Howard Nemerov, Runes (Poem)

Stanza XV

To watch water, to watch running water
Is to know a secret, seeing the twisted rope
Of runnels on the hillside, the small freshets
Leaping and limping down the tilted field
In April’s light, the green, grave and opaque
Swirl in the millpond where the current slides
To be combed and carded silver at the fall:
It is a secret. Or it is not to know
The secret, but to have it in your keeping,
A locked box, Bluebeard’s room, the deathless thing
Which it is death to open. Knowing the secret,
Keeping the secret–the herringbones of light
Ebbing on the beaches, the huge artillery
Of tides–it is not knowing, it is not keeping,
But being the secret hidden from yourself.

Kevin Jolley (Eulogy)

I want to say a few words about Kevin, my brother.

Bear in mind, as I do, a passage of scripture. “For…your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Col 3:3

I cite this passage because I believe each human being to be ultimately a mystery. That does not mean we know nothing of one another, but it does mean that we know only the hither side of one another. The yonder side we do not know. Only God knows us hither and yon.

Kevin was more mysterious than most. But here is what I know: he had an outsized personality that could command a room or a stage. He was ferociously smart. No one was quicker than Kevin. He had a remarkable memory. His musical gifts were prodigious, even gargantuan. He enjoyed the attention and the accolades music brought him, no doubt. But in the end he cared about the music: he cared about getting it right. He cared deeply about the standards internal to the music. He cared about the standards imposed by his instrument, the guitar. He listened intently to the music and to his guitar, always trying to coax as much of the former as he could from the latter. He was a highly skilled artist.

He was also big-hearted. He hated suffering, and sought to end or soothe it whenever he confronted it. He was able to adjust on the fly to the people around him, family, friends, other musicians and, most notably, the patients he nursed, old or young, able or disabled. He laughed big; he laughed without ceasing. He had an insatiable appetite for life.

I admired his gifts and loved him. He sometimes exasperated me, sometimes infuriated me, as brothers do brothers. But I loved him. No one like him will replace him. No one is like him.


Sorrow and Joy

Mists on the Rivers


It’s been a joy to have known David Kangas. It is with sorrow that I learn he has died.

He was an exceptionally good Kierkegaard scholar, and read Melville’s late poetry, too. A student of his and good friend, Aaron Simmons, has written a moving tribute.

In 2012 when he first found out that he had Stage 4 cancer, [David] emailed his good friend Martin Kavka and said this:

“First off, ‘stage 4’ cancer, which is what I have, is by definition incurable. So treatments are a matter of buying time. How much time is, of course, unknowable by anyone. I’ll take whatever becomes available. . . . Existentially, I consider myself fortunate to have never believed the human condition was ‘curable’ (the professional opinion of a philosopher which I couldn’t resist telling the doc). Nor, thankfully, have I ever put much credence in the techno-pragmatic complexes of our culture…

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Florovsky on the Apocalyptic Struggle

It is precisely because we are already engaged in the apocalyptic struggle that we are called upon to do work as theologians. Our task is to oppose the atheistic and anti-God attitude, which surrounds us like a viscosity, with a responsible and conscious profession of Christian truth… Unbelieving knowledge of Christianity is not objective knowledge, but rather some kind of anti-theology. There is in it so much passion, at times blind, often obscure and malignant… Here again, theology is called not only to judge, but also to heal. It is necessary to enter into this world of doubt, illusion and lies, in order to answer doubt as well as reproach. But we must enter into this world with the sign of the Cross in our heart and the name of Jesus in our spirit, because this is a world of mystical wanderings, where everything is fragmentalized, decomposed and refracted as it were through a set of mirrors.

Terrence Malick on Heidegger on the World

Where Heidegger talks about “world” he will often appear to be talking about a pervasive interpretation or point of view which we bring to the things of the world. This, in any case, has been the view of many commentators. But there is little sense in speaking of “a point of view” here since precisely what Heidegger wants to indicate with the concept is that none other is possible. And there is no more sense in speaking of an interpretation when, instead of an interpretation, the “world” is meant to be that which can keep us from seeing, or force us to see, that what we have is one. Heidegger’s concept is quite like Kierkegaard’s “sphere of existence” and Wittgenstein’s “form of life,” and, as with them, it enters his inquiry only at its limits, when a problem moves out of his depth, or jurisdiction.

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