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nanowrimo 2010


Diary of a Blind Madman

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Under an old tin roof
nanowrimo 2010

I slept last night and again today while it rained heavily and the wind whipped up a storm outside. Rumbles of thunder and distant lightning seemed to make me sleep better.

I am reminded of a single instance in my childhood when I was perhaps eight or nine years old. At that age, I rode every day. I was wild for horses. We had five, two for riding and the others just farm horses. Mine was a great white stallion some fifteen hands high with the unprepossessing name of "Whitey". It's too bad the romantic little kid didn't get to name the horses. Or maybe it's just as well, there are too many Silver Star's and Midnight's in the world now.

I remember coming in just after lunch for a quiet trot down by the water just as a real downpour started.

We kept the horses in the "new" stable, the one that was "modernized" back about 1880 it was only about one hundred years old. The "old" stable was every bit of a hundred years older and still in use as a hay barn.

The "new" stable had a tin roof — a real innovation for that time and place and that neighbourhood. I handed Whitey to Jules who always groomed him and headed for the door to make a dash to the house. The rain was already pouring and the thunder was pounding closer with every rumble. When I turned around Jules was already brushing Whitey. He winked at me, gestured toward the loft, and said, "You'd just as well go play". I was forbidden to play in the loft by myself, as it was not all that solid and rather high up. But like all children that age I was a climber. I disdained the ladder and practically flew up the boards nailed to one of the pillars as sort of ersatz ladder. In the loft I climbed about on the bales of hay stored there and explored old junk that seems to gravitate to such places then, tired from my ride lay down and napped under the tin roof. It was an uncommonly satisfying nap. I don't think there is any sound quite like rain on a tin roof. The gentle shower becomes pattering cymbals and a storm becomes cacophonous. So many sounds from one surface makes you wonder if there's not something transcendental that happens when water hits tin. Sheeting rain sounds for all the world like someone shaking gravel in a tin can. Thunder slams you with pressure you can feel in your chest and you can see the sheet of tin bow under the pressure of the sound (even though it doesn't really). Lying there beneath a myriad of sounds more mixed than the odors of a restaurant kitchen I fell asleep and dreamed of riding in the sunshine and all the while the storm sent sounds washing over me like crashing waves.

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(Deleted comment)

Thank you. I relish the compliment.

On a somewhat technical note, It has been my observation that when you try to describe sounds or smells, words can be very evocative as long as there is commonality between reader and writer. When trying to describe action or more concrete subjects the commonality is not as essential. The more abstract the topic, the more subtext seems to be required. I think the reason that my note rings a bell with people is that it is very rich in subtext.

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I'm familiar with that view of learning, but I don't think that covers it. Commonality is an essential for communication (explain to a dolphin that a radio tower is the finished dream of an engineer or that a structural diagram is part of it then ask the dolphin to intuit a human being from that) but as for learning, I think it is as often a handicap as an asset.

One of the things that makes most people's learning process so fraught with error and hardship is the tendency to liken incorrectly the thing being learned to something already in their experience. Commonality, common experience, lends assistance to the process of appehension, but not to the processes of correlation and intuition. Thus, I think words are apt descriptors/expressors of that which is not words but that the reverse (things not words as descriptors/expressors of words) is not true. So it is easy for me to communicate to you in words the sound I heard or the emotion I felt because it requires apprehension and we possess the commonality for you to pseudo-experience (apprehend) the sound. I could not, however, easily communicate to you in words that which is necessary for you to precisely reproduce the sound (that would require another medium, that of diagrams or mathematics rather than words) and would depend less on apprehension than on correlation and intuition.

Wasn't that just dry as dust?

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(Deleted comment)
Again, I thank you and relish the compliment. I seem to be in that sort of mood of late.

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