Saturday, September 24, 2005

Musings at the end of a long week

Musings at the end of a long week Boy, am I tired! Tá tuirse an domhain orm. We have just completed one month back at “the chalk face”! We started back earlier than most schools – Thursday the 25th of August to be precise. By so doing were able to plan our schemes of work for the coming academic year and also to take 2 extra days around the 8th of December coming. A group of us teachers are heading to Munich for a long weekend. We will take in the German Christmas markets and other cultural sights, making Dachau concentration camp a key item on our itinerary. That’s a “must” that visit – after all we study history so that we will never repeat the mistakes of the past! At least that’s the theory anyway. I bought some books by one of my favourite authors today – namely A.C. Grayling – The Meaning of Things, The Reason of Things, The Heart of Things and The Wisdom of Things. Four beautifully produced books. I simply could not resist the temptation. Grayling is a very fine philosopher and cultural commentator and is worth reading again and again for his insights, and for both the depth and breadth of his knowledge and understanding. In an article in one of the above books he writes about the aesthetics of Nazism, how Hitler had a very sophisticated if narrow, authoritarian and brutally stunted view of the beautiful. Anything outside the classical 19th century German art Hitler dubbed as “degenerate”, distorted and “unfinished.” Both Hitler and Goering were fanatical art collectors and literally robbed all the galleries of Europe of their art collections. Those paintings they did not like or thought of as garish and “degenerate” they, of course, did not destroy, but rather sold on to foreign interested parties. And this, strangely enough, or maybe understandably enough, was also to serve the maniacal dreams of a madman who sought to dominate the world and exterminate a whole race. Hitler’s whole understanding of art and music, architecture and town planning were all aspects of his drive to power and control. His aesthetics and ethics all derived from this delusional sense of his own power, from the crass projections of his own inflated ego. Read Grayling – he’s brilliant! Then read anything you can get your hands on by Primo Levi who spent time in the hellhole of Auschwitz. The n read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl who spent years at another concentration camp, namely Dachau. Frankl was a world-renowned psychiatrist who wrote this famous book in his mind over the period of his incarceration. When he was eventually liberated he was able to write it down from memory. It was in the Dachau camp that he invented his own school of psychotherapy called “logotherapy”, namely that the most fundamental urge in any human being is his search for meaning. Anyway, I had a brilliant day at school. I interviewed about 35 of my charges in TY about their work placements and how they were getting on in fourth year. Then I substituted for another teacher in the Repeat Leaving Cert year. They are all wonderful young people setting out on life – full of dreams and hopes. I told them they were brave and courageous to be repeating, and that if they really wanted something badly enough they’d achieve it. Ba cheart agus ba chóir dom na smaointe seo a chríochnú as Gaeilge. Tagann seanfhocal tábhachtach chun mo chuimhne – “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí; cáin an óige agus críonfaidh sí; buail sa tóin í agus titfidh sí!” Dairíre píre tá gaois agus eagna sna línte sin. Is iad na daoine óga na múinteorí, na h-altraí, na dochtúirí agus na ceardaithe den todhchaí atá os ár gcomhair amach. Nuair a bheimidne sean, caite agus spíonta – is iadsan a bheidh ag tabhairt aire dhúinn. Dia libh a dhaoine óga. Bíodh dóchas agaibh. Tá bhur saol romhaibh amach agus ní gá ach dul i ngleic leis agus greim muinéil a fháil air. Mar a deir an seanfhocal Laidine “Carpe diem” nó “Seize the day!” Tugaigí aire dá chéile go dtí go mbuailfimid le cheile Dé Luain seo chugainn. Le grá agus le meas mór, TQ.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Significant or Insignificant

Significant or Insignificant?

Just mere dots,

Difficult to grasp
These infinite spaces
By beautiful geometry.

Another beautiful mind
Attached to a brittle body.
All these beautiful minds
That reach out to those indifferent
Places and spaces,
That attempt to throw
Equations like threads
To move great boulders.

And the images flow free –
The universe, you see, is
Like a great sponge
With all those interconnecting
Empty holes
And then all that dark matter
In between.

Galaxies fly apart,
Yet the centre holds.
All will wind down and out
Into a cold nothingness
When all light goes out
Aeons and aeons and aeons hence.

Just mere dots
On the infinite spacial multidimensional plane,
Insignificant worms maybe –
Yet how wonderful the mystery,
How wonderful the minds that
Play such beautiful games –
That compose such great symphonies

Of symbol upon symbol
Laden with the lightness of great meanings.
Insignificant worms on a soil
So significant, that we grew
To a consciousness of such
Mystery and beauty
That we dance still with enthusiasm
That one day,
One day,
We may understand.

Just mere dots,