Archives for category: literature

A few months ago, I had the idea that in sleep, in dreams, we connect with other dimensions. My belief, as far as other dimensions, is that there are infinite dimensions, infinite universes, in which infinite permutations of events can happen. We are actually connected the whole time we are asleep, but dreams only occur during specific periods of the cycle. We remember them only when our minds are at a point or state of being sensitive enough to apprehend and remember the occurrence. In short, when we sleep we are connected with infinite mind.
So today, reading Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, another insight came to me. I was going to say, “I had another insight”, but that isn’t my understanding of how these things transpire. It isn’t a thought that BELONGS to me somehow, just one that is “out there” and my own state of being at the time is such that I am ready to receive it. At times in the past I have had similar insights, but was dismissive of them. Either because it seemed too crazy, or usually having more to do with the old bugaboo “But what will OTHER people think if I tell them this?” The two are connected, of course. Now, I believe that I just wasn’t, at the time, at a point in the journey of discovery, partially described in my previous post, where I was really “ready” for it.
So on to the insight (I ramble, I digress, similar to the way my spiritual journey has transpired, but I am just not judgmental of myself for it any more, usually). In sleep, we are in contact with the multiverse, and a process of growth occurs. A growth important for us as individuals, and also for our little piece of the multiverse, if we pay attention. It isn’t a matter where rational thought, such as dream analysis, holds very much sway. It’s more intuitive knowledge, for lack of a better word, which seeps into our psyches like water does into the ground to nourish plants. It is the universe’s, or more accurately multiverse’s, way of imparting to us the information which allows and encourages us to psychically advance as a species and become more responsible citizens of the wonder we inhabit.
I am on my third (or maybe fourth) read-through of Cosmic Trigger. In my previous post, in listing the various schools of thought I have studied at varying levels, I neglected to say much about the Sufis. I did spend some time investigating Sufi wisdom, the dervishes, the Mullah Nasruddin stories, the hashishin connection. As with many other things, I moved on, mostly because of the monotheistic nature of Islam, a way of thinking that just doesn’t resonate with my experience. The Sufis, however, are different; more like an entirely separate religion than orthodox Islam. That is, if mysticism in general has any connection with established religion, which I don’t believe it does. A variety of mysticism seems to be common to just about all the schools of thought I have spent any time considering or studying. It “comes out differently” from all of them simply due to the perceptive, conditioned apparatus of the individual receiving the insights and the cultural milieu he or she has been steeped in. Far more similarities than differences, in other words. In Cosmic Trigger, on page 89 of the Falcon Books edition I am reading, “Many people have had the experience of not knowing who they are or where they are; it usually occurs in the first moments after awakening in the morning. The Sufis say that you are closer to Illumination in that instant of micro-amnesia than at any other time.”
For what it’s worth, the insight which came to me about the nature of sleep came to me a few minutes before I re-encountered this passage in Cosmic Trigger. As a (possibly) tangential bit of information, I was reading, as I always do, as I relaxed before I took a nap for a little while this morning. On this read-through of Cosmic Trigger, I have become more aware of the mind-bombs implanted in me at my first encounter with this book. Just a series of words arranged in a certain way, but seemingly a lot more than that, at least in my experience.

Just finished reading Illuminatus! for the second time. I realized that this is one of the few books which have genuinely changed my life. I had no idea how MUCH of an influence it had had until this reread after probably eighteen years, coming across phrases and ways of thinking which had operated as “mind bombs” (I have no idea from whom I stole that phrase). One of RAW’s favorite phrases is Korzybski’s (sp?) “the map is not the territory”, and I became aware that I had been focusing far too much on the “map” of my peregrinations, not really seeing the “territory” I had covered. My personal path has been winding, from Southern Baptist (which I left behind long ago), through a very brief not even quarter-hearted flirtation with Catholicism inspired by Thomas Merton, to varieties of Buddhism (Zen and Tibetan primarily), and back again to Taoism a couple of, or a few, times. There were also diversions into paganism and Celtic spirituality along the way, as well as the Sufis. The Sufis creeped me out a bit, but I’m not sure why. What happened is that I sent off for some information to one of the organizations affiliated with Idries Shah in the late 90s. At the time, I was living in Nevada. I subsequently moved from there to Florida, a couple of different addresses, and the Sufimail followed me for a number of years (it has since stopped). My conspiratorial mystical mind went to work and got a little freaked that they KNEW where I was somehow. The more plausible explanation is that they received change of address notifications from the PO and updated their information. Still, though, I’m not completely sure.
(the journey is its own point).Taoism is the one which resonates most strongly with me, but after reading Illuminatus! again I realized that if I am anything, and I’m not really, I’m a Discordian. I have acquired my own, personal web of knowledge about different ways to look at the world (thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, as Wallace Stevens might say). I am more comfortable today with the fact that my journey will likely continue as it has, that I will continue learning and hopefully growing. One of my favorite quotes is from one of those Zen guys, Shunryu Suzuki. “The beginner’s mind is open to endless possibilities; the expert’s mind is open to few.” Probably slightly misquoted, but you get the idea. My goal is really simple – to always have beginner’s mind, a flexibility that allows me to encounter new points of view, assimilate what resonates to me, and move on after a time.                                                                                                                                


In Flanders Fields 1915 John McCrae

Especially appropriate since this is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the horrors of the First World War

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes (Photo credit: Lst1984)

An Existential Life

Though I have to admit I like the title as revealed in the URL more. I don’t have much tolerance for the sometimes nihilistic strain in existentialism, but I do think it’s an understandable response to life, especially life as it was experienced in the twentieth century. There’s a lot of wisdom embodied in the quotes collected on this page, but, as always, caveat emptor. Just use it as fuel to encourage yourself to think for yourself at ALL times, and to leave the herd behind with a critical, yet always loving, eye.

Recommended reading: Irrational Man by William Barrett. I will forever be indebted to Professor Bob Hall for introducing me to this book, and Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky, and so many other books and ideas which changed my life utterly. RIP, Bob.







God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vonnegut is my guru

So wise, kind and yet cynical all at the same time. I love his theory in this interview about how writers are specialized cells, or organisms. My personal theory of the universe, the way of thinking by which I am guided, is holistic. Partly, or mostly, derived from what I know of Taoism and how it approaches the world in which we live.

I have been on a Vonnegut kick lately, going through God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Bluebeard, Deadeye Dick and now on Mother Night, with Sirens of Titan and Fates Worse Than Death on deck. Amazon, it seems, has been tempting me by offering on a weekly basis one Vonnegut book for $1.99. Can’t beat it with a stick, that much wisdom for that little money. What he offers in his body of work, amid all the wackiness, is an alternate or secret history of the twentieth and the early twenty first centuries. He may not have made it into that essentially worthless entity called “the canon” due to his absurdity, but why not? I have some ideas on this, most of which involves academics with sticks up their asses. We don’t need people who can show us the seriousness in life through the prism of literature, for isn’t life serious enough as it is? Isn’t that why we spend so much time through so many ways, evolving every day, to escape it? I submit that we are much better served by folks, like my beloved Kurt, who can make us laugh and see the absurdity of the existence in which we live, and just maybe help us to learn something about ourselves in the process.

Vonnegut Wooden Nickel

Vonnegut Wooden Nickel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excellent Guardian interview with Rebecca Solnit

She is so interested in, and engaged with, the world in which she lives. In the interview, the interviewer applies the term “psychogeographer” to her, and I can’t disagree with her. Psychogeography is such an antiseptic, academic sounding term. What it is, to me, is a way of being in the world in which you are aware and receptive to what is going on around you, and ideally to the effects of these impressions on you. Plus ca change, ya know – everything old is new again. I have aspirations to be a Taoist sage – have sometimes said that if someone held a gun to my head and demanded I name a religion, I would name Taoism. The ancient Taoist sages were just nodes in the network, to use present day terminology. They realized that one of the curious things about being human, perhaps the MOST curious thing, is that we are simultaneously, constantly, both connected to all that is around us, and utterly separate. Both islands in the stream, and the stream itself. What most separates us from our animal companions, from all the other beings that inhabit this world, is that, for better or worse, we are completely AWARE of this separation. One of my gurus, Kurt Vonnegut, talks a bit, a lot even, of we humans with our big brains and the trouble we can cause with them. It’s a constant, running theme in all of his work, in fact. Wittingly or unwittingly, the powers of our big brains often provoke us to run harum scarum through the world, often creating havoc wherever we go. Our responsibility, to revert to a cliche, is to use these powers for good, to realize that for whatever reason this happened – God, a random evolutionary accident, whatever – we have an obligation, a duty, to use this gift to become more aware of the wondrous universe in which we live and, when given the opportunity, to make it a better place for ALL concerned.

You Are Now Entering the Nevada National Secur...

You Are Now Entering the Nevada National Security Site (No Trespassing), Near Mercury, Nevada (Photo credit: Ken Lund)

Excerpt from Rebecca Solnit’s upcoming book.

I love her writing and she is one writer who I’d love to meet. Savage Dreams inspired me to go to the Nevada Test Site for my vacation ten years or so ago.

The Magician King

The Magician King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Magician King and some other thoughts

As I say in the review, there’s more meat here than appears, and I want to address it later. Nevertheless, here are some preliminary observations.

Walter Benjamin on writing

Once again, he nails it. i have found this to be true for myself, that if I let an idea for an essay stay in its cocoon for a while longer, it will metamorphose into something stronger, more fully formed, able to support itself on its wings.

Français : Walter Benjamin en 1928

Français : Walter Benjamin en 1928 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

Walter Benjamin‘s concept of the angel of history has particular resonance for me, in looking at how things go in the world. I quote, “A Klee drawing named “Angelus Novus” shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

— Walter Benjamin,

Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History

Benjamin saw what was happening in and to Europe in the 30’s, and particularly what was happening to Jews. He chose to take his own life, in 1940, rather than deal with the horror or take the chance of being corralled by the Nazis.

Benjamin’s observation, or insight, is from a completely different time from our own. Its relevance to human history in general, however, is timeless. I quote here from an essay on by Henry Giroux, linked below:
“we are pulled forward by future happiness – [when] in fact, [as Benjamin noted], we are pushed from behind by the horror of destruction we keep perpetrating on the way.”

The promise of a brighter future is constantly held before us, but we, at least most of us will never get there, neither in this life or whatever may come after. Most of us will experience the stick, in one way or the other, much more often than we will taste the sweetness of the carrot. It doesn’t HAVE to be this way, but as the system currently is constructed, and works, this is how it is. It is up to us to change it if we can muster the desire, pull away from the distractions constantly dangled in front of us, and bond together with like-minded individuals to enact change.