Tomorrow (28 October) marks the ten-year anniversary of a nasty incident that shaped much of my adult life.
The day still permeates the calendar, though some what it caused has subsided. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to address the case personally.
At the end of a recent conversation with a trusted friend, a thought crept into my head from years ago – days of naivety, characterised by crackpot ideas and instability.
“It’s like…”, I paused, fumbling for two inauspicious coins in my pocket. “One of these is a circle of need, the other a circle of asset love.”
I could talk more easily about many other matters, but this one felt so embarrassing. Why does the past so often bring about shame?
Perhaps as a more closed person now, a reminder of times defined by the sort of committed openness that wields vulnerability feels like a reopening of old wounds.
This analogy of circles, a personal philosophy for me back earlier in the decade, was something that went right to the core of my being.
I left the conversation feeling vulnerable, which was strangely reassuring. The danger in becoming stoic is that it makes a return to sentiment surprisingly challenging.
I am glad for Renaissance support for my circle appreciation.
George Puttenham’s The Arte of English Poesie (1589) considers the suitability of geometric shapes for literary form (or ‘proportion poetical’, as he terms it):
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.
With this in mind, it is impossible not to recall John Donne’s A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning with its central conceit of twin compasses and its self-reflexive 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 completion. 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]