Tuesday, January 26, 2016


The Lesson is a video 
I made a while ago based on my 1992 construction of the same name.
Gnarled Oak is the excellent online literary journal edited by James Brush.
That those two have connected is my reason for joy today and I raise a glass of orange juice (alcohol being bad for flu) in celebration.

If it's permissible to love some of one's own work (and if it's not permissible I don't care) then I truly love The Lesson and if there was a fire I would probably grab it before jumping out of the window and trust naively that we would both not end up smashed to smithereens.

The subsequent video was fun to make and I'd like to experiment with other versions at some point. But the point is that The Lesson summarises what is essentially my outlook on life: not forgetting to be amazed.

This is not a happy-clappy wishy-washy cliché but solidly based on my own experience. I must define what I mean by amazement, in case I'm misinterpreted as somebody who lavishes the word indiscriminately on anything and everything, in the same way that the words "incredible' or "awesome" are flung about, unstoppable showers of confetti littering the environment.

What I mean is the realisation, sometimes sudden, of the magnificent and also scary un-graspable reality of life, the universe and everything. Yes that is a cliché, but how else to say that often, standing on the corner waiting for a bus, for example, I look at  the pavement beneath my feet and realise - actually real..alise that I'm standing on a sphere spinning around in unimaginably deep dark space and, if that is not enough to be amazed about, this miniscule dot which is "me" is also, in reality, a cluster of unimaginably small whirling atoms which, unimaginably, are also conscious of being "me": this small cluster of DNA, memories, history, ancestors etc. and yes, I'm aware of the theories, spiritual or materialist, about existence or non-existence of the self, the ego, the universe etc. but please, right now, I'm just focusing on the amazement which fills me from head to foot in such moments, and in so very many others, when ordinary life is perceived as absolutely extraordinary and all the explanations, whether from a scientific, spiritual, philosophical or aesthetic perspective are just not enough for me. They're just hay-coloured needles in a multicoloured haystack.

Rolling around in that haystack is what I mean by not forgetting to be amazed.


Catalyst said...


Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

I'm happy to amze you, Bruce.

Beth said...

Your capacity for amazement is one of the qualities I most love about you, dear Natalie! And I totally agree. But I also want to say that you underestimate what a good writer you are. I loved this post, and your colorful choices of words, and your humor.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beth, your capacity for generous appreciation is one of the many qualities I cherish about you and it feels like a ray of sunshine on a dark winter day when I'm on the receiving end. Thank you, my friend.

Bruce, I've just noticed that an "a" got lost in my reply to you. Here is a shiny, fresh new one to replace it: "a"