For the community she studies, balance is the most important sense, so today, I balance expansion and contraction, and seep into the sky as it balances on the coming light.