online: 23 april 2004
modified: 30 april 2004

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23 april 2004 visible/invisible

11:32 This is the first decade of the 21st century and here I am free and able to spend a summer morning walking beneath trees and by ponds - and now sitting before a spacious view of the hills of North London and of the sky and small clouds beyond them ... yet shocked, this morning by a sudden appearance of white hair - and of rings of blue-grey skin round my eyes... is it sudden ageing, and lack of sleep (I was awake in the night for several hours*).

As I sat by the 2nd pond 4 swans took off from the next pond and flew over the fence to reach this one. One was an adult and the other 3 still have brown feathers and may have only just learnt to fly. I've never seen all of them flying together before. How, I wonder, did they decide to fly off simultaneously, and in formation, and which swan, if any, gave the signal? I suspect that such questions of the visible forms of nature are not fully answered by scientific study - which nowadays seems to look mainly at the microstructure and very little at the visible forms (that attracted Goethe, for instance).

As I walked today in the morning sunshine I made several notes on paper (I don't find it possible to write on the handheld while walking or standing):

the first warmth, and scents, of summer ... water lily leaves already surfaced ... a first butterfly ... a tall woman, old but notably upright, is singing quietly as she walks with swinging legs and a determined confident presence .... the radio tower, now with many new antennae, stands so upright against the blue sky, I see it as a most perfect embodiment of modern spirit, no longer celebrated

As I sat writing a woman walked slowly by while reading a book... I've seldom seen people doing that and I feel encouraged by the sight of such power in that seemingly frail and abstract but thoughtful link between writer and reader - though I wonder at the loss of attention to one's surroundings.

*I was reading, fascinated, a description of Plato's Republic by its translator Desmond Lee (Penguin Books, London, revised edition 1974). I seem to be changing my mind about Plato - no longer seeing his writing as dualistic, but extensive and beautiful.

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