Monthly Archives: August 2004


Here. This is the sound
of the world becoming whole:
one breath at a time.

Here. This is the way
that the world becomes awake:
one eye at a time.

Here. This is the place
where birth and death coexist:
one process, not two.

Here. This is the time
that defines the entire world:
each moment of now.

Here. This is the song
that the whole world is singing:
each thing in harmony.

Here. This is the part
where you add your unique voice:
part of the whole choir.

Here. This is the tune
from a forgotten hymnal:
the music of life.

Here. This is the law
that the whole world must follow:
Embrace life, or die.

Here. This is the fact
that we want to overlook:
We don’t own the world.

Here. This is the myth
that fuels our own destruction:
We are the whole world.

Here. This is the point
at which we each make a choice:
Living or dying.

25 AUG 2004

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The Secret Undertown Ministry

Once upon a time, although since as a dimension, time is a relatively unstable paradigm and cannot often be trusted to remain in the tense that one would expect, in a land far, far away [and distance too would seem but an illusion that our physical bodies must endure, but that our minds can easily dissolve with a modicum of effort], there was a very small planet that circled its medium density star – one tiny speck of dust in a mighty dustbowl of a universe.

It was a planet of contradictions. A planet of unusual propensities. A planet that called itself a world sometimes, but at other times felt like a planet.

The inhabitants of this strange planet who had an interest in such things at one point unanimously named it. Those who did not require a name for it seldom acknowledged such activities, regardless of how much circumstance their participants conferred upon them. They may have been thinking, “What’s in a name?”, but they also might not have even noticed. In the seventh-most widely spoken language of the inhabitants who populated (either by chance birth or through destiny motivated relocation) the most diverse range of climates, the planet was known as Arthel – well, the name was not actually a word in that language, but in a language that was used by a majority of the dominant inhabitants, a language no longer actively spoken on the planet, but revered as a way to escape the need to define things to the non-dominant inhabitants. You may already have begun to guess at some of the unusual propensities to which this planet was inclined.

The inhabitants of this planet, Arthel, were fortunate enough to have been able to develop, propagate and thereby populate it, thanks to a remarkable compatibility between their requirements for survival and the resources available from the environment in which they did these things. The significance of this fact cannot be overlooked – there were many other planets that would not have nurtured these inhabitants in such a successful manner. Many of these inhabitants marked this significance by embracing a sense of their own uniqueness, their innate skills; many others did not. Some of those who chose not to mark such things?were among those who had no “name” for their home – at least not one that was widely circulated or shared.

As one might typically expect on a planet that embraced contradiction and an air of “mystery”, the species of inhabitant that was most abundant on Arthel did not “control” Arthel. It may be that they did not wish to control it, or it may be that they simply had no conceptualization of control with which to apply that construct. In either case, the primary inhabitants of the planet were not the most vociferous planetary residents. There was far too much planet, it can be assumed, to cause much of a reason for worry about which inhabitants got which resources. Think locally, you can almost hear them saying. Work with what you’ve got at hand. Of course, many of the majority inhabitants did not have “hands” – hands were an evolutionary development that concerned only a small number of Arthelans. Most Arthelans enjoyed other physical traits that more than compensated for opposable thumbs.

But it is the Arthelans with opposable thumbs that concern us in this story. This is their history, more than the history of Arthel, although the two are intertwined so closely that few can see light between the threads.


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When I reach the age of Elvis crucified,
two years and small change from now,
I shall have been 33 years a missionary:
singing love songs to the deaf;
painting pictures for the blind;
copying manuscript parts to hand out
to a toneless, voiceless choir;
dancing for a stoic crowd
of cynical philosophers.

At that time, like Rimbaud,
I shall have been a serious poet
for seventeen years.

And like young Arthur, who cast aside
his disillusion and grandiose angst,
I shall endeavor to never preach
another sermon.

The prayer book from which I read,
the liturgy crafted lovingly from my own sweat,
whose matins I have sung at dawn,
its vespers whispered to the fickle fingers
of twilight,

I shall renounce.

My voice, that grows tired of its own echo
in the empty hall;
my fingers, that have worn down the ivory keys
of life’s tempered clavichord;
my mind, that seeks to claim some vain energy
by which to transform, incandescent,
the darkness —
these tools I will abandon.

In these score and thirteen years,
with the coin of Caesar I have been paid:
the pennies of disillusion,
the nickels of apathy,
the dimes of indifference;
and within the span of the next 700 days, or so,
I shall have accumulated
the postage
to return to sender
what talents the gods have sent me,

Unless, of course, I win the lottery.

Because, as Hemingway observed,
the rich are different from the rest of us:
they have money.

19 AUG 2004

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And the children who think that summer ends

…and the children who think that summer ends
and somehow, school and learning resume again,
who do not yet realize the lessons.

…and the parents who think their fall begun
and somehow, school and learning do not apply to those
who do not yet realize the lessons.

…and the rest of the living, breathing world
and every species that is born and dies
and knows no respite, no vacation
and wants none, having no understanding of those
who do not realize the lessons
only end temporarily, at best.

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On Dialogue with Self

When does a dialogue with self cease being a monologue?

At what precise moment does the epiphany conceived of self-deliberation end its foolish premeditation on some inner change of being and address itself to the self in others, recognizing in external, living beings that same life force that propels it along the path of least resistance to its indeterminate conclusion?

When does that personal philosophy (or love of knowledge) come into being that requires the death of philology (knowledge of love, one could propose) and must of its own accord stand naked, alone and shivering on the mountain of endless esoteric academic masturbation and let loose its seed to propagate the action of love?

On what basis is the foundation for living laid?

On the cold and calculating pillars of what we think wisdom, but is in reality mere logic and more of the same false illusion separating the observer from the observed?

Or on the fetid swamp, crawling with unseen slime-in-the-making that marks its time of evolution simply absorbing the dry coastline and turning it to scores of miniature Atlantis fragments?

When does the monologue, the endless harangue against unseen foes and perceived slings and arrows that pierce the wondering mind with necessary doubt and wavering conviction, cease to be a speech released to the waiting air alone, and listen, beyond the echo of its own Doppler castings, to the response in the ears (any ears — one’s own, or someone else’s) that comes back, like a Messiah encased in the triangulating pulse of myth’s strange sonar, like a quiet ripple lost in the cascade of the sea at high tide?

At what precise moment does the angle of the jaw when open start to close the portal of the ears?

When does a dialogue with self cease being a monologue?

18 AUG 2004

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Question Posted to the Ishmael Community

Posted this evening to the Ishmael Community, a web community devoted to the principles set forth by Daniel Quinn in his books Ishmael, The Story of B, and Beyond Civilization, among others:

My question is the result of a conversation I had this evening with a couple of Latter Day Saint recruiters on my front lawn. I was able to describe for them very well (using the ammunition provided by your books) an alternative to their explanation of “how” things got this way, including acknowledgment from them of the accurate interpretation of the Tree of Knowledge and Cain and Abel. However, I found myself in a quandary when attempting to describe “why” our culture, as opposed to the lions and bears, the Maoris and Navajo, would choose to take divine right into their own hands and take their lives out of the hands of the gods. In other words, what was the impetus that caused the Takers to become Takers? The explanation in your books very clearly identifies the myths (now borrowed by the Takers) trying to explain “how” things got to where they are now, but what seems to be missing is “why” anyone would make what seems like a giant leap and decide they were above the law that brought them through the evolutionary chain. So I pose the question to you — WHY did the Takers stop becoming Leavers? Where did this seed of self-delusion germinate? And more importantly, why would a group of Leavers (for that is what we all were, at some point) believe such a lunatic? Why would anyone assume that their way was right for everyone in the first place? There had to have been some event, some epiphany that led first to this ill-founded conclusion, and then to its growth into a shared delusion.

I’m just not sure what it is, and that information seems critical to expounding “why not”.

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Fun with Bicycling Evangelists

Ah, I must admit that I admire their dedication. I wonder, however, that their missionary zeal carries them out into wild, uncharted areas at the edge of their map before they have taken their message to their direct neighbors. I speak, of course, of the dedicated young men in the bicycle messenger trade of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

You may find it amusing that these gentlemen in cheap suits and humidity-limp shirts would wander to my doorstep in their proselytizing. They are different from the old African-American women peddling Jehovah as his Witnesses. To these, who hand out Watchtowers on such subjects as fraud, I can offer short comments like, “Hmmm … don’t you think it is ironic that you speak to me of fraud, who are taken in by the biggest fraud of them all … that somehow, a lily-white Jesus and his Aryan-seeming friends and apostles/associates would convince you, a child of former slaves who has grown up in the shadow of racism, sexism and poverty, that it is not necessary to seek any kind of heaven here on earth (for that would require wresting it from the hands of rich, white men, I’m afraid), but that your reward shall come in a future paradise, while others reap theirs now … that seems like a pretty clear case of fraud to me, my dear grandmother.” And they pause, and shake their heads, and offer to pray for me, of course, but after I part company with them I am sure they are difficult for their pastors to handle.

Nay, the Mormon lads are of sterner stuff. And still, as I explain to them that mankind is gone astray from (G)od because they refuse to spit out the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, to place their lives, like the sparrow, lion, lamb and lilies of the field in the hands of God, and insist that they have the knowledge of who must die (all who would oppose them) and who must live (man, glorious man, who must have a purpose greater than the jellyfish or hyena). To explain that we are the culture of Cain, the mighty agriculturalist, whose story the Hebrews adopted but did not themselves write, whose meaning they have never quite understood — the Caucasian farmers, who would kill off the hunter gathers and pastoralists, and for each white man slain would return death to the darker races sevenfold. I wonder, as they thank me for my well-thought out and logical explanation, on the spirit that fills their hearts — that glory of righteousness that insists that mankind has a greater purpose than any other species,
and would prove it by claiming some character flaw. ‘Tis not a character flaw, I tell them, but amnesia. That’s why we need prophets and seers. To remind us that we don’t know what we’re doing. And still they seek after the “one true path” that is suitable for all persons, in all times, in all geographic locations. A hyena does not seek to live like a lion; nor does a lion seek to live like a hyena. I tell them this. And I quote them the gospels. And I mention that I admire their bucket of sea water; but it is not the whole ocean, nor does its galvanized rim surround the whole of any truth — only a fragment.

Sadly, they may not visit me again. But they will send others. Those who refuse to live in the hands of the gods, but insist their own hands are divine, always do.

I pray for them. And for the proving ground that is this earth, the mere waystation on the way to greatness that will be consumed by their blundering and self-righteous dominion. I wonder how we managed to last this long, in free fall, thinking in defiance of the laws of gravity and aerodynamics that we have been flying under our own power.

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