Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Revelation:

I reveal your choices: you choose and face consequences.

To the right is the path of acceptance, peace and harmony. It goes through the meadow that extends to the edges of tranquility. To the left is the path of passion, truth, and love. It hovers over rugged terrains and high mountains. They take you to the same destination, Death. Pick one and enjoy!

Experimental Writing (in Farsi)

گفتن بعضی‌ حرف‌ها اصلا لازم نیست. طرف باید خودش بفهمد. من صد بار هم یاد آوری کنم، با ایما و اشاره، باز هم به خرج این اصغر نمی‌رود. دوست دارد خودش را با کارهای ساده سر گرم کند. گاهی چای که می‌ریزد برای مردم، چند دقیقه‌ای می‌‌ایستد کناری تا به گفتگوها گوش کند. بیشتره موقعها ولی‌ ساکت به آبدار خانه برمیگردد. پشتش به من است. سلامی‌ می‌کنم. "چای تازه داری؟" چیزی نمی‌گوید. خوش اخلاق نیست. کسی‌ را هم تحویل نمیگیرد. یعنی‌ معلوم نیست کاری از دست کسی‌ هم ساخته باشد. این را وقتی‌ فهمید که دخترش را عمل جراحی کردند. خوش بر و رو بود، دختر. عمل مهمی‌ هم نبود، به قول اصغر، ولی‌ زنده بیرون نیامد. کاری از دست کسی‌ بر نمی‌آید این موقع ها.

شاهکار اصغر چاقوی کند بد شکلش بود که همیشه به این و آن نشان میداد. چاقو به زحمت نان می‌برید. اما مایه قوت قالب اصغر بود. یک روز برایش داستان مثنوی را گفتم؛ داستان آن ابنه‌ای که خنجر به کمر می‌بست. دیگر جواب سلامم را هم نداد. تا پارسال. پارسال سر کوچه دیدمش . حلوا دستش بود. پدرش تازه فوت کرده بود. من را که دید جلو آمد و گفت، "دعا کن برا پیرمرد، همیشه میگفت تو ذاتت ابنه‌ای است، اصغر!" دو تا تیکه برداشتم، ولی‌ نگاه تو چشم هایش نینداختم. خنده‌ای کرد و رفت.

بالای لبش خطی‌ لرزید. همان کافی‌ بود، همه وسوسه‌ها با همان یک خط آغاز میشوند، همان لرزش. تصور لذتی که می‌توانست ببرد مانند چشمهٔ زیر زمینی‌ جوشید و تمام هشیاریش را فرا گرفت. کاش چیزی بود، که می‌توانست به آن چنگ بزند. تپش قلبش، اما، همه چیز را تحت پوشش خود قرار داده بود، خفه کرده بود. پایش را اندکی‌ جا به جا کرد. انگار که قرنی طول کشید. مسیر نگاه پسرک را، بدون نگاه کردن به او، می‌‌دانست. فقط کافی‌ بود خودش را رها کند، همه چیز طبیعی پیش میرفت، بدون دخالت او.

بعدازظهر‌ها به خواندن زن روز‌های قدیمی‌ میگذشت. مال خاله‌هایم بودند که در اتاق بالای پشت بام خانه گذشته بودند، نامرتب، خاک خورده، در کارتون‌های میوه، اینور و انور. شاید اول تابستان مرتب بودند ولی‌ نه بعد از آمدن من. مامان بزرگ نمیخواند شان، و آگر نه نمی‌‌گذاشت من بخوانم. مذهبی‌ بود و سالها در مکتب خانه قرآن درس داده بود. صبحا هم به من و خواهرم، هر صبح یک سوره کوچک از آخر ها، درس میداد که بخوانیم و حفظ کنیم و هر از گاهی یک خط کشی‌ هم بخوریم. زن روز‌ها انواع داستان داشت، بعضی‌‌ها‌شان هم سکسی‌ بود، زن و مرد و برنامه، و ما هم بچه بودیم، شش، هفت، هشت، این طورها، و نمی‌دانستیم دقیقا چه می‌گذرد، ولی‌ خوب تحریک میشودیم، و سرمان نمی‌شد که با آلت گنده شده مان چه خاکی به سرمان بریزیم، و خجالت میکشیدیم ولی‌ باز هم طاقواز میشودیم و می‌خواندیم تا از شق درد بمیریم. خلاصه برنامهٔ تابستان این بود، صبحا قرآن و بعد از ظهرها داستان‌های سکسی‌. خوب موجود چند بعدی از کار در آمدیم هم در نهایت.

English Language

Another quote from ``A Gate at the Stairs,'' by Lorrie Moore. How people in a small Midwest town, Dellacrosse, would speak English :)

People here would narrate an ordinary event entirely in the past perfect: `I'd been driving to the store, and I'd gotten out, and she'd come up to me and I had said ...' It never reached any other tense. All was back-story. All was preamble. The past was severed prologue and was never uttered to be anything but. Who else on earth spoke like this? They would look at the tattoo on my ankle, a peace sign, and, withholding judgement but also intelligence, say, `Well, that's different.' They'd say the same thing about my electric bass. ---p.67, A Gate at the Stairs.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Down the bones

A classic book on writing, ``Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within,'' by Natalie Goldberg. Some quotes from the Preface to the 2005 edition:

``I don't think everyone wants to create the great American novel, but we all have a dream of telling our stories---of realizing what we think, feel, and see before we die. Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.

A long time ago I read Jack Kerouac's essentials for prose. Four of them, in particular, have provided me with heart for the path:
  • Accept loss forever
  • Be submissive to everything, open, listening
  • No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language, and knowledge
  • Be in love with your life
''   2005 ed. Preface, Writing Down the Bones

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trust

A beautiful quote from Goethe that I found in "The Actor's Art and Craft" (p. 276):
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.    Goethe

Art Practices

Art practices emphasize new aspects of life, including spontaneity and living from true self. As with the crafts, art practitioners need diligent practice to engrave the basic tools and techniques of their craft. While performing art, they also need to let go of conscious control and perform from their deep soul.

A quote from ``The Actor's Art and Craft'' by William Esper and Damon DiMarco makes this clearer:

``Real actors commit their energies wholly to the fulfillment of the objectives within the imaginary circumstances of their role, all the while paying constant attention to the behavior of their acting partners. If they can train themselves to do this, their next and greatest challenge will be to step aside so the actor inside them can  work without obstruction. This, as Bill has pointed out so often, is when an actor enters that particular state of free fall where form springs from formlessness and inspiration paints each moment a new and exciting color from the palette of the actor's subconscious.''  pp. 274-5, The Actor's Art and Craft

2013-02-04: I am reading this quote again and it brings me some hope. Every time I read ``Lacan'' (as in the past couple of days), or more generally, some schools of psychoanalysis that emphasize on the "senselessness'' of the unconscious, I become overly nervous about my current situation and my hopes that something good comes out of this state of free fall and formlessness!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mindfulness and Optimality

Two quotes from Ellen J. Langer's book, ``The Power of Mindful Learning.'' In chapter 6 of the book on `Mindfulness and Intelligence' she discussed the prevailing theories of intelligence based on the ability to optimally cope with the real world experiences and challenges. She proposes mindfulness as an alternative to intelligence.

Many theories of intelligence assume that there is an absolute reality out there, and the more intelligent the person, the greater his or her awareness of this reality. Greater intelligence, in this view, implies an optimal fit between individual and environment. An alternative view, which is the base of mindfulness research, is that individuals may always define their relation to their environment in several ways, essentially creating the reality that is out there. What is out there is shaped by how we view it.   p.100, The Power of Mindful Learning
   

Therefore, a mindful approach to problem solving changes the basic structure from searching among possible solutions for a best fit/answer to the problem into looking at the situation from different perspectives and maybe redefining what the `problem' is in the first place.

In this [traditional] view, intelligence consists of identifying the strategies and procedures that optimally reflect the context of any particular problem. ... 
In contrast, when we are mindful, we are implicitly aware that in any particular situation there is no absolute optimum standard for action. From a mindful perspective, one's response to a particular situation is not an attempt to make the best choice from among available options but to create options. Rather than look for an external standard of optimum fit or the right answer, one discovers that, in the words of William James, ``the standard perpetually grows up endogenously inside the web of experience."  pp. 113-114, The Power of Mindful Learning
    

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Bells

A paragraph from ``The Bells,'' by Richard Harvell:

For several minutes none of us spoke and Nicolai hummed some Italian march. He reached down and snatched a dead branch. He swung it at the brambles growing along the track. "You see, Moses," he continued suddenly, "I've got a lot to lose. I have so many things, Too many, the abbot would say. Too much. Shed a little love, he'd suggest. Cure yourself of that sin. But that's exactly what I'm afraid of, don't you see? That's exactly my biggest fear, what keeps me awake every night. What I fear is this: I'll wake up the next morning and everything is just the same, the world is the world, but all the love I feel for it has vanished, and I realize that all along my love was only a disease---like smallpox of the soul." Nicolai looked at his friend riding beside us. "Could that happen, Remus?" Remus did not answer ...    ----The Bells, p. 39

Daydream

A passage from ``The actor's art and craft,'' by William Esper and Damon DiMarco on the teaching of the Meisner technique by William Esper.

Nigh dreams and daydreams both come from your unconscious. ... the content of daydreams is not disguised. This is probably the chief reason people don't relate their daydreams to one another. They're astonishingly personal snapshots of our inner selves.
... Our schools teach us from a very early age to focus. To stick to reality and dismiss the imagination as a distraction from what's important. But, to the artist,  daydreaming is as important as food and drink.
Think about it. All great human achievements have begun with a dream.
... Daydreams are a natural part of life, a part of being human. They happen spontaneously, whether you like it or not, just like beating of your heart.  --- An actor's art and craft, p. 199

An Amazing book. I found it in close harmony with my personal view of life and even my way of living. Surprisingly close!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Gate at the Stairs - II

A passage from ``A Gate at the Stairs,'' by Lorrie Moore:

Dating? What did I know of it? My roommate, Murph, has done all the dating and had essentially abandoned me so that she could now sleep every night with this new guy she'd met. She had bequeathed me her vibrator, a strange swirling, buzzing thing that when switched to high gyrated in the air like someone's bored thick finger going whoop-dee-doo. Whose penis could this possibly resemble? Someone who had worked in a circus, perhaps! Maybe Burt Lanceaster's in Trapeze.  I kept the thing on the kitchen counter where Murph had left it for me and occasionally I used it to stir my chocolate milk.   --- p. 12, A Gate at the Stairs

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Past Catching Up: Ancient Call-Anew

The ``Ancient Call-Anew'' (No Bang Kohan) album by Hossein Alizadeh offers a very impressive use of traditional Iranian wind instruments. Yesterday, while I was listening to the first couple of minutes from the start of the album, the music beautifully matched with the flow of cars approaching me as seen in the mirror.
My general interpretation is that old horns' sound symbolizaes ``your past catching up with the present''.

Link: http://www.hosseinalizadeh.net/Portfolio.aspx#ens

Two Insights (While Swimming)

  1. We are used to assigning deadlines to tasks. How about treating decisions as tasks, and then focusing on the most immediate decisions to be made without worrying about others? We can still prepare for a complicated decision but, at least for me, knowing that we will make the decision at the deadline reduces the pressure. For this to work, some practice with "seeing all tasks equal" helps a lot. That is, focusing on the task at hand rather than being preoccupied with `important' future decisions. There are no important and trivial tasks, there are only tasks to be done.
  2. Mastery in swimming emerges as you feel relaxed enough to watch things, within yourself and outside, as you swim. From my practice-oriented view of life, if you want to feel the same peace in daily life then it is important to feel it first in some form of practice (like swimming, or any other practice of your choice). Then you can search and instill the same feeling in your daily routine of life.
2014-12-02: It is so painful to remember how difficult it was for me to make simplest decisions. I am glad that I left that life behind, even though I had to sacrifice my job :)

Friday, August 05, 2011

Enigma

Let mysteries
remain so

Do not ask
why I  cry 
when I recall
no, relive,
my waking up 
this morning
Let it be

A Gate at the Stairs

A quote from a novel by Lorrie Moore, ``A Gate at the Stairs.'' It reminds me of the days in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the young, innocent-looking, farm boys and girls there :)

``I had come from Dellacrosse Central High, from a small farm on the old Perryville Road, to this university town of Troy, ``the Athens of the Midwest,'' as if from a cave,  ...  The flat green world of my parents' hog-less, horseless farm---its dullness, its flies, its quiet ripped open daily by the fumes and whining of machinery---twisted away and left me with a brilliant city life of books and films and witty friends.  ...  My brain was on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir. Twice a week a young professor named Thad, dressed in jeans and a tie, stood before a lecture hall of stunned farm kids like me and spoke thrillingly of Henry James's masturbation of the comma. I was riveted. I had never before seen a man wear jeans with a tie.''  p. 4,   A Gate at the Stairs

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Stone

Oh, father
where were you?
when I
with a broken back
and tearful eyes
crawled in shame

The boys were laughing

--------------------------------
Inspired by  "Tree of Life"

Road - III

We had a date,
not long ago
Remember?

But in those last minutes,
I couldn't bear your shadow
growing over the valley

And I spoke

------------------------------
 Original:

We had a date, remember?

But in those last minutes,
I couldn't bear your shadow
growing over the valley
----------------------------

Roads - II

Everyone knows
signs change direction
when you talk about 'em

So, baby,
no talk for me,
anymore

Road

This torturous ride
all random signs
point to inevitable horror

-----------------
Original:
On this torturous ride
with all the random signs
that point to something scary
------------------

Monday, August 01, 2011

Parvin Etesami - Poem

پروین اعتصامی

مادر موسی‌ چو موسی‌ را به نیل         در فکند از گفته ربّ جلیل
خود ز ساحل کرد با حسرت نگاه          گفت کای فرزند خرد بی‌ گناه
گر فراموشت کند لطف خدای             چون رهی‌ زین کشتی بی‌ ناخدای؟
گر  نیارد  ایزد  پاکت  بیاد               آب، خاکت را دهد ناگه به‌‌ با د
وحی آمد کین چه فکرِ باطل است،        رهروِ ما اینک اندر منزل است

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 t...