Rocks and Vision

I am thinking these days about how to greet a new generation of students wherein the academy echoes the groves of its incipience; the sacred ones where guiding principles were conferred: the how of conduct like the inert filler for the colours we paint through our respective skills. There are forms of painting that use ground rocks in the base, this is how I conceive education.
A book I've consulted is Stephen Miller's Conversation, which "meets the guidelines for permanence and durability". There are many gems in that book, including what academia oughtn't be: Montaigne is cited to admonish those who parade "raw chunks of" learning to hide a lack of intelligence. "I have met many intellectuals whose conversation was bad for my mind: Marxists, existentialists, postmodernists." Miller writes of beholding to the other person, humour. The enjoyment of the spar. Gadamer, too, writes that such flowing dialogue is only possible where each conversation is viewed as a brand new creation, where the interlocutors are not bound by dogma.
... but guided by principles, rocks. We do not want to get lost, lose our bodies, lose ourselves in ideas like fantasies that carry us away. This is the lesson of anthropology: the tribe isn't to be sold for fir-tree ornaments (there is more than one such example). The old folk knew this, all that glitters is not gold/ jade is the West/East saying, but as we know, it is one thing to preach and another to recognise in practice: we are hooked by the very element that is good, the desire for improvement and ornament of beauty.
How many layers does a thing have. If it is a kite, it is attached by a mere string. To discover this, one has but to ask with the respect of non-alienation. Part of us is this thing. We are not divorced as much as we think from these things now relegated to factories, where each person sees but one part. There is stone within us: the rock of courage, of endurance, even stubbornness. This rock is at odds with the demands made by society of the mania for that better life, always shown on tv, always elusive to these parents who are ever uncertain, ever less like rocks and more like kites with thinning strings.
What is in our hands, not the string, but the rock of certainty. We may talk to each other - all talking through wires that make mere telegrams of the novel of the soul. To reach one soul. To be heard. To distinguish from all the chatter one clear vision of another being and seeing clearly, to not be so afraid.
This is what I write here. But this year, I will not begin by asking questions because this an excuse for glibness. It is time to learn to hear people: this is a statement. I wonder if it is possible to erect a great stop sign. Behind the stop - usually, in life, represented by accident - is the essential. Considering that Boorstin foresaw people becoming famous for being famous about a half a century ago, it is time for something new. The key to that blank and prepped canvas is having a vision but not letting that vision fly away. Flowers may bloom there if there is patience, and patience if we are just able to listen.



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