I’ve just received a dissertation from Columbia on weather. LeAnn Holland takes up Thoreau, Bugbee, and my own attempts to explore connections we have to others and the world — connections that are not knowledge connections. Non-knowledge bonds include sympathy, intimacy, love, and, it now occurs to me, rapport. Michael Polanyi titled his big book, Personal Knowledge, but that’s a misnomer. It should have been Personal Rapport, or “Intimacy,” as in Lost Intimacy in American Thought.
When I drive by tidal flats, neither mine nor yours, and am impressed yet again by their quiet dignity and quietude — their slow arrival and departure, oblivious to the news of the day or to the souls, troubled or settled, of viewers — I’m reminded of my favored sense of mystery. It’s not something we haven’t yet understood intellectually, a puzzle yet to be solved, but the presence of something speaking to us, and speaking of that which we never tire of, and that which will greet us again and again with its allure, unendingly – an infinite, elemental source of the infinite and elemenal that holds us in its thrall, like the advance and retreat of the tides.
I will have to study LeAnn’s “philosophy of weather.” We are both close and distant to weather, its bracings and embracings. Weather reports give us data to file in knowledge banks, but reports give us nothing of its felt-presence, its surprise or allure, annoyance or blessing. And on given days, its mystery.