Tag Archives: education

Epiphany

Brace yourself. Epiphany
does not arrive in slow reveal;
long years spent over ancient tomes
will like as not have no result.

The right idea, when it comes,
is more like lightning than the storm:
a flash that cracks the sky with light
and then is gone without a trace.

29 JUL 2007

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On Tools

What future use will be our tools
for building greater monuments,
technologies to reach beyond
our yesterday capacity,
if all that drives tomorrow’s will
is to create for their own sake
more grand machines to take the place
of what was once achieved with hands?

What purpose, past mere science gained,
will drive the new mechanics’ soul
to strive outside the here and now
of knowledge limited to cogs,
efficiencies and labor’s yield?

Posterity will need more art
than engineering can provide;
lest it learn just technology
that serves as means to many ends,
and can be turned cruel and unjust
by pure philosophy’s intent.

What good these tools, these saws and nails,
these plows and drills, these guns and bombs,
without instructions for their use
that clearly spell the dangers out?

What will our far descendants know
of how we brought these things to bear
in carving out a worthwhile world,
one nurtured carefully and shared,
if all we choose to leave behind
is how to build, not reasons why?

22 MAY 2007

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Leaving Something Good

The kind of bands that play
the music that I write these days
seem few and far between;
somewhere between grasping the brass ring
and the consequences
lie some broken dreams.

Just for myself, it doesn’t matter much;
but without substance,
how can we survive?
When everything is so disposable,
how will we prove
that we were once alive?

A lifetime isn’t long enough
to waste a single ounce of what you find;
in every hour’s experience
there’s suffering and pain and being kind.
To think your generation’s got it right
is tanamount to being blind
unless you’re learning from the past, living the now,
and leaving something good behind.

The kind of songs that live
in memory aren’t written
for the copies that they sell;
They represent a drink of water
in a world that seems to build
only dry wells.

And for those who’re never
thirsty, maybe it’s enough
imagining a drink;
but so many die in deserts,
waiting for a single drop;
it makes you think.

A lifetime isn’t long enough
to waste a single ounce of what you find;
in every hour’s experience
there’s suffering and pain and being kind.
To think your generation’s got it right
is tanamount to being blind
unless you’re learning from the past, living the now,
and leaving something good behind.

14 JAN 2007

Listening to John Hiatt’s Chronicles, and thinking about the parallel between some distinctive voices: John Hiatt, Richard Manuel, Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker. Yes, they can lay on the coals and push the volume, but each of them is most effective when they approach the breaking point: when you feel as if the next note they sing may well be their last. And it got me thinking about something I read regarding Joe Cocker — that he was willing to do physical damage to himself in order to do proper service to a song. You may well wonder, and surmise that it would have to be a pretty damn good song to be worthy of that sacrifice. Which brings up another question altogether: why inflict such self-suffering on mediocre material, on art that isn’t likely to last the month, let alone the decade or millenium?

Learn from the past, live in the now, leave something good behind. Explaining that to a generation that thinks it can learn how to play like Eric Clapton by listening to Eric Clapton perhaps is a waste of time. Talking to a Deadhead whose only concept of music is the Dead and other “jam” bands, without realizing the scope of music from which the Dead drew their inspiration, maybe is wasted breath.

But maybe it isn’t. There’s a line from the movie Footloose where preacher John Lithgow asks, “If we never trust our children, how will they ever become trustworthy?”. I wonder along a similar tangent: “If we never share with our children why our music (or anything else about our culture or lives) is important to us, and all they get is our CD collection when we die, how can we expect them to appreciate why we bothered to keep it for their inheritance?”.

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The Spell Kit

Why bother to meditate,
chanting some mantra for years,
servant to some potentate
guru’s smoke and mirrors?

You’re right to hesitate;
what proof describes an answer
a fool could appreciate?
Only a clever dancer

could be seen no hypocrit.
Your path is no one else’s;
who else would have traveled it?
You must build your own spell kit.

01 AUG 2006

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Confucious

The words that rend my soul’s speech are my own;
they are not borrowed from another’s lines.
From someone else’s field, of their seeds sown,
come not the fruits due me at harvest time.

To posit otherwise is to admit
my life only an actor’s walk-on role,
with no responsibility or wit
of my own — no true joy, love or control.

So, each new moment becomes mine to make,
immersed in self-wrought ecstacy or hell.
How then, to keep from making more mistakes,
or at least, to recover from them well?

The secret: admit what you do not know.
From that small bit of knowledge, all things flow.

21 MAR 2006

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Addled Essence

“The problem,” he said, “with making life so easy, particularly for the young adult, is two-fold. First, a life of leisure without significant responsibility or strife is bound to result in an attitude of mere idolent malaise — which of course is far from intense enough to serve as the impetus for any angst-ridden revolution or major shift in philosophy.”

“Secondly, the parents of such youngsters, who must deal with the nebulously undefined childish and ultimately selfish agendas resulting from their offspring’s lack of needful action, are likewise never taxed, insofar as their abilities to deal with REAL paradigm shifts are concerned. As a result, they become weak and flimsy shadows of their potential selves, and are woefully unequipped to counter the nefarious attacks of those unscrupulous individuals (and their attendant organizations, religions, governments and so on) who would shape the moral fiber of their children so that future generations will not even be aware, let alone care, that the world does not belong to them, or that they have been forced to in effect pay rent on their own bodies to afford the luxury of being alive with absolutely no free will whatsoever.”

“What was once adolescence,” he continued, “I therefore think would be better off termed ‘addled essence.’ It is at this critical stage that those in power first successfully attempt to convince people that they are in fact powerless, hopeless and witless — by offering them courses in empowerment, positive thinking and entertainment.”

“They are like the young elephant, who when relatively weak and small is attached, via a lightweight chain and metal hoop around their leg, to a stake in the ground. At that young age, no matter how they try, they cannot free themselves. After a time, they give up trying. As a result, even when they are fully grown and could easily pull out the stake and/or break the chain simply by lifting their enormous foot a matter of inches, they can be controlled, and do not attempt to escape, when tethered in this fashion.”

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The Ten Percent Solution

Lobotomy perhaps provides the clues:
that with what meager portion of the brain
society encourages us to use
and education bothers us to train,
we think, and therefore are, so far reduced
from what potential might be in the whole
that in our ignorance we have deduced
the object and observer’s separate roles.

What lies beyond? The best minds only guess,
and courting madness, let conjecture fly:
that limitations serve, under duress,
as a protective shield. No one asks why
in fact such armor should be status quo,
or further, why we seek to find defense
against a world we barely even know,
imagining it a cruel experience.

Let science define borders, create lines —
the territory is more than a map
that presupposes theories of design
and satisfies itself merely to slap
a label on a place or thing, and feel
sufficiently content it is defined.
Such actions no more help divide the real
from the imagined than a sandy line
splits an expanse of beach neatly in two,
or marks a boundary between mine and yours.

Besides, conditions in the lab are too
unnatural and sterile. To use “pure”
as a benchmark for quality or right
when we our ourselves are amalgam and blend
is to constrict the possible so tight
that we are left with traces, and pretend
our grasp is all the world extends to fill,
our footprint covers the whole earth entire,
our mind a mirror of some Divine will,
and all creation slave to our desire.

27 JUL 2005

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