Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hannah Arendt/Totalitarianism


In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ..... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness" - Hannah Arendt, 'The Origins of Totalitarianism'
Someone I used to know read philosophy as a hobby. He has a PhD from Stanford in interdisciplinary thought. A lot of his studies focused on philosophy, plus twenty years later, he was reading philosophy for fun.

I use a Hannah Arendt quote in my email signature. I believe it is from a book of letters she exchanged with her dearly loved husband. The quote says, inter alia,  "I want you to be".

He saw my email signature and told me Hannah Arendt was one of his favorite philosophers, that her book The Human Condition, had been particularly meaningful to him. So I googled about Arendt a bit, learning that what is considered her masterppiece is 'The Origins of Totalitarianism". So I bought it and read it.

The guy who said Arendt was very important to him never read Origins. It doesn't take a PhD from Stanford to know that a Jew who escaped a death camp in Nazi Germany after getting her PhD in philosophy under Heidegger (they were lovers, even tho he revealed venal anti-seitic views as Hitler rose in power) has important insights into the origins of totalitarianism.  It's never too late to read Arendt's Origins. I'm re-reading it now.

I bought and read the "Origins of Totalitarianism'.  Mr. PhD who said any times that Arendt had had a great influence on him,, ever read it. Perhaps, as the USA seems to be becoming fascist, he has read it.  I'm curious to know if he has.Here is a quote from Arendt on totalitarianism:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

chingale

chingale, hijo de puta

si la persona en mexico no me diga quien es

voy a cerrar permanente este blog y, ojala, cerrar my vida. Quien me esta leyendo de Mexico? I know how to make the uptside down question marks. too lazy to do it.

quien me esta leyando desde Mexico?

dime -- quien es usted? porque me esta leyendo?

how can I be more kind?

It Happens All the Time

It happens all the time in heaven.
and some day

It will begin to happen
again on earth-

That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
Lovers,

And women and women
Who give each other
Light,

Often will get down on their knees

And while so tenderly
Holding their lover's hand,

Wth tears in their eyes,
Will sincerely speak, saying,

"My dear,
How can I be more loving to you;

How can I be more kind?"

~~ Hafix

Let Everything Happen?

"Let Everything Happen"
Rainer Maria Rilke
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

I don't think i can let everything happen. jump in front of  a Caltrain? Buy a shotgun.  Drugs don't kill. I've tried many. I need violence which, stats say, women tend to avoid. Find my courage. let death happen for me asap.

what rough beast, its hour come round at last

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

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Monday, January 23, 2017

useful showcaases

It is the misfortune of beings to be for us nothing else but useful showcases for the contents of our own minds.   ~ Martha Nussbaum

Sunday, January 22, 2017

whooping cough = pertussis = exhaustion

Have you ever had whooping cough? I was at my doc's on Thursday. There was a new sign in the exam room, black and white. It said, starkly, "Pertussis kills babies".  Pertussis is whooping cough.
It does not tend to kill adults but it can wipe an adult out. And it can last a long time. One friend has told me she had it for five months. Ive been coughing since April, with my hacking getting more and more intense. Now, it seems to be very slowly ebbinb down and my bouts of hacking are short, less intense.
Some weird things (to me anyway) about pertussis:  one doesn't feel sick except when coughing, although deep coughing bouts can last a long while. I seem to be past the long bouts.
One doesn't run a fever, all the online MD sites says. One doesn't feel sick, they say.
What I feel is drained.
I had a very hard pregnancy with my daughter. I vomited and dry heaved the entire time I was pregnant, right in the labor and delivery room until she came out. Dry heaving is worse than vomiting, at least in my experience. I was hospitalized three separate times while pregnant, for at least a week each time (once for ten days) so I could be fed intravenously. My baby needed the nutrition. I could not keep down sips of water.  It often felt like my whole being was trying to reject her, like conceiving her had been a mistake and nature, me, the baby, whatever, was trying to undo the mistake. Truth told:  I should never have conceived a child with her father.
I'm not sure how this is happening but I am being reminded all the time of when I was pregnant, Perhaps that is because I was the most physically drained I have ever been, and as I am now -- so physically exhausted that going to the toilet seems like a whole whole lot of work.

Maybe I keep remembering the near-constant dry heaving of my long ago pregnancy because my long bouts of wracking coughs is similar. My body wretches differently but it is wretching deeply, as if trying to expell something.

When I was pregnant, I would heave so hard that sometimes the blood bessels in my throat and stomach would break and there would be bits of blood, which was scary. A couple trips to ER's for that blood and I soon learned I could do nothing. Nothing would stop those dry heaves. Oh, I might eat a whoe meal of food, drink a hwhole glass of water, and then instead of dry heaves, I'd have five minutes of vomiting. As soon as my stomach emptied out, back to the dry heaves.

Sometimes it felt like every cell in my body was heaving, wretching. Way way way in the back of my being, I fretted that maybe I wasn't supposed to have this baby. Then I would realize that whoever was now inhabiting my body along with me, s/he was entrenched, a force apart from me, too late to turn back.

Her father hounded me to get an abortion. He was a bully and a coward. He should not have had sex with me, unprotected sex, for he knew he did not want to have a child with me but he didn't have the balls to tell me.  As I howled like a wounded wolf caught in a trap in a wood, screaming "why did you let me get pregnant" he once said, limply, but, sadly, truthfully "I didn't believe you could get pregnant just because you said you were fertile and would get pregnant if we had sex that day"

are you fucking kidding me? We had been married two years. We had said, upon our engagement, that we'd wait two years to start trying to conceive. I charted my flow every month of those two years. I got to know my body so well I could feel it when I was in fertile flow. And every month during my fertile days, I pointed them out on the calendar aboae our dining table and then we had lots of sex on those days. Practice, we said.  I made planning to get pregnant a very open, transparent and determined thing. Everyone knew, including my, uh husband.

He said since I believed in a woman's right to get an abortion, I had to give him the right to have an abortion and abort our baby. I screamed myself hoarse after that. How I howled, lilke a wild, wounded animal. With almost no voice, I rasped about how aborting the baby would permanently change me, that I would never get over the loss. I rasped that the time to not have a baby with me was before I conceived.

I left him for awhile. My Catholic family, esp. my obnoxiously pious Catholic mother, urged me to get the abortion so I would not be tied to him. Again screaming until hoarse, I angrily charged my father, mother and brothers with betrayal.  Over and over I explained "this baby is real to me, I feel her, I know its a girl, this is my baby."


My husband actually came to Chicago, just before Christmas. I thought he was there to take back his aboartion demand. Nope. He had arranged a business trip to Chicago so he could reinforce his demand I abort. I had brought him some Xmas gifts, for it as just a day or two before Xmas but when he made it clear he still wanted me to abort our baby, I did not give him the gifts. And he had the tackless incivility to pout about his withheld presents.

I was lucky I did not have a car wreck on the way back to my dad's after that meeting with my husband. I cried so hard that I was close to blind. And I was going home to a house full of relatives, all ostensibly devout Catholics, who wanted me to get that abortion.

With this whooping cough, I keep being reminded of feeling so drained so exhausted, that I feel I cannot move. And I am feeling all the sadness and heartache I felt.

No one brought e any cups of tea. No one comforted me.

My mother gave me a pink sweater pantsuit, some kind of wool that was fluffy The nae for that fluffy wool eludes me. It was not a maternity pantsuit. It was for after the abortion.  I took it back to my dad's, after she gave it to me in her hotel room. My devoutly Catholic mother had remarried without an annulment the fist day she was legally able to remarry. She did not marry a Catholic. She stayed in hotels when she came to see her kids and she gave me that pink fluffy pantsuit in her hotel room. I took it back to dad's, raging. I was not just angry about the noral sized pantsuits. I had wanted a aternity outfit, a signal that she would support my pregnancy, my baby. I felt such rage.

I found a pair of pinking shears, jumped back in dad's car and returned to the hotel to, as I said, giave back the pantsuits Mom said "Oh, that's fine, Zach (the guy who owned the dress shop) will be happy to refund me."  I took that fluffy pink pantsuit, the kind of clothing I never wore in my whole life, never ever ever. Did she think I'd kill my baby and suddenly become a new, fluffy loving female who wore make up for breakfast like she did? WTF. She had not been thinking. Not of me. And she never did. I saw that in that pink fluffy pantsuit.

So I pulled it out, spread it out on the extra bed in her hotel room. She fingered it lightly, admiring its softness. Then I pulled out the pinking shears and cut the top and then the pants in two. And stormed out

Later, my brother Joe said I should have kept the pantsuit, that even if I had the baby it would have fit me later.

I was so angry. There has never been a day in my life when I would have worn a fluffy anything, much less a fluffy, fuzzy pink sweater pantsuit.

Seeing that I had no support with my kin I went back to my husband, where my on house, bed and health insruance awaited me. He perked up briefly believing I'd get an abortion still.


And then.  Then. After I was so far along with my pregnancy that I could not get a legal abortion, he had the balls to say, more than once, that he liked to think he decided to let me keep it.

And he never, not once, brought me a fucking cup of tea. And he never offered to fix dinner when I was nursing our newborn and I would be starving because I was too tired to shop an cook and I had a newborn to tend.  His relatives would come over and ask "is there anything we can do to help you?" Once, just once, I said "Yes, you could do the dishes while I feed the baby." I as breastfeeding her so no one else could feed her, right?  I saw that those offers of help really meant "can we hold the baby while you do some household chores?"

I am unhappy. I am having suicidal thoughts again. It is not all that easy to kill one's self. Like most omen, the idea of a gun puts me off. Jumping in front of a train scres me. I'm not afriad to die violently. Juming in front o a train would be quick -- if it killed me. It would be a new circle of hhel if I got hit by a train but did not die. That's what I fear, another circle of my personal hell.

I made myself a cup of cocoa with coconut milk this evening. And I drank some of the last of my ginger lemon kombucha. I started a new batch yesterday but I will run out of the last batch before the new batch ready.

I am very aware that making myself cocoa and kombucha is a sign, from within me, that I care about me. Why am I so attached to having someone else care?

she said she'd miss me . . . but she does not

My daughter started college at Simon's Rock of Bard, in Great Barrington. As we banked around the curving, tree-lined roads from the interstate (they have a specific name for it in W. MA but I am not remembering that just now), curving and turning, curving and turning, I noticed that some, many of the trees had what looked to my unsophisticated eyes to be a kind of ivy that spread from tree to tree in drifting, blowing 'chains'.

I'd seen plenty of ivy but I had never seen this particular, invasive as it turned out, phenomenon. It wasn't ivy. It was some kind of invasive plant that did spread itself by growing long from tree limbs, being blown to neearby trees and then growing on more, and then more trees. This noxious, invasive, not-from-the-Berkshires plant may have seemed like charming, swaying ivy to my unknowledgeable eyes but it could kill whole stands of trees quickly.

So we're in the car, about to drop my only child off at college. She's leaving home. Bye bye. An emotional moment for both of us. Big exciting changes for both of us lay ahead. And losing one another, at least on a day to day basis, also lay ahead. I'd move her into her dorm room and never live with her again.

When I kept seeing those swinging 'ivy' drapes, I pointed them out to Katie. She said "I am really going to miss that."  "Miss what?" I asked. "You are always noticing things nobody else notices, pointing them out to me or I wouldn't see them. No one will be doing that for me now. I am going to miss it."

She did not say she was going to miss me.  "The Pike", that's what folks in Massachusetts say to refer to their turnpike, what I think of as the interstate. "The Pike".  I like to note regional differences.

I've had many people come into my life since that day in 1998 when my only child left me for good. And many have noticed that I notice everything, or, at least, I notice more detail than most people do.

Only Katie listened to me notice things for sixeen years. Only Katie loved me for it.

recidivism

I was entangled, although, thank goodness, never lovers, with a man that will no longer acknowledge me. He shuns me. He publicly bullied me in front of friends at a public film screening, demanding I leave because he was uncomfortable with me there.

This twat must have told me 500 times over 7 years that if I ever felt bad, or even good -- but I never felt good -- in reaction to anything he said or did, that I was 110% responsible for how I feel. When he felt uncomfortable with me at a public film screening I had paid for, had gone to with friends, people he also knows (but we know them independently), he demanded I leave. He did not take responsibility for his reactivity. He blamed me for how he felt, belying his nasty lectures from many years.  Fuck him, I know.

When I type the first couple letters of an email address, gmail fills in an email. I used to more frequently and unintentionally send him emails mean for a friend whose name begins with the same letters. I got stirred up when I send him an email, even a short, friendly one intended for an actual friend.  I have worked to be more conscious when I send emails and I have not sent him an email, not even one of my 'unconscious', thoughtless, mistaken ones in a long while.

Then yesterday, sick and off balance (I have whooping cough which, gosh, wipes me out).  I can't do anything so I hang out on my computer or read. And I slip. I slipped yesterday, sending him a short note meant for an actual friend, lamenting my inability to go to any women's march yesterday.

I then exacerbated the bad feelings I experienced after I realized I had sent him a short note that I had intended to send a loving friend.

no surrender to things we can change

No one should surrender to the rising fascism embodied in the man-boy, spoiled-brat president. No surrender should ever be considered of any dimunition of women's right to control her own body; what goes on inside an individuals body is as private as it gets. No one knows when life begins and no one has the right to impose one's bias (biases are always prejudiced!) on another. We all have a raight to privacy and it doesn't get more private than what goes on in our own temples of the goddess, our bodies.

No one should surrender to fascist attempts to impose judgments, ones that are ultimately unknowable, on anyone.

No one should co-opt the serenity prayer if one does not understand that there are things in life we cannot change.

I am telling myself I shouldn't keep

Friday, January 20, 2017

I want Katie

I have seen a post turn up on my FB stream many times lately It says "When children spend more time with their mothers, the mothers live longer."  I see it, I cry a little and then I pray it doesn't show up again.

I want the baby I dry-heaved for, for nine months, right up until she was born. I suffered physically giving her life, I really did.  I want the baby I suckled at my breast, the daughter I made many sacrifices for (most of which she doesn't know about because she was a child and I was the adult).

I want my daughter to call me once in awhile, hear her say "Hi mom, how are you?" and maybe hear her say, what the heck, "I love you" or, let's get crazy "when can you come for a visit?" or "We're coming to SF. What should we do together?"

Art museums, of course. And meals. She used to be a foodie and the SF Bay Area is foodie heaven. She's traveled a lot in recent years. Maybe she's been to the Bay Area. But no one sees Big Sur too many times. No one sees Yosemite too many times. No one sees redwoods and sequoias too many times.  I wonder if she remembers the one time we drove through a giant sequoia with a tunnel hollowed out of it for cars. Such a tree, but down south, no where we drove through one, fell recently. I thought of her, wondered if she would read about that tree and, just maybe, remember driving through a giant sequoia with me.

And maybe, if I visited her in Chicago or she and her man came to the Bay Area, she'd give me a hug, maybe a kiss. Maybe a cup of tea.

bit by bit

Bit by bit, v-e-r-y slowly, I guess I am feeling better.  I had stopped doing dishes, then stopped eating when all the grab and eat food was gone.

I had to go to the pharmacy yesterday which necessitated passing a Peets. I have not had a cup of coffee since February 2012. I gave up the coffee because I only like it with a whole lot of cream. Yesterday, dragging myself to the pharmacy, with no other food choices between me and my drug store, and feeling reckless, I went in and ordered a large coffee, asking the to leave room for cream. And when I got that coffee, I poured some of it out so I could have a ton of cream.

Once or twice a year, I get a mini scorn at Peets. Yesterday I noted the mini-scone -- two bites at most -- cost $1.75 and a whole, regular scone cost $2.50.

Lots of sugar, lots of carbs. And there are lots of carbs in cream.

My first nutritionist asked me, as soon as we met, to tell her the main sources of carbs. I did not mention milk, which she had expected. Then she used that teachable moment to, someone condescendingly (I don't think a nutritionist should be condescending -- fuck her) that most people don't realize dairy has lots of carbs. She's right. Dairy does.

But I am sick. and I was hungry. I had coffee, gobs of cream, a huge sugared scone.

I didn't feel better for my wild snack. I did take care to inject insulin right at the Peets common table.

I felt psychologically better.

When I was in law school, I often went out with a guy named Gary. After our meals together, he would usually ask "Do you feel psychologically satisfied with our meal?" and Sometimes we felt satisfied. But when we did not feel 'psychologically satisfied', we go to another restaurant and eat something else. Gary was a sober, serious guy. I can't remember him ever laughing. He was not a lot of fun. He came from big money. He felt vastly superior to me. He owned original art by famous painters like Jaspar Johns. He's have me over to look at his art and to play classical music for me, music he was always sure I had never heard.  (Come on, I went to a great undergrad school -- my school had a renown usic conservatory and classical music was integral to my whole undergrad career). But like so many dopey young women before me, I let Gary think he was teaching me something.  I was, I confess, impressed that he owned that Johns. Even more impressed that he had known Johns when he worked in an art gallery in NYC.  Nowadays, I believe he is an art agent, or a lawyer that specializles in repping artists. Something artsy. And he's probably still stiffly arrogant.

How I loved it when we decided we were not psychologically satisfied and we'd go get food at another restaurant.

I was psychologically satisfied by my heavily creamed coffee, my sugary large scone and then, bliss of bliss, I was most psychologically satisfied by the nostril spray prescribed for me. My doc had looked into my nostrils and said one of the was badly swollen. The spray is psychologically satisfying and physically comforting.

No one in this whole world is going to offer to make me a cp of tea.

a small dream of mine

My daughter almost never missed school. She almost never got sick and even when she did, she loved school so much that she begged to go. In Waldorf, if you miss a main lesson, you miss a main lesson. Katie hung on very word of Mr. Maier's main lessons and cried at the thought of missing one. Plus she really only got sick very rarely, had perfect attendance records most years. She never threw up, for example.

In h.s., she had very painful menstrual cramps, cramps that were hard for me to identify with. I have had a twinge or two but never really had cramps.  My Katie would be debiliated by the pain of her menstrual cramps.  She stayed home on bad cramp days in h.s.

She went to an elite prep school that had a great food service the kids could turn to all day. Plus lounges. According to her pals, she could go to school with her cramps, spread out on a sofa in a lounge and have hot tea.

Katie, however, stayed home with her camps because, and this is a dear memory for me, she said she liked the way I'd bring her cups of tea to her bedside, the way I served her tea and toast and took care of her.

One boy in particular, who must have quite liked her around, really mocked her but she held out for my ministrations.

Which brings me to my, thus far, unfulfilled personal dream.

I have always wished, especially when I lived with a daughter that I used to actually believe loved me, that a day would come when I was sick and someone who loved me would bring me a cup of tea, offer me toast. Nowadays, I'd probably pass on the toast. I don't do bread to avoid the carbs, to avoid the insulin carbs require.

I make myself cups of tea. Why is tea so soothing in a way coffee is not?

I make myself a large mug of lemon chamomile, which I am almost out of.  I have a cupboard full of teas but the lightness of the lemon chamomile comforts me. I add a teeny tiny anount of stevia sometimes, the sweetness being a kind of comfort itself.

And as I drink my self-administered tea, I feel comforted.

Often, howwever, in my mind's eye, I am imagining a being coming over from my kitchen, talking to me, cheerfully giving me some tea choices, cheerfully bringing me a cup of tea because I am sick and need human comfort, not just tea.

So far, no one has ever brought me a cup of tea.

I don't think anyone ever well.

the serenity prayer is a powerful gift

Goddess grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (like alcoholism or drug addiction) and the courage to change the things I can. . . . I am always unsettled when I see people, usually women strangely enough, turning the serenity prayer upside down and saying "I refuse to accept the things I cannot change". Such a position is a foolish, willful one. Being able to distinguish what one can change, such as women's reproductive rights, and what one cannot change (a beloved's death, alcoholism, drug addiction, a miscarriage, a child's death . . . . . ). The 12 steps saves lives and the serenity prayer, having the wisdom to know that there are some things we humans cannot change (I can't make my daughter speak to me after not speaking to me for fifteen years -- I have to accept her choice no matter the toll it takes on me), having the graceful gift from the goddess to know we sometimes have to surrender to what we cannot change, is the power of the prayer.
It sounds so trendy to declare "I will not accept the things I cannot change" but such a statement gives away the speaker's ignorance, willfulness and Ego.
We can change the nightmares unfolding under trump We cannot erase a disease like alcoholism. And all should know the difference, all should understand the serenity prayer. It makes for a clever sound bite to say "I am no longer willing to accept the things I cannot change" but such a claim reveals an unchecked ego that does not understand the grace of surrender.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

so starve my pneumonia?

I not only have no appetite, I have no ability to prepare food.  I have run out of food I can just pick up and eat, like fruit, cheese, carrots.  Usually I can always find energy to make raw green smoothies but the thought of sitting in a chair next to fridge and blender and lifting my arms up and down, just the thought, exhausts me. Too much work. And I'd have to clean the blender asap. Trust me. You don't want to let greens dry on your blender pitcher, the blades, etc. See?  my simplest meal, a smoothie, is too much work.

I do have a cantaloupe in my fridge but cutting it up seems like too much trouble. Plus I am not hungry.

I am sick and unhappy

story idea

transitional housing when I first left nebraska

daddy long legs and that house projecting over the river outside Austin TX

Monday, January 16, 2017

I wish

I've been fighting off a hacking cough for many weeks, before Thanksgiving -- and maybe longer. I've been dragging myself around, every step wiping me out. I've even kept up my lap swimming but have not gone every single day; I felt so drained if I swam.

Finally, on Friday, while waiting to see a podiatrist (an annual diabetic thing), I asked my primary's nurse to ask my doc if I could have an antibiotic. She had given me one around Thanksgiving, a 'light' one she had said. My cough stopped for a few days and came back with a vengeance.I told my doc's medicidal assistant, through the interface of a delightful receptionist who had the MA on the phone, "Tell her to give me something stronger."

As I watched myself speak up for a strong antibiotic, I felt like I was watching someone else. I also felt dissociated from the cough.

I know something with a hacking cough has been going around. I hear it everywhere. I have downplayed the significance of having a bad cough for months. It's just me, I tell myself in lightning fast thoughts I don't really 'hear'.  "It doesn't matter" is another lightning-fast thought, 'it's just me". Or "It can't last forever, it will go away."

So on Friday I started the antibiotic. I looked at the lap schedule over the weekend, as I considered swimming while sick.  Lucky for me there was some special event and my pool not open for any lap time on Saturday and Sunday.

The antibiotics might be draining some of my energy. I guess.

yesterday I went to hear a storytelling performance because I have been doing some public storytelling and the storyteller was supposed to be great. I ended up walking aobut half a mile in the cold to get to the venue. Then I coughed throughout the show.  Then I dragged myself home.

Today I decided to let myself be sick.  I have slept most of the day. I just woke up from my third or fourth name and I could sleep again right now.

I'm sick.

I wonder why it is so hard for me to recognize when I am sick and then to take care of myself when I am.

I don't really wonder why I don't take care of myself, why I don't better recognize I am sick. It is becuse I am so lonely and I have no one reflecting me back to me, no one to tell me to take care.

Yesterday at the storytelling performance, a man in front of me offered me a cough drop. I whispered "I already have one in my mouth." After the show, he fussed over me, asked me if I had a hat to wear home (I did, I always have a hat but don't always put it on). A stranger. A man unknown to me.

I want someone who loves me to press cough suppressants on me, to urge me to see my doctor, to run to the pharmacy to get my prescription, to think of healthy meals and thenprepare them that will go down easy.

I want people in m life. Without people, it can be as if I don't quite know I exist, that I matter.
Do I?  Not so I notice.




I'm sticking with love: MLK, Jr.


find your treasure


knowledge of the heart must come from the heart

from Maria Popova who writes so many beautiful, erudite essays at brainpickings.org:

How Do You Know That You Love Somebody? Philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s Incompleteness Theorem of the Heart’s Truth, from Plato to Proust

“The alterations between love and its denial, suffering and denial of suffering … constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart.”

How Do You Know That You Love Somebody? Philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s Incompleteness Theorem of the Heart’s Truth, from Plato to Proust
“The state of enchantment is one of certainty,” W.H. Auden wrote in his commonplace book. “When enchanted, we neither believe nor doubt nor deny: we know, even if, as in the case of a false enchantment, our knowledge is self-deception.” Nowhere is our capacity for enchantment, nor our capacity for self-deception, greater than in love — the region of human experience where the path to truth is most obstructed by the bramble of rationalization and where we are most likely to be kidnapped by our own delicious delusions. There, it is perennially difficult to know what we really want; difficult to distinguish between love and lust; difficult not to succumb to our perilous tendency to idealize; difficult to reconcile the closeness needed for intimacy with the psychological distance needed for desire.
How, then, do we really know that we love another person?
That’s what Martha Nussbaum, whom I continue to consider the most compelling philosopher of our time, examines in her 1990 book Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (public library) — the sandbox in which Nussbaum worked out the ideas that would become, a decade later, her incisive treatise on the intelligence of emotions.
Martha Nussbaum
Devising a sort of incompleteness theorem of the heart’s truth, Nussbaum writes:
We deceive ourselves about love — about who; and how; and when; and whether. We also discover and correct our self-deceptions. The forces making for both deception and unmasking here are various and powerful: the unsurpassed danger, the urgent need for protection and self-sufficiency, the opposite and equal need for joy and communication and connection. Any of these can serve either truth or falsity, as the occasion demands. The difficulty then becomes: how in the midst of this confusion (and delight and pain) do we know what view of ourselves, what parts of ourselves, to trust? Which stories about the condition of the heart are the reliable ones and which the self-deceiving fictions? We find ourselves asking where, in this plurality of discordant voices with which we address ourselves on this topic of perennial self-interest, is the criterion of truth? (And what does it mean to look for a criterion here? Could that demand itself be a tool of self-deception?)
With an eye to Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and its central theme of how our intellect blinds us to the wisdom of the heart, Nussbaum contemplates the nature of those experiences “in which the self-protective tissue of rationalization is in a moment cut through, as if by a surgeon’s knife”: Proust’s protagonist, Marcel, has rationally convinced himself that he no longer loves his beloved, Albertine, but is jolted into confronting the falsity of that rationalization upon receiving news of her death; in the shock of his intense sorrow, he instantly gains the knowledge, far deeper and more sinewy than the intellect’s, that he did, in fact, love Albertine.
In a testament to Proust’s assertion that “the end of a book’s wisdom appears to us as merely the start of our own,” Nussbaum writes:
Proust tells us that the sort of knowledge of the heart we need in this case cannot be given us by the sciences of psychology, or, indeed, by any sort of scientific use of intellect. Knowledge of the heart must come from the heart — from and in its pains and longings, its emotional responses.
Illustration from An ABZ of Love, Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite vintage Danish guide to sexuality
Such a conception of love’s knowledge, to be sure, stands radically against the long intellectual tradition of rationalism stretching from Plato to Locke like an enormous string of reason that plays only one note, deaf to the symphonic complexity of the emotional universe. The Proustian view calls for a restoration of lost nuance. Pointing to “the pseudotruths of the intellect,” Nussbaum revisits Marcel’s predicament, wherein the intellect has imposed an illusory sense of order and structure upon the entropy of the emotions:
The shock of loss and the attendant welling up of pain show him that his theories were forms of self-deceptive rationalization — not only false about his condition but also manifestations and accomplices of a reflex to deny and close off one’s vulnerabilities that Proust finds to be very deep in all of human life. The primary and most ubiquitous form of this reflex is seen in the operations of habit, which makes the pain of our vulnerability tolerable to us by concealing need, concealing particularity (hence vulnerability to loss), concealing all the pain-inflicting features of the world — simply making us used to them, dead to their assaults. When we are used to them we do not feel them or long for them in the same way; we are no longer so painfully afflicted by our failure to control and possess them. Marcel has been able to conclude that he is not in love with Albertine, in part because he is used to her. His calm, methodical intellectual scrutiny is powerless to dislodge this “dream deity, so riveted to one’s being, its insignificant face so incrusted in one’s heart.” Indeed, it fails altogether to discern the all-important distinction between the face of habit and the true face of the heart.
Nussbaum considers how our over-reliance on the intellect for clarity about love produces instead a kind of myopia:
Intellect’s account of psychology lacks all sense of proportion and depth and importance… [Such a] cost-benefit analysis of the heart — the only comparative assessment of which intellect, by itself, is capable — is bound, Proust suggests, to miss differences of depth. Not only to miss them, but to impede their recognition. Cost-benefit analysis is a way of comforting oneself, of putting oneself in control by pretending that all losses can be made up by sufficient quantities of something else. This stratagem opposes the recognition of love — and, indeed, love itself.
[…]
To remove such powerful obstacles to truth, we require the instrument that is “the subtlest, most powerful, most appropriate for grasping the truth.” This instrument is given to us in suffering.
Half a century after Simone Weil made her compelling case for why suffering is a greater clarifying force than intellectual discipline, Nussbaum examines this antidote to the intellect’s self-delusion by quoting directly from Proust:
Our intelligence, however lucid, cannot perceive the elements that compose it and remain unsuspected so long as, from the volatile state in which they generally exist, a phenomenon capable of isolating them has not subjected them to the first stages of solidification. I had been mistaken in thinking that I could see clearly into my own heart. But this knowledge, which the shrewdest perceptions of the mind would not have given me, had now been brought to me, hard, glittering, strange, like a crystallised salt, by the abrupt reaction of pain.
Central to this method of truth-seeking is what Nussbaum calls catalepsis — “a condition of certainty and confidence form which nothing can dislodge us.” To be cataleptic — from the Greek katalēptikē, derived from the verb katalambanein, meaning “to apprehend,” “to firmly grasp” — is to have a firm grasp of reality. But, of course, the implied antinomy is that because reality is inherently slippery, either the firmness of such catalepsis or its conception of reality is false.
Noting the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Zeno’s view that we gain knowledge of the heart’s truth through powerful impressions that come directly from reality, Nussbaum returns to Proust’s Marcel:
The impression [that he loves Albertine] comes upon Marcel unbidden, unannounced, uncontrolled… Surprise, vivid particularity, and extreme qualitative intensity are all characteristics that are systematically concealed by the workings of habit, the primary form of self-deception and self-concealment. What has these features must have escaped the workings of self-deception, must have come from reality itself.
We notice, finally, that the very painfulness of these impressions is essential to their cataleptic character. Our primary aim is to comfort ourselves, to assuage pain, to cover our wounds. Then what has the character of pain must have escaped these mechanisms of comfort and concealment; must, then, have come from the true unconcealed nature of our condition.
Illustration by Julie Paschkis from Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown
And yet there exists another, more dimensional possibility. Nussbaum writes:
For the Stoic the cataleptic impression is not simply a route to knowing; it is knowing. It doesn’t point beyond itself to knowledge; it goes to constitute knowledge. (Science is a system made up of katalēpseis.) If we follow the analogy strictly, then, we find that knowledge of our love is not the fruit of the impression of suffering, a fruit that might in principle have been had apart form the suffering. The suffering itself is a piece of self-knowing. In responding to a loss with anguish, we are grasping our love. The love is not some separate fact about us that is signaled by the impression; the impression reveals the love by constituting it. Love is not a structure in the heart waiting to be discovered; it is embodied in, made up out of, experiences of suffering.
[…]
Marcel is brought, then, by and in the cataleptic impression, to an acknowledgment of his love. There are elements of both discovery and creation here, at both the particular and general levels. Love of Albertine is both discovered and created. It is discovered, in that habit and intellect were masking from Marcel a psychological condition that was ready for suffering, and that … needed only to be affected slightly by the catalyst in order to turn itself into love. It is created, because love denied and successfully repressed is not exactly love. While he was busily denying that he loved her, he simply was not loving her. At the general level, again, Marcel both discovers and enacts a permanent underlying feature of his condition, namely, his neediness, his hunger for possession and completeness. That too was there in a sense before the loss, because that’s what human life is made of. But in denying and repressing it, Marcel became temporarily self-sufficient, closed, and estranged from his humanity. The pain he feels for Albertine gives him access to his permanent underlying condition by being a case of that condition, and no such case was present a moment before. Before the suffering he was indeed self-deceived — both because he was denying a general structural feature of his humanity and because he was denying the particular readiness of his soul to feel hopeless love for Albertine. He was on a verge of a precipice and thought he was safely immured in his own rationality. But his case shows us as well how the successful denial of love is the (temporary) extinction and death of love, how self-deception can aim at and nearly achieve self-change.
We now see exactly how and why Marcel’s account of self-knowledge is no simple rival to the intellectual account. It tells us that the intellectual account was wrong: wrong about the content of the truth about Marcel, wrong about the methods appropriate for gaining this knowledge, wrong as well about what sort of experience in and of the person knowing is. And it tells us that to try to grasp love intellectually is a way of not suffering, not loving — a practical rival, a stratagem of flight.
Art by Salvador Dalí for a rare edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy
And yet this notion of measuring love by degree of suffering seems to be a particular pathology of the human heart — could, Nussbaum asks, Marcel’s sorrow at the loss of Albertine be evidence not of love, or at least not only of love, but of grief or fear or some other constellation of contexts? She writes:
Marcel’s relation to the science of self-knowledge now begins to look more complex than we had suspected. We said that the attempt to grasp love intellectually was a way of avoiding loving. We said that in the cataleptic impression there is acknowledgement of one’s own vulnerability and incompleteness, an end to our flight from ourselves. But isn’t the whole idea of basing love and its knowledge on cataleptic impressions itself a form of flight — from openness to the other, from all those things in love for which there is in fact no certain criterion? Isn’t his whole enterprise just a new and more subtle expression of the rage for control, and need for possession and certainty, the denial of incompleteness and neediness that characterized the intellectual project? Isn’t he still hungry for a science of life?
Noting the contrast between the mutuality of love and the asymmetry of infatuation — after all, Marcel’s confrontation of his feelings for Albertine doesn’t require her participation at all and can be conducted as a wholly solitary activity — Nussbaum adds:
What Marcel feels is a gap or lack in himself, an open wound, a blow to the heart, a hell inside himself. Is all of this really love of Albertine?
[…]
The heart and mind of another are unknowable, even unapproachable, expect in fantasies and projections that are really elements of the knower’s own life, not the other’s.
Proust’s protagonist arrives at this conclusion himself:
I understood that my love was less a love for her than a love in me… It is the misfortune of beings to be for us nothing else but useful showcases for the contents of our own minds.
And yet this conclusion, Nussbaum argues, is but a form of self-protection — in denying one’s porousness to the other and instead painting love as a curious relationship with oneself, it bolsters the illusion of self-sufficiency as a hedge against the suffering which love entails. Such a conception is ultimately a form of self-delusion masking the true nature of love and what Nussbaum calls its “dangerous openness.” Reflecting on Proust’s ultimate revelation, she writes:
Love … is a permanent structural feature of our soul.
[…]
The alterations between love and its denial, suffering and denial of suffering … constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart. In suffering we know only suffering. We call our rationalizations false and delusive, and we do not see to what extent they express a mechanism that is regular and deep in our lives. But this means that in love itself we do not yet have full knowledge of love — for we do not grasp its limits and boundaries. Sea creatures cannot be said to know the sea in the way that a creature does who can survey and dwell in both sea and land, noticing how they bound and limit one another.
Love’s Knowledge is a revelatory read in its totality. Complement it with Adam Phillips on the interplay between frustration and satisfaction in love, Erich Fromm on mastering the art of loving, Alain de Botton on why our partners drive us mad, and Esther Perel on the central paradox of love, then revisit Nussbaum on anger and forgiveness, agency and victimhood, the intelligence of the emotions, and how to live with our human fragility.

divine things more beautiful


Sunday, January 15, 2017

reaching for heaven


This is how I see myself, but I also see deep, widely spread roots. UP to the sky, down into the earth, grounded while reaching for heaven.

do I look like a good mark to panhandlers?

A homeless guy must have decided I look like a pretty good potential mark. Homeless folks often shuffle by and ask everyone they see for a dollar or money for food (woebetide the fool who gives their spare change when a homeless person asks for any spare change -- they usually, in my experience, become angry and some fling my change back at me so they now, apparently, want nothing less than a dollar). This one guy asked me for money to dry his coat, which he said was soaking wet. I said no. In the fifteen minutes I waited for my train, easily eight folks asked me for a dollar and that was not the only station where I waited and got hit on for money. If I gave a dollar to each homeless person that asks me, I believe I'd have gievn away several hundred dollars in just a couple days.

So wet coat guy asked for money to cry his coat, I said "I cannot help you". He left, and I was relieved, for he smelled -- the smell not his fault but I was glad not to smell it. He came back with his stuff and parked himself close to me, showed me his coat -- a very nice sheared lamb coat with what looked like leather exterior. I don't know how wet it was. Then he sat down and smoked right next to me, talking on and on. I was, and still am, pretty sure he thought I was a good mark and he could wear me down. I was not going to give him money. I was thinking "how are you going to dry your coat down here in the subway station? haven't you paid to be inside here?" Admittedly he could easily have snuck into the subway station but, still, was he gonna leave and find a laundromat downtown and dry his coat? Plus I believe tossing his very nice coat would shrink it weirdly but I did not say that.

My train was 13 minutes away, the guy smelled, he was not asking anyone for money, just chatting away to me. . and smoking, with his secondhand smoke entering my lungs. In the train station where NO ONE smokes.  Where smoking is strictly forbidden.

To my great pleasure, when I said "I don't think you are supposed to smoke on the train platform" which lead him to leap up and start putting his stuff together to leave in a huff. While he huffed, I added "And I don't want your second hand smoke in my lungs."

Poof. He disappeared as if he had gone up in smoke.

He was smoking marijuana. I resisted my urge to ask him how he managed money for marijuana but not to dry his coat.

go where the love is


Saturday, January 14, 2017

w/o spirit, everything will lead to fall of civilization

Without spiritual impulses everything will lead to decadence, to barbarism, to the fall of civilization

What must be emphasized over and over again is the need there is today for things to be taken with deep seriousness. This goes against the grain. People choose to believe that things will continue in the same way. No, they will not.
If life continues without the stimuli that come from the spiritual world, industry can go on, banks can be in existence and universities where all the sciences are taught, other professions can be developed — but everything will lead to decadence, to barbarism, to the fall of civilisation.
Those who are not willing to apply in practical life what can come out of Spiritual Science are working, not for ascent but for decline. And the majority of people today want decline and simply delude themselves into the belief that an ascent can still come out of it.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 202 The Search for the New Isis, Divine Sophia, Lecture IV, Dornach, 26th December 1920  

I found it

I misplaced my Speedo Endurance swimsuit.

As all serious swimmers know, most swimsuits don't last long. The clorine in the water gradually turns them into tissue. They actually begin to pull apart like wet tissues.

A Speedo Endurance, and I imagine the other swimsuit companies sell comparable suits, lasts, it seems to me, just about forever.  One pays more for the Endurance suit but it does not wear out.

Some swimmers stick with cheap suits because they enjoy having new looks.

I don't 'see' my look when I swim and I don't care what I look like to other swimmers. I don't know anyone at my current pool. In the shower room, I regularly see new swimsuits. Lately the suits are often very loud colors, with clever designs positioning splashes of color in interesting ways. They look great. If I were going on a beach vacation, maybe I'd want one.

The Endurance suits, especially the ones I buy, have low-on-the-hip leg openings. Many swimsuits today have high-on-the-hip openings, exposing much more of one's body while coquettishly protecting the private slash in the middle. The style I buy is called 'conservative'. When I was young, the style I use now was the only style, plus two piece ones. And yes there were small bikinis when I was young but I never wore one, never owned one.

I like a conservative suit with a bra built inside to hold my jumbo jugs.

Suddenly I couldn't find my aging Endurance. It is old. It has a couple stains on back straps (I think it is tar and I think a brother-in-law, angry with me, tossed it into my suitcase hopingi to ruin some of my things but a couple black spots on my the straps of my faded old suit, in the back so I don't see them, are just fine by me.

Anyway, I have been using a very old, very cheap suit that I bought at Target in the nineties. I used that suit for lap swimming for several years. It is now at the tissue stage, even when dry it feels like it is about to pull apart. I knew I could not get away with wearing this one for long. And it is from a time when I weighed much more than I do now. It bellows arund me in the pool as I swim.

Yesterday, I thought for sure that old cheap suit was going to melt into nothing, at least in a few spots.

I told my dinner date last night that I was going to give it until Monday and then, if I haven't found my Endurance suit, I'd spring the hundred bucks or so for a new one. Go to REI!

When I awoke this morning, my instinct whispered "you will find it, it is in this room". The room being my bedroom. And it was in here, in a place I had already looked twice.

It is fadded, has those two star spots. It is also kinda large on me for I have lost weight since I bought it years ago but I use one of those imitation rock-climbing hooks (some use them for keychains) to pull the straps together in the bag. This keeps my breasts from sliding out, naked, as I breaststroke up and down.

I should get a new one. But I don't wanna.   We're going to Ireland, the land of my ancestors. I'd rather have the money for some stout or a B&B in Ireland. I am hearing people speaking with lovely broques as I type. Faith and begorrah, I found me suit.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

at root an illusion

“You have seen that the universe is at root a
magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate
"you" to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real "you" is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For "you" is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new.”
― Alan W. Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

they aren't your people

If you are too much, or how you show up in the world seems too big for some people, those aren't your people. Move along, be yourself and trust that the right people will appear.  You are perfectly good just as you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ralph Waldo again

"Your conformity explains nothing."

you carry a part of me

"You carry away with you a reflection of me, a part of me. I dreamed you; I wished for your existence. You will always be a part of my life. If I love you, it must be because we shared, at some moment, the same imaginings, the same madness, the same stage."
-Anais Nin
In college, I inhaled every published word Anais Nin ever wrote and anything I could get my hands on about her. To date myself, I used to be able to special order all her books for thirty five cents per paperback, although the prices inched up to ninety five cents. Now, Whoo-ee, a paperback novel runs twelve, fifteen and sometimes more.

Anais Nin, when she was struggling to establish herself as a writer, was hired to write erotica, a penny a word, or something like that. In France, it wouldn't have been pennies, eh?  Some people confuse her hired-out erotica works to signifiy writing erotica was her central passion. Nope. she wrote it to support herself. Some rich guy into erotica had the idea that if she could write, she could write good erotica. And she did.

I've been rereading many of the writers I read insatiably in college. I tended to read more books for personal pleasure in college than I read for my classes. I've been redoing Faulkner this week, too. And F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Women are better. At everything and for everything.

an inspired way of life

"An artist's life is an unconventional life. It leads away from the example of the past. It struggles painfully against its own conditioning. It appears to rebel but in reality it is an inspired way of life." - Agnes Martin ~1973

After the hurt, who restores wholeness?

The Hidden Cost of Privatized Relationships: After the hurt, who will restore wholeness?
“After the hurt, who will restore wholeness?”
It’s not a rhetorical question.
It’s a question I asked myself after I read the text, “I don’t feel comfortable doing this. Honestly, it’s her responsibility.” when I asked a friend to mediate a conflict between myself and another. Of course, it’s not my friend’s job to mediate and it’s an unfair thing to demand of someone. But, the question remains, if not her, then who? And whose job is it to even ask the question? And, if no one takes this upon themselves, if the conflict is ignored, do the consequences of it go away?
It’s the question that everyone has asked at one point when they were hurt by someone and the other person walked away without consequence.
It’s the question that every everyone has asked after they have caused harm and sincerely wanted to make amends only to find out that not only was there little interest in that happening but that there were no ways to make it happen even where interest appeared because no one was willing to step up and ensure it happened.
It’s a question that married couples ask when the distance grows between them, sudden and firey like a volcano or as slow and cold as a glacier and all those people who showed up at their wedding and promised to help are nowhere to be seen or don’t want to interfere or choose sides and slip quietly away into the shadows.
It’s the question that many ask after their beloved communities have been torn apart again by a relationship gone wrong.
I don’t have any answers but I have some thoughts.
Amongst the most damaging of privatizations in this world is the privatization of relationships. Relationships are no longer held in the container of community or offered up in service to the community. We treat relationships, and the conflicts that emerge in them, as our business and nobody else’s. We get angry when people put their noses in our business. We are told that we should be able to work it out on our own. And certainly, there must be times when privacy is respected and solitude ensured. Certainly there is such a thing as my business and your business. But I think this culture’s sense of that has become deeply skewed.
This is the poverty of our time posing as freedom.  This is the deep irresponsibility of our time masquerading and adulthood as it swaggers around like a bull in a china shop saying, “We do what we want.”
But while we’re obsessing about the property we own, who is tending to the commons? Whose business is that?
It’s impossibly hard to resolve your own conflicts. When there is pain between two people, they are largely disqualified from working things out between themselves. They’re too close to it. They’re too triggered with guilt and shame or the pain of violation. Or both. To ask the one who was hurt to take it upon themselves to arrange the circumstances under which amends could be made is too much to ask. Imagine asking a woman who was raped at knife point to reach out to her rapist and go for coffee to ‘work things out’. Or imagine asking the rapist to do the same.
No. It doesn’t often work like that.
The resolution of pain between two people almost always needs to presence of a third party.
Or more.
When there is hurt between two people there is a deep vulnerability to each other and an inability to hear each other clearly. There needs to be a medium between them through which messages can flow and be translated. They will need help seeing what they couldn’t see before. Asking them to do that on their own is too much.
But where is that third party these days? Where is that council of elders and community who will make a ceremony of deep listening and healing and help those in the conflict determine a way back towards each other? Where are those trusted ones? What is the physical place to which we can go?
But perhaps even that is the wrong set of questions because, again, it puts the onus on the hurt ones and those who did the hurting to go there.
So let me phrase it in another way, where are the elders and trusted ones in the community who will see hurt, division and pain and who will intervene for the good of the village? Who will put the well being of the community above the preferences of the individuals to let it fester and move on? Who will be willing to step in and say, “This unresolved conflict is causing trouble in the wider community. It needs to be dealt with. If it’s not it will divide the community into gossiping factions. We will be less whole and more fractured. We will be less strong and resilient.”?
It’s hard to resolve our own conflicts. This is important to understand. If we don’t, we can be incredibly hard on ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with you when you can’t stop the crumbling. It’s too big a job for one or even two people.
I once asked an elder, “Are you saying that marriages fall apart primarily because of a lack of village?” He nodded, “Basically, yes.” It was the only short answer I ever got from him.
Your conflicts may be private but the consequences aren’t. I was once asked to help a school move through a conflict between two teachers. For the first meeting, I told the administrators that I wanted at least twelve people there. “They can be other teachers, board members, administration or parents. But we need people there.” And, when we gathered that afternoon, after months of attempts to pull the meeting together I asked everyone in the circle to share what the impact of the conflict had been on them. And share they did. It was exhausting them. They were terrified it would tear the school apart. They felt helpless. They loved both teachers and it hurt their heart to feel like they had to choose sides. I wanted the two teachers to know the wake that the speeding boat of their conflict was leaving. I wanted them to hear stories of the waves they made eroding the shoreline. I wanted them to know that the impact of their conflict was not private. In activist circles, a phrase one will hear often is “privatize the profits, socialize the costs”. It’s used in reference to companies that make a lot of money but, when they collapse and people are unemployed and the land is polluted, who picks up the tab? The tax payers. When we privatize relationships, a similar thing dynamic can occur. Our unwillingness or, likely, incapacity to resolve difficulties in our relationships puts an enormous psychic burden on the rest of the community.
Conflicts are a chance to strengthen the village or the guarantee of their destruction. This culture is steeped deeply in punitive justice. If we approach conflicts in this way, we get the illusion of security while the top soil of community is eroded. The symptoms are addressed but the root causes are not. If we decide to approach conflicts from a restorative justice stand point then more is asked of us but, in the end, if all goes well, the community is stronger than it was before. That things get broken in a community is not news. That they can be mended to be more beautiful, as the Japanese do with their art of Kintsugi,  than they were before the conflict is.
It takes a village to resolve a conflict. Asking the two people most triggered by each other to take responsibility to figure things out is a guarantee that it will never be worked out. It asks too much. It would be like asking the broken shards of pottery to mend themselves.  It takes the presence of others, rooted in their commitment to keep both people in the community if possible and willing to roll up their sleeves and get to the hard work of learning. It takes others willing to share the emotional load of what has happened and help discern the most redemptive and healing path forward where nothing is swept under the rug.
Each conflict is a chance for the village to be a village. One of the core functions of a community must be about working through difficulties with each other. The idea that there is some Utopia where there's no conflict is a child’s vision of the world. No, our personal conflicts and troubles, if opened up, allow the community to appear. What’s the fastest way to kill community? Be self sufficient. Don’t need anything or anybody outside of your relationship. Or tell yourself that you don’t. The combination of our deeply entrenched views of punitive justice mixed with our insular approach to relationships is what keeps us from knowing how to help others who are struggling. The turning inwards and shunning the world from one or both parties in the conflict might just be what creates gossip in the first place.
It’s not a village until a real conflict has been worked through. In the absence of any meaningful pain, grief of conflict worked through it’s a network. It’s a ‘scene’. It’s convenience and comfort. It’s tit for tat. It’s ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’. It’s quid pro quo. It’s Facebook friendships. Conflicts, grief and loss worked through together are the crucible in which true community is formed. It’s the initiation into an adult community that most of us would rather avoid but, in avoiding it, our community never grows up.
Each conflict is a chance for the village to learn how conflict might be handled differently. How are we supposed to learn how to support each other if we never have the chance? If we never see a conflict worked through in a healthy way, how are we supposed to know how to do it? If we’ve only ever seen ‘lock’em up’ justice, how are we supposed to trust that another way might work?
And so, I think all of the above have truth in them, but it only deepens the question: To whom do we turn in such moments? Who and what institutions might we trust enough that, when they come to us and knock on our door, hands full of gifts and a heart full of deep courtesy to insist upon the resolution of that which is causing such heart-ache for so many, we open the door and let them in?
Who will make the first step to open these moments up - the one who was hurt or the one who did the hurting? I’m trying to make the case that it’s neither; that it’s anyone but them.
This lack of a place to go or be taken to, this lack of a village to help us through the inevitable struggles woven into human relationships may be one of the deepest poverties of our time.
Another question that must be asked if we can’t answer the first one is, “If no one will, then what will happen to the culture?” and also, perhaps, “What has already befallen us as a result of no one stepping in?” and, perhaps most potently, “What befell a culture that there is nowhere to go, and no one to turn to and no one to insist on that turning?
Come at from another direction, we are asked to consider, “What is missing that makes this kind of sought after support and resolution impossible now?
I don’t know the way forward on this but I know that, if we want to create communities alive with culture, there’s no other way to go.
“After the hurt, who will restore wholeness?” isn’t just a question. It’s one of the seeds from which all deeply rooted, beautiful human cultures have sprouted.
But who will plant it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Spirit is in how we look/see ourselves

"Spirit, as I have said, is not what we can perceive, but what we are; and experience of Spirit must depend not on what we see, but on the manner in which we look."
- Owen Barfield

Rilke on disguised, frightened dragons

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives who are princesses who are only waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage.  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

I sometimes come across as a dragon; usually I appear as a dragon when I am frightened and longing to be loved. Loved back.

Monday, January 09, 2017

How Trump Stole America

HOW THE TRUMP STOLE AMERICA
By John Pavlovitz
In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.
This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world
He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, “I could steal the election this year!
It’d be rather simple, it’s so easily won,
I’ll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I’ll make them believe that it’s all gone to Hell,
and I’ll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.
And I’ll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I’ll say them with style so they won’t ask for proof.
I’ll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,
They’re so raised on fake news that it won’t matter much!
They won’t question the how to, the what, why, or when,
I will make their America great once again!”
The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
“They’ve all come for your jobs, they’ll all take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue.”
And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
He just trotted out Jesus, that’s all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump’s ring.
And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
Until they believed all of those lies were true too.
He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.
And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking “He’ll never will win, in the end we’ll be fine.”
So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
‘Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.
And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Trump he would take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he’d take it all back,
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
all his lies about making America great.
Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she’d done,
or the fact they the Trump had not yet done thing one.
They could only shout “Emails!”, yes “Emails!” they’d shout,
because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
and a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man.
And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.
But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,
and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
terrified to learn he had to actually work,
work for every American, not just for a few,
not just for the white ones—there was much more to do
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay.
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn’t win,
He had gotten the thing—and the thing now had him.
And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already more than quite great,
not because of the sameness, the opposite’s true,
It’s greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
It’s straight, gay, and female—it’s Gentile and Jew,
It’s Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
It’s Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind
It’s immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
It’s Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
And we are all staying, we’re staying right here,
and we’ll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we’ll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
And the Trump’s loudest boasts they won’t ever obscure,
over two million more of us—voted for her.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

"Always do what you are afraid to do."

I do not know the source. I just read that it was an important quote to Bobbie Kennedy, one he leaned on as he took the great risk to run for president after he knew the CIA had assassinated his brother.

Let's wake up, all of us, and admit that a deep, secret state, mostly CIA (like Obama, Barry's parents and more -- WTF is Barry doing building up armanents along Russian border a couple weeks before he is out of office? Hasn't he run enough war?

This fire will not burn you