The Enormous Room
I first heard this phrase spoken at a lecture at Bennington College, more than 50 years ago. I did not hear another word of this lecture, except to dimly know that it was about a book by e e cummings. The walls and the ceilings of the old carriage barn, the ‘room’ of this lecture, dissolved and I found myself in a vast space, alone and with others, who sat in attentive rows, their faces lifted toward the speaker. I knew the enormous room: this world, this universe, this infinite and eternal space wherein I found myself, knowing nothing.
I have spent the rest of my life in this enormous room, sometimes decorating the walls, sometimes erecting a tent in which to huddle, terrified, sometimes as an anthropologist observing and analyzing the behavior of the others who swirl around me.
Jesus is in this room, Buddha, Mohammed, Lao Tzu… Maps have been made and these maps are worshipped. Small rooms are erected, within which people pretend that nothing else exists. Wars, symphonies, forests, dinner parties, festivals, foreclosures, stock markets, farmers markets, the massacre of children, vast tomes, oceans, the auctioning of guns and chamber pots, elections, selections, educations, prisons, cathedrals, insurance policies, covered bridges, hospitals, boats, plots of marigolds….
I forgive everyone. I forgive myself. Within this enormous room, who is to blame for anything?
Vast tumbleweeds of thought dance and crash.