16 August 2014

from Hannah Arendt's On Violence

That science, even though no longer limited by the finitude of the earth and its nature, should be subject to never-ending progress is by no means certain; that strictly scientific research in the humanities, the so-called Geisteswissenschaften that deal with the products of the human spirit, must come to an end by definition is obvious. The ceaseless, senseless demand for original scholarship in a number of fields, where only erudition is now possible, has led either to sheer irrelevancy, the famous knowing of more and more about less and less, or to the development of a pseudo-scholarship which actually destroys its object. 

So far, so good...

It matters not.

13 August 2014


Among other things, life is a series of choices. This seems obvious, is obvious, but what remains a fascination for many is the matter of what if or maybe.

For every choice, large or small, we are only allowed the one outcome, and several other threads will never be known to us. We may pick a thread up again, later, but it will have been different than if we'd followed it to begin with.

The what if and the maybe that plague me each day all have to do with the choice to drink or not to drink. The choice to do either continues to have more emotion, thought, experience, fear and so much else attached to it with every time I decide to quit drinking and every time I then begin to drink again.

Some what if scenarios seem to have more possibility attached to them than others, but all of them include, I think, someone much different than the person writing this.

But that's the thing of maybe. What would be different in a way that weren't beneficial? Would anything be? If we're dealing with the subject of addiction, one could argue that all the differences would be for the better, but are there choices indirectly related to drinking that were influenced by drinking that have put me where I am today in relation to the things in life I do enjoy? Possibly not. Possibly, this is rationalization.

Late August/Early September, 2010 — Early December, 2010

Late March, 2011 — Early April, 2011

Late September/Early October, 2011 — February, 2012

Late August, 2012 — Early October, 2012

And, of course, smatterings of little periods of anything from a day, to a handful of days, maybe a week here and there, throughout all of this.

The five months or so between the end of 2011 and early 2012 was the longest period of sobriety I've sustained since my youth. It may be that it feels most significant for that reason, but I also feel like I was at a big turning point in my life and if I held onto it then, things might be a lot better or, in some way, different for me now.

But, I can never know that.

I don't know why I write this, other than exhaustion of maybes. I'm tired of having to consider more possibilities when I could instead know how things have turned out for me.

Of all the maybes, the certainty I can always possess is there is truly nothing in life like addiction.

09 August 2014

from Walk the Blue Fields

There's pleasure to be had in history. What's recent is another matter and painful to recall.


The bride is a beauty whose freckled shoulders, in this dress, are bare. A long string of pearls lies heavy against her skin. The priest steps in close without touching her and stares at the line of her scalp where the shining red hair is parted. 


Inside the hotel there's the mordant heat of the crowd, the spill of guests. A waitress near the front desk is ladling punch. Another stands with a sharp knife, slicing a long, smoked salmon. The guests are queuing up, reaching for forks, capers, cuts of lemon. All about them, there are flowers. Never has the priest seen such flowers: wide-open tulips, blue hyacinths, trumpeting gladioli. He stands beside a crystal jug of roses and breathes in. Their scent is heavy. The need for a drink comes over him and he faces into the bar. 


Any time promises are made in public, people cry. 


The priest freezes as the pearls slip off the string. He watches how they hop off the polished floor. One pearl hits the skirting board, rolls back past Miss Dunne's outstretched hand. She lets out a sigh as it rolls back toward the priest's chair. He puts his hand down and lifts it. It is warm in his hand, warm from her. This, more than anything else in the day, startles him.
The priest walks across the dance floor. The bride is standing there with her hands out. When he places the pearl in her hand, she looks into his eyes. There are tears there but she is too proud to blink and let one fall. If she blinked, he would take her hand and take her away from this place. This, at least, is what he tells himself. It's what she once wanted but two people hardly ever want the same thing at any given point in life. It is sometimes the hardest part of being human. 


He remembers the snatch of bridal veil on the yews, puts his hand in his pocket and feels it there. He takes it out, lets it fall. Before it touches the water, he regrets it but he had his chance, and now his chance is gone. 


The next morning, their last, they had lain in bed with the window open and he'd dreamt the wind had blown the freckles off her body. 


He remembers lying naked with Lawlor's daughter in a bed outside of Newry town. He remembers all those dandelions gone to seed and how he said he would always love her. He remembers these things, in full, and feels no shame. How strange it is to be alive. Soon, it will be Easter. There is work to be done, a sermon to be written for Palm Sunday. He climbs the fields back towards the road, thinking about his life tomorrow, as a priest, deciphering, as best he can, the Roman language of the trees. 


Le bourreau qui jouit, le martyr qui sanglote.


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana

Those who are ignorant of the past, cannot be expected to remember it.
True Ott, PhD, ND