One Hundred Years of Attitude

The poem half belongs to the reader.

The poetry, the novel. Writers shepherd things into place, they are just words after all. The reader does half the lifting. But once they start gorging on films of literary origin, the teeth of the imagination begin to rot.

Consume the processed product of someone else’s imagination? Take the sirloin in pill form why don’t we. No gristle to pick from your teeth. Literature ignites the imagination, that’s what reading does. Watching a flickering screen, it is numbed. The imagination is anesthetized. But by all means, let Neflix make a Game of Thrones out of Garcia-Marquez, what could go wrong? Youth are remaking the world as we speak, it is not ours any more, us old farts. I worry about all the wrong things.

I have attitudes that mean nothing to anyone but me. They are like my children. I give them names and watch them grow up. Weep when they do poorly in school, or start stealing cars. It is a derangement I hold dear. One Hundred Years of Solitude will no doubt become the Breaking Bad of magical realism. It does not touch me. I have already built my own copy of that world.

Ever so slowly, I rise, and applaud.

Vajra Essence

Considered to be vast
in its extent, the universe
which encompasses all

that could be imagined is enlarged
by the tightness, the constraint of a
mind deluded by grasping.

The smallness of the self
is what begs large the reaches
of the heavens. To interrupt

even briefly, this ghastly inflation
of the considered real, exposes much
—settles nearly everything.

The cultivation and continuance of
such interruption leads to realization
—the condition beyond conditioning.

-:-

Following is the foreword from the book Fathoming the Mind: Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence, translated by B. Alan Wallace, with commentary, much of which touches on the seemingly intractable divide between the rationality of materialist science and the direct cognition methods of tantra.

It’s an excellent book for those studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism, and for people like me who tend toward morbid fascination with this controversy, which has been churning ever since they divided learning into the two branches called science and religion.

Indian Peafowl

Where on earth do things come from?

Everything is introduced to its environment, like the Indian Peafowl was to its range in North America. They are native to the Indian continent but no one talks about where they were before that. They have been introduced to many locales around the globe, where they form semidomestic or feral colonies. Here, they ignore their domestic heritage and roam free, yet they are not wild. Two of the females walked right up to me, in the manner of domestic pets. About a dozen there that I could see, on a rural stretch of the near-west end of the island.

I’d heard about them, and I had seen several in a ditch a couple of years ago. On this day I stopped and we visited for a while. The females are described as drab but up close they look striking. Big beautiful eyes with a dress of delicate pompoms on the head, bright turquoise and green on the breast.

The males are haughty and spectacular, familiar to almost everyone on the planet. They kept their distance across the road from where I stood.

There are stories but there are no true stories, everything is based upon something. Collections of fact are called nonfiction, a term in denial about the relationship between fact and what we imagine to be absolute truth.

We are ever where we find ourselves. Relative things abide in the complete absence of non-relative conditions, established as things only in relation to other such things. The contemplation of such truths does not seem to have a payoff so they remain, mostly unexamined.

There is no absolute peahen, though there she is, if appearance is taken as true-penny.




Thomas Merton (1915-1968)


Died December 10, 1968

50 years ago today, Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, writer, outspoken man of peace and sanity in the emerging age of nuclear weapons was accidentally* killed by a malfunctioning electric fan at his guest cottage in Thailand.

* Since there was no autopsy, there was no suitable explanation for the wound in the back of Merton’s head, “which had bled considerably.” (wikipedia)

Fifty Gallon Drum

(Another notebook dump where the yammers have gathered like little critters nesting in the walls.)

-:-

They didn’t drain the swamp, they drained
the brains. Are the valves not properly labeled?

-:-

The day will come to grind it
And tomorrow comes behind it
Too bad you can’t unwind it
Take comfort where you find it

-:-

I think people who identify as skeptics are overreacting to the error of blind faith, which they rightly fear when they see it take hold of others. They overcompensate in their belief that blind faith is the only kind there is. But evidence is accepted on a reasoned faith—that subtle errors or deliberate deceptions have not slipped into the conclusion at hand. In the end: a little leap of faith, because facts are endless and it is literally impossible to consider each and every one. Reason cannot function without both faith and skepticism.

Faith on its own will likely run rampant without the skeptic to keep it in check. Skepticism on its own is just a brute prejudice, slamming doors shut for whatever notion it latches onto as valid, not at all unlike blind faith.

The third leg of reason’s little stool is called curiosity, or wonder.

-:-

They dismiss the supposedly irrigorous logic as magical thinking, as if the intellect was the retainer and not the retained. As if thinking itself is not magic!

-:-

They say you should choose your fights but I never find any I like.

-:-

How many nihilists does it take to not be?

A nihilist is an eternalist who has resolved the first of the two errors.

A nihilist walks into a bardo…

-:-

We working class white people who do not think ourselves the powerful oppressors of others should still contemplate the level of privilege upon which we operate: I can drive to the store and never have to think about being pulled over, arrested, or even shot, after having been seen doing nothing more than driving down the street.

-:-

When it comes to the sun I try not to look at the bright side.

-:-

If you’re somebody, you better watch what you say.
If you’re nobody, it’s better to keep it that way.

-:-

Worry is an outlier indulgence, mentally going to the place you are afraid you’ll end up, while the remedies to impending troubles are left neglected, undone.

-:-

The knees, they do a thankless job
Midway twixt the heel and hip
Protruding like a misplaced knob
To cap the pavement when you trip

-:-

Sometimes I stick my head in an empty 50 gallon drum and speak loudly the things that might otherwise go here.

-:-

Not being nothing, space fulfills form. Not being something, form fulfills space. Not two, yet not not-two. Not something, not nothing.

-:-

I’m not a pull-string
talking doll, y’all, but
sometimes the things
I say: no way.

The phrase automatic
on instant recall, someone
come finish this for me
okay?

-:-

A lot of people take things for granted, but in stores they call that shoplifting.

-:-

I wonder what would happen if they pressed all my buttons at once and I collapsed without recourse into a short-circuited heap of malfunctioning habitual responses.

-:-

Knee-deep in needy
wit’ a dolly made a hay
all she wanna do be holler
golly all a day.

(to be accompanied by banjo and Jew’s harp)

Clueful

Debate

A conflict settled
by debate, away
will rise in appeal
some other day.

A Hybrid of Life and Death

The disease will not settle
for medicine, nor will the
remedy quarter the disease
doctor bills, they are piling up
a shot of whiskey, please.

Continuance

Things appear
to die, and I appear
to keep living
the welders are in dry dock
assembling the hulls
of sunken ships
at what point in the
figure eight of continuance
can one say end, or begin
at all points
amazing, how gracious
how sweet it is.

Clueful

I’m feeling clueful
today, little hints peeking
out from under bushes
the neighborhood jingling
like a phone full of urgent texts
bits of the crux of all matters
sparkling here and there
like gems tossed out
over beach sand.

Epitaph

Long in the hair and
gray in the tooth
he learned how to dodder
then he died, forsooth.

Pray (sol dep)

In the six regions
throughout the three times
under the one sky
peaceful, happy.


An incoherent notebook-dump from October 2018