Consider – prose poem

Did the derangement of the nineteenth century French poets enhance their awarenesses or blunt them?  We understand why we think as we do because of the foundations they established to advance the idea that our environment is understood in large part by the ideas with which we understand our experience.  I am amused when I consider that this line of thought reaches its most lucid expression in a German, Wittgenstein, who was enlightened by a Russian, Tolstoy.  Welcome to the twentieth century, Enlightenment.

Certainty fractured, truth is post-modern mash-up of whatever gets you through the night, whatever floats your boat, don’t rock the boat baby.  Only here only now.  That’s true to a limited extent, to a certain degree, when you look at it a certain way.  But it is not all of it.  And we have to consider it all.  Yes, the personal determinations by which we assign meaning are individual in that our measurement of validity is determined by our experience.  But, I like big butts and I cannot lie, we are part of something that is greater bigger different than our individual experience of it.  And no matter how we mangle and mash our words, we are we feel we know we apprehend we understand, we perceive, we experience Life.  That’s enough for me, thank you, God.

Vonnegut Player Piano 1952

Player Piano, 1952, was the first published novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.  Among the first fruits of the war to end all wars Vonnegut was born in 1922, which made him of age when lie was exposed and the twentieth century had to face death a second time.  He saw what the allies did to the Germans hoping to cauterize the Nazi out of them.

He came back, went to school, worked weakly at working, made a few children, and wrote when he could find the time.  He had seen heartbreaking things that he was going to fill with joyful remembrance, he would bring people peace by showing them how funny they are.

After the war, television, the ultimate isolation.  The twenty-first has given us social technology.

The visionary writers of the mid-twentieth century had seen the glory and the horror of the Industrial Revolution.  The promise of the Enlightenment was still attainable.  A player piano is a mechanized sound machine.  I reserve the right to have a refined definition of music that requires a human interpretation.  Machines were an important metaphor that worked and there was more and better food at least some places but machines aren’t human and there is a limit to efficiency, an invisible line where it becomes inhuman, transgresses those extreme dichotomies we struggle with daily.

Player Piano was an idealistic story, the inhumanity of perfection, the symbolic victory of defeat.  Paul Proteus, everyman, no man, a bag of chemicals walking and talking, finding meaning somehow, loosened from the traps of fame, fortune, competency, free to be at peace with himself at the end.

Vonnegut chose to write speculative fiction.  I believe he was a bit of a head in the fifties, open to the seeds sprouting all about him.  What if?  Is the question that opens, that begins.  Mankind was within a generation of stepping onto the moon.  Was it unreasonable to ask what if mankind were able to create machines capable of removing drudgery from life?  In a clockwork mechanistic universe everything is reducible to becoming yet another Piano Roll.

The satire, the irony, it works.

John Steinbeck’s Cup of Gold 1929

I read John Steinbeck’s 1929 first novel, Cup of Gold.  I finished it, which means I found it interesting, Steinbeck’s romance, his idealization of a real privateer.  Young Steinbeck left California only to discover just how insignificant he was in New York City.  The early decades of the twentieth century were a time of wonders that were to cumulate in the horrors of the trenches.

The first fifteen percent of the twenty-first century have also been years of wonder as have watched the dreams of our youth become our children’s reality.  But we have created and accepted a restrictive social contract that demands we either fight or submit.

Ed Ricketts came into John Steinbeck’s life in 1930 according to the Wikipedia, a real life counterpart to Captain Morgan’s unfortunate friend.  The most realistic part of the story though was the tale of Captain Morgan’s impotence when he finally got what he thought he wanted.  The preaching got a little heavy when Captain Morgan died, bringing the book to its conclusion.  I excuse Steinbeck because the times were full of spiritualism and evangelisms.

The prose was a bit turgid at first but eventually I fell into a rhythm that allowed me to step beyond the sterility of acceptable prose and allow my imagination to fill in the spaces that will flesh out the character… that will allow me to see them as being real.  And by the time I reached the end I had an understanding of this man, Captain Morgan, and I had an understanding of the man who created the man, John Steinbeck.  And I had a better understanding of myself as well.

Steinbeck makes clear early in the story that Captain Morgan is no innocent, no virgin.  His one detailed passionate relationship so reminded me of poor Charles Baudelaire and the fatal relationship that helped him craft his exquisite flowers of evil.  An English major at Sanford in the early years of the twentieth century could have and, if the major was worth his or her salt, should have been aware of the poets of nineteenth century France.

Just a thought, a consideration.  There are other things, too.  Unspeakable things, common, every day for some every so often but others, but some urges, some drives, some desires are universal, common to us all.  Deep breath, dive in, dare to consider.

I read because I want to know.  There are others out there like me who think and want to share.  I write to share and hope that someone somewhere will see my words and hear my voice even as I fill the air with the self-deceiving fragrance from this, yet another evil flower.

Am I out of line for thinking outside the box but I would rather Captain Morgan and John Steinbeck should live within my awareness, I have invited them into my Salon.

Salon


to my Salon, styled after the society of nineteenth century France.  Blake Sheldon was given a listen and he is interesting enough that he has been allowed a repeat performance.  Train and Maroon 5 are ready when I feel a change is necessary.

One dichotomy I think we all can appreciate.is that the one reality is not only what we have and be and know, there is also all that other, what we don’t know, what is not us.  Realize that I am not defining for either you or I the I that differentiates from other.  We are the earth, heaven is everything else.  Sometimes heaven hits earth with a mighty destructive force, fire burns.  Earth responds with soothing curative water to counter the fire.  Water on the earth forms a lake, water in the heavens is rain carried on the wind.  Fire in the earth is thunder, fire caught in the earth yearning for heaven manifests as a mountain.

My interpretation of the metaphor, eight quite logical potential considerations of this moment now.  A way of seeing things that gives us something to compare the way we see things with.  Learning to do this opened new levels of understanding for me.

I would be a better man. I believe in the Enlightenment ideals.  I am a twenty-first century man, post-modern, eclectic, sophisticated.

I Ch’ing a prose poem

24.  Return (The Turning Point)

Thunder deep within the earth.

The I Ch’ing is a book that I have studied all of my adult life.  I discovered John Blofeld’s explication of the I Ch’ing in college, spent about a year absorbing it, tossing coins, making charts, then found my first Wilhelm-Baines.  I have gone through several over the years.

The I Ch’ing is about harmony, balance, and it teaches of two people, the superior man, he who rides the wave to his advantage, and the inferior man, he who fallings into the rushing tide.

Reality is, one, whole, complete, distinct.  All that we, each and every, all and total, are contained within the one reality that we are part of.  Our systems of measurement force us to impose a polarity to existence, a binary opposition that we apply to our apprehension of our experience.  Either plus or minus, good or bad, light or dark, right or left.

To survive we measure our experience of reality somewhere between the extremes, we further subdivide, more yes than no, good but not good enough, more light than dark, north east west south, not news to me, quarters, eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds, sixty-fourths, one hindred and fifty-sixths, for God’s sake, everything’s so complicated here in the twenty-first century.  But the principle, the basic understanding underlying one reality conforms to certain basic understandings, the law of conservation of energy.

The I Ch’ing has been presented as an oracle, a means of telling the future, but I can assure you, it is not, it is an objective way to look at this moment now, the who and where I am.  The discipline necessary to follow the I Ch’ing eventually forced me into what I understand as Wittgenstein’s understanding, the thingness of things, the is-ness of now.

Too mystic, I agree, and the I Ch’ing contains it but is far more than that for in the metaphor of the sixty-four is the elemental understanding we share of our physical surroundings, in the eight times eight are more than enough complexity to create a clear and comprehensible understanding of where I am in relation to that which is not, is more, is other.

We still struggle with the Enlightenment ideal, that light that allowed humanity to come out of that Plato’s cave, out of the shadows into the light, that belief that mankind can accept and believe that we are naming creation, as God told Adam to do.  It took me a while and I read a lot of Tolstoy waiting looking for it, but eventually I found it, silly attempt at suspense, Tolstoy’s interpretation of the Gospel, the book that helped Wittgenstein survive the trenches of World War One.

27.  Providing Nourishment

Thunder within the mountain

I asked the I Ch’ing about this essay, a post-modern turn, please notice it, self-referential, the twenty-first century metaphor because that’s what it is there for, a distraction a refraction, a reminder to look at the remainder when all’s said and done.

This began with a thought, the fruit of a lifetime’s study and contemplation, it hit me quite hard I am here once again, always and forever, a child of God ever striving the be the one that God will have me be to the best of my ability.  Earth I am and I am also the awareness within flesh, earth, the thunder that expresses.  But we are all, each and every, no respecter of, not I.  And we either be or not, accept or reject, live a superior or infernal life.

Poem

It doesn’t have to be pretty but it could if I would
Allow my focus to shift away from the thought
To the manipulation of the word processor. Alas,
It shouldn’t be witty but there is this imp inside me,
The impulse that makes me the writer I am. Lord,
You know I want it to be pithy, quotable, notable
Because of the elegant way that I have with words.
Already I preen, self-gratified by the mirror image
Reflected, airbrushed by clever words I hide much
More than I am able to reveal to you. But I try, i
Tell myself I can fool my very self, be honest about myself
But something inside, some instinct, some impulse…
I will do what I have to… to survive. To thrive enough to
Continue sharing my song with the world. Thank you, God.

Sherlock, Murakami and Mitchell

David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks was an exceptional read, it was engaging and challenging and accessible in its considerations of the human and the eternal.  I discovered Mitchell years ago, serendipity brought a mention of Cloud Atlas to my awareness, a discussion of postmodern literature I am sure, I read it.  I grokked it, I sought out all his other books, devoured them.  His prose was fresh and clear, his voice distant and reasoned, his understanding of the world apparently harmonious with my own.  There are discussions of his work in this blog.

I also read Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tsazaki, also a most excellent book.  I read and discussed Murakami’s 1Q84 in this blog also.  I sought out Colorless because I so enjoyed working my way through 1Q84 but was very surprised how personal, individual, romantic the novel is.  Reading it was slipping into a sensitivity with which my awareness felt comfortable, different circumstances but the act of getting on and getting along in spite of sometimes is a pretty universal apprehension of experience.

Watched Sherlock, the BBC series of movies that are set in the twenty-first century.  As of 2014 there are nine of them.  I watched the first six of them over a year ago, the last three have recently aired and I decided to watch the first six again before allowing myself the pleasure of watching the new ones.

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the original Sherlock Holmes stories at the end of the nineteenth century, when the industrial revolution reached its maturity.  I have read all the original stories more than once.  The Victorian Age was the last hurrah of the Industrial Revolution before the darkness asserted itself in the wars of the twentieth century.  Humanity had fulfilled God’s charge to name and identify creation.  The world had been explored, the world was measured and ordered and organized.  If it was knowable, it was known.

There is a oneness, a unity, to the reality in which we each of us live that is individual singular distant.  We all know and recognize this as the ever present moment, the point where awareness is aware.  Batman has to wonder if his just being is what provokes the adoption of such abomination to balance out his fundamental and basic pure goodness.

The first three have to be taken as a set.  The character of Sherlock Holmes was a popular one still after one hundred years.  To attempt to present Sherlock and Watson in the twenty-first century was a gamble, questions would be raised, would need to be addressed.  With wit and a post-modern sensitivity Steven Moffat brought his style of television to the conceptual vision of Mark Gatiss.

The first three films established the awareness of Sherlock Holmes.  In the first film we encounter the genetic disposal that manifests as Sherlock. A Study in Pink  Sherlock and Watson meet, Watson meets Mycroft, the police are introduced.  A dying cabbie plays a suicide game.  Markets are planted for later manifestation.  A case involving the situation of the society, rife with mystery and crime.  The Blind Banker.  Smuggling and the Chinese mafia.  And then finally, in the third, we discover the true circumstance behind both the cabbie and the circus, the stage is set for the continuation.  The Great Game. Moriarty reveals himself.

If the first three are considered the body of the media presentation known as Sherlock, we can perhaps regard the second triad as an artistic manifestation of the artistic expression of the plight of humanity, a look at our minds.  The psycho-pathology of twenty-first century western society.

I think the second set of them were conceived concurrently with the first.  Sherlock Holmes was the data-processer of his time, before the computer, the age of the great Encyclopedias, when mankind strove to encompass all human knowledge between the covers of a book, the absurd excess of the idolization of the Enlightenment ideal.  A Scandal in Belgravia. Irene Adler. The Hounds of Baskerville. The Reichenbach Fall. Death is the limits of the mind.