If the paradigm shift can be forgiven, this is a nervous return to the world of thought. (Perhaps I mean sentiment). The impersonal neoclassicist yields to the romantic.
It has something to do with the temporal. Tomorrow morning (28th) marks the ten year anniversary of a nasty incident that shaped much of what I have become in this decade. Aside from the day permeating the calendar, the causes no longer reach me with their unexplained darkness. For the effects, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to address the case personally.
I’m also grateful for new avenues, having moved to London; it has opened my mind to boxes locked by embarrassment. At the end of a long conversation with someone I trust unendingly, the thought just crept into my head. “It’s like…” I reached into my pocket and found two inauspicious copper coins, one of which became a circle of need, the other of asset love. A glimpse of the days of naivety, characterised by little crackpot ideas and crackpot instability.
What startled me was that I could talk stoically about other matters, but this was so difficult. Why does the past so often bring about shame?
As a more closed person by nature now, perhaps the reminders of times defined by openness – commited openness, the kind that wields vulnerability and elasticity of response – feel like a reopening of old wounds. This analogy of circles, a philosophy for me back earlier in the decade, was something from the exposed core of my being.
I left the conversation feeling vulnerable, which was, paradoxically, reassuring. I have spent a lot of time working on mental safety and security. It has been the defence strategy, but the danger is to not feel enough. That makes a return to sentiment more challenging than it seems.
I am glad for Renaissance support for my circle appreciation. George Puttenham’s The Arte of English Poesie (1589) considers the properties of gemetric shapes in terms of ‘proportion poetical’:
The most excellent of all the figures Geometrical is the round for his many perfections. First because he is even & smooth, without any angle, or interruption, most voluble and apt to turn, and to continue motion, which is the author of life: [he] … for his ample capacity doth resemble the world or universe, & for his indefiniteness hauing no special place of beginning nor end, beareth a similitude with God and eternity. This figure hath three principal parts in his nature and use much considerable: the circle, the beam, and the center. The circle is his largest compass or circumference: the center is his middle and indivisible point: the beam is a line stretching directly from the circle to the center, & contrariwise from the center to the circle. By this description our maker may fashion his metre in Roundel, either with the circumference, and that is circlewise, or from the circumference, that is, like a beame, or by the circumference, and that is ouerthwart and dyametrally from one side of the circle to the other.
With this in mind, it is impossible not to recall John Donne’s A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning with its paramount conceit of twin compasses, and it’s self-reflexive compositional ending:
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.
To reach full circle is always to return. To achieve full circle must be a form of harmony. I source early modern literature in hope this week. Circles return – as time returns – to an incident that has had telling influence since October 1999. I do not expect a valediction, nor an absence of mourning, but I would like to find something to celebrate about this event in the hope that it wielded a moderately decent human being at the end of it all.
[He who knows does not speak
He who speaks does not know
And I go round in circles]