|4 Oct 2008 @ 10:59|
A well nobody dug filled with
ripples and a shapeless
weightless man drinks.
The weeds at the bottom gently bending down the stream, shaken by the watery wind, still planted where their seeds had sunk, but erelong to die and go down likewise; the shining pebbles, not yet anxious to better their condition; the chips and reeds, and occasional logs and stems of trees that floated past, fulfilling their fate, were objects of singular interest to me, and at last I resolved to launch myself on its bosom and float whither it would bear me.
---Henry David Thoreau
The mind is like water: when it's still, there is reflection; when disturbed, no mirror. Muddled by folly and craving, fanned by misleading circumstances, it surges and billows, never stopping for a moment. Looking at it this way, where can you go and not be mistaken! It's like trying to look into a flowing spring to see your own appearance---it never forms.
Let's not be irrational about this. The widely-distributed still you can see at Middle East Online [link] from the notorious video of Sarah Palin, then running for governor of Alaska I believe, receiving a blessing from a Kenyan pastor to protect her from the influence of witches, is not meant by me to mock either the vice presidential candidate or African rituals. Services and spells to ward off or cast out demons are practiced by most religions everywhere in the world. Not only that, I'm sure many of our presidents and vice presidents went through rituals like this, of one kind or another, to join a Masonic temple or Skull & Bones or even Alpha Bokka Babee fraternity. What did primitives make of Christian missionaries offering them the flesh and blood of Christ? This article is not about such rituals, hair-raising or otherwise.
I watched the vice presidential debate again last night from a tape I made of it. I was a debater in high school on a champion team, and I know very well how much theater goes into such things. When I watch a theater piece the first time, I let it take me and experience the emotional impact. I like magic tricks and marvel myself into the illusion. Later, maybe like most people, I want to know how it works. There were some moments among Biden, Palin and Iffel that I wanted to see for that reason.
I wanted to see what Biden and Palin did while the other was speaking. Were they listening to each other or preparing their next remarks? I wanted to see the moments in which one really dominated the other. I wanted to see Biden go after this "maverick" thing. (How can there be a "team of mavericks?" Is that something like an idiot savant?) But most of all, I wanted to see Sarah Palin's response to Joe Biden's recollection about losing part of his family in an accident and fearing a son was going to die. Many people have commented about how moving the senator was as he went through it, and also how the governor seemed to have no response at all.
It's only fair to say the camera was not on Sarah while Joe spoke. Unless alternate footage is produced, we don't know if she was listening or getting ready to go after her next topic. Nor would her response be particularly important, if she didn't constantly talk about home and family, the kitchen table and God...and pluck at our heartstrings about a challenged child or 2. She just had been doing that, to which Joe's extemporaneous comment was an identified reply. So, what is it in a person that brings her to block an obvious need for an honest acknowledgment of suffering? More >
|30 Apr 2008 @ 09:54|
Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.
---Alfred, Lord Tennyson
What is beyond, is that which is also here.
---Ancient Indian aphorism
The Emperor's chief carpenter, Ch'ing, once made a music stand so perfect that all who saw it marveled. When Lu asked him to reveal the mystery of his art, Ch'ing demurred, saying: "No mystery, your Highness, though there is something. When I am about to make such a stand, I first reduce my mind to absolute quiet. Three days in this condition and I am oblivious to any reward to be gained. Five days, and I am oblivious to any fame to be acquired. Seven days, and I become unconscious of my four limbs and body. Then, with no thought of the Court in mind, all my skill concentrated and all disturbing elements gone, I go into the forest to search for a suitable tree. It contains the stand in my mind's eye, and then I set to work."
If you've ever been in a choir, particularly the church variety, you may appreciate Dave Walker's cartoon, from the UK's Church Times. [link]
On Saturday, in San Rafael, California, there will be a national competition you may not be aware of. It's the 24th Annual Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival. Actually this is the final contest, as there already have been 8 elimination contests held in cities all over the country. Now the winning groups there are being flown to Marin Veterans' Auditorium for this big deal over the weekend. It's interesting there are hundreds of these groups involved, and probably not too many are of the barbershop variety anymore. As you can see from these photos and group descriptions, the music is all over the place [link] , but you can be sure of one thing: most of these participants have heard of Phil Mattson and The Foothill Fanfairs.
A couple years ago I stumbled into the best argument I know for writing personal stuff on the Internet. I merely related the coincidental sighting of a name of a musician on a CD set a friend generously gave me, with an LP I had bought years earlier. The name Michele Weir connected me to somebody name Phil Mattson, then I began to find out things about him, and finally I thought somebody somewhere might be interested in this so I wrote about it. [link] What followed here, elsewhere I post, and in emails has been a continuous flow of messages from people who studied and performed with this great teacher. Most recently I heard from someone named Roy Turpin, who happens to be a therapist now out in California (isn't everybody?) and he has provided me a rare opportunity.
A month ago Gene Puerling died. His passing went largely unnoticed in the media, but those of us who love acapella singing know he formed The Hi-Lo's in the early 1950s, and then Singers Unlimited a decade later, and we mourned appropriately. Phil Mattson appreciated the Puerling genius, which was a style and technique completely original, and had the brilliance himself to begin teaching it to young people. Well, I suppose some folks must have thought he was crazy to attempt it...because certainly those of us who also loved Puerling thought such singing clearly was impossible---even where there it was on records. It really was impossible, because Gene began to experiment with multi-tracking and eventually had 4 singers sound like 8, then 12, or a whole choir. Phil's challenge may have been tougher, because he used real people...and they were kids. More >
|29 Feb 2008 @ 06:49|
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
I neglect God and his angels for the noise of a fly,
for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door.
And if the earth no longer knows your name,
Whisper to the silent earth: I'm flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
---Rainer Maria Rilke
This photo of the Obama family clearly is a couple years old at least, but only over the March 1st weekend are we getting more recent pictures. "The Phenom" has become a tidal wave. The children are Sasha, in Mom's lap, and Malia on the right.
This peculiar title doesn't mean I advocate for Michelle Obama in place of Barack. It just means Mrs. Obama came to our town yesterday afternoon and took the place by storm. It means if we can vote Barack Obama into the Presidency, we get a package that includes a lovely family and this remarkable woman for First Lady. I hadn't studied the matter, knew nothing about her except those couple of media things, and was unprepared totally for one of the greatest addresses of any kind I've ever heard.
I was pretty much resigned to Athens, Ohio, being the place the candidate spouses come to visit. Hillary Clinton was here stumping for her husband back in the day, and now the former president showed up earlier in the week to give an energetic speech for her. I'd wanted to see Barack Obama before our primary next week, but I learned all we would get was a look at his wife. Oh well, my daughter and I went to stand in line.
The Templeton-Blackburn Auditorium---or Mem Aud, as it used to be called---holds a couple thousand people, so I thought if we got there an hour early we might at least get inside out of the cold. No tickets required, a quick frisk, and we soon were in the 12th row. The place has a magnificent sound system and mostly soul tunes from the '60s were banging away. Well you can't beat that stuff, and so pretty soon everybody was groovin'. Smiles began to appear, and as I looked around I realized I hadn't been in an audience of such racial, age, and gender mix maybe ever.
On stage was a bunch of people, but no obvious dignitaries or union T-shirts. My daughter said she heard folks were chosen at random to go up there. The active volunteers were being afforded the front rows as usual. The auditorium filled up completely from what I could see, and I suppose I'll read reports as to whether any were turned away or a sound system set up outside. A barrage of TV cameras, reporters, anchors and photographers was in the usual cluster.
We waited---but the hits kept on coming, so who cares? The spirit of hope and expectation was in the air. People looked happy but serious. We're not gonna get fooled again! The black woman next to me kept checking her watch. I heard her say she had kids that needed to be picked up. As it got to be 5 minutes past the hour, she said out loud, "They oughta have SOMEbody come out." I didn't want my first words to her to be discouraging, having waited hours at things like this, so I asked, "Do you know where she's coming from?" She didn't. But 5 minutes after that, out came the first of 2 introductory speakers...and we were off! More >
|6 Dec 2007 @ 14:13|
Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself.
A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks.
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
Everyone likes him. People even smile at the mere mention of his name. Those I talk to, both liberal and conservative, say he seems to be right about everything. He has years and years of political experience. He started out even poorer than Lincoln, but as inspired and dedicated. So why doesn't he have a snowball's chance of a Presidential nomination? The rightwingnuts call him a socialist and crazy, not to be taken seriously. Maybe he's too short to be President. Maybe we're too frightened to have the courage of our convictions.
The breath of fresh air on AM talk radio named Ed Schultz put out an invitation to all the candidates, both parties, to come on his show for the entire 3 hours and answer phone calls. Kucinich showed up right away---and the show is in North Dakota! Nobody else has. The program was a revelation of serious discussion on every issue you or I could think of...and Dennis had answers. Maybe you can stream it somehow at Ed's site...and he rebroadcast it once. [link] If you're reading this today, you may notice Kucinich will be on again this afternoon...and so will Barack Obama. It's on from 3 until 6 in the Athens area...770 AM.
But fairly quickly into that 3 hour interview, it became clear Dennis was not alone in the studio with Big Eddie. Elizabeth Kucinich was there too, as she usually is wherever he goes. A couple days before the show I got a phonecall from a friend in The Queens, who still does her reading in books instead of here. She said, "Have you SEEN Dennis Kucinich's wife?!" No, I said, I'm not sure I knew whether or not he was married. My friend said---and if you can say this with a Queens dialect it sounds better---"She's absolutely gorgeous!! She must be 7 feet tall with this long red hair down to her waist!" That was enough to nearly blind my imagination, but I persevered. I had seen Dennis Kucinich once in person, when he still was mayor of Cleveland...and while he seemed kind of cute then, I couldn't imagine him attracting someone so statuesquely beautiful. "And she's about 30 years younger," Belle said. Oh oh.
So on this interview, Eddie---also a redhead---couldn't seem to resist trying to get a word or 2 out of this curious creature by the candidate's side. Finally she said something...in a riveting English accent. She's from the UK? With all the distinguished bravado the Brits can muster, whenever they talk about anything, Elizabeth began to give her views on the topics. Soon the couple was talking as a team. I said to myself, "This would be the most perfect First Lady in the nation's history." Folks, she is positively brilliant!
But of course I don't want to be sexist. I've tried to stifle my interest in a potential First Lady, and continue only to talk about Dennis Kucinich. Like a lot of us, I suppose I secretly support Kucinich, but John Edwards is there too...and hasn't Biden been wonderful lately? So it's getting interesting...but here comes the cheer part: in yesterday's Washington Post is a long article about the Kuciniches, how they met, fell in love, and what's it all about. I wouldn't recommend this reading to you, except that I found it absolutely delightful. My congratulations to Libby Copeland, who seems to have gotten caught up in their energy and writes it for us just perfectly. This is a political article about falling in love~~~ More >
|20 Oct 2007 @ 12:23|
Great doubt results in great enlightenment, small doubt results in small enlightenment, no doubt results in no enlightenment.
A hundred thousand worlds are flowers in the sky.
A single mind and body is moonlight in the water.
Once thinking ends and information stops,
At that moment there is no place for thought.
All wisdom comes out of one center, and the number of wisdom is one.
I thought it was a good thing when www.factcheck.org showed up a few years ago. I immediately subscribed to its occasional dispatches. A Karl Rove in power was reason enough. "Spin" was the middle name of this White House and, while acknowledged, journalists didn't seem to do much about it. We heard about "framing" your presentations so that particular words would hook your audience. We learned that "reality" is a hindrance to true economic marketfreedom. It seemed evident that lies repeated over and over finally sink in and become accepted as truth. What's a mother to do? FactCheck stepped up to the plate to test the veracity of political ads and politician claims. That seemed to be a help.
But I find I don't read everything FactCheck sends out, and sometimes I don't find the "facts" particularly convincing. I confess I probably am rooting for my good guys and don't like it much when FactCheck goes after them. The site is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a research group of impeccable credentials...as far as I know. So I'm glad FactCheck is around, particularly during endless campaign seasons.
But last month the Washington Post published an intriguing article that said the whole strategy of creating myths depends on the assertive statement of the story. The Post implied that by emphasizing these myths FactCheck actually is defeating its own purpose. People read the myth and that's enough to keep it going no matter how the facts check out. [link]
That was enough to send FactCheck to the couch and after a month of analysis, it has emerged with a special report on its soundness of mind. Beware: they've gone all the way back to Descartes and Spinoza. There's some deep slogging here, and it's perfectly possible you may emerge with the belief Spinoza invented spin. Maybe he did. That part's hazy. Anyway, here it is~~~ More >
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