July is a time of vast peregrination. Thalia is yet traveling; the attorneys at the office come and go to their various destinations; and I have now returned from a week in the South, where I had the privilege of standing up with a couple of college friends as they pledged their troth to each other.
‘Twas a curious week. I swam in the Atlantic for the first time in eight years; got terribly sunburned on leaving the water; hung about with another college friend and her 9-month-old son; drank mix-based pina coladas and sweet tea; assembled wedding favors; ate the best pulled pork I’ve ever had in my life, courtesy of the bride’s father; stayed with a family of orchid-growers; and finally toasted the bride and groom, sending them off in a whirl of blazing sparklers.
Returning to one’s normal life after a fairly idle week is a bit like returning to shore after swimming; it takes awhile to shake the water from one’s ears and carry on walking normally. I tried to keep my brain engaged by reading: first, the Etymologicon of my dear Inky Fool; then Agatha Christie’s The Postern Gate (not her best, I’m sad to say); then E. O. Wilson’s Consilience.
This last isn’t the sort of book I pick up on a whim. Wendell Berry analyzed and criticized it in Life is a Miracle, so it seemed a good plan to read the original book (now some 14 years old, but not necessarily outdated). Thus far, it alternates between being spot-on and light-years off-target; when Wilson describes how scientists operate, he is describing those processes with which he is most intimately acquainted, but his understanding of the arts seems truncated at best.
I’m only partway through it at the moment, so I’m not yet able to comment on all of Wilson’s premises. But evidently his examination of various phenomena takes him from biological processes involved in dreaming to kinetic theory to explaining human consciousness and emotion in terms of brain activity to, finally, the connection between the genes within and the culture without. The last chapter discusses that self-replicating, mutating unit of behavior, style, or ideas: the meme.
All of which is an elaborate excuse for me to send you to this year-old but still amusing post on the Honeye Badgere ond Other Grete Wondirs…because no matter how tired an internet meme becomes, Chaucerian spelling will liven it right up.