Thursday, July 22, 2004

Laurie's wit and heart

I have been listening to Laurie Anderson tonight. I find her lyrics so clever. I just wanted to share some of it with you in case you had never had the pleasure. Some of her work is quite experimental and it takes some time and an open mind but I think its worth it. I recommend Strange Angels or Big Science to start with. Here are some of my favorites.


You're walking. And you don't always realize it,
but you're always falling.
With each step you fall forward slightly.
And then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you're falling.
And then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling
at the same time.
---From Walking & Falling by Laurie Anderson

It was a large room. Full of people. All kinds.
And they had all arrived at the same buidling
at more or less the same time.
And they were all free. And they were all
asking themselves the same question:
What is behind that curtain?

You were born. And so you're free. So happy birthday.
---From Born, Never Asked by Laurie Anderson

I met this guy - and he looked like might have
been a hat check clerk at an ice rink.
Which, in fact, he turned out to be. And I said:
Oh boy. Right again.

Let X=X. You know, it could be you.
It's a sky-blue sky. Satellites are out tonight.
Let X=X.

You know, I could write a book. And this book would
be think enough to stun an ox. Cause I can see the
future and it's a place - about 70 miles east of
here. Where it's lighter. Linger on over here.
Got the time?
--From Let X=X by Laurie Anderson


And just as I started to leave
Just as I turned to go
I saw a man who'd fallen
He was lying on his back in the snow.

Some people walk on water
Some people walk on broken glass
Some just walk round and round
in their dreams
Some just keep falling down.

So when you see a man who's broken
Pick him up and carry him
And when you see a woman who's broken
Put her all into your arms
Cause we don't know where we come from
We don't know what we are.

So when you see a man who's broken
Pick him up and carry him
And when you see a woman who's broken
Put her all into your arms
Cause we don't know where we come frm.
We don't know what we are.
---From Ramon by Laurie Anderson

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sad today

I am down today. Feeling a bit hopeless. I dug up an old poem, it doesn't exactly match my mood, it is a bit too positive but maybe that is good.


Bring me a quiet handful of water on which I may sleep
Pour me a gentle breeze to cool my worldly heat
Sing to me silently, soothe my burdened ear
And with the darkness blanket me so I will feel secure

Life has treated me harshly today
But no worse than to those before
All of us claimed life, now we have to pay
With suffering and weariness -- each fight his own war

Now it is the resting hour before the break of day
Life will once again begin with the suns first ray
But now within all the peacefulness
I will close my eyes and calmly rest

Life will accept me soon again
With its barbed wire arms
The way it accepts all men
To keep them from the Void’s dark charms

Oh, Quiet Darkness, must I go?
The time of living is filled with woe
And I would like to be in the place
Where only silence shows its face

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Ambiguity and Contradiction

John's post got me thinking about ambiguity and contradiction. So I did what I usually do when I am starting to think... I google it. I found a few more quotes:
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.
Gilda Radner (1946-1989)
I love this quote. This is a lot like how I view life although I haven't gotten to the stage where I can honestly say 'delicious ambiguity'. Maybe I can pretend say it, like, look at me I understand something profound, but I can't really say it because I really hate not knowing what is going to happen next. I also really hate when what happens next is not what I was planning to happen. I especially hate when what happens next is totally the opposite of what I wanted to happen. Now I am living with this displeasure and beginning to accept it, beginning to let it go, beginning to say "ok, it doesn't matter" with a touch of honesty, with a molecule of sincerity. Right now it is not delicious but I can manage to gag it down and keep it there.
Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes).
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
This quote is also great (would I put them here if I didn't love them?). On the surface it may not seem spiritual but rather arrogant, sort of I am above the law of logic and consequence. And maybe that is what it is about partially but its not arrogance. To me he is saying that we are humans, three dimensional beings that have good and evil, happy and sad, black, white and 256 shades of gray inside us. Yes, it is inside us. This reminds me of the film Pleasantville when David (Bud) is telling Big Bob, the mayor of the city, that he has all these emotions and colors inside him. What is keeping Big Bob or me from experiencing all these contradictions? Fear. In my case, it is mostly fear of contradicting myself, fear of being wrong, fear of turning out to be someone I didn't expect to be. It is very reassuring to say to myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. It means that when I do something not-so-nice, when I think something terrible, (think of the Tori Amos song I can be cruel/I don't know why/Why can't my balloon stay up/In a perfectly windy sky) it doesn't mean I am a terrible, evil person, it means I am large, large enough to contain good and evil, like everybody, and not be evil. So that means, you contain good and evil, and that guy who cut me off today on my way to work contains some good too.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940)
This is an interesting exercise. Have you ever tried it? The difficulty increases with your attachment to one of the ideas. For instance, if you don't care if a certain country wins the most gold medals in the Summer Olympics, you can hold in your mind any number of countries winning. It doesn't matter to you. But what about something your really care about. For me that would be more like the abortion issue or capital punishment or something else that I feel strongly about. That is when I am challenged to hold the opposing view in my mind at the same time. But I believe that it is important to attempt, not because it proves you are highly intelligent, but because it protects you from dogmatism and radicalism. I remember reading a book about the Dalai Lama (may have been The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living) and the author asked the Dalai Lama a question that the author later admitted sounded very arrogant and presumptuous on his part. What inspired the author was that the Dalai Lama took time to consider both sides (the author's and his own) before answering. Just by the act of pausing and once again considering both points of view, you prevent yourself from reacting, you give your self the opportunity to chose once again what you believe to be the best choice.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Either too wet or too dry

Found this quiz while reading Nehanda Dreams
But she got to be a cool place - the deepest part of the ocean. It turns out I am all wet....
I am the Alakai Swamp on Mount Wai'ale'ale!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

Since I wasn't too impressed, I did the quiz again and got ...

I am the Atacama Desert!
Which Extremity of the World Are You?
From the towering colossi at Rum and Monkey.

So there you have it, either I am too wet or too dry. Maybe this is one of those times when I am taking things too seriously, huh?

Razor's Edge

Arise! Awake! Approach the great and learn. Like the sharp edge of a razor is that path, so the wise say—hard to tread and difficult to cross. -- Katha Upanishad
Last night we watched Razor's Edge, the 1984 adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel by the same name starring Bill Murray. I love this movie. First of all, I love Bill Murray. I loved Groundhog Day, I loved Lost in Translation and Razor's Edge has the same style. Bill Murray worked with director John Byrum on the screenplay and according the NY Times and other sources I found, only agreed to make the hit Ghostbusters if Columbia would make Razor's Edge.

In Razor's Edge, Murray plays Larry Darrell, a WWI veteran come soul searcher. He leaves his friends and future fiance (Isabel) to live in Paris, think, read spiritual books, and pack fish. Isabel waits for a while for him to 'come to his senses' but then marries his friend and has two kids. Meanwhile, he meets up with a spiritually minded coal miner who tells him about India and gives him a copy of The Upanishads. He then travels to India himself. Later he returns to Paris and tries to live his spiritual practice, not on the mountain but in the real world.

What I love the most about the movie is the calm equanimity that Larry (and Bill) displays after he returns from India, even when terrible things happen and it would be easy to descend into bitterness and blame. But he walks the 'razor's edge'. He refuses to see people as only their worst selves, even when that's what they are being. He reaches beyond the present and material and offers compassion. It was quite inspirational for me.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Opening the door

Bluebeard's wife about to open the forbidden door
(1905 illustration by J. Watson Davis)
found on Susan Elizabeth Sweeney's homepage


I am currently reading Chapter 2: Stalking the Intruder: The Beginning Initiation of Women Who Run with the Wolves. In this chapter Dr. Estes analyzes the Bluebeard (a similar web version) story. The chapter is long and has a lot of departure points that could be turned into complete essays, so I am trying hard to stay focused.

The woman who marries Bluebeard is naive and out of touch with her wild instincts that would have warned her about him. This can happen in our modern outer life as well. Many women get involved in relationships or situations where they are in danger due to their initial naivete. Bluebird gives his wife all the keys but one of them she is forbidden to use. However she must use this key and follow her curiosity.
In reality, the trivialization of women's curiosity so that it seems like nothing more than irksome snooping denies woman's insight, hunches, intuitions. It denies all her senses. It attempts to attack her fundamental power.
A personal note here. The first time I read (but did not finish) this book I was very disturbed by this and it is probably why I didn't finish reading. There was a strong voice inside me that said, "No, don't open the door, you will ruin everything!" I was really stuck in the 'good girl' mode. Don't do anything they don't want you to do. Don't rock the boat. Just smile. {A real aside, I love the Simpsons episode where Lisa's mom (Marge) tells her to smile no matter what or people won't think Marge is a good mother. Then she sees Lisa smiling as boys are insulting her and she rushes over and says to Lisa she should be however she is and if she is sad she can be sad.}

Regarding this reluctance, Dr. Estes says:
Women strengthen this barrier or door when they engage in a form of negative self-encouragement which warns them not to think or dive too deeply, for "you may get more than you bargained for."
Part of my problem has been not only a fear of loss of all that I have but a fear of seeing "shocking carnage in some part" of my life. Because once you know something, you can't unknow it. Like the key that won't be cleaned, "will not cease to give the cry that something is wrong."

When women open the doors of their own lives and survey the carnage there in those out-of-the-way places, they most often find they have been allowing assassination of their most crucial dreams, goals, and hopes.

Dr. Estes also talks about an internal Bluebeard, an animal groom, the predator, who is a part of every woman's psych.
We dismantle the predator by countering its diatribes with our own nurturant truths. Predator: "You never finish anything you start." Yourself: "I finish many things."
And by doing this inner work of dismantling the predator, lessening its strength, we are making the world a better place for everyone.
...any individuation work done by humans also changes the darkness in the collective unconscious of all humans.
By retrieving these powers from the shadows of our psyches, we shall not be simple victims of internal or external circumstances.
I know I have a lot of work to do. A lot of keys to find, a lot of doors to open, and a lot of blood and destruction to view, but now, finally, I am ready to do the work. To tiptoe down the rickety stairs to the deep dark basement.

True Majority

After reading the principles of True Majority in Be the Change, I decided to join.

Ben Cohen, Co-founder, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream says he started TrueMajority in order to compound the power of all those who believe in social justice, giving children a decent start in life, protecting the environment, and America working in cooperation with the world community. The organization monitors US policies with these ideals in mind and when there is something to do they send a short email alert that explaining the situation and they will automatically fax letters to Congresspeople.

The email they sent me after I signed up said this:
There are over 50 million of us that share these concerns but we've ended
up fragmenting ourselves because each of us can only concentrate on one
or two issues. Or for some of us we've just felt powerless. The TrueMajority
can unite us into a force that is even more powerful than the Christian
Right or the NRA.
Let's hope so.