|The long-distance runner. Phoenix Park, March, 2012|
At this stage I have published some 1001 posts according to Blogspot - no mean achievement in itself, I suppose. Blogging has now become an addiction for me, like it has for millions of others out there in the blogosphere. Through its medium we have instant publication of our views and access to a certain audience. Some people blog on politics because they feel so strongly about certain issues, and they believe that by highlighting them they may be able to further their cause. This, indeed, is a noble pursuit. We all like to feel we can effect change in our immediate surroundings at least, if not at a more countrywide or national level.
Others write simply to express themselves. Still others to find themselves. Others still on a hobby which they may have from beekeeping to bus-spotting. Indeed, I know people who blog on each of these issues. Furthermore, others blog on subjects ranging from all the various sciences, to literatures from various countries to religious beliefs and none. There are family blogs and art blogs and blogs full of wonderful pictures. Indeed, the Internet has allowed many of us to pursue our various hobbies on a virtual as well as on a more real or practical level through books and other physical activities.
It was, indeed, by absolute chance that I stumbled upon Blogspot. I have been a student of one subject or another for most of my life, and indeed it seems like I have been a student since the first dawn of my consciousness of the wonder of things about me. Philosophy begins with wonder, according to Plato and Aristotle. Yet Plato and Aristotle did not expand a great deal on what precisely they meant by wonder.
Yet these two great Greek philosophers were so right. When we become hooked on wonder, with respect to whatever interest we may have, there then begins a wonderful engagement with life. In short, I believe that's what the function of wonder is - its function is to allow us engage with life and that means that we fall passionately in love with life in se or in itself.
Wonder has a role in all the sciences - not just in the creative arts or humanities. Who can look at the starry skies above and not be overcome by the mystery of the frightening expanse of space and the sheer insignificant size of our little world, not to mind the sheer insignificance of the ant-like thinking creature I am among the many billions of my number on this oh so small planet moving (with or without purpose) through space?
Philosophy seeks to give more general answers to our most basic questions. Theology proposes specific answers and the philosopher or scientist in us might want to engage with the proposed answers suggested by religion. There again, we might not. Still the engagement is an option. And as humans options and choices are values we have long fought so hard for.
|Cyclist, Phoenix Park, March 2012|
This blog has become, in reality, a sort of Commonplace Book for me. Originally, such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator's particular interests. I had always kept diaries and journals and notebooks and had always written notes into them. Therefore, when I discovered the idea of a Blog in April 2005, I realised that I now had an interesting way of keeping my Commonplace Book on line. In other words, then, it didn't matter at all initially whether I got followers or not because its main function was personal, but never private.
I had seen many Commonplace Books over my career in teaching and studying and was always intrigued by the vast range of interests of various authors from Coleridge to our own fine novelist, poet and playwright Gerald Griffin (1803 – 1840) who became a Christian Brother. I had seen the original of Griffin's Commonplace Book in O'Connell School, North Richmond Street as a young pupil at that school.
Over the years I have had many articles published in various journals both in the Irish and English languages, for example, Studies, Issues in Education, The Secondary Teacher, Doctrine and Life, The Furrow, Céide, Iris Leabhar Mhá Nuad and latterly An Gael. However, blogging is far more interesting than writing for these various journals ands magazines as one gets instant access to publication and indeed to a readership, and indeed to various responses to what one writes.
As I say in the blurb accompanying this blog, my purpose is simply expressed as being serendipitous, if random, thoughts and reflections of an autobiographical/spiritual/philosophical/literary/linguistic bent on the nature of my experiences of what life is for this single human being trying to make some little sense of it. Whether that has been achieved or not is perhaps for me to say rather than any of my readership, given its personal provenance and aims. Still, if others have found any of its reflections interesting or thought-provoking I am enriched all the more.
And so, having broken the thousand mark with respect to posts, I have reached a sort of viewing point, a sort of plateau from which I can view my circuitous ascent to this present spot. The thought I have is not about the possible reaching of the (distant) summit, but rather it centres on the struggles I now engage in on the journey ever upward. If I ever reach the top, this physical heart will have stopped beating, my lifeblood shall have ceased coursing through my body, my mind shall have been stilled and my little consciousness absorbed into the very stuff of the universe from whose bourne and embrace it once emerged.