Would you believe that I once opposed educational television because it might interfere with the kids' school work, diverting their attention from school?
Boy, was I ever wrong, as I realized soon enough when my little girl started learning her numbers, colors and words long before she started school, or even pre-school. Soon she'd fallen in love with Big Bird and the rest of "Sesame Street's" full cast of characters.
She was learning not just what she would need in school and out but some human sympathy, even and especially for Oscar the Grouch ("I love trash"), who soon became my own favorite character. E-TV, it turned out, wasn't just for kids. It gave a dad permission to let his inner misanthrope out for an hour a day, and even revel in being a packrat. Just like Oscar.
Educational television wasn't my only miscall over the years. There were so many it's not easy to pick the worst one. Maybe it was backing
It was Reagan who set the stage for one of the longest peacetime economic expansions on record, not to mention the end of the Evil Empire and with it the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race that had hung over the world like a dark cloud for decades. Not bad for a president who was once dismissed by one of
I was reminded of all that when watching the educational channel the other night (there's something about Doc Martin I can't resist) and up came a special on
Profane spaces have their resonances worth respecting, preserving and refining, too, as
The most mundane objects have their poetics, too, as anyone who has a favorite coffee cup or sugar bowl well knows, treasuring the way it fits into the hand or memory. Mine is a spoon that was accidentally caught in the Disposall when my now grown-up daughter came down to prepare a
"Objects that are cherished in this way really are born of an intimate light, and they attain to a higher degree of reality than indifferent objects, or those that are defined by geometric reality. For they produce a new reality of being, and they take their place not only in an order but in a community of order. From one object in a room to another, housewifely care weaves the ties that unite a very ancient past to the new epoch. The housewife awakens furniture that was asleep."
Such objects no longer belong to us but we to them. As artist-architects like
But each of us tends to be captive to the spirit -- or spiritlessness -- of our own times, as if each generation is locked into its own elevator in time, unable to escape its all-pervading assumptions and habits of mind. Those of us who fancy ourselves the freest of the spirit of our time may be most in thrall to it -- as this review of where I went wrong shows. My opinions, it turns out, were not so new or groundbreaking as I had proudly thought. And that's where I may have gone most wrong.