Thursday, December 08, 2011

Idée d’jour

Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason.
— Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate (1869-1951)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Idée d’jour

It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver.
— Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Prayer & Commerce

Went to hear Miss Brown To You perform at Wings of Desire a combo salon, art gallery, and vintage furniture shop on Hudson, just south of NW 23rd. It's run by Patricia Lee Russell. Mireille Damicone, one of the artists was also there. Mireille creates large floral canvases, jewelry, and icons.

So, Patti and I were sitting in two salon chairs by the sink, and Mireille was sitting on a bench across from us. Patti asked Mireille, "Have you prayed today?" "Everyday."

"Would you pray for me?" Mireille nodded yes.

Patti joined Mireille on the bench and they clasped hands as they faced each other. I didn't know what to do. It felt like an intimate and private moment. The Spirit lead me to close my eyes and join my heart with their prayer. Mireille's words were soft, indistinct.

My heart burned as if on the road to Damascus. I felt blessed.

This was during the performance, so none of the patrons were aware of this private moment. No particular creed or belief system was imposed on anyone. Just a private moment of prayer, where two or three were gathered.

I was reminded of a similar incident years ago, when I lived in Norman. Tony's Top Drawer, a vintage & used clothing shop, was in downtown Norman. It was the best source of quality inexpensive duds. It was a frequent destination on Saturdays after payday, when I needed to supplement my wardrobe.

I was shopping there one Saturday when a group of people came in. The owners of the shop gathered around this group and prayed over them. Business stopped for this moment of prayer. Turned out, this group of people was going on a mission trip, and were friends of the owners.

As I paid for my selections, I let the owners know how much I admired them for that moment of prayer.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Idée d’jour

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramon Jimenez, poet, Nobel Prize in literature (1881-1958)

Monday, September 05, 2011

I am from ...

I am from red dirt & hard clay

I come from his whiskey breath
& her menthol teat

I am from Nat King Cole
& Johnny Mathis

I come from fire
Her backdraft roar
his dry ice burn

I am from the belt &
the slap

I am the twisted lip,
twisted at birth

I come from playground taunts
I was formed by the pack's wisdom

I come from Dickens & Holden Caufield
from Miller & Kerouac

I am from suburban dreams & nightmares
I am from mowed grass & yellowed lawns
I am from this city, this county, this state

It's where I'm coming from

Inspired by this

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Idée d’jour

Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much of life. So aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
— Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Idée d’jour

All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.
— Kabir, reformer, poet (late 15th century)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sites To See

I've finally updated the "Sites to See" section in the left-hand column. The blogroll service I had subscribed to folded some time last year, and I lost all the links that used to be over there.

It seems to me that most of the folk I used to follow via their blogs have now migrated to Facebook. In fact, my own posting has dropped off dramatically, partially due to my energies being focused on Twitter and Facebook.

I'll add more sites to the list as I rediscover them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mrs. Lady

One of my electives in high school was Drama. I had taken Speech in junior high, and we staged a few dramas, which was my favorite part of the class.

Most people called our drama teacher Mrs. Lady. As I recall, she had earned that nickname when she had taught in a predomninantly African-American school in Arkansas. Padre told me that “Lady” was a title of respect - as in “Lady Day” (Billy Holiday).

One of Mrs. Lady's first assignments for us was to keep a journal. I used that journal to write poetry. I may have copied a few poems I'd already written just to fill out the journal.

I'd recently started writing poetry prior to enrolling in high school. You see, someone close to me attempted suicide the summer between junior and senior high. She slit her wrists — with the grain, so to speak — and I was the first to find her.

I dealt with this trauma in two ways — one healthy & acceptable, the other not so much. The healthy coping skill was writing poetry — fairly typical mediocre high school poetry, with the distiction of having blood-soaked imagery. The other was imitative in nature.

I was not sent to the guidance counselor. I was not sent to a therapist. I was going to school with my arms wrapped in blood-stained tissue, but only my fellow students asked what was going on. I lied, of course.

That journal for Mrs. Lady was my therapy.

I still remember the first time Mrs. Lady returned my journal. I had signed my poem "jac". She wrote “Are you ‘Jac’? This is very good!” I felt like I'd received a dozen gold stars.

Mrs. Lady was extremely supportive of my poetry. She sent me to a regional contest to read my own poetry (under the nom de plume Jacques Bijou). I did not place, but I treasured the fact that she believed that strongly in my writing.

Drama was in the early afternoon. Sometimes, if Mrs. Lady was having a bad day, a girl would say something like “I think Lady would really appreciate a poem written by you today.” I would dash something off, and get it delivered to her somehow.

I don't know if those poems made any difference to her. But thinking they did helped me feel pretty special.

It may seem overly dramatic to say Mrs. Lady saved my life. But I'm still here, almost 30 years later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Idée d’jour

One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. — Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer (1917-2008)

This quote was commended to me by Brother Dave.

The quote begs the question of what we mean by "morality". I suppose "morality" to be a set of commonly accepts principles a society agrees to live by. The best known is the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Or to freely translate Hippocrates: “First do harm.”

And though we naturally mistrust "situational ethics", we have come to accept "situational morality". For example, it's immoral for an individual to lie or misrepresent his/her qualifications. It's not only moral for a corporation to lie, it's expected. It's expected business practice. It's also expected that politicians and their supporters exaggerate and lie. If a mailer goes out with the wrong date for an election, it's not immoral. It's not even gross incompetence. It's a typo.

Sir Arthur's quote also begs the question of what we mean by "religion". I suppose it to mean a set of codes, liturgies, rites, and rules intended to aid our relationship with the divine. Buddhism does not necessarily include divinity, but it is still a religion, with its very own variant on the Golden Rule. If we accept my definition of religion, it would of necessity include teachings about morality. I believe "religion" in this sense precedes humanist or existentialist morality.

What I suppose Sir Arthur meant is that religion has never fully lived up to the moral codes it promotes. An obvious example is the pederasty scandals in the RC church. The extreme wealth of most main-stream churches has been a scandal since at least the time of St. Francis. All I can say, is human organizations have human failings, often enlarged by the size of the organization. This is no excuse.

We all must have code we can live by, as Graham Nash said. If we're radically truthful with ourselves we know we will often fail to fulfill the highest aspirations of that code. Yet, we keep trying. With luck, we improve.

A basic application of the Golden Rule is that we forgive the failings of others as we would like to be forgiven.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Democracy's Response to Terrorism

Norway's prime minister [Stoltenberg] struck a defiant tone Wednesday, saying the response to twin attacks that have rocked his country will be "more democracy."...

Stoltenberg said that extremist views are legitimate in a democracy but implementing them violently is not.
Or, to quote the Sage of Baltimore (H.L. Mencken): "The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy."
HT Brother Dave

By the way, it's terrorism regardless of who commits the act. Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist, as was the white nutjob who flew a plane into a Federal Center in Texas sometime last year.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Idée d'jour

We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny. The most alarming spectacle today is not the spectacle of the atomic bomb in an unfederated world, it is the spectacle of the Americans beginning to accept the device of loyalty oaths and witchhunts, beginning to call anybody they don't like a Communist.
- E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)
This would apply today to the label "liberal". When, exactly, did "liberal" become the new "Communist"?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Zen

People think of Zen as mystical, inscrutable. Pretty strange. But the basic idea behind Zen is simple: We experience the world through a filter of expectations and preconceptions built up over the course of our lives. As a result, we fail to see the world as it really is. With the help of a program of morality, meditation, and mindfulness, we can overcome this veil of delusion and see through to our own true nature. We can learn to see the world directly and our own place in it.

Simple, isn’t it?
— Brian Haycock, Dharma Road: A Short Cab Ride to Self Discovery

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Selections from a 30 year-old letter

Vera -
I hear there's hard times coming. There's a bad moon on the rise. It's a hard rain that's going to fall. And it all boils down to weird scenes inside the gold mind.

Voici les temps des Assasins

With those words, the aspect of the complex is entirely altered. The walls have changed colors. The guard dogs in the pillars have been calmed. The eerie voices which once permeated our consciousness are no more. Yet the Black Empire persists. The Muzac Life never ended. In fact, we might say that it has just begun.

Already, the hints of the days to come are everywhere. The books are feverish. The windows wake up each morning with a soft moist film. It's not dew — it's morning halitosis. And thus we see the rumors of a meaningful universe persist.

But all this is beside the point. No matter where you look, everything is changing...

An handful are seeking the Ultimate, but fewer are studying the process. The pilgrim so rarely realizes that the study of the process can help him/her avoid past errors. So many pilgrims already know what they're looking for: it's that signpost labeled the "The Ultimate" or "Enlightenment" just over the horizon; but they don't know how to find it. A list of potential errors may be found in Everyman, Pilgrim's Progress, or the life of Timothy Leary....

I have been studying mysticism, the Gnostic Gospels, and the life of Wm Blake to discern the errors I must avoid, as well to seek which path might be applicable to my life. Once we uncover the proper path, we may break out of the Muzac Life and find Life Everlasting here in this Vale of Tears.

And so on.

It has been written: "Blessed is the man who has suffered & found life." (Gospel of Thomas, 43, VII-XI). It is such as these who have discovered the Holy Ghost within themselves & have found paradise on Earth... That's the story of the Muzac Life — how we can go beyond our sufferings.

Must be the sad love songs on the radio that make me ramble on so....

Because we're looking in the face of the mystery of a cold weather front.
Because Flood Street is one long detour from Main to Robinson.
Because every other day has been Indian Summer.
Because the grass has mono.

Maybe you're wondering where all this came from. This has been written under the influence of a low-grade fever while sitting in the complex's warehouse. This letter acknowledges the possibility of clear day warnings....

'Til then, have good times & beware lizards bearing gifts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Some of Dharma

Some of Dharma is true.
Well, Dharma is true, but he's in disguise.
Dharma wears a jester disguise.
Dharma is your kid brother
who wants to move into your spare room
just until he gets back on his feet.

Some of Dharma is faithful.
Well, Dharma is faithful, but she's flirtatious.
Dharma is your ex-wife
who you never did understand.
She's more than fresh coffee and rumbled sheets.
Her hands define wheat waves on the dance floor.

Some of Dharma is real;
the rest is fiction.
Dharma is a city with Kerouac dreams
and Cassady days.
Dharma is your new lover.
Dharma is a steward flying over the Pacific.
Dharma is ready to pounce.

Some of Dharma is true, but it's disguised.
Dharma likes to play the jester.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Idée d’jour

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
— Chinese Proverb