7.14.2016

Journal, May 22, 1976 PM

What a homebody I have been today. I went shopping this morning, and must have spent 17-18 Colones, but I have enough stuff to last me all week, I think. I made some salad dressing this noon, another lifetime first, and had some for supper (not bad!). I feel like I’m really becoming a cook because I looked at a recipe in a book, left a couple things out & added a couple more. I fried up the yuca in vegetable oil for lunch. <It came out surprisingly good, but not quite as good as what I’ve had at Sofia’s & Pilar’s.> But for a first try, stupendous!

I played homebody, as I say, all afternoon. I wrote 3 letters (Mary, Jan, home), read some Claudia Lars, the “Prensa Grafica” {local daily newspaper} and “Scientific American”. I continued reading after supper (meat loaf balls & a super salad, with my dressing), and have been left in a pensive mood, considering the ultimate insignificance of my life, and the futility of striving. Look at the great minds - Galileo, Da Vinci, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, John Maxwell, Einstein (How many others?). They saw beyond the accepted model of the universe in their times, and yet the average highschool youngster today can get a better understanding of the physical universe (at least on an intuitive level) than any of them achieved before they died. And when you’re dead that’s it for this particular set of gray matter with its complex cross circuits and unique waves! Se acab√≥! {It’s over!}

All one puny human can hope for is to increment the body of knowledge (be it a millimeter or a country mile), and hope that that corporate entity somehow survives. Survives what? And for how long? Hope against hope.

But is it necessary to make science, surrogate religion? Science is fascinating to do & read about. I find myself excited about this socioeconomic study of the upper Lempa valley, the problems foreseen, possible techniques to overcome them, etc., etc. I get immense pleasure from reading about the latest theory of the composition of Jupiter’s 4 biggest moons, or the mechanics of the Jovian atmosphere, or the ingenious new instruments and techniques which made possible the observations which have led to the theories. Discovery, from learning to walk, to trying to conquer death, and all those “eureka” moments in between, has to be the basic driving force behind scientific man.

A person should hedge though, I’ve come to believe. I was a true believer in social science until I got deep enough into it to see what I now feel are its inherent limitations. The constantly evolving social context, for example, in which technology is so integral a part. I may find physics at its depths no less limited. The way to hedge is to put some thought and effort into your day-to-day life. Try to “marry well”, raise children “right” and do the little things around your home “que le da la gana” {that you feel like doing}. What to hell, chances are infinity to one you’ll never understand the universe, even if you arrive at the point where you think you do!

I made a mental note while on the bus today, coming back from the market, to enter in this journal a special phenomenon. That is the existence of indigent (usually blind) guitarists who enter a San Salvador city bus at one point in a route, play a song or two for the passengers, pass to the back of the bus collecting coins in a hat or container, get off the bus & wait for the next one to repeat the process. They are often grotesque looking individuals (dirty, missing teeth, stunted, stuped), but invariably deft guitar players. Those I’ve heard have not had fine voices, but have made up in emotionality what they lacked in smoothness & clarity. It’s a job for them. They are not beggars and they have a certain air of professional pride about them. I happened to be on the bus with such artists on both my trip into San Salvador {from Santa Tecla} & my return trip.

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