Plato aside, and still not getting enough sun, I have made several discoveries this summer and observations some quite Francophile. One discovery was Fip radio, which I actually recognise now as the station I listened to when I first arrived in Paris and lived at a Foyer Catholique pour jeunes femmes, where I shared a room with two Irish girls working at pubs and a French girl who worked nights at a hotel, and where we all groggily ate the breakfast at the allotted time, made by a seedy character who gave special treats to some of the girls (otherwise the food was just a piece of bread and watered down coffee in a bowl). The foyer would lock up at 11, I was never among the unlucky who had to make do after arriving a few minutes late. Fip Radio is a treat because of the variety of music played (it's like a mix of Marcos Valle, the Cannonball Adderley Quartet, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Rokia Traore, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, though when an intense piece is played, it is followed by something mellow); also noteworthy is that there is so little talking by the DJs who are manifest through the selection and segue of songs. Back in those Paris days, I would listen to Fip to ward off insomnia, and remember one song in particular sung by pretend British grannies with the refrain of them huffing, "All we want is to be loved!"
Also bringing me back to those days de France in Athens. On my previous trip I had already noted how expertly two French families navigated their way through the Benaki Museum: with no guide book, one mother explained choice exhibits to her children. This time, when I walked around the little settlement on the northeast side of the Acropolis, Anafiotika, the only tourists to pass me by were French and Greek. At the Archaeological Museum, one French father instructed his son to make sketches of some of the sculptures, which brought to mind my own mother telling me to write in my travel notebooks every night and I remember how difficult the exercise seemed.
"Variant: whether the writer really had to KNOW something about the subject or scene before being able to write the page under consideration." Thus writes Ezra Pound in his ABC if Reading, which I began to reread on this trip, praising myself for the choice of literature for his emphasis on looking while the bus entered Greece and the sea opened up to view, and when we entered the hills, gymnastic wind-harvesters made delicate cartwheels seeming to scratch at the sky yet reminding me of the gravitied limits to our earthly existence: how the illusion of perspective seems to have us reach the heavens, when in reality, we are merely standing at a good vantage point.
"One has to divide the readers ... who want to see the world from those who merely want to know WHAT PART OF THE WORLD THEY LIVE IN," writes Pound. That latter part of the world is probably the part that looks like it is reaching the sky.
It is the part before knowledge has been sought, which is the point of realising emptiness, deficiency, and asking questions. It is a Platonic concern as to how right a right opinion is that is held accidentally, without knowledge. Pound writes, "Even if the general statement of an ignorant man is 'true', it leaves his mouth or pen without any great validity. He doesn't KNOW what he is saying. That is, he doesn't know it or mean it in anything like the degree that a man of experience would or does. Thus a very young man can be 'right' without carrying conviction to an older man who is wrong an who may quite well be wrong and still know a good deal that the younger man doesn't know. One of the pleasures of middle age is to find out that one WAS right, and that one was much righter than one knew at say seventeen..."
But the perspective of knowledge, if it is ever had at all in whatever small quantity, surely changes the way one would present what one ever thought one knew: ideas change with knowledge. Like how that insolent Cliotophon keeps asking about "justice" (though not to Socrates himself, and he is bold enough to criticise Socrates on this matter, for Socrates' stand that he has never adequately determined), always asking what it is and never embarking on the steps one must take to reach it: thinking that the mind alone could touch the heavens by positioning itself on a hill.
In other words, there is a distance that must be travelled. This distance can also be heard, as in music. But music ultimately plays second fiddle to words, which can be explicit about meaning, which is complex enough to warrant paradoxical explanation. And as for the other languages, culture, the longings of the Francophile—surely this is the bridge out from where one is standing, as one gives oneself over to, say, a sculpture, that one translates by lines onto a notebook, growing up as one who has witnessed otherness from the early start, experience always pointing one onwards from where one is standing in the hopes of completing the picture before the story is done.
Brush: Lauren Harrison.