Friday, June 01, 2018

IT'S NOT ...


``It's not your spread, and it's not how strong you are, and it's not how fast you are, because you have all those things, and you think that means something. That means nothing. It's something else, kibble, it's your heart. When you are afraid, you clutch at your life like a scared little girl, and you can't do that, you will die, and you will die  afraid with shit running down your legs. You need to be so much more than that. Because the time will come, kibble, when just being fast and accurate won't be enough. The time will come when your soul must be absolute with your conviction, and whatever your spread, and howsoever fast you are, you will only succeed if you fight like a fucking angel. fallen to fucking earth, with a heart absolute and full of conviction, without hesitation, doubt, or fear, no part of yourself divided against the other; in the end, that's what life will ask of you. Not technical mastery, but ruthlessness, courage, and singularity of purpose. You watch. So it's fine that you saunter around, but that's not what the exercise is for, kibble. It's not for your spread. It's not for your aim. It's for your soul.'' ---p. 48, My Absolute Darling, Gabriel Tallent


Friday, March 16, 2018

Unknown, Unknowable, and Eyes

First Quote:
... unknown as something that is veiled from man, shrouded perhaps by a terrifying context, but which, nonetheless, is within man's reach. The unknown becomes known at a given time. The unknowable, on the other hand, is the indescribable, the unthinkable, the unrealizable. It is something that will never be known to us, and yet it is there, dazzling and at the same time horrifying in its vastness.

... In the face of unknown, man is adventurous. It is a quality of the unknown to give us a sense of hope and happiness. Man feels robust, exhilarated. Even the apprehension that it arouses is very fulfilling. ... man is at his best in the face of unknown.
... whenever what is taken to be unknown turns out to be unknowable the results are disastrous. Seers feel drained, confused. A terrible oppression takes possession of them. Their body lose tone, their reasoning and sobriety wander away aimlessly, for the unknowable has no energizing effect whatsoever. It is not within human reach; therefore, it should not be intruded upon foolishly or even prudently. ...   ---pp. 46-47, ``The Fire From Within,'' Carlos Castaneda

Second Quote:
... if seers can hold their own in facing petty tyrants, they can certainly facet unknown with impunity, and then they can even stand the presence of the unknowable.
``The average man's reaction is to think that the order of that statement should be reversed ... a seer who can hold his own in face of the unknown can certainly face petty tyrants. But that's not so.  ...  We know better now. We know that nothing can temper the spirit of a warrior as much as the challenge of dealing with impossible people in position of power. Only under those conditions can warriors acquire the sobriety and serenity to stand the pressure of unknowable.''  ---pp.32-33, ``The Fire From Within,'' Carlos Castaneda

Third Quote:
All in all, the ability to read other minds develops early in human infancy, and is deeply influenced by cues from the eyes. The phenomenon requires no explicit, conceptual grasp of other minds, but rather relies on direct experience of others’ emotional and mental states. ``How we learn to read another’s mind by looking into their eyes,'' Tobias Grossmann, 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Requiem: Dies irae (Day of Wrath)

"Day of wrath, day of anger
will dissolve the world in ashes,
as foretold by David and the Sibyl.
Great trembling there will be
when the Judge descends from heaven
to examine all things closely."

"Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
teste David cum Sibylla.
Quantus tremor est futurus,
quando judex est venturus,
cuncta stricte discussurus!"

Lyrics of Mozar Requiem, (III. Sequence 1. Dies irae), adopted from here:

Video starting there:

Things are happening at such a fast and unbelievable pace and at the same time, nothing is happening, almost, that there is no use in trying to write about them anymore.

The whole thing is a scary experience .. maybe sometime later, much later, I can recount them!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Clear Shallow Water

I started reading this novel, ``The Driver,'' by Hart Hanson, and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came back to it to read a bit more and found this:

I tell Dad I'm sorry.

``No shame here,'' Dad says. ``It's important for a man to be decisive, but that has two parts to it. Are you listening to me?''

I'm listening.

``Part one is making the decision. That should be the hard part. Take all the time you can to do that properly. Part two, taking action, that's the easy part. You got ahead of yourself this time, is all. You put part two ahead of part one. Take your time making the decision so that the action you take is clear shallow water. Just like the German poet said.'' p.24, The Driver,' Hart Hanson

PS. I found three old poem from 2010 here (on this blog) by accident, and put them together on the "Hello Poetry" site (Winter in Three Acts):

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Body Intelligence

As Lucy reflected on her outrageous behavior of the night before, the memory only served to draw her upward, like a flower toward the sun. It was one of Lucy's gifts, to recognize the intelligence of her body and the utter impossibility of denying it. No matter how many times her father had said it would ruin her, she'd always known that her carnal appetite was the one thing capable of saving her. If she believed in God, it was here. Surely, He'd given us such appetite so that we'd stay---for a while at least---on our side of the fence. Without the force of the body, its compulsions, what would prevent a person from sprouting wings before his time and demanding entrance to paradise? ---p.39, ``Edgar & Lucy,''  Victor Lodato

It seems such a fancy idea, the intelligence of body, but for me it has taken years to approach and utilize it in a meaningful way. And still, sometimes, often, it becomes the source of huge anxiety for me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reality, Power, Death, Truth

What is ``real''? Anything, any entity, that is repeatable. Something that takes place only once, cannot be real, or at least, we cannot establish its reality.

What is ``power''? A sustainable influence. In that sense, power is real influence.

Sustained lack of power corresponds to death. Therefore, death is real lack-of-power. And, hence, life is real power.

We cannot be sure that every entity in our world is repeatable and hence real. Therefore, truth must contain both real and unreal.

I picture the world similar to Cosmo, with the empty space corresponding to unreal and the celestial bodies corresponding to real. I suspect that the world is completely dominated by unreal.

We have no direct way of understanding what is unreal, except by projecting it onto something real.

We have very serious limits on our understanding of the world, especially when we limit ourselves to scientific methods of inquiry.

Quotes from another John Burdett novel, ``Bangkok Haunts,''  that I started a few days ago, but as usual I'm reading it very slowly:

``The dirt poor don't actually have selves to destroy. When they get a little power, they know it's only for a moment. They have no practice in preparing for the future. They generally don't believe they have one.''

``For the poor, birth is the primary disaster: owning a body that has to be fed and sheltered and looked after, along with the drive to reproduce, to continue. Everything else is kid stuff, including death.'' ---pp.18-19, Bangkok HauntsJohn Burdett

``Even dead, that woman has the power to turn your world upside down.''

I take a couple of beats to absorb that penetrating observation. ``Not only mine. The FBI isn't exactly naive, but she's in shock. It's what it does to your faith in life. Makes it that much harder to get up in the morning. You don't want to believe it, but it's hard to ignore the evidence.'' ---p. 21,  Bangkok HauntsJohn Burdett

PS [2017-08-06] -- I am reading a detective novel by Stuart Neville, ``So Say the Fallen,'' and liked it very much so far.

McKay closed the vestry door behind him, leaned his forehead against the wood.
Shakes erupted out from his core, to his hands, to his legs. His knees buckled and he collapsed into the door, then staggered across to the desk beneath the window.
A good man.
The words clawed at him.
``I am not,'' he whispered. ``I am not.''
A good man.
Maybe once. But not now.
I killed a man so I could have his wife.
Go back out. Go back out and tell her.
Tell her there is no God, that she is praying to air and stone and glass and nothing else.
Tell her this good man is a killer who deserves hellfire for his sin.
But McKay went nowhere. Instead he remained at the desk, wishing he had a God to pray to. ---p. 113, So Say the Fallen, Stuart Neville

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the terms for worship and slavery have the same root, so that worship means giving up one's freedom in the service of God. Today, I came across the following paragraph in another John Burdett novel (Bangkok Tattoo) I am reading (Hudson is a CIA agent in the novel, the narrator is a Thai detective whose mother, formerly a prostitute, owns a bar/brothel, and Hudson is in love with the mother):
One night, after the two a.m. curfew, the bar is empty save for Hudson and me. He is drunker than I've seen before, though still more or less in control. Sitting on a stool, he starts to talk, as if continuing a conversation, probably with himself:
``Freedom? What kind of dumb all-purpose Band-Aid is that?'' With pleading eyes: ``I mean, what are we selling exactly? Money is the state religion of the West. We pray to it every waking minute---and we're gonna make damned sure every last human on earth gets down on their knees with us. All our wars are wars of religion.'' ...   ---p. 202, Bangkok Tattoo, John Burdett 
The modern/Western man is proud of his freedom, even though he worships (i.e., is in the service of, slave to) money!

PS 1. [2017-06-21]. A bit more on American life from the same book (spoken by the same character, Hudson):

``Most people won't stay in the Agency very long. It's like any other job in the states---American's get restless, bored, enraged that their talents are not properly appreciated. We move on. We move on---change the view every ten minutes, and you can convince yourself for a while that you've escaped the treadmill. But not forever. After a certain specific moment in life, you start to look back. You discern a pattern. Something ugly, manic, cramped, tortured, and repetitive. That pattern is what you are, what your culture has made of you. But that's not a reason for giving up. ... It's not a reason for changing sides. You got to soldier on, right or wrong. How you ever gonna know how wrong you are, how you ever gonna learn your life's lesson, if you're just a feather in the wind? You gotta suck it all up---there's no other way.''  ---p. 232, Bangkok Tattoo, John Burdett 

PS 2. [2017-7-17] . I am finishing the book and here are parts of the last chapter that appeared very interesting to me:

In the cab on the way back, in a jam on the outskirts of Krung Thep, I ask the driver to tune in to RodTitFM. Visit is interviewing a famous abbot from one of our forest monasteries:

Pisit to abbot: The more I think about Thailand, the more it drives me insane---I mean, totally crazy, insane, mad.
Abbot: Because of our overwhelming problems?
Pisit: Yes, our overwhelming problems, exactly.
Abbot: Which problems are you most overwhelmed by?
Pisit: All of them.
Abbot: Excuse me, but are you really expressing yourself accurately? Is it not more precise to say that it is not the problems that are overwhelming---after all, they are just problems out there somewhere---but the difficulty in solving those problems?
Pisit, resignedly: If you like, yes, the difficulty in solving them.
Abbot (with satisfaction): Ah, then Buddhism can indeed help you. At first I though it could not, but now I am pleased to say that it can.
Pisit: Yes?
Abbot: Well, it's very simple. It is not the country's problems that overwhelm you but your egoistic belief that you can be instrumental in solving them.

A scream from Pisit, then silence. ---p. 301, Bangkok Tattoo, John Burdett

Nirvana: We look out on the world and we see only a dust-laden collection of homemade symbols. Those that fit our prejudice of the moment we keep, the rest we dump. We are distracted by distraction by distraction. Nothing is happening. Nothing has happened. Nothing will happen. Emptiness is the ultimate challenge; identity is for suckers. Says the Buddha: All meaning is realized, the universe is nirvanic. ---p. 302, Bangkok Tattoo, John Burdett

PS 3. [2017-7-25] . I started another John Burdett novel, ``Bangkok Haunts,'' and here is a quote from the beginning:

``Death,'' the pathologist says, ``the way a culture views death defines its attitude to life. Forgive me, but sometimes the West gives the impression of being in denial. The Thai attitude is a little different.'' ---p. 12, Bangkok Haunts, John Burdett  

Friday, June 09, 2017

Violent Buddhism

I am reading a couple of novels by John Burdett which feature a Buddhist Thai detective. Here are some interesting excerpts:

``Whatever little mind picture you've got of me by now, kid, you better dump them. I don't have an ego. Those Chinese burned every little bit of it out of me ... there was no way I was going to spend the next sixty years dragging a bleeding, damaged, heartbroken, resentful, miserable stump of ego around. ...'' ---p. 347, The Godfather of KathmanduJohn Burdett

``You thought you would play the martyr, get yourself a permanent seat in nirvana in return for your sacrifice, your undeniable stinking goodness? What are you, some kind of Sunday Christian? Didn't I already make it clear that good isn't good enough? ... Good is even harder to kick than evil. They are a duality, you know that, you don't get one without the other. ... And anyway, you have no right to deprive me of my karma. It's all me driving this. This is my moment, not yours, so who the fuck are you to screw it all up because you can't live with yourself? If you can't live with yourself, dump your self.'' ---p. 346, The Godfather of KathmanduJohn Burdett

``[Clive of India] was the first to make the connection between arms and narcotics. This little thug from Shropshire, who would certainly have been hanged if he'd stayed in England, saw the way to finance a whole private army, and the model proved so effective they repeated it all over the world: narcotics, slaves, and weapons. It's the great tripod upon which our global civilization continues to be based, even if they have changed the labels and the slaves get health insurance. The plain fact is, the sociopathic nature of the modern corporation started then and there with Clive. ... '' ---p. 345, The Godfather of KathmanduJohn Burdett

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


Before ten thousand steps, I
squint my eyes for the
Temple suspended in clouds


... three men traveled together, a Christian, a Muslim, and A Buddhist. They were good friends, and when they discussed spiritual matters, they seemed to agree on all points. Only when they turned their gaze on the outer world did their perception differ. One day they passed over a mountain ridge to behold a fertile and populated valley below.
``How strange,'' said the Christian. ``In Village One down there the villagers are all fast asleep, whereas in Village Two they are lost in a hideous orgy of sin.''
``You are quite wrong,'' said the Muslim, ``in Village One everyone is in a perpetual state of ecstasy, whereas in Village Two everyone is asleep.''
``Idiots,'' said the Buddhist. ``There is only one village and only one set of villagers. They are dreaming themselves in and out of existence.'' ---p. 46, Bangkok Tattoo, John Burdett

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Roots of Evil

I have been developing a novel structure of concepts around the theme of ``the functions and responsibilities of the rational, conscious mind.'' Among these concepts are those related to roots of evil. I saw a book in the public library today that caught my attention, ``Hitler: The pathology of Evil,'' by Geroge Victor. He is apparently of the Jewish faith and therefore much less inhibited in his analyses. Here are some excerpts:

Why the pessimism of Bullock and others about understanding Hitler, and why the lack of progress after fifty years? Some difficulties in understanding him have been mentioned [My note: `his secrecy and deceptiveness' is mentioned before]; another is that key pieces of his story are offensive. That he was a sadist is accepted, but that he was also a masochist---equally important in his acts of state---is not. Particularly difficult is the matter of his victimization in childhood. For many people, seeing him as a victim--a figure calling for sympathy---is unacceptable. In addition, writers have been careful about offending Jews by suggesting that Hitler's anti-Semitism was linked to his identification of himself as Jewish. His ethnic ancestry was German, probably also Czech, and possibly also Jewish. No more can be established, but there is ample evidence that Hitler thought of himself as Jewish in the core of is being---in his ``poisoned'' and ``diseased'' blood. Still another difficulty in explaining Hitler is concern that understanding him may lead to forgiveness, to condoning actions of the Third Reich, and to weakening bulwarks against such destructive convulsion. Taking the opposite position---that understanding is the best protection against a repetition---an attempt is made here to give the fullest possible description of Hitler's personality in order to explain the destructiveness of the Third Reich. ---p. 9, Hitler: The pathology of EvilGeroge Victor

By the time he was an adult, Hitler hated his father, and with ample reason. That hatred, along with self-loathing, ruled his life. ....
The idea of evil coming from a Jewish father also provided an explanation for Hitler's own troubles. Growing up with self-loathing---``rotten to the marrow'' were his words---Hitler found the cause in his ancestry, which he believed had poisoned his marrows. ... ---p.18, Hitler: The pathology of EvilGeroge Victor

... The overprotected child gets limited experience in self-reliance and tends to feel weak, vulnerable, and defective---incapable of managing without help, dependent on others for rescue from predicaments.
The effects of devotion and overprotection were soon evident. Adolf was a bright boy, learning rapidly---the only child in the family to grow up highly intelligent, talented ambitious, or grandiose. He also grew up extremely insecure. ---p. 25, Hitler: The pathology of EvilGeroge Victor

... The usual reaction of a boy who sees his father beating his mother is fear, an impulse to intervene, and shame about the failure to do so. As an adult, Adolf reportedly would have a recurrent nightmare in which a Jew menaced a woman and Adolf failed to intervene, feeling humiliated. Recurrent dreams come from a childhood trauma.
Frequent or severe punishment conveys to children that they are evil. Being nearly killed by parents conveys that they are unworthy to live. Adolf began to experience himself as evil and worthless---feelings he would describe in middle age and be troubled by until his death. ---p. 29, Hitler: The pathology of EvilGeroge Victor

Friday, January 13, 2017


I have come across a strange novel by Diane Schoemperlen, ``Our Lady of the Lost and Found: A Novel of Mary, Faith, and Friendship.'' Here are some quotes from the beginning:

This first stage of writing a book involves a lot of thinking time which, to the uninitiated, appears to be a lot of time wasted doing nothing more than looking out the window. --- p.28, Our Lady of the Lost and Found, Dian Schoemperlen
This is exactly the story of my past few years. Maybe I am writing a book without even knowing myself!?! :)

 ... Studying laundry on a line strikes me as a suburban version of reading palms, tea leaves, or tarot cards, a method of divination useful in determining not so much the past or the future but the present, which, to my way of thinking, is a state every bit as occult and enigmatic as the other two, requiring, but seldom accorded, equal measures of interpretation and exegesis. --- p.28, Our Lady of the Lost and FoundDian Schoemperlen
A beautiful interpretation of present and deciphering the meaning behind it. Small signs like this indicate that the author has felt something!! :)

And the following are quotes from the epigraphs of the book:


The irony of writing about such an experience in the modern era is such that, if I say to people, ``This really happened,'' not unreasonably, they will be inclined to doubt me. They might suspect me of boasting, or assume that I have lost my mind. If I say, ``I imagined it, I made it up, it's fiction''---only then they are free to believe it.
                                                   --- Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace

Ultimately, I have found it is meaningless to hold the yardstick of fact against the complexities of the human heart. Reality simply isn't large enough to hold us.
                                          --- A. Manette Ansay, River Angel
--- p. xi, Our Lady of the Lost and FoundDian Schoemperlen
I love the sense of suspension of reality here.

Finally, this paragraph is filled with a hidden sense of sadness and heaviness:

Day after day, week after week, year after year, I went on with my life in the usual secular way: making meals, making beds, making books, making promises, decisions, and mistakes, making my own dogged way in the world, with all of these divine images stowed away somewhere in the intricate folds of my brain. They were like dream images, those ones that are so vivid when you first wake up in the morning, and then within minutes they begin to fade until, by the time you get the coffee made, they have disappeared completely and you are left with nothing more than an uneasy sense of having lost something but you cannot say what. --- p. 48, Our Lady of the Lost and FoundDian Schoemperlen

IT'S NOT ...

.. ``It's not your spread, and it's not how strong you are, and it's not how fast you are, because you have all those thing...