Headline, November 09 2021/ ''' '' FLOWERS -BEAUTY- FLOWERS '' '''


 FLOWERS '' '''

STUDENTS AND PHILOSOPHERS should have more flowers, I think, as should everyone. Especially in these darkening days in the ongoing slog of the pandemic, a little beauty is not something to dismiss as frivolous.

WE NEED BEAUTY as much as light and air, sometimes more. For weeks, the dahlias have opened luxuriously in the sun, reminders of immodesty and the glorious dawn of a full face. I wonder what it would be like to be dahlia, to live with such abandon.

I am in the kitchen preparing my graduate seminar on the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas when I come upon a line in his essay '' Totality and Infinity, '' in which he critiques beauty as ''indifference, cold splendor and silence.''

I glance out the window and see a patch of Dahlias I planted last spring. They are wild and leggy now, topping over one another in a riot of pale orange blooms.

Well, Levinas is clearly wrong, I think, and it's just a shame that he didn't have more flowers.

This is only the second year I have planted Dahlias at home. Last year I grew a dark purplish variety -nearly black - amid a bed of red, orange, yellow and fuchsia zinnias from seed packets given as a gift to my daughter on her eighth birthday.

After the last frost, we carefully pressed the flower seeds into the soil and, following the advice of the wise witch Strega Nona from my daughter's storybook, watered them and sang them a song under the full moon.

The dahlias were an after thought. I dug two nubby tubers into the grounds with my bare hands and wished them luck. In late summer they bloomed among the zinnias like inky stones in a fire.

This year, I was a bit more deliberate, ordering eight dahlia bulbs and spacing them far apart enough to survive, knowing more about their expansive nature. It was going well until a friend's puppy dug half of them in July, leaving the soggy and mangled tubers on the patio. But the remaining four pushed on, and in late August they began their annual show.

This year we have only a handful of zinnias, the result of chaotic seed distribution too early in the season [without song or ceremony], but the dahlias make up for it with a seemingless endless parade of bright orange blooms, some as large as a dessert plate.

Flowers don't speak, but despite what Levinas wrote, they are anything but silent. I think of them as a choir in full song, a loud, jubilant and rowdy crew. I've never liked delicate flowers that sit back obediently in their beds. Dahlias and Echinacea are my favorites - flowers with big heads that seem slightly prickly or tenacious, a bit wild.

They appear toward the end of the summer and carry on their ruckus into the fall, the weight of their blooms toppling them over in their fields, Fat bumblebees nest drunkenly in their petals like patrons at a bar long after last call. Even as temperatures shift, leaves fall and we start to feel the cold, the dahlias remain defiantly aglow.

I remember being told by a fellow philosopher that Wallace Stevens always had fresh flowers on his desk while he was writing. Perhaps that's difference between philosophy and poetry, the one pursued in the hard glare of a task light and the other under a canopy of blooms that drift and drop their pollen on the page.

Flowers testify to transience and the impossibility of holding on to beauty for too long, but they are also rugged emblems of resilience and avatars of eternity. Yes, the dahlias wilt almost immediately upon cutting, so I rarely put them in a vase.

But each year, with a little dirt, water and light, a new crop sings again. We lay flowers at headstones and carry them down aisles. We gather them while we may.

There are so many occasions that call for flowers, and almost none that could not be marked or enhanced by a bountiful bouquet. I would have liked to deliver armfuls of dahlias to Levinas, with a handwritten note reading, ''Splendor''.

Cold months are approaching, and my dahlias probably have only another week or so, at the most, before the frost seizes them. After they pass, I will have to prepare my class against a muted palette of grays and browns.

In the meantime, I'll keep glancing over my shoulder as I read my philosophy books, distracted by beauty, plotting next year's garden, letting myself dream of future blooms amid the sober debris of the world.

With most loving dedication To ''The Angelic Future Founder Framers'' of !WOW! and then the world:

Maynah, Maria Basit, Haaniya, Merium, Eden, Mujtaba, Mustafa, Dawood, Ibrahim, Azaan, Saad, and  Sofia and Billions of other darlings. They all thank Professor Megan Craig, Department of Philosophy State University, New York.

See Ya all on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world : wssiw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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