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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Art Linkletter (1912 - 2010) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ "People Are Funny" ~~~~~
~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #107 Published July 1, 2010 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Son of a Beach Month of July:
We are the puppets of our destiny — and also the puppeteers.
~~~ Bobby Matherne , American Writer and Philosopher
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #107, July 2010Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. July's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for July
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Cajun Stir Fry
6. Poem from Flowers of Shanidar:"Split Infinity"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for July:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Mystery of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist by Sergei O. Prokofieff
- ARJ2: Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha, GA#152 by Rudolf Steiner
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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1. July Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Nepotism.
#1 "Nepotism" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/062410jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR July:
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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 July are:
Kathryn Yost in Indiana
Paul O'Leary in Florida
Congratulations, Kathryn and Paul !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
MONITOR AND RADIO SHACK PROFESSIONALS
June was Bustin' Out All Over with things needing fixing. First, one of my Gateway Rotatable Monitors went black on June 2. It had experienced some minor delays coming up after being shut off, but I had been able to get it back on by toggling the power, but not on this day. I drove to Best Buy and discovered that they no longer had any Gateway monitors, nor any rotatable monitors at all, and that meant a serious dislocation in my writing ability till I had the problem resolved. My two matched monitors are arranged in Portrait orientation which matched the shape of a piece of paper which is how I use them, to allow me to see an entire sheet of paper, webpage, or double section of my Digest at one time to speed my work. With one monitor I could move as fast as a one-legged man on crutches, so speed was essential. I could not buy a new monitor, so I decided to notify the dark monitor that it was going under the knife, open heart surgery, with scant hope of a complete recovery. Well, with the help of a YouTube video tutorial on how to repair Gateway monitors, I was full of hope. I learned how to open the case, identify the bad electrolytic capacitors and replace them. Hope rose as quickly as the video was over.
I ordered a Repair Kit for the specific monitor but he only took Pay Pal and it takes several days for payments to be verified after I added a bank account as the method of reimbursing the Pay Pal account. What a waste of 2 hours on-line! Sometime in the next two days, they will make an under $1 deposit two times and I'm to confirm the amounts deposited and then I'm good to go and place the order. Had to jump through Pay Pal, eBay, and my bank's hoops of ID's and PW's to get through this maze. All to no avail. I was unwilling to wait 3 or 4 more days for two working monitors. I decided to take apart the Gateway and replace the caps myself. Took photos of disassembly and got scars on my fingers and hands prying the plastic bezel apart. Not as easy as the video showed, but the narrator said to expect it to take a long time and urged patience. It was like opening an oyster 12 X 24 inches and having to use about five oyster knives to keep the pried open part from re-closing as I moved along. After I got it opened, there were ribbon cables, three wide cables, which had to be carefully disconnected before I could spread open the "oyster" more than a couple of inches. To get the case opened to reveal the power supply took over an hour. It was the most difficult portion of the job.
With my patient etherized upon the operating table, I quickly located the bad boys: C223, C224, and C226 were bowed out and need to be replaced. They were 470microfarad and 25volts electrolytic capacitors, all of them exactly 16 mm high and 10 mm diameter. Should be able to get them at Radio Shack. I wrote down the spec's and headed to the professionals at the Shack.
I told the professional at the Shack my specification for the three caps I wanted, and she showed me to a drawer with a tone of "Good Luck". Somehow my faith in the professionals at the Shack underwent a seismic tremor. I searched through several drawers and finally found the 470 mikes at 25 v, but were they 10 mm in diameter and 16 mm high? If not, either they won't fit on the printed circuit board or the cover won't go back on the power supply. No problem, I'll simply ask the professionals at the Shack to borrow a metric ruler and I'll quickly confirm the size is right. Guess what? A huge 6.5 tremor this time. The professionals at the Shack did not have a single Metric Ruler in the place. So, there I was, apparently the only professional inside this Radio Shack! Luckily I had my camera and the photo I took of the original caps in place with a ruler next to them. Being a professional, I had photographed a ruler with both Metric and English units, and fortuitously both units were visible in the photo and I could get the English units and use the dorky yardstick the professional at the Shack gave me instead of a real ruler to confirm the size of the caps. In fact, when I asked for a metric ruler, the professional at the Shack stared at me like she didn't know what metric units were! Don't they teach metric system to students in high school? A Radio Shack poll notice appeared on my register stub so when I got home, I filled it out, explaining my amazement that the technically-oriented Radio Shack not only did not have a Metric Ruler in the store, but did not have a professional on their staff who knew what the Metric system is. If you wish to find a professional at Radio Shack, you'd better bring one with you was the message I got from my little adventure.
Came home and carefully de-soldered the three bloated caps, aligned the new caps, and soldered them in place. Had to trim a toothpick to clean out the tiny holes for the new caps. New soldering iron worked fine. Gingerly moved the cover together enough to test the monitor and it worked! (Had one empty female plug with nothing to go into it. Left it alone and it wasn't needed anyway.) The final screwing and snapping of the monitor's clamshell back together was a snap! Got a 1.5" short screwdriver to help get the screws to mount to the clamshell with it mostly closed. Keeping it in my black handy PC tool case. Soldering iron in kitchen drawer. The new square table was just the right size for repair job. Brought the long gooseneck "War of Worlds" type light in to give me illumination in odd corners and it was a tremendous help also.
Now I'm ready if any more caps get bloated on either monitor. I've been tested under fire and have the battle scars on my fingers to show for it. But I would prefer to stick to opening oysters any day!
THE BABE AND THE AAA PROFESSIONAL
Everyone should know that AAA is the American Automobile Association and their job is to get your vehicle going again if you have a flat or a dead battery. If it needs repair, they will send a tow truck to get you to the nearest repair place. Never had any use for AAA, but Del wanted it when she was selling all over Louisiana on the road, and so we've had it for some ten years. I went outside on the very next day after repairing my monitor successfully. I wanted to dump the rainwater from the bed of my pickup truck, Babe, my Blue Ox. Hadn't started it in a couple of weeks. Battery was dead. FLAT DEAD. No starter clicking, no horn, no voltage on my VOM (under a volt). What to do? I had just several months earlier I bought a new battery from AAA for the Babe and it came with a one-year no-cost replacement. If the battery was defective, I wanted a professional from AAA to come out and tell me so and replace it. If it just needed a jump start, I expected that same professional would quickly and efficiently do that for me. So I called AAA and was informed that I had exceeded my calls for this registration year. They could, however, put it on Del's name, and it wouldn't cost me anything. So I agreed and out came the professional from AAA.
He opened the hood of the truck, checked over the battery, and didn't seem to know what to do. Finally it occurred to him to try a jump start. He had a special connecting plug coming out through the grill of his truck for convenience. He took a jumper cable and plugged one end into his special plug (designed for professionals I suppose) and tried to get my starter to turn over. Nothing. We waited for 15 minutes and got some clicks from the starter solenoid, but no sign of life from the battery.
I should mention the seismic tremor I felt when he first hooked up his professional plug. We both noted that the hook illumination bulb of the truck was only glowing dimly, so the AAA professional went over to his professional plug and gave it a professional re-seating and returned to his work satisfied. Soon he was running a meter on the battery and banging on my starter with a socket wrench trying to get the starter to turn over. Nothing, only some clicks. His professional diagnosis was either the solenoid or my battery was broken. Before he left me he mentioned that he could sell me a trickle charger to help me keep my battery charged once I get my starter fixed. I bought the device from him and he left. My truck was dead still. The AAA professional had done the best he could do.
The next day I called Lonnie the mechanic in Slidell who sold me the Babe. He said he'd come over and see about replacing the starter or the solenoid. Before I called Lonnie, I had put the new charger on the battery overnight and checked if the starter would turn over, and it didn't, only clicked. Lonnie showed up and said, let's see what the problem is. I went into the truck, turned the ignition switch, and the starter grunted, it moved, exactly like a starter in a truck with a dead battery. Lonnie looked over to me and asked me, "Why did you call me all the way over here for a dead battery?" Funny he should ask that, because that is exactly the question going through my mind, except I was wondering why the AAA professional had not jumped my battery and started my truck last night which is what I called him to do above all else!
Lonnie and his son hooked up a jumper cable to truck and had it running in ten minutes. Fortunately Lonnie did not have a professional jumper coming through his car's grill like AAA professional, he had two ordinary jumper cables with old-fashioned clamps on both ends. In ten minutes Lonnie and his son did what the AAA professional wasted nearly an hour of my time and could not get done: the BABE was humming away. I let Lonnie drive his old favorite fishing truck around Timberlane and we visited. Was great seeing him again. Before he parted I placed $40 in his hands for his gas and time, and went inside to figure out how to tackle the professionals at AAA. First, they need to take away this absolutely failed call from my yearly calls. In addition, on reflection I realized that two of the three other calls resulting in my buying a battery from AAA so that shouldn't be considered a breakdown call. I hope both Radio Shack and AAA have professionals somewhere up the line who can straighten out their most important employees: the ones who make direct contact with customers on a daily basis, but I wonder. Next time my monitor or my battery is dead, I will take care of it myself before I call a professional. I guarantee.
For the first time ever, I have produced so many cucumbers that we are giving them away to neighbors and friends. I planted the cucumber sprouts alongside the mulch bed where the cut St. Augustine grass is dumped each week. After a slow start the vines climbed over half of the large mulch bed and produced like crazy, five or six huge cucumbers coming ripe every day. We've had cucumber salads almost every night. I like to prepare them the way my mom did with salt, pepper, and a dash or two of white vinegar, chill for an hour in fridge before serving. In addition, I pare away the peel, leaving a thin stripe of green marking the corners of the square, pentagon, or hexagon shape, then run the tinges of a fork down the outside of each cucumber before slicing. Makes an attractive presentation in the salad bowl, beauty of food always adding to an appetizing savor.
Also produced a few bell peppers, but not so many as I wished. Will plant more next time. The Creole tomatoes were plentiful and ripened on the vine undisturbed. Also my okra are the best ever. Have for the first time growing enough of them to make a seafood gumbo. And my eggplants are beginning to fruit very well. The cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, green onions, and okra have gone in to many Cajun stir fry concoctions, each a bit different and all delicious. The key to preparing my stir fry is chopping the components into small pieces which can all cook in the same amount of time, especially the eggplant. I do the chopping an hour or two before, so that the actual cooking can be done in about 10 minutes or so. After sauteeing the veggies, I quickly stir in a couple of eggs and blend in warmed-up, precooked long grain and wild rice and we can serve and enjoy eating a delicious, nutritious dinner for two in short order. My recipe for Cajun Stir Fry is featured as Recipe of the Month. It can be adapted to your local garden's bounty, but the okra seems to help hold all the flavors together, so use it even if you have to buy some.
LSU BASEBALL, USA WORLD CUP: A HIT AND A MISS
My National Champions from 2009 had a problematic season this year. Started off with a great record and then slumped in the middle of its SEC schedule and never recovered. Even so LSU made it to the SEC Tournament and won it for the third time in a row. Sent to the UCLA regional they polished off UC-Irvine but ran into a buzz-saw against UCLA and missed a trip to Omaha for the College World Series. Like a field lying fallow for a year, we expect a great crop of new athletes, especially pitchers, to arrive at Alex Box Stadium on campus next year for another chance at taking home a CWS Championship trophy.
ESPN has made USA soccer and the World Cup a must see in America for the first time ever! Watching the USA come from behind to tie and win decisive games in High Definition has fueled American sports fans with a desire for better soccer in coming years. The World Cup, falling right in between the end of the NBA season and college baseball season and the beginning of pre-season NFL football, has garnered a large following of sports fans which otherwise ignored soccer, up until now. Hopes ran high for USA to make a run during the Knockout Round, but unfortunately the comeback magic failed against Ghana who scored in extra time to win it 2-1. Another miss for USA, but make no miss-take, they will be back, faster and stronger next time. And because of several egregious bad referee calls disallowing goals by USA, there will be instant replays to review all disputed goals for the next World Cup. Disciplining referees after the fact can no longer be tolerated in World Cup competition in my opinion; there must be review and correction of bad calls in real-time, during a game. The technology is here, the need is clearly demonstrable, what is lacking is the resolve to make it happen, and that will come.
THE TRIP NORTH
Up at 4:30 or so to get ready for trip to Bloomington, Indiana and my son Rob's house. Packed up my white Maxima and read the paper. As soon as it was light I took off, about 6 am. I decided to go through Mobile and up I-65. Got to Mobile in 2 hours and headed up 65. Near Montgomery, the road construction started and slowed me considerably, losing about an hour between there and Birmingham. But the worst was the rush hour through Nashville. I stopped in Southern Tennessee to eat about 3 pm as I really needed a nap. At Crackerbarrel, I sat in rocker and took a nap, but about 5 mins later just as I was resting comfortably enough to fall asleep for a few minutes, Del called. She woke me and I went inside and had a meatloaf dinner, figuring the food would give me the strength I needed to complete the trip.
Somewhere in Alabama a fuse had blown on my Maxima. No clue as to what caused it, but the first BP Gas station I stopped at had a collection of fuses. I need only one 15 amp blue one, and the clerk had a selection of various sizes in separated compartments for 85 cents each. I bought one to replace the backup 15 amp fuse which I had already installed in place of the blown fuse. Not knowing what caused the blown fuse, I continued down the road, but was soon to wish that I had bought several more 15 amp fuses! The fuse blew again and I was down to my last fuse. The next time the fuse blew I actually heard the click as I plugged in the cell phone charger I had borrowed from Del's car. I immediately tossed the suspect charger into a compartment. But trying to find a replacement fuse was a big problem, the next BP station only sold a collection of fuses for $5 and I only need two 15 amp fuses. Several stops at other stations as I gassed up led to the same result. Finally I found a collection which was reasonably priced and had a couple of blue 15 amps in it, somewhere in Indiana. Later Robbie and I would take apart the bad cell phone charger and find it had a complete short in it. That charger was responsible for the sequence of events which ended up with my going to the hospital as my Indiana trip unfolded. More later.
In addition, my motor was sounding funny, making strange noises like a rattle and an occasional grunt when I stopped at a Waffle House. If it had been Del grunting I would have taken that as a comment about her disliking the food there, but what was the Maxima telling me? I turned off the AC with motor still running and the noise went away. I now knew it was an AC problem, but what kind of AC problem? The AC continued to cool, so I thought perhaps the clutch on the AC was intermittent and having trouble catching, and yet the AC never missed a beat.
Oh, when I first sat down on the rocker at Crackerbarrel I saw a brown animal hopping across the lawn. Put my T300 on telephoto and shot it, and it was a rabbit grazing on the edge of the grassy parking border. After eating I was very refreshed and headed up out from southern Tennessee to the devilish bowels of Nashville traffic. I thought that after all the constructions we had driven through two years ago that the traffic had improved, but the big delays were south of the improved area, in fact, every intersection was a 15 minute delay and it was two hours of 1970 Santa Ana rush hour for me all over again. Never will I navigate through Nashville again during rush hour. Instead I'll drive up 55/57 abutting the Mississippi River flatlands and take the Bowling Green route through Kentucky to Louisville, completely missing the Music City traffic black and blues.
After I cleared Nashville's horrors, it was obvious that I couldn't get to Robbie's till very late, so I called my friends from Corpus Christi, Texas, Chris and Carla who were at a jewelry design conference near Louisville, asking if they could hold a room for me till I arrived. I met them at the Crackerbarrel Restaurant in Sellersburg, Indiana and then drove to their Holiday Inn Express in New Albany, Indiana just across border from Kentucky (Louisville). Chris came out to greet me as I entered the restaurant, and I sat down with him and Carla. Later we drove to Holiday Inn Express. I was following Chris, so he loaned me his Blackberry Cell Phone with GPS turn-by-turn guidance in case we got separated on the various freeways at night. Little did I suspect that Del and I would be new owners of Blackberry cell phones before the month was out! I checked in, and went to my room 328, they were up on 528. The room was freezing so I turn the AC unit completely off and got to sleep after answering a few emails on my laptop.
The next morning I met Chris and Carla in the breakfast area, and we talked for a long time. They had visited us at Timberlane around New Year's Day when they came to attend the Sugar Bowl game which featured their favorite team, the Florida Gators. This was a chance for me to relax, as I was facing a pleasant two hour drive to Rob's house. They are good listeners and we had a great time visiting. Talked a lot about autism and how doyletics gives insight into the etiology and treatment of autism, how it is really an advance form of human evolution which causes problems for non-autistic persons who must learn how to raise such advanced children.
BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA
Well, not our home, but back to my son's home in Indiana, the Kerr Creek home which he has sold and will be moving from in about a month. I had climbed up and worked on the roofing of the straw-bale-insulated house he designed and built on the Kerr Creek ridge behind his main house, and I wanted to see it completed or nearly so. Plus I hadn't been up there since his marriage to Kathryn summer before last.
Nice drive all the way up from Louisville area. Didn't stop. Got my GPS device working again, using the 120v Inverter plug with USB to power it. No more problems with fuse blowing, apparently it was caused by some fault in the plug-in cell charger.Rob was alone when I arrived and we first drove out to look at his new property which will close shortly after he sells the Kerr Creek house. We walked all over the 19 acres of forested land, inspecting a wooded level area where he plans to build a house for his family now and for him and Kathryn to live in after the three children leave home. There is also a sunny park area which looks great for outdoor activities in winter and summer. Also the property has two separate cabins on it, relics of the hippie era, now abandoned, but both with electric meters attached. Their foundations are solid, but both shacks need new roofs. Could be a project for Rob's two sons, Walden and Emerson, at some point of their teenagership. I grew pensive and shared with Rob that I had gotten a time wave from the future that his first grandchild might be conceived in one of these cabins. Later we drove past the rental house he will be moving to until his new home is built on the Russell property.
Went to Farmer's Market with Rob, his usual Saturday morning visit. He knew almost everybody there. Met Mindy & Daniel (architect for new house), Mandy, Eric, Bernie (guy who built Kerr Creek house) and later met Julia the Tech Communications Professor here. Rob said she might ask me to talk to one of her classes as a guest lecturer.
Michael, Rob's auto mechanic friend, agreed to listen and look at the Maxima's AC unit. We took it over and Mike diagnosed it directly as two electric fans with worn out bearings causing on idle the fans to rattle and sometimes hit the radiator. He will attempt to find a used fan assembly on Monday and replace the entire thing, only four bolts. I gave him $20 for his diagnosis in case he's unable to find parts, in that case I will drive it home and get it repaired there.
Then Rob and I went to the store for fixings for a stir fry. The small frou-frou market had none of the items I wanted or they were so expensive in large quantities that it would have cost me $60 for what I got for $18 at the large supermarket across the street. Got everything I wanted and more. Found the Ready Rice of Uncle Ben's long grain and wild rice mix which can be prepared in microwave in 90 seconds, neat packaging concept, and I don't mind paying more for ease of use when I'm away from Bobby Jeaux's fully stocked kitchen. Came back and chopped the ingredients about 3 pm, took a nap and then finally about 8 pm everyone was hungry so I sauteed the stuff. Used about half of most ingredients with 2 eggs making plenty for each of the three of us with no leftovers. Will do a reprise tomorrow. Will suggest Rob do the cooking under my direction. Next day the grandkids arrived at home and my day was filled with them.
That next day was Sunday and it began with a canoe ride in a nearby stream which resembled the Humble-in-the-Lake canal back home in St. Charles Parish. Kathryn, Rob, and I in her dad Bob's canoe. Short paddling trip. Came home and Rob made blueberry pancakes.Kathryn left for her team-building exercise and won't be home till 9 pm. Rob went to pick up the kids from his ex-wife and they arrived a bit agitated, so I promised to take each of them on a shopping trip to wherever they wished to go. I pretended I was their chauffeur and asked them to tell me where they wanted to go and what they wanted to buy. No limitations on distance or price. Sierra wanted to go to a book store and chose Borders over Barnes & Noble's. Bought her two novels, "Life of Pi" and the "Fountainhead", and ordered her a copy of "The Parrot's Theorem". I think she will love each of these dramatically different books. Parrot's Theorem wasn't in the store and I tried to order it online from a kiosk there whose keyboard had some inoperable keys! No "C" and I couldn't type Kerr Creek, it came out Kerr Reek. When I checked out with the two books, the clerk sent me to an information booth where the clerk there had trouble also, but finally got it ordered to ship directly to Kerr Creek.
Then came the two boys. Should I take Walden or Emerson first? I saw a pout from Walden at the thought that I would surely take Emerson first, so I chose Walden as "The first pout winner!" Well, Emerson sat there crying his eyes out, his head in his hands, hiding in the far corner of the hall closet. Rob came and fussed at him, and after he left, I told Emerson I wanted him to sit right there until I returned and that I wanted him to still be crying. I waited . . . slowly his head rose a bit and he smiled at me and asked me some question which let me know he was no longer stuck! The crying and pouting all gone, Walden and I left. He wanted to go to Target.
I told Walden, "Oh, your Target is Target" and he laughed over the idea. I joked about shooting my rifle at the bull's eye target on the store over its name and he wanted to know if I had a rifle. Went right to the electronic beetle display and bought an electronic roach. Then he chose a Star Wars TIE fighter. I chose a BLOKUS game and asked if he could pretend to have asked for it. He said, "Yes", so I gave it to him.We drove home and I told Walden to run immediately to his room so Emerson wouldn't see him and ask what he got. That worked, so that Emerson would not be trying to best his brother. When we got to Target, Emerson walked up and down the aisle saying all the prices of the various size items out loud, as if trying to make up his mind while sizing me up as to what I was prepared to pay, a rather sophisticated sales technique for an 8 year old. Finally he opted for the most expensive one: the $99 Lego Police Station set.
Two ladies had built a labyrinth in the forest a short walk from Rob's house and Kathryn showed it to me. The open area is like a dripping rain forest with green moss underfoot about halfway through to the center. A Chakra Tree guards the labyrinth on one side — a living tree with axed-out wedges into which are placed colorful minerals which match the human chakras, from red at the bottom for root chakra, through orange, yellow, green (heart), cyan, indigo to violet for the crown chakra. Emerson called my attention to it when he picked up the lapis lazuli stone and placed it in the third eye position from which it fallen. Emerson and Walden decided to each place a special stone for their Grama Del in the center shrine of the Chakras Labyrinth.
Back home I had Rob help me with the stir fry and lacking rice, I added an avocado and used up the rest of the Baby Portobello mushrooms. It all went. Sierra and Walden had seconds to clean the pot and Emerson was the only reluctant eater, saying he didn't like avocadoes, so I let him pick out the mushrooms as I picked out the avocadoes, then I ate one fork full and insisted he eat the last fork full, which he did.
A thunderstorm came over Kerr Creek when I got out from my shower and getting ready to drive to Ingrid for my massage. Rob drove me over in the rain and Ingrid's other appointment was just leaving as I arrived. Turns out Ingrid knew Rob and his first wife for a long time and wanted to know why my last name was different from Rob's. Told her the story. Ingrid was born in New Orleans! Still has family there and went to recent Jazz Fest there this year staying with her relatives. Rob and Ingrid were born in New Orleans and I wasn't. Great massage. Wiped out all the muscle soreness from the long drive. Came home and slid under the sheets for a long night's sleep.
FINGER IN THE YIKE ! !
Monday morning I had oatmeal with blueberries in it. Rode to the Project School with Rob and the kids. Met Walden's teacher who showed me Walden's non-fiction project, a report on Lockheed Aircraft fighter jets, in which he mentioned my name as having worked for the company. Took a photo of Walden holding his report and standing next to his teacher. I had run out of battery on my T300 and had to switch to using my 585 camera as I didn't bring the charger. Seldom had I taken so many photos on a short trip.
Now the bad cell phone came into play. Rob and I were taking the unit apart to see if we could confirm a short and perhaps fix it. I needed something from the Maxima and I raised the heavy wooden garage door and decided to close it behind me to hold in the cool air for us to work.While lowering the door, the tip of my ring finger on my left hand was lying on what felt like flat wood but was really a sectoring closed joint of two horizontal door panels, and my finger was smashed almost flat before I could overcome the inertia on downward moving door and release my poor finger. Only the area under the fingernail short of the joint was flattened and the skin broke and bled till I washed it out with hydrogen peroxide and put some antibiotic Neosporin ointment in the wound and bandaged it. It throbbed for a while but I was typing with it a half hour later. looked like it will be black and blue for awhile as it heals and probably leave a scar.
Meanwhile my son's mechanic friend Michael called to say he had located a complete fan assembly for Maxima ($189 at his discount instead of $330) and he would install it for me after he got home in the evening. Rob and I drove the Maxima to Mike's home on Kerr Creek Road and left it for him to work on. Later Mike called to say the new fan assembly is installed. Took him a check for $220 (to add to that the initial 20 cash I gave him earlier for diagnosing the problem). Actually gave him an extra $20 over what he asked for being so helpful to me. While we were still at Mike's, a tornado warning went off and Rob headed home. I stayed to pay him and to bless his El Dorado which he was shoring up for his demolition derby run on July 30 or 31. What's a Demolition Derby? It's like Bumping Cars with real cars! Last one moving wins. I put my two hands on the trunk (which will be his weapon during the derby, as they drive backwards to avoid engine damage) and asked God's blessing "to carry this car and its driver safely through its upcoming trials". Then I asked if he had a permanent marker so that I might add my date glyph to his car. He chose the spot under the rear view mirror, saying the rest of the car will be painted and covered with advertising.
I drove quickly home as the rain was coming down. We watched from the swimming pool room the rain and wind slashing across Kerr Creek. After it was over Bob and Carolyn, Katheryn's parents, left. I looked at my finger and it looked awful, like the tip of my finger was white and dead. I needed some assurance that I could make the trip back to New Orleans the next day with that finger healing, so I asked Rob to take me to the Bloomington Hospital. He took his truck and we left about 9 pm. There were tree branches and limbs down along Kerr Creek Road and in town. It was slow going with one major detour due to a tree down. About 6 different nurses attended to me. The admit nurse, the supervisor, the paperwork gal, the finger cleaner, the medicine giver, the doctor's assistance, and finally the Dr. Johnny Ray himself who said no sutures would be put in since there may be a slight bone break and they don't want it to be infected. He gave me prescription for an antibiotic, a short run of about 10 pills, 6 hrs apart. We had to pick up pills at the drugstore and a bag of ice for the trip. Also a tube of Ritz crackers for nourishment in the car. Finally hit the sack about 1 am, ready to get up at 4 am for the trip home.
The trip home was less eventful. UP at 4 am to pack the rest of the stuff in the car. Got my flashlight from trunk to help me. Left about 4:30 am as it was just barely getting lighter in the night sky as I drove along Rte 46. My GPS was not working, but I followed the map in 2D as I went along. Low overcast clouds, but no heavy fog for the trip. Skies cleared for a couple of hours through Kentucky and I slid through Nashville without any slowdowns, except for some rubbernecking of an 18 wheeler blocking all Northbound traffic at one point. Ate at Crackerbarrel in the morning and it was my only food stop the rest of the trip. Took two 20 minute naps, and, except for constant thunderstorms from Alabama to Louisiana, the trip was easy. The storms and the problems with GPS and my cell phone kept me awake and alert. My cell phone stopped working because I had set it in a coffee cup into which my water bottle had dripped water. I could hear people when they answered the phone, but they couldn't hear me. I dried it out by placing it between my legs to warm it up, and in a couple of hours it was working again. In the meantime, I was sending text messages to Rob, Del, and kids. Doing that while driving in a thunderstorm was a daunting task, which served the dual purpose of keeping me alert and wide awake. The problems with the cell phone and its charger were soon to culminate in a day on which Del dropped her cell phone to the concrete thus destroying it.
She called Verizon to route all calls to our home phone. Later in the afternoon we drove to the Verizon store and bought two Blackberry (BB) Cell Phones like Chris had in Indiana. We spent the evening trying to figure out how to make them work. How to call folks in our address book, how to set alarms on the clock, and all the myriad of things we knew how to do on our four-year-old cell phone now were different. Very frustrating.
The next day I was learning the BB and wrapping my healing finger in just a band-aid. I spent the day processing the photos from the trip while our carpenter Marcelo was here fixing the items on Del's To-Do list. He put all the final latches on the front shutters. Thje previously purchased small black latches were too big, so I returned them and got two S-latches for the base of the shutters. Del likes the result and I do too. We have finally designed and gotten installed what we expected to have done by Jefferson Door who sold us the shutters with no working latches. Marcelo added the top and bottom latch to my French Door near my desk that I use so often. The left door would cause the opening right door to stick, so now the right door will open freely. Used the old latch from front door (actually those went to West French Doors, and the ones from it to my French Door, with a modification to hold the latch up using a small frame hook as a spring). He fixed the glass doors so they open smoothly and the locks are easy to open/close. He fixed our MBR door for ease of open/close. He glued the cedar planks into the hall closet. He trimmed the insulation from south-side bifold shutter base and caulked when he came to spruce up the flower arranging table outside the Laundry Room. I wasn't feeling much like eating with the antibiotics working in my gut killing all the good digestion bacteria. By eating plain yogurt I was able to keep that problem to a minimum as it contains live replacement acidophilous bacteria for digestion.
My finger was healed enough to have only a small Band-aid by the time of our Annual Cat & Mouse Dinner in the Rex Room of Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter. This time I had composed a poem not just for Del, but for all the ladies present. It was a poem that I had written in my review of Empson's Seven Kinds of Ambiguity, but which I had to hide from my copy-editor so that it would be a surprise to her. In case you missed it or wondered what the event was for which it was written, here is the poem again.
In this year and night of mirth we come here
To feast and fete you ladies with our song.
Let us lift our Spirit and our Task to Thee
Whose voices and shapes to Heav'n belong —
While we Earth-bound, and bound to worship Thee,
Loose our tongue and spirit with our melody.
What could stay our chorus on this night
But a look and sigh of Love from Thee
Upon my fellow romantics and me.
Hold but a minute and a smile aright
And we will hold our glasses high to Thee
To toast the Love that you have shown to them and me.
A VERIZON PROFESSIONAL
My Blackberry wouldn't open the keyboard by asking for PW when I pressed the Enter key. Took it to Verizon and a professional tried to help me, but she didn't respond to my request to test it to make sure it wouldn't happen again. Just giving the BB back to me saying, "It works now." I asked to speak to her supervisor Billy but he was busy. I waited a few more minutes and then left. Came home and it happened again and I had to open it, pull the battery, then replace it after 20 seconds and in several minutes it rebooted and asked me for my password, something the professional at Verizon didn't bother to explain to me. Luckily I always carry a professional troubleshooter with me. This Verizon professional was hidden out-of-sight when I walked in, I saw no one at the help counter, and walked behind the counter and saw her there to my right, talking on her phone. She kept it to her ear as she walked to a help station, obviously making a personal call on company time, hiding from potential interruptions, namely customers. Another trip to a website to critique a less than helpful professional. This time I got a return call from Billy and finally I was able to explain how his employee mistreated me. That password problem has not recurred since, but any one who has a Blackberry should know how to remove battery, wait 15 seconds, and reinstall it to keep from having to drive to their cell phone carrier's office and wait in line for help.
Seems to be working okay finally. PW box comes up correctly. Tried signing up for Navigation only to find out that it costs $10 a month for Turn Navigation. Seems like every one of the BB's tries to sell something. Talked to Chris Bryant and Sprint includes navigation on his no extra cost. Go figure. Glad I saved myself another trip to the Verizon torture chamber, a sales&service area complete with an alarm system giving off a loud beep every 15 seconds or so. "It's broken", one of the professionals explained. Two days in a row? Hmmmm.
FATHER'S DAY AND MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY
By the morning of Father's Day, I had figured out how to add my email address to my Blackberry, but not how to silent all sounds except phone call rings. My ring tone from my old cell phone played "When The Saints Go Marching In" and when we got those phones four years earlier, Del nor I had any idea that our New Orleans Saints would go marching into the Super Bowl and come out as victors and World Champions! So I wanted to keep it. I recalled hearing my daughter's kids, Molly and Garrett, recording their voices for Carla's ring tone, so I figured that if I can play my old cell's ring tone and record it I can continue to use it as my BB's ring tone. It worked! At least one thing is familiar about the new BB cell phone.
During the night leading up to Father's Day, I heard some "bling!" sounds from my bedside table and figured they came from the phone, probably an email coming in. So when I awoke, I sat up in bed and read my first email received on my BB in bed. It was from Chris in Corpus Christi who was wishing me a Happy Father's Day and had sent along a photo taken with his BB a few minutes earlier of a sunrise over the beach. I showed it to Del, who said, "You can only receive 240 of those in a month!" Not exactly a note of appreciation, more a frustrated response to her own challenges understanding and using her new BB.
Doris, Del's mom, has her birthday on June 21, and we planned a Father's Day dinner to coincidence with a birthday cake for Doris. We arranged to have both Doris and my dad, Buster, here at Timberlane for the event. Dan, Del's brother, was in town for the event, and our daughter, Maureen, came also.
Del prepared a sliced Creole tomato salad, I did the cucumber salad, and the shrimp fettucine from Capdebosc's Catering was our delicious entree. For dessert we had a chocolate Doberge Cake from Gambino's and some Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream. All delicious. The three pounds I had lost while on antibiotics returned with a smile on their faces the next morning. After dinner I took Dad to the Screening Room for his nap and put on some World Cup and College World Series. When he awoke again the others had gone.
While Dad was sleeping, Maureen and I went out and picked about a dozen cucumbers for her to take home. She loves them. Also gave her a couple of fresh-picked, but small Creoles. Was great to see her again and she looked great. Got a photo of her and her grandpa Buster. Dan seemed to enjoy himself as did Doris and, because it was Father's Day, Del wouldn't let me do anything but allow her to serve me. Later Del suggested that I put World at War on the PS/3 to catch Buster's attention, but he fell asleep in the middle of the battles. However, he did watch attentively the WWII pre-scenes undoubtedly must have triggered memories for him.
About 4 pm, he got antsy, so Del and I suggested a game of Pay-Me! Del managed to win 8 out of 10 Pat-Me!'s. She deserved them after all her hard work with getting meal ready for the big day. About 6:30 pm, we got Dad back into the Screening Room to watch a movie with us: Elizabeth (2008) (in the time of the Spanish Armada and Walter Raleigh). Amazingly he stayed awake for whole thing. He indicated he was ready to go home about 5 minutes before it ended, and he stayed for it. This allowed us to get him back home and in bed at close to his normal time.
In the final week of June, came two World Cup games by USA, they beat Nigeria and then lost to Ghana. Our Mitsubishi TV repair man came and the flyback transformer did not fix the problem. He suggested an outfit who did Mitsubishi Warranty work. Their tech came out and said it had to go to the shop. After Del and I conferred, we decided to send it, even lacking assurance that when they find the part is needed to repair the TV, that part may not be available. Two more days spent with repair men in our home. Marcelo returned to build a granite top and trim on our flower arranging table. He completed all the tasks we asked of him, including several jobs that had been left partially done by previous professionals we had expected would finished them properly. I encountered three real professionals in the course of this busy month: Lonnie the Slidell mechanic, Marcelo the carpenter, and Mike the Indiana mechanic. Thanks guys!
We had a surprise visit from my brother Steve and his son Dean and his grandson Hunter (Robin's son) one day as they returned from the World War II Museum downtown. Dad had left his black cane in my Maxima when we drove him home and Steve came by to pick it up. Gave me a chance to show Dean our new home. Dean is a Master Sargent in the Army National Guard and is coordinating oil clean up activities with BP and Coast Guard out of the Houma office. Also our good friend Ruth Ryan celebrated her birthday and had a party. We hadn't seen Ruth and Ted for a long time and several other business acquaintances and friends of mine and Del were there, plus a couple of new friends.
But we were not through with our adventures for June. Del suddenly announced we were going to get a new Maxima, a 2010 model with full Tech Package and GPS navigation built in to the dashboard. The Cherry-Max as I call it will replace the Royal Barge, my nickname for the Cadillac Seville which was Doris' car. Del and I have been keeping it running to drive Doris to her doctors' various offices, the hair dresser, various family events and errands. The new Max is a beautiful Cherry-Black color, a black paint with tiny dark red metallic flakes that give a shade of Cherry or Purple or other colors depending on the light falling on it.The buying of the car and setting up the garage door opener and learning how to drive it and use its many features took another day from my end-of-month Digest preparation time. I write this in the middle of June 29th and must still select, crop, identify, and place about a hundred photos into this Digest. As I like to say at this point in each month, please let nothing interesting happen for a couple of more days till I'm done!IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
My finger has healed nicely, all signs of the scab are gone, and a neat half-inch scar will likely mark the spot to remind me to be extra careful where I place my fingers in the future.
TILL NEXT MONTH
Till we meet again in July, God Willing and the Levees All Hold. July will be full of Beach and Pool time with our kids and grandkids in Orange Beach. Warmth and rain means lots of mowing of St. Augustine grass. There will be a French Bastille Day Festival, Fourth of July Flag waking, Fireworks a'popping, and BBQ grills a'smoking. Hot sultry days punctuated by ice cold Washington Parish watermelon when we come in from grass-cutting on a hot afternoon. Whatever you do, wherever in the world you reside, be it hot or cold, make it a great July for yourself! ! !
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- Hatred turns 90% of people into monsters and 10% into saints.
Christopher Tidmore, Louisiana Weekly columnist
Five Books on Writing Which Gave Me Great Pleasure:
Why have I read and enjoyed so many books on writing that were written by women? Perhaps because I wrote technical articles and sofware documentation for many years, a distinctly masculine activity at the time, after which I needed desperately to unshackle my fettered mind in order to write freely and with feeling and female writers know intimately how to do this. As for including Joseph Joubert, the only male in this collection, perhaps I may be forgiven as he was a Frenchman who wrote both freely and with feelings.
1. Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind
Living the Writer's Life
Excerpts from Review. Click Book Cover to read entire Review.
What happens if you discover you like an author? You want to read the rest of his books, some of which he will likely have written before the one you're currently reading. This happened to me with Natalie. I read Writing Down the Bones and many years later found The Long Quiet Highway, Thunder and Lightning, and now this one. "One book opens another" goes an old saying. Obviously Natalie has no problem coming up with creative and interesting titles for books about writing. Compare her titles to others in the genre: The Writing Life, The Practice of Writing, The Writer's Trade, The Writing Life, Becoming a Writer, If You Want to Write, and One Writer's Beginnings. Only Margaret Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead — A Writer on Writing comes close to the ingenuity of Goldberg's titles.
Natalie has a wild mind. There — that disposes of the reason for the title in the manner she would use to say it. The Hemingway way. She has a wild mind. But Nat also focuses on details, so here's the opening of her Introduction.
[page xiii] Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce. In summer, we work hard to make a tidy garden, bordered by pansies with rows or clumps of columbine, petunias, bleeding hearts. Then we find ourselves longing for the forest, where everything has the appearance of disorder; yet, we feel peaceful there.
A mustang is the name given to any particular horse that can't be broken, no matter what its breed. Mustang Natalie will always be wild. There isn't a corral that can hold her mind, her writing, or her energy. If you wish to be a writer and find yourself in some dull corral, hop on Mustang Natalie's back for a Wild Ride. Do the exercises she gives you at the end of a chapter. Notice how short her chapters are. One topic, one chapter. Long leisurely rides. Giddyap. Short rides. Wild bucking bronco rides. Yippe-kai-yah!
Want to know what a reader wants? Any author does. Few can say it as well as Cecil Dawkins does:
[page xvi] Cecil Dawkins, a fine Southern novelist, said to me in a slow drawl one afternoon after she'd read Writing Down the Bones when it first came out, "Why, Naa-da-lee, this book should be very successful. When you are done with it, you know the author better. That's all a reader really wants" — she nodded her head — "to know the author better. Even if it's a novel, they want to know the author better."
These words should give pause to any wannabee writer who tries to keep his reader from knowing him better through his writing. "What you hide, you advertise" is the prime directive in psychology and all other avenues of life. If you say, "I'm incongruent" suddenly you're not anymore. When you ride your own Mustang Mind, the reader will get to know you better, because your Staid Critic gets thrown off head-first into the dust of the trail with the first Yipppeeekayah!
Once in a grocery, I saw an interesting incongruence on a Betty Crocker Cake Mix box. It said, "Be Creative! And here's how to do it!" We call people creative whose productions come out of themselves, not from instructions on a box, don't we? Well, there’s no risk of putting that same Be Spontaneous Paradox on you, dear Reader, with Natalie’s rules for “being creative” as a writer. She tells you to “keep writing” – with instructions anyone with a mind and an operable arm can manage.
[page 2 - 4] Go ahead, try these rules for tennis, hang gliding, driving a car, making a grilled cheese sandwich, disciplining a dog or a snake. Okay. They might not always work. They work for writing. Try them.
1. Keep your hand moving. Pick a time and once you begin, don't stop.
2. Lose control. Say what you want to say.
3. Be specific. Not car, but Cadillac. Not fruit, but apple.
4. Don't think. Writing practice will help you contact first thoughts.
5. Don't worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar.
6. You are free to write the worst junk in America.
7. Go for the jugular. If something scares you, go for it.
Do a writing practice for ten minutes, she suggested. Begin it with "I remember" and keep going. So I did. This is the result. Skip this next piece if you're rushed for time and spend the same amount of time writing your own "I remember." Print out this review and write on the back side of it. First my "I remember" and second my "I don't remember":
I remember Dale Boudreaux, the rich kid across from 566 Avenue F whose mom, Maude Boudreaux, ran an auto parts shop and whose grandfather, Paul Boudreaux, was usher at the Gordon Theater in Westwego. Dale got the greatest new toys. Once he got a space gun that shot smoke rings! That was neat! You put these special paper matches into it and when you pulled the trigger, it popped a diaphragm that blew out a perfect smoke ring everytime. We never got any expensive toys like Dale did. But he came over to play with us because we were fun. He got bored with his new toys and brought them over to the Matherne boys because he knew we would have fun with them, and so would he. Because of Dale Boudreaux we could learn what it was like to be rich and bored with a lot of toys — well actually we never got bored playing his new toys because we could never play as long as we wanted with his toys. We had the best of both worlds: we could be rich and not be bored.
I remember Westwego Elementary school. Lining up to start the school day. Fire drills in the halls. Recess under the oaks. Bullies wanting to fight. Marble games. Boxes from cigars with a hole cut in the top to barely admit a marble. Drop a marble from your waist and if it goes in, you win three marbles, else you lose your marble. From eye level, win five marbles. Many people won marbles this way, yet the kids with the cigar boxes always had a full box of marbles, and none of them looked new. I learned about gambling from those cigar boxes. If my dad had smoked cigars, I might have become a gambler. I learned to shoot marbles — sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. It was a skill, it was a gamble. One twig and a good shot goes awry and you lose. Other toys and games were around — each seemed to have it own season in the sun or shade. Suddenly one day no one showed up with marbles, but everyone had tops. Then it was yo-yos. Or kites. Or mumbly peg with knives. No one could afford to buy kites, not in my family. But with a knife, a few pieces of tapered weatherboard siding, string, flour and water (for paste), tissue paper, and rags for a tail, and pretty soon you were flying a one-of-a-kind kite that didn't exist the day before. All these raw materials were available, free, around my house. Except the string. We needed No. 50 Cotton thread, which my mom rarely ever used. Luckily the string was re-usable and lasted a long time if you were careful.
I don't remember anything about the kids around 566 Avenue F — except for snippets. I don't remember when I got chicken pox, but I remember it was torture for me to stay away from school — I went to the back fence and looked over at Wego Elementary with its redbrick walls with glass bricks bordering the windows. I wished I was in there learning things.
I don't remember when Dale's mother gave us the box of books. These were considered kid's books back in 1945. I wonder if they still are. Black Beauty, Robin Hood, Gulliver's Travels, Treasure Island, Little Women, etc. What make's Gulliver's Travels a kid's book anyway — all those weird names and people. Lilliput, Brodingnag, hey, I'm a kid! I thought. How can I read all that stuff with made-up names when I haven't learned about the real things of the world yet? So when I could choose my own books, I read about real people, like Thomas Edison, Wilbur Wright, Samuel Morse, and Dr. Doolittle. Okay, the good doctor wasn't real to you, but at seven-years-old, he was real to me.
That was my effort. How did yours go? Read yours now. Do you have a style? No? You don't think that you have a style? Oh, you do. Natalie says so. Write on.
[page 12 - 14] Style requires digesting who we are. It comes from the inside. . . . Hemingway said if a writer knows something, even if he doesn't write it, it is present in his work. . . . Nanao Sakaki, who translated Issa's kaiku, said, "Not gifted with genius but honestly holding his experience deep in his heart, he kept his simplicity and humanity." . . . don't worry about style. Be who you are, breathe fully, be alive, and don't forget to write.
This next poem was inspired by Chapter 38 Because and Chapter 39 Very and Really.
Just Because It's Really Very Unnecessary
Don't use Because
Why did I use it?
Don't use Very.
it's very unnecessary.
is very unnecessary.
What is a plot? That question has plagued me. I know if a novel has one, but how do I create one? Nat's friend, Mary, had some apt words on the subject. She told Nat that "there has to be at least one question that makes the reader turn the pages to find the answer." Nat asked Mary what the question was in Banana Rose. Mary said, "We want to know if Nell ends up with Gaugin."[page 223] "You're kidding! So mundane? Whenever anyone asks me what the book is about, I always wax philosophical, tell them it's about the hippie years and after, about a generation."
Mary laughed. "Nope. I want to know what happens to Nell and Gaugin. The background is the hippie years.
Later Nat asked her friend Pat and got this reply to "What is plot anyway?" A great question. One that Nat admits it took her "three and a half years to ask that essential question."[page 223] "Well, E. M. Forster wrote that a story is: The king died, the queen died. A plot is: The king died, the queen died of grief."
So there you have it. Plot. A question to be answered as the chapters move forward. Details. Strong verbs. No very, no really, no because. If you have legs you can be a runner, if you have an arm you can be a writer. Run to the top of the mountain. Write where you are seated. Write often.Write when you are bored. Write when you are scared. Write bravely about things you don't want to write about. Write like Hemingway, who, after long sentences about the weather in Spain and about when he was in the war in Constantinople, and then like a fast U-turn on a highway, with no warning and no switch of paragraph, he makes a simple comment: "Seeing the sunrise is a fine thing." (Page 191)
You want to write a novel so you have to fill yourself up with the characters and story and then empty it on the page. You become like a tankard in a pub that is filled with ale and then emptied by a customer.[page 165] So there you have it. Empty at the beginning and empty at the end — the old story you learn over and over and over as a writer.
2. Ursula K. Le Guin 's Steering the Craft
Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
Excerpts from Review. Click Book Cover to read entire Review.
In his course "Building Great Sentences" Professor Brooks Landon mentioned this book, and I was immediately grabbed by the title as it suggested that writing is a craft which one can learn to steer. One can see the eponymous craft being steered which graces the cover and the beginning of every chapter. The image remains the same while the words vary both in content and in the waves they create in graceful swooshes across the page. Here are some of my favorite swooshes which grace, illustrate, and support the chapter titles, but to appreciate the effect of the swooshes one will need to buy the book, and then one can see visually such details as in the heading for Chapter 3 the wavy curvature of the swooshed text lessens until it goes flat, level on the page, for the final phrase, "We were becalmed." Note: The slash (/ ) indicates the beginning of another wavy swoosh. One can see the boat, its steerer, and three swooshes on the cover of the book.
Book Cover — Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing/for the Lone Navigator/or the Mutinous Crew
Chapter One — The Sound of Your Writing: She slipped swift as a silvery fish/through the slapping gurgle of the sea-waves.
Chapter Two — Punctuation: Damn the semicolons cried the captain full speed ahead
Chapter Three — Sentence Length and Complex Syntax: The wind died./The sail fell slack./The boat slowed, halted./We were becalmed.
Chapter Four — Repetition: The sudden wind brought rain,/a cold rain on a cold wind.
Chapter Five — Adjective and Adverb: We completed the voyage without succumbing/to the temptation of opening/the box of candy.
Chapter Six — Pronoun and Verb: The old woman dreamed of the past/as she navigated the seas of time.
Chapter Seven — Point of View and Voice: I saw he was lost in his memories, like a boat/that drifts on its own reflection.
Chapter Eight — Changing Point of View: They sailed easily from the past to the present,/but now/they can't get back.
Chapter Nine — Indirect Narration or What Tells: A: lower the topgallants!/B: I will when I find them.
Chapter Ten — Crowding and Leaping: If we dump the ballast we'll be there in no time.
My suggestion when learning something new is to know all about it before you start. With Chapter Headings and the swoosh text already behind us, we are ready to begin our review of this book. Carefully climb into your craft, stand erect, feet apart, and grab the steering pole as I push you gently adrift in the tricky currents of write-water rapids with Ursula Le Guin as your co-pilot.
Under Punctuation, she notes that poet Carolyn Kizer said to her recently, "Poets are interested mostly in death and commas," but adds Le Guin adds her own comment, "Prose writers are interested mostly in life and commas." Then she addresses you with the steering pole in your hand:
[page 31] If you aren't interested in punctuation, or are afraid of it, you're missing out on a whole kit of the most essential, beautiful, elegant tools a writer has to work with.
In other words, you may not be able to steer your craft away from obstacles in the rapids if your punctuation duffle bag is bare or was left onshore as unnecessary baggage. Only with a full kit of grammar tools can one safely navigate the speedy twists and turns of English or any other language. Socrates knew it to be true about his native Greek when he said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." (Page 32) Le Guin has that sentence pinned over her desk where it's been for a long time. It's a sentence which can act as an unanswered question because even if you think you understand immediately upon reading what it means, each exposure to it can infuse you with the energy required to use language and not misuse it. Saying blithely as so many talking heads do on television, ". . . between you and I" does not make it correct. After all if you switch the pronouns and say instead, ". . . between I and you" it sounds blatantly foolish, does it not? One way cannot be right without the other being wrong and therefore both must be wrong, it seems to I . . . uh, I mean "to me" of course, but you get the idea of what happens when you confuse nominative (I) and objective (me) forms of the first person personal pronoun singular. Le Guin seems to agree:
[page 32] How we talk is important to us all, and we're all shamed when told in public that we don't talk correctly. Shame can paralyze our minds. Many common misusages are actually overcorrections. People scolded for saying, "It's me" many start saying "Between you and I," because they have an uneasy feeling that me is incorrect, a bad word, to be avoided.
Like Le Guin, I like to push grammar a little bit, just between you and me. But to do that a writer must know what they're doing. There. That was an example of pushing it a bit. One would rightly have to say, "A writer must know what he or she is doing" which is awkward. The plural "they" accomplishes the same result as "he or she" with fewer words and no chance of misunderstanding, if one allows a little push or bending of the grammar rules. Surely one would not want to revert to the grammar rules of several hundred years ago and use male pronouns for both sexes. That practice would have us write such an abomination as Le Guin sarcastically suggests, "If a person needs an abortion, he should be required to tell his parents." (Page 33)
The popular grammar book, "Eats Shoots and Leaves", by Lynn Truss demonstrates the life and death necessity of comma choices. A gunman in a diner might be described as someone who "eats, shoots, and leaves", but a Panda bear's daily diet can be described as he "eats shoots and leaves" and no one is killed in the process. I wondered as I read this next passage which tells the Panda story, whether Lynn Truss was inspired by Le Guin's story to write her book on grammar.
[page 35] I will now tell the Panda Story to illustrate the importance of the presence or the absence of the comma. This panda walked into a tea shop and ordered a salad and ate it. Then it pulled out a pistol, shot the man at the next table dead, and walked out. Everyone rushed after it, shouting, "Stop! Stop! Why did you do that?"
"Because I'm a panda," said the panda. "That's what pandas do. If you don't believe me, look in the dictionary."
So they looked in the dictionary and sure enough they found Panda: Racoon-like animal of Asia. Eats shoots and leaves.
This panda parable operates on many levels, some having nothing to do with grammar, like this one: Some people will only open a dictionary if it's a matter of life and death! My wife Del rarely consulted a dictionary when I first met her, but knowing how competitive she was, I suggested we allow the use of the dictionary in playing Scrabble before one chooses a word to lay down. This made it necessary for us to each have a dictionary available as we both were looking up possible words before our next play. This rule also eliminates the challenge aspect of Scrabble. It had always seemed patently useless to use a dictionary to find a word which may not exist, which is what a challenge to a bad word would require. Instead, if she doesn't think a word I played is a real word, she can ask me what it means, knowing that I just looked up the strange word. This is a much more satisfying way to play Scrabble(1) — we call it simply Matherne's Rules.
The only good sentence is a short sentence. Is that true? And if not true, why do so many English teachers and style books teach writers to use short sentences, to equate clarity with terseness? I had never considered the question fully until taking the course "Building Great Sentences" by Professor Brooks Landon, having cut my writing teeth as a technical writer and a student of Strunk and White(2).Landon gave examples of many long sentences, especially narrative sentences, whose sweep and scope carried one along on a fast moving current, jostling one from one side to another, gut-wrenching swoops down a steep waterfall, water splashing, soaking one through and through, and stopping only when the boat begins to founder, requiring all aboard to begin bailing out as quickly as possible. Ah, narrative sentences! They take on a life of their own as they carry us along in the scene they narrate, always aware that their "chief duty is to lead us to the next sentence." It was my great joy to drop my technical writing preciseness and discover the pleasures and freedom of sprawling cumulative sentences from Prof. Landon's lectures.
Perhaps Le Guin can explain when a short sentence is always a good sentence.
[page 39, 40] Beyond this basic, invisible job, the narrative sentence can do an infinite number of beautiful, surprising, powerful, audible, visible things (see all the examples). But the basic function of the narrative sentence is to keep the story going and keep the reader going with it.
Its rhythm is part of the rhythm of the whole piece; all its qualities are part of the quality and tone of the whole piece. As a narrative sentence, it isn't serving the story well if its rhythm is so unexpected, or its beauty so striking, or its similes or metaphors so dazzling, that it stops the reader, even to say Ooh, Ah! Poetry can do that. Poetry can be visibly, immediately dazzling. In poetry a line, a few words, can make the reader's breath catch and her eyes fill with tears. But for the most part, prose sets its proper beauty and power deeper, hiding it in the work as a whole. In a story it's the scene — the setting/ characters/ action/interaction/ dialogue/ feelings — that makes us hold our breath, and cry . . . and turn the page to find out what happens next. And so, until the scene ends, each sentence should lead to the next sentence.
Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving. Sentence length has a lot to do with the rhythm of prose. So an important aspect of the narrative sentence is — prosaically — its length.
Teachers trying to get school kids to write clearly, and journalists with their weird rules of writing, have filled a lot of heads with the notion that the only good sentence is a short sentence.
This is true for convicted criminals.
If you're not a convicted criminal, but rather, a committed writer, then choose your sentence structure, not based on the length, but on the rhythm and meaning you are striving to achieve. Some will be short. Some will take on a life of their own, like that shark you hefted into the boat, which lay there for several minutes as though dead, but as soon as you tried to move it, began to thrash about, knocking you almost unconscious and endangering your life, or the possum which your Schnauzer mauled senseless that you were carrying away in a shovel to bury it, when suddenly you noticed that the dead possum was eyeing your actions carefully.
Style is rhythm cries Woolf in this next passage which Virginia originally wrote to a writer friend:
[page 47] "Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words. But on the other hand there am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can't dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it. . . ."
One might choke at the thought of writing a sentence which used the active voice, progressive conjugation, potential mood, present tense, third person plural of go inflecting the past infinitive of live, but Ursula K. Le Guin gives us an example of that below and it is imminently readable and understandable. Here's the last passage of this book:
[page 164] At the beginning of one of my books I wrote, "The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California." . . .
I deliberately used this magnificent conglomeration of verbiage to establish myself and the reader as being in the complex situation of pretending to look back in time on some fictional people whom we pretend might exist in a time very far in our future. You say all that with a couple of verb forms. . . . It was the shortest way to say exactly what I meant. That's what verbs, in all their moods and tenses, are for.
To end this review, here is the sentence I wrote in imitation of Le Guin's model sentence in the blank space at the bottom of the last page. If you wish to say something complex, rest assured that the English tool bag has ample means for you to do so, but a bag of tools is of little use until you learn to handle them with dexterity.
The reader of this copy of Le Guin's "Steering the Craft" and my words might be going to have lived a long, long time from now as I write this marginalia flying home to New Orleans from Southern California.
3. Annie Dillard's The Writing Life
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. I found out about the book while reading The Writing Trade by John Jerome (see ARJ), in which he writes about the year 1989 as he lived it working in his trade as a free-lance writer. He had quotes from Dillard's book sprinkled throughout his book — and now I see that Dillard's book came out in the year 1989 — Jerome must have read her book while he was writing his. Jerome's book was a snapshot of his life during one year whereas Dillard's book is more like a series of video vignettes or music videos compiled from her life as a writer covering several years and writing locations that varied from the San Juan islands on the West Coast to the Cape Cod seashore on the East Coast.
She writes beautifully crafted metaphors, and the very first lines of the book grabbed me in two ways: as a writer and as a wood carver.
[page 3] When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a wood carver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.
Wood carving or wood sculpture is a subtractive medium — you start with a block of wood or a section of a tree trunk and you subtract wood by digging away wood with a gouge. The block of wood is the blank page on which you write with the gouge, but unlike blank sheets of paper, each piece of wood has unique characteristics of texture, grain, knots, soft spots, etc. You start with a block of wood and a plan, but soon the wood begins to dictate and shape the plan as you remove successive layers of wood with your gouge. Soon the wood's plan becomes clear and you must merge your plan into the wood's plan. Writing is more like wood carving or stone carving and less like the metal sculptures of Rodin, where the beauty is in the precise execution of a pre-ordained plan in metal. When a writing piece is complete, the author knows that a single line can neither be added nor subtracted from the work without harming it. So, too, with wood carving.
In the process of editing one's writing, the metaphor becomes that of home renovation. You know the drill — there's a wall here that must go in order to make room for a large Jacuzzi bathtub. You begin your editing process and:
[page 4] The line of words is a hammer. You hammer against the walls of your house. You tap the walls, lightly, everywhere. After giving many years' attention to these things, you know what to listen for. Some of the walls are bearing walls; they have to stay, or everything will fall down. Other walls can go with impunity; you can hear the difference., Unfortunately, it is often a bearing wall that has to go. It cannot be helped. There is only one solution, which appalls you, but there it is. Knock it out. Duck.
The next metaphor is about submissions and this time you are a photographer who submits pieces of your work to a professional for appraisal. He puts the landscape in the bad stack. Next time your photographs are submitted along with the same landscape, which again goes into the bad stack. Finally the pro asks why you like the landscape so much. What do you answer? "Because I had to climb a mountain to get it." (Page 6) I would be tempted to tell you, "Thank God you don't have to climb a mountain to discard it."
How do you catch the first idea to begin writing? Annie tells the story of an Algonquin woman that the writer Ernest Thompson Seton came upon — he noticed a scar on her thigh and asked through his interpreter how she got the scar. In a winter camp everyone but she and her baby had starved to death. She walked to the lake and found a fishhook. She rigged a line and cut a strip from her thigh for bait.
[page 13] She fished with the worm of her own flesh and caught a jackfish; she fed the child and herself. Of course she saved the fish gut for bait.
How do you know whether you're wasting time or that your writing is working? Annie tells of having to split wood to keep warm in her small writing hut. Her attempts to split the wood always seemed to create small splinters of wood and once she ended up with a pyramid of wood remaining which she attempted to balance on its peak and split with the axe before it fell over. Her splitting activity drew spectators who would drop by to watch her. She truly warmed herself in the process of chopping wood thus. Then one night a voice in a dream said, "Aim for the block!" The next day she successfully split every log with one clean stroke — she aimed for the block and her axe sped through the wood in one stroke, contacting the block with a satisfying thunk! Unfortunately the wood splitting went so fast that she never exerted herself enough to warm up. "I lost the knack," she says on page 43.
On a day when any reasonable person would be sleeping for its duration, how did Dillard crank herself up? "I drank coffee in titrated doses. It was a tricky business, requiring the finely tuned judgment of a skilled anesthesiologist." (Page 49) After her judicious application of coffee, she finally got to her writing task. "I inserted words in one sentence and hazarded a new sentence. At once I noticed that I was writing — which, as the novelist Frederick Buechner noted, called for a break, if not a full-scale celebration." (Page 50) More boiled Brazilian fuel later and soon she was too wired to write or do much of anything else:
[page 51] Now, alas, I had cranked too far. I could no longer play the recorder; I would need a bugle. I would break a piano. What could I do around the cabin? There was no wood to split. There was something I need to fix with a hacksaw, but I reject the work as too fine. Why not adopt a baby, design a curriculum, go sailing?
What happens if you stop working on a book for a couple of days? From my work on my dolphin novel, I can only echo the sentiments that Dillard writes below:
[page 52] A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. . . . it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!"
What if a writer hates to write — would prefer to be doing anything else? If so that person is "living as it were in a fool's paragraph." (Page 53) When Dillard shared with the ferryman that she hated to write, he told her, "That's like the guy who works in a factory all day, and hates it." That did it for her and she thought to herself, "Why wasn't I running a ferryboat, like sane people?"
If you want to be a writer, if you would like to write lines and see where they take you, if you would like to spend time in "a small room in the company of small pieces of paper," if you like sentences, then perhaps the writing life is for you. If you're not sure, The Writing Life is for you.
4. Wendy Lesser's Nothing Remains the Same
Rereading and Remembering
Excerpts from Review. Click Book Cover to read entire Review.
My first reading of Dr. Zhivago was in 1958 at age 18 and before I re-read it in 2002, I had seen the movie several times. During my later reading, the scenes from David Lean's movie glowed in my mind when I came to them, and the scenes in the book missing from the movie appeared in a Lean form in my mind as I read them. Another encounter with re-reading came when I tackled "An Outline of Occult Science" early in my reading of Rudolf Steiner's works, and once again after having read over 70 of his books. By my second reading I realized how much of his later works were expansions on what he was laid down in this landmark book, and my reading of it was with renewed interest and enthusiasm. My first review in 1996 was one typewritten page in length and my second reading in 2003 generated 135 pages, and still has three small chapters remaining to be reviewed. From these and other personal experiences with re-reading the same book, I was aware that reading is like stepping in Heraclitus's river, nothing remains the same: the river has changed and the person stepping in the river has changed.
This is the subject of Wendy Lesser's book and here is the eponymous quote embedded in a letter from Mark Twain to William Dean Howells.
[page vii] People pretend that the Bible means the same to them at 50 that it did at all former milestones in their journey. I wonder how they lie so. It comes of practice, no doubt. They would not say that of Dickens's or Scott's books. Nothing remains the same. When a man goes back to look at the house of his childhood, it has always shrunk: there is not instance of such a house being as big as the picture in memory and imagination calls for. Shrunk how? Why, to its correct dimensions: the house hasn't altered, this is the first time it has been in focus.
On the other hand, Henry James discusses how in the adventure of re-reading a beloved book, we may freshly encounter our young feelings. Thus "that old feeling" in the words of the popular lyric, "I saw you last night and got that old feeling," could as easily been written as "that young feeling."
[page vi] The beauty of this adventure, that of seeing the dust blown off a relation that had been put away as on a shelf, almost out of reach, at the back of one's mind, consists in finding the most precious object not only fresh and intact, but with its firm lacquer still further figured, gilded and enriched. It is all over-scored with traces and impressions — vivid, definite, almost as valuable as itself — of the recognitions and agitations it originally produced in us. Our old — that is our young — feelings are very nearly what page after page most gives us.
While reading this passage of James from his 1902 novel, it brought to mind the "precious object . . . figured, gilded and enriched" in his 1904 novel, "The Golden Bowl." The golden bowl of that novel was James' central metaphor for the relationship between his four main characters.
The first two times that author Lesser read James' "The Portrait of a Lady" she was close to the age of Isabel Archer. The second time she was twenty years older, and that made all the difference in how she read the book and the effect the reading had on her.
[page 1, 2] But in your forties the journey begins to matter more than the arrival, and it is only in this frame of mind that you can do justice to Henry James. (I say this now, but just watch me: I'll be contradicting myself from the old-age home, deploring my puerile middle-aged delusions about James.) At forty-six, no longer in competition with Isabel, I could find her as charming as her author evidently did. Morever, having had a life, with its own self-defined shape and structure, I was more sympathetic with Isabel's wish to acquire one. As a young person, I only wanted her to marry the lord and get it over with. Now I understood that nothing ends with such choices — there always additional choices to be made, if one's life is to remain interesting.
What Lesser found from her most recent reading led her to write this book: "The idea that a simple rereading could also be a new reading struck with me with the force of a revelation." One can reread a book after a long passage of time and get an "old feeling" or a "young feeling" or even a new feeling. As we grow older, we add meanings to our life which were not there earlier. When we re-read a book we read years earlier, those new meanings highlight themselves by the effect that events in the book have on us which earlier, we would have ignored. If one has taken up keeping a parrot as a pet, the appearance of one in "The Parrot's Theorem" will have a different effect than it would have before. For example, in its issue after the great disaster, "Parrot Monthly" had as its headline, "Titanic Sunk. No Parrots Died!"
In this next passage, Lesser describes the way I have chosen to live my life. I keep constantly busy, but include reading as an essential part of how I keep busy. I never say, "I wish I had time to read X" because if X is important, I schedule it to be read. When Lesser's book arrived, I had bought it because she dealt with a way of reading books similar to my own, and I began reading it immediately. I was not disappointed. She describes her life much as I would mine. I work efficiently, report only to myself, and set my own priorities. I keep an open schedule so that if anyone calls to have lunch, I'm available. I have a deadline each month to meet, a self-imposed deadline, and one that I treat seriously. If I have an otherwise busy month outside of my writing, I work long hours to catch up. When I'm writing and reading, I take breaks to do things around the house. I act as gardener, maintenance man, computer geek, flower arranger, grocery buyer, doyletics researcher, photographer, college student, and chef, among other things. My personal goal is to buy more books every month than I can read in a month and live long enough to read them all!
[page 3] Time is a gift, but it can be a suspect one, especially in a culture that values frenzy. When I began this book, almost everyone I knew seemed to be busier than I was. I supported myself, contributed my share to the upkeep of the household, and engaged in all the usual wifely and motherly duties and pleasures. But still I had time left to read. This was partly because I incorporated reading into my work life (I run a quarterly literary magazine), and partly because I work very efficiently (I run my own quarterly literary magazine, so there's no busywork whatsoever: no meetings, no memos, no last-minute commands from the higher-ups). I had constructed a life in which I could be energetic but also lazy; I could rush, but I would never be rushed. It was a perfect situation for someone who loved to read, but it was also an oddball role, outside the mainstream — even the mainstream of people who read and write for a living.
After explaining that a book for rereading should be a "strong one" — one that can "hold up under the close scrutiny of a second look." In the next passage Lesser gives this book's theme in a nutshell:
[page 5] I [hope] that each chapter would say something different — about the process of rereading, or the nature of growing older, or the quality of a work of art, or my own personality, or (preferably) all of the above. As both reader and writer I felt anxious to avoid mere repetition, which is not at all the same as rereading.
Anyone who writes a journal knows that if you have a truly busy and wonderful day that a part of you cringes at the thought of writing it up because it will take a large part of the next day. You can't write it up as you are having the experience, but it has to finish happening before there is anything to write about or any time in which to do the writing. The operant rule for me is "It always happens before you know it." Lesser notes this while watching the Hitchcock movie Vertigo which she wanted to write about in this book.
[page 220, 221] I had all along planned to write about Vertigo for this book, and now here it was — my designated rereading, in the form of this spontaneous re-seeing. I thought of taking notes, and then thought better of it. With anything as fast-moving as a movie — for that matter, with anything at all that has its own pace, whether it's a dance performance or a lecture or a film — I can't have the full experience and record it at the same time.I wanted to immerse myself once again in Vertigo, have the intense version of the experience: that seemed more important than any details about color schemes (though the color schemes are breathtaking) or musical structure (though the music is essential to the mood of each scene) that I might hope to capture in notes. Besides, I had seen the movie so many times that I figured I could remember the crucial scraps of dialogue, if I needed them. So I just watched it. But I watched it in a state of alert readiness, looking in particular for anything new, anything I hadn't noticed before. And I also tried to watch it in a state of passive receptivity, which meant watching myself for my emotional response, observing how the movie had its effect on me this time around — because it is never the same twice.
Watching a movie, like reading a book, is like stepping in a river: it's different water flowing around your foot, your foot is different (all new cells every 7 years), and you yourself are a different person: you have lived, grown, and changed since the last time you did this deed. Everything is in flux, as Heraclitus said, and he means us in particular, not just his famous ever-changing river. In the case of Vertigo, it is the ever-changing and yet remaining the same city of San Francisco. We bring the changed and unchanged parts of ourselves and it is the changed parts of ourselves which are able to see aspects of the movie or the book which were there before and we had missed. Movies and books are like faceted gems which we must rotate to grasp with our eyes some new sparkle of delight. In the process of living we change and produce a rotation without even planning it — suddenly you understand aspects of the movie or book you didn't before and you feel fulfilled after your contact with it. That feeling itself is a double sign that the film or movie is a strong one and that you are continuing to grow as a result of your latest contact with it.
If you have wondered why you reread books or re-watch movies, you will enjoy this book as Wendy Lesser shares her intimate reading and viewing self with you in a way that few writers have done and even fewer as well as she has.
5. Joseph Joubert's Notebooks
Edited and Translated by Paul Auster
Excerpts from Review. Click Book Cover to read entire Review."We need a ladder to the mind. A ladder and rungs." [from the book jacket]
[page 164, from Afterword by Maurice Blanchot ] Joubert had this gift. He never wrote a book. He only prepared to write one, resolutely seeking the exact conditions that would allow him to write it. Then he forgot even his plan. More precisely, what he was seeking — this source of writing, this space in which to write, this light to circumscribe in space — demanded of him, affirmed in him inclinations that made him turn away from it. In this he was one of the first completely modern writers, preferring the center of the sphere, sacrificing results to the discovery of their conditions, and writing not in order to add one book to another but to take command of the point from which it seemed to him all books issued, the point which, once it was found, would relieve him of the need to write any books.
This is an amazing book of quotations taken from Joseph Joubert's notebooks. He was born in 1754 and died in 1824 without ever writing or publishing anything. He was always preparing to write and found the trip more satisfying than the destination so he kept on traveling without a thought to arriving. He was a friend of many writers who later became famous and he thought a lot about the task, the chore, but mainly the joys of writing. He was deeply spiritual and his insights into the powers of the imagination and the soul startle us with their brilliance. He sees logic and reason as useful as the tail-chasing of a dog and says so in many ways. "What we write with difficulty is written with more care, engraves itself more deeply," he wrote in 1803.
Another example that illuminates the purpose of his writing: to observe himself and his experiences.
[page 92, 93] Lightning flashes that cross the mind and illuminate so quickly they are hardly noticed. In such cases, more is seen than retained. Thus, whoever does not observe himself carries within him some experience he does not know about.
For the rest of this review I will give you some selected quotes from the fine selection made by the editor and translator, Paul Auster. I hope this introduction to Joseph Joubert will endear him to you as my reading his Notebook selections endeared him to me. My few comments interspersed below are denoted by RJM and the page number they were scribbled onto in the margins of my copy of this book.
"Do you want to know how thought functions, to know its effects? Read the poets. Do you want to know about morality, about politics? Read the poets. What pleases you in them, deepen: it is the truth." [page 3]
"A work of genius, whether poetic or didactic, is too long if it cannot be read in one day." [page 9]
"Everything that has wings is beyond the reach of the law." [page 14]
"The soul paints itself in our machines." [page 19]
"All truths are double or doubled, or they all have a front and a back." [page 19]
"Roundness. This shape guarantees matter a long life. Time does not know where to take hold of it." [page 20]
"Like pebbles on a beach,
We are rounded by every wave
by every life
by every lifetime
Until time does not know
where to take hold of us from now on." RJM [page 20]
This next passage was written some 100 years before the process he discusses will be illuminated by the ability to take snapshots. Before the advent of the Brownie Camera, most photos were posed and required holding one's feature fixed for several seconds to minutes. When snapshots arrived on the scene, it became possible to capture spontaneous facial features that had not be seen before, such as genuine smiles. Nevertheless, this aspect of modern day photography has been lost on some well-meaning people who insist on saying, "SMILE!" which action creates the semblance of a real smile because the person is required to hold the feature artificially long. RJM
"The same feature that is agreeable when it is fleeting becomes hideous when it remains fixed. That is because mobility is the essence of what is agreeable." [page 89]
"Then there comes into languages a facility and an overabundance that, if you want to become a great writer, you must oppose with difficulties, with a sure taste, a meditated choice. When you find a torrent, obstacles must be placed in it." [page 97]
"The useless phrases that come into the head. The mind is grinding its colors." [page 97]
"Descartes. His imaginary world is not an imaginable world. In it the mind finds matter everywhere, and figures rather than form. (For the form is the figure of the figure, and the figure is the body of the form, the form is the exterior soul of a body.) Descartes has thus made the imagination do what it does not like to do. He has made it arrange stones. It wants to be an architect: he has restricted it to being a mason." [page 100]
"Once we have tasted the juice of words, the mind can no long pass them by. We drink thought from them." [page 105]
"We are afraid of having and showing a small mind and we are not afraid of having and showing a small heart." [page 110]
"All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so." [page 117]
"This line (the line of beauty) must unfold without breaking in our head, but it is not possible for the hand to trace it without interruption and without stopping and starting several times." [page 125]
"If you want property to be sacred, bring heaven into it. Nothing is sacred where God is not." [page 126]
Primary property, rightly understood, is a gift from God — a gift which contains God within it — and as such it is sacred. RJM
"The great inconvenience of new books is that they prevent us from reading old books." [page 130]
"The talkative person is someone who speaks more than he thinks. Someone who thinks a great deal and who talks a great deal is never considered a talkative person. The talkative man speaks from his mouth, the eloquent man speaks from his heart." [page 133]
The next passage resembles what Jane Roberts says in her book, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events: [RJM]
"All cries and all complaints exhale a vapor, and from this vapor a cloud is formed, and from these heaped-up clouds come thunder, storms, the inclemencies that destroy everything." [page 134]
"Fortunately, when he lacks reasons he also lacks words." [page 138]
"Words. Magic utterances by which we enthrall one another in everyday trances." RJM 4/13/1985
"Silence. — Joys of silence. — Thoughts must be born from the soul and words from silence. — An attentive silence." [page 140]
"Almost all men prefer danger to fear. Some prefer death to danger and to pain. This is because fear, danger, and pain disturb reason. The horse throws himself into the precipice to escape the spur." [page 144]
"Our life is of woven wind." [page 146]
"When you no longer love what is beautiful, you can no longer write." [page 151]
"In such times, if you want neither to lie nor to wound, you are reduced to being silent." [page 151]
"When everything becomes unbearable . . . That is the rule. Then necessity makes the law, or changes it." [page 151]
"And there is perhaps no advice to give a writer more important than this: — Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure." [page 158]
For more quotes by other famous writers, be sure to check out my Treasury of Famous and Interesting Quotes.
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 Inglourious Basterds” (2009) about a group of Nazi-killers who encountered the Jew-Hunter in a Quentin Tarantino spectacular. Look for Rod Taylor as Churchill. Exciting all the way through. Warning: scalpers were not selling tickets. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Blind Side” (2009) Sandra Bullock stars as a woman who takes in a homeless waif named “Big Mike” and helps him through high school and into college where he continued to star in football as Michael Oher with the Ravens. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Delhi 6” (2009) about a young man of Muslim mother and Hindu father who was raised in America but came back to allow his mother to die in India. When will he return to USA becomes an if when he falls in love.
“Is Anybody There?” (2008) about a young boy growing up in an old age home wondering about life after death until up pops Michael Caine playing out the string of his Alfie life as a aged womanizer whose magic tricks don’t work on women, but he can still pop a rabbit out of a hand and slice carrots and other things with his guillotine. Taking the young man under his wings and vice-versa makes for A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !“The Burning Plain” (2008) and the Burning Plane. An intricately wound plot involving two groups of people starring Charliz Theron and Kim Basinger unfolds slowly but dramatically in the course of the movie. A DON’T MISS HIT !
"Love Affair” (1939) Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne in the original movie remade by Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr starring an assignation at the top of the Empire State Building. You might have wondered how Cary might had a French aunt, but not about how Charles Boyer might.
“Terminator: Salvation” (2009) exceeded our expectations: a thriller, excellent sequel with cameo by Arnold, but heavy parts by Sam Worthington and Christian Bale well played.
“Couples Retreat” (2009) Vince Vaughn at his glibbest in his production of four couples trying to find love inside of marriage. Funny, insightful, and sure to get viewing couples to examine their own relationships. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Elephant Parts” (1981) Michael Nesmith wrote, directed, danced, and sang in this wonderful Grammy-winning music-video-filled hour long film which jump-started the genre before there was a genre of music videos. What else can one say except, “Billee-noo ton silly plah la” and “SHMOOTEK!” A DON’T MISS HIT! ! !
“Flirting with Forty” (2008) about a single mom in Colorado of 40 who dates a surfer in Oahu only 27. Can she survive the opinions and censure of her girl friends? Can there be love after hanging ten? Can this chick flick get any sillier and still be just barely a hit?
“Foyle's War: Set 6: Disc 3: The Hide” (2010) D. C. Foyle returns to sleuthing to uncover the death of a woman he loved long ago, and meets Sam and Milner in detective syzygy which changes the life of the deceased son and husband.
“An Unfinished Life” (2005) Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, and Jennifer Lopez in this poignant story of a dead son, a grieving father, and meeting his new grand-daughter. Halcyon days in Wyoming with a big bear. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Invictus” (2009) about how Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison chose to forgive those who put him there and unite his people both black and white for the good of South Africa. He took the unlikely step of supporting the national Springbok Rugby team despised or ignored by those who elected him. He told them, “You elected me to lead you, and I am doing that with this move.” And what a great move it was! The Rugby team is inspired by the people and inspire the people to celebrate in a way we in New Orleans know well from our Super Bowl win in 2010. Another movie bullseye from Clint Eastwood’s directing chair. A DON’T MISS ! ! ! “It’s Complicated” (2009) 2nd Viewing, see Digest104but Alec Baldwin (at his philandering best) and Meryl Streep (at her usual best) carry on an affair as exes even though he’s re-married. Steve Martin as the sacrificial lamb for this love-feast. Great fun, food, grass, more food, acting, and a stunt with a videocam makes this A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Leap Year” (2009) Amy Adams decides to fly to Ireland to propose to her boy friend, but life had other plans for her along the way, and soon a menage a trois happens with her, Louis, and Declan along the byways from Dingle to Dublin. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Extraordinary Measures” (2010) is what it took for one man to get his two children medicine for their debilitating muscular disease. Harrison Ford stars as the irascible doctor and Brandon Fraser as the indomitable father.
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2007) Cate Blanchet stars as Elizabeth and some arrogant hack as Walter Raleigh who names Virginia after Liz. Stages the tensions which led to the death of Mary and the Spanish Armada.
“Avatar” (2009) A study of interspecies communication at the deepest level — where one becomes the other and is adopted into their culture. Hollywood message that all large corporations are greedy and heartless, not just Hollywood producers (don’t think of that!). Amazing graphics brings to life an alien world of honey-bee like humanoids protecting their hive from honey-gatherers. Lots of flying for the 3-D fun of it.
“Empire of the Sun” (1987) introducing a young Christian Bale starring as son of a young Brit separated from his parents from 1941 till 1945 in Singapore when the Japanese invaded. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !“Up in the Air” (2009) George Clooney in his Cary Grant best as a man who is at home on airplanes landing only briefly to fire somebody and the other four letter word somebody else. Till he meets his match in a female traveler who becomes a regular. Insightful, funny, sexual, and amazing. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Princess and the Frog” (2009) A Disney paean to New Orleans. A Creole girl Tiana wanted to run a restaurant and wished upon a star. On the way to the palace she kissed a frog and became one. The rest is herstory. A DON’T MISS HIT! ! ! !
“An Education” (2009) of a young English girl who wants to attend Oxford in a couple of years when an older man insinuates himself into her life, and soon Jenny is being wined and dined and wooed and proposed to and Oxford evaporates, but life will intervene to rescue her, will it not?
“Pirate Radio” (2009) is fore to aft fun, rollicking rock and roll 24/7 streaming freely across the British regulated airwaves, the only font of Fifties’ rocking frivolity in the dis-United Kingdom. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
“Steel Toes” (2006) about a senseless killing done in a drunken rage and about a Jewish lawyer who arrived to save this young man’s life by showing him tough love in place of hate.
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.“Shutter Island” (2010) Leonardo DiCaprio as an FBI man who cleared the death camp of Dachau after WWII and is haunted by his memories. For some R&R he gets sent to Shutter Island to obtain a new attitude through an ice pick. If you are masochistic enough to want to watch this movie, try having someone pull out your fingernails instead, it will be only slightly more painful.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“I Love You, Beth Cooper” (2009) about a valedictorian’s pronouncement during his graduation speech which led to Beth showing up in his life with all her curves and baggage, namely, an abusive jarhead boyfriend. Movie is fun at times and puerile most of the time.
“Unbeatable Harold” (2006) is the eternal optimist who woos and wins winsome Wanda to his wandering ways.
“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” (2009) Two hours of Monty Python-esque romp through a Faustian deal by Baron von Trapp.
“Sleep Dealer” (2008) Mexicans hooked up to robots doing heavy work all hours of day and night. One of them only wants to return home to Oaxaca. He should have never left and saved us watching this dorky sci-fi movie.
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4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Boudreaux stumbled out of a Cajun Dance Hall & Saloon in downtown New Orleans and hailed a taxicab. He climbed into the back seat, his head waving groggily around. The cab driver asked him, "Where to?"
"Mais, you can took me to Mulate's, tout d' suite!"
The cab driver looked back at Boudreaux incredulously and said, "Hey, Dude! You're in front of Mulate's!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for July, 2010 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Cajun Stir Fry
Background on Cajun Stir Fry:
With the advent of our new garden at the Drivehouse, I began using almost all fresh from the garden ingredients and this allowed me to amp up the flavor of my stir fry. See other Stir Fry Recipes here: Digest081 and Digest 09a. My idea here is use as much of the produce from the garden as possible. Instead of using canned Rotel, I use leftover pieces of fresh Creole tomatoes and chop slices of Jalapeno peppers to create my own flavoring. For rice, I use my long grain and wild rice mixture (often heated up in microwave directly from the freezer). The key ingredient is fresh okra: it binds together the other flavors to make this distinctive taste of my Cajun Stir Fry. Chop the ingredients before hand and it will take only a few minutes to execute their dish and serve it hot.
10 to 20 pieces of Okra
Half portobello mushroom or 8 oz fresh mushrooms
green onion stalks
about half of a Creole tomato (or Romano tomato)
end pieces of cucumber with no seeds
1 tsp chopped garlic
a few sprigs of parsley
a few sprigs of basil
1 Cup of cooked Long Grain/Wild Rice mixture
2 medium eggs
1 small Irish potato
pieces of yellow or green squash (if available)
1 small eggplant (portion of larger one)
1 yellow onion
These ingredients can be chopped hours before cooking and wrapped with Saran Wrap in the fridge, like Here. Slice the okra, discarding the tips and stems, about 1/8 th of an inch (2mm). Finely chop the potato, squash, leek, onion, parsley, and basil. Cut the cucumber slices in 1/8" strips, then dice. Chop bell pepper, Leeks, Jalapeno slices, and tomato. Chop Portobello mushrooms a bit larger for texture, 1/4" to 1/2" chunks.
Warm the long grain/ wild rice mixture in microwave. Cover the bottom of a large sauce pan with Extra Lite Olive Oil (so it doesn't smoke), turn on High and saute the leeks and greens including the okra, tomato and Jalapeno pepper, basically everything else except the mushrooms. When greens are translucent, crack 2 eggs (optional) into pan and stir in quickly to distribute the egg, mixing together the whites and yellows. Within a minute or so, stir in the long grain/wild rice mixture (already warmed), add the mushrooms, and stir until all ingredients are heated and well-mixed.
The amount of ingredients shown above make a meal for two people.
If you have Creole Tomatoes and cucumbers, create a side-salad as shown here, saving the bases of the tomatoes and the seedles endpieces of the cucumbers to chop into the stir fry. The variety of stir fry ingredients are limited only by availabilty and your imagination. Try adding boiled shrimp if you have some extra peeled (See photo). When our eggplants are ready to harvest, we will be adding eggplants into the mix. They will be the critical path ingredient as they take longer than the greens and okra to cook. Bon Apetit!
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Flowers of Shanidar:
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I split a millisecond the other day —
There ought to be another way —
It sang and danced on the head of a pin
And would not let a minute in.
I split a millisecond the other day,
An hour more than I dared to stay.
It frolicked carefree in a fairy ring,
Kicking its heels to a highlander fling.
I split a millisecond the other day
And twenty-seven children came over to play:
They sang and they danced till well into morn
When to their delight a new day was born.
I split infinity with the whole of my life
As carefully as a cake with a knife,
I took a big bite of life with my kin,
A puzzle with an enigma on each end.
I split a millisecond the other day
And for a fortnight it would not go away.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for July:
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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 Mystery of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist by Sergei O. Prokofieff
The "turning point of time" refers to the Mystery of Golgotha during which time period the two disciples of Christ Jesus, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist were present. In the pages of this small book, the author delineates how the great Biblical being, Elijah, appeared in both Johns, first in John the Baptist and later in Lazarus-John, the writer of the Gospel of John. He works from this summary given by Rudolf Steiner.
[page 4] "We have shown how in the course of time the being who was present in Elijah appeared again at the most important moments of human evolution on Earth — appeared again so that Christ Jesus Himself could give him the initiation he was to receive for the evolution of mankind. For the being of Elijah reappeared in Lazarus-John — who are in truth one and the same figure . . ."
John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod before the death of Lazarus and his spirit, like reported of Elijah in the Bible, was hovering around and entered the body of Lazarus during his death-like state in the tomb which was actually the "temple sleep" of an initiate of Christ Jesus. The Bible clearly reveals the initiation of Lazarus in several ways: 1) Christ Jesus is not concerned nor in a hurry to reach his beloved friend, 2) when He does arrive, exactly three and a half days had elapsed, the exact time of the temple sleep, and 3) he calls Lazarus with the very words used to awaken an initiate from a temple sleep.
What was so special about Lazarus that he came to be the only disciple to follow Christ Jesus in full consciousness all the way to the cross, to the Deed on Golgotha? All the other disciples had fallen asleep in the Garden or fled from the Romans in fear of their life — only Lazarus-John was present at the foot of the cross when Christ-Jesus asked him to take care of his mother. The answer came in the days of Steiner's life.
[page 5] During his illness, Rudolf Steiner described to Ita Wegman what happened in the course of this process: "Lazarus was out of earthly forces able fully to develop at this time only as far as the mind and intellectual soul was developed. Hence he had to be endowed with the consciousness soul and the higher members of Manas, Buddhi, and Atma by another cosmic being. Thus before the Christ there stood a human being who encompassed the domain from the depths of the Earth to the highest heavenly heights, who bore in himself in its full perfection the physical body through all its members to the spirit-members of Manas, Buddhi, and Atma, which can be developed by all human beings only in the distant future."
We live two thousand years after Lazarus-John and we have acquired our consciousness soul, but our work on creating our spirit self (manas) is still a work in progress, and few have even started on their life spirit (buddhi) and spirit body (atma). Lazarus needed a booster shot immediately in order to rise to the level of the full human being which Jesus of Nazareth had already achieved during the baptism when he received the Christ spirit and became thenceforth known as Jesus the Christ or Christ Jesus. This happened during Lazarus's temple sleep, which was known as the sixth or Sun Hero step of the Old Persian initiation. Here's how Steiner describes it in his own words, followed by an explanation by Prokofieff.
[page 6] "During his initiation the Sun Hero lived in communion with the whole solar system, having as his place of abode the Sun as the ordinary human being lives on the Earth as his own planet. As mountains and rivers are around us here, so are the planets of the solar system around the Sun Hero during the time of his initiation. During his initiation, the Sun Hero was transported in consciousness to the Sun. In the ancient mysteries this could be achieved only outside the body." This stage of initiation had to do with the three days of death-like sleep of the ancient mysteries often described by Rudolf Steiner. During this time the soul of the person being initiated wholly left the physical body to ascend into the Sun sphere and there encounter the Christ. The soul received from Him guidelines for the further evolution of earthly humanity.
What distinguished Lazarus from the rest of the disciples was that they received the Sun Hero initiation on Pentecost, whereas Lazarus had already achieved that initiation during his temple sleep in Bethany. He did not find the Christ while in the Sun sphere, but instead when he was called to awake by Christ Jesus.
[page 8] . . . his soul was called back into his body through the ancient call of the hierophant resounding upon it from without: "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:44). It would have become clear that the spiritual Being whom this soul had sought on the Sun was standing — now in a human body — before it on the Earth. It was this Being who summoned Lazarus down to the Earth from the Sun sphere. Lazarus now knew from his own experience that the great Turning Point of Time had begun: the spiritual Sun itself had been united with the Earth.
Only a fully enlightened human being such as Lazarus-John could experience the death of Christ Jesus on the cross with Mary the mother of Jesus. Until the events of Pentecost some fifty days later when they received the Sun Hero initiation, the other disciples would not be ready.
[page 8, 9] For Lazarus-John himself this anticipation of the Mystery of Golgotha — through his own experience — gave him the possibility of being the only one of Christ's disciples to be able to participate in full consciousness in this event, which he witnessed from beneath the Cross, and so of becoming a personal witness on behalf of the whole of earthly humanity of this central mystery of earthly evolution.
Lazarus, in effect, had to die and be reborn so that a record of this salient event, an eye-witness account, could be preserved for all time.
At the foot of the Cross, Lazarus-John was able to see the culmination of Christ-Jesus's three year life on Earth, just as he was there at the very beginning, at the baptism in the Jordan, when John as the Baptist acknowledged recognizing the Divinity descending upon Jesus with these words, "And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." (John 1:34)
[page 10] Thus the two Johns frame the three years of the Christ on Earth like two mighty columns: at Christ's birth, through the Baptism in the Jordan, John the Baptist is the witness; and at His death it is Lazarus-John.
Elijah was described as moving among different individuals in the Old Testament, as though the individual called Elijah were inhabited by a great spirit which could move around fluidly, inspiriting one person one minute and another person the next. Prokofieff gives us the Gospels report of the presence of Elijah on Golgotha this way:
[page 10] After Jesus called out his last words from the Cross with a loud voice, some of the bystanders said: "He is calling for Elijah . . . Let us see whether Elijah will come to save him" (Matthew 27: 47, 49) These words suggest that those present on the hill of Golgotha were sensing the immediate proximity of the entelechy of Elijah-John. That it was indeed there — or, rather, was supersensibly manifest — is above all attested by the awakening of conscience which accompanied the "great consternation" (54) of the "Roman centurions and those who were with him" (54), who then said: "Truly, this was the Son of God" (54). With this they were, following their inner impulse of conscience, making the same testimony as John at the Baptism in the Jordan. This may be considered a sign of the direct presence and supersensible participation of John the Baptist in the events of Golgotha.
The other hero of the Sun is Michael (Mi-cha-el) the Archangel who throughout the ages has represented the visage of Christ to human beings in time of need. He is often pictured as fighting the forces of darkness, represented as a live, writhing snake. Various cultures have legends of such a fighter against evil, St. Michael, St. George, and others. What did Michael and those humans gathered around him in the Sun sphere experience when Christ left the region of the Sun to enter the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth?
[page 23] We know from Rudolf Steiner's spiritual research that the cosmic Sun kingdom also represents the sphere of activity of Michael. In the karma lectures of 1924 Rudolf Steiner described on more than one occasion how the human souls gathered around Michael, souls who were between death and a new birth, experienced the Mystery of Golgotha now not from the earthly standpoint but from that of the Sun. These souls perceived not the dying of Christ in the physical body of Jesus but, rather, the departure of Christ from the Sun. This sacrificial deed signified for the Christ also a kind of cosmic death: "This betokened a kind of death for the Christ. He went forth from the Sun as we. human beings go forth from the Earth when we die. . . Christ died to the Sun. He died cosmically, from the Sun to the Earth, He came down to the Earth".
We know from St. Paul's experience on the road to Damascus that the great Christ being entered the Earth when the blood of Jesus dripped from the Cross and during that event, anyone watching from space with spiritual eyes would have noticed a golden aura or glow appear which remains to this day. This glow was also visible to Michael and his minions in the Sun sphere. This glow foreshadows the future of the Earth as part of a new Sun in the future.
[page 23] Accordingly Michael, and those around him, experienced how through the Mystery of Golgotha the whole aura of the Earth — which had become ever darker as the Turning Point of Time approached — suddenly lit up again, so that he and the souls connected with him knew: through the deed of Christ on Earth, the Earth has become the beginning of a new Sun..
How does Rudolf Steiner obtain this information? "By directing his visionary perception towards the soul of one of the individualities participating" in the event. In this case it was an individuality with which Steiner is intimately familiar, having incarnated as that individual in a previous lifetime, namely, Aristotle.
[page 24, 25] Why did Rudolf Steiner choose precisely the individuality of Aristotle in order to characterize the nature of the Mystery of Golgotha from the cosmic perspective of the Sun? Probably because the soul of Aristotle attained a very clear and all-encompassing consciousness in the Sun sphere. For this reason, this soul was particularly suited to being a cosmically human witness of the Turning Point of Time from a heavenly perspective. . . . If one considers the earthly achievements of Aristotle from this standpoint, one will conclude that he translated virtually the whole of the mystery-wisdom existing at that time into clear philosophical thoughts. By this means he became the father of scientific thinking, which is still fully valid and current even today.
What about Plato? Aristotle was the representative of the Sun forces and Plato of the Moon forces. We see hints in Aristotle role as the father of scientific thinking that Sun forces were at work in him. For as Steiner said:
[page 25] "Now whenever the Sun forces work upon the Earth, they are always connected with an impulse which streams into earthly civilization as an inpouring wave of intellectuality. For in our sphere of existence, everything possessed by man and by the world in general by way of intellectuality derives from the Sun"
About Plato we must come to understand that his thinking was filled with imaginations such as the powerful metaphor he developed about how we live chained in a Cave facing away from the light and that we see but the shadows of the reality which passes in front of the mouth of the Cave. This is an example of Moon thinking, as the Moon can only reflect light from the Sun, not originate the light. Such thinking can lead to a complete misunderstanding of the reality of the Mystery of Golgotha.
[page 25, 26] Upon comparing Aristotle's works with those of Plato, one may conclude that Plato's thinking is still wholly permeated by imaginations from the ancient Mysteries. Gods become involved with the destinies of human beings. In comparison with the heavenly radiance of divine ideas the thinking of human beings is only a feeble reflection, a shadow of these ideas, and the earthly world itself merely Maya. The consequence of such a thought-conception is that one can never rightly grasp the true nature of the Mystery of Golgotha. The Mystery of Golgotha took place in the realm of death, that is, in the world of matter, which according to Plato belongs to the realm where illusion holds sway. Hence the death on Golgotha is not to be recognized as something that has a reality for man. That is why in the centuries that followed the only doctrine that arose concerning the Mystery of Golgotha out of a logical development of Platonism was that of Docetism.
What Aristotle did saliently was to teach us how to think about thinking and the Logic which arose from this lives with us yet today.
[page 26, 27] In addition to laying the foundation of scientific thinking, Aristotle endeavored to observe and describe with precision the most diverse phenomena of Nature. And once he had considered all kingdoms of Nature and had thereby employed his thinking to gain knowledge of Nature and man, he took a further step, and was probably the first to do so: he tried to grasp thinking by means of thinking itself. Thus Aristotle was the first philosopher in the history of humanity to think through the laws of thinking itself and created his Logic as a description of this. The laws of thinking which at that time he discovered and clearly formulated are still fully valid today. This signifies, however, that even today the whole of civilized humanity thinks in the way that Aristotle laid down over two thousand years ago. Rudolf Steiner says in this connection: "From what came to be known as Aristotelian logic there arose that intellectual framework which conditioned human intelligence in all subsequent centuries."
Lazarus during his initiation in Bethany had the forces of the Aristotle bestowing upon him a Spirit-body (Atma), Zarathustra forces of Life-spirit (Buddhi), and Elijah-John those of Spirit-self (Manas). These filled out the fullest capabilities of Lazarus-John as a human being who was able to reach from physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I up through the three spiritual bodies of Manas, Buddhi, and Atma. Of this Rudolf Steiner told Ita Wegman notably:
[page 29, 30] Thus before the Christ there stood a human being who encompassed the domain from the depths of Earth to the highest heavenly heights. . . "This could be clothed in a picture: the awakened Lazarus stood before Christ like a pillar of fire connecting the Earth with the Sun and hence prophetically indicating their future union, bearing within himself through the mediation of John the Baptist, Zarathustra and Aristotle all man's higher members.
Through the collaboration of these three individualities in the spiritual make-up of Lazarus-John, they were also able to participate supersensibly through him in the Mystery of Golgotha, as the central event of earthly evolution. They were its supersensible witnesses, just as Lazarus-John was its earthly witness.
And as a result of this infusion of spiritual bodies, Lazarus-John was able to witness the events on Golgotha from beneath the Cross.
We are currently in the fifth cultural epoch of our present Great Post-Atlantean Epoch and at the end of the seventh cultural epoch the entire Earth will be enmeshed in the War of All Against All. Following that we will enter the Sixth Great Epoch which follows our present Fifth Great Epoch. After the end of the Seventh Great Epoch, the time will arrive when the Earth and the Sun will reunite and the humans of Earth will be spiritualized. It will be the time when there will be no sunset and no dawning.
In these next passages we will see how Elijah, Zarathustra, Aristotle, and Lazarus will fulfill their roles. First Elijah-John in his incarnations.
[page 32] The individuality of John the Baptist will in future earthly lives, following its incarnations as Raphael and Novalis, have a particular relationship with that spiritual deepening of Christianity associated with the Grail Mysteries, which will attain their full development in the sixth cultural epoch. For already as Raphael and Novalis, this individuality had a particular relationship to Christ's Spirit-Self.
Next, the connection of Zarathustra with the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur.
[page 32] Zarathustra will, in contrast, bring to humanity in the future the transformed forces of the Arthurian knights, who at that time observed in the phenomena of Nature the Life-Spirit of Christ in the surroundings of the Earth. Until the end of the sixth cultural epoch, which will be a karmic consequence of the second one founded by Zarathustra, this developmental process will prepare for when, in the seventh epoch, that inner attitude will be given to the human souls on Earth who will need it during the terrible War of All against All.
Next, the role of Aristotle as the primordial thinker of humankind.
[page 32] And Aristotle, as a man of the Sun and the archetypal thinker of humanity, will bear his impulses into the great sixth earthly period which is to follow the seventh post-Atlantean cultural epoch. At this higher stage of development of mankind there will take place the total metamorphosis of human consciousness, a transformation process which will have its origin in connection with the Spirit-Man of the Christ.
Next, every human has a chance to undergo a similar initiation, a similar expansion into a full human being including spirit self (Manas), life spirit (Buddhi), and spirit body (Atma), which Lazarus prefigured for us during the Mystery of Golgotha events.
[page 33] The initiation of Lazarus was a unique, exceptional event where the forces of the old pre-Christian and the new Christian Mysteries were working together. Through the Mystery of Golgotha, as a consequence of Christ's union with the evolution of mankind, a similar initiation has become possible for every human being, though now in the physical body and in full consciousness. For in the new Christian Mysteries the stage of Sun Hero will be attained in a completely different way, without there being a need to leave one's physical body or lose consciousness of earthly realities.
All of these great spirits through their human bodies in historical times and their spiritual bodies throughout Earth history have banded together to help human beings survive to the point where our bodies will be spiritualized and exist independent of our mother Earth which will cease to exist as a planet, but be joined, re-united with the Sun.
[page 33] This developmental stage represents the beginning of the process of a general spiritualization and, hence, of the reunion between the Earth and the Sun, at the end of which these two bodies will unite. In his seminal work An Outline of Occult Science, Rudolf Steiner describes it as "the highest ideal of human evolution . . . that is conceivable for man: the spiritualization that man attains through his own work." Rudolf Steiner laid the foundation for this work in the first quarter of the twentieth century through Anthroposophy.
With this look at this great historical figures who were also powerful spiritual beings, we have learned about how they influenced the Turning Point of Time we call the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross, or as Steiner preferred to call it the Mystery of Golgotha. Death of a man on a cross may have no mystery to it, but this was no mere death of a man, but the first ever death of a god-in-a-human body, for that is what Jesus of Nazareth was, the bearer of the great Christ being for three years through their mutual death in a great sacrifice upon the cross. But there were three other turning points of time which preceded this event, all of which involved great sacrifices by Christ during earlier stages of our evolution, and absent any one of which we would not be here to share this time on Earth together. This set of four sacrifices are handled in the ten lectures by Rudolf Steiner in 1913, 14 in the book, Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha which we will take up in my next review.
Read the Review with Footnotes at:
2.) ARJ2: Approaching the Mystery of Golgotha, GA#152 by Rudolf Steiner
This book contains lectures which focus repeatedly upon the four sacrifices of Christ, especially the three sacrifices which occurred before history began to be recorded. Each sacrifice made the succeeding sacrifice possible, for life as human beings is inconceivable if one of the sacrifices had been omitted. Each of the four sacrifices dealt with one of the four essential components of the human being in the ascending order of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and I (Ego). In his Introduction, Chris Bamford gives a summary of the four sacrifices:
[page xxi] We learn how the first sacrifice made it possible for the human sense organs to be selflessly self-clearing, rather than suffering with every sense impression and being unable to get rid of it; how the second sacrifice accomplished a similar deed for the life organs, making it possible for us not to be torn apart by conflicting desires of our separate organs; and how the third sacrifice made possible the harmony of our human soul forces of thinking, feeling, and willing. As for the Mystery of Golgotha itself, it made possible the right relation of the "I" to the world. Thus — staggering thought — Christ is present in all by which we do — and can — become human.
Reading to the dead is a process recommended by Rudolf Steiner in many lectures, saying that it is a great comfort to those living in the time between death and a new birth. In his first lecture, he reveals why this is a comfort, namely, that our loved ones who are in the time between death and a new birth cannot perceive any of us who have not worked with spiritual-scientific thoughts. When we are reading spiritual scientific works with them in mind, we can be assured that they can perceive us, hear our thoughts, and are very comforted by that.
To understand how this works, we need a knowledge of the akasha or akashic substance.
[page 2] One of the subtlest substances accessible to human striving is called "akasha." Beings and phenomena manifested in the akashic substance are the subtlest of all those accessible to human beings. What human beings acquire for themselves in esoteric knowledge not only lives in their souls, but is also impressed in the akashic substance. When we bring an idea from esoteric science to life in our soul, it is immediately inscribed in the akashic substance. It is significant that such impressions, which are significant for the general development of the world, can be inscribed in the akasha only by human beings.
It is important for us to note a special characteristic of the akashic substance. Between death and a new birth, human beings live in that substance, exactly as we, for example, live here within the atmosphere on Earth.
Humans who do not have a spiritual-scientific thought do not inscribe an impressions into the substance in which their departed loved ones exist and therefore, no matter how they try otherwise, their loved ones are unable to perceive them, but must be content only with memories of their time together on Earth. Steiner gives us an example to clarify the situation for us:
[page 3] A seer found a man who had gone through the portals of death, leaving behind his wife, whom he loved no less. This man and his family were likable, good people, but they had no inclination to take spiritual understanding into their souls, and they had never grown beyond the religious traditions through which certain souls even today feel themselves connected with the spiritual world. A while after he had gone through the portals of death, the man came to this realization: I have left behind on Earth my dear wife and children who were the sunshine of my life, but with my spiritual vision I cannot reach them. I have only the memory of the time that I passed with them on Earth.
In the contrary case, if his dear wife had undergone some spiritual-scientific learning, she could be a great blessing to her departed husband, even if he never had a spiritual thought in his own lifetime on Earth.
[page 3] Here we touch a point that shows how anthroposophical teaching will remove the chasm between the so-called living and the so-called dead. Today we can already see how people with understanding for the spiritual can be a great blessing for the so-called dead by reading and thinking the truths of spiritual science for them. When we follow in our thoughts, either reading aloud or to ourselves, the ideas and concepts of spiritual science and at the same time feel that one or several of those who have passed through the portals of death are sitting before us while we read, then our reading becomes something very present for them, because such thoughts are inscribed in the akashic substance. And this reading can be of great advantage, not only to those on the other side of death, who studied spiritual science while on Earth, but also to those who wanted nothing to do with it while they were here.
It is in the very nature of the spiritual science that its ideas and concepts are stored directly into the akashic substance, variously called akashic record or chronicle. It is a living legacy which Rudolf Steiner left us that has benefited countless thousands of the so-called dead, bringing them comfort and contact that would have else never been possible. But there are many concerns of our everyday life which cannot make it into the akashic substance, for example, business has no business in the akasha.
[page 4, 5] Spiritual science works out ideas and concepts that remain eternally written in the akashic chronicle. But when all the knowledge and understanding that belongs to experience gained through the senses-to technical matters, and to the commercial and industrial life of humanity — is inscribed in the akashic substance, the akasha repels this conglomerate of ideas and concepts; in other words, that knowledge and understanding is obliterated.
Can spiritual science be understood by someone who has no ability to see into the spiritual worlds as Steiner did? Yes. Whereas a person might not have enough mathematical training to understand ordinary science, only a clear thinking ability and a curiosity is necessary to understand spiritual science. Steiner has helped make this available to everyone by converting the esoteric science of Theosophy with its polysyllabic tongue-twisting Eastern jargon into our normal everyday language of reason. Given that Steiner communicated in German over 90 years ago, his written works require careful translation into modern English to make it accessible.
[page 5] Many people now say that, while ordinary science is open to all, spiritual science can be brought only to those who can see into the spiritual worlds. There is a fundamental fallacy in this statement. In the depths of their souls, all human beings possess, even before they, become clairvoyant, the ability and the power to understand the truths of spiritual science. It is true that only the clairvoyant can discover esoteric truths, but once they are discovered and expressed in the normal language of reason, they can be understood by any human soul willing to clear away the impediments to such understanding.
How do we clear away those impediments? It is through a process I call "holding an unanswered question". One withholds belief in the tenets of spiritual science and studies it without any preconceived bias one way or another, simply holding the unanswered question, "How can this make sense to me?". A person who takes this process out of inner drive will experience something "that can be compared to a physical floating without ground under their feet, to a feeling as if they were floating in air." (Page 6)
[page 6] This experiment will have a totally different effect on a person who has religious, reverent inclinations toward spiritual life than it will on someone accustomed to thinking in a materialistic way. A person who has no esoteric knowledge but has inclinations and feelings of a religious nature toward the spiritual world can end up feeling somewhat insecure as a result of this experiment — much less so, however, than a materialist who has no feeling of attraction for the spiritual world. The latter will experience a powerful feeling of fear, of uncertain floating. Materialists can convince themselves with this experiment that occult ideas and concepts touch them in a way that elicits fear and terror. Through an experience of this sort materialists can recognize how full of fear they still are — they are not only fearful of this whole field but fear is one of their fundamental tendencies.
This explains the sometimes virulent attacks made by materialists against spiritual science: the fear which arises within drives them to attack any teachings or institutions which dare to teach such material.
As we approach the Mystery of Golgotha, we do best to understand that it is a mystery, and one that is not easily explained or understood. If we do the work to understand it as best we can we arrive at, if not a complete understanding, at least an understanding of the reason why Steiner refers to the entire set of events in physical and spiritual world as the Mystery of Golgotha and not by such other terms as the death of Jesus, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, etc, because all other variations leave out some essential part.
[Page 18] The Mystery of Golgotha is the most difficult of all mysteries to understand, even for those already advanced in spiritual knowledge, and is the most easily misunderstood of all truths to which human beings can relate. This mystery was a powerful impulse in the development of humanity on Earth. It was a unique event in the evolution of the Earth, one that had never happened before in the same way and will never happen again in the same manner. Human understanding is always looking for a standard, for a comparison in relation to which things can be understood, but something that is incomparable cannot be compared. Because it is unique, it is understood only with difficulty.
The Biblical words which predict that Christ Jesus will "come again in glory" during His Second Coming is often misunderstood as meaning He will come down from the clouds. The word glory meant simply the etheric body, a body that can only be seen with spiritual sight, such as angel can only be seen in an etheric body. Steiner predicted in several places that the return of Christ in the etheric plane would occur about 1928 or so. In this book, he makes a prediction of the return of Christ during the twentieth century. Given the world-wide increase of humans perceiving the Christ Jesus appearing to them, especially in times of trial when they have called to him in help, but even non-believers of other religions who have never studied about Christ Jesus have reported his appearing to them. One man was in an isolated tribe and strove to get an explanation of who this being was and finally discovered a missionary who was amazed to hear this so-called pagan describing the being of Christ Jesus appearing to him.
[page 28] In a certain sense, one can predict from this that, from the twentieth century onward, what humanity has lost in consciousness will certainly arise again for clairvoyant perception. In the beginning only a few, then a constantly increasing number of beings in the twentieth century will be capable fo perceiving the appearance of the etheric Christ, that is, Christ in the form of an angel.
To illustrate how important it was for the Christ to appear on Earth during the first third of the intellectual soul age, Steiner describes how the people in the various ages before that time would have reacted.
[page 57] Hypothetically speaking, if Christ had appeared on Earth among the holy Rishis of ancient India, for example, people would have easily understood the nature of the Christ being, just as they would have in ancient Persia, where doctrines of the Sun-Spirit were taught. If Christ had incarnated in a human body then, one would have recognized this spirit walking on the Earth in a human body as the Sun-Spirit descended to Earth. For that matter, something similar could have occurred in the time of Egyptian temple wisdom. However, human beings had the least understanding of the nature of Christ during that period in which Christ appeared among them.
In the last months of his life, the daredevil Robert Evel Knievel, discovered the reality of the Christ and called Robert Schuller and asked to be baptized. On that day, April 1, 2007, it was Palm Sunday and April Fool's Day, Del and I sat in the Crystal Cathedral and heard the testimony of Evel Knievel, how he had found Christ Jesus, on his own, how, alone in his room, the Christ spirit had come to him, and now he wanted to be baptized. An avowed atheist all his life, this daredevil had taken the biggest jump of his life, had jumped over the chasm of materialism to Christ Jesus(5). This is just one example of a type of conversion to Christianity coming as a result of Christ in the etheric plane appearing to those who call to Him in our time, an event coming ever more frequently since about 1928, just a Steiner predicted it would. No need for proof that God exists if Christ Jesus comes directly and reveals Himself to you.
[page 65] A deepening of the forces of spirit and soul is being prepared in the womb of the spiritual current of thought. And while the mental powers on the surface will increasingly deny the Christ, deeper spiritual powers will appear and will seek the Christ more and more. An increasing number of people will see Christ, as he enlivens the etheric sphere and is found by people who are receptive. For that reason we speak of an etheric existence of Christ in the twentieth century. We will then know from our own experience that at the Mystery of Golgotha the being called the Christ truly entered the earthly sphere, and more and more people will know who Christ is, for they will see him.
As promised, we begin the details on the three sacrifices of Christ which were made in the spiritual world prior to the turning point of time we call the Mystery of Golgotha. It was only through these three preliminary sacrifices that humans were able to survive to the time when Christ came to Earth and walked it as a human.
The first sacrifice involved an ameliorization, a mellowing-out of the senses, that was required to overcome the intense attack by luciferic and ahrimanic forces. This occurred during the Lemurian period, the Great Epoch which proceeded the Atlantean Epoch, when the Earth and humans were still in early formative stages and would be scarcely recognizable to us today. Lacking bone structures, for example, humans could stretch their limbs as far as they wished. Into this period of evolution the first sacrifice came.
[page 69] Let us look back to the Lemurian period, when the human being bound itself with its sheaths, and see how the being of the human being would have formed itself if only the forces of the cosmos with which it was connected at the time had worked on it. There was a danger at that time that the twelve cosmic forces at work on the human being might lapse into disorder. Because of this disorder, the human would have had to develop in a totally different fashion than is the case today. The senses of the human being, which were taking form back then, would have become hypersensitive under the influence of the powers about to lapse into disorder. The present-day human being can calmly take in light sensation, all perception. Under the influence of the luciferic-ahrimanic attack, the life of the senses would have released the most powerful desires and impulses. For example, if human beings saw the color red, as would have been the primary effect of the rays of the Sun, the soul, filled with desire, would have had to flee in burning pain, and with the perception of blue, the soul would have been consumed within with agony. The soul would have had to suffer terribly with every sense impression, driven from animalistic passion and desires to scorching pain and torture.
The spiritual being who was the agent of this sacrifice appears later incarnated in the Nathan Jesus described in the Luke Gospel. Here's how the events proceeded.
[page 69, 70] Then the agonized scream of tortured humanity made its way up to that spiritual being (that being which would later incarnate in the Nathan Jesus). The scream of humanity drove this being to the Sun-Spirit, so that it could let itself be infused with the Christ. Through this infusion, the inner power of sense perception was made milder and the most powerful temptation of Lucifer and Ahriman was repulsed. Because it reduced the excessively strong effect of the forces on the senses, it transformed perceptive life into a moderate passivity.
The first sacrifice moderated the sensory inputs to the human being; the second moderated the organs of ingestion of air and food. This happened at beginning of the Atlantean period, and again the same spiritual being let itself be infused with the Christ spirit and save human beings from a living nightmare.
[page 70] Let us proceed further, into the Atlantean period. There a new danger hovered over human beings: through the luciferic-ahrimanic influence, the life processes, the life organs of the human were threatened. For example, the presence of food would have awakened an animalistic desire to gulp it down. The soul would have been nothing but desire. Breathing would have been especially sensitive. Bad air would have filled the human being with shuddering disgust. Everything associated with nutriment and life functions would have released a monstrous goading of sympathy and antipathy; it would have driven the soul from voracious desire to repelling disgust.
It may be difficult to imagine humans being this way, but notice that there are humans today with various kinds of diseases which make them super-sensitive to light or touch and others who have strong gustatory appetites or strong aversions to smells or foods. These abnormalities give us a reminder of what everyone's life would have been like but for these two sacrifices.
The third sacrifice came at the end of the Atlantean period and involved the three human functions of thinking, feeling, and willing. These comprise a set of things we all take for granted, often confusing them or blending them together. For example, I may will myself to mow the lawn, but I say, "I think I'll cut the grass." I may feel hot, think that a cold beer would cool me down, but I might say, "I want a beer." Want is usually the way we express a will to do something. If you will take the trouble to separate your own notions into thinking, feeling, and willing, you may find it helpful to clarify your own goals and wishes in daily life.
[page 70] At the end of the Atlantean epoch, a third danger arose for human beings through the luciferic-ahrimanic influence. There was a danger that the human soul forces, thinking, feeling, and willing, would lapse into disorder, into disharmony in relation to each other, so that the three forces would no longer harmonize properly in the human soul.
Glowing with passion, the human being would have followed every impulse, or, filled with fear or hate, would have flown from it, without reason having the possibility of regulating the forces. How did this spirit being bring help? It had to dive into the passion-filled human soul, and become the passion itself; it had to become a dragon, in order to transform the soul forces by letting itself be illuminated by the Christ spirit for a third time.
Here is the origin of the Dragon in the myths of St. George and the archangel Michael who are pictured as holding a writhing dragon or serpent at bay while preparing to dispatch it. The battle goes on, to this day, and the dragon still lives, but is muzzled with the help of Michael is the message.
Now we can understand the summary of the four sacrifices of Christ and how they were applied to the human being's four bodies, physical body, etheric body, astral body, and "I".
[page 71] Three times, therefore, before the Mystery of Golgotha occurred, did Christ connect himself with humanity from within the spiritual worlds, through the threefold penetration of the spiritual being that was later the Nathan Jesus boy: first in the Lemurian epoch to regulate sense experience, second at the beginning of the Atlantean period to regulate the life forces, and third at the end of the Atlantean period to regulate soul forces. Only then, as the fourth intervention, the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished to regulate the "I" in its relation to the world.
In studying Roman history, much is made of the dream of Constantine which led to his becoming a Christian, but scarcely anywhere can you find the converse side of what led his opponent to defeat. Constantine followed the portents in his dream which led him outside the gates and promised to become a Christian if he won the battle. Maxentius followed the advice of the Sybil and marched his army outside the gates of Rome against all common sense. Apparently Maxentius was the "greatest enemy of Rome" which the Sybil predicted would be defeated if he marched outside the gates. The win by Constantine led to conversion of Romans into Christians and to the preservation of Rome in the name of the Holy Roman Empire for another millennium or so.
[page 72] Without the Mystery of Golgotha, the sibylline element would have prevailed over and suppressed the conscious "I" forces. The "I" would have been lost to the development of humanity. We see the Christ impulse at work as a force in the course of humanity, even without human consciousness of it, as a power that forms cultures, that forms the history of the European peoples, and that determines the shaping of Europe. On the twenty-eighth of October of the year 312, Constantine defeated Maxentius. Maxentius had consulted the Sibyls and received the answer: "If you bring your army out in front of the gates of Rome, you will defeat Rome's greatest enemy." Directly afterward, Maxentius had had a dream, and he followed the utterance of the Sibyl and the dream. He marched out before Rome against all reason and against the advice and all the plans of his generals. Constantine also had a dream: he saw how, carrying the banner of Christ before him, he prevailed over his opponent who was four times stronger. Against all human reason, the battle took place, and Constantine won, carrying the cross before his army.
As a result of the four Christ sacrifices, human beings learned in sequence: 1) Standing 2) Speaking 3) Real Words and 4) Thinking through our "I". This is a synopsis of the details Steiner provides in Lecture 7 The Christ Impulse Across the Ages (Pages 76 to 91).
[page 86] The pouring forth of the Christ impulse happened for the first time in the Lemuria, when Lucifer threatened the upright nature of the human being. It happened a second time in the Atlantean age, when human beings were snatched away from the danger that threatened their speech through the fact that speech is expression from within outward. There was a danger of speech lapsing into disorder. Towards the end of the Atlantean age, a third intervention occurred through Christ's interpenetration of the being, who later became Jesus of Nazareth. Through this act, the gift of speech, insofar as it became a sign for external things, was saved from danger.
The fourth danger concerned thinking, the inner representation of thoughts. Human beings are saved from this danger through penetrating with their thoughts such forms as that which has flowed out through the Mystery of Golgotha into the spiritual sphere of the Earth and which can live within us, if we are willing and have prepared ourselves through spiritual science.
Steiner says we are developed enough that we may understand the first words of John's Gospel, in this form. Compare the passage below to the Bible's words here: http://www.doyletics.com/arj/john1-14.htm
In the beginning is the thought,
And the thought is with God,
And a divine thing is the thought,
In it there is life,
And life should become the light of my "I."
And may the divine thought shine in my "I",
So that the darkness of my "I" may grasp
The divine thought.
If we grow grain, we can do two things with our harvest. We can consume the grain or save it to plant new grain. Our knowledge of the material world is like the grain we harvest and eat — it cannot produce new grain for us.
[page 101] However, thinking can achieve two things. It can develop properly, which can be compared with the development of the seed to the blossom. But the seed can also serve for human nutrition, in which case it will be torn out of its regular, continuing flow. If it stays in its continuous flow, it develops into a new plant; predictably, life for the future comes from it. It is the same with human thinking. We can say that through it we make pictures for ourselves of our surroundings. However, the employment of such knowledge is like using the seeds for nutriment. We drive thinking from its flow. If, however, it remains in its flow, then we let it live its own seed-life. We let it unfold in meditation and inspiration and let it develop itself into a new, fertile existence. That is the right flow of thinking. In the future, we will recognize that what we have regarded as knowledge of the world behaves like the grain that does not progress to the new grain, but rather is driven out into a totally different flow. But the knowledge we learn through knowledge of the higher worlds is the thinking, that is philosophically comprehended in freedom and that leads directly into spiritual life through meditation and concentration.
In Steiner's The Fifth Gospel, he reveals the source of the Lord's Prayer which Christ Jesus taught to his disciples. It came to Jesus of Nazareth while he wandering around as an itinerant carpenter during his young adulthood of 18 to 24. He had entered a pagan area which had long been abandoned by priests. The sacrificial altar had long been abandoned and was surrounded by demons. As I read about this episode on pages 110, 111, I was reminded of watching a modern sacrificial altar being dedicated into service at my family's church, the Holy Family Catholic Church. The church itself was being sanctified and the purification of the altar consumed much of the time and attention. It was a large wooden altar and the priests spread the sacred oils blessed during the annual Mass of the Chrism all over the top of the altar, ensuring it covered every square inch. Sacred oils were also applied in other areas on the walls behind the altar. The way the oils of the Chrism are made is to add new olive oil to the blessed oils remaining from the previous year and blessing the new oils which will have traces of oils going back three hundred years to founding of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. Minute parts of oils have been blessed over three hundred times by thousands of priests over the centuries. On this altar the Sacrifice of the Mass would be celebrated from then onward.
But the altar in Jesus's youth had been abandoned and demons had gathered around it. When he was pushed upon this once sacred altar, the demons seized Jesus and he felt flat upon it as if dead. The people fled in fear.
[page 111] While falling into unconsciousness, Jesus of Nazareth saw the demonic powers pursuing them. Then he lost normal consciousness and was carried off into spiritual worlds where he could now perceive what had once been revealed to the priests of the ancient mysteries in purity and truth. He could perceive the ancient pagan revelations, just as he had perceived the Hebrew revelations, in the voice of the Bath-Kol.
That revelation from the spiritual world was in reverse order, as things in the spiritual world are reversed from the way we perceive them on Earth, and when turned around, it becomes immediately recognizable as the familiar prayer known as the Our Father or Lord's Prayer.
[page 112] A new great pain was stored up in the soul of Jesus of Nazareth. He had before him an especially clear case of the miserable state of the pagan revelations, and now he could contrast it with what they had once been. And just as he could say in the midst of the Hebrew people that, even if the voice of the great Bath- Kol were to sound forth, he would be isolated with it because they could no longer understand it, now he could say in respect to these people that if the voices of the ancient pagan mysteries were to sound again everywhere, there would be no one there who could understand it. Thus, Jesus of Nazareth was destined to experience the declining development of humanity in the deepest anguish.
The next episode in the young adulthood of Jesus of Nazareth concerns the community of the Essenes. He did not become an Essene, but they confided their deepest secrets to Jesus.
[page 112] While he was back at home in Nazareth between his twenty-fourth and thirtieth years, he came into contact with the Essenes, who had settlements in the immediate area. He did not actually become an Essene, but due to his deep soul life, through the great twofold anguish that had been stored in his soul and transformed into love, the Essenes accepted him and spoke with him often about their deepest secrets, which they otherwise would have spoken about only to their own, to initiates. Only to him did they speak of their deepest secrets. And among the Essenes he became acquainted with people who at that time aspired, through a special inner development, to climb up again to the point from which humanity had devolved downwards. He took in eagerly what he could learn from the Essenes about the human development for such an ascent.
The next event taught him that what the Essenes were doing was detrimental for the rest of humanity, because humanity in general had to learn to find a balance in their lives between luciferian and ahrimanic forces, and the Essences simply isolated themselves to keep those forces out. Jesus realized a need existed for all the people.
[page 113] One day, as he was leaving the house of the Essenes and went through the doorway, he had an especially notable vision. On either side of the doorway he saw two forms, which he later knew to be Lucifer and Ahriman. They ran away from the door into the rest of the world. Through what he had gone through in his own inner development, he was now so advanced that he could, so to speak, read the meaning of this flight of Lucifer and Ahriman from the Essenes' door in the occult script. He saw that it was still possible at that time for individual people to rise up to the spiritual heights through a special development of their souls. However, this could happen only at the expense of the rest of the humanity; for only a few elect could go through the Essene development, and they could do so only because others remained at lower levels. He knew that the Essenes freed themselves from Lucifer and Ahriman through their mystical development, and that Lucifer and Ahriman had therefore to flee from the Essene houses. They ran straight to the other people and attacked the rest of humanity all the more. And from this occult experience the third great pain came upon him, when he realized that, while certain especially elect people could ascend to what had been revealed to people earlier, they could only climb up at the expense of the rest of humanity. That almost tore his heart out, for he was filled with love for all people.
This event caused him such consternation that he went to speak with his mother.
[page 114] And he spoke to her in such a way that this conversation had a deeply shattering effect, even when deciphered later by esoteric research in the akashic chronicle. What he said reached his mother not just as words, but as living forces, which carried the essence of the soul of Jesus of Nazareth as if on wings into the essence of the soul of the mother. So deeply connected was Jesus of Nazareth with what he had to clothe in words that his suffering and his knowledge flowed with the words over into the heart and soul of his mother. And it was as if his mother were imbued with a new life; as if rejuvenated, she came to life anew.
What he shared out of the depths of his soul gave his mother a new life and left Jesus feeling desolate. The great spirit Zarathustra (a.k.a. Zoroaster) had left Jesus' three bodies, physical, etheric, and astral bodies, without an "I" and he wandered off aimless in the direction of the Jordan where John the Baptist was baptizing. The forces were set in motion for the empty Chalice of the Nathan Jesus at age 30 to receive the Christ spirit as his new "I".
[page 115] I did not wish to speak abstractly about the development of progress in the understanding of Christ; rather I wanted to demonstrate concretely what sort of Christ knowledge can be attained through esoteric science today. It will have become apparent to us from to day's discussion that spiritual science, as we mean it, can be an instrument for ever deeper knowledge of the Christ. It is to be hoped that when humanity has come so far in rejecting old religious ideas about Christ because of materialistic influences, then modern spiritual science will give Christ back to humanity once again. For .this spiritual science is not speaking out of theories about Christ, but rather in consciousness of the very words of Christ: "I am with you until the end of the Earth's days." For Christ is poured into the aura of the Earth, in which we ourselves are embedded. He lives within it! And, just as the apostles once lived with Christ Jesus on the physical plane, so can we communicate and associate with him as a spiritual being in the Earth's aura, if we appropriate this possibility. We must only accustom ourselves to really grasping the living presence of Christ in the Earth's aura and not to identify Christianity as a mere teaching, a mere doctrine. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ is here all around us. We can find him in the same world we are in, not in a physical form, but as a spiritual being.
We have completed our "Approach to the Mystery of Golgotha" with Rudolf Steiner as our tour guide. He has shown us the ancient sacrificial altar and described how Jesus received the Lord's Prayer from it, he took us to the dwellings of the Essenes and showed us the luciferic and ahrimanic demons at the doorway, he let us eavesdrop on the conversation of Jesus with his mother before his baptism by John, and even more. What Steiner cannot show us is what we must see and experience for ourselves: how the etheric Christ lives upon the Earth and comes every day to people who call Him for help. We find him not as a man we must make an appointment to see, but someone who will come as soon as we ask Him for help with our whole heart and soul. The Mystery of Golgotha was not just an event played out two thousand years ago, but one which extends into our world today. The time is now, the place is here.
This Blurb contains only Half of the Review and no footnotes. 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 coverse 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.
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 reads about Sears Dryers.
2.Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL from my cousin Nancy Matherne Galvin in Florida:
Please check out the link below which is an article recently published in the China Daily about Hidden Treasures Home, Loaves and Fishes International, and the work Mike and Deena are doing there in Fuzhou, China.
We continue to be amazed at God's goodness and provision in all areas! Wow!!!
- EMAIL to/from Yvon Cyr Re: Newsletter
Merci beaucoup for including your photo! I thought you were a woman until finally I realized you were a french "Evan".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yvon replied:
I may not be a woman, but you must admit I'm a damn good-looking guy! :-D
Have a great evening.
EMAIL from Jeff March of EditPros News:
NOTE: Jeff wrote in response to my challenge to him to pronounce Tchoupitoulas, a New Orleans street, correctly. What's your guess?
I was in New Orleans once — with my folks to attend Mardi Gras in February 1953 (when I was 5 years old). So I'm pretty sure that even if I did hear that street name uttered back then, it didn't stick.
So OK, before I scroll down further in your message to see the phonetic pronunciation for Tchoupitoulas, here's my guess. First of all, it's a bit baffling because the "Tch" sounds Russian, but the "oulas" ending sounds Greek. Figuring that a few consonants and a vowel or two will be ignored, and that maybe the ending sound will be softened or dropped, I'll say:
Now I'll scroll down.
YIKES! I was playing with an initial "chop" pronunciation, but then I figured it wouldn't be that straightforward.
Answer: chop ee too' lus
EMAIL from daughter Yvette:
Have you read any of these books (Books that make physics accessible to the average geek)? Just wondering!
EMAIL from Chris Bryant in Corpus Christi, Texas:
That's our friend and building manager Phil holding a 28" Redfish I caught courtesy of Alex.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner reviews are more detailed and my intention is bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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