Friday, October 07, 2011

Some flowers for Larry Clark


Some flowers for Larry Clark this morning, a bouquet gathered with the camera along a fence row in late summer that contains goldenrod --- since that’s what we were talking about a couple of weeks ago, me parked on a stool in the work room at Clark’s Greenhouse & Gifts, Larry working with red roses, Janet with a mixed bouquet in a green vase containing the florist equivalent of these golden spikes.

Mine were free for the taking; theirs, imported and somewhat more expensive but less likely to make the recipient sneeze.

I’ve always thought it would be pleasant to live and work surrounded by flowers, which is what Larry, who died at 72 early yesterday in a Des Moines hospital after a brief and irreversible illness, did --- since he and Janet took over operations of the business I first knew as Ambelang’s during the mid-1970s.

Larry started teaching in Russell, I believe, the year after I graduated from high school there, then taught in Chariton for many years, too. We had served together on the Chariton Historic Preservation Commission (he far longer than I). Janet is a White, from out there in Cedar Township, sister to Helen, half-sister to Lucille. And I regularly dispatch house plants with either too much or too little attention. So there’s always been plenty to talk about --- and replacement plants to buy.

This is a small place where nearly everyone is tied together by one thread or another, so Martin, another Commission member, will be helping with arrangements (still incomplete) at Pierschbacher Funeral Home.

Death is such a natural, yet peculiar thing --- knocking the earth entirely out of balance for those intimately involved, shading the nature of days, too, for those on the edge, full of sympathy but with little practical to do.

Remember “Carpe diem,” the phrase from Horace translated as “seize the day” and repeated so often some years ago (including on inspirational plaques and bumper stickers) that it became annoying? Not bad advice, however, and perhaps the only practical and most respectful thing to do.

+++

Apple’s Steve Jobs died, too, this week --- at 56, an original thinker and innovator who changed the world in some ways. I happened upon a little essay by Elizabeth Drescher that recalled Umberto Eco’s musing some years ago about the religious nature of Mcintosh vs. DOS.

“I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant,” begins the quote that Drescher plucked from Eco’s writings.

"Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach — if not the kingdom of Heaven — the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

"DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment."

That seemed especially relevant early yesterday morning as I was sitting here isolated and tormented before my Protestant PC dealing with a minor but pesky virus. In the distance I heard, “get a Mac next time.”

1 comment:

Question Authority. said...

Just found your blog by searching for the obituary for Mr. Clark, who was a good teacher. I liked going to his class! Now that I work in a middle school, I appreciate the connection kids can make with their teachers. Thanks for this blog about Lucas County! I will be checking in regularly to see what the what is in Chariton.