"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grow

May we all grow in grace and peace,
and not neglect the silence that is printed
in the centre of our being.
It will not fail us.

–Thomas Merton, who was born today, January 31st, 1915.


Photograph: Ralph Eugene Meatyard, "Thomas Merton Playing Bongos," 1968.

The road

Our real journey in life is interior.
–Thomas Merton: “The Asian Journal” p.296



Photograph: Thomas Merton & The Dalai Lama, 1968

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good News ~ Bad News

On Writing in the Morning

"The reason the morning is so important [for writing] is that I’ve spent the night somewhere else." 
~

Gender Influences on Leadership Within The Habsburg Monarchy


During the reigns of Maria Theresa and Joseph II of the Hapsburg Monarchy, gender differences and inequalities showed themselves to be a deciding factor in the enlightened reformation of the empire. Maria Theresa, because she was a woman, was denied the education and benefit of her father’s counsel, thus retarding her initial growth as a leader. Her son, and co-regent, Joseph II, was groomed for leadership from an early age. Unlike their contemporaries however, Maria Theresa and Joseph II enjoyed a warm and loving familial relationship. Maria Theresa saw herself as a mother, not only to Joseph and his many siblings, but to the empire and her subjects as well. This sense of parental responsibility perhaps most strongly marked the difference in leadership styles between herself and Joseph. The former showed the maternal restraint of a caring mother and the latter, the rebelliousness of the young man eager to be on his own.
Maria’s ascendance to the Habsburg throne was only out of necessity due to the lack of a viable male heir. Her father, Charles VI, made the assumption that, upon his death, the empire would be ruled by Maria’s husband. Therefore, he – as Maria Theresa herself states – “had never been inclined to instruct [her] as to the discharge of either foreign or domestic affairs” (78). Despite the facts that there were other female rulers in Europe, and that he himself had petitioned the other estates to accept a female successor, Charles believed that a woman was incapable of ruling. This error in foresight provided an early crisis in Maria’s reign. Seeing this perceived weakness and, perhaps knowing of her ignorance in statecraft, Frederick II launched an attack on her right as heir, with his Prussian army taking the wealthy Habsburg province of Silesia.
Maria had to learn as she went with, as Slaughter and Bokovoy put it, “on-the-job-training” (77). To her credit, she surrounded herself with shrewd advisors. Moreover, she sensed the shakiness of Austria’s relationship with the Hungarian nobility and sought early on to forge a relationship with them, thus strengthening her military force. The sting of the loss of Silesia led her to great reforms within the empire. According to Slaughter and Bokovoy, these included “reorganize[ing] the central administration, abolish[ment] of private armies, and improved administration of finances” (67).
The argument may be made that the reforms made by Maria Theresa would have come about regardless of whether or not she had been educated for the post, yet it is undoubtable that she would have been better equipped to deal with the early hostile advances of her neighbors. Stability within the realm would have enabled her to marshal the forces needed to fend off Frederick II.
By contrast, Maria Theresa’s son, Joseph II, was raised to be Emperor via an intense program of study. Slaughter and Bokovoy make note of the orphaning and/or parental abuse suffered by his contemporaries. Joseph II, however, “grew up in the warm embrace of both his parents and benefited from their careful and thoughtful management of his education and training” (68), a fact not lost on the young Joseph. Perhaps it was this fostered sense of love and security that helped influence the young man to push for more social reform. Certainly it lent itself in this manner as he came under the influence of the French philosophes, and even the reforms of his mothers.
This maternal/feminine influence continued to exert itself, albeit to the chagrin of the young coregent. According to our text, Joseph II sought nothing less than perfection by “strengthening the bureaucracy and weakening the privileges of the church and the landed nobility” (69). His attempts at homogenizing culture, class, and language throughout the empire were tempered by his mother’s hard-learned lessons in diplomacy.
Where Maria Theresa trod softly in matters of foreign policy, she wielded a firmer hand internally. Devout Catholics, both regents believed that the church wielded too much power. Maria Theresa issued a series of edicts which imposed taxes on Church-owned properties and prohibited the clergy from obtaining land. Additionally, under the recommendation of her advisor Prince Kaunitz, Maria expelled the Jesuits from the empire, as well as giving control over education to the state.  Here, it seems to have been the male influence with Kaunitz and Joseph II endorsing of the philosphe positions on the state of the Church.
While it is noted that other monarchs such as Maria Theresa, Frederick the Great, and Catherine the Great, sought many of the reforms of Joseph II, his aspirations were much more fundamental. Maria Theresa did not hold with Protestantism or Jews, whom she considered to be “heretics” and an “embodiment of the antichrist” (70) respectively. The effect of gender influence upon the Monarchy was seen in 1780 when Maria Theresa died. Free from his mother’s hatred of other religious traditions, Joseph issued the Edict for Toleration, which allowed Lutherans and Jews nearly the same rights as Catholics. This edict had the effect of strengthening the empire by allowing these formerly persecuted groups to become educated and, therefore useful, to the empire.
Gender undoubtedly influenced the attitudes, interests and objectives of the Habsburg Monarchy, though its sway may have been much more subtle than one would expect. One child, scorned by her father is forced to become a more masculine leader. Another child, shaped by his mother’s love, displays the feminine trait of caring for his people.

Works Cited
Slaughter, Jane and Melissa K. Bokovoy. Sharing the Stage: Biography and Gender in Western Civilization. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2003

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bosque




Creative Commons License
This work by Rick Robb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Rational Buddha

Buddhism is a combination of both speculative and scientific philosophy. It advocates the scientific method and pursues that to a finality that may be called Rationalistic. In it are to be found answers to such questions of interest as: ‘What is mind and matter? Of them, which is of greater importance? Is the universe moving towards a goal? What is man’s position? Is there living that is noble?’ It takes up where science cannot lead because of the limitations of the latter’s instruments. Its conquests are those of the mind.

—Bertrand Russell quoted from “Buddhism and Science: Probing the Boundaries of Faith and Reason,” Verhoeven, Martin J., "Religion East and West," Issue 1, June 2001, pp. 77-97.


Photograph: Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, India, 2013. This temple marks the place where The Buddha stood gazing uninterruptedly at The Bodhi tree after his enlightenment.

Pep Talk


Crows....

 


Wherever crows are, there is magic. They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength. They remind us to look for opportunities to create and manifest the magic of life. They are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us. -Ted Andrews

The Translation of Mrs. Cam: The Embodiment of the Vietnamese Emigré within John Balaban’s Poem


In his poem, “For Mrs. Cam, Whose Name Means ‘Printed Silk,’” John Balaban uses the character of Mrs. Cam to portray the cultural struggles of the Vietnamese immigrant; a person walking in two worlds. The poet draws comparisons between old and new values using symbols such as poems, poets, pearls, and printed silk. As both an epigraph and an interpretive touchstone, Balaban’s use of the Ho Chi Minh poem, “On Reading the Anthology of The Ten Thousand Poets,” describes a New Vietnamese people and culture that have grown beyond Uncle Ho’s revolution. Within these lines, Mrs. Cam becomes not just Uncle Ho’s poem and poet – writing her future with a strong self-determination – but the very embodiment of the post-war Vietnamese people. That Balaban, an outspoken opponent of the war and a conscientious objector, favorably uses a quote from Ho Chi Minh is tantamount to treason in the eyes of some Vietnam vets, and even in the eyes of many Vietnamese themselves. Using the Ho poem to point to the new Vietnamese immigrants is rather brash, but it creates what is perhaps a more realistic representation, not just of who these people are, but of the guilt-by-association portrait many Americans painted. Many soldiers who fought in Vietnam did not draw a distinction between the North and South Vietnamese. They had seen and heard the tales of women and children who walked up to G.I.s to beg candy or gum, only to detonate a hidden grenade. “They” were all the enemy. To these soldiers, “a slope was a slope,” every Vietnamese a potential “Charlie.”
The Ho Chi Minh poem may be broken into two distinct statements. The first two lines refer to the poems of the ancients that lauded the things of nature; the almost wispy ethereal images of “clouds, wind, moon, snow,” and the more corporeal “flowers, rivers, [and] crags” (ll 1-2). The second half of his poem, far from having a natural feel, is filled with martial and revolutionary imagery of “strong tempered steel” (l 3) and poet warriors leading the charge. Informed by these themes, Balaban draws parallels in his character of Mrs. Cam, employing the two poetic statements to set up the dichotomy between the old and new Vietnams.
Mrs. Cam’s name, as the title asserts, means “painted silk.”  Inasmuch as Balaban begins his poem with the line “in Vietnam, poets brushed on printed silk” (l 1), title character is plainly representative of this medium. A simplistic statement perhaps, but Balaban is well-known for his translations of the ca dao, a traditional Vietnamese sung poem. In a sense, with this poem, he is translating Mrs. Cam into English, and this is implicit in the title. She is the poem: It is written on – or perhaps even, in – her. Ho’s poem calls not for new poets, but for the old poets to learn a new poem. Mrs. Cam a product of the new Vietnam, displays the old-style poetry that is ingrained in her soul as she “marvel[s] at curls broken bare in crushed shells, at the sheen and cracks of laved, salted wood” (ll 13-14).
 Silk is porous and the paint of the poet would have clung to it, pervading the fabric. Ho mentions “the ancients [who] loved those poems with natural feel” (l 1), and the silk is certainly natural. More than that, though, silk is strong. It is said, perhaps fallaciously, that a silk thread has a higher tensile strength than steel. At one time it was even believed that silk was impervious to bullets. The poet offers us an early glimpse of the dichotomous nature of Mrs. Cam as soft yet strong. She bears the beauty of a poem printed on a fabric that is stronger than – or encased in – steel, the fate of these old poems in modern times.
There is no mention of a Mr. Cam. Presumably Mrs. Cam is a war widow. At the very least, she escaped with her children after the fall of Saigon while her husband stayed behind[1]. Again we see a strength and resilience of character that is called for in order to make a new life. Returning to the idea of a beautiful poem painted on silk, we see that Mrs. Cam truly possesses the quality of grace under pressure.
Mrs. Cam, while being a poem herself, is also part of “the Anthology of Ten Thousand Poets” alluded to by the inclusion of the Ho Chi Minh poem. Each person is allegorically writing a poem, but the anthology creates the whole, creates this thing that is the Vietnamese people. As she considers the worn and broken detritus washed up on the California beach, she is reminded of this, and of her “life, lost friends / and pieces of poems which make [her] whole” (ll 17-18).  
More than being the poem on printed silk, Mrs. Cam is the poet. Ho says the poet must “lead the charge” (l 4).  In an article for American Her country has been devastated and she makes a stand – leads the charge, so to speak – and leaves for a new land. Ironically she is leaving to occupy the land of Vietnam’s occupiers. Ho’s poem says that the poems of old were written on silk, but that the new poems will be written with steel upon the very world itself. Mrs. Cam is creating this type of poem, written on the American culture as she adapts and integrates.  She sees the world – even her new one – in poetic terms. She walks the beach, viewing the natural world with the eyes of the poet. She observes those things that, like her people, have been worn down by the constant pummeling of the surf. These are things that the ancients would have loved as subject matter for their poems.
As it is necessary for her new neighbors to understand her, Mrs. Cam must learn to translate herself into English. More to the point, she must translate herself into an American. She has a job operating a key-punch machine; what was, at the time the poem takes place, a relatively high-tech career. This American-style 9-to-5 job leaves her with a foot in two worlds. Balaban jumps back and forth from stanzas that reflect nature, to stanzas reflecting the suffering of a war-torn people. This jump echoes the ambivalent feelings that Mrs. Cam must have towards the worlds she lives in – or has to choose between. The ocean separates her from her old life, and it is here, at the ocean’s edge where she chooses to reflect on this separation. 
Despite its quality of separation, the ocean also provides a connection to her old home. “The wide Pacific flares in sunset,” the poet writes. “Somewhere over there was once your home” (ll 22-23). She stares longingly in the direction of her old home, yet it is on the beach of her new home, that she finds the answers to the feelings inside her. Vietnam, both the physical country and much of the culture it represents, are beyond her grasp now. She must learn to build a new life. That the Pacific is mentioned as being “in sunset” is more than a meteorological statement, it declares the waning of the ancient Asian cultures. Mrs. Cam’s beloved Hue, once the capital and home to feudal lords, is now overtaken by the outside world.
As she looks west across the Pacific at her former home, she thinks of how it all happened. How, like the genesis of a pearl, her new life was precipitated by “a grain, a grit” (l 28) in the form of the war.  “Nicely like a pearl is a poem” (l 25), Mrs. Cam muses. The diction in this stanza hints at the broken English of a new immigrant, while retaining the elegance of the rest of the poem. Like the oyster, she is creating a new pearl, a new poem, a new Vietnamese people and culture through her self-determination and overcoming of obstacles. Too, the poem tells us that this pearl-inducing grain “irritates the mantle of thought / and coats itself in lacquers of the mind” (ll 29-30). Here it is shown that Mrs. Cam also represents former supporters of the regime. That “mantle of thought” was her indoctrination and the irritation comes from seeing that the “running dog” enemy was not so bad as once thought. We are told that she “raise[s her] kids in Southern California” (l 10). It is implied that these children were not born in America yet they probably have adapted to this new country better than their mother. That they are referred to as “kids,” rather than the more proper sounding “children,” shows one more little way that she is adapting to this new land. A little of the formality of Hue is lost – a little of the So-Cal casualness creeps in. That Balaban chooses Southern California is in itself telling. Southern California is the center of American pop culture, with Hollywood, Disneyland, and the surf at Malibu, all within easy driving distance. Its sound is that of a crashing of cultures and with its blend of Asian cultures – the Japanese and the Chinese – that came before, these new Vietnamese have found the ideal place to write their new poems, to become their beautiful pearls.
In writing of Vietnam and its people, Balaban does not put pen to paper as the poet-statesman, too old to fight or flee, expressing disdain for th military-industrial complex. Nor does he write from the perspective of an eighteen year old draftee; a stoned Boonie-Rat “humping a pig” through the bush, frantically shooting at “Charlie” in the hope of staying alive one more day. Instead, his prose is colored and formed by having lived among the people themselves. He has read the poetry that is the Vietnamese people, and has memorized its stanzas until they are like his own. Whether Uncle Ho or the ancients would have loved this Mrs. Cam is not for us to know. Nonetheless, Balaban points to the affirmative as Mrs. Cam makes herself into a poem.  Steel encased and painted on ancient printed silk, but at the same time, indelibly written on the consciousness of America.

Works Cited

Balaban, John. email, November 18, 2006 1:13 AM 2006.




[1] In personal communication with the author of this paper, John Balaban revealed that Mrs.Cam is a real person. She escaped Vietnam shortly after the fall of Saigon with her husband and two daughters. She still lives in California with her family and is a bank executive. Balaban also notes that, in 1971-72,  Mrs. Cam and her husband helped him collect the ca dao sung-poetry, the translation of which has become his major work, Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong.  John Balaban, email, November 18, 2006 1:13 AM 2006.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

MORE RULES

Here's some more "rules" for relationships from elephantjournal.com. I like these, too.

I’m not an expert on relationships, but I’ve had a bunch, and learned from them.

At least enough to gain some intellectual insight that (hopefully) translates over time into a living breathing shift of being.

Turns out, it’s not about making each other happy, or any other kind of imagined perfection. It’s about helping the person in front of you be everything they truly are.

Here are some ways to do that.

1. Hold each other accountable. Understand the gift she is here to give this world.

2. Call bullshit. Reflect when he isn’t giving it.

3. Let go. Trust in her separate journey, even when what she’s doing makes zero sense to you.

4. Remember that your job is not to make him happy. It’s to allow him the space to find his own happiness—when you’re together, and when you’re apart.

5. Be honest. One hundred percent. The permission you give yourself to be all of who you are is what creates that space.

6. Fight well. You’re both on the same team. Your opposition is the misunderstanding—not each other.

7. Embrace attraction to others. It’s there. Communicate, be clear (with everyone, including yourself), and enjoy your fabulous human existence.

8. Do your work. It’s usually not about him, or her. Your partner is a flashlight illuminating where you’ve still got work to do. Those feelings of jealousy, resentment and hurt? They’re showing you all the places in you that need your own healing.

9. Remember that you’re a mirror, too. Reflect back all the beauty that lives in her. Especially when she forgets.

 10. Enjoy the ride, man! Seriously. You’re never going to figure it all out, so you might as well just love everybody.

This list is totally incomplete. Have some of your own lessons from the road to share? Post in the comments below. We all thank you.

What to look for in a mate

Jennifer S. White, in a recent article for ElephantJournal.com, suggested a list of qualities for women to look for in a potential mate. The qualities, listed below, work both ways. Men can/should look for the same  qualities. I'm leaving the article with it's original pronouns, but understand that I think these apply to all genders.

So what should you look for in a guy? These 10 things:

1. Humor. Life has ups and downs, and dramas and supporting characters that we sometimes wish would vanish. So your guy should make you laugh.

2.
 Intelligence. My man has a Master’s degree in Geophysics and another Master’s in Medical Physics; with work experience in both fields. Basically, I’m married to a genius. Does your guy have to have an I.Q. better than Einstein’s? No, but you definitely need to be able to relate to him on a mental level—and he should bring out your own curiosity and intellect too.


3. Physical fitness.
 Your guy doesn’t have to leap tall buildings in a single bound—but if he takes care of himself physically, it’s a sign of self-respect.


4. Patience.
 Being in a relationship with me probably isn’t easy. I’m neurotic and hyperactive—and impatient. So I’m eternally grateful that I married a guy with the patience of a superhero. Trust me, if he has patience with you and your quirky qualities, it makes life that much easier.


5. Loving feeling.
 My husband loves me; truly loves who I am inside and out. Pick someone who really likes being with you.


6. Soulful.
 My guy is so spiritual. He always has been. Being with someone with a spiritual nature is enriching to your life—and to the relationship you share.


7. Commitment Lover.
 Back in high school, I had a theory that my girlfriends should date guys who liked worn out jeans (I’ve dated my husband since I was 14). My thinking was that if he had trouble getting rid of those perfectly worn pants, then he was also more likely to enjoy long-term relationships. Now I’m not too sure of the accuracy of this adolescent idea, but your ideal partner should show a level of commitment in other areas of his life besides you.


8. Good taste.
 My favorite clothes and jewelry are hand-picked by my husband. I don’t think that this has to be a requirement of a successful relationship—but it sure doesn’t hurt either.


9. Compliments.
 Your perfect mate should spend more time highlighting what’s great about you than harping on your lesser traits; not because he’s blind to your reality, but because he loves you for who you are and knows that we live up to the standards that our set for us. In short, we grow to be our best selves in a nurturing, positive environment.


10. He doesn’t take your crap.
 Okay, so I do mean the above statement in number nine. However, that doesn’t mean your guy should turn his head when you treat him poorly, try to control him, or act in a way that’s beneath you. He should encourage—and if necessary demand—that you rise and shine to the occasion; that you be your best self.

Life is challenging, and a great partner should make your life easier not harder.

Read the article in it's entirely at elephantjournal.com

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quote of the day

"When you find all is well in your world you will tilt your head to the sky and laugh"
~Buddha

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What the (Bleep) Did the Ancients Know?: An Exploration of Myth, Religion, Enlightenment, and Quantum Reality

Things are not as they appear to be. Nor are they otherwise.” 
—The Lankavatara Sutra

Where there is no vision, the people perish.' 
Proverbs 29:18

It is often felt that the ancients were ignorant, that they made up stories to explain natural phenomenon. We say this in part because their stories of flaming chariots through the heavens, or of one-eyed giants, lack scientific proof of evidence. We may picture a group of slack-jawed drooling idiots with prominent brow ridges, huddled around the fire discussing this with grunts and bone waving. We now know that that burning orb in the sky is in fact a gaseous, medium class star that we revolve around. Yet, the supposedly backward cultures gave us geometry in the 6th century BCE and had created a fully functional geometric theory within 400 years. Pythagoras, the famous mathematician developed a secretive cult following because his ideas were so astounding (and provable).  Algebra’s origins can be traced to the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians who develpoed a variety of linear, quadratic and other indeterminate equations 3,000 years ago. Most moderns have little grasp of either mathematical discipline. The Mayans, Greeks, Persians and Hindus gave us the study of astronomy and understood concepts such as the Great Year. The Greeks gave us ideals of democracy, and the Iroquois confederacy is the oldest continuous participant democracy in existence. The Greeks even had, to an extent, an understanding of atomic structure. Around 500 BC, they noticed that certain substances, such as gold, lead, iron and silver could not be broken down by heat, as could wood, cloth or plant material. They developed the idea of atomos meaning “indivisible.”

Yet, we read of their myths and think them foolish. Modern men are the wise ones. There are a few intelligent humans about, but for the most part, we are like the sports fan who feels a sense of superiority because “his” team has won, even though he had nothing to do with the victory.

A basic concept of quantum reality states that there is no reality if you aren’t looking at it and, by looking at it you make it real. It is this concept that I wish to address in this paper.

RELIGION


The gods of Greece are old. Many go back to a shared history with the Indo-Europeans who, linguists speculate, had a ruling sky-god called Dyeus (from which we get theos or god.) To the Hindus, this was Dyaus Pitar (shining father), and in Latin, Deus Pater or Jupiter. To the Greeks, this god becomes Zeus.

Prior to the Greeks were the Mycenaeans who most likely brought whole pantheon into the land. And before the Mycenaeans, the Minoans, most likely a polytheistic culture who worshiped the earth goddess, Gaia, and occupied the land for at least 1600 years.

In the early days of the stories of the gods, the “myths” were more than fable. They were religion. They were fact. The gods were regarded as real and were worshipped and – we imagine – feared. But in order to have religion, you must have something to believe in the first place. Something fact-based needed to occur in order to spark the initial belief. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we carry the notion from school days that the ancients made up their myths as a way of explaining natural phenomenon. Picture this scenario. A group of people are sitting around cave side in the dark. Suddenly, the sun bursts into the sky and the people cower in terror. “What the hell is that?!” they want to know. One member of the group says that it must be a god riding a flaming chariot through the skies. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, makes the guy with the explanation a priest, and starts worshipping the sun. Not a likely scenario. The sun rose and set daily for millions of years before man even walked upright. Natural phenomenon did not come as a surprise that needed explanation.

So, what did happen? Did Helios really drive his flaming chariot across thy sky? Did Odysseus really blind a one-eyed giant? Did he sleep with a goddess? Did Oedipus really outwit the mythical sphinx? Did Prometheus really steal fire by hiding it in a stalk of fennel? Let us accept for now that the ancients understood, or at least acted within the concepts of quantum reality. If, as stated earlier, reality is created by observation and there are multiple possible outcomes of observation, then it stands to reason that the events described in “The Odyssey” could in fact have taken place. He could have easily descended into the land of the dead.

There is a story that when Columbus’ ships arrived in the new world, the natives on the shore could not see the ships because they had no concept that such a thing could exist. One shaman sensed though that there was something on the horizon because he could see ripples in the water. After a time, he was able to see the ships and was then able to help the others see them. A cyclops could have existed simply because it was the possible reality that Odysseus and his crew observed. They had an understanding of these things and so when they encountered them, there was no reason not to see them and to perceive them as real. The Greeks, jointly agreeing in these realities did in fact see these things, these acts of gods and heroes. As long as the confederacy of cities was relatively isolated from the rest of the world, the belief was safe.

 But then, if these seemingly fantastic gods and creatures were real what happened to them?  If they were worshipped religiously, how did they disappear?

MYTH


In the 5th century BCE, Euripides, the Greek tragic dramatist said “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”  Or as another put it, “they make ridiculous.”  As new religions advanced, the old ways were supplanted and relegated to the realm of myth and ridiculous superstition. “They can’t be true. Only our God is true.” And “The ancients were ignorant superstitious clowns.” “The followers of Zeus are a bunch of hypocrites.” “I can’t believe in a god who would throw lightning bolts at me.” As the empire expanded, soldiers, away from home and mother’s watchful eye, stopped sacrificing to Apollo and started hanging out with temple prostitutes in Pamphyllia. Far afield, they picked up new religious beliefs. Other religious – and even atheistic – views were introduced. The “Real” god came into play. Doubts crept in and the belief that created these gods faded. Without believers, there was no one to “see” these gods. As beliefs were changed, a different quantum field was created.  It could be said that the Greeks were guilty of deicide, for in their conquest of the world, they brought in the new gods and new ideas that brought Olympus tumbling down.

In the 4th century, Roman Emperor Julian, fearing that the Christians religion would soon take over, sent a messenger to Delphi to inquire of the oracle as to what would happen. The message came back thus: “Go tell the king that the well-crafted court has fallen to pieces, (Apollo) dwells here no more, there is no more oracular laurel, no talking spring, and the Voice of the Water has been silenced…”  The oracle’s mission on earth – that of messenger of Apollo – was through. As Apollo had supplanted Gaia, so Christ now replaced Apollo – the victors declaring the wickedness of those who had gone before. The gods of the Greek pantheon were dead.

THE AGE OF REASON


The church dominated the western world for nearly 1400 years. Far from being satisfied with supplanting the old religions, it sought ensure they never rose again, by equating them with evil. As the old religions had been replaced by myth because people could not see the gods, so The Age of Enlightenment, arriving in the 18th century, sought to replace the new religion because it could not see the new God.  During this so-called “age of enlightenment” or “age of reason,” humanity began to trust more and more in its sciences. After centuries of repression by the church, much of science was back to square one. It was time to rediscover that which the ancients knew all along. Reason was also big with the Greeks. But the Greeks came to the point where they seemed to mock the gods. It was all about man and what man knew.

Kant defined enlightenment this way:

"Enlightenment is man's leaving his self-caused immaturity. “Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own intelligence!"

The 18th century was a hotbed of experiential philosophies as they related to economics, government, chemistry, biology and interesting to our discussion, physics. Mathematician and physicist, Isaac Newton developed a system of scientific study which fused axiomatic proof with physical observation that became the foundation of modern science.

During the age of enlightenment and beyond, religion, belief and faith became increasingly relegated to the dung heap of psychotic delusion and the gullibility of man. Later, Marx decried religion as the opiate of the masses and Nietzsche declared God dead. In looking at the beliefs of the ancients, the newly enlightened asked hard questions. If there were Cyclopes, where is the proof? Where are the skeletal remains? How could Joshua have made the sun stand still? How could Jesus have walked on water? These things all went against the laws of the sciences. They could not be empirically proven and were therefore dismissed as ignorant superstition.

The intellectual elite of this time determined to establish a rational system of ethics, aesthetics and knowledge. They saw themselves as leading the world out of the “dark ages.” This is not to say that all science in this age was against God. In fact, much of it was done in the name of God to discover His creation. There was a strong movement towards piety and ethics. On the one hand there was movement towards accepting the mystery of God and understanding that we can’t know it all. On the other there was Deism, which stated that everything in the natural world was accessible and understandable to the human intellect. It was also during this time that the concept of “a clockmaker god,” came into fashion.

Perhaps it was this vague nod to intelligent design, combined with Newton’s insistence on observable data that allowed for the next big leap. Up until now, science was saying “Where is the proof? Let me see.” Suddenly, the answer would be “The proof depends on your point of view.”

QUANTUM REALITY


In the realm of quantum theory, we understand the ability to create our realities.  In re-examining these stories from the past, such as the story of Odysseus, we can see some of the possibilities of these truths.  With so many believing so fervently in these sorts of events, the reality of them would have been “created.” As stated at the beginning of this paper, according to quantum reality there is no reality if you aren’t looking at it and by looking at it you make it real. Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book Your Sacred Self strips quantum reality down to two key points. “There is no reality in the absence of observation” and “Observation creates reality.” But who makes this stuff up, and what is this theory of quantum mechanics?

In order to understand even vaguely what quantum physics are about, we need to understand classical physics as developed by Sir Isaac Newton. This classical form makes four basic assumptions – reality, locality, causality and continuity – that relate to how the world appears to our senses. Reality is the assumption that time and space are fixed, and that the physical world is objectively real and exists whether or not anyone is observing it. Locality says that objects can only be influenced by direct contact.  Causality takes for granted the idea that time is a one-way street so cause-and-effect sequences can only occur in one order. Continuity presupposes that time and space are smooth; there are no discontinuous jumps in the natural world.

Classical physics is really very common sense stuff based on our observations of most of the world. But it doesn’t work everything. Light for instance has different properties depending on how it is measured. Sometimes it shows itself as particles – separate objects with specific location in space. Other times it appears as a wave which is spread out in space and can be in more than one place at once. Classical physics has difficulties with electro magnetism as well.

About 70 or so years ago, a few brainy types developed the theory of quantum mechanics to account for this wave-particle nature of light.  As it turns out, it provided a better way of explaining the physical world in general. At least a better way of explaining it to other brainy types who understood physics in the first place.

Like light, electrons appear as either particles or waves. When they are waves, they don’t have any precise location. They exist in what are called “probability fields.” When an electron is unmeasured or unobserved it remains a wave. When it is observed, the probability field collapses into a solid particle in a fixed time and place. Dr. Nick Herbert, a physicist and author of the book Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, puts it this way:

“… when you don't look at the world, it's described as waves of vibrating possibilities, buzzing opportunities, promises and potential. In some ways it's not quite real, and it's all vibrating. […] Then when you look, it's perfectly normal. The possibilities change into actualities, and these actualities are point-like. They're called quanta, quantum jumps, like little dots on the TV screen, or on a color photograph in a magazine. So, to make it brief, the world changes from possibility waves to actual particles, from possibility to actuality, from waves to particles.”
In other words, until you look at it, it isn’t there. Once you look at it, it exists.  Ultimately, the entire world is constructed out of particles that behave in this manner.
Through the work of people like Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, Everett, Bell and others, classical physics is being supplanted in the same way religion and the age of reason supplanted the mythos of the ancients. Classical Reality is no longer valid because we now understand that properties in the physical world are not fixed, but literally change depending on how we want to observe it. Locality is called Nonlocality in the new physics because items which appear to be separate are actually connected instantaneously through space-time. The Causality in classical physics is no longer applicable since the unidirectional linearity of time has been shown to be an illusion based on the perspective of the observer. And finally, classical continuity has been shown to be invalid. Neither space nor time have turned out to be smooth or contiguous.

Though classical physics got the Apollo rockets to the moon, it will someday be relegated to the same fate as the god Apollo, that of myth and backward thinking.

With an understanding of the ability to create our realities, we can re-examine these stories from the past in a new light. In the story of Odysseus and others, we can see some of the possibilities of these truths.  We understand that reality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. With so many believing so fervently in the events described in the epics, the reality of them would surely have been “created.”

Religion, myth, enlightenment, quantum reality. Applied to, say the Cyclops we have several scenarios. Was the Cyclops a divinely created being subject to worship?  A fanciful story of mythic proportions? Was it some sort of genetic abnormality that could have been studied with modern science? Or was it a being that was seen through the eyes of observers who had no reason to doubt its presence? Thanks to theories based on mathematical models and backed by empirical data proven in repeated experiments, we now know that the ancients may not have been as backwards and ignorant as we once thought. Things are not as they appear to be. Nor are they otherwise. Indeed.



Bibliography

Brown, David J., and Rebecca McClen Novick. “Faster Than Faster Than Light: An Interview with Nick Herbert.” Mavericksofthemind.com. 2003. 7/30/2005.

Dyer, Wayne W. “Your Sacred Self.” N.Y.: Harper  1995 (129)

Institute for Noetic Science. “What the (Bleep) Do We Know: Study Guide and Manual for Navigating Rabbit Holes.” PDF.  Ed. Schlitz, Marilyn, PhD, et al. 2005

Wikipedia.com. 7/30/2005.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whale or Mermaid?

Image

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"
The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?

They would have no sex life and could not bear children.

Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.

And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.
We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.

We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "

Source: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3261/Body-Image-Parable-Goes-Viral-Mermaid-or-Whale.html

Must be Video Friday.


Old villages become green




Guante: 10 Responses to the Phrase "Man Up" (Spoken-Word)

Here's one to renew your hope


Thursday, January 17, 2013

We Have Come




 We have come to be danced 
Not the pretty dance 
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance 
But the claw our way back into the belly 
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance 
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance 
The holding the precious moment in the palms 
Of our hands and feet dance. 

We have come to be danced 
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance 
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance 
The blow the chip off our shoulder dance. 
The slap the apology from our posture dance. 

We have come to be danced 
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance 
One two dance like you 
One two three, dance like me dance 
but the grave robber, tomb stalker 
Tearing scabs and scars open dance 
The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance. 

We have come to be danced 
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle 
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama 
Shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance 
The strip us from our casings, return our wings 
Sharpen our claws and tongues dance 
The shed dead cells and slip into 
The luminous skin of love dance. 

We have come to be danced 
Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance 
But the meeting of the trinity, the body breath and beat dance 
The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance 
The mother may I? 
Yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance 
The olly olly oxen free free free dance 
The everyone can come to our heaven dance. 

We have come to be danced 
Where the kingdom’s collide 
In the cathedral of flesh 
To burn back into the light 
To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray 
To root in skin sanctuary 
We have come to be danced 

WE HAVE COME. 


by Jewel Mathieson

 
 
 
We have come to be danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the belly
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance
The blow the chip off our shoulder dance.
The slap the apology from our posture dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance
One two dance like you
One two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
Tearing scabs and scars open dance
The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
Shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
The strip us from our casings, return our wings
Sharpen our claws and tongues dance
The shed dead cells and slip into
The luminous skin of love dance.

We have come to be danced
Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
But the meeting of the trinity, the body breath and beat dance
The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
The mother may I?
Yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
The olly olly oxen free free free dance
The everyone can come to our heaven dance.

We have come to be danced
Where the kingdom’s collide
In the cathedral of flesh
To burn back into the light
To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced


Monday, January 14, 2013














Creative Commons License
This work by Rick Robb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Lokah Samastha Sukino Bhavantu

Let there be peace on earth.
 Let it begin with me.

And I Quote ~ The Dalai Lama

Just do them

Awaken

Words Like White Weasels

-->
Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is a conversation between a man and a woman that cuts across time and culture. The man, referred to as “the American,” and the girl, Jig, have had to change trains somewhere in the Spanish countryside. In the course of a half hour, the man convinces Jig, with whom he has apparently had a sexual relationship, that she should have an abortion. Hemingway has been accused of being misogynistic, yet in this story he shows a sympathy for the feelings of women, and an understanding of a woman’s desire to choose. In this case, it seems that Jig would choose life for her unborn child. Through the use of alcohol, promises of the abortion’s simplicity, badgering, and passive-aggressive behavior, Hemingway shows the “American” to be a selfish cad whose only concern is that his lifestyle may be hampered by the addition of a child.
The story is set in a small train station in the Ebro valley of Spain. There is a bar inside the station and tables and chairs outside. It is hot, probably midday. We get the impression that the man and woman are a couple of independent means. They do not have to bother with the day-to-day cares of jobs. They are reminiscent of the characters of Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises,” which was published a year prior to this story. Here we have just another two examples of what Gertrude Stein referred to as “a lost generation.”
There are forty minutes before the train to Madrid will arrive. A cursory reading of the story may give the impression that the conversation goes rather quickly. In fact, it is slow, perhaps with long pauses punctuating the conversation. An issue has arisen between these lovers. They are arguing mildly. She snipes at him and he responds defensively. He does not want to attack her. He does not want to put her on guard. He has an agenda.
The girl asks, “What shall we drink?” (415). She is initiating the drinking, though from further reading, we see that this is just what they do. They “look at things and try new drinks” (416). It seems that they use drink to fill in the empty spaces in their lives, the slow spots in the conversation. Perhaps he uses the alcohol to give him a little liquid courage to say what is on his mind. More likely, he is using it to soften her up and make her just a little more pliable. No doubt this has worked before. Perhaps it is even the cause of their current situation. He places the order for the beer. Two big ones. 
Jig sees the sign painted on the beaded curtain advertising Anis del Toro and wants to try it. He orders two with water. The water makes it easier to drink, makes the alcohol content less noticeable. They bicker some more, although she is becoming conciliatory. He suggests another round of drinks. She agrees. He comments on how nice and cool the beer is. Again, she agrees. The drinks have dulled her senses; loosened her up and mellowed her out. Her inebriation makes her receptive to his suggestions. He sees this and knows that now is the time to begin.
It is here that he broaches the subject of the abortion. “It’s really an awfully simple operation, Jig,” (416) he says and begins to hammer at her with a series of repeated variations of phrases.  “It’s […] awfully simple,” he says, adding “It‘s not really an operation at all.”  This idea of simplicity is quite interesting when contrasted with the story’s title. On the one hand, we have the “white elephant” which is a costly, high maintenance item. On the other, we have the “operation,” which is simple and natural according to the man. At one point, Jig asks if things will be like they were before she got pregnant. Will he like it when she says that “things are like white elephants […]” (417)? Or, she is asking, will he continue to offer these simple solutions to the other white elephants that will come along in their relationship. What is the next thing she will want to keep that he will want to get rid of?
In all, the man repeats this idea of its simplicity six times. He also uses variations of “I wouldn’t have you to do it if you didn’t want to” (416) multiple times. Alex Link covers the repetition of words and phrases in an article for the Hemingway Review. Link argues that “it is through this repetition that much of the argument is played out. Within the economy of this short story, barely 1,500 words long, repeated items are notable” (2).
The man continually tells Jig of the simplicity of the abortion. He treats it as though it were nothing more than having a boil lanced. “Let the air in” (416) and voila, it is done and you are on your merry way. He repeats the concept of simplicity in an attempt to make her see that she is being unreasonable. He has known “lots of people that have done it” (416) he says. It is just the most common thing he can imagine. Jig, to her credit, does not succumb to this line of reasoning. She has known her share of women who have had the procedure as well. “And afterward they were all so happy,” (416) she says. That the man’s response to this statement is defensive lets us know that this last sentence has been delivered with a hint of sarcasm.
Passive-aggression is the chief tool of the American. I am only thinking of you, baby. Only if you want to do it. It is so simple. I love you. “I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time” (416) he says. This is a standard phrase used by many men in this situation, though apparently he wants to keep this woman around. He has not just handed her some money and sent her off to a back-alley abortionist. “I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you,” (417) he tells her, referring to marriage, or at least having the baby. “Doesn’t it mean anything to you?” she asks him. “Of course it does,” he replies, no doubt emphatically. “But,” he says. He qualifies this statement with “I don’t want anybody but you” (417). It is not that he has anything against the baby. It is just that he cannot devote all his time, attention, love, and affection on Jig if there is someone else in the scene. Surely, she can see that. Surely she can see that the only real option here is the abortion, a procedure he knows is “perfectly simple.”  He just wants her to say that yes, he is right. She is being so silly. Of course this is the right thing to do. 
     Link, referring to the fifth repetition of the phrase “I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to” (417) brings to light the true passive-aggression of the American. In this instance, the man begins by saying, “You’ve got to realize,” (417). Link argues that “the repetitions, as well as the addition of this phrase, emphasize the man’s persistence and power to change the conditions of the agreement, as well as Jig’s reluctance or inability to want or feel as he directs” (2).
     The man does not want to have any reason to feel guilt later on. He does not want to be the target of blame. He wants to be able to say that he told her to do it only if she wanted to. Because of this, he continues to repeat the statements in an attempt to get Jig to take ownership of the decision. He wants absolution before the fact. Jig is not so easy to give it though. It is the incessant repetition of the ideas of simplicity and it being her choice that finally gets to her. She tells him “I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me” (417). Her acquiescence is not quite good enough for the man and he keeps at it. “All right. But you’ve got to realize” he begins to say. “I realize,” the girl responds, cutting him off, adding “Can‘t we maybe stop talking?” (417). Just to seal the deal, to enforce his lack of culpability, he adds a little nugget to make himself look better. “I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you,” he says.  It is apparent to Jig that his heart is not in this offer. “Doesn’t it mean anything to you?” (417) she asks. “Of course it does,” he says. Of course it does, but . He speaks the weasel words pure and simple and she has had enough. Like a tiny, vicious weasel, attacking again and again his words eventually wear the prey down until it submits. “Would you please please please please please please please stop talking,” (418) she asks him. She is broken. She has succumbed to his haranguing. She knows that he will not change. Perhaps now she does not care. He has revealed himself for the shallow person he is.
The man’s words, dripping with care and concern, are crafted to get her to submit to his will. His only real concern is that they can continue this life of the lost generation, this carefree rambling about the countryside. Moving from hotel to hotel, being amused, looking at things, trying new drinks.

Works Cited
Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” Discovering The Many Worlds of Literature: Literature for Composition.  Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg, Eds.  Longman, 2004. (415-418)
Link, Alex. “Staking everything on it: a stylistic analysis of linguistic patterns in Hills Like White Elephants” Hemingway Review (22:2) Spring 2004. (66-74,3)