A Comic Vision of
Great Constancy
Stories about Unlocking the Wisdom of Everyman
A Reading of “The Knight’s Tale”
and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

My Life for the Present

To be a living soul…
It has been passing through
Down from Father,
From Mother,
From the breath
That fills Creation…
Again we wake
In the breath
That passes through
To lift the breast with life,
That passes on
To release
Once more
To the source
Of breath
And life
And all that is.

The Divine Comedy of Dante’s Homecoming: The Beginning of La Vita Nuova

Part One: A Return to the Source
The beginning of Dante’s relationship with Beatrice in La Vita Nuova coincides with that time of year when the sun returns to his birth day. His relationship with Beatrice, he intimates, will guide him to the source of life. La Divina Comedia finishes the story that opens with La Vita Nuova. Like Homer in The Odyssey Dante’s epic poem tells a story about a homecoming.
He recognizes in Beatrice a transcendent beauty which calls him to her. It awakens “the vital spirit, which dwells in the inmost depths of the heart.” The story begins … [read more]

On Wisdom, Revelation, and Looking with the Eyes: A Letter to My Sister’s Friend, Flemming Rutledge

Part One: Introduction
And the country proverb known,
That everyman should take his own
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Naught shall go ill;
The man will have his mare again and all shall be well.
(A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act III, Scene 2)
Dear Reverend Rutledge,
On the 22nd of August Sally sent me Help My Unbelief for my 70th birthday. It was shortly before she planned to visit you, and it occurred to her that I’d find it of interest. I’ve now read the book, and I’m most grateful for her thoughtfulness. Her gift is the reason I’m writing, but I take … [read more]

A Letter On Incommensurate World Views From Me to a Scientist

Dear Reader,
I wrote the following letter to my brother, David Griesinger. As far as I’m concerned, he and I represent quite concretely the two worlds that I write about in the body of the letter. I don’t have to imagine the relationship of the two; I have lived it with my brother.
He went to Harvard as an undergraduate and eventually earned a doctorate there in physics. From early childhood he had a passionate interest in music and sound reproduction, and this has been the focus of his professional life. David has worked on the acoustics of concert halls all over … [read more]

A Correction

I’ve put Claude Lorrain’s painting on the cover of A Comic Vision of Self-Government mainly because it’s beautiful. I hoped it would arrest a reader’s attention as it did mine. I originally found it online with the title “The Return of Odysseus.” After the hardcover book had already been printed, I discovered that the Louvre Museum, which owns the painting, uses “Odysseus Returns Chryseis to her Father” as the title, an incident which appears in Book One of The Illiad. The story I tell about the painting in the first paragraph of the Epilogue is referring to an incident … [read more]

Homecoming and Why It Matters

Part One: Does Not Wisdom Call Out?
Enough with Critical Theory run amuck! Let’s have something like a spirit week, a homecoming for the home team, for the Best of the West. Though the players play for the West, they come from all over the world, and they play for people of all colors, races, religions, ages, genders, sizes, and abilities. No wonder there’s homecoming in high school. It’s a notion with deep roots in our culture, and its true meaning has little to do with tribal, parochial loyalties. This homecoming celebrates the play of human beings in the world.
Homecoming is … [read more]

A Comic Vision in India

In January of 2015 my wife and I traveled to India for the first time. It’s one thing to stand in awe before the spellbinding beauty of the Taj. We have done that with other buildings in other places. It’s something else altogether to see thousands of people, mile after mile after mile, living along the roadsides in India. The experience turns our Western ideas of poverty to dust and ashes. Along with the shock of it, though, was a sense that, quite apart from how we might feel about what we were seeing, we were witnessing a functioning, albeit … [read more]

About Naples

     Naples Central School was a wonderful place to work. I am so grateful for the support I have received—both when I was actively teaching and now that I’ve written a book about the experience—from students, their parents, and colleagues. This is why my inaugural entry is “About Naples.”
    Naples is a small town four miles south of Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. It grew up in a valley around Naples Creek, one of the best trout streams in the region. For many years I coached the 7th and 8th grade … [read more]