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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hillsdale Day: The Age Of Modern Conservatism

April 30, 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the suicide of Lissa Roche. After a 19 year affair with her father-in-law, George Roche III, president of Hillsdale College, Michigan, and extraordinary fundraiser for Conservative causes, she could no longer bear the burden of this crime outrageous to nature. More traditional values? Or an utter lack of Restraint, Duty, Responsibility....things Modern Conservatives chatter on about, but have no idea of the meaning. Only a year ago, the suicide of the financial system which they engineered occurred. There is nothing beyond their capabilities.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Seccond Thoughts On Florida License Plates

On second thought, maybe Florida's license plates with pctures of Jesus on them will work out all for the better. It gives the Florida residents the chance to sell them as artifacts on eBay: license plates, cheese sandwiches, and potato chips that look like Jesus! And, I shall bet you that the number of occurences of finger flipping goes down.

Florida And The National Endowment For The Arts

Florida seems to have two new license plates with a picture of Jesus on them. Some people think this violates the separation between church and state. I think it is merely blasphemous and violates every decent religious sentiment.
The very fact that the freezing up of the credit system and near destruction of the economy - the nearest modern day parallel to the Tower of Babel story - occurred as recently as 8 months ago, might make less frivolous blasphemers to tread softly when it comes to showing respect for God. Driving through the mud, the slush, the salt, the dirt and the grime, not to mention road kill and other things, some good conservatives want to make sure their pantomime god gets his share. Why don't they throw offal in church, thereby saving the rest of us from having to look at their art work? If The National Endowment for the Arts had sponsored this, there would be an outcry.
This society once again proves that a large part of it is pagan, not Christian. The very clever Governor says that if someone does not like the new plates, they need not buy them...only look at them being profaned!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Torture Revisited

NY Times How ’07 ABC Interview Tilted a Torture Debate By BRIAN STELTER Published: April 27, 2009 In an article about a lying moron, Mr. Kiriakou, we see: But the recent Justice Department memo has led some commentators to revisit their earlier impressions about the technique. “I’ve always been on the fence about whether waterboarding constituted torture,” Mr. Goldberg of the National Review wrote last week, but if the figures are true, “then I think the threshold has been met.” He added: “Debating whether it was worth it still seems open to debate, depending on the facts.” What interesting debaters these conservatives must have been in university. I wonder exactly when they traded God's morality for that of Power?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why I Have Not Written About Torture

I have not written about torture, because this issue of torture is the paradigm of our destruction. It truly frightens me. When I read others writing about it, I wonder at it as I wonder at bomb squads gingerly touching pipe bombs.
Perhaps you have thought that I was ranting and raving about a generation of vipers, and how we shall suffer greatly for our crimes. Well and good. I wasn't. We have chosen the form of the destructor already. Merely because a good many good souls are trying to reverse the evil course of Bush and Cheney does not change matters one bit. This generation is way too stupid to even save itself. Case in point: The National Review. I used to read it in the past, back when William F. Buckley was in charge. Not so much anymore. In fact, I don't read anything political anymore, for I have seen it is a bit too late. The future is very different than how the gentlemen on the right or left tell stories about. For me, to read a political column is merely to see which cliff the lemmings are using today. So, which cliff are they jumping off today? The National Review the corner Friday, April 24, 2009 Re: Not Pro-Torture, Just Pro-Facts by Cliff May In fact, in just about everything I’ve written and said, I’ve taken pains to emphasize that I oppose torture. However, I do think (1) it’s important to define torture so we know what we are talking about, and (2) all forms of “stress and duress” utilized to elicit cooperation from a terrorist in possession of life-saving information are not torture. Every opponent I’ve debated on has taken this tactic — labeling me as “pro-torture,” refusing to grapple with definitions, and refusing to consider whether there may be methods of interrogation that are unpleasant but fall short of torture. This is especially important because we now know that Islamists believe their religion forbids them to cooperate with infidels — until they have reached the limit of their ability to endure the hardships the infidel is inflicting on them.* In other words: Imagine an al-Qaeda member who would like to give his interrogators information, who does not want continue fighting, who would prefer not to see more innocent people slaughtered. He would need his interrogators to press him hard so he can feel that he has met his religious obligations — only then could he cooperate. But just try to get anyone in the “anti-torture” camp to seriously debate any of this. I have added the bold emphases. The very spirit of Rationality which led to the freedom and founding of our nation has been perverted into "it’s important to define torture". When I was young, we did not debate with the devil. We knew evil when it was around. We did not invite it over to define what it meant by genocide, or killing, or torture. The fact that a substantial part of the population is willing to do this is evidence that the capacity for being sickened at the sight of evil has been blunted and is no longer functioning. That is the way to a dark future: When Reason becomes the whore of Evil, there is nothing that you can reason with to find the true way. If you have no religion, or your religion is corrupt, you have nothing left. This nation will rationalize its way into a world of horrors. We shall beg and plead for people to please be rational as we define our way into Armageddon. We shall shake our wise heads as other peoples run from our concepts of democracy and freedom in sheer terror. We used to be a beacon to the world. Now we compel their obedience to the modern day notion of democracy. We transgress their wills. We debase them as individuals. And it is all in the name of reason, the very same self-evident Reason of the truths of our Declaration of Independence. I shall not proclaim that if they must torture to save my life, then let my life be forfeit...because those men and women who are conspiring already to take my life and the lives of others are already in our midst, and they are reasoning together for the deaths of many.
They are buying guns.
Children shot and killed are acceptable collateral damage.
We have forgotten the reality of history; not the words, not the oratory, not the high-flown phrases, but we have indeed forgotten the reality, the pain and suffering. When we read the words describing the horrors of war, it takes all the arts of painter, director, writer, and poet to move our deadened souls.
We are no longer alive. We are blunt and deadened.
If God were to come and offer us the universe, we would turn in reasoned dismay from eternity and seek refuge in our prisons and dungeons. There it is we are at home.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Iconic Codes

When I wish to program a computer, I have to write in a programming language. That language is the code that allows me to interface with the machine.
The Icon is an image. We have an Imaging System, which we use for Image consciousness: remembered dream images, thinking in pictures, day-dreaming. The Imaging System relies on a code of images, different from Language, which allows us to be image-conscious and to operate with images.

The Holy cannot enter into our world - except that it does so according to the proper code, just as I cannot program the computer without a proper code. For the Holy to enter, it uses the Iconic Image associated with the spiritual phenomena. It has no other choice. Although the Holy may affect us on the non-conscious level, for us to be conscious of this, we must use one of the various ways we encode things.
We cannot be conscious of the non-conscious. Therefore, we must code it into language, or images, or music, etc. That is why the Holy appears as the Virgin to Catholics, but as Elize Danto to Haitians: the iconic code. By using this iconic code, the Holy participates in our world.
HOWEVER, since the Virgin appeared to Coptic Egyptians, and this was attested by Egyptian Muslims it is clear that belief is not necessary for participation, merely acquaintance with the icon. In essence, if the Holy were to have one Iconic appearance for all the diverse peoples of the world, that would be the nonsense situation, the impossible situation. Diversity does not imply that the underlying truth is unstable. Just as the images of battleships and muskets both represent the concept war, so may different images represent the Holy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Peter Pan In The Old Bailey

Peter Pan is supposed to be in Kensington Garden - or Neverland - but nowadays his accomplices are in court in New York. The US government has brought one of the Lost Boys up on pirating charges. It is good that he is Muslim and black. If he were blond, white, and Presbyterian, he would steal our hearts away.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iconic Participation

Iconic Participation is the term used to describe the tendency of the intensely spiritual to infuse itself into daily life. Thus, we see the images of the Lady of Gaudalupe flow into society, and it is the images, the Icons, that are the footprints of the divine. When I used to set up the chairs for the people coming to see The Virgin appearances at Medjugorje, I was aware of the iconic participation when there was an appearance. I never saw anything, because I was being paid to work, not to stand around, idly staring, possibly being cured. When I was a hermit at Chimayo, the icons of Guadalupe pervaded everything, and blessings flowed through the water courses, the acequias, like sweet water. Those, my friends, were the days.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"Ritual" Seen As A Bonsai WiIlow

Willow Bonsai

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was the inheritance of the Poor.
His Mother sang that the Almighty will thrust the mighty and rich from their thrones, and then raise up the lowly, thereby turning the profane world upside down!

Jesus said the Peacemakers are the children of God.

How do we deal with the poor and homeless in today's world?

How do we deal with war and peace?

The manner in which we, the USA, deal in public with these issues is reflected in and is a reflection of our religious beliefs. We do not feel the divine compulsion to go up to the high country and listen to that Sermon on the Mount too often.

"Ritual" is the setting aside of space and time, moving it from the profane to the sacred. For example,when we deal with the poor, we have special times: food drives, Sunday sermons; all compact and perfect within themselves, yet not pervading our entire lives.

By setting aside special times and spaces, by not letting the great teaching pervade our lives, we create the separation of religion and life. We set up small rooms of devotion, and then we tend to use our extra religious "furniture" - way too much for the one small room - in our profane and non-churchly pursuits...because we think we have seen the Holy in its entirety.

By establishing special times and special places for God, we restrict holiness into those small rooms.
By restricting God thus, we find ourselves able to look about the small room into which we pushed the divine and fancy that we see everything there is.
Thus, we feel we know all the aspects of the divine.
Thus, we create Ritual, and Ritualistic Icons: Yoda, Neo, martial arts with a spiritual bullet.

Ritual is akin to a cutting, a pruning...not to promote luxuriant growth, but to restrict and domesticate the wild; to bring the forest into the domicile.

Think of your Ritual as Bonsai: small, restricted; it will not grow beyond bounds and infect the entire universe with its virus of freedom and life. It is an Icon.
When the Icon substitutes for the reality, then we see the world of today in the USA and around the globe.

The later post in 2011:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Seldon Vault Opens

Hari Seldon
note: I used a photo of Asa Kasher to represent Hari Seldon.

Once again, the Hari Seldon vault opened, and there was a flock of dignitaries. They filled the chairs and the standing room. This time, the display was piped outside to a large crowd who had gathered. As soon as Professor Seldon's image appeared, an absolute hush descended. "Welcome. By now, we are well into the first of the stages of global dissolution, as I described in my previous message. I quote: A handful of analysts have been warning for years that the wholesale deregulation of financial markets and the wrong-headed privatization of the public sector during the past two decades would threaten the viability of free-market capitalism. Yet ideological neoliberal fixation remain firmly imbedded in US ruling circles, fertilized by irresistible campaign contributions from profiteers on Wall Street, methodically purging regulatory agencies of all who tried to maintain a sense of financial reality. This ideology of "market knows best" has allowed the nation to slip into an unsustainable joyride on massive debt giddily assumed by all market participants, ranging from supposedly conservative banks, investment banks and other non-bank financial institutions, to industrial corporations, government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and individuals... At present, the first stages have remediated, and you are thinking yourselves well on the way to recovery, lengthy though it may be. I caution you that nothing has changed, particularly the nature of the people in charge. The ruling class is still the same people who designed, created, and fostered the crisis. To imagine that they will entirely give up a system which is so lucrative for them - neglecting the nation at large - is wishful thinking. You are watching the Conservatives rail and scream against the new President. This President is somewhat unusual, as there is no established influential national school of thought that fostered him: he is almost a mutant, a sport, if you will, that almost threw PsychoHistory off course. The trajectories will have been worked out by PsychoHistorians by now. The President will not be followed by one such as himself; there is no one. There will not be politicians such as him until those in their twenties and early thirties begin to fill elected positions. What is most likely is that the Right Wing will end their nonsensical attacks and actually try and develop ideas, something they have not done for 15 years or more. Both sides of the political class, however, will come to a tacit realization - and agreement - that the old system with its incredible inflated levels of money available was just too rewarding and lush to let die off. It will be resurrected by the next Right Wing President into a system with more regulation, but it will be a regulation that tempers the more outrageous acts of the piratical participants. It will do nothing for the vast majority of the population, who will sink into a morass of constant 10% - or higher - unemployment, stagnant wages, and diminishing access to higher education, all the while suffering from the new feudalism of a stagnant real estate market; their houses cannot be sold and will become their prisons...and their eventual tombs. " At this point, a great outcry came from the outside, among those gathered to listen to the speech outside. There was a commotion at the main entry way...

Love And Death

King Solomon
In The Song of Songs, 8:6, it says that: (NASB) ...For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD. and another (God's Word 1995) ...Love is as overpowering as death. Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. Love's flames are flames of fire, flames that come from the LORD. and King James ...for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. The word translated as "jealousy" or "devotion" is in the Greek Septuagint as ζηλος, or zelos, which is the word meaning "zeal" or intensity with which something is done. I would read it that Love is as strong as Death; its holds the Lover in an unyielding death-like grip that burns like a flaming fire. (I have no idea where the idea that the flames are the flames of the Lord came from. As usual, good old King James is - to my mind - a much better translation. There are two terms: fire and flame. There was a distinction in the concept of fire between the flaring, flaming fire, and the fire that burned and heated without flame; i.e., the fire of glowing coals, or the fire of the sun -for to ancient science the sun did not necessarily have flame. The extension of the word "flame" to mean divine flame is a usurpation by the translator of the author's role.) That is a very good description of Love. It is also a good understanding of the minds of old, and their idea of Love, and we glimpse Aphrodite, Venus, Astarte, Ishtar, and their lovers, and all the beautiful gods of love. If, now, Love is as strong as Death, why do we live in the time of War; War, who is Death's rudely stamped and unfashionable offspring? I have lived in a temple all my life, the murals of which were extensively devoted to the depictions of Death and Destruction: the wars of the world, the atomic bomb, civil discords and future Armeggedons. The paintings devoted to Love were hidden behind plaster and veils drawn to deny them to our eyes. (I myself have watched the ghosts of Pompeii searching for their "zealous" portrayals of the kingdom of Love, only to leave in disappointment with the morning sun, because these generations of War worshippers have covered over their garden of delights.) Why? Why, if...Love is as strong as Death...why have we chosen Death to be our King? And Death's children to be our tutors and teachers, and Death's cronies to direct our governance?


The great minds are at work trying to stir all right-thinking people to bomb Iran. There is an Israeli Challabi named Michael Freund who has written:  
Bomb Iran Now

Only fierce military action can stop the Atomic Ayatollahs ...Should we bomb Iran? That's this week's Big Question, put to Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post and Justin Raimondo of Through Thursday afternoon, they'll argue action vs. inaction, warmongering vs. appeasment, bombing vs. diplomacy... yada,yada,yada.. ... 

We must stop Iran at all costs. The alarm bells are ringing, and the danger signs are near. Like it or not, time is of the essence, and there is not a moment to lose. The U.S. or Israel should bomb Iran now, before it proves to be too late. (signed) Michael Freund

Now read the comments of the Jewish readers.

Oy! One of the less vicious comments: israel has 200 nukes, probably half of which are pointed at iranian cities, and we're supposed to believe that iran is an existential threat to israel and the rest of the so-called "civilized world." his comment, "And once he dispenses with the Jews, as we know, it is the West that will be next. So this is not just Israel’s battle, it is everyone’s war, and it is time for the decision-makers in Washington and Jerusalem to act," is the pinnacle of disingenuousness. if this pathetically shallow, neocon worldview weren't so freaking dangerous, it would be laughable.

Gozer Requests Your Presence At Tea...

Gozer, the Gozerian
I read about a woman at a Tax Day Tea Party who said that the firing of Rick Wagoner from GM was the "last straw" for her. Of course, just before he was canned, Mr. Wagoner caused some other problems. As reported in Crains Detroit Business, a Mr. Stiers of GM was giving a presentation to some group, and he mentioned that GM's CEO - Mr. Wagoner - would truly love to see all parts supply outsourced overseas: 100%. This ruffled feathers of the American parts suppliers, many of whom are in the habit of patiently waiting for GM to get around to eventually paying them. It is like they said in Ghostbusters: choose the form of the Destructor; you will be destroyed when the Iconic representative of Capitalism is a man who wished to send every American job he could to somewhere else. Your choices are limited, and they are not good: rock and a hard place.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Day The Earth Stalled Out Muhammad (which actually happens to be the name of my lampooning of holy figures here.) gets the Old Blue Terra Cruiser down from the hoist, and walks towards me, wiping the oil off his hands, drying the ocean spray on his hair, and getting the Saharan sand off his Mr. Goodwrench shirt. He is shaking his head in a manner that I have come to associate with bad news.  
Well, I got some good news and some bad news. Which do ya wanna hear first?

Masha'allah, I said, rolling my eyes.  

What model do you got? The 2 billion year old one, or the one that's got just over 6,000 years on her?

Man ya'rif? I said, shrugging. Who knows?  

Ya know, some people bought into the younger model, the Bishop Ussher model, the T four-oh-oh-four. Some got the older model.

I said I thought it was the older model. It had certainly been acting as if it were. (Bishop Ussher was the bloke who said the Earth was created in 4004 B.C.) 

Then there's the designer: was your designer the Big Guy or that Intellygent Designer that's all the rage these days?

While he said this, he did "majnoun" motions; i.e., finger points to temple and implies that some of us were not too tightly wrapped..." mad as hatters" nicely sums it up.

I said I thought it was the Big Lebowski...I don't know why. I mean, there isn't much holy about Jeff Bridges as The Big Lebowski. Or is there? Anyway, long story short, it was going to be flush the system for the next 1,000 years at some phenomenal figure per flush, or...get a new model.

So I'm getting the system flush. It gives me the shivers, sounding way too much like eternal colon cleansing, but she'll be running like new in no time.


Archaeology Of The Future

What will they think when the stumble across the remnants of our blogs? Will it be like the finding of Tut's tomb, and those excavators will be cursed with early death? Will they be shamed by the wanton depravity, such as was depicted on some of the murals in Pompei, causing them to censor viewing? Will they piece together the bones and artifacts of our hopes, dreams, and loves, and try to recreate our blindly striving souls? Dunno.

That Wisdom Thing: The Pilot Episode

Pitching a sit-com idea: Every week we open with this wise looking guy with a beard - like a rabbi or orthodox priest or an imam - and he's doing something like cutting the lawn, or taking out the trash - ya know - and, like, a neighbor or a family member asks him a question about life, about the world,...about God............... Episode 1 So the wise guy is sitting in a VW dealership, writing a short story on a pad of legal paper, when a guy comes up to him and says: Do you think, padre, that we human beings are now or can be semi-divine? The wise guy thinks: He didn't even start off with the easy ones, like did I think it would rain later, or whether it was hot/cold enough for me. So he says, how do you measure divinity? Where are the scales to weigh it? Where is the yardstick to measure it? If we can change, may not the instruments of measurement change, too? Anyway, to ask if man may be divine, all or in part, is like trying to determine whether a glass of water is half empty or half full in the midst of an earthquake during a torrential downpour.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Origins Of The War

We always knew that Ahmad Chalabi and the Neo-cons were pushing the President Bush into an ill-conceived war. Now it appears he had help. In an interview with Dar al-Hayat: or Ghassan Charbel Al-Hayat - 01/04/09// ... "[Al-Hayat]: If you want to describe George Bush, then how would you describe him? [Chalabi]: A man with very little skill and knowledge. [Al-Hayat]: He did Iran a great service by toppling Saddam? [Chalabi]: Iran benefited from toppling Saddam. Bush didn't mean to do it a favor but it was clear that Iran would benefit from Saddam's fall. I am convinced that Saddam would not have fallen except for an implicit agreement between America and Iran. [Al-Hayat]: This happened? [Chalabi]: Yes, of course it did. [Al-Hayat]: Through whom? [Chalabi]: We worked on this and so did the Supreme Council and Jalal Talbani." ... Suckered into a 3 trillion dollar war.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Birkat HaChama

Rabbi Daniel Brenner has some pix of the blessing of the sun on April 8. This is referred to as Birkat HaChama. "Blessing" is "Birkat"; note the consonants "b", "r", and "k". In Arabic, these give up "baraka" or even the personal name "Barak" - which makes it somewhat parallel to the name "Benedict" derived from Latin for blessed. (Remember Baruch Spinoza versus Benedict Spinoza in Philosophy 101?) "Ha" is the definite article "the", and "Chama" is "sun".

The Tools Of Wrath

I was thinking of the Holocaust. It was part of the history of Western Society. It differentiates itself from past atrocities - like the slaughters by Joshua or those perpetrated by the Assyrians - by its scientific and rational approach to Death, from the chemist's work being used to gas innocent people to IBM's supplying of the tally machines of the killing fields. We say "Never Again!"...but how shall we deny our history? We are in Western Society. We did repudiate the Holocaust. We did condemn the Holocaust. But we did not excise the virus of hatred from our hearts. It lingers, and we find it hard to control. How much of our inter-personal discourse is hate and scorn? Read a few political blogs; scorn, contempt, anger. Thus far in the life of the West, the Tools of Wrath have served us well. We have lost a few millions of souls here and there, but overall we have an enviable record. We become complacent in our ability to wreak havoc, and yet to pull back from the threshhold of total annihilation. How shall we ensure that it never happens again, when there are full dress rehearsals going on all over the globe? How?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Driving With God

I've decided to start a new column-like thing for the young Christians of my audience. Aiming at a demographic of 12 to 18, I'm going to sort of frame it as if it were a Course of Automobile Driving for the young, to provide them with the moral "traffic cones" to direct their lives. So, anyway, I was driving, and God was in the passenger seat. Surprisingly, He is not much for conversation. I advise you to get used to it. He is the very opposite of those who claim to be His representatives, who cannot shut up. So, we were driving; mile after mile...quite a way. Well, it wasn't all that far - sixty miles, maybe. And I wasn't - like - taking Him anywhere. He just sort of popped by, said "Shotgun" in a quiet, yet determined way, so I said "Climb aboard." We had just passed the work area on 94 when He spoke. "You wrote about violence..." I nodded. "You know...well, probably you don't...I mean, who would tell you, right?" I said "Right ", even though I did not know to what I was giving assent, but, considering His reputation and all, I thought it a good bet. "People who see life as war,...and guns,..." I waited. "The after-life is just more obsession with guns and war..." "Fear?" I said. "Fear and worrying about other people with guns, and planning retaliation, and whether to serve vengeance hot or cold?" "Yep." We drove on in silence for a while. Finally, I had to ask, "Well, why is that? I mean, it's your Universe and all?" He laughed. "Go ask your bright guys. Apparently - according to them - I've outsourced everything to an Intelligent Design group." "Well, yeah. O.K., but that doesn't really answer my question..." He pointed towards the front of the car. "Eyes on the road, pal." Later, I stopped for gas, and wondered whether He'd chip in, but He was gone.

Money Fer The Arts

Henry Jakubowski was grumbling about bail-outs at Hanaan's Diner. I said that he'd be singing a different tune if he were in a leaky boat. He looked at me and did the golem-smile thing: what a golem would smile...if a golem were to smile...sort of...not all there. Or perhaps like Graham Greene says of Captain Segura: his smile came out of the wrong place, much like a toothpaste container with a rip in it. But what was important was that I could no longer get him mad. Hank had been down so long, that my feeble quips were nothing but flies looking for a soft spot on his great, pachydermous bulk...and not having much luck at it. That's what happens when you steal a little retirement money from people; the starch goes out of their shirts, and they all sit around looking like that unhappily hot jury in Twelve Angry Men. So I decided to try my best shot, trying to raise him from his slough of despond du jour. I started talking about money for the Arts. Hitherto, money for the Arts for Hank was an ominous collage of sacred objects and bottles of human waste products, sort of a Max Ernst assemblage of Marcel DuChamp's Urinal in an unholy conjunction with Fra Angelico. To be fair to Hank, the objects he was recalling were not much by the way of Art by any definition of Art...other than Art as the process by which one bugs the hell out of straight, white folks. Far be it from me to let him know I felt this way. What really is the value of having a blue-blooded, FOX watching rightie in your midst if you cannot indulge in a little "bear baiting" of the old, ugly brute? I mean, really? Some of them become quite apoplectic. The ones with fair skin get all red-splotchy. I know one specimen with rosacea who becomes neon in his indignation. Very amusing for an indolent drone like myself. So-o-o, I reached back into memory and pulled up something about money for the Arts.... No! No! That wasn't how it went. No. I remember now. First, he was moaning and groaning about bail-outs, then drugs and Mexico. Then he said that it had been proved that any country like Denmark or Holland ( which he calls - I kid you not- Dutchland!) which had adopted a liberal attitude towards drugs discovered that the costs down the road cost more than a good, old-fashioned WAR on drugs in the first put that in your let's-decriminalize-drugs-and-tax-it pipe and smoke it! I said that the reason that Denmark and Holland found this to be true was the fact that Denmark and Holland were Socialist! and did stuff like provide safety nets and thing, so of course they would find that it cost them dearly. However, I said, in this country, we have abolished all those safety nets, so we could legalize drugs and get off on the cheap! I truly baffled him at this point. Then I sequenced into the Artsy-Fartsy topics of conversation. Since we were talking about how much stuff costs: Arts 50 million, Banks 1 trillion, I decided it was time. So, then I did that reaching back in time and grabbing a memory about money for the Arts in the original Obama stimulus package, and said we needed that mazuma for the Arts. For pete's sake, operas were being cancelled as we spoke! I said: wasn't the original stimulus inclusion for the Arts gutted by some Know-Nothings and Nativists and America-Firsters and the KKK??!! Silence. He said, yeah. Then he said 50 million wasn't all that much...if they could keep from putting religious objects into containers of urine, why not? Even artists should be able to run their own shop well enough to do that. I nodded and heaved a sigh. I could not get an argument going. Peace would reign here today. True, it was a peace of the bitterly disappointed, the exhausted, and those that despaired of the future, but what the heck? Hanaan was standing behind the lunch counter giving me the evil-eye, much like FDR gave Kramer in that Seinfeld episode. I had not ordered anything to eat. I had just been sitting there sucking down a glass of water. Perhaps today was the day I would stand up to her bullying. Hanaan insists upon herself too much. Yes, Lois. She insists upon herself.

Talking To The Maya

The Scots Philosopher MacFinn

Back when I spoke to the Maya, I used to complain about their sacrificial religious rites. The entire business of ripping people's hearts out was really not a sign of spiritual advancement, but on the contrary was a sign of a vicious indulgence in a corrupt spiritual vision gone badly awry. Of course, given their history of bloodletting, from human sacrifice to the ritual bloodletting of kings, they merely looked at me, shook their heads, and smiled to each other, much as if I were the chimpanzee in "Jungle Jim", who had stopped by to supply everyone a much needed laugh. They pointed their index fingers at the sides of their heads with a circular motion, saying "chowen", and laughing lots, this apparently being "mad as a monkey", and equivalent to "looney tunes". At this point, I realized why I have so much trouble speaking to Americans about violence in society: there's way too much lovely history of bloodletting in which we wrap ourselves in comfortably like a warm duvet on a winter's morning. It may have, indeed, troubled us once upon a time - such things as the pictures and the words of evil hitherto inexpressible being heralded into our living room from cable TV - but we have grown used to it. In fact, violence is the constant. The morality which gives rise to moral outrage when a truly outrageous violent event occurs is the exception. We live with a Punctuated Christian Morality; it exists only in pieces. First comes the Vision Quest. First the 40 days in the desert, fasting. First you come to God. After that, you may sit around an argue about what is good or bad for a society. St.Paul tells us that what we think is True and Clear Vision and Insight is nothing more than straining to see through a glass, darkly. In this present day of religion and ritual and atheism and power......we see only as if through that dark window. Therefore, religion and ritual and all the trappings of our Rationality and Reason and Power and Governance..., they are all exigencies of people who are lost and cannot find their way. We cannot make decisions as long as we are immersed within the prisons of our dark, unseeing visions of the world. Just as the Maya, we cannot understand that violence and bloodletting should be the rare exceptions, not the rule. We are fish, and violence is the water in which we swim. What is beyond our little sea?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What Really Grinds My Gears April 11 2009

I can't even say what really grinds my gears! I mean, there is such a thing as censorship, and it isn't PC to say what I want to say, so I have to talk around it. So, in an annual celebration of Spring, the daughter and I wend our way in pilgrimage to the local Twist 'n' Dip for cones, blizzards, sundaes, and ices; in short, as soon as it warms up, we have to sit around and wail for the the disappearance of winter by eating - not bitter herbs - but ice cream! Ice cream! Oh, ice,ice, gone and melted! Next year in Khoref - winter! Oy! (what would human history be without our charming paradoxical behavior?) I was telling her that earlier that afternoon, I had witnessed a mother starting to push a baby stroller across a busy street, and a large, cream-colored SUV began its turn to the right off the red light, heading directly at mother and child. The accident was avoided, but I saw the mother had some nasty looks for the SUV as it drove off. "Was the driver a woman?" my daughter asked. "Yeah. She was." I said. "I'll bet she was on her phone." my daughter said, saying it with a real force of conviction. Then she added: "I can just see her sitting there incredibly smug with her insane sense of entitlement." I was flabbergasted. I mean, if it is so well known to everybody that it is a commonplace that a woman driving an SUV will be on the phone and will pose a threat to life and limb, why are there no laws being passed? Or is it merely because we can't single out all these smug chatty Cathies, because it isn't PC to do so? Well, after my daughter had said this I reflected on it. I remembered one harrowing situation where I was being harassed by a large, black Monstro the Whale of an SUV - a Lincoln Navigator or a Cadillac Escalade - sort of the real deal Truck-o-saurus! Finally, as it pushed me up onto the median and drove away, I could just see through the darkly tinted windows a woman on a cellphone! She held it aloft as fearsomely as the Headless Horseman lofted his burning pumpkin head, and she raised up and - in my fear - I imagined she threw it directly at me! The SUV drove off in a cloud of dust and a cackling of insane witchery. Whew. That's what really grinds my gears.

Remembering Rotten Republicans 1996-2006

Je me souviens, as they say on Quebec's license plates: I remember. If you, my daughter, remember anything about credit from all this, remember the following: Showdown Seen Between Banks and Regulators By STEPHEN LABATON and EDMUND L. ANDREWS Published: April 10, 2009 ...Both large and small banks have pressed the Obama administration to make it less costly for them to exit the bailout program by waiving the right to exercise stock warrants the banks had to grant the government in exchange for the loans. At a meeting last month, the chiefs of three of the largest banks separately asked Mr. Obama to direct the Treasury not to exercise the warrants, Mr. Fine said. Douglas Leech, the founder and chief executive of Centra Bank, a small West Virginia bank that participated in the capital assistance program but returned the money after the government imposed new conditions, said he complained strongly about the Treasury Department’s decision to demand repayment of the warrants. That effectively raised the interest rate he paid on a $15 million loan to an annual rate of about 60 percent, he said. “What they did is wrong and fundamentally un-American,” he said. “Even though the government told us to take this money to increase our lending, the extra charge meant we had less money to lend. It was the equivalent of a penalty for early withdrawal.” Remember that a penalty for early withdrawal is un-American.... even though the banks have no qualms applying it to you or me. Remember it is un-American to have sky high interest rates, even though the Rotten Republican Congress voted to allow credit card companies apply sky high rates to you and I. Remember the Rotten Republicans.

Friday, April 10, 2009

News From The Swigwam

The band is tuning up at the Swigwam on St. Pete's Beach. I wish I were there. Hi, Billy, Scott, etc.

Mythic Landscapes: The Cumaean Sibyl

View of the Sibyl of Cumaea, circa 2006.
If the Cumaean Sibyl is too Classical, then let us try the Oracle from The Matrix.

Lunch With Madea

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Masquerade Of Words

I was speaking to someone who spoke of the need of "...a real religious insight." I left immediately, and shall not waste time talking to that person for a long time; at least until they see that the "real" is "unreal". It is unreal in the sense that it has nothing to do with religion. "Real" is nothing but a heart-felt "Oh, I wish, I wish, I really, really wish..." and if you are still wishing about God, someone else is doing all the bull work of the Lord.


I never debate. If you catch me debating someone, I am marking time until something better comes along. Never argue with people on their home turf. Their home turf is this great palaver blanket of mush which sort of covers us all with its mind-dulling rhetoric of rationalism. Words are masks and disguises. I no longer have a need to disguise reality. When reality is uncovered - that is, our human reality, what we have created, not what God has created - it is frightening and bloody. How bloody it is is a measure of its failure at existing. It is frightening because it is loud, hellish, body-rending and mind-numbing. It may not destroy us, however, without our ok. We have to become complicit in crime before it may destroy us. Debate is dancing around the ring, boxing with this reality, wondering whether we shall engage and thus be destroyed, or... whether we shall fly away in the glory, in the morning.

A 99.95 Years War

Rainbow Bridge to Valhalla

So many guns are being sold, there is not enough ammo for a proper Hundred Years War anymore.

Last night, I dreamt about it. I saw in a dream our history as an opera. It seemed Wagnerian. It was taking place in a Bayreuth theater imagined by Leni Reifenstahl. "2008" - strangely and eerily similar to the name "2001" , which itself was an iconic bit of music - was merely the overture to a Gotterdammerung, or Twilight of the Gods, where the end of time has come and even the gods in Valhalla go down to destruction.
A good deal of sound and fury and wonderful music. I sing quite well in my dreams. I don't recall at what point I had left the audience and joined the cast onstage, but there it was.

Last night was the first opera: Gaia or Ge, the mother Earth, rejected us at last for the slings we lashed her with. The peaceful God lamented our hoard of weapons of destruction, saying not even Alberich nor Mime ( the dwarf ) with all his gelt ( his gold ) had such a destructive pile of goodies. ( I think one of Alberich's gold pieces was the ring of the Nibelungs. Exactly how it wrought destruction may be imagined from "The Lord of the Rings")

Disgusted by mankind's murderous greed, the gods abandon the Earth for Valhalla. At the end, there were a wretched few humans remaining alive. They raised their assault guns into a spire like a crucifix. The spirits of their ancestors - milling about the wings like a Greek chorus the entire opera - wept and abandoned them to the world they had created, thereby removing the last spiritual vestige which had connected man to the rest on the universe. It was all rather sad.

As I was exiting, I heard a large matron say to her companion, "Well, I can see why the living will envy the dead! All very Biblical." Her companion, an elderly gent, smiled a smile of the elderly - a benign symbol obscuring the fact that he had not heard what she had said at all. We bumped into each other and excused ourselves, allowing for each other to take precedence in exiting, and smiles all round.

We remembered the words of Winston Churchill:
"When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite."


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sock Drawer

The sock drawer is the highest drawer in the chest of drawers. There are two sock drawers, drawers one and two from the apex of the chest, and that devoted to black socks for formal wear, as well as socks of various colors for formal-casual, is the very topmost drawer. The one beneath - the downstairs drawer - is the drawer of the white socks, the work socks, the sports socks. I have a great many pairs of whites. I can say that they do not make them like they used to. I have often toyed with the notion of darning my whites, usually being saved from the extravagant economy by a timely sock sale - but I have an item all lined up for the darning egg if the need arises. I refuse to buy a new ceramic egg. I remember walking in darned socks as a child. It was a struggle. I think I may have further sabotaged them. I may have yanked them on by the cuff along the opening, hoping to rend them irretrievably. I hated darned socks. The next drawer down is underwear. Not much to say here. The other day, I was caught out of doors in a pair of tighty-whities that had lost their tightness. This is another situation I do not much like.(And I hasten to add that I was wearing a pair of thick corduroys over the whities. I was "caught" in an allegorical sense.)There is no immediate remedy, and no surreptitious fix - like checking the zipper on the sly - is available. That pair of tighty whities were so acutely loose, so indolent of their proper functions, and the results were so louche and satyric and Rabelaisian, that I thought everyone in my vicinity would notice. They did not. Back to the top drawer of socks, ebony and colored silk and cotton, and some wool. I have a small pile of handkerchiefs, usually segregated to the right rear, but sometimes freely strewn over the socks. I usually bundle the socks into those topological knots, resembling a Klein bottle, where you lay them out, one on top of the either, toes and tops together, then twist them into a Mobius strip - thereby establishing the one-dimensional nature of the socks, which is why we can pack so bloody many into a drawer - then pull the toes up to the tops - the "mouth" of the Klein bottle topology - insert and try to pull your fingers back before the time-space gate snaps down. Toss into drawer like so many muffled marbles. (Someone once gave me some Japanese tabi socks, but they didn't seem to be a true "sock", and I did not like the notion - so prevalent in the late 20th and early 21st century - of snobbery applied to socks; a "sockishness", like wine snobbery, or cigar snobbery. There was only so much one could be snobbish about. My brother was into cheese snobbery. It seemed all too exhausting to me. If I am to have my senses reeling from the shock of the new and exotic, it will no longer be caused by domestic articles like socks.
I gave the tabi away, possibly to the Goodwill.) The drawer is dark and unruly like the Hellespont in storm. If the white handkerchiefs are scattered, they look like white caps of waves, or bones in the teeth of impetuous boats braving the storm's furies against wiser councils. I impose no order. This is the realm of chaos envisaged by so many writers of middling sci-fi scripts. It is the domain of black quantum foam, where vaguely rounded figures of darkness bubble up into view - so early in their quantum lives that they exhibit a net deficit of color, excepting that thin gold thread sewn along the toe. If I am late in getting dressed, I stand there like some baffled ursine upon a rock within a roaring stream, bewildered by the innumerable shadowy and tenebrous socks swimming in pairs upstream to spawn. I launch a mighty roar, and swipe my exacting claws to grab a pair; their cotton weave gasps and they wriggle, trying to escape. I thrust them upon my entish feet. Whew. The drawer, being the highest and the easiest for me to reach, has become the filing cabinet of my lint, spare change, and gas receipts and all things of minor accountabilities. Business cards to old theater tickets, souvenirs of impositions or happy times, stored against that future time when I shall get around to writing things up in my Journal...which has become an Annual...and now transforms into a Dekas, or group of ten years. Everything goes right there, against everything the fire marshall has told us, until the drawer no longer closes, and I am forced to go through them and put them into a manila envelope. In my memory, there are festoons and rosettes carved upon the wood surfaces of this chest of drawers, as well as fluted pillars at the edges in bas relief, and ending in a scroll foot. It has the veneer of antiquity about it. When I approach it, I feel as if I were a chamberlain about to ceremonially open the legislative chambers of some august Senate. I think Ishmael was correct in having "Chips" make him a coffin early on during the voyage of the Pequod, for all infinite horizons have a shoreline; all large, vibrant life comes from the hollows of those tight-pack receptacles in those dark ships of the past, whose commerce was the basis of our modernity and wealth. Without the wooden capitols and columns of my furniture, without the items therein derived from the fibers of living plants, I am barely a man.

Anna's Snow Bird

AnnaMR had a poignant final post about a bird who had made a snow angel, then thought better of it, got up, brushed itself off, and scooted. So we have been looking for that bird ever since, freely giving in to our obsessional natures. The bird has been spotted. It was actually an ice bird, Avis Rara Glacis, which had made the one-point landing, woozled into the snow bank, then skedaddled. We were lucky to get a photo of it before the summer.

The Memoirs Of Victor Frankenstein: The Early Years

"I fondly recall the chemist's shop in Branau. It was on the Hesselstrasse, and its windows were always bright with light and novelty. I would stand there with my nose pressed to the glass, endlessly drinking in its chemical wonders. "Ich bin von Himmel gefallen..." I murmured dreamily, for indeed, it seemed as if I had been to Heaven and back; returning now, a nomad from the celestial realm, with new insights into piece-mealing cadavers and using lightning to "motivate" them!"
photo: cabinet of wonders

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mythic Landscapes: The Temple Of Aesclepius, Saviour

In the temple of Aesclepius, I dreamt of my father's boat:
pix: paddchas


I had taken the VW Passat in for its usual maintenance, and was sitting in the waiting room, writing on a large legal pad, while all around me, people were using lap tops and blackberries and iPhones. They were talking in the intense tones of youth when everything is rather critical. So in the 2 hours I sit there, I had a number of old types come up and ask me: are you a priest? are you a rabbi? are you an imam? I sensed that had I only been in a bar, there would have been a good joke in this. I am now going to writes some good lines to have at the ready when asked these questions in the future; something wise and profound. I don't know whether I shall make it simple and clear, or abstruse and obscure. This wisdom thing could be a good wheeze to run for a while.

We Are Legend

The economy is performing better than expected. There will be no job growth, however. Stock markets can do quite well, thank you, without any jobs. In fact, stock markets react positively to jobs being cut, people thrown out of work, and shipping jobs overseas. My parents thought Rick Wagoner of GM got a raw deal. Then they read about how he wanted to outsource 100% of tooling overseas ( in Crain's Business ). They don't seem to get it that cable news wants knee-jerk reactions, not informed viewers. If the present trend continues, we are going to settle for illusions: the people at large will own the crappy assets, the people at large will go into year after year working at survival jobs, the people at large will watch the value of what they do have disappear. We are destroying the future to rescue the miserable lives of the people who run this country. The rest of us...? We are already as dead as walking zombies. We are legend. <<<>>> More than anything, we wish for continuity in our lives: a story of country, faith, and ourselves that begins in hope, stays on course although buffeted by storms, and eyes on the prize - the same prize we had when we were young and dreaming. That's what bothers me: I sense a sudden break in the continuity of our history. That story of being a Boomer born in WW II; American Graffitti 1950's; Kennedy and King 1960's - Hendrix, Beatles, and Vietnam; the end of the Cold War and how little we let it really change things...all leading to American prosperity and the times when we wrote ( as recently as last year) "the USA is the most powerful nation in the histroy of the world"...and then retirement and golf and Medicare. It ain't happening. There's a sudden gap in continuity coming. And it's going like Lord of the Flies.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Future Of The Internet

I think that the future internet will be exclusively devoted to pictures of food. I think there will be even more sites with sandwiches and fries and - in Quebec - poutine.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What Really Grinds My Gears April 5 2009

Shamelessly stealing from Peter Griffin, I am doing "What Really Grinds My Gears".

So, what really grinds my gears is the blatant connection between the notion of Deconstruction in Literature and Philosophy, and the rise in Alzheimer's related dementia.

I mean, obviously there is a "deconstruction" going on, and the one parallels the other. I am really ticked off how Reality imitates Art.
I am equally ticked off about Art imitating Reality.
It is like that Irony thing: it really ground my gears that the USA has this reversal of fortune thing going on, with the banks and all... It's the real deal, not some Tower of Babel fairy tale! That really, really grinds my gears!

So...what am I saying? I'll tell you what I'm saying! This blather and hop-scotch about deconstruction leads to a void. It was a dramatic foreshadowing of the deconstruction of society...and vice versa, if you wish to have it both ways.
Literature should learn to stay out of Reality. Or, if not, then it should get a job like the rest of us. Or, like the rest of us used to.
Same thing goes for films. Siegfried Kracauer notwithstanding, the film The Cabinett of Dr. Caligari should not warn us about fascism; in that best of all possible worlds - envisaged by Dr. Pangloss - the spiritual and the physical do not " leak " into each other, but maintain strict Cartesian segregation and separation. The spiritual has separate, but "equal" facilities, such as water fountains and wash rooms. That's what really grinds my gears!



I do not understand the government's approach to Toxic Assets and the banks which hold them. From the ASIA TIMES: Geithner's dirty little secret By F William Engdahl ...Today, five US banks, according to data in the just-released Federal Office of Comptroller of the Currency's Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activity, hold 96% of all US bank derivatives positions in terms of nominal values, and an eye-popping 81% of the total net credit risk exposure in event of default. The top three are, in declining order of importance: JPMorgan Chase, which holds a staggering $88 trillion in derivatives; Bank of America with $38 trillion, and Citibank with $32 trillion. Number four in the derivatives sweepstakes is Goldman Sachs, with a mere $30 trillion in derivatives; number five, the merged Wells Fargo-Wachovia Bank, drops dramatically in size to $5 trillion. Number six, Britain's HSBC Bank USA, has $3.7 trillion. After that the size of US bank exposure to these explosive off-balance-sheet unregulated derivative obligations falls off dramatically. Continuing to pour taxpayer money into these five banks without changing their operating system, is tantamount to treating an alcoholic with unlimited free booze... Why has the criminal Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 , which created the playing field for these abuses, not been repealed? This is the act which forbade regulatory oversight of derivatives. If you forget, there was a serious infection of derivatives in the 90's. I remember something about how the pension fund for Orange County, California, had lost some incredible amount back then, because it had invested in derivatives. Why did then Senator Phil Gramm exempt it from scrutiny? Why has Gramm not been called to account for his crimes? Why has he not been summoned to testify before Congress? ( I think he was, but he was handled with the respect due a law-maker.)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Waiting For Ananias

Much preferable to sitting around and waiting for Godot. God may work miracles. Miracles are beyond human control and abilities. Miracles are the essence of creativity. The devil is forced to rely entirely upon human weaknesses to work evil. This is why the displays of evil - alluring though it may be at times - when seen alongside the works of God, are immediately seen to be second-rate and derivative: they merely plagiarize the weaknesses we already have.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April 1

Gowk, or Common Cuckoo
Today arrived with the morning milk, and like the morning milk, it sat a while upon the back door stoop - fresh, bedewed with beads of moisture, and cream at the top! - a big gawsie day, a day looking for love and trouble - a day of many colours: good, bad, and indifferent; a day of glycol and gristle, of candy and cinders...a harbinger of spring and summer and the early fall days to come, the great expansive kerry dance of days, lasting from Trinity until Michaelmas. Today is April 1: " This is the first day of April, Hunt the gowk another mile. " "Gowk" is a Scots word , meaning "cuckoo", and as unfamiliar as it probably sounds, I may safely say that I have actually used it in my writing, doing something about grackles and gowks at the time of about 40 plus years ago. My three nephews stopped by by in the A.M., soliciting three cups of tea ( courtesy the Grace Tea Company, New York, New York ). I thought it auspicious and ominous: three nephews, three cups of tea, three the kings, three the persons of the Trinity...and three the legs of Hephaestos' steam-powered......three...legged thingies that we read about in the Iliad, or at least would have read about had you been studying. So it was that, then: a day of wonders mechanical - Haephestos to Henry Ford - and perhaps our bitter herbs to eat after. We wondered at the markets dropping after Mr. Obama's remarks about the auto industry. To us, it seemed like CEO Obama was stepping up and clearing the decks and it was all business - good sign from our experience. However, markets, in their infinite wisdom and ability to act like frightened harlequins, saw it differently. I suppose Mr. Santelli was scrabbling about the floor of a mercantile exchange somewhere, yelling "Mene, mene, tekhel, up yer socialism!" - or the closest approximation thereto. It was a good day today. The down market was followed by an up - somewhere. It was a day to take your car into the nearest auto hospice to have an evaluation of the damages of unrepaired potholes. We have had some potholes along the seam of tarmac and shoulder which resemble the Calebras Cut of the Panama Canal, and have been gaping like Ginnunga Gap for a couple of months. I saw a road grader once. As I passed, I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw it disappear down the void - another addition to the DPW of Hades! The bit of doggerel on April 1 quoted above - I tell you now, just had I told the boys, sitting and drinking the Earl Grey tea - was what passed for humor in the Gaelic community; i.e., the total discomfiture and embarrassment of another human being. Back in the day, our druidical leaders had us give human sacrifice. With the Christian community moving into the neighborhood, we - the Gaels : in order of importance, the Scots, the Manx, the Bretons, the Welsh, the Cornish, and the Irish -we felt the necessity no longer of decapitating the odd Andy Thomson and using his eyeballs to play at mib, so we turned to incapacitating a scapegoat with practical jokes. It was that same Andy Thomson we asked to go to the Chemist's with a note, whereon was writ the above " This is the first day of April, Hunt the gowk another mile ". The Chemist, upon reading said note, would tell poor Andy that he did not have the medicament or whatever that I required, but so-and-so did. He would tell Andy then to proceed to Mr. So-and-so with his letter Andy did as directed, and the cycle went on. The verb "hunt" is taken to mean to chase game, to cause it to move and run, not merely to go looking for game, so everyone is causing Andy, the gowk - it also means a simpleton - to run on another mile or so. By the end of it, everyone was laughing, and Andy couldna show his face for a fortnight.