When I was young, probably in college, I’d occasionally hear a person talking about this or that luminary, describing them as a “Rhodes Scholar.” My lack of awareness at the time meant that I’d only ever heard the phrase, not seen it spelled out. I had no idea. In my adventurous young mind, I heard it always as Rogue Scholar, and that turned itself into something I longed to be. Was it some sort of philosophical pirate? An intellectual outlaw? How did one arrive at an occupation or a moment where ‘actual’ scholars began describing one as a rogue of same? There was an implied concurrence that such a person was, indeed, learned, an expert— but somehow off the beaten path, or got to it by some unknown route. Delicious. Intriguing.
I realize it all sounds rather silly, but the idea has never disappeared from my mind; it has percolated in the recesses. In retrospect, I’m sure I knew it was my own fiction, but I was loathe to lose or destroy the whim. It’s probably still what I want to be when I grow up. Perhaps, if I ever found a grant for creatives, recipients thereof will be known as Rogue Scholars™. (The title alone will act as the first phase of weeding, of triangulating appropriates* for the honor.)
*Ha! That’s an appropriation of an inappropriate word. Maybe appropirates.
My subconscious has been working on a thesis for me lately; broadcasting things which on the surface (flattened and simplified by my waking mind) appear disparate, but on closer inspection are stitched together by a continuous thread.
Its thesis is about crafting sensible (or at least legible, recognizable) solutions, guides,codes to amorphous and unformed problems. Striving to find concrete solutions to riddles or puzzles only hinted at. Trying to map a place whose geography and even location is ever-shifting.
A reminder that, sometimes, the answers one wants or needs are unattainable because one is asking the wrong questions. It’s telegraphing this to me visually; that’s how I best understand the world. And the message coming through: I must widen my frame of reference, my view, in order to ask the right questions.
‘Maps for cephalopods’ is perhaps the most obvious— my subconscious’ version of hitting me over the head; a wry attempt at a movie-montage or voice-over exposition— and its point at least two-fold;
Right now, after a very highheat index day (that’s how we talk about hot, humid days now), there’s a thunderstorm happening outside in the dark.
I missed the first hour of it. When I arrived home I took the day’s second shower, and then dinner. The air conditioning has been on, and music— distractions. So I’ve had only the barest awareness of this summer storm.
But the record just ended, and I let it end (though it’s not even really a record, but a stream, a subscription, which is how we talk about music now).
I let it end and the thunder sounds big and powerful, like the things we used to know from stories.
I love the things we used to know from stories, and I want to bring them back. Stories are the reason we ever made it this far— as individuals, and as a species. Stories are powerful, like thunder and lightning.
(A summer storm sounds like the world existing, as it does, with or without us.)
You guys, let me tell you that life in the Big City is just one crazy adventure after another, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Why, this very afternoon, some crazy, impromptu shit went down! Or rather, came down, I should say.
I was weekend-chillin’ in my apartment when I heard an alarming sound from the kitchen, followed by a second, even more elaborate sound. And like a fine wine, that second sound had a long finish—of pebbles bouncing on the floor, a trailing off kind of sound.
The crunch of gravel underfoot; incline. Sun coming in low and glaring off every harbor-facing pane of the buildings on the other side of the park. Cold. Empty playground today, and no leaves remain on the trees. I can see the harbor through the naked branches and the shining points of the city beyond neighboring rooftops out the kitchen windows.
A pigeon jaunts his way across the payment.
I saw the park pristine in late morning; no boots had trod to mar the blank white field. It’s nearly the solstice, then the days will edge toward longer ones again. I’ve put the bike up for the season.