Sunday, December 31, 2006
I cannot seem to recall the titles of my posts, so I have devised a mnemonic: create an anagram and you won't forget. Hence, the above name on this marquee. Of course, we all know that "Ice Man Rapsodia" is an anagram for CINEMA PARADISO ! (with - of course - Phillipe Noiret!)
I know it seems a bit Gold Rubebergish, but it works for me. So, to set the scene, I shall collapse the temporal line just a wee bit: Thanksgiving...tree...ornaments...yippee!...shopping...blast yer eyes! I'm in this lane!...feet tired...work...clean house...sleep of the just...Xmas...yah!...daughter at airport...world's worst airport...blast!...tired as hell...love,love,love...clean the house...allergy!...doctors...arghhh!...Xmas here!...Church...darn good sermon, padre...rest...read...renew...daughter to airport...worst airport in the whole damn world...flying sardine cans...third world transportation system!
nota bene: (Now, someone has decided to kick the Christmas season up a notch by a video-xecution. We will not go there.)
nota melius: (The execution was a gift for those who could not get the new Playstation.)
nota optime: (You gotta admire the perseverance of the bloody-minded.)
After an afternoon of watching the first season of the Simpsons, talk turned to lighter things. My daughter and I discussed cinema. This usually consists of a template statement of the form " Didja see ...?" where the blank is filled by a film ( or ' flim' as I usually type it ) name.
We talked about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
I told her how I was watching Fight Club by default one day. ( I was cleaning a room and the TV was on - just like in Calvin and Hobbes- it was bouncing on the top of the dresser, and motion lines and little stars were popping out of it.) Then when the film reached the point wherein we suspicion that Brad Pitt is some sort of alter ego or doppelganger for Edward Norton, I became fascinated in the extreme.
And all because the film began to become a memory of Caligari: the radical story line and how it was transformed by a enveloping story by Fritz Lang...and strange beings like Cesare the Somnambulist (played by Conrad Veidt) who are the weapons of the mad Doctor. (There is a technical term for the enveloping story; I tried to remember, but could not; instead of 'envelope' I tried 'ring', 'doughnut', 'torus', 'bagel', 'kugel', and-in desperation- 'Kegel', but nothing seemed to work.)
[n.b. the term is 'framing device' ]
I hesitate to say, but one of the reasons I live where I do is the hint of the Expressionist in the buildings set on a prominence, windy and wuthering as an English height, with sidewalks winding around hills like an M.C.Escher print. The Expressionist style was all the rage in Caligari. The Expressionist was all the rage during the building boom. You merely could not see it hidden under the brick facade. It's all there in its Minimalist Quality splendor.
Most recently we have viewed Miss Potter. This was totally charming. Even though I became momentarily disengaged at times, I sense it a film one has to see, lest one be seen to be socially inept. It was another good choice by She-who-must-be-obeyed. If it were up to me, we would be viewing action flicks and endless documentaries for the insomniac. This is not to say, however, that I would intentionally go to see a Rocky film. One has to draw the line somewhere, and that particular melange of the "junior high" and the "jejune" is where I draw it. I would go see Judge Dred AGAIN before I'd see the new Rocky.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
When the cries and lies of our generation have passed into dust, the influence of our distortions and prevarications, our posturings as Pontius Pilate and our cries of 'Barabbas', our magical thoughts and mantic curses, something heavy ( "thaqiil") is coming...
And there is a knife ('mudya') to kill the lambs on the doorstep of the butcher shop. I have a very bad feeling about this blood lust and vendetta.
We never stop the bloodletting. For all the crying about civil war, we never stop the bloodletting. For all our talk of peace, we never stop the killing. There is always one more killing, then all will be well.
Kill Osama and all will be well.
Kill Zarqawii and all will be well.
Kill Saddam and all will be well.
Pope Benedict asked for clemency. He is to be ignored.
And in the Talmud, we read
“The Sanhedrin (supreme court) that puts to death one person in seven years is termed tyrannical. Then Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah says: One person in seventy years. Rabbi Tarffon and Rabbi Akiba say: If we had been in the Sanhedrin, no one would have ever been put to death. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, they would have thereby increased the shedders of blood in Israel (Mishnah Makkot 1:10)."They are to be ignored. If there had been clemency, there would have to be incarceration, punishment, and possibly rehabilitation. This is seen as impossible. Why impossible? Because the spirit of Hussein At-Tikriitii is already sensed to be more powerful than the spirit of the governments opposed to him!
Our government and the new government of Iraq fear Saddam Hussein, even in hiding, even in prison, even in death. The people of godliness have no such fear. The Power of Darkness is the greatest power that is known by the Children of the Dark. And we hear a whispered reminder: Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
O.K. That title is a bit long. Something like remembering things the way I do. I do not know how best to say it. Therefore, I shall give an example: (part 1 the Set Up ) " I grow old, I grow old..." (part 2 the Sting ) " I shall wear my trousers bottoms like Fezziwig."
I know you will say that a game like this is best played with snobs who think they know everything, and they will automatically correct your faulty-towers manner of quotation. That is part of its charm. And it has something to do with quotes, memory, truth...hmmm.
I have run this by my nephews and they came up with:
(part 1) "There's no such thing as legacies. At least, there is a legacy, but I'll never see it."
(part 2) "I'm just fortunate that now I have an audience of people on the show who don't have to pretend they have smell-o-vision." combining the President and Emeril Lagasse ( which rhymes in a cock-eared way with 'legacy') and creates a new reality of rememebered things. (They wanted to name the game 'bushWHACKERS' tm, but I thought this was (1) disrespectful, and (2) would center the game on a chance Presidential mutation.)
AH-HA! That's it. New Realities. Gardens of forking paths and all things Bright and Bellyful...remember the memorious! I shall call it, here on Earth as well as on Tlon and Uqbar, BORGESIAN BLOOPERS. Of course, 'borgesian' is in memory of Jorge L. Borges and 'bloopers' is in memory of good old Dick Blooper. ( "Is he dead yet?" " Who? Blooper or his character?......" )
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The intention here was something breezy along the lines of apples not falling far from the trees. If you have seen the film Borat, you may have noticed that his newspaper - a front page of which is briefly shown-is in Almaty. The city used to be called Alma Ata.
And in case you don't know ( and you don't), Alma Ata is the Garden of Eden of all Apples.
Can you imagine the apple pies? The apple fritters? The apple pan dowdy?
Since they are players on an Ultimate Frisbee team, they naturally thought that the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon Basin could not be more pleased by anything than by having frisbees tossed at them.
Thank goodness the boy is not wearing a top hat. That would have given the frisbos something too tempting to hit. There would have been an international incident. I would have been dragged into it. The headlines would have screamed, "Prominent Blogolite in Frisbie Bonking Scandal!"
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
During my visit to my parents, I discovered that my mother has a new conspiracy theory. In the second week before Christmas, she had seen many inflatable Xmas displays in the front yards in Port Desespoir. Inflated snowmen, inflated Santas, inflated deer, elves with an inflated opinion of their toy-making abilities. (There is a annual contest in Port Desespoir as to who can have the most lavish display of lights and outside decorations. I believe OPEC is this year's sponsor.)
By the end of the second week, these robust air engorged holiday fancies had littered the landscape, deflated, forlorn, strewn about in contortions no inflatable had ever been designed for. So, who was KILLING the inflatables?
Her immediate neighbors were no help, for they themselves had a display of inflatable reindeer and Santa which they inflated manually - or orally - or without the aid of air compressor! As a consequence, they were usually out of it until New Year's. She broached the subject to her husband, my father, but his "Hmmm..." , no matter how sincerely mystified he could mutter it, was no water to her thirst for the truth.
So my mother, who, by the way, is an avid reader of mystery novels, put on her Miss Marple persona and set out to find the culprit. She had already interrogated a number of local worthies. The butcher, the baker, the banker. The banker, a decidedly oleaginous character, actually had the effrontery to tell her that all was right, do not worry, things could not be better in the world of exterior holiday foo-fra. "My dear lady, these inflatable symbols of the season are designed to deflate upon the rising of the sun!"
Given the high price of compressed air, he said, at sunset there is a chip within the inflatables which " IN-spires them" and turns on their higher faculties; that is, to say, the strings of lights...which gladdens our hearts! And when rosy-fingered dawn stretches into the sky, this same MASTER chip bids its faithful servants to deflate...oh, deflate, breathe out, gentle rolly-pollies! ( whisper) lights out. sleep. rest....
To set things in their proper time frame, I drove into town when the price of gas was $2.19 per gallon. I saw a few inflatables taking a break, recumbent on patchy lawns. I had already caught sight of inflatables in distress by my house. I had merely thought a good citizen had taken it upon himself to do us all a service and go about clobbering the Snow Goons littering the front yards.
This was all before I had learned that the Rev. Franklin Graham was going to have an inflatable of his father made. I began to take inflatables seriously.
My father and I drove about on our errands, keeping our eyes peeled for clues. We went to the Super K for cat food. My Mother had written "Seafood Medley" on a piece of paper. She had written that it was on sale at $8.49 per 18 lb. bag. Of course, this was a test. With the amount of detail she had supplied us with, one would actually have thought that once we reached Super K, there would actually be a cat food department with some 18 lb. bags of "Seafood Medley" for sale. It was a test.
If we were going to be her assistants, she had to test our acumen. Of course, there was no Seafood Medley. There was something called Oceans O' Heaven. Working quickly, I decided that if indeed the apple did not fall far from the tree, and, running the video backwards, the tree did not grow far from where the apple fell, then she probably just made up the name Seafood Medley, wrote it down as if it were gospel, affirmed its existence four or five times, and sent us out. That's what I do; something, something, fish...something, something, various and several...ah! Seafood Medley, and all that it really says is " tuna".
We drove by a scene of a crime. It was a Pere Noel Desouffle. I hastily averted my gaze; too late; I had seen the hideously detumescent face of Claus! We returned home to make plans. The price of gas was $ 2.45 per gallon. We drove slowly on the way to dinner. We drove on roads where but a week ago a happy population of balloon buffoons bobbed and lived their brief existence. All gone. All killed. Yes, my mother had finally mentioned the unmentionable: the inflatables were the victims of conspiracy. (Since we have never looked at inflatables so seriously before, we found it difficult to tell the difference between an inflatable and a rigid, yet transparent, decoration. We devised a nomenclature: inflatables were "blimps" and the other rigid thingeys were "dirigibles".)
We drove through the gore. Well, since the inflatables' life blood, as it were, is actually air, the "gore" was pretty much invisible, and you had to use your imagination a good bit to see it. Had some disgruntled competitor in the annual Christmas Decoration contest taken an ice pick and Trotsky-ized all his neighbors' inflatables? And, mentioning Trotsky, had the order perhaps come down from somewhere higher up? From some malevolent Stalin of the Inflatables? There is much more sleuthing to be done.
If my younger brother had not been in jail, he would have been a prime suspect. He had once hatched the brainy scheme to attach the inflatables to the ground with stronger wire and fill them with HYDROGEN gas! He was in what the family refers to euphemistically as his Lakehurst, New Jersey phase and thought that the Inflatables hovering just above the ground would add an amusing and idolatrous touch to the proceedings. Of course, you know what happened next. An entire city block of Inflatables exploded one night, lighting up the sky for miles and rendering Port Desespoir visible to the Mir space station. The local paper ran a headline the next day " Oh, the humanity...!"
Monday, December 18, 2006
I must say that the only footprint they make in the world that I like is their name. I like the name. I mean, I think it would be a great game to create religious music group names: Jesus and the Temptations, Nirvana ( done already?), St. Swithin's Day Massacre.
O.K. Not as much fun as I thought. I remember once having a discussion with an insurance agent who was an Evangelical. He had already deliberately misled me a number of times into ways of business which were to his advantage more than mine, but no harm in talking to him about other things. Everybody has their weakness, his was cheating people insurance-wise. He took to it as his vocation from God. He was a mystery of the everyday world.
He thought there could be no such thing as Christian Rock music. A Christian Rock group was a contradiction and should not and could not exist. He actually referred to Plato and his musings on what types of music be allowed in The Republic.
Rock was music that appealed to something essentially centered above the knees and below the waist - a zone which should be bereft of music, according to him. He mixed his Shakespeare and said music ought to knit the ravelled sleeve of care. Well, there should be no knitting of sleeves ( wink!) in the demilitarized zone!
Sleeve! Hah! The talk went on in this desultory yet alarming way for a few more minutes before, mercifully, the remains of the day called to us and we parted.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
That is, we were in Jenny's Coney Coffee Clutch ( I know, I know. Jenny says 'clutch' is more correct than 'klatsch'...as in 'in the clutches of caffeine'.)
We were not in Teheran. The Conference was.
We said everything that had already been said and pretty much re-established ourselves as Liberal Conservatives, or Conservative Liberals. It was not clear which. This we ascribed to the difficulty Reason has with the infinite detail of human life, and the myriad of different shades of meaning that results. In such discussion, the only people who are precise are Right Wingers and Left Wingers...or radicals of any ilk. They are quite precise. That is why they are insane.
Life is the infinite detail, not a homogeneity of the witless and mad, staring with vacant eyes. Anyhow, let me see whether I may find the trail of breadcrumbs I was supposed to have left for myself before taking off on that side trip...ah, yes. Teheran. One of the round table members is quiet and rarely says anything. He is the most valuable member of our discussion group, since he smiles at our opinions and usually indicates we have hit the venerable two-penny right smack on the head. Consequently, we all love him. When he is not present, we shake our heads at the nonsense we hear each other spout. This is Levine the silent. (It goes without saying that he is also courteous and polite, even to Hanaan the Hideous who is the scourge of the diner to which we have been exiled.)
Today, he spoke. He said that it was his understanding that Amadinejad considers the Holocaust to be a 'mole' - as in 'spy'- of the West. It is a subterfuge to continue Western dominance spiritually in an area of the world where they no longer have physical dominance. Silence. Befuddled looks. Run that by us again, would ya? He said that there had been the Age of Imperialism. There had been physical dominion over the lands of the Middle East and Asia. Now there was no physical dominion.
The Holocaust was strictly a Western European genocide. It had nothing to do with the Middle East; the people there did not commit the crimes, nor were they the victims of those crimes. Thus, the Middle Eastern peoples view the Holocaust as strictly a Western and Jewish event; it has nothing to do with them.
However, since the establishment of Israel, they see the Holocaust as an attempt to force them to see "with Western eyes", as if were. Even they themselves do not understand. President Amadinejad do not clearly know why he has to deny. He only knows he must deny. To accept the Holocaust would be to accept a totally Western world view. To accept the Holocaust would be to accept Western dominance in the spiritual realm; to accept the morality of the Western crime and punishment and penance.
So when they speak of Israel as a tool of the West, they mean that this is another attempt at limited physical dominance ( min An-Nili ila al-Furati ; from the Nile to the Euphrates ) and an unlimited spiritual dominance.
We sat speechless. Furthermore, I had previously discussed Elie Wiesel at these meetings. http://fatherdaughtertalk.blogspot.com/2006/11/holocaust.html
So now this guy starts talking about the extent in time of theological events, the point being that they do not go on forever. The original covenant was modified greatly by the destruction of the Temple. Things do not go on forever. So, too, with the Holocaust. Five hundred years from now, the Jewish people will have had other events, possibly some even more horrendous than those that had gone before. We will all experience great and terrible things.
He said...a thousand years from now, our age may be but a footnote. Here he smiled, for he knew that a thousand years from now we would indeed be a footnote. We were immobile. We could not think of anything to say. This went on for a time that became uncomfortable. Finally, I decided to end our stupor. " Now that we have heard from Levine, the angel, is there anything else?"
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I saw Mel Gibson's Apocalypto yesterday afternoon. I was astounded. It was just great. My opinion of Mr. Gibson's abilities has changed considerably. I do not intend to go back and watch any of his previous films, but I shall look forward to his coming films with great pleasure.
The film is a simple chase film. However, Mr. Gibson manages to introduce and maintain his allegory : the rot of empires from within, not from without, all the way to the end. I have heard the expression "gratuitous violence".
This expression has become a stereotypical, hackneyed saying that people like me like to spout. The Mayan religion was extremely violent as their own paintings tell us. The Mayan religion was founded on the visions of two kinds, of which we hear a distant murmur in the story of the two brothers who invaded Xibalba. One vision was of love, the other was of blood. In the classic Mayan civilization, the vision of blood held the day, although the other never entireley disappeared, as evidenced by the scene of the woman praying to Ixmel, the great lady.
So, the violence is not gratuitous, just as the violence in a great war film is not gratuitous, for that violence shows the horror of war. War is death, not dancing a jig on the flight deck. What is very meaningful is the portrayal of the fact that the Mayas held their gods with the same sense and emotion of certainty that we do our God. As they slaughtered hundreds, they relished the exact same certitude of god's love. In other words, civilizations become the work of the evil one when they reach a point where they can actually see God. And this vision of God is a mirror image of their own worst selves! Bravo, Mr. Gibson. All is forgiven. Now forgive us for our nasty words.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest
Some talk show funded by the Duke of Hades had a group of experts discussing the Baker-Hamilton report. One of the members of the group was Ken Adelman. In case you have forgotten, Mr. Adelman was the expert who predicted that the War in Iraq would be a “ cakewalk”. Recently he has been trying to rehabilitate himself. I did not pay attention to the details of this effort, but it must be something along the lines that he actually meant that the classical military operations would be a cakewalk, but he also added – although no one seemed to have recalled it – that the aftermath would be a hellish disaster. Maybe he did. I doubt it. Hook me up to some background, you ask?
“There's always the chicken littles, running around and saying 'oh my God, it's terrible,'” he said on Hardball, six days before the war began, when asked about the possibility that things might not go as smoothly as he and his fellow-hawks had predicted. The following month, he was gloating to the New York Times that his “cakewalk” prediction had been remarkably prescient. Adelman, according to the story, “scorned recent complaints by retired generals and military analysts that the Pentagon had deployed too few troops” to Iraq. “I always thought that was ridiculous,” Adelman told the newspaper. “It turned out they were factually wrong. I never understood what having three times as many troops would have done.”
Back before the Mess in Iraq, Adelman was professorial and erudite, a true philosopher of death. Now that his thesis on war has been a bust, the call goes out for Mr. Fix-it and there is Ken Adelman, Plumber of Death, come to fix the leaky faucet. Truly a great idea from the people who had hoped to bring you O.J. Simpson. I would think that by now, Mr. Adelman would own up to his horrible responsibility for the war. I would think a little something along the line of “You know, I was wrong. That Jehovah guy had it right when He said, ‘Thou better not kill.’ “. This would be great, even overlooking the fact that he is apparently getting Santa Claus mixed up with the Lord ( “thou shalt not kill” versus “you better not cry” ). We will not see any of the Apocalypse’s Horsemen own up to their evil. What we will see is Mr. Adelman shut up his vile past in a tower of oblivion, as if it were Bertha Mason, and he were Rochester dallying with the new Miss Eyre. Escape from him, Jane, before he destroys you, too!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
We were at a Christmas party and I met a lady who was much involved in the Bible Code.
"Gematria!?" I wondered aloud, pulling my beard.
My wife recognized signs of danger and began to kick me, once, then twice. Then a whole series of kicks and harrumphs before I could jeremiah "Idolatry! Jezebel!" at the code lady. Of course, the lady of codes began to think she had made a mistake and my wife and I were actually two German Christmas figures, carved cunningly from wood and rigged up with wires and pulleys for movement, that had somehow escaped from the Christmas Carousel that turns from the heat of candles. The candles had been too hot, causing us to come to life like a Golem with a hot-foot. We obviously were becoming a danger.
"Dybbuk..." I thought suddenly. "Ah, the Bi-i-i-ble Code," I said unctuously. "Yes. My,my... Indeed." and so on.
I suppose the Bible Code is all right for people who conceive of God as something like Will Shortz of New York Times Crossword fame. Tricky dickens, is His Holiness. His labyrinthine ways. There are already a lot of "Trickster" gods: Kokopelli, Loki...scads of them. Why not just worship them? Bow down before the whole bloody panoply of the pagan pantheon for all I care. Well and good. I suppose that if one were to come across this divine trickster god at the racetrack, he ( or He ) would have a joy-buzzer concealed in his mighty palm when we shook hands. And He'd laugh so hard, all the aces would fall from the folds of his robe.
If God wants to talk to us, why would He be so Rubik's Cube about it? Just come up and say right out: Thou shalt not...! Come to think of it, He has.
This all reminds me of Don Camillo. He was a simple parish priest in a simple, small Italian village that lead a simple existence. The Don Camillo books were written around the 40's and 50's. God did talk to Don Camillo now and then, however. And no tricky stuff. God spoke quite clearly, although He did use a dialect from around Taormina. The mayor of the village was a Communist. Ah, the tension between him and Don Camillo was the plot of many a tale. He was, however, a fairly simple communist and believed in live and let live. Both being paisans, their differences all came out O.K. in the end. God smiled. Nowadays such villages are ethnic cleansing the snot out of each other. Brave New World and all that!
Christmas Culture Wars
We are lucky. We live in a community that is pretty much the old dulce far niente when it comes to holiday fisticuffs and Christmas etiquette from the Marquis of Queensbury. Want a menorah? Sure. No Problem. Christmas displays? Have a go at it. I used to combine the two whenever I found a tumbleweed that was symmetrically branched. It already looked like a menorah. I added a 2 penny bow for a Christmas ornament, stuck it to the door and there it was, a Christmas menorah. It would last forever, since the weed was already dried out.
Bill O'Reilly was be apoplectic if he were here. No one yelling about Christmas - oops, Xmas - displays. No one kvetching about Hannukah displays. Just trying to make a living- God bless us every one. Except for one thing. The city council has passed a bylaw prohibiting the throwing of snowballs at people. Balls of snow are strengstens verboten. This is rather great, since its only the small fry whose rights are being impinged upon. I seem to remember when I signed up to start this Blog, the powers that be asked me a question. It was a Random Question. It was not only random, but decidedly odd, too: What would you name your ballet inspired by the sight of children leaping through a garden sprinkler? So I wrote "Arroser les maudits" which loosely translates as "Water them bastards!" Of course, I would never, ever do such a thing. And, if by chance I were to do such a thing, I would chuckle and invite everyone over to the Community Center for some hot, hot cocoa. It is very cold when you spray the hose on kids in winter.
Anyway, snowballs are an extinct species. This means I shall be able to wear the old top hat to the opera without fearing that I would be stepping into a hail of ITKs ( improvised topper knockers; i.e., snowballs). I had forgotten that I had sworn never to return to the local Opery House after the Porgy and Bess fiasco. Well, I shall wear it anyway.
Traffic My average interval between pulling out the drive and onto the roadway and my first curse is about 5 minutes. I think this is standard. Any pursuit, such as driving, which is the source of phenomena like Road Rage is definitely not a pursuit of happiness. I was listening to NPR about a Moose on the Loose traffic problem in Minnesota. Good label. Road Rage, Moose on the Loose, Route Gout, Pain in the Lane,... the list may be endless.
Sister Anna of the Visitation has passed. The world will not soon see another like her. For one fine memory, the dear Sister was troubled by her name- Anna. She thought the two syllables was perniciously lascivious; the tongue lingered too long and too lovingly on " Annnn-nnna".
t should have been plain Anne, Greengables-like: plain old Anne. Or, better yet, Ann. Or An. Or a sonorous nasal humming like the "m" in Om. She frequently counseled the girls of our grade school on how to act around boys.
She must have had some greengrocers in her family tree. Don't let them pinch the fruit, she said. To get a husband, one must keep the produce looking fresh and clean. The best goods are top shelf, out of reach of the clamorous testosterone mob, but readily visible to their burning eyes. Rotate the goods frequently - whatever could that have meant?
In eighth grade, she taught a sex-ed class before such things existed. It was like a Cana Conference - being canny about Cana; i.e., weddings; i.e., sex, but it wasn't really...and now you know where Catholics come from. It was a regular class on religion that turned to matters of the flesh, shall we say. We boys were off somewhere else...possibly cleaning the incorrupt body of St. Francis. On the first day, Sister Anna welcomed the young girls into 8th grade religion and bid them to cross their legs under the desks. They did this, wondering what she wanted. "Now that the gates of hell are closed...", Sister Anna would intone and then continue on.
If you were fortunate enough to have viewed A Very Long Engagement, you will recall that the character Mathilde played by Audrey Tatou was a very magical thinker, "If I reach the bend in the road before the car, Manech will return alive from the war!"
Magic can be an earnest desire for good. Magic can be a fearful obsession to deflect pain. It can also be a desire for evil - or so it seems to me when we wish damnation upon ours enemies. Magical thinking is something we use to create our conscious world. This is not to say that it is somehow an illusory exercise; not necessarily. The thinking of Faith is similar to magical thinking - its images of desire are forged within our passionate hearts. However, it exists in a conscious structure of Faith which prevents the worst excesses of magical thinking - such as believing God will give me a winning lottery ticket.
Arthur C. Clark once said that a sufficiently advanced technology will always appear to be magic to a backward people. We may add that a sufficiently advanced Faith will always appear to be Magic to a backward people.
Some attendees are criminals, but their crime is Holocaust denial which carries jail time in certain countries.
Some attendees are ultra-Orthodox Jews who consider the creation of the state of Israel to be an abomination.
President Amedinejad said that the creation of Israel has created a pretext for aggression against the inhabitants of the region. This would be easier to refute if our present government had not abandoned all efforts to end the Palestinian dispute. To quote the BBC:
In a number of European countries - including Germany, Austria and France - it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. An Austrian court jailed Briton David Irving for three years on charges of Holocaust denial... Many Iranians must be wondering why they have the right to deny the Holocaust with impunity, but not to question their own leaders without risking jail, our correspondent says.
Therefore, Iranians have the right to deny the Holocaust, but not to question their own leaders. Citizens of a number of European countries have the right to question their leaders, but not the right to deny the Holocaust. Does any of this even make a pretense of making sense? Furthermore, is the crime in Holocaust denial the fact that one speaks out loud, or is it a thoughtcrime that deserves punishment by the mere activity of the mind?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
The face of the Virgin is that of a young girl, or a young woman. Rarely is she portrayed as a middle-aged woman or an older woman. So do I think of her. I use the grammar of Images and link common images in prayer.
However, when Mary visits her cousin, she sings the Magnificat, wherein we hear: "He casts the mighty from their thrones, and raises the lowly."
From this we get a glimpse of ancient Jewish thought in the society and in the individual, for Mary exclaims that God has turned the social order upside down and chosen Her, not a rich woman, not a trust child, not a queen; just Her.
So, is Mary always demure and a follower? Or may she also be a radical, a leader?
What we think of Mary is solely within this world and our consciousness. The Holy is not constrained by our thinking nor our imaging. The Holy is undefined to our minds, for to be otherwise would to be limited.
The Holy is a mystery which we attempt to understand with language and imaging and emotions - and ritualized behavior - and magical thinking - and the list goes on. However, the Holy is not what any one of these may show, for these activities come from our past, our personal histories. We have learned how to speak and picture God and Mary and Jesus. We learned this in the past. The Holy is the Future. It is where we are going.
The Holy cannot be held within our imaginings. It is the future and what Religion is actually all about. The fact that evil men infest religion makes human religion no different from human politics, or human business. What does differentiate Religion from all other human activities is the fact that Religion has the potential to exceed all that separates humans from each other and join them in a supra-national, supra-parochial group of communality.
And just as this conception probably strikes you as bizarre and outlandish, so also must any experience of the Holy knock you off your high horse, as it did Paul on the road to his fate.
Life has infinite detail; it is demure and it is brash. All Life is tending to the Holy, regardless whether it be demure or brash. God saved us because he loved us. Period. Not because we thought of the Holy in a certain way and not because we acted out a given role. The Love came because God willed it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Jesus said that those who have not seen and yet believe are blessed. Blessed are they who have not seen, that have not imagined, that have not created an image in their minds of things remembered, that have not a taste of emotion from beholding Jesus. They are more blessed that have not seen and now do not see, for Jesus has left the Earth.
Now we have Faith without having seen, without miracles and signs. What, indeed, is an image or a sign if not something that can be pondered over, talked about, remembered, imagined, possibly even measured and subjected to science?
We could take a scientific poll of those who witnessed the Virgin at Fatima and put Religion on a proper scientific footing! And about time, too. Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen, for their Faith leads them. So if you are Faithful, you will not require images; you will not need to see... a sign, a holy person, a miracle. Our Faith frees us from all material needs eventually.
Now, having said this, when I pray, the Holy is not imaged. When I turn to certain aspects of the Holy, such as the Virgin, I pray to the Virgin, my Mother. She is demure and she is radical in her defense of her children. Until one month ago, my image of the Virgin was that of a meek and demure young woman with possibly a dash of wailing mother thrown in - the result of so many Lenten Fridays and singing the Stabat Mater Gloriosa. I had begun to study Haitian Vodou ( or Voodoo as we foppishly call it ).
My understanding of Haitian religion was nil, consisting of little knowledge of Toussaint L'Ouverture, readings of scary slave ship rebellions, insurrections, tales of Zombies popularized by white men in the early 20th century, Bela Lugosi in White Zombie, and a general disdain and feeling of racial superiority (I have just described the USA's relationship with Haiti.).
I was looking at religious art of Haiti. This art often is a concentration of objects and a mixture of media. A religious statue can be composed of a bewildering array of found objects, rum bottles, old statue, aged holy cards, beads, sequins, candles, applique... there is no limit. While looking at one, I suddenly became aware that this art differed in no way from the religious art of any other country.
Moreover, the history of Vodou differed in no essential way from the history of any other religion. Whereas the Haitian artist creates an infinity of detail in his art, the European heritage of art has a preference to be rational - having just enough detail to "get it". Certainly not so much detail as too enable the viewer to become lost in a revery.
Art containing the range of detail shown in Haitian art is considered "cranky" or marginal by Western society; like " The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke " versus Mondrian.
The viewing of the Virgin as demure, as in much of Christian tradition; or the viewing of the Virgin Mother as a vigorous proponent of her children, much like the Ezili Dantor of Haiti who is another image of the Virgin - neither view exhausts the infinity of the Holy which we think of as the Virgin Mary.
Now, most people want something definite at a point like this. This is where one is supposed to say: "When you speak about God, you are actually talking about yourself." I do not believe that. It is a trivialization of religious life.
When I speak about anything in the same way that I speak about religion, I'm always speaking about my hopes and fears, my likes and dislikes - my whole history. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about the past, present , and the future. When we talk about the Holy, we are talking about God, the Virgin, the Saints, the Angels, the Prophets, ourselves, our friends, our enemies, the whole of human history...
There is NO simple conclusion that sums it all up in one small sentence that you feel comfortable wrapping your arms around. It is an infinity wrapped in angelic arms with no end.
When I see the Virgin, I see forever.
Monday, December 11, 2006
It sort of rings of the locker room or the gridiron, and truly those are the best places for decisions of war to be made.
I seem to remember what I really disliked about the Iraq war was the arrogance of our leaders as they shooed us toward the stormdoor of disaster.
I mean, the President was almost prancing like a giddy schoolboy on the deck of that aircraft carrier.
And Ken Adelmann said it would be a cakewalk.
And Wolfowitz said it would pay for itself...a new and great notion: wars that pay for themselves.
And the Richard Perles of wisdom.
And we actually believed it. No one brought up the point that the problem with War is (1) it's hell, and (2) you don't know what's going to happen.
What exactly blinded us? Did we really think God was - or is - on our side? What did we think would rescue us from our stupidity?
Believe it or not, I have spoken to someone who thinks someone well-known is the Anti-Christ. His proof of this is the ease by which the Anti-Christ duped, dupes, will dupe us with our own beliefs and how we seem to be demonically rendered blind to the truth.
That's hardly a proof, I said. It's all been done before.
Exactly, he said, grinning madly.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
So I shall talk about something else. I shall talk about the dregs that Conservatives and Liberals have to drag around behind them. Now, I consider my self a Conservative. I supported Goldwater back during the gold rush. I read Pat Buchanan. I read a whole lot of other things, too, but I ENJOY reading Pat Buchanan - although we do not always agree.
Now look. Here comes Bill O'Reilly and says something like he wishes all the Sunnis and Shias in Iraq would kill each other. Then we could have a nice country there. Possibly we could vacation there. We could import labor from the Philipines to wait on us Americans. When radio host Jerry Klein suggested that all Muslims in the United States should be identified with a crescent-shape tattoo or a distinctive arm band, the phones,writes Bernd Debusmann of Reuters, lit up with favorable reactions.
Until Klein revealed it was a hoax: "I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed...(to this)."
Then there was a poll at some sort of Blog where the respondents voted that the best remedy in Iraq is to "unleash hell".
Firstly, we do not seem able to make up our minds whether to think the Devil a bad guy, one who should be condemned, or a good joe, one who should be praised.
Secondly, why do these blokes, who - for all the world - appear to be in some sort of Moral ReHab, have to be packed into the Conservative side? Surely the Left has some room for them. I mean, really, why in heavens does the Conservative side have to open the door to a bunch of fellows who are unwashed, unshaven, unkempt ( in an ethical sense ) ... who come in and stand around picking at their spiritual scabs and talking about how their ethical hepatitis is causing a bloom of arthritic pain in their joints!?
I mean, Killer Clowns from Outer Space type stuff going on here! Only the killer clowns are a tad more sympathetic than Bill O'Reilly. And it's only a matter of days before that Dreamer of Death will be simpering piously about the true meaning of Christmas! Really! The Left has its own radicals that drag along after it. However, they are not as obvious as they were back in the 60's and 70's.
There were Bader-Meinhof ( I think...), Weathermen, Symbionese, etc. Back then, it seems like all the crazies were lefties. The righties - heavily influenced by Eisenhower - had not yet made up their hormones about whether rock 'n roll was devil music or not.
But the righties watched the crazed lefties go on their rampage.
The Righties watched, their mouths agape, their crewcuts bristling, and their thick, black Buddy Holly eyeglasses fogging up. And the righties learned. So today, the crazies have skedaddled from the Left and INFEST the house of the Right! Infest...like so many cucarachas from the circles of hell! And just like the cucaracha of the song, they have no gift of pleasure, legit or otherwise. (Note: a lot of this depends on whether you have learned the original version of La Cucaracha or not.)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
I saw Pope Benedict standing next to an Imam within a mosque. Immediately I thought "Hagia Sophia!", but that is no longer a working mosque. So then I thought Blue or Sulaimaniya. My wife said she had heard "blue"...maybe.
Well, that's great. It is not great to everyone, however.
Many people think of Religion much like they think of the loose change in their pockets: it is mine, all mine - God-given and inalienable - and woo to he who changes any part of it!
So let's take a look, kids. I came across an unusual site which I shall go back to in the future. (I have developed an interest in Orson Scott Card's Ender stories and their use of Authoritarian imagery - there is a recent post on Mr. Card, or Scott Card as the case may be.)
This is a site called Alicublog, and they say:
The whole Benedict Turkey trip, for all the feel-good man-of-peace rhetoric, is really just one powerful mobster cooking up a big takeover with another. I hope the ghost of Ataturk is knocking over their water glasses at least.
This is straight forward, good ol' American short term thinking. I think the Pope and the Imam are incomprehensible to a lot of people because they are quite capable of thinking of the outcome of their actions, not now, but 1,000 years from now.