Another simple thought

by cheri block

Last night we left the busy Bay Area, the three of us—man, woman, and dog—and drove down to our tiny spot on the Central Coast of California. It’s important to get away from work every now and then, if possible.

At least that’s the dog’s philosophy.

A blustery wet day here by the sea, this place is one of my favorite places to be.

Every night, no matter what the weather, we sleep with our door open. Winter is the best time to do this, of course.

A weather symphony orchestra pounded out its dramatic music last night.

Two inches of furious rain tried its level best to drown out the roaring heartbeat that is the Pacific Ocean. The slap of millions of raindrops on the deck competed with the comforting roar of an angry ocean.

This morning, the rain continues its rant.

Maybe I will correct my papers. Maybe I will read the assignment for my class on Wednesday night—parts of Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

Maybe I will take the dog for a walk.

Maybe I will do nothing.

My friend, the Sci-Fi Fanatic, reminded me that it is OK to do nothing and just enjoy the simple pleasures of a stormy day.

We don’t always have to be productive.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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13 Responses to Another simple thought

  1. Man of Roma says:

    What Dante’s English translations do you like Cheri? And yes, the dog’s philosophy is the best.

    Oh, the Bay Area, I envy you Chérie!

  2. Cheri says:

    The translation I studied in Florence was the Ciardi edition of the Inferno.

    The professor has asked that we get the Penguin version, translated by Sayers and Reynolds. I am not buying a new Inferno (plus..I have my notes in it!..) I have the Sayers’ Paradiso, but am missing the Purgatorio.

    Your thoughts?
    Last week, in discussing Lancelot, much was made about the Christian symbolism and focus on the Virgin Mary, etc. and how this will relate to Dante’s devotion to his Beloved, Beatrice.

    Oh, to be worshiped by a man the way she was…

  3. Richard Manchester says:

    I continue to read your posts, Cheri. Each is warm, generous, magnetic and complete in itself.

    So many have been beneficiaries of your learning, imagination and intellectual breadth. I envy all who ever sat in your classes. You would have neglected none, not even the most impossible.

    I cannot tell if you create or represent Joan and Joe. As characters, they are yours and cannot be added to. As people, I wish them well, as I do Judge Blah and all your family.

    One more thing. The time has come when you must study your own welfare.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you for continuing to read my writing, despite my rebuke over a month ago. You are a patient man.

      Joan and Joe are real people.

      I always enjoy your comments and observations. Like everyone, I am trying to lead the examined life, including my own.

  4. Richard Manchester says:

    I mean, perhaps you should start putting yourself first, but I overstep the mark.

  5. andreaskluth says:

    Man of Roma, you of all people should not be interested in English translations of Dante — unless you’re studying the competition while you’re preparing your own translation. 😉

    • Man of Roma says:

      of all the people you should not be interested in English translations of Dante

      Of course, but I have an old idea, some Dante posts, or classes, I don’t know – I was a teacher of Dante for so long. So since my blog is in English, I cannot present the verses without a translation.

      • Cheri says:

        I have just finished Cantos 1,2,6,28-33 in Purgatorio.

        I am not sure why Cato figures so prominently in this Cantica. Also, I understand why Brutus is in the last circle of Hell, but Cassius? And then Cato enters in the first Canto of Purgatorio…

        Dante seems to have a deep respect for the pagans and certainly believes that Classical Rome contributed to the “total person” (if you will), but obviously he drives home the notion that in order to be “complete”, one has to accept the Christian God.

        How am I doing, Man of Roma?

  6. Man of Roma says:

    @Cheri

    Oh you’re doing very well indeed Cheri!

    Dante is both Pagan and Christian, but completeness is only in God as you very well say. Which tho implies a type of contrast (among many) producing intense at times tragic poetry in characters that are like … in-between the two worlds:

    Ulisse (he dares, in a pre-humanistic way id est pagan), Paolo e Francesca (their passion all-consuming going beyond any … possible medieval morality), and Brunetto Latini, Dante’s beloved mentor who was an homosexual – “pls take care of my Tresor” (Brunetto’s work, like a smaller comedy)” Brunetto implores Dante before going back to ruthless punishment. Gay: well, not much acceptable by Medioevo (or by Dante) but the poet shows compassion, love for his master nonetheless, how could he not, he being humane not only stern and austere, ALL very poetic indeed.
    Then we have Cato, Virgil and all the classic figures, AND we have the splendid German Manfredi

    biondo era e bello e di gentile aspetto
    ma l’un dei cigli un colpo avea diviso

    – the list is endless.

    Pagan (—> pre-humanistic) Dante was, and Christian.

    Due to such powerful contrast (among many others) poetry springs out in purest form, and Dante certainly is a man of BIG passion but also very RATIONAL indeed, not to be forgotten he being the mystical engineer of his masterpiece, Paradise:

    Vergine madre, figlia di tuo figlio,
    umile e alta più che creatura,
    termine fisso d’etterno consiglio ..

    tu se’ colei che l’umana natura
    nobilitasti sì
    , che ‘l suo fattore
    non disdegnò di farsi sua fattura.

    Nel ventre tuo si raccese l’amore,
    per lo cui caldo ne l’etterna pace
    così è germinato questo fiore.

    (it is the WONDERFUL FLOWER of Paradiso)

    One has to wonder why the most beautiful prayer in the Comedy is dedicated to Madonna, Mary, and why is she so central in Catholic Christianity. And why the hell Italians like mamma mia so much?
    It is because – my opinion – she is central in our paganism too.

    She is the Roman Magna Mater, Gaia, Rhea, Cybele, Μήτηρ Ὀρεία, Artemis, Diana … different names, but same thing in short. (see *my post on this* here)

    By the way, GOOD (life, joy, compassion, warmth) is portrayed by Dante much better than EVIL (death, sin, Satan: Dante’s Satan is darn disappointing)– while in Milton it is quite the contrary, Satan is the best character, which is definitely revealing , in my view, of two very different cultures indeed!

    I being half protestant (culturally only: and I did outing recently) am asking:

    do Protestants (like my father a bit was) really love life, joy and people? Maybe a bit, but only a little bit since they tend to love only what doesn’t give joy to people (and to themselves), to like what is not pleasurable, they loving renouncing so much, and disliking – u said this once – people who simply have fun.

    Big digression, I know Chérie, but it was fun 😉 Such rant tho hopefully giving me a break from Orphism (and other Mysteries)

    You say:

    I am not sure why Cato figures so prominently in this Cantica [Purgatorio].

    Well, Dante, plus almost all antiquity (plus much later all republicans vs kings’ autocracy etc) ever ever revered Cato Uticensis, iconic moral figure who fights for liberty against tyranny (Julius Caesar), and who commits suicide as a true stoic does when obliged by necessity (see Seneca, Petronius, Lucan etc.).

    I wrote a post on *stoic noble suicide* plus another of an *entire Roman legion* committing mass suicide* instead fo surrendering to the Germans (in the discussion *I ask readers* the horrible dilemma of who died better, Hitler or Mussolini)

    Digressing again lol 🙂

    So Cato, with his stern morality is placed by Dante as guardian of Purgatorio, the purification-from-sin place par excellence, like Ganges is for 70 million Indians who are now flocking there to cleanse their souls via that sacred water.

    Cato’s presentation by Dante is both 1. suave and 2. severe, two important things of Purgatory. Plus it is profound, beautiful: he is the stoic wise man, the sage so revered by the Romans, like a deus in terris, and Virgil is the trait-d’union between the two (Dante’s poetic mentor: ‘or sei tu quel Virgilio e quella fonte / che spargi di parlar si largo fiume? / Risposi io lui con vergognosa fronte: Virgilius seen like a fountain of wisdom diffusing his majestic river of words …. ). Getting back to Cato’s presentation by Dante:

    Vidi presso di me un veglio solo,
    degno di tanta reverenza in vista,
    che più non dee a padre alcun figliuolo. 33

    Lunga la barba e di pel bianco mista
    portava, a’ suoi capelli simigliante,
    de’ quai cadeva al petto doppia lista. 36

    Li raggi de le quattro luci sante
    fregiavan sì la sua faccia di lume,
    ch’i’ ‘l vedea come ‘l sol fosse davante. 39

    When Cato gets angry because Dante and Virgilio are so out of place there, Virgil in fact explains all and then defends Dante and esorta (exorts? ) Catone with highly noble lines (referred to both Dante and Cato)

    Or ti piaccia gradir la sua venuta:
    libertà va cercando, ch’è sì cara, (ie Dante)
    come sa chi per lei vita rifiuta. (ie Cato) 72

  7. Cheri says:

    I will study your words and comment after I think about what you have written. I will also follow your links.

    Ringraziarla per la sua generosità intellettuali e per il tempo!

    Is this correct in Italian?

    My tutor in Florence was a Dante scholar. A good looking young Italian guy ( I probably had a crush on him…) who had a Phd. in Dante from Yale…

    I felt like an idiot.

  8. Man of Roma says:

    You are so far from an idiot, and you are so bright, and fascinating.

    90% right, here one would say:

    Vorrei ringraziarla per la sua generosità intellettuale e per il tempo

  9. The Sci-Fi Fanatic says:

    : ) I don’t know Cheri. Maybe I should be more productive sometimes. ha.

    I do enjoy life. I don’t think I enjoy it too much. I don’t think it’s possible to over appreciate it. I do sometimes feel I’m a bit like Pooh over in the Hundred Acre Woods laying in the grass passing the time. The Tao Of Pooh is a good book.

    But yes, I like these places you mention in your post. The East Coast has them too. I like knowing they are there and I like thinking about the fact they will hopefully be there when I am gone. They are special. Thanks again.

    I will go back to read the wonderful comments that are always visited upon Notes From Around The Block.

  10. Kathy says:

    You deserve the break. Our rain has turned into snow…it’s about time! haha

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