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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Yogi Berra (1925-2015)
~~~~~~~~ Hall of Fame Yankee Catcher in Ten World Series ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ "It ain't over till it's . . ." ~~~~~
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WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#15b November, 2015== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Quote for the Voluntary Voting Month of November:
Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
— James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)
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Photos will be added until November 1, 2015.
DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#15b for November, 2015
Table of Contents
1. November's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for November
3. On a Personal Note
Rainbows & Shadows Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint for November, 2015 from Bobby Jeaux: Easy Mulching and Artichoke Preparation
6. Poem from Bobby Matherne's Collection, c.2011:"Gladden Your Heart Today"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for November:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: From Crystals to Crocodiles, GA# 347 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: Zeit zu Leben und Zeit zu Sterben by Erich Maria Remarque
- ARJ2: On the Move — A Life by Oliver Sacks
- ARJ2: Freedom & Neurobiology, Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power by John R. Searle
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. THROWING A WET RAG ON WETWARE
5. FRACTURED FAIRY TALES OF SCIENCE
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. November Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Becoming Friends.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all of the early Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Becoming Friends" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/101415vj1.jpg
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2. HONORED READERS FOR November:
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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 November, 2015:
Bill Turgeon in Washington
Ron Whitcomb in New Orleans
Congratulations, Bill and Ron!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
A DAY WITH GABRIEL BAYHI
When Gabe's girl friend broke up with him, he was broken up over that. Del and I offered to spend a day with Gabe to cheer him up. This is something we did regularly when he was a preteen but something we hadn't done during his teen age years. Now that he's graduated from his teenagership, it seemed like old times to spend a day with him again. He has decided that he's going to ULL in Lafayette next Fall and focus on getting a degree full-time. The part-time thing hasn't worked out well for him with some courses at UNO and most recently Delgado. His cousin Brooke is at ULL, so he'll have someone to show him around.
Getting to his mom Maureen's house is a simple 20 minute hop across the bridge and down Earhart Expressway on most days, but it was anything but easy on this day. Took me an hour to get to Gabe due to a crash restricting outbound I-10 to one lane at the Carrollton Overpass. Should have checked my Z10 and could have taken Del with me to cross bridge on the HOV! Finally I got off at the bridge at Tchoupitoulas, right turn on Napoleon, up to Earhart thinking it would be free, but it was jam packed. I had to take a U-ie back to Claiborne Avenue and right on Carrollton Avenue to Earhart Expressway and to Gabe's. Took a quick peek at Maureen's garden. She is growing a Loofah Gourd vine which is like Kudzu. Everywhere. Enough to sell loofahs at a Farmer's Market.
Since Maureen and Stephen Bayhi split up a few years ago, we don't see the Bayhi side of her family very much anymore. As Gabe and I drove back, I asked about his dad. He told me Steve is staying with Tiffany, helping fix up her house and taking care of her two boys, Aven and Preston.
When we got to Timberlane, Gabe asked me about the Celestine Prophecy and Tenth Insight books. He's reading the latest one, and I shared with him the he results of our work with the first book. We led a long series of discussion meetings in Metairie at the height of the interest in the book. Gabe is interested in building his own computer, so I showed him how my workstation PC is organized with its multiple disks for providing Backup, Backup, Backup. You're not backed up until you have a minimum of two on-site backups and one off-site backup, and I explained to him how I achieved that without using some ephemeral storage capacity like the Cloud, which can blow away when you need it the most. I remember our friend Gail who thought her fancy Apple computer was backed up, and then when it failed, she discovered she had lost everything. While we were on my PC an email came in from Dr. Kaisu Viikari, which I let him read, and explained how she had helped me undo my pseudomyopia, telling him that he needed plus lenses for doing close work, especially important for when he starts college next Fall.Later we drove to pump some gas at RaceTrak and I pointed out A Prompt Computer Store next door which built the PC I designed for myself.
When we got back, Del left for her hair appointment, and I took Gabe on a walk around Timberlane. This was me carrying on a tradition that goes back to my Grandfather Clairville Matherne who did this with my parents back when I was with them on a visit to him in Bourg. Gabe has always been too young before, so this is the first time I've been able to do that with him. At 22, Gabe seems finally to have entered the adult world, so I invited him to come with me to my club for a lecture about a major's theater's renovation. I recalled bringing him with me to a Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra concert pre-Katrina, so I thought he might be interested in hearing about the renovation recently completed at that same building. But first I handed him over to Del, whose favorite thing is taking her grandkids to a movie.She found a movie playing Gabe wanted to see and it was popcorn and soda time in the first-run theater. When Del and Gabe returned, we dressed up and drove to the lecture. We left a little late, and when we arrived, the food was almost gone. Everything about the lecture seemed rushed except the first speaker who was too slow. Then they showed the slides of before and after the renovation without any explanation, and it was hard to sort out which was which. Wish they've have sorted out the slides and described the before and after ones during the talk. Later the speaker's wife talked about her part in the renovation, and she was a delight. Unfazed by the mike which quit working as she began talking, she talked a bit louder. Gabe was a bit bored but he did remember the great building I had taken him to for the Beethoven in Blue Jeans concert, and I promised him when there's another one, I'd take him, even if he has to drive in from Lafayette.
Several people have mentioned to me that they enjoyed my latest DIGESTWORLD Issue, so I asked if they had read the poem God is Dead. They all said "Yes". Asked if them if they saw the White Cross alongside the poem. Most said, "Yes". But when I asked if they read what was on the Cross, no one had noticed the word GOD as the name on the Grave Marker. What about you, dear Readers? It took me a long time to chisel the name GOD onto the white marble Cross to make a point of how ludicrous it is to say that God is Dead. The Cross I chose for this honor was a Cross engraved thus: "Here Rests in Honored Glory, A COMRADE IN ARMS, known but to God".
SECOND UPTON ENGAGEMENT PARTY
In 2013 we drove to Alexandria, Louisiana to an engagement party for our grand-daughter Katie Gralapp and her fiancé Stephen Upton. On October 3 we drove across Lake Pontchartrain to an engagement party for our grandson Chris Bayhi and his fiancee Sara Upton. Two engagement parties in a row of one of our grandchildren to an Upton, what's the chances? Upton is not a common name in Louisiana and so far as we can tell neither Upton family knows of the other's existence, up until now.
The day of the Engagement party, I cooked a Crawfish-eggplant-dressing Omelette for me and Del about 1 pm. Then I put on college games and watched some of the 11 am starts, then the 2:30 starts. Watch UGA crash and burn in the rain. Watched Indiana University nearly destroy vaunted Ohio State. Then we dressed for the evening affair. Dan and Karen were expecting us and they're only 15 minutes away from the engagement party at Abita Brew House. Dan gave us two large containers of crawfish stew which he had already packed in ice, and Del had brought a small ice chest, but forgot the ice. Those two siblings, Dan and Del, can read each other's minds or at least anticipate each other's reactions. The two foodpacks just barely fit into our small Igloo and made it home still frozen solid.
Left Dan and Karen's and drove to locate the invisible Abita place, which we had no visual expectation for: was it a large new building all lit up or an old double home dark with no lit-up signs visible from the road. It turned out the latter. Our GPS was useless. Drove around the block without seeing Abita and parked, figuring it was hidden. It was. The only sign was an unlit dark sign, impossible to read from the street unless you're walking up on the sidewalk as we now were. Abita Brew House was in a Cajun Cottage and we couldn't read the sign over the porch until we walked up the steps! The Engagement Party, the Gathering of Bayhis and Uptons, was happening out back, in the dark and cold of the 60s evening.Even with our light jackets, we were cold and spent a lot of time near the tall gas heaters, like a lot of folks. Hard to walk around the tables, easy to fall into the pool, something no one wished to do on this cold night. Hard to hear when Jeff Upton talked on the other side of the pool from us to express his wishes for Chris and his daughter Sara, but his remarks were well-received by those who could hear him.
I took Sara aside later to explain that our engagement present to her and Chris contained Waterford leaded cut-glass Millennium champagne goblets. She thanked me and tears began to well up in her eyes as she told me that her grandfather had promised her some Waterford goblets, but he died without telling anyone (or if he did, they ignored his wishes), and she had never gotten any, up until now. I told her if you wish for something long enough, it will show up. Del had made a wise decision in giving this gift to Chris and Sara. These were the two flutes that Del got from her mom after she passed, so we still have our original Waterford goblets from 2000.
Our former son-in-law Steve Bayhi was there with his lady Trish. Jeff's wife is Lisa, a nice-looking blonde who took photos. All four of our Bayhi grandkids were there, so I made sure to get photos of them, and also of the four generations, Me, Maureen, Tiffany, and Ben.I told Ben I expected that I'd soon be looking up to him, and now I was. He is now about two inches taller than I am. I had a photo taken of me looking up to my great-grandson Benjamin.
Ben's mom, Tiffany, is looking great, and Jennifer still has her indomitable, eboullient spirit. Her husband Anthony couldn't come because his cousin was staying with them. My former brother-in-law's wife, Debbie Guthans, was there, and said her estranged husband still hasn't finalized the divorce. I met Debbie's son Nicholas with the fiery red hair and the mellow disposition. He didn't know who I was, so I told him, "I met your dad when he was this high when I began dating his older sister. I'm Maureen's dad." Nicholas is married now and his wife was with him, constantly thumbing her smart phone and talking about the parades they march in. Nick spoke few words, but seemed to be taking everything in.
About halfway through the event was when it first occurred to me that this was the second engagement party in a row in which our grandchild was being engaged to an Upton. Katie with Stephen, and now Chris with Sara. Amazing coincidence. I shared that with Sara's parents, Jeff and Lisa Upton, and then with Knobby Penzata. Knobby was a delight to talk to. I really miss his annual spring Bayhi Crawfish Boils. His two girls are in college. Brooke, a real beauty, is attending ULL and looking forward to Gabe joining the Pepper Squad there, red hot peppers, a name she prefers to the Ragin' Cajuns. It was too cold to stay much after 9 pm, so we left after getting photos.
Del drove home and when we arrived in the Screening Room, I began playing back the LSU-Eastern Michigan game. Steve Bayhi had blurted out the score was 17-0, but I had no idea how the game went until after that score was reached. It went downhill actually as Miles substituted second-stringers he figures he will need for the upcoming SEC games to give the first stringers a break.Leonard Fournette scored 3 TDS and made 233 yards, but after the final TD he scored in first three plays of 3rd quarter, he sat on the bench. The rest of the 3rd quarter was running backs Guice, Williams, and Brosette who didn't score, but looked great running. Williams broke loose for 51 yds, but was tackled from behind, something no one's done to Fournette. Stopped at the 15, the Tigers ran Williams three times and finally kicked FG. Rats. Final score was LSU 44, Eastern Michigan 22.
I'm thinking maybe Fournette, being treated as a a three-quarters athlete by Coach Miles, will stay for three years before going pro. Or what the hell, maybe he'll stay four for fournette, being true to his name.
SAINTS WIN OVER DALLAS COWBOYS
Our quarterback Drew Brees had to win this game TWICE! Once with a masterful job using up the time in the fourth quarter to break the tie with a winning field goal from within extra point territory. Kicker Hocker hit the left upright! (Coach Peyton drop-kicked Hocker the following week and brought in a new kicker.) Saints won the toss in Over Time and Brees took the ball. On the second play he passed from his 20 yd line to C. J. Spiller who caught it in stride, juked one defender and outran the other one 80 yds to a TD and a WIN. A Spiller Thriller was the New Orleans Advocate's Headline the next morning.WOW! Del and I jumped up and down in a circle afterwards! I predicted this win and was so happy the way it came about. Spiller finally made a name for himself with this signature TD run, one which they paid a lot of money to make possible by picking him up as free agent, luring him away from the Buffalo Bills.
DEL CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF BIRTHDAYS
Del's twin boys, Jim and John, celebrated their 50ath birthdays this month and all four of our Hatchett kids came into town to celebrate the event with a dinner in their honor. Jim drove in with his wife Gina and her son Kirt from their new home in Memphis. Said it took him only 6 hours, which is better time that we usually make going to Hot Springs in Arkansas. The difference is it's all a direct Interstate from here to Memphis.
I had planned to watch the LSU-South Carolina football game at 11 am the Saturday of the birthday party, but because of Hurricane Joquin's deluge of Columbia, the game was moved to Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge and the time reset to 2:30 pm. That gave me a chance to go watch our grandson Kyle play football in Dutchtown High School stadium where Jim and Kirt would be. Gina and Amanda had gone off shopping, but Kim Hatchett was there with Kyle's brother Collin.Kyle's team came back to score a TD with a minute left in the game, making it 14-8, and then almost won with a long TD run that got called back on a penalty. John was on the field coaching and when Kyle's team lost, he was furious at the boneheaded play which cost them the game.
We left early and got back in time for the LSU-USC game. What a great game! LSU passed USC silly, 635 yards offense. Fournette and Guice each topped 150 yds rushing in spite of USC putting 10 in the box to stop the run. Darryl William and Derrius Guice each scored a TD in the game. Won 45-24, an amount that is getting to be a regular score. Miles put his second string defense in the second half and unleashed his stable of running backs. When Brossette fumbled and was taken out, Fournette went over to cheer him up, getting up on his feet again and smiling. What a fine young man is Leonard Fournette! He loves seeing his stable mates get carries and score TD's.
Del left before the end of the LSU game to go to Randazzo's Restaurant. I left 15 minutes later and when I called she still hadn't found the restaurant. I simply drove down W. Napoleon to Woodlawn, turned right at TANO offices where I used to work, drove past Clearview Auto, and parked in spot next to dumpster and walked into restaurant. There were about 18 of us: Pinky and his wife Micah, Norman Pineda, Stoney, Sue, Bill and Carol, Dan, Del, Jim, Kirt, Gina, Amanda, Karen, Bobby, Kim Gralapp, Kim Hatchett, and John Hatchett completed the set. I took photos, a bit of Alabama getting beat by Arkansas. Had fun talking to Norman PIneda. He had on aYankees jersey and cap and I told him if he didn't have a dark suntan, he'd look just like Yogi Berra. He laughed. We left after dinner and came home to watch Ohio State and TCU nearly get beat. Four or five Top Ten teams nearly went down, including Utah. LSU could beat any of them.
The next day was Sunday and we'll blithely skip over the Saints' pathetic performance against the Eagles. An inept showing by the Saints' defense. Plus the offense couldn't sustain a drive long enough to give the defense a rest. Worse Saints game I've ever seen. But even worse was my experience during half-time. I wanted to get a Slide Show going for the Twilight Garden Club meeting here the next day on my 2-in-1 Laptop/Pad Lenovo. Takes about 20 seconds usually. But this was the first time I tried this on WINDOWS 10. It took me an hour of grief! They have hidden the usual Slide Show screen under a pile of garbage so that after trying the LOCK screen and getting screwed over every way but Sunday and this WAS SUNDAY, I finally found where THEY HID THE bleeping Normal screen, below the bottom of a dialogue box AND OUT OF VIEW, and then I got my slide show to work. THIS IS UTTER %#^&$^&@! ! ! !
TWILIGHT GARDEN CLUB MEETING AT TIMBERLANE
The slide show worked fine for the meeting and our home was full of garden club ladies. Del had about 28 chairs and place settings arranged for the luncheon. I took a couple of the ladies on a tour of our vegetable gardens and explained how I had arranged the ferns to water themselves without over flowing during a rainstorm and also making it easy for me to water them once a week in those rare periods (like most of October) when we get no rain at all. See fern-watering system here. The hit of the day was the "Bundteenies" — cute little muffin-sized bundt cakes made by Nothing Bundt Cakes in Metairie and all decorated for Halloween.
VICTORY, FUNERAL, AND BREAKDOWN
SAINTS WHIP ATLANTA IN THE DOME
Like Lazarus, the Saints football team walked out of the Superdome, alive in the NFC SOUTH again with a big 31-21 win over the Falcons. This was the day that they did the unveiling of the Steve Gleason bronze statue of him blocking a punt in the first game back from the Saints Katrina exile in the Dome in 2006. Steve, afflicted with ALS and still able to send a Tweet, sent out his message to Atlanta after this game in which Michael Mauti, son of a former Saint, blocked a punt for a TD against Atlanta: #DONTPUNTATLANTA. Del and I were in that 2006 game and the feeling for this year's game was similar. The team spirit was high and we literally clipped the Falcon's wings.
DR. MATTHEW MATHERNE (1981-2015)
My first cousin Dr. Brian Matherne lost his son to a rare illness. Matthew was finishing up his medical degree about seven years ago when he was diagnosed with a brain disease. He stayed and finished his medical degree before the disease made it impossible for him to speak. A few days later I heard Barbra Streisand sing "Songbird" which ends with this line, "Where is my songbird to sing his song for me?" One of Matthew's loves was singing. I recall his joyful singing at the wedding reception of his dad, Brian, to Marianne. Matthew's wife, Amy, who stuck faithfully with Matthew through his seven year illness, explained how difficult those final three years were for her when she could no longer hear her husband sing to her.
Thanks to my brother Paul for giving me a head's up on Matthew's death, as the first obituary appeared in the Advocate the morning of the funeral in Bourg, and I could have read the obit too late to get to the funeral.I have learned that funerals are for those living, a time of recalling the loved one who has passed and a time of enjoying the presence of those alive, a time of goodbye and reunion rolled into one. It was great seeing my first cousins and a couple of my aunts, Carolyn and Marie. Brian's brothers Nathan and Tommy thought I was Paul, and when I saw Nathan leaving the cemetery I called him over and introduced him to Paul (just to let him see me and Paul together, actually). Later Tommy told me he saw Paul and now can recognize us both. When Nathan had called me Paul earlier, I called him Tommy back. He laughed. These are cousins who were about six years and more younger than I was, so they were still curtain climbers when I was there as a teenager. Plus there were six of them and the younger ones all looked alike, wearing diapers at the time. Uncle Terry's kids, Sandra, Michael and Buddy were there. Roxanne and Jane of Aunt Marie's brood, also Jackie of course. I apologized to both Aunt Marie and Jackie for missing Uncle Dave's funeral. Del and I had just driven into Orlando when I heard that the funeral would be the next day. Paul and Joyce had driven in from Opelousas and brought me some local yams, still covered with dust, which keeps them fresh, and I'm waiting on the Evangeline yams, ofwhich I will get a bushel next month from Paul and Joyce. I already have my order in since I enjoyed the one they gave us last November.
BREAKDOWN AND REBIRTH
Before I tell you of my breakdown, let me share with you what happened to our friends John and Sandra last month. They live in the French Quarter and one day they came home from grocery-shopping and unloaded their groceries. John told me that an hour later he realized that he had left his keys in the door of the car which he left parked right outside their front door. He went out to retrieve his keys and they were gone, along with the car. He reported the car stolen to the police. The next day the police called to say they found the car in good shape abandoned on the raised West Bank Expressway. The car appeared in good shape, but the transmission was shot. John called to have his car towed to his regular repair shop and the shopman called him later, saying, "John, the transmission was such bad shape, it was ready to go at any moment." John smiled as he told the next part, "I imagined the perp who stole the car had to walk a long way to get off the Expressway in the heat of the day, and the best part is that the insurance company, since the car was stolen, paid for the repair of the transmission." Not often you get a stolen car tale with a happy ending.
As I was driving home in my White 2000 Maxima from Matthew's funeral, it was a hot day and apparently the transmission failed due to the heat. As I passed Mimosa Park where my parents had lived in St. Charles Parish, I suddenly heard a noise and the Tachometer went very high, over 6000. I lowered my speed to 40, which the Tach at 5000 rpm. My first rationale was keep the AC on because the engine's going so fast it should be able to work the AC just fine. Well, as it turns out, I was only going 40 mph so the engine was only getting cooled by 40 mph air while it should have been cooled by 120 mph air. With the AC off and going only 35 mph, the temperature came down into range again. I took the Lapalco exit off Hwy 90 figuring to get to my Nissan dealer before closing time and check it in for service. I made it. Stopping at Red Lights helped cool the engine. Engine ran great, only the transmission is affected. At this point I remember John's experience with his car and the thought passed through my mind, "If only someone had stolen my car!" Sure enough, I needed a new transmission and it would cost about what John's insurance company paid to replace his.
After 126,000 miles and 15 years of service, the White Maxima got donated to Bridge House and we bought a new 2016 Silver-colored Maxima Platinum. I had gotten dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century by having to give up the cassette tape player on the White Maxima.
THE WHITE HOUSE ON LAFAYETTE STREET
The morning of my car's breakdown Del's Timberlane Garden Club was meeting in the White House which houses the Gretna Historical Society. I stopped by on the way to Houma to say hi to Del's Garden Club ladies, especially Glennda Bach who had done a great job on helping us move into our new house six years ago, finding the new house for us and selling our old house just as soon as it went on the market. I save a jar of my fig preserves from each batch for her and her husband who love them and I wanted to make sure she got it.
ST ANN'S CHURCH IN BOURG
When I got to St. Ann's Catholic Church, the church my Grandparents, both the Babins and the Mathernes, went to, where my mom and dad were married, where I remember going to watch movies on Saturday afternoons as a pre-teen in the quonset hut-shaped gymnasium which served as community center for decades, where my brother Paul's wedding reception was 50 years ago this month, I was in for a big surprise: the quonset gym building was completely gone! A parking lot was framed up to replace it, and half the concrete had been poured already.Behind the parking lot was a newly constructed building with a porte-cochere where people can get out of their cars to enter the building without being rained on. I stared for a minute — the building was about the size and shape of St. Ann's Church, but it was not a replacement church, instead a new community center. Since the parking space was under construction and the church was full of people for Matthew's funeral, I took the last parking space against the railing alongside Bayou Terrebonne. There was a long line waiting to go into the church, extending into the sun past the covered walkway, so I walked around the left side of the church. I wanted to see the new bell tower, only about twenty feet high, but it contained the original Hotard Bell that had previously been sitting on a concrete pad near the ground on the opposite side of the church. The Hotard family was the founder of the town of Bourg and had apparently donated the first bell to the original St. Ann's church.The new church did not have a bell tower, so the bell waited until now to have a bell tower again. A rope hangs down the side of the bell so that it can be rung again.
I continued my walk, wanting to see the new building, but decided to enter the back of the church and got to talk to my Matherne cousins. First one I met was John who had just driven in from Colorado for the funeral. He got about as much notice as I did and had a much longer drive. After John, I worked my way through the receiving line backwards, greeting Marianne, Brian's wife, Brian, Nathan, Tommy, and gradually got to the end of the line where my sister Janet and her husband Tommy were, having just arrived.
I went back into church and sat next to my Aunt Marie and Aunt Carolyn during the Mass. Brian spoke first, admitting what a hard job it was for him to be giving a eulogy for his son. Later in the service the Deacon used the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Matthew as a basis for talking about Matthew, "Blessed is Matthew . . ." It was a double handkerchief event for many friends of the young doctor who was taken away from us so early in his life.
After the Mass was over, we filed out into the Cemetery behind St. Ann's where so many of my ancestors are buried. Paul and Joyce met me at my car with the sweet potatoes from their home town of Opelousas, known as the Sweet Potato Capital of the World. Once you taste their sweet potatoes, you'll know why the title. I drove home after seeing Paul and Joyce and it was on the way home that my transmission gave out. Because of the usual visitation hall having been razed along with the gym, there was none of the usual pastries for the visitation period, and I was very hungry by the time I had checked in my car at Nissan. Luckily Del had some shrimp fettuccine left over from the Garden Club Luncheon so we didn't have to go out to eat.
PATIO PLANTER'S SECRET GARDEN TOUR
Del and I belong to the French Quarter organization Patio Planters and this annual tour raises money for their Christmas Caroling in Jackson Square event. Year before last, we acted as docents for the Garden Tour and enjoyed it a lot. This year it was even more fun. Why the name Secret Garden? Because the homes in the French Quarter typically border on the edge of the banquettes (sidewalks to you Englishers). If you sit on the stoop of your front door on Bourbon Street, for example, your feet will be on the sidewalk. If you walk down Burgundy, Chartres, Royal, Dauphine, etal, you might think these homes have no green space at all, but you would be wrong. Their green space is in the side and back patios which are lush with greenery and flowers to compensate for the lack of a green lawn. Often there's a swimming pool, banana trees, flower-filled pots hung on the alley fence and around the edges of the patio. To see these you need to have a friend who lives in the Quarter or be lucky enough to be in town during the middle of October and attend the Secret Garden Tour.
As docents we got tickets for both Saturday and Sunday to all the gardens on the Tour. We spent two days in the Quarter going through all the gardens. The longest walk is about 6 blocks from one Garden to the farthest Garden, with stops at other patios in between.
Saturday was a full day for us: Secret Garden Tour in French Quarter, Cemetery Tour in Gretna, and SEC Tour in Timberlane (LSU and Florida). I made Crawfish-Eggplant Dressing (CED) omelettes for us for early brunch, then we parked in Sam's lot in the Quarter. Sam's son was there Saturday. We walked first to Patio No. 4 on 1028 Bourbon, and after visiting them all, we decided it was the best. It had a concrete bust of Ludwig van Beethoven tucked under a bush on the patio. Nice shaded patio with lots of seating and a couple of fountains. We told some of the other docents to get to No. 4 for sure. Then we went down to 928 Bourbon, 914 Bourbon, doubled back to 817 St. Philip, then 815 Dumaine, before stopping by 826 St. Ann for rest room and chocolate chip cookies with lemonade ladled out by Ott, the Patio Planter member who bought at a White Elephant Sale our leather office chair that he likes a lot, he later told us. It had been Del's dad's office chair, and too big for us, but perfect for Ott. We're giving a big pile of stuff to the Patio Planter's White Elephant Sale again this year and I hope we can go. Fall is a great time to visit the Quarter for outdoor stuff.If you come to New Orleans, do so in April or October for the best outdoor weather. But if you get here some other time, remember, the restaurants are open year-round, and the bars 24/7.
We got home from the Quarter in time to take a nap and head out to the Red Maple Restaurant on Lafayette Street to join the Hook and Ladder Cemetery Tour in the first graveyard in the city of Gretna. We had done this a couple of years ago and it's always fun to listen to the docents narrating the story of the person they are dressed to represent as they stand in front of their own tomb. One was a Mrs. Whiteside who famously chased people off her property with a shotgun, and there she sat in her rocker with her shotgun leaning against her tomb as we walked up to her. Another one was a famous tailor, a Mr. Strehle, who stood in his tailor suit with a thimble on his right index finger and a measuring tape draped over his black vest. Tony Labruzza was portrayed in a bright red fireman's uniform as he was part of the oldest continuously operating Volunteer Fire Company in America. One tomb was of personal interest to me as it seems to hold the remains of the Mayor of Westwego, Roy C. Keller, who was our backyard neighbor when I was a kid. His home had a double lot and the lawn portion gave me a clear view through our chain link fence of Westwego Elementary where I went to school for Grades 1 to 4. Our principal then was Myrtle Thibodaux, after whom the school is now named.As an adult I found out that she graduated from LSU when I met her at an LSU Alumni meeting in Metairie. Speaking of LSU, they handled Florida quite well, spotting them a couple of easy TD's and then whipping them 35-28.
CHERRY MAX AND PLATINUM MAX
Ever spent an entire day buying a new car? It happened to us when we went into the dealership to buy a replacement for the White Maxima. When the White Max limped into the dealership with a fried transmission, I finally got Del on the phone to come pick me up. Diane Guthrie was there talking to her and Del did not hear the phone ringing. Ever happen to you when you call your wife? Grandkids, girl friends, kids, yard workers, brokers, brother, mailman, you name it, ist seems they all get more priority than the husband — am I right or am I lying?
To keep myself busy while waiting for a call back, I walked from the service area into the dealership and saw this silver Maxima Platinum Edition which I fell in love with. A sales rep, Cynthia, came over and answered my questions about the car. Never once asked her about the color of the upholstery. When Del arrived to pick me up, she came in and looked at it and that's mostly what the two gals talked about.Do guys ever talk about the upholstery color on a new car? None that I know would. We went home to discuss buying the car or not. I was okay with putting a new transmission in and fix leaking seal on the White Maxima for $5K, but Del wanted me to buy a new Maxima. That decision was easy. Next step was to go back on Monday to talk further to Cynthia, mostly about upholstery color and some minor items like whether to buy it or lease it.
Cynthia was our saleslady and she did a bang-up job. Didn't drop the ball like the 2010 sales guy did: he never told us of the brand new button open-close on the door handles. Took us three years to find that out, and only when our daughter-in-law Gina bought a similar Maxima. While we visited her and Jim in Dallas, I saw her pushing the button, and she told us how it worked. What a great idea! I thought. My White Maxima's remote control button wore out from use, something that will never happen with the new handle push-button open-close.
Cynthia answered all my questions except one. Why? Because Del called from home where she went to get some papers, and we never got around to this question: How to get the "Nothing's Wrong Alert" off the center of the dashboard. Called her later to find out. Turns out there's a nice variety of dashboard displays, already configured and ready-to-use by pressing a Left-Right Toggle on the steering wheel. The one I like best has the weather conditions, the name of the street you're driving on, and a Speed Limit Sign with the current speed limit of the highway you're driving on, among other things.All this without needing to put the Navigation display on, besides the map only displays the Freeway speed limits, not those of local road and highways. One morning I was driving the exact 35 mph speed limit on Lapalco Boulevard displayed on the dash while being passed up by all the other cars, until I entered the city limits of Gretna. Seems like the Parish Deputies outside Gretna have too many other things to ignore to pay attention to speed limits.
A few days later, I had to search through two books to find out how to set the clock. It was an hour behind. It was not in User's Handbook, which sent me to Navigation Handbook, and it directed me to the Settings at bottom of display, the Clock icon, which I pressed once to add one hour to make the time right. Very handy. It was auto-daylight savings time, but who knows exactly what that means or when it changes. So I just clicked the + 1 hour button and called it okay.
Before we left the dealership with the car, I noticed a small plastic strip that seemed to be jutting out funny. Turns out it covers the complete navigation database's SIM chip up above windshield. The cover was stuck out on one side and Cynthia called a guy who came over to set it in place. I had already stripped the sticky paper label on the SIM chip that someone skipped removing when they plugged it in. That helped. The guy who came to fix it was on the passenger side, held the cover tightly towards him and finally the other side clicked in flush and tight. Should be easy to update any future road changes by an inexpensive, do-it-at-home procedure. One can dream, can't one?
The Platinum Max is what we'll call it, Platinum being the brand name for any fully loaded Maxima. Cynthia drove us around the lot in a new Murano which has identical dash as the Maxima. Still has the 18" tires though, which may give it extra mileage, come to think of it. Doubt enough to cover the extra cost of the large sized tires.
Took me several trips to move trunk and car contents of the White 2000 Max into the Cherry Max. It was big job: like moving my office from one building to another. Except here I could drive my old office to the new office for the transfer of contents.I drove the Cherry Max around so trunks of each car would be close together (about 10 feet apart) and began the transfer. Halfway through, Del called me to come sign more papers. I had about 31 pages to sign and initial. We skipped the road-side service, having AAA and State Farm, but we did take the tire warranty, one-time for 5 years, including tire, wheel repair, and replacement. Would have been nice to have that on the Cherry Max, as Del would have come out ahead on the two tire replacements and the aluminum rim repair/replacement.
I drove the car home, proud of the new member of our family, and famished. The next day I drove back to Nissan with the second set of the White Maxima keys, but first used them to open the hood to remove the Trickle Charger extension from the battery through the grille. This made for easy connection whenever we took a weeks long trip away. We set the garage door opener in the Platinum Maxima to open the garage door. One more job needed doing: clean out and organize the trunk of my new ride, the Cherry Max. I went through all the White Max's papers and discarded unneeded ones. I verified and set in proper place the latest registration and insurance papers. Removed all the toolboxes and placed them on a shelf in the garage.The days of my doing auto repair jobs on the highway are gone, and moving the toolboxes from the trunk to the garage confirms that status. Then we drove the Platinum and Cherry Maximas into their respective places in the garage.
HALLOWEEN HAYRIDE AND DOWNPOUR
Remember the line, "It never rains in California, but it pours", well, it seems to have been the case this year for LSU. McNeese State football game got cancelled due lightning and heavy rain, then South Carolina game had to be moved because of heavy rain from Columbia, S. C. to Tiger Stadium, and finally on the night of our neighbor Halloween Hayride, LSU was playing Western Kentucky and it poured down raining before the game and later during the game.Turned out to be lucky for the LSU Tigers because WKU's quarterback, Ranked No. 1 in the Country, had some soggy footballs to whip around on that night. Our Fighting Tigers began to roll in the second half and won it 45-20. This was a day when Alabama nearly lost to Tennessee, and the flighty No. 3 Utah Utes lost to unranked USC who was favored by Vegas to win, the oddsmakers knowing more than the Pollsters about college rankings. Our halfback Leonard Fournette got 158 yards plus twenty receiving and one TD. Guice got his first LSU TD, and Williams the other running TD. Great passing by Brandon Harris for long passes to break up the ten in the box defense. 6-0 is great going into November.
Okay, okay, the Hayride: I had planned to go out like in previous years and give candy to the kids, but I watched the first hour of the game before going to see if it was going to be a close game, and it looked close enough that I decided my Tigers needed me to pull for them live not on DVR Memorex.
So I decided to skip the Hayride except for checking in with everyone during half-time. The parade of floats had gotten stalled so I didn't get to give out candy, but I got to meet Quoc and Milen, our down the back nine neighbors, and Fae our down the fairway neighbor whose husband Otto was at home watching the LSU game. Good man that Otto!
It did not rain on the hayride but there was another downpour a next day from the remnants of a Pacific Hurricane Patricia who arrived dumping needed rainwater to quench the various fire alerts across the southern part of the US from Texas to the East Coast. This downpour started right after the New Orleans Saints had dispatched the Colts in fine order. I had planned to go down to my club, but was delayed by a bit of synchronicity. Del and I had been watching this streaming movie "October Gale" with Patricia Clarkson in it who played a widow who was alone on a stormy island. Her husband had gone out in an October gale and never returned. We watched it during the time-outs and commercials of the Saints game. I got the message to skip my trip uptown loud and clear: this husband ain't going out in an October gale on this night. Five or six inches of rain and tree limbs being knocked down was enough to keep me at home, high and dry.
Then the worst case scenario for our planned Sunday evening of relaxed TV watching arrived.
First some Amber Alerts in RUSTON, LOUISIANA, at the far northern end of our state, almost in Arkansas, began interrupting the WWL radio broadcast of the football game, so I switched sound to the FOX TV broadcast and soon the Alerts were scrolling across the top. Luckily I could see the game in progress, but couldn't hear what was happening. Back and forth, three or four times, no doubt frosting off all the Saints fans no end! What Saints fan would bother responding to such an alert during a Saints game anyway? Even if they had any pertinent information.
Soon after the football game was over our COX cable went out! If only those Alerts had waited an hour! When it happened, we had finished our two NetFlix DVDs and we were streaming a Blue Bloods episode through NetFlix on our PS/3. I heard a thud and noticed the Lower Left TV had lost its signal. I predicted that our streaming would halt in about five minutes, which I had months earlier calculate to be the amount of buffered Netflix signal of our PS/3. When it went out, we had no more DVD's to watch, so what to do? I remembered that I had DVR'ed "Dr. Zhivago" some weeks early on TCM, and this dark and stormy night without live TV (and thankfully Amber Alerts) would be a great time to watch it! I first read the Pasternak Novel in 1958 and loved the movie. So that's what Del and I did. We watched it from beginning to end, 3 hours and 20 minutes without interruption on our large screen plasma TV. All good things must come to a new good beginning and that's where we are with our personal notes for October, except for a few last minute notes.
GLITCHES OF THE MONTH:
BAD PDFS NOW WORK ON THE WEB
Several years ago, we began sending my review files to the Internet in two forms: the standard .shtml form and the .pdf form. The .shtml files are easier to read directly on the screens of PC's, Smartphones, and Pads, whereas the Adobe Acrobat .pdf files are easier to print out for reading, so we allow you, Good Readers, to decide which format suits you. At the end of last month several pdf versions of reviews, two Oliver Sacks reviews and The Image of Christ, were corrupt on the web, so I removed their .pdf files. After I uploaded and installed an update to Acrobat, I re-tested those removed files to find that they are now easily viewed as pdfs, so their links have been restored.
TROUBLE SENDING GRAPHIC FILES TO REMOTE
Another nagging problem this month was .jpg and .gif files getting corrupted on way to remote. Spent an hour troubleshooting the a cartoon to get it to load to the remote website properly.I'm suspecting my ftp application WS_FTP Pro, and would like to have a secondary FTP app when a problem occurs in the future. Can anyone suggest any help for me on this?IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
AND SO IT GOESThe month ended with an Oktoberfest Event at the Timberlane Country followed by a weekend trip to Alexandria, a road trip for our new Maxima to visit to our daughter Kim.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW GOOD BEGINNING
For the past 31 days, October blew through with cool and dry weather, requiring some watering of our St. Augustine grass in the West Lawn area, but a nice heavy downpour in the last week gave our veggies and lawn a good soaking. Our Fall Gardens are looking "dirt and pretty" to quote our friend Calvin. The broccoli are almost up to my waist, the bell pepper plants have flowers, the tomato plants are getting close, the cabbage are already creating heads inside the large leaves. Basil plants are growing in the Babe Garden along with five potato plants seeded from the leftovers of the Spring potato crop. Till we meet again at the end of November, God Willing, we will stay cool and fresh, and celebrate a new grand-daughter around Thanksgiving. We hope whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, be it warm or freezing, that you will remember this: Peace and Serenity can only be found within, and so we offer this earnest wish for you, in the closing part of this great year:
MAY YOUR WORLD REMAIN PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-FIFTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
- A fanatic is one who re-doubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.
George Santayana (American Writer)
- It is beyond the gods
why we hold onto our sorrows
so long, and so stubborn.
~ Wang Ping ~
See Poem of Month: Gladden Your Heart Today .
New Stuff on Website:From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
INTRODUCTIONIn 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. (Note: scientists with no apparent interest in the evolution of consciousness have tried to evaporate away the meaning of these pollen grains. I pity them.)
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 a poem or two each month until all poems have been published on-line. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne) The rest of the five poems come from Bobby's 1995 book of poetry, Rainbows & Shadows, all of which are being published for the first time on-line.
As we reach the end 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
Guilt By Association
What is government but a guild?
Great innovations are never made by guilds
but by free associations.
Guild by association
is not free
The wildest, most delicate spirit
can be damped
By forced association
with the guild.
If the guild allows you to vote,
vote no for the guild
by not voting
or you will be
Guilty by association.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
To the Reader:
This was the introduction to Flowers of Shanidar, my first book of poems, but it applies to all of my poems, so I include it here as we move into only "Rainbows & Shadows" poems next month. ==========================================
Deli really loves it when my poems rhyme.
"Can't you make it happen all the time?"
I explain that modern poetry
has well-known un-rhymed notoriety.
So she listens patiently awhile
but only when it rhymes does she smile.
Each of us has a little boy or girl that lives inside of us. The above poem was written for the little girl inside my wife, Del. For her many of my poems rhyme.
Why poems, several people have asked me. A poem is its own reason for being — it requires no introduction or justification to talk about any subject at all. James Malroy Morgan, Jr. told me, "Each one of your poems would take a book to explain it." There is a condensation of ideas and thoughts compacted into the poems that suggest such future exposition. For now, here are the raw poems, rhymes and all, sans further explanation.
3. Chapter: Rainbows4. Chapter: Shadows
As we reach the end 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).
The Magic Mirror
On my outside rear view mirrorI glued a convex reflectorBut to me it is much more than that:
To offer me a wider view
Of approaching traffic
From the rear.
It has become a magical artifact
That transforms the mundane world
Into an artistic miniature
Sparkling all its purview
In a high-tech drop of dew.
As we reach the end 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
The human limits of the mind are 7±2 chunks
It limits the number of things one can do at one time:
Like the number of balls a juggler can keep in the air,
The number of rhythms a drummer can sustain.
. . .
I watch 5 TV's at a time
and still have
Two other chunks available.
How do you use your 6
When you watch one TV?
5. Chapter: Violets
As we reach the end of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we close with its Epilogue which recalls the Cave of Shanidar in which
the remains of a young man was buried under heaps of flowers over 60,000 years ago.
Death is not like being trapped
in a small dark room forever.
It's like . . . to sleep . . .
To sleep, perchance to dream,
and in the dream
To walk the road not taken
To birth the child unborn
To soar over the well-trod bogways
of former lives.
To think within the mind of God
thoughts created in the thinking.
To dance with the gyrating ganglia
of the nascent
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."The Loft" (2014) Five friends share a loft pad for trysts and turns of Fate. A DON’T MISS HIT !
"The List" (2007) a cautionary tale of inheritance and secrets, "God's children and their enemies understand the power of prayer."
"Diplomacy" (2014) Nordling was the Angel staying the hand of Abraham poised over the City of Paris ready to destroy it and its 2 million inhabitants at the end of WWII with Allied forces poised to enter the city. Incredible details of the conversation between the Swedish Diplomat and the German General. A DON’T MISS HIT !
"The Stoning of Soraya M." (2008) "Let he who has the greatest sin throw the first stone" sums up this movie. If there had been a single Christian in the town, the stoning would have been avoided. A brutal movie of a true event.
"“Hot Pursuit”" (2015) ROTFL in first 20 seconds and got funnier as pursuit got hotter. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
"“Reasonable Doubt" ”(2014) Lawyer does hit & run and uncovers a serial killer.
“"Fort Bliss" ”(2014) is less than blissful for returning Medic from Afghanistan to her son and estranged husband.
"Casual Vacany" (2015) is more a Causal Vacany set up by author J.K. Rowlings to cause her main character to die in part 1 of this 3-part series. Could the title refer to the vacancy on the council before and after the character's death, or to the open hole in the cemetery waiting for his body. Want a bit of off-the-map British anthropology, you'll get your fill.
"I'll See You in My Dreams" (2015) Lloyd's song and Carol's lament. Widowed for twenty years Carol is wooed by the pool guy and the yacht owner. One of them writes the title song for her, the other one checks out after checking her out.
"The Connection" (2015) the French Connection (sans Popeye) from the French side: Marseille magistrate takes over job of wiping out the heroin trade between US and France centered in his city. Mano a mano with crime boss Gaetan Zampa, he comes out on top.
"Jack Strong" (2015) Code name for Polish Ally leaking info to stop Russia from invading Poland and leading to collapse of the USSR.
"Big Game" (2015) Oskari is turning 13 and needs to bag a big game to become a man in Finland when the POTUS drops into his lap.
"Hunting Elephants" (2015) - Four old coots from Nursing Home plot to rob bank with 12 year old son of former bank security head. Patrick Stewart a hoot as senile patient. Great lines: "We're too busy hunting elephants in India." "Why do we let blind man drive?" - Because he knows the way." and "We might as well burn the money." They used the Cry Wolf! process the first time and failed. Second try gets cash, but how to keep bank from searching for the missing loot? A DON'T MISS HIT !
"National Gallery" (2014) in London seen through eyes of visitors, art historians, the operating board, art restorers, and even more. Views of visitors pondering art, nestling on benches, sleeping, talking, walking, and even more. A three-hour visit without getting your feet tired.
"Blackhat" (2015) a Bournesque odyssey to eliminate the computer hacker who blew up a nuclear plant, who ran up soy beans prices, and to uncover and thwart his bigger plans, a dangerous trek which led to Japan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, so buckle up! A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
"Doctor Zhivago" (1965) masterful David Lean film of Boris Pasternak's classic novel of the Russian Revolution and the havoc it caused to an otherwise modern civilization while spawning the great love story of Lara and Yuri. First time viewed on large plasma screen. The balalaika is the Rosebud of this movie, the bouquet of sunflowers a recurring motif, the candle by the window an amazing cinemagraphic touch. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
"October Gale" (2014) A widow, alone on a stormy island, whose husband went out in an October gale and never returned. Will help ever come?
"Still Alice" (2014) great portrayal by Julianne Moore of early onset ALZ patient, a mother whose ability to drive her acting daughter away from the stage and into college becomes disabled by her failing mental abilities.
"Love at First Fight" (2015) a young man and young girl go to a French Arme Terre (Infantry) camp and find themselves in love while learning to fight.
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off."Focus" (2015) on immorality, first stealing secondary property (things) then stealing primary property (ideas). Lionizing immorality sucks!
"Madame Bovary" (2015) was a credit hog and adulterer who died on the slow, slow road to perdition.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Thanks to Doc Parker for this story.
Boudreaux and his wife Marie were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Boudreaux kissed Marie goodbye and said, 'Well, Ah'm off now. De man should be here soon.'
Half an hour later, just by chance, a traveling baby photographer going house-to-house down the bayou happened to knock on their door, hoping to make a sale. 'Good morning, ma'am', he said, 'I've come to...'
'Mais, no need to explain,' Marie cut in, embarrassed, 'Ah've been ‘pecting you.'
'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good. Did you know babies are my specialty?'
'Well dat's wat Boudreaux and Ah hoped. Please brought yo’sef in and sat down!
After a moment Marie asked, blushing, 'Well, whar do we start?'
'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there.'
'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Boudreaux and me!'
'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.'
'Bon Dieu! Dat's a lot!' gasped Marie.
'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'
'Don't Ah know dat,' Marie said quietly.
The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said.
'Sacre Bleu!' Marie exclaimed, grasping at her throat.
'And these twins turned out exceptionally well — when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'
'She was difficult?' asked Marie.
'Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'
'Four and five deep?' said Marie, her eyes wide with amazement.
'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling — I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.'
Marie leaned forward. 'Do you mean to tole me dat they actually chewed on your, uh . . . equipment?'
'It's true, Ma'am, yes. Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.'
'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long.'
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5.Household Hint for November, 2015 from Bobby Jeaux:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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The photo to the Left shows how we trim our artichokes for making our special artichoke flowers recipe. The EZ-Top(tm) design I created for loading Zip Lock bags without spilling works equally well for holding a plastic grocery bag while it's being filled. (Yes, we actually use them a lot.) We mulch our organic left-overs from all of our cooking, placing them into a plastic bag held open by EZ-Top(tm) to carry and dump them into our bio-dynamic garden where it is buried to be turned into nice black soil by insects. We don't mulch the artichoke leaves because of the stiff points we trimmed off before cooking which could jab an eager gardener.
Cutting the artichoke directly on a chopping board makes a big mess of sharp points and leaves to be gathered up, so over time I took to cutting the stems and tips directly in or over a plastic bag held in the EZ-Top. Doing that eliminates the clean up step. After eating, we discard the leaves into the same bag, since they are oily and not good for mulching.
Cutco knife and shears
Grocery Plastic Bag
EZ-Top(tm) Bag Holder
Step 1: Cut the artichoke stem away. Photo at right shows the plastic trash bag held open by the EZ-Top(tm), and a serrated edge Cutco Knife.
Step 2: To stand erect in the plate after cooking the bottom should be flat as shown in this photo. Click to View Photo .
Step 3: Cut Stem inside trash bag. Click to View Photo .
Step 4: Cut the Top Tips off the artichoke inside trash bag. Click to View Photo .
Step 5: Trim off remaing Tips inside trash bag using Cutco or similar cooking shears. Click to View Photo .
For chopping other vegetables for cooking, such as yellow onions: when you cut off the tops and bottoms of each onion, simply drop them into the trash bag. This keeps your cutting board fresh of debris which will be discarded. The bag will hold a lot of organic matter to be added to mulch bed later while the dish is simmering.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Bobby Matherne's Collection, ©2011:
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Gladden Your Heart Today
The secret of happiness is easy to say:
Let go of sorrow to gladden your heart today.
Surely there will be sorrow tomorrow, you say.
Yes, that may be so, sorry to say.
But to ponder the sorrow of tomorrow
brings sorrow into today.
So, I press my case this way:
Let go of the sorrows of tomorrow
to gladden your heart today.
The future may be full of sorrow —
that you will only know on the morrow.
To ponder on such future sorrow
brings the sorrow into today.Let go of the sorrow of tomorrowIf you live in the sorrow of tomorrow
to gladden your heart today.
you'll find your present full o'strife,
You may have to beg, steal, or borrow
to find happiness today in your life.So let go of the sorrows of tomorrow
and Gladden Your Heart Today.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for November:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first review this month will be one which was published in an early DIGESTWORLD ISSUE but only as a short blurb so the full review an will be of interest to our DIGESTWORLD Readers. 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 long Reviews, possibly lacking footnotes and some quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out without any embedded photos, simply CLICK on the Book Cover in this Issue or choose Printer Ready option on the top line of a review page when it opens.
1.) ARJ2: From Crystals to Crocodiles, GA# 347 by Rudolf Steiner
Why read these questions and the answers Steiner gave to the workers at the Goetheanum? Weren't these merely blue collar workers, i.e., just craft people, who were working on the construction of a large building? Yes, but one must be careful about the word "merely" or"just" when discussing people who were in the presence of Rudolf Steiner when he spoke. One cannot, for example, call mere artists or just Russians the three artists, Andrei Belyi, Margarita Voloschin, and Assya Turgenieff , who wrote Reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner. Through their contact with Steiner they became more than artists and Russians, but spiritual scientists as well. Similarly, the workers in the Goetheanum were extraordinary human beings — they kept asking "What is the meaning of this building we are working on?" Unsatisfied with the answers they were given at first, they kept asking more questions, until their very asking became the source of a series of sessions Rudolf Steiner found time for in his busy schedule. Those sessions led to this series of books in which we eavesdrop on Steiner as he talks to the workers and helps them to understand better the world they and we live in.
Let's listen in for a moment as he begins his discussion with the workers on August 2, 1922 and learn how our life processes involve the interaction of our blood and intestines, and our feelings involve the interaction of our blood and the air we breathe.
[page 1] Good morning, gentlemen. Today we will add to what we have heard on previous occasions so that we will be better able to understand the full dignity of the human being.
I have explained roughly how nutrition and breathing work in human beings. We also talked about how closely connected nutrition is with our life and that it is essentially a process of taking in substances that then become lifeless in our intestines. These substances are then revitalized by the lymph vessels, and are transmitted into the blood as living substance. There this living nourishment encounters the air's oxygen. We take in air. The blood changes. This process occurs in the chest, and it is this process that gives us our feelings.
Thus life actually originates between the processes in the intestines and those in the blood. In turn, in the blood processes, that is, between the activities of the blood and the air, our feelings come about. Now we have to deal with the human mind as well and try to understand how it developed.
He describes the discovery by Broca in 1861 of the speech motor portions of the brain we now call Broca's Area, and describes how in a stroke, blood that should be flowing through blood vessels flows instead through the surrounding tissue and causes paralysis, which leads to speech difficulty. Then he describes what a healthy brain looks like in that same area:
[page 2, 3] When we examine this same area of the brain in small children who have died, we find that this portion constitutes a fairly uniform, mushlike substance, especially at the time before the child has learned to speak. As the infant gradually learns to speak, more and more small whorls develop here. They continue to form in an artful way. In other words, the left cerebral convolutions in the child who has learned to speak or in a fully grown adult are artfully structured.
He goes on to describe how children at early ages can speak vowel sounds at first, and only later learn to speak consonants, such as "mama" or "dada". Speaking consonants require motion of certain organs and as the child learns to move these organs, the whorls in Broca's area begin to develop along with the development of speech. Steiner explains that right-handed people are affected by strokes in the left-hemisphere of the brain, and vice-versa for left-handed people. Then he does something rather amazing — he explains using only the basis he has established in this one discussion so far why it is detrimental to force a child to write with its right hand if it favors its left hand. Simply put — you destroy the development of the right hemisphere that has already been taking place due to the child's early speaking efforts — and you cause them to become less intelligent as adults instead of more! He sums it up by admonishing those who try to change the handedness on a child, ". . . pedagogically speaking you would achieve the very opposite of what you are striving for."
When I studied brain function back in the 1970s, a whole lot was made about the fact that one side of the brain (usually the left) handles linear-analytic perception and thought and the other side (the right) handles holistic or all-at-once perception and thought. In the following three sentence paragraph, Steiner helps us to see why this is so: the left side has more nerves and the right side carries relatively more blood.
[page 10] Actually, very few people have both sides of the brain fully developed. Usually the right convolution contains more blood vessels, whereas the left one has fewer and instead is more permeated with nerves. This holds true for the human brain generally; the right side carries more blood, and the left is more used for perceiving.
As we saw earlier, children learn to speak by using consonants to shape their vowels into recognizable patterns. This activity causes their Broca's area to develop more on the left side (for the right-handed), the side that has more nerves and fewer blood vessels (brain matter is whiter), the side used for perceiving and handling the outside world. Now he takes us into understanding the various peoples of the world based on the relative amount of consonants in their native language. (Note that he is not talking of written languages, but spoken languages.)
[page 11] We know that languages differ in different regions of the earth. What does it mean when someone lives in a certain area where people focus more on the consonants? It means that he or she experiences the outer world more, for the consonants are formed through the experience of outer surroundings. Therefore, in people living more in the physical world the white portion of the brain shifts more to the left. In people experiencing life more inwardly, people living in a region where things are experienced more inwardly, the white brain matter does not move quite so far to the left. These people will tend to utter melodious vowels. This varies with the regions of the earth.
What also varies with the regions of the Earth is the language people of the world use, which is based on the topography of the region in which they live. For someone who wants to understand the reality of the world as it exists outside of the logical analytical thought of anthropologists, linguists, and sociologists, one can do no better than to study Steiner's works. Note how he starts here not with an argument, but with an image.
[page 11, 12] Imagine we have high mountains and a level area, a plain. Picture then steep mountains on one side and a plain on the other. Now, wherever there are flat regions, we perceive that the language people speak there is richer in vowels. Wherever there are steep mountains, the local language tends to be richer in consonants.
I can hear the linear analytical parts of some of you saying, "But, but. . ." and wielding all sorts of arguments at the ready, but Steiner is not talking only about the physical mountains influencing languages, but how the cosmic forces pulled mountains up through the Earth's crust and resulted in more consonants being pulled out of the peoples of the region. He concludes by saying, "We see now the differences between languages are connected with the forces of the entire universe."
The universe is like an enormous clock that we live in the middle of. Imagine yourself at the center of this giant clock and the Sun as the minute hand. As the Sun moves, it points in turn to different sections of the cosmos, to different numerals on the cosmic clock face, if you will. The numeral on a clock is not what's important, we know that ? it's merely a pointer to a portion of the clock. Some watches and clocks have no numerals at all in some positions because we all know what is supposed to be there. This shows that the position is what is important, not the numeral at the position. Each position in the sky that the Sun points to in turn is marked by a numeral from 1 to 12 and given the name of the constellation that appears to us in that position. Those who scoff about how foolish it is to imagine that a certain arrangement of a group of stars can have an influence on one's life have the case correct. It is as foolish as imagining that the numeral on a clock has an influence on the time. What is really important is the position the numeral marks out for us. To find fault with astrology or to attempt to understand astrology without making this essential distinction is folly.
[page 12, 13] We can look up to the sun and say that when we stand here at a certain moment, then sun is between us and the constellation of Aries. That is the direction where these strong cosmic forces work from. It is not Aries itself, of course. This constellation merely indicates the direction where the strong forces come from. If a person is standing in a different place at that same time, he or she is affected as follows: when the sun has moved to that place, it is in Virgo, let us say. There forces coming from this direction are weaker. Instead of going through the entire process now, I can therefore say that when someone is born in an area where at a certain time, let's say at his birth, the sun is in Aries, that person will tend to use more consonants. However, when someone is born with the sun in Virgo, he will tend to use more vowels.
Steiner shows us that if we examine what is happening inside of our brains, we will find a map of the star-filled cosmos; if we examine what is happening globally on the Earth, we find a map of the cosmos. Given that spiritual reality, the stars do indeed have an effect on us which we ignore at our own peril. We must understand this matter deeply in order to be able to distinguish between what is superstition and what is science, and we cannot expect materialistic scientists to provide but half the picture.
[page 14] You see now that it is indeed mere superstition to say, 'Whenever the sun is in Aries, such and such takes place.' This kind of statement is worthless. However, if you understand the full context, the matter ceases to be superstition and becomes science instead. And that will lead us from understanding the transformation of substances to an understanding of what is really happening and its connection to the vast universe out there.
And we humans need the forces of the entire cosmos in order to be truly human. Unfortunately, some people think that they don't need the forces of the cosmos in order to think — this also is pure folly.
[page 15] In other words, we must be able to feed ourselves and to breathe in order to become sentient beings. We must also be able to absorb forces out of the entire universe in order to become thinking beings. We can no more become thinking beings by ourselves than we can learn to speak all by ourselves. Human beings can no more think out of themselves than they can feed on themselves.
But humans can feed on other humans — this is how babies live, they live on the dissolved nutrients of their mother's milk. The efficacy of so-called infant formulae that are supposed to be better for babies than their mother's milk has been brought into question in recent years. Steiner pointed out the stunting effects of artificial milk formulae during this discussion in August of 1922.
[page 16, 17] Remember what I said earlier about nutrition: all the food substances we eat must first be dissolved in the mouth. In a way, nature allows us to take in solid food only as far as our mouths. There we have to dissolve it with our own fluids. The other digestive organs, such as stomach, intestines, and so forth, can only use dissolved substances. Children must first acquire this ability to dissolve solid matter. At first, they cannot do it alone. Therefore, they must receive food that is already dissolved. You can tell how important this is when you consider that infants brought up on synthetic food preparations will be stunted in their growth.
Their mother's milk contains living water, that is, water enlivened by the mother's body. The water from a spring or river will bear the resemblance to the water in a mother's body as the corpse of a mother's body bears to her living body. Babies need liquid food, food that has been filled with life, and breast-feeding is the best way to provide this liquid, life-filled food. (Page 18)
Everyone has had the experience of losing their appetite when they feel sick. Hot, tasty food we would usually relish when we are well, turns our stomach when we feel sick. Clearly we not only perceive food with our eyes, nose, and mouth, but there is an inner perception going on as well. This inner perception goes on all the time, but we only notice it when an apparent contradiction occurs.
[page 26, 27] In order to become aware of something, I must not only think about it but also observe what I have thought of. The thinking going on in me may be a continuous process, sometimes occurring in the head and at other times in the entire body. But when I awake, I have my eyes open. The eyes do not only look outwards, but also perceive inwardly. Similarly, we do not only taste food in the mouth, but also perceive inwardly that, for instance, the body as a whole is ill and therefore something otherwise delicious is now disgusting to us. In fact, this inner aspect is always the determining factor. This perception of what goes on inside us is as essential as the perception of what is outside us.
Everyone knows that we become aware of dreams just as we are falling asleep or just as we are waking up. During the transition between activity and inactivity, going in either direction, is when we become aware of dreams occurring. But Steiner makes a cogent case in this discussion that our brain is more active when we are asleep and comes to a state of rest when we are awake. This is completely contrary to what the materialistic scientist maintains ? namely, that physiological activity equates to thinking.
[page 30] However, it is the absence of thought activity that is accompanied by an increased physical activity. Therefore, we can say that our lungs would be lazy and inactive if oxygen from the outside did not reach them and activate. Similarly, the brain is lazy during the day, and consequently something must reach it from the outside and activate it. Just as oxygen activates the lungs, so something coming from outside the body, something is not in our body, must reach the brain during the day and initiate thinking there.
Steiner was not so foolish as to believe that his listeners would simply swallow whole whatever he said — especially something that went contrary to what they had been taught in schools. All he could do was point out to them that those teaching them in schools were the ones spreading superstition. And that, as Steiner said, is "what really matters."
[page 30] Many of you will object strongly to what I have just said. But those who say something different do not comprehend what is really going on in the human being. It is therefore not a question of spreading some kind of superstition, but of establishing a clear understanding. That is what really matters.
In several places in his writings and lectures, Steiner uses the phrase "brain sand". I thought at first it was a colloquial phrase he was using, but it turns out that there is a medical term of that name which refers to calcareous accretions in the brain. These are minute deposits of calcium carbonate which are especially found in the pineal gland, but also form in the brain itself. Since materialistic brain scientists are mostly restricted to studying post-mortem or dead brains, they would be unable to directly deduce from their look at the evidence that brain sand is formed and dissolved in a continuous process in the living brain. Nor could they deduce much about the effect of brain sand when it is formed. Crystals of uric acid that form in our muscles cause intense pain and the syndrome known as gout. To find out what crystals of calcium carbonate cause to happen to us, read on.
[page 39] True, these mineral substances must develop; they are necessary. Autopsies of infants who were retarded and died young often reveal that the children did not have enough of what is called brain-sand. We all must have some of it. Brain-sand must develop, but it must also be dissolved again all the time.
What is it that assists us in dissolving this brain sand? It is the forces of the universe, those powerful cosmic forces which arrive at us from various directions of the cosmic clock Steiner discussed earlier.
[page 39] If we don't have enough strength to dissolve this substance, too much of it will be deposited. In fact brain-sand is continuously being deposited in the brain as we absorb food through our blood. And this brain-sand is just as much subject to the influences of the forces of the universe as everything else out there in nature. Consequently the brain-sand too has the tendency to form crystals. But this must not be allowed to happen. Without brain-sand we may become retarded, but if crystals were to form we would always be fainting because we would suffer from some sort of rheumatism or gout of the brain. This crystal formation merely causes pain in various other parts of the body, but if the crystals develop in the brain, we grow helpless and faint. In other words, we must have brain-sand, but we must also dissolve it all the time. Forming brain-sand and dissolving it again is an on-going process.
And any on-going process cannot be examined in a dead brain, so materialistic scientists would have no clue as to what is happening with brain sand and how its forming into crystals could help explain the commonly observed process of fainting.
We all know that perspiring occurs when we are exerting effort with our muscles, and we also know that if we are frightened we may also perspire. What muscle are we exerting when we perspire from fright? Is it not our brain? The excretion of minerals and water through our skin happens when we perspire from exertion. When we perspire from fright or whenever our attention is riveted to something, such as a flower at which we are looking intently, we also excrete something within our brain, namely, brain sand.
[page 41] Looking at something means constantly excreting brain-sand. And as you know, we must dissolve this brain-sand, because if we did not this mineral would develop into a tiny flower in our brain! Looking at the flower actually means that the brain-sand in us forms a tiny flower . . . It is amazing what is constantly being built inside us. However, we don't allow it to be complete. Without being conscious of it, we keep destroying the structure.
Think of the times when a person might faint — what happens? Some loud noise or event happens all of a sudden.
[page 43, 44] Let's consider the case of someone who is in poor health. When there is a sudden, tremendous thunder-clap — that can happen ? then this thunder perceived with the ears, not with the eyes now but the ears, leads to brain-sand being deposited inside the person, and a picture arises. Now if this person can't destroy the image fast enough, he may faint, lose consciousness. If he were healthier this would not happen, because then he could dissolve the brain-sand quickly enough. In other words fainting means not diluting the brain-sand fast enough. Not fainting means dissolving it quickly enough. While perceiving our environment, we must keep dissolving the brain-sand quickly.
Now Steiner has led to the very part of ourselves that most leads us to be human beings, and it is the part of us that permits us to dissolve brain-sand in an optimal fashion.
[page 44] The human head can constantly dissolve everything that enters it. This ability to dissolve everything that comes in enables us to perceive ourselves and thus to say 'I'. The dissolving of brain-sand is optimal when we can say 'I'. At that moment we permeate our language with consciousness.
When we dissolve brain-sand, we counteract what reaches us from the cosmos. If we didn't dissolve our brain-sand, "we would inwardly turn into a mountain system of superimposed layers of crystals." As I write this article at this moment, I am diluting a tremendous amount of brain-sand. I've learned that drinking coffee as I write helps me enormously. What could possibly be the connection between the two activities? Somehow drinking coffee helps writers to write.
[page 45] Why is this so? Because they absorbed caffeine, a toxic substance that contains a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen is also in the air. When we breathe, we always absorb a certain amount of oxygen and nitrogen. To dissolve brain-sand, we need a certain force that is to be found particularly in nitrogen. Out of the nitrogen we gather the forces to dissolve brain-sand.
The world seems to be divided into coffee drinkers and tea drinkers. Most journalists are coffee drinkers and most diplomats seem to be tea drinkers. Why is this so? Steiner highlights those two category of people for us in the next two passages:
[page 46] The journalist who drinks coffee unconsciously counts on this nitrogen, which will enable him to form more brain-sand and to dissolve it more easily as well. This way his thoughts will line up properly, and instead of chewing on his pen he can now use it to write them down.
[page 46] However, people don't want to keep their thoughts too tightly connected and controlled, but want to have them shine, to put on a brilliant show and, as we say, dazzle others with their thoughts, those people will drink tea. Here we find the opposite effect. Tea scatters their thoughts and supports the dissolving of brain-sand in a different way.
The usual breakfast for office workers, especially in the USA is bacon and eggs with coffee. Looked at from the insights that Steiner provides us, such a breakfast wakes us up, and gets our thoughts going in an organized fashion.
[page 47] Therefore, when we are often sleepy we must take in food that is rich in nitrogen. There are many ways to do this, but we get nitrogen especially when we eat cheese or eggs. These will raise our nitrogen level. This is how we have to work to balance processes in us and to allow the ego [RJM: our 'I'] to work in us.
The next subject: "The Liver as Organ of Perception" will seem so far-fetched to the materialistic reader that it would be better if they stop reading at this point. I must say that before I began studying Steiner, I would have thought so myself and would have never bothered to read such apparent foolishness much less attempt to summarize this subject in a review. I would have thought that anyone who could aver such a thing was soft in the head. And yet I discover that I didn't even know of the descriptive basis of the phrase "soft in the head," up until now.
[page 50] When we examine the brain cells of a person who had lost his mental faculties and then died, we find that the brain cells had begun to live and to proliferate. They are softer than those in normal people. This is why in the case of mental deterioration we often speak of 'a softening of the brain' and that term is not such a bad one.
In this book we have earlier heard Steiner explain that the brain cells are most active when we are asleep and unconscious, and that the brain cells are completely at rest when we are busy thinking. He said specifically, "when we are awake, our brain cells are paralyzed and nearly dead, then we can think." Think of the impact this insight has on the way scientists of the human body ought to proceed in their studies:
[page 50, 51] If our scientists were to proceed in the right way, they could not possibly be materialists. Based on the physical constitution of human beings they would realize that mental and spiritual activities are most pronounced precisely when the physiological processes fade away, as they do in the brain. The existence of soul and spirit can thus be proved in a strictly scientific way.
Look at how Steiner proceeds in his studies. He tells us that often what shows up as a liver disease in an adult at age 50 began when they were fed bad milk as a baby(1). How in the world is this possible? To understand how it's possible we need to understand the liver as an organ of perception, and he leads us through the processes for understanding that in this discussion. There is a large vein which carries carbon-dioxide rich blood into the liver to spread out through the organ and remain there (the portal vein). This large blood vessel acts as an organ of perception for the liver, as an inner eye. As a baby this inner eye is sensing both the taste and the quality of the milk that the baby is receiving, as well as many other things.
[page 63] People dissecting a human liver don't think about how important it is to feed infants properly. But those who realize how these things work will find ways of bringing up children in such a way that they become healthy human beings. It is much more important to establish health in childhood than to heal illnesses later. But people do not know anything about this, because they see the human being as nothing but a pile of tissue.
The next issue about raising children can help them to have healthy kidneys, and this connection between health and education is one that few schools acknowledge outside of the Waldorf and Steiner Schools around the world, up until now. The issue is that early forcing of rote memorization in children can create kidney disease in them as adults. State educators could care little about this, as they won't have to deal with the kidney disease in their students — they will be probably retired by the time the disease shows up. Doctors could care less about this, because they get paid to fix diseases when they show up, so increased kidney diseases creates more work for more doctors. Here's Steiner's common sense presentation of the causal connection of rote memorization and kidney disease.
[page 63, 64] Let's assume a child of school age is made to learn so much that his memory is overburdened, so that the child can't come to his senses, as it were. Yes, gentlemen, this definitely puts a strain on the child's spirit. But there is more to it than that; after all, for instance, by overdoing memory work, we will cause certain organs of his to harden, simply because the forces channeled to his brain will be lost to the other organs. Putting too much strain on a child's brain may lead to kidney disease. In other words, illnesses may be cause in a child not only through physical imbalances but also through the way we teach and educate.
As I read the above passage I wonder if it might have been the sharing of such thoughts to the managers and workmen of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette factory in Stuttgart that led the workers to plead with Steiner to create a school that would not cause illnesses in their children. It was the pleading of the workers which led to Steiner's agreeing to assist in the formation of the first school based on his work at the Waldorf factory, from which the Waldorf School system got its name. In Australia, the name is a bit more direct in crediting the innovator; they are called Steiner Schools.
We have a head in our belly. This is a rather audacious claim to make, but hang in there. You can't say, 'That's not true or I would know it.' It's admittedly something we are not consciously aware of, up until now. We read earlier about how our liver is an organ of perception of the insides of our body. Now Steiner tells us that our kidneys think. Put the two together and it's like having a head that can think with eyes that can see living in our belly. If this sounds like a strange idea to you, consider how many times you've heard people say things like, 'My gut told me it wasn't right.' or 'I have a hunch in my gut there's some truth in this.'
[page 69] With our eyes we look at the world around us, with our ears we listen to the sounds of our environment, and with our liver we perceive our digestion and all related processes. The liver is our inner organ of perception. And only if we recognize the liver as an inner sense organ can we understand what happens inside us. We can indeed compare the liver with our eyes. We have, as it were, a head in our belly. This head, however, does not look outwards but inwards. Thus we are engaged in an inner activity of which we are not conscious.
A friend of mine told me that her youngest child became allergic to its milk-based formula and had to be switched to soybean-based milk. I asked her how it happened. At three months old the child was left with grandparents while its family went on a holiday. Something happened during that time, maybe a bottle was left out of the fridge too long and soured, but when my friend returned a week later, the baby could no longer tolerate its previous formula nor could it keep down milk of any kind. They were forced to go to a soybean-based formula for four months. This is one example of the liver at work perceiving what was going on inside a human body. Babies are still conscious of the perceptions of the liver and thus they are able consciously to recognize when some substance that previous made them sick is trying to be forced into their bodies and they strenuously reject such substances. This process to the unknowing adult is called an "allergy." If adults retained the conscious sensitivity to the perceptive activity of their liver, they would never eat a substance put into their mouths that could harm them.
[page 69, 70] But babies still sense this activity. They pay little attention to the world around them, and even when they do they don't understand it at all. That is why infants feel into themselves all the more. They can sense clearly when the milk contains foreign substances that must be expelled into the intestines so that they can be excreted. If something is wrong with the milk, the liver will develop the tendency to become diseased later in life.
What about this so-called thinking activity of the kidneys? Is this for real? I can't say that I can consciously experience its reality myself, and I certainly doubt that any neuro-physiologist would agree that kidneys think. But think about it — if the infant above perceived that its milk formula was bad, and only perceived it, how could it have decided what to do about the situation unless it had some internal organ closely connected to the liver which was able to think and decide on the matter?
[page 70] Thus we have not only the liver in us, which constantly perceives our digestion, but there is also a thinking activity taking place in us of which we are not aware. Even though we know the organ involved, we are not conscious of this thinking activity that complements and supports the perceptive function of the liver, just as the thinking of the brain supports the perceiving activity of the eyes. This thinking supporting the liver is provided by the kidneys and the whole kidney system.
My parents, Annette Babin and Hilman Matherne, came from a rural area and never once forced us to memorize anything, never once tried to get us to perform mental feats before they came naturally to us. My brothers and I never went to school before age seven which was the norm back in the 1940s when we grew up. So the public school system never got its mitts on us, never got a chance to force-feed us with memorizing and calculating at too young an age.
[page 71] Let's assume a child's brain doesn't function properly. As I said, this can happen if the child has to learn too much and has to memorize too much. A certain amount of memorization is good to keep the brain agile, but too much memorizing will put so much strain on the brain that it will begin to harden. This hardening will later prevent the brain from functioning properly.
Thus, we see that premature memorization in pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten can actually produce the opposite of the results intended. This should help make it clear why you will not find any Waldorf Kindergartens anywhere. And why 8 and 9 year-olds in Waldorf Schools don't seem to be able to add and multiply like kids from public school systems. Make a comparison of the two sets of kids five years later, fifty years later, and you will see a dramatic difference, both in intelligence and in health. For one thing, you will find fewer instances of diabetes.
[page 71] Now, since the brain is connected with the kidneys, the latter will also not work properly as a result of the brain malfunction. The human body can take a lot of abuse, but the effects will show up later. In this case, the entire metabolism is disturbed, the kidneys no longer function properly, and we can find that sugar, which should have been assimilated by the body, is excreted in the urine. The organism has become too weak to assimilate the sugar because the brain no longer works as it should. The person in question suffers from diabetes. . . . children often memorize far too much and will in later life suffer from diabetes.
So I ask you, is your child's future health and well-being too valuable for you to risk their lives in some public school system with teachers who teach by rote memorization?
Do you find it incredulous that the beef kidneys you cook for a meal can actually think? Well, naturally, they can't think. Steiner tells us that it is the "soul forces permeating the organ that are what do the thinking." Dead kidneys of humans or cattle do not think. And don't expect a medical doctor, who cannot find a soul force in Gray's Anatomy nor on the dissecting table in medical school, to understand how kidneys in a living human being can think.
Wouldn't some kind of proof that kidneys think be nice to have? There is one common experience we have all had if we've lived long enough — a bad dream following some large meal that disagreed with us. Since even scientists agree that our brain is not working when we are sleeping, how does the connection between the food and our dream content get made? Through our liver and kidneys is the answer Steiner gives us.
[page 74, 75] Let me now add something else. As I said, the Jews in antiquity still knew that kidneys participated in the vague and dull thinking that takes place at night in our dreams. Of course, at night there is none of our usual thinking going on, and we perceive only what the kidneys are thinking. During the day, we have our heads full with thought that come originally from the outside. As we don't see the small flame of a candle when a brighter light stands next to it, so we don't see the kidney activity's small light when we are awake and our heads are filled with all sorts of thoughts and ideas coming from the world around us. As soon as the head stops thinking, it begins to perceive what the liver observes and the kidneys think in the form of dreams. This is why our dreams are the way they are. . . . [For example, when we have indigestion and our intestines are hot and wriggling:] If the liver were to see reality, it would see the intestines burning. But it doesn't and instead forms a picture, for example of snakes darting their tongues in and out. We dream quite often of wriggling snakes because the liver actually sees our intestines as snakes.
Another piece of evidence that the liver is an organ of perception is found in isomorphic structures of the eyes and the liver: they both have veins depositing CO2-rich blood which spread through the organs and remain there to be used up in the process of perception.
[page 77] Certain other organs in our body are similar to the liver, namely, the eyes. Though we find only faint indications of this in the eyes, it is nevertheless true that here, too, not all the venous blood flows out again. Arteries enter the eyes, and veins come out. However, not all the venous blood that entered the eyes flows out again; instead it is spread throughout the eyes, just as it is in the liver, only to a much lesser extent. Doesn't this tell us that eyes can be compared to the liver? Yes, and we can indeed say that the liver is our inner eye.
The ancient peoples such as the Jews and the Romans knew that their liver could see and kidneys could think. In the Old Testament, Steiner tells us that the Hebrew people knew what it meant to say, 'God has tormented me at night through my kidneys.' In our time we may be tormented at night by our kidneys and we would never know it consciously as these ancient people in an earlier stage of evolution of consciousness did. But, if this seems too remote for you, look at the first month of the year, January. Who is that month named after? Janus, the two-faced god of the Romans, who had one head looking forward and one looking backward — just as each of us have two heads, one above our shoulders looking forward and outward, and one in our belly looking backwards and inward at our body. Why would Janus be prominent in January? In the summer time, the kidneys and liver, warmed by the Sun, have not much work to do and "enter a kind of soul sleep and carry out only their physical functions." (Summarized from page 81.)
[page 81] Around Christmas and New Year, at the beginning of January, the soul activity in liver and kidneys reaches its culmination. The Romans knew this, and that's why they called this two-faced Janus, the January being.
That's something you won't read in guidebooks when you visit Rome, but it explains why the ancient Romans made the Janus faces. Steiner suggests, only half-facetiously, that guidebooks should be written by spiritual scientists.
Our body produces alcohol in our intestines during the process of digestion. I wouldn't go so far as to say that all alcoholics are greedy livers, but Steiner makes it clear that greedy livers become alcoholics. Steiner tells us on page 115 of a general principle of life: "Substances that are harmful when inside us are of benefit when they reach us from the outside, and those that are beneficial when inside us are noxious when they flow into us from the outside." Alcohol is a substance that is beneficial when created by our bodies inside us, but has a noxious effect when ingested in great quantities from outside of our bodies.
[page 90] Yes, we produce alcohol in our body. So, we don't really need to drink any alcohol because we are constantly manufacturing it in our intestines. It is only when the liver gets too greedy for alcohol and won't be content with perceiving the small amount it produced in the intestines that people become alcoholics.
There is a lot more contained in these discussions about digestion: how ptyalin works in the mouth to produce perception of taste in adults, pepsin in the stomach to produce perception of taste in children, trypsin in the pancreas to produce liver perception, and bile in the liver to produce kidney thinking. Can I point to any school where this kind of medical knowledge is taught? Yes, I can, and my answer to the question also answers a question my good friend asked me recently about the Goetheanum, namely, "What is it for?" I'll let Steiner answer that question. Recall as you read this that he was talking to the actual workmen who were in the process of constructing the Goetheanum, and that these discussions took place because they wanted to know what was this building going to be used for.
[page 98] There you can see that a truly serious science has to continue where our modern science stops. That's what's important. That's why we have built the Goetheanum here, to enable scientists to know not just something incomplete about the stomach, but instead to be able to explain the entire body. When they can do that, they will represent true science.
Human beings are maggots in the dead corpse of the Earth. This shocker of a sentence sets the stage for the last section of this review covering discussions 7 through 10 during which Steiner gives us and the workmen a practical look at the world upon which and within which we live, our planet Earth. What do maggots live in? A dead body. A body which has been vacated by its living processes and has become dead water, dead vegetative matter, dead flesh, and dead rocks, within and upon which tiny animals can flourish.
Let us begin at the beginning, a beginning we all share: a fetus. In its mother's womb, the fetus is nearly all head. Its head is soft and living flesh all the way through during the early months of its gestation. Only later do bones show up, a hardened skull, a skeletal structure. The baby is born, expelled from its mother's womb, grows up, and eventually dies. Then the maggots take over and create a living colony in and on what was once a thriving, living human being.
Let us begin at the beginning for the Earth. It was once a large sphere, a shape resembling the shape of the early fetus of a human being. It was soft with living material pervading its body. Over time large structures of rock began to form which were living beings. Soon a time came when the Earth was born and expelled from its mother's womb, grew up and died. We as human beings, along with animals and plants of all kinds, live in colonies we comprise on and in the Earth. We stand upon its bones we call rocks, we drink of its fluids we call water containing its minerals, we breathe its blanket of surrounding air which we call air, and we ingest the vegetative and animal flesh which also feed off the Earth's dead body.
[page 112] In summary, you will understand the earth when you see it as a deceased animal. It was only after the earth had lost her own life that other beings could live here, among them, as I will describe later, human beings.
Oysters the size of France floated on the surface of the Earth. Another mind-boggling statement that would cause any materialistic scientist worth her salt to cachinnate derisively. And yet, if you will study the description of the evolution of the cosmos in Steiner's An Outline of Occult Science, this idea will not seem so strange or unlikely.
[page 116, 117] If you have ever seen an oyster, you can think of it as a tiny dwarf compared to these ancient creatures. Its entire body is jellylike, slimy, and surrounded by a shell. If you now picture the shell slightly changed and covered with scales like a turtle's and picture a soft oyster body inside it, you will get an idea of the animals that inhabited the earth prior to the ichthyosaurs and the megatheria.At that time the earth was of a thickish consistency, thicker than milk. The mountains we know today were still dissolved in it. The earth was a lump of fairly thick sauce in space. In it floated giant oysters, which would have dwarfed the size of this entire hall. They were so enormous that you could have drawn all of France on their backs; all of France would have easily fit there. So, there once lived on the earth gigantic creatures that consisted actually only of a jellylike substance and that could only move the way our oysters do, except that the latter require much thinner water. These jellylike creatures wore a gigantic armor like our turtles and swam around in the thickish liquid of the earth.
You can compare the earth of that period with a huge bowl of thick soup containing dumplings. These you must imagine so solid on one side that you would lose some teeth biting into them and very soft on the other. Just imagine that you could remove the hard portion like a hat. The other part was so soft that you could have eaten it; it was softer than the thick liquid earth in which these creatures were floating.
These ancient animals had something that you can still see today in certain small insects. For instance, you have probably all seen snails crawling along. You can follow their tracks because they leave a trail of slime. Nowadays the sun dries up the slime, and so it does not have much significance. But in those very ancient times, when the earth was not yet completely solid, the animals I described also left such slime behind, which then mixed with the thick earth soup. These creatures were therefore of benefit to the earth.
The time when oysters the size of France floated on the surface of the Earth was a time when the Earth was still combined with the Moon and existed in a much larger and more fluid condition that it does now. Obviously, for the sake of the workmen, Steiner was only using oysters as a metaphor to describe these huge jellyfish-like beings which were covered by an oyster-shell-like substance during the Old Moon phase of evolution.
The Moon today no longer creates eggs for reproduction as it did when it was inside and merged with the Earth. But it does affect human beings and animals and has a strong effect on the reproductive organs of female humans and animals. Healthy women, for example, always have their menstrual periods during the same phase of the Moon. The normal gestation period is exactly ten lunar cycles which is normally translated into nine calendar months for convenience, thus masking the intimate connection of the female body to the cycles of the month. The affects of the Full Moon on humans is widely known, especially in insane asylums and police stations which show increased activity during the time of the Full Moon. The Moon's effects are on humans and animals which populate the Earth, however, and no longer on the Earth itself. The Moon no longer creates seeds of life in the Earth and enables them to grow. Once again we see Steiner's general principle exhibited on a large scale to the Earth itself, "whatever exists within us becomes harmful when take it in from outside." (Summarized from page 122, 123.)
[page 123] But the moon does not enable the earth itself to grow, because too much of our planet is already dead. If it was once possible for the earth to be fertilized, it must then have been much more alive than today. Now remember what I said earlier: whatever exists within us becomes harmful when take it in from outside. The moon now shining upon the earth can no longer produce life. Why? Because its light comes from the outside. This is as if the air we had just exhaled tried to get back into our bodies; it could not sustain life within us or enliven us. In our time the moon cannot work any longer on the earth itself; it can affect only the bodies of human beings and animals, because they are protected.
[page 124] Therefore, you must imagine, gentlemen, that at the time of these giant oysters the moon was not separate from the earth, but dissolved in its thickish soup. It had no clear boundaries and just formed a sphere of slightly thicker material than the rest. Thus it made the earth as a whole into an egg. The moon, which in our time affects only our imagination and the bodies of women and female animals, was at one point part of the earth.
That means that at some time it must have moved away. You see, gentlemen, here we reach a tremendously important moment in the development of the earth. The moon, which in our time is always outside the earth, used to be inside it. Then the earth expelled it, and now the two are separate.
When we study the body of the earth we discover something remarkable. First of all we find that it consists of water in which continents or land masses 'float', just as these gigantic animals once swam in the liquid earth. Europe, Asia and Africa 'float' in water as these huge creatures once floated in the earth soup. When we study the forms of the various land masses, we see that they look different from each other. We also notice from the hollowing out of the earth in various places and from the receding continents that the moon once separated from the earth in the area now called the Pacific. The moon was once inside the earth and then was expelled. It hardened only after it was outside the earth.
Some small part of the Moon remained in female bodies after the separation of the Moon and the Earth.
[page 125] Just as you take some of the old yeast and put it in the dough if you want to make a new loaf of bread, so some of the old moon substance remained in female bodies so that they could be fertilized. The egg thus fertilized is merely a reproduction of the ancient earth egg. It is no wonder that pregnancy, the length of time the unborn child is carried in the womb, is calculated on the basis of moon phases; after all, the moon is still involved in reproduction. . . . The fertilized egg . . . must still live by the moon's terms, because it has inherited its substance from the moon.
In this next passage we learn that the seed which produce new plants this year receive their vitality from last year's Sun while their beautiful flowers receive their vitality from this year's sun. Note particularly this quote: "This is generally true: inner qualities grow out of the past, but beauty is created by the present." This is true of art works of all kinds. What leads the work of artists like Vincent van Gogh to be treasured today grows out of the beauty that van Gogh created in his present time long ago, when he could barely sell a single painting. The inner qualities of those observing his work had to grow over time before van Gogh's art could be appreciated. While the beauty in art is present during its creation, often it is not understood and admired until far into the future when its inner qualities have grown to be appreciated.
[page 138, 139] What do plants do when you put their seeds into the earth? They do not simply cuddle into the sun-warmed soil, but extend their growth forces to the leaves; they extend them upwards. These green portions are developed by sun forces, by warmth, light, and so forth. This is how the sun-forces the plants get from their seeds move upwards. The sun-forces reaching plants from the outside, however, will destroy them in the process of creating very beautiful blossoms. The seeds have their vitality from last year's sun warmth, which was stored in them all winter long. The seeds do not come from this year's sun; that is an illusion. This year's sun creates the beautiful blossoms. But the seeds contain last year's sun forces, which were poured into the earth and which sustain the entire growth of the plant.
This would not be quite so easy for animals, which depend more on the sun's warmth reaching them from the outside, from the earth, and renewing them. This is because animals do not absorb the sun forces as directly as plants do; the latter, as we have seen, also bear in their bodies and their seeds the sun's warmth from the previous summer, warmth that had been stored in the earth.This is a marvelously interesting phenomenon. If we look at it in the right way, we can say that plants and animals can procreate only through the effects of the sun. Yet the sun up there in the sky, away from the earth, is the very factor that destroys the reproductive capacity. This is just like the case of carbon dioxide. If we inhale it, it will kill us. But if we carry it inside us, it will enliven us. When the earth absorbs the sun's rays shining in from the outside, plants and animals are destroyed. However, when the earth can reflect back the stored sun-forces to its plants and animals from the inside, they are enlivened and stimulated to procreate. We can see this in plants; they produce seeds capable of reproduction only out of the sun-forces stored since the previous summer. The forces that make the new plant beautiful come from this year's sun. This is generally true: inner qualities grow out of the past, but beauty is created by the present.
Well, gentlemen, as a pachyderm, a thick-skinned animal, the elephant would benefit very little from the bit of warmth and sun energy the earth reflects back. These forces barely penetrate its skin. It had to store them, as it were, in its own seed from times long past. Yes, the elephant stored moon forces, which it requires for the female aspect of procreation. The moon is now separate from the earth and the animals bear its forces inside them.A person who disagrees with this could of course call me a stupid fellow to claim that ancient moon forces are still involved in reproduction and live in the reproductive cells, and that the procreative impulses of today originate from these old forces. As a reply, I would simply ask this person whether he had never encountered anything presently alive that contained characteristics originating in the past. I would show him a boy who was the spitting image of his father. Even if his dad had since passed away, I might come across someone who knew the man when he himself was only a boy, and who would confirm that this boy looked just like his father did 30 or 40 years ago. The forces of the past are always contained in what lives in the present. This holds true also for the forces of reproduction. Whatever lives in the present originated in the past.
The head of the first human being, Adam, comprised the entire Earth. Another incredible statement, one which Steiner explains fully in the passage below. If you are someone who has imagined that the Adam discussed in the Bible was a fully formed human being, perhaps you should read a bit more of Steiner if you wish to add a scientific basis for your fully introjected religious beliefs.
[page 158, 159] If you look at what I have drawn here, you can imagine the following: let us say this is the universe, the earth here, and inside it the human head, and finely diffused all around this we have the sun. Now birth occurs and this earlier condition ends. Sun and moon are both cast out, and the earth is born. Now it must survive on its own.
This process can be described in two ways. First, we can picture what the earth looked like at the time of the ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Or, second, we can develop a picture of the human foetus. It is much smaller, of course, but I would describe it in the same way. We can therefore say that long ago the earth was like the foetus of a huge human being.
It is extremely interesting to note that in earlier times people somehow knew more about the world than later generations did. We will talk more about this some other time. Later generations got their information from a misunderstood Hebrew document, the Old Testament. They pictured that somewhere there was the earth and somewhere there was Paradise, and Adam lived there, standing on the earth as a tiny fellow, but already fully grown. The picture of man they formed out of the misunderstood Old Testament is as wrong as we would be if we said that the human being does not develop from this little thing with the two small allantois and amnion sacs and so forth, but that elsewhere in the mother's womb sits a tiny flea and out of this the human being develops.This is similar to imagining the earth inhabited by Adam and Eve sitting on it like fleas and mankind somehow appearing later. This picture arose out of a misunderstanding of the Old Testament. Knowledgeable people in earlier times did not speak of Adam, but of Adam Kadmon, someone different. He is the huge head the earth used to be. This image is a natural one. Adam Kadmon did not turn into an earth flea until people became unable to imagine and to believe that a human head can be as big as the earth. They subsequently formed their unnatural, abnormal concepts. They acted as if it were merely for fun that the foetus must spend nine entire months inside the womb before being born.
We must imagine that in reality the human being was once the entire earth, and the earth was then much more alive. Yes, gentlemen, that is how it was. You see, the earth is now a fossilized being just like the human head, which is in a constant process of dying. However, the head of the foetus in the mother's womb is permeated through and through with life. It is in the same condition as the earth was before it became fossilized, as it were.
You see, if people could properly use what science has to offer, they would gain many insights. Science is all right; the only problem is that the people who control and apply it cannot make good use of it. If we look at the surface of our earth, we must say that it looks like a fossilized human! head. We actually walk around on something dead that must once have been alive.
My fossilized human head was not immediately able to produce a brilliant paragraph to end this review, so I took a break, ate some cheese to help me create and dissolve some brain-sand, and tried to come up with an apt closing to my review of this book which is filled with incredible concepts. The workmen of the Goetheanum, by the end of the discussion period, must have begun to understand that they were constructing a building in which incredible concepts would be discussed on a daily basis from then on. To those who found themselves unable to assimilate the concepts explained herein, I can only offer this Shakespearean reminder from Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies, Horatio."
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2.) ARJ2: Zeit zu Leben und Zeit zu Sterben by Erich Maria Remarque
This is the first new book in German that I have read since my college days in German Literature class where I read Theodor Storm's Immensee or Lake of the Bees. This is also my first review of a German book. My abilities in German are meager and it's no fun for me reading a novel where I have to look up words ten times a page and struggle with idiomatic expressions. Goldberg's footnotes for idiomatic expressions and his Glossary in the rear of the book was a great help. I was able to read entire paragraphs at times with comprehension without referring to the Glossary, and, only a few times, the Glossary failed me on simple words I should already know, like hingen is the past tense of the English verb hang.
Enjoyment was the key for me. I had to enjoy reading the book or I would have never completed it. Remarque's lyric passages are sprinkled everywhere in this book, as I will demonstrate with a few examples. The only time I was bombarded by strange words and I absolutely had to look them up was when Ernst Graeber and Elizabeth were being bombarded by bombs and the aftermath of an air raid which happened at least once on most days while Ernst was on leave from the Russian Front where the Germans were fighting the Russians and were slowly being pushed West. He made the best of his two weeks' leave, as we shall see, and remained true to his profession as a German soldier.
Our hero, Ernst Graeber, usually referred to as simply Graeber, had reported to his officer, expecting to hear that all leaves had been canceled, but was surprised to be told that his own leave has come through. He had to rush back to pack his things for the trip home.
When he got off the train and walked to his parents' home, he found all the buildings were destroyed, only some walls were standing. He began seeking his parents and found out they had left the town before the destruction, but no one could tell him where they went.
He decided to look up a Dr. Cruze, but instead found his daughter Elizabeth, whom he knew from school, but whom he had not seen for years and mistook her for her mother. She was to become his constant companion in a few days, but first he had to find news of his parents' whereabouts. In the ruins he found a small yellow book, his own Catechism with his own words written in the margins. It contained a hundred questions and answers to the secrets of life. He felt his world reeling around him, and wondered if this reeling were caused by the destroyed city with the mother-of-pearl sky he saw above him, or by the tiny yellow book with answers to all the questions of humanity that he held in his hands?
He found his friend Bindings' home and described it this way. In the early twilight of the garden, there was a birdbath on the lawn, in which water was splashing, with narcissus and tulips blooming in front of the lilac bushes, and a marble female figure gleaming under the birch trees.
He and Elizabeth agreed that Germany could not win the war, and they struggled over how to respond to that imminent reality. They shared the reality that in war the idea of happiness is tied to eating.
When he proposed marriage to Elizabeth, she asked him why? His first answer was to protect her, her father had been taken to a concentration camp and she might be picked up next. Being married to a soldier could save her life. But later he closed the deal by admitting to her, "Because I can't imagine a life without you." Besides that, marrying a soldier during the war was very much easier than usual. While she located her papers, Ernst found a tailor shop and had his uniform ironed, the only clothes he had. The tailor gave him some clothes to wear while he did his job. Then Ernst, all dressed up as a groom, asked the tailor how much. He answers, "1000 dollars or nothing. Therefore, make it nothing! A wedding present." Later they showed up at the Marriage Clerk's office. There was only one couple there besides them, so they wouldn't have long to wait. The petty bureaucrat hassled the couple, saying that they needed two witnesses to be married. The groom turned to Ernst and Elizabeth and asked if they would be the witnesses and then promised to do the same when they got married a few minutes later. Everything went well. The now married groom gave Ernst a large sausage as a wedding present as thanks for being his witness.The clerk asked Ernst for their two witnesses, but when Ernst pointed to the new bride and groom, the clerk said that's impossible because the witnesses cannot be related to each other! Up stepped a Gestapo officer who berated the Clerk for hassling a German soldier and offered to be the second witness to Ernst and Elizabeth's marriage. Later Ernst and Elizabeth laughed when they imagined the eyes of Frau Liese when she would see the Gestapo chief's signature on her roommate's marriage license.
A bombardment began later as Elizabeth headed to her factory to get leave for a honeymoon. Ernst took shelter at first, but then left to get Elizabeth's things from her apartment in case it was bombed. He packed up her stuff in a suitcase and grabbed some bedding and canvas in case they needed it, which they did. They located each other and found a place under the ledge of building where Ernst built a crude shelter and place to spend the night.
The next day, Ernst looked around for a place for them to stay and found an old Inn still intact, run by a Frau Witte who said she could serve them dinner of Linden Soup. Here was an island of sanity and peace with a garden, some hot soup, a table and chairs, and someone to wait upon them. This was their wedding feast with their sausage gift being the main course. Here's how Remarque described their meal. Frau Witte brought the beer. Graeber opened the bottles and filled up the glasses. They drank. The beer was cool and good. They ate the soup. They ate slowly and peacefully and looked at each other. It became darker, A ray of light split open the sky, peeking through the clouds, shining on them. A thrush began to sing and night fell.
The moon rose over them. "Now we have everything," said Elizabeth. "The moon, the garden, and we have eaten and indeed have the whole evening ahead of us. It is so beautiful that it's almost too much to bear."
As the last evening came up in the second to last chapter of this book, the title rang through my mind, "Time to live, time to die." Ernst and Elizabeth have had their time to live, finding an island of happiness to spend their first day of marriage together on, and now Ernst was heading back to the Front to resume his duties as a soldier. Would he survive the waning days of the war or was this to be his time to die?
This marvelous story from the author of his WWI novel, All's Quiet on the Western Front, provides us a personal look into WWII from the perspective of a German soldier striving to live in a country torn to shreds, striving to love before he dies.
3.) ARJ2: On the Move — A Life by Oliver Sacks
For a man whose life was constantly on the move, no title could be better. Whenever he heard of some unique neurological problem somewhere in the world, he was on the next plane, whether it was across the Atlantic to Los Angeles or across the Pacific to the tiny island of the colorblind. With his ubiquitous journal in hand, whether sitting in a subway in New York City or sitting on a bench overlooking Machu Picchu in Peru (See Rear Jacket Cover), he was always writing down notes of his thoughts and his experiences to share with us. It is sad for me to realize that there will be no new notes for us to receive from his mind and his pen.
That sadness is chased quickly away by this biography of his life which is filled with descriptions of what he was doing while he was writing the other books that we have read of his. My reading of Olive Sacks predates my reviewing books after I read them, so I have included below this review a list of the books I know that he wrote with links to my reviews, and to others as I get to them. I had already planned to go back and re-read "A Leg to Stand On" when I heard of his death, so that will likely be the first fill-in review I will write.
It surprised me to discover that Oliver enjoyed riding motorcycles; at times, even racing them at high speeds. Once he joined the Ton-up Boys by exceeding a hundred miles an hour on his Norton. He boarded a Norwegian ship heading for England with two bottles of aquavit and found that the UK would only allow him to bring in one bottle, so he endeavored to bring the second bottle ashore inside of him. He spent the sea trip reading Ulysses and sipping aquavit. It wasn't until he stood up to leave that he realized he was roaring drunk and he tried to walk using his ski poles for support.
[page 8] Though lurching badly and attracting (mostly amused) attention, I felt that I had beaten the system, leaving Norway with two bottles and arriving with one. I had cheated U. K. Customs of a bottle which, I imagined, they would dearly have liked for themselves.
The other surprise was that he was a weightlifter, doing it well enough to set a record in the sport. He trained with five reps of 555 pounds every fifth day. He kept this up, not realizing how exceptional it was until he found himself beating the California squat record.
[page 101] I did so, diffidently, and to my delight was able to set a new record, a squat with a 600-pound bar on my shoulder. This was to serve as my introduction to the power-lifting world; a weight-lifting record is equivalent, in these circles, to publishing a scientific paper or a book in academia.
Back in his first term at Oxford, he spent a lot of time in the Radcliffe Science Library reading about neurophysiology, not much else. Soon he wanted to write his own Essays in Biography like Maynard Keynes did. In a sense he did exactly that, but with essays which filled books and interested a lot more people than scientific essays would have. His goal back then was to write essays with a clinical twist, "essays presenting individuals with unusual weaknesses or strengths and showing the influence of these special features on their lives; they would, in short, be clinical biographies or case histories of a sort." (Page 14, 15)
He was expected to write essays and then read them to his tutor. One man, Theodore Hook was amazing at improvising on the piano, having "composed almost five hundred operas sitting at a piano, improvising, and singing all the parts." Sacks got so interested in Hook that he ran out of time to write his essay, so he brought a blank piece of paper and extemporized the essay for his tutor. Everything went well until the tutor asked him to repeat what he just said, and Sacks couldn't quite pull it off. Looking at the piece of paper, which was blank, the tutor said, "Remarkable, Sacks. Very remarkable. But in the future, I want you to write your essays." (Page 15)
In medical school Sacks was lucky to have two diametrically opposite mentors: Gilliatt was a left-brain analytical type and Kremer was an exceptional intuitive. Gilliatt followed an algorithm and Kremer knew instantly. Sacks learned a lot about the systematic diagnostic process from Gilliatt.
[page 35] Kremer, on the other hand, has intuitive in the extreme; I remember him once making a diagnosis on a newly admitted patient as soon as we entered the ward. He spotted the patient thirty yards away, clutched my arm excitedly, and whispered, "Jugular foramen syndrome!" in my ear. This is an exceedingly rare syndrome, and I was astonished that he could identify it, across the length of the ward, at a glance.
I have seen neurologists do examinations and so many of the movements they ask the patient to do could have been observed as they greeted the patient and invited them to sit down. Kremer simply began his examinations as soon as a patient came into his purview.
Be careful what you wish for . . . Sacks saw a 37-year-old man with jerking movements similar to those that drove his father to suicide at age 37 and Frank was having similar feelings. Sacks had the results of tests for Huntington's chorea, postencephalitic parkinsonism, Wilson's disease, etc, but nothing could be confirmed. Sacks was puzzled by Frank's problem and thought to himself, "What's going on inside there? I wish I could see your brain."
[page 105] Half an hour after Frank had left the clinic, a nurse rushed in and said, "Dr. Sacks, your patient has been killed — hit by a truck — he died instantly." An immediate autopsy was performed, and two hours later I had Frank's brain in my hands.
If this episode had been written for Dr. Mallard of NCIS, it would have seen too farfetched to be true, but it actually happened to Dr. Sacks, one of many remarkable events in his long career. Many of these undoubtedly still reside in his voluminous notes he took during his life which have yet to make their way into public knowledge.
Sacks met many famous people, but he was face-blind, and needed non-visible clues for complete recognition. Like when Mae West told him, in effect, "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?"
[page 121] There were occasional weekends when I was on call at UCLA and others when I supplemented my meager income by moonlighting at the Doctor's Hospital in Beverly Hills.On one occasion there, I met Mae West, who was in for some small operation. (I did not recognize here face, for I am face-blind, but I recognized her voice — how could one not?) We chatted a good deal. When I came to say good-bye to her, she invited me to visit her mansion in Malibu; she liked to have young musclemen around her. I regret that I never took up her invitation.
Mae West had noticed his muscles which he had developed during his weigh-lifting training. Those very muscles allowed him to save the life of a man who had to be instantly turned upside down and Sacks was able to both know what had to be done and to do it.
[page 121] We were testing visual fields in a patient unlucky enough to have developed a coccidiomyces meningitis and some hydrocephalus. While we were testing him, his eyes suddenly rolled up into his head and he started to collapse. He was "coning", this is the rather mild term used for a terrifying event in which, with excessive pressure in the head, the cerebellar tonsils and brain stem get pushed through the foramen magnum at the base of the skull. Coning can be fatal within seconds, and with the speed of reflex I grabbed our patient and held him upside down; his cerebellar tonsils and brain stem went back into the skull, and I felt that I had snatched him from the very jaws of death.
Sacks wanted to be an experimental researcher in the field of neurological diseases and got on the track of lipids in the myelin sheath which he spent ten months accumulating from earthworms to get a decent size sample. He wrote, "I felt like Marie Curie processing her tons of pitchblende to obtain a decigram of pure radium." (Page 116) His bosses could overlook the crumbs on his workbench and even in one of the centrifuges, but when he lost all his collected myelin sample, he was done for, or rather destined for becoming a clinical physician instead of a researcher.
[pag 137] A meeting was convened: no one denied my talents, but no on could gainsay my defects. In a kindly but firm way, my bosses said to me, "Sacks, you are a menace in the lab. Why don't you go and see patients — you'll do less harm." Such was the ignoble beginning of a clinical career."
Eventually Sacks found his own unique way of doing what he loved most: "talking, reading, and writing." (Footnote Page 137).
One time Sacks had a landlady with a case of a rare disease, scleroderma, which is a very slowly progressing illness. When his skin began changing color and spots began forming Sacks called Carol, a fellow intern with him back at UCLA, in a panic thinking he had come down with a case of acute scleroderma. She came with her black bag in hand and diagnosed him immediately, saying, "Oliver, you idiot, you've got chicken pox." Oliver apparently never had chicken pox before and it was not likely he had just been exposed to it as an adult, so Carol probed him.
[page 144] "Have you examined anyone with shingles lately?" she continued. Yes, I told her. I had examined an old chap at Beth Abraham with shingles just fourteen days earlier. "Experientia docet," Carol said. "Now you know, not just because the textbooks say so, that shingles and chicken pox come from one and the same virus."
In doyletics, we posit that a case of shingles is a recurrence of the healing states of chicken pox, a doylic memory, which means the chicken pox happened before the age of 5. Since the latency period after exposure to the chicken pox virus is 14 to 16 days, it seems likely that Sacks got a case of chicken pox from being exposed to person with shingles. This provides evidence that the chicken pox virus does indeed lie dormant and then becomes active when its healing states return during a case of shingles. We can safely add that Sacks did not get shingles later in his life, because, while chicken pox is highly contagious, shingles is not, in the sense that no one gets shingles from a person with shingles(1).Sacks' case shows, however, that the latent chicken pox virus becomes active in a bout of shingles and thus is contagious to those who have not had chicken pox before, like Sacks. Since doctors are more likely to touch the shingles of a patient than other people and most adults have had chicken pox, it seems likely such cases as Sacks would be rare occurrences. Keeping babies and children under five years old away from someone suffering chicken pox or shingles seems a prudent course of action.
Sacks gives two cases of migraine headaches which happened only on Sunday. The first man he gave a pill to no longer had migraines, but within a week he had developed severe asthma the next Sunday. He asked Sacks, "Do you think I need to be ill on Sundays?" (Page 149) Clearly there was some secondary benefit to his being ill on Sunday which a good NLP practitioner could suss out and fix with a short six-step reframing procedure. The other migraine case involved a mathematician who was unable to do mathematics after Sacks' pill cured his migraine headaches. Cases like these led Sacks to write his book Migraine.
Part of the fun of reading this book is learning what Sacks was doing, what he was thinking of, what led him to write each of his books that I had already read. I read his Awakenings long before Robin Williams appeared as Sacks and Robert DeNiro as Leonard in the movie based on one of the stories in that book. I was amazed to learn that one of Sacks' actual patients had a bit part in that movie. Will be fun to watch the movie again to pick out that patient. I wonder if she got a speaking part and was therefore given a SAG card (Screen Actors Guild).
The story of Arnold P. Friedman who ran the migraine clinic where Sacks did a lot of work is interesting on several levels. He was very friendly and paid Sacks more for his work there than other places did, even introducing him to his daughter, as a potential suitor. Suddenly Friedman grew very angry when Sacks showed him the book on migraines that he had written, even threatening him if he ever published his book. Sacks saw his manuscript being photocopied by Friedman's clerk, and didn't think much of it, until after Sacks' Migraine was published and Sacks got letters from his colleagues asking if he had published earlier versions of the manuscript under the pseudonym, A. P. Friedman. Clearly Friedman was a primary thief who thought because Sacks did work at his clinic, that gave him the right to all of Sacks' thoughts and writings about migraine(2)
Sacks recognized the deadly aspect of Friedman's primary theft and Friedman's lesser talent. Primary thieves, like secondary thieves, are rarely innovative, using time-honored methods of taking what is not theirs from its proper owner. "Delusions of ownership" affects both primary and secondary thieves, does it not? It is their very unoriginal justification for taking as their own property something which clearly does not belong to them.
[page 158] I think Friedman had delusions of ownership, a feeling that not only did he own the whole subject of migraine but that he owned the clinic and everyone who worked there and was therefore entitled to appropriate their thoughts and their work. This painful story — painful on both sides — is not an uncommon one: an older man, a father figure, and his youthful son-in-science find their roles reversed when the son starts to outshine the father. This happened with Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday — Davy first giving every encouragement to Faraday then trying to block his career. I am no Faraday, and Friedman was no Davy, but I think the same deadly dynamic was at work, at a much humbler level.
What a moral man does is this: he gives unabashed credit and shows gratitude to a person whose ideas helped shape his own original work. Sacks does exactly that in this next passage.
[page 179] In 1968, I read Luria's Mind of a Mnemonist. I read the first thirty pages thinking it was a novel. But then I realized that it was in fact a case history — the deepest and most detailed case history I had ever read, a case history with the dramatic power, the feeling, and the structure of a novel.
Luria had achieved international renown as the founder of neuropsychology. But he believed his richly human case histories were no less important than his great neuropsychological treatises. Luria's endeavor — to combine the classical and the romantic, science and storytelling — became my own, and his "little book" as he always called it (The Mind of a Mnemonist is only a hundred and sixty small pages), altered the focus and direction of my life, by serving as an exemplar not only for Awakenings but for everything else I was to write.
Another way Sacks showed respect and gratitude for the innovators in his field is that he recommended their works to his students. One such student from forty years earlier, Jonathan Kurtis, visited Sacks recently and told him "the only thing he remembered from his medical student days was the three-month period he spent" with him. Sacks would have Jonathan visit a patient with the illness being studied, spend hours in the room, and give him a full report when he returned to Sacks. (Page 182)
[page 182] We would discuss the patient and the "condition"in more general terms, and then I would suggest further reading; Jonathan was struck by the fact that I would often recommend original (often nineteenth century) accounts. No one else in medical school, Jonathan said, ever suggested that he read such accounts; they were dismissed, if mentioned at all, as "old stuff," obsolete, irrelevant, of no use or interest to anyone but a historian.
To a respecter of primary property, those original accounts are pure gold because reading them allows one access to the originator's thoughts which often provides invaluable insights. Besides that it give one the opportunity to show gratitude to the originators and give them credit for their great works, two essentials that are often glossed-over in the rush of modern day life. Sacks even gives credit to the Ibsen play, When We Dead Awaken, for inspiring the title of his own book, Awakenings. It appears in a footnote on page 194. Footnotes are the way people credit the source of their inspirations, and people who don't write or read footnotes often reveal themselves to have "delusions of ownership" which they prefer, like A. P. Friedman, to keep to themselves.
A good friend of Oliver was W. H. Auden, and when Auden headed back to England for the last time, Oliver and their mutual friend Orlan Fox went to help him pack up his stuff and drive him to the airport. It was a poignant goodbye to the USA for Wystan Auden and also for Oliver and Orlan to their friend and colleague.
[page 199] We arrived early, then, and whiled away the hours in a meandering conversation; it was only later, when he left, that I realized that all the amblings and meanderings returned to one point: that the focus of the conversation was farewell — to us, to those thirty-three years, half of his life, which he had spent in the United States (he used to call himself a transatlantic Goethe, only half-jokingly). Just before the call for the plane, a complete stranger came up and stuttered, "You must be Mr. Auden. . . . We have been honored to have you in our country, sir. You'll always be welcome back here as an honored guest — and a friend." He stuck out his hand, saying, "Good-bye, Mr. Auden, God bless you for everything!" and Wystan shook it with great cordiality. He was much moved; there were tears in his eyes. I turned to Wystan and asked whether such encounters were common.
"Common," he said, "but never common. There is a genuine love in these casual encounters." As the decorous stranger discreetly retired, I asked Wystan how he experienced the world, whether he thought of it as being a very small or very large place.
"Neither," he replied. "Neither large nor small. Cozy, cozy." He added in an undertone, "Like home."
He said nothing more; there was no more to be said. The loud impersonal call blared out, and he hurried to the boarding gate. At the gate, he turned and kissed us both — the kiss of a godfather embracing his godsons, a kiss of benediction and farewell. He suddenly looked terribly old and frail but as nobly formal as a Gothic cathedral.
On his fortieth birthday Oliver met a man who was a student at Harvard on this way home shortly after his first visit to England. He was to be what Oliver called a "perfect present". Oliver had been set up on arranged dates with women, but never had sex with them. It took him getting falling down drunk to have his first sexual encounter with a man who lifted the zonked out Sacks up off the street and carried him to a nearby flat and had sex with him while he was unconscious. Over two decades he had several love affairs, but always discreetly. He did not want to be alone on his birthday this year. So when this new friend invited him a nearby apartment, he accepted.
[page 203] I did so, happily, without my usual cargo of inhibitions and fears — happy that he was so nice looking, that he had taken the initiative, that he was so direct and straightforward, happy, too, that it was my birthday and that I could regard him, our meeting, as the perfect birthday present.
We went to his flat, made love, lunched, went to the Tate in the afternoon, to the Wigmore Hall in the evening, and then back to bed.
We had a joyous week together — the days full, the nights intimate, a happy, festive, loving week — before he had to return to the States. There were no deep or agonized feelings; we liked each other, we enjoyed ourselves, and we parted without pain or promises when our week was up.
It was just as well that I had no foreknowledge of the future, for after that sweet birthday fling I was to have no sex for the next thirty-five years.
He relates this detail from his fall off a cliff while running away from a bull on a remote mountain trail in Norway. Note how he becomes a doctor examining himself as if he were a patient.
[page 215] One can have dissociations in times of extremity. My first thought was that someone, someone I knew, had had an accident, a bad accident, and only then did I realize that I was that someone. I tried to stand up, but the leg gave way like a strand of spaghetti, completely limp. I examined the leg — very professionally, imagining that I was an orthopedist demonstrating an injury to a class of students: "You see the quadriceps tendon has torn off completely, the patella can be flipped to and fro, the knee can be dislocated backwards: so." With that, I yelled. "This causes the patient to yell," I added, and then again came back to the realization that I was not a professor demonstrating an injured patient; I was the injured person. I had been using an umbrella as a walking stick, and now, snapping off the handle, I splinted the stem of the umbrella to my leg using strips of cloth I tore from my anorak and started my descent, levering myself down with my arms. At first I did so very quietly, because I thought the bull might still be in the vicinity.
Oliver Sacks was a doctor without a formal job, but he visited patients in nursing homes all over the boroughs of New York City as a "peripatetic neurologist" which allowed him to do his three favorite things, "talking, reading, and writing".
When a former mentor in neurology at UCLA visited in New York, he asked Oliver about his work and exclaimed, "But you have no position!"
[page 222] I said I did have a position.
"What? What sort of position do you have?" he asked (he himself had recently ascended to chair of neurology at UCLA).
"At the heart of medicine," I answered him. "That's where I am."
Oliver was a doctor of the brain and the heart, and he brought heart into everything he did and wrote his heart out upon the pages he gave to the world to read. The conditions he encountered in the nursing homes, the so-called manors, in New York City, tore at his heart.
[page 223] In some of these places, generically referred to as "the manors," I saw the complete subjugation of the human to medical arrogance and technology. In some cases, the negligence was willful and criminal — patients left unattended for hours or even abused physically or mentally. In one "manor," I found a patient with a broken hip, in intense pain, ignored by the staff and lying in a pool of urine. I worked in other nursing homes where there was no negligence but nothing beyond basic medical care. That those who entered such nursing homes needed meaning — a life, an identity, dignity, self-respect, a degree of autonomy — was ignored or bypassed; "care" was purely mechanical and medical.
But he found hope in the places run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. He knew of their places as a boy in London, as his parents consulted in them. His Auntie Len would tell him, "If I get a stroke, Oliver, or get disabled, get me to the Little Sisters; they have the best care in the world." (Page 224)
[page 225] Though I was dispirited by the "manors" and soon stopped going to them, the Little Sisters inspire me, and I love going to their residences, I have been going to some of them, now, for over forty years.
While working on the final stages of A Leg to Stand On, Oliver got out of his car, slipped on some black ice and laid flat on his back. The attendant came up to him and asked what he was doing. "Sunbathing", Oliver replied. The attendant asked again, and this time he said, "I've broken an arm and a leg." When Colin, to whom he had finally turned over the job of publishing the book, heard he was in the hospital, he came to him and said, "Oliver! You'd do anything for a footnote." (Pages 239, 240) Here was the accident he had been fearing he would have if he didn't get his book completed.
In the science of doyletics we postulate that doylic memories aka procedural memories are created primarily during the pre-five-year-old stage of human development. During this phase the hippocampus and cortex are reaching critical mass, and after that stage, all events are transmitted to the cortex by the hippocampus as cognitive memory aka declarative memory. Speech and gestures both require storage in doylic memory for rapid recall. Language learned after five years old is difficult, especially the unique phonemes of a new language. For me, the T-sound at the beginning of Zeit or Zauber, e.g., in German is difficult as I learned the language at age 18 in college and didn't hear it as a child, even though my Matherne ancestors came here from Germany speaking it several centuries before I was born.I can say Zauber fine if I prepare for it, but it requires a tad of my consciousness, some cortical processing for me to speak a phoneme that a native German acquires unconsciously by age five in doylic memory. Sacks explains how critical this pre-five period is in development.
[page 269] Deaf, signing parents will "babble" to their infants in sign, just as hearing parents do orally; this is how the child learns language, in a dialogic fashion. The infant's brain is especially attuned to learning language in the first three or four years, whether this is an oral language or a signed one. But if a child learns no language at all during the critical period, language acquisition may be extremely difficult later. Thus a deaf child of deaf parents will grow up "speaking" sign, but a deaf child of hearing parents often grows up with no real language at all, unless he is exposed early to a signing community.
For many of the children I saw with Isabelle at a school for the deaf in the Bronx, learning lip-reading and spoken language had demanded a huge cognitive effort, a labor of many years; even then, their language comprehension and use was often far below normal. I saw how disastrous the cognitive and social effects of not achieving competent, fluent language could be (Isabelle had published a detailed study of this).
After a visit to him, Oliver's friend in San Francisco wrote him in a letter, "I have thought about what you said of anecdote and narrative. I think we all live in a swirl of anecdotes." That wonderful phonological ambiguous phrase "live in a swirl of anecdotes" inspired me to write this poem:
Inspired by Thom Gunn's "swirl of anecdotes" on page 272, and Sack's comments on 273.
This World of Anecdotes
The swirl of anecdotes
within which we compose ourselves —
A digital selfie machine
we use to capture ourselves
as this world photo-bombs us.
For what are we
without this world,
without the swirl of anecdotes
we find ourselves within?
Do you want chocolate or vanilla?
"Give me the swirl!
What is life without the swirl?"
Do you write books or poems?
"To me books are vanilla,
poems are chocolate.
I like the swirl —
I find myself in the swirl."
Do you write continuously?
"I write in fits and starts —
of light and dark,
Vanilla and chocolate,
I like the swirl."
Oh, like the Quick and the Dead?
"Yes, smooth like Breyer's 'Vanilla Bean'
or with chunks and cherries
like Ben & Jerry's
Those two make a luscious world, don't they?
"A luscious swirl, in deed!"
Oliver wrote that Thom Gunn rarely reviewed what he didn't like, something that I have found true of myself. Any book which has a scintilla of insight or delight will get a review from me. Others, the occasional book foisted on me by a well-meaning friend, will be so outside my range of enjoyment that I will throw the book away rather than say something bad about it which might trigger someone else to want to read the book, thinking, "Oh, it can't be that bad!"
Thom Gunn's poem "On the Move" must have inspired the author or his publisher to use the phrase to describe a book on Oliver Sacks' life. The words below Oliver wrote about Thom undoubtedly equally well apply to himself.
[page 278, 279] In "On the Move," which Thom wrote in his twenties, are the linesAt worst, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still.
Thom was still on the move, still full of energy, in his seventies. When I last saw him, in November of 2003, he seemed more intense, not less intense, than the young man of forty years earlier. . . . He had, so far as I could judge, no thoughts of slowing down or stopping. I think he was moving forward, on the move, till the very minute he died.
Oliver had some famous relatives, among them two cousins, Abba Eban of Israel fame, and Al Capp of Dogpatch fame. I read Li'l Abner in the comics daily for decades and wondered what happened to Al Capp to cause him to stop drawing the cartoon. Rumors about sexscapades with college girls did him in, apparently. Oliver writes about his cousin Capp.
[page 292] There was a scandal, and Al was fired by the hundreds of syndicated papers that he had worked for all his life. Suddenly the beloved cartoonist who had created Dogpatch and the Schmoo, who was in some ways the graphic Dickens of America, found himself reviled and out of a job. . . . He remained depressed, and in declining health, until his death in 1979.
In a story about his cousin Aubrey aka Abba Eban, Oliver writes of Aubrey's visit to Einstein in his home in Princeton. Asked by Albert if he'd like some coffee, Aubrey said yes, and Albert proceeded to make coffee for him. "This showed the human and endearing side of the world's greatest genius," Abba related to Oliver.
Carl Jung once wrote that "nothing so drives a man in his career than what his father almost, but never quite did in his own life." Oliver experienced that drive from his father who had considered a career in neurology.
[page 313] At one time, my father had thought of a career in neurology but then decided that general practice would be "more real," "more fun," because it would bring him into deeper contact with people and their lives.
In the last years of his life Oliver Sacks had a melanoma in the back of an eye, which was controlled by radiation, and he experienced intense pain from knee surgery which required him to stand up for reading and for writing. He said, "The concentration involved in writing, I found, was almost as good as the morphine and had no side effects. I hated lying in bed, in a hell of pain, and spent as many hours as I could writing at my improvised standing desk." We can choose to remember the man who was always on the move spending his last years standing, writing his way into the future and into our hearts.~^~
BOOKS by OLIVER SACKS
Click to Read Review
1. The Island of the Colorblind
2. Uncle Tungsten — Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
3. Musicophilia — Tales of Music and the Brain
4. An Anthropologist on Mars — Seven Paradoxical Tales
5. On the Move — A Life
6. A Leg To Stand On — A Neurography
8. The Mind's Eye
To Be Reviewed
9. Seeing Voices — A Journey into the World of the Deaf
10. Awakenings — A newly revised edition of the medical Classic
11. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat — A Collection of Neurographies
14. Oaxaca Journal
------- Footnotes -------------Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Since a child under five can catch chicken pox from a person with shingles and later in life have shingles as a mature adult, we can posit that shingles is contagious, but only over a long period of time. While an adult can catch chicken pox from someone with shingles, that adult will not ever have shingles after the bout of chicken pox because the healing states are not stored as a doylic memory if the person is over five years old. The science of doyletics explains why adults cannot catch shingles from someone with shingles.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
In the 1960s Andrew J. Galambos showed his rocket engine invention which his boss scoffed at and then submitted to Aerospace company as his own invention. That act led Galambos to quite work there and devote the rest of his life to building a society in which such thievery would never happen in any industry. See Sic Itu Ad Astra. His definitions of primary property: a person's thoughts and ideas; of secondary property: all the things derived from primary property (things).
4.) ARJ2: Freedom & Neurobiology, Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power by John R. Searle
On a long-distance phone call to my mom back in 1970, she told me that a cousin of mine just had a surprise appendectomy. After the call, my wife and I mused over the doctor coming into the room to announce to Danny, "Surprise! You've just had an appendectomy!" John Searle tells us, in effect, that his editor called about this book to tell him, "Surprise! You've just had your book published!" The way this happened was that John gave a series of lectures at the Sorbonne in 2001, one in French on language and political power and the other in English on freedom of the will. They asked him if he would allow these two presentations to be published. He assumed one would be published in French and the other in English.
[page 2] To my surprise, my editor, Patrick Savidan, published the two lectures as a rather elegant, though small, book in French called Liberté et neurobiologie. I knew nothing of the publication plans until a boxful of books arrived at my home in Berkeley. It is the first time in my life that I published a book I did not know that I had written.
Soon translations appeared in German, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese and then Columbia University Press approached him to produce an English translation. Luckily he had the original English text of the French lecture, and he decided to revise the English lecture based on his current views. All of which is portrayed very nicely on the book cover: Surprise! Two delicious ice cream cones, one filled with French Vanilla and the other with English Chocolate.
Searle drops a big Unanswered Question on us on Page 5:
[page 5] Our self-conception derives in part from our cultural inheritance, but mostly it derives from our own experience. We have a conception of ourselves as conscious, intentionalistic, rational, social, institutional, political, speech-act performing, ethical and free will possessing agents. Now, the question is, How can we square this self-conception of ourselves as mindful, meaning-creating, free, rational, etc., agents with a universe that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, brute physical particles?
If we accept Searle's view of our universe as mindless, meaningless, unfree, nonrational, and consisting only physical particles, then we must certainly let go of any idea of freedom or free will. He has clearly set forth the basis of a materialistic view of the universe, has he not? Immanuel Kant would be proud of Searle for doing such a good job of reasoning.
Let's examine what Searle says about our self-conception: "it derives from our own experience." Hmmm, let's examine what our experience has been thought to consist of since the time of Francis Bacon: only sensory experience. If our experience derives only from sensory experience, we are left in an unfree world. I accept that to be the case because it logically follows from the premise. However, I strenuously reject the premise. If I used that premise to examine plants as they exist above the surface of the ground, I could not understand plant biology at all. Rightly understood, there is as much a mass of plant biology below the ground as above the ground.
We humans live above the ground in a visible physical world, and also below the ground in an invisible spiritual world, one which is as unknown to our senses as the plant biology underneath of the earth is invisible to our sight. Only if we dig into the earth can we examine the plant biology that is invisible to our eyes, and doing so kills the very biology we wish to inspect. How can we examine the invisible spiritual world upon which the visible physical world exists and from which it originates? The Fox's Secret of The Little Prince gives us a hint, "It is only with the heart one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
Since Searle defines consciousness as "subjective, qualitative states of sentience or feeling or awareness", it seems clear Antoine Saint-Exupéry is saying that our heart, as a center of feeling, gives us a consciousness of our essential spiritual nature.
Part of the problem of understanding consciousness is that humans are treated as animals by those who look only above the ground at the material world and ignore the deep reality of the spiritual world. This is a premise that lies so deep in Searle's thinking that he can presume it to be a fact without having to specify that it is only a belief. Note his presupposition in this phrase below, "traits that humans share with many other species of animals", which presumes that humans are a species of animal.
[page 8] In addition to having consciousness and intentionality, traits that humans share with many other species of animals . . .
That allows us to understand Searle's bias toward humans as mere advanced animals, presupposing that humans evolved from animals, rather than the equally likely possibility that animals remained behind in their level of spiritual growth, never having evolved to the level of humans.
Searle refuses to state that free will is a fact, but he does, after intense study of the matter of consciousness, feel obliged to state: "The point is that, given the structure of our consciousness, we cannot proceed except on the presupposition of free will." (Page 11)
[page 17] We have to presuppose free will whenever we engage in voluntary action, but the presupposition is not self-guaranteeing. Perhaps we are mistaken in supposing that we have free will, but mistaken or not, we still do not have an account of free will that will make it consistent with both our experiences and what we know about the rest of the universe.
The collective pronoun "we" is how Searle uses points to those who use Baconian thinking like himself — he has a lot of company in this manner of thinking.The answers to the questions Searle and his colleagues must hold unanswered, are well-answered by Rudolf Steiner who views the matter of free will both above the ground materially and below the ground spiritually. Steiner holds out a macroscope to Searle and others when they rebuff him like Criminino did when Galileo proffered him a look through his telescope. "Look through here to see the mountains on the Moon," he told Criminino, from whom he received the curt reply, "There are no mountains on the Moon." Today's establishment scientists would tell Steiner, "There are no spiritual realities in a Human."
A true scientist would want to take a look through Steiner's macroscope for himself, for his own self. Searle gives us a definition for self which he was apparently led to while he was trying to lasso free will, as if it were a dogie in a cattle herd which, lacking a mother, had to be tamed by philosophers:
[page 33] Hume, with his skeptical account, destroyed any possibility of the conception of the self as some sort of substantive entity that could be the object of experiences. But there are certain formal features of conscious decision-making that force us to recognize that one and the same entity is conscious, rational, capable of reflection and capable of decision and action, and therefore of assuming responsibility. This purely formal entity I call the self.
The problem of free will is a Gordian Knot that we have tied ourselves up with using our processes of logic and we cannot untie the knot using those same processes. Alexander the Great, a pupil of Aristotle, knew how to loosen the Knot, he sliced through it with his sword. Rudolf Steiner, a modern day Aristotle, sliced through the Gordian Knot of free will with his Philosophy of Freedom which, rightly understood, will toss Kant's philosophy into the dustbin of history. Here's how Searle describes the Knot:
[page 38]Typically, when we encounter one of these problems that seems insoluble it has a certain logical form. On the one hand we have a belief or a set of beliefs that we feel we really cannot give up, but on the other hand, we have another belief or set of beliefs that is inconsistent with the first set, and seems just as compelling as the first set. So, for example, in the old mind-body problem we have the belief that the world consists entirely of material particles in fields of force, but at the same time the world seems to contain consciousness, an immaterial phenomenon; and we cannot see how to put the immaterial together with the material into a coherent picture of the universe. In the old problem of skeptical epistemology, it seems, on the one hand, according to common sense, that we do have certain knowledge of many things in the world, and yet, on the other hand, if we really have such knowledge, we ought to be able to give a decisive answer to the skeptical arguments, such as, How do we know we are not dreaming, are not a brain in a vat, are not being deceived by evil demons, etc.? But we do not know how to give a conclusive answer to these skeptical challenges.
What about natural events? Are they completely deterministic or random? If natural events like hurricanes are deterministic, why shouldn't natural events like human behavior also be deterministic and not capable of occurring voluntarily or freely?
[page 38, 39] In the case of free will the problem is that we think explanations of natural phenomena should be completely deterministic. The explanation of the Loma Prieta earthquake, for example, does not explain why it just happened to occur, it explains why it had to occur. Given the forces operating on the tectonic plates, there was no other possibility.
Would Searle feel the same way about natural events being deterministic if he could see below the surface of the events and discern how the collective human psyche in a given area acted as the trigger mechanisms for the Loma Prieta earthquake and the steering currents for hurricane Katrina, to name two examples? This is exactly the point made by Jane Roberts in her landmark book on the subject of mass events, The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events. Having lived through Hurricane Katrina, I experienced the stultification of the human psyche of the citizens of New Orleans before the massive storm and the clearing of the air afterward which created massive improvements to the levee system, improvements to the educational system, etc., and I experienced first-hand the joie de vivre of the entire area post-Katrina. Which makes more sense: that Katrina was a random natural disaster steered by meteorological currents or that Katrina had been steered by the collective psyche of the people of the area? If it were both, then psychic currents came first. True, the steering wheel determines the movement of the ship, but the Captain determines the movement of the steering wheel.
We have seen several movies about totally conscious robots and few of these movies had good endings. Searle looks at the possibility for building a conscious robot.
[page 70] How would we build a conscious robot, where every feature of consciousness is entirely determined by the state of the microelements, and at the same time the consciousness of the system functions causally in determining the next state of the system by processes that are not deterministic but are a matter of free decision making by a rational self, acting on reasons.
He then tells us that is precisely the condition we humans are in. But there is something more in us human beings which distinguishes us from so-called conscious robots.
[page 71] We are conscious robots whose states of consciousness are fixed by neuronal processes, and at the same time we sometimes proceed by nondeterministic conscious processes (hence neuronal processes) that are matters of our rational selves making decisions on reasons.
Once again, Searle has, in a new way, created a Gordian Knot and then admitted there is no way to untie his Knot. So he pulls out of his sheath a well-honed HUP and slices the knot in twain. It is the tool he acquired from Werner Heisenberg, the famous Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which gives Searle some needed comfort in his syllogistic cul-de-sac. He writes, "Previously I never could see the point of introducing quantum mechanics into discussions of consciousness. But here at least is a strict argument requiring the introduction of quantum indeterminism." (Page 71)
In an earlier review I wrote up how quantum mechanics sits on the boundary of the physical and spiritual world(1). If Searle were to take this into account, the reality of the spiritual world, as the basis for our experiences in the physical world, it might hit his head like a sledgehammer and bring some sense into his bafflegab of nondeterministic deterministic processes. I include below from my review some comments and a poem which expresses concisely my insight into the conundrum of free will and determinism.
The following poem ties together the human will and quantum particle, both of which have created insolvable conundrums for natural scientists, up until now.
In the heart
of the human being
lies the boundary
between the physical
and the spiritual world.
In the heart
of quantum mechanics
lies the boundary
between the physical
and the spiritual world.
sit on the fence
between the physical
and the spiritual world
like Mugwumps —
their mugs on one side
their wumps on the other —
they have a great fall
and are observed by yours truly
on the physical side of the fence.
Then all the king's horses
and all the king's men
cannot put Humpty-Dumpty
The pieces which fall
on the spiritual side of the fence
may be observed by others
at the far end of the universe.
Searle ends Chapter 1, "Free Will As a Problem in Neurobiology" by writing, "There is, I am sure, much more to be said." And I earnestly agree with him on that point.
Chapter 2 "Social Ontology and Political Power" covers my least favorite subject, politics. Why? Because so little understanding infuses the subject in general and Searle's text in particular. But there is one paragraph near the end of the chapter which caught my eye about a modern day collapse of a socialistic system, the coercive bureaucracy of East Germany, the so-called German Democratic Republic. Most people only looked at the dramatic collapse of the Berlin Wall, but the really interesting part was how the people stopped supporting the coercive bureaucracy and soon not even the police state and army would follow the orders given to them to corral the liberated citizens.
Can this happen in America? Can it happen in these so-called United States of America, which have been welded into a monolithic coercive bureaucracy, and whose grip on the people of this land grows tighter every year, every day? All it would take is for voluntary non-compliance to coercive orders to dissolve its grip like happened in the GDR in 1989. All it would take for this to happen would be for out-of-control socialist programs to drive taxes up and services down. All it would take is for the coercive bureaucracy to strangle on its own red tape while drowning in its own red ink. Can it happen? Each person can answer that question without further prompting.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------1. The Influence of the Dead on Destiny by Rudolf Steiner Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
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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 Walks through Marais District of Paris this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of DIGESTWORLD to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Eyes Graffiti about Eyes and Lies:
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 Richard in 2002:
Note: He was replying to this quote I had found inside a Tribune Media Crossword in the local paper, January 23, 2001:
Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.
Richard on March 13, 2002 sent this example of astonishment:
Hi, it's a rarity to find old-school style of doing business in this lying, money-dickering world. We use to own a family hardware store and half of our business was on credit. Even though we took it on the chin every now and then, it never stopped our extension. Quite refreshing to hear a voice coming from the days when a mans word was his bond. Yes, please do send me a copy, even if it has to be wrestled from your own private shelf (ha), and I'll reciprocate on the rebound. I really enjoy your reviews. It's like finding a more learned companion with whom I can learn from.
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell: "Poll Tax"
Poll Tax — Prologue
In a "Notes from FEE" for January 2006, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) they abridged a 1961 lecture at FEE by Leonard E. Read (1898-1983).Leonard E. Read said:The "right to vote” is hurled as an epithet as if it were some God-given benison, but little voice is given to what happens when one votes for a coercive bureaucracy such as the one which rules this great land under the guise of "government", up until now. Every time one walks into a polling booth, one votes to continue the coercive bureaucracy. One gives it freely one's support, no matter who one votes for. What is one to do?
The first level of leadership requires an individual to achieve that degree of understanding which makes it utterly impossible for him to have any hand in supporting or giving encouragement to any form of socialism whatever misleading labels and nicknames it takes.
This level of attainment requires no "original” thinking, writing or talking, but we should not underestimate the enormous influence set in motion by an individual who does absolutely no ideological wrong. His refusal to sanction or promote unsound actions and his faithfulness to free-market ideals — even if he is silent — has a radiating effect and sets high standards for others to follow.
One can do "no ideological wrong” only by choosing to "vote” for proprietary organizations which provide one a service one wants quickly, conveniently, and without any coercion. Any fast-food establishment, for example, does that. Take their innovation of drive-up service. Can you find an example of any "government” office which provides drive-up service? Even the Department of Motor Vehicles requires to you get out of your car to apply for a license plate renewal, etc. You have to sit in an uncomfortable chair or stand in a long line in "government” offices, all the while people are waiting in short lines in their comfortable automobiles to buy food from fast-food outlets. What's the difference? The "government” offices force you to comply because they are all part of a "coercive bureaucracy” — a so-called government and not a true government. A true government would operate volitionally and not coercively — just as any proprietary business does. And, as a proprietary business, the clerk across the counter would treat you as a valued customer. The clerk would have an incentive to be nice, or helpful, and accommodating, just as the clerks at the fast-food outlets. Instead we find all too often at our at our so-called government offices, clerks who have no incentive to be nice, or helpful, or accommodating because they know we have nowhere else to go for their cherished "service". Every time we voluntarily support a so-called government office or program that we are not required to support by dint of a coercive law, we foster and perpetuate such behaviors. In addition, the product or service the office or program provides is supported by taking money out of the pockets of other citizens, citizens who may or may not use that product or service but are required to pay for it anyway through coercive taxes.
What are we to do? We can take Leonard E. Read's advice and refuse to take "any hand in supporting or giving encouragement to any form of socialism whatever misleading labels and nicknames it takes” and recognize that what our so-called government in this land is a form of socialism under the guise of a more palatable name. This is a baldfaced deception supported by everyone in office and everyone who accepts a public office.
Rightly understood, we cannot achieve freedom by fighting for it — fighting only brings in its wake more fighting. So don't fight it. If the so-called government insists that we get a license to drive a vehicle, go do it. Yes, we have to go the Dept. of Motor Vehicles for a license. We have to pay taxes. But, consider this salient exception: we do not have to vote! It requires no fighting, it violates no laws to stay away from the polls in the United States of America, although voting is already mandatory in Australia and other countries. Americans in droves are staying away from polling booths. Meanwhile those who endorse our coercive form of bureaucracy, our so-called government, choose to label as "apathetic voters” those who stay home from the polls. This is a "misleading label” which disguises the true motivations of those non-voting Americans who stay away from the polls. They are seeding a new birth of freedom in this great land, one which will eventually proclaim a true government, a government of the free, by the free, and for the free. When will that day come? When no one shows up to vote for coercion in polling booths.
Who are you going to vote for come next election day? My plan to drive past the polling booth down to Dairy Queen, Wendy's, or Burger King and plunk my money down willingly for a delicious and nutritious product.
We think it incorrect to shun
The blessings of coercion:
Please force the voters to attend
Their duties in the next election.
The right to vote a duty must become
So jail the beggars who beg off,
Make them vote for liberty or else
Why should we fight for them?
Thoreau had the right idea —
Although it wasn't carried far enough —
Let's institute a brand new practice:
That when you go to vote, you pay your taxes:
Income, excise, sales, and property —
Paid in one lump sum for liberty.
How many would out the window toss
The right to vote, if they knew its cost?
So secure the blessing of our roots,
Stay away from polling booths,
With the voice of freedom sing,
"Next election vote for Burger King."
I have a lot of respect for the work of Gerald Edelman, but his work has materialistic limits which he has yet to transcend, so far as I know. When I first reviewed his classic book, Bright Air, Brilliant Fire, I wrote only a short blurb of it in DIGESTWORLD Issue #7 . Next Issue, I will include the entire review for you to read and here's a bit of the beginning of the book to tantalize you.
I think it not improbable that man, like the grub that prepares a chamber for the winged thing it never has seen but is to be, that man may have cosmic destinies he does not understand.
— Justice Oliver Wendell HolmesTo read the rest of this review, Subscribe to DIGESTWORLD and check DW#15c.
This quote headed my review of Citadel, Market, and Altar, but I could not resist placing it at the top of this review of a book by a materialist scientist who claims to understand that the mind originates in the brain, and therefore our individual cosmic destiny is dust. He has found a watch in the jungle and fabricated an intricate theory to show how the pieces assembled themselves. What he does not say is, who winds the watch. What he does not hear is the ticking of the clock of the centuries that will relegate his grand materialistic masterpiece to the status of a quaint 21st Century myth in a couple of ticks.
It is a grand masterpiece laid out before us of how the matter of the brain is organized and assembles itself into recursive, intertwining loops of systems of neuronal groups as it bootstraps itself into perception, primary consciousness, and higher consciousness. In doing so, he systematically demolishes the arguments of the "brain is only a computer" school of thought, but he attempts to create in biological wetware what he has just convinced us is not achievable in software.
The Astronomy Picture of the Day shows what it calls the "Fractured North Pole of Saturn's Enceladus" moon. Click Here to View. What is the cause of the "fractures" is an issue that no one in science seems to debate or question. It's invisible water which caused it and therefore a sign of life. Here's the exact words APOD uses to decribe this: "The fractures may further indicate global interplay between the surface and potential seas underneath, seas that future missions might target for signs of life."
This is a familiar refrain which we have heard during all the Mars missions. Folks who call themselves scientists look at the huge fracture which runs across the girth of the Red Planet and call it a huge gully that they claim was caused by seas flowing into it, seas which have since evaporated. And they continue look for those invisible seas to prove that life once existed or still exists on the barren Red Planet.
As a physicist and a colleague of Immanuel Velikovsky, I look at the fractures on both Enceladus and Mars, and I see evidence of interplanetary plasma discharges which left behind the huge scars the way a lightning bolt would in desert soil. Wouldn't it be great if we had an eye-witness to the huge lightning bolt which scarred Mars permanently? Sure it would be nice, but the more important question is, Would we believe the eye-witness? There is a myth that Venus stabbed Mars, slicing him across his girth. Since there are two planets named Venus and Mars, that description is best taken as an account of ancients who observed a near approach of Venus as it passed Mars on its way into a circular orbit inside the orbit of Earth. How else would they describe a huge electrical plasma discharge than as a silver sword slicing across the middle of Mars?
This claim of Venus as being a proto-planet in historical times was one of 26 predictions made by Velikovsky in the 1950s and 60s which were ridiculed by scientists of the time, all of which predictions (except this one) have since been accepted by scientists to be true. Some examples: radio emissions from Jupiter, neon in the soil of the Moon, Venus is NOT a Greenhouse (as scientists claimed in 1950), but inside of its hydrocarbon-filled atmosphere Venus has an incandescent surface temperature (~800 degF) which would MELT any space vehicle which attempts to land there (this actually happened), catastrophic collisions drastically changing the ecosystem and geology of the Earth, and planetary bodies incuding the Sun have enormous electrical charges (solar flares certainly do when they arrive at Earth, do they not?). These are the examples I recall off the top of my head.
Amazingly, although his predictions have been used and confirmed by many scientists, Velikovsky is still treated as a pariah of science, up until now. One need only examine the way the AAAS bashed Velikovsky at its meeting in 1972 to realize what establishment science does to its detractors. While it burnt Giordano Bruno at the stake literally, it burnt Velikovsky on the stake of public opinion, and that fire is still burning, unfortunately.
If we accept Velikovsky's view of Mars' huge canyon as due to a huge electrial discharge, we will begin to notice it resembles more the scarring of a huge lightning bolt rather than some hypothetical flow of a gigantic sea which no longer exists. Then the scarring and "fractures" on the North Pole of Enceladus also makes sense as plasma (electrical ion) discharges between it and its host planet Saturn or from close approaches to one of Saturn's other moons.
Someday these "fractured fairy tales of science" will evaporate like the huge invisible seas they postulate and we will come to understand better the Cosmos in which we live.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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