Friday, October 11, 2002

The end of the week

Well. It's here. The weekend, which will be just as busy as the week, only different. With the uncertainty at work, I'm working as much as I can while I can....When you're told to make sure to finish the department policy and procedures' manual soon, you know something's up.

On Monday I went to school, picked up the ms. I've been helping out with, and entered the edits my professor made. Now I just need to double-check a few things, and it should be ready to print. The problem is finding time to go out to school to print it when the computer lab manager is around, just in case. (Most recent word processing lesson learned: Make sure the Auto Correct/Auto Format feature "Match parentheses" is de-selected or else all the ’alephs that are typed by using the right parenthesis in the transliteration font will morph into a strange character, and you will have to double-check all the transliterated Hebrew words throughout the 600 page ms.)

The rest of the week I went to work. My boss will be taking a three-month leave, beginning next week. Signs of further change are obvious. Senior managers are meeting often behind closed doors. Senior managers seem to be having difficulty looking one straight in the eyes.

Tomorrow I'm meeting my aunt who is flying to So. Cal. from Washington to run in a half-marathon in Long Beach. Sunday I play the piano for two church services again.

With everything that's happening, last weekend I escaped into an Iris Murdoch novel, Nuns and Soldiers. I'd never read any Iris Murdoch novels before. I rather liked it, especially the ideas in it and Murdoch's depictions of the experience—with all its confusion and uncertainty yet powerfulness—of being in love. I marked quite a few passages.
Any artist who is not a beginner faces the problem of enlarging into a working space that runs between 'just begun' and 'too late.' The hard work lies in the middle, when preliminaries are done, and the end is not yet enclosing the form. This is the space which longs to collapse, which the artist's strength must faithfully keep open. Tim was vaguely aware of this, but he was idle and lacked confidence (p. 124).
Of course, I read the above in terms of being a Ph.D. student. Or this, about Anne, who had left the cloistered life of a nun, and whose faith was being re-formed:
Anne knew how terribly close, for human beings, all things spiritual lie to the deep fires of the demonic. Concerning this, she waited, she cultivated still the metaphysics of waiting. And she noticed in herself, like the slow growth of an innocent indifferent plant, a renewed impulse toward worship and toward some kind of prayer. What kind of prayer this new prayer would turn out to be she did not yet know (pp. 312-13).
Murdoch's writing is wonderfully concrete, for example, when she describes the Count, who lives alone and listens to the radio.
He hated television. He lived in a radio world. He listened to everything, news, talks, plays (especially thrillers), political discussions, philosophical discussions, nature programs, proms, symphony concerts, opera, the Archers, Women's Hour, A Hundred Best Tunes, Desert Island Discs, On Your Farm, Any Questions, Any Answers. At some times of the year the steadily changing weekly copies of the Radio Times seemed the most evident movement of his life's clock....At times, sitting alone at night and listening to the gale warnings, for Fastnet, Hebrides, Fair Isle, Faroes, the Count had sometimes upbraided himself for wanting so ardently to console his beloved (pp. 35, 116).
Listening to gale warnings for far away places reminds me of listening to traffic reports for freeways I won't be taking that day when my clock radio awakens me early in the morning.

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