The Door as Metaphor

It really was the biggest decision of my life; I had no idea how she felt about it. A couple hours only to ponder the possible consequences of our looming date. Then it struck me: an axiom had put its thumb on the right hand pan of the scales for too long. I very stupidly had sought balance in praise from the masses. Had I completely lost the elms of my boyhood? Had I left Norton Street forever? Had I forgotten The Book of the Law?
So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will.

Do that, and no other shall say nay.

For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
The only point here is to say: axioms by their very nature are completely artificial, despite the popularity of the Creation Museum in Kentucky. But they seem so real at any given moment, so permanent! I suppose to the Platonist, they really must be engraved in granite, never to alter. Certainly, fixed axioms are the bedrock of society and religions, ever their taint. And so was one of them, to me, for these sixty-some years of my life. While Euclid, alone, may have looked on beauty bare, he would have been ashamed to see me wield his wisdom at cross purposes.

Sometimes one just has to work from first principles. Opening the door on that frosty February afternoon to receive this sphinx was truly an act of ceremonial magick. I noted her black coat; you may take that literally or figuratively, at your pleasure. The door, of course, was a symbol of the heart. I felt certain Oscar and Bertrand and Aleister and Donatien and H. G. and even my father were all beaming up at me; George F. Babbitt, meanwhile, was kicking himself, muttering, "Now why didn't I think of that!"

It's funny when you consider it: the only way to truly love and be loved is to shut out the clamor of others. It's Crowley's old 1+1=0 equation again. Or, did any father ever give such sage advice to a son as Polonius to Laertes?
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
So strange. To find that lover I dreamed of all these years, I had first to look inside. Only then might she appear on the Belgrade stoop.

As Lord Henry summarized it neatly:

When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.
Do you see the Principle of Shifting Principles in that?

In his remarkable speech of November 21, 1963, John F. Kennedy related a story:
"Frank O'Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall--and then they had no choice but to follow them."
To paraphrase Kennedy, I made a sort of New Year's resolution at the start of 2014, for the Chinese New Year especially. I tossed my hat over the wall then and never looked back.

I changed on that day.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I reverted that day. Reverted to the truth sensed a half-century previous, before I allowed society stupidly to tie one hand behind my back. The most beautiful atavism ever. For you see, this woman taught me that the key lay within myself, as I once was, when starting out on the quest for truth.

My door fronts a house in whose backyard once grew an elm, abutting the alley. The tree withered some twenty years previous, I joining it at that time in obsequy. But no more, whatever the cost! (See On Patience.)

Reverted. The first stanza of Shelley's tender poem captures those years of longing:
I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Has led me - who knows how? -
To thy chamber-window, sweet!
 
Taking her place in the burgundy interrogation seat worthy of Sherlock Holmes, I on the sofa which would soon combust, I could finally look, really look, without fear of reprisal. Seeking into that face for the first time that day, I felt freer than I ever had before.

In much the same way that fools misinterpret "Do what thou wilt" to mean "Do what you want," likewise the phrase "free love" has always erroneously connoted profligacy. Far from it, for it truly means to find freedom in love, and freedom to love. We smiled with relief at each other that glorious winter and the import became clear in an instant. With relief.

Do you know the game "Word Ladder" (sometimes called "Doublet") invented by Lewis Carroll? The rules are easy. You start with a word, then change one letter at a time to create a sequence of new words which will lead you to the target. For example, what's the shortest path from COOK to MEAL? I think it might be thus:
COOK
COOT
MOOT
MOAT
MEAT
MEAL
A score of six. Well, should such verbal wordplay intrigue, see how you fare in getting from FREE to LOVE. While there may be shorter solutions, I find the eleven word chain (including the start and conclusion) most appealing. Each of the words appear in this entry, by the way. Which seems fitting.

Incidentally, no great surprise, Carroll was a professional mathematician. And at Oxford. Seems that's the source of so many who have whispered in my ear. But back to our Saturday. 

She said, "I hope I don't disappoint; I'm not much of a conversationalist."

One sentence later in our chat, and we were off to the races and never looked back. See! She had her own ossified axiom to overcome. Like Oedipus, we're all self-blinded. Unlike him, we lucky few find liberation in love.

Who would ever guess that passion would be governed by reductio ad absurdum? Begin with the conclusion, then work backwards to the premises, reach a contradiction, meaning that those premises, supposedly once firm, should be changed after all. Oscar's Lord Henry from The Picture of Dorian Gray would approve. He pouts when not permitted the last word, so:
I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.
Well! He certainly would have liked me when I decided to cast aside the bias of a lifetime that year. I learned a whole hell of a lot and am the richer for it. Rather immodestly, like Lobachevsky, I came to the conclusion that a whole new schemata was required. As mentioned so many times before, this may not be the most facile way to approach life, but I sure as hell don't want to go to dust and lose the game. It's the old inverse of Pascal's Wager. I  became a non-Euclidean then.

It now appears to me that in the world of actions, axiom is nothing more than a highfalutin word for prejudice.

Next installment: At Home

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