Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Rebellion Against the Tyranny of Content 2

B&c and I have returned from a very pleasant weekend in Rehoboth. What was expected to be a uniformly dreary weekend turned out to be warm but not hot, and periods of rain and full sun interrupted the mostly pleasantly cloudy weather. My Republican friends were not even especially troublesome: they seem to have accepted that their chances in the November election are not very good, and much of the fight had gone out of them even before we arrived. So there were good times and good food and, above all, there was remarkable light.

B&c is more of a beach person than I am, but I did go for two lengthy walks on the beach: one on Saturday late afternoon, near sundown, and one midday Sunday. I was, on both occasions, borne away by the light, the sand, and the loud surf. It is amazing how much more pleasant Rehoboth is when the crowds have deserted it. And when the heat has largely dissipated.

The Republicans didn't join us on either walk. For them it seems that there is no currency associated with the beach when the crowds aren't there. It saddens me that places like Rehoboth have become reflections of currency. They are popular because there is so much to do there, particularly in the summer. My friends there are overrun with guests during the summer because everyone wants to sit on Poodle Beach and frequent the gay bars, and the constant question is "What are we doing?" People who don't understand that the value of being at the ocean is the ability not to have to do anything don't deserve the ocean. After all, you can do things more easily in the city: better to leave the ocean to those of us who can be alone with our thoughts without feeling lonely.

In any case, the irregular backdrop of the crashing surf and the sometimes regular rhythm of walking along the beach combine to create the opportunity for wordless profundity. I reckon that some people can create wordless profundity wherever they are, but I find it very helpful to have something like an uncrowded beach suffused by remarkable light. And very helpful to have a place where there is so much detail to notice when I feel like it, and an inchoate roar and a great expanse of water to disappear into when the tyranny of content threatens to overwhelm.

B&c thinks that it would be nice to rent a place at Rehoboth for a week in late September, and I'm sure that would be pleasant. I think, though, that I'd prefer to find a place that's somewhat more remote and rent it for a week in late June or early July, so that I could take the kids along. Maybe I'll do that next year. I'm sure I'd be out for long walks every morning and then again from just before to long after sundown. It pays to take and create opportunities for wordless profundity wherever and whenever possible.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures. They should all get bigger, sometimes much, when you click on them.

Also, I should report that Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being may very well be the perfect book to read on a trip to the beach.


A Lewis said...

Beaches are my favorite places in the off season. In silence. In peacefulness. No frivolity.

Jason said...

"Also, I should report that Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being may very well be the perfect book to read on a trip to the beach."
How so?

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

On one level, it's perfect for the beach because it's written in a way that demands intermittent rather than sustained attention. You can read one or two of the (very short) chapters, then put it down and come back later, and you won't have missed anything.

On another level, it's a very layered and self-consciously layered book. There's a compelling surface story, but there's a great deal that lies beneath, so it responds well to a profound environment.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that you had a chance to visit and enjoy Rehoboth's beach during the off season. As mush as I enjoy the energy of the crowds during the summer months, spending time on the beach in late september & early october is special.

come back anytime!
Charles from RB