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~~~~ Ricardo Montalban (1921 - 2009) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Montalban played a young Khan in early Star Trek TV Series
and reprised the role as the older Khan in the movie,
"Star Trek: Wrath of Khan" ~~~~~
~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #096 Published June 1, 2009== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Busting Out All Over Month of June:
Any fool can find his way, a poet alone knows how to lose it.
— Stuart Gilbert, English literary scholar and translator
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DIGEST #096, June 2009Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. June's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for June
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Egg Muffin
6. Poem from The Little Prince:"The Empty Shell"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for June:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- ARJ2: Becoming the Archangel Michael’s Companions by Rudolf Steiner
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #096== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
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1. June Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Perfection.
#1 "Perfection" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/052209jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR June:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for June are:
Gina LeBeouf in TX
Andrew Weir in New Orleans
Congratulations, Gina and Andrew!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
A MILE OF BROCCOLI, TWO ALIEN PLANTS , AND ARTICHOKE PLANTS
"June is busting out all over" is the way a popular song of the last century goes, and June is certainly keeping up its reputation this year with radishes, snap beans, flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, okra, and eggplants filling up with veggies to pick, cook, and eat. I finally pulled the Fall broccoli plant which I had allowed to go to seed while we continued to eat the broccoli tidbits. It was nearly five feet tall and full of seed pods. For a long time, I simply let the tree-like structure hang upside down for the pods to dry. Then one day it hit me how to quickly harvest the tiny seeds. I placed the entire seed pod structure in a large garbage bag and stomped on it. Cut a small hole in one corner and the seeds poured out into a container. I am now the proud possessor of an ounce of broccoli seeds, and since one-32nd of an ounce of seeds will plant a 100 foot row of plants, I have enough for almost a mile of broccoli! Haven't figured out how to best use them. I only need about a dozen seeds for my fall garden this year.
By the end of May, our snap beans are almost done, perhaps another mess before we pulled up the plants and prepare the garden for the hot summer months when the eggplant and okra will take over. We made a delicious snap beans and potato dish like my mother used to make with our own beans and a couple of gratis potatoes which showed up in our garden.Don't know how the two potatoes plants got started since I didn't plant any on purpose. Must have been random potato eyes in our organic mulch. When I pulled up the first potato plant which was hidden under the green bean leaves, I didn't know it was a potato plant, but this "radish" fell to the ground. I picked it up and noticed that it was actually an Irish potato. With that notice, I let the other alien plant (one I had not identified consciously) continue to grow and harvested three potatoes from it. I put two in the green bean dish and kept the medium-size one for planting a few potato plants in the fall garden. Chef Bobby Jeaux has been using the parsley, basil, and bell peppers in his cooking for most of this month and his Kitchen has been filled with appetizing smells and savors.
For next month, the Creole Tomatoes will be in full fruit. June is Creole tomato month and their taste compares to other tomatoes like New Orleans jazz compares to Muzak, bursting with incredible flavor in every bite. Another set of plants we're watching over the rest of this year is the three artichoke plants I planted from seeds which Del received from a Garden Club meeting. Artichokes are perennial and we eat a lot of them, averaging about four in a typical week, two evening meals of artichoke flowers (See Recipe) a week. Easy to prepare this way — in fact, it may be the only artichoke dish made with fresh artichokes which is easy to prepare.And it is incredibly delicious. Plus it can be made in any part of the country with ingredients found in every supermarket. In highland elevations (over 3,000 feet), you'll have to cook them a lot longer. Pardon the side-distraction, I merely wanted to mention that we are looking forward to eating artichokes from our own garden for many years to come.
Mayday is the international distress signal. Its origin is in the French phrase, "m'aidez", which means "help me". But May Day is also the name for May 1st, and on May 1st, I was needing a lot of help. Literally it was a slight slip of the finger which did me in that day, and it took me most of the day to recover from that slip. It all began innocently enough when I decided to create an animated .gif of the Little Prince saying his words of hello to Antoine according to the story in his biography. When the day was over, I had completed the animated .gif which you can now see in either the biography or my blurb in digest095. When my finger slipped, it must have hit both the Shift and Control key and the R key, which unbeknownst to me at the time caused my Pivot software to rotate the screen! Anyone who uses rotatable screens like I do for my writing knows how difficult it is when you must read instructions sideways and move a cursor which won't go where you want it to because your screens have been inadvertently rotated.
It took me over 5 hours to recover from that simple slip! Nothing I could do would restore my monitors to their correct vertical position. I would hit the Shift-Control-R combination and whichever screen the cursor was one would rotate, but it was either landscape or an upside-down portrait, in various unwanted combinations — anything but two right-side up portrait monitors. And each time it rotated wrongly, I had to manipulate the cursor with great difficulty back to the monitor that was wrong to try again. When I couldn't locate my Pivot software, I downloaded a trial of a new version, but it screwed the screens up irreparably and had to be uninstalled.
Finally I checked out the EZ-TUNE which I was surprised to learn was the Gateway Rotating Monitor software, and not some audio software which its name certainly implies! EZ-TUNE contains a special version of Pivot to handle the auto-pivot which is supposed to move the screen to match the rotation position of the monitor. Ah, if only it had worked so easily — but it didn't work on auto-pivot, and after I finally got it to work at all, my monitors were correctly oriented. Afterwards, however, every time I have Logged Off and back On, one or the other monitor comes up landscape and is tricky to get back vertical, especially if it's the Left Monitor because the cursor (curse it!) goes back to Right Monitor and if I don't notice it, and hit CTL-SHFT-R, the Right Monitor rotates and must then also be corrected! Only happened the first time, but it was a bummer. I had to remove all my desk top icons because they get stacked off screen after the inadvertent rotate maneuvers. After a day or so, the monitor orientation stabilized itself and I've had no problems with it since then.
FRENCH QUARTER LAMPS FOR TIMBERLANE
We had passed the Bevolo Lighting Company's headquarters on Conti Street many times because it is next door to one of our regular parking lots in the French Quarter. One day we decided to check out their lamps inside. Several years ago I had taken down the four lamps from the West Portico at Timberlane, cleaned the glass, spray-painted the frames, and re-assembled them. I swore that I would never do that again because of the difficulty of re-assembling the curved glass panels into the frames. The frames were needing another touch-up and we decided it was time for an upgrade. After talking to the saleswoman at Bevolo about prices and options, we decided we would have them make the new lamps for us, and we would also buy a matching mailbox. Bevolo makes and sells its lamps to customers all over the globe, in over 22 countries. They make them locally, and most of their sales are made over the phone. When we finally decided to order ours we went in with photos of our portico and measurements for the wall-hung lamps and chain-hung lamps. Chris Bevolo knew exactly the size that would fit our requirements and in three weeks or less, we were able to pick them up from their outlet on the West Bank where we live, a few miles away from us.
Installing them was a difficult job, far harder than I anticipated. I tackled the hanging lamps first, thinking it was just a matter of getting the electrician to take apart the old wires and re-attach the new wires. Well, the electrical part was the easiest to take care. The old lamps' bases were screwed directly into the overhead wooden panel. The Bevolo lamps needed a bracket screwed into the panel with the wire coming through the center screw-on connector which the base is then held securely to by a nut. I had to drill a center hole and fish the electrical wire into the center hole before the electrician could finish the wiring connection. Luckily our electrician was patient as he spent a lot of time waiting for me on this day.
The wall mounted ones were sheer torture by comparison with the hanging lamps. There were four tiny holes to be bolted directly into the old brick of the wall, and there was no room for error. That meant measuring about five times to ensure that they were properly aligned before drilling the holes. I managed to get three holes into brick and only one into mortar on the right side, but that meant the left side lamp would have three going into mortar and one into brick.A quick trip back to Ullo's Ace Hardware and a consultation with Chris Ullo led me to buy longer bolts for the mortar bolts and drill the hole deeper for stability. After struggling for hours to screw in the stainless steel Philips bolts on the right lamp, I switched to hex-head bolts for the longer mortar bolts and the left one went a bit faster. If the hanging lamps took an hour a piece, the wall-mounted ones took three hours a piece. But by the end of the day, all four lamps were securely mounted, the electrician had all lamps wired, and the lamps were shining in the night.
The next day, I quickly and easily mounted the new mailbox and the job was done. In the meantime, while all the lamp work was going on, Del and I had been enjoying our new teak rockers on the W. Portico so much, we decided to buy two more while they were still available, in case we had company. People may have said we were off our rockers to move to the West Bank, but they can drive by on any day and see that we're in fact on our rockers. The West Portico is a place of refuge for reading when the Southeast wind which is so pleasant in the summertime gets too cool or windy for the East Portico and swing. After twenty years, we are finally using the front entrance portico for something other than our guests walking to and from their vehicles.
JOHN AND MAUREEN
It's tough on parents when an offspring splits from their spouse. Many years ago we would have had all eight of our children married at the same time — if John, who had been engaged for two years, got married as planned in November. But that year, Jim and Carla got divorced from their first spouses, and John broke up with his fiancé. Instead of eight married, we slip down to five married. Since that time we have had our son, Rob, get divorced and remarried and we were holding at seven married. We were expecting Carla and Patrick to announce plans to be married shortly when we were presented with the news that both our son John and our daughter Maureen were splitting from their spouses of many years. During this transition period, we went to a very awkward first communion of one grandson, and purposely skipped a birthday celebration of a grand-daughter which we might have otherwise attended.
On Mother's Day, we had John and Maureen come over to dinner at Timberlane. I picked up my dad, Buster, and Del picked up her mother, Doris. We, two newly separated adults, one widow, one widower, and a mixture of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents at the table with just six of us. Del had a Garden Club meeting the day after Mother's Day, so it was easy to cater to the two events by adjusting the quantities slightly. Everyone had a good time. It was great time to discuss what furniture John and Maureen might need for their new apartments, and we put those aside for them. Our Guest Bedroom let out a big belch when we extracted six chairs, a drop leaf dining room table, and some bar stools, among other things.
The next Sunday we drove up to Gonzales to visit John in his new apartment, and Del wanted to stop along the way at Tanger Outlet Mall to get new clothes. I didn't need any new stuff, so I had planned to sit outside on the benches and read while she shopped. The air was too cool to do that, however, so I decided to buy some long pants to replace my shorts. I found some Van Heusen jeans which advertised, "The waist will expand one inch." Hmmm, I thought, if I could get a 34X29, they should fit just fine, and they did. They fit so good that I wore them to the counter and told the sales clerk to "Scan my butt". Well, not really, but I could have. Instead, I merely pulled the bar code tag off and gave it to him. I put my shorts in the bag and left wearing my new jeans. Del called me from Brands shoe store where she had bought about a half-dozen pair of shoes and wanted me to put them in the car. But while waiting for her to check out, I saw some Skechers which looked comfortable. Branded into the bottom of the racy sole were the words, "Socks Suck." From that I gathered one didn't use socks with these mod-looking slip-ons with the dragon logo branded on the top and side of each shoe. Once more they fit perfectly and I wore them out the store with my sandals in the shoebox. Had never heard of Skechers before but I liked the way they fit and their style. I had teased Del about having some slip-ons that looked like sneakers with the tops cut off, and now I had some slip-ons with new sneaker look on the soles. I went outside with two bags full of clothes and shoes, popped the trunk, and lifted the two bags to dump into the trunk, but the trunk was full to the top with kitchen gadgets, bought from this Outlet Mall, probably for John, where we were headed next, but how in the world did Del buy all this stuff in just twenty minutes, and still manage to buy 6 pairs of shoes? Turns out she had bought this stuff on her way back from our grand-daughter's high school graduation in Alexandria a couple of days before.
When we left John's house after helping him unpack the boxes, we drove to Maureen's new apartment in Metairie. She and Gabriel showed up a few minutes after we arrived, and we got to see her new place which she and Gabe will share while he finishes his next two years of high school.
Both our separated children have since relocated in apartments of their own, and are adjusting to their situation quite well. John's siblings came to visit him in his new apartment on the penultimate Sunday of May and Carla and Patrick came to help Maureen move all of her stuff from the Marcie St. house to her new apartment. That gave us a lot of time with our two grandkids, Garret and Molly, who stayed with us at Timberlane. I had Garret help me cook some redfish courtboullion on Saturday. He said, "My mommie doesn't let me use the knife." But I trusted Chef Bobby Jeaux to show Garret how to cut the small potatoes and the portabella mushrooms without cutting his fingers and he did just fine.While we were cooking up a storm, Del took Molly shopping for some new clothes, and Molly got to experience the choices that come with having a budget to aim for. Should she get one fine new dress or several shorts and shirts? Molly did just fine. The orange blouse with the butterfly on the front was one of her accessory choices. Garret also helped me to squeeze a half-gallon of grapefruit juice. Our orange crop is all done as of a week ago, but there is about two or three gallons of grapefruit juice waiting to be picked from the tree and squeezed. The new crop grapefruit are already golf ball size.
STORYLAND, FLYING HORSES, PICKLES, AND RAILROAD TRAINS
On Sunday morning we all went to City Park, Garret, Molly, Carla, Patrick, Del, and Bobby. It looked like it might rain, but we chanced it. Luckily we got only a light sprinkle, but that sprinkle nearly cancelled our ride on the small train which tours City Park. I last did it when Carla was Garret's age, about 40 year ago, and I wanted to do it again.
When I felt the light drizzle, I called everybody to join me at the train ticket gate to catch the next train. I had already heard that if the rain started, the train ride would be cancelled. The train cars were covered so in case it did rain, we could get back without getting soaked. We boarded the train and suddenly the attendants came to us and said that we would have to get out because of the rain. We begged like crazy and wonder of wonders! They reconsidered and allowed the ride to fill up and proceed. No rain fell, but pickles did, all over the place.
Pickles? How did that happen? Just as our train car rolled over the first street crossing the tracks, Del spotted a guy with three white pit bulls on a leash. "Pit bulls," she said quickly, and over the roar of the train and wheels on the track, it sounded as if she had said, "Pickle". So we began saying "Pickle" every time our car rolled across a roadway. Carla added saying, "Gherkin" if our car passed over a sidewalk, and later added, "Relish" if our car went over a graveled pathway. Three young boys, cousins, about Garret's age stared at us as if we were crazy, as we all shouted "Pickles", "Gherkins", and "Relish" during the train ride. Yes, Del protested that she only said, "Pit Bulls", but that didn't deter us, and she joined in the fun.Earlier in the day, when we first arrived at City Park, we rode on the Flying Horses. Remarkably, the one little boy with us, seven-year-old Garret, did not want to ride the flying horses on the Carousel, but chose to sit on a floor-anchored horse while the five of us flew up and down and around on the flying horses. We had bought an arm band so that Garret could ride all the rides as many times as he wanted, but he was more interested in the model train setup in the Train Garden which I took him to. Then he wanted to see the Storyland area and he roamed around each of the Nursery Rhyme and children's stories represented in sculptural form till it was time to go. I caught sight of Garret climbing up a bean vine with his clothes beginning to turn into Jack of beanstalk fame. Must have been those wild beans he ate the night before.
Molly wanted to ride everything, and so far as I can tell she did, and some rides like the roller coaster more than once. I spied her and Grama Del in the front row of the roller coaster on one ride. Later I saw her and Patrick sliding down the large slide on burlap sacks.
We finished our day at the park with each of us getting an ice cream-filled snowball before we left. The lady in front of us had bought a nectar snowball with condensed milk on top of it, Carla's Maman Audrey's favorite flavor. I watched as the lady took a photo of her prize before eating it. "You're not from here, are you?" "No," she answered, "we're from New York. Can't get these at home." I laughed, because I know how true that is. Sno-cones elsewhere are large chips of ice with no topping but sugary syrups; snowballs in New Orleans are finely shaved ice with all kinds of fillings and topping. All of us bought ourselves a Dreamsicle-topping on an ice-cream-filled snowball. Yummy! Made the drive back to Timberlane a delicious journey.
WARREN EASTON GRADUATE AND MOVIE STAR
Del was invited to go to her alma mater, Warren Easton High School, for a Hall of Fame induction. Her school is the oldest public high school in the state, and was destined to be shuttered and razed after Katrina rushed ten feet of water through its hallowed halls. As we walked up the stairs to the auditorium, Del could hear echoes of her teenage footsteps and voices. The newly renovated auditorium was full of graduates, memories, and seniors of the 2009 graduating class. Del's classmate and first husband, Bill Hatchett gave the invocation, and Arthur Hardy, another grad did the Emcee duties for the night. One special award went to a lady without whom the school would not have survived and thrived after Katrina. Her name is Sandra Bullock, the movie star, and on this night she was made an honorary Warren Easton graduate for the support she provided after the storm. She modestly said, "All I did was write checks."But her donations brought the school back in so many ways that few believed it would have happened if this fine woman hadn't asked her lawyer to "find me something to support which will die away otherwise." The lawyer knew Arthur Hardy, and his answer was immediate, "Warren Easton." Sandra asked that the amounts of her donations be kept private, but acceded to allowing her name to be used as a supporter if it would attract other donations, and it did, big time.
In a very touching presentation at the end of the evening, a member of the Senior Class of 2009 announced that a bronze plaque had been cast to commemorate the renovated auditorium and re-name it thenceforth The Arthur Hardy Auditorium. For once in his emcee, celebrity-studded life, Arthur Hardy, Mr. Carnival, was speechless. He headed the volunteer effort which resuscitated the grand ole school, breathing life and education back into the classrooms. His untiring activity to save the school brought new meaning to the word "class" in classroom. No one deserved the honor more than Arthur Hardy.
END OF MONTH MISCELLANEA
Our grandson Chris, a sophomore at Delgado Community College, came over with his new girl friend, Heather, one day to pick up the dining room table and chairs for his mom's new apartment. Before we loaded up the stuff, we drove to Sam's Club to buy two more teak rockers for the West Portico of Timberlane to go with the first two we added last month. On another day, Del had her Garden Club luncheon at Timberlane, and the preparations for the event began about six months earlier. No white glove inspection ever got more attention than this one event. The weather was perfect for the tables set out on the East Portico lawn, and the ladies all had a great time. Got my Maxima tuned up for its next 100,000 miles. Watched as many LSU baseball games as I could and listened to the rest on radio as the Tigers finished at the top of the Southeastern Conference and went on to win the SEC Conference Tournament Championship with outstanding pitching and hitting performances. On to Omaha and the College World Series next month, God Willing. Del's brother Dan visited for a few days, and I went to a large crawfish boil at the Boston Club West, guest of Lavelle Isbell. And my favorite PJ clerk, Chelsea, finally graduated from high school and has had for several weeks a smile which doesn't stop.
Breaking News: I had asked the Mayor of our fair city, Gretna, if I might have one of the pipe cacti which were scheduled to be removed to re-open Fairfield Avenue. I had admired and taken photos of the cacti blooming and fruiting in previous Digests and wanted to ensure they didn't all end up in some trash heap. One day near the end of May, Del came home from an errand and said, "There's some Gretna workers tearing apart the cactus area, you better go see." So I walked over and talked to the workers. I said, "If you're gonna throw those cactus plants away, I'd like to have the shorter pipe cactus." Their reply was, "Sorry, they are reserved for some organization." I went home and broke the news to Del. We had even agreed on the one spot where we had room at Timberlane for the cactus. A few days later I'm watching an intense LSU Regional baseball game when Del said, "There's a group of workers from Gretna in the front of the house." I went out and discovered that I was the organization destined to receive all the cactus plants! And they were here with a dump truck full of prickly pear and pipe cactus to deliver into my care. I explained I only wanted the 10 pipe cactus, not the 30 foot high one, and showed them where to dump it. The next day my good friend, Gus, came by and in 15 minutes we had planted it and got our photo taken by a neighbor, Bill Ward. Bill took a tour of our gardens and sat down on our new rockers with me to rest a bit before walking home. His wife, Sylinda, came over and joined us, enabling me to get a photo of the two of them sitting and smiling on the porch of the house that Bill Ward built for Percy "Dick" Richards, Del's dad, about 38 years ago. Two photos, one of the cactus planters and one of th Wards have been tucked into the Digest below around the Movie Blurbs.
TILL NEXT MONTHIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
That's it from out our way for another Digest. Till next month, by the Grace of God, and the Mississippi River don't rise! Enjoy the end of school, summer vacations, and the balmy breezes of Summer (or chilly winds of Winter in the Southern Hemisphere). Make it a great month for yourself , however and wherever in the world you celebrate the new season ! ! !
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New Quote from 21 May 2009 Patriot Post added to quotes.htm this month:
- Once each May, amid the quiet hills and rolling lanes and breeze-brushed trees of Arlington National Cemetery, far above the majestic Potomac and the monuments and memorials of our Nation's Capital just beyond, the graves of America's military dead are decorated with the beautiful flag that in life these brave souls followed and loved. This scene is repeated across our land and around the world, wherever our defenders rest. Let us hold it our sacred duty and our inestimable privilege on this day to decorate these graves ourselves — with a fervent prayer and a pledge of true allegiance to the cause of liberty, peace, and country for which America's own have ever served and sacrificed. ... Our pledge and our prayer this day are those of free men and free women who know that all we hold dear must constantly be built up, fostered, revered and guarded vigilantly from those in every age who seek its destruction. We know, as have our Nation's defenders down through the years, that there can never be peace without its essential elements of liberty, justice and independence. Those true and only building blocks of peace were the lone and lasting cause and hope and prayer that lighted the way of those whom we honor and remember this Memorial Day. To keep faith with our hallowed dead, let us be sure, and very sure, today and every day of our lives, that we keep their cause, their hope, their prayer, forever our country's own.
Ronald Reagan (American President)
New Stuff about Website:
Click Alligator to see New Grabart Images such as this one. Not something to make a Handbag with, but an actual Hand.
Five Best Books on Education Reviewed:
1. Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren's How to Read a Book .
I read this book about 1977, and immediately wished someone had forced me to read it while I was yet in high school. Adler's four types of reading are invaluable guidelines to the types of reading I evolved into over the twenty years or so before I had read the book, but to have a guidebook to reading before then would have greatly aided my reading and reduced my confusion as how to proceed with the books I tackled incorrectly.
The four levels of reading are:
1. Elementary reading: basically the level of reading one is taught to do in elementary and high schools.
2. Inspectional reading: systematic skimming and superficial reading.
3. Analytical reading: classifying, coming to terms, determining the message, criticizing the book, and author. [typical undergraduate college reading]
4. Syntopical reading: reading multiple books on one subject as defined by you - "one book opens another" C.G. Jung[typical post-graduate college reading]
Syntopical reading is the touchstone of scholarship and is the most important type of reading for a serious reader. Adler says, "Knowing that more than one book is relevant to a particular question is the first requirement in any project of syntopical reading. Knowing which books should be read, in a general way, is the second requirement." Learning to satisfy the second requirement is a key to one's personal development as a reader and scholar. Often knowing what the subject is that one is reading is no simple matter. This became very obvious to me when I attempted to categorize some 287 books into a small number of chapter headings for my book of reviews and essays entitled A Reader's Journal - Journeys into Understanding. The chapter headings had to be created from the syntopical subjects on which I had been reading books before I was even aware of the existence of the subjects. The chapter headings are the same that I've chosen for this book:
1. Evolution of Consciousness
2. Quantum Physics
3. Spiritual Science
5. Reading for Enjoyment
Once one has developed the subjects of one's individual syntopical reading, then Adler's five steps may be applied:
1. Finding Relevant Passages: "In syntopical reading, it is you and your concerns that are primarily to be served, not the books that you read. Your aim is to find the passages in the books that are most germane to your needs." [page 316]
2. Bringing the Authors to Terms: "It is you who must establish the terms, and bring your authors to them rather than the other way around." Here one must develop one's own terms and bring the syntopical authors to one's terms.
3. Getting the Questions Clear: These are the questions one brings to the book to be answered. Finding the answers in the author's text to one's own question.
4. Defining the Issues: This is especially important when one author defines the issue one way and another author another way.
5. Analyzing the Discussion: One thoroughly examines and critiques the output of the first four steps to determine the dimension of the problem. "It can clear away the deadwood and prepare the way for an original thinker to make a breakthrough." [page 323]
Unfortunately I have replaced our original paperback with all its marginalia and underlinings by a pristine hardback copy, so without a new reading I am unable to share the details of the book that so attracted me and infused my reading with new vigor. I have this general feeling that this book has single-handedly prodded me from the wandering path of dilettantism to the royal road of independent scholarship, and I am eternally grateful to the authors Adler and van Doren for that.
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The Center for Great Ideas has just released a DVD containing three hours of animated discussion by the authors of this book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, about the art of reading.
To watch a portion of this conversation and acquire your own copy of this DVD, follow this link: http://www.thegreatideas.org/HowToReadABook.htm
2. Jerome Bruner's The Process of Education
In this classic work Bruner divides the process of education into four basic parts: structure, readiness for learning, intuitive thinking, and motives for learning. These form the major chapter headings for the book.
He tells us that when we grasp the structure of a subject, it enables us to relate many other things that would otherwise seem unrelated. For example, he explains how understanding the structural concept of tropism in biology enables one to make sense of many other phenomena.
[page 7] The swarming of locusts where temperature determines the swarm density in which locusts are forced to ravel, the species maintenance of insects at different altitudes on the side of a mountain where crossbreeding is prevented by the tendency of each species to travel in its preferred oxygen zone, and many other phenomena in biology can be understood in the light of tropisms.
The more fundamental the idea is, the wider and more powerful will be its applicability. Bruner applies this principle to the subject of curriculum enhancement and "how best to proceed in the teaching of different subjects in different grades." The goal he offers is to tie the knowledge into a structure that both makes it both worth knowing and usable in areas beyond the learning situation.
The chapter on readiness for learning offers guidelines in dealing with the evolution of consciousness in students. Twelve year olds have no problem with playing games that involve advanced mathematics, but are not capable of understanding a formal description of those same mathematical rules. To push for understanding such formal rules leads to the ability to create accurate but incorrect answers. Mathematics has to do with correct answers whereas computation has to do with accurate answers. One confuses the two with peril. In my childhood a soda was a nickel, but a six-pack of sodas sold for a quarter. If a visitor from France sent me to the store with a quarter to buy sodas at a nickel apiece, he would calculate accurately that either I had stolen a soda or the proprietor had miscounted my purchases when I returned with six instead of five sodas. His calculations would be accurate, but incorrect. This insight into the difference between accuracy and correctness I owe to Rudolf Steiner from whom I adapted the above story.
Bruner says on page 40 that "nothing is intrinsically difficult" if we "wait until the proper point of view and corresponding language for presenting it are revealed." He includes in this chapter a memo of Professor Inhelder of Geneva which detailed many ways one can assist children in their progress through the fields of mathematics and physics.
[page 43] Basic notions in these fields are perfectly accessible to children of seven to ten years of age, provided that they are divorced from their mathematical expression and studied through materials that the child can handle himself.
When I was a child I spent long hours in play with odd pieces of wood, blocks, spools, and other odd bits of scrap around the house, so I found the following portion of Inhelder's memo fascinating as it suggests just that sort of play as a precursor for fostering understandings in the child that can serve as a foundation later for formal courses in mathematics and physics.
[page 46] One wonders in the light of all this whether it might not be interesting to devote the first two years of school to a series of exercises in manipulating, classifying, and ordering objects in ways that highlight basic operations of logical addition, multiplication, inclusion serial ordering, and the like. For surely these logical operations are the basis of more specific operations and concepts of all mathematics and science.
In his book The Kingdom of Childhood Rudolf Steiner explains that the amount of time that a child can sustain a learning episode without fatigue is a function of how well the teacher approaches the process of teaching. With this insight he designed his Waldorf Schools to include long sustained periods of teaching the same subject, e. g., mathematics might be taught, not in one hour chunks every morning, but for the entire morning every day until the subject is completed, and then the students would move onto another subject, such as biology. Does it work? Students love this method so much that when one student was required to stay after school to do sums, the others in class wanted to know why they couldn't also stay to do sums. This process of teaching is what Bruner is hinting at for broad application in our school systems.
[page 51] It seems fairly obvious, for example, that the longer and more packed the episode, the greater the pay-off must be in terms of increased power and understanding if the person is to be encouraged to move to a next episode with zest.
In the chapter on intuitive understanding, Bruner says that we might not know exactly what that means, but we can all "distinguish between inarticulate genius and articulate idiocy." It occurred to me that these two represent two points of the four steps toward Habit Formation that I learned from Don Robinson in a memory course in 1970:
1. Unconscious Incompetence — Inarticulate Idiocy
2. Conscious Incompetence — Articulate Idiocy
3. Conscious Competence — Inarticulate Genius
4. Unconscious Competence — Articulate Genius
In the process of education, the idiot or naive learner doesn't know he doesn't know anything about a subject. Someone comes along and says, "Hey, don't you know how to do this?" and he moves to being able to say, "Hey, I don't know how to do that." He goes on to study long and hard and becomes a expert, a genius, in that field. He knows how to do it when he consciously applies himself, but is not necessarily able to explain to others how to do it, he is the consciously competent, but inarticulate genius. Only after years of application of his skills and thinking about how best to describe it does he become the articulate genius of Step 4.
In the last chapter Bruner tells a beautiful story about a college professor teaching an advanced class in quantum mechanics. Here's how the professor described his experience:
[page 89] "I went through it once and looked up only to find the class full of blank faces — they had obviously not understood. I went through it a second time and they still did not understand it. And so I went through it a third time, and that time I understood it."
That kind of personal understanding by the teacher is the essence of communication. Teaching a lesson, no matter how well prepared, without real understanding by the teacher, will result in that same low level of understanding being transferred to the students. Only when the creation of a lesson grows out of true understanding of the subject as taught will the process of education be a fruitful one for the students and the teachers.
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3. Rudolf Steiner's The Kingdom of Childhood
Steiner was in the waning year of his life when he wrote this book, but you couldn't tell it from the vibrancy of his living thoughts as expressed in these lectures. What is in our natures when we descend to our life on Earth? This is a worthy question for any teacher of small children to ask, just like a physiologist might ask what are the shapes and sizes of the organs of a human, how the sizes of lungs, livers, and hearts vary from a young person to an old person. We are all creatures of thinking, feeling, and willing, but for most people these are mere words without any sense of reality, up until now. Here's what Steiner tells us about thinking, feeling, and willing — these two sentences may not make much sense at first, but allow them to work on you as unanswered questions for awhile and the sense will grow out of them in time.
[page 3] . . . it is not known that willing, as it appears in the soul, is young, while thinking is old; that in fact thinking is willing grown old, and willing is a youthful thinking in the soul. Thus everything that pertains to the soul contains youthfulness and old age, both existing in human beings simultaneously.
After pondering this quote overnight, I picked up early this morning a computer printer that I bought from a company that is going out of business. It was hooked to a network box and I wondered whether I should take the box also — it might be useful later if I network my home office computers. I decided the moral thing to do was to leave the box. But that didn't stop the thoughts from bugging me all the way home. No, I thought, I didn't specifically buy that box, only the printer. No one would have objected, and the person I bought the printer from is now gone, so no one could check what we had agreed. Suddenly I thought, why are these thoughts bothering me? If it was a doyle bothering me, a physical body state that I'd stored from before I was five, I could simply trace and erase it, but what do I do with thoughts that are bothering me? All I can do stop them by the force of my will. That's when the unanswered question above popped into my head! Why, those thoughts are simply old willing converted into thoughts. What is pestering me is my old form of willing that would have made taking the box okay!I had originally thought that what Steiner referred to as old willing was previous lifetime willing now converted into our thoughts of this lifetime, but here I was this morning experiencing my former willing returning to pester me as thoughts I didn't want, thoughts that represented an earlier willing, an earlier me in this lifetime, now returned as shades from my past to haunt my present, up until now. I was experiencing the macrocosm in the microcosm of my daily life.
Unfortunately for us today, we are as handicapped if we do not distinguish these connected aspects of young and old thinking, feeling, and willing, as is the physician who cannot distinguish a child from an old man – to borrow the metaphor that Steiner uses. He goes on to say that without the ability to make such a distinction, there is no science of the soul today, and that, "as for the spirit, there is no such thing!" We are left only with the word spirit, which is not much help. The disappearance of the spirit from the human being back in the 4th Century has hindered dramatically our ability to express the very concept of living spirit, up until Rudolf Steiner and his living science of anthroposophy which teaches a science of unified materialistic and spiritual worlds.
Steiner says so many people say, "Make me a good teacher" but when told to begin by making anthroposophy a basis for their pedagogy, they declaim, "Oh, is that really necessary?" Thus, he says, they are reacting like the old German proverb that goes, "Please wash me but don't make me wet!" (Page 4) They do not want to learn the effect that too much thinking has on their young charges, so that, for example, when the child becomes pale during the year, they will not have to take responsibility for having given the child too much rote memory work.
[page 7] I am constantly squeezing the soul into the ideas I give the child when I give concepts that are intended to be permanent; when I worry the child with fixed, unchangeable concepts, instead of giving the child concepts capable of expansion.
Without capability for the expansion, the child gets hardened into the concepts, just like arteries not capable of expansion are hardened. To feed the abstract too soon to the child is to freeze their development prematurely and to stultify their excitement over the subject being taught. Rightly understood, the prevalent dislike for mathematics and algebra in our public schools is a natural consequence of too much abstraction too soon, and leads to hardening of the arteries.
Steiner gives us readers a way of understanding the soul-spiritual nature of the child beginning with the birth to seven year old child. For the development of that age child he recommends that we do best if we "make the same impression on the child that its own arm makes." I take that to mean that we move when the child wants us to move and obtain things for the child that lie outside of its immediate surroundings. The child's arm would be incapable of hitting the child or causing it injury, so its caregivers would be well-advised to avoid such acts.
He uses the metaphor of fingers pressing into a sack of flour to indicate how the impressions made by caregivers remain in the child — "because you yourself are really one with the child." (Page 14) With the knowledge provided us by the nascent science of doyletics [See ARJ: The Trauma of Birth ], we can understand that this oneness is the primary mechanism of the transmission and acquisition of doyles before about the age of two or so when the child's environment consists mainly of close family and caregivers.
Being at one with its mother before birth is a physical connection, but for those first seven years, the child still contains some part of its mother's cells in its own body and thus is her etheric body yet associated with the child. When the mother suffers a trauma when the child is in her womb, the connection is via chemicals passing through the blood stream directly. When the mother suffers a trauma in the presence of her child for the early years after its birth, the child responds exactly as the mother does. I helped a woman trace a doyle that had led her migraines so strong that she had told a friend she thought she had a brain tumor. At three years old she saw herself holding her mother's hand and watching a house in flames burn down across the street from their home. I doubt that a three year old would have any natural reaction other than excitement at watching a large fire, but she was holding her mother's hand, and was still at one with her mother.Thus, she absorbed the intense tearful feelings of her mother, feelings so strong, that later as an adult whenever something triggered those experiences she had a flaming migraine headache. For the two years after that fifteen minute doyle trace in a group seminar with 17 other people, she has been free of her intense migraines, able to sidestep them when they seem to start up. Reuters Health News carried an article this morning that claimed, "Patients with cluster headaches may experience non-painful, premonitory symptoms several days to several weeks in advance of an attack." Perhaps research will lead us to confirm scientifically that the premonitory symptoms are doyles, and that removal of the doyles via a simple five minute self-administered trace prevents the cluster headaches from ever occurring again.
With the coming of teeth change around seven, the child begins to develop curiosity and fantasies. At birth it required bodily milk, and at age seven, Steiner tells us on page 14, it requires soul milk. The activities of reading and writing provides nourishment or soul milk for the child after teeth change, but these two essential activities must be incorporated together or it would be like separating the chemicals of bodily milk and giving it to a baby separately. (I note that commercial baby formula milks do that today with less success than their cost seems to justify.) How does one combine reading and writing and fantasy into one whole activity? By leading the child into an artistic activity in which they are all incorporated seamlessly, even with simple flourishes of arithmetic.
In the next critical stage of growth for the child, which begins at puberty, around age fourteen, Steiner says that they will require spiritual milk. That spiritual milk must be in its immediate family and caregivers or else the "boys and girls will be left to themselves during the difficult adolescent years." (Page 15)
Focusing on the need for fantasy and symbolism in the soul milk stage between seven and fourteen, Steiner writes about one of the terrible sins of our materialistic age and it sounds as if it were written today instead of seventy-five years ago in 1924:
[page 22] Take for example the so-called beautiful dolls that are so often given to children these days. They have such beautifully formed faces, wonderfully painted cheeks, and even eyes with which they can go to sleep when laid down, real hair, and goodness knows what all! But this kills the fantasy of the child, for it leaves nothing to the imagination and the child can take no great pleasure in it.
My artist daughter reminded a while back, when I first shared this concept of Steiner's with her, that when we gave her and her sisters some beautiful dolls when they were under ten years old, they responded by pulling out the hair and tearing away the doll's clothes so that the formerly "beautiful" dolls could become the raw material of their fantasy play. As she told me this, I envisioned the mother who insisted that her daughter's beautiful doll be kept in pristine condition on display in her room. That daughter will likely grow up to be a shell of a woman, all painted and pretty on the outside, and empty on the inside.
So why is the study of spiritual science, of anthroposophy, important when raising a child? We can't teach them such things while they are children, can we? So why not wait till they're older for us to learn such things, too? Through anthroposophy you learn once more that a spiritual world pervades the material world and this gives new life to otherwise jaded fairy tales and myths. When you read them to your children, the stories will be filled with a quality of soul. The alternative is to be like the scholarly teacher who believes fairy stories are foolishness and reads the story from a purely intellectual perspective. If such a teacher were to follow Steiner's maxim and observe life, they would note the crippling effect that the intellect has on children, and the enlivening effect that imagination has on them.
In Lecture Three, he goes on to explain the disastrous effect that pulling a plant from the ground to take inside for children. Plants are like the hair of the Earth, and just as pulling hair from your head causes you pain, but getting your hair cut can bring you pleasure, so it is with the Earth. And examining a single human hair and trying to make sense of it is as meaningless as examining a plant pulled from the Earth of which it is a living, integral part.
In his description of the animal kingdom on page 44, Steiner says that "the animal kingdom is the human being spread out, and the human being is the animal kingdom drawn together." All of the animal kingdom is represented somewhere in that great synthesis of creation known as a human being — one needs only to become sensitive to how the various animals are combined into one's own body. When children are educated to understand this many-to-one relationship of animals and humans, they will laugh at the materialistic evolutionists who proclaim that humans descend from animals.
As for the creative methods of discipline, no better example is available than the story Steiner tells of a Dr. Stein, who, upset by the students continually passing notes under the desk to each other during his teaching, changed to talking about the postal system. The students were puzzled at first, but soon realized the reason for the lecture on the postal system and stopped passing notes in class.
One of my basic rules of living is "Make my biggest mistakes first." I was amazed when I took military science and we did mortar sighting that we always overshot on purpose for the first shot, and then undershot on the second shot. Then, from the information that the forward observer relayed to us, we were able to pinpoint the target.The first two shots were always based on calculated and estimated data or mathematical maps that had to be correlated to the territory by the observations of a human in the field. Only when those two had been lined up could we proceed with "fire for effect" which is the unleashing of the full firing capability of the mortar. Thus I learned, always aligns my internal maps with the territory before I unleash my full energies on a project. Making your biggest mistake first has the concomitant danger of getting you labeled as clumsy, but as Steiner points out, this is a necessary step towards progress.
On page 58 is the story of the tiny violet who becomes frightened by the sky when it first opens its petals for the first time. When she asks the dog he frightens her more by telling her it's a big violet that is going to crush her. She becomes more frightened. The next day a lamb tells her that the big violet will not crush her, that "that is a great big violet, and his love is much greater than your own love, even as he is much more blue than you are in your little blue form." The children will want to know why the dog said what he said and why the lamb said what he said to the violet. This is the form of teaching that will lead to a deep understanding of spirituality in harmony with what the child is able to absorb at a tender age. Things great and small in that story will help them to understand the things great and small that they will encounter in later life. This is a story that a wise teacher can draw on again and again as appropriate as the child matures. The child will only understand later as an adult of forty what they took on authority from their teacher.
So many teachers of arithmetic become upset when they see children counting on their fingers. Steiner says let them do it as it "calls forth the greatest possible skill" in them. (page 77) For, he says, "sports do not really make people skilled", but only those tasks which involve the entire body, such as "holding a pencil between the big toe and the next toe and learning to write with the foot, to write figures with the foot." The head is simply a passenger being driven by the chauffeur which is the body.
One should not learn to count by placing five blocks and saying "1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . ." but rather by seeing a whole and dividing it in two parts and noticing how the TWO make up the ONE. Our atomistic basis of materialistic thinking began when we started teaching counting in the former way. Far better to allow the concepts of subtraction and division to filter into a child's consciousness before addition and multiplication. Such a child will never tremble at subtraction or long division as children ordinarily do.
He tells a humorous and insightful story about two children Henry and Anna. The mother told Henry to divide it for him and Anna, but do it in the Christian way, which the mother explained, meant he must give Anna the bigger piece. Henry thought about it for a second and said, "In that case, let Anna divide it in the Christian way!"
The key to successful education is to draw out the child in the right way at the right time of its development. Steiner provides us with abundant insights as a spiritual scientist on how a child's development proceeds. When the child is born, its body is taken 100% from its mother and only after birth does the etheric body begin working on building up the second physical body, a process which consumes all the energies of the etheric body for seven years. Seven years, as you will remember from biology, is how long it takes for all the cells of the human body to completely replaced. The etheric body is the sculptor, rightly understood, of the child's body, and it begins immediately after its birth in that task. Ever wonder why a seven year old loves to model forms and paint them?
[page 92] For the first seven years of life the etheric body has been carrying out modeling and painting within the physical body. Now that it has nothing further to do regarding the physical body, or at least not as much as before, it wants to carry its activity outside.
All the while the etheric body is being drawn out of the child's body between seven and fourteen years old, the astral body is being drawn inward. Upon the completion of the drawing in process of the astral body, puberty with its human sexuality and capability for reproduction begins. This drawing in process takes place in an astral form of inspiration, a breathing-in that Steiner describes thus:
[page 96] So that during this time when the astral body is gradually finding its way into the physical body with the help of the air breathed in, it is playing upon something that is stretched across like strings of an instrument in the center of the body, that is, upon the spinal column. Our nerves are really a kind of lyre, a musical instrument, an inner musical instrument that resounds up into the head.
What does this tell the wise teacher to do for musical education for their children? The teacher should provide activities in which the children can come to feel what it means for "their own musical being to flow over into the objective instrument." He cautions that a piano is the absolute worst instrument for the child at this point. Instead, a recorder, or some other simple wind instrument, should be employed so the child may feel the music resonating within itself, just as its astral body resonates with its spinal column.
There was a situation comedy called Happy Days that ran on television for many years starring a character called Fonzie. In early episodes Rickie, Pottsy, Ralph, and the other boys who admired Fonzie's style, would exclaim, "AAA!" whenever the Fonz did something that astonished them. In later episodes, Fonzie adopted the saying "AAA!" as a sort of pre-emptive strike of the automatic exclamation he expected to follow. In his analysis of the natural meanings of sounds, Steiner said, some fifty years before Fonzie said his first "AAA!", "... in every language, English included, we find that the vowel A expresses astonishment and wonder." (Page 102)
Our grandchildren, Katie (9) and Weslee (7) were visiting a week ago as I began to grind some coffee beans. In astonishment, Katie asked, "Coffee comes from beans?" "Sure," I said, and she and Weslee gathered close to me as I showed them the beans. I put two half beans together to show how they formed an ovoid solid and explained how coffee was discovered. Some goats were seen cavorting on Turkish hillsides after eating the beans from this plant. Curious, the Turkish shepherds began to experiment with eating the bitter green beans and gradually discovered that if they roasted the beans, crushed them, and then boiled them, that the liquid made a delightful and refreshing drink which we now call coffee. The beans I had came from Costa Rica, so I asked if either of them knew where Costa Rica was. Nope. So we went over the encyclopedia and looked up Costa Rica on a map, then went to globe to look at where it existed relative to Louisiana where we were. This little adventure in learning went on delightfully for about twenty minutes. I hadn't read the following passage at the time, but it speaks volumes to the pedagogy of young children. Lessons that proceed, as mine did, from life draw children out, and they will pursue knowledge for its own worth and will never tire until they have exhausted all the possibilities.
Finally, as much as it is urged that teachers learn from their students and share what they learn with other teachers, it is hard to find exemplary cases of such systematic sharing going on in either secondary or post-secondary educational institutions with the exception of Waldorf Schools. Such meetings were built into the very structure of Waldorf education by its founder Rudolf Steiner some eighty years ago, and it will be well to end this review of The Kingdom of Childhood with his words to the Waldorf educators in Torquay, England.
[page 118] To support this we have our teachers' meetings in the Waldorf School, which are the heart and soul of the teaching. In these meetings, all the teachers speak of what they as individuals have learned from their classes and from all the children in them, so that each one learns from the other. No school is really alive where this is not the most important thing, this regular meeting of the teachers.
THUS A TEACHER, SO ALSO A LEARNER!
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4. Michael Paulsen's Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom
I. Teaching & Learning — An Overview
In my statement of curriculum, teaching, and learning philosophy last semester, I shared with you the phrase: Thus A Teacher, So Also A Learner, which summarizes for me the dynamic flow of teaching and learning between the teacher and a student in any interaction. About five years ago I wrote a poem which elaborates on the theme and expresses the sense that the roles of teaching and learners flow back and forth between the assigned teacher and the assigned student:
Thus A Teacher, So Also A Learner
Teaching is forming a knot in a loosened mind;
Teaching is loosening a knot
in a formed mind.
Teaching is learning in the other direction —
When the teacher forms a knot
in the learner's mind,
one loosens in the teacher's;
When the teacher loosens a knot
in the learner's mind,
one forms in the teacher's.
It all happens at the same time:
Thus a Teacher, So Also A Learner.
Poem Copyright ©1995 by Bobby Matherne
The knot may be either a localized creation of meaning or an unreasonable expectation. When a student learns something from a teacher, a new meaning is created in the student's mind. When a teacher encounters the unique personality of the student, some expectation about that student will be either exceeded or not met, and the teacher must untie that knot of expectation, must re-arrange their map of the student to correspond to the territory. Thus the student teaches the teacher about the student.
When the student holds an unreasonable expectation about the subject matter or the teacher, the teacher's job is to loosen that knot. By loosening the student's knot, the teacher learns from the experience about a way of loosening the knot that works again or for the first time: thus a teacher, so also a learner.
The Live Lecturer in the Classroom:
"Why have lectures survived since the invention of print?" asks McKeachie in his textbook, Teaching Tips, at the front of his Chapter 5, Lecturing. In the McKeachie, et al, article in the Feldman and Paulsen textbook, we read:
[page 115] Not only is the lecturer a model in terms of motivation and curiosity, the lecturer also models ways of approaching problems, portraying a scholar in action in ways that are difficult for other media or methods of instruction to achieve. In fact there is some evidence suggesting that one of the advantages of live professors is the tendency of people to model themselves after individuals whom they perceive as living, breathing, human beings with characteristics that can be admired and emulated.
The essay points us to two distinct advantages of a live professor in front of the students, but it neglects the bi-directional interaction back and forward through which the professors actually shape their presentation as they go along based on feedback from students. In addition, there is an invisible channel of communication which many people have access to, but few have any words with which to express what happened. Here's an example from my own experience:
A couple of weeks ago, as I was reading aloud to my wife, Del, something I'd just written, she interrupted me at the end of a sentence. In the middle of reading that sentence, I was suddenly taken by an idea of an alternate way to approach explaining something, but I did not vary the tempo or tone of my reading. Del had been receiving the communication streaming from me with no problems until the point when suddenly what was streaming from me no longer matched the words coming from my mouth. It occurred to me at that time that the importance of written words is the thought paths that they carry us and others along.
Here’s another example from my personal experience, one that happened several years after I wrote this original paper for my college course:
My friend, Ed, bought a Mavica FD100 Digital Camera while I was visiting him. I owned a FD83 Mavica which had an adapter to charge one battery while you’re using the camera with another battery. We couldn’t find the charger adapter in the box when we unpacked the camera, so we went back to Circuit City where he bought the camera. The young clerk tried to sell us a multiple use charger and I said, “Forget it, I want to talk to the manager.” It didn’t seem possible that Sony would sell a camera that it was impossible to use without buying some external adapter. Something was wrong and I wanted to get to the bottom of the situation. The manager came over and explained about the power plug in the side of the camera and suddenly I got the picture directly from his mind. “Aha!” I thought, as the manager continued to talk, but I wasn’t listening, “There’s no separate adapter! You simply plug in the power to the camera and that charges the battery!” The young clerk didn’t have that understanding and therefore didn’t have that image.
Here was another case of direct mind to mind transfer of information. The manager had barely said a couple of words, certainly not enough words to indicate the reality that I had just experienced directly, but here inside of me I suddenly knew exactly what the solution was. It came directly from his mind. The words were superfluous! His talking only got in the way in the sense that we could leave immediately with our problem solved, but had to allow him to finish his sentence and his explanation so that he was convinced that it was solved. If he had only looked at me during my moment of revelation, he would have also realized that further talking was superfluous. All this understanding of the interior side of what happened in Circuit City came to me a week later as I was writing in my journal.
What this means to me, vis-à-vis teaching in person, is that when professors develop a lesson plan, they must assimilate the material so that their innate knowledge of the subject is conveyed to the student as they, live in the classroom, use the words to guide their thoughts into the various pathways, and those thoughts will be assimilated likewise by the students. The alternative to understanding the situation in this way is to suffer under the illusion that a Teaching Assistant reading the Professor's lecture in class would be equally effective as having the live Professor there conveying a body of assimilated knowledge while speaking the words of the lecture. There is something more in a live lecture that cannot be communicated in a recorded or otherwise simulated lecture. As I wrote in Karmic Relationships, Vol. 4, "real teaching takes place not so much in the content of what the teacher says, but in the living contact from spirit to spirit by means of which the understanding is transmitted to the student." This living contact is the process through which concepts are directly and truly communicated from one person to another.
Reading: The Live Lecturer Within
Above I wrote about listening to a live lecture and how it's the thoughts of the lecturer that communicates directly to my mind while he uses the words that he says as a guide that takes him along the path of his lesson plan and helps him to think the thoughts in the right sequence so that those listening to him and receiving his thought patterns directly may make complete sense of what he's trying to communicate to them. What a sentence! Do you like it? I do. I doubt anyone could read and understand it except in situ as it requires one to have built a reader inside of oneself prior to having read it. Most summaries are that way — they make little sense until you have read the entire body of work they summarize.
Since writing my Teaching & Learning essay about live lecturers, it has always bothered me that, when listening to a lecturer, there is another person out there who is communicating, mind-to-mind, directly with you, but in reading there is no other person! That fact seemed to make my argument untenable about the nature of communication. Obviously communication from one mind to another happens in live lectures and in taped lectures and in the reading of books. But only in the live lecture is the thoughts of the lecturer available for direct communication, mind-to-mind. What's going on here?
While reading the classic book, Seven Kinds of Ambiguity by William Empson(1), I had an insight. What I wrote in the top margin of page 14 was this, "Who is the other when I'm reading but myself?" Suddenly I had the answer to this unanswered question that I had been holding for some three years. Here is where my insight comes in. It's so simple, it's hard to explain. The other is my self. When I'm reading I am receiving direct mind-to-mind communication, not from the author to my self, but from my self to my self!
Said differently: when I read, I can only make sense of what I'm reading if my mind is receiving direct communication from the me that exists at the point right before I read the next word or phrase or sentence. For me to understand what I'm reading, a part of me must already understand most of what the next sentence is going to contain. The me that already knows communicates with the me that doesn't know as the words proceed into my thoughts, mind-to-mind. Thus, while one part of me was reading Empson's words, another part was doing the live lecture using Empson's lesson plan.
Okay, dear Reader — is any of this useful? How did the "you" inside of you do with this communication? Obviously I need a better term to describe this process than the "you inside of you," even though that is descriptive of the process I refer to. How about the "live lecturer within"? Thus the heading of this section of the essay, and the heading would make a good title for a book on the subject of reading.
In order to read and comprehend, one must have created a live lecturer within oneself that is thinking the thoughts the way the author was, or as close to what the author was thinking as possible. As one reads a book, this live lecturer within or LLW communicates its thoughts, mens-a-mens, mind-to-mind. This explains the processes that Mortimer Adler in his famous How To Read A Book book calls "syntopical reading" and "coming to terms" with an author. Both of these processes are crucial to developing the LLW. The presence of an actual live lecturer is a huge boost to learning, because the lecturer will be thinking the thoughts already that need to be communicated mind-to-mind and the audience, if they listen attentively instead of distract themselves with spurious thoughts, will be able to absorb those thoughts.
I remember a 1975 lecture in geology in which I learned all about geology. The lecturer was an amazing young lady who had done some of the original work on plate tectonics in the middle of the 20th Century. She was lecturing at some college in Massachusetts where my wife was taking geology, and this was a suggested lecture for her to attend. I accompanied her and I'll never forget when the lecturer said there are three kinds of rocks: pink rocks, black rocks, and green rocks. The pink rock floats on the green rock and the black rock appears when the green rock seeps past the pink rock into the ocean. The pink rock is granite and formed the continental plates. The green rock is the athenosphere that the granite floats on. It is molten and heavier than granite, so the granite floats on it. The granite makes up the crust of the Earth. When the green rock seeps into the ocean bed, it is extremely hot and when it mixes with the cold ocean salt water, it makes basalt, which is the black rock.
Did I memorize this? Not in the sense of recording all the words she said. I didn't take any written notes. No, it came to me directly from her mind. I saw the green athenosphere, the floating granite plates, the cataclysmic mixing of molten athenosphere with the ocean water to form basalt. Thus, writing about it is as simple as re-running what happened within me as I listened to her live lecture and reporting on it.
All this helps me enormously to understand why it is so hard to read Rudolf Steiner's books — one has to create a LLW that approximates Steiner himself, no mean task certainly.
In fact, Steiner undoubtedly understood this process himself quite well. As I noted in my Background to the Gospel of St. Mark review:How did one person communicate a truth to another person before writing was invented? Steiner says it was by a "direct streaming of knowledge from soul to soul."
Edward R. Smith's work on the Bible and Anthroposophy, such as The Burning Bush is written mostly for those who already understand the Bible so, while there is a stretch for his readers to understand Steiner's work on anthroposophy, Ed is able to apply a little Bible liniment to the thinking muscles to help his readers make the stretch without tearing any muscles.
When I write my reviews, I am sharing the thoughts of my LLW with my readers as well as the words from the author of the book I'm reviewing that triggered those thoughts in my LLW.
II. Teaching & Learning — Habit Formation & Counseling
As I mentioned in my five-minute lesson plan that I didn't get to present in class, there are four steps to the process of habit formation according to Don Robinson in the memory course I took from him in Los Angeles in 1970. These four steps shown below are related to the Paulsen and Feldman textbook article, especially in Figure 1 entitled "The Process of Instructional Improvement" (page 629). To relate the four steps below to the three steps of Figure 1, Steps 1 and 2 represent the UNFREEZING phase, where the instructor first becomes aware of a new instructional skill and realize they don't know how to use it, up until now. Step 3 is the CHANGING Phase where the instructor becomes Consciously Competent with the new skill. And finally in Step 1, the REFREEZING Phase where they become Unconsciously Competent with the new skill.
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5. Stephen Edelglass's The Physics of Human Experience
This book by Edelglass brings a vision of a new paradigm to replace the so-called "objective" world of mechanical forces impelling objects around to create observed phenomena.
[page 13 John Barnes] . . . he now saw the possibility of apprehending their lawfulness through rigorous observation and intuitive thinking. For example, instead of explaining colors or sounds in terms of electromagnetic or mechanical waves (reductively), one could intuit the lawfulness that manifests directly through the dynamic world of color or through the world of sound. A whole new vista of phenomenological science opened up before Stephen's imagination.
After a visit with Frances Wools, a science teacher from England who was experienced in teaching science in Waldorf Schools, Stephen left his job as college professor and became a high school teacher. This was his personal testimony to the value he saw in Steiner's phenomenal approach to scientific understanding and education.
In the preface to his book, The Marriage of Sense and Thought, Stephen writes about how the change in himself first began:
[page 20] Increasingly during those early years, I was disturbed by the chasm between the world of professional life and that of inner experience and personal ideals. If science was the method and measure of objective truth, then it seemed as if my personal conduct and humanity were meaningless . . . A few years later, while teaching a graduate course in quantum mechanics, I finally saw the fallacy in thinking that science had the last word concerning the nature of reality — that somehow philosophical questions came in the form of trying to understand the results of science, after the fact so to speak, while the presuppositions upon which science was built were left unexamined and taken for granted. . . With this realization I felt freed to explore new possibilities.
One of the new possibilities was as a Waldorf teacher of science blocks. There he began to experience personally the "same sense of empowerment and joy in his adolescent students as they learned to trust their own experience and their own thinking." The models he had been taught in the academy, he thenceforth began to call "pseudo-phenomenal" models.
[page 21 John Barnes] From this point onward Stephen vehemently rejected explanations of phenomena in terms of what he called "pseudo-phenomenal" models. When people began to speak about atoms as though they were actual phenomena, actual things, Stephen could become very irritated, even angry. He accepted models as such, as aids in calculating certain effects, but he realized that thinking in terms of models was a diversion away from the richness of the actual phenomenal world into a world of mechanical abstractions. For Stephen, this was not merely a theoretical distinction, it was a moral one. He loved the phenomena and felt a commitment and responsibility toward them. For Stephen, "the marriage of sense and thought" was more than a metaphor, it was a deeply felt experience. "Explaining away" a phenomenon by reducing it to a hypothetical mechanism meant obliterating and falsifying its essential nature.
What are the steps to an ecology of education? Stephen gives us a simple answer: when the education proceeds from the whole to parts. How does one teach multiplication and division? Steiner begins first with division and a simple demonstration in which children are asked to place an equal amount of apples in front of two people, then three people, etc. From the whole to the parts. Division is then seen to Waldorf students as simpler than multiplication, whereas in the way I was taught division was made to seem more complicated. Stephen illustrates the difference between the textbook way of teaching about mirrors using lines representing rays of light versus using a holistic photograph of mountains reflected in a lake (Page 43). The rays of light are pseudo-phenomenal and one can see the child's eyes glaze over as a teacher begins talking about these non-objects undergoing a non-objective event. Replace that with a photo of a real lake, and even elementary students' eye will light up when they see the relationship of the real mountains to the ones reflected in the lake.
Most physicists are taught that Isaac Newton wasted the last several decades of his life dabbling in occult sciences such as alchemy, but Stephen shows us how Newton ushered in the possibility of human freedom in his lecture on "Isaac Newton and the Chickens". One needs to read the entire lecture, but here is a brief summary of the lecture:
[page 71] In the old picture of the world as cosmos, however, the structuring forces stream in from the periphery. In contrast, the Newtonian structuring force resides within matter and emanates from the center. As mathematically formulated, the action of this force is mechanical in nature. As a result, the image of the universe as a clockworks replaced the organic view of it as cosmos.
But there is another aspect of this image that has yet to be fully appreciated. If, true to the alchemical spirit in which Newton worked, we try to read the outer macrocosmic picture in order to understand Man (the microcosm), gravity is an image of a potential spiritual force that resides not only within matter, but also within Man. Its centric force symbolizes the ability to act independently and therefore the possibility of freedom!
Oh yes. What about the chickens in the title of this lecture? They are the alchemical hens, that is, the fire that Newton used to hatch the philosophical egg (his vessel or cauldron). What Newton hatched outwardly was gravity, a force that held the world together. But he also hatched a seed image of the possibility of human freedom.
Steiner wrote in many places about the importance of understanding the evolution of consciousness in humankind, especially the emergence of our "I" in recent centuries. Apart from guesses made by anthropologists from the shape of the human skulls in prehistorical humans, our best physical evidence is found in our historical documents. Stephen points out how Julian Jaynes in his book, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", claims that one can not find a single example of someone making a decision without consulting an oracle or having some god appear to them. Even Homer could not start writing "The Iliad" without pleading, "Speak to me, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles." Stephen took up Jaynes's challenge and examined the Gilgamesh legend. He found "there is not a single example of a person or a being making a decision as a result of going through some kind of self-conscious examination." On the other hand, one can point to many egregious acts which should not have stood the glare of intense self-conscious examination, such as that of Agamemnon who executed his daughter at the advice of the gods to get the winds blowing to sail towards Troy for battle.
[page 86] Well, from the point of view of the evolution of consciousness here we are. Where are we? If we compare ourselves to primitive people, what we discover is that we have gained individuality. By the world becoming objects, we also become an object and we have this boundary between ourselves and the world. If you experience yourself as part of the world, you no longer have that boundary, you don't have that individuality. The baby says "I" at a certain age, and from then on we all very strongly feel our own individuality. But there has been quite a payment for it. That payment is that nature is devoid of what I am going to call spirit. We gain our individuality at the expense of the loss of the experience of spirit in the world, which means that the objects of the world are simply things, they have no symbolic content. And if you live in a world of objects in empty space, you live in a meaningless world. Everything that gives life meaning is experienced within our selves. Are you getting some sense of the change? Just think of the Aristotelian idea of motion: motion was a becoming.
Goethe rejected living in a world of objects in empty space. He envisioned and applied a living connection with the phenomena of the world and eschewed what Stephen calls "pseudo-phenomenal" explanations of world events. He could look at a plant and visualize its progression from seed into mature fruiting plant, even seeing the leaves turning into the colored portions of flowers.
[page 132] The goal of Goethe's science is the discovery of the primal conditions responsible for specific appearances. Other than the generating conditions being present, there is no expectation that primal phenomena themselves be "explained," for example, by an objective mechanism thought of as working behind the appearances. Sky color is not explained by scattering of light which, in spite of the fact that it can not be seen or otherwise sensed, is imagined as if it were an object-like entity traveling through space. Similarly, refraction is not explained as a consequence of the bending of objectified light at the boundary of a medium through which the light is imagined to travel more slowly. The archetypal conditions for the appearance of primal phenomena are sufficient in themselves. Pseudo-phenomenal explanatory objectifications are rejected in the methodology of Goethe's science. This rejection is strongly implied in Professor Brady's examination of direct experience. There simply is no need for employing pseudo-phenomenal models. According to this methodology, mathematics is employed to represent relations between phenomena rather than properties of hypothesized underlying models.
Stephen came to appreciate deeply Goethe's approach to science and saw that it offered a means for science to bring a living presence into its world-size black box full of empty space with scattered objects bouncing around. One gains a new purchase on the world with Stephen Edelglass's Goethean approach to science. One can enter the mirror called science and find, as Alice did, a living world inside that otherwise could only exist as deathlike abstractions.
[page 32] My purpose is neither to give a further description of the principles of Goethean science, nor to discuss Goethe's science within an historical context. Instead, I wish to suggest that a viable scientific methodology that rejects pseudo-phenomenal hypotheses is possible and desirable. That is, a rejection of objectification need not hamper scientific cognition. On the contrary, it encourages presence in the world rather than alienation from it.
With the advent of the twentieth century and its quantum mechanics paradoxes, physicists were in a dilemma as to which model to believe the particle or the wave model for light. They had reached the limit of their object-based models of the world and had to step back and reconsider the usability of such models at all. They adopted Goethe's model-free approach to science as soon as they were forced to focus solely upon creating relationships for the phenomena they observed, and they reluctantly tossed their object-like models of quantum mechanics into the dustbin of history.
[page 134] No longer could physicists feel that they were cognizing reality. Their models were merely models, their knowledge merely operational. Modern physics makes clear the inability to gain reality through an object-like mechanistic basis conceived as the causation behind the phenomenal world.
Einstein sought to achieve an acceptable model for quantum mechanics and was confronted with such incommensurable enigmas as his famous Einstein-Poldosky-Rosen (EPR) Paradox. If one describes the EPR Paradox from a purely phenomenal standpoint, it is understandable, even though it seems to describe that any two objects in contact with one another remain in contact no matter how far they are separated in space. The problem is the use of the pseudo-phenomenal term object in the above explanation. Objects in the real world have no definable boundary — they extend outward infinitely and thus there is no complete separation in the phenomenal world, only in our abstract pseudo-phenomenal world of objects.
We have come to learn that there are no suitably imaginable models of quantum mechanics. Once we let go of our unsuitable object-based models, the paradoxes disappear. It is time for us to retrofit earlier science with this knowledge gained in quantum mechanics and discard all pseudo-phenomenal models and ways of talking about reality.
[page 134] However, the paradoxical nature of quantum mechanics is connected with the unimaginability of the model. Pseudo-phenomenal model-free epistemologies are therefore not subject to such paradoxes and thus do not undermine our sense of reality.
Reductionism, which worked so well for scientists in the field of mechanics after Newton's time, no longer works in the new world science has led itself into. It must now let go of reducing all phenomena to mechanical explanations and trust its direct perception of reality. By doing so, science may once again regain its senses.
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Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.“Seven Beauties” (1975)Giancarlo Giannini stars as Seven Beauties, his nickname as brother of seven ugly sisters. He plays the slick Italian gigolo, the murder, the escaped jailbird, and WWII concentration camp prisoner. All with panache and verve.
“Enchanted April” (1992) Watching this again after a decade, I noticed the dreary opening in rain-soggy London and caught a very young Michael Kitchens renting the place to the two ladies. Can’t wait for a Blu-Ray version of this one. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Fanny Trilogy: Disk 2, Fanny” (1931) Marius goes to sea believing Fanny doesn't love him, but she wants him to follow his dream and she marries Panisse to have a father for her and Marius's son. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“The Fanny Trilogy: Disk 3, Cesar” (1931) Cesar becomes godfather for Fanny's son, Panisse dies, and Marius is befriended by his own son, Cesar and reconciled with Fanny. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Island on Bird Street” (1997) Incredible adventures of a ten-year-old Jewish boy surviving alone in a ghetto in Poland as it is being cleansed of inhabitants by the Nazis. 63 days he waits for his father’s promised return. His only companions: a mouse and a copy of Robinson Crusoe. Will he and his father ever meet again? A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Benjamin Button” (2008) A son born looking like an old man is abandoned by his father and raised by a woman who worked in an old age home, a great place to grow up young in. A Titanic-like script with an aged woman revealing memories: Daisy on her death bed to her daughter who her real father was. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Lake House” (2006) is worth another look in Blu-Ray. Appreciated more after watching Il Mare, the original version in Japanese. Continuity, story-line, cinematography much improved. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in all-time best performances. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Bride Wars” (2009) Chick flick par excellence — two brides on a collision course in spite of being best friends. Rapid-fire dialogue. Guys can leave the room during this one and not miss much.
“The Express” (2008) a fine movie of the truncated career of Ernie Davis, who won Heismann Trophy at Syracuse, first man to have done so. I wondered why he never made a splash in the NFL. He was signed by Browns who retired his jersey No. 45. Haven’t heard about his NFL career? This great movie has all the answers. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Wives and Daughters, Disk 1 of 2” (1999) an Austenesque tale of men and the wives and daughters they deserve.
“Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist” (2008) A playlist full of hits for the young and the young at heart.
“Body of Lies” (2008) It’s a battle between the spy agencies of Jordan and the USA to find this terrorist and the secret lies in the bodies in the Fig Tree. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Live Free or Die Hard” (2007) When Bruce Willis takes aim and fires a police car in the air to down a helicopter, it’s just another day at work and another marvelous Willis performance that will keep you awake watching it. Plot summary: John McClane finds a man for his daughter — the hard way.
“The Secret Lives of Bees” (2008) about a beautiful pre-teen (Dakota Fanning) who meets August, April, May, and June in the pink house who produce honey with the black Madonna on the label. Love fills the gap left by the teen’s lost of her mother and father to overflowing.
“Yes Man” (2008) Jim Carrey attends an est-like seminar to learn to say Yes to Life, but applies it indiscriminately to everything and everything goes great and bad at the same time. Side-splitting laughter bouts abound in this one, like “We have a fainter on the head-removal floor.” A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Wives and Daughters” (1999) Molly takes on more secrets till finally her dad forces the truth out of her, and in the end she and Roger are finally together. Cynthia could have never written this story, only Molly whose strong I helped all those she came in contact with.
“Valkyrie” (2008) is a movie which shows that not all German officers were enthralled by Hitler, especially after the worst atrocities committed by his SS troops. Cruise stars in this gripping movie as Graf von Stauffenberg who led a coup d'etat involving the last assassination attempt on der Führer. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“The Gods Must Be Crazy” (1980) about a Coke bottle thrown from a plane into the Masai Mara and one of the small click-tongue people picked it up. It was the hardest thing his people had ever seen or used and everyone wanted it, so he walked to the end of the world to throw it away. His adventures along the way are insightful, humorous , with a bit of romance.
“Doubt” (2008) Do you expect a definite ending from a movie named “Doubt”. I doubt it’s going to happen, but you can watch this well-made movie and find out for yourself.
“A Very Long Engagement” (2004) This is a great saga of a young French woman whose fiancé was lost in the Great War, but who never gave up trying to locate him. Worth going through all the lugubrious scenes in the trenches and all the various characters to follow this amazing and complex story which is woven together into this tapestry of love and presented with great cinematography and acting. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Wanted for Murder” (1946) Classic film noir deserves the celebrity of Citizen Kane. A thriller, murder mystery, and psychological horror story wrapped up in one DVD. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“The Passion of Ayn Rand” (1999) ably portrayed by Helen Mirren with Eric Stoltz as her cardboard sidekick Nathaniel Branden with a passion for women. Movie reveals the back story of the writing of “Atlas Shrugged.” Ayn was struggling between the typewriter sheets with John Galt as she was struggling between the bed sheets with Branden. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“House Bunny” (2008) Absolutely charming and funny film about a gal who is kicked out of the Playboy Mansion on a ruse and becomes a sorority House Mother. Battling low expectations and snobbery by the use of non sequiturs like, “Vapid? That’s good, isn’t?” our heroine falls in love with her new mansion. A lot of don’t miss misses in this DON’T MISS HIT! ! !
“Young @ Heart” (2007) A documentary of a singing group in Northhampton, Massachusetts whose average age is 85. They sing James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and others' hard rock songs in a way that brings new life to the songs and tears to the eyes of listeners. A DON’T MISS HIT !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“Anna Karenina” (1961) Sean Connery was a lot kinder to Ian Fleming than to Leo Tolstoy. His Vronsky was vile and insipid and his mere presence could not save this turkey of a movie. All the best of Tolstoy’s classical novel was left in the book, and the worst morphed into a Hollywood soap opera. A DVD STOMPER!
“Enduring Love” (2004) is an enduring bore, if you endure it all the way to the final unsatisfying minutes with its gratuitous deo ex machina denouement.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Il Mare” (2000) This Japanese movie provided the basis for “The Lake House” (2006) and this time the American film is far superior to its original foreign inspiration. This version was slow, disconnected, hard-to-follow, even though we knew the plot outline. Not a bad movie, but not worth watching this instead of Lake House. Il Mare is the name given to the eponymous Lake House, “The Sea”.
“Frozen River” (2008) A woman’s path to redemption run across a frozen river and back carrying illegals. Can the baby survive being tossed out with the excess baggage in 20 below zero? Can her son survive the fire on the trailer home caused by his big 15-yr-old brother trying to thaw out pipes? Can Ray ever do anything right for her family?
“Welcome to Paradise” (2008) a country town 2 hours outside of Dallas to which Debbie the preacher is re-assigned. Women preachers and homeless people constitute this Hollywood message in search of a movie.
“Quantum Solace” (2008) begins with a BANG with lots of races in cars, on horses, in airplanes, across rooftops, on boats, on motorcycles, across balconies, with helicopters and fighter planes, and a lot of hu-hu-hu excitement, but Oh? did I mention the script? Imminently unrememberable. Only solace was when this turkey ended.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This Cajun Joke was adapted from grandparent story sent to from my cousine in Florida, Ginny Matherne, on May 19, 2009:
4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Boudreaux and Marie’s son T-Paul came home from the second grade one day, and Boudreaux asked him, “Wahl, what you learned in school today?”
T-Paul looked up at his dad and said, “We learned how to make babies.”
Boudreaux glanced over to Marie with a puzzled look, and Marie saved him saying, “Mais, dat’s interesting, T-Paul. Told me and Paw-paw, how do you make babies, Cher?”
“Mais, it’s simple, Maman,” T-Paul said brightly, “You just change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
5. RECIPE of the MONTH for June, 2009 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Egg Muffin
Background on Egg Muffin:
One of the treats I used to enjoy on the road was a hot Egg McMuffin for breakfast. But breakfast for me was usually about 10:30 to 11:00 and since McDonald's insisted that this particular treat was only for breakfast and breakfast had to end immediately at 10:30 am, I soon forgot about trying to buy one after having been rebuffed at 10:31 by recalcitrant megacorporation's counter thugs. With the Egg McMuffin, I could give Del the Canadian bacon slice which I didn't eat, but it soon became easier for me to have Bobby Jeaux make me an Egg Muffin in his Kitchen. As I watched him go, I marveled at how simple it was. In under five minutes, I had the hot treat on my plate ready to eat and all the utensils were stored that countertop was clean. Plus the muffin was split by a fork which is a great improvement over the sliced with a knife ones which have no crunchy texture to them.
A couple of pats of butter
One fork-split English Muffin
One slice cheddar or American cheese
First arrange all ingredients as this can go very quickly if you like.
Put toaster on HIGH for English Muffin. You want the rough edges from the fork-splitting to be brown. We use a 2 Setting for normal wheat toast and a 5 for English Muffins. Drop in English Muffin.
Turn on burner under small non-stick frying pan to HIGH.
PLace two or three pats of butter in pan. With spatula move the butter around and as soon as it's melted, lower heat to MEDIUM, and crack egg into pan. Hold onto one each half of egg shell in each hand and use it to break the yolk and spread the yolk out as big a circle as yout English Muffin. With spatula, as white begins to appear, gently lift each of four side of the circle of egg to form a square about the size of the muffin. Before yellow of egg hardens, place the slice of cheese on top of it. It should stay only long enough to begin to melt, then with spatula left egg from pan and place upon one of the English Muffin slices. Take the pan and drip any melted butter onto the other slice, going in a circle. See closeup of final Egg Muffin here.
Eat immediately or within a minute or two. Enjoy!
With non-stick pans, you can splash a bit of water after cooking is over and wipe clean. Use only minor bit of water as you want the pan to remain hot after it's been wiped which will ensure it's ready for the next egg muffin or whatever. The only dirty item you will have to wash is the plate you serve the Egg Muffin on. Plus the spatula.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==On page 91 of The Little Prince, the little blond prince tells the pilot, “I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy.” The pilot said nothing. The little prince continued, “But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old shells . . .” That passage inspired me to write a poem about the empty shell.
6. POETRY by BOBBY from The Little Prince:
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The Empty Shell
The Little Prince said,
“It is not sad to look upon an empty shell.”
God is a Hunter who loads us into his gun
and fires us towards our goal.
We leave behind only an empty shell
after a life well-spent.
It is not sad to look upon an empty shell.
It is a sign of a life well-spent.
Do not look upon this empty shell in sadness.
In His time God loaded us into His gun
and fired us towards our goal.
Let us spend our life well
so when others look upon
our empty shell
They will see a sign of a life well-spent.
It is not sad to look upon an empty shell.
It is a sign of a life well-spent.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for June:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Arras is a heavy tapestry, especially one hung as a curtain concealing an alcove. "Quick, behind the arras" is a common command in Shakespearean plays to conceal one or more players. Hamlet stabs someone hidden behind an arras. The town, Arras, over which Saint-Exupéry is destined to fly in this story, is where the heavy curtains were first made, and now it appears it will be curtains for Saint-Exupéry, his navigator and gunner, because hardly any planes returned from missions over Arras.
There is no safe route to Arras. If one flies high, the German Messerschmidts will come down from above and strafe one's plane to destruction. If one flies lower down, the ack-ack of the anti-craft will tear one's plane to shreds. Any minute Saint-Exupéry will get his orders and be off on a mission from which he does not expect to return, heading behind the curtain of death. He thinks of his old schoolroom, a room much like the one he is waiting in, and then his reverie is broken sharply — the door opens.
[page 13, 14] And like a court sentence the words ring out in the quiet schoolroom:
"Captain de Saint-Exupéry and Lieutenant Dutertre report to the major!"
Schooldays are over. Life has begun. . . .
The fact that we had been sent for meant that we were to be ordered out on a sortie. We had reached the last days of May, 1940, a time of full retreat, of full disaster. Crew after crew was being offered up as a sacrifice. It was as if you dashed glassfuls of water into a forest fire in the hope of putting it out.
They got their orders for a "damned awkward sortie" and that was that. "When a sortie was not 'awkward', one plane out of three got back." (Page 22) What can they do?
[page 16] Dutertre and I sat looking out of the window. Here too was a branch swaying in the breeze. I could hear the cackle of the hens. Our Intelligence Room had been set up in a schoolhouse; the major's office was in a farmhouse.
It would be easy to write a couple of fraudulent pages out of the contrast between this shining spring day, the ripening fruit, the chicks filling plumply out in the barnyard, the rising wheat — death at our elbow. I shall not write that couple of pages because I see no reason why the peace of a spring day should constitute a contradiction of the idea of death. Why should the sweetness of life be a matter for irony.
Saint-Exupéry's crew was in the intelligence business, but it was a bloody bad business. Even if they brought back information about the location of the enemy's troops, they had no way to get it to the Staff. The roads were jammed, the phone lines cut, and the Staff was constantly on the move. "The really important intelligence — the enemy's position — would have been furnished by the enemy himself." (Page 20) Their army was in retreat, facing a disastrous defeat, and Saint-Exupéry says, "The truth is that for a defeated army the problems themselves vanish." There's not much to be done, but still the French army is throwing a plane and its crew into the abyss of war, like a card player flinging a queen of spades on the table hoping against hope to take a trick.
Saint-Exupéry was not going to think about it sitting in his office in daylight. There would be time for thinking at night. Saint-Exupéry was awakened out of his reverie by the Major who offered to skip him for his sortie, but he insisted on taking the sortie. They take off and finally leveled out at 33,000 feet, kept alive by their flight suits and oxygen feeds. Saint-Exupéry likens it to sucking on a mechanical teat.
Never have I read a war story written with such feeling and insight as Saint-Exupéry. His is not the just-the-facts of Dragnet's Sargent Friday. No, Saint-Exupéry's facts include his feelings, his reverie, his intimate connection to his airplane, his meeting with death, and the futility of war itself.
He is flying a plane whose rudder worked fine when tested on the ground, but which invariably froze at its designed altitude. As he struggled with his feet pressing down to free the rudder, he was working as hard as if he were a worker lifting a piano, a task which obviously requires more oxygen than sitting quietly, but his oxygen supply only gave him the amount required for sitting quietly, adjusting its supply only for altitude and not for human requirement. A human hitched to a mechanical wet-nurse that can not feel its nursling passing out from lack of oxygen. There was Arras, hanging out there in front of him like the heavy tapestry it gave its name to, Arras, the curtains behind which his fate hung in the balance. It was curtains behind the curtain — and he knew it. He could only wait until time parted the curtain to reveal his fate. And in the waiting came thoughts of other emergencies.
Saint-Exupéry recalled an interview of a man pulled and resuscitated from a cave-in, how he answered the various questions about what happened, how he felt, what he thought. He worried about his pocket watch, whether it was smashed, but he couldn't move his hand to check it. Saint-Exupéry says we remain ourselves even in calamities, or at most we grow a slight bit, as if life at any age is a gradual continuation of the process of birth.
Saint-Exupéry loved childhood and wrote about it so memorably in his classic tale of The Little Prince, who like Peter Pan, lived among the stars and would never grow old. Nor would we ever grow old of these two preternatural boys.
[page 105, 106] When I was a small boy . . . . I speak of my early childhood, that is to say, of a vast region out of which all men emerge. When come I? I come from my childhood. I come from childhood as from a homeland.
People in the twenty-first century seem to be always on the move, commuting an hour or more each way to work, rushing off to the best place for lunch, speeding out of town every weekend, flying to exotic locations, as if being still were some kind of disease and staying home was a sign of convalescence. Saint-Exupéry saw that the true worth in us came when we were motionless. Saint-Exupéry saw deep into what constitutes humanness because he saw with his heart. He saw a density in silence, the silence that comes with being still in prayer, of being transfixed at one's instruments, of being vibrantly alive in moments of stillness and silence.
A Density in Silence
There is a density in silence . . .
— in the silence of a loving glance
— in the silence of a prayer
— in the silence of a caesura
— in the silence of a long hug.
There is a density in the silence of a wake
and a density in the eternal silence of death.
As an airplane pilot flying close to the ground most of the time, Saint-Exupéry had witnessed the moving streams of humanity clogging roads and towns, always on the move, filling every movable container with their earthly goods and bodies, dragging them slowly behind them, slow as molasses. Saint-Exupéry witnessed and commented upon the paradoxical aspects of this moving sea of humanity. No one discussed defeat, a defeat staring them in the face, onrushing behind them at breakneck speed, flying over them and strafing them, blowing up occasional cars and carts, annihilating but a few, nipping the flowing mass of humanity in the hock as a sheep herding dog would to keep them ever moving, inexorably on. Doomed, but not to be judged by defeat, was France — at least not in Saint-Exupéry's mind. With his heart he saw into the essence of things, things the history books make no notice of, as it is not visible to the eyes.
What could France do in the face of imminent defeat? What could a Frenchman do? Laugh? Is war funny? What could a farmer do with his haystacks to stop German tanks?
Soon, too soon, Saint-Exupéry's reverie was interrupted by anti-aircraft fire, but he describes it in prayer-like reverence and beauty. In the two passages below, one can create an mind's eye view of the scene portrayed on the cover (actually, inside cover) art.
[page 172] Each burst of a machine gun or a rapid-fire cannon shot forth hundreds of these phosphorescent bullets that followed one another like the. beads of a rosary. A thousand elastic rosaries strung themselves out towards the plane, drew themselves out to the breaking point, and burst at our height. When, missing us, the string went off at a tangent, its speed was dizzying. The bullets were transformed into lightning. And I flew drowned in a crop of trajectories as golden as stalks of wheat. I flew at the center of a thicket of lance strokes. I flew threatened by a vast and dizzying flutter of knitting needles. All the plain was now bound to me, woven and wound round me, a coruscating web of golden wire.
[page 174] I had been looking on at a carnival of light. The ceiling had risen little by little and I had been unaware of an intervening space between the clouds and me. I had been zigzagging along a line of flight dotted by ground batteries. Their tracer bullets had been spraying the air with wheat-colored shafts of light. I had forgotten that at the top of their flight the shells of those batteries must burst. And now, raising my head, I saw around and before me those rivets of smoke and steel driven into the sky in the pattern of towering pyramids.
I was quite aware that those rivets were no sooner driven than all danger went out of them, that each of those puffs possessed the power of life and death only for a fraction of a second.
We hear so much about the "heat of battle", but for Saint-Exupéry, it was much more than that. As one reads the next passage, one thinks that it is seeking those experiences that sends people hurling out of airplanes, jumping off of bridges, surfing 50 foot high waves, skiing down remote mountaintops, climbing Mount Everest, and doing all of the extreme sports that are splashed across media screens today. For Saint-Exupéry, it was a job, it was duty to his country; he loved flying more than being shot at, but surviving being shot at was like being continually being reborn, and that came as a shock to him. As Saint-Exupéry summed up his experience of this one day, it was not as if it were an extreme sport or a day at a carnival full of high-speed rides. — No, he compared it to a long life in a monastery.
Saint-Exupéry is at his best when he is talking about civilization, as you may have noticed. In this next passage he points out that without a farmer, a farm is just a field. I recall Earl Nightingale telling a story about a passerby who stopped his car to admire a farm, and told the farmer, "I guess God has really blessed this farm."
"Yes," the farmer said, "that is right — God has really blessed this farm, but you should have seen what it looked like when He had it all to himself."
[page 242, 243] I may, if I like, speak of a farm by referring to its fields, its streams, its pastures, its cattle. Each of these by itself, and all of them together, contribute to the existence of the farm. Yet in that farm there must be something which escapes material analysis, since there are farmers who are ready to ruin themselves for their farms. And it is that "something else" which is the essence of the farm and enhances the particles of which the farm is composed. The cattle, by that something else, become the cattle of a farm, the meadows the meadows of a farm, the fields the fields of a farm.
Saint-Exupéry's flight to Arras was supposed to be curtains for him, shredding him to pieces by ack-ack like thousand-foot long wildcats' claws, but miraculously he dodged the claws and arrived home again safely. Safe, but not unchanged. Safe, and stronger because he found himself along the way. Safe, having woven his ties with his farmer's family. He came back "to a civilization which had chosen Man as the keystone in its arch." He had done his service to an unseen God, but Arras had opened his eyes. He would fly again, he would write again, he would discover a little boy speaking up to him from the page on which he had just drawn him, he would reveal to many the wisdom of the sands, and forever etch on our memory the Fox's secret, that "it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye", and that essential thing is the meaning of things.
Read the Full Review at:
2.) ARJ2: Becoming the Archangel Michael’s Companions by Rudolf Steiner
Who is the Archangel Michael? Why does he appear in sculptures with his foot on a snake or a dragon? Why is he sometimes called St. Michael? Is he the same person as San Miguel, San Michele, or Saint Michelle? What is his relationship to St. George, who also is shown slaying a dragon? And, lastly what is the correct pronunciation of his name in English?
These are some of the questions which puzzled me when I first began to study Michael the Archangel. He is certainly a being whose legends and myths have proliferated over the centuries and over many cultures. San Miguel is his name in Spanish, San Michele in Italian, and Saint Michelle in French. In English we pronounce his name My-Kull, but it is better to separate his name into three syllables, Mi-cha-el, to remind us that he is Micha of el (Micha of God) — el is the last syllable of all various archangels, Gabriel, Raphael, Samael, etal.
There is the city Archangel in Russia named after him, there are various cities, counties, islands, etc named San Miguel, there is a museum in Italy named San Michele, there is a fortress Mont St. Michelle on the coast of France, and there are many churches in America named St. Michael. Many churches, with other Saints' names, have a statue honoring Michael the Archangel prominently displayed. In many cultures we encounter this powerful archangel in many names. Somehow, in England, his legend got merged with that of St. George and the dragon — Michael is usually shown standing on a writhing dragon with one foot and applying his spear to it, whereas St. George is usually shown on horse back applying his spear to the dragon.
What is the meaning of the dragon which appears ubiquitously with Michael the Archangel? Note that the dragon is dark skinned and it is always portrayed alive and squirming, trying to escape, but held firmly with a spear poised overhead ready to dispatch it. This represents the function of Michael the Archangel in our world, and each of us must grab hold of that spear to assist him to kill the dragon. He appears with the sword and we must help him complete the job, each in our own way. We are, rightly understood, companions of Michael and he needs us to complete the job he is charged with. The evil represented by the dragon is alive and writhing, striving to unleash itself upon the world and our lives, and we must take hold of Michael's spear and apply it to the dragon in each of our lives.
What is the evil represented by the dragon? How do we become companions of the Archangel Michael? These are among the many questions answered by this book. First, the question of evil — evil is something we all recognize when we see it, but few have ever created a better definition of evil than Rudolf Steiner when he said, "Evil is a good out of its time." A person's death is not evil, unless by homicide or suicide it is precipitated out of its natural time. The dragon wishes things for us that are not in their proper time and these things become evils, no matter how attractive they may be to a majority of humans. Sustaining truths whose time is past is another evil which is often overlooked. Our teenagers today, as in Steiner's time, recognized that many of the things they are being taught have expired shelf-lives, are stale, tasteless, and in fact harmful to them, to the future that only they will be able to achieve. As Louis Armstrong admonished parents about their children, "They'll learn much more than you'll ever know."
In basketball, if one takes a shot at the basket and misses the net, the rim, and the backboard, we call that an "air ball". Steiner discusses in Lecture 1 at Stuttgart, three kinds of air balls: 1) air ball of the soul, 2) air ball of human connecting, and 3) air ball of action. The air ball of the soul is the cliché or "empty phrase" — which generates a lack of thought, principles, and will. (Page 4) "Where the empty phrase begins to dominate, the inner soul-experiencing of the truth dies away." With that human beings cannot connect with each other as they did before. People pass by each other without understanding taking place. That is the air ball of human connecting. You become aware of this disconnection when you hear someone talking about their point of view as being the right one. One's standpoint is like a look at a tree from one spot on the ground. Until one has moved completely around the tree and observed it from multiple standpoints, one cannot demand that one's viewpoint is the right one. One's viewpoint is a map, and the map cannot represent all the territory as Alfred Korzybski rightly noted — the fullest view is the multi-ordinal view, taken from many standpoints as possible. Even then it is only a map, but a much fuller one upon which to base one's judgments and decisions to act.
The third air ball of action is the development of the weakened will, "weak-willed in the sense that thought no longer unfolds the power to steel the will in such a way as to make human beings, who are thought-beings, capable of shaping the world out of their thoughts." (Page 6)
Here is Steiner talking directly to the youngsters of his audience and summarizing the three air balls for them. One can almost feel their heads nodding in agreement as he says this:
[page 6] Now let me tell you, from an external point of view, what is living in your souls. You have grown up and have come to know the older generation. This older generation expressed itself in words; you could only hear clichés. An unsocial element presented itself to you in this older generation. People passed each other by. And in this older generation, another thing to present itself was the inability of though to pulse through the will and the heart.
If this seems as fresh and new today as describing the world our current high school graduates face, then it must be because every new generation faces these three air balls, and feel an urge to get on the court, get their hands on the basketball, and show the old folks how to hit the baskets and score. The teenager hears the older generation say some "empty phrase", e. g., "This is how the world is" and they feel an encrustation of ice form which only the warmth in their heart can break through. The teenager today, as in Steiner's time, wants to throw open the shutters of the past breathe freely of the future flowing in.
Steiner worked on the Goethean archives in Weimar and should be in a position to speak with authority on Goethe's last words which are often misinterpreted as "More light".
[page 10] You know that among the many cliches which became current in the nineteenth century, it was said that the great pioneer of the nineteenth century closed his life by calling out to posterity, "More light!" As a matter of fact Goethe did not say "More light!" He lay on his couch breathing with difficulty and said, "Open the shutters!" That is the truth. The other is the cliche that has connected itself with it. The words Goethe really spoke are perhaps far more apt than the mere phrase, "More light." The state of things at the end of the nineteenth century does indeed arouse the feeling that our predecessors have closed the shutters. Then came the younger generation; they felt cramped; they felt that the shutters, which the older generation had closed so tightly, must be opened. Yes, my dear friends, I assure you that, although I am old, I shall tell you more of how we can now attempt to open the shutters again. We shall speak further about this tomorrow.
As a child I wanted to know all about the world, how it works, and thus I began at an early age taking apart things to figure out how they worked: clocks, radios, and numerous other devices which people had discarded. As a boy of ten in 1950, I was able to find the first discarded television sets and take them apart and use their parts to build crystal radios and vacuum tube radios. Back then a TV set lasted only a couple of years in the days before transistors came into general application in electronics. I decided to study physics because of my interest in how the various things I took apart worked. I didn't have any interest in building these things as an adult, so engineering wasn't for me. By the time I took all that college could give me, I walked away into a world in which all the magic was gone, into the cold world of the intellect, and I wondered why I found the world so empty. New things such as computers came along to excite my imagination, so I programmed, helped design new computers, built large gas pipeline control systems with them, and soon the world grew cold again. What was this phenomenon that kept arising? I would learn something new and it would lose its magic? Till I studied Rudolf Steiner I did not understand the deceptive nature of what was happening to me or why it happened. This next passage will summarize what I learned from him.
Nowhere in my extensive education in various colleges was I taught about the basic emptiness of the intellect — I felt it in my soul, but I had been taught to distrust my feelings as something that was not real, only a illusion, learning that from the very people most deeply stuck in the empty illusion of the intellect. I was feeling the "negative inheritance" of humankind, and I earnestly sought to discover the reason for it, how that essential part of my being worked. I know now that if I had been fortunate enough to attend a Waldorf School, this negative inheritance would have been neutralized. Instead of experiencing the world through the polarized glasses of the intellect which filtered out its feeling reality, my teachers would have opened the shutters of the world to me and encouraged me to learn to experience the world directly through its phenomenon. Only then would I have been interested in learning to apply the intellectual concepts which science provides. I would have had a positive inheritance and a jump start into humanity.
[page 23, 24] Only the spirit can open the shutters, for otherwise they will remain tightly shut. Objective science — I cast no reproaches and do not mistake its great merits — will, in spite of everything, leave these shutters tightly closed. For science is only willing to concern itself with the earthly. But since the fifteenth century, the forces that can awaken human beings no longer live in the earthly. The awakening must be sought in what is super-earthly within the human being. This is actually the deepest quest, in whatever forms it may appear. Those who speak of something new, and are inwardly earnest and sincere, should ask themselves, How can we find the unearthly, the supersensible, the spiritual, within our own being? This need not again be clothed in intellectualistic forms. Truly, it can be sought in concrete forms; indeed it must be sought in such forms. Most certainly it cannot be sought in intellectualistic forms. If you ask me why you have come here today, it is because there is living within you this question: How can we find the spirit? If you see in the right light what has impelled you to come, you will find that it is simply this question: How can we find the spirit which, out of the forces of the present time, is working in us? How can we find this spirit?
As I entered my thirties, I became interested in psychology and psychotherapy, basically how the human being worked. And I existed inside of a working model. As I did with clocks and radios, I studied broken ones, humans with problems of various kinds, in an effort to learn how normally operating ones operate. I soon learned to shun therapists who insisted that I be broken in ways I wasn't broken before I could work with them. I found amazing insights in Freud, Jung, Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir, Paul Watzlawick, Richard Bandler, and John Grinder, among many others, insights which revealed to me a whole world that existed outside of our waking day-time consciousness. These all helped me to expand my understanding of the human being, but it wasn't until studying Rudolf Steiner that the spirit struck me like a lightning bolt (Page 33)and enkindled my deepest understanding of what it means to be a full human being. The word, anthroposophy, as coined by Rudolf Steiner for his spiritual science means knowledge (sophy) of the full human being (anthropos). It is a word that, rightly understood, one should not stumble over in pronouncing, but should use its syllables as stepping stones into understanding of the spirit which exists in every human whether they deny its existence or not.
Never during my academic career would I have thought of talking about spirit in a concrete way — that would have seemed quite paradoxical to me. Concrete was sensory-based experience only. Little did I suspect back then how little concreteness there was to the way that I had been taught to think. How could I get a feeling for the spirit when I had been to ignore my feelings about everything? Oh, I still had them, but I kept them hidden and out of sight for fear of doing or saying something unscientific. To me the chemical of salt, mercury, phosphorus, etc, were simply a combination of the properties described in my 3500 page Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 41st Edition, and nothing else.
Another thing I was taught, not directly but by inference, was that the way humans experience the world today was the way they always experienced the world. Therefore the alchemists who wrote about salt, mercury, sulphur, phosphorus in strange ways were simply imagining things out of their ignorance, not out of some ancient wisdom that we have since lost. What was it that people in those days saw?
[page 26] We do not want to argue about why this is so fearfully excluded today. But we must realize that human beings saw something in phosphorus, in addition to what is seen by the mere senses, in the way modern people see color. It was surrounded by a spiritual-etheric aura, just as around the whole of nature there seemed to hover a spiritual-etheric aura, even though, since the fourth or fifth century C.E., it was very colorless and pale. Even so, human beings were still able to see it. It was as little the outcome of fantasy as the red color we see today. They actually saw it.
Why were they able to see this aura? Because something streamed out to them from their experiences during sleep. In the waking consciousness of that time, people did not experience in salt, sulfur, or phosphorus any more than they do today, but when the people in those days woke up, sleep had not been unfruitful for their souls. Sleep still worked over into the day and their perception was richer; their experience of everything around them was more intense. Without this knowledge as a basis we cannot understand earlier times.
Sleep still worked upon humans during their daylight consciousness, but soon that era passed as human consciousness continued to evolve. Soon those direct experiences of chemicals were treated as abstractions by so-called modern scientists whose daylight consciousness gradually lost the attributes of sleep.
From pondering these thoughts, over time it became clear to me why the great physicist, Isaac Newton, gave up the study of physics at middle age and spent his waning years studying the spiritual world. This is a fact which one cannot find an explanation of in any current history of physics, other than Newton went crazy with old age.
[page 27] Read any current history of physics and you will find that it is written as if everything before this age were naive; now, at last, things have been perceived in the form in which they can remain permanently. A sharp line is drawn between what has been achieved today and the ideas of nature evolved in "childish" times. No one thinks of asking: What educational effect does the science that is absorbed today have from the point of view of world-historical progress?
Books were read in a deeper fashion in earlier times, almost in a ceremonial fashion and that process of reading "drew something out of the depths of people's souls."
[page 28] The reading of a book was actually like the process of growing: productive forces were released in the organism, and human beings felt these productive forces. They felt that something real was there. Today everything is logical and formal. Everything is assimilated by means of the head, formally and intellectually, but no will-force is involved. And because it is all assimilated only by the head and is thus entirely dependent upon the physical head-organization, it remains unfruitful for the development of the true human being.
What is the effect upon one's soul of concentrating solely upon the "logical and the formal"? I think this is nowhere better put than this quatrain by Samuel Hoffenstein. I was only 19 and a freshman in college when I encountered this poet which had an enormous impact on me, especially this four-line stanza which I promptly memorized, memorizing not something that came neither naturally nor easily to me. For 30 years I wondered, held as an unanswered question, why was this stanza so important to me? The answer came as I began to read Steiner and realize that, even at 19 — the age of the young group these lectures are directed to — I was feeling the loss of soul and spirit in my nascent college career, I was remembering the future — experiencing a time-wave from the future of a time when I would come to understand the importance of these lines.
Little by little we subtract,
Faith and fallacy from fact,
The illusory from the true
And starve upon the residue.
Do you ever feel a tingle or a tinge of excitement while you are thinking? Chances are during those times, you are not thinking logically or rationally. Logical and rational thinking deals only with dead concepts and can have no invigorating effect upon the living soul and spirit. What was it like to have living concepts back in earlier times? Something like having an anthill in one's brain.
Computers are the latest form of machinery to which today's thinkers compare our brain. They say that the computer is a metaphor for how our brain correlates and outputs thoughts. In Steiner's day, he said they would say that the millwheel was a metaphor for how the brain worked. But notice that both the millwheel and the computer are dead things, not living. And either one can only snatch and manipulate dead things. A millwheel turns living grains into dead meal and flour, and a computer manipulates dead data, even if the data comes from external sensors from the living world — once it arrives in the computer, it is dead data stored formally and logically in data banks, but dead nevertheless. This data can be displayed to show the semblance of life, but it is only a semblance, not life. Even a sonogram of a living baby in the womb is merely a dead map giving only a semblance of the living baby. Think about this whenever you hear someone talk about computers learning to think — they mean dead thoughts, but never say so because they do not realize what a dead thought is because it is the only type of thoughts they are capable of generating, up until now. I wrote a poem once about computers generating poetry. I said that would not surprise me at all, but if computers were able to select a great poem from a bunch of mediocre poems, that would greatly surprise me! It would be like expecting a computer to be able to have picked out Picasso's first cubist painting and proclaim it to be a wonderful new work of art.
I don't consider myself an expert on living thoughts, having spent my early decades years focused mostly on logical and formal thinking which deals with dead concepts. About thirty years ago, I began to sense the power of holding an unanswered question. I noted how so often when I asked people a question, they had a ready answer, usually an answer they heard from someone else. They would toss off this superficial answer as if it were the God's truth — apparently it was to them — and go on to talking about something else. For myself, I would hold such questions in my mind as unanswered, and wait for an answer to arrive. I would go to bed sometimes wondering about the question. The answer would not come the next morning, maybe weeks, months, or years later, but it would arrive and I would recognize as arriving in a form which was unique to the question I had held. I believe that my process of holding unanswered questions is a way of stimulating living thoughts in myself. Perhaps some of you, dear Readers, have noted a similar process in yourself.
Unless one uses it as a metaphor for an ineffable experience of the spiritual world, even such innocent comments such as "there are good vibes in this place" can be seen as pointing to physical vibrations and expressing a materialistic bias towards life. Only with a living education, such as that provided by Waldorf Schools, can we come to speak of material discoveries in a spiritual way using living thoughts.
Steiner's goal for humanity to have moral intuitions arising in their souls seems, on the face of it, too amorphous, too idealistic to ever happen. How can people who are not perfect, who have their own selfish desires and goals, ever find morality, on their own, one individual at a time? Wouldn't it be great if there were some process we could put people through which would turn them into moral persons from then on? Some educational process which would convert immoral or amoral people into moral people? Steiner book pointed out that such a process was necessary, but only pointed to the goal and did not give specific directions for achieving the goal. Any educational process has the difficulty of reaching everyone, since not everyone will submit to the process. One despairs at the possibility of success in such an endeavor. I did. Until I met the ideas of Andrew Joseph Galambos, who, in the 1960s, began to lay down his original ideas for attaining the kind of freedom which entails moral intuition which Steiner pointed to some sixty years earlier.His ideas are like a vitalus — a virus which creates a positive result in those it infects. Once these ideas infect one, one is no longer able to act reasonably without morality in every area of one's life. One begins to respect other people's lives, other people's thought and ideas, and other people's material possessions — never violating either their lives or any derivative of their lives, using them only with the other person's permission. Like Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom, not everyone will study Galambos's volitional science, so how can such ideas permeate to the average person on the street? At the point when I began to despair myself at that possibility, along came a brilliant work by Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation, which showed how the seeding of cells of cooperators (moral people) in a population of cells of defectors (immoral people) will eventually result in the population becoming all cooperators. He produced with computer simulation, something which Galambos said in his V50 course in volitional science, that "Freedom, once built, will never be destroyed." Freedom, rightly understood, cannot be fought for, but only built, and built one person at a time, and each person understanding freedom rightly and acting out of that moral intuition will encourage others to operate morally or not prosper. They will discover the profit of morality as they begin to discover the morality of profit. And they will discover it individually, one person at a time.
The definitions of Galambos which form the basis of his volitional science create the kind of respect for individuality which Steiner strives for. If we respect a person's life, thoughts and ideas, and possessions, then we cannot treat them as slaves, workers, or place them in any demeaning category whatsoever. They are individuals and like you and I, they are entitled to their lives, thoughts and ideas, and possessions, and you and I cannot infringe upon those items, only arrange to use or share them with the individual's permission, in other words, by cooperation. One can see it by these few words of mine — which summarize years of study and thousands of dollars of expenses on my part to acquire the knowledge upon which I base these words — but these ideas of freedom will eliminate all the negative aspects of capitalism from the world and bring the kind of moral intuitions to the masses of humanity which Steiner so earnestly desires. A natural society will arise from these individual moral intuitions. Galambos brought forth exactly what Steiner intended his book Philosophy of Freedom to inspire: "the founding of the moral life of the future."
As Steiner has remarked in several other places, "Discussion begins when knowledge ends." One can discuss things endlessly to no effect or study the knowledge of the past and learn to experience the spiritual realities in one's present time. If we do not achieve that, we will be left with the strictures of religious dogma and the dried remnants of moral intuitions in our so-called "conscience." Lacking the experience of the spiritual realities, the religious communities strove to provide their followers rules, commandments and catechisms as replacements. We have heard philosophers telling us that "God is dead" and now Steiner tells us that "Science is dead" — I wonder if people will get as nervous about Science being dead as they did over the thought that God was dead. Here is his full statement:
[page 58] Science is dead. Science cannot make what is living flow from the mouth. And without this, one cannot build upon it. One must appeal to an inner livingness, and so one must really begin to seek. The divine lies precisely in the appeal to the original, moral, spiritual intuitions. But if one has once grasped the spiritual, then one can unfold the forces that enable one to grasp the spirit in wider spheres of cosmic existence. And that is the straight path from moral intuitions to other spiritual contents.
What can we do if science is dead? It is not a necessary condition for science to be dead, it has only become so by the bad habit of logical and rational thinking operating on cold, abstract concepts rather than the living reality which surrounds every scientist if she but look. Here is a scientist who teaches people to look directly at the living phenomena, Stephen Edelglass. His book is The Physics of Human Experience and shows us how to deal directly with the living phenomena. It is this kind of scientific approach that Steiner talked about in this next paragraph. If we could trace back what brought Edelglass to understand physics using the phenomenalistic approach, we might find its origin in this very lecture given to youngsters in 1922.
[page 59] We must proceed as follows. On the one hand, we must acknowledge that outer science by its very nature can only comprehend what is material; hence, the view of the material must be not only materialism, but also phenomenalism. On the other, we must work to bring life back into what has been made into dead thinking by natural science.
Steiner warns us that with mere words, we cannot grasp the living, especially the words of dead philosophies which have replaced real philosophies in recent centuries.
[page 59] Why is it that we no longer have any real philosophies? It is because thinking, as I have described it, has died. When based merely upon dead thinking, philosophies are dead from the very outset. They are not alive. And if people, like Bergson, seek something living in philosophy, nothing comes of it, because, although they struggle for it, they cannot lay hold of the living. To grasp the living means first to attain vision.
Most of all we should learn to treat our children as reincarnated human beings who have lived many earlier lives and help them to uncover what their plans are for this new life upon Earth. We focus so much on un-dyingness (immortality), but neglect the aspect of un-bornness, up until now. We must learn to think of our children, not as a chip off the old block, but as cornerstone for a new block. Remember, if there is a world-riddle to be solved, it is the riddle of the human being which is always new and all ways evolving, never to be fully solved, but to be lived through, one day and one night, one life in the body and one life in the spirit at a time.
There was another author I read earnestly when I was eighteen years old, Ralph Waldo Emerson, reading especially his essays.The essay which most resonated with me, and which I have re-read many times is, Self-Reliance. Here is a quotation from that essay which hints at the passage from Steiner which follows: "There is a time in your education when you arrive at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that you must take yourself for better, for worse, as your portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to you but through your toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to you to till. The power which resides in you is new in nature, and none but you know what it is, nor do you know until you have tried." Every human has a power that is new, a power which can change our own moral intuitions, setting the world's moral intuitions on a new course. Emerson and Steiner both understood individualism and supported it against the claims of those who saw only the bad side of individualism. An individual who respects the life, thought and ideas, and possessions of others, following Galambos' volitional science precepts, can certainly express individualism without any bad side effects. Individualism which respects others in all ways is infused with a beneficial moral intuition and can certainly be considered ethical. Emerson also wrote about love and friendship, "We will meet as though we met not, and part as though we parted not." We can do this with each person we meet it if we but keep in mind that each person is a "walking world riddle." A riddle, we can only pretend to solve, but whose solution seems to drift further away the more we learn about the person. We do best if we treat each person as an unanswered question, a walking riddle, and hope glimpse from time to time small unfoldings of a solution, unfoldings which develop over time into confidence.
As a lesson for adults, he suggests his own cure for insomnia: work harder. He doesn't need to tell me — I learned that on my own. I have not been beset by insomnia, but there have been times when I woke up in the middle of the night or early morning about 3 am and instead of tossing around on the bed, I simply got up and did some work. Sometimes I worked all day, sometimes only a hour or so, but every time the experience seemed a beneficial one to me. It helps one's sleep patterns to always have work that is waiting for your attention to fill these occasional bouts of sleeplessness when they arise.
Steiner describes a society he knows very well, the Theosophical Society, which produces a lot of books and educational material. I tried reading some of their material before I found Steiner's works, and my eyes glaze over and I would become immediately sleepy. To me, it should have been named, the Theosoporificial Society, for the sleep-inducing quality of its written materials.
[page 78] For what is contained in Theosophical literature is to a great extent a sleeping potion for the soul. People were actually lulling them selves to sleep. They kept the spirit busy, but look at the way in which they did so. By inventing the maddest allegories! It was enough to drive a sensitive soul out of its body to listen to the explanations given to old myths and sagas. What allegories and symbols were thought up! Looked at from the biology of the life of soul, it was all sleeping potion. It would really be quite good to draw a parallel between the turning and twisting in bed after spending a day that has not been tiring and the taking of a sleeping draught in order to cripple the real activity of the spirit.
Several years ago, I was taking a graduate course called "College Teaching" and it gave me a chance to study and ponder the question of how teaching and learning happens in the presence of a live teacher. So much of today's teaching takes place over the Internet or by use of recorded audio or video lectures that this question is an important one.What is added by having the teacher present? The obvious answer is you can ask the teacher a question if one is present, but even if you don't ask a question, what is happening that is important to learning, which cannot happen through pre-recorded lectures? The answer I came up with was surprising to me. I came to understand that true learning takes place directly between the teacher and the learner, in both directions, and non verbally. It happens if the teacher has fully assimilated the material being covered and is used the words to track through the ideas which are going on inside her head. The ideas are transferred directly to the learners' mind and the words she used act as a way of recalling those ideas later. This is a quick summary of my insight, which can be read in detail in my term paper, Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom. It is clearly applicable for all levels of teaching and learning, and its implication for our methods of education are important. One cannot depend solely upon pre-recorded lectures to accomplish education — there must be live teachers present in the classroom, and not just to answer questions, not just for discipline, but for truly deep transmission of ideas and processes to take place.
This insight also brought me a new understanding of what happens during lesson plan preparation by a teacher. By poring over the material in preparation for the next day's lesson, the teacher begins to form the ideas which he will be thinking of while going through the material the next day. It is those ideas which will be communicated using his words as a carrier wave, if you will, a carrier wave which also acts as a route to be taken through the important ideas that need to be transmitted directly from the teacher's mind while he is talking. If a teacher is so poorly prepared as to have to talk about material he doesn't understand, the pupil's eyes will glaze over and their attention will be anywhere else, out the window, on a beach date for the weekend, whatever, but no teaching or learning will take place. Enough of that happens to pupils who are not interested in the material, but this will also happen to those who are actually interested in the material which is supposed to be covered.
[page 77] They say of those teachers: "They are wanting to teach me something that they first have to read. I should like to know why I am expected to know what they are reading. There is no reason for me to know what they are only now reading for themselves. They do not know it themselves, otherwise they would not need to stand there with the book in hand. I am still very young and am expected to learn what they, who are so much older, do not know even yet and read to me out of a book!"
It is not the book in hand that is the problem, rather it is that the teacher does not know the material, and the students feel empty during the reading because nothing comes forth directly from the teacher's mind! In earlier times, this kind of teaching by reading out of books would no have been tolerated. The feeling for the direct transmission of learning received from the teacher was experienced as a fire within and was as real as anything received by the eyes or ears of the students.
Steiner creates a metaphor for passive thinking: a man is lying motionless in a ditch. When asked why, he says he doesn't want to move and even resents the Earth's forcing him to move as it revolves. This is the attitude of an immured passive thinker, walled on all sides by passive thinkers from an early age, she resents or ignores anyone who attempts to move her to active thinking. I have known both men and women who were passive thinkers and had no clue as to existence of active thinking — and if one attempted active thinking with them, one would be derailed or ignored before completing a single sentence. Their entire world of thought and conversation comprised repetitions of what they saw or heard others do or say. Passive thinkers can be very active in conversation, but not in thought. Holding a real conversation with a passive thinker is like having a tug-of-war with someone who won't pull the rope, only follow its tug.
What is the meaning of the word intellectualism which Steiner uses frequently in these lectures to his young audience? He uses the word to refer to the abstract logical way of thinking which pervades so much of extant thought and science today. To understand how changed we have become from the ancient Greek times, one need only read the Iliad and the Odyssey's opening words, "Speak to me, O Muse, . . ." — clearly showing the words of the two tales were coming from the spirit. Homer's epic existed for hundreds of years before being written down, and so almost a thousand years or more could have passed before in Roman times Virgil penned his Aeneid, which begins, "Of arms and a man I sing. . ." Clearly an evolution of consciousness had occurred between Homer's time and Virgil's. Homer spoke the words of a Muse and Virgil wrote out of himself.In Steiner's time, the early twentieth century, educators were already experimenting with the use of gadgets such as calculating machines to keep the teaching as objective as possible. We have gone even further in the ensuing ninety years, replacing live teachers with programmed instruction, classes over the internet, standardized textbooks, lesson plans, and achievement tests, etc. How can we correct this trend to overweening objectivity? We could stop striving in education to fill a human being with knowledge as if we were dropping coins into a piggy bank, and instead seek to understand the human being, the full human being.
In talking about ancient times, Steiner makes an interesting statement which reveals a truth about human evolution, "What exists today only in earliest youth existed then for the whole evolution of humanity." If we wish to find evidence for native clairvoyance in human beings today, we need look no further than our children. For example, my wife had twin boys and when they were about three, they shared an imaginary playmate, "Plum-dee-dol." My wife said that one day she heard one of them pointing out the window saying, "Look there's Plum-dee-dol." The other said, "There. In the car with his father." Both boys were seeing some reality that no one else could see, at least no adults could. For myself, I can recall fairies existing when I was a very early age. As I learned more about the material world, I discounted those experiences as due to a vivid imagination, but I suspect now that those memories were of actual fairies during the early years of my life.
It seems that humans evolve by becoming more and more precocious, i. e., what would have been, in earlier times, considered precocious becomes now the norm. What we can do at later stages of our life becomes a capability at younger and younger years as evolution proceeds. The highest capabilities we had in the springtime of evolution are available now in the springtime of the individual. Generally stated, one could say that the evolution of the single individual recapitulates the evolution of the human being.
As I work my way through these lectures of Rudolf Steiner, I find it to be as difficult as physics lectures or textbooks I had to work my way through. As soon as I learned one aspect of physics, the next course taught some completely different aspect and built upon the knowledge I was supposed to learn in the previous course. Every course began by introducing me to mind-boggling new concepts. Studying physics was like walking uphill on a continuous treadmill. It never seemed to get easier, only more difficult. Same with spiritual science. If I were to do nothing but read the book, I would be like those simply read Steiner's lectures. In my reviews I share my working with the concepts so as to helps other consider how they would work in their own way with the concepts revealed in Steiner's lectures.
Children under the age of five learn a lot from their parents which carries over into adulthood, in what Steiner called in his day, the subconscious. With the advent of the science of doyletics, we can see that the way of walking one get from one's parent that Steiner discusses in this next paragraph, we attribute this to doylic transmission. Children adopt the mannerisms of their parents by mimicking them and these patterns of behavior are stored as doylic memories which are then recapitulated over their lifetime, unless traced away. If a mother sees her daughter playing with a roach and screams, the two-year-old girl will re-experience the shudder which went through her young body at two every time that she sees a roach thereafter. She will say to friends, "I'm deathly afraid of roaches." What lives in the head are our cognitive memories, what lives in our bodies are our doylic memories. Doylic memories may be mute, but they are eloquent: they speak of our pre-five existence in the only voice possible: our body.
[page 122, 123] Human beings have reduced themselves to their head and have forced themselves to believe that the head is their most valuable part. But this has not made them overly happy, because the rest of human nature asserts its claims in the subconscious. Experiencing through something other than the head is lost today in early childhood with the change of teeth. If you have an eye for these things you can see the walk of the father or the mother in the son or daughter two or three decades later. So exactly have the children lived into the adults around them that what they have sensed there becomes part of their own nature.
The first half of my life I only studied science — I wanted to find out how the world worked. Then I discovered that I had only learned about half of life, and the empty half at that. I was lost in dead, abstract thinking, which, while it was rational and logical, it was completely empty of life. With that discovery, I began my approach to the study of art, of all the arts: music, plays, ballet, opera, literature, painting, photography, etc. Slowly my life began to enliven again as I filled the portion of life I had neglected during my study of science, especially physics. I learned the hard way the lesson that Steiner gave these youngsters who were looking to become companions of Michael.
One might ask me, "Aren't you still studying science in Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science?" My answer would be "Yes, but the science of the spirit is as close to an art as any science can get. It doesn't deal with just the head, but with the individual as a full human being of body, soul, and spirit." With the head one can only grasp what is on the Earth — with the human being as a physical body. Science deals with boundaries; human spirit has no boundaries.
What is a teacher to do when faced with a class in which some of the children are more brilliant than she is? In any one class there may be one or two future geniuses. We cannot afford to hire a genius for every teacher so that the genius children can learn everything they can learn.
We are not attracted to every person we see, we often merely pass them by without so much as a second glance or thought. Science can't explain why this is so, and expresses its helplessness in this matter by not commenting upon it, a tactic it uses in so many of the matters which Steiner does not hesitate to elucidate for us. But not having an explanation in a matter does not stop science from criticizing severely Steiner's ability to comment on the same matter. And when science does criticize Steiner, it is not from evidence, but from the very kind of illusion-based thinking that science accuses Steiner's work of being based upon — and upon which it is not. Del and I sensed this connection between us immediately. We met during the hug-crazy 1970s and I called our meeting later, "Love at first hug." When we came to write our marriage ceremony, we acknowledged our feeling for our pre-earthly connections in these words of Kahlil Gibran from Mary Haskell's Journal May 12, 1922:
"That deepest thing, that recognition, that knowledge, that sense of kinship began the first time I saw you, and it is the same now — only a thousand times deeper and tenderer. I shall love you to eternity. I loved you long before we met in this flesh. I knew that when I first saw you. It was destiny. We are together like this and nothing can shake us apart."
Most teachers educate children using the piggy bank process. It is the one whereby you fill children with learning like putting coins in a container from which they can later withdraw their learnings at will. But if you use that process, you keep the human beings you were supposed to educate stuck as children forever. They become like the cucumber placed in a jar while on a vine: it fills the jar and takes on the shape of the jar for the rest of its life.
A meeting between "I" and "I" is one made in complete freedom on both people — neither one wants to control the other, neither wants to use the other's thoughts or ideas without permission, neither one wants to take the other's possessions by force — that would constitute operating in complete freedom during meeting and subsequent interaction according the principles laid down by Andrew Galambos. The basis for understanding freedom this way was laid down in Schiller's Ode an die Freiheit in which the wonderful line appears, "All men will become brothers under your soft wings (aegis)." In other words, when we allow ourselves to come under the guidance of freedom rightly, we will treat each other as kindly as close relatives. And when that day arrives, the coercive State will no longer have a function — it will cease to exist, having lost all support of the people who formerly used it to control others against their will.
Today our world is full of prompters in the form of bureaucrats with regulations which they lash about like bullwhips and federal prisons into which they plop those who defy their stinging lashes. Indeed, with such power what would government officials say to freedom which would make the Constitution superfluous? One would have to drag them kicking and screaming to such a condition of society, however, that would not be acting in freedom, would it? But government officials are human beings when unsheathed of office, are they not? "What would bring human beings to embrace freedom?" is a better question. The answer lies outside the bounds of this review and in the volitional science of Galambos.
In one passage Steiner compares pedagogy with dietary procedures, and today's equivalents are even worse than he could have imagined in his time. The extremes of dietary procedures in use today involves weighing not the foods ingested, but calculating the protein, fat, and carbohydrates inside of the foods we eat, not to mention so-called good and bad cholesterols, and even more. One can hardly eat without a calculator and most people have one at hand. As for pedagogy, every subject has a standardized test which ensures that a carefully weighed quantity of teaching must be administered to each student. Add to this the LEAP tests, SAT tests, etc, all the way up the academical scale — our students are subjected to standardized tests which they must pass in order to acquire the various sheaths of B. S., M. S, and Ph. D. Along the way real insight into the human being seems superfluous, except perhaps during certain oral exams for advanced degrees.
How did we develop our current vogue of concepts wrested solely from the world of nature? Did people always have concepts? Yes, but Steiner tells us on page 145 that these were "revealed concepts" rather than concepts dealing solely with the outside world. The change came "when human beings had wrestled through to concepts no longer springing from revelations" and thenceforth humans began to "evolve concepts from observation of external nature, and from outer experiments." From that time forth, human beings, for the most part, have "allowed validity only to what was received from outside through observation." The consequence of this transition was the rising of the dragon which Michael is depicted as having writhing under his foot as he prepares to dispatch it into oblivion, with our help.
From the passage below, we gather that the forces of Darwinian thinking about evolution , coming as they do solely from what is found in nature, are feeding the dragon and empowering it greatly, up until now.
[page 147] Previous civilizations understood the kingdoms of nature as arising out of humanity. Modern civilization grasps humanity as arising out of nature, as the highest animal. It does not grasp to what extent animals are imperfect humans. If we fill our soul with what our thinking has become through nature, there appears in the picture of the human-devouring dragon that which is the most potent factor in modern civilization. Humanity feels itself confronting a being who is devouring them.
But no force for bad arises without a force for good to counteract it, and the rise of the dragon was accompanied by the rise to prominence of Michael in our time. Even in the birth of the dragon, the birth of Michael was noted.
[page 147] This is the essential characteristic of civilization from the fifteenth century on into the nineteenth. We see it correctly only when we consider the picture of the dragon. In olden times it had a prophetic meaning and pointed to what would come in the future. However, those of olden times were conscious of having given birth to the dragon, and also, on the other side, of having given birth to Michael or St. George, to forces capable of overcoming the dragon.
How can Darwinian evolution nurture a dragon which can completely destroy all human life on Earth? People today are mostly oblivious to the implication of the positions they take on evolution. Those who naively choose creationism in place of Darwinism, at least they have a position which will not involve a heat death of the cosmos, but they are likewise depending on the sketchy text of Genesis for their understanding of how the cosmos in which we live evolved. Obviously such a basis for understanding can be easily and often ridiculed by Darwinian thinkers. And thus both sides of the discussion about which form of evolution is the right one are mistaken! The Darwinians by taking their concepts solely from external nature; the Creationists by taking their concepts solely from the Bible.
Steiner lays out how we arrived where we are, or rather where we were at the beginning of the twentieth century when he was speaking.
[page 147, 148] But from the fifteenth century and on into the nineteenth, humanity was powerless against the dragon. It was the epoch that has gradually succumbed to belief in the material world. As a result, the inner soul life of that epoch was killed to the point that, in respect of the deepest treasures of the soul, there was no more truthfulness. An era which made the world arise out of the Kant-Laplace primeval nebula, which densifies into a globe, and in this process engenders living beings and finally human beings, could but say: Ultimately such activity must disappear into death by warmth. However, that will also be the death of everything human beings have developed in the moral sphere! Though people have ever again sought to prove that the moral world order could find a place in a world that began out of the Kant-Laplace primeval nebula and ending with death through warmth, such a view is not sincere. And by no means sincere, and by no means honest, is the view that considers moral development to originate in the evolving and dividing of the animal kingdom and to disappear when the death through warmth brings about complete annihilation.
How could this happen? Because the human being no longer understands the human being. Take for example the idea that the food we eat is killed and completely destroyed in our process of digestion before it can become part of our living inner being. If we tried to take in a living substance directly we would instantly die from the attempt. Have you ever heard that spoken of in a biology or medical course? I haven't. Each step of our digestive process, each organ connected with our digestion has a key role to play in removing every trace of livingness from our food so that it can enlivened again as an integral part of ourselves.
[page 148] What happens then in the human being? In every moment something is happening in the human being which occurs nowhere else in our earthly surroundings. Human beings take in the foodstuff from the surrounding world. They take this foodstuff from the kingdom of the living and only to a small extent from what is dead. However, as it passes through the digestive system, it is completely destroyed. We take in living substance and completely destroy it, in order to infuse it with our own life. And not until the foodstuff passes into the lymph ducts is the dead made living again in our inner being.
One can see, if one grasps the nature of the human being totally, that in the soul-and-spirit-permeated organic process, matter is completely destroyed and then created anew. In the human organism we have a continual process of destruction of matter, so that matter can be newly created. Matter is continually being changed into nothingness and newly created in us.
Our lack of understanding the human being today is part of the dragon's work in our lives, part of its endeavor to kill the human beings we are. Only with the help of Michael, can this fearful dragon be slain, but Michael can only place his foot firmly on the throat of the dragon, it is we who must grab the sword to administer the death blow to severe its neck. To do otherwise is the ultimate folly. And we cannot depend upon our religious leaders in this matter, as, rightly understood, they accept the dragon's reality and strive for cooperation alongside it. The consequence of the dragon's endeavors? A death of our Earth tapering off into warmth and nothingness, taking all humans and moral values with it.
[page 149, 150] Human beings shrinking away from this consequence is the fearful untruth that has penetrated right into the human heart, into the human soul, and has seized hold of everything, making them untrue human beings upon the Earth. We must acquire the vision of Michael, who shows us that what is material on Earth does not merely pass through the universal death through warmth, but will at some time actually disperse and vanish. He shows us that, by uniting ourselves with the spiritual world, we can bring life again into a dead world through our moral impulses. Thus, what is in the Earth begins to be transformed into the new life, into the moral. For the reality of the moral world-order is what Michael, who is approaching, can give. The old religions cannot do this, for they have allowed themselves to be conquered by the dragon. They simply accept the dragon, which kills humanity, and by the side of the dragon, they establish some special, abstractly moral divine order. But the dragon does not tolerate this. The dragon must be conquered. It does not suffer human beings to found something alongside it. What we need is the force that we can gain from victory over the dragon.
As Walt Kelly had Pogo reveal to us, "We has met the enemy, and he is us." By accepting the fiat proclamations of King Science, such as, the heat or warmth death of the Earth or our evolution upwards from primates, to name a few, we are shooting ourselves in the collective foot, the very foot we should instead be placing on the dragon's throat alongside Michael!
[page 150, 151] First in our own epoch has the battle of Michael with the dragon become real to the highest degree. When we penetrate into the spiritual texture of the world, we find that with the culmination of the dragon's power there also came, at the turn of the nineteenth century, the intervention by Michael, with whom we can unite ourselves. Human beings can have, if they will, spiritual science. That is to say, Michael actually penetrates from spiritual realms into our earthly realm. He does not force himself upon us, for today everything must spring out of human freedom. The dragon pushes itself forward, demanding the highest authority. The authority of science is the most powerful that has ever been exercised in the world. Compare it to the authority of the Pope; it is almost as powerful. A person can be ever so ignorant and yet say, "Science has established that." People are silenced by science, even if they say something that is true. There is no more overwhelming power of authority in the whole of human evolution than that of modern science. Everywhere the dragon rears up to meet one.
"What foolish stuff!" some of you may be thinking, and you might ask me to name for you just one creditable scientist who believes that stuff. I accept the challenge: Thomas S. Kuhn, a very respected historian of science. He wrote a book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he described the overwhelming power and authority of the scientific establishment. And the dragon, you ask, where does the dragon appear in Kuhn's thought and writings? Simply put, the dragon is the scientific paradigm. It is the Dragon named Paradigm which rears its fearful head to squelch such original thinkers Barbara McClintock, Gregor Mendel, Nicola Tesla, and Ignatz Semmelweis during the past century and a half, just to mention a few.
These thoughts led me to write a sonnet about the Dragon called Paradigm:
The Dragon Paradigm
Thomas S. Kuhn refused to play the game
of science according to its graven rules.
He saw that such rules were to take the blame
For turning the Men of science to fools.
He sought to derail science's Mighty Wagon,
to keep science fresh and new for all of time,
Strove to pin the tail upon the Dragon,
branding it with the name of Paradigm.
Dragon roars "Science has established that . . . "
and free thinkers withhold their new-born truth,
Till the truth inside grows big and fat —
fills the gap with a child's new-born tooth.
Let no Man bow or cower fore the power
Of Dragon's blowing, crowing: Nevermore!
To crush this dragon, Michael needs a chariot which can roll over the dragon wherever it prowls the world.
[page 152] It is this, above all, that we must accomplish, if we want to become true leaders of the young. For Michael needs, as it were, a chariot by means of which to enter our civilization. And this chariot reveals itself to the true educator as coming forth from the young, growing human being, yes, even from the child. Here the power of the pre-earthly life is still working. Here we find, if we nurture it, what becomes the chariot by means of which Michael will enter our civilization. By educating in the right way we are preparing Michael's chariot for his entrance into our civilization.
Now we understand the message that Steiner was giving the youth of his time: they are the agents which can drive and steer the chariot of Michael. And clearly from the current state of the dragon paradigm, the youth of our current need to climb aboard and help destroy the dragon. In fact, to be more accurate, human beings are the vessels within which the spirit flows, and human beings for the chariot for Michael. This is knowledge that was once in human consciousness and its presence is solely needed in consciousness today.
[page 153] This is the fundamental impulse of all educational doctrine. We must not take up this art of education as a theory or as something we can learn. We should take it as something with which we would unite ourselves, the advent of which we welcome, and as something which comes to us not as dead concepts but as a living spirit-being to whom we offer our services because we must do so, if humanity is to progress in its evolution. This means to bring knowledge to life again. It means to call forth in full consciousness what once was there in the human unconscious.
Thus a Teacher, so also a Learner! That insight came to me during a period of deep meditation and study of Sufi teachings over thirty years ago. What does it mean? What it says. If you define one member of a dyad as a Teacher, the other is a Learner, but reverse the assignment of roles and the statement is equally true. Recently I found an optical illusion which illustrates this mutuality of roles in any pedagogical endeavor. Placing the sheath of "Teacher", "Instructor", or "Professor" on one person, and you deny thereby the reality of the teaching and learning that flows in the opposite direction. The Teacher, Instructor, and Professor are always learning from their students or you have a poor imitation of an educational process going on. Goethe seemed to have understood this reality in his time when he said, "Every giver becomes a receiver."
[page 156] It was not for the sake of mere symbolism that Goethe sought everywhere for things that suggest a breathing — out-breathing, in-breathing; out-breathing, in-breathing — rather, Goethe saw the whole of life as a picture of taking, or receiving, and giving. Everyone receives, and everyone gives. Every giver becomes a receiver. But for the receiving and the giving to find a true rhythm, it is necessary that we enter the Michael Age.
Are you a parent, a child, a boss, an employee, a school teacher, a student, a professor, a graduate student, or simply a friend talking to another friend? Any of these dyads offer the possibility for teaching and learning to go on in both directions. Learn to recognize the direction of flow counter to the one established by the Dragon Paradigm, and you will find yourself with the shutters which formerly stifled you being blown open, speeding along on a merry ride in the chariot of Michael, blasting away the detritus of dead thinking wherever you find it, welcoming in the forces from the cosmos which will enliven you and those around you in freedom and light.
Read the Full Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
1. Padre Filius Discovers more Cloud Computing this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations. This time, Del's full first name appears in the sky as Sky-Writing, thanks to a flyer she received from US Airways, who is writing people's names in the form of clouds.
This month the good Padre spots another example of Cloud Computing.
2.Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL from Paulette:
I was going through my pictures yesterday, and came across these pictures of some of our family. I thought you'd like to have them for your digest.
These are pictures of Grandma Boquet, Aunt Nora, Aunt Lady, Aunt Maude, Aunt Maggie and Mama that I put in an album for our family. Hope you enjoy them. I thought that your Dad would especially enjoy them picture of Aunt Nora.
Hope you and yours are well,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Reply ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks loads for the photos. Never saw one that young of Grandma Matherne. My Aunt Marie looks the most like her today.
I'll use the "Aunt Nora" photo in this Digest as my "Blast from the Past" photo at the bottom of the Digest. Thanks for thinking of me. I have attached one of Grandma in her store and another of your dad with my dad in National Guard uniforms from about 1938.
Nora had the idea of running a general store, said it would save money on the family groceries (with ten kids). Cost $300 to initially stock the store! She ran the store and that's why it closed after she died. CP just wanted to cut hair. He told me after he retired, "You know, Bob, 60 years is a long time to walk around in circles." But he circled all the men of Bourg, listened to their stories, and kept them looking handsome all those years. I have his barber chair now in my home and it is my proudest possession.
- EMAIL from Captain Rod Resweber:
I really enjoyed this issue; one of the reasons was the beautiful pictures of the flowers. It was great seeing you and Del yesterday, Bobby.
God Bless you both.
- EMAIL from Chris Bryant, "Happiness without a Hole in It":
I had turned on the computer and E-mail in order to send you the following report and I opened your E-mail concerning good doyles. I thought, "What timing!"
This morning as I was on my way to have a root canal, which by the way tracing helped calm me for, It occurred to me how many "happy" days Carla and I now have. I thought it's like Kate Beckinsale's line in the Golden Bowl, she wanted "happiness without a hole in it". I thought that's what doyletics has done for me, it's made me able to enjoy my happiness without a hole in it.
As for question some raise about the possibility of tracing away good doyles, experientially I say nonsense.
First I've never felt the desire to trace away a good doyle, they don't feel doylic.
Furthermore, in the past 5 years I've traced thousands of times over a broad expanse of circumstances. I have not found that my enjoyment of anything, from fishing to football, anything, has diminished. Quite the contrary. I find I'm more free to enjoy the Broncos even if they lose, and any and every thing else I ever enjoyed, without being buffeted around by my own doyles.
Here's to doyletics; it can give you happiness without a hole in it.
- EMAIL from Ellen Langer, Harvard Professor:
I've been a professor at Harvard for the past thirty years, researching health. Like you, I'm interested in getting the word out to help people. My new book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, full of original science, is intended to do just that. Wray Herbert reviewed it in newsweek.com reprinted below if you're curious. (Another interesting tidbit is that a movie is currently being made, "Counterclockwise", starring Jennifer Aniston who plays me.) I was hoping to convince you to mention it in the newsletter. The question that remains, is how do I do that?
NOTE from Bobby: I read and reviewed Ellen Langer's earlier book: Mindfulness Click title to read my review. I expect to read and review her new book in the coming months. If you're interested, do read the Newsweek review linked above and here.
- EMAIL from Kristina:
I am writing an essay as part of a collection for my Master's thesis, and I came across your essay online while researching the idea of destruction in art. The epigraph for my essay is Picasso's quote: "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." I was wondering if I might be able to ask you a few questions once I write them, beginning with--are you an artist? If you would not mind answering a few additional questions, please respond and I will send those to you.
Your essay is very insightful and has opened new doors to my own exploration of this idea.
Thank you. Sincerely,
- EMAIL from Betty and Al Boysen in Florida.
I can't believe we missed seeing all of us this morning. Al usually watches closer than I do, but we gave up looking for us a long time ago. We forget how they edit old episodes together. How do you like the new format? At first, we were unhappy, but now we rather like the different messages.
We are off in a couple of weeks for a long trip, hopefully to the northwest. We keep telling ourselves we are too old to be driving a big motor home, but it is hard to get travel out of our system.
We had hoped you would get to Florida to visit this past winter. Maybe next year. We will look forward to the pictures you said you would send.
Betty and Al
- EMAIL from Joy Adams Beck:
My Mother and Father were recently honored at the Bridge City Senior Center Birthday Party. I, my uncle (dad's brother) and his wife were invited to attend. They were surprised and received many plaques, certificates, and key to the city. They are the longest married couple in Jefferson Parish. They have been married for 72 years. Mom is 90 and Dad is 93. They are very active and still manage to occasionally dance as you can see by one of the pictures. Dad says they "hold each other up". I teased and commented about more awards and things to put in the "museum" which is what I call their living room.
I have been blessed.
- EMAIL from Kevin Dann on his Amity Walk:
Please forgive this generic note, in place of a real one. The road consumes my energy as quickly as it gives it to me, and leaves no time even for journaling so far. I hope to improve upon this as I go. But this just appeared, and perhaps gives some sense of what I am up to.
Hope you are all smelling the lilac.
P.S For you in-the-know anthropops, "yoga" in that opening paragraph would be "eurythmy." Heck, I am even doing the AUM Meditation in eurythmy with Waldorf students, and they don't protest. I try to do this at every old fort and battle site where I stop, and invite others to join in.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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