Monday, June 30, 2008

Splash du Jour: Monday

When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion,
then I go out and paint the stars.
-- Vincent Van Gogh, 1888 –

Have a great Monday!
*********

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wildflower: A Saturday Poem












Wildflower

Nowadays, no walking is needed.
Plastic numbers will send tame ones
Around the globe at a click. Try it.
Think of someone in need, first.

Potted, wrapped, still dripping with dew.
Carded and be-ribboned, only idiots
And madmen sidestep such efficiency
Or walk somewhere.

I thought all of this before yesterday,
When… on a hillside I knelt as though
The world were a cathedral. And knew
That I can only enjoy this, by staying.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Splash du Jour: Friday










Who has not found the heaven below

Will fail of it above.

God’s residence is next to mine,

His furniture is love.
-- Emily Dickinson, c.1860 --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Splash du Jour: Thursday

I’m a city boy. In the big cities, they’ve set it up so you can go to a park and be in a miniature countryside; but in the countryside they don’t have any patches of big city, so I get very homesick.
-- Andy Warhol, 1977 --

Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Totally NOT Happening©

Well, on the weekend I wasted a pile of gas by driving to the theatre to waste some money on tickets and then sit in a seat, wasting my time enduring 100 minutes of quite possibly the worst movie that has ever been made in the history of cinema.
The Happening.
Umm…. The Happening is totally NOT happening!
Really, even if I were to try and find some kind of generous statement to try and say one good thing about this movie, it would be something like….. umm… it has a great poster? Like I was expecting something with at least the resemblance of some sort of half-believable story content?
I was disappointed. Immensely.
This is just a bad movie. It is terrible.
The premise? Well, trees and grass and other types of foliage are giving off some sort of fumes that make people kill themselves. No explanation of how or why they are doing this, is ever given, by the way!
Yeah, the trees are making people launch themselves from building tops, pick up guns and shoot themselves, take out their hairpins and ram them into their neck, put lawnmowers into gear and then set themselves underneath the blades, walk into lion cages at the zoo… and get this one… the trees are making people ram their vehicles into trees.
[You would think that the tree would not like this last method!]
Gratuitous violence, pitiful special effects, and horrid story.
Terrible acting. [Mark Wahlberg, SHAME on you!]
Terrible non-story.
Huge waste of time.
I KNEW I should have went to The Love Guru!
Someone at work overheard me saying how terrible The Happening was, and then they poked their head into the lunchroom and unabashedly announced that they Happened© to love the movie.
And I said, “Yeah! But you like watching WWF Wrestling, too!”
‘Nuff said.
My advice, if you feel the urge to see this movie?
Stay home and watch your plants grow!

*******

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,
you must first invent the universe.
-- Carl Sagan, 1980 –

Have a great Tuesday!
********

Monday, June 23, 2008

Splash du Jour: Monday

At the age of fifty women begin a new kind of beauty, as one might take up a new career in life, or as ground that is no longer any good for vines can be used for growing beet. Around these features a new youthfulness begins to flourish.
-- Marcel Proust –

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The History of the Siege of Lisbon

It is such a beautiful day, I am writing this at an outdoor patio. This is very unusual for me, to have my laptop open in the great outdoors.
There are so many birds flying about here in the courtyard of planet coffee [← all lower case, perhaps the place is owned by the descendents of e.e. cummings?]… that I am a bit concerned that one of them may decide to bomb my Mac, if you know what I mean.
At any rate, I am just thinking of the last book I read.
The History of the Siege of Lisbon, by Jose Saramago.
It is not exactly a fetching title for a work of fiction!
It sounds like… well, a history book, does it not?
And in a sense, it is a history book, but one that basically, from start to finish, speculates upon what exactly a book of “history” is! It questions the nature of history and the relationship of words to truth and reality.
Much like another favorite author of mine [Ian McEwan], Saramago’s fiction capitalizes on the effects of seemingly innocuous antecedent causes. He has the uncanny ability of constructing looming fictional mountains from the most shadowless of molehills.
In Siege of Lisbon, he is writing at the height of his powers.

Our protagonist is Raimundo Silva, a middle-aged, quiet, [somewhat] celibate bachelor, well-respected for his years of accuracy as proof-reader for a well-known publishing house.
One day, while proof-reading a standard text of the history of the siege of Lisbon, Raimundo inexplicably succumbs to an urge to insert one word in the concluding portions of the text.
This word “not” [the most shadowless of molehills] amounts to a sort of re-invention of the founding myth of Portugal. As amended by Silva, the text now reads that the crusaders did not come to the aid of the 12th-century Portuguese King who was laying siege to Lisbon, aiming to expel the Moors from the area.

Silva submits his bastardized work and then lives twelve full days of angst-riddled guilt, pending discovery and punishment, both of which duly arrive in the form of a pre-judged tribunal, with Raimundo in the dock!
He is acquitted of his offense, but put on probation. And to deal with any further lapses in proof-reading efficiency, the publisher has hired a new executive. The young, voluptuous, alluring and astute Maria Sara, to whom Raimundo will be obligated to report.
Rather than being reproachful, Maria is fascinated with Raimundo’s anarchic ways.
In a private meeting, she proposes that he write his own version of the siege of Lisbon… the version which would elaborate upon his insertion of the word “not.” Initially, he feels unequal to the task, but soon becomes equally obsessed with the idea, and sets out upon his assignment.

But this is not the only obsession now alive in Raimundo. Along with the project, he is also obsessed with Maria, and she, with him.
What follows in the book before us is an amazing intertwining of history with fiction.
As in, it happens not only in the book that is in our own hands, but also in the one that Raimundo is writing, for he creates a love story within his fictionalized “history” that mirrors his own burgeoning relationship with Maria.

What we hold in our hands is:
a) a contemporary love story, set in modern-day Lisbon.
b) an unorthodox “Raimundo-ized” retelling of events surrounding the actual siege of Lisbon in 1147, which itself resolves into a believable love affair between a common soldier and a knight's concubine.
c) a wonderfully rich and rewarding Saramagian discourse on the mutability of history, and the inadequacy of words to describe what is [too often] perceived as fact.

This being the eighth Saramago novel I have read, it saddens me to think there is only one left for me to read through for the first time. [The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis]. The thing about Jose Saramago is that each novel is so good, that while you are reading it, you feel a loyalty to claiming that it is his best work. I felt that way repeatedly during the reading of The History of the Siege of Lisbon.

Let me say for the hundredth time [on Bookpuddle] a word or two about the unconventional style of Jose Saramago.
Sentences and passages run off into the horizon like an endlessly rolling landscape. His use of punctuation is completely not normal. Some of his sentences go on for pages at a time, spliced together with a sand-on-the-seashore amount of commas. Within sentences, new speakers speak, with no use of quotation marks differentiating one from the other.
If Saramago submitted to any sort of standardized Grammar Test [something I cannot imagine him doing…] any teacher would have to fail him. Then, were that same teacher to read something by Saramago, she would find that the old man has much to teach her, about grammar.

I will provide an annotated excerpt from Siege of Lisbon HERE, if you would like to see an example of his nefarious ways!
Such unconventionality extends even to the narration. In Saramago, the narrator must be listed as a principle character so absorbingly digressive and ubiquitously intercalary that he is nowhere non-evident, often stumbling forward to inform the reader that there are certain things that even he cannot possibly know, and hence, in humble non-omniscience, he must remain silent upon these issues!
In a word, if you have not experienced the work of Jose Saramago, I greatly encourage you to dive in. And The History of the Siege of Lisbon seems to me as good a place as any, to begin.

In closing [the lid of my laptop] let me conclude by saying that I managed to write all of the above without any birds laying siege to the Mac.
Yet.

*********

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Life

Me, in a state of Profound Awareness.
Today I had the following thought.
I thought [and this was just out of the blue, I was at work, thinking away, and I thunk…] I thought something along the lines of “If I were to find out that I had some terminal disease, I cannot really complain about everything I have experienced up to this point in my life, especially health-wise… and especially in comparison to what other people have had to go through, health-wise, in their own life.”

Now, while I essentially believe that what I was thinking has a lot of valid sense to it… the more I thought about it, the more I wondered exactly what it is I mean when I use a term like “my life.”
What is “my life”?
In what sense is it “mine”?
Well, obviously, it is “mine” in the profound sense that whatever happens to me [especially physically] happens only to me, and not to you, or to anyone else, busy living their own life, and having thoughts in their own head wherein they are frequently using the term, “my life” in reference to their own self.

My consciousness, my sense of “self” is housed in a head… in a brain.
My brain.
As long as that brain is functioning properly, I maintain a sense of wellness, and/or not-wellness, in reference to my self.
But more and more often, as of late, I am being struck with the idea that using the term “my life” is…… well, there is something wrong with it.
Even in the sense of how we tend to think of the Afterlife© , if we believe at all in such a thing.
I think that a large part of the problem we have with understanding it [and by “it” I mean the idea that we maintain some sort of conscious existence after physical death] is that we attach too much “individuality” to the entire concept.

For instance, if I think of my own beloved father who passed away 18 days before the new Millennium… I find that the difficulties I have in imagining his continued existence [in the afterlife] involve aspects of his individuality. Things like… “Is he wearing pants?” If so…. who gave him these pants? Do they wear out? Who washes them and irons them? Or are they just sort of….. wrinkled?
He liked to drink tea after supper.
Is he [tonight] drinking tea after supper…. somewhere?

Someone who knows everything might answer, “No. We don’t wear pants, nor drink tea in the Afterlife.”
Well…. whoever answers the question[s] like this is presuming that they know an answer that they cannot possibly know. [Except by what is called “faith” which is intrinsically not transferable, hence, not applicable to another person, unless received in a similar attitude of faith].
Ultimately, the questions remain valid, and unanswerable.
As to Continued Existence after bodily death, I used to think I knew about this.
But now I know that I do not, and that no one does.

And I am currently re-interpreting those phrases we tend to use, so flippantly, "going back to God" or "going back to the Source" or some people may say "becoming one with the Universe"... as silly as all those phrases do, in fact, sound, I think there is a profound truth to them, in actuality.

The key, though, is getting away from the idea of Individuality or Personality.
As in, thinking I am going to be wearing pants there or something. Or eating endless amounts of hamburgers. Or shaving.
All of that will not be going on. Because of the inherent absurdities involved.
And even though all that I am right now will still be alive and Aware, it will not be, in any sense, "I" [me, myself] aware of that awareness. I will be BEING.... in a sense.
As though all along, [before I was ever born], there was a Stream, and then when I was born, I entered into that Stream [as did you, when you were born]. The Stream existed before me or you, and will exist after our physical expiration.
But that’s just it.
The only thing that matters [really] is ongoing Awareness.
The kind of Awareness that would remain Aware if I were to right now drop dead immediately after posting this blog.
Whatever Life is, therefore, has very little to do with my Individuality.

More and more [I know this may sound crazy]… I just want to try and oust that possessive aspect of the term, and think more along the lines of, “If I were to find out that I had some terminal disease, I cannot really complain about everything I have experienced up to this point in Life, especially health-wise… and especially in comparison to what other people have had to go through, health-wise, in Life.”
Sincerely,
Cip

**********

Splash du Jour: Friday

One point in her, however, you did notice: that was her eyes. In them was seen a sublimation of all of her; it was not necessary to look further: there she lived. These eyes were blue, blue as autumn distance – blue as the blue we see between the retreating mouldings of hills and woody slopes on a sunny September morning. A misty and shady blue, that had no beginning or surface, and was looked into rather than at.
-- Elfride Swancourt, in Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes
[And, speaking of "a pair of blue eyes", I just want to send out a Happy Birthday hug to my wife, Nicole Kidman-Puddle!]

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Splash du Jour: Thursday

When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble.
-- Joan Didion

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This Guy ROCKS!

Hi y’all.
This blog shall have not much at all to do with books. But have any of you ever heard of this Bill Dan guy?
He balances rocks.
He has the gift of…. rock balancing, apparently.
I’ve been watching several clips on Youtube, and I am just amazed that this guy can do this. Apparently he is frequently asked about the "meaning" of his work, and he often replies that "Some people try to make things too complicated. This is the opposite."
I agree that it is the opposite…. of something all right!
Something called GRAVITY!



Learn more about Bill Dan.
**********

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Have a great Wednesday!
*********

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Experiment In Criticism

This is an amazing book.
C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment In Criticism. [1961]
It is one of those books you read and re-read! I've read mine twice now and it remains one of the best things I have ever read, about reading.
Typical of Lewis's deeper insight into things, his "Experiment" consists in a reversal of the usual method of literary judgment. Instead of classifying books, he classifies readers and how they "use" or "receive" books.

The true (unbiased) critic does not pontificate a judgment of 'good' or 'bad' upon a book without careful consideration of the possible confusion between degrees of merit and differences of kind.
"I want to convince people," says Lewis, "that adverse judgments are always the most hazardous... A negative proposition is harder to establish than a positive. One glance may enable us to say there is a spider in the room; we should need a spring-cleaning (at least) before we could say with certainty that there wasn't. When we pronounce a book good we have a positive experience of our own to go upon... In calling the book bad we are claiming not that it can elicit bad reading, but that it can't elicit good. This negative proposition can never be certain."

Central to his argument is the fact that the same book may be read in different ways.
It follows then that there is a certain speculative nature to evaluative criticism, and therefore no amount of reliance upon literary criticism can absolve one from the responsibility of becoming a GOOD READER© .
And what is a good reader?
Well, that is the question isn't it?
In my opinion, I feel that Lewis's "Experiment" can answer that question more effectively than anything I've ever come across. I would encourage you to read it, and see where you fit into his categories of the "literary" and the "unliterary" person (too lengthy to enumerate here). If at any point, you feel offended and want to hurl the book across the room... you are probably of the latter category.
Lewis deplored the technical dissection of what he loved so dearly... the simple act of reading.
I loved his image in chapter 2 of the "status seeker" type of readers, gathered to discuss the finer (and, of course hidden) points of "approved literature" while the only real literary experience in such a scenario "may be occurring in a back bedroom where a small boy is reading Treasure Island under the bed-clothes by the light of an electric torch."

Lewis sought in books (as he called it here) an "enlargement of his being".
He says on page 52, "I am probably one of many who, on a wakeful night, entertain themselves with invented landscapes. I trace great rivers from where the gulls scream at the estuary, through the windings of ever narrower and more precipitous gorges, up to the barely audible tinkling of their source in a fold of the moors. But I am not there myself as explorer or even as tourist. I am looking at that world from outside."
This is a terrific/significant book that will be read, re-read, and cherished by anyone who has ever had similar musings.
Oh, and by the way... all GOOD readers have!

**********

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. It means fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change. The Roman philosopher Tacitus rightly observed that “the desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.
-- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth. p.274 --

Have a great Tuesday!

*********

Monday, June 16, 2008

Splash du Jour: Monday













Interesting to see how generosity itself…. varies according to the situation and the circumstances, with our frame of mind and mood at the moment. Generosity, if you will forgive the comparison, is like a piece of elastic. It stretches, contracts, is capable of embracing all humanity or the selfish individual who only knows how to be generous with himself. However, an act of charity is always good for the soul.

-- Jose Saramago, in The History of the Siege of Lisbon

The above quotation [which I have self-punctuated] is from the current novel I am reading, and reminded me of a former writing of mine, on the topic of BEGGING.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Lost Memoirs...

This is not my usual fare.
But I recently read the terrific new [2008] novel called
The Lost Memoirs Of Jane Austen.
Written by Syrie James.
I have a confession.
I have never ever read even one Jane Austen novel even though I have a complete set of Austen novels on my bookshelf. Even though she was one of the favorite authors of one of my favorite authors [C.S. Lewis].
I really liked this novel, even though the cover of the book is a little light on the loafers! As many of you know, I do about 95% of my reading in one Starbucks or another… so this non-masculine cover was way conspicuous! I usually kept it flat on the table, right? You know what I mean? And looked around with that, “Yep, Tom Clancy! He’s the best!” look on my face.
But Syrie’s novel moved me, because it is about one of my favorite topics, ever. [Don’t tell the guys down at the loading dock…] LOVE!
Yep.
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is all about meeting the right person!
And… and meeting several wrong people, too!
Undoubtedly, the author is well-versed in Austenology. The whole thing whisps along like a great Austen-based MOVIE [I’ve seen them all!].
What is the premise?
Syrie James says, “On rereading Jane Austen’s letters, I noticed a two-year gap from January 1809 through April 1811, where personal letters were either nonexistent or missing. Those two years immediately preceded the publication of her first novel, Sense and Sensibility – when Jane was in her early thirties and had already written the first drafts of three complete novels, but was stalled in her writing career. I couldn’t help but wonder: what happened during those missing years?”
The Lost Memoirs is a fictional answer to that question.
It’s about the perseverance of true love, and how the societal strains of the early 19th Century can force even the greatest of soulmates asunder.
Or not.
It was a fine, enjoyable, read.
Recommended by Bookpuddle.
Visit the author’s website.

***********

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saramago: A Saturday Poem


Saramago


Here is a test for lovers Read Saramago.
If one says Why doesn’t he punctuate
And the other cares not this is a sign of
Incompatibilty.

If one meets him and is enamored while
The beloved sees nothing but an old man
Write this down → This is my first sign of
Incongruence.

If you read The Cave and one understands not
The clay dolls nor their shadows on the walls
For the love of God a favor is due One is
Incomprehensible.

Having worked through the corpus if a
Blindness persists consult not a physician
But conclude with no commas or line breaks
Impossibility

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Penultimate Novel

Have you ever started reading a book by a favorite author, and as you are reading, you begin to adore the book so much that you cannot help but wonder how many other of the author’s books are left to read?
In this case, I have just started Jose Saramago’s The History of the Siege of Lisbon, and I am greatly chagrined to realize that, for me, it is the penultimate novel.
Not to be condescending at all, but for those unfamiliar with this word, penultimate means, “last but one in a series of things; second to the last.”

I know that all of my readers know the meaning of penultimate, but perhaps not all of you are familiar with Nobel Prize-winning author, Jose Saramago.
If not, I encourage you to discover his work!

Oh, he is a gem! There is no one like him… trust me!
And this book has me completely enthralled.
He has such a unique, meandering, circuitous, grammatically oblivious, unconventional, charming, witty, brilliant, fearless, matchless, fascinatingly digressive way about him!
I have written of his curious ways, in a previous blog. Actually, many times I have mentioned how much I love the novels of Jose Saramago.
Let me just open The Penultimate Novel and select a passage at random…. just one sentence ought to convince all and sundry of the wonderful run-on world of Saramago, waiting to be… runned-on in!
Ahh, here’s a beauty….


Raimundo Silva thought to himself, in the manner of Fernando Pessoa, If I smoked, I should now light a cigarette, watching the river, thinking how vague and uncertain everything is, but, not smoking, I should simply think that everything is truly uncertain and vague, without a cigarette, even though the cigarette, were I to smoke it, would in itself express the uncertainty and vagueness of things, like smoke itself, were I to smoke.

Jose Saramago, accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature -- 1998
**********

Splash du Jour: Friday

I HOPE you have a great Friday!
**********

Thursday, June 12, 2008

BookTHUDDLE!

Have you ever wondered why women need catalogs?
This video-clip should forever settle the question of the intrinsic usefulness of a good heavy book!

video

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Someone recently showed me the annual prospectus of a large spiritual organization. When I looked through it, I was impressed by the wide choice of interesting seminars and workshops. It reminded me of a smorgasbord, one of those Scandinavian buffets where you can take your pick from a huge variety of enticing dishes. The person asked me whether I could recommend one or two courses. “I don’t know,” I said. “They all look so interesting. But I do know this,” I added. “Be aware of your breathing as often as you are able, whenever you remember. Do that for one year, and it will be more powerfully transformative than attending all of these courses. And it’s free.”
-- Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth. p.244 --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

"Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love - and I mean love, not lust - is the imperfection of the human being."
-- Joseph Campbell, in Pathways To Bliss --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

When the eye finds nothing to see, that no-thingness is perceived as space. When the ear finds nothing to hear, that no-thingness is perceived as stillness. When the senses, which are designed to perceive form, meet an absence of form, the formless consciousness that lies behind perception and makes all perception, all experience, possible, is no longer obscured by form. When you contemplate the unfathomable depth of space or listen to the silence in the early hours just before sunrise, something within you resonates with it as if in recognition. You then sense the vast depth of space as your own depth, and you know that precious stillness that has no form to be more deeply who you are than any of the things that make up the content of your life.
-- Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, p.218-219 –

Have a great Tuesday!
**********

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Chris Farley Show

One of my favorite comedic actors of all time is undoubtedly, Chris Farley.
God, I love that guy!
Today, at the book store, I noticed a new book, called The Chris Farley Show: A Biography In Three Acts.
It's written by his older brother Tom, and some other guy.
I want it.
I thumbed through the thing, and I read hilarious, and umm… not so hilarious excerpts. His life ended so prematurely, so tragically. And so many people saw it coming, and warned him of the dangers of continuing in his out-of-control lifestyle. For instance, SNL producer, Lorne Michaels tried to dispel Chris’s romanticized version of John Belushi’s own demise, warning that “there was nothing romantic about it. John missed most of the eighties, all of the nineties. And I don’t think that was his intention.” Michaels tells us, “I was pretty brutal with Chris. I mean, we buried John.”
And Chevy Chase says: “I sat with him and I said, ‘I’ve experienced this. I’ve seen who dies. I’ve seen how far you think you can go, what you can take and what you can’t. You’re just going to end up being an overweight guy who could fall on his stomach and had one or two funny things in his career, but nothing that’s ever really stood out. You’ll be a blip in the New York Times obituaries page, and that’ll be it. Is that what you want?’”

I say this sincerely, I miss the humor of Chris Farley.
One day, when this book is re-issued in paperback format, and is hence, affordable to a pauper like me, I am going to buy it and read it.
BUT… if anyone out there wants to buy it for me now, and send it to me, just let me know and I will be glad to forward you my snail-mail address!
If you are not familiar with the work of Chris Farley, I highly recommend that you guzzle about eleven beers, get in the car, drive down to Blockbuster and rent Black Sheep, or Tommy Boy, or Beverly Hills Ninja.
These are classic films, in the genre.



Chris Farley
(Feb.15, 1964 – Dec.18, 1997)
**********

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Looking Behind: A Saturday Poem











Looking Behind

I

Especially on quiet, satiated evenings it will happen.
Walking down the street I will suddenly stop
And turn toward a sense of myself approaching me.
Not of being followed or stalked, but quite the opposite.
The impossibility of pursuit. As though I alone exist
And my steady apparition.

II

Some say this is evidence of a deep disconnect.
Others, of over-connection. Various studies conclude
I exhibit the first sign of lunacy. Bollocks to them all!
Researchers will never understand until they do it.
The looking behind thing.
But they won’t.

III

For the record, my premonition has never proven false.
Believe me, I am quite wary of acquiring
An obsession with emptiness.
Just know that if you laugh I may join you,
Smiling. For I am never looking behind
Seeing nothing.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Splash du Jour: Friday

Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell upon you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label. Everything, a bird, a tree, even a simple stone, and certainly a human being, is ultimately unknowable. This is because it has unfathomable depth. All we can perceive, experience, think about, is the surface layer of reality, less than the tip of an iceberg. ….Words reduce reality to something the human mind can grasp, which isn’t very much. Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords. They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u. The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g, and so forth. Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?
-- Eckhart Tolle. A New World. p.25 and 27 --

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.''
-- Miss Bingley, in Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Am I Dreaming?

Well folks, as you all know, I practiclly live at Starbucks. This is no news.
And the other day I told you all about the new Breakfast Sandwiches.
This evening, I was ordering my coffee and I guess I was sort of gazing at those sandwiches again, and so the barista girl asked if I wanted one.
“Yeah, I think so,” I said.
“Which one?” she asked, and so I pointed to the very most sandwich-y one of them all! [I think I also drooled a bit…]
Then she said, “On the house!”

I’m not kidding.
So this is my second FREE Starbucks sandwich!
While the thing was roasting in the Starbucks Hell-Oven©, her and I struck up a little conversation and I found out about yet another new Starbucks innovation!
Listen up!
From now on, whenever you order a coffee and pay for it on the Starbucks Card [as I always do]…. are you ready for this? → → FREE REFILLS!
Umm…. Say again?

For me, a person whose average Starbucks visit lasts a good four or five hours [minimum]… this was the equivalent of telling me that Nicole Kidman just called and said she’s finished with Keith Urban and wants me to move in IMMEDIATELY!
I was stunned. And quite frankly, a bit scared, even.
FREE REFILLS!
No… not just “free refills” but free STARBUCKS refills.
I’m not sure if you are entirely grasping the concept here, but basically the suggestion is that I can sit there and just KEEP DRINKING COFFEE AND NOT PAY FOR IT!

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Splash du Jour: Tuesday















How do you let go of attachment to things? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Attachment to things drops away by itself when you no longer seek to find yourself in them. In the meantime, just be aware of your attachment to things.

-- Eckhart Tolle, in A New World, p.45 --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Splash du Jour: Monday

To be so bent on marriage – to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation – is a sort of thing that shocks me; I cannot understand it. Poverty is a great evil, but to a woman of education and feeling it ought not, it cannot be the greatest. I would rather be a teacher at school (and I can think of nothing worse) than marry a man I did not like.
-- Emma, in Jane Austen’s, The Watsons

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

How I Am Feeling...

...As though on the cusp of something very important and/or revolutionary.
...Free and alive, and grasping at the first straws of what it might mean to be more Aware.
...As though all of my formal [four] years of full-time ministerial training did not contain even 3% of what it means to be “spiritual”.
...As though saying all of the above is truly liberating, and exciting.
Just recently, as many of you may know, I read the Eckhart Tolle book, The Power of Now.
I thought it was fabulous. I started with this book because I [correctly] understood it to be his first one, and so I wanted to be introduced to his teachings on sort of an inaugural basis, before reading his more recent book, A New Earth.
I, along with two friends, read The Power of Now, and we discussed it incessantly over a period of a week or so. We all found it revolutionary, challenging, and in many ways an admixture of profound simplicity and complexity.
As Tolle himself says, several times, [and I paraphrase]…. he is not intending to teach us something we do not already know. He has no desire to be heralded as a guru of any kind. In fact, he repeatedly advises de-attachment to words or ideas of any kind, consistently emphasizing that being “spiritual” or “enlightened” has nothing to do with what we believe, but rather, has everything to do with our state of consciousness.
The Power of Now really zeroes in on how this concept applies to the individual person.

Just yesterday I picked up A New Earth and I am now finding it to be an extension of the ideas of the former book. Here he is dealing with the topic of “collective dysfunction” and showing how the application of Awareness is essential to the ending of conflict and suffering in the world.


I am already confident that he knows what he is talking about, even though I am only on chapter two.
After convincingly delineating how that the century that has most greatly identified itself with thought and scientific advancement [the 20th] has also been the most atrociously cruel century in history [in its deliberate infliction of human suffering], he then offers the best definition of “evil” I have ever come across:
“If evil has any reality – and it has a relative, not an absolute, reality – this is its definition: complete identification with form – physical forms, thought forms, emotional forms. This results in a total unawareness of my connectedness with the whole, my intrinsic oneness with every ‘other’ as well as the Source. This forgetfulness is original sin, suffering, delusion. When this delusion of utter separateness underlies and governs whatever I think, say, and do, what kind of a world do I create? To find the answer to this, observe how humans relate to each other, read a history book, or watch the television news tonight.”

I stopped reading, and tried to envision any sort of “evil” that does not come under these parameters [unawareness of my connectedness with the whole, with the Source]…. from burglary, to rain-forest decimation, to rape, to big-game hunting, etc., and it is true, evil, at its base, is the result of a lack of a sense of connectedness/Awareness.

The Power of Now is awesome. Both the book, and what its title implies.

And A New Earth promises to be even better.
How am I feeling?
I feel as though the combination of these two books may prove to be the most significant step[s] that I have ever taken, in my own ongoing journey of spiritual enlightenment.
The determining factor is within me, and involves among other things, my readiness.
As the author says, “…this book is not ‘interesting’. Interesting means you can keep your distance, play around with ideas and concepts in your mind, agree or disagree. This book is about you. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless. It can only awaken those who are ready. Not everyone is ready yet, but many are, and with each new person who awakens, the momentum in the collective consciousness grows, and it becomes easier for others. If you don’t know what awakening means, read on.”
I shall….!

Of course, we all know that Oprah Winfrey has heavily endorsed the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, and were it not for her publicity efforts [making A New Earth an “Oprah©” Book] I myself would not have ever heard of the thing.
Some people are turned off by such marketing ploys.
I am merely grateful.
Basically, [Oprah-or-not], whatever pipe Greater Spiritual Truth is flowing out of, I just want to get my thirsty-assed Leaky Bucket under that!
In keeping with these severe marketing ploys, a wonderful little advertisement has been produced. It is set to absolutely beautiful music, and emphasizes the theme of the book with a surprising measure of commercial reticence [the book cover is never shown] while employing powerful imagery that some may dismiss as nothing more than Shirley MacLaine-ish New-Agey pap for the needy of soul!
Once again…. how do I feel about it?
Firstly, I love it.
And secondly, I am “needy of soul”.

I think it is very well done, nothing deceitful about it.
My favorite moment is when the woman sort of ascends that rock outcropping there, with the sunset ablaze, and just begins to extend her hands outward, palms upraised.
It occurs exactly 25 seconds into the clip.



That is how I am feeling!
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