Round about Midnight (A List of Six)

  1. Despite spending big chunks of my day nodding off & fighting the drowsiness caused by pain medication, I always seem to be wide awake at midnight.
  2. I usually have two audiobooks on my iPhone, one fiction, the other non-fiction. Right now, I’ve got Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture & Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion (fourth volume of The Baroque Cycle).
  3. Wide awake but too tired to do any coherent writing, I can sometimes revise a poem, or a few lines of a poem & sometimes my mind drifts far enough sideways that something interesting happens in the language.
  4. Or sometimes I just surf YouTube for old favorites or oddities. Stealer’s Wheel, “Stuck in the Middle with You.”
  5. I have been making a series of drawings done after all the lights are out. I lie on my back with a small sketchpad on my stomach & draw with a black marker. Sometimes I draw a subject, other times just a rhythm or bodily feeling.
  6. Occasionally, Oliver, who likes to sleep down by my feet will inexplicably decide to creep up and nestle between my arm & torso, laying his head on my shoulder. Then we both sigh & after that I almost always fall asleep.

 

 

Schopenhauer the Bad Buddhist (Like Me)

Jim Holt, in his new book, Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story:

Schopenhauer himself hardly practiced the pessimistic asceticism he preached: he was fond of the pleasures of the table; enjoyed many sensual affairs; was quarrelsome, greedy, and obsessed with his fame. He also kept a poodle named Atma–Sanskrit for “world soul.”

At least my terriers don’t have pretentious names. (Jett, Dash, & Candy, since you ask. And since they are all rescues, they came to us with those names already given.)

A Calm Dog in the Old Quarter

Took a walk around the Old Quarter yesterday evening. Lots of dogs, as I noted earlier, but this one struck me by his self-possession. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but he’s sitting in a narrow alley where motorbikes regularly whizzed by six inches from his nose while he practiced a Buddhist sort of equanimity. Perhaps some old bodhisattva radiating peace & quite in a noisy city.

Dog in Hanoi
A calm dog in an alley in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.

Wealth

Vietnam is a much wealthier country than when I began coming here fifteen years ago. Not just more cars, but more Lexus & Mercedes. There is unequal distribution of this new wealth, which is certainly not unique to Vietnam, but one mark of the increased wealth of the middle and working class is the increase in well cared for pet dogs. From the pug riding the motorcycle and the pom wearing little shoes to protect its feet from the hot pavement to the intelligent shepherd-mix sitting at the entrance of a shop, dogs are everywhere.