A Tale of Two Summers

22 September 2010


It was the best of summers, it was the worst of summers, it was the summer of wisdom, it was the summer of foolishness, it was the summer of belief, it was the summer of incredulity, it was the summer of Light, it was the summer of Darkness, it was the June of hope, it was the September of despair, I had everything before me, I had nothing before me, I was going direct to Heaven, I was going direct the other way — in short, the summer was so far like the present season, that I insist on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

After Charles Dickens is finished spinning in his grave, I hope that his shade will forgive me for that. But I do feel that it was a summer of contrasts, even if not superlative in every degree. And now it is over.

According to the U. S. Naval Observatory website, the autumnal equinox for 2010 occurs Wednesday 22 September at 11:09 PM EDT, which means that it will be 8:09 PM PDT for those of us on the west coast of North America, which means that in true time, not the fake and artificial time of DST, the autumnal equinox will occur at 7:09 PM (DST is, in itself, evidence of the tolerance for phoniness in contemporary life). By most accounts, Thursday 23 September will be the first day of fall, making today the last day of summer (or both are today, depending on how you count it).

I will spare the reader the travails of my personal life, being incidental and wholly without interest in relation to anything that I have written here, but some of the events of the summer had a very direct bearing upon the content of this forum. Actually, technically, it was just before the summer started, on the 12th of June, that my computer was stolen as I was walking in Tryon Park in Lake Oswego. This event alone has changed my life, and changed it for the worse. It is, without question, the worst thing that has happened to me in my adult life. My backups to my computer file were in the bag with the computer, so I lost a year’s worth of writing. I haven’t even had the heart to go back to the manuscripts that I was working on at the time to see what I could make of them from older versions, where I had older versions. As though in a puff of smoke, three nearly completed manuscripts that I had planned to publish this year were gone.

What was I to do? Well, what choice did I have but to go on? And, despite the loss, I generated a lot of new ideas this summer. I lost my notebooks of ideas at the same time, to the same theft, as well as all of my pictures of Argentina, but I started new notebooks and I think I had a pretty fertile summer in terms of ideas. Some of these ideas will be showing up in this forum as I refine them to the point at which they can be seen by others. For the time being, they remain my “secret garden” of ideas, as Nietzsche described his efforts in the opening to On the Genealogy of Morals.

Portland had a lot of nice weather this summer, lots of sun but not many days with oppressive heat. Recent transplants to Oregon thought it was a wet and dreary summer, but really it was quite a nice summer as Oregon summers go. I can remember many summers during my childhood when it absolutely poured on the Fourth of July. So, yes, we get rain here in the summer, but we also get a reasonable share of sun. And although I didn’t get to the beach as much as I like to during the summer, because we had a good amount of sun I did get to do a good amount of swimming.

Upon returning from Norway last fall I wrote about the Two Lives that one experiences — the life of travel and leisure, and the life of labor and toil. Often it happens that we live these two lives simultaneously, and so we toil during the day (for those on the conventional schedule of western business enterprises) and take our leisure during the evening. Sometimes the two lives are lived in series, and sometimes they are lived in parallel. Thus my tale of two summers is a tale of two summers lived in parallel: the summer I would like to forget but cannot wish away, and the summer that I hope I will remember but which has already begun to fade. Both were the summer of 2010.

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