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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Maya Angelou ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ (1928-2014) ~~~~~
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#147 July, 2014== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Quote for the Beachcombing Month of July:To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#147 for July, 2014
Table of Contents
1. July's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for July
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Household Hint for July, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux: How To Store Duct Tape
6. Poem from Yes, and Even More! (1987):"Super-Conductor"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for July:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein
- ARJ2: Nothing Remains the Same — Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser
- ARJ2: On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks
- ARJ2: The Esoteric Aspect of the Social Question, GA#193 by Rudolf Steiner
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. SNAFU, FUBAR, GLITCH, BUG
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. July Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Prayer in Football.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Prayer in Football" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/140618vj.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR July:
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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 July, 2014:
Marion Giardino in New Orleans
Joakim Mårlöv in Sweden
Congratulations, Marion and Joakim!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
ORLANDO and NEW ORLEANS
This split topic is due to Del taking her grandson to Orlando to see the sights there and my deciding to stay home to do some reading, writing, gardening, LSU baseball games, and a little sight-seeing in New Orleans. So you'll see photos taken by both of us scattered throughout the Issue this month. With her new Blackberry Z10, Del has evolved into a competent and at times enthusiastic photographer, taking photos not only of her six-person traveling group, but also of The Boardwalk Hotel's ambience.
ART and BIG LAKE
City Park around the New Orleans Museum of Art has been enhanced by a big lake built to the right of the new alley of Crepe Myrtles planted alongside the entrance drive. I had seen it being built over the past six years or so, and took this time to give myself a guided tour of the new amenities. I went there on a Wednesday morning, went into the Museum. First thing I noticed was that the large St. Sebastian painting was gone from the left side of the entrance hall. The two docents at the desk didn't know what happened to it when I asked, so I walked into the room on the other side of where the martyr Sebastian hung and there he was, tied to a tree, and shot with arrows. Great to see him again, and as I was gazing at the painting, in came one of the docents. I showed her the painting and told her my story about how I discovered St. Sebastian. My previous wife was becoming Catholic, and as a Protestant, had only a scant knowledge of saints, so she had taken to reading a "Saint of the Day" book, which featured each saint on its day and included a short bio of the saint. She would read the short Saint of the Day piece aloud to me before I left for work at Lockheed each morning. One day in February, she read to me about Saint Sebastian, saying he was martyred by being shot with arrows. I said, "Yes, and that's why early settlers coming to California in covered wagons placed a St. Sebastian medal on the dashboard to protect themselves from speeding arrows shot by Indian raiders. We laughed at my droll story, a take-off on the penchant for drivers back in South Louisiana who placed a statue of Saint Christopher on their automobile dashboards to stave being hit by speeding autos, more dangerous than speeding arrows. She later went to a nearby Catholic bookstore in Anaheim and asked the clerk if he had saints' medals. He said, raising up his index finger for emphasis, "If there's a Saint, there's a Medal!" So she returned with a St. Sebastian medal and it has protected us since from speeding arrows, except the ones shot by Cupid.Some decades later, I discovered that Italians going into battle always wore a St. Sebastian medal, so my made-up story turned out to be an historical fact.
My short tour of the ground floor ended in the NOMA Café where I enjoyed a couple of Portobello sliders and a double latte before venturing out and exploring the Katz&Besthoff Sculpture Garden. With a high blue sky and scattered clouds, it was a perfect day for taking pictures and enjoying a shady walk through the sculptures. A new golden statue Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens stood high on a pedestal, aiming a golden arrow towards where St. Sebastian stood, hung on a wall awaiting a further ignominy. Two other statues caught my eye: first, a bust by Rodin that resembled Jeff Dunham's "Mr. Walter" with his perpetual sneer that elicits laughs before he says anything. The second was a life-size statue was Standing Man with Radiating Words, 2006 by Lesley Dill, of a writer who is carrying large letters on his back, no doubt representing a wordsmith, a writer or editor. I feel the way he looks at times, carrying words around with me when I have no paper handy to record them, sometimes they are just fragments of thoughts just beginning to coalesce into words.
After warming up a bit in the Sculpture Garden, I decided to continue my tour in the cooling halls of NOMA's second floor where I spotted a three-fold grouping of Joan Miro paintings in a row which I called, "Miro, Miro, Miro on the wall, Who's the Fairest of them All?"Then my tour guide directed me to walk around that big lake which I soon learned had been given the official and inspired name of "Big Lake". And big it was. I must have walked a mile or more, but it was an easy walk, with lots to see, the complete skyline of New Orleans was visible across the Big Lake, several families of mallards were resting in the shade of the Live Oaks, a grouping of large Canadian Geese were playing nextto the shore of the water close to a large waterfall created by a large pipe extended over the edge of a decorative pergola.
To the north side of the Big Lake was a Festival Grounds and a newly-built Reunion Shelter with solar panels atop the brick red roof. Big enough to handle the Matherne family or any other large family for a reunion. Along my walk I happened to look down at a curious pattern on a metal drain cover. Made by the East Jordan Iron Works, it had a relief of a large fish in its middle and the cautionary injunction to "Dump No Waste! Drains to Waterways". Halfway around is the Boat Dock, a place to rent bicycles, paddle- and pedal-boats. One can also rent an original Venice gondola together with a Venetian dressed gondolier for a ride through the shady Sculpture Garden waterway. A great gift for a birthday or a romantic way to propose marriage, as the gal informed me, "Over 300 marriages proposals have taken place in that gondola." It was sheltered under a cover on this day, so I didn't get a photo of it on this day, but earlier I did. A ride in it was my birthday gift to Del back in 2005 which you read about and see a photo or two of: Click Here!
The afternoon went by quickly and it was time for me to head for home before rush hour fills the bridge. I wanted a route down Broad Street but there was no left turn at Bienville Street which forced me to pass up Angelo Brocato's ice cream shop, so I quickly pulled into a parking spot in front of it, went in, and ordered a lemon ice. She served it by scooping into a small cup and it was ice-cold and delicious! This is the only shop remaining in New Orleans and even though you might be able to buy it in a frozen-food section of a local supermarket, chopping it with an ice or having to wait 15 minutes for it get to eatable stage are two forms of torture best avoided by buying right out of the large container next to the assortment of gelato- and American-style-ice creams in the shop. Spoon and tongue ready. Talk about Good!It was a fitting end to my self-guide tour of New Orleans and by sharing the lemon ice with my tour guide, he got exactly as much as I did, it was the best possible tip for his excellent suggestions of things to do.
MEANWHILE IN ORLANDO
When I got back home from NOMA, emails were waiting for me from Del of her day in Orlando with our good friends, Gust and Janet. We met them on our cruise from New Orleans to Istanbul when they got on in Miami and we became fast friends ever since. Can't wait till our next cruise together. Soon I began getting regular photo updates from Del as they wandered from The Boardwalk Hotel to other parts of Orlando. On the first day I saw Del and her daughter Kim in front of the Disneyworld Castle and the next day Kim and Thomas took turns in the red British Phone booth at EPCOT. (While they were doing that I was having lunch in Metairie with my daughter Maureen who just received her East Jefferson High School State Football Championship ring. She also gave me a photo of her and Jay going to the EJHS Prom (as chaperones) and they looked like they could be prom dates. One of Jay's friends he sent it to asked if the girl was his daughter.)
Next I got a photo of the gang entering Universal Studios, shot by Del. Then the Orlando gang went to Hogwarts in Universal Studios which unfortunately for them was still under construction, though some early parts were open. In the Jurassic Park section I received photos of T-Wams and T-Rex, T-Wams being a nickname for grandson Thomas Gralapp that only his father can get away with calling him, I suspect. Also found Thomas between Scooby-Doo and Who in another snapshot.
Another day, another park, this time in the Hollywood section of Disneyworld, and I got a photo of Pat, Thomas, and Kim in front of a 15 foot high Coca-Cola bottle which exhausts a cooling spray for the heat-weary park-goers. Soon I was receiving photos of Kim and Thomas going through the TSA inspection point at Orlando as they began their homeward trek.
CRAWFISH AT SAL'S AND A KOLE ONE
Del's brother Dan and his wife Karen drove in from Charlotte, N. C. to look for a home in the New Orleans area. They had returned from a river cruise in a wine region of France and we wanted to hear about it. Karen's father grew up in Bourg, a small bayou town below Houma where my grandfather Matherne cut hair, where both my parents grew up and lived there until they married, and where I lived for a short time after I was born. I mention this because Dan and Karen's river cruise took them through a town in France named, Bourg, and she brought me a bottle of wine from Bourg, bottled at the Chateau Rivere la Biche (river of the doe). While we were talking about their river cruise, a downpour happened and Dan and I noticed two guys playing golf in heavy rain, undeterred.
Dan had been wanting to eat some crawfish, and we suggested Sal's on Barataria. Karen said a friend of hers had recommended Sal's as the best place for stuffed artichokes.So we went there and were waited on by Cherry who brought us about twenty pounds of boiled crawfish, some potatoes and corn, a couple stuffed artichokes, and some ice cold Barq's Root Beer. Another platonic (best imaginable) late Spring New Orleans treat. Right up there with the Creole Tomatoes which ripen in June, which are so good we try never to leave New Orleans for more than a day or two during June.
When we returned from the crawfish-marathon-eating session, the four of us played "Pay Me!" together. Dan and Karen picked it up right away and we had a good time together. It's a card game which can be played with from 3 to 7 people (using two decks of cards), which makes it handy for large families and which can have late drop-ins easily added into a game in progress.
No sooner had Dan and Karen driven off for home, we left to hear Ronnie Kole playing at the Two Sisters Pavilion in City Park in a Thursday at Twilight Concert. Ronnie Kole has been a beloved piano player for decades in New Orleans since Al Hirt hired him away from Chicago to alternate sets with him at this club on Bourbon Street. The chairs were all taken when we arrived late due to a SNAFU on the bridge, but we took the last remaining seats in the far corner and had no one behind or alongside us with a clear view Ronnie at the piano and microphone. What makes Kole so special is that he is more a concert than a cabaret piano player and he can use his piano as if it were a symphony orchestra. He took us with his concert self "Around the World in 88 Keys" during the first half of his gig, then with his cabaret self asked for requests for the second half. After receiving about 23 song requests, he proceeded to play parts of each of the songs, doing a seamless seque between each song and even playing one song with his left hand while another with his right hand.
As usual, I walked through the Arboretum during the break, this time Del came along with me. In the green house section with all the cycads, we saw a beautiful purple orchid and even a large orange cocoa tree pod the size of a kid's football. After the concert we walked over to the nearby Casino for some café au lait and hot beignets at Morning Call. For residents, it is a treat to have Morning Call open 24/7 again for late night coffee and donut refreshments before driving home after a night out, which in New Orleans, can end when the sun is just barely visible through the low-hanging limbs of the majestic Live Oaks.
BIENVENUE OPELOUSAS AND MR. & MRS. STEPHEN UPTON
After a year of activities, engagement parties, bridemaids visit to Timberlane, wedding dress shopping trips, wedding photo shoot at Oak Alley, bridal showers of assorted varieties including a Christmas tree decoration one, a bachelor party at the Red River Camp, among other things, finally the big weekend arrived on for a wedding on the longest day of the year, June 21. Our grand-daughter was getting married on her great-grandmother, Doris Richards's birthday at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria, Louisiana.
My brother Paul and his wife Joyce had just returned from a weeklong trip to a friend's home outside of Paris and we wanted to hear about their trip, so we planned to stop at Prejean's Restaurant near Opelousas to have a great meal and catch up on each other's news. Weekday lunch at Prejean's featured a tasty selection of Cajun dishes under 12 dollars.My choice was the Oyster Saxophone, an open face submarine loaf filled with fried oysters covered with a beurre blanc sauce with capers. Eating this delicious concoction was as messy as a juicy roast beef poorboy sandwich, and I was licking my fingers when it was gone. The inside of the restaurant has bald cypress trees rising out of the floor covered with Spanish Moss in the corner, and one needs to walk around them to find the Men's Room. You can forget that they are sculptured forms not real trees because the illusion of being outdoors at a large Cajun family reunion is near perfect, only the mosquitos are missing . . . although Paul did spot some Cajun houseflies on the long table recently vacated next to us, must have been a Cajun fly family reunion enjoying some good Cajun food on a table all their own. They were too busy enjoying their food to bother us, by the way. I wouldn't have noticed them if Paul hadn't spotted them. (Speaking of spotting, I spotted a large white-tailed deer grazing along the side I-49 heading south from Alexandria on the way home.)
REHEARSAL DINNER AT MELADY HOUSE
One of the good things about rehearsal dinners is you must go to the church and then to the dinner, so you can rehearse how to get from your motel to the church and back for the next day. The venue was built by Thomas and Sabine Melady in 1870 and later in 1905 enlarged to a Colonial Revival mansion. Now it provides a wonderful spot for a large wedding rehearsal dinner. I have been to many a wedding where the reception itself was smaller than this rehearsal dinner. I just went through the wedding program and counted 50 people involved, not counting the organist, food servers, bartenders, two still photographers, and a videographer. And all but the organist were at the Rehearsal Dinner. We walked through the rehearsal at the church pretty quickly, the bridesmaids and groomsmen having already gone through their paces, then we headed off to the Melady House nestled in the oldest section of Alexandria among shady pecan trees, live oaks, and magnolia trees.
The bar was well-stocked and the food was good. When I got in line at the buffet I looked down and saw a tray of small cooked carrots and to its left a tray of green beans and I couldn't help but think of Woody Allen's great line, "Life is like a high school cafeteria; the food tastes bad and the servings are too small." I told the server who asked if I wanted some carrots, "No, thanks. Reminds me of high school cafeteria." She laughed, apparently having seen the same resemblance. I went over to the Crawfish Creole over rice and a couple of side dishes and it all tasted good.
OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR WEDDING NIGHT
Del's four children came in for the wedding and my two girls from Beaumont and Bellaire, Texas also came. We helped fill up the SAI Convention Center Hotel, and the day of the wedding and the next day was like a family reunion time for the Gralapps, the Hatchetts, the Mathernes as well as many other in-laws and friends who congregated in the lobby and around the pool leading up to the 6:30 pm wedding start. It was to be a Nuptial Mass on a Saturday evening, and a buzz went around wondering if attending the wedding would fulfill their Sunday Mass obligation. When Father Dan O'Connor announced that it would, a smattering of applause went up from anxious attendees in the almost filled church.
This church does not have a center aisle entrance from outside; it is a wide church and the center aisle is shorter than a church this large would have in a traditional rectangular configuration. That short aisle, combined with a relatively fast tempo of the processional march made for very little time to view the bridesmaids and bride. Luckily memories can be long even when the real time of the event is short.
Most Nuptial Masses in the Catholic church are similar to each other and go off with only one hitch, the bride and groom get hitched. This wedding will be remembered for two additional hitches. This one happened right in front of us and few people could hear when the Flower Girl told her mom, the bridesmaid, Liz Hines, "I have to pee." Liz arranged that to happen in a few moments later during the start of communion service. The second hitch involved the Maid of Honor collapsing on the altar halfway into the Mass. We saw her body begin to tremble while she was kneeling and one of the bridesmaids offered her "prompt succor", catching her before she could fall and hurt herself. Two doctors from the audience came to check on the Maid of Honor, Kate and helped her to her pew seat, giving her some water. Kate recovered shortly, was able to resume her duties on the altar as Maid of Honor before the recessional began. She had apparently not eaten enough to last through the hour and a half ceremony. She was fine the rest of the evening.
After the ceremony we were marshaled into some small side hall. It seemed to be too crowded to do much more than greet the wedding party, so we gave Katie a big kiss and then left to head for the reception at the SAI Center Ballroom. Later we suspected that they had done all the family group photos in that small room or thereabouts, but no one ever told us. Having suffered through so many of those posed family portraits at weddings, I was glad we weren't told. The original wedding planner had a family emergency and had to be replaced a couple of weeks before the wedding and it would seem to have been her job to ensure the wedding party was informed ahead of time of the plans for photos. Other than that apparent glitch in planning, I thought the three photographers did a great job of taking spontaneous shots unless someone requested a shot, which I did once when dancing to "We are Family" with my two daughters, Yvette and Carla.
The food was great, lots of variety for every taste. No long lines at the buffet. Two wedding cakes were beautiful. The traditional white wedding sans the traditional Bride and Groom on top was nevertheless delicious. The groom cake was a sculpture including a decoy and a duck blind with duck feathers along the side. I assumed they were removed when the cake was cut. There were ample bars, buffet lines, appetizer servers, and cake slicers so that everyone was served promptly. The server who had to slice the tall white wedding cake worked harder than anyone else. I never saw wedding cake disappear so fast at any wedding before. I went up to get a slice two times and before she could get to me the tier was gone and she had to dismantle another tier. On my third try I finally got a slice.
The photo booth was a big hit. I was dragged there by my two daughters who wanted a photo of me with them. A large selection of funny hats, colorful boas, big lips and glasses. All you did was sit on the two chairs, push a button, and four photos were taken in order. The prints came out immediately, two prints each of the four-photo set, one was immediately glued on a blank white sheet intended for the bride and groom and the other one you got to keep. Also you could add your email address on the screen and the digital copy would be sent to you. We missed that on the first set, but put it in thereafter. On the blank sheet you could use pens to write sentiments to the Katie & Stephen.What a wonderful set of memories that will made for them, souvenirs created from humorous photos of friends and relatives, personalized in their own hand. When Carla, Yvette, and I were taking our photos in the booth, we didn't notice till later that someone named Carla had photo-bombed us, that is, jumped into the bottom photo. That made two Carlas in the photo. Met that Carla later and found out she was Allison Stewart's dad's girl friend. And when we got in line, Dean and Carla was the couple before us and I borrowed the Captain's Cap from Dean for the photo. Sign of a good party when things are going so fast that you find out later who and what happened.
The band was good, a bit too loud most of the time, but played a much better selection of danceable music than at recent weddings we've been to. I was curious about their choice of name for the band. I guess you can get away with calling yourself "Old Square" in Alexandria area where only a small percentage of people would know Vieux Carre means Old Square in French. Yes, it has a certain cachet, but a name is a name and they were not playing any square music this night. Much of it was twenty-somethings music, very loud with lots of yelling and jumpin, and if you're over 50, you've probably never heard or sung the refrains before. We had asked for our tables to be as far away from the band as possible, and we were able to have half-a-conversation without too much trouble.The cake ring pulling ceremony was included, but didn't see if any of the bridesmaids got the ring or not. Seems each got something on the end of the ribbon, like the token "Participation Trophies" which have become PC these days: everyone gets a trophy so no one can feel left out. Also missed the Bridal Bouquet toss, but I think it did happen. The garter belt removal and toss seemed to have been relegated to the twentieth century. I wonder if it was too risque for Alexandria's tastes. The evening went on past midnight a bit, and there was reports of a post-party in Rm 156, just around the corner from our room, but blissfully far enough it didn't keep us awake.
Del had gone earlier in the day to take Katie and Stephen's clothes for their Honeymoon to a boutique hotel miles away.When it came time for the bride and groom to leave the reception, we were handed sparklers to light and personalized Hershey bars to eat. A few over-imbibers were seen trying to light their candy bar and eat the sparklers, but with little success. Just kidding, but it could have happened. We lit our sparklers after making a large pathway out the door for Katie and Stephen to walk through and I must say it was an exciting and sparkling way for the Bride and Groom, the newly married Mr & Mrs Stephen Upton to leave on their honeymoon.
LAST MINUTE EVENTS
This is the section I reserve for things which happen late in the month while I'm putting the finishing touches on my DIGESTWORLD Issue. The last week back from the wedding was filled with picking okra, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, making Cajun Stir Fry, and processing the hundred plus photos from the wedding. We motored back early Sunday to watch the USA in the World Cup play Portugal and seconds left in stoppage time, succumb to a tying goal, 2-2. Group G is still wide open for the last games which come at 11 am on Thursday, a few minutes from now. Will the USA make it to the title round? Will we ever get used to them saying things like, "The USA have a chance to go all the way."?
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNING
The past 30 days of June have sped by, digging up the last of the red potatoes, doing lots of gardening and weeding activity, all bookended by Del's graduation trip to Orlando with grandson Thomas, Kim, Pat, Lucy, and Nancy at the first of the June and Katie and Stephen's wedding at the end. The days were bright and sunny with a cool afternoon sea breeze from the lakes south of us, making for pleasant reading on the West Portico swing. Peaches are still about golf ball size now, but the blackberries have been all picked and enjoyed. I potted and gave away about five blackberry bushes to friends and have two likely candidates growing on edge of mulch bed if anyone else wants one. About a dozen pomegranates are hanging on the tree, and we should eat our first fruits from it by Fall. Our artichokes made beautiful flowers, but were too small to eat.Our local wildlife included a family of six growing French ducks in the bayou, a Blue Jay on a telephone wire, and a lone coyote which I spotted stretching his legs as he sped across our South Lawn early one morning. He was too fast for my camera, but I did catch a great shot of a Black-Bellied Whistling Duck early one morning who simply stood stock-still looking at me, so still that not a ripple can be seen in his reflection. One day I spotted a green MG Saloon parked outside a house on Fairfield and was able to get some shots of it. Not a wild car by any means, but it was wild seeing it up close, being a former member of the New England T Register who owned a deep blue 1951 MG TD sportscar. I had only seen MG Saloons on rare occasions at Antigue Car Shows in Newport and other venues when I lived in Foxborough, Mass. In the 100 ft tall Bald Cypress trees in our West Lawn, I heard a ruckus one morning, and armed with my Camera, I took some photos of six large hawks screeching and flying around as if in an aerial dogfight. Two of them looked like bald eagles, but I suspect they were all marsh hawks from the sounds they made in flight. These hawks, if you take a photo where all but their body is in shadow, their heads look white like a bald eagle.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
Till we meet again, when the Fourth of July Fireworks are history and August brings Saints pre-season football, and LSU new team featuring Leonard Fournette gets ready for its opener against Wisconsin and has us wishing for the cooling breezes of an early Fall. God Willing and El Nino staves off El Huracán and the Gulf water stays outside our armored levees, Whatever you do, Wherever in the world you and yours Reside, be it balmy August days or cool and rainy Spring days,
Remember our earnest wish for you during this God-given year of 2014:
MAY YOUR WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-FOURTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
- When a bulb burns out
we just change it —
it's not the bulb we love;
it's the light.
Kate Knapp ( Poet )
- Every rose is a blooming hair of the Earth.
Bobby Matherne, inspired by Rudolf Steiner, page 71 of GA#193
New Stuff on Website:Military Advice, such as this one:
"The three best things in life are:
A good landing,
A good orgasm, and,
A good bowel movement.
The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life where you get to experience all three at the same time."
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
In their wisdom of imitation
Demonstrate an imitation of wisdom
That belies their years.
They spruce up their clothing
To individuate themselves —
As long as it's not too
Different from their peers.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
Someday There'll Be
Someday there'll be
Computers writing poetry
Computers writing recipes
But do you think it would be good
To have computers cooking food?
Food is meant to be eaten,
Computers cannot eat.
Poems are meant to be read,
Computers cannot read.
It's not that computers can't write poetry,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.
That would not surprise me,
But if they could select good poetry,
That would most amaze me.
3. Chapter: Rainbows
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Rainbows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
Ears to See
Dolphins live in a virtual reality
they do not see nor speak
like you and me.
We see a dog and hear it go, "Bow Wow"
and we remember the sound —
we don't know how.
When later we recall the dog to a friend
we mimic the bow wow sound
and create the dog in their mind
though we don't know how.
When a dolphin sees a human swimming
he hears a picture of her size, shape,
texture, and motion.
When later he recalls the woman to a friend,
he speaks the sounds of the picture he heard
so that his friend may see.
Thus we will never learn to understand
the dolphins until we learn
to see the world though their ears —
ears God gave them
4. Chapter: Shadows
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
At 37,000 Feet
In the space between and before dreams
Rhyme and rhythm peal and echo
through the footless halls of time.
Here in this endless cavern
ceiling above the mist
Roaming and foaming
the bobbing nutshell
Deep within the center
hoof beats follow
and hollow our skulls,
Thoughts and memories
an afternoon snack
"Follow, Follow!" A seductive voice
oozes from the darkness,
A tangible fullness,
the licorice Jell-O
Of this scare of night lumps.
5. Chapter: Violets
Wildflower No. 5
The looters met on 7th Avenue
To plan what kind of mischief they could do
"We'll take 8% of daily receipts
And return in April for bigger feats." ...
Which is more patriotic, voting or not voting? ...
"Geometers only with respect to matter" — Weil
What we need today is more geometers
with respect to the spirit. ...
"A chorus of yes right under your nose." — Adam Gopnik ...
"An unimaginable thing jest happened, Lil Abner,
imagine that!" — Al Capp ...
"What's so bad about the blind leading the blind?
The seeing been leading the seeing all the years,
and look where that got us." — Walt Kelley
New Stuff on the Internet:
- Ever wish you could listen to New Orleans Music from distant cities?
Click Here for Music Played by Live Disc Jockeys on WWOZ 90.7 FM in New Orleans 24/7.
- "Ever Wished That Calvin&Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did."
Stephan Pastis creator of "Pearls Before Swine" had a second-grader Lib draw his script, but revealed later it was really Bill Watterson, the legendary creator of Calvin & Hobbes. Don't take my word for it, read Pastis' own words of how he managed to draw Big Foot out of seclusion to co-draw three daily scripts on June, 4, 5, and 6. To lure Watterson, he drew a Pearls panel in which portrayed himself as the Calvin&Hobbes cartoonist trying to lure a woman into bed. Read all about it and see the four scripts here:
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.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise have missed along the way.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version.“African Cats” (2011) featuring a pride of lions and a cheetah family growing up in Masai.
“The Jazz Singer” (1927) the first Silent Movie with singing by Al Jolson. One comes away knowing first-hand what made Al Jolson such a hit as a movie star, singer, and entertainer. He breaks the silence of movies forever with his “Mammy.”
“Hannah Arendt” (2012) when the New Yorker sent her to Jerusalem to write about Eichmann’s trial, no one expected that a Jew would simply describe the lowly, pathetic bureaucrat who followed orders as anything but a horrible, sadistic murderer. How could she dare to write a journalistic description of what she experienced?
“For the Love of the Game” (1999) Ace Pitcher tussles with lost love, pitching maybe his last game, and nothing is going perfect, up until now. A DON’T MISS HIT! ! !
“Unfinished Sky” (2002) a jigsaw puzzle of a sky left by his 9-years-dead wife sits unfinished like his life, when suddenly an Afghan woman, beaten-up, collapses on his Australian ranch and he discovers that “There is a crack in everything — that’s how the light gets in.”
“A Gentlemen’s Game” (2001) [See DW#098] Timmy Price meets a Mr. Miyagi-don’t-wannabe Gary Sinese who notices Timmy’s golf swing is pure but he is swinging too hard. Timmy shows his dad how to stop swinging too hard and start hitting back.
“Labor Day” (2013) Kate Winslet as agoraphobic who raises her son alone and Jeff Brolin, injured during convictectomy he performs from prison hospital after his apendectomy meet in supermarket and he wheedles his way into her home and her life, repairing stuff, baking peach pies, and becoming father to her son, all on one long Labor Day weekend. Can this story end well, it can.
“Escape Clause” (1996) Andrew McCarthy, Paul Sorvino, etal in a gripping thriller about an insurance executive whose discovery of how to save money puts him and his family at risk. A DON'T MISS HIT!
"About Time" (2013) a son and his father becomes bonded over a family secret, males at age 21 can travel back in time, like having mulligans in golf, which as one matures becomes less necessary. Don't worry this will all be explained in due time. A DON'T MISS HIT! ! ! ! !
"The House of Spirits" (1993) Epic story of a large plantation owner in South America with Irons, Streep, and Close welcoming newcomers Ryder and Banderas to the screen.
"Wicker Park" (2014) is a cold place to wait in the winter when your loved one doesn't show up. Get your Nancy Drew muscles flexed for this click flick with more twists than a bag of rotini. You may have to watch it twice. See our first view at DW#052. A DON'T MISS HIT! ! !
"The Jewish Cardinal" (2013) true story about how a Polish Jew converted to Catholicism to protect him from the Nazi purge, became an trusted confidant and advisor to Pope John Paul II, and anathema to his own father who refused to forgive him.
"The Other Son" (2013) two boys switched at birth during SCUD attack, one grows up an Arab in Palestine, the other a Jew in Israel. "I'm my own worst enemy but I must love myself anyway." Amazingly insightful movie which could go wrong in so many ways . . . "I thought, now that I've started this life I have to make a success of it, so you will be proud of me. Same goes for you. You have my life, Joseph. Don't mess it up." A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Nicky's Family" (2011) about a 29-year-old Brit during WWII who got involved with saving the lives of 600 plus children, all of whom lost their parents to gas chambers, and placing them in British homes,. Nicky get meticulous records in his scrapbook and forgot it. After 50 years, someone found his scrapbook and located over 250 of the children still living and created a "This is Your Life" type reunion filmed by BBC live with Nicky in front row without knowing the audience surrounding him was adults whose lives he saved. Over 6,000 people today owe their lives directly to Nicky, who at 100-years-old, has been knighted by the Queen and receiving plaudits from his "children" and "grandchildren" who are helping save others' live around the world. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Mile . . . Mile & a Half" (2013) what hikers say on the trail if you ask how far something is, especially on this 200 mile trek over Sierras' John Muir Trail. Gorgeous photography by the hikers.
"Leonie" (2010) on her journey without borders was the first Gilmour girl and grew up to be the mother of great Japanese sculptor, Isamu Naguchi, going through great trials as a single mom and literary editor along the way in both America and Japan.
"Love is All You Need" (2012) and was all that Peirce Brosnan needed as a frozen businessman who lost his wife years earlier and who meets a newly separated Swedish lady and connects with her in Italy at the wedding of his son."Kon-Tiki" (2012) The God of the Polynesians who inspired Thor Heyerdahl's 5,000 mile balsa raft trip from Peru to the islands in 1947, and led to this marvelous reenactment of the five men's adventures. A DON'T MISS HIT! ! !
"Tequila Sunrise" (1993) Mel Gibson, Kirt Russell fight over Michelle Pfeiffer while Raoul Julia flies under the radar to consummate his own affair. Great retro-look at these stars in their youth. A Trifecta of drug bust, love affair, and friendship gone awry on the rocks. A DON'T MISS HIT! ! !
"Hearts & Souls" (1993) Thomas (Downy) is born as four people die in a bus crash and become his imaginary friends until each finds a way to move on with Thomas' help. Hilarious and FUN to the Nth Degree! A DON'T MISS HIT! ! ! ! ! ! !
"The Story of Luke" (2012) autistic, needing to become functional, Luke meets Maria and gets motivation, then his red-headed supervisor who teaches him the intricacies of human interaction, and everyone around Luke gets better. Luke says, "Angry Betsy is teaching me to use the Internet. There are 3.1 females on the planet and I only need one." A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Brideshead Revisited" (2008) revisited in a shorter film version, Evelyn Waugh's great novel as he dealt with atheism vs Catholicism, artists and aristocrats, loners and families, loves and losses.
"Company of Heroes" (2013) the story of the men who captured the Nazi atomic bomb with the faulty trigger and the scientist who built it in Stuttgart in 1944 during the perilous last year of WWII. As the lieutenant famously told his surviving soldiers, "We are now in the company of heroes."
"Unfinished Song" (2012) Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave learn to sing together and alone.
"Papadopoulas & Sons" (2012) Harry goes from Billion-dollar developer to running a small Fish&Chips Shop and learns "Success is the joy you feel."
"Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" (2013) Part II of Trilogy a three hour epic story of the dwarves with the help of the thief Bilbo trying to recover the Arkenstone from the depths of Erebor where it is zealously guarded by Smaug the fierce dragon, is there any other kind?
"Galapos" (2007) - the islands are the star of this movie, where ocean currents wash in from four directions to fill its waters with teeming fish and its shores with incredible flora and fauna.
"The Story of Luke" (2012) autistic, needing to become functional, Luke meets Maria and gets motivation, then his red-headed supervisor who teaches him the intricacies of human interaction, and everyone around Luke gets better. Luke says, "Angry Betsy is teaching me to use the Internet. There are 3.2 billion females on the planet and I only need one." A DON'T MISS HIT! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs):“Godzilla” (2014) only the popcorn was good.
"Promised Land" (2013) No milk and honey flowing here: just a Hollywood message telling us not to GO FRACK YOURSELF. Interesting how Universal Studios, a Global Multi-billion Corporation, tries to stop oil companies from doing exactly what they're doing: playing both sides of the issue, only Universal's movie is portraying the oil companies to be the bad guys. One little leak off-coast of Santa Barbara due to natural seepage and when NPR got finished trashing the oil companies, no drilling since anywhere off California coast. What the lieberals have done to the offshore, now they're attempting to do with onshore drilling. A DVD STOMPER ! ! ! !
"The Artist and the Model" (2013) study of elderly sculpture and his young female model during war time. Enjoyable until the shotgun blast at the end.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Big Sur” (2013) a surly look at Jack Kerouac's sullen, drunken days at the end of “The Road” in San Francisco and Big Sur.
"Soapdish" (1991) is full of Soap scum: ersatz Hollywood TV soap opera stars ravaging each other as age ravages them all.
"The Deep Blue Sea" (2011) Hester: caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, sinks into the sea, alone, with whiny music following her the whole movie.
"Her" (2013) was an it, a complete it, a big it, a piece of it, a lousy it, not a real human being, a materialist's wet dream of a future which can never exist; artificial intelligence will always seem artificial to a real human being who didn't program it.
"Hard Times" (2009) the small Irish town of Kilcoulin's Leap becomes famous after barrels of liquid Viagra gets dumped into the the town's well. Predicktable fare and not much fun.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Broussard Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Broussard has a cousin who is a few cards short of a Pedro deck. Everyone calls him Cooyon, which is Cajun for dumbbell.
One day Cooyon went into a store, walked up to an employee and asked, "Whar y'all keep de Andouille sausage, hunh?"
The clerk asked him, "Are you Cajun?"
Cooyon, didn't like that some at all, and showed he was upset by saying, "Mais, oui! Ah shor am a Cajun, me, but told me somet'ing.
If I axed you whar de Kielbasa was, would you axe me if I was Polish?
If I axed you whar de Italian sausage was, would you axe me if I was Italian?
Or if I axed for bratwurst, would you axe me if I was German?
Or if I axed for a kosher pickle would you axe me if I was Jewish?
Or if I axed for a taco, would you axe if I was Mexican?
Or if I axed for some Irish whiskey, would you axe if I was Irish?"
The clerk says, "No, I probably wouldn't."
Cooyon got all huffy then, "Wahl, how come, just because Ah axed you whar the Andouille sausage was, did you axe me if I'm Cajun?"
The clerk replied, "Because you're in Home Depot."
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5.Household Hint for July, 2014: How To Store Duct Tape from Bobby Jeaux:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =How To Store Duct Tape Between Uses
Background on How To Store Duct Tape Between Uses:
Okay, this is an easy hint and many of you have tried this already. This is intended for those folks who have gone to re-use some duct tape and had to spend several minutes prying up the end of the tape, only to have it tear down the middle and have to start over, maybe messing up a manicure or ruining your stoic demeanor for the day in the process. Read on.
For CLOTH Duct Tape:
After you tear off a piece of duct tape, simply fold over the end of the tape about a half-inch before storing it. The next time you use it you can discard the folded end or maybe just apply with the folded piece still on it in case you ever want to remove it easily. See photo at uppper left.
For METAL Duct Tape:
This kind of duct tape has a wax-paper spacer between the folds, but if you don't want it to unroll on you when you take it out of the bin to use, it's best to use this little trick.
Fold over the end of the metal tape to itself, but, before sticking it to the roll, fold the waxpaper spacer back on itself, allowing a short inch of sticky part of the metal tape available to hold the tape securely. This will keep the tape and paper spacer from unrolling between uses, which can be a mess to straigthen out. Why fold the waxpaper, too? From experience I've found that the waxpaper is hard to pick off the sticky metal tape after a few days or weeks of storage. This fold removes that potential problem. See photo at right.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Yes, and Even More!:
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The train needs a conductor,
Half a conductor is a semi-conductor.
A semi-tractor is a truck.
A half-track can be a bulldozer.
A bulldozer is a sleepy politician.
Half a politician is better than one.
Half-cocked means a mis-fire,
A mis-fire is an arsonist's mistake,
Half a mistake is better than one.
One conductor on a train
Half-trained is better than none.
No one is better than God,
God is a super-conductor.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for July:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first and second review this month will be ones which were published in early DIGESTWORLD ISSUES but only as short blurbs so the full reviews will be of interest to our new Good Readers. Hope you enjoy: The Yoga of Eating from 2004 DW#47 and Nothing Remains the Same from 2008 DW#083. The rest of the items will be new additions to the top of A Reader's Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, new additions to A Reader's Treasury, or Essays previously unpublished.
NOTE: some Blurbs may be condensations of the Full Reviews, lacking footnotes and many quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out, simply CLICK on the Book Cover and choose Printer Ready option on the top line of the review page when it opens.
1.) ARJ2: The Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein
Normally I avoid books about nutrition or diets like the plague, not plague the disease but plague the locusts, which like their biblical counterparts, have descended en masse upon the American populace and eaten up every bit of common sense in sight. The subtitle of this book intrigued me — would the author be able to carry off talking about eating and nutrition without becoming bogged down in diets and dogma? My question was soon answered and there is some good news and some other news, which I'll explain as we proceed.
First the good news. I like the author. As I usually do when reading a new book, I date-glyphed the main title page on the day I received the book in the mail. My date glyph for 2004 has evolved into a pair of birds sitting on a limb, nuzzling each other and singing. Also note the yin-yang shape of the birds: if you place the belly of the male bird on the back of the female bird, you get a nearly circular shape. When I draw a date glyph, it not only records the date, but it also records my feeling state at the time I drew it. My feeling state was optimistic and singing as I opened this book. At last, I was thinking, someone will add some common sense to eating! I was not disappointed by the author's effort, and in the course of this review I hope to shore up those places where the weight of diet and dogma nonsense threaten to undermine the foundation of his work.
"Oh, I could diet if I only had enough willpower!" How many of us have had or heard that thought expressed by someone else? As if willpower were some magical power that just descends upon us and makes it possible for us to do something that would else be impossible. It's true that willpower allows us to do what is otherwise impossible, but waiting for such willpower to descend out of the blue is a fruitless endeavor. If you wish fruit from a tree, you will have to exert the willpower to plant the tree.
[page 4] Reliance on willpower reveals a profound distrust of one's self.
This is a curious statement, but it applies to many people who "seem to think that what they really want to do must be bad, indulgent; therefore they must exercise willpower to enforce better behavior." When they allow that attitude to fill their lives, they are constantly "shoulding on themselves" and allowing their willpower to hover over them as a tyrannical parent with a switch threatening to lash out if they fail to follow its orders. Unfortunately such orders comprise a thicket of maps of what they ought to do formed from that plague of locust-like books and advice from well-meaning friends. No one can navigate through that thicket without getting more lashes than would come from that parental switch! All the while, inside, their body knows what is the right and wrong thing to eat, if only they would listen to it. Eisenstein uses a wonderful euphemism for running the gauntlet of the thicket of maps: "times of imperfect clarity."
[page 4] The proper function of willpower and self-discipline is to extend wisdom and insight into times of imperfect clarity; to remember and apply the messages of one's inner voice.
In other words, throw away other people's maps and pay attention to your own territory! Smell, taste the food carefully — when you buy it, when you prepare it, when you eat it. When you cook it, think good thoughts about those you're cooking the food for — those thoughts will be taste-able in the food. When you're eating, don't talk, eat. Naturally with friends, some light conversation during a meal is inevitable and enjoyable, but keep the business or serious talk till afterwards. When you follow these simple instructions, your body will be well-prepared for all stages of digestion of the food you eat and your post-prandial experience will be as enjoyable as your pre-prandial one.
Whatever you do, during a good meal, do not talk about bad food you had somewhere else! As silly as it sounds, and as much as it pains me to even mention this, this happens more frequently than it should. If you don't think it does, just listen and watch for it the next three times you eat out with friends. It doesn't happen to me as much as it did when I first began noticing the phenomenon because I immediately stopped eating with any person or class of persons that had previously exhibited that behavior or was likely to in the future.
Eating is not self-denial, by the way. It is the opposite of self-denial — it is self-gratification. It is the feeding of the self and should be done as gently and thoughtfully as you would feed a child you loved dearly. It is learning when the child has eaten enough nutrition for its body and stopping at that point. Who would force a child to eat more than it wanted? Nobody. And yet if some miscreant did do that, the child would soon grow overweight and accept the excess of food as its right. What would you do to correct the situation? You would reduce the amount of food you place in front of the child and encourage it gently to leave the table when they have eaten that food.Contrary to how young parents act today, children cannot eat unless you as a parent allow them to. They cannot go to the grocery, buy food, stock the pantry and the fridge on their own. Unless you collaborate with the child's wishes to overeat and stock the house with foods they love, children will not overeat even when you're not around. Treat yourself as if you were a small child and stock your pantry and fridge with foods that are good for you and which you enjoy eating in moderation and which by the very nature of the foods discourage binge eating, especially as you start a reduced food regimen.
It is a demonstrable fact that people of all ages, from infants to seniors, are eating more food that their bodies need. As soon as you bring your food intake into line with your bodies needs, your weight will reduce itself over time to an acceptable level. Imagine your resistance if some tyrannical parent were forcing you to carry a backpack with thirty pounds of books in it every hour of the day! Especially if you were no longer in school! That's exactly what you are doing to yourself if you continually overeat and carry around thirty extra pounds.
The middle-age bulge is well-known. Sometime back I found out the simple reason for those extra pounds that seem to puff up the bodies of nearly everyone as soon as they pass thirty: the human bodies metabolism slows down dramatically at thirty years old! What is metabolism? Just the amount of calories your body burns up per unit time. Eat the same amount of and perform the same activities and your body will add those thirty pounds which for most people are so hard to remove. Why are those so hard to remove? Because the person knows that they're not eating more or doing less exercise. "It's not fair," they think and their response to the world's being unfair to them is to continue eating the way they did before.
Given these little facts I have placed before you, some of you will be sharpening up your will power to reduce weight. That's starting at the wrong end. You might start by reading this book — that's a much better start, especially if you allow your reading this book to dissolve all the dieting and nutritional dogma that have built up the thicket of maps. Start anew. And you won't need an iron will to do this, in fact, an exerting an iron will will get in your way.
[page 5, 6] And even if you had an iron will, what a shame it would be for eating to become a regimen of self-denial! So many diets are defined by what you cannot eat. Who would not find the words "Yoga of Eating" intimidating? They seem to suggest a kind of discipline, purity, or austerity. It is significant that the very word "diet" in our culture has come to mean a diet of restriction — usually to lose weight. And so you may think that the Yoga of Eating is yet another chore, an incursion of self-denial into one of life's great pleasures.
Note: it's really an incursion into the perverse pleasure of self-flagellation which equates to being on a diet for most people. On the other hand, the author tells us yoga means "union".
[page 6] Not so! Given the futility of coercive willpower, the Yoga of Eating offers an alternative: to align joyful, nurturing eating with the authentic needs of body and soul. To bring into alignment, into union, what you need and what you crave, what your body wants and what you actually eat. And, to integrate your diet with other life directions and your role in the world.
And whatever you do, don't read a self-improvement book. Yes, I understand that Eisenstein has written what many would consider a self-improvement book; it might even be found in that section of a bookstore. Is the Yoga of Eating a self-improvement book or isn't it? How can we understand this paradox?
[page 12] And so each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, picked up the habit of self-improvement. Self-improvement is an appealing but malignant idea, a poignant self-rejection of our innate goodness. It means that we have accepted and internalized those messages of deficiency, laziness, and sin. [RJM: the thicket of maps] Sometimes people take up a strict diet in hopes of therefore being good, deserving, or pure, thus establishing a tendency to withhold from themselves what they really want or need. Even without this tendency, because our conventional dietary recommendations are a confusing mishmash of shoulds and shouldn'ts that seemingly have little to do with our desires as expressed in the body, a diet of self-improvement inevitably becomes a diet of self-denial.
Consider this a self-alignment book, instead. Learn how to align what you eat with what your body wants to nourish it. Eisenstein and I are both writing here about how we eat, what suits us, and if some of this rubs off on you and you suddenly begin eating what suits you, don't blame us if you suddenly find yourself sans the thirty-pound backpack as you walk around the world. We are not preaching to you about what to eat, but merely taking the advice of Epictetus (from top of Chapter 4): "Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent."
Everything was going well until Chapter 4 Food and Personality built up such a thicket of maps that I'm not sure where to swing my machete first. I give Eisenstein credit, he gives the hierarchy of vibrations and calls them "dangerously misleading." This is the map of which foods have a higher or lower vibration depending on such maps as density of nutrition, place in food chain, degree of consciousness of being killed, and efficiency of conversion of sunlight to energy. It's hard to turn one's head around in thicket without being scratched. But the author makes a broad opening for us in this next passage:
[page 18] There is a fatal flaw in the logic of elevating oneself spiritually by elevating one's diet. The flaw is revealed in the following saying: "You cannot change one thing without changing everything." To be sustainable and health-giving, our diet must harmonize with our manner of being in the world.
Imagine that! The world is a system, our body is a system. We cannot change our diet without changing our set of friends, our family's grocery buying and food preparation habits, our recreational activities, our work environment, the method of production of food, in other words, without changing the whole world. Chew on that thought a while.
Now for the other news I spoke of earlier. The author has us imagine one head of broccoli grown in an organic garden and the other one grown in a farm and harvested by "exploited migrant labor". He goes on to tell us that he can taste the difference in the two heads of broccoli. Here's the problem I have with this thought. He likes the taste of the organic broccoli better than the one picked by the exploited migrant laborer. Somehow he imagines that the vibrations of the unhappy laborer are picked up by the head of broccoli and he can taste it when he eats it. Let's say that I agree with him — vibrations of the person who harvests the food I eat can be tasted. My problem is this: I understand that migrant farm laborers go to great difficulty just to get a job in the USA, often traveling a thousand miles or more to pick broccoli. They are happy to have this job or they would choose to stay home where they would be happier. The result is that when I taste the broccoli, I detect happiness in it. Same laborers can pick Eisenstein's broccoli and my broccoli and mine will taste better.
Let's go into this process a little deeper, if you will and even if you won't. If you won't, I understand, just close the book or click to another webpage. Bottled water. I don't like water that has been through dirty underground places — no telling what kinds of foul stuff exist underground and that water has flowed through it. They expect us to drink this stuff? To pay for the privilege of drinking it! Why — I've tried that spring water stuff — it's completely tasteless! One bottle tastes just like another. In fact, all the bottled water I've drunk doesn't taste as good as my favorite water which comes out of the Mississippi River and flows right through my faucet. Very convenient, too, and at a tiny fraction of the cost of the tasteless bottled stuff. Heck, they even did a blind taste test of tap waters from around the country and New Orleans water came out on top. That infuriated those who claim their water comes from these grody underground spring things, and they demanded a recount, but they were just sore losers, in my opinion. What bottled water companies are selling, at a tidy profit, and deluded Americans are buying hand over fist, is words, rightly understood. Slap some sparkling descriptive words like "deep, sparkling, mountain spring water" with a fancy place name like Evian or Perrier or Cascade and people will taste the difference just as Eisenstein does with his exploited broccoli.
Look out around you now — I hope the thicket of maps has cleared a bit for you. Taste the world. Don't be like the man who went to Antoine's gourmet restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans, ate the menu, and complained about the taste. In the Norwegian Boy Scout Handbook in the section on map-reading is this great advice, very valuable advice, when you are wandering around in a country where the next step may plunge you a thousand meters into an icy fjord, "When terrain differs from the map, believe the terrain." Or to quote the famous humorist Mark Twain whose words begin Chapter 9: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."
[page 84] When I urge you to trust the body's authentic hunger, please realize that this hunger is itself a response or adaptation to the conditions, both material and psychological, under which you live. Sometimes, the conditions to which obesity is a response are written into one's physiology on a genetic level.
And sometimes they are written into one's physiology on a doylic level. Genetics is the study of physical body traits and doyletics is the study of physical body states. Genetic memory is stored at the time of conception when the strands of DNA are sorted into place. Doylic memory is stored during every event that occurs to you before you reach five years old. If you were an only child and your mother took care of you every day, if you were hungry, she would probably feed you before you ever had a chance to cry for food.If she became busy with household chores and didn't notice you were hungry, you might begin to cry and she would drop her mop or turn down the fire on the stove and come to feed you immediately. Then one day, her entire routine is changed: a new child is born who requires constant attention. And her attention to your younger sibling cannot be as easily interrupted as her mopping or cooking. So one day, you cry for food, and she is unable to come running with a bottle. So you cry more and more and soon your stomach is not only empty of food, but all the muscles of your abdomen are cramped from the crying. These physical body states are stored in your limbic system: abdominal cramps and empty stomach. This event only has to happen once to cause this doyle, this physical body state to be recapitulated for the remainder of your lifetime. The result is that when your stomach becomes empty, you get abdominal pains which we, unaware of their origin, call variously, "hunger pains" or "hunger pangs". We know full well, from lifelong experience that these pains indicate we are hungry and if we only eat something right away, they will go away.
But these hunger pains are merely instances of doylic memory being activated. They are not authentic signals of bodily hunger, merely a signal of an empty stomach like you had as a child, not an authentic signal of the body's need for nutrition. If you trace and erase the hunger doyles, then you will discover, you will uncover for the first time, how to "trust your body's authentic hunger" as Eisenstein suggests you do in the quoted passage above.
Our body needs fat in order for us to survive. Stop eating fat and you will experience an enormous craving that will overcome any iron will. I first became aware of this process when in 1971 or so, I read "Never Cry Wolf" by Farley Mowat. He was studying the diet of wolves in the far Arctic regions. Wolves in the deep of winter seemed to have no other diet than mice, so he began eating only what he saw the wolves eating to see how it would affect him. Well, he soon developed this enormous fat craving. He could not find any source of fat in the wolves diet and he was stumped.Until . . . the thought came to him, "I have not been eating the guts of the mouse." He had been carefully discarding the fat-rich portions of the mouse that the wolves ate along with the rest of the mouse. So he started eating the rest of the mouse also and soon his fat craving went away and he had proven his scientific thesis that wolves did not live off of reindeer, but rather off of mice, especially so in the dead of winter when reindeer are elsewhere.
Eisenstein's title for Chapter 14 is "Fat and the Good" and he extols the importance of fat in a diet. Our body will crave fat if we deny it fat, but if we eat the appropriate amount of fat, it will be beneficial to our health and make it possible for us to eat smaller amounts of food, and most importantly to those who are beginning a eating-what's-good-for-me diet, they will not a get a fat-craving which will drag them into a feeding frenzy.
So, to wrap it all up — avoid the thicket of maps, avoid advice from others (including me and Eisenstein), and avoid fad diets of all kinds. Eat less as befits your age and your body's needs and let your body be your guide, not some words in somebody's book. Think good thoughts when you select and prepare foods, and especially when you cook them. Avoid eating at places when 18-year-olds who would rather be skiing are preparing your food without ever thinking about the food. And enjoy your food in silence, tasting every precious bite.
2.) ARJ2: Nothing Remains the Same — Rereading and Remembering by Wendy LesserMy first reading of Dr. Zhivago was in 1958 at age 18 and before I re-read it in 2002, I had seen the movie several times. During my later reading, the scenes from David Lean's movie glowed in my mind when I came to them, and the scenes in the book missing from the movie appeared in a Lean form in my mind as I read them. Another encounter with re-reading came when I tackled "An Outline of Occult Science" early in my reading of Rudolf Steiner's works, and once again after having read over 70 of his books. By my second reading I realized how much of his later works were expansions on what he was laid down in this landmark book, and my reading of it was with renewed interest and enthusiasm. My first review in 1996 was one typewritten page in length and my second reading in 2003 generated 135 pages, and still has three small chapters remaining to be reviewed. From these and other personal experiences with re-reading the same book, I was aware that reading is like stepping in Heraclitus's river, nothing remains the same: the river has changed and the person stepping in the river has changed.
This is the subject of Wendy Lesser's book and here is the eponymous quote embedded in a letter from Mark Twain to William Dean Howells(1).
[page vii] People pretend that the Bible means the same to them at 50 that it did at all former milestones in their journey. I wonder how they lie so. It comes of practice, no doubt. They would not say that of Dickens's or Scott's books. Nothing remains the same. When a man goes back to look at the house of his childhood, it has always shrunk: there is not instance of such a house being as big as the picture in memory and imagination calls for. Shrunk how? Why, to its correct dimensions: the house hasn't altered, this is the first time it has been in focus.
On the other hand, Henry James discusses how in the adventure of re-reading a beloved book, we may freshly encounter our young feelings. Thus "that old feeling" in the words of the popular lyric, "I saw you last night and got that old feeling," could as easily been written as "that young feeling."
[page vi] The beauty of this adventure, that of seeing the dust blown off a relation that had been put away as on a shelf, almost out of reach, at the back of one's mind, consists in finding the most precious object not only fresh and intact, but with its firm lacquer still further figured, gilded and enriched. It is all over-scored with traces and impressions — vivid, definite, almost as valuable as itself — of the recognitions and agitations it originally produced in us. Our old — that is our young — feelings are very nearly what page after page most gives us.
While reading this passage of James from his 1902 novel, it brought to mind the "precious object . . . figured, gilded and enriched" in his 1904 novel, "The Golden Bowl." The golden bowl of that novel was James' central metaphor for the relationship between his four main characters.
The first two times that author Lesser read James' "The Portrait of a Lady" she was close to the age of Isabel Archer. The second time she was twenty years older, and that made all the difference in how she read the book and the effect the reading had on her.
[page 1, 2] But in your forties the journey begins to matter more than the arrival, and it is only in this frame of mind that you can do justice to Henry James. (I say this now, but just watch me: I'll be contradicting myself from the old-age home, deploring my puerile middle-aged delusions about James.) At forty-six, no longer in competition with Isabel, I could find her as charming as her author evidently did. Morever, having had a life, with its own self-defined shape and structure, I was more sympathetic with Isabel's wish to acquire one. As a young person, I only wanted her to marry the lord and get it over with. Now I understood that nothing ends with such choices — there always additional choices to be made, if one's life is to remain interesting.
What Lesser found from her most recent reading led her to write this book: "The idea that a simple rereading could also be a new reading struck with me with the force of a revelation." One can reread a book after a long passage of time and get an "old feeling" or a "young feeling" or even a new feeling. As we grow older, we add meanings to our life which were not there earlier. When we re-read a book we read years earlier, those new meanings highlight themselves by the effect that events in the book have on us which earlier, we would have ignored. If one has taken up keeping a parrot as a pet, the appearance of one in "The Parrot's Theorem" will have a different effect than it would have before. For example, in its issue after the great disaster, "Parrot Monthly" had as its headline, "Titanic Sunk. No Parrots Died!"
In this next passage, Lesser describes the way I have chosen to live my life. I keep constantly busy, but include reading as an essential part of how I keep busy. I never say, "I wish I had time to read X" because if X is important, I schedule it to be read. When Lesser's book arrived, I had bought it because she dealt with a way of reading books similar to my own, and I began reading it immediately. I was not disappointed. She describes her life much as I would mine. I work efficiently, report only to myself, and set my own priorities. I keep an open schedule so that if anyone calls to have lunch, I'm available. I have a deadline each month to meet, a self-imposed deadline, and one that I treat seriously. If I have an otherwise busy month outside of my writing, I work long hours to catch up. When I'm writing and reading, I take breaks to do things around the house. I act as gardener, maintenance man, computer geek, flower arranger, grocery buyer, doyletics researcher, photographer, college student, and chef, among other things. My personal goal is to buy more books every month than I can read in a month and live long enough to read them all!
[page 3] Time is a gift, but it can be a suspect one, especially in a culture that values frenzy. When I began this book, almost everyone I knew seemed to be busier than I was. I supported myself, contributed my share to the upkeep of the household, and engaged in all the usual wifely and motherly duties and pleasures. But still I had time left to read. This was partly because I incorporated reading into my work life (I run a quarterly literary magazine), and partly because I work very efficiently (I run my own quarterly literary magazine, so there's no busywork whatsoever: no meetings, no memos, no last-minute commands from the higher-ups). I had constructed a life in which I could be energetic but also lazy; I could rush, but I would never be rushed. It was a perfect situation for someone who loved to read, but it was also an oddball role, outside the mainstream — even the mainstream of people who read and write for a living.
After explaining that a book for rereading should be a "strong one" — one that can "hold up under the close scrutiny of a second look." In the next passage Lesser gives this book's theme in a nutshell:
[page 5] I [hope] that each chapter would say something different — about the process of rereading, or the nature of growing older, or the quality of a work of art, or my own personality, or (preferably) all of the above. As both reader and writer I felt anxious to avoid mere repetition, which is not at all the same as rereading.
Lesser points out that there is something vertiginous about rereading and to demonstrate it dramatically, she chooses to re-watch the Hitchcock movie, "Vertigo." She called "vertigo" the "best word to describe what I felt when I looked again at the books I had first read a long time ago." I had a similar feeling when I reread The Fabulous Flight by Robert Lawson. When I finally located the book I remembered only as "Gus and Me", I decided to buy a copy that was identical to the Westwego library copy that I held in my hands as a ten year old. Here I was at sixty-six years old rereading the identical book. It was a dizzying endeavor, added to by the fact that much of the book is spent with a miniature Peter riding on the back of his friend, Gus, the seagull. There I was riding along with Peter, the ten-year-old me in the cabin on the back of Gus as he flew over the Atlantic Ocean, flew over London, into a castle window, retrieved a deadly bomb, and dropped it to detonate harmlessly into the middle of the ocean. During my rereading of the first part of the adventure, I took the part of Peter's dad who built the miniature sailboat, cannons, and cabin for Gus's back for him. But once Peter got on Gus's back, I was back alongside Peter on his fabulous flight.
Another book about meeting one's younger self is Richard Bach's book, Running From Safety in which fifty-nine-year-old Richard meets nine-year-old Dickie who is scathingly mad at his older self for not keeping a promise he made him fifty years previous. The book was Richard's way of keeping the promise he made back then. Reading his book has this dizzying effect that Lesser finds in her rereading some strong book after a long period of time.
Some people spend their whole life perfecting their faults, someone once said. For those people, rereading will have little effect on them because they have changed so little that they will notice no difference. They live a sanity which is as sad as Don Quixote's madness. The rest of us are more like Sancho Panza, "sensible and silly" — we will notice the difference during rereading and feel a touch of vertigo. (Page 10)
Lesser shows a great respect for Cervantes's novel, "Don Quixote" as the progenitor of the novel as we know it today. One might say, "Every novelist rides on Don Quixote's horse."
[page 12] The novel displays such an astonishing ability to anticipate its own future that one is almost tempted to give Cervantes credit for everything written after him.
Lesser uses the metaphor of a book as a telescope through which one can peer back through the years to ourselves when we first read the book, and then notice how what we find in the book prefigures the person we eventually have become. I read as a pre-teen lots of biographies of famous people, mostly inventors, and for fiction, I selected mostly science fiction. The tales of Doctor Doolittle was my favorite. The Westwego library had a shelf full of the these books, each one with a new tale of the doctor who could talk to animals. As an adult I wrote a novel about how humans can talk to dolphins and other cetaceans. My science fiction reading led me to take a degree in physics so that I might learn how these amazing feats of space flight and technology portrayed by Heinlein, Bradbury, Anderson, del Ray, and others. As I look down the telescope to Peter and Gus's adventures, I realize that Peter was a small boy whose feats outpaced anyone's expectations for him. Everywhere we look through the telescope of books during rereading, we find our life preforming itself during those early readings. One might ask, "How could we have known to select those specific books?" Or, "How can we as human beings trust our own growth path to ours as youngsters?" It's a mystery.
For Lesser one of her important early books was I Capture the Castle — here's how she describes her rereading of the book and its main character Cassandra Mortmain.
[page 34, 35] I loved the book at thirteen for reasons that couldn't possibly have been apparent to me then, and now, looking back, I see exactly what they were. This is not because I have outgrown the book or have become more thoughtful than it is or have come to understand life better than it does, but because I now understand life in very much the way this book does. Peering back down the years through the telescope of I Capture the Castle, I see not only the girl who first read the book but also the woman she developed into, as if the book itself were in some way responsible for that development.
It seems as though the only conclusion a "sensible and silly" person can reach is that we already know what we are to become and begin our preparation for the task when we first begin reading as a child. The only explanation is this: "It's a mystery." Perhaps it’s both preparation and mystery. Cue vertigo.
Lesser strives to find one answer to the mystery she finds herself immersed within. She offers up questions, but none of them have satisfactory answers to her.
[page 35] Did I, at thirteen, absorb the book so fully that it shaped my habits and superstitions as I grew older? Or was I drawn to Cassandra's personality precisely because it mirrored my own gradually emerging character? Or are her beliefs so widely held that any girl would have grown into them, in time?
But there is more to the story. Cassandra was a girl whose life was shaped by what she read. Her story was read by Wendy Lesser and her life was shaped by what she read. Lesser's life began to unfold in ways in which Cassandra's life had unfolded. Does it begin to seem to you that life is indeed stranger than fiction?
[page 36] If I Capture the Castle is about being a reader and becoming a writer, it is also about how an individual existence unfolds. Does a life develop like a novel, with a distinct trajectory and a satisfying finish, or is it more meandering and uncertain? Because she presents her story to us as a series of journal entries, Cassandra's narrative has it both ways. We are treated to a sequence of shapely incidents an temporary conclusions — there is suspense, and fulfillment of suspense — but the story remains, at its close, open-ended.
No one who is, like Sancho Panza, "sensible and silly", in other words, "normal", will confuse a character in a novel for a real person.
[page 43] But if you are someone who cares deeply about reading, you may find that you respond to the important books in your life, and especially to those early in your life, very much as you do to actual people. Sometimes you like them because they reflect exactly what you are at the moment you first encounter them, and sometime you like them for the opposite reason — because they touch something in you that is hidden, or because they forecast something that you will be but aren't yet. Do the books actually cause you to develop in this direction, or are they simply markers along an existing route? The question piques and tantalizes but, like all questions about how we turned into who we turned into, it has no firm answer.
The question Lesser poses is an excellent two-part question, a forced-choice proposition, both of which I am tempted to answer with "Yes." Yes, books cause us to develop in a certain direction. Yes, books are markers along an existing route. How this happens is a mystery. The answer cannot be found in our two-valued Aristotelian logic of A and Not-A(2). The answers to real-life questions can be Yes or No, and that's just two of the possibilities.
In the final sentence of the page 43 passage, Lesser destroys the possibility of holding the question she poses as an unanswered question by flatly stating, "It has no firm answer." What a pity, it seems to me, for a writer to spend 43 pages building up to such a fine question, only to destroy its fruitfulness for producing an answer over time by zapping it with "no firm answer." What is the power of an unanswered question? You never know until you find out. And you will never find out if you destroy the question with a blatant statement that it has no answer like Lesser did above. Holding unanswered questions are one of the most productive things one can do. Unanswered questions are like Richard Bach's "forever questions" in Running From Safety. He writes, "You don't want a million answers as much as you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel." (italics mine)
Study your lifetime by rereading books you read at an early age as Lesser did, but keep yourself open to holding unanswered questions about whether the books you read caused you to develop in the direction you took or whether the books were merely markers along an existing route. Rightly understood, they were both of those, and even more.
Lesser admits that her undergraduate self blasted away any unanswered questions by making up easy answers to questions she didn't couldn't find an adequate answer as seen from her current self. This process seems to be taught in schools at every level, up until now. Let us hope that with the advent of 21st Century Education, astute teachers will demonstrate the validity of the process of holding unanswered questions to their eager students. Lesser is talking about Pope's "Epistle IV" and Wordsworth's Immortality Ode below:
[page 46] I hadn't a clue what those poems were about when I read them the first time. They meant nothing to my undergraduate self, who, balked by their apparent impenetrability, constructed meanings to substitute for those she couldn't find, thus obscuring the poems with the shadow of her own limitations. Yet now these two poems seem startlingly clear — so clear that, in retrospect, I find it hard to understand how I could so willfully have misunderstood them.
What a beautiful way to describe the effect of refusing to hold an unanswered question: "It obscured the poems with the shadows of her own limitations." If we will, instead of casting the shadows of our own limitations upon some mystery of life, simply hold the mystery open to a future answer, we will have, in effect, placed markers along the existing road to a meaning that we didn't know existed, at the time. And holding onto the unanswered question after preliminary answers arise will help us develop deeper meanings with each passing year.
When we have not lived life fully, we derive meaning superficially which squeezes out of us the possibility for acquiring a deeper meaning. Lesser made errors of this sort with Wordsworth's Ode(3), and found her errors illumined by Calvin Trilling's essay, "The Immortality Ode." She gives us the pertinent excerpt from Trilling:
[page 53] "And it seems to me that those critics who made the Ode refer to some particular and unique experience of Wordsworth's and who make it relate only to poetical powers have forgotten their own lives and in consequence conceive the Ode to be a lesser thing than it really is, for it is not about poetry, it is about life."
Last night we watched "Miss Austen Regrets" on PBS which dealt with the likely events happening behind the scenes to lead the vivacious and intelligent Jane to remain unmarried all of her life. She had a couple of early invitations which she turned down, one which came with a stuffed shirt and a big house, the other with a lovely man and a vicarage. The first decision she never regretted, the second she did. Lesser notes the consequence of such decisions.
[page 91] To choose a life by choosing another person is a very dangerous course of action, it is true, but to refrain from doing so out of fear of the consequences is more dangerous still. I didn't know, when I first met her, that this is what Isabel Archer was saying to me. It's only now that I no longer need her advice that I can hear it.
Thoreau once commented in his Journal(4) that we only see the things that we expect to see or look for on our walks through the woods. The descriptive narratives of Thoreau are as valuable for the naturalist as Austen's novels are to the lovelorn. And yet there is a sense that in learning something new, as Lesser expresses it so aptly, that "we must know all about it before we start.(5)" Only after she had lived a life having but not understanding Isabel's advice could Lesser comprehend what it meant.
In her discussion of her rereading Dostoyesvsky's novel, "The Idiot", Lesser reveals that the root of "idiot" is "a private person." This aspect of idiocy had never occurred to me before, and yet it is certainly true that an idiot is someone who has private reasons. If the idiot's reasons were public, we would understand them and remove the epithet idiot from our references to the person. In the film, "Rain Man", Raymond seems to be an idiot until we come to understand the reasons for his behavior. In "The Idiot", we readers must work ourselves through the paradox of the prince who is an idiot.
[page 109] ("A private person," remember, is the root meaning of "idiot," but the prince, simply by virtue of being a prince, is the very opposite of what the Greeks meant by a private person.) We are all necessarily our public selves, caught in a particular world, and yet novels — especially Dostoyevsky's novels — find ways of releasing us, however momentarily, into something much more private and intimate.
In her chapter, "A Small Masterpiece", Lesser discusses D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner", one great story in three volumes of lesser stories. In this next passage, she elaborates on the theme of this book which is a combination of autobiographical sketch and literary criticism blended together. She asks herself how her younger self could have found these three volumes to be a "seamlessly pleasurable experience".
[page 115] How could I not sense the peaks and valleys in Lawrence's prose? How could I not recoil from his aggravating moments, which turn out to be so plentiful in these stories?
I have a number of explanations, and I suppose some of them would be considered extra-literary. But part of what I am trying to suggest, in writing a book that is both autobiographical and critical, is that even the extra-literary is literary.That is, to the extent that reading is life (not, god forbid, that life can be reduced to a "text," or that there is no difference between fact and fiction, or any other of those fashionable execrations; that's not what I'm talking about at all) — to the extent that what we read is an aspect of the life we have lived, and shapes our subsequent life, and becomes part of our memory of the past — to that extent, we should be willing to allow our personal and historical responses to flood in and out of the books we read. Our responses won't, after all, hurt the books; they won't change the essential, inalterable words on the page, or damage anyone else's readings of those books. So there's no harm in it. And there may be a great deal of benefit. But whether there's benefit or not, the bringing together of books and life is pretty much unavoidable, ir you really want to immerse yourself in the pleasure of reading — and especially if you want to reread.
In discussing The Tempest in the Chapter "Late Shakespeare", Lesser comments:
[page 143] Only an actor who felt immune to the conjuring forces, or truly believed himself to be at the end of his career, could comfortably deliver Prosper's renunciatory lines, from "this rough magic / I abjure" through the closing soliloquy that begins "Now my charms are o'erthrown."
Her comments reminded me of the great Hollywood actor, Charlton Heston, who used a passage of Prospero's words when he came to the end of his career. He gave a public announcement that his Alzheimer's progression made it necessary for him to say goodbye properly to his fans, so on August 9, 2002, he gave perhaps his greatest speech in a life of great speeches. He was playing Charlton Heston taking his final bow on the stage of life. He said in closing Prospero's words from The Tempest, Act IV, 1:
Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind: we are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Charlton Heston in his long career played many great roles, including among others: Marc Antony, Ben Hur, Moses, and God, and he played Prospero for his final act. This next passage was written as though Lesser was thinking of Heston when she wrote it.
[page 143] The actor not only needs to be very powerful and persuasive; he also needs to be a man of the theater, not just a movie star imported for this one occasion. And it's best if he is old enough to have a vast theatrical career behind him — preferably a career with which sticks in our memories, so that we at some level recall him in all those other roles as he is bidding adieu to this particular one.
Lesser notes how Milton in his Paradise Lost continually wrote inverted sentences. She quotes Christopher Ricks who remarked, "When a sentence surges forward like that, the end of it seems less a destination than a destiny." This reminded me of the strange inverted way that Yoda in the Star Wars movies spoke. Perhaps, like Yoda, godlike we become. Our destiny each sentence forms.
Our author notes how easily authors like Austen, Milton or Dostoyevsky can shift in her evaluation over decades between her reading and rereading them. If dead authors can shift, what about the live authors who are still writing and changing?
[page 177] And if the dead authors can shift around in my esteem, imagine how much more likely this is with living ones. It is safer reading the dead: they aren't so liable to rock the boat of their own reputation (thought Hemingway and Ellison, with their recently published unfinished manuscripts, have given it a good try). Conversely, it is can be more exciting to read the living, because you are still in the midst of a story; you don't yet know the shape of the whole career. To those of us who love suspense, as readers of Ian McEwan novels are bound to do, the openendedness is part of the allure. We can never be sure what he will do next.
It was McEwan's novel The Child in Time which made Lesser into a "McEwan addict" (Page 178), and when her own son got lost in the San Francisco airport and she went into "frantic mode" — her favorite way of "dealing with a crisis" — she was dumbfounded that her husband scoffed at her kidnaping theory, saying merely their son would be found in time. She carefully pointed out that her husband had never read The Child in Time! (Page 179) Here we could see the influence one book could have upon her.
[page 181] Still, as Randall Jarrell once said, a novel is a prose work of some length that has something wrong with it, and The Child in Time can still appeal to me even if the end is not fully satisfying. After all, I am no longer reading the book for suspense. What continues to work for me, I find, is the way in way McEwan's novel addresses our relationship to time. . . .
I had already noticed in 1992 that McEwan's is a world "in which time flows backward and forward, with last things influencing the first as well as the last."
One of the ways my wife and I have found that we can send a message back to our childhood is by having a conversation in real-time with the child-within-us, or rather by letting our inner child speak for us in the present. If one cannot do this readily, one would imagine that such messages can never be delivered. What we've found over several decades now is that our inner child is always present and reacts to whatever is going on in our adult world in exactly the way that children do to situations: by feeling. Through the medium of feelings our adult and child remain ever in lock-step communication, and if the adult is not aware of the communication, the result is a barren existence in which "undependable emotions" seem ever to arise. Our emotions are in truth very dependable, but only if one understands them as the result of communication across the permeable barrier of time by our feelings and emotions.
In The Child in Time Stephen and Charles Darke discuss the possibility of sending a message back to one's childhood.
[page 183, 184] Charles talks seriously and Stephen thinks humorously about the idea of sending a message back to one's childhood, but the point is that such a message can be sent but never delivered. The communication is all one-way. We can recall and even address our child selves, but they can't hear us — can't alter their behavior to suit our present needs, can't be cheered up (or toned down) by what we've learned, can't react in any way to the adults we have become. . . . The wish to make that one-way message into a two-way connection is overwhelming.
No doubt that is the case to one who holds the presuppositions of the past flowing constantly and irretrievably into the future as Stephen and Lesser do. But the truth about time is that the past lives in the present as much as the future does and each infuses the other with life inside of a human being who has not bought into the materialistic delusions about the one-way flow of time.
My wife and I read several times in the early 1980s the insightful novel by Jane Roberts The Education of Oversoul 7, and we were as influenced by that novel as Lesser was by Ian McEwan's novel The Child in Time. In Oversoul 7 there are four characters which live at different time periods, separated by hundreds or thousands of years, and each appear as characters in each other's dreams. At one point the prehistory character makes a scratch on a tile on the floor of a tiled cave, and the other character thousands of years in the future notices the mark appear where there was none before. What others might see as random chance, the character sees as a meaningful connection of the past and the present which can flow both ways.
Lesser describes a similar event which occurs to Stephen when he goes back in time and spies through a window a young couple in a pub having an excited conversation. He waves at her as he realizes that he is watching his mother, as she looked before he was born.
[page 184, 185] Much later in the novel, the middle-aged Stephen leads his ailing mother into a discussion of her past and , without prompting her with his own experience, gets her to talk about that moment in the pub. She and his father had apparently been discussing whether or not to get married; she was pregnant, but they had almost decided not to have the child. And then she saw a face at the window, "the face of a child, sort of floating there . . . ," she tells Stephen. "It was looking right at me. Thinking about it over the years, I realize that it was probably the landlord's boy, or some kid off one of the local farms. But as far as I was concerned then, I was convinced, I just knew that I was looking at my own child. If you like, I was looking at you."
The last book Lesser discusses is A Hazard of New Fortunes by William Dean Howells. She didn't think much of the book when she read it as an undergraduate, and thought, "He isn't Henry James." Thinking along the lines of "there is only one desirable way to be a novelist." (Page 202) She adds, "Henry James himself knew better." Here is James letter to Howells in May 17, 1890:
[page 202] the Hazard is simply prodigious . . . you have never yet done anything so roundly & totally good. . . . In fact your reservoir deluges me, altogether, with surprise as well as other sorts of effusion: by which I mean that though you do much to empty it you keep it remarkably full. I seem to myself, in comparison, to fill mine with a teaspoon & obtain but a trickle. However, I don't mean to compare myself with you or compare you, in the particular case, with anything but life . . . The novelist is a particular window, absolutely, & of worth in so far as he is one; and it's because you open so well & are hung so close over the street that I could hang out of it all day long.
Anyone who writes a journal knows that if you have a truly busy and wonderful day that a part of you cringes at the thought of writing it up because it will take a large part of the next day. You can't write it up as you are having the experience, but it has to finish happening before there is anything to write about or any time in which to do the writing. The operant rule for me is "It always happens before you know it." Lesser notes this while watching the Hitchcock movie Vertigo which she wanted to write about in this book.
[page 220, 221] I had all along planned to write about Vertigo for this book, and now here it was — my designated rereading, in the form of this spontaneous re-seeing. I thought of taking notes, and then thought better of it. With anything as fast-moving as a movie — for that matter, with anything at all that has its own pace, whether it's a dance performance or a lecture or a film — I can't have the full experience and record it at the same time. I wanted to immerse myself once again in Vertigo, have the intense version of the experience: that seemed more important than any details about color schemes (though the color schemes are breathtaking) or musical structure (though the music is essential to the mood of each scene) that I might hope to capture in notes. Besides, I had seen the movie so many times that I figured I could remember the crucial scraps of dialogue, if I needed them. So I just watched it. But I watched it in a state of alert readiness, looking in particular for anything new, anything I hadn't noticed before. And I also tried to watch it in a state of passive receptivity, which meant watching myself for my emotional response, observing how the movie had its effect on me this time around — because it is never the same twice.
Watching a movie, like reading a book, is like stepping in a river: it's different water flowing around your foot, your foot is different (all new cells every 7 years), and you yourself are a different person: you have lived, grown, and changed since the last time you did this deed. Everything is in flux, as Heraclitus said, and he means us in particular, not just his famous ever-changing river. In the case of Vertigo, it is the ever-changing and yet remaining the same city of San Francisco. We bring the changed and unchanged parts of ourselves and it is the changed parts of ourselves which are able to see aspects of the movie or the book which were there before and we had missed. Movies and books are like faceted gems which we must rotate to grasp with our eyes some new sparkle of delight. In the process of living we change and produce a rotation without even planning it — suddenly you understand aspects of the movie or book you didn't before and you feel fulfilled after your contact with it. That feeling itself is a double sign that the film or movie is a strong one and that you are continuing to grow as a result of your latest contact with it.
If you have wondered why you reread books or re-watch movies, you will enjoy this book as Wendy Lesser shares her intimate reading and viewing self with you in a way that few writers have done and even fewer as well as she has.
------- Footnotes -----------Footnote 1. Lesser writes that Howells was probably the only writer who could "sincerely value" these two diverse writers, Henry James and Mark Twain (Page 203). She emphasizes that by beginning her book with facing pages of quotes from each author on pages vi and vii.
Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Alfred Korzybski explained the importance of non-Aristotelian thinking in his landmark book Science and Sanity in 1933 which formed the foundation of the field of General Semantics.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. Several years ago, I revisited Wordsworth's Ode and incorporated it in my essay, The Childhood of Humanity in a footnote here: http://www.doyletics.com/childofh.htm#N_5_ .Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. On September 9, 1859, he wrote, "How much more, then, it requires different intentions of the eye and the mind to attend to different departments of knowledge! How differently the poet and the naturalist look at objects! A man sees only what concerns him. A botanist absorbed in the pursuit of grasses does not distinguish the grandest pasture oaks. He as it were tramples down oaks unwittingly in his walk."Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5. This the thought which I formulated in Matherne's Rule #23: "When learning a new subject, it's best to know all about it before you start."Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
3.) ARJ2: On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks
This book poses a challenge for me. I cannot write about it without recalling the 2002 book Nothing Remains the Same — Rereading and Remembering by Wendy Lesser which I reviewed in 2008. I ended my review saying, "If you have wondered why you reread books or re-watch movies, you will enjoy this book as Wendy Lesser shares her intimate reading and viewing self with you in a way that few writers have done and even fewer as well as she has." Let's see how Spacks stacks up more or less against Lesser.
Spacks suggests on page 3 in her opening chapter "Always A Stranger," quoting Verlyn Kilinkenborg, "The characters remain the same, and the words never change, but the reader always does." We are, in effect, to paraphrase the title of Robert Heinlein's classic novel, "A Stranger in a Familiar Land." She proceeds to reread "Hansel and Gretel" and reports being surprised by the witch licking her lips at the prospect of eating siblings on shingles, i. e., of eating creamed kids on toast, perhaps, and remarks, "Only a tiny detail, that, but one that complicates the story's flavor and makes it memorable in a new way."
For myself, I have little inclination or time to reread books I have read earlier, although it has happened when I bought an original copy of Heinlein's Space Cadet in hardcover at a school book sale. The temptation was too great, so I reread it to find that he predicted cell phones back in this 1948 novel. To me as a kid of 10 when I read it, this was science fiction and today you can see maids walking on the street to minimum wage housekeeping jobs talking with a cell phone to their ear.
[page 4] The dynamic tension between stability and change lies at the heart of rereading. Every renewed exchange between book and reader contains elements of both, and both provide pleasure. Our psychic needs vary, and reread books answer different needs at different times. Seeking solace we return to a treasured children's book.
My adventures were anything but solace when I reread The Fabulous Flight by Robert Lawson. As I said in my Lesser review, "There I was riding along with Peter, the ten-year-old me in the cabin on the back of Gus as he flew over the Atlantic Ocean, flew over London, into a castle window, retrieved a deadly bomb, and dropped it to detonate harmlessly into the middle of the ocean." It was a quantum of adventure not a quantum of solace. Yes, I was different some fifty years later, as I took the part of Peter's dad at the time he was building the miniature cabin for Peter to ride safely in on his seagull Gus's back.
As an adult I was introduced to The Hobbit and Atlas Shrugged by my co-worker, Fred Gude. I read them both back then in 1968, and Atlas Shrugged I reread thrice later. The last time it was during a trip to our cabin in the hills of Arkansas one early March. On the drive up, my wife was driving as I began reading the book to myself. "Read it aloud," Del suggested. So I did. When I took over driving, she continued with the reading aloud. We were maybe a third of the way through the book after our 10 hours drive. Some friends joined us for the week, and when they heard what we were doing, they wanted to continue the reading, one person doing the reading aloud as the rest of us colored mandalas on the table in the living room. We made it through the entire book by week's end. The twenty years that passed between my first and fourth reading was filled with much study of the real meaning of freedom and it was great to relate my new understandings to Ayn Rand's early thoughts on freedom.
Nowadays I write a review of each book when I finish reading it, thus I now have reviews of the Heinlein, Lawson, and Rand books, including a short review of Atlas Shrugged. There is another book which I first read in 1958 when it came in as a Book-of-the-Month selection. I loved the book, but kept getting lost in the various Russian surnames for the same person, Yuri Zhivago at times was called Yuri Andreivich, and Lara Strelnikov switched with Lara Andrepovna. Watching David Lean's magnificent portrayal of Pasternak's novel led me to acquire and read the book again around 1993, after which I wrote a short review of it here. By this time, I had learned the rules for forming the polite surnames using the father's name followed by -vich for males and -povna for females, all of which made my reading more enjoyable. Around 1995 my reviews became longer because I was a full-time writer and I could afford the luxury of going through the book, reading my marginalia and the text surrounding them to use as fodder for sharing my own thoughts which each marked passage triggered. This could qualify as a rereading, maybe not a full Reading No. 2, but at least a Reading 1.5 perhaps. This kind of rereading, coming within a day or two of completing the book is likely to find me unchanged from the first reading, except by the thoughts I was led to by my first reading. We are changed by what we read, and doing a quick reread so soon after the first read is a way of finding this out.
[page 12] In rereading, the interchange of external and internal that I have sketched becomes complicated by the past, and by memory. Feelings from the past lie in wait for the reader in the present, so that feeling becomes insistently the purpose of reading. New feelings may intensify or conflict with the old ones; new judgments may attempt to deny old feelings. The subjective reality of the book being read for the second or fifth or tenth time assumes more than ordinary power.
Her passage, "feelings from the past lie in wait for the reader in the present" caught my attention. I have learned to understand feelings from the future also come to us in the present, that we can, as a human capability, remember the future, but only if we become sensitive to and aware of our feelings. Rightly understood, time waves from the future arrive in us as feelings, feelings we may discount as coming from the future if we do not consider that to be a human possibility, up until now. See Matherne’s Rule: Remember the Future.
As I read her Page 12 passage, I couldn't help recall our teenage son who watched the movie "Grease" during its first run at the movies, 33 times! Surely feeling was insistently the purpose of his many re-watchings of this movie. It has since become for me one of those movies which rocks on, one which if I stumble upon it on a TV channel, I may watch the rest of it, each time with old feelings rekindled and some new insights which pop up also.
[page 19] Then there is rereading of Jane Austen, a special case, as I realized sharply in conversation with a friend who claimed that she hated to reread. When I pointed out that I have known her to reread Jane Austen, she looked surprised. "Everyone rereads Jane Austen," she said.
When you have experienced barbarity in the extreme, reading Jane Austen can be a lifelong cure as she represents the civility that sometimes gets lost in civilization.
[page 55] Back in New Haven, where I lived at the time, I met other rereaders of Austen: a group composed of female Holocaust survivors. They convened at regular intervals, year after year, to read Jane Austen aloud to one another. When they finished a novel, they'd go on to the next one; when they finished them all, they'd start over. Why Austen? I asked one of them. Because, my informant said, she represents civilization.
The author reminded me of a wonderful childhood story from grade school, "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf with drawings by Robert Lawson. A novel in miniature, its plot is a hero goes on a journey. Ferdinand is a bull who enjoys flowers and one day he is stung by a bee and runs furiously around the meadow where some scouts for the bull ring in Madrid were. They see this ferocious bull and take him to fight in the bull ring, but Ferdinand simply sits and smells the flowers of the lovely senoritas in the stands and our hero is soon returned home to his meadow to sit and smell the flowers.
[page 37] A bullfight hardly seems more sinister than a bee sting, and someone who doesn't want to fight doesn't have to. Surely the wish that life might be less difficult crosses every mind: Ferdinand fulfills that wish. It also reminds us of a time when we didn't even know that life was hard.
The best chapter of this book for me was "A Civilized World" in which Spacks deals with Jane Austen's novel. She featured a long passage from Pride and Prejudice which involves Elizabeth rereading several times a letter from Darcy which first infuriates her, and with each rereading she fills in missing pieces and begins to comprehend Darcy's meaning.
[page 56, 57] The most familiar of Austen's novels itself testifies to rereading's power and importance. At the center of Pride and Prejudice lies an extended scene of rereading. Elizabeth Bennet, initially outraged by a letter from Darcy that purports to explain and justify behavior she abhors, finds herself compelled to read it again and again, almost against her will. (After her first reading, she puts the letter "hastily away, protesting that she would not regard it, at she would never look in it again," yet "in hall a minute the letter was unfolded again.") Every time she reads it, its meanings change. At first she rejects its explanations as self-interested, a rrogant, and false. In rereading, she checks each of Darcy's claims against her factual knowledge. She consults her memory--and her memory, prodded by Darcy's words, provides information previously forgotten. Evaluating the letter's assertions in relation to her sense of logic and probability, she considers the problem of interpretation in new terms. She wanders the lane for two hours, reading and pondering, "giving way to every variety of thought; reconsidering events, determining probabilities, and reconciling herself as well as she could, to a change so sudden and so important."
The sudden and important change occurs only as a result of Elizabeth's willingness to engage with the crucial text again and again. Gradually she realizes what she could not absorb at first; gradually she takes in what she feels reluctant to accept; gradually she comes to acknowledge how wrong she has been. The rereading of the letter becomes an adventure in self-knowledge.
Here we have Jane Austen's account of the importance of rereading, especially of important messages that could have life-changing consequences. If Elizabeth had remained focused only upon the first part of the letter, the upsetting part, she and Darcy would have never found happiness together.
Spacks gives this aim for her book:
[page 21] As a book about rereading, this is, as I have suggested, most essentially a treatment of reading: indeed, a defense of reading. It attempts to demonstrate how reading gets inside your head and what it does when it gets there.
What does reading do inside of your head when it gets there, and more importantly what do you do with what it does when it gets there? Elizabeth did some important: she decided to reread the letter, again and again, till she was satisfied that what she did with the letter was what Darcy wanted the letter to do when it got inside her head. What books have you read which deserve another reading? — If a book was good the first time you read it, give it a rereading by a new, older, and wiser you, give yourself a chance to form a new opinion, to receive a new message, and to deepen your understanding of the book, all the while re-experiencing the good feelings once again.
4.) ARJ2: The Esoteric Aspect of the Social Question, GA#193 by Rudolf Steiner
One cannot read "An Outline of Occult Science" without coming away with an impression of how humankind evolved in synchrony with the cosmos which surrounds us. Humans were there in the beginning of Old Saturn with a warmth body, developed an air body during Old Sun, a water body during Old Moon, and a mineral body during our current Earth stage of evolution. Today our body is made of minerals, filled with water, breathing air, and staying warm so long as we live. We evolved through the plant stage of evolution on Old Sun developing an etheric body, through the animal stage on Old Moon developing an astral body, and have entered the human stage of evolution during this Earth stage coming to possess an Ego, which is the youngest member of our four-part physical-, etheric-, astral-, and Ego-infused human being.
We were there in the beginning, before the Earth existed, and we are here now. Likewise we will exist as human beings when the Earth is no longer here. Our destiny is the Cosmos and we will join with spiritual beings creating a new Cosmos in due time; the same spiritual beings who were present and instrumental in our own creation and evolution, spiritual beings which we have since ancient times referred to generically as gods.
Steiner introduces his first lecture of this book discussing our evolution and adds:
[ page 2] I wanted to show what an impression it must make on anyone to realize that all the generations of the gods, all the forces of the universe are actually engaged in working at the goal of ultimately producing humankind and placing it at the center of its creation.
To be in the center of creation means likewise that creation must be centered in us. If we could look with spiritual eyes inside of ourselves, we would be able to see how the various planets of our cosmos are connected with the various organs in our body. Plus we could watch as our organs react to movement of these planets in the sky and how the stars have written in them our individual destiny at the moment of our birth. This is so because we chose the specific orientation of planets and stars we wished to have at the moment of our birth while we were still in the spiritual world preceding our birth. If this sounds impossible, but intriguing, you may be encountering Rudolf Steiner's writings for the first time, so read on.
[page 2] Precisely because this conception is so true I pointed out how very necessary it is to emphasize the need for human modesty and to tell ourselves over and over again that if we could consciously experience our whole being inwardly in its relation to the world around us and bring this, our whole being, to actual manifestation it would be a microcosmic image of the whole remaining world.
Anyone reading this without first absorbing how we evolved as humans in "An Outline of Occult Science" can be forgiven for having no clue to the reality that each of us has an image of the Cosmos inside of our bodies. In this book Steiner is lecturing to people who already understood this to be the case and could focus on the responsibility each of us has as a human being to the Cosmos which acted as the womb for all of human evolution, acting in deed as our Cosmic Mother.
[page 2, 3] But how much do we know or experience or manifest in action of all that we are as human beings in the highest sense of the word? So whenever we clearly picture to ourselves the idea of what we are as human beings we always waver between arrogance and modesty. We must certainly not surrender to pride, but neither must we become engulfed in modesty. We would be doing just that if we were not to estimate in the highest possible terms the task we human beings have been given through our very position in the universe. Fundamentally speaking we can never think highly enough of what we ought to be. We can never fully appreciate the deep cosmic dimension of the feeling we should have for our responsibility when we look at the way the whole universe is orientated towards us human beings.
A feeling of deep and holy awe should fill each of us, he says, for what we should be and so rarely are as a human being. This is especially true when we greet a baby, a full human being, newly arrived in a new incarnation, full of possibilities and plans for its new life on Earth.
[page 3] In fact we ought often to have the feeling when we encounter an individual human being: There you stand; you bring certain things to expression in this present incarnation; but you pass from one life to another, from one incarnation to another, and this gradual process of development bears the imprint of eternity. We could extend and deepen these feelings in many other directions.
The other thing that evokes a deep feeling in us, after we have begun to understand spiritual science, is this:
[page 4] If we contemplate everything that is active in the world in the way of the elements in earth, water and air, everything that shines down to us from the stars and breathes in the wind, everything that speaks to us from the various kingdoms of nature, if we contemplate all this in the light of anthroposophically based spiritual science we find that in one way or another it is connected with the human being. Everything takes on value for us because we can bring it into a certain relation to the human being.
Steiner emphasizes that his spiritual science "enables us to attain a living relationship between ourselves as human beings and the whole rest of the world." (Page 5) This relationship allows us to do things; we do not just talk about the spiritual world, but know that we can communicate directly with the spiritual world. When a person leaves this world and enters the time between death and a new birth, their spirit fills the entire Earth and begins its expansion outward, which means that each of us are within the spirit of the one who has died. If we hold this person in our thoughts, they are able to hear us as we communicate with them and are immediately comforted. If, on the other hand, we imagine they are dead and gone forever and cry out in the pain that we feel, they also experience this and feel distraught because we are not aware that every thought we have about them is communicated directly to them. If all we do is focus on their being gone and feel bad about that, they feel bad for us, we cause them great anguish. So few people understand this in the modern day; one need only attend a funeral to observe how often this kind of visceral anguish is expressed after the lost of a loved, up until now. We would do best to discover the actual power of the spirit; to rejoice at the light shed by our loved one's spirit rather than to curse some darkness we imagine our loved one has left behind.
[Page 5] Spiritual science does not talk endlessly, in a pantheistic way, about spirit underlying everything. In fact spiritual science talks not only about real spirit but aims to speak out of this reality of the spirit, out of the very substance of spirit itself. It strives to speak in such a way that everyone for whom spiritual science is a living experience knows that whenever he thinks thoughts of spirit the spirit itself is present in these thoughts. Anyone who is inspired by the spirit of spiritual science — if I may put it this way — does not want merely to utter thoughts about the spirit but to make way for the spirit itself to speak through his thoughts. Spiritual science is a means to finding the direct presence of the spirit, the active power of the spirit.
Only through his spiritual science, Steiner says, can we develop "feeling for all the creatures and beings outside ourselves, for all that is below us and above us in the hierarchical order of nature and the world of the gods." (Page 7) We must also develop a feeling for where we are in the process of human evolution, to notice that humankind has reached a turning point, especially in Christianity because of the Mystery of Golgotha by which the Christ was present in the Jesus and passed through death so that He might be always with us till the end of the world.
[page 9] An understanding of the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha is only attainable out of the spiritual foundations humanity can acquire now for the first time in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch.
If you wonder how we could be so lucky to be present at the transition to this new understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, consider this: Steiner says "All times are times of transition." (Page 10) What is important is not that change is happening, but to discover what is happening, what kind of transition is taking place, how humans are evolving right now.
Steiner likes to eschew content (what is said or written), preferring to deal with process (what is going on right now).
[page 10] You are an adherent of spiritual science in the right way if, instead of believing that the entire substance of Christianity is contained once and for all in the Gospels, you recognize that the Christ is in truth always with us, even unto the end of earth days; not present merely as a dead impulse in which one has to believe, but as a living force which will increasingly come to manifestation.
And that manifestation in our time is Steiner's spiritual science. It deals not with talking about Christ but with saying what "Christ wants to say to human beings today, through the medium of thoughts." (Page 10)
One can only appreciate the importance of our living in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch if one comprehends that the gods achieved all the goals they had for us by the end of the previous epoch, the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Consider us humans as having graduated from college and having entered now into post-graduate work, where we work, no longer being taught by our professors to achieve their goals for us, but being mentored by our professors as we strive towards our own goals. This is what it means to have entered the consciousness soul age, having gone from the gods' goals driving us to having our own human goals driving us, with the help of the gods, with the help of the great spiritual beings we look up to.
[page 11] This is the right way for human beings to go about things from the age of the consciousness soul onwards. In earlier times human goals were unconscious, instinctive, because the conscious purpose of the gods was living in human beings. Now human goals themselves must become more and more conscious. Then human ideals will have the power to rise up to the gods, so that these human aims can be striven for with divine powers.
If one has not reached the post-graduate stage of one's life, i.e., having moved from employee to consultant, one may be hard put to grasp this analogy, to understand how it sheds light on where we are in our human evolution during this fifth post-Atlantean epoch.
[page 14] At the present time we pay scant attention to the fact that throughout life a constant process of maturing is going on. Inwardly honest people such as Goethe were conscious of this process. Even towards the end of his long life he was still eager to learn, for he knew he had not completed the task of becoming fully human. And in looking back at his youth and his prime he regarded all that happened at that time as a preparation for what he was able to experience in old age. People very seldom think this way nowadays, least of all when taking account of people as social beings. No sooner have we reached the age of twenty, and everyone wants to belong to some corporation or other and — in the popular phrase — exercise their democratic judgment. It never occurs to them that there are things in life worth waiting for, because increasing maturity comes with the years. People do not think that way nowadays. This is one of the things we must learn: that all stages of life, not only the first two or three youthful decades, hold treasures in store for human beings.
What we bring at birth into this life on Earth, as forces, are nothing but tendencies to do such and such, as one might bring tendencies into a new job, a wish to accomplish certain life goals as a consciously worked out plan. We have plans for our current life when we enter our mother at birth, life goals which will drive us throughout our life-time on Earth, goals which will lead us to meetings with certain people, to make certain difficult decisions, to become interested in certain occupations or hobbies, etc., often resulting in surprising and delightful outcomes.These are examples of how these forces operate upon us, out of our conscious awareness, appearing as tendencies and sometimes as surprising counter-tendencies when we make some unexpected decision which works out for the good that takes decades for us to discover just how good it was. When we take a new job with expectancies we created in ourselves during our previous job, we do not call those expectations predestination, do we? No, so we should reject those who imagine predestination to be a sledgehammer coercion rather than a tendency that we may accept or reject with our own free will. They're just tendencies to do certain things.
[page 18] . . . we should never allow ourselves to disregard the fact that, as human beings living on this earth, we bring into our earth existence the effects and results of what we experience in the time elapsing between death and a new birth. Each time we return to earthly life we bring with us the consequences of our last spiritual life, of the last time we resided in the purely supersensible world. And we are not looking at our earthly life in its entirety if we do not bear in mind that what we do, and what we experience in the world through coming together with other people, has something about it that results from our life in the spiritual world from which we come at birth, traces of which we bring with us as forces into this world.
Dead is a dead word, an inaccurate, outdated word to describe the full human being, a being of body, soul, and spirit which spans multiple lifetimes, alternating between life in a body on Earth and life in a spirit in the time between death and a new birth. Death is useful and descriptive as the dividing line between life in the material world and life in the spiritual world. As a young adult I saw life as a puzzle with an enigma at each end. In my studies of Steiner, I have come to understand how the enigma at each end is a transition. Death is the transition from the material world into the spiritual world. Birth is the transition from the spiritual world into the material world. What I knew in my time before birth was the reality of the spiritual world and I came into the material world with a desire, a tendency, to discover the reality of the spiritual world while still here in the material world. That tendency first showed up in the puzzle which eventually led me to find its answers in Rudolf Steiner's works.
With these thoughts as prologue, we are better prepared to understand what Steiner refers to in the next passage as "the whole of humankind".
[page 19] Let us look at the social problem as one that affects the whole of humankind. However, to us the whole of humankind is not only the group of souls who come together socially on earth at a particular time but also the sum of all those souls who at the same time are in the supersensible world, are connected by spiritual ties with earthly human beings and belong to what we can call the whole of the human race. Let us look first of all at what we call in an earthly sense our human spiritual/cultural life.
Biologists and other scientists who study only the material world would have us believe that consciousness, like life itself, is something that arises from humans as a vapor from our material body, like steam rising from the rocks in a sauna. The truth is the opposite; life and consciousness arise in us through the actions of spiritual beings from the very beginning of our Cosmos until now(1). It is not surprising then that all aspects of the social question, religion, arts, laws, and morality should be thought by the same scientists to arise out of our everyday reality. Once again, they have understood the reality of humankind backwards.
[page 20] The working class world view today is namely the following: Everything in the nature of religious conviction and dogma, artistic achievement and legal or moral views, is a superstructure, a kind of spiritual vapor arising out of the only true reality, economic reality. Spiritual life is made into an ideology, into something that is merely in the imagination. To those people, however, who are aware of the foundations from which anthroposophical spiritual science springs, the cultural life in which human beings are embedded is in itself a gift from spiritual beings. They see it not as rising up as clouds out of the depths of economic life but as streaming down from the life of the spiritual hierarchies.
We would do best, when we encounter the social realities, to ask "What is living in it?" Steiner tells us on page 23. The answer we will receive with a serious study of spiritual science is that spiritual beings live in it.
[page 23, 24] If we can become sensitive enough to feel such reverence for the spiritual world surrounding us that we recognize it to be what the spiritual beings themselves are giving us and surrounding us with, then we shall be able to be truly grateful for this gift from the supersensible world which we experience as our earthly spiritual realm of culture.
In Spencer Heath's fine book, Citadel, Market, and Altar, I first encountered the concept of three folds of society which are listed in its title. The Altar was how Heath referred to what Steiner calls above, "Our earthly spiritual realm of culture." Culture is something we experience during our time in a physical body on Earth, but is spiritual in essence. It involves all areas of social interaction not connected with the Citadel (laws) and the Market (economic life).
The second area or Citadel is delineated by Steiner this way:
[page 24] The second area of the social structure is what we could call the administrative rights state, strictly speaking the political life, the area relating to the ordering of juristic relationships between one person and another, of those things in which everybody should be equal before the law. This is the actual life of the state. And fundamentally speaking the life of the state should be nothing else but this. . . . This life, this actual life of the state is the only area within the social organism which has nothing to do with the life before birth or the life after death. This is an area that finds the bearings for all its rulings solely in the world human beings live in between birth and death. The state is true to its own nature only when it does not contain a single element that participates in the supersensible realm, whether in the direction of birth or of death.
The Citadel is the only fold of the threefold social structure which has no connections with the two enigmas: what happens before birth; what happens after death. Curiously, Steiner shows that the Market, the economic fold of society, is connected with the after death enigma. He says, in this next passage, there is a person inside you who makes plans during your time between death and a new birth, plans for your next life prior to your being born, and Steiner calls this person "the more profound human being inside you." (Page 28) This is the same profound person in you who is directly involved during the time between birth and death making economic decisions, decisions which are never quite completed at death and carry over into the spiritual world with us and thence into our next lifetime.
[page 28] Thus specifically those perceptions or impulses we acquire in economic life have a stronger connection to our life after death than people imagine.
Briefly put, if we cannot pay off an incurred obligation before we die, it tops the agenda of that profound person inside us who will arrange for us to balance that obligation in our next lifetime on Earth.
Let us attempt to get the three aspects of the social function down pat. First, the Market and Altar portions. Steiner helps us by pointing out how each human being is a threefold being. As a child we come into this world carrying the ability to see our previous lifetime via a native clairvoyance which disappears before we have formed declarative memory with which to remember it, but vestiges of this childhood reality feeds forward into our adult Altar life and fills us with an attraction to our cultural life of art, religion, learning, etc. During our daily Market interactions with others as adults we create something in ourselves which is etheric and feeds forward into our next lifetime on Earth.
[page 33] It should be of the greatest possible interest and significance to everyone endeavoring to deepen their lives by means of anthroposophical spiritual science to reach the recognition that this threefold ordering of the social organism is based on the very fact that a human being is similarly a threefold being. As a child growing into the physical world we still bear traces of our pre-birth experiences; we have qualities that belong solely to this life between birth and death; and beneath the veil of ordinary physical life, as it were, we are already preparing what will come into its own in the supersensible realm after death. What appears to be the lowest level of life here, the physical handling of the economy — seemingly lower from our earthly point of view than the life of rights — redresses the balance for us by providing the opportunity for us to gain the time to prepare for life after death. In belonging to the realm of art, religion, learning, and all the other areas of spiritual/cultural life, our souls are drawing on the heritage we bring into physical earthly existence through birth. But through the fact of descending, as it were, into the sub-human level in economic life, into the kind of thinking that does not reach up to such high levels, the balance is redressed in that in our deepest inner being we are preparing what will only ascend to the human level after death.
The third aspect is the Citadel, the state function, which only affects us in this lifetime on Earth, with no influences coming from or going out to the supersensible world. Steiner says on page 39, "One branch only of the social organism, the one related to the organization of outer life by the state, is of a purely earthly nature. The two other branches are bound up with supersensible forces in two different directions."
What took me by surprise was an idea that I had not picked up in my previous study of Steiner's threefolding lectures and books, namely, the effect of the Market area, or economic side, of our life which we spiritualize in this lifetime out of our awareness and take with us into the spiritual during our time between death and a new birth.
[page 34] And economic life seems to us to be the lowest of the realms; but it fits this description only because, during our lifetime, it shows us its lowest aspect. It allows us time to develop in our unconscious the spiritual side of economic life which we take with us through death into the supersensible world. This feeling of belonging in brotherliness with other people is the chief thing we have to understand as being the spiritual part of economic life.
Of love and marriage, as the popular song goes, "you can't have one without the other." It seems that is also true of cleverness and stupidity. Take the famous horse Clever John who could do intricate mathematical equations by typing out the answers with his hoof. Scientist finally discovered that the horse was not mathematically clever at all because if no human who knew the answer to the problem was present, he could not answer it. He would stop tapping when he sensed he had reached the solution from someone in the room. Steiner tells us to be aware that a person we consider stupid will have some deep wisdom hidden from us, that "everything has its other side".
[page 34] For instance, with regard to some things we have to become clever and capable, but we cannot reach this particular measure of capability without unfolding a similar measure of stupidity in another direction. One always requires the other. So even if we meet a person in ordinary life who appears to be stupid, we should never consider him totally stupid without being aware of the fact that in his subconscious there may be deep wisdom hidden away which we cannot see.
You can preach to a stove about its sacred duty to warm the room, but unless you add some wood or coal and kindle it, the stove will just sit there in frozen silence. Much that passes as preaching these days is of the nature of "preaching to the stove." Back in 1968, I found a man, Robert H. Schuller, who was stoking the furnaces and lighting fires in the people he preached to in his book Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking, and on his Hour of Power TV program, which is still reaching millions of people across the Earth every week.
[page 37] This is what the stream of religion has missed out on right up until our times when it only beseeches the stove to be warm and frowns upon engaging in real, reliable knowledge of the spirit.
Religion wants us to believe, but belief without action is empty words. Religion on the whole has not changed much since John the Baptist's time when he cried out, Repent! It is a way which exhorts us to think differently, something which people hate to be told to do, up until now.
[page 37] People must learn to think differently! Precisely in this realm a radical about-turn has to happen. At this moment in time there sounds forth to us once again the counsel of Christ, which was also the message of John the Baptist: Change your way of thinking, for the time of crisis is approaching. People have become used to taking it for granted that the spirit is somewhere around looking after them; their religious preachers kept telling them there is this kind of spiritual world of which, however, they give the minimum description. People do not want to make the least effort to know anything about the spiritual world, but only to have belief in it.
Religion has unfortunately become an ideology, an ideology which is a sickness from which we must recover. When we have measles we must protect our eyes from bright lights so we dim the room. Only when we recover from measles can we see things in bright light once again. In modern times our ideologies have caused the spiritual world to become dim to us — have reduced it to abstract logical constructs which act like welder's goggles to dim our sight. If we remove the dark glasses, we can see these two truths, marked (1) and (2) in the passage below.
[page 38] The spirit world must live in me, my very thoughts must be godlike. I must give this divinity the chance to speak through me. Then spiritual life will no longer be merely an ideology. That is the great sin of modern times, that spiritual life is reduced to the impotence of ideology. Theology today has become ideological for it is not only the working class socialist outlook that is an ideology. It is essential that human beings recover from this ideology. The spiritual world has to become real to them. (1) They have to realize that on the one hand the spiritual world is a real factor living in the one sphere of the social organism in the form of a heritage of the life lived in the spirit world before birth, and that on the other hand (2) a spiritual factor is being prepared while we immerse ourselves in economic life apparently below the human level. As compensation for this immersion, the very capacity is being prepared which, in the life we shall enter when we return through death into the spiritual world, shall lead us, if we experience this properly, to a more human, brotherly knowledge here on earth.
While in our time between death and a new birth, we spin and weave the strands which form our earthly existence in our next life on Earth. The source of our spinning and weaving are the moral deeds performed in this life which come together in our next life.
[page 40] . . . in the whole span of human existence everything fits together with the greatest possible meaning. Furthermore, what we set going here in earthly life between one individual and another, what we do to another human being by bringing him joy or sorrow, enriching this thoughts or impoverishing them, by having various dealings with him — these things prepare our karmic life for our next incarnation.
When I first came to see "life as a puzzle with an enigma at each end", I found in Rudolf Steiner's writings the key insight to penetrating the two enigmas: we must open the shades which dim our vision, and drag these enigmas into the light of day where we can see both enigmas revealed in their deep simplicity.
This next passage gives the best definition of the word "dead" that I have encountered.
[page 41, 42] For the finest human achievement arising out of our involvement with anthroposophy will be that it teaches us to penetrate the two great mysteries of earthly life, birth and death, creating a bridge between the sense world and the supersensible world, between the so-called living and the so-called dead, so that what is dead becomes as something alive among us, and we can say of the living: The life that was ours in the supersensible realm before birth and will be ours after our death is nothing else but a different form of existence. Things are dead in the sense world in the same sense that the sense world is dead to us when we are living in the supersensible world. The connection between the things of the world is relative. And when we penetrate the two sides of each and every reality then we shall have reached reality itself.
In an answer to a question at the end of Lecture 2, Steiner explained what life might be like in a threefold society, giving as an example that "One result will be that people will not hesitate to send their children to the independent school . . . they will want to send them, because they will be interested in such a school." We can see today, some ninety-five years after he spoke these words, that such independent schools, Waldorf Schools and Charter Schools, have become popular places where parents can send their children for care-full teaching instead of abandoning them to the care-less teaching of the so-called free schools which are actually very expensive tax-supported schools. People who send their children to independent schools are willing to pay twice for their children's welfare, once through tuition and once through taxes.
The kind of threefolding that Steiner suggests will replace the unsound coercive state, the so-called government which does not deserve the name government, when it completely collapses under its own weight of stupidity, cupidity, and inflexibility. Such a collapse is shown graphically in the movie, Idiocracy.
[page 43] This kind of relationship there is between one person and another, this kind of interest in things, this conscious participation in life, will be there as a matter of course in an independent organism that is on its way to becoming sound.
To understand how this "matter of course" will come about, one need only read the course of Volitional Science(2) called V50 to appreciate the mindset which, once adopted, will make the moral profitable and profitability moral. When that happens the organism we call society will be on its way to being cured of its ever-present malaise and on its way to becoming sound. A threefolding of society will be the natural result of this eventuality.
People who understand how threefolding can come about are crucial to its eventual implementation. It does not require that everyone understand the principles; after all, people fly without understanding how airplanes work, drive without understanding how internal combustion works, use the Internet without understanding how a URL link gives immediate information on your computer or cell phone from some computer halfway around the world. Similarly, when a natural society is formed, no one will have to understand its principals to become a moral person; it will be obviously in their self-interest, both on Earth and in their time between death and a new birth.
To make bread, one only needs a small amount of yeast in proportion to the amount of flour. Similarly those who understand threefolding are to the rest of humanity as yeast is to the flour in a loaf of bread.
[page 44] We can grasp things more profoundly than is possible among the general public. In a sense we can regard ourselves as a kind of leaven — if I may use the biblical term — and everyone from his own particular situation can endeavor to contribute something from out of a much more deeply motivated feeling towards what our time so urgently needs.
When I began reading Rudolf Steiner books, I had no idea that these small books were designed to be read by people already knowledgeable of his basic works. After ten such books, I was aware that what he said was important, but had little clue as to meanings of his words in many places. When the Internet started up the first question I asked to the world in general was "What should I be reading of Rudolf Steiner?" and the answers were "An Outline of Occult Science" and a handful of his other books which lay out the basis of his spiritual science. So, I would like to share Steiner's own thoughts about reading books along with other people, even though you don't know who the other people are.
[page 46] When I read a book I am also drawn out of my individual egoistic self, for I am not the only person receiving the thoughts of the author; even if the book is read only by some people and not by everybody I am absorbing the same thoughts as a number of other people, which means I have become part of a company of readers who share the same soul content. It is an important characteristic of the life of the mind that this part of our life arises in freedom out of the individual resolve of each single person, yet it draws people together and forms communities out of what they have in common.
A young person accepts and often grows to hate the place and time into which they were born. You hear them say things like, "If only I could have born elsewhere", and placing bumper stickers on their autos saying things like, "I'd rather be skiing" — basically living anywhere else and doing anything but what they're doing with anyone but the people they're doing it with. Only with maturity and spiritual scientific study can one begin to understand how the place and time into which one was born is the best possible choice and and understand that one's profound other self chose that time, that small town, those two parents, and those people of the community to be born into.
[page 48] According to our level of maturity before birth we go through a whole range of supersensible experiences before we are drawn again into earthly life through birth. And the forces we receive at this point guide us to the very place on earth which will enable us to experience those communities of earthly spiritual life I have been speaking about.
Steiner explained earlier that the Citadel or state should be not be concerned with nor interfere with the other two folds of economics (Market) and culture (Altar). One needs to be reminded that there are no state ruling bodies extant in the world which practice such admirable restraint, up until now. All of which means that each such state is ruled by the "Unlawful Prince" of this world. What does this term mean?
[page 50] Only through spiritual science can you find its meaning. The unlawful prince of this world rules whenever an authority which should be concerned only with the ordering of earthly affairs claims the right not only to govern spiritual/cultural life, but, as we shall see later, economic life as well. The lawful prince of this world is at work when the realm of the state includes only those things which arise solely on the basis of those forces that appertain to human life between birth and death . . . , the second branch of the social organism. [RJM: the Citadel]
To understand the three spheres of activity called Citadel, Market, and Altar vis à vis our time on Earth and our time between death and birth, I created a simple diagram to illustrate how each sphere interacts with us during these times. Refer to this diagram as you read this summary by Steiner:
[page 53] Thus we have distinguished the three social spheres in the light of spiritual science: spiritual/cultural life pointing back to [RJM: arising from] the supersensible realm before birth; political life as such, bound up with the influences affecting us between birth and death; and economic life proper pointing forward to what we shall experience when we have passed through the gate of death.
Steiner says that "to be an atheist means to have a kind of illness."(3) (Page 59) But, unlike other wags who bake up brilliant bon mots and leave them sitting alone on a window sill to dry up in public view, he gives us a background to explain his statement.
[page 59] If you have developed normally in a thoroughly healthy way you will not be an atheist, because it is ridiculous to believe that the healthy human organism could possibly not have a divine origin. A feeling for 'ex deo nascimur' is something that a healthy human being takes for granted in the course of social life. If he does not recognize I am born out of the divine then he must have some defect that comes to expression in his becoming an atheist. The recognition, however, brings us to a generalized conception of the divine which is not the Christ, although modern pastors, through an intrinsic lie, call this the Christ.
It takes several pages for Steiner to explain this point, but for us living since the advent of the twentieth-century, Christ has been revealing Himself to us in a new and very personal way, one in which we must test our thoughts against others' thoughts.
[page 61] We shall find him only by testing our thoughts against other peoples', by extending our interest through a genuine tolerance for every part of human nature, and telling ourselves: I am born a prejudiced person, but if I am reborn from out of everyone else's thoughts with a comprehensive social feeling in my own thoughts, I shall find the Christ impulse within me. If I stop thinking that I myself am the sole source of everything I think, but recognize myself right into my innermost soul as a part of humanity, then I have found one of the paths to the Christ. This is the path which today must be called the way to the Christ through thinking.
If you wish to warm people's hearts, it will not do to exhort their heart's furnace to provide heat, you must light the coal in the furnace of their hearts by actively working on developing the idealism within your own heart's furnace, by drawing on what Paul said, "Not I but the Christ in me." That is how idealism can be acquired.
[page 64, 65] Make it your aim that people experience a rebirth of idealism, that besides instinctive idealism they have an idealism which they have actively worked for and which lasts for life, then you will set human love alight in people's souls. For to the extent that you develop idealism in your self you will get beyond egoism to a self-supporting concern for others.
To develop this idealism, you need to marshal your thinking and will into service, in effect, following a twofold path to the Christ. Rightly understood this twofold path will lead you to a sense of responsibility which will make you ask yourself:
[page 65] Can I justify what I am doing or thinking not merely with reference to my immediate circumstances and environment but in the light of my responsibility towards the supersensible, spiritual world? Can I justify it, now that I know that everything I do here on earth will be inscribed in an akashic record of everlasting significance, whose influence will work on and on? Oh! It makes a tremendously strong impression on one, this supersensible responsibility towards all things! If one is in the twofold path to the Christ, this feeling of responsibility works like a constant reminder, as though a being stood behind one looking over one's shoulder telling one all time: You are not responsible only in the eyes of the world; you are also responsible to divine spiritual realms for all that you think and do.
All of which makes me wonder, what if Jane Austen had lived into the twentieth century long enough to become aware of Steiner's words and deeds. Might she not have written a book entitled, instead of Sense and Sensibility, one titled, Sense and Spirituality? A novel in which respectable people who look at outer sense reality as being part of a whole which includes spiritual realities, one which everyone would admit to reading not just once, but many times, because the author represents civilization(4). It is not civilization as we know it today, but one that we can earnestly work towards in freedom and light.
Alas, very few people want this or at least are not aware that they want this, up until now. As Steiner says on page 69, "Real spiritual life, one that relies not merely on faith or on ancient tradition, but on the direct spiritual findings of the present, is something very, very few people want today." But this kind of civilization which takes the sense world and the spiritual world equally into account is a boon to earnestly be wished for. It will lead us to the day when one can say without fear of contradiction that, "A rose is a blooming hair of the Earth!" (Page 71)
People like things and dislike other things, do they not? Often they have no clue as to the source of these sympathies and antipathies, but that doesn't stop them from coming up with some handy explanation if asked for one. Why is this so? Because these sympathies and antipathies extend into and from the spiritual world, and few people understand this. In the threefold path of Altar which we embark upon, we find a cure for the antipathies we brought into this life from the spiritual world at birth. In the threefold path of Market which includes all our economic transactions with other people in this life we create a source of sympathies which we will carry with us into the spiritual world in our time between death and a new birth. (Page 77)
People for the most part today are like Nasruddin in the famous Sufi story who is looking for his key under the street light in front of his house. After a friend tires of helping him search to no avail, he asks him, "Nasruddin, exactly where did you last see those keys in your hands?" Nasruddin replies, "In the house." His friend, astonished, asks, "Why then are we looking out here for them?" To which Nasruddin says, "Because there is more light out here." For centuries people have searched for the key to an optimal society out there under the street light of public opinion and have never come close to finding it. Why? Because the key is inside, in the area of the spiritual world which we carry between lifetimes with us into this life on Earth, but which we have rarely examined for ourselves, content to take the words of preachers who exhort us to warm ourselves without telling us we have do hard work to find coal and light it before we will get the warmth we seek.
[page 77, 78] But over the past few centuries nobody has spoken about the aspects of outer physical existence that manifest in spiritual/cultural life, the life of the state and economic life. People have gone on churning out old traditions, but they still do not understand them. They have lost the habit of taking a direct way, through an active soul life, into the land of the spirit, in search of the light that is able to illumine physical reality without which our physical reality cannot be properly understood.
One pet peeve of mine is people who do not properly understand capitalism, mistaking its misuse and misapplication for true capitalism. Steiner, born before Galambos came up with a definition of capitalism of which Steiner would have approved and adopted, can be forgiven for his reference to "soulless capitalism" as if it were the only kind possible, having no idea of the possibility for creating a soulful capitalism which can rescue lost souls from dead machines, creating a living new reality for them from now on.
[page 80] In their inner being human beings have become lonely, and most lonely of all are the ones who have been torn from life and are connected with nothing but barren machines, with the factory on the one hand and soulless capitalism on the other.
The ideal of soulful capitalism is a possibility, given the innovations and technology created by Andrew Galambos, but which few anthroposophists have studied and comprehended, up until now.
As we close this review, let's take a look at how most people refer to spirit as a content instead of a living process which imbues us in everything we do, as if one must look outside for spirit, like Nasruddin's key, instead of inside of our very being and actions.
[page 87, 88] [We must] . . . try more than anything else to find the spirit in a way that will make us strong enough also to penetrate into outer material reality. Then people will really stop using the word spirit, spirit, spirit in every sentence and show instead, by the way they regard things, that they bring spirit into their observation. The essential thing today is that we look at things in the light of the spirit, and not only talk about spirit.
Repent! Think again, to paraphrase John the Baptist. The time is at hand for us to begin looking inside where the real answers to our social questions can be found. If we renew our thinking, we will perceive with new eyes the threefold nature of the human being and how a natural society must develop with the same three folds, as independent entities, Citadel, Market, and Altar, the first affecting only life between birth and death and the other two deeply connected with the spiritual realities in our time between death and a new birth. The Citadel as a materialistic organization is ill-equipped to understand or deal appropriately with non-material realities; rather, it is a coercive body in which groups of individuals must decide upon and enforce policies which affect the rest of the society. Rightly understood, the Citadel cannot coercively decide on dealing with the Market and Altar, both which involve spiritual realities which can only be handled by individual human beings acting volitionally as they balance and create their own destinies in this time between birth and death.
----- Footnotes --------
Footnote 1.Return to prose directly before Footnote 1.
Artificial Intelligence researchers strive to create human intelligence inside a computer and call it consciousness, but they will only achieve the counterfeit of human intelligence and consciousness, no matter how long they try. The Sufis have a saying, "Counterfeit gold exists only because there is real gold."
Footnote 2.Return to prose directly before Footnote 2.
A complete transcription of Dr. Andrew Galambos' V50 lectures can be found in this book, Sic Itur, Ad Astra, here: http://www.doyletics.com/arj/siaa1rvw.htm .
Footnote 3.Return to prose directly before Footnote 3.
On page 87, Steiner includes this marvelous statement by Ludwig Anzengruber, an Austrian writer, "As truly as there is a God in heaven I am an atheist."
Footnote 4.Return to prose directly before Footnote 4.
See [page 55] quote from my On Rereading review here: http://www.doyletics.com/arj/rereadin.shtml.
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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 Imagines the Bride & Groom dolls Sliding Down their Wedding Cake:
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 notices a Unique Wedding Cake:
2. Comments from Readers:
NOTE: I love hearing from all my Good Readers and including your missives here (slightly edited).
If you prefer any comments or photos you send to be private, simply say so and they will not be published.
- EMAIL from Sirpa Marianne Khalil in Zurich:
Nice to read your message again .. and to see what's going on behind that big Atlantic Ocean! Your comments are always precise and easy to understand even for those who don't have English as a native mothertongue.
I have a question: In your review of Rudolf Steiner's The Riddle of Humanity, you have a display and Table about the Location of the Twelve Senses, and Inner/outer The Seven Process of the Human Body.
I have never seen such a good one in English, so wanted to ask you if I may copy and paste them?
I'm teaching the new teachers for the coming Waldorf school in Athens, Greece, but I would not like to give them just like that, but to use it as a reminder just for myself. Getting older, I forget things and then it's better to have a written review...
I'll be one month in Athens again, so I will also enjoy my time there also a little bit, not only "working"!
And my compliment to the Video at the End. It's really Good! Great!
Have a a nice summer!
All the best
Sirpa Marianne Khalil
- EMAIL from Mickey De Nicola in New York:
Hi Bobby (and Del)!
I just had to write you now - I wish your Digestworld came in magazine/newspaper form. I am such a book reader - and I mean a real book - I just love holding a book in my hands. I find it very hard to read on a computer, maybe partly because I work on one all day in a hospital (and that of itself is upsetting - we are supposed to be caring for people - why is this field so full of computer entry?). I guess you get where I come from. I always start perusing your writings and amazing photos and then get tired of looking at a computer screen - and I so love all of your educational and thought provoking discourse.
I am remembering meeting you and Del in NYC with Kevin and his entourage. One of those moments I was blessed to have; I am in awe of you and Del and all your wondrous tales.
Just wanted to say hey and thank you for keeping me on your list. And I do hope to get to 'Nawlins' in the near future for my first visit and will let you know.
Much peace and love,
Hard to believe it's been almost four years since that wonderful day at the Cloisters with you and the gang!
Hope you do make it to New Orleans, would love showing you around.
- EMAIL from Daniel Lim in Singapore:
I came across your website about 2 weeks ago. My name is Daniel Lim I am a 20 year old man from Singapore. I just want to say that you site is amazing! I've been using the speed trace on all my negative emotions with a very high success rate. I have also used it on 3 of my friends. 2 on food dislikes, and 1 on her headache related to her feeling out of place at work. I think I am probably the only person in Singapore who knows about this. I want everyone to know about this, I feel that I should set up some sort of foundation or something to let people know about this amazing speed trace!! I look forward to your reply and communicating with you.
- EMAIL Reply to son Robie (see 2-yr-old Photo of him below):
Thanks for the We Geaux Tigers License plate. Off scale good in so many ways. My hometown is Wego, just like Cajuns say, 'We Geaux' (Wego is short for Westwego), and of course, my Alma Mater is LSU and its Fighting Tigers are my favorite team in baseball, basketball, and football.
- EMAIL from Chris Bryant, Physical Therapist in Corpus Christi, Texas:
I have a past history of sciatic symptoms. As a PT I had access to great orthopedic docs and all the therapy tech and treatments available. Nothing worked and I just dealt with it for 30 years. Then I found a book by a Physiatrist (John Sarno) who had treated back pain for 40 years. His premise was that most back pain was caused by a blood flow disturbance related to stress. When the symptoms arise you ask what am I angry or anxious about. That alone relieves the blood flow issue and relief arrives. I read his book three times before I believed it was worth trying. I had many years of relief. A week ago the sciatic symptoms roared back. I had been Sarnoing relentlessly with little effect. Yesterday my lovely wife asked if I had been tracing. So I started and it seems to be helping. It's a unique MOST because it has PTSD aspects. Some changes occur at 29-26 and some at 17-15 both are times when I experienced the pain as well as stong doyles.
I really like Doyle's suggestion of the MOST for the Speed Trace (Matherne's Optimal Speed Trace) but it is a mouthful to say quickly.
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"The Politician's Prayer"
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:
Renaissance of Liberty
The politician prays to God:
"Please preserve our force and fraud!
"We cannot coerce
without judicious use of force
Nor can we tell the truth
without getting the boot.
"Please hear our plea, O Deity,
Our land with liberty endow,
With the boon of freedom bless
But not just now."
No computer user can go for long without encountering one of the above terms, and worse, the situation the term refers to. This came to mind this morning while being on hold for 10 minutes with Cox Communications to find out why my email account wasn't working. When the Tech Support gal came on the phone, I said, "You must be experiencing some system-wide problem to have a ten minute wait time at 7:30 am." She said, "Yes, our engineers are working on the email system." I was relieved to find it was a problem on their end which caused me a problem with my Zed10 Cell and PC email accounts. I asked if she knew what FUBAR and SNAFU meant, and she said, "Yes." No need to explain it to her, but now I'm thinking of my Good Readers, that some of you may know these two terms refer to some computer problem but have never had the two acronyms spelled out for you, so here goes, in polite speak. You know what polite speak is? For example, Bob Greenberg, a delightful lecturer at Teaching Company this morning used "tush smooching" as a euphemism for the less polite form, "ass-kissing". So here goes, with the polite word in italics:
FUBAR: Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition
I don't know the origin of this term, likely from military usage. It generally is used to refer to an entire system which is down, like the COX email system this morning. If you're the one working on a malfunctioning program and don't have a clue what's wrong and someone asks you, you can reply, "It's FUBAR." Handy.
SNAFU: System Normal, All Fouled Up
Pretty sure this term came from the military. It refers some recurring screw-up or periodically malfunctioning system. When someone asks, "What's wrong with X?" You can respond, "Another SNAFU." Very handy.
Not an acronym; it refers to a program or system of any kind with a hitch in its getalong. Usually minor, often non-repeatable. Usually can be resolved by rebooting the computer or system controller, reseting the modem, etc. Rarely needs fixing, but just as aggravating when it first occurs, until you get it cleared by various recovery processes.
Not an acronym; a generic term for a computer problem, either hardware, software, or system problem. This term I know the origin of, it goes back to Bell Labs and the very first electrical digital computers. I heard this story from a woman named Mary Irwin (nee: Evans) whom I worked next to for a year or so in 1964 at Tulane Biomedical Computing System. She had worked at Bell Labs when they had built a digital computer out of telephone relays which were readily available from its parent company Bell Telephone back then. She said the system was so slow that if you want to execute a loop (repeat a list of computer instructions), you would take the paper tape with the list of machine language instructions on it, place the end next to the beginning to form a loop (where this term came into being), put Scotch tape to hold it together, place it in the Tape Reader and count the number of times it went around till it reached the count you wanted. Slow, right?
One day she said the computer was down because an error had occurred. A technician came back from the roomful of stacks of telephone relays holding a dead roach and said, "Look what I found between the contacts of a relay! This bug caused the problem with the computer." Thus was born our word computer bug!
BUG or GLITCH?
Today no roaches or bugs are small enough to interfere with a single relay which is microscopically inside of CPU and Memory Chips. But these chips are subject to "cosmic bugs" which can cause glitches in a computer.
What are these cosmic bugs? Cosmic rays. A cosmic ray is very high energy ionized particle (a heavy atom with an electric charge) speeding through space. Most of these are captured or deflected by the atmosphere of Earth, but a very small percentage barrel through the surface and if they happen to go through the microscopic "relay" in the silicon chip of the CPU or Memory chip, they can act like that roach between the telephone relay contacts and cause a flip of the switch. If the relay they hit tells the computer to wait for a response from a device like a modem or hard disk and no request was ever sent out to cause a response, the computer will wait forever.
That's a simple example of a computer glitch. You can reboot and the problem will likely go away if it's some software interaction problem, but if it's the kind I described above, you will need to do a RESET, which will force ALL voltage levels to go to their zero state, clearing the weird state the cosmic ray put your computer in so it will stop waiting for the device to respond and everything will come up properly after the Reboot which automatically follows a RESET. Many computers no longer have a RESET switch, but a Power Off will accomplish the same result, only it takes a bit longer. There is a small subset of glitches which require a power-off and wait about 20 seconds for the electrolytic capacitors to discharge, as one of those capacitors may be sustaining an erroneous state not affected by the RESET of the computer.
Remember this sequence: Reboot, Reset, Power Off This is the normal sequence to follow because they will fix the glitch in the order of the most- to least- likely-to-occur.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner reviews are more detailed and my intention is to bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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