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WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#133 March, 2013== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Blustery Month of March:
If someone has just told you that so-and-so is saying something bad about you, do not try to justify yourself in the least regard to what has been reported to you; only answer:“He must not be fully informed about all the other things that could be said about me; otherwise he would not have limited himself to that.”
— Epictetus, from “Virtue and Happiness” — The Manual of Epictetus
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#133 for March 2013
Table of Contents
1. March's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for March
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Poppa Frank's Cornbread
6. Poem from Yes, and Even More!:"Beyond the Maps"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for March:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard
- ARJ2: Living by Fiction by Annie Dillard
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
2004: Jan #44, Feb #45, Mar #46, Apr #47, May #48, Jun #49, Jul #50, Aug #51, Sep #52, Oct #53, Nov #54, Dec #55
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1. March Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, 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 Judgmentality in a 2-Panel Strip recently excavated from January 21, 1983. This is Strip 2 of 4 with 2 more to follow in succeeding months.
#2 "Judgmentality" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/130124jv2.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR March:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for March, 2013:
Paulette Malamud in Burnet, TX
Ed Murphy in Covington, La
Congratulations, Paulette and Ed !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
MARDI SUPER BOWL GRAS! ! !
Yes, like a Virgin Princess on a Honeymoon, the Queen City of the South had her Mardi Gras Maidenhead punctured by the Super Bowl. That annual National Football League feast of ovoid spheroid mania rising into a crescendo of jingoistic fervor between the two cities San Francisco and Baltimore, between the two brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, between the 49ers and the Ravens, between the goal posts of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and climaxing with a win for only one team on the field in a game whose outcome was in doubt until the final gun, bringing heaves of sighs and relief to the triumphant Baltimore fans and players!
Like bookends to the Super Bowl megalomaniacal spectacles was our Mardi Gras: its final two weeks experiencing a coitus interruptus by a parade of quarterbacks throwing footballs and morphing back into parades of masked riders throwing beads and doubloons!Mardi Gras, once started, is "too hot not to cool down" as Cole Porter lyrically penned, but somehow we survived the Super Bowl onslaught, absorbed it into the fabric of the emotional life of the City, and moved on to resurrect the second and largest weekend of our Carnival, carrying it and ourselves into the Lundi and Mardi Gras celebrations of Fat Monday and Fat Tuesday. The weather here in the Crescent City was perfect for the Super Bowl, clear blue skies with highs near 75 most of the week leading up to the game, but as soon as the fans departed to the West and East Coasts, the Gulf Coast, having put on its best coiffure for the visitors, let its hair down and got a soaking wet shampoo by Mother Nature. But the Krewes of Carnival muddled and puddled through, re-scheduling some parades and rolling in spite of wet weather predictions. We made it to Hermes and Krewe D'Etat parades for the first time ever with our daughter Kim who came in from Alexandria for the big Mardi Gras weekend. We ate at Houston's Restaurant and caught the parade after dinner. I spotted Maureen and Jay at the head of the East Jefferson High School Band which was marching in the D'Etat parade and we had a chance to talk and take a quick photo before the band played on. It was a frigid night and we left for home about halfway through the second parade.
Del and I missed our first Mardi Gras in downtown New Orleans in years, partly because of the rain and our son John's visit with his lady Kim (first time any of our three sons has dated anyone with the same name as their older sister) and his two sons, Kyle and Collin. We had hoped to take Kyle and Collin to their first Mardi Gras on Canal Street, but the showers and cold led to our staying home and enjoying some time together at Timberlane.
HEAD SCREWED ON STRAIGHT BY NUCCA
With Del in pain from the stenosis in her neck, we prayed for some relief and it came in the name of a NUCCA practitioner, Dr. Chris Faler, in Mandeville. NUCCA is National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association which specializes in treatment of neck problem. He began helping Del immediately in the first and second sessions, so she wanted me to meet him, so I drove across the lake with her to her next appointment. We had a lot of traffic on bridge due to Carnival floats being trucked across for night time parades, so we used the HOV lane to Earhart, to Cleary, to W. Esplanade to Causeway and made it just barely for her 9:00 appointment with Dr. Davis. I had planned to got to one of the two PJ's locations on Hwy 22 and coded the closest one into the GPS. I got behind wheel on Girod in front of Dr. Davis's office and put in the code, but for the wrong one, on the west side of Causeway. I drove there and saw NOTHING, no PJ's, none at all were visible in several shopping strip malls, which in Mandeville are hidden behind lots of trees and not visible from the highway. Drove to where the other PJ"s was supposed to be, beside the Shell gasoline station, and all I saw was the Game Stop place that Google Maps gave for the front of PJ's, so I assumed both PJ's were closed. Drove back to Dr. Davis' office where Del was, and I got PJ's on the phone, the farther one and the clerk said they were in a stand-alone gray house. Asked about nearer to me one, and she said it was connected to the Shell gas station. Del came out early and we drove to the Shell station and the PJ's was indeed well-hidden behind trees and gas pumps to the west side of station's store next to 5 large car washing queues. Basically invisible unless you know it's there! Neither PJ's showed up on Google maps, street-side view. You never know till you find out. Had my small latte, extra foam, and we drove to Dr. Faler's chiropractic clinic. Maria and Joy, his two nurses greeted us warmly.Faler is about the size of a physical therapist friend we know in Alexandria and moves just like him. While waiting for them to take Del into a treatment room, I told them that this looks like the place where she will get her Back to the Future, a Future without pain. Later I shared the pun with Dr. Faler and he liked it a lot. "Can I use it?" he asked. I replied, "I give it to you gladly for putting the smile back on Del's face."
He let me watch as he gently moved Del's head back to the center from its tilt to the right. This tilt may have come from an auto accident around 1998 when a driver ran a red light and slammed into the right side of Del's car as she was driving to work. With this NUCCA treatment, Del's head will be restored to its vertical centered position. One of my first cousins emailed me that she had great success with a NUCCA doctor and knew others who had. His treatments over several months may obviate the need for Del to have surgery. He said that he has time to make this happen before she has an appointment scheduled for a meeting with a surgeon in March. As I watched his assistant, Joy, apply the TENS unit to Del's neck, I mentioned that I had built two of these units about twenty plus years ago. My friend Eric had given me the plans and I built two because the parts were cheap and it was almost as easy to build two units as one. Joy was amazed to learn that I had built these units. After the TENS stimulation of the neck muscles, she applied a disk of diffused laser light which will helps to get fresh blood circulating at the places it needs to be on Trapezoidal muscles. The "traps" as she called them. Within a few treatments, Del has already been able to once again move her head from side-to-side while driving and talking in a conversation to friends in person.
One morning we woke up to a phone call from one of our grand-daughters. It was Katie Gralapp calling to say that she and Stephen, who had been dating since High School, were engaged to be married and that he given her a ring. A wedding is being planned for some time in 2014, she said.On Mardi Gras weekend Katie and Stephen came for a visit when Kim, our daughter and Katie's mother, was also visiting. Kim came to the Friday night parades with us and Katie and Stephen came over Saturday morning and spent the night, which allowed them to make the Endymion and Bacchus parades before heading for home. Next year, Kim and Wes's last child will graduate from High School and head to college, leaving the two of them sailing off into some future grandparenthood, with any luck at all.
SEARCHING FOR SEARCH BOXES AND MISSING GADGETS
One month I discovered that all my DIGESTWORLD Issues and Review web pages had lost their Google Search boxes. These boxes are a valuable tool for me when I am doing any kind of writing because they are designed to Search only my doyletics.com website. With over one thousand web pages, I often have need to refer to places where I mentioned a certain subject, either to get more information for a current project or to find the exact link (URL) of the page so I can cite that page as a reference in a new piece of writing.In addition, these boxes are valuable for my Good Readers who wish to Search for web pages where I mentioned a subject they are interested in. I often meet people who say that when they get stuck trying to figure out some esoteric subject that Rudolf Steiner was writing or lecturing about, they Google my web pages to find out how I have written or interpreted Steiner's words into current American idiomatic language from the century German text often translated fifty years ago into British-style English. So it was quite traumatic that morning for me to find that all my custom-designed Search boxes for Google had disappeared.
When I was working in the computer-field, apres Internet, I would simply call the computer expert in my department or company to ask WTF, roughly translated as "What the Heck is going on?" and they would tell me. Now, as an independent writer and publisher, I am the only computer expert on site and I have only myself to ask. So, I ask you, what should one do with there's no one to ask? The universal answer to this enigma today is "Google it!" So I did, and found out that Google has announced that its Gadget Tools are going away, down the drain, into the ole Bit Bucket as we call the oblivion which results when a piece of software is deleted. My customized Search boxes used Google Gadgets and thus had disappeared without so much as a goodbye or auf wiedersehen, flushed into recycled electron oblivion.
It took me an entire morning, working on this problem, researching what happened, and finding a quick fix, if possible. I tried lots of experiments, none of which worked, but along the way, I looked at the Search boxes on my A Reader's Journal, Volume 1 (ARJ1) review web pages and their Google boxes still worked. These Search boxes were set up to search the entire Internet, not just my doyletics.com web pages, however, and I needed to fix that if possible. Digging into the embedded code, I found software which allows one to specify the doyletics.com Radio Button not the general Web button.(Note: a Radio Button is geek-speak for a small circle, which, if you Click it, is filled with a dot, showing it has been selected to that one thing. By pre-selecting a Radio Button, I can have all the Google boxes Search only doyletics.com unless the Reader wants to Click on the entire Web radio button.) I coded the changes into the two Search Include files and everything's looking great again. The ARJ1 reviews do not have globally coded Search boxes and must be individually changed, but all my DW Issues and A Reader's Journal, Volume 2 (ARJ2) review pages.
If you are using any Google Gadgets, be forewarned that they will disappear sometime by November, 2013 or sooner (as my Custom Search Boxes had already). If anything just disappears from your website, suspect that it has involved some Google Gadget that you were not aware of, because I was not aware of using them. I simply followed some instructions for creating a Custom Search Engine and the Google Gadgets remained invisible to me, paradoxically, invisible to me until they disappeared and then their previous presence on my web pages was dramatically called to my attention.
Let me suggest that if you have an IT Technician you can call upon, his explaining to you what needed to be done to restore your custom Search boxes would have taken as much of your time as I spent researching and fixing this problem on my own. All this was finished by the end of Groundhog Day, February 2. There was still a lot of month to come.
GRETNA-BALTIMORE FRIENDSHIP CEREMONY
After Hurricane Katrina hit this area, the Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley, sent 3 buses of first-responders to our area. Some went to St. Bernard Parish and some came to our city of Gretna. When Baltimore made it to the Super Bowl, our Mayor Ronnie Harris teamed up with his City Council to arrange a public event for us to thank Baltimore for its support in our time of need. The new Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Blake, and the now Governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley, showed up for the ceremony at the Gretna Market on the Saturday before the Super Bowl at which they received a Key to the City of Gretna and with our Mayor Ronnie Harris cut a large King Cake as a Mardi Gras way of breaking bread between friends. It was a touching ceremony as various dignitaries shared their stories of the help which came to us from halfway across the country, the people of Maryland, to help us survive the aftermath of the great disaster which crippled our area for several weeks before recovery could begin. They were here for us when we needed them, and this was our way of being there for them when they need every bit of help possible to win the Super Bowl battle they would be facing the next day. If any of us weren't Ravens fans before the ceremony, we certainly were afterward. And you know what, the Ravens WON!
THE BLACKOUT BOWL! ! !
Here's the deal on the Blackout Bowl, aka Superbowl XLVII in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
With 3rd and 13 yards to go in the 3rd Quarter with 13:13 left on the clock on Feb. 3, 2013, most of the power went out in the Superdome for 34 minutes, allowing light to fall only upon the bench of the eventual winners of the game, the Baltimore Ravens. Enough 13's to give one triskaidekaphobia.
The cause of the power failure won't be known fully for several days, but I told Del as we watched it, that I thought the reason was the half-time show which involved a lighted platform and curved lights. Must have heated up the transformer providing one half of the Superdome with power. When the lights came back on after the Half-time show, they kept the transformer heating up and caused it to trip its safety breaker. 34 minutes later, it was possible to get all the cooled down breakers back connected and power restored. This has never happened before in almost fifty years, so it had to be some extraordinary drawing of power, namely, the half-time show. They may not find the problem because the excessive draw is gone, and incapable of reproduction.
Post hoc examination by engineers showed that one of the new pieces of switching gear purchased for the upgrade to the Superdome in the past year had failed and shutoff power to half of the Superdome shortly after half time. Turns out the big show at half-time had its own generators, but cycling the power off and on during the show likely put the new switching gear under stress which resulted in its failure a few minutes after the light came on and the game started. With less than 3 minutes gone in the 15 minute fourth quarter, the switchgear failed and created the partial eclipse of the lights in the stadium. No one panicked, no one was hurt, and the only noticeable effect seemed to be an increased enthusiasm by the 49ers previous dormant offense which turned the second half into a close game full of excitement. It certainly made for a memorable Super Bowl!
After the game was over, we watched the new episode of Downton Abbey in which Bates makes the evil woman recant her lying testimony and allows Bates to return to his wife Anna and his work in Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith makes a deft maneuver to get her son Robert and his wife Cora to reconcile by having the family doctor re-evaluate his prediction that a Caesarian would have save their daughter's life in childbirth. The doctor's phrase "minuscule chance" tilted the balance for Cora and she forgave Robert. The Season had more surprises in store for us with Mary finally getting pregnant and giving birth to a son and heir of the magnificent estate, which her husband Matthew has so courageously shepherded into supporting itself into a long existence. This is a marvelous series which if you have missed, you can pick it up on DVD to enjoy.
WAIT, WAIT, AND HURRY UP!
For about ten years now, Bradford Riley and I have been saying, "Next year, let's go the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland." We probably said it a couple of times last year, but always the same story, his wife, Tara, was too busy, a new job, a new project, and it never happened, never, that is, until this month. During the first week in February, Bradford called me to say, "We're going to Dornach!" After all this waiting, we suddenly were in a hurry up mode! Quite the opposite of the Army's tradition of "Hurry up and Wait", isn't it?
Here I was, minding my own business, looking forward to an easy Spring time with no trips, no cruises, no special events, just me and my keyboard, all alone, and not feeling blue, just happy to be reading, writing, and creating new issues of DIGESTWORLD with a full month in which to do them. I was looking forward to watching the Hornets & LSU basketball games now in full swing and LSU baseball games just starting. But, with one phone call, all those games and the luxury of time went out the window. Here I am typing on Feb. 28 my personal notes for the month. All the rest of the Issue had been completed by Feb 18 when we left for Dornach. I took about 300 photos and in the past day I have been busily processing those photos for possible inclusion in this Issue and then next one. The only space for photos in this Issue will be in the Out Our Way Section, perhaps 20 or 30 photos and somehow I have to get these notes written, copy-edited, and add photos to by some time tomorrow which is March 1. Wish me luck. If you get your Monthly Reminder on the first or second of March, my prayers and yours will have been answered.
Now, dealing with the February trip to Switzerland was tough enough, but hovering before me is a March trip to another conference in New York which I spent a lot of time planning for at the same time I was getting ready for the Dornach trip. More about that in the April Issue of DIGESTWORLD.
REVIEW BLURBS TO AMAZON.COM BOOKS
My friend in Australia, Kristina Kaine asked me to write a short review of one of her books which I had read years ago, but which is now in e-Book form for sale on amazon.com. In the process of writing that review for her, I became aware of the possibility of creating a blurb for each of my reviews, especially of books I purchased in recent years through amazon.com. So I created a Query of my Library database for all amazon.com books that I purchased and reviewed. Then I formed a blurb of each review and sent it to amazon.com with a note that the rest of Review can be found in DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#1xx. Amazon.com ...'s any URL's you include in a review, but referring only to the DW Issue Number passed the censors since it's not a URL. However, it is easily and unambiguously Googled because the word DIGESTWORLD is my own Trademark. Worked all day and till midnight on this project and after a few false starts I had put up blurbs on amazon.com for all 25 reviews of the books I had bought from amazon.com. I then added the blurbs to the Notes section of my Library database, so I would have an independent record of what I sent to amazon.com.
CRAWFISH IN SEASON
With Mardi Gras in full bloom, the crawfish are being harvested. Still a bit pricey at $5 per lb in restaurants, but our friend Burke Fountain comes in from Massachusetts each year for Carnival, and we made a date to get together with him, Annie, and Guntis for some boiled crawfish at Sal's Restaurant. We love Sal's because they served boiled crabs and crawfish by dumping them on newspapers spread out on the table. We drove to Sal's only to discover they had sold out all their crabs and crawfish. I suggested we try Perino's Boiling Pot in Marrero and we were able to get a table within minutes and enjoy some boiled crawfish together. The walls of Perino's are covered with various kinds of big game taxidermy, such Cape Buffalo, African lion, Elk, Elands, monkeys, baboon, and so on. Not as good as Sal's where the only thing worth looking at is the boiled crawfish and the faces of our friends, so maybe next time the crawfish will be more plentiful and we'll return to our favorite place.
FIRST AND SECOND GOETHEANUM
After watching one LSU baseball series in which the Tigers swept Maryland in three games, the last one 14-2, suddenly I was in the heat of packing and getting all my gear ready for a first-time trip to Switzerland. Mindy at PJ's, when I told her I'd be going next week to Switzerland, asked me, "Why?" "Because it's there," I told her, the short answer. The long answer involves my going on a pilgrimage to the marvelous building designed by Rudolf Steiner to be a world center for his spiritual science and arts, a building he named after his mentor, Goethe, and thus the name, Goetheanum. Most people stumble over that name; I did for a few years when I first saw it printed. But it is a great name for a great place.
When I arrived there, I learned about why Steiner built it on this hill overlooking Dornach. The hill had a bloody battle fought on it in 1499 and the flat area of its top had been called the field of blood since that time, so no one wanted to build anything on it. Steiner wanted to build in Munich, but got rebuffed by the city fathers and had to look elsewhere. Somehow he ended up in Dornach and took a walk to Parsifal's Cave, a trail up a mountainside to a castle, past ancient caves, memorials, buildings and such. As he looked out from the path over the Field of Blood, he was taken by the idea that he could redeem that hill and built a magnificent building there. Due to some help Steiner had years earlier given the owner of the area, the land was donated to Steiner and construction began.The first Goetheanum was built completely of wood, almost an architectural wood sculpture with rooms for performance, art, music, dance, sculpture, and spiritual science studies. It burned down in a great fire on New Year's Eve of 1922, and Steiner stood upon the ashes of the foundation and vowed to build upon that site a bigger structure made of concrete. That is how the present Goetheanum came to be built and it has stood since 1928 to the present day as a place of pilgrimage and study for all students of Rudolf Steiner's work.
In South Louisiana, the Cajuns along the River Road on the East Bank of the Mississippi River have a tradition of building over a hundred huge structures of wood on top of the levee in front of their homes each year to burn these as bonfires on Christmas Eve. A bon-fire could be considered a "good fire", one designed for a good purpose. The good purpose of the Cajuns is to light the way for Papa Noel (Santa Claus) to find his way to their homes each Christmas to bring gifts to the children. One wonders if Rudolf Steiner had first built a bonfire on the site before constructing the first Goetheanum whether the redeeming of the "Bloody Field" might happened during the bonfire and left his subsequent building standing to this day. We don't know. Having visited the current Goetheanum, I can't imagine a better building to house his spiritual science, and yet many great wooden sculptures and carved structures were turned into firewood by the blaze, whose loss we can only feel sorry for.
A little background on Rudolf Steiner's life shows us that he was likely a reincarnation of the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle who lived in Athens, a city with the largest Acropolis in Greece which is topped by the magnificent architecture, the Parthenon, which even in ruins is strikingly beautiful and magnificent. The Parthenon, as I verified during last year's trip to Athens, can be seen from most downtown locations in the city. Bradford and I stayed in the Kloster-Dornach, an Inn built in an old monastery in Dornach, and from our bedroom window, the Goetheanum rose up above surrounding buildings and was easily visible to us and to other people in Dornach and the surrounding regions of Arlesheim and other small towns. Did Steiner build this structure because some part of him remembered the Parthenon of Athens during his lifetime as Aristotle? One can only wonder, and the Goetheanum is a wonderful building in which to wonder.
BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?
A sign of our times is friends always ask when you say you're going on a trip, "Business or pleasure?" When Mindy, my circadian server in my morning breakroom, PJ's Coffeeshop, asked why was I going to Switzerland, I answered, "Because it's there." Without further explanation. It's there and I'm here, and soon I will be there. In Dornach at the Goetheanum, a place where 40 people were coming from all over the world to confer with each other, have discussions, express and exchange opinions, and grant each other our presence, accepting the same boon from others. What else can you call this gathering but a confer-ence, a conference? Yet the leaders, especially young ones, seemed to choke on the word conference, but never offered an alternative.
In 1979 I and a friend organized a unconference, although we didn't know it by that name. It was a participant-driven meeting. We established a large white board in the dining area on the wall that was the schedule and everyone who wished to offer a session in their specialty was invited to claim a time and a space during the three day weekend gathering on the Gulf Coast. No one quibbled about it being a conference and the term unconference, to my knowledge, had not been in use at that time.
But at the Goetheanum, we met in an obvious conference and the very leaders kept apologizing for using the word conference. Strange. Colloquim was another choice, but usually that's led by a different lecturer on a different topic each meeting and is an academic term. Symposium was another choice, given that eating together and poetry, music, singing, sculpture, and dance were all prominent parts of our confer-ence together in the Schreinerei Saal adjacent to the Goetheanum. Who wants to say "Get over it. Call it a conference from now on"?
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONFERENCE
Each day a rousing Good Morning! singing by the entire conference members was led by Caleb, Mischa, Mathys, and others. These young Turks led us in three-part harmony singing of South African songs, one involving a man helping get a woman whose car was stuck in mud and needed to get to the hospital to have a baby (as best I recall). The strange but melodious words had a refrain which ended with Push, Push and a gesture of pushing a car.
One day we took a half-hour walk up a nearby hillside called a Journey to Parsifal's Cave. We stopped by an ancient cave which, due to various structures and markings, was likely a place of initiation. The first cave had a face-like structure with a large open mouth, its right eye open and its left eye wounded and closed. Its nose if ever there was one had been removed. The open mouth was big enough for a human to lie in during an initiation rite. Reports exist that Rudolf Steiner walked up this hill and looked over the "Bloody Field" and decided to build his Goetheanum on that spot.
Each day we had eurythmy dance sessions with Rozanne Hartmann or Patries Orange. One of Rozanne's sessions involved two lines of participants moving from one side of the gym-sized Quonset hut shaped auditorium to the other, and the squishing sound made by the stocking feet and dance shoes sounded like a succession of slow, gentle waves nestling onto a beach.
Killiam Voss led the sculpture section which involved creating three planetary emblems designed by Steiner. One for Saturn, Mercury, and Venus. We divided into three groups and each gathered around a plywood sheet on sawhorses about 6 ft square. Our tools were our hands and our raw material was a large plastic barrel of clay. Each sheet had markings for seven sectors and one person created each sector and blended it together. I worked on Saturn with Angela, Axel, Marisa, Lisa, another gal, and Killiam who moved between the three groups to assist. It was a tough job, pulling chunks of clay from the barrel and pushing them flat onto the wooden surface, but I tried a throwing gesture which caused a loud splat as the clay flattened against the board, and that turned what had been a chore into fun. We were like children playing in mud, and with some vigorous and fun splatting the basic circle of Saturn came into being quite quickly and soon we were into shaping and building up the edges. Two more days followed as Killiam added the inner detail, but I wanted to experience the other sessions.
On day two I moved to join Christine Burke's Speech group. I had low expectations for a group I mostly joined to avoid another day in the clay, but I was amazed by how she incorporated movements from classical Greek Olympics games such as wrestling, discus, javelin, etc to enliven and add force to our speech. She had us speaking while in a vertical hand-together pushing against each other. If I'm ever wrestling with a tough question as I'm speaking, I will feel that pushing against Adriana and the sound of my voice will exude and project that inner battle as speech! Making a point? Javelin! Spinning a yarn? Discus.
On the topic of Seeing, Adriana Koulias led the entire conference with an exercise involving a large blue spot taking up half of a white sheet of paper. We stared at it for a minute, then looked at the blank half of the page and reported what we saw, a yellow spot. Similarly when we closed our eyes, a yellow spot. She described the objective reality of this after-image, something I had studied before but which physics treats as an illusion due to the chemistry of our eyes, and not as an objective reality.Later in my room at the Kloster-Dornach, I wanted to see if I owned a book I saw in the Goetheanum Bookstore, so I turned on my laptop and searched for GA#293 using Word Perfect's find function and located only one Steiner review, The Archangel Michael. Near the bottom was a quote from page 293 and just above the passage was a black-and-drawing which looks obscure until one does the staring at it for a minute then closing one's eyes. A remarkably detailed image appears as the after-image, one worth taking a few minutes to see for oneself. Just click on the review link above and you will see the drawing with the incredible after-image. In my discussion with Bradford Riley after Adriana's session on seeing, he mentioned that events in our life have such after-images. These can occur in everyone's life, but after a person has killed someone, the after-images are common, as one sees portrayed in movies in the twenty-first century. The image of the person becomes visible to the killer, haunting their dreams, but also their waking life. This is the inverted image of the event or in other words, the image of how the karmic deed must be overcome.
Mary Stewart Adams gave two talks on the macrocosmic aspects of our humanness, "Our Celestial Signature", she called her talk, dealing with the Slaying of Isis when humankind moved from a geocentric coordinate system to a heliocentric one. As I mentioned to the group following Mary's talk, geocentric (Earth-centered) is how we navigate with our spiritual bodies and heliocentric (Sun-centered) is how we navigate with our physical body. Mary's perspicacity and clarity of speech made her to me the most compelling speaker which graced the Schreinerei Hall during our conference. Adriana Koulias devoted her two talks to the microcosmic aspects of our humanness, talks which were well-presented, but was at times hard to follow because of the mellifluous nature of her soft voice. I was sorely aware of the need for a small amplifier to project the speakers' words across the group, especially when we sometimes sat in a large circle looking at the back of the head of a speaker who had turned while speaking. If you miss a key polysyllabic word in a sentence, the rest of the sentence becomes meaningless at times and your interest will wane in the topic presented. This happened too often and marred an otherwise interesting talk. The most difficult to understand, for me, were the two prominent speakers, Peter Selg and Michaela Gloeckler, both from a voice and content level.
From the sublime to the fun-side, Bradford Riley handed out a sheet filled with incomprehensible Italian words. As I read it, there seemed to a story forming, but what it was, I had no clue. The title was "De Tri Berress." As we began reading along with Bradford, a master of dialects, play writing, directing, and performance, it became clear this dense, obscure writing was a phonetic English rendition of the way an expressive native speaker of the Italian language would say the story we know in English as The Three Bears. This was rollicking good fun, as we were led through the Spoken Word as an experience of a foreign country's folk soul. After we got rolling, following Bradford's lead, we sounded as if we were channeling Chico Marx a-telling de story of the tree berress to hissa childrena.
On the last day of the conference, Killiam had the three large clay sculptures placed vertically on display against the wall so everyone could see the results. Saturn, Mercury, and Venus, three of Steiner's planetary emblems, depicted in intricate detail. After taking photos of the sculptures, I walked over to the Goetheanum, about a hundred yards down and then up a path. When I returned, I passed Dotty Zold the organizer of the event, who said, "Mercury has fallen." I rushed inside to see that indeed the sculpture of Mercury had slid down its plywood base and half of it lay in crumpled form on the floor. Saturn, well-splat on its base, remained proudly erect as did Venus. No matter, clay is reusable and Killiam had a group of hands helping him to take down the other two emblems and refill the three barrels with their remain. A new Cosmos will be built in another place and time, perhaps three other planets, for another group of sculptures led by Killiam Voss.
As we sat in our circle in our morning conversation, a plenary session led by Caleb and Christine, I shared how this circle of humans mirrored the circle of Saturn in the planetary emblem I worked on, how this circle mirrored the forming of the Old Saturn stage of the evolution of our Cosmos, in which the Thrones gave of their own being to create the warmth which filled the first human beings who were only beings of warmth at the onset of the evolution of us human beings and our Cosmos, which, rightly understood, happened in parallel. "No one paid me to come here," I began. "I gave of my own resources to make this trip from New Orleans to Dornach, a sacrifice that I gladly made, but a sacrifice, nevertheless, a sacrifice like the Thrones made on a cosmic scale aeons ago. We are here together like the Thrones bringing warmth into this room and forming on a smaller scale a new Cosmos of togetherness in friendship and thought which can carry into the future, the virtual made actual by our sacrifice."
Down the hill from the Goetheanum was the Inn at which we stayed. As its sign outside described it, Stiftung Kloster Dornach (A Foundation of a Cloister in Dornach) which comprises a Restaurant, an Inn (Herberge), a Chapel (Klosterkirche), a Garden (Klostergarten), Banquet- and Seminar-Rooms (Bankett- und Seminarraeume), and Vaults of the Celler (Gewoelbekeller). We had two rooms in the Inn and enjoyed the delicious and beautifully presented fare in the Restaurant on four nights. On the last day, I explored the Chapel and the Gardens. The rooms were spartan, but comfortable with the only thermostat being the window which could be left ajar slightly to cool the room slightly. The beds were comfortable single beds with a feather-filled duvet and large pillow, ample warmth against the chill of night. A modern bath with four lavatories, two showers, a urinal and two toilets was down the hall in a room titled Bruden Bad, which to the English ear might sound like Bad Brothers, but is really saying Brothers' Bath, for the monks, and the next room was titled Schwestern Bad, or Sister's Bath for the nuns.
There was a mechanism to raise people and luggage to the first floor, but we were on the second floor and had to trudge our way up two levels of stairs with our baggage. Each morning and evening we embraced our stair-climbing exercise with dubious pleasure. In the morning, it readied us for the hill-climbing exercises awaiting us, getting to the Goetheanum, to the Schreinerei Saal, to the Speisehaus restaurant for lunch and dinner, and to the Begenungcentrum even further down the hill when we switched to making our own meals there for the final two days.
Bradford and I came two days early and we walked up the hill from Dornach, a hefty climb for flatlanders, and in frigid weather. The first climb found us over-dressed due to the heating up of our bodies from the strenuous climb. So the next day, I removed a layer of clothes, only to discover, to my chagrin that the Journey to Parsifal's Cave was an actual outdoor, uphill walk in below-freezing temperatures. The first cave we came to had icicles hanging down from the rim of the cave. What little warmth my body generated on the steep walk up was quickly dissipated by the 20 mph wind which whipped through the unprotected path over uneven stones. I aborted my walk and Caleb found Mischa and Rea who were willing to show me the way back to the Goetheanum which from where we were was already out of sight. I remained cold for the rest of that day and resolved to add a layer of winter silks, shirt and pants, as an additional layer and to wear my fleece vest over my coat.With that and my scarf and gloves, the rest of the conference indoors and out I remained comfortable. My Finn shoes which were made in Germany had ample room for two layers of socks and kept my feet warm and me secure walking and climbing up and down the roughest and slippiest snow-covered surfaces. By the time we left about two inches of snow had covered most outdoor surfaces and made me feel like I was in wintery Switzerland.
ADVENTURE INTO THE UNKNOWN
The conference was over, Tara and Brian took off on the train to Zurich, and Bradford and I had to negotiate our way to the airport in Basel for a 6:52 am flight to DeGaulle, then to Atlanta and to our home cities. Our Inn was across the street from the Bahnhof or Train Station. I was able to exchange some US dollars for Swiss Francs at the Ticket Window ($300 to 256 Sf) and asked about the first train to Basel airport. We needed to get there an hour before departure and if we made all of our connections, it would get there an hour and twenty minutes early. The evening before we flew out, Bradford and I asked the guy at the right side Ticket window and he said that we could buy a Zone 3 ticket to get us to airport, but we needed to buy it on the morning of our trip, so we needed to use the automatic machine.So we went out and even with the English Instructions turned on, we were unable to get it to work. We asked a Fraulein for help and she said it was "simple" perhaps her only English word, and showed us how to do it. As soon as she left we attempted to replicate her feat, to no avail! Back to the Ticket Window and this time an older man came to window, and when I explained our difficulty, he came out, and used some magic trick which allowed him to buy two tickets which could be used the next morning. In the morning we had put each ticket into a machine to get it punched and we would be fine. Whew! The impossible had become possible.
All we had to do the next morning was to get up at 4 am, shower, throw on the clothes we wanted to wear home, put the sleeping, showering, and shaving stuff into our bags and walk across the street to where the train would pass at 5:04 am. We walked across at 4:50 just to be sure, but in Switzerland the trains run on time so closely you can set your watch by the train's arrival. We punched our ticket and the train arrived. No one had bothered to explain to us what a Zonen 3 ticket meant, but Bradford noticed three tiny drawing, about 3 mm high which seemed to represent 3 kinds of transportation, a train, a tram, and a bus perhaps.
The train stopped in Basel, so we got out into the middle of nowhere. It was dark about 5:20 am and there were no signs where to go. Looked like dark, deserted downtown of some small town. Should we walk to the right or the left? Didn't know. Didn't seem to matter because it was dark and deserted in both directions. It suddenly hit us: we must have gotten out too soon! With no time to spare and no taxis or people in sight we were lost! ! ! No trip home today for us! But we walked to the left and as we reached the edge of the industrial or office building, there were two men standing there and Thank God, light-rail tracks in the street. Jean-Paul Sartre said famously, "Hell is other people", but my first thought was "Heaven is other people" because we could find out if we were lost on the right track (literally).Yes, he said, get on the next train, an elevated train for most of its run, and it will take to where you catch a bus to the airport. Whew, and then an Oh, Boy, another in the dark transfer ahead of us. We got out at the stop someone told us, a guy who only spoke "Espana" or Spanish, his sign language was perfect and we gathered he was saying take Bus Funfzig or Fifty. When our El stopped, we were in the middle of a large intersection with rails heading in sweeping curves and various colored buses running. No idea where to go, but the first person we asked pointed to where Bus 50 would come and told us the color. Next Basel Airport and on time! Our adventure into the unknown had come to a successful conclusion, thanks the very "other people" that Sartre deemed to be "hell".
ALMOST HOME BUT NO BAGGAGE
Our trip to DeGaulle went fine, but getting to our next gate took almost as long as the flight. It was a bus trip which meandered like a river through a never-ending series of U-turns and Switchbacks of a huge delta. Our flight to Atlanta went fine with a bit of roller-coast turbulence over the Northeast before we landed. My one bag never arrived at the gate. Waited as long as I could and then headed to my flight to New Orleans.Without any bag to go through customs and re-check for flight home and no more people to follow, I ended up outside the secure area and had to go through security for the second time in 20 minutes and thus arrived after my plane had taken off. Delta rep gave a boarding pass for a flight in an hour and it was walking time again and I arrived at the new gate as they were calling for boarding. My baggage arrive two days later and all my goodies were safe: Dopp kit, Finn Shoes, and Canon SX30 camera. Also my 1 Tb off-site backup disk and all my cable connectors, and plug-ins for my laptop which would extremely difficult to replace. After the Amsterdam airport had me remove and explain every wire in my carry-on luggage, I decided to migrate these to my checked bag. Sorry I did and won't do that again because they're so hard to replace. My camera T300 connectors are likely not available anywhere, for example.
LAST MINUTE THINGS
With over 350 photos from the trip to process and annotate, my first day home was dealing with those when I wasn't becoming reacquainted with Del and unpacking my carry-on bag. We went out to inspect any damage to garden done by a marble-sized hailstorm a day before. Looks minimal this time. No leaves on fig trees nor any blooms on citrus trees, all of which got wiped out by a hailstorm on a previous year.The second day, I got text from our daughter Maureen saying that her daughter Tiffany's estranged husband had died of an accidental overdose of drugs. Del picked up some finger sandwiches and packed up a large container of her freshly made minestrone soup and I interrupted my work on this Issue to drive across the river to deliver the goodies and give my daughter and grand-daughter a hug during this tough time.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNING, SO UNTIL NEXT MONTH
The past 28 days of February has been a month of mostly sunny skies with a bit of hail and cold weather to remind us that it's still winter elsewhere. Hope you enjoy the coming warmer days as we slide, almost unperceptively to some folks, into Spring. This coming month of March will be a month of St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's Day celebrations for New Orleanians, as we celebrate Whitman's "ever-returning Spring, trinity sure you bring" with its new life and resurrection of Easter on the last day of March! Till we meet again in the dry, sunny, and cool days of April, locally anyway, God Willing and the River Don't Rise, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, be it cool and dry or cool and wet, snowy or sunny,
Remember our slogan for this new year:
MAY THE WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-THIRTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
- Art must recreate, in full consciousness, and by means of signs, the total life of the universe, that is to say, the soul where the varied dream we call the universe is played.
Teodor de Wyzewa (1886)
- Man does not have a nature, but a history. Man is no thing, but a drama. His life is something that has to be chosen, made up as he goes along, and a human consists in that choice and invention. Each human being is the novelist of himself, and though he may choose between being an original writer and a plagiarist, he cannot escape choosing. . . . He is condemned to be free.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
New Stuff on Website:
For ease of locating Bobby's Rudolf Steiner Reviews, we have added the following code to the bottom of every Steiner Review. Clicking on the top link will take you to an alphabetic sort by Title of all ARJ2 Review. Clicking on the bottom link will allow you to email Bobby with any questions.
~^~List of Steiner Reviews: Click Here!
Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne
From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
In a small dark cave in the hills of Northern Iraq near the Turkish border the excavator Ralph Solecki found in 1960 the bones of a young man placed in the recess between two large boulders. Analysis of the remains from the cave of Shanidar determined that the burial occurred over 60,000 years ago.
Soil samples collected near the bones were only analyzed several years later and produced a quite unexpected result. Ordinarily a small random assortment of pollen grains would be found in funereal soil samples, but the Shanidar soil analysis revealed thousands of pollen grains from wild flowers of the region. Flowers of rose mallow, hollyhocks, hyacinths, and other indigenous varieties of flowers had been systematically collected and transported to the cave of Shanidar as a funerary tribute.
Astonished, the scientists were confronted with the earliest known evidence of a burial ritual. From the very dawn of mankind a message had come down to us, written in pollen grains from the flowers of Shanidar, of the birth of a new consciousness — the consciousness of death.
How far have we progressed in the knowledge of ultimate destinations in the 600 centuries since that funeral celebration? As we stand before the door to the new millennium, do we dare to knock? Are we ready for the new flowers of Shanidar and the birth of consciousness that will surely accompany our passage into that new era?
These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar and have never been published on the Internet before. Here in the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing each month five poems, one from each Chapter of the book. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne)
1. Chapter: Hollyhocks
Everything Always Turns Out
The Way It's Supposed To, no doubt.
The supposing is what you do
Inside before the outside becomes true.
Did you suppose that you'd be late,
That you would aggravate your date:
You sped around in a hurry,
Your mind so busy in its worry:
When you got there she was upset
Because your face was scored with fret.
You smiled when you found you weren't missed,
And heard her say "Oh, EAT-O-TWIST."
Let EAT-O-TWIST an eraser be
For all of your anxiety
Is based on the supposition
That everything will turn out wrong.
So if you've worried, do not fret
For "what you see is what you get."
Your life will turn out like you wish,
That is the true effect of EAT-O-TWIST.
But caution on this little point:
If you like the way it all turns out
Don't complain to me if you don't
Have anything to complain about.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
Great and Deep"The great poem and the deep theorem," Jacob Bronowski said, "are marks of unity in variety; as the mind seizes this for itself, in art or in science, the heart misses a beat."How great the art which causes the heart
from Science and Human Values
to miss two beats and
How deep the theorem which causes the heart
to miss three beats.
How great the art when Death causes the heart
to miss all its beats
in contemplation and wonder and
How deep the theorem when Death causes the heart
to miss all its beats
in that instant the mind seizes
the Oneness of creation.
3. Chapter: Rose Mallow
Sleeping in the boat
The bell is clanging on
"Awake, awake!" the bosun's cry
Punctuates the murky night.
Noah comes above the deck
The animals scurry to the side.
A sheepish look on the rooster's face
The cow chews on contentedly.
"Why dost Thou awaken me
From my captain's sleep
And summon back my soul?"
"Dear Captain, tis an urgent call,
The doves have returned with an olive branch,
There is unflooded land nearby."
The captain and his mate peered out,
Their hands uneasy on the tiller,
The solid ground of mother earth is near.
The thought passed through them like a shiver.
The denizens of the rough-hewn boat
Joined the search for solid ground
And watched the golden sun rise up
From the steamy depths
To reveal the first-ever Rainbow in the sky.
4. Chapter: Shamrocks
The businessman sees the article
and the brand new taxes sent him reeling
He gets a big strong dose
of what I call paper feelings.
The lonely maid receives a letter
from a loved one far away
The words make her feel much better
the paper feelings make her day.
The grade school boy's report card
flies into his mother's hands
The paper feelings start her gladly
making college plans.
Birthday, Valentine, and Christmas cards
all bolster our self-esteem,
But without the paper feelings
what would they ever mean?
On the shores of tomorrow
are the reefs of yesterday
Where the sea gulls
of enchantment play.
On the hill o'er the beach
live inhabitants who cope
With dreams out of reach
and a thing called hope.
When stormy seas affect
the course of a ship
The reefs make it wreck,
sending cargo on a trip.
With the cargo on the sand
the inhabitants rejoice,
With largesse in their hand,
that salvage was their choice.
On the horizon of tomorrow
the inhabitants would learn,
Much to their economic sorrow,
that a lighthouse soon would burn,
Sending beacons in the night
to steer clear away
Any cargo ships that might
founder on the reefs of the bay.
On the shore of the present,
no cargo ships go down,
Only ghosts of the past
haunt the reefs of Hopetown.
New Stuff on the Internet:
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Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Microwave some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips. IP means Instant Play on NetFlix.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray DVD movies from NetFlix.“To Rome With Love” (2012) Woody Allen’s melange of love stories threaded around a guy who sings opera in his shower and takes his act on stage. Woody’s Valentine to Rome who is the star of this movie. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Raven” (2012) John Cusacks as the dark genius Poe caught in a web of his own stories.
“Extract” (2009) IP Jason Bateman squeezes some comedy out of a malfunctioning marriage and company with a cute con artist as the catalyst. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Ted” (2012) is John’s childhood Teddy Bear with a foul mouthed Bostonian accent and John refuses to grow up and his girl is getting impatient with his puerile stunts with Ted. Ted has to go, but being kidnaped, well, that’s a bit too much. Funny and entertaining.
“Sleepwalk With Me” (2012) IP doesn’t mean we have to jump out of a third story motel window when Mike Birbiglia does a sleepwalking dive on his way to becoming a stand-up comedian.
“Goats” (2012) IP Ellis grows up in Tucson with his hippie mom and the Goat Man who goes on long treks with his goats over rocky terrain and comes home stoned. Ellis is sent to his Dad’s on the East Coast and a prep school where he matures in the desert areas of New York society with his pal.
“The Way” (2010)IP Curious father-son plot portrayed by son as director (Estevez) and father as star (Sheen). When son dies on pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in the Pyrenees, his father comes to fetch the body and decides to complete the trek carrying his son’s ashes. A Canterbury Tale-worthy saga takes place with the unlikely but likeable characters he encounters along the 500-mile slog through mountains and villages. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Premium Rush” (2012) Get ready for it! Fixed gear, steel frame, no brakes, can’t stop, don’t want to either! Keeps you on the edge of a skinny seat in heavy traffic! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Trouble with the Curve” (2012) is that life happens off the maps contained in computerized data bases. The map cannot represent all the territory and anyone in MLB who bets the farm on databases can be working for a farm club in a split second. Real life happens on the field and the sound of a pitch hitting a glove may be worth more than a thousand correlated statistics. Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood stars in A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Liberal Arts (2012) Insightful look at four ages of liberal arts education: 19, 35, 55, 65. From budding wannabe to the disappointed middle ager to the jaded tenured professor with a retiring mentor thrown in for good measure. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012) starring Emma Watson (Hermione) and a young man who she and her stepbrother take under their wings to turn him from a wallflower into a young man by taking him into a ride through the tunnel A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.What a LUCKY MONTH! No AAACs!
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) and once again allows Christian Bale to be beaten nearly to death and imprisoned & tortured in a foreign country’s hell-hole, but he comes back as Batman to rescue 12 million citizens from a fate worse than life in Gotham. Wish he could have rescued me from wasting 3 hours on this dark paean to Communism. Gotham looked only looked a little worse from these fictional occupiers than from the real-life ones.
“The Amazing Spiderman” (2012) new telling of Spidey’s origin, this time with cell phones, computer graphics, and cross-species genetics. Surface glosses not worth the new movie.
“A Few Days in September” (2006) IP with Juliette Binoche helping two siblings reunite to meet their father while a sniper trails them to kill their father in days leading up to 911.
“Lincoln” (2012) Dark moody movie with closeup look at the politics of the passage of the 13th amendment.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Broussard Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Boudreaux and Broussard were talking about the dumb things their wives did. Broussard said, "Ah bet you can't top dis, Boo!"
"Oh, yeah? Wat's dat?"
"Mah Clothilde went to dat big shopping mall in Lafayette and got stuck on an escalator for two hours because of a power failure!"
"Dat's funny!" Boudreaux replied, laughing, "but guess what mah Marie did when Ah sent her to Dick's Sporting Goods to bought me some mo' shotgun shells."
"Wahl, dem shells were for duck hunting season, and Ah needed beaucoup boxes, so Ah gave Marie mah VISA thingie to pay for dem. First time she ever bought mah shells or used a credit card. Ah couldn't go me — you know how it is when de sac-au-lait are biting — and Ah was racking dem in every day. So Marie went to Dick's for me, and now Ah wish Ah was dere to see wat she did!"
"Mais, wat's dat?" Brossard said, taking another swig from his Dixie Longneck.
"Here's what Ah heard from T-Coon, the store manager at Dick's. He told me dat his clerk, Gaspe, stacked up the shotgun shells on the counter and Marie took out mah credit card, wondering wat to do next.
Gaspe pointed to the credit card machine on the counter right between him and Marie, and, seeing her confusion, said, 'Strip down, facing me,' while he turned around to get a bag to put the shells in.
Marie thought de instructions were a little strange, but wit all de new rules about buying guns, bullets, and stuff, she followed Gaspe instructions.
Wahl, talk about surprised when Gaspe turned around and saw Marie standing buck naked in front of him!"
Broussard spit out his last swallow of Dixie and roared, "Ah bet she's knows about dat little strip on the back of the credit card now!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for March, 2013 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Poppa Frank's Cornbread
Background on Poppa Frank's Cornbread: Each New Year's Day we prepare Blackeye Peas over Rice, boiled cabbage, and cornbread because it is the traditional New Orleans fare to ensure health and prosperity for the New Year. Until this year, we always raved over the blackyeye peas and lightly boiled cabbage, but this year we sang the praises of the Cornbread Mix which we used for the first time thanks to Renelle who cuts my hair and Del's. This is her grandfather Frank Renatza's recipe and mix. We talked about Poppa Frank's Cornbread Mix in the February Digest, but hadn't taken any photos because we were too busy eating it. The tradition is being carried on by Renelle's mother, Shirley Renatza, who can be contacted by phone (Click Link) if you wish to purchase the mix.
Poppa Frank's Cornbread Mix
1 stick of Butter
1 Cup of whole Milk
in a 400 degF oven, melt the stick of butter in a 9X13 pan. Sift the dry mix in a 2 qt. bowl. Add 1 cup of milk and 1 egg to the mix and blend with a wire whisk. Pour in the melted butter into bowl (Don't remove all butter from pan). Stir the butter lightly. Don't blend, but leave a streaky mixture of butter and the other ingredients.
Pour the mixture into the already butter pan from above step. Any butter that settles in the corners of the pan should be spooned out over the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Larger pans may brown quicker, so monitor and reduce baking time to attain the golden brown color.
Cut into squares as soon as pan is removed from oven. Serve and eat while still warm.
Place any uneaten (not likely) squares in air tight container and microwave for about 15 seconds the next day to warm the cornbread to its original, just-out-of-the-oven condition.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Yes, and Even More!:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Beyond the Maps
You can collect data on all that you see
But you can never collect enough data on me.Mappers collect data
And print pretty maps
But they’ll never find me
In one of their traps.
My I AM! I see
Exists beyond your maps.
So you see,
You can never collect enough data on me.Mappers collect dataYour I AM! it’s true
And print pretty maps
But they’ll never find me
In one of their traps.
Exists beyond the maps
So no one
Can ever collect enough data on you.Mappers collect dataIn our I AM! we trust
And print pretty maps
But they’ll never find you
In one of their traps.
What exists beyond our maps
So they'll never collect enough data on us.Mappers collect dataNOTES: Beyond the Maps: Written December 6, 1995 at 217 Timberlane Road. This poem describes the What Is Going On (WIGO) of Alfred O. Korzybski and the maps that we make of it. Although we may seem to be maps all the way down, there is some essential part of us that is not map, what we call God, or the I AM in each of us. Every woman demonstrates that when she changes her mind and does something completely unexpected. Our expectations are maps and when a real I AM is about, be ready to trash your maps. Note the reference to “In God we Trust” in the last stanza.
And print pretty maps
But they’ll never find us
In one of their traps.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for March:
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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: Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard
"Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time." With the opening words of this book, Annie Dillard sets us down, Holy and Firmly, and never lets go as we read on. This is a short book, but who says Holy must be long, either in space or in time? She set me down, and I read it wholly in one day, an otherwise cloudy, rainy, and depressing day in February; she held me firmly in a holy place till I turned the last page, she held me in a place where the Sun rising is a god, the Puget Sound is a god, the Pacific is a god whose being is articulated by the surrounding scene.
[page 12] . . . his breast rises from pastures; his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Island slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage.
Today's god rises, his long eyes flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly; he vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spread on me like skin.
If you have read her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, An American Childhood, For the Time Being, or Teaching a Stone to Talk, you would not be surprised, because Annie Dillard is always a surprise and a delight to read, whether it's a novel, a non-fiction story (as this one seems to be), or essays on the art of writing itself as in her The Writing Life. Like she recommends that we do, she goes at her life “with a broadax.”
She lives alone on Puget Sound with a cat and a spider. Doesn't sound like much company to city folk, but few have paid so much attention to a tiny spider as she did.
[page 13] There is a spider, too, in the bathroom, with whom I keep a sort of company. Her little outfit always reminds me of a certain moth I helped to kill. The spider herself is of uncertain lineage, bulbous at the abdomen and drab. Her six-inch mess of a web works, works somehow, works miraculously, to keep her alive and me amazed. The web itself is in a corner behind the toilet, connecting tile wall to tile wall and floor, in a place where there is, I would have thought, scant traffic. Yet under the web are sixteen or so corpses she has tossed to the floor.
How had she helped to kill a moth? Isn't that a wicked thing to do? In her case, it literally was wicked. Camping years earlier in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a continent away, she had an adventure with a moth. Ever notice yourself how few adventures, close up and personal, with Nature you have when a gang of people are around? I have. I have had adventures like the ones she writes so lyrically about. The moth! The WICKED MOTH! She was a golden female moth who flew into Annie's candle one night and burnt away, but not fully away.
[page 17] All that was left was the glowing horn shell of her abdomen and thorax — a fraying, partially collapsed gold tube jammed upright in the candle's round pool.
And then this moth-essence, this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick. She kept burning. The wax rose in the moth's body from her soaking abdomen to her thorax to the jagged hole where her head should be, and widened into flame, a saffron-yellow flame that robed her to the ground like any immolating monk. That candle had two wicks, two flames of identical height, side by side. The moth's head was fire. She burned for two hours, until I blew her out.
Have you ever blown out a moth? Could you have continued reading for two hours by the light of a moth-wicked candle? Annie did.
[page 17] She burned for two hours without changing, without bending or leaning — only glowing within, like a building fire glimpsed through silhouetted walls, like a hollow saint, like a flame-faced virgin gone to God, while I read by her light, kindled, while Rimbaud in Paris burnt out his brains in a thousand poems, while night pooled wetly at my feet.
Annie tells us, "Nothing is going to happen in this book," but we have already met the wicked moth and one room cabin with an all-glass wall opening to the lake and mountains, a voracious spider, a cat named Small, and a person named Annie, who adds, "There is only a little violence here and there in the language, at the corner where eternity clips time." (Page 24)
If you are reading your first book by Annie Dillard, you will likely feel "Newborn and Salted" which is the title of Part One. One of the rituals my wife and I perform before we move into a new house is to sprinkle salt around the outside perimeter of the building to keep unwanted spirits away. Don't recall where I learn to perform this salting, but here Annie reveals some of the tradition's origins.
[page 24] So I read. Armenians, I read, salt their newborn babies. I check somewhere else: so did the Jews at the time of the prophets. They washed a baby in water, salted him, and wrapped him in cloths. When God promised Aaron and all the Levites all the offerings Israel made to God, the firstfruits and the firstling livestock, "all the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine," he said of his promise, "It is a covenant of salt forever." In the Roman church baptism, the priest places salt in the infant's mouth.
Salt your eggs in the morning and you can feel created all day long, Annie says.
[page 25] There are some created sheep in the pasture below me, sheep set down here precisely, just touching their blue shadows hoof to hoof on the grass. Created gulls pock the air, rip great curved seams in the settled air: I greet my created meal, amazed.
So it goes, as we read our created book, created by Annie Dillard, newborn and salted. But she is a reader as well as a writer.
[page 30] I read. Like a rug or wrap rolling unformed up a loom, a day discovers itself, like a poem.
Holy the Firm is like a long lyrical poem which unrolls itself before our eyes as we read, never knowing how the intricate tapestry of loneliness and created-ness will weave its warp and woof of meaning for us.
Can God lose a tooth? we ponder this as we read the title "God's Tooth" for Part Two, which begins with a shock, "Into this world falls a plane." Those firs, which she reckoned as god's fingers earlier, pulls an airplane out of the sky and it falls down like a loosened tooth, all white and bloody to the ground. Annie's little friend, Julie, all of seven years old, lost her face in the flaming gasoline which leapt on her as her father pulled her from the crumpled plane which didn't clear the firs at the end of the small clearing. Annie remembers the day of cidering when Julie dressed up Small, Annie's cat, as a nun in a long black gown with a white collar. Now Julie doesn't have a face and Annie finds that hard to face, the possibility of a friend being blotted out.
[page 44] The pain with the millstones' pitiless turning is real, vaulting, insofar as it is love, beyond the plane of the stones' sickening churn and arcing to the realm of spirit bare. And you can get caught holding one end of a love, when your father drops, and your mother; when a land is lost, or a time, and your friend blotted out, gone, your brother's body spoiled, and cold, your infant dead, and you dying: you reel out love's long line alone, stripped like a live wire loosing its sparks to a cloud, like a live wire loosed in space to longing and grief everlasting.
What meaning can we give the title, Holy the Firm? We get hints in the question which this next passage builds up to, and the eponymous Part Three strives to answer.
[page 47] Faith would be, in short, that God has any willful connection with time whatsoever, and with us. For I know it as given that God is all good. And I take it also as given that whatever he touches has meaning, if only in his mysterious terms, the which I readily grant. The question is, then, whether God touches anything. Is anything firm, or is time on the loose?
Holy the Firm, she asks if that is the primary substance beneath all other substances, a holy foundation stone, which supports all the metals and minerals that fill us during our earthly existence, which underlies the salts, which as newborns we are connected with, which underlies the elements in God's tooth.
[page 70, 71] But if Holy the Firm is "underneath salts," if Holy the Firm is matter at its dullest, Aristotle's materia prima, absolute zero, and since Holy the Firm is in touch with the Absolute at base, then the circle is unbroken. And it is. Thought advances, and the world creates itself, by the gradual positing of, and belief in, a series of bright ideas. Time and space are in touch with the Absolute at base. Eternity sockets twice into time and space curves, bound and bound by idea. Matter and spirit are of a piece but distinguishable. God has a stake guaranteed in all the world. And the universe is real and not a dream, not a manufacture of the senses; subject may know object, knowledge may proceed, and Holy the Firm, is in short the philosopher's stone.
Closing this wonderful meditation on life, Annie shares Julie's distress, visualizing her as a nun, who is also shrouded in black with white trimmings, alone with God in her solitude and prayers.
[page 74] You might as well be a nun. You might as well be God’s chaste bride, chased by plunderers to the high caves of solitude, to the hearthless rooms empty of voices, and of warm limbs hooking your heart to the world. Look how he loves you! Are you bandaged now, or loose in a sterilized room? Wait til they hand you a mirror, if you can hold one, and know what it means. That skinlessness, that black shroud of flesh in strips on your skull, is your veil. There are two kinds of nun, out of the cloister or in. You can serve or you can sing, and wreck your heart in prayer, working the world's hard work. Forget whistling: you have no lips for that, or kissing the face of a man or a child. Learn Latin, and it please my Lord, learn the foolish downward look called Custody of the Eyes.
Next, she deftly blends Julie with the wicked moth, immolated in the flame, by which light Annie read for two hours before blowing out the moth.
[page 76] Held, held fast by love in the world like the moth in wax, your life a wick, your head on fire with prayer, held utterly, outside and in, you sleep alone, if you call that alone, you cry God.
Living like a nun in a cloister of her own design and choosing, a one room cabin, Annie prayed for Julie as she gazed to the mountains which framed her glass wall to the world, and made this request and offer, "So live. I'll be the nun for you. I am now."
2.) ARJ2: Living by Fiction by Annie Dillard
Do you read and love fiction, but always skip any prefatory notes such as Prefaces, Dedications, Prologues, and Introductions when reading non-fiction? Too bad. This next quote appears from a dedication made by the author on a page without a visible page number, directly facing the half-title page, without a title adorning it. It is written for you and you missed it.
[page 5] This book is dedicated to people whose names are, for the most part, unknown to me. They are men and women across the country who love literature and give it their lives: who respect literature's capacity to mean, who perhaps teach, who perhaps write fiction or criticism, or poetry, and who above all read and reread the world's good books. These are people who, if you told them the world would end in ten minutes, would try to decide — quickly — what to read.
Thank you for the dedication, Annie Dillard. You don't know me, but I know your works and have loved them. My goal has been for the past thirty years, since I became a writer full-time, to buy more books in a month's time, than I can read in a month and to live long enough to read them all. I daresay that I might read them all in a month, if, and that's a big "if", if I did nothing else but read them; unfortunately life gets in the way with its importunities of eating, sleeping, meeting with friends, cooking, taking photographs, and traveling, all of which strive to take me away from reading, importunities which I fight by carrying a ready volume with me, already dog-eared from a reading in progress to fill any gaps in time when I'm waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch, etc. For twenty years, I read while driving my automobile, safely, without an accident, and, by doing so, managed to scrape time for reading while commuting an hour each way to work during the horrendous 7-days-a-week, 12-hours-a-day shifts during outages at a nuclear plant. If an announcement had come that the world was to end in ten minutes during one of those commutes, I would have already been reading.
Metaphysics in a teacup! What a lovely metaphor, calling up the ubiquitous Gypsy Tea Rooms, Madame Rosie and the ilk, of an innocent bygone age, before flow-through tea bags. Sip a cup of leaf and get your fortune conjured up from the tea leaves left in your teacup, all for pocket change. A time of Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits and Get Your Fortune Told, Fifty Cents.
[page 11] This is, ultimately, a book about the world. It inquires about the world's meaning. It attempts to do unlicensed metaphysics in a teacup. The teacup at hand, in this case, is contemporary fiction.
Why read fiction to think about the world? You may, like most of us most of the time, read fiction for other things. You may read fiction to enjoy the multiplicity and dazzle of the vivid objects it presents to the imagination; to hear its verbal splendor and admire its nimble narrative; to enter lives not your own; to feel, on one hand, the solemn stasis and immutability of the work as enclosed art object — beginning and ending the same way every time you read it, as though a novel were a diagram inscribed forever under the vault of heaven — and to feel, on the other hand, the plunging force of time compressed in its passage, and that compressed passage like a river's pitch crowded with scenes and scenery and actions and characters enlarged and rushing headlong down together. You may, I say, enjoy fiction for these sensations and turn to nonfiction for thought.
What a magnificent sentence, the penultimate one of the above passage! She uses this sentence to set up the last sentence, but her dichotomy between fiction and nonfiction is belied by her own skillful evocation of sensations in her ever-thoughtful nonfiction, such as Holy the Firm.
If your preference is non-fiction and the life of thought, as mine is, Annie says "one day you will find yourself on the receiving end of an 'idea for a story.'" (Page 12) That happened to me when I discovered the way in which dolphins communicate with one another, by receiving and speaking 3-D holographic images, and it seemed that writing a fictional novel to describe my insight was preferable to some dry non-fictional essay. My journey to the production of my novel, The Spizznet File, certainly led me to appreciate the work of fiction writers in a way I hadn't before, exactly as she predicts.
[page 12] Then you will understand, in what I fancy might be a blinding flash, that all this passionate thinking is what fiction is about, that all those other fiction writers started as you did, and are laborers in the same vineyard.
Narrative collage, as Annie describes it in the passage below, was a new term to me, but it brought up memories of a poem I wrote about what it is "To Be a Writer" in my review of Building Great Sentences. I was surprised and delighted by the audience response when I read it in public — the presuppositions and juxtaposition of images created spontaneous outbursts of laughter as each phrase of the collage was layered upon the previous one. It was a "world shattered" perhaps, but with the express purpose of creating a bit of fun.
[page 24] The use of narrative collage, then, enables a writer to recreate, if he wishes, a world shattered, and perhaps senseless, and certainly strange. It may emphasize the particulate nature of everything. We experience a world unhinged. Nothing temporal, spatial, perceptual, social or moral is fixed.
New fiction styles since the early 1900s are bewildering at times, confronting us with authors who are confronted by the question, "Why are we here?", which leads to their producing novels in which we ask ourselves "Why are we reading this?"
[page 26] At any rate, our contemporary questioning of why we are here finds a fitting objective correlative in the worst of the new fictions, whose artistic recreation of our anomie, confusion, and meaninglessness elicits from us the new question, Why am I reading this?
The feeling is similar to many people's reaction to what is called Modern Art, "Why am I looking at this?" If that is the response the artist wished to elicit in viewers of his art, then he has certainly succeeded, but to what end? Do we look at art to be baffled or to enjoy a pleasant experience?
[page 27] What can a writer do when his intention is to depict seriously a boring conversation? Must he bore everybody? How should he handle a dull character, a hateful scene? (Everyone knows how the hated voice of a hated character can ruin a book.) Or, in the big time, how can a writer show, as a harmonious, artistic whole, times out of joint, materials clashing, effects without cause, life without a depth, and all history without meaning?
The answer Annie comes up with is simple: it's magic.
[page 28] Art may imitate anything but disorder. The work of art may, like a magician's act, pretend to any degree of spontaneity, randomality, or whimsey, so long as the effect of the whole is calculated and unified. No subject matter whatever prohibits a positive and unified handling.
Magritte puts limits on how one may juxtapose images, as Annie explains it so well.
[page 28] Magritte says we know birds in a cage. The image gets more interesting if we have, instead of a bird, a fish in the cage, or a shoe in the cage; "but though these images are strange they are unhappily accidental, arbitrary. It is possible to obtain a new image which will stand up to examination through having something final, something right about it: it's the image showing an egg in the cage."
In my essay, Art is the Process of Destruction, I make the claim that true art is the process of destroying the sameness which exists in the current state of art, and that to do anything less is to create kitsch, even if it is a smoothly executed copy of a true artist's work. In literature, it also true that art is the process of destruction, according to Annie Dillard. She names modern writers like Nabokov, Borges, Beckett, Barth, and Calvino and adds:In other words, a reader must distinguish between true art and glib copies of true art. As soon as one notices the copy aspect (process) of an author, we know we are dealing with kitsch; it may be fun to read, but it is the writing equivalent of shopping mall art, namely, kitsch. When we encounter the bland taste of such pieces of writing, we may look around for some Kitschup to spice it up, to make it palatable so we can consume it, but no spicing up will ever turn it into true art.
[page 32] That other writers may produce fictional surfaces similar to theirs, but without their internal integrity, does not in any way dim their achievement. But someone must distinguish between art and mere glibness.
One of Annie's "bald assertions" on page 32 is "Art is the creation of coherent contexts." As an example she applies this assertion about coherent context to the meaning of a whale in the context of Moby Dick, all of which I agree with. As I explain in my essay, "Art is the destruction of coherent contexts," and that would seem to put me at odds with her. My operant phrase is "Art is the process of destruction of sameness". Her coherent contexts, as I understand it, refer to coherence within a particular piece of writing, which I agree is necessary. My sameness refers to the coherent contexts of all of the current state of art and literature. A true artist arrives when his writing or painting breaks the rules (coherent contexts) of all the present and previous artists going back to antiquity. That is the destroying of sameness which I see as the hallmark of the true artist. And such a true artist's work will have a coherent context within itself, but one which the world has not seen or experienced before in other contexts.
In the context of Cubist art and some modern writers, we find an inversion of the concepts of "deep" and "shallow". We cannot become involved deeply with their alien or grotesque creatures, axolotls and dinosaurs, so we remain shallow in our relationship to them as characters and get deeply involved with the tale itself. We find ourselves as if inside of a Cubist painting when we read authors like Calvin, Cortázar, and Roth.
[page 43] Their odd voices and viewpoints deepen our involvement in what would traditionally be considered the works' more or less invisible surface, the tale's teller. Yet at the same time they flatten what would traditionally be the deep part of the work, the tale itself. And so by making the deep parts shallow and the shallow parts deep, they bring to the work an interesting and powerful set of tensions, like Cubist intersecting planes.
Annie says on page 47 that in modernist fiction, "fictional objects revolve about each other and only each other, and shed on each other and only each other a lovely and intellectual light." This hints at Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem of the candle burning at both ends which will not last the night, "But, oh my foes, and ah, my friends, it gives a lovely light."
[page 48] A good story and a good representation have wide appeal. But this is a cheap shot. The more interesting comparison between storytelling in literature and representation in painting is this: that each was considered for centuries the irreducible nub of its art, and is no longer.
The lesson I get from this period of art and literature is to enjoy the lovely light they shed and know that this soon shall pass.
On pages 51 to 53, Annie discusses art which breaks the frame and mentions itself within the art work. Writing this around 1980, she missed the recent trend where this happens, in of all places, comic strips. The best examples are in Stephan Pastis "Pearls" strip. He has had his characters walk through the side panel into anther comic strip, he has imported characters from a competing strip, prominently from Bil Keane's Family Circus, and made fun of Cathy after Cathy Guisewite folded her strip. In addition, Pastis's characters stomp upon his drawing desk and complain in the last panel, usually when he uses an egregious pun in the current strip. The effects of modernist fiction has even infiltrated the comics pages, but there is hope for fiction to survive the modernist trend and even thrive.
[page 65] Here are many writers of serious fiction — including the majority of writers in the Americas, Britain, and Europe whose work is widely known, as well as many other excellent and great writers as yet uncelebrated — who are writing novels and stories of depth and power, novels and stories which penetrate the world and order it, which engage us intellectually and move us emotionally, which render complex characters in depth, treat moral concerns and issues, make free use of modernist techniques, and astonish us by the fullness and coherence of their artifice. This is still, if only by volume, the mainstream.
In the aerospace industry, when I worked for Lockheed, there were things called unk-unk's. The phrase stood for the unknown-unknowns of some project. Typical unknowns could be planned for and anticipated, but the unk-unk's came out of the blue like an earthquake or tsunami. Japan had planned for both, but the combination when it hit, wiped out their nuclear power plants because of the earthquake’s size and proximity to the shore created a tsunami which overtopped the levees constructed to hold large waves back. Language also has unk-unks in it, as Annie admits.
[page 70] I cannot tell you, because I do not know, what my language prevents my knowing. Language itself is like a work of art; it selects, abstracts, exaggerates, and orders. How then could we say that language encloses and signifies phenomena, when language is a fabricated grid someone stuck in a river?
This grid is a semantic net, and like a real net set up in a river full of fish of different sizes, we can only know the fish caught in the net, not those which blithely swim through it. This is a key aspect of knowledge as postulated by A. S. Eddington in The Philosophy of Physical Science. Language forms a grid across the river to catch knowable concepts, but the words of language are themselves invisible when they are being used. Another paradox. Language makes its nets out of a complex of invisible words. How so, invisible?
[page 71] If I write, "apple," I can make you think of a mental apple roughly analogous to the one I have in mind. But I am hard put to make you think of a certain arrangement of alphabet letters or phonemes. The word itself all but vanishes, like Vermeer's paint.
When we are talking to each other, we are in same situation as two fish when one of them says, "We are in water." The other cannot comprehend what "water" is. We live and breathe with words, both mentally and orally, paying as little attention to it as the average fish to water. It is invisible to them and more importantly, unknowable to them. They have to die or nearly so by being taken out of water to know of its existence.
One way to call attention to a word as a thing, is to coin a word, a new word that no one had heard of before. I did that with the word "Spizznet" which refers to a computer system which allows humans to speak to dolphins. Dolphins have two phonation devices, one for seeing and one for speaking. When they phonate with one, they convert the signals bounced back the way we humans do with the light bounced back to us: make a 3-D holographic image of their surroundings. Since they can repeat what they heard/saw with the other phonation device, they can speak-visual images, actually real-time movies. This process I needed a word to describe, so I coined "spizualize" which means to speak-visualize. From that came the word, Spizznet, which is as much of a question as a word to people hearing it the first time. The word itself announces, "Something New Is Afoot".
We teach our kids now and they want next. It is a problem for colleges everywhere, in all the arts.
[page 89] Colleges and graduate schools educate both painters and writers; but art and literature curricula differ. Students infer from art history courses this notion of a cutting edge history of science, as a series of innovations, or even corrections. Worse, they can see nineteenth- and twentieth-century art history as a series of liberations, as a systematic destruction of one barrier after another. How could those who become painters resist seeking the next barricade? In contemporary practice courses, students may paint grids or make mud huts; but they certainly realize that whatever the schools teach them is what is now and not what is next, and their only hope is to be next. The historical direction is abundantly clear. It moves from representation of the spiritual world to the secular world, from the secular world to increasingly abstracted forms, and from abstract forms to idea bare. But the line narrows, and it travels only forward. And there is nowhere to go from here.
Here's where I beg to differ with Annie assessment of where we go from here. I see a live end not a dead end. This progression from the spiritual world to the secular world has already begun to move back to the spiritual world because, rightly understood, thinking is a spiritual function. The extreme move to abstract forms and bare ideas will return like a boomerang to spiritual realities perceived by live, vivid thinking which will replace the dead abstract thinking and barren ideas. Goethe gives us his Urpflanze visualizations in which we are enabled to visualize plants as living forms going through stages where leaves form into flowers which create seeds for future plants. This kind of living thinking is being infused into humanity by the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner in which he carries forward Goethe's living thinking into the twentieth century and beyond.
Annie herself could take her own advice, "That we are much informed does not mean that we are well informed." To be "in-formed" means to have ideas and concepts living inside of one. Father Brown was an expert in the area of becoming informed and used his skill in masterful feats of deduction. To become informed with the life of a plant as it goes through various stages requires a living thinking process which is highly spiritualized and represents the vanguard of a movement away from "abstract forms" and "ideas bare". Students in Waldorf Schools are a natural part of this vanguard because their early schooling through High School is based on educational principles designed by Rudolf Steiner for the whole human being.
Meanwhile, in the other school systems, our children are canon fodder, i.e., an educational canon is being taught which would lead to the "narrowed line" with "nowhere to go from" as Annie postulated on Page 89. To restate my postulate about true art, I might say "Art is the process of the destruction of the canon." Yes, students are being taught the canon, but on the sly, every new generation is dodging the destructive force of the canon!
Here she focuses on the canon in the academy and reveals the generational destruction of the canon, yes, on the sly, that is, what students are actually reading when there are no professors around.
[page 95] Let us say first that criticism keeps fiction traditional in several ways. As it influences curricula it most often defends the notion of canon and keeps students reading Trollope and Fielding, Hardy and Dickens, Cooper and Hawthorne. Students also study Joyce, Faulkner, and Woolf in the classroom, but they usually read Nabokov and Pynchon on their own, just as our professors a generation ago read Joyce on the sly.
Fine writing, by that expression, I think immediately of Annie Dillard and her books, so I would give credence to whatever opinion she expresses about fine writing.
[page 105, 106] Fine writing, with its elaborated imagery and powerful rhythms, has the beauty of both complexity and grandeur. It also has as its distinction a magnificent power to penetrate. It can penetrate precisely because, and only because, it lays no claims to precision. It is an energy. It sacrifices perfect control to the ambition to mean. It can penetrate very deep, piling object upon object to build a tower from which to breach the sky; it can enter with courage or bravura those fearsome realms where the end products of art meet the end products of thought, and where perfect clarity is not possible. Fine writing is not a mirror, not a window, not a document, not a surgical tool. It is an artifact and an achievement; it is at once an exploratory craft and the planet it attains; it is a testimony to the possibility of the beauty and penetration of written language.
In my youth I read every science fiction book in our local library and I can report that by the age of 15, I had entered many exploratory crafts and the planets they attained. I estimate that I spent more time on the Moon and on Mars than I spent on Earth during this early reading period with Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, and other classic science fiction writers of the 1940s. I no longer read the genre, but these fine writers were my launching pad to other fine writers in non-fiction and literature.
The present tense ain't what it used to be, according to Annie Dillard.
[page 110] Oddly, the eighteenth-century novelists used the present tense for immediacy. Now we have learned to use it for distance.
Here is an example the use of present tense to distance us from the real world that she gives us from John Bátki in his "the footnote as medium", full of abstractions and lack of referential indices to reality, more like a Pollock-dripped canvas than a paragraph of prose:
[page 111] In the jungle of language iridescent parrots and stern anchorites flash through the visual screen of the observer out to divine the scientific laws of the organic continuum, that speaks in an infinity of frequencies ranging from a strident Squawk! to the smoothly radiating ripples in a pool.
A yellow stream of consciousness into a cesspool of gibberish. I prefer plain writing which informs and dazzles without obfuscation, as Annie writes on page 122, "And plain writing is not a pyrotechnic display, but a lamp."
We have first generation 3-D printers which can create metallic bolts and nuts, but we are yet far away from being able to wave a wand and have leave behind a trail of fitted bolts.
[page 124] The narrative is a side effect of the prose, as our vision is a side effect of our seeing. Prose is a kind of cognitive tool which secretes its objects — as though a set of tools were to create the very engines it could enter, as though a wielded wrench, like a waved soap bubble wand, were to emit a trail of fitted bolts int its wake.
Let us not hopscotch over Annie's delicious sentence, altered slightly for brevity, from page 148, "Fiction is a tissue of lies." And one lie can lead to another and the fiction writer can write books about the lies.
[page 148, 149] The fiction writer is astonished to note that some materials fit a particular idea for order so well that he finds himself writing whole books about peripheral or random objects to which he has never previously devoted a car or a thought (which may account for the quality of much that we read).
To be a writer is to remove all traces of your craft and leave behind a structure of bricks which people can admire and praise you for, and therein lies the paradox, you wish praise for the delicate ideas, not for the pretty bricks in which you enclosed them.
[page 156] In order to make a world in which their ideas might be discovered, writers embody those ideas in materials solid and opaque, and thus conceal them. In the process of fleshing out a thought, they brick it in. The more subtle they are as artists (not as thinkers, but as artists), the more completely their structures will vanish into the work, and the more grouchy they will become the more readers tell them what lovely, solid bricks they make.
Insofar as a writer is interested in interpretation, then, he is stuck in this paradox. His role is like that of a scout whose job it is to blaze a new trail, all traces of which he must carefully obliterate.
There is a further problem if a writer strives to get down to the essentials.
[page 171] It is hard to see how anyone could think, even in the abstract, that a purging of inessentials is good in itself. Who would want to see the woods purified of inessentials? . . . By the time the arts are down to their various irreducible nubs, they dissolve into concepts; they lose the material energy which made them interesting.
Who would want to read Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" if the woods were purified, stripped to their essentials? His woods would be neither lovely, dark, nor deep and neither would the promises he had to keep. Purity is one of many intriguing questions Annie Dillard is dealing with in this book, shedding light on many of them, and closing this book with many of them unanswered, lamenting that living by fiction, while exciting, interesting, and full of life, living by fiction does not deal with the larger questions of art, nature, history, and the universe, in other words, questions whose answers living by fiction does not lead us to know.
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.1. Padre Filius Learns about Baroque Things this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Stumbles Upon An Antique Repair Shop:
2. Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL from 2012 Winner:
Subject: Anyone want to enter??
From: Kathryn Yost
Create a recipe with flour and maple syrup and enter it soon....great prizes :)
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Politics - the Social Umbilical Cord"
Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare. The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people — will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?" Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:
Politics — the Social Umbilical Cord
Life begins with two,
Adam and Eve, sperm and egg,
A foetal growth in paradise.
In the womb of Mother God
the King rules over all.
Teeming races, one and all,
Bursting over the waters of life.
In the womb of Mother Earth
the King rules over all.
Arms and legs are free
Supply lines umbilical
A government political.
In inspired democracy
the State rules over all.
Yearning to breathe free
The umbilical cord dries up
We stand on our own two feet.
the government of all rules over none.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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