For eight days, I am going back in time. I am traveling to the place of my childhood and the company of my parents and grandparents. There will be no cellphones and no Internet.
To all of you wonderful people who have become my blog friends, please check back on July 5. On that date, I will finally have DSL at home, too, after years of dial-up hell, so that will be a glorious day.
Monday, June 25, 2007
For eight days, I am going back in time. I am traveling to the place of my childhood and the company of my parents and grandparents. There will be no cellphones and no Internet.
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 12:48 PM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Warning: Capnolagnia content follows
The last blog on my to-read list this morning consisted of an angry protest about sitting down in the park and having two Women proceed to sit next to this person and light up cigarettes.
Oh, the blogger was mad, mad, mad! How dare they, how come this always happens? She wrote, and Her readers concurred and commiserated.
What a strange world we live in. She curses what I crave. She experiences, and hates, what I long for, and never obtain.
I'm a reasonably well-traveled, non-threatening looking guy. Yet it's been at least a decade or more since any Woman ever sat down near me and lit up a cigarette -- it just doesn't happen. I go every possible place they do with the exception of bars, not being a drinker.
Dear Blogger, I'd trade with You, if only it were possible. We'd both be thrilled.
Only twice in my life do I remember such a blissful moment -- and both were prematurely interrupted. I was a teenager signing up for the military in a Seattle office building, about 1989. I sat down on a bench in the lobby and a lovely brunette sat beside me and took out a cigarette.
My mother had driven me to the place and, being unaware of my odd desire -- She certainly wouldn't have approved anyway -- chose that moment to return from the restroom or wherever She was in the building and take us home.
A few years later, another brunette, dressed in lovely white, sat Herself beside me at the ferry terminal. Again, scarce had Her cigarette left its pack when my grandfather appeared, for I had called to let him know of my arrival and need for a ride home.
Doubt he would have understood if I had said, "Uh, Gramps, can you wait about five minutes until I indulge this absolute moment of ecstasy and the Lady here finishes Her cigarette?"
So, cursing myself by all the epithets I could muster for having made the phone call when I did -- why hadn't I waited just a few damn minutes? -- I followed him to his car and out of the Garden of Eden with the Forbidden Fruit utterly untasted.
So unfair. Life is so very unfair.
The one thing that I hate most about my job is writing speeches for other people.
It just feels so dishonest.
It ought to be illegal.
Presidents, especially, should be required to write their own speeches. I want to hear the thoughts of the guy or Woman that I voted for, not someone else, not some professional ghost.
Sifting through a few more blogs this morning, I've become aware just how very sad most people, at least in blogger world, seem to be.
They denigrate their own physical and mental attributes more devastatingly than the most horrible grade school bully could hope to do.
One blogger I found the other day even entitles Her blog "Stupid Dumb Girl" or something similar.
Beyond blogger world, the number of people who self-medicate, who are on anti-depressants, or who ultimately commit suicide, is just staggering. And horrible, IMHO.
I'm just an average guy. I'm not brilliant but I'm not stupid. I'm not wealthy. My current job exists at the mercy of a budget cut that could come any day. I have certain deep frustrations and sorrows that gnaw at me every now and then.
But nonetheless, I'm not a chronically sad person. I don't hate myself. I don't care much for my currently squishy tummy but the rest of me is quite trim and decent looking, again IMHO.
I find almost everyone around me, with a few exceptions, to be similar or excelling me in intelligence; and even very few people who I would consider physically ugly -- when they are, it's usually because of the selfish life they've lived, not the genes they were born with.
Why can't simple contentment be more common among humankind, at least those who aren't sifting through hot dust for spilled UNICEF rice grains in a refugee camp or trapped in North Korea?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Billions of years ago, a star flung off gas balls that coalesced to form the planets with all their elements.
One planet formed at just the right size to retain an atmosphere of nitrogen, oxygen and other gases.
And then, somewhere in a studio, Sheryl Crow drew a breath of air into Her lungs and sang about Her “favorite mistake.”
I listened to the sounds of Her voice from the radio as I waited at a stoplight. I daydreamed then, about a solitary atom of oxygen.
Born it was, in the elemental explosion and perhaps long ago combined with carbon in some cataclysmic belch from a volcano…then split again by the respiration of an ancient plant to ride the atmosphere once more alone.
Storms twist and convulse and the oxygen atom is drawn back down near to the earth and then comes the moment:
Sheryl breathes, draws it deeply into Her lungs and it rides through Her body like a tiny VIP passenger in a molecular limousine. In a microcosmic flash of energy within some cell of Her system, it combines with a bit of carbon, perhaps from the sugar in Her lunchtime tea, to become the substance of an exhale – a warm, audible exhale that She makes into sweet music.
Polar bears may sue but not even the Kyoto Protocol dared ban respiration, beautiful respiration.
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 3:23 PM
Perhaps this shall be my most controversial post ever. But it’s time for it.
I visited a blog today that is authored by an ordinary, everyday person who happens to be a lesbian as well.
In my own thinking on the subject of human relationships, I began my adult life with the typical naïve disgust towards persons with same-sex attraction that is to be expected from the religious background of my raising. I never, however, countenanced any violence towards them and as I matured, became willing to publicly state that no one should be denied employment or housing based on their sexual orientation.
Now, in my heart I can see no reason, can construct no logical premise, why two people of the same gender should not be allowed to love and be with each other – whether they are two men or two women. The religions that deny this, have only “Because God said so” to fall back upon.
Should they be able to adopt children? Why not? Would languishing in an orphanage be preferable? Does placement with a male-female couple better any odds that the child will not be abused?
However, the one thing, the one thing that still bothers me, is the attitude of some (some, not all) homosexuals – and perhaps it can be explained as the same human reaction as members of other marginalized groups exhibit.
For example, to have coined their own insult for “straights,” as “breeders.” I have heard, and for all I know he could be lying through his teeth, one San Francisco-based commentator, claim to have experienced this and other types of “reverse discrimination” in that city, by its gay population.
If this is true, I would suggest that it does far more harm than good. It is stooping to the level of those who do the same to you.
I carried my pet Venus Fly Trap outside to an anthill for breakfast this morning, and as I watched it feast upon the little beasts, I got to thinking about evolution again.
The fly trap is the most famous of carnivorous plants, but it's not the only one. Sundews catch bugs with sticky droplets, kind of the way little kids trap germs on their grubby paws. Pitcher plants have perfected the art of drowning their prey inside slender vases full of flesh-dissolving enzymes.
These plants all grow in swamps, where the soil is poor and the protein of a bug is a great benefit.
It's easy to see how a pitcher could have evolved from some of the tubular contraptions that some other plants make. Or how some early sundew could have produced its sticky goo in the way that other plants do, such as a catch-fly flower, which hasn't learned to make use of it for making bugs into breakfast.
But, as I posted a while ago about the mosquito, the Venus Fly Trap is another one of those living things that appears to be an evolutionary mystery to me. The whole complicated structure has to work perfectly or the plant gets no meal. Sensitive hairs have to be touched just right by a crawling bug in order to trigger the snap-shut reflex. The leaf has to close completely or the bug will squeeze out and be gone. Then the leaf-trap has to secrete enzymes to digest the bug or the whole scenario is for nothing.
There are plants in the world that close at a touch -- such as a little clover-like thing that grew in the lawn when I lived in Hawaii years ago. So maybe one of those accidentally trapped a bug now and then and thrived on the unexpected protein, becoming more specialized over the eons.
With the world so full of bugs, one might think that Venus Fly Traps would be everywhere. But, surprisingly, they grow only on the East Coast of the U.S., within a few swamps.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I don't lightly link blogs to mine. They have to demonstrate versatility and intelligence, seasoned with humor. I skim through about a dozen blogs a day -- hey, I'm a fast reader, it's a gift -- but only make a link about once a month.
Currently, the two most active blogs on my daily read list are chasemarch and ilovesquishingants. The former is a teacher who not only blogs about that subject, but also about his love of hip hop and other cultural phenomena. The latter is a student of biology, genetics and such, and She blogs about life, love, science, religion and a dozen other subjects.
The blog world can be at times a desert of dullness -- endless baby photos, emo whinings and celebrity gossip. In the blowing sand, the gems are sometimes obscured.
So here's a suggestion to any and all of my readers. Check these two blogs out and add your thoughts to their conversations. Help to abolish unjustified obscurity.
We'll all go away enriched.
I watched the sun “go down” last night, bright as a new copper coin. While I tossed and turned in fitful sleep, hot even with the air conditioner running, earth spun on Her axis, turning to Helios’ glare the Kansas wheat fields, the formidable and chilly Rockies, the Northwest forests.
While I dreamed strange dreams, the sun rose high over the Pacific islands, over the commuters of Tokyo, over China and the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
Now I drive my familiar route to work, squinting through the heat and haze of an East Coast summer morning. Beyond my eastern shoulder, the sun has “returned” and rides high, a god indeed, crucial for life but deadly to mortal gaze. Europe is going to bed now and night is dark and deep over Australia and Arabia.
Ancients pondered the mystery of the sun’s journey, spun intricate tales to account for its drop into the west every night and rebirth in the east every morning.
Now science has the explanation: merely the spinning of the Earth-ball around a hot gas cloud. And we hardly pay any attention anymore.
Monday, June 18, 2007
As I am growing more comfortable with this blog, I am releasing some of my inhibitions. I have that right.
When I began my personal journal back in 1986, I happily capitalized every Feminine pronoun that I wrote, my intimate way of paying homage to Womankind, whose centrality and superiority I recognized even then. I have finally decided to do that in my blog, too, annoying as it may be to some of my readers.
My Female readers may find it a little disconcerting to be addressed as "You" instead of "you," but I hope They will understand. I might suggest that They simply enjoy the compliment.
I am who I am and I make no apologies for my idiosyncracies, just my flaws.
I opened today's edition of our metropolitan newspaper and saw a familiar name.
One of their staff writers now has a regular column in the pages.
I felt an old stab of jealousy, sharp as a needle's prick.
This, blog readers, is evidence of my very flawed, very mortal status.
I have written at length -- no doubt, quite annoying length -- about my personal adoration of Womankind. But I haven't told you that this adoration is an ideal in which many times I fall short.
True, not since I was a child fighting with my sister have I laid an angry hand on any Female -- and many any and all the gods there be, smite with instant death if ever I do. True, my adoration of Womankind is absolutely sincere.
But from time to time in the corporate world, I have had to compete against Women and when They have won, my weaker side resents it -- albeit, in my defense, just as much as if a man had bested me.
This writer got the job I wanted at that newspaper. Then She got a dream assignment there at which I know I would have excelled. Today, I see that She will have a column reaching thousands of people every week. I could have done that, I would love to have done that.
But I take the hands of my soul and wrap them around the throat of Jealousy within me and choke him away.
I've met Her in person. She's beautiful, intelligent and hard-working, a Woman indeed.To my soul, I say: "She has earned every honor and privilege that She has obtained, by sheer competence. You are hereby ordered to be glad for Her and to praise Her publicly the next time Her name comes up in a conversation."
So, Ms. M.B. -- revelation of Your beautiful name would compromise my anonymity, else I would gladly post it here -- congratulations. With my heart now purged of unworthy, chauvinistic jealousy, I hereby, with utmost sincerity, cheer Your success. You've earned it, for that paper is very careful in its selection process. I promise to read Your column regularly and be a faithful fan.
A family gathering yesterday. A male relative, age 25 or so. A female relative of his, not by blood, age 12 or so.
What I saw: Twice in the course of the afternoon, the above male relative smacked the above female relative in the butt (I hate that word!), accompanying the smack at least once with some frivolous phrase -- chicken butt, I think he said.
I am reminded that little things like that can be simple, childish playfullness or that they can be signs of something more, something dark and evil going on when other eyes aren't watching.
I can never forget how in high school we all laughed when several guys surrounded a friend of mine one day and "pantsed"him -- but my laughter stopped when I realized he was crying, and that this was no silly game for him, it was a bodily violation. I failed my friend that day.
I can never forget either, how a few years later, a similar thing happened again, at a different school, butthis time to a girl, a stranger to me. Down came her pants and underwear, right in the doorway to class, in an instant, at the hands of some guy who should have had his teeth immediately kicked into the back of his throat. That time, I knew enough not to laugh, but neither did I have the sense to report the perpetrator. Everybody seemed to feel it was no big deal, a harmless prank. But did she? I never thought to ask.
When is it about just being playful, and when is it about one person exerting wrongful, evil power over another?
It always happens so fast. Maybe the perps do it that way on purpose.
I know a certain family authority figure who could talk to the male relative in yesterday's scenario and warn him not to do it again. Should I bring it up or let it go? I have talked to one female relative, who says let it go.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Audrey's birthday would have been on May 4, and shame on me for failing to note it here.
She was talented, classy and worth her every pretty ounce in pure gold.
She had an actual life-story worth telling -- a brave part in the fight against the Nazis. She eschewed diva-dom. She remained humble and did actual humanitarian work in the world. She got along with people and was a good mother to her children.
Today's phony celebrities are just weeds to her eternal bloom.
I had a repeat nightmare last night -- the one where I step outside to see someone destroying the forest behind my home. I've had it three times now. Each time, the details are slightly different.
This time, the developers had also torn down my neighbor's house -- who knows what they did with him.
Some piggish looking guy was supervising the destruction and I stood in front of him and said, "You don't know how badly I want to hit you right now." He just sneered, because he knew the threat of a lawsuit would prevent me.
So I ran around pulling their plugs (?), locking the door to their construction office and generally fuming in rage.
I don't know why I keep having this dream, since this precious slice of woodland is pretty well protected by its steep topography and its proximity to a creek.
It's probably a combination of the Chinese takeout I had last night and the report I read that says my region is expected to "grow" more in the next 40 years than it has in the last 400.
Ultimately, the developers -- as much as I hate them as mindless agents of destruction, clueless bastards who care only about money -- aren't to blame. They are just filling a need. If nobody bought all their stupid, soulless, artificially sodded homes, they'd stop building them.
I've been coast to coast, in Washington, Nevada, Utah and all over the east and its the same story -- houses going up by the millions, everywhere you look, obviously based on the fact that people will soon be buying them.
Where are all these people coming from? Is there some huge baby boom going on that I haven't heard about?
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Bouncing from blog to blog as I occassionally do, I stumbled across one today that breathed a spirit of deep sorrow.
A woman has produced three children for some man, who is now fooling around on her and making promises he isn't keeping. She feels overweight, overwhelmed and unhappy. Doesn't know whether to go or stay.
This is not some television movie, not some tragic character out of a book.
This is some woman somewhere, as flesh and blood, living and breathing, as I am.
And it was very, very sad.
She, like every woman, deserves to be loved and cherished, uplifted and celebrated.
To be happy.
Can anything, anything in the world possibly be more delightful than a beautiful Woman bringing forth beautiful music on a beautiful instrument?
As the notes rose and fell, I could see again Her dark eyes, Her dark hair; could see again Her pale, slender arms in the afternoon light; Her fingers cradling the bow, now caressing, now teasing, now striking the strings; Her body swaying, leaning into, then pulling back in the passion of the music; could see Her beautiful smile, as innocent and sweet as a child, as She concluded the performance and was enveloped in our applause.
To be so at one with music! To step beyond the point where notes on a page must awkwardly be translated as a, b, c, or g; to reach the plane where they simply are what they are, drawing forth the appropriate musical response! It is as when a learner of a language no longer must convert "leche" to "milk" or "pneuma" to "spirit/breath" in his mind, but simply sees the "new" word for what it is.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
But here I am at 100 posts, which is not such a difficult goal to achieve and which did not require any lifestyle modifications.
The attached photos are not of me. They have been randomly selected to represent pretty much nothing at all. I don't have the courage of some of my fellow bloggers to post my actual photo online. I maintain the facade of anonymity, although somebody somewhere probably has a fat file on me just in case I should ever run for president.
"America, would you vote for this scumbag, who threw up in a restaurant when he was seven years old after eating a bad hotdog at Crazy Eric's? Look at this gruesome photo of him all scrawny and ugly in seventh grade -- is this the face you want to see in the State of the Union Address?"
Posted by Eastcoastdweller at 10:49 AM
I mentioned that Mr. Lewis' spiritual journey included a sojourn with Absolutism. I will now attempt to define it, to the best of my clumsy abilities. I've told you philosophy is hard for me. I read the same page of the Absolutism entry in my encyclopedia over and over again last night for about half an hour, trying to understand. I'm still not sure that I do.
Please be patient with me in your comments.
The Absolute: Ultimate reality is a single, all-inclusive system of being. This is the ground, source and repository of all other being.
Monism: Ultimate reality is One. The Many -- the multiplicity of finite events and creatures -- are dependent existents that contain real being only by participating in the life of the One. But carried to its extreme, this is untenable, because it would exclude human knowers from ultimate reality.
Pluralism: Ultimate reality is Many. But carried to its extreme, this is also untenable, because with no unity, there can be no connection and no comprehension.
The suggested conclusion: Both a One and a Many must be considered equally ultimate in the scheme of things in which human beings exist.
This debate began circa 500 BC and continues today, it was noted. Which would make it one of the world's oldest arguments.
Also noted: The great philosopher Bertrand Russell allegedly demolished the premises of absolutism.
Twenty years ago this week, I scribbled on the 25th page of my journal:
"I've been thinking a lot about God lately. I don't really feel that God is there. What does 'believe' literally mean? What am I supposed to feel?"
1450-plus pages and two decades later, I'm at exactly that same square on the gameboard.
Insanity, they say, is repeatedly doing the same thing and hoping for different results.
I guess that says exactly what's wrong with me. I'm obviously insane.
Perhaps I just need a calming pinprick, ala Pink Floyd.
"That'll keep you going for the show, cmon, it's time to go."
If religion were just something weird, obscure and apparently unimportant, like sleeping in an oxygen chamber to stay young or insisting that salamanders have the power to pass through fire unharmed, I could let it alone, let it drift away like my childhood beliefs in Santa Claus.
But it is a Very Big Thing, important enough to motivate millions of people.
If only wild-haired people with obvious mental disorders, or rural villagers with most of their teeth missing, took it seriously, I might be able to dismiss it.
But sane, rational, intelligent people, including some close friends of mine, are on record with clear descriptions of their spiritual experiences.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Most of this blog has been created during quiet moments at work in between the frantic busy-ness of my daily tasks. It's a great stress reliever.
I am not so stupid as to blog for good or ill about my employer. But I wonder, being a techno-ignoramus, whether this thing called bandwith could be a problem. Do blog posts such as these use up an employer's computer system bandwidth?
If so, I might have to update this blog only on weekends.
Is philosophy just math in words?
I get words. I love words. But philosophy trips me up almost as badly as math once did, back in the days when I was forced to take it in school.
I try to understand it, in blogs and in books, but my eyes glaze over and it goes right over my head.
That being said, I wish it were different. Philosophy is the study of wisdom, and the study and comprehension of wisdom compliments science as the crowning achievement and glory of the human species.
Having survived his boyhood, CS Lewis (see earlier posts) now takes me into the deep waters of philosophy. I must swim with him if I am to understand how he reclaimed his faith after years of intense atheism.
The first step, and he didn't consider it even a step at the time, appears to have been his realization of the following:
"The whole universe is mental. Our logic is participation in a cosmic logos or Absolute."
Any thoughts from smart people? Interpretations for the layman? Suggestions of refutation?
Monday, June 11, 2007
Marvin loved Melissa. He lived for the electric moment each morning when she breezed into the office, ten minutes late as always, her golden hair tousled and the scent of fresh cigarette smoke and perfume swirling in her wake.
Smoking and tardiness seemed to be her only vices. She refused to join the office gossipers, the back-stabbers or the cynics. She stayed bright and cheery no matter the pressures or the stresses of the day – and she loved nothing more, it seemed, than to bring in a birthday cake or to massage the tension knots out of some colleague’s neck.
Marvin hadn’t had the courage to ask Melissa out. Today, he vowed, today would be the day. He walked over to her cubicle but she wasn’t there. Maybe on a smoke break. Damn, she always looked so pretty cradling her long Misty Lights and softly exhaling.
“She’s in the break room,” Vickie said, gesturing that direction.
It figured. He could see her standing on her tiptoes on the break room table, trying to post up a banner for Will’s birthday. Will had no friends in the office – just did his work without comment and went home – but Melissa would honor his birthday anyway.
Marvin stepped into the break room, wondering if this would be a good time. But Linda was in there, too, helping to steady Melissa on the somewhat wobbly table.
“Hey, Marv,” Linda said. Melissa, with her lips cradling several thumbtacks and her focus on her task, didn’t say anything. Today she wore an angelic white sweater and light pink slacks with white pumps upon her feet. It was a perfect combination, he thought.
The women were both looking up at the slightly crooked banner now, trying to gauge how to adjust it.
Then it happened. Marvin braced his hand against the table, preparing himself mentally for his request -- and Melissa stepped backwards.
He felt a sharp pain shoot through his pinky finger as the narrow heel of her shoe landed squarely upon his tender flesh and bore down with all 110 pounds or so of her weight. Marvin was not weak. He could lift 110 pounds easily but of course not with one finger. And he had no idea that 110 pounds could concentrate so powerfully on said finger.
He stifled the sound that wanted to burst from his lips, for he realized that if he startled her or tried to yank free, she might misstep from the table.
In a strange sort of way, he realized, he was one with her at this moment, in tactile unity with every inch of that beautiful body that he so desired – taking silent punishment from the combination of her strong legs, her sweet, soft bottom, her flat belly with its occasionally glimpsed navel ring, her breasts and her shoulders, her face and her golden hair.
“How does it look, Marv?” Melissa suddenly asked, having freed her lips from the last of the thumbtacks and unaware that a trembling finger, not some table detritus, was trapped beneath her heel.
“You look beautiful,” he gasped, stupefied by agony.
She burst out laughing.
“I meant the banner, the banner looks great,” he stammered, his face bright red both with embarrassment and pain. “Would — ”
“ -- Yes, I’ll go to the Green Day concert with you, Marv,” she said. “Give me your hand and help me down from the table.”
Still unaware of the possible ruination of the requested digit, Melissa stepped to the right, mercifully and finally freeing it in time for him to extend his hand to help her down.
“How did you …” he asked.
“I saw the tickets on your desk today,” she said. “Linda and Vickie are married. Were you planning to ask Will?”
Marvin fairly floated back to his desk, finger throbbing with the most delicious pain in the world.
The scene, as described in Judges 6:
Villagers are enraged at a mortal's insult of their god and seek to bloodily avenge the slight.
One man, Joash speaks up:
"Will ye plead for Baal [the god]? Will ye save him? If he be a god, let him plead for himself."
If humanity had applied to this to all religions and all permutations of deity, consider the difference that would have been made in the world.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
"All are architects of fate
working in these walls of time
some with massive deeds and great
some with ornaments of rhyme ..."
-- Longfellow, The Builders
In keeping with CS Lewis' advice to often read verse aloud in a solitary place, I read this stanza out loud at a stoplight today, and I hope that it will stay in my head for a while. It is indeed profound.
I didn't like the sound of my voice much. It doesn't have the manly gravitas that I would wish for it. And my sense of poetic cadence is not great. We must, I was told back in college, not read poetry in sing-song form, like a child's nursery rhyme. But I sing-songed Longfellow.
I need more practice. In more solitary moments.
She stood up, brushing the dust from her derriere, stretching slightly, perhaps to relieve the stiffness from sitting a while on bare concrete. She put her cigarette to her lips for one last, intense drag, drinking in a final draught of smoky pleasure.
Ah, what the anti-smoking commercials fail to understand! They show somebody running around licking a trash can lid and a fly swatter and they ask, “Can anyone tell us why smoking isn’t stupid” – making a read-between-the-lines comparison between the two.
I ask, “Can anyone tell us why eating a jelly donut isn’t stupid? Riding a motorcycle? Having sex?”
Nobody, unless they are utterly insane, gets any pleasure from licking a trash can lid.
As she inhaled, the young clerk-on-break that I saw outside Such and Such Large Department Store was quietly invoking Goddess Nicotine to grant her bodily ecstasy – fleeting, of course, but ecstasy none-the-less.
She exhaled. I was happily downwind and I inhaled. For a second or two, I shared the sweet smoky breath of this beautiful stranger, the evanescent mist that had danced upon her tongue and explored the depths of her lungs, that had set her heart to racing and soothed her pleasure centers like a subtle lover.
She stubbed out her cigarette into the cluttered ashcan in front of the store. Wrong, all wrong. Fair maidens should have their own, exclusive, worthy public receptacle to dispose of their spent cigarettes. Not some glorified trashcan crowded with the wet cigar butts of old men and other unappealing detritus.
She went back to work. All good things must end.
So I told you that I was reading C.S. Lewis, "Surprised by Joy."
I mentioned that the first few chapters read like Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," quaint recollections of a long-ago childhood in post-Victorian Britain.
Now Lewis has gone to war (WWI) and returned, and the autobiography suddenly ascends to a higher plane, albeit with an annoying tendency to assume that all readers will be familiar with the persons mentioned therein. Hence my tentative guesses within brackets.
Witness the following:
“Hitherto my whole bent had been towards things pale, remote and evanescent; the water-color world of [William?] Morris, the leafy recesses of [Sir Thomas?] Malory, the twilight of Yeats. The word “life” had for me pretty much the same associations it had for Shelley in The Triumph of Life. I would not have understood what Goethe meant by des Lebens goldnes Baum. [Henri?] Bergson showed me. He did not abolish my old loves, but he gave me a new one.
From him I first learned to relish energy, fertility and urgency; the resource, the triumphs, and even the insolence, of things that grow. I became capable of appreciating artists who would, I believe, have meant nothing to me before; all the resonant, dogmatic, flaming, unanswerable people like Beethoven, Titian (in his mythological pictures), Goethe, Dunbar, Pindar, Christopher Wren, and the more exultant Psalms.”
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
In the warm darkness, sheltered beneath a lid of bone, nourished by a salty soup, a collection of certain cells send electrical impulses rushing along a neural circuit.
A thought is born.
By the billion, by the trillion, human thought waves circulate, some becoming speech, others never passing the lips. If there is a God, He interprets all of them, spoken or unspoken we are told, whether in Hindi or Hungarian or the clicks of an African Bushman. How unfathomable, then, the interpretation center of His divine mind!
So many of our thoughts are dull, petty, gross or even evil. And yet, among the filth and tedium, shines now and then a grain of mental gold. What of the thoughts that gave us Moonlight Sonata, or the extant verses of Sappho? Or air conditioning? The polio vaccine? What of the inspiration that led to the deliberate fermentation of a bitter little bean and the blending of that substance with sugar and vanilla to produce what we now call chocolate?
If there is a God, did He take pleasure in the pattern of neural circuitry that resulted in the radio, ravioli and rhubarb pie? Does He sense and savor the beauty of the unique new rythm, as we sense and enjoy the tangible results of it?Do evil thoughts and deeds poison a place, do they taint it with terrifying miasma, like some kind of toxic gas, that later become interpreted as paranormal visitations?
Monday, June 4, 2007
The nice thing about having one's own blog is that one gets to set the rules and those who don't like it, or who find it repetitive, inane or annoying, are free to go somewhere else.
So I am going to blog for a moment on my absolute, most-favorite subject in the world and if it bothers you or you think you've heard it before or you find it juvenile, tough. And be warned: I shall probably do it again.
I absolutely adore Women. I find their presence fascinating, their thoughts compelling, and their existence salvatory. There are maybe three Women in the world, of the thousands who show up in my daily life, in the newspaper or on tv, whom I actively dislike and perhaps if I knew them better, I might repent of that sin.
This is not just a drooling, sex-sort-of-thingy. I hope that I have matured beyond that since my youthful awakening to the wonder of Women in the world. It is the whole package -- body, mind, soul, emotion, the absolutely divine essence that animates every molecule of the double-x chromosome Being -- that captivates me.
In the last 24 hours, I have been able to provide some needed assistance to an older female friend in a nursing home, which should disabuse anyone still thinking that it's all about sex. I have given a ride to work to another female friend today, a pleasure indeed -- a goddess riding in my humble car, warming its seat with her bodily presence and exhaling her gentle breaths into its airspace.
I have gazed upon the beautiful artwork of a young African-American girl from the inner city, which I will be able to publicize on her behalf; and I have looked into the beautiful blue eyes of a woman from Texas who paid my office a visit -- as I did so, I imagined the Texas bluebonnets blossoming in the vistas of her memory.
I am blessed indeed.
Every so often, I tune into the only "country" music station in my adopted metropolis and listen for about an hour, until they start repeating the same songs. 95 percent of it is either gooey junk with no discernable beat or melody, or stupid songs about the glories of getting drunk. But about 5 percent of the genre consists of incredibly poignant, powerful songs to which the likes of pop and rock never compare.
"Concrete Angel" and "The Little Girl" -- both about child abuse.
"Independence Day" -- about the horrors of domestic violence and one woman's solution.
"Watermelon Wine" -- an exquisitely beautiful oldie by Tom T. Hall.
"Buy Me a Rose" -- a slightly less old song by Kenny Rogers, about rekindling an old relationship.
"I Will Always Love You" -- Dolly Parton's original, a thousand times better than Whitney Houston's version.
The other day, I heard another, don't know who it's by, don't know the name of it yet, don't even know for sure whether I interpreted it correctly or not, but if I did, wow ...
Starts out sounding like another one of those guilt-producing songs about being sensitive to the homeless, a well-worn theme for the genre. Young guy's at a bridge and sees some homeless guy. They interact briefly -- you get the impression that the old fellow shares his street wisdom about everybody life's mattering and that the young guy gave the homeless guy some change and went on his way feeling better.
But then comes the kick-in-the-heart. The young guy was actually on the bridge getting ready to kill himself. The homeless guy convinced him not to jump -- it was the worth of the young guy's life that he was trying to emphasize. And though the old guy went back to his alley and his trash burner barrel, he had done something to feel good about on that day, something that truly made even his bleak existence valuable.
Can anything in the universe
compare to the beauty of
No supernova in galactic bloom
no slender fawn nosing spring grass
no thundering waterfall
no temple of ivory and gold
Can compare to Her
can approach Her
for perfection of grace
for glory of form.
Her senses are keen
every muscle in tune
She first embraces the stage
then, birdlike, escapes it.
Why is it that in every gathering of human society, from a girl's summer camp to a fancy private boarding school for boys, that people feel the need to create the hierarchy of hell?
I've been reading the autobiography of a classic English scholar -- and even the bare hints he's given of his schoolboy life at some British boarding school, circa 1910, sound horrifying similar to the way inmates behave in a maximum security prison.
Newbies are forced to do menial and humiliating tasks for the more senior members, and even in the most strait-laced-appearing of places, homosexual relationships are rampant, as means of promotion or survival.