Sunday, February 17, 2008

Immanent Flight

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday and we got to the point where books were mentioned. I'm reading Joseph Campbell's “Oriental Mythology” at the moment. They started to explain some of the issues they had with this “God” thing, this Deity-Creator. A lot of people have issues with that, insofar as there are so many options. With globolisation we have access to many cultures in details which weren't possible before. I bet a lot of people didn't know that the Muslim faith has several dialects. For that matter I suppose most Americans don't know that about all religions. There's a kind of thought process which deals with proof like a poll, with a histogram of the details providing a Truth or strong evidence anyway. So if you find that lots of people have issues with God and the strongest common denominator being “if God is all knowing and all powerful, then why does He make mistakes? If they aren't mistakes, then He allowed them to happen and then why does he punish us for them?” Examples are given, like the Serpent in the Garden, Cain killing Able and so forth. It seems to involve “free will”, is part of the usual explanation. None of seems to stick, though and I think the difficulty lies in the fact so so few of us are taught in logic. We think we know how to think logically, but it's more like appropriately. If it were logical we'd know why we did it, besides perhaps that it often works. Like praying for a miracle. According to the Bible, Koran and other scriptures, it seems to work, sometimes. Trouble is, except for emails which are hard to confirm, it's not happening in the same way anymore. Like getting a busy signal all the time. Eventually you wonder if it's the phone, or the line, or are a lot of people calling the same number? But the fact is, you thought it was a telephone and you thought it worked a certain way, maybe because you were told it did, or you think you were told so at some point. It's all very disheartening.

The main issue people have with the concept of a deity is not the deity part at all. It's the kind of deity. Specifically what happens is they get stuck in a matrix of their culture regarding such topics. Europeans and Americans invariably have to think about a Creator, male, one each, elsewhere in space and time. This kind of thinking is what causes wars. If you have a Big Daddy kind of God you get lots of conflicts, especially if you try to reconcile the idea with the history of the faiths out of the Mideast, at least the recent ones. How to be all-knowing and yet caught by surprise? You can't, morons! Your major premise is bogus. As children we were told that the Bible is history and of course it can't be, unless history has loopholes, wormholes and some kind of secret language we just don't understand. Maybe God is up there in a limited, self-contradictory manner, but would you want to "worship" such a limited deity? One who makes mistakes, says one thing and does another? Not me. If I am going to contemplate a Creator I want one whose substance became the Universe, whose intellect can include both the human animal and the bacteria human. I want one who does not say one thing, like "do not kill" and then turns around and sends armies out to do just that. Technically I think you could go through the Bible, include the "Lost Books", and carve out the crap and propaganda and end up with a nice little religion. It wouldn't say one tribe is the chosen one destined to rule over all of humankind, but it would explain some social rules, some faith rules and a few guiding principles which would enable people to get along. I might yet do that. Get rid of all the "begets and begets" so people don't think sex is everything and spitting out the faithful is a good thing. More like taking care of the planet is a good thing, then you can have healthy children. This idea of a transcendent Creator is very basic and is mentioned in the Bible but then abandoned by people like George Bush, who thinks he is like Joshua, anointed to go to war and kill all the sinners as well as take their land, rape their women and sell the children. I would also have to eliminate the "stone them to death" kind of punishments. If the Creator wants to erase a mistake They will have to do it themselves. My Commandment specifically states: "You shall not kill. Period" No give backs, no exceptions. You need to edit the Bible out of it's historical stores which do nothing but claim the Jews are God's chosen. Not because Jews are evil people, they just follow the rules they wrote themselves a few hundred years ago. But these were rules written by screwed up people a lot like the American President. He thinks Congress can write laws and he can ignore them. Heck, his mother made rules around the house and he ignored them so why not now?

In point of fact it isn't the priests who screw up religions, it's the lawyers. They parse things so thin. Like in American English the term "kill" can be parsed to include eating animals, plants, having a healthy intestine, walking on living things.... all of which cause you to kill something and conceivably all prohibited. But the original word was something more like "murder" which means killing your own kind deliberately, and not during war or as the result of a judgment. But that makes a long rambling Commandment. Moses was looking for something easy to understand because he thought his followers were stupid or something. You should recall that Moses wasn't Jewish, he was Egyptian and had little love lost for the Jews. He also wasn't very smart, since by making a short, easy commandment he also made it easy to confuse the masses. Witness the Second World War. We killed millions and all the murderers were Christian. We vaporized Japanese babies to protect a way of life whose God prohibits killing babies, mostly because the Japanese babies were "godless pagans". If God wanted us to not drop the A-bombs He would have made them bounce instead of explode. Clearly we had a partial suspension of the Commandments to take care of the Japs and Nazis. Clearly a politician was in charge, not a priest.

The main difficulty with war is that we accept the idea that occasionally we can suspend the rules and still be Faithful, still Chosen and destined for Heaven. Of course we can't, because a rule suspended negates the rule. If it's okay to sometimes kill then there is no commandment to not kill, or we'd hear about it from above. We never do, so it's okay to kill, even murder, even torture. You can go on down the list of ten and suspend them all all some point and still be a good Baptist, if you are an American. The problem being a pagan is that we have only the one rule to live by: If it harms none, do what you will. It's hard to parse that. If I want to have sex with a married woman I can't justify killing her husband, or raping her just to satisfy my lust. Obviously rape hurts lots of people in lots of ways. Yet our God-fearing Marines have been raping kids for years now and getting off without a lot of flack. They go home and take communion and settle back with a beer. Well, truth be told, they probably also take a handful of meds since no sane person can rape and kill without suffering. Look in George's eyes and tell me he is not suffering somehow. If he believes in the Bible he knows he is going to Hell. If he doesn't then he knows he is a liar and hypocrite. So he's boned no matter what, unless he quits and joins a monastery and prays all the time. Frankly I'm thinking sepeku is the only path to salvation for him, I mean after all, he's killed close to a million people! By now I think the White House is so polluted with bad vibes and lost souls that we should close it down and lock it up and build a new Capital somewhere in Oklahoma or Missouri. Use no white marble, make the buildings solar powered and have lots of orchards and gardens, places to meditate on the meaning of life.

In two days I fly to the West Coast to help Mom recover from pneumonia. We need to find a person to stay with her during the day so she'll be sure to take her pills and get up from time to time to walk about. For two weeks I'll be staying in the Bubble. I'll take lots of pictures, take Mom up to the redwoods and the ocean. For two weeks she'll get home cooked meals and away from the Television Channel. I wish I could convince her to fly home with me so we could take care of her, but I can't lie and tell her that it isn't cold here. It's 10 degrees this morning and only 70 in the house, but she could wear mittens and booties. She'd miss her sunshine and the flowers and by the time spring came she's be bundled like an Inuit in the living room, sitting on a radiator. Well, this should be interesting, especially if my Lyrica script isn't filled before I leave. I ran out too soon and now the old nerve pain is starting to attract attention. Timing is everything, says Musashi. Now it's time for coffee and a meditation on the rising sun.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sometimes at night when everything seems like hornets inside the walls of my body I suit up, shoe up, go outside to the night air and I just look up and let the night beam down on me for a change. You can see your words in the still night winter air hovering just outside your reach. In the night there is just one monolithic block of darkness and it is the studio, the workshop, and it's black as any night need be. I walk ahead, scrunching through the ice-snow-ice layers of the path. Somehow I get a kick out of ducking under the grapes as I approach the door to the studio. Once inside I know I have some dozen steps up to the ceramic studio, the "thinking area" with it's wingback chair and little rugs spread out to catch the winter ice. I shake them out now and again, beat them on the sides of the garage/studio and then slap them back down on the floor in case I caught the dust thereby that caused the cancer or infection that takes me out someday. Ya never know.

The first thing to do in the studio at winter-night is to light the kerosene heater, that toxic nasty smelly thing that makes the fingers warm. Then sit back on the chair and stare at the masks on the wall. All those faces. I remember every emotion that went into them, every one. Sometimes I wonder if I have the right idea, this baring of the raw emotions in clay, but I love irony so what else can I do? Each face is a moment in emotion, delicate as fire hardened clay can be, yet you can take it up, look close at the lines and hang it on a wall for dozens, hundreds of years. Such irony and yet so neccessary because otherwise what would be left? If I didn't explain to thousands of generations yet to come how I felt at such a date what kinds of things would they think up to fill the holes? No, you have to lay it on the line, tear the shirt open and let them see that 25 watt red painted bulb shaped like a heart. Yup. That would do it. But all in all I guess I'll just shmeer it all together and nail it to the wall and shine what light I have upon it and let the chips fall as they may. It's all mud, people. All mud faces on mud walls. The thing is, as you look upon their muddy faces you think about what kind of kind of face you would want to see and Lo there it is upon that muddy wall, that wailing wall built on blood and sand. Maria Matinez's DNA is inside every single shiney black pot she ever made. Her soul lives on in so many ways. Suppose every random soucre of your DNA dried up and you could only save one, where would you want your genome published?

Suppose one night you woke up and at the foot of your bed was a man standing. You sat up, not in fear yet, but disturbed. Then he walked around to the side of the bed and sat down beside you, you heard the bed creak and felt the sheet slide. You knew who it was, he's been dead for days, but words were not enough to speak, so you said nothing. You sat and watched and he sat and watched you watching while pictures and words swirled in your head. Suddenly, it's over. You are in the studio, looking at the faces on the wall. Each one seems to be speaking something about some point in time but it's all so hard to hear. You look at one face. It winks at you. It's okay, it's just a cosmic joke, just some fun. You can go back to the rest of your life and figure that something got done, something lasting. Something made of dirt, made of water, shaped by mind, changed by fire yet still retaining a bit of the Maker, some Maria. The Desert taught me a lot, it taught me to know when something was dry and dead, or just being there in the sun, waiting to move. Nothing on those walls seemed dry and dead, yet at the same time, nothing seemed ready to move.
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Groundhogs Day Retrospective

I know I do go on about this myth, but bear with me. Grey February is the month associated with the ground hog. The ground hog, earth pig, is a neolithic epiphany or vision of the Goddess. Remember that the hog, hedgehog etc are all associated with the Goddess. In other words you'd find a preponderance of sculptures, drawings, and maybe sacrificial bones of those animals in a temple area sacred to the Goddess. They are the little mothers who feed many, often coming up from the earth in time to let us know there is hope for a return to the warmth and light of summer. Groundhog's day and it's attendant ceremonies (Ceres-monies, Ceres being the mother of Persephone) relate to a very early form of the Goddess faith and the rituals going on this month go back that far. They are burned into the brain stem. We look for Spring in the dark of Winter, not as a rejection of Winter Herself, but out of love for Spring and Her bright energy. And it gets manifested as a pudgy little critter, blinking nearsightedly at the world, which is yelling and showing devotion, feeding and stroking the sweet thing. But we know in our brain stem that somehow life emerging from dark, cold earth gives us hope that everything won't just keep getting colder and colder, like it did for our ancestors, following the glaciers and painting on cave walls.

Even the one about Jeshua emerging from the tomb after three days goes back to the Persephone archetype. The moon stays dark for three nights and then emerges, grows larger and larger until you can read by Her light. On the face of the full moon you can make out the shape of a rabbit, another symbol of the Goddess in neolithic times, not real common in Europe, and there it gets weird (wyrd, as in fate)having the male rabbit, the Easter bunny dealing out eggs, another ancient symbol of the Goddess. Easter, of course, is a very old name of the Goddess. All of this deals with something like salvation from within the Divine just when you were getting real down. Mother spit out Her child again, a rebirth for a Goddess. Persephone before the trip down was more like Diana, not very empathetic, preferring wild animals to men. After the journey she is a mature Goddess, her hair is bound up and she takes to drinking. So imagine if Jeshua was a woman emerging from the tomb to a bunch of men in top hats and ribbons across their chests, cheering and showing Her off to the crowd. Then everybody dances to polka music and eats sausage, made from ground up pigs and spices. Jeshua doesn't like pork, it gives Her gas, so she goes away. Some time later somebody claims to have seen Her in Reno, singing lounge but the story is suspect.

But this is February and we're deep into it. I took some photos during a trip from Hoosick Falls in a fog shrouded valley with corn stubble arcing off and a nice line of telephone poles for perspective. Everything is tan, black and white, except for the occasional cardinal and sumac, oh, and the pines. I guess actually there's a lot of color out there, it's just the sky is mostly grey and blotchy looking. I suppose the fact that I generally had a good time in Everett, Washington back in high school and it was pretty grey there, that I kind of like the grey sky, for a few days at a pop anyway. I do like a bright blue day over a snowy white world. But you don't go into a new year with the winter you like, you go into the new year with the winter you get. And red bark osier, yellow willow, highbush cranberry, I guess there's piles of colors out there, what the heck was wrong with me thinking it was dull? Attitude, I guess I had the wrong attitude. That's what days of no sun will do to you. By early February you're so bored and so cynical that the only thing to do is pull a woodchuck out of it's hole, point at it and cheer and laugh and then go barbecue some links and wurst, drink a pile of beer and fall asleep for six weeks, or days or hours, it all seems to repeat itself around here lately. Must be the rain. Of course it's been four days since Groundhog's Day and you'd think I would be getting on with it by now. I just keep wondering if they ever make groundhog sausage if the little varmint sees his shadow or vice versa?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Tuesday, Superman

We were invited to a Superbowl weekend party by a friend of Margaret's at work. Last year we went and I wandered around this guy's house trying to enter into a conversation with somebody. Naturally, I didn't know anyone there and they had no idea who I was. I could have been from down the street and just wandered in. But we tried to connect.
"Hi, I'm so-and-so. You're...?"
"Hi, I'm William, Margaret's husband. Margaret works with Name"
"Oh. So, what do you do?"
"I'm sort of retired. Disabled. Got a bad back condition. So I'm a house husband, but I'm also an artist."
"Oh. Yeah I gotta bad back. I take Tylenol."
" I take a lot of things for pain. Makes me sleepy and clumsy."
"But in good weather I sculpt."
"Mostly ceramics."
"Yeah, hey Sue pass some of those chips over. What's the score?"
"Hmmm. Yeah."
"Oh geez, go, go,go!! OH I can't believe he dropped the ball!"
"Hey, don't hog the dip!"
Then I wander into the next room with similar results. I watch the little kids play outside. I straighten the pictures in the hallway. I take more pills and pop my back a few times. I glance at the football game with no idea how to play football or what are the names of the teams or the cities they come from. I eat some pasta salad and some barbecue chicken. I take a walk around the block. Eventually we go home. I am so relieved to pull up into the driveway. While Margaret goes inside I check the chickens and sit awhile by the bonfire pit sipping my Fosters. The wind through the pines makes it sound like ocean waves if I close my eyes.

This year we took a pass on the party and instead we're going to another friend's house out in the country where we will talk about chickens, gardens, how the work around the farm is doing and other related stuff. The hostess is into religion so I can chat about my readings. Her husband is a cop, so we can talk about interesting things he's been doing. When my back starts to spasm I'll go find a corner in that big old house and drop to the floor and do back stretches, take some pills and sip on a Fosters.

I'm in a cocoon, not really paying attention to typical society. I'm waiting for seasons and changes. I want my country back. I want my son back. I'm greedy for conversations about Life, the Universe and Everything. What makes a mind a mind? Where does thought come from? Why do so many Presidents send out soldiers to kill and maim while maintaining their Christian credentials? Why do so many Americans know so little about the rest of the world? Why are they so proud of their ignorance? Why do we teach football in high school, but not ethics or logic? Why do so many Americans support new atomic bombs costing billions but not free laptops for every child costing similar billions? Why do Americans not know their own history? Why do most American blacks believe themselves to be descended from slaves without actually researching their family tree?

I'd like to be able to go to a party and meet average Americans and have something to say that was interesting to them. I'd like to be interested in football and baseball, but somehow watching millionaires pumped up with chemicals play a kid's game just leaves me cold. I'd like to watch network TV and be able to follow a show like Lost or Sex in the City without feeling pandered to. I'd like to talk about my son without sounding like I'm lecturing. I'd like to talk to someone about my son without having to hear about how sometimes it's better to "pull the plug". Jon has no "off" button. I'd like to slowly ascend to about treetop level, then rotate to a horizontal position and then with dips and swoops build up speed until I was soaring above the woods and mountains, higher and higher until the roads are thin lines and the cities are patterns in the dirt. I'd like to fly so high that the air burned my throat with the cold and my bones ached, then swoop down over an ocean and follow whales for a thousand miles. I'd like to sleep on a cloud near Nepal and listen to the tectonic plates moan and groan like whales of earth and stone. I'd like to wake up someday and find that nobody could think of a single bad thing to say about anybody else in the world. I'd like to have a single wish from a spirit in a bottle so I could ask for perfect health and sanity for all the people watching football games, reading books about chickens, emerging from a coma or suddenly finding themselves cancer free. I'd like to sit out by the bonfire pit and listen to the sounds of a world no longer angry, competitive or ignorant. It would sound like waves on the shore, like whales beneath the earth, like children laughing.