Friday, February 28, 2014

A democracy is . . .. quote from Thomas Jefferson

I recently posted Ben Franklin's great line that democracy is when two wolves and a lamb decide what is for dinner.  Mob rules, wolves eating lambs, why is having a democracy so great?

Maybe we need a new system, one we have not yet seen, or one used in indigenous cultures before the white man moved iin with free-market, capitalist 'democracy'.

Both Jefferson and Franklin were worried that corps and banks would take over. Corps and banks have taken over.

When will we listen to our hearts, as Franca Baroni who wrote, On Governance, proposes?

modern dance, half naked dancing

My daughter's first dance lessons were at a school that focussed on 'classical Russian ballet'. She loved every minute of those classes. When summer began, however, she saw  a flyer for a week-long modern dance class at Zenon Dance company. She asked if I would pay for the class and I agreed to do so. She mentioned it to her ballet instructors and they actually yelled at me. They said it would mess with her training as a ballerina.

Poppycock.   Pish posh.  I didn't tell the ballet folks that I didn't like their formal attitude. They had already told my daughter she was starting ballet too late to ever be a serious ballet dancer and now they were telling her she had great potential that should not be muddled with modern. I didn't say, but I thought this, that they didn't want her tuition dollars going anywhere but their pockets.

My daughter came out of class the first day of the week of modern and said "I am done with Russian ballet. I belong here. I am a modern dancer."

She spent about 30 hours a week, as far as I know, at Zenon from the beginning of 7th grade up until she left high school to start college at age 16.  I say she spent do hours a week there 'as far as I know' because she could have been doing lots of stuff. Near the end, before she left for college, I got caller ID. I let her stay out late to go to no-alcohol clubs that opened just for no-alcohol dancing but when she moved locations, my rule was she had to call. She dutifully called me but once I got the coller ID and she would lie about where she was calling from, I learned she lied to me. Who knows when she started.

She called me after 1 a.m. -- what was wrong with me that I let her out until 1 a.m.?  I thought she was dancing, out with slightly older dancers, none of them old enough to legally drink. Just dancing. But when she called me after 1 a.m. and lied about where she was, I went to the pizza joint to get her.

She was sitting in the back with a couple dancers but also a choreographer who was old enough to buy booze. 2 a.m. and she's sitting in a booth, lying to me about where she was. I would not have been upset if she had said she was getting pizza, even with the older choreographer. It was the lying that upset me.

I just walked in until she could see me. She leapt up, put on her coat and came out silently, mazed, I think by my calm. Once in the car, she started lying some more, making up more stories. I held up my hand, sorta 'talk to the hand, babe" -- it was 1997! -- and said "I am way too angry to talk to you about this tonight. Let's go home, both of us go to bed and we can talk tomorrow."

I hope I grounded her, kept her from clubbing and dancing for awhile. I don't really remember.

I know she is not a professional dancer these days. I wonder if she does much dancing, like takes a class now and then to exercise and keep in shape. It was wonderful watching her move. A Waldorf mom came to one of her shows with me, once, and remarked that the effects of eurthymy were very visible in Katie's movements as she danced.

She stood out as a great dancer. Many of the professionals in her dance company  told me she had what it took to make it professionally.

Then she developed an eating disorder and collapse backstage during aprofessional performance with a new start-up dance company that made her a member. So she shifted to theater for awhile, in college. But she was afraid of being a starving artist. She knew herself enough to know she needed money to have all the things she wanted.

Gosh, I started this post as a preface to comments about a dance performance I saw recently but right now I don't remember what I wanted to say.

I miss my kid.  Oh, I remember.

She had a favorite dance teacher. This teacher was a professinal member of Zenon but also of at least one other dance company. We tried to see all her shows because my daughter was such a fan.  In one performance, the skinny dancer's top fell off. As she bowed down artistically, her top slide off her skinny arms. She kept on dancing, half naked. I was in the audience and did not even notice. She was mortified but proud that she had kept going, not letting her nudity stop the show. She kicked the top off to the side.

I am pretty sure my daughter would notice if her top fell off in front of a few hundred in the audience. I can't imagine her, at least when she was a teen, just going on with the show. I think she'd put the top back on.

Wynn was the dancer who lost her blouse and danced on, half nude.  I remember her last name but don't want it to show up in a google.

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gardner

A Brief For The Defense by Jack Gilbert.  Gilbert started out in San Francisco, lived abroad much of his life and recently passed away from his home in Berkeley.This poem is fierce, getting up in our faces to remind us of all the sorrow and suffering there is in the world, but the poem insists that God wants us to enjoy our lives, insists that pleasure matters even when babies are starving somewhere.  It's fierce but that is why I love it.  As Jack Gardner says below "To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil". Powerful thoughts.

A Brief for the Defense.

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

indigenas' land struggles include Keystone pipeline, eh?

Winona Laduke is appearing in Berkeley, at La Pena Cultural Center.  She is is one of the Sacred Land films. She has been a great leader for Native Americans all her life.  And I'm going! You betcha. She is committed to stopping the Keystone Pipeline. Sure hope her efforts, and the many whose hep she will need, win this one.

As many may know, Winona appears in all of the Sacred Land Films. She is revered by many indigenous peoples all over the world and certainly by the folks at Sacred Land Films.

She ran for vice president twice with Ralph Nader as presidential candidate. Setting aside the fact that Nader's run probably gave us the George W. Bush national nightmare, she was a cool vice presidential choice for him.

I used to regularly go out to breakfast at a lesbian-run breakfast joint that was nearly always mobbed on weekends. My daughter and I went there a lot but I sometimes went on my own. The place had really great food. My thing was pancakes with raspberries in them.  The place is gone now. I can't remember it's name and that bugs me. It was important to our family for a long while. We were regulars. Katie loved it that they would bring her a can of coke without her having to ask. I never bought coke with sugar to drink at home; it was special to let hehaave sugared coke for breakfast. It felt indulgent. It is my memory that she loved it that I let her have coke at breakfast when we breakfasted out. I no longer trust my memories about her. Now I wonder when she decided she hatead me and would dump me as soon as she could. She started talking about how much a grade school classmate hated her mother and couldn't wait to live free of her mom. That was the sixth or 7th grade. I believe Katie deeply hated me by then but she hid it. I am such a dumb cluck. I love people and beleive they love me back, esp. my daughter for whom I made many sacrifices. 

One day, the restaurant full, the hostess asked me if I would be cool sharing a table and she pointed to a table with one woman. The woman agreed to share. It was Winona Laduke. When I told her that her name sounded familiar, she said "Maybe that is because I am running for vice president."

It seemed weird that someone actively running for vice president was sitting there all along, no entourage, no secret service. I guess the race was not at the point where candidates get secret service protection, like maybe she was not yet officially nominated by the Green Party.

We didn't talk about politics. I was headed to my law office and breakfast was my private me time after getting my daughter out the daughter.  I wanted to read the paper and, truth be told, that woman sitting across from me didn't seem all that chatty.

Maybe the woman lied to me and was not Winona but I think it was her. I think she, too, needed some quiet. What was I going to do, ask her a lot of uninformed questions about her political run for office?  I didn't know anything about it, except Nader had always grated on me.

I have met Ralph Nader a couple times.  He came to a couple receptions at my law school. I didn't like him. Stand out memory: he wore business suits that were threadbare, with the cuffs of the sleeves frayed, the elbows shiny because the fabric was worn so thin. He came across, to me and my friends, as very weird. Like cray cray weird. This was before he ever ran for president, when he was still mostly known for stopping production of a deadly car.

In the late seventies, he was unknown and unpopular. They held these receptions for him and then faculty would rush through the school begging any students still thee to please come to the reception, dangling fee food as temptation. We went for the fee food, not for Ralph. Looking backk I assume he got paid to show upl  He didn't seem to want to talk to anyone, he seemed unhappy to be there, stuck at those boring receptions:  students roped into pretending to be interested in him and he, I think, disappointed that the plce was not packed with admiring law students. The frayed cuffs stood out. He is a rich man yet he wore his suits, apparently, until they fell off.

Winona, on the other hand, seemd very intelligent, equanimous and normal. It seemed to me as we breakfasted at the same table, that she should have been thepresidential nominee. NOt that she would have gotten a lot of votes ubut I had met Nader and thought him crazy as a bed bug.

I am going to listen to Winona on Monday at Le Pena Cultural Center. 

The restaurant where I ate at the same table as Winona Laduke was a lot like the restaurant in the novel 'Fried Green Tomatoes. This place had a balcony and Katie and I had a favored table we nearly always got because we were true regulars. I miss my daughter so much. I know I don't know who she is now. It would probably drive her crazy to see me now; I have so many questions to catch up and I sense that she doesn't want to tell me anything about her life. A broken heart.

I moved my blog

I mentioned, a while back, that I was going to move my blog. It took quite a lot of time. I am not done transferring eights years of posts to the new location.

I have not posted the new blog's address because I am sitting in inquiry. I don't like having anonymous followers. I especially dislike it when someone 'likes' a post on G+ anonymously. The new host of my blog allows me to avoid anonymous followers -- I think -- but I have to learn a lot about programming the blog's options before I can launch it.  I know there are folks I could pay to tell me but I can't afford to pay them so I have to slog along and figure things out. It's actually a fun project and the more I know about building my own site, the better.

I'm blogging over there but have not told anyone the new URL or the blog's new name.

Like I said, sitting in inquiry.

I will, ultimately, post my posts on the new blog to G+. It's fun having strangers read me but I don't want anonymous followers on the blog itself. Avoiding anonymous followers was a primary motivation for why I moved the blog. Blogspot allows a person to anonymously follow blogs -- not my choice and I can't opt out of that choice. Once I dipped into exploring my options, it took a ton of time to wade through those options. And I still haven't figured everything out. I'm too much of  a writer not to be blogging daily, and many times a day. I might not be able to create what I want. And maybe it is wrong for an artist to seek to avoid anonymous 'fans'.

I also intend to move my 2,300 posts from this blog to the new one. This will involve many hours of work.

Like I said, sitting in inquiry.

For anyone who cares to know, I am fine. I am happy. And busy. It is unusual for me to be as busy as I suddenly have become.  I have also been very sick.  It is a struggle for me to get food, prepare food and eat healthfully -- that can take up the whole day.

Another thing:  my daughter objected, about a year and a half ago, through an encrypted email address, that I  used her name on my blog. She said 'it is enough that I 'let' you publish my name'. I couldn't write back to her to point out that she does not 'let' me use her name, that as long as I do not slander her, I am free to write the truth. The truth is she is my daughter and I am not doing anything illegal when I write the name of my only child. But I'm tired of carrying the pain of her rejection so I have deleted every blog post that had her name in the title. It would take many, many hours to delete her first name from 8 years of blog posts so I probably won't do that. I guess since I was changing everything about my online writing, I thought I would let go of her in a new way.

I don't think I can stop writing about memories related to being her mother but I will try not to use her name. I can refer to her as 'my daughter' without using he name. She mentioned, in that encrypted email, that she hated that if one of her friends' googled her name, my blog would pop up.  I think all I had posted about her was things like "today is so-and-so's birthday, my daughter, happy birthday" or "please come back to me" but doing that took a toll on me and, apparantly, on her. She's made her choice to have nothing to do with me and I am working, hard, to let go of her. Believe it or not, I don't want to hurt her. I don't think writing about my loss violates her. I am entitled to what I feel! And yet, I am tired of feeling bad about her and I feel bad about her being gone from my life every day. Maybe if I stop using her name but allow myself to write about happy memories from mothering a child, I will feel less grief. Maybe.  I don't want my daughter to be able to find my blog. I won't use her last name. Her first name is kinda generic. I won't put my name on the title page of the blog, but I am sitting in inquiry about using my name.

If you want to know the URL of my current blog, write to me and ask. Then you won't be an anonymous follower. The only person who follows me and who has plussed me openly using her name is my friend Peggy -- Peggy, I'll give you the URL when the site is more organized. Anyone else?  You have to ask and step from behind the curtain of anonymity.

Google made blogspot avaialble free and I guess Google has incentive to encourage any viewing, so they allow anonymity. Fuck Google and their profit driven choice to deny me control over who follows me. I am paying for the new site, paying for no ads and paying for more control over my choices. It's worth the relatively small fees to have the control I prefer.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I said I was going to move the blog . . . and I have

I am not providing a link to the new blog because I had so many anonymous followers.  I don't want anonymous followers. I particularly dislike it that someone often pluses my posts on this blog but the pluses are nearly always anonymous. I hate that and it is a central reason I moved my blog, changed it's name. 

My eight years of posts matter to me and I still have them all. Eventually, as time allows, I will migrate my 3,000 or so posts to the new blog, probably with new titles so anonymous followers cannot easily find them.

I like being read. If I ever realize my dream of having my writing published, I will want lots of strangers to buy, read and savor my work. But this blog is very personal and I quite dislike having anonymous followers.

I get to be me. If I don't like having anonymous followers, I don't have to have them.

It has taken me many hours to move. And I am not done with the moving work.  On March 1st, I am going to buy a website. It's the end of the month. I am too skint to do it today. Once I have the permanent site, it will take many hours to get the new blog launched and my old posts posted.  My new site will not allow anonymous followers.  Anonymous humans can still read my blog but they won't be able to comment, plus posts or recieve automatic notification when I post.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rain by Jack Gilbert


Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
This rain.

Anonymous submission.

Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.~Rumi

Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.~Rumi

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

wisdom regarding community . . . .

The book is 'On Governance' by Franca Baroni. I think it is out of print and almost no one bought it. It is easy to buy online. I found one at the San Francisco Goodwill!! for two bucks.

If anyone reading this is serious about changing our current form of governance, disappointed in the political gridlock and rigid partisanship, read Ms. Baroni's book for some hopeful insights and practical advice on how to really change how we govern the human needs of food, water, power, shelter, education, art and love.

Here are some reviews of her great book that I took from the book's page on Amazon. The book won an award so I am not the only person who sees its significance.

Silver medalist at the 2013 national IP award. A groundbreaking, original essay about a new system of governance and law that emerges from the integration of mind and heart intelligence. It articulates the design principles for a radically new system by presenting a clear path for breaking the cycles of polarization and self-destruction. It redefines fundamental concepts such as law, freedom, power, sovereignty, property and nation. It lays a philosophical, yet highly practical, foundation for governance at all levels - from nations, corporations, and civil society to other types of collectives. EARLY REVIEWS
"A fascinating book and a theoretical foundation on which to build a possible new (not utopian) world. An important book, offering a path to a world now wandering in confusion and (perhaps) self-destruction. A serious work of political and legal philosophy." Prof. John Mitchell, Seattle University School of Law
"This is crucially important work. Much of the "change" work that I see happening on the planet isn't really change at all. Without thinking deeply on the Sacred Pattern of governance, we can easily wind up exchanging one dysfunctional system with another. Those who yearn for "a society of the heart" would do well to study On Governance." Dr. Sharif Abdullah, J.D, Founder, Commonway Institute
"If I were given to hyperbole, I just might call it the most important political philosophy book for our new century. It applies heart wisdom to the monumental task of healing the body politic. This book speaks with deep articulate clarity, and will enlighten millions who now feel hopeless about our endarkened political situation." Steve Bhaerman, co-author, Spontaneous Evolution
"On Governance is astonishing. It is the richest single repository of wisdom regarding our collective agreement I have ever encountered." Timothy Nobles, author

a too-small photo of 'The Hierarchy of Angels'

The piece is actually very large. This photo does not do it justice but it is what I could find. In my essay on this blog about darkness, I discuss this piece in some detail. You can see the nine stones representing the nine hierarchies of angels. The actual piece is about 8 feet high, may 14 feet long, a huge assemblage.

Kiefer's Hierarchy of Angels photo

Even though I rarely included this piece in tours, because I mostly gave tours for children on school field trips and the teachers were to give us an agenda and design tours for the class' current art agenda -- I loved designing tours to meet each grou's needs. And I loved designing adult tours for the general public, which I was not often assigned. I only got adult public tours when all the more established tour guides were unable to show up.  I loved doing the adults because what I offered was at a completely different level.

Once I did a public adult tour on a Sunday. There was a Japanese man in the group so I went to all the pieces by Isamu Noguchi. There is an entire museum devoted to Noguchi somewhere in NY State. How I'd love to see that! The Walker had many of his pieces, largely because his sculptures were all designed for outdoors and the Walker had the largest urban sculpture garden in the country. Since I was there, the sculpture garden has been doubled. I loved doing tours in the garden.

With the Japanese guy, I talked a lot about Noguchi, which he seemed to really enjoy.

He bowed his thanks over and over.

The next day, Monday, was docent training day so I arrived early at the museum for my class. And there was the japanese man from my tour, there to interview for some job with the museum. He blushed darakly when he saw that I had seen him. I thought nothing of what he had done. it was smart to go on a tour to get a feel for what the museum offers.

Anyway, with kids, I had to walk past "Hierarchy of Angels" by kiefer. Often a kid, almost always a boy, would remark on how gross the Kiefer piece was.  It was right next to a great Jasper Johns sculpture that was fun to talk to the children about. It was abstract but a portrait of Johns and his then-wife. I wonder, now, why Johns ever had a wife because he was famously gay.  Oh well.

Duchamp was also gay and also married a raich woman. I suppose artists need patrons and rich spouses make good patrons. As long as the rich person knows they are marrying a gay artist, as long as they know what bargain they are striking, I guess it is okay.

I ignored "Hierarchy of Angels" a long time until an anthroposophy study group I was in studied what Steiner wrote about angels. I realied "Oh, that dark piece is light-filed, it is about angels spiraling through the sometimes dark cosmos. I better take another look."

I wish I had found a full screen size photo. It is a very large piece and this photo does not do it justice.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Invisible Work by Alison Luterman

Invisible Work

Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don't mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, "It's hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces fro dinner,
and there's no one
to say what a good job you're doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache."
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.

There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world's heart.
There is no other art.

the quieter you become, the more you hear: Ram Dass

I like this quote. It's true:  the more quiet you become, the more you hear.

keep calm & love yourself

it's just a bad day, not a bad life

I like that line so here it is:   remember, it's just a bad day, not a bad life.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

there is no place that does not see you: Rilke

So many great poets, so little time. I love Rilke. A friend has just introduced me to this stunner:

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

I had such an interesting dream

I almost never remember any dreams I might have. I remember a dream I had a night or two ago. Suddenly my hair was very long, longer than it has ever actually been, nearly down to my waist. It was so strange. My first thought was "Damm, it will be so hard to blow dry it after swimming and now I'll have to wear a swim cap." And then I remembered it was a dream and felt better. And then I was sorry it was a dream and my hair had not grown a couple feet over night. That would be a fun weird thing, a little magic might be nice about now.

Dream over.

friendship reunions, like family reunions only better

It's nice when someone remembers small details about you, not because they have to but because they care. Example:  it's so lovely when someone makes a fuss about your sixtieth birthday, such as old friends you haven't seen in fifteen years sending you a rhodochrosite heart pendant to assuage your grief when your daughter does not acnowledge your sixtieth birthday.  These friends remembered I love rhodochrosite and know how broken my heart is about my daughter. They knew turning sixty without her would be hard so, thousands of miles away, they remembered small details about me and showed me they care. That rhodochrosite heart was one of the best gifts I ever got. It was certainly one of the most thoughtful, caring ones I have ever received.

I wish I had some money. I would rent the Whidbey Institute and fly all my friends, at my expense if I could afford it, to spend a weekend with me, all of celebrating one another. Wouldn't it be lovely to have such friendship reunions, akin to family reunions?

Otto Scharmer shld be named a MacCarthur Genius grant recipient if he hasn't been already.

Goddess implanted the sense of the beautiful in each human soul

“One should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of one’s life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Happy Birthday, Chuck Fitzpatrick, my big brother

Once upon a time, when Chuck was about 35, my mother had planned a trip to visit my daughter and me in Minnesota. Mom and Chuck lived in Ohio. When Chuck, a grown man with children of his own, learned that his mother would miss his birthday, I guess (for I was not there, but I know the guy, ya know?) had a tantrum, demanding that mom change her plans and not miss his birthday.

Mom and I had something planned that we could not change, a legal transaction that required her presence. I think she might not have wanted my brother to know what she was giving me.  Both my parents gave all of their sons much more of their wealth, and mom's wealth was considerable, than to their daughters. My mom often said that men had to provide for themselves and their families but her daughter's duty was to find a man to provide for them. I swear she often said that!  My dad just openly favored his sons. He gave one brother $400K, another brother his house free of a mortgage and he gave me $10K.

Then our mother gave Chuck her house after she did extensive and expensive remodeling. After he had owned it outright for several years, he and his wife thought of some new changes they wanted and had the balls to ask her to pay for that. A whole house with a whole new wing added to it wasn't enough. They wanted her to pay for the bay windows my sister-in-law coveted to bring more light into the admittedly dark house. Both of them had good jobs.


My dad explained to me why he gave one brother so much more than the others:  he said "He wants it all. He would be perfectly content if I didn't even give you the ten grand I am giving you. He's so greedy that it amazes me.  He would take everything I had and not bat an eye knowing he had denied his brothers and sisters." But dad thought he couldn't live without this brother's support. My dad was seriously disabled the last few years of his life, after a massive stroke left him partially paralyzed. Yikes, professional help would have been cheaper than my brother.

The worst part came after dad had signed things over to this brother. This brother is so mean I won't wite his name, like people in the Harry Potter stories are afraid to say the name Voldemort! This brother had also gone to law school, although he never finished so was never licensed but he is a genius and he knew enough about the law to be a lawyer. Once Joe had everything securely in his name, he stopped stopping by dad's every day. He and dad lived only a few blocks apart. After that, my brother would say he was at dad's when he was with his lover. How long do you think his wife put up with that?  As soon as their youngest child finished college, she divorced him.

I did not grow up in a warm, loving Father Knows Best kind of clan.

Chuck turned 62 today. Fuck you, Chuck.  You were a nasty brother, a bully and a creep.

honey in the heart

I first wrote this on Christmas Day, 2007. It looks like I was happy. I am resharing it to share this beautiful Wallace Stevens poem. One of the many things that has fascinated me since moving to CA eight years ago is there are many CA artists I did not hear about growing up and being educated in the Midwest. Chicago is as cosmopolitican as any world class city but its educational system, including the very good undergraduate university I attended, seemed to ignore the West Coast.

I lived in Massachusetts a couple years and I did not have a similar experience. I knew about most East Coast artists from my basic education and avid reading and study of art. I had never heard of Wallace Stevens until I moved here. this is a lovely poem. Enjoy it. I have not changed my Xmas Day 2007 post, only added these paragraphs on top.

It is Christmas and I am happy.


It is a bright sunny day in Northern California and inside me. I feel golden, mellow and smooth.

Honey in the heart.*

*This is a line from 'The Well-Dressed Man" by the poet Wallace Stevens. Here is the whole poem, a good one.  Isn't it a lovely poem?!
After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even
No greater than a cricket's horn, no more
Than a thought to be rehearsed all day, a speech
Of the self that must sustain itself on speech,
One thing remaining, infallible, would be
Enough. Ah! douce campagna of that thing!
Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart,
Green in the body, out of a petty phrase,
Out of a thing believed, a thing affirmed:
The form on the pillow humming while one sleeps,
The aureole above the humming house...
It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.

Yes is this present sun.   
I wish I were a poet or a poetry professor or just a little bit more wonderful than I am.

If Stevens gets it right and the mind can never be satisfied, 
and I guess I agree with him, what about the heart, can the heart 
ever be?  I think yes.

Mike Leigh's "Happy Go Lucky" film

Poppy, the happy-go-lucky daffy, dopey protagonist of this unusual-for-mike-leigh film, lacks the essential element of any good story:  tension in the plot. For a movie to be a story, something has to happen to the main character and the main character has to be changed. Otherwise, it's not a story. It's a portrait, it might be artistic but it isn't a story. The Slate reviewer of this film, Dana Stevens, suggested it is a fable. That seems right to me. Happy Go Lucky is a fable, not a story.

Anyone who has taken even the most basic writing class has been told that all stories require two things:  tension (plot, movement, change) and the characters have to change by the end for it to actually be a story.

I have taken some time, at, to read some of the blissful reviews of this movie, which came out, I think, in 2009. Even the NYTimes, whose film reviewers are usually very well informed about the art of filmmaking and the vocabulary of film reviewing, all seem to have missed this movie. I think  Leigh  is stretching as an artist, along with his actors. He co-creates his stories with his actors, using much improvisation,  and it has been said he and Sally Hawkins who plays the nearly blank, narcissist Poppy, collaborated closely in improv. I think the two of them experimented, asking "what would a perfectly happy person look like?" The only way to be perfectly happy in this world is to live in deep denial, which Poppy sure seems to do. She blithely moves through the world acting on any impulse that blows through her, insulting people around her.  All the film reviewers assume the man in the park who said he did not need money for food and had a bed to sleep in was homeless. On what evidence? They all conclude he is homeless because narcissist Poppy, who can't see beyond the end of her own nose, thought so.She may have felt better about herself by seeing herself as better than the allegedly homeless man in the park or the poor driving instructor that was hurt, badly, by her witless behavior.  I don't think she had any conscious intention to hurt these men but in choosing to behave in witless unconsciousness, she remains responsible for the impact her behavior has on others.  Poppy is dangerously unconscious, imho, not 'happy'.

What Leigh offers in this film, with an admittedly good performance by the lead and all the actors, is a snapshot (like a visual SnapChat?!!!)  of an unrealistic, unbelievable woman. She is childishly immature, at age 30,  but so sweetly innocent that everyone around her puts up with her. Seen from the perspective I am suggesting, it is an interesting experiment but the person we see is boringly vacuous. It is almost impossible to imagine her actually teaching her students. She is  nothing but giggles and laughs. I am surprised I have not come upon any reviewers, except the one review I will link to at the end, who did not find the character irritating.

No reviewers comment on the many unkind remarks she makes about other people that she tosses off with an insouciance that, I gather, most viewers and reviewers chose to see as charming. I would like to know how that guy in the park felt when she assumed, wrongly since he had a bed and money for dinner, he was pathetic. Does not one feel empathy for the driving instructor whose instructions she repeatedly ignored? Yeah, the driving instructor is rigid, probably has some OCD issues. She laughed at him a lot, not with him, but at him. And she ignored his instructions, for which she was paying. Would you want to be driving on the same roads with her careening down the street behind the steering wheel?  I wouldn't.

Did anyone else notice that she is seen actually driving a car before she completes her driving lessons? Is that adorable insouciance also, putting others at risk, driving without a license?  

Leigh offers a portrait, a one or two dimensional portrait. No tension, nothing happens other than we get some glimpses of how Poppy's behavior affects the people around her. She chooses a stupid roommate so, big surprise, they are happily and childishly roommates together for ten years. She meets a man after dark in a park with a scruffy beard and assumes he is homeless, offering him money when he did not beg for money, condescendingly asking him where he will sleep and when he indignantly says 'in a bed of course' she goes right on condescendingly assuming he is homeless. And the viewers are supposed to see this as Poppy being empathic and caring instead of insensitive, a bit insulting and very condescending. We don't know the guy is homeless -- she thinks so. Many reviews rave about the scene with the homeless guy, suggesting she was so sweet to the homeless guy but we don't actually know he is homeless.

I think the guy in the park shows us that we don't really know who is unstable and who isn't. One can't  judge stability by appearances.I think that was a deliberate artistic choice by Leigh.  I think that what Leigh has done is very different from what most reviewers saw. What I think I see, and I could  be mistaken, is show us how we are all mirrors to one another. He shows us what Poppy sees, not necessarily an accurate snapshot of reality but merely what Poppy mirrors about the world around her. In this framework, I watched the film again and it was much more interesting. Poppy, however, was much less interesting.  We are also shown people reacting to Poppy, see what they see in her. I am reminded of that Simon and Garfunkel song in which they sing "we all see what we want to see and disregard the rest". I think that summarizes what this movie is about. Or maybe it's analogous to the Seinfeld show which was often said to be a show about nothing. Perhaps in creating a vacuous emptyheaded but adorable protagonist, Leigh is inviting us to fill in the blanks where he offers us such thin substance that it amounts to nothing, or almost nothing.

I am fascinated by all the reviews, how they gush about this vacuous oddball because she seemed good-natured all the time. She insulted the dignity of the guy in the park, offering him money he did not ask for and condescendingly assuming he had no where to sleep.

And what about that scene with the chiropractor? Does any health care professional anywhere treat people in their underwear? In England, don't they use robes, even paper ones, as all health care providers here would do?  I don't think a chiropractor would treat an attractive female patient in her underwear with no office robe. I think it was shot that way to show us Poppy's oddball underwear. And I think it was very oddball for a patient, any patient, to blithely submit to a chiropractic treatment while left in her underwear. Was that supposed to be part of her laughing Buddha innocence?! Or just an odd note introduced into the film by the filmmaker to remind us that he was not showing us a realistic portrait. The film might be more satire than realistic. Realism, of course, if what Leigh is kown for so it is a fascinating film if one knows his work. I have seen most of his moives. In the last few year, however, I have gone to many less films. As soon as I can, I am going to catch up on the guy, see what he did after Poppy.

One should bear in mind that Mike Leigh's oeuvre is almost entirely focused on presenting the most realistically portrayed stories he can. Here he deviates greatly from his pattern.  Leigh is a committed, lifelong artistic filmmaker. This film meant something to him and by deviating so hugely from his traditional way of working, that divergence has to mean something. 

Many reviewers of the movie like to put down the driving lesson instructor who seems obviously wound up a little tight. So what? Does any sane person think that driving instructor is any more sane and balanced than the daffy Polly who ignores many around her? The instructor asked her repeatedly not to wear boots for the driving lessons but she kept disregarding his request . . and he's the crazy one for getting upset with her?  Polly almost completely ignored the driving instructor but most reviewers empathize with Polly and not the poor, stressed-out, neurotic-seeming instructor.

I know film reviewers around the world gushed over this portrait but I think most people misunderstand this film. In giving us a portrait of a fantasy of what a perfectly happy (but definitely daffy) person looks like, Mike Leigh is cleverly inviting us to ask ourselves 'what is normal, who defines it, what is happy, who defines it?"

The guy in the park seemed happy until Poppy came along and showed him pity. Take it from me, from personal experience being pathetic, even people experiencing pitiful states don't welcome open pity. The driving instructor may have been  rigid but, come on, a job giving driving lessons it not exactly rocket science. Brainiacs don't take those jobs, less intelligent people do. And sure, the guy overreacted and misinterpreted Poppy.

And what about the wonderful Poppy? I can't be the only person who noticed she ridiculed the guy, accused him of stalking her on Sunday. I rewatched the scene in which Polly sees the driving instructor on her street on a Sunday. The poor fellow had a crush and her behavior confused him. She dressed sexy, she spoke flirtatiously. She ignored his requests to shuck her sexy boots, warning her they were unsafe to drive in. I think many men would have seen how she dressed as deliberate provativeness and especially an awkward, shy, inexperience-with-women guy.  Everyone seems to assumes 'happy' Poppy was right, and the tense driving instructor was wrong, who wouldn't have been tense if Poppy have stopped showing up wearing boots and showing cleavage. I am not British but in all western culture experiences I have had, women showing cleavage is a deliberate choice, women know many men react to cleavage as a kind of come on and esp lonely oddballs with a very low on the totem pole job like driving instructor understandably might misinterpret a woman showing up for something as mundane as a driving lesson dressed with her tits flashing and wearing the sexy boots he has asked her not to wear -- for his and her safety during the lesson.

No matter what Poppy does, it is seen as adorable by most reviewers, but most of what she does could just as easily be seen as a little crazy. And she puts others down a lot, but since she is laughing as she does so, and her pals laugh with her, it is supposed to be a happy put down?  I wonder how the person on the receiving end of her mockery feels? Perhaps Leigh is inviting us to wonder. Or, perhaps Leigh is inviting us to ask 'is she being sweet or clueless?" Does sweet equal clueless?  I have been told I am blind and clueless and it did not feel good to be told that but the person who told me this couldn't understand why I felt insulted. Truly. He said "You seem upset that I have told you that you area blind and clueless. I was being helpful." I was too hurt to explore what kind of help he possibly thought such a negative characterization  could have been.

Yeah, yeah, she is competent when she tries to help a little boy who appears to have some problems at home and then she proceeds to have a fling with her student's social worker. In my world of norms and cultural standards, that would be an inappropriate thing for her to do. If she is going to be the boy's teacher and her lover the boy's social worker, their affair is inappropriate until Poppy is no longer the kid's teacher. Both those adults had a professional duty to the boy before they should have hit the rack together but most reviewers seem to see her unprofessional (also the social worker was unprofessional) sex with her student's social worker as just more of Poppy's charm.  Has anyone heard of professional boundaries? In most school systems, if a teacher immediately slept with a social worker just assigned to one of her students that is dealing with abuse, the teacher would be fired and probably the social worker (altho, being male, the guy might have been let off easier). I am pretty sure the social worker also violated his professional ethics by sleeping so quickly with Polly. Help the kid, let him move to the next grade and then bang Poppy, eh?

I see a woman with a few loose screws.

I sure as shit don't see hope for western civilization in Mike Leigh's film. This film strikes me as Mike Leigh engaged in an artistically framed question, asking himself, along with the actor who played Polly, for Leigh is known for closely collaborating with his actors as he develops his characters, 'what would someone look like who always appears happy?" Note that the appearance of happy is not necessarily an accurate appearance. And this question:  how would such a person appear to those with whom she interacted?  Looked at from this perspective, it is an interesting film. Looked at  from this perspective, however, it is full of darkness. What, does only Poppy matter?  She hurt that driving instructor and she was not all sweetness and light when she mocked him for stalking her.

And why did Leigh choose to have her dress somewhat strangely? Costumes in movies are never casually chosen. There is meaning in the odd style Poppy has adopted for her 'look'. Are we to believe she goes with the oddball look as parat of being happy? Can people dressed more conseratively or demurely not be happy, is looking odd and wearing funny underwear in front of your doctor indicate she is better than someone wearing more ordinary sartorial choices?

And, btw, would you worship a perpetually laughing woman, which suggests being in denial of reality?  She hurt that driving instructor. She hurt that allegedly homeless man who said he didnt need money for food and had a place to sleep but she ignored him, just as she ignored the driving instructor's insistence that he spent the day with his mum in a suburb. Poppy went right on accusing him of lying. can you spell narcissism?  I also think she hurt her pregnant sister, albiet unintentionally. But tra-la-la-la-la, she's adorably happy!!!! If people feel hurt, there's something wrong with them, not the adorable Poppy!  (I am being sarcastic here.)

I see narcissism and some instability in Poppy.  If she represents a hopeful shift in western culture, I don't want any part of that shift.

Slate Magazine's review of Happy go Lucky

Dana Stevens wrote this review. I am not sure she still writes for Slate, although I am sure she is writing for someone. The chick can write.

And now for a somewhat unrelated story from my real life.

I lived in Amherst, MA for two years while getting a masters in organization development. I actually lived in a rural co-housing community called Pulpit Hill Co-Housing. The 32 houses were built on a hill that was used, in Emily Dickinson's time, as a pulpit hill. Itinerant preachers would use the hill becuse it gently sloped upwards, carrying his voice up the hill in a day before sound systems could amplify it.  I loved having my address be Pulpit Hill Road. Amherst, MA is chock-a-block full of such quaint names and locations.

Just outside the town limits, near where I lived, was a tiny strip mall that provided a few of life's basic necessities so folks living nearby did not have to drive into the town center. It was only 3 miles to the center of downtown Amherst, a meaningless distance in 1998 when I moved there with a car but before cars, I can see how having a few small stores, including a tiny outpost of a post office, would have been handle. Three miles each way would be a long way to go to mail a letter. Since Amherst had a couple very large post offices, and then the old 'main' one was in the heart of downtown, I was surprised this tiny post office location was kept open, even back in 1998.

This tiny post office outlet had one employee and only one. And that guy, I am positive, was crazy.  He had some kind of personality disorder or mental illness that left him unable to communicate normally with anyone. We no longer live in a world that accommodates oddballs like the driving instructor in the movie as readily as I believe human culture used to. I am still amazed that the post office, which does have unionized employees, kept this guy on. I bet he had a helluva great union rep or a well connected father or something.

This post office guy was okay -- he never reach the level of being 'fine' or 'normal' -- as long as no one deviated from how he demanded everyone behave. Everyone had to stand in line in exactly the right positions. If someone did not, the poor guy would panic and begin squealing like a pig and was unable to calm himself down until a regular at the post office would explain to the person standing 'wrong' that they had to move or the guy would not stop squealing and no one would get their stamps. Everyone had to ask for what they wanted using very specific phrases that the guy behind the counter, getting his good union wages protectedd by the postal workers union, insisted everyone use. He was a not-funny version of that Jerry Seinfeld routine about the soup nazi. Rigidly unbending people exist in the world and the world often accommodates them. The soup nazi was created based on an actual soup vendor who behaved quite a lot like the Seinfeld show showed him behaving.

I mention that clearly disturbed post office worker because the panicked driving instructor reminded me of him. Many reviews attack the guy when clearly he was a damaged soul doing his best to get by, having found a low level, servile way to earn a living and not bothering anyone, and doing his job. Then Poppy comes along and repeatedly laughs at him and even humiliates him, if you ask me.

I'd watch the movie one more time to review my analysis of it but I couldn't stomach another hour of Poppy's daffy, narcissistic insensitivity.  I will look at the movie again to see if the driving instructor did follow her as Poppy accused him of. What if he did?  Has no one ever had a crush, never tried to catch a glimpse of their crush? And Poppy was not exactly kind in the way she confronted him. She was not actually very nice to the poor driving guy at all but, tra-la-la, she's so adorable.

I wish I could play just 30 seconds of how that poor man at that Amherst postal outpost would squeal hysterically when his rigid routine was disrupted.  It still amazes me that he was allowed to keep working when he was so clearly unstable. If western, and eastern -- let's not speak as if only western civilization matters, which so many westerners tend to do -- is going to advance, the same tide has to lift all of us, even the oddballs like the guy in the park, the driving instructor and the odd Poppy. Looked at that way, seeing Poppy as an oddball who deserves to be happy as much as any human does, I can like her a bit. But don't see her slant; see her true. She's odd.

Does a movie about a woman who appears almost completely oblivious to the feelings of others. Can anyone seriously envision a successful human future peopled with daffy dames like Poppy?

I think her most irrittating line was spoken when she was on the physical therapy table, the guy adjusted her spin, it hurt and she babbled some chiildish 'ooh-bi-doo-blah-blah-cute" (I extrapolate, I couldn't stomach reviewing the film to get her nonsense cutsey pie talk accuraately.  Is that seriously a hopeful sign for huan future?

I don't know Mike Leigh but I know most of his films. I can't believe he was suggesting in this portrayal of a dity woman who is insensitive to many others -- most others --  stads as his vision for what is needed to transform human culture to be better.  I am positive people like Poppy are not a hope for the human future. and if she is, I want no part of such a future.

I want some donuts

Cookies might cut it but right now in this moment, I'd give my kingdom for a Boston creme -- custard filling, of course, not that white gunk that is not custard. A genuine Bostone creme.

I'd also kill for a chocolate caramel brownie from my organic farmers market baker. Lately the only thing she sells that I can eat is five dollar tiny squares -- tiny but tasty -- squares of polenta. Yetserday, she had used only greens in the polenta. Usually she uses squash and I balk at the carbs but eat it anyway - it's the only gluten-free, sugar-free thing she sells and she's my friend. It wasn't quite proportionate and I ate it for breakfast and I am not supposed to have grains at brekkie but it was there, ready to eat, no effort.  Plus I ate it in the early afternoon. If I sleep until noon, is it breakfast when I eat at one?!  lol

It was delicious. Then I had a banana, to make up a little for grains at brekkie. come to think of it.

I guess I am beginning to eat my anti-inflammation diet on instinct, at least somewhat, because after the polenta with a bit of greens and then my banana, I ate some chicken salad. It was almost like my body is adjusting to eating right and I instinctively got in my protein.

Still, grains at breakfast. Tsk tsk.

But it was there and I was hungover from the drug overdose I had taken -- and then undid. Then I slept through the night, no lunch or dinner yesterday. When I began to feel functional around noon, I was ravenous and as thirsty as I ever recall being. I don't think I had a single sip of liquid from around noon yesterday until today.  I got so dehydrated that even though I've been pushing water for three hours, I still have not peed. As a diabetic who drinks a lot of water because I am always thirsty, if I haven't peed since yesterday, I am dehydrated.

Working on getting water in. I am sure I'll be peeing in no time. As soon as I stop feeling woozy, I'm going to the hospital.

In my dreamy yearnings, I'd like some donuts. If I pause on that craving for just a moment or two, I begin to feel queasy as I imagine what that would do to my glucose. Talk about biofeedback. I have not had any sugar for a really long time, at least 18 months. If I put sugar in my body, I would feel bad instantly. Feel really lousy. It sucks having diabetes. After inhaling a few donuts, I'd have to fight carb cravings for days. It's not worth the trouble. I have to accept that I have changed how I eat, changed what my body is wiling to feel for a fleeting tasty bite of crap. I want the donuts but I don't want the afte effects. Between feeling bad as soon as eaten and then triggering carb cravings that I'd have to fight for days, a donut just isn't worth the fleeting distraction of taste.

All things considered, it's been nice to have a respite from the constant peeing but it is time to be hydrated again. Drink, baby, drink. Water.

The City Limits by A.R. Ammons

The City Limits

by A. R. Ammons

When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
itself but pours its abundance without selection into every
nook and cranny not overhung or hidden; when you consider

that birds' bones make no awful noise against the light but
lie low in the light as in a high testimony; when you consider
the radiance, that it will look into the guiltiest

swervings of the weaving heart and bear itself upon them,
not flinching into disguise or darkening; when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about, the

leaf does not increase itself above the grass, and the dark
work of the deepest cells is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such calmly turns to praise.

A former acquaintance introduced me to Ammons.   The acquaintance shared this poem with me because, he said, way back when, it reminded him of my radiance. Wow, I felt happy reading that someone thought I was radiant.

This former acquaintance has not seen my radiance in years. Somewhat recently he repeatedly said, in one fairly brief phone call, that I was such a fucking bitch and such a crazy borderline. I think it reasonable to conclude he no longer sees my radiance, eh?  He didn't actually apologize for verbally abusing me about my disability. He 'explained' that he should not have said it while feeling angry but he did not actually express regret for what he said. He never acknowledged calling me 'such a fucking bitch'.   He also blamed me for his anger.  Perhaps that is why he awarded himself a free pass, waiving an apology.

I still love the poem. I own several volumes of Ammons work now, but I will always associate Ammons with 'The City Limits". I love the poem but I associate this poem with how lovely it felt to have been seen, once and too briefly. as radiant.The poem reminds me what it felt like to feel seen and loved.

The acquaintance, when he first shared it with me long ago, he said he had trouble finding it because he thought it was called 'city lights' and he was seeing me as a light being. That seems so far aaway and long ago. The way I love people, I never stop. I could not see someone as a light being and then dump them because they turned out to be, as all humans are, imperfect.

Read the Steiner verse on faithfulness, insensitive jerk. And be faithful to what you saw in me when you first knew me. I am still that person.

Orwell on football & mass mind control

Football, beer, and above all gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.

George Orwell, in his great novel that uncannily portrays what the world is like in 2014, 1984.  He wrote that in 1949. 
Does anyone want to know how grim the world will be if 100,000,000 humans keep watching super bowls every year and mindless going to packed stadiums to watch pro sports built largely with public monies with all the profits going to the private owners? Well connected rich people kiss up (and give money) to politicians to snap up the rights to keep virtually all the income from publicly paid for stadiums. When they sell those luxury corporate suites that tax money built, guess who keeps the proceeds of the sale? The owners of the team, otherwise, they threaten, they will move the team to a commuity that will give them lots of money, meet their unreasonable demands.

How can a civilized person be a fan of a sports that has now been well established to cause serioius brain damage in many, if not most, of its layers? Such brain damage begins in h.s. football and accelerates in pro football.

Football is cultural insanity. Baseball is too, but I know that is sacrilege for baseball fans to read. Since baseball is less violent, many otherwise erudite, educated humans become sheeple at massive stadiums packed with other sheeple. It is better than religion as an opiate for the masses, eh?
Someone I met at a conference, not a friend, once told me he realized in his twenties that he realized watching pro sports was, to quote him verbatim, 'a colossal waste of his time and mind'. Now he posts videos of his mindless self wearing team insignia and cheering along with the mindless masses at games. The person he goes with, who is alleged to be intelligent, loves mass sports.  He must set aside his scruples, or never actually had any, to go to baseball games, football games, parties to watch games and Super Bowl parties, eh? What are a few principles when one can show off a beautiful woman, eh?!

Pro sports is more than a colossal waste of time. Why do you think ancient Romans threw Christians into stadiums with lions? Sports and asking humans to fight animals (bullfights anyone?!) It was not about seeing Christians mauled by lions. It was about keeping the masses entertained and, apparently, in ancient Rome, human life was cheap.

Has anyone read 'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson?  I am positive the young author of the Hunger Games Trilogy read 'The Lottery'. The annual games in the Hunger Games trilogy begin with a lottery in the short story. In 'The Lottery' a town, by lottery, chooses one member to be stoned to death by the whole town. Why? I don't know why except I speculate that Shirley Jackson was commenting on the arbitrary nature of violence in this culture. Why not give a whole town a chance to violently stone one town member each year, to get all their violent urges out of their system?   In the heartbreaking story, we see a mother and father and their two kids dreading the lottery. When the mother is picked, the family is shattered. But they stone their mother, go along with the crowd. that's why 'they' give us football, baseball and other big stadium stport:   to keep us all docilely in line. It saddens me to learn that someone I had respected as a brilliant intellectual now goes to mass sports and super bowl parties. I had felt relieved when he had said he thought mass sports was a colossal waste of his time and mind but now he eagerly goes to games

And what about cultures that have thrown virgins into mouths of volcanoes to save other humans?Is that so different from raping communities for tax dollars to enrich the NFL and team owners? I don't think so.

Savagery is still savagery. Football is a very violent, savage, primal game. How can allegedly educated, erudite,  people, who pose as refined, cheer for such a savage game with pride? Not to mention how it serves the 1% to keep the masses distracted with massive spectacle.
I read a story yesterday that suggests that soccer causes as much brain damage as football. I actually think humans need to have avenues to compete, to garner a sense o achievement. I hope some sports are safe. Bicycling, track. Baseball seems safe but at the profesional level in massive stadiums, it's about sheeple not the game. Support your local high school or college team and bypass the expensive pro sports. Pro teams cost your communities a hella lot more than the price you pay for your tickets. Your whole community, typically, paid for the stadium but the team(s) get to keep all the income derived.
Clearly there is a stream within human beings and humanity as a whole that has some violent tendencies. If we aspire to be laughing Buddhas, we have to overcome such impulses. Going to football games and cheering for the home team is probably not a way to steam violence out of humans. I suspect such activity encourages violence, if not physical violence, then emotional.  I am sure many who might read this (I don't think anyone reads my blog, I speak theoretically) think I am being silly to see football as seeding violence. Maybe I am. I doubt that I am wrong about football.
 George Orwell and Noam Chomsky think as I do. Thinkers I am proud to identify with.

Friday, February 21, 2014

the work of the world is the work of my heart

"The work of my heart is the work of the world's heart. There is no other art."
from the great poem by Alison Luterman, of Oakland, CA, called "invisible work".

Chomsky on sports and analogies in The Hunger Games

Noam Chomsky  once said that cheering for your home team was a way of “building into people irrational submissiveness to power,”

This article link is about a Broncos player who announce, before the Super Bowl, that even though he could make one million to play next year, after reading some Noam Chomsky and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he had to quit playing the violent, control-the-masses game of football. Sanity emerging slowly in the world?

Chomsky is right about sports as a generated distraction. It's a central way to keep the masses preoccupied from the ongoing rape by the elite.  Imagine if sports fans actually applied their fan energy to something that mattered.All that matters about football is money for team owners.

I emphasize:   sports is a CENTRAL way to keep the masses preoccupied from the ongoing rape by the elite. So if you are someone who regularly attends baseball games, wearing ugly hats with the team logo, spending your money and rah-rah-rahing, you are submitting to the ongoing rape of the masses, a part of the assault. In fact, by paying for your ticket, buying the stupid hat, spending money at the game -- all the profits at such stadiums tend to go to the teams, not the local economy --  you are colluding with your own oppressors. And if you are someone underemployed, overeducated and you rah rah rah at baseball and football, well, what does that say about you? The elite needs its masses docile. You participate in your own oppression.

I have also wondered if anyone else sees parallels with the Roman habit of creating stadiums and then throwing Christians in the middle of the stadium with lions, to fight to the death.  I guess ancient Romans weren't Christians, eh?

Another parallel I see is the ancient indigenous habit, well, a few indigenous cultures of throwing virgins into volcanoes to, suppposedly, keep the volcano from erupting. Were any of the virgins male?  I doubt it. The spectacle was engaged in to distract the masses.  This is analogous to the lottery held to choose players in the  fight-to-the-death- hunger games that are telecast to the whole country, with the whole country viciously wishing to see all the other young people die so their young people, tapped into the games from a lottery, to keep the massses terrified of the power of the state.  I am also reminded of Shirley Jackson's short story, The Lottery, oft cited as one of the all-time great short stories. I hate The Lottery but it, alas, captures humanity well. If you haven't read it, and you are a sports fan, consider doing so and as you do, ask yourself if you want that quality of culture.  If everyone refused to participate in lotteries such as the one in Jackson's short story of in the series The Hunger Games, such games would come to an end. If no one showed up at coliseums in ancient Rome to watch humans thrown into pits with hungry lions, do you think they would have kept doing it?

This is what football, most sports, even war is about:  keeping the masss in check while maintain the spoils of conflict for the elite.  People get lied to, told a new taxpayer funded stadium brings money to the economy. I have read studies that say such economic benefit virtually never exceeds the public investment, esp when the owners typically are given the rights to all stadium income as they blackmail cities into paying for their new stadiums.  Fear is used to manipulate the public.  People fear that if a stadium is moved to Santa Clara, it will meant economic havoc for the city losing a stadium. The truth is, it doesn't really work that way. It is a masterful con that most of us buy into.

I know that cheering for local teams builds community. Why don't people get excited about local high school and college games? Or join amateur leagues and enjoy the sport themselves. Pro sports is about money, not competition. Sure it matters who wins or loses but why? Because the winners make more money.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

on 60th birthdays -edited

It may have been a fucked up family in the movie 'The Celebration" but at least they buy into the common norm that turning sixty is a big deal.

I was invited by an acquaintance to celebrate my sixtieth birthday with him over dinner. Being considerate of his common complaint that he earned little money, I suggested lunch on a Saturday, believing that since Saturday is not usually a work day, we would hang out and give the specialness that turning sixty deserved.

I was wrong. He arrived and announced he had made plans two hours later so our lunch had to be fast. He loudly and repeatedly defended his behavior by saying we had no 'express plans'. Baloney. We had talked three times the day before. He did not ask me what I wanted to do, btw. I had to wait until the afternoon before our date to clarify when we would meet. He didn't call me and ask me what I wanted to do or even where I would like to eat lunch, giving me the idea, retroactively, that he wanted to keep things short and controlled. We had express plans for me to show him how I make coconut. He agreed to bring containers for the milk. It was obvious we would go to lunch first, since we were meeting late for lunch -- 1 p.m. -- and as a diabetic I can't eat very late. I was sick when he arrived from my need to eat. We had an express agreement to make that damned coconut milk after his cheap lunch. And since coconut milk, the way I make it, is boiling hot after it is made, there was an express assumption we'd hang out while the fucking milk fooled off. So we did have an express agreement.

What if I had wanted to go to lunch further away than my block?  Usually normal humans defer to the person celebrating a milestone birthday but this acquaintance scheduled that meeting to save himself a trip to the east bay and insulted and hurt me by blaming me for getting hurt.

At least the patriarch in 'Celebration' was celebrated for turning sixty. Not me. I don't think this nightmare of a birthday lunch date ever even said 'happy birthday'.

Additionally, this guy and I had seen one another two times in the two weeks before that awful, rushed 60th birthday visit. Each time, we had talked quite a bit about how important birthdays were to me and, especially, how turning sixty was a big deal to me.

I had not told him, but anyone who knows me and loves me, would have known that turning sixty without my child acknowledging my milestone birthday left me deeply vulnerable.  Not only did he treat me like I was nothing more than a scheduling burden -- when he had invited me to get together for my birthday -- but he became angry and ended our friendship because I was hurt. And because I had the audacity to articulate to him, in emails, how deeply hurt I was. I did not criticize him; I wrote "I am very hurt."

Oh, and he did some 'internet ressearch' on BPD. Does anyone reading this have any idea how much crap is online about borderlines? Much BPD material online is written by therapists not qualified to treat borderlines but who took a one week training in DBT and their online videos are marketing, torlling for customers. More BPD info online is posted by nuts who have been in unhappy relationships, blame the other person for being a BPD, never acknowledge their own dysfunctional contribution to a relationship's challenges and such material is wildly bigoted, inflammatory and unfair. Did this guy ever talk to me about my disability?  Nope.

When I first knew him, I tried to have the kinds of conversations I have had with anyone that has ever become a good friend. He said my talking about it fostered codependency. He said when I asked for help, I was making a demand, as if it is a demand to ask for hep with an illness. Would he consider a paraplegic asking for help getting upstairs when the power is out on the elevator as making a demand or asking for help?

When I asked him for help, I was being demanding and codependent.

He never apologized for how he treated me on the day he invited me to celebrate my sixtieth birthday. Instead, he became angry and then abusive and then dumped me because I didn't choke down being treated like dogshit on a shoe with equanimity.

Now I wonder if he treated me like shit on my birthday as a passive aggressive way to hurt me and then to have an excuse to end our interactions. This buy is a masterful passive aggressive. Even his own business partner of ten years or so has told me this guy is very passive aggressive.  He shat on me and then when I felt hurt, he dumped me for articulating my pain.

In real, adult relationships, telling the other person how their behavioral choices have affected you is essential to have an actual adult relationship. 

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg co-created the principles of Dogme 94 (95? -- too lazy to check it). They must have been close as film artists, eh?

Lars von Trier does not make many 'happy movies'. He seems to have a dark perspective on humanity.

Even though his brilliant film,  Breaking the Waves, predates his Dogme manifesto, which is about filmmaking technique, not the stories told in films, I'd be interested to read what my conference acquaintance thinks of Breaking the Waves. If he sees a condemnation of patriarchy, or the dominator culture,  in 'The Celebration" (which I can see how he gets that but I think it is not a metaphor about human culture, other than the fact that most art is metaphor for culture, right?!), I'd be very interested to read that acquaintance's opinion on what Breaking the Waves says about how the dominator culture sees women. It is not a pretty picture, based on Breaking the Waves.

I saw 'The Celebration in 1996 when it came out. It was painful to watch because of my history being incested. My confrontation of my incestor did not turn out as any kind of celebration. This acquaintance calls that breakfast the real celebration:  what kind of celebration is it that is a big table full of folks in denial of reality. Probably some seated have molested children, for it is that common. And they were so in denial but there they were, showing up for breakfast, almost to  see what else might titillate them.

Although Breaking the Waves predates the Dogme manifestor, it fits in both Dogma 95  and with Lars von Trier's vision.

I think one of von Trier's most perfectly realized films was Dogville, which starred Nicole Kidman. He dispensed with conventional sets. The viewer gets caught up in the story and I realized setes don't matter. Story and acting does -- that's part of Dogma.

So, conference acquaintance, watch Breaking the Waves and Dogville and write on your blog about what those films say about how the domionator culture values (does it?) women? Women are only valued for their wombs, to bringing male progeny into the world, if you ask me. That philosophy is not part of Dogma 95 but it is part of von Trier's vision. I don't know Vinterberg's work well enough to comment on his vision.

The Wikipedia entry on Dogma 95 lists filmmakers around the world who have tried to make movies in alignment with the Dogma 95 principles but von Trier has mostly moved on. Which makes senses. all people, especially artists change and grow.

The Celebration, film by Thomas Vitterberg, a Dogma 95 filmmaker

© No one can republish anything on my blog anywhere, not on any digital or hard copy format, without my prior written consent. I reserve my copyright to every word I write. No creation commons for me.

An acquaintance I met at a conference 8 years ago, who was never a friend, has put a post on his blog about the first Dogma 95  film, "The Celebration", which has been said by many film commentators to be similar to Lars von Trier's great film, Melancholia.

This acquaintance seems to think the Dogma 95 manifesto was related to a film's story. Dogme 95 is a manifesto about film making, not subject matter.

It makes some sense that two film artists who were close enough to found a school of thought around making films using very similar photography, with no visual trickery -- the gist of Dogma 95 (Dogme?  Dogma?  who cares) would have similar artistic visions.

I disagree with my acquaintance's analysis of the film. It appears that it was easier for him to see the film as a meta exploration of the dominator culture and how it 'rapes' it's own children and nonwhites than to see the story that I see. White middle class Americans mostly believe in the fantasy that incest is rare, child sexual predation is rare and that it doesn't happen to people they know. Bah. Stuff and nonsense.

Incest of children and sexual molestation of children is far more common than most middle class, and especially white, Americans like to believe. It is so much easier to see adult children confronting their patriarch on his sixtieth birthday with his incest of some of his children as a big commentary on our culture. It is harder to confront the reality that in all stratas of society, the sexual exploitation of children happens a lot.  It does say something about the dominator culture that child abuse, sexual abuse of children and even slavery and forced prostitution on children happens all around the world, including this country, but I have read that the director based his story on a true story he heard about so it did not begin as a meta-commentary on the dominator culture.

I am an incest survivor. I believe my father molested all six of his children. And I am the mother of an incested child.  I come from an ordinary family. My father was not a monster. He was human, weak, imperfect and unhappy. My dad loved his kids, as much and maybe more than most men love their children.  My dad adored me. His incest was about him, not me. He was weak, felt he had little value in the world and I guess he exerted power where he could. In a way, it makes a kind of sick sense to use children you love. I imagine many pedophiles, including incestors, believe they love their victims as they incest them.

I began to make some sense of my father's sexual behavior with me when my own daughter was incested. Her father adamantly denied what happened and, like the characters in the film, I tried to convince myself that my daughter had misunderstood something that had happened to her. It was surprisingly hard for me to accept that she had been anally raped with a penis.

I took her to therapy as soon as I realized something awful had happened. Don't give me much credit for doing that. I had no choice. Her kindergarten teachers sat me down one day, about a month after her Xmas visit to her father, and said "Ever since the Christmas break, she has been a completely different child. Before, she was happy, eager to learn, paid close attention to all instruction and she was an ideal role model for the other children. She was the kind of child every teacher wants to have in their class. Her eagerness, good manners and avid learning motivates the other children. Since Christmas, it is as if a different child has invaded her body. She is disruptive. She starts fights with other children, when she never had any conflict with anyone before."

They listed all kinds of changes in her. Those dear women, who loved each child in their care, were so nervous to tell me their conclusion. How I love and empathize with them as I recall that meeting. Stammering and stuttering, they said "We hate to tell you this but we think your daughter has been molested. Based on our many years experience with children, it is the only thing that could explain the change in her since her living situation has not changed."

What they did not know was that the night before, I had tucked my daughter in bed and instead of our regular good night ritual of reading and cuddling, I introduced how she had changed since Christmas. There were lots of changes in her outside of school. It was when her Sunday school teacher, who only saw her an hour a week, asked me "What's happened to her? She's like a different child" that it clicked and I knew "something has happened to my kid". She had taken to stealing things. Once we went to a coworker's home for dinner and she stole a bottle of the hostess' cologne. Stealing at age five was utterly unlike her. When I confronted her about it, she cried, wailed, blamed me but she did not admit she had done anything wrong.  She said "It's your fault. You should have bought me some."  She was arguing with our housemates. Arguing with me. And she blamed me. She was very angry with me. Now I would retroactively suggest she blamed me for failing to protect her, which was unfair, for I was 400 miles away when she was anally raped. In her mind, I was the all powerful mother who was supposed to protect her from everything, too young to realize no one has the power to protect anyone they love from all harm.

The day I sat her down to have that talk, I had lingered at work. I heard myself say "I dread going home. She's has been so difficult since Xmas that the thought of spending the evening with her exhausts me."  My words shocked my coworkers and me, for I was known for how thoroughly I enjoyed my time with my child. Many people told me I was the happiest single parent they had ever known, that most single parents gripe a lot about the stress of being a single parent but all I talked about was the joy of my child.

So I sat her down and said "Something happened to my little girl when she visited her dad over Xmas. I don't know what it is but I can't help you deal with it unless you tell me."

She began crying, hard, and said "I can't tell you. He said he would kill you if I told you."

I stopped the conversation there, assuring her I would help her. I said "I won't make you go back to see him until we are sure you will be safe."

I stopped her from telling me more because I suddenly realized that my antipathy towards my ex biased me so deeply against him that I was not the person for my daughter to tell.

So when her teachers, literally the very next day, confronted me in the morning when I dropped her off, I was relieved to spare those very nice women from having to say too much. I explained to them that I had come to the same conclusion, that something serious had happened to her.

That, btw, is when I lost her, I believe. She was very angry that I failed to protect her. She was 400 miles away. A judge determined her visits, not me.  How could I have protected her? She was a child, imbuing her all-too-human mom with powers no mother has. 

I told her teachers I was going to find a therapist. They were prepared, with the name of someone who specialized in this sad specialty, sexually molested children. Think about that when you analyze 'The Celebration'. There are therapist everywhere who specialize in sexually abused children. The existence of such a specialty suggests child predation is more common than most wish to acknowledge. Maybe the dominator culture does rape children, red men, black men and other nonwhites. Maybe tones of that domination crop up in the movie.

Why do some of the most heinous acts also become taboo subjects to talk about? Silence protects the predator. If we did not fear child sexual abuse and gave the issue the disinfectant of sunlight, I sincerely belief there would be less common.  Predators may like to prey but if they know they will be caught.

Oh, that reminds me of something that first therapist I took my daughter to said in the beginning. She asked my daughter if she knew what a secret was. She nodded and said "A secret is what you tell your mom."  I request that all parents talk to their children each time the child spends time with new caregivers and every once in awhile for a generic guideline that any time someone asks a child to keep a secret from its parents, that is something the child has to tell its parents. Invite your children to tell you such secrets.

Of course, many spouses of incesting parents protect themselves instead of their kids. Many spoues of incestors choose denial.  My mom ignored what she had to hear was happening to me. As the mother, at the time, of four children, one an infant, she had to be alert even as she slept for sounds and signals. She heard my dad turn off the Johnny Carson monologue and slink into my room. She knew, at least unconsciously, that dad was molesting me.

I see the movie Celebration,  however, as a realistically told story of a sadly common human activity:  the sexual predation of children.

Everything about the movie is note perfect, in terms of adult children confronting their sexual predator.  It appears to end on a positive note, with the predator's children and wife 'celebrating' his absence when they ask him to leave. The movie ended there but the family ties did not. One of the hardest things for me to learn when my child was molested, although this then helped me heal what my father had done to me, was that the child goes on loving her incestor and the parent doing the incest still loves the child. They are still parent and child, still need one another.   Perhaps my denial of my father's love for me before my child needed me to support her was shut down when I stood up for her. I was such a valiant protectress once I knew. It is a mistake to end families over incest, which is another reason why it is such a secretive topic. Children need adults to care for them and if they tell, they might think, as I did, that they would lose their whole world.  My dad still loved me and I him.  My daughter's father still loved her and she loved him.  We cannot heal things we cannot talk about. 

When I fronted my dad, I had no intention of discussing my incest with any of my siblings, all adults by then. I reasoned their wounds were theirs to deal with and if I told them, I risked pain for myself.

After years of therapy, and pressure from my therapist (should I call that encouragement?!) to confront my father, I confronted him.  He was briefly living in a nursing home for some therapy to recover from an injury. I chose the nursing home room to confront him because I had no intention of mentioning the fact that I had been incested by dad to any of my five siblings. By then, I had some awareness, although I gained more in later years, more details, that he had molested his other kids.

My dad responded in a way that I had secretly fantasized he might but never dared to believe he would. He immediately acknowledged what he had done, apologized profusely and then asked what he could do to help me. I said "You can give me some money for all the therapy I am getting." He gave me money for therapy for the rest of his life.

I left him that day feeling lighter than I had since he had molested me.  I was eager to rush back to my brother's, where I was staying and where my daughter was,. When I got to my brother's, I found out dad had called all my siblings, warned that crazy Tree was telling her craziest stories yet and they had been warned not to listen to me. My siblings were furious with me for accusing our father of having molested me.  He fucked me one last time by lying to my siblings, admitting what he had done to me then turning around and telling my sibs I was out of my mind. Crazy Tree on the loose!

One thing the movie, 'The Celebration' does not focus on, and I'd like to see a movie that focussed on this: many, even most, I dare say, people who molest children sexually are good people and love the children if they are their own kids. They are human. Imperfect. Wounded.  They don't really understand that they are hurting the children.

in the film, when the son Christian, after his heroic, repeat efforts to confront his father for the incest and his mother for having once witnessed the father incesting the little boy doggie style and the mother had simply left the room, asked his father 'Why?" The father said "Because that was all you were good for." Those are the words of a very damaged man.

I disagree with my conference acquaintance's analysis of the film as a metaphor for patriarchy. For one thing, patriarchy is an outdated word. We don't live in patriarchy. We live in a capitalist corporatacracy  that does not value human life, except, perhaps, the life of the 1% elite. and I don't really think even the 1% value their own lives; they value the illusion that wealth insulates them. Even among the 1% there is sexual molestation of children. The characters in the film are all elites. Incest is everywhere. It is common.  Instead of patriarchy, we live in a culture whose core mode of being is domination. The father in The Celebration molested his children because he could, the dominator in control.

When I first knew my conference friend, I told him about my daughter's incest (but not mine, not then).  He cried. It moved me so much that a man could hear about what happened to my kid and he cried. He said "This is the first time my life has ever been directly touched by incest."  I don't think I said what I thought after he said that. I wanted to say "I guarantee you this is not the first time in your life that you have been touched by incest, it is too common. People you know have been incested or incested children, you just don't know. There is much cultural taboo on this topic."

I wonder if it is easier to see incest as a metaphor for what my conference acquaintance calls patriarchy than to acknowledge the incest and child sexual abuse not only spans all social classes but it much more common than most people wish to know. We're in collective denial about incest and all kinds of other things. Haven't we all watched American middle class voters vote against their own economic interests time and time again because the dominators stir up their emotions based on inflammatory versions of social change, such as gay marriage. It's like in the Wizard of Oz movie where the wizard is just a little man behind a curtain, creating a light and smoke show to impress Dorothy and her team. He says "don't look at the man behind the curtain". We Americans have willfully chosen to ignore the fact that we have been handled like puppets on a string.

The word patriarchy is outdated. We don't live in a patriarchy. We live in a capitalist corporatocracy that values greed above humans. We live in a culture whose central value is dominating the not-powerful -- not patriarchy, but power, control and domination. The fact that mostly men conduct domination dies not mean it is patriarchal.  Capitalist corporatocracy can afford expending children. It is a widely circulated fact that the sexual slavery of children happens right now, even in this country. We Americans like to think it is a fluke but it isn't.

And if my conference acquaintance understood the principles of Dogme 95, he might know that the principles have nothing to do with the content of films but with how films are made:  no special effects, simple camera work, straight storytelling. PLUS 'The Celebration' is based on a true story that stayed in the mind of the director. Not a metaphor for patriarchy but a sadly true human story that is repeated daily all over the world.

I note that the wikipedia antry on Dogma 95 lists filmmakers from all over the globe that had made films aligned with the Dogma 95 principles. The principles are not about story content but about how to make films.