Archive for February 7th, 2010

Porch wisdom

Pierce’s comment that he had no one living to take his place has haunted me. After his death, his great words and movement lost the coherence he had given it. One reason for this may have been that Pierce was TOO brilliant. He would have been dissatisfied with anyone because no one had the breadth of knowledge he had.

I am an old man with experience to relate, knowledge to share, a Porch Talker. All of us raised with the Porch Talkers were given what young people SHOULD be given, a non-nonsense world view, a Way of Thinking. Grandpa never told us he was a hero like the Greatest Generation or what we had to believe to be Real Men. Grandpa never claimed to be as brilliant as Dr. Pierce REALLY WAS.

Old Grandpa used to say…” never end with a point of absolute Doctrine. And he did not give us that overworked capitalized term, Wisdom. He gave us the real thing, the small-lettered wisdom.

Porch wisdom was not aimed at What You Youngsters Should Be. It was not What You Youngsters Should Believe. It was little bits of practical mental experience that can be used by a priest or an atheist, a doctor or lawyer or Indian Chief. In fact it was the kind of real wisdom that put the Indian chiefs out of business while they spouted Ancient Wisdom.

For that we were supposed to go to the Preacher on Sunday. The Preacher was boring and he got us there by force. We listened to porch talk with pleasure. I remember when I had an exam coming and I had to study my books while I could hear the talk going on when an old guy was visiting. It was torture! I wanted to be out there so BAD!

As a commenter notes, porch wisdom consist of “This is how I did it right and this is how I did it wrong.” No self-righteous Mommy Professor demanding you adhere to The Line.

In fact, I can tell WHICH old man’s porch talk my family is quoting without their giving the name. He had a consistency there, as clear as the Preacher or Mommy Professor, but it was not how to Avoid Damnation or Mommy Professor’s constant theme of How Great the World Would Be IF Me and My Fellow Idealists and Intellectuals ruled the World.

You certainly can’t identify a particular preacher or Mommy Professor by quoting him. Mommy Professors all say the same thing and the Preacher always says something that clearly came from a Pulpit, and not just on religious matters.

But Porch Talk IS consistent. The old man has a worldview, or, less grandiosely, he has a tested idea of WHAT WORKS. His stories range around a whole lifetime, but if you listen, the VIEW is consistent, which is why we can tell WHICH old man said it.

And each of them left a LEGACY, not a set of carbon copies.