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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Farrah Fawcett (1947 - 2009) ~~~~
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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #09a Published October 1, 2009 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Falling Leaves Month of October:
You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.
— Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), English author
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #09a, October 2009Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. October's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for October
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Eggplant Stir Fry
6. Poetry by Emily Dickinson:"Two Poems"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for October:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Doctor and the Detective — A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Martin Booth
- ARJ2: World History and the Mysteries — 9 Lec, Dornach, Dec 1923-Jan,1924, GA#233 by Rudolf Steiner
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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1. October 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 the Truth about Heresy.
#1 "The Truth about Heresy" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/092509jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR October:
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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 October are:
Jens Jensen in New York
Noula Redakis in Baton Rouge
Congratulations, Jens and Noula !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
BABE the BLUE OX
First item of business for me when we returned from our cruise was to acquire an old pickup truck to help haul the myriad of heavy objects from the Timberlane Road-house to the Timberlane Drive-house over the next two or three months. Finding an old truck was a daunting task because I was effectively competing with the so-called government in Washington who is offering Cash for Clunkers. Estimates I've heard say the program will cost about 1 billion dollars and save about 300 million dollars. Quite a negative return on investment, I'd say. Only some fool who can coercively take away other people's money would choose to invest money for such a return.
I found a blue 1990 Ford F150 Half-ton pickup for sale which had been used for several years to haul stuff around the grounds of the Mannheim Auto Auction before it was sold to Lonnie who sold it to me.Del and I made a trip to Slidell to see the truck and drive it home, only to find Lonnie was working on it at his garage. Seems someone had poured fresh water into the gasoline tank at the boat launch the night before. He said he'd clean out the lines, the tank, and fuel injectors and drive it to Timberlane for me. Told me the truck appeared in the new movie, "Father of Invention" with Kevin Spacey. Lonnie had arrived at his usual boat launch to find the movie crew looking for a Chevy pickup, but when they saw his blue Ford, they rented it for the shoot. Lonnie is proud of the truck and says he'll buy it back whenever I might want to sell it. He buys and sells second-hand vehicles, has a dealer's license, and does vehicle repairs for Mannheim as they need it. The pickup truck was his fishing vehicle: he'd put his boat in its bed, or pull a trailer, and would go off fishing, almost every day. Reminded of my brother David who also lived to work and go fishing.
Lonnie drove to the Roadhouse from Slidell about 3:30 pm. I drove the truck around the subdivision. The passenger window got stuck and I saw how to unstick it: pull up and off the door panel, then hit it with a hammer while someone's holding the UP button and it will rise to top. Won't stick unless it's rolled all the way down. Later when the driver side window stuck all the way down, I had to hold a metal rod against the window motor with one hand, hit the rod with a hammer with my second hand, and hold the Window UP button with my third hand. All Cajuns come with three hands. Then I printed a sign to stick on each window: Roll Window Down to Here.
When he arrived the radiator had a leaking plug at its top and one battery terminal was bad, so we went to Auto Parts and I paid for the parts he needed and he installed them with my tools. Lonnie had the title but was still missing one signature which would require me to go to Mannheim Auction on Tuesday and to register the truck and get the license plates from the DMV. Del and I drove Lonnie back to Slidell. An accident before the high rise blocked one lane and filled all the lanes back before the I-10 to 610 merge. We gave him about half the money and signed a sales agreement to give him the rest when the title was made whole.
Two days devoted to buying the truck and one more to go. On Tuesday, I met Lonnie at an Exxon station near Mannheim Auction. He was driving the Olds which he was selling to a woman who was in the car with him. It was an adventure. I had to park my Maxima outside the main entrance gate next to the office and while Lonnie drove inside the large lot to do something. I sat on an old golf cart to get out of the light rain and waited. Then we went inside and waited for Tammy to get back. Tammy said she needed another signature from a guy who works in the back. Lonnie drove me to the back. We finally found the guy and he signed the title.Then Lonnie told me to drive the Olds to the front gate while he drove an El Camino back. We were in the rear of a huge lot filled with cars and trucks and I hoped that I could find my way out to the gate. I did, but the gal wouldn't let me out the gate in the Olds without a gate pass, so I had to park the Olds and walk back to the golf cart to sit and wait, again. One more trip inside to Tammy and we were ready to go. I followed Lonnie to Louisian Auto Title Agency on Gauss to get the truck registered. I figure if there was a problem, Lonnie would be available to come and fix it. Cost an extra $65 dollars for their service, but everything went well. I walked out with a License Plate and Registration for the pickup truck. Only thing left to do was to get it inspected and the gods were against me on that one. Twice I headed towards Lapalco in the truck on successive days and it began drizzling and I had to turn around. No brake inspection in Louisiana when roads are wet. Need to wait an hour and a half and until the roads are dry, I later found out. Finally the rain broke and I got the oil and filter changes, fluids topped up, and the truck washed. When I got home, I had to clean out a couple of the dirty wheel wells myself. I installed holders for the Timberlane gate pass and the Greater New Orleans Bridge pass on the windshield.
Only one thing remained: to give the truck a name. I wanted something sturdy that would symbolize the heavy loads I was expecting it to haul between the Roadhouse and the Drivehouse. What's "blue" and handles "heavy loads"? Aha, I came up with Babe the Blue Ox, the famous Ox in the stories and legends of Paul Bunyan. Later I encountered a note about Lao Tze, the ancient Chinese philosopher, riding his blue ox. Seems blue oxen have been around a long time.
GARDEN CLUB DIRECTORY
This month brought to completion the Timberlane Garden Club Directory that Del had worked so hard on. Last year was a lot tougher because we were re-formatting it all for the first time. This year, with the networking between our two computers working, it was a little simpler. She needed me to print out the two-sided booklet for the proofing copy and to design the front and back covers. The club's flower is the magnolia, and I found a shot I had taken of a large white magnolia bloom with its new center pod a vivid yellow color. That went on the front cover. For the back I chose a center pod at the other end of its life cycle, dark brown with brilliant red seeds still partially attached, like escape pods for a space craft, ready to pop out and create new life elsewhere while the mother ship is destroyed. Photo of cover included nearby for you to see. Del composed a poem (Inspired by the words of : D. Moroney, B. Neilson, & B. Million) for the Club's theme this year which was: Enjoy: Our Gardens, Our Club, Our Community
There's a beauty in the garden
In every place we see
A small and budding blossom
The tall and stately tree.
The sun that rises in the sky
Is wonderful to see.
How special is a friend's dear smile
That's meant for you or me.
We are filled with joy and blessings
More than our hearts can hold
Gardeners, Friends, Community
Worth more than rubies and pure gold
Enjoy your gardens, family, friends.
May your wishes all come true
And may happiness just dominate
Throughout this club year too.
"YOU LOAD SIXTEEN TONS" OF BOOKS
Well, maybe not sixteen tons, but a whole lot of boxes, for sure! This month Del's been packing up everything that's not going with the movers. Sometimes I'm afraid I might wake from a nap inside of a U-Haul Box. She's been buying the boxes there because they are good, solid boxes in the various sizes we need. My library of over 3,000 books so it needs a lot of book boxes. Early on in my boxing up books, I began a spreadsheet to help me predict how many shelves we will need, how many boxes, etc. I now know that a 1 cubic foot Book Box will hold about 1.8 shelf feet of books. With my spreadsheet I can tell you that at the time of writing this, I have about 26 boxes remaining to be filled with books, and then we're ready for Atlas Movers to come and do the heavy hauling. About the time we've boxed up everything we can box up, we will be assembling the new black Parawood Bookshelves which will grace our downstairs library in the office and dining area. The older bookshelves will go upstairs and various other places and give us very much needed bookshelf space.
The last time I had to move my books was about ten years ago when we removed the green shag carpeting in the Hallway and replaced it with modern wooden flooring. At that time, I moved all the books and shelves into the Guest Bedroom, and when I moved them back into the Hallway, I added two bookcases and spread out the books so that each shelf had about 6 inches to a foot of empty space. Much of that space has since been filled and this major move of my library allows me to re-think the organization of the books. I am sorting the books into two categories as I pack them and labeling the boxes accordingly: FICTION and NON-fiction. The Fiction books will go upstairs and the Non-fiction will comprise my working library downstairs. Non-fiction includes reference books, essays, poetry, scientific treatises, biographies, memoirs, historical accounts, everything but Novels, stories, and clearly fictional accounts.My previously read books will be merged into the unread books in this process. Only my reviewed books will be separated and sorted alphabetically by Author's Last Name on their shelves. These comprise A Reader's Journal 1, A Reader's Journal 2, and A Reader's Treasury.
IT'S A PARENT
About twenty years ago whenever we got together with friends, we talked about what our kids were doing. Now it seems that we mostly talk about what our parents are doing. In answer to your tacit question, Del's mom and my dad are doing fairly well. Her mom is healthy with some back ache and is still being treated for her macular degeneration and other eye problems. Her back needs a shot every nine months to stem chronic pain from back problems. The good news is that her Alzheimer's has not progressed any more, and she has begun to make friends with the residents in the Woldenberg ALZ unit. Sometimes when Del goes there to deliver her medical supplies, Her mom is laughing at a I Love Lucy rerun in the general room with her friends, and Del sometimes doesn't interrupt her. Compare this with the early days at Woldenberg when her mom stayed entirely in her room, even having all three meals brought in. She had no friends but Del, and every time Del went, she worried that her mom would try to leave on her own. Del also had to explain where her mom was, and that this was her new home.Del brings her mom over to Timberlane a couple times a month for a visit and she is a delight. Spends almost no time talking about being in pain, just enjoys being with us. This process took almost 5 years, and the recent improvement has allowed Del more time and energy to do other things. A blessing during this time of packing and moving when Del is such a vital part of making all the arrangements with the flooring people, the utilities, the ice maker, the insurance company, the mortgage company, the inspectors of the house and the sewer, and so on. Plus the packing up of the house which has consumed most of her time and energy this month.
We were driving out to eat one night this month, the first time we've left to do something for ourselves instead of for the new house or our parents. I told her about the house which had a gas explosion and blew the husband and wife out onto the front lawn. The wife sat up, a bit dazed, and told her husband, "This is the first time we've been together in ages!" We laughed because we felt that way this month. We were finally going out together.
As for my dad, he's doing much better recently after a couple of short stays in the hospital around Christmas and a bit later with dehydration and urinary tract infection and blood clot in hi leg. This month I drove alone over to dad's for a visit while Del was busy taking care of moving chores. Hadn't seen him in two weeks since we returned from our Baltic Sea cruise, so it had been a month. He got up when he heard me come in. He was in his walker, which he is using regularly now. He had one hearing aid and was able to hold a conversation with me, something he hadn't been able to do for about a year. It's hard to tell at times whether he's not responding because he didn't hear or understand the words or because he doesn't want to talk. This time, he talked and actually conversed, asking questions based on what I said. I showed him photos and told him of our new house. Gave him some details about about our cruise. Buster will be 92 years old on Michaelmas, September 29. He is one of ten Libra birthdays we celebrate each year. Our daughter Kim's birthday is the day before his. The other eight follow in quick procession as you can see in this photo I took of those remaining after Buster and Kim's cards went out in the mail. Since it was a weekend afternoon, I stopped by to see my buddy from Waterford-3, Steve Samanie. I had a nice long visit with him and his wife Charley who also worked in the I&C Dept. when I was there. Good to see them.Told Steve, "I would've emailed myself but my software wouldn't accept me as an Attachment." This past August 1st marked my "break-even" point for Waterford: it marked my being retired for as long a period of time as I spent working there: 14 years. Forgot to mention that to Steve, but he reads my Digest and will get it this way. He said that coming up is a big outage after the one in November. The big outage will involve replacement of the steam generators and reactor head. The reactor building will look like it did when I started there 28 years ago: there will be a big hole in its wall through which the old parts will be trolleyed out and the new ones trolleyed in.
SEEING THE LIGHT
Awhile back I bought a series of CDs of Richard Feyman lecturing on Physics. These lectures were given the month after I graduated in Physics from LSU, Feb, 1962. At the beginning of this month, I interrupted a Teaching Co. course to listen to these physics lectures during my daily coffee break trip to PJ's Coffeeshop. Quite a daunting challenge for me to make sense of a college lecture with no visuals. I had to construct a visual diagram in my head when he pointed to a curve on his blackboard, or imagine the various devices he used to illustrate interference problems with radio waves and light.
To introduce the subject of Light, he talked about Light being given a prominent place in the Bible: "Let there be Light" God said. Then he talked about the great synthesis of electricity and magnetism that James Clerk Maxwell did in the 19th Century. Feynman quipped, "In effect, Maxwell said, 'Let there be Electricity and Magnetism, and there was Light.'" A little physicist humor.
In the closing section on optics, Feynman spoke of the resolution of optical instruments being determined by the frequency of the light beam. If the wavelength is longer than the distance between two points, you cannot resolve the two as distinct points. That's why X-Ray Microscopes are so useful: much shorter wavelengths mean better resolution.
For me this struck a resonant note. I recalled back when I studied and worked next to Dr. Charlie Beck at Tulane Biomedical Computing System on LaSalle in downtown New Orleans in 1964-66. Charlie showed a similar result for scanning of a physical variable's wave form: if you scan the wave more than twice the frequency of interest, you will be able to distinguish the change you're interested in. Suddenly, I saw the Light: When we scanned the properties of physical properties with our instruments, as we did at Union Carbide's chemical plants, we are shedding light on those properties. Our scanning frequency acts exactly as the frequency of light does; such as when it is Light we are using to "shed light" through a microscope, for instance! Only at a much grosser frequency, in the order of 1 cycle a second for fast chemical processes to 1 cycle every 30 minutes or every 8 hours for slow processes such as energy management systems.
SAINTS AND TIGERS
Looking like a great year for the New Orleans Saints and the LSU Tigers. Both teams are 2-0 going into the last week of September. Both teams have new defensive coaches after doing a poor job last year in creating turnovers and stopping the long plays. Greg Williams for the Saints has his defensive players making a distinction between giveaways and takeaways. Greg refuses to credit his team for giveaways, which is where the opposing team drops a ball and the Saints recover. He only allows them to count takeaways, which is where his defense literally forces a turnover by knocking, blocking, or taking it literally out of the other player's grasp. Should be an interesting run this year -- both teams have their sights set on a post-season bowl game. The September games are over and LSU hold a 4-0 unbeaten record and the Saints a 3-0 unbeaten record.Both teams showed great defensive improvement over last year. The Saints buffaloing the Bills and holding them to a single TD on a fake Field Goal. LSU holding off a strong running game by Miss State and keeping them from scoring at the end of the game when they held the ball at the four-yard-line with four plays to get it into the end zone. Bring on October! Saints are leading the NFC South and LSU is Number 4 in the College Rankings.
AN EXHULTATION OF BLANCHARDS AND MATHERNES
Received an email from Suzanne Potier (See Email/Photo in Section 8 below), a second cousin that I had never known about. She found our mutual great-grandfather, Adolphe Leopold Matherne, and from him my name. I only knew of our great-grandfather as Granpa Paul Matherne, but it turns out that the Cajuns pronounced Leopold as "Le Pol" and it shortened eventually to just Paul.She sent a huge file of details about her leg of the family under her grandfather Adolph Napoleon Matherne which I spent hours incorporating in our Family Tree in FTM v11. Talked to my brother Paul who was likely named after "Le Pol" and he told me that he and Joyce had uncovered a brother of Palmyra Blanchard named Clairville Blanchard, after whom she named our grandpa, Clairville Pierre Matherne. There is also a Pierre ancestor for Clairville's middle name, which got passed onto our Uncle Ray P. as his middle name. From Suzanne's details, I discovered that there was a brother and sister Blanchard, Alphonse and Marie Eve Blanchard, who married a brother and sister Matherne, Ezoline and Adolphe Leopold.
Suddenly I began to make sense of all the Blanchards whom I met over the years: they were not relatives of my Grandmother Nora's side of the family as I had thought, but of Ezoline Matherne's marriage to Alphonse Blanchard. Anyway, our family tree has several new large branches on it and if anyone out there can expand it a bit more, I'll be delighted to graft in some more branches.
TILL NEXT MONTH
That's another month of Digest. Till next month, God willing, we will return with a new Digest for you to enjoy. Enjoy the cool breezes and dry weather of October. Make it a great month for yourself, wherever you are ! ! !IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
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New Stuff about Website: My Five Favorite Novels
1. Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago .
I first read Zhivago when I was seventeen; it was a hardback from Book of the Month Club. I was confused by the plethora of polysyllabic Russian names. I stumbled through the book with only a vague idea of the love story. Like a supersaturated liquor before the crystal has formed I saw it: a formless mass in solution. Some years later I viewed David Lean's spectacular film of the book, and it was as if the crystal had formed out of the liquor. A shiny, multi-faceted jewel, suspended rotating in the clear liquid, it reflected laser beams of colored rays as it slowly turned. The confusion was gone and each facet of the crystal sparked in delight before my eyes: Tonya, Yuri, Lara, Komarovsky, Strelnikov, and Evgraf.
Some parts of the book were missing from the film, some were moved around, but the best parts were there, e.g., the scene in the movie where Lara and Pasha light a candle and places it against a frozen window pane. The heat of the flame melts a dark eye into the frozen night air — that's in the book, which also includes the scene where Zhivago and Tonya pass on the street and Yuri looks up at the candle and thinks deep thoughts.
Evgraf starts off the movie, but only shows up late in the book as a key character. Missing from the book was the long trek in the ice and snow to Yuriatin that was so effective in the movie.
One of the keys to my sorting out the names in the book was learning that the suffix "-vich" on a name means "son of" in Russian. Thus Yuri's family name is "Zhivago," but he is equally often called "Andreivich" after his father's name "Andrea." Similarly, Komarovsky is called Ippolitivich. The feminine patronymic form is "ovna" — thus Lari is sometimes called Andrepovna.
Pasternak is a pure pleasure to read — this is a book that is not tarnished by its movie, but enhanced by it. The scenes of the movie glowed in my memory when I reached them in the book. Like the movie, I didn't want the book to end, and when I finally closed the book for the last time, a feeling came over me like a cool summer breeze over bare skin. The feeling covered my upper torso and I felt suspended in time. I thought of the time of the ice palace with Lara and Yuri, and knew that that was enough for Zhivago or any man — that, despite the horror of life falling apart everywhere around him, he had lived life to its fullest.
By the time I finished this novel the second time as an adult, I wished that I could read in Russian the original poems by Pasternak at the end of the book. He was as great a poet in real life as his fictional Yuri Andreivich.
2. John Cowper Powys's A Glastonbury Romance
Where do you start to describe a novel of 1120 pages whose first paragraph, "encompasses the cosmos," according to one reviewer? A book that Colin Wilson calls a "New Age Novel." A book that contains in its pages the Holy Grail, the haunts of King Arthur and Merlin, the Druids, the blood of Christ and the tomb of the man who carried the blood to Glastonbury, Joseph of Arimathea.
Between its covers the following happens:
1.) a midsummer festival with crucifixion
2.) a capitalist, a communist, and an anarchist
form a Glastonbury commune
3.) a miracle cur
4.) a resurrectio
5.) a conscious suicide by drowning
Powys glues these isolated events together in a web of interconnections and liaisons of various town people that is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel or the dark TV series, Twin Peaks.
Overarching all the events of the novel is Powys's penchant for the spiritual interconnection of all life and life processes. A step down from the 17:10 train reverberates with movements in the far reaches of the farthermost galaxies. Or in the middle of the night, the here-and-now action resonates with the energies of the Druids, the Arthurian crew, the microbes and the dust-laden wind from the sea. As the wind blows across the various inhabitants of Glaston, we are given a complete genealogy of the constituent dust particles. Such breath-taking visas of descriptive prose are trance-inducing and the reader's soul is sucked into resonance with all life. Does an insect have a soul? After reading Powys's novel one cannot but wonder at the possibility.
This book might be better entitled "Glastonbury Romances" because the romances of John and Mary, Sam and Nell, Philip and Persephone fill the first 300 pages of this large volume. John and Mary are cousins, both Crows, and their romance is the neurotic, on again off again type. Sam and Nell's romance is the single man and the lonely wife (her husband spend more time in Wookey Hole than in her, er, "presence"). Philip and Perse are both married, but not to each other. Perse's preference for sex with her tweed suit on tells us plenty about their relationship.
The central character is Mr. Geard who inherited Mr. Crow's fortune and properties and the plot turns on what he will do with his largesse. His plans are evolving into a Midsummer Festival on the grounds of the Glastonbury Abbey which contains many sacred artifacts, relics, buildings, and locations. These include St. John's, St. Mary's, Glastonbury Tor (the tower pictured on the cover), the tomb of St. Joseph of Arimethea (of the New Testament), the Holy Grail, the site of the Arthurian Legends (including Merlin), and ancient ritual arenas of the Druids, among other things.
Mixed into this melange of historical places and romantic couples is a group of ardent communists who push for Mr. Geard to turn the Crow factories into a worker run communist factory, even announcing it in advance of Geard's decision.
Geard for his part had one big scene in which he laid in bed with a pain-ridden woman with terminal cancer and gave her a good night's sleep without her usual morphine injections.
Colin Wilson praised this novel as a "New Age" work of fiction and it has certainly lived up to his billing. Powys writes with a depth of mystery and interconnection that is overpowering at times. He transfers the mundane into the timeless. For example, the simple act of stepping off the 5:20 train becomes a dance with the far reaches of the cosmos. He writes fiction as refreshing and enchanting as the New Age music of Andreas Vollenweirder and Paul Horn.
The Somerset dialect, while important to the realism of the novel's setting, is difficult to read since all the dialect uses the first person, e.g., "he gave to I what they gave to he." By the end of the book, however, the dialect's sounds began to reverberate in my head, and it seemed natural for me.
And, by the end of the book, Glastonbury had also entered my list of must places around the world to visit.
3. Leo Tolstoy's War & Peace
It's a common cliche to bring a copy of War & Peace along on vacation with the idea of completing it. So I tried it — after three days I'd finished over three hundred pages and was feeling good about having read over one-third of the book. Something was wrong, however, and as I looked at the edge of the book, I found that my page marker was much less than a third of the way into the book. I opened the book halfway and found that it was a two-volume book and each volume was over nine hundred pages long. My heart sank as I knew I'd never finish the book in a week's vacation. (I finally finished it a month later.)
Upon finishing the book, I stopped at my favorite video store and got a copy of the movie, the three-and-a-half-hour American version (1966), not the twelve hour Russian version. Audrey Hepburn played Natasha, an obvious casting choice, but who on earth would Henry Fonda play, I thought as I saw the opening credits rolling by. Not Pierre, the key character in the book, whom Tolstoy describes as a tall, overweight and clumsy man every time Pierre appears in the first dozen chapters. But yes, he played Pierre. Fonda, the consummate actor he was, managed the clumsy part, but it was Hollywood's Pierre, not Tolstoy's.
This movie was a romance about Natasha, but the book was about Pierre. In the movie Pierre came in and out of scenes where Natasha was, but in the book it was Natasha that came in and out of Pierre's scenes.
The book is a novel (even though Tolstoy disdains the novel form in the prefatory remarks) about Pierre's individuation. It tracks his journey of transformation from a strong thinking function orientation to a mature adult with a well-developed feeling function. Pierre put himself at risk by wandering around the Battle of Borodino watching and experiencing life close up to find out why men live, love, and go to war. He survived the front line, prison camp, and the falling temperatures of the French retreat march from Moscow and lived to return to Moscow to marry his beloved Natasha.
Pierre's best friend, Prince Andrew, engaged to Natasha after the death of his wife in childbirth, became estranged from Natasha after her abortive elopement with Anatole. Andrew, mortally wounded on the battlefield, watched his friend Anatole die in an adjacent bunk during an amputation of his leg.
Later, during the evacuation of Moscow before the French army, Tolstoy put Natasha and Andrew in the same cortege of carts and they were reunited. Natasha nursed Andrew until he died in her arms. Now Nicholas, her brother, was free to marry Princess Mary (Andrew's sister), and Natasha, of course to marry her Pierre. In the book, both of the marriages were consummated and spawned children and happiness. In the movie we watched Pierre and Natasha walk off into the Moscow sunset, arm in arm.
Tolstoy makes powerful points about war and presages the radical constructivists' view of reality in many ways. He explains that historians construct neat scenarios to explain what happened, then what happened next, etc., but that these tight, rational schemes never existed in the realities of war and peace. Instead men placed themselves in dire situations and took individual actions (sometimes en masse) that are later seen to have been a result of some command or another.
The hero of the invasion and retreat from Moscow in Tolstoy's mind was General Kutuzov. The Russian commander-in-chief refused to allow his troops to fight in their exhausted state after Borodino, saying he preferred to lose Moscow rather than all his troops and Moscow. He withdrew his army beyond Moscow, leaving the Holy city of Russia wide open to the advancing French army. Once inside the Kremlin, Napoleon was abandoned by his army who busied themselves plundering Moscow, and he was trapped by the on-rush of the Russian winter. With supplies dwindling and no deputation from the Russians to sue for peace, Napoleon was forced to abandon a smoldering Moscow. The Russian winter's temperature plummeted to below zero and killed 90% of Napoleon's army during the disastrous trek back to France with Kutuzov's troops on their heels all the way to the border.
Moscow returned to life and was rebuilt by the returning Russians using the same materials with which the French army could not survive when it was only plunder. No better example exists in history of the futility of force in subjugating a people who refuse to cooperate. Nor is there a better example of the short-lived usefulness of plunder on the prosperity of a region. Only the proprietary interest by the returning residents of Moscow could have created a return to a healthy and prosperous city.
4. Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence
Recently I bought a large format book of color photographs of Provence after having repeatedly read a description in the Daedalus book catalog that went approximately, "Every so often we get a desire to stop writing these silly blurbs and run away to the south of France (Provence)."
When the Christmas mail brought this book as a gift from my daughter Carla, I got my chance to spend a year in Provence over the next two weeks with Peter and his wife. They bought a cottage in the Luberon section of Provence and moved into it. It came with an estate of 47 acres and Faustin, the tenant farmer who tended the grape vineyard. He adamantly defended its existence against a metamorphosis into tennis courts by rich seasonal tourists intent on recreating in Provence the pastimes of their non-holiday world. A defense that was unnecessary in Mayle's case, because he intended to merge into the milieu of the region, not fight against it with foreign conveniences. And merge he did. And thereupon hangs a tale — this book.
Through Mayle's delightful writing, we discover the gustatory delights of a folk who dedicate their lives to dinner — a middle of the day main meal that covers a minimum of 10 courses, 6 bottles of wine, and 3 hours. We discover the dreaded Mistral winds that blow hot and dry in the summer and arctic cold in the winter from the steppes of Russia. These dreadful winds were the cause of the only foreign convenience that Peter chose to add to his cottage: central heating. Normalement that installation would take several days in the States, but the author found the meaning of normalement to be a movable feast in Luberon. Six months, beginning in June, were insufficient to the task of completion, and, in desperation for a dust-free, windowed Christmas, Mrs. Mayle came up with a brainstorm, "Let's invite the workers and their wives to a Christmas dinner." The very next day the workers returned and, without explanation for their sudden return, proceeded to complete the job in time for the party. Vive La Femme!
Vive La Provence!
5. Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness
In this slightly autobiographical novel, Conrad's hero sails a steamer up the Congo River into the heart of darkness. Darkness is the central metaphor for this classic English novel. It refers to the skin of the natives of the Congo, the night during which the adventures take place, the Congo region itself, and, literally, the heart of Mr. Kurtz, the head of the last outpost of the steamer company up the Congo River.
As the journey begins the reader is drawn into the metaphor of darkness at every level: we learn about the natives' headhunting, the lonely river outposts that seem to be on the brink of engulfment by dark vegetation, the workers and agents of the ivory company that extract gleaming white ivory from the depths of the dark environs of the Congo, and the dark habits of Mr. Kurtz.
We follow the hero through the sinking of his steamer and its plank by plank re-building at a way station on the river. The attack by the natives that turns out to be a defensive measure designed to prevent extraction of Mr. Kurtz from their midst by his company's agents.
In this book we discover the original paradigm for the character played by Marlon Brando in "Apocalypse Now." The setting was updated from the Congo River to the Mekong River, and turn of the century Africa to 1960's Vietnam. But the journey remains true to Joseph Conrad's vision. The closer we get to the end of the book, the closer we come to understanding what was in the heart of Mr. Kurtz, and in the darkness of his heart we resonate with the darkness of the night, the jungle vegetation, the natives' ignorance, and with the primitive state of our civilized understanding of the ways of the Congo natives. Mr. Kurtz, in his understanding of the natives, went into the heart of darkness and became one with it.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- Check out a 1-minute animation of the Contruction of the International Space Station from its beginning to 2009. Click Photo to View Animation!
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.“The Way We Live Now” (2001) For the last episode, Anthony Trollope wraps all the loose ends of the diverse lives, most of them ending happy except for the infamous Mr. Melmot who goes down in flames from a Prussian onslaught, collapsing on the desk over which he bilked millions out of thousands. Eerily like the way we live now, isn’t it? Victorian mores, excesses, and lacks paraded across the screen in dramatic procession proving human beings have re-learn the lessons of history or be relegated to repeating them.
“Mama Mia!” (2008) “Here we go again. My, my!” It’s all ABBA backwards and forwards in this fast-paced, delightfully fun movie incorporating ABBA’s oeuvre seamlessly from beginning to end. Casting, choreography, music, cinematography, location scenery: all off-scale great! Watch it on Blu-Ray and see/hear for yourself. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Man on a Wire” (2008) Philippe Petit dreamed of walking a wire strung between these towers before they were built. How could a team of three Frenchmen achieve such a feat without permission? A dramatic presentation of the event in 1974 which stopped traffic in Manhattan. The towers which held his wire are gone, but the memory lingers on.
“State of Play” (2009) Best journalistic film ever. A thriller with Russell Crowe at his grungy best taking on his ole buddy Ben Affleck, a philandering congressman. A double ménàge à trois keeps Crowe hopping and dodging bullets, verbal and leaded ones, and striving to prevent his novice partner, the Globe’s blogger, a loose cannon, from staving in his case. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle” (2000) This movie traces Conan Doyle’s early education under the tutelage of Dr. Joseph Bell, the world’s first forensic medical examiner and the prototype for Doyle’s fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes. The case of the Locked Room, the Bloody Room, and many others provided seeds for Holmes’s later adventures. Don't miss my review of The Doctor and the Detective in this Digest, about Conan Doyle and Dr. Bell. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Lost in Austen” (2008) Amanda leaves 21st Century London to have a snog with Mr. Darcy. Three hours of pure fun in the world of “Pride & Prejudice” skewed by thoroughly modern Mandy. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
“Taking Chance” (2008) follows a Marine escorting a fallen Marine’s body to its final resting place. An hour and a half prayer which will leave you feeling blessed.
“Broken English” (2007) written and directed by Zoe Cassavettes — a sensitive look at the life and loves of a young-Katherine-Hepburn look-alike single woman played by Parker Posey.
“Soul Men” (2008) Wildly entertaining, but I can’t talk in public for three f***king days. With one third of the Real Deal trio really dead, the remaining two try to settle their differences and make a comeback. The real deal is the humor of Sam Jackson and Bernie Mac playing off each other. The “Blues Bros” script with a rye twist: a grand piano coffin.
“Bottle Shock” (2008) What if they gave a blind test of wines and California whipped France? And the judges were all French? Maybe Australia, Chile, and other countries might make great wines also! Bon Dieu! Can it be? Steven Spurrier set the ball rolling and the after-shocks of his 1976 taste-off are still Ripple-ing around the world and around the block. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Brothers Bloom” (2008) “The perfect con is where everyone gets what they want" and Steven wanted his younger brother to get an unwritten life, essential an I. In summary, the Brother Bloom but only one lives to bear fruit.“Mother of Mine” (2005) A young boy is sent to Sweden for safety when Russia invaded Finland to oust the Germans in early WWII. Can he find happiness with an ersatz mother, a woman who hates his very presence?
“The House of Eliott: Series 1: Vol. 1” (1991) Marvelous 1920s period piece of two London sisters and their family home after the parents die and they fight for independence.
“Ghost of Girl Friends Past” (2008) Connor Mead’s childhood girlfriend is Maid of Honor at his brother’s wedding & a Christmas Carol trio of ghosts arrive to straighten out Connor’s head. He should invite Charles Dickens to be his Best Man.
“The House of Elliott: Series 1: Vol.2" (1991) In this series, the literal house of Elliott seems to be getting replaced by “The House of Elliott” as a clothing design and manufacturing company. Both gals unmarried, so far, and what prospects pop up so far are not worth having. The girls are busy sew and sews.
“The House of Elliott: Series 1: Vol.3" (1991) The House of Elliott takes off as does Sebastian without Evie for Paris and dies in crash. Problems with cash flow, sewing room girls, and too much business. First board meeting.“Adam Resurrected” (2008) a tour de force by Jeff Goldblum as Adam, a psychic, magician, clown, who survived as a pet dog to Nazi commandant in concentration camp and later heals a young pet dog and helps him to grow up into a man. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Killshot” (2009) Another Diane Lane thriller, this time she is on the run from Mickey Rourke, a skilled hitman, and his loose cannon sidekick. Can she shoot him before he shoots her?
“The House of Eliott: Series 1: Vol. 4” (1991) The sisters come out with their first original line of clothes only to find it duplicated. Bea and Jack grow closer. Evie moves out. Pen goes to Africa. Bring on Series 2!
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.Kung Fu Hustle (2004) Claims to be “feel-good, suspenseful” but is really choreographed idiocy.
“My Best Friend's Girl” (2008) A sad commentary on our time: movie filled with twenty-somethings who operate solely out of maps about friends and rarely inspect the unique territory of the individual they are with. Promiscuous sexuality, foul-mouthed profanity, and puerile script make this one to be avoided. Kate Hudson’s talents wasted and Alec Baldwin just plain wasted.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Untraceable” (2008) A cautionary tale about internet movie videos. Live video of murders abetted by the thrill-seeking viewers. Diane Lane as FBI expert on rogue websites cannot trace this one and soon her team is in danger. Gory details unsuitable for adults.
“The Mill on the Floss” (1978) a George Eliot classic about a family fighting with each other till only the mother is left and the Mill has flowed down the Floss as rubble.
“Auto Focus” (2002) The evolution of video cameras parallels Hogan’s Hero Bob Crane’s sexual addiction. Gal-1, “What he gonna do with dat metal box?” Gal-2, “He’s gonna focus.” Gal-1, “Boh fus?” A sad end to a promising career.
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4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Boudreaux had been drinking at T-Joe's Bar all night and was the last customer in the place. T-Joe finally told Boudreaux that the bar was closing, and went in the back room to clean up. Bourdreaux stood up to leave and fell flat on his face. He tried to stand one more time — same result. He figured he'll crawl outside and get some fresh air and maybe that will sober him up. Once outside, he stood up and fell on his face again.
So he decided to crawl the four blocks home. Reaching the steps of his house, he stood up again and fell flat on his face, but eventually managed to reach the front step. He crawled through the door and up the stairs to his bedroom. When he reached his bed he tried one more time to stand up. This time he managed to pull himself upright, but he quickly fell right into the bed and fell sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
The next morning, he opened his eyes to see Marie who was standing over him glowering. She shouted, "Boudreaux, you been drinking again!"
Putting on an innocent look and intent on bluffing it out, Boudreaux said, "Mais, wat makes you say dat?"
"T-Joe just called. You left your wheelchair at his bar again!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for October, 2009 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Eggplant Stir Fry
Background on Eggplant Stir Fry: With our veggie garden producing a small amount okra each day, but with a lot off eggplants on bushes, I was tempted to try my veggie stir-fry recipe with some eggplant in it as well. I wondered if the amount of time to cook the eggplant could be coordinated so as to keep the rest of the veggies fresh and palatable. The answer was a resounding yes! Try it yourself and taste the results. If you move the veggies to the outside of the fry pan while cooking down the eggplants that will help. I sauted the eggplants with the veggies first, then moved most of the other veggies to the side off the high center heat of a small burner. Quick, easy and a delicious way to utilize 5 to 7 okra freshly picked.
5 to 7 medium size fresh okra 2 to 3 ounces of fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 small bell peppers
3 sprigs of fresh basil 1 TBSP of Rotel Classic (fresh tomatoes and a couple of slices jalapenos, chopped, can be substituted)
1 6-8" Ichiban Japanese eggplant (of the long skinny type), chopped
1 tsp of Shrimp Powder (finely ground dried shrimp)
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 small yellow onion, chopped (not shown)
Chop the fresh ingredients. Chop the eggplant about nickel-size (2.5 cm) for quick-cooking, keep separate.
Seasoings: Tony Chachere seasoning, Season-All, sea salt, shrimp powder, and fresh-ground black pepper. Cooking Instructions
Start by sauting the yellow onions and garlic till translucent. Add seasonings to the pot.
Add the rest of the veggies except for the eggplant. Stir on high heat several minutes.
Add the small eggplant chunks and continue to stir until eggplants are translucent and softened. Move rest of veggie from central heat to prevent them over-cooking during this final cooking stage. Should look about like this when ready to serve: Stir-Fry Ready to Serve
Serves two for a light lunch or zesty side dish. Eat while still warm.
We use fresh bell peppers, basil, okra, and eggplants from our garden. Try variations using as many fresh veggies as you have in your own garden and Bon Apetit!
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6. POETRY by Emily Dickinson:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =On the death of our beloved Lhasa Apso, Hi Ho Jeauxy B. Matherne (1984 — 1988), I assembled these poems from Emily Dickinson's oeuvre for him. Jeauxy was a quiet, gentle dog who loved to walk with me along Marcie Street. He was a constant presence in the house and these poems poignantly describe how we felt his absence when he was abruptly taken from us by a speeding car.
Two PoemsHe went as quiet as the dew
from a familiar flower.
Not like the dew did he return
at the accustomed hour.The bustle in a house
The morning after death
Is the solemnest of industries
Enacted on the earth,
The sweeping up the heart,
And putting Love Away
We shall not want to use again
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for October:
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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: The Doctor and the Detective — A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Martin Booth
The title is tantalizingly ambiguous: Arthur Conan Doyle was a doctor and he wrote detective stories, maybe the first of the genre. Does the title refer to Dr. Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, his most famous detective? One would think so, but reading this book brings up another doctor, the one from which Conan Doyle received his first tutelage as a forensic thinker, Dr. Joseph Bell. The title could also refer to Dr. Bell and Sherlock Holmes because without Dr. Bell's inspiration and guidance, Sherlock Holmes might never have come into existence. Dr. Bell gave Conan Doyle so much of the inspiration for his early characterization of Sherlock Holmes, so the good doctor provided the prototype for the detective.
A recent movie brings this back story of Dr. Bell into the foreground, Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle. Here the attribution is clear as to who the doctor is, as Conan Doyle is not yet a doctor as he receives personal instruction from Dr. Bell, even becoming his clerk for a time, which provided him with detailed instruction by Dr. Bell outside of the classroom as well as inside the classroom. And it was Dr. Bell's activities outside the classroom where Conan Doyle learned about forensic science and detective work because Joe Bell was helping the police with their investigations into various crimes, mostly gruesome murders which were unsolvable. The case of the Locked Room Murder, the Bloody Room, were two of those cases described in the movie. From the beginning of the movie, one immediately gets the feeling that one is rummaging through old Sherlock Holmes cases, and that feeling is as eerie as it is correct, only one is actually walking through the Joe Bell experiences which were later incorporated into Sherlock Holmes stories by Conan Doyle.
Charles Doyle met Conan Doyle's mother, Mary, when he rented a room from her mother, Catherine, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Thus, it will not be unusual to find that Mary would later rent a room to a long-term tenant when she needs help as Charles becomes more an more an alcoholic and is drinking up his earnings. It is thought that Conan Doyle's namesake, his godfather, Michael Conan, actually gave him the two Christian names Arthur Ignatius to go with Conan Doyle.
Like Conan Doyle, I was born as the first son, within months of my mother losing her first child. That my mother doted on me, I cannot attest, because by the time I reached five, I had two younger brothers and one more shortly thereafter, but it seemed likely she treated me special as her first living child. She read to me a lot from books now lost in the caverns of time, developing my love of books, and like Conan Doyle, I soon was bouncing against the limits of our local library in my quest for reading fare. The limit for one day's books was five and I was often at that number. The librarian found it hard to believe I could read that many books at the same time.
What makes a great educator? I have become convinced it's people who perceive themselves not as sculptors working on raw material as they see fit, but rather as enablers who encourage the great hidden potential in their charges to emerge into the light. This was certainly the case for the young Jesuit master of Conan Doyle.
[page 20, 21] In general, Arthur's time at Hodder was happy. His masters were mostly younger Jesuit brothers who were kind and tolerant towards their pupils: his form master, Francis Cassidy, was only in his mid-twenties. . . . Cassidy took over where his mother had left off. In later years, Conan Doyle was to write to his former teacher, 'How well I remember the stories which you used to read to us and which I used to suck in like a sponge absorbs water until I was so saturated with them that I could still repeat them.'
Conan Doyle led a graced life in many ways, and growing up in the streets of Edinburgh to a poor family was one of them. This is an aspect of being poor which is mostly neglected today. I have grandchildren who refuse to eat anything that doesn't come hermetically sealed from a grocery store, such blackberries from my own garden. They look upon them as though the berries might full of germs, I suppose. As part of a rich family, they can look askance as naturally growing fruit, something that we never could as children. We picked blackberries and ate them wherever we could find, knowing that our mom couldn't afford to buy any fruit from the store. We ate cooking pears because it was the only fruit available at times and we stuffed our bellies with loquats which were mostly left unpicked on many trees in the neighborhood. We crawled under houses during our play, ran wild in the woods, dug holes for our games, and mostly roamed streets perhaps as filthy as those of Edinburgh in Conan Doyle's youth. What did he get from this filth? Likely a lifelong immunity to various diseases which were killing the rich at the time, diphtheria and tuberculosis, e.g.
Unfortunately Cassidy had left the school by the time Conan Doyle was eleven and he was no longer happy in Stonyhurst from that time on. The other Jesuit masters "repressed their own emotions and stamped on any the boys might have shown." The unemotional approach of the other masters led Conan Doyle to find his "escape through books, thereby galvanizing his imagination and broadening his horizons." (Page 35) But what kind of horizons were there for him as one of two sons of a poor family? Leave it to Conan Doyle, when presented with three options, to choose all three. But at first, he was a doctor, and at last he was a writer.
[page 41] It was often said of well-to-do Victorian families that the first son inherited his birthright (and indulged himself in politics, the arts, business or whatever else might appeal to him), the second son joined the military and the third went into the Church. For Arthur Conan Doyle, things were different. His family was poor, there was little to inherit and there were only two sons: and yet, in time, he was to encompass all three stations — polymath, adventurer-at-war, if not actual serving soldier, and, in a way, priest, albeit of a particularly esoteric and nefarious religion.
He was, however, to start off as a doctor.
A famous Venetian writer once wrote, "Whenever I write about a city, it turns out that I am writing about Venice." If it seems to you, dear Reader that as I wrie about Conan Doyle that I am writing about myself, please forgive me. It is after all a subject upon which I am well-versed. Like a faulty inoculation, Conan Doyle's medical degree never took — it lasted awhile and he went on to other things. But like my degree in physics did for me, it provided Conan Doyle a source of income so that he could do the other things he wished to do.
A turning point came for Conan Doyle when he meet Dr. Joseph Bell, the great teacher who in 1878 appointed Conan Doyle as his clerk. The biographer writes that it is unknown why Bell chose the young student to be his clerk, but as the movie mentioned above presents the matter, and we might deduct with a bit of Holmesian logic, it was probably his bumptiousness which led to his appointment, something that Bell himself likely had a quantity of himself.
[page 49] Bell rose through the ranks of his profession as hospital surgeon at the Royal Infirmary then senior and finally consulting surgeon both there and at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. He published extensively, wrote a number of seminal textbooks and was, for twenty-three years, editor of the Edinburgh Medical Journal. At the Royal Infirmary, he taught clinical surgery — with students paying to attend his classes which were very popular and frequently overcrowded.
Why were Bell's classes overcrowded? Because Dr. Bell was entertaining as well as informative, something college students yet today find irresistible. I am listening currently to Richard Feynman's lectures from Feb. 1962, a month after I graduated in Physics myself, and he is fun, informative, and irresistible, no doubt like Bell in his day.
One cannot read Conan Doyle's description of Dr. Bell without conjuring up a vision of the fictional Sherlock Holmes.
[page 49, 50] Known to the students as Joe, he was a sparse and lean man with the long and sensitive fingers of a musician, sharp grey eyes twinkling with shrewdness, an angular nose with a chin to match, unkempt dark hair and a high-pitched voice. He walked, according to Conan Doyle, with a jerky step, his head carried high. Blessed with a wry sense of humor, he spoke precisely and clearly but, in the company of patients, could slip at the drop of a hat into the broadest brogue. More than a medical man, he was also a widely read amateur poet, a competent raconteur, a keen sportsman, a naturalist and a bird-watcher. He was a good shot and enjoyed grouse-shooting: Conan Doyle met him on the Isle of Arran in 1877 whilst shooting there . . .
The game was afoot. Mr. Doyle was quickly becoming a forensic expert under the tutelage of Dr. Joe Bell and would be able to call upon this knowledge in so many of his Sherlock Holmes detective stories. One wonders if there could have been a detective Sherlock without the doctor Joe.
[page 50] It was Bell's dictum that a doctor had to be not only learned but also immensely interpretative of all relevant features of a patient. Diagnosis, he taught, was not made just by visual observation but also by the employment of all the senses: do not just look at a patient, he advised, but feel him, probe him, listen to him, smell him. Only then could a diagnosis be attempted.
Curiously it was not Dr. Watson who was the keen diagnostician, but the non-doctor Holmes. This would also mirror in an inverse way the young Mr. Doyle's experience with the Dr. Bell: Conan Doyle was the bumbling Dr. Watson to the keen diagnostician and forensic expert, the Sherlockian Dr. Bell.
How did Conan Doyle get to spend so much time with Dr. Bell?
[page 50] Every Friday, Bell held an open out-patient clinic at the Royal Infirmary which students attended. Patients were prepared in an anteroom, wheeled in before the doctor who studied and diagnosed them: they were then wheeled out for treatment. The students scribbled notes as fast as they could. Bell waited for no man.
In 1878, Bell appointed Conan Doyle his clerk for these clinics. Why he chose him is a mystery although it was a part of the course that students should take on junior responsibilities now and then as part of their training. Whatever the case, it afforded Conan Doyle valuable experience.
His relationship as clerk is fleshed out admirably and intriguingly in the movie, "Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle." There is likely little documentation of what the two men did together, other than the corpus of the stories of Sherlock Holmes which their time together apparently inspired.
For the young Mr. Doyle, the sessions with Dr. Bell offered much-needed practice in observation and deduction which he will require for his soon-to-be famous detective stories. But he needed contact with an assortment of people, not just doctors, students, and sick people, but robust men in trying work situations. His chance came when the ship Hope needed a ship's doctor, and he jumped at the chance, even though he wasn't fully qualified as a doctor. He wanted adventure and the ship needed a sawbones, and he was certainly qualified to do amputations when required. It was a natural fit.Later he filled the ship's surgeon position on the steam-powered bark, the Mayumba. It was not a pleasant voyage, beset by a near-collision, rough seas, seasickness (including himself). He was kept fully occupied and had to work even when sick himself. He saw many strange lands, peoples, fish, snakes and butterflies all arraying in lands he had only read about in novels and such. He brought photography equipment which allowed him to take occasional photographs. "It was all grist for his own literary mill." (Page 73)
His medical mill required a lot of grist, but Conan Doyle had only grit. What he needed was money, but having none he had to start his own medical practice from scratch. In the good old days of doctoring, it was the doctors, not the patients who had trouble making ends meet. To attract patients, a large imposing house was required, but most doctors would keep only the few rooms the patients saw furnished. (Page 88) But his practice began to grow, which allowed him to start pipe-smoking and to hire a housekeeper who doubled as a receptionist. Later the housekeeper appeared reincarnated as Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock Holmes' housekeeper.
Apparently Conan Doyle's medical background was not very well known until recently. One medical piece he wrote in 1883 proved to be the inspiration for the 1966 science fiction movie, Fantastic Voyage.
[page 101] Much of Conan Doyle's medical background came to light with the 1984 publication of The Medical Casebook of Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle by Alvin E. Rodin and Jack D. Key. In a closely researched study, they showed how imaginative and advanced Conan Doyle was in his medical thinking, particularly concerning bacterial infectious diseases and methods of immunization. Amongst other details they discovered, they indicated the importance of an 1883 article he wrote for Good Works entitled 'Life and Death in the Blood'. Whilst a medical piece, it asked the reader to shrink himself to microscopic size for a tourist trip through the blood system, looking at the cells, seeing how toxins attack and antitoxins protect, watching the war between bacteria and blood. It was pure science faction, a precursor to his science fiction stories and the basis, eighty-three years on, of the Oscar-winning sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage.
As a twelve-year-old, I recall having trouble checking out a book on a similar theme, only this time it was a small cartoon character named Spiro and his adventures through the blood stream, eventually ending up in the eyeballs and other places. The librarian, my favorite librarian, Mrs. Edith Lawson, looked at the book looked at me, several times, asked me a few questions, and reluctantly allowed me to check out the book. Only a decade or so later did I figure out that lovable little Spiro was a syphilis virus.
What Conan didn't know was that a premier science fiction writer lived around the corner from him, H. G. Wells.
[page 101, 102] Perhaps there was something about Elm Grove and King's Road that made them conducive to science fiction: it is appealing to think, how often Conan Doyle, going to the shops, passed by the draper's store less than a hundred meters from his surgery where, from 1881 to '83, one of the shop assistants was a young man called H.G. Wells. They must even have met, for the proprietor of the shop was one of Conan Doyle's patients.
During this time, his patient load grew and his output of writing became prodigious for the man some would call, with justification, The Father of the Short Story. He wrote in an elegant handwriting known as copperplate and rarely made corrections, all the while writing at break-neck speed between countless interruptions to see patients.
There were other detective stories in Conan Doyle's lifetime, but most of them seemed to him as nonsensical with rickety plots and full of Deus ex machina arising to rescue the awkward story lines. He obviously thought he could write a better detective story, and in April 1886, his novella, "A Study in Scarlet", appeared — its hero was a detective called Sherlock Holmes. The liveliness of this modern detective was startling compared the high-faluting Auguste Dupin who remained a flattened-out literary character who did not evolve, but Sherlock did.
[page 105] Fictional he may be, but Sherlock Holmes is a living, almost tangible, character with real failings and definable traits with well-developed self-assurance and a mien of infallibility that is not only captivating but also realistically likeable. Poe had no awareness of his audience whilst Conan Doyle, ever conscious of it, never forgot who he was writing for or, as it were, speaking to. The result is obvious. Dupin is a paper character; Sherlock Holmes, with his dry wit, confident air and acerbic tongue, is flesh and blood.
The detective story will never be the same again after Sherlock dons his deerstalker hat and places his meerschaum pipe in his mouth. And yet both of these artifacts of the Holmes' persona were due to an actor who later portrayed Holmes on the stage, not Conan Doyle.
The current vogue of comic strip artists to mention in their strips other strips' characters or even have characters from other comic strips drawn in their own strips may seem very new, but Conan Doyle evoked this off-the-page reference in his initial Sherlock Holmes story.
[page 106] Initially, Conan Doyle was a little reluctant to admit the influence of Poe. He even had Sherlock Holmes dismiss Poe in A Study in Scarlet, in which Watson remarks to Holmes, 'You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin", to which Sherlock Holmes curtly responds that Dupin was 'a very inferior fellow'.
How did Sherlock Holmes get his name? Apparently Conan Doyle tried several versions of names, and along the way, remembering the future(4)
, he selected the most famous name in detective fiction. Sherrinford and Sherrington, he locked in on Sherlock.
[page 106, 107] His first choice was Sherrinford Holmes, which metamorphosed briefly into Sherrington Hope. Conan Doyle's first notes for A Study in Scarlet read, 'Ormond Sacker - from Afghanistan. Lived at 221B Upper Baker Street with Sherrinford Holmes - The Laws of Evidence. Reserved, sleepy-eyed young man - Philosopher - collector of rare Violins. An Amati . . . chemical laboratory. . . "I have four hundred a year - I am a Consulting detective. . .'" Then the name became Sherlock Holmes.
Perhaps what really locked in Sherlock as the name was an item found in the Portsmouth newspapers.
[page 107] Yet the most fascinating potential source has been discovered by Stavert who, searching contemporary Portsmouth newspapers, found a Chief Inspector Sherlock mentioned in connection with a criminal investigation reported in the Evening News on 4 January 1883. Conan Doyle read the paper every day.
My friend and colleague, Doyle Philip Henderson, was named by his father after Conan Doyle. A reporter for a newspaper in Fresno, California, the elder Henderson had a flair for forensic investigation and was often called into to help solve crimes with the local police. Doyle gave me several examples of his father's keen observational skills, for example, he could predict miles ahead a bump in a sloping road. "See that dark area, son?" he told Doyle, "that's where oil drops from pans of cars and trucks are shaken loose by a bump. See the dark streak up ahead in the middle of the road, that's an incline. The motors run harder and drip more oil on inclines."Newer motors drip less oil, but you can see these phenomena, if you look, yet today. Given this early training by his father Doyle Henderson tracked down the cause of feelings and emotions triggered by "thought alone" — he eventually realized that these bodily states are recapitulations of original events from childhood. Through long investigations, helping thousands of people remove their unwanted bodily states, Doyle homed in on five years old as the age above which bodily states are no longer stored, only recapitulated. His early work is the foundation upon which the new science of doyletics was founded, inspired indirectly by the writings of Conan Doyle.
This quote is too precious to pass up. It comes from Conan Doyle's book, The Stark Munro Letters, in which Cullingworth, justifying his work as an eye doctor, says, "I've taken to the eye, my boy. There's a fortune in the eye. A man grudges a half-crown to cure his chest or his throat, but he'd spend his last dollar over his eye. There's money in ears, but the eye is a gold mine." (Page 119)
Was Dr. Watson a bumbling fool, as many make him out to have been? On page 146, the biographer writes about Conan Doyle, "He frequently disdained others in authority whom he considered somehow lacking. In other words, as was the case with Conan Doyle himself, Sherlock Holmes did not suffer fools gladly." If Watson were a bumbling fool, why would Sherlock Holmes suffer to have Watson around him so often? Holmes must have perceived Watson as a useful foil upon which to practice his various tentative thrusts and feints. And for Conan Doyle, Watson served an important literary role.
[page 154] Acting as an intermediary, Watson fulfils a vital narrative role. He is the eyes and ears of the reader, their advocate when it comes to questioning motives and deductions, their representative at the scene of the crime. He was, in many respects, a camera. A lingering judgment of Watson portrays him as dense, a man whose wit is not quite quick enough to keep up with Sherlock Holmes. This is wrong, and possibly brought about by theatrical and cinematic interpretations of his character rather than literary ones engendered by the page. Conan Doyle, aware of this opinion of his character, defended him by saying that those who considered Watson to be a fool were simply admitting that they had not read the stories with sufficient attention.
An important literary moment came when the doctor upon whom Conan Doyle modeled his famous detective had an opportunity to review a book of his adventures. Would Dr. Bell like the stories that he helped to inspire?
[page 155] When The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes appeared, Dr Joseph Bell himself reviewed it for the Bookman, complimenting Conan Doyle for his skillful plots and the fascinating twists and turns they took, which criticism must have greatly pleased the author. He must have felt as if Sherlock Holmes himself were congratulating him.
As the biographer points out, Conan Doyle was interested in a wide variety of sports and wrote on many fields of medicine and science, was an frequent writer of Letters to Editors, and soon his interest in writing Sherlock Holmes adventures waned and led him to create the episode in which Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fell to their death over a waterfall. Conan Doyle thought he was done with the detective, but the public would not allow it. Some furious readers reacted as if the author had murdered an actual person, so vividly had Conan Doyle fleshed out Sherlock Holmes as a fictional character.
[page 190] When Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty went over the falls, there was a massive public uproar which astonished Conan Doyle. More than twenty thousand people cancelled their subscriptions to the Strand Magazine. The shareholders grew jittery and both Newnes and Greenhough Smith, who had begged Conan Doyle not to kill Holmes, were very worried. Abusive mail arrived at the editorial offices by the sackload whilst hundreds more letters were sent direct to Conan Doyle beseeching him to reverse Holmes's death. One letter from a woman reader began, 'You brute!' People wore black armbands in public mourning. Newspapers around the world reported the death as a news item and there were obituaries by the score. Tit-Bits, perhaps in an attempt to regain some of the income lost by the Strand Magazine, announced the instigation of a Sherlock Holmes Memorial Prize. Sherlock Holmes clubs sprang up in America. And evil, it seemed, had triumphed over good.
Meanwhile Conan Doyle found refuge in the Swiss Alps in a health resort, Davos, a valley at the five thousand foot level, renown for helping TB patients, and his wife Louise needed the clear air and sunshine it provided. It was in many ways, a place of misery, which had "a certain prison-like effect on the imagination" as Robert Louis Stevenson had written about his time there, ten year before. (Page 191) But "Conan Doyle was stimulated by the alpine air and got down to work. . . . "
Conan Doyle was a writer and a sportsman in equal measure, forever keeping the boy in him present in his life of sports. He wrote The Lost World, a story which has led to many movies, for example, Jurassic Park. The following quatrain he wrote as a dedication to that book; it might well have been written about himself as a man who was ever half a boy:
I have wrought my simple plan,
If I bring one hour of joy,
To the boy who's half a man
Or the man who's half a boy.
Upon his headstone are these words, "Knight, Patriot, Physician and man of letters" plus the words from the original epitaph carved into an oak board, "Steel true, blade straight." A true man who was ever half-boy and created a world for the child in all of us to play in.
Read the Full Review at:
2.) ARJ2: World History and the Mysteries — 9 Lec, Dornach, Dec 1923-Jan,1924, GA#233 by Rudolf Steiner
Two salient conceptions stand out for me after reading these lectures. The first one is the synchronicity of the burning of the Temple of Ephesus and the burning of the first Goetheanum, both of which are represented in the color drawing which graces the cover of this book. The Greek Temple of Ephesus is the peaked roof one at left and Steiner's Goetheanum is domed one at the right. From what Steiner says about these two events, we can discern how they resonate with each other over the millennia which separate and join them.
The other conception is of three types of memory: Localized memory, Rhythmic memory, and Temporal memory. Steiner shows us how these are placed in the historical evolution of consciousness of humankind, and how they show up in our life today.
Localized memory shows up today in memorials we place anchored in the Earth, such as tombstones, which when we visit them conjure up memories of our loved one commemorated there. More frequently, it seems, elaborate crosses are appearing along highways to commemorate the person who died there. Once when I was only 17 or so, I witnessed a man's body being pulled up from the muck where his car had run off the road, and frequently when I pass that spot, the memory of that scene comes to me without need for any other reminder. That is localized memory.
Rhythmic memory is best characterized by our small children who call us da-da or ma-ma, and a cow might be a moo-moo, a dog an arf-arf-arf, etc. This type of memory shows up today in our popular songs, poetry, jazz, classical, and all types of music and rhythmic performances. This helps explain why listening to music makes us want to move around and jump up and down as if we were kids again. In a sense, we are, for the moment.
Temporal memory is the highest type of memory we have today, e. g., when we can conjure up a memory for July 20, 1969, the night Man landed on the Moon for first time. If someone but mentions that date, a flood of memories may arise in us. I don't remember the date of the man whose body I saw pulled up from the side of the road — I have only localized memory of that. Each of us have passed in childhood through a rhythmic stage when the "E-I, E-I, O" of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" ran through our heads and mouths as we recited it. Plus other nursery rhymes we recited or books we read such as Dr. Seuss with his wonderful repetition of the rhythms children love to hear and read aloud.
Human beings go through these three phases of memory capability during childhood. In the localized memory stage, psychologists can demonstrate that if they move a box in front of a glass and ask where the glass is, children up to a certain age say the glass went away, and after that age, they say the glass is in the back of the box even though they can no longer see it. After localized memory comes rhythmic memory when the child remembers things best by repeating the name. Later, in the third or temporal memory phase, one can ask the child where he left his bicycle, and he will tell you both where and when, "I put it in the garage when I came home from school." One cannot say that without fully developed temporal memory.
The maturation of a single human being as a child goes through the three stages of local, rhythm, and temporal memory. During historical times adult human beings first had only localized memory, then later, as the evolution of consciousness proceeded, adult humans had rhythmic memory, and finally we reached our current stage of temporal memory. Human beings back then, i. e., went through the same three stages as a typical human child goes through during its first five years of life.
For example, the adult human beings in ancient times who had only localized memory capability were given to making rock cairns along walking routes as a means of remembering some event which happened on the road, such as "I saw a man's chariot lose a wheel here." They lacked temporal memory, and they had no way of writing anything down to take the memory with them, but they knew that the Earth held the memory itself so they marked the location of the event to be memorialized.
Then humans evolved to the stage where oral poetry was memorized, with its rhythmic passages which could hold long epic sagas, such Gilgamesh or the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer. Only after the advent of writing did these sagas get written down at a time when the highest memory capability, rhythmic memory, was being supplanted by the beginning of temporal memory. Nowadays we have the use of all three types of memory available to us, which makes it difficult for us to imagine life in times when people had only localized memory or solely the combination of localized and rhythmic memories.
If you haven't heard or seen any educational channels talking about this kind of evolution of consciousness, that is because establishment science considers such evolution to be almost nil, up until now. So-called scientists are predisposed to treat events in history, even ancient history, as if the humans of those times felt, remembered, and thought the same way we do today. This leads scientists to conclusions that can be very far afield from reality, with no possibility of receiving reproof for their errors from fellow scientists. With his delineation of these three types of memory, Rudolf Steiner lays out evidence for the evolution of consciousness and allows us to corroborate what he says from what scant historical records we have. But mostly, it allows us to understand how we ourselves have come to have all three types of memory, localized, rhythmic, and temporal today because ancient humans who first possessed them have handed them down to us.
On page 7 Steiner begins his first lecture by asking, "How has the present configuration, the present make-up of the human soul arisen? How has it come about through the long course of evolution?" For our hard-brained materialistic scientists, these two question make no sense. Although they spend billions trying to learn about the Big Bang Theory of how our universe has arisen, to even consider that these might be powerful unanswered questions worthy of their investigation, they won't spend a few minutes, up until now. Steiner explains why this is so:
[page 7] The present age is however one that is peculiarly prejudiced in its thought about the evolution of man and of mankind. It is commonly believed that, as regards his life of soul and spirit, man has always been essentially the same as he is today throughout the whole of the time that we call history. True, in respect of knowledge, it is imagined that in ancient times human beings were childlike, that they believed in all kinds of fancies, and that man has only really become clever in the scientific sense in modern times; but if we look away from the actual sphere of knowledge, it is generally held that the soul-constitution which man has today was also possessed by the ancient Greek and by the ancient Oriental. Even though it be admitted that modifications may have occurred in detail, yet on the whole it is supposed that throughout the historical period everything in the life of the soul has been as it is today.
What is soul-life or soul-constitution? What is the soul itself for that matter? The answer is very simple, so simple it's possible to complicate it by explanation. Let us keep it as simple as possible. You have an experience, and while you can explain to me what happened to you, you can never really enable me to have the experience you had — I can have your explanation as my experience and what happened inside of me as you gave me your explanation. Plus, what happens inside of me as you explain is something that you can never experience either. So each event you experience is stored inside of you and is ineffable, no matter how mundane an experience it is. Two people can be said to have the same experience, but the adjective same conceals more than it reveals. There is no way of ever confirming, for example, whether two people see the same color they would both call red, even if neither is color-blind. They can look at the color of a tomato, agree it is red, but neither of them can take the color red inside of them and show the other person. They can only agree that some object is red, but cannot share color of the object they seen inside of themselves, only talk about some external presence of red. (See my review of Seeing Red, a marvelous book by philosophy Nicholas Humphrey in he describes this conundrum of the color red. ) These experiences unique to an individual are soul experiences, part of our soul-life, our soul-constitution. The soul holds all these unique experiences of our entire life.
One of the soul experiences is the ability to remember things. At one point in ancient times, the only way humans could remember an event was to mark the place it occurred, perhaps by a pile of rocks, a stone cairn. These ancients allowed the Earth to hold the memory of the event. The Earth was in effect their memory, their "writing pad" at a time when writing was unknown because the soul-constitution of humans at the time had only localized memory, no rhythmical memory, no temporal memory. In the Stone Age, it was fitting that the only writing per se was a stack of stones placed on the Earth as localized memory. The Earth acted as their memory, in effect, their head!
Rightly understood, it is Modern Man not Ancient Man who is childish in his understanding of how we operate in relationship to the Cosmos in which we live, move, and have our being. If by being, we take that to refer to only the mineral-based body which temporarily houses our soul and spirit, then, yes, our relationship to the Cosmos is mere observers with our eyes and telescopes. But, if we are star-stuff, and we act as if we are but mere animals bound to the Earth, we are blinding ourselves to the very core of the reality in which we truly live, move, and have our being in body, soul, and spirit. We treat ourselves as some higher primate animal instead of a full human being. We limit ourselves to viewing the Sun as a thermonuclear furnace whose entire reality is explained by human-made physics, and we treat our body as mere flesh and bones entirely explained by modern physiology. We treat ourselves not as star-stuff, but dust-stuff, and the difference between those two concepts makes all the difference in the world to a human being; it makes the difference between wanting to live, to thrive, and wanting to kill oneself because of the meaninglessness of existence. It makes the difference between animation and anomie, between living spirit and dead flesh.
Listen how Ancient Man understood the world and his relationship to it.
[page 14, 15] There was once a time on the Earth when man was not merely conscious as we are of thoughts lying around, so to speak, but was conscious of his own head; he felt the head as the image of the Earth, and he felt this or that part of the head — let us say, the optic thalamus or the corpora quadrigemina — as the image of a certain, physical mountainous configuration of the Earth. He did not then merely relate his heart to the Sun in accordance with some abstract theory, he felt: "My head stands in the same relation to my chest, to my heart, as the Earth does to the Sun." That was the time when man had grown together, in his whole life, with the Cosmic Universe; he had become one with the Cosmos. And this found expression in his whole life.
In this next passage, Steiner gives examples of how localized memory showed up in ancient peoples as rock cairns and other markers or signs. It interesting to notice that the notebooks Steiner is referring to becoming necessary are ubiquitous already as computerized notebooks, in the form of laptops and cell phone-based devices.
[page 15] If in that time of which I have spoken one were to enter the region inhabited by people who were still conscious of their head, chest, heart and limbs, one would see on every hand small pegs placed in the earth and marked With some sign. Or here and there a sign made upon a wall. Such memorials were to be found scattered over all inhabited regions. Wherever anything happened, a man would set up some kind of memorial, and when he came back to the place, he lived through the event over again in the memorial he had made. Man had grown together with the earth, he had become one with it with his head. Today he merely makes a note of some event in his head. As I have pointed out already, we are beginning once more to find it necessary to make notes not only in our head but also in a note-book; this is due as I said, to slovenliness of soul, but we shall nevertheless require to do it more and more. At that time however there was no such thing as making notes even in one's head, because thoughts and ideas were simply nonexistent. Instead, the land was dotted over with signs.
Our refrigerator is usually covered with photos and artifacts of trips or experiences we had. The magnets which hold the photos of our offspring might be a wooden moosehead from Whistler. British Columbia, or a bas-relief of the Bronze Horseman statue in St. Petersburg, Russia, for example. Recently we moved to a new home and when Del removed all the images from the refrigerator, I was taken aback. The fridge was naked! The subtle but real soul experiences that each little item created in me were suddenly and en masse gone! I felt it in my soul as a huge vacuum. This illustrates how soul experiences occur in our lives, often subtly without notice, until some accumulation happens without warning, and we feel a dramatic impact.
[page 16] Even today it is still of no small value for a man's spiritual evolution that he should sometimes make use of his capacity for this kind of memory, for a memory that is not within him but is unfolded in connection with the outer world. It is good sometimes to say: I will not remember this or that, but I will set here or there a sign, or token; or, I will let my soul unfold an experience about certain things, only in connection with signs or tokens.
Growing up in the New Orleans area, I took for granted the Madonna statues and grottos with the Blessed Mother which dot the front yards of residents here. These are another form of localized memory which was carried by immigrants from Central Europe to our area. Steiner explains how this first stage of memory, localized memory works yet today in our lives.
The next stage is rhythmic memory. We mentioned how it appears in children yet today, but Steiner explains how ancient Man developed a need for moving from only localized memory to rhythmic memory as well.
[page 17] We have now come to the time when, not from any conscious, subtle finesse, but right out of his own inner being, man had developed the need of living in rhythm. He felt a need so to reproduce, within himself, what he heard that a rhythm was formed. If his experience of a cow, for instance, suggested "moo," he did. not simply call her" moo," but , moo-moo," — perhaps, in very ancient times, "moo-moo-moo." That is to say, the perception was as it were piled up in repetition, so as to produce rhythm. . . . There had to be at any rate some similarity between a sequence of words. "Might and main," "stock and stone" — such setting of experience in rhythmic sequence is a last relic of an extreme longing to bring everything into rhythm; for in this second epoch, that followed the epoch of localized memory, what was not set into rhythm was not retained. It is from this rhythmic memory that the whole ancient art of verse developed — indeed all metrical poetry.
The last of the three stages is temporal memory, the most abstract form of memory which appeared only in historical times. I say historical times, because what makes an era historical is that we have some written record of. The appearance of a written record presupposes the ability of the human writing the record to hold a memory of an event in mind while creating a permanent record of it, whether on clay tablets, papyrus, or parchment. The epics of Homer were not written down initially, but existed in rhythmic memory by means of which troubadours sang and recited the Iliad and Odyssey and other long tales. At some point, the onset of temporal memory capability allowed scribes to record in writing the long oral epics and those early records were basically prehistorical events which were written down during historical times.
[page 17, 18] Only in the third stage does that develop which we still know today, — temporal memory, when we no longer have a point in space to which memory attaches, nor are any longer dependent on rhythm, but when that which is inserted into the course of time can be evoked again later. This quite abstract memory of ours is the third stage in the evolution of memory.
To summarize: the ancient people had only localized memory, but during their fleeing from the Atlantean flood towards Asia they developed rhythmic memory which flourished in the Far East and can be still heard in their rhythmic chants and music for which rhythm is the primarily element. Thousands of years later, the migration of these rhythmic people back towards the West marked the transition from rhythmic to temporal memory about the time they colonized Greece. The flourishing of thought and writing in classical Greek times is our record of this amazing transition in human capabilities. In these three types of memory are held the history of Man from earliest post-Atlantean times to classical Greek times. We cannot rightly understand world history, especially the origin of modern civilization, without knowledge of these three types of memory.
[page 19, 20] The migration of the Atlantean peoples to Asia marks the transition from localized memory to rhythmic memory, which latter finds its completion in the spiritual life of Asia. The colonization of Greece marks the transition from rhythmic memory to temporal memory — the memory that we still carry within us today.1. Localized Memory.
2. Rhythmic Memory.
3. Temporal Memory.
And within this evolution of memory lies the whole development of civilization between the Atlantean catastrophe and the rise of Greece, — all that resounds to us from ancient Asia, coming to us in the form of legend and saga rather than as history. We shall arrive at no understanding of the evolution of humanity on the Earth by looking principally to the external phenomena, by investigating the external documents; rather do we need to fix our attention on the evolution of what is within man; we must consider how such a thing as the faculty of memory has developed, passing in its development from without into the inner being of man.
When we read Steiner in other places talking about the capabilities of future humans to see directly into the spiritual world while yet conscious, we can realize that he can predict this for the very reason that all throughout history and pre-history, what Initiates could do during one epoch became the normal abilities of all humans during a succeeding epoch! What requires waking-dreaming for the average human today will one day become a conscious, fully awake condition of all of humanity.
Do you know any Initiates personally? I cannot say for sure that I do. It is not safe for Initiates to reveal themselves — they will be reviled and exiled, being considered too dangerous to allow to live. "People just shouldn't know these things," will be what the masses will say and think about these Initiates.
Surely you're joking, you may be thinking! How could an ancient become upset just because a person of today can read and write? Surely they would understand the importance of reading and writing, wouldn't they? Read in the full review or book how Steiner describes what would happen if an average high school graduate of today were to meet an average human from this ancient time.
Evolution of consciousness is not a change in content, but rather a change in process, which, as I understand it, is what Steiner means when he says, "It is not a difference in the content of consciousness, but in the way of comprehending and understanding the thing." A process is the way in which something happens and what happens in consciousness is the process of comprehending and understanding. Anyone trying to understand the difference in ancient humans and today's humans by examining the differences in the content of their consciousness will miss the essence of the evolution of consciousness which occurred between then and now.
An evolution or difference in the process of consciousness can not only exist in time but also in space. In other words, there can be differences between Men separated by long periods of time and differences between Men separated by long distances. The Greeks and the Trojans during their long war were such an example of Men separated by distance who had different processes of consciousness. How do people learn from each other? Through extensive and intimate contact. Trade is one way, but the most common ways in ancient times were slavery and war.
Young, hot-blooded cultures strove for conquest over older culture possessed of greater powers of reflection. In the course of conquest they acquired slaves who came into close contact with them and learned from the slaves. From Steiner's analysis we can understand how war stems from a mixture of old and young cultures learning from each other, and mostly it is the conqueror who learns from the conquered. The process seem similar to me as that of marriage: a mixture of male and female in the male wins the female's heart and learns from her what it is to have a heart in himself.
[page 34] . . . the driving force for further evolution lies in the search for an adjustment between young races and old races, so that the young races may mature through association with the old, with the souls of those whom they have brought into subjection. However far, back we look into Asia, everywhere we find how the young races who cannot of themselves develop the reflective faculties, set out to find these in wars of aggression.
Steiner points out in Lecture III (Page 38) that temporal memory came into existence as humankind entered the fourth Post-Atlantean cultural epoch, the Greco-Roman epoch. This means that the earliest Greeks were just beginning to learn about temporal memory and would have needed a lot of techniques to assist them. One of their techniques, I first learned about in a memory course I took from Don Robinson in Los Angeles about 1970, the method of loci. He explained that this was a technique used by classical Greeks to aid in remembering. How it works: if you have a lot of objects to remember, simply imagine putting each one in a room in a building you are very familiar with. Then to recall the set of objects, you simply walk through the building, your home probably, and see what objects are stored in each room. Clearly, this was a technique which helped the Greeks to bridge the gap from localized memory to temporal memory. Instead of physically walking through the house to collect the objects, one walked in one's memory to fetch them.
In Lecture V, Steiner adds some insight to the concept that history began coincident with the onset of temporal memory and the invention of writing by revealing how humans remembered things before writing came into being. The shadow pictures he refers to are the images of the spiritual world, the Akashic Record, which were yet accessible into earliest Grecian times, but faded mostly away by classical Greek times, to be replaced by temporal memory and writing. The Greeks, Steiner explains, could yet see the gods, as they called the Spiritual Beings they viewed in the shadow-pictures. But with the loss of this spiritual vision the onset of temporal memory and written history began, and a fall into purely earthly materialism which continues, up until now.
What happened on the day Alexander the Great was born which infused him with a desire to conquer the world? The temple with the peaked roof shown on the cover of this book was torched and lit up the sky, an event to be reiterated in Steiner's current lifetime when the original wooden Goetheanum went up in flames on a New Year's Eve.In several places I have read others talking about Steiner being the same great spirit who inhabited Gilgamesh’s friend, Enkidu (aka Eabani) and who later inhabited Alexander the Great's teacher, Aristotle. Reading the details that Steiner gives about Gilgamesh and Alexander in these lectures indicates he had, in previous incarnations, an intimate link to these two great personalities. And he reveals the great cosmic synchronicity of the Burning of the Temple of Ephesus and the birth of Alexander with his great mission.
[page 86] If we can form a idea of this, we can rightly estimate the fact that on the day on which Alexander was born, Herostratus threw the flaming torch into the Sanctuary of Ephesus; on the very day on which Alexander was born, the Temple of Diana of Ephesus was treacherously burnt to the ground. It was gone, never to return. Its monumental document, with all that belonged to it, was no longer there. It existed only as a historical mission in the soul of Alexander and in his teacher Aristotle.
Those who blithely think that Alexander was bent solely on conquest are badly misled. Alexander did not place his own commanders in charge of every land he conquered. He did not require these lands to change their religious practices, in fact, Alexander was often severely criticized by his own advisors for adopting the local customs and dress of the Eastern peoples he conquered. He seemed less a conqueror at times, and more of a savior.
[page 87] You will now be in a position to appreciate the resolve that Alexander made in his soul: to restore to the East what she had lost; to restore it at least in the form in which it was preserved in Greece, in the phantom or shadow-picture. Hence his idea of making an expedition into Asia, going as far as it was possible to go, in order to bring to the East once more — albeit in the shadow form in which it still existed in the Grecian culture — what she had lost.
And now we see what Alexander the Great is really doing, and doing in a most wonderful way, when he makes this expedition. He is not bent on the conquest of existing cultures, he is not trying to bring Hellenism to the East in any external sense. Wherever he goes, Alexander the Great not only adopts the customs of the land, but is able too to enter right into the minds and hearts of the human beings who are living there, and to think their thoughts. When he comes to Egypt, to Memphis, he is hailed as a savior and deliverer from the spiritual fetters that have hitherto bound the people. He permeates the kingdom of Persia with a culture and civilization which the Persians themselves could never have produced. He penetrates as far as India.
The color diagram at right was drawn by Rudolf Steiner to illustrate the next passage:
[page 88, 89] The mission of Alexander was founded, more or less unconsciously, upon this fact: the waves of civilization had advanced in Greece in a Luciferian manner, whilst in Asia they had remained behind in an Ahrimanic manner. In Ephesus was the balance. And Alexander, on the day of whose birth the physical Ephesus had fallen, resolved to found a spiritual Ephesus that should send its Sun-rays far out to East and West. It was in very truth this purpose that lay at the root of all he undertook: to found a spiritual Ephesus, reaching out across Asia Minor eastward to India, covering also Egyptian Africa and the East of Europe.
The evolution of consciousness is not something that happened once in history and we are done with it. No, the evolution goes on every day into the future. Rightly understood, every age we live within is an age of transition. Steiner says it this way, ". . . every period marks a transition from what comes earlier to what comes later. The point is that we should recognize for each period the nature of the transition." (Page 99)
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 Reads a Curious Bumper Sticker 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 month the good Padre notices that Anarchists are Organizing.
2.Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL of a Successful Speed Tracer to Counselor:
~ Breaking through the Wall of Fear ~
[NOTE: Names of Tracer & Counselor are withheld from this email shared with the Speed Tracer's permission. It shows the power of the doyletics speed trace to remove onerous bodily states quickly, easily, and permanently.]
I am doing really well. I had my flight to California last week and didn't have a problem with turbulence. I did feel a little bit nervous about the flight however the difference was huge.
I have listed below the BEFORE and AFTER differences I experienced:
BEFORE: Severe nausua — AFTER: Felt fine
BEFORE: Sweating palms — AFTER: hands as dry as a button
BEFORE: Several weeks of pre flight terrible dreams —
AFTER: slept well even the night prior to flight.
BEFORE: Overwhelming feeling of plane going to crash with every slightest amount of turbulence and going to die (especially when seatbelt lights put on)
AFTER: Quite relaxed got to watch movies and actually absorb them not just blankly looking at the screen trying to look calm.
BEFORE: Really worried about using the bathroom incase turbulence starts when not strapped into my seat
AFTER: got up and went to the toilet without being on the verge of hyperventilating.
AFTER: One really interesting thing I noticed was how many people on the plane looked nervous, I have never noticed this before.
BEFORE: Quite often the day after arriving at my destination I would start worrying about my flight home. This would really put a damper on my trip as I would be very uptight and grumpy.
AFTER: The small amount of nervousness I did feel was largely a little bit of whether I would be able to cope with the flight. Flying home was a lot better.
I am so excited that I have conquered this. I have always wanted to travel extensively but over the last couple of years had seriously considered that I may have to change this dream as I really was so petrified that the phobia out-weighed the destination.
Thank you so much for your help. My life has changed so much since the speed traces. I do have more things to work on and realize that my life is a work in progress. Positive things seem to surround me a lot easier than before and people say really nice things to me (previously I received a lot of put downs) obviously I have changed something about myself and my journey and I really want it to keep going in the same direction.
Will keep you posted on any new progress I have made.]]
RJM NOTE: To read the details of the original event, Click Here.
- EMAIL from George, a successful Speed Trace User:
Used with Permission, Not his actual name.
No more nagging from now on. I have successfully traced 3 doyles back to two years old:panic disorder, pouting, and selfishI asked my mom some questions and they all led back to me around two, crying for my dad to come back to watch a dinosaur movie with me. He left for work.
I'd rage hell till he returned. It feels good to figure them out.
I owe it all to you and to myself a little. My head tension and stomach butterflies and shortness of breath are still here though.
CONGRATULATIONS, my dear George!
The rest will be easier from now on. The butterflies will fly away and a cool breeze will come . . .
RJM NOTE: To read the series of 8 emails which describe George's tortuous journey to a successful speed trace: Click Here.
- EMAIL from Second Cousine Suzanne Potier:
Hi Bobby My name is Suzanne Potier — my Grandfather was Adolphe Napoleon Matherne. Born May 10, 1889 in Houma, La. and died March 02, 1920 at the age of 31 years. He was married to Lillian Ruth Lirette (my Grandmother). Adolphe's Father was Adolphe Leopold "Paul" Matherne, and his Mother was Palmire Blanchard. As far as i know, they had 9 children, and Clairville Pierre Matherne was Adolphe Napoleon's brother. Clairville was born February 21, 1891 and died February 11, 1972, at the age of 81. I would be Clairville's Grandniece and 1st cousin once removed to Hilman. I didn't even know my Grandfather's name until a few months ago, and have never seen a picture of him. I was very excited to come across your Tidbits of Memory and see a pic of Clairville. I would hope that you may have some Tidbits of memory of my grandfather, and a picture of him and maybe of the whole family. Anything you may have would be great.
P. S. I think we are second cousins !!!!!
- EMAIL from Shirley Levy in Florida Re: Bugatti Photo in Digest099:
What great pictures!!!I am in Chigaco with my sons and grandson and have just accessed my email for the first time in 3 weeks (due to Alaska cruise) and opened these DIVINE photos with JACOB who is wild about Bugattis. He was so excited!!!
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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