The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 21st, 2016: Contents Under Pressure

Yesterday at work, after glancing at my calendar, I did a mental double-take, thinking, ‘holy jeez, it’s May 20th already, 2016 is going by too quickly!’ Later, after some Trump BS refocused my attention on the upcoming election, my thoughts changed to, ‘holy jeez, there’s still nearly six months until the election, I wish we could just jump ahead to November and get it done and over with!’

I doubt if any of us, during the campaign season that led up to King George being anointed by the SCOTUS, and even during the eight years that we (and the rest of the world) suffered through under the BushCo maladministration, ever thought that any candidate for the Presidency could come along who was even more unqualified than Dubya, and just as amoral as Darth Cheney. The stress of those years pales in comparison to what we, and everyone else in the reality-based world, are experiencing during this unbelievably mind-numbing Trump campaign.

A continual state of stress is unhealthy for an individual both physically and mentally, as we all can attest to. Is it any wonder that the heightened stress of these last several months is having an even worse impact on so many Americans than that of the Bush years, even with the never-ending war(s), the “you’re either with us or against us” mantra, and the economic crash that affected every American except those who caused it?

And after BushCo, the undercurrent of American racism, which slowly became ‘acceptable’ when President Obama won in 2008, turned into the norm in an ever-growing and ever-more-violent tide that has eroded the foundations of the Republic nearly to the point of collapse. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t win the Presidency, will the added pressure and stress of the national and international turmoil brought about by Trump’s – and his followers’ – jingoism, ignorance and hatred be too overwhelming to keep this Union intact?

Personally, I think something’s got to blow under all of this pressure, because it’s not going to ease anytime soon. It only leads one to question: when, how big, and how toxic will the fallout be?

This is our daily Open Thread – what’s on YOUR mind?

Sunday Roast: Liberal Redneck

I saw a video by the Liberal Redneck on RawStory — which was HILARIOUS — so I clicked through to YouTube to see if he had any other videos.  He does!

Here’s the video that was on RS:

Have you ever noticed that people from the South speak way too fast or WAY too slow?  There’s no in-between!

Anyhoo, I’ll keep an eye out for the Liberal Redneck, because he’s really smart and does short videos that come to the point quickly and humorously.

This is our daily open thread — What tickles your fancy?

Sunday Roast: Another year gone; what have we learned?

I know I’ve posted this video a few times over the years, in one form or another, but I’m posting it again.

Why?  That’s a good question.  I’m glad you asked.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling especially pessimistic or cynical these days, but I’m thinking that we haven’t learned anything over the past year.  Maybe it’s just that the United States is absolutely fucking bonkers right now, and I’m having trouble seeing the good in the world; or maybe we’re at a critical turning point, and, much like correcting a naughty child, the behavior gets much worse before it starts getting better.

I hope it’s both, and I hope the “getting better” part starts happening soon.

This is the last Sunday Roast of the year — What do you think?

First Republican Primary “Debate” open thread

The “Phony Express” clip seems most appropriate here…dunno why…

If there’s enough alcohol on the planet, a couple people might take on the Alternet GOP drinking game, but — FAIR WARNING — if you do, you will die.

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You have been warned!!

Here’s the deal:  All y’all are on your own for watching the Clown Car Clusterfuck, but please feel free to leave your in-the-moment thoughts and impressions in the comments section.  Sarcasm, temper tantrums, and snide comments are welcome — in fact, they’re encouraged!

Do your worst, my Critters and Zoosters, cuz you know the GOP clowns will be doing the same.

Hat tip to our EV for the Three Stooges idea!!

Sunday Roast: Confederate Flag Removed in SC

That’s what I call an excellent start.

I’m sure some you out there in the Land of the Interwebs are wondering to yourselves and others, “Why all the pomp and circumstance around removing the heinous Confederate flag?”

I’ll tell you why:  Because we were brought up with manners, and it’s best to remember that — always.

Wait…what?  Yeah, you heard me — manners.

Had the horrible, shameful Confederate flag been removed from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse by the on-duty maintenance man, who promptly tucked it under his arm, walked to the nearest garbage bin, deposited said horrible flag, and then kicked over the bin — the way we all wish it had been done (or worse) — the ENTIRE story in the media would be the weeping and wailing over the lack of respect given to an important part of our history.  Which would give rise to us missing the damn point.  AGAIN.  STILL.

The Confederate flag is a part of U.S. history — like it or not.  History that is not kind or good, nothing to be proud of, nor is it remotely humane — like much of our history.  But like so much of our history, a story was built up around the Confederate flag and the Civil War, and it became romanticized through novels, movies, television series, and even our history books.  We found a way to live with ourselves — to generously forgive ourselves — for perpetrating the unforgivable crime of enslaving our fellow human beings to lay the foundation of our promising new nation, and enrich ourselves in the process.

The flag became a fanciful imaginary symbol of “Southern Pride,” whatever that is, and Southern “heritage,” which is claimed to be in no way racist or hateful.  But here’s the problem with such notions:  They. Are. Not. Reality.  The Confederate flag was created and acknowledged as a symbol of the Confederate States of America, whose purpose was to continue slavery and enforce white supremacy, along with other treasonous ideas.  More info in this article on Vox.

So the shameful Confederate flag has had more than its fair share of exposure and misplaced pride/nostalgia, and it’s time to put it in the Smithsonian museum with all the other relics, where we’ll teach and learn (re-learn, if necessary) the facts about one of the most terrible times in our history and the fall-out that continues to this very day.

If it takes remembering our manners and a bit of pomp and circumstance to achieve that with a minimum of fuss (or what counts as a lack of fuss these days), I can live with it — because it’s an excellent start.

This is our daily open thread — Let’s brace ourselves for the backlash…

Sunday Roast: Flag Day

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The U.S. flag was adopted on this date in 1777, and the day became an official “thing” in 1916, by order of President Woodrow Wilson.

I learned all about flag etiquette in Girl Scouts, but I don’t remember ever actually owning a flag.  Not that I was opposed to it, but I just never bought one.  It grates on me that the American flag is manufactured anywhere other than the United States.  Too picky?  My step-mother has the flag that was presented to the family at my dad’s memorial service, so I suppose it might come to me one day.

After September 11, 2001, with all the flag pins on politicians, ragged Made in China flags waving from sticks on car windows, and so-called “patriots” virtually dry-humping the Stars and Stripes — I acquired what I call “flag fatigue.”  As it turns out, it’s a fairly chronic condition.

“Uber-patriots” have wrung out any real symbolism our flag held, while completely forgetting (if they ever knew) what the flag, patriotism, the Constitution, and being an American actually mean.

Anyway, Happy Flag Day, everyone.  Lawdy, I’m such an old crank.

This is our daily open thread — S.N.A.F.U.

Sunday Roast: Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on a pony

Awwww, it’s my Mom… on a tiny pony.  She looks to be about three years old, which dates this photo to the WWII years.

I’ve always wondered about this photo — why was such a photo taken, when her parents weren’t country people?  They lived in the big city of Cleveland, Ohio!  Then I remember that, of my maternal grandmother’s many pregnancies, my Mom was her only living child.  So when the opportunity arose to put her only baby girl on the back of a pony for a photo-op, you know that was totally happening.

I never met my maternal grandparents — my grandmother having died of breast cancer when my Mom was 13, and my grandfather having died suddenly when Mom was in her last year of high school — but I like to think they were nice people.  She didn’t talk about them much.  They gave her a good foundation, and she made the best of it.  Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?  Especially on a shortened time frame…

Miss you bunches, Mom.

This is our daily open thread — Call your Mom!  Or spend time with happy memories.

Sunday Roast: This Week in *facepalm*

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I can’t…I just can’t…

 

First up:  Joe Scarborough!!

“I’ve already said at some point, I want to get back into service, public service, and hopefully I can do it while a Republican’s at the White House,” Scarborough told rightwing talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.

*cough* dead intern *cough*  Please proceed, Joe.

Next:  Unidentified racist USC fuckwit!!

In the photo, the woman can be seen using a red marker to list ““reasons why USC WiFi blows.”

Topping her list was the offensive racist slur [n*ggers], followed by “incompetent professors,” “ratchets,” “overpopulated campus,” and “parking.”

I hope Mummy & Daddy haven’t wasted too much money on little precious’s party weekends.

Lastly:  Kansas to ban welfare recipients from living the high life!!

According to the Kansas “Successful Families Program“, an eligible family of four in a “high cost/high population” area would be eligible for $497 in cash assistance per month in addition to receiving food stamps.

With that windfall, future recipients would be banned from using those funds to go on cruises, use them to pay for tattooing or body piercing, pay for psychics, or go to spas to get massages or manicures.

Additionally, funds may not be used in casinos, jewelry stores, video arcades, lingerie shops or any sexually oriented retail business, or to pay bail-bondsmen.

Because it’s not enough to treat families on TANF like they’re moronic children; the state has to grind the humiliation into their bones with the heel of its boot.

You know, I was going to call this post “This Week in Fuckery,” but I didn’t want it to be fifteen pages long — so I only chose three items.  You can thank me for my thoughtiness by liking the post, and leaving an insightful comment.  Or snark…rudeness — okay rudeness is acceptable too, but it has to be witty.  😉

This is our daily open thread —  Hit me with best your shot.

Sunday Roast: Ohhhhh, the poor poor widdle Christians

Seriously, how many ways is this just SO wrong?

These morons are giving “teh gay” so much power in their pitiful little lives, and it’s just pathetic.

OMG, allowing gay people the same human rights that the rest us so precariously enjoy will ruin EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!  If anyone voices an opinion or belief contrary to our own, we won’t be allowed to be “Christians” anymore!!!

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Here’s your damn crown.  *eyes rolling*

This is our daily open thread —No I’m not dignifying the stupid film with commentary.

Sunday Roast: Death, Mayhem & Gun Violence

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Moscow, Idaho — May, 2007New York Times

The police said Mr. Hamilton had been drinking at a bar with another man until about 10 p.m. Saturday. Then, they believe, he went home and fatally shot his wife in the head before setting off for the courthouse carrying two semiautomatic rifles. Around 11:30 p.m., he opened fire at the building, eventually firing some 125 shots at the courthouse and at the people who responded to the scene.

Mr. Hamilton killed one responder, Officer Lee C. Newbill of the Moscow police. Officer Bill Shields was hit in the leg by bullet fragments as he went to Officer Newbill’s aid. A sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Brannon Jordan, was shot several times but was not seriously wounded and was expected to leave the hospital on Monday.

Peter Husmann, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, heard the shootings and rode his bicycle to the scene armed with a .45-caliber pistol, said his father, Sam Husmann. Peter Husmann was shot in the back, fell to the ground, and was then shot in the calf, neck and shoulder, his father said. He was in stable condition on Monday.

After the shootings at the courthouse, Mr. Hamilton entered the First Presbyterian Church, directly across the street. He had worked there as a custodian for American Building Maintenance, which had a contract with the church, and he knew the church’s sexton, Paul Bauer, Chief Duke said.

Moscow, Idaho — August, 2011, ktvb.com

July 14, 2011: UI requested Moscow Police participate in a threat assessment concerning the threatening behavior of Ernesto Bustamante. University investigators met with Benoit to review Bustamante’s response and notify her that they would be interviewing him on July 19. She was asked to stay somewhere other than her apartment. The Moscow Police tried to call Benoit several times, leaving messages. Benoit did not return the phone calls. Police told the university that she wasn’t calling back. The university indicated that Benoit had been referred to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and a safety plan had been discussed. The Moscow Police informed the UI that Benoit did not want police involved.

July 22, 2011: University called Benoit to ask her where she would be staying until the start of school. She said she would be in Moscow. They encouraged her to take safety precautions and contact Moscow Police Department if she felt the need.

August 19. She was warned to be vigilant and call police if she had any safety concerns.

August 22, 2011: Katy was shot outside her home at 8:40 p.m.

August 23, 2011: Moscow Police find Ernesto Bustamante dead in a hotel room at the University Inn-Best Western.

Moscow, Idaho — January 10, 2015, ktvb.com

Police say they first responded to a call of a shooting at around 2:30 p.m. at the Northwest Mutual on E. Third Street. Police say the two victims at the first reported shooting were 76-year-old David Trail and 39-year-old Michael Chin of Seattle. Trail, a Moscow businessman, was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital where he was declared dead. Chin was taken to Gritman Medical Center and is currently in critical condition.

Minutes after the first incident, police say a second shooting was reported at an Arby’s restaurant on Peterson Drive. Police say Lee entered the restaurant and asked for the manager. When the manager, 47-year-old Belinda Niebuhr, came forward Lee reportedly opened fire. Niebuhr was declared dead at Gritman Medical Center.

About a mile and a half away from the Arby’s, police say a fourth victim was found dead at a residence in the 400 block of Veatch Street. The fourth victim, 61-year-old Terri Grzebielski, is reportedly the suspect’s adoptive mother. Police say Grzebielski was a physician’s assistant at Moscow Family Medicine.

You may be asking yourself what is the significance of posting these three items about gun violence in one small town in America, so I’ll tell you:  These are stories of suicidal rage, mental illness, murder, blood, obsession, fear, and a gun sickness in this country, the “cure” for which seems to be more and more guns — and, consequently, more and more gun violence.

The significance to me is the fact that, in each of the above stories, I knew one of the dead:

Crystal Hamilton died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her husband.  She was the head custodian at the Latah County Courthouse, and was a lovely young woman.  She always had a smile for everyone.

Ernesto Bustamante died a bloody death by gun violence by his own hand, after having become a murderer.  He was my psych research professor — my favorite professor — and he was gorgeous, with his long, shiny black hair, devastating smile, and ironic sense of humor.  He was an occasional chatting partner in my peer advising office in the psych department, and he murdered a promising young grad student, Katy Benoit.

Yesterday, Terri Grzebielski died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her adopted son.  She was a physician’s assistant in the University of Idaho Student Health Department, and was my PA for the four years I attended the U of I.  She was an amazing woman:  Very tall, very thin, full of energy, ready smile, and she truly cared about her patients.

In addition to these people, a childhood friend’s sister was killed with a gun, and her murder was never solved; my former mother-in-law’s boss was murdered by his crazed daughter-in-law; and the husband of a dear friend died as a result of a gun accident.

This is fucking excessive, people!  Does everyone know this many people who’ve died by gun violence?

I don’t know the solution to the gun sickness in this country, other than collecting all the guns and melting them into plowshares, but we all know that will never happen.  One feasible solution is strict regulations placed on guns and gun owners, but that would take political integrity and honor, and that exists in very small amounts in this country.

I’m sick to death of gun violence in this country, and I’m SO fucking done with “gun rights” being more important than human lives.

This is our daily open thread — Fuck you, trolls.

Sunday Roast: No…just no.

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I’m with the guy on the right.

I have Christmas soaps on my kitchen table right now, but no one will see a single one of them before Thanksgiving.  I don’t even get all that excited about the holidays anymore, so it really shouldn’t matter, but I’m stubborn like that.

This is our daily open thread — What’s your holiday pet peeve?

Sunday Roast: British Pathé newsreels

From the British Pathé YouTube channel:

Since the invention of the moving image in the 1890’s, British Pathé began recording every aspect of global culture and news, for the cinema. With their unique combination of information and entertainment, British Pathé’s documentaries, newsreels, serials and films changed the way the world saw itself forever.

These videos are amazing, and it’s easy to get caught up watching one after another.  Disasters, inventions, daredevils, Queen Victoria’s funeral, the Hindenburg, as well as cute (and sometimes weird) animal videos.

Check ’em out!  There are 85,000 clips from which to choose!

You thought I’d go for the obvious 4/20 or Easter Bunny post, didn’t you?  😉

This is our daily open thread — Discuss!

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 20 2014; Reflections

It’s been a busy week here in the foothills of the Front Range. More on that later. Meanwhile, some ‘reflections’ courtesy of Denny Green, Tempe AZ, taken at the Gilbert Water Ranch last Sunday. I dunno. Sometimes the message(s) implicit in the beauty of the natural world can be a bit humbling to “superior” beings everywhere (not one of which I’ve ever met, but then I’ve never been in Washington, never been on Fox News, etc., so that’s surely why, right?).

Humbling. Reflections. Enjoy.

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3-16-14-2

3-16-14-3Emily Dickinson said it best: Beauty — be not caused — It Is. She was right. It’s surely fair to point out that depiction of beauty most certainly does NOT require the personage (or portrait) of any known politician, or billionaire oligarch, or even of most any common criminal (assuming there’s ever a difference between, etc.). Funny how that works, how those who are totally unimportant and useless (e..g. Koch Bros., Putin, Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Graham, Palin, Bachmann, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Jindal, and most anyone named ‘Scott’ et al. et al.) are demonstrably paled by even just-last-Sunday’s soliloquies of/by waterfowl enjoying winter’s warmth courtesy of an anonymous desert watering hole. Beauty implicit invariably manages to overwhelm even human ugliness, and with luck the message therein embedded will someday become a driving thesis . . . here . . . in this so-far hallowed hollowed world, the world of . . . ummm . . . “men” I think some have called us . . . them?  . . . errmm . . . ? Yeah. That world. Our world. The world of, as T.S. Eliot described us, The Hollow Men . . .

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

‘Nuff said. At least for now.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday, January 24, 2014; The Poetry of Earth (part II)

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
(John Keats, 1817)

A long time ago, the English poet William Wordsworth  wrote, in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” a most able synopsis of the ideal relationship between mankind and the balance of earthly life:

 To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
 The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear, — both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my hearth, and soul
Of all my moral being.

One has to wonder, sometimes, what has happened in this, our ‘modern’ era, to Wordsworth’s “joy Of elevated thoughts”? A glance around at each day’s news headlinesat politics both at home and globally, at scientific data and the discussions based thereupon — offers little reassurance that “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being” still has any root at all “In nature” much less in “the language of the sense.” Today about all that seems to count, at least for our species, is acquisition of money and power.

I’m not at all certain as to just how many different and distinct species inhabit this little backwater planet we call earth, but I’m guessing ‘tens of millions’ would at least reach ballpark status. And in a sensibly run situation, each and all species would most likely remain viable for a good long time, susceptible far more to global changes brought about by astronomical events than to any sort of localized ‘eat or be eaten’ thesis. In fact, one of the more significant mass extinctions happened some 65 million years ago when a sizable asteroid smashed into the earth, tossed all sorts of dust, smoke, and other debris into the atmosphere, modified the climate, and slammed the door on the dinosaurs, among numerous other life forms, in result. Extinction by natural phenomena is nothing new.

Then came humans. Homo sapiens, as we’ve named ourselves. Not sure just when it was that we popped up. Six thousand years ago, if you believe the believers; maybe a million years ago, give or take a hundred thousand or two, if you believe science. Not that it really matters all that much, given that it’s looking pretty certain that we as a species are well past the halfway mark of our existence, given how diligently we work with all our clever tools to modify the global climate sufficiently to force another mass extinction. Lucky for us there’s all that fossilized carbon left beneath the surface by all the life forms that disappeared in the last mass extinction; it appears, in fact, to be more than enough to ‘fuel’ (sotospeak) the next one.

Oh well, what the hey, I’m too old to worry about it all that much; my fate will likely already be a historical footnote by the time the mass die-off commences. Still, there are the young folks, and, well you know, the millions of other species, many of which will be at risk simply because of the idiocy implicit in our one species.

What went wrong?

I checked with poet Walt Whitman; he offered this little bit of wisdom back in 1855 as part of the preface to his masterwork, Leaves of Grass. He speaks my mind, and he somehow managed to do it some 87 years before I even showed up!

Animals

I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained

I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
 not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another,
nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth

Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men – go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers or families – re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

Sounds like some of the best advice anyone could ever offer to not only you and me, but also to the entire of our species (even including such sapiens marginals as, say, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al. et al. . . . the list is endless). And seriously, just how is it that life-on-earth’s most “intelligent” species is the species engaged in a process previously left solely to galactic processes? What went wrong?

I tried to answer that question a decade or so ago. I used a total of 140 syllables in my so called Paradox of Humakind: Superior Inferiority effort and while I’m not at all sure I overturned every stone in the process, what the heck, right?

Brash vanity ordains that Mankind be
Superior to all other life on Earth,
And curious source of this Mythology
Derives from Bible’s unintended mirth.
Thus bold is he who advocates the case
Of Genesis errant, where metaphor,
As whimsical devise, cannot replace
Realities which each confirm the Core
Of Life: that every living form appeals
To Duty greater than itself alone.
A single moment’s intellect reveals
One Truth, as if inscribed in tempered stone:
Each bird and beast, each flowered weed, each tree
Expounds on Man’s Inferiority!

So today, thanks to human consumption of fossil fuels and with climate change well underway courtesy of atmospheric CO2 levels approaching historic levels — with the Arctic ice cap rapidly melting and thereby allowing the release of the even more climate-altering (permafrost-embedded) methane, and with efforts on the part of science and thinking people to do whatever is necessary to halt and reverse the process dismissed as some sort of collaborative tom-foolery by industrial and political power centers — we have managed to contrive a potential mass extinction episode with the potential equivalence of the asteroid collision some 65 million years ago.  Bring on the Keystone XL Pipeline! More War! Invade Syria! Nuke Iran! Yeah! Benghazi Benghazi!!

So. Where is the sapiens these days, the intellect, the intelligence? What of “The anchor . . . of all . . . moral being”? Wordsworth drew that concept as he apparently pondered the messages he gained from his juxtaposition between the natural world and the world of Tintern Abbey in Wales, an ancient church founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks who adhered to the Benedictine philosophy that insisted upon a moderate path between individual and institutionalized theses. Tintern Abbey stands in ruins today, as it has for several centuries. One cannot help but wonder if the words “in ruins” are not also applicable these days to most ‘Western’ religious practice, given that today’s major and most murderous conflicts are, after all, between the three major “God” -based belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And so the question persists: wherein and in whose hands lies the fate of the human species, indeed of the planet itself?

Brings to mind yet one more piece of compelling poetry, this one written by Philip Appleman sometime in the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s titled Last-Minute Message for a Time Capsule, and its message carries an all too familiar ring of truth.

I have to tell you this, whoever you are
that on one summer morning here, the ocean
pounded in on tumbledown breakers,
a south wind, bustling along the shore,
whipped the froth into little rainbows,
and a reckless gull swept down the beach
as if to fly were everything it needed.
I thought of your hovering saucers,
looking for clues, and I wanted to write this down,
so it wouldn’t be lost forever –
that once upon a time we had
meadows here, and astonishing things,
swans and frogs and luna moths
and blue skies that could stagger your heart.
We could have had them still,
and welcomed you to earth, but
we also had the righteous ones
who worshipped the True Faith, and Holy War.
When you go home to your shining galaxy,
say that what you learned
from this dead and barren place is
to beware the righteous ones.

Are we genuinely the ‘masters’ of our own fate? Of the fate of the planet’s biosphere? Based on current information, we may well prove to NOT be that much better an option than another collision with a giant asteroid! Here’s a better idea: re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem . . .Thanks Walt. If we can get THAT done it will be further evidence that Keats might have been correct after all when he wrote, “The poetry of earth is never dead.”


OPEN THREAD

Sunday Roast: Giving the unemployed the finger

In the face of empirical evidence that unemployment benefits help boost the economy, Congress went ahead and let the benefit expire for 1.3 million people — with another round of cuts coming right up.

Yes, I said “people.”  Not slackers, takers, losers, or lazy fucks, as Republicans and Tea Party morons like call the long term unemployed.

Officially, there are three people applying for every job in this country, but with so many people off the official unemployment roles (like me) — because their benefits ran out long ago, they’re so discouraged and depressed they don’t even look for work anymore, or they’re elderly or disabled — the actual number of people applying for each job is probably eight to ten.  Far too many of those jobs have absolutely no benefits, and don’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head AND keep the lights and heat on AND eat halfway decently.  Pick one!

But listen to the GOP/Tea Party, and you’ll hear patronizing statements that unemployment benefits make people lazy, shiftless slobs, who will feed off the government teat forever — this from career politicians who feed off the government teat.  Apparently, the best way to get people off unemployment is to just let the funds run dry, and accuse hard-working Americans of being lazy, blood-sucking shits, rather than actually passing a jobs bill (hey, the President has one!) or a sufficient stimulus bill.  Oh yes, they’ll extend unemployment benefits, but children, veterans, the elderly, and the hungry are damn well going to pay for it — unlike in the Bush years, where nothing was paid for EVER, and the GOP were happy as clams.

And gee whiz, where did all this unemployment come from anyway?  Let’s all ignore the FACT that George W. Bush crashed the economy in 2008, and had been hemorrhaging jobs out of this country long before the crash.  No no no, all this unemployment is because of President Obama’s socialist, fascist, Marxist, commie, pinko, nazi policies — again, flying in the face of actual evidence to the contrary — not because of constant Republican obstruction and blatant refusal to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do.

Do you know how long they’ll keep doing this to the people of this country?  Yes, the people — do you actually think YOU are immune to GOP policies?  They’ll keep doing it as long as the people stay silent; as long as the people stay out of the voting booth; and as long as they can keep the people fighting among ourselves over things like the “War on Christmas,” so-called religious persecution, taxes (except the taxes of the top 1% aka the “job creators”), and other social issues that are only the business of those actually involved.

Pay no attention to the 97 days the millionaires in the House of Representatives will work this year — naming post offices, repealing Obamacare again, and railing against dirty, dirty women who want unfettered access to birth control, because they just don’t want to push out an unwanted baby every year — or their rapist’s baby EVER.  No, of course, lazy blood-sucking GOP/Tea Partiers aren’t the problem — it’s the unemployed.

Right.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss whatever.

The Watering Hole; Friday August 30 2013; Critters

Even as the US ponders getting involved in yet one more stupid war, and even as the rest of the human-occupied world waits in breathless anticipation, ‘out there’ amongst the unpretentious, the beat goes on as critters of all sorts do their level best to avoid the nonsensical. Here are a few randomly-selected “portraits” gathered over the years, photos of critters who really don’t give a damn about human stupidity, who simply ignore it and look the other way when encountered by it.

First, a Colorado Frog:

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A happy fly:

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Horses on a snowy day:

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Rocky Mountain Chipmunk:

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Siberian Husky named Balta:

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Shivering bird in an October snowstorm:

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And last but not least, one of Oahu’s finest beach dogs romping in the surf at Sunset Beach:

PD_0015There. Hoping everyone here has, for at least the last couple of moments, managed to think about something other than war and idiots!

Reminds me: yesterday I spent some time wandering around and enjoying the massive wild sunflower population that’s ‘out there’ covering the prairie this year. It’s absolutely AMAZING! Within a two mile radius of my abode, I counted 1,117,321,489 individual flowers before I wore myself out and had to quit for the day leaving at least another billion or two uncounted! And here’s the thing: the six or seven pickup trucks that I also counted each did more to interrupt nature’s soliloquy than did those billions of sunflowers! How can that be, I wonder?

Not sure what it is, but there’s definitely something about humans that tends to bother me a LOT!

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Friday August 2, 2013: “Beyond The Edge”

There are times . . . like now, for example . . . when the temptation to leave the human sphere overwhelms and becomes the urge to escape, to banish the collective idiocy of politics, of fear, of irrational hatred(s), to visit somewhere ‘different’ . . . somewhere Beyond the Edge.

So, now that that’s all settled, a few photos and a few words — recollections of moments captured — which together speak of and describe that other reality, that other sphere where human is but the occasional visitor.  Out there . . .

Elk at HorseshoeBeyond The Edge
 of Wildness

There were voices –
Noisome human sounds which rose
With fragrant campfire smokes
To float amongst the trees in waning morning sun,
Above the Edge of Wildness.

There were voices –
Softer now, which spoke in wonder of surround
As trail led north along the wash
Through thick and tangled brush,
Past water tricklets in the sand –
Where more than silence thrived.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were voices –
Silent voices, footprints in the sand
Which spoke of bear, of deer, of mountain lion
But not of man until we passed
And left our bootprints there.

Cougar printThere were voices –
Panting voices as we climbed above the spring
On rock-strewn slope to find a grassy meadow
Where solitary spruce and pines whispered through the wind –
Where spoke the buzz of locusts in a swarm,
Where sang both bird and bug.

There were voices –
As afterglow of day slipped slowly into night
And birdsong waned with sinking sun,
Cacophony began – the lovesongs of billions –
Each six-legged and far smaller
Than collective melody.

1018-Cicada-0537There were voices –
Across the blackened sky where starlight
Spoke of esoteric things –
Eternity and timelessness, with beams of light
A billion years of age and more –
Excepting newborn meteors.

Mystic Eye

There were voices –
To hail approaching dawn
Coyotes yapped and howled in unison as pack
Expressed both thoughts and memories
Which never cross the mind of man –
And likely never will.

There were voices –
Children at play, a wailing country song
Among the trees, between the tents and trucks
As we returned to more familiar ground –
But changed we were, for now we knew
That we had left our home behind –
Beyond the Edge of Wildness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANature’s voices softly speak to those who dare take the time to listen. The consequence remains invariable and constant, and it is both simple and profound. William Blake, in his poem Auguries of Innocence, offers the perfect summation:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Indeed, indeed.

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday August 1, 2013; The Flower-Bee Song

Bees. Flowers. Humans. Of the three, which is not worth much, if anything at all?

Yep. Humans. Us. ‘We the people’ cannot, in the final analysis, even claim, much less brag about, our earthly ‘usefulness,’ and for obvious reason(s). Bees and flowers, on the other hand, . . . well, suffice to say that in terms of intrinsic earthly value, they put us to shame.

It was roughly forty years ago that I somehow managed to figure it all out, and the figuring out part had a lot to do with one lucky photo that I shot in early June of either 1972 or ’73 of a bee exploring a Saguaro cactus flower on Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. One thing led to another, and within a year or two I managed to come up with a poetic synopsis of . . . well, of everything, more or less.

The Flower-Bee Song

A bee upon a flower did light,
With curious eye, I watched it . . .

Bee on Saguaro flowerAnd after moments passed, it flew
Away with nectar’s booty,
Life’s sustenance for bee,
From flower’s heart.

I asked the flower, in whispers hushed
(Lest uninvited ears might hear)
If such intrusion to its heart
Were injur’ous to softnesses
As which, I thought, must linger there.

The flower replied, “No, of course,
For bee and I depend upon
His forays, he for food and I
For life; Future’s generations
On his excursions do rely.”

“May I, too, then, such pleasures seek
Within your golden heart?”  I asked.
The flow’r said, “No, for you are man,
Not bee. Ascendancy’s your only quest –
Your footsteps weigh too heavily
On softnesses.”

Reflective, then, I walked away
Through desert’s springtime scented air
With heightened sense that I, myself,
Might someday find – like bee and flow’r –
A sustenance in life alone,
Apart from Man’s disruptive goal:
That need for dominance and pow’r.

What is it about the human species that invariably seems to completely disavow the sustenance of life alone in favor of that obscene quest for dominance, for power? Why do ‘we’ find virtue in our apparently eternal quest to either damage or destroy . . . or severely modify . . . everything we touch as we struggle to ‘survive’ and/or ‘prosper’?

I find it odd that we . . . the “intelligent” species (according to our own definition, at least) . . . cannot do even the most single and simple task without either damaging or destroying something, anything (everything?) . . . even as bee, and flower, mutually prosper with NO damage or destruction, each to the other.

What went wrong? Why are we here? We the people . . . we whose footsteps weigh too heavily On softnesses ??

I suppose we could ask one or another of the bee-killers at Monsanto . . . or maybe one of our Congressional ‘heroes’ in DC . . . just why it is that . . . that . . . that the ONLY things we presume to matter in this life are our dominance and pow’r  (and, of course, our money). Yeah. Money. Whatever THAT is.

Superiority. Choices:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARushYeah, well, OK, ’nuff said.

Open Thread.

The Watering Hole, Monday, June 10th, 2013: Panning Pundits

Watching the political lineup on MSNBC must be getting to me. Here’s my personal list of things that have come to annoy the crap out of me:

-“At the end of the day…”
If I got $5 for every time a political pundit used that phrase… Whatever happened to alternatives such as ‘all in all, or ‘the upshot is’, or ‘when it comes down to it’? Mix it up, pundits!

-“I mean…” Recently, political pundits seem to be beginning their spiels with “I mean, ” – Can’t you tell us what you mean without actually (and redundantly) starting with this pointless phrase? It’d be like GWB starting out one of his inimitable dumbass statements with his catchphrase, “In other words…”

“The IRS targeting scandal” – It’s not been found to have been endemic throughout the IRS, just the one branch in Cincinnati. Yet every time the topic is introduced, it’s “The IRS scandal.” People talk about the one Cincinnati office employee who asked for a transfer because of the targeting going on: has it occurred to anyone that, if this targeting were happening throughout the IRS, a transfer to another office wouldn’t have done that employee any good? Yet no one on any of the political shows has connected those dots.

-Same faces, different show – Is it just me, or are the ‘contributors’ starting to be the same on every show, or are they just blending together in my mind? It seems that often, a pundit who appeared on, say, Chris Hayes, ends up wrapping up the night on Lawrence. It also seems that many of the ‘pundits’ are mainly hosts from other MSNBC shows. It’s starting to look like the liberal version of “Fox and Friends” sometimes.

-At least half of their stories come straight out of Think Progress. It’s a good bet that, on any given MSNBC political show, we’ll see at least one video or graph or whatnot taken directly from TP. This started way back when Faiz was still with TP, but lately it’s become more widespread and frequent. The thing is, usually the TP thread that MSNBC features is a day or two old.

Maybe I’m just getting jaundiced or just plain cranky, but I find myself unable to sit through the entire evening lineup without getting either annoyed or bored. Is it just me?

This is our Open Thread. Talk about anything that’s on your mind!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 22nd, 2013: Last Chance

I have written off and on about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the many reasons why building it should not even be considered. Thousands of people have protested (and been arrested) against the proposed pipeline, and, thus far, the State Department has yet to decide on it.

Today is the last day for public comments on this proposal. If you have not yet submitted a comment, please, please, send an email to keystonecomments@state.gov. This is too important to our nation, our planet and our future.

Here’s the email that I sent:

I am writing this letter in objection to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Advocates of the pipeline say that it will create thousands of American jobs. This is a lie. While it may create a certain number of temporary jobs in the construction stage, fewer than 50 permanent jobs will be created.

Advocates of the pipeline say that, once the pipeline is finished and the tar sands oil is refined, it will provide the U.S. with a plentiful supply of oil, lowering oil prices and lessening our dependency on “foreign”, i.e., “Middle Eastern” oil. They say that because of this, our “national security’” will be enhanced. This is a lie. The tar sands oil, once refined, will be sold on the world market, not directly to the U.S.

Advocates of the pipeline say that the pipeline will safely bring tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through several U.S. States, to refineries in Texas. This is a lie. Keystone’s own track record as regards previous spills, i.e., in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River (which to date, several years later, still has not been ‘cleaned up’) belies this notion. Tar sands oil is the filthiest form of oil, and the pipeline’s route would take it through hundreds of ecologically sensitive areas; most importantly, it will run through, or perilously close to, the largest aquifer in the country, which provides drinking water to several states.

Any claim that Keystone may make to guarantee that the pipeline will be safe would be a lie. Regardless of anything that the final Environmental Impact Statement may say, there is no technology on this earth that can clean up the kind of disaster that a tar sands oils spill would cause. Consider the ineffective efforts to contain the BP Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf, and the ridiculouis use of paper towels to attempt to clean up the recent Mayflower oil spill.

Are even 50 permanent U.S. jobs worth even the slightest possibility of a pipeline leak and the subsequent ecological and human disaster? Are 50 jobs worth ruining the drinking water of millions of Americans? I say NO, and I would hope that anyone with any critical thinking skills would have to agree.

Please, I implore you, just say NO to Keystone.

Respectfully,

Jane E. Schneider
Pawling, NY

This is our open thread — what will you say to the State Department?

Watering Hole: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 – Wealth Reality

The wealth distribution in this nation is appalling.  This is why it is becoming more difficult to make ends meet.  Are you feeling the pain?

Thom Hartman wrote a book in which one chapter explores “What is Enough”.  He presents different perspectives on being ‘rich’ and being ‘poor’.

While they number fewer than one percent of all humans on the planet, the result of a relentless 5-millenium genocide by our worldwide Younger Culture, there are still people alive on Earth who are members of Older Cultures that predate the Mesopotamian city-states. There are also people whose Older Culture ways have only been so recently taken from them-such as many Native American tribes-that while they may no longer live the Older Culture way, they remember it.

In these Older Cultures, the concept of “more is better” is unknown. They would consider “greed is good” to be the statement of an insane person. One person eating near another who is hungry is an obscene act.

The ‘Older Cultures’ regard wealth not as goods and services.  Instead, their view of wealth is security.

In Older Cultures, the goal of the entire community is to get every person in the community to the “enough point.” Once that is reached and ensured, people are free to pursue their own personal interests and bliss. The shaman explores trance states, the potter makes more elegant pots, the storyteller spins new yarns, and parents play with and teach their children how to live successfully.

Contrast that to the quest by people like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.  For them, there is never enough money in their bank accounts.  They don’t own enough ‘things’ so they keep striving for more and more.  If they lost everything today, they would have nothing because money doesn’t buy true friendship.  Who really likes a greedy person?  No one.

Ghandi said, “There is enough for everyone’s needs but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

(cross posted at Pennsylvaniaforchange.wordpress.com)

This is our Open Thread.  So what do you think?  Speak Up!

The Watering Hole, Friday February 22, 2013; Life’s Symphonic Essesences, aka “Namasté”

Hanalei Bay dawn-3

Dawn Breaks Over Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai, Hawaiian Islands.

Namasté!

There are days during these troubled and irrational times when the overwhelming urge is to ignore the moment, to instead ponder other potential options that human existence might — maybe? please? — pursue or (at least) offer: something beyond those politically-inspired nonsensicals embraced within all of current discourse as if by mucoidal slag. Today is one of those days; the world’s global and human-inspired destructive political and dogmatic silliness and downright stupidity demand an alternative view. No politics, no dogmas, no destructions, no desolations are permitted. Not today. Instead, I wondered: why not a reflection of certain ‘lessons’ I have (accidentally to be sure) been fortunate enough to encounter over the last nearly four decades, ‘lessons’ which finally want to gel, to become ideas, maybe even concepts of that which life offers, what it “means”?

OK. So off we go. Back to the source (for me, at least), to Polynesia, to the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and especially Kauai — via old photos, via an old poem, and via a recollection or two gathered in a Buddhist Garden . . . overall, an excursion, really, onto The Sea of life’s potential, its “meaning” — the undercurrent of the entire planet’s divine spirit, its Namasté . . . at least as seen through my own admittedly dimmed and foggy vision.

It begins with the obvious:

The Sea

Kauai Kalalau Valley

Kauai’s Na Pali Coast and the Pacific beyond, viewed from the slopes of Mt. Waialeale overlooking Kalalau Valley.

In distant view, the azure sea is calm,
Her mottled, cooling blue speaks peaceably

Of gentleness;

aerial seascape collage

L. to R. in order: Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; Kalaupapa, Molokai

And here and there soft sunlight’s tinted hues
Suggest life’s calm abode – which, with cold arms

She doth caress;

Hawaiian Sunrises

Sunrise over Wailua Bay, Kauai.                   — Breaking Wave, Hanalei Bay, Kauai.

Yet on her shores, in frenzied battery,
Great waves disintegrate with energies

Near limitless;

shattered crystals collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Windward Maui; Wainiha Bay, Kauai

And broken swells, like shattered crystals, fly,
Then fall and quickly wash the sands, with masked

Abrasiveness.

seacoast collage

L. to R. in order: Hanakapiai, Kauai; Ke’e Beach, Kauai; Windward Maui

**********

Byodo-In, Oahu’s Buddhist Shrine in the Valley of the Temples —

A few decades ago, I visited a special place in the Hawaiian Islands, on Windward Oahu. As the crow flies, it wasn’t far from the geographically-confined sprawl of late 20th century Honolulu, but in every other way it definitely stood a world apart.  It’s called the Valley of the Temples, and its beautiful centerpiece is a Buddhist shrine called Byodo-In, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan.

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Arrival is ordinary; there’s the parking lot, of course, generally a small crowd coming and going, and a paved pathway into the grounds.  The scenery is impressive and eye-catching; with the fluted cliffs of the Nuuanu Pali as a backdrop, the frequent rain clouds, rainbows, and salubrious tradewinds combine to effect a very nearly idyllic rendition of an ideal tropical scene.  But once on the grounds (which are spacious and open, but still private and lush) a feeling of ‘something’ seems to gradually overcome the senses.  There are clear meandering streams, ponds of lily pads where huge gold and multi-colored Koi swim . . .

Koi collage and beyond which sprawl ‘minimalist’ gardens where tropical flowers are amazingly pervasive.

tropical flowers collageHere and there a graceful footbridge arches over a stream; there are rock gardens, and occasionally in a small corner an unobtrusive bench upon which one can sit for a spell, often in the midst of intensely fragrant flowering shrubs and/or next to a gurgling stream.  After a short while, one slowly becomes aware that things are different. Somehow. There is no ‘un-natural’ noise. One senses that he is, indeed, “Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” as even the occasional stray voice seems muffled, barely audible.  Everything one sees or senses is perfectly placed, perfectly manicured, but nothing looks either disturbed or out of place, or even pruned or planned; it all seems and ‘feels’ completely natural in every way.  After awhile, even the temple itself – the centerpiece of the gardens – seems as if it has grown from the ground naturally, not as if it’s been constructed by humans.

I suppose I wandered there for at least a couple of hours before leaving, soon to re-enter Honolulu-bound traffic on the Likelike Highway.  I puzzled the entire trip back to ‘civilization’ but was unable to quite figure out – to put into words – just exactly what it was that I had just experienced at Byodo-In, and it wasn’t until several weeks later that it finally struck me: I had spent two hours of my life in Oahu’s Valley of the Temples, and become thereby as if an intricate part of a giant artwork.  In the metaphoric sense, the experience probably most resembled a visit to an art museum, perhaps even to a symphony concert in a renowned hall somewhere, but with one huge difference: at Byodo-In, I, the visitor, was intended, prearranged, to become part and parcel OF the artwork – a brushstroke in the Mona Lisa? a note in a Mozart symphony? – but surely not, any longer,  just an observer.  I wasn’t listening to a Beethoven sonata, I was, rather, now parcel to the score of a Beethoven sonata, and the melody implicit had subtly emerged to define my entire surround!

It’s begun to seem, to me at least, that art has many levels and it really doesn’t matter just how – or precisely where – one fits himself in; the important thing is to do so, to open the mind and allow the transition, the transcendence.  The only superlative to gazing at an artwork may well be to exist as part of it, to be surrounded by and intrinsic within whatever it is that sets the work apart from the ordinary, that which makes viewing it an experience and not just a minor event.  And therein lies the virtue of art — no matter whether the form be painting, sculpture, music, words, even an ocean sunrise. Whether natural or of human creation, all of art requires only the substance of intrinsic quality, that sum of esoteric value as expressed in one form, or another.

Perhaps that’s the point where one’s sense of existence blends with and becomes an intricate part of that far greater sum which some choose to call the Universe, the Creation – or any of a number of all-embracing ideas which emerge to define the transcendent breadth of one’s own life. And that “simple” idea is what I like to think I’ve finally come to comprehend; IT is (intensely, on occasion) implicit in the compilation of words and graphic renderings of isolated partitions of each and every place on this planet that I’ve visited over the years, and in that context IT is, in reality, nothing I might have ever brought to THEM, but what THEY have CONSISTENTLY! given to ME.

My hope is singular – that each and all might learn to seize one of THOSE moments, every now and then — a moment which allows the escape from current reality to become even the briefest of brush strokes in the art of whichever natural paradise might be at hand.  Exist there for a moment or for a lifetime – become a word in a poem or become a poem; become a note in a piano concerto or become the keyboard, the score; close your mind to the intrusions of man, and shield your eyes from man’s desecrations of the land, the sea and the sky.  Relax, become part of that which you truly are, and disavow that which you are not or should never become.

And, later, when you return to the reality of the modern world, recall from whence you’ve come; engage yourself in the fight to save that small part which remains undisturbed, to repair all which is repairable of that which has been desecrated or destroyed. And then – rejoin the beauty from which you and all of life and form have once derived.

Waimea Canyon pan

Waimea Canyon, aka “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”; Kauai

I’ve never since viewed art in the same way as I once did, nor have I ever since been able to immerse myself into an undisturbed natural expanse and not become, once again, an intricate part of each the reality AND its attendant metaphor(s). The distinctions between brush strokes, or pigments, or shapes, forms, even words in a poem or notes in a melody fade to the point where I am no longer a separate entity, but am instead part of that Song.

William Wordsworth summed it all up in his poem Ode on Intimations of Immortality:

 No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
 I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng,
 The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep . . .

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother’s arm:–
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

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Sunrise over Hanalei Bay and local fisherman; Kauai.

Note what is missing in the scene just above: each and every evidence of human’s Politics, of his Greed, Power, of his perceived “Dominion” (in any sense, Biblical included), also Conquest, Authority, Money (whatever THAT is supposed to be), Dogmatic Usurpation, Pollution of Essence . . . none of that. But yet, there stands a human. How can that be?

It’s because HE stands there on that sunrise-emblazoned shore as if a note in that symphony, a word in that poem, a single brush stroke in that painting . . . and deep within, he knows he is but a PART of that universe in which he stands, HIS universe, OUR universe. He knows full well he does not own it, that he has no dominion; all he knows is that HE is parcel to it . . . and that HE is every bit as integral to its music . . . as is every aspect of his entire surround.

To him, and to all like him, I borrow from the Byodo-In, from the lingua franca implicit within The Valley of the Temples, one word:

Namasté.

This is today’s open thread. Carry forth . . . and Namasté!