Aristotle finds God in minutia. In the study of nature, and life. Query the columns and examine the cells, says Aristotle. “God is in the details.”

Augustine ensconces God. Particulates him. Moves God to His own scope, His own key-value pairs. Then Augustine does his best to turn off the analogue of life. Maybe this says as much about life in North Africa at the time than anything else, but whatever else it says, this idea of God as Foreign City also takes hold.

Abelard tries, but it’s Thomas Aquinas who pulls off the feat of showing us life beyond this travel brochure describing a city nobody’s ever seen. Aquinas: Rotund. Lover of life, knowledge, ideas, good eats. He brings us back to Aristotle. He asks, why not inquire? Why shun the world we live in, just because heaven is in our dreams? If God made everything, then both cities are his anyway and so why not, while we’re alive, discover all that we can?

Finally, Alighieri. What a philosopher starts, a poet finishes. Aquinas asks the question, Dante gives us the answer. It’s Dante who – according to the inspiration for these thoughts Charles Van Dorenfinishes the Middle Ages. By synthesizing the best of the past fifteen hundred years of thought, and using those prior ideas like bricks to build the path we all would like to find.

Imported From France

Zombie Runner, 8:58AM. Three of us out front. Waiting, annoyed, at this coffee shop that doesn’t open until 9. The nerve –

Finally inside. A recording of the Goldberg Variations on the stereo. And the macchiato is their own take on espresso, Northern Italian if I know my coffee, with a dollop of milk. In a paper cup. And on the sidewalk, I take it. The coffee and the Bach like syrup for my soul.

Sitting, sipping, breathing, thinking, I am in Paris again.

“A law unto yourself” is what I say to myself.

Apart from any passing eyes, seeing this street – Cal Ave – as mine. My property and domain. The civilization which surrounds me, on my bench, with my paper demitasse, my macchiato, my space, my place.


Walking back from the park. Looking at the oak trees with their rumpled leaves from last summer still clinging to the branches. Last year’s models. Last year’s girls.

Since I was looking up, I noticed a palm in a neighbor’s yard that I hadn’t noticed before. A gorgeous, fat-trunked palm. Beautifully appropriated, balanced, with a thick trunk and wonderful fronds that said Hawaii, that said Fiji, that said Tahiti.

And then I noticed the grapefruit, dangling in another tree. Reaching in to the leaves, I found a big one. Plucked it from the tree. Carrying it home, tossing it, like a boy might a softball, I started to notice the waxy substance on my fingers, and to smell that citrus perfume.

January In California

Sunny this afternoon. Out for a walk, Palo Alto surprised me. Feeling the warmth on my arms and face. January 8. Reminded me of San Diego. In the pool, swimming. The day after Christmas. The day after New Years. Texting or tweeting to friends in Chicago, to friends in D.C.

Walking around downtown Palo Alto today. White blossoms on a tree. January in California.