Monthly Archives: November 2004

Upon Being Invited to Study the Great Books Online

Thanks for the invitation. I must say, having looked into facilitating my own Great Books curriculum at several times in the past, that the concept is neither unfamiliar to me, nor uninviting. However, my reason for declining at present has little to do with the scope of the program, but more with the medium. I have participated in a number of online study groups, interest groups, etc., over the past ten years, and have found that while they do promote a degree of intellectual stimulation, and do foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, they by their very nature limit the exchange of ideas because they have as their foundation a sense of anonymity. It is very easy to expound one’s ideas, and wax philosophic, in the vacuum of not having to look another person in the eye. It is gratifying, particularly to one’s ego, to have the group linger on a thread of your own creation for endless iterations. However, too often it seems that is where it ends. Having a cluster of pen-pals, so to speak, does not improve my opportunity to have intellectual (or otherwise stimulating) conversations in real life, with people that I encounter in the flesh on a daily basis. Without that level of personal contact, having an exchange of ideas to me is stale and flat.

I don’t say that this particular curriculum or this forum will lead to that end. For me, however, particularly since my own meaning of an educated liberal extends FAR beyond the narrow, and one might even say, self-destructive, confines of Western culture, that at this point in my life, your group is not for me. It smacks too much of knowledge for the sake of knowledge alone, as some kind of barometer by which one can compare one’s education to others and somehow feel more justified in holding opinions, and grasping the illusory reins of control over a life that to be understood must be tasted in the flesh, rather than by sucking the aged marrow from its volumes of bones.

That’s a long way of saying, thanks, but no thanks.

However, I wish you success in this venture, and again, appreciate the invitation.

Share This:

The Ride Home

Scattered like jewels tossed out
across a black crushed velvet plush
electric fueled stars winking
against an endless backdrop of night
their pulsing engines cycling
with an urgent rasp
their transmissions settled
into high ratio sedation
controls set to automatic pilot
as the guidelines flash by
like homing beacons
on an endless runway
glow from gauges green and orange
illuminating chins set firm
eyes forced to the open
against the lull of airsteamed whine
fighting the urge to sleep, to drift,
and follow the flow of the road
as it rolls itself under the lights.

Share This:


There are so many little things
that make up life’s stretched years;
and pausing now, to list them,
I find my payments in arrears

for moments that have come and gone,
each adding to my store
of seeming insignificance
that whole, is so much more

than pieces, parts and bits of dust
drawn from the world’s extent
and left upon my doorstep, freely,
no charge evident.

The big gifts, they may thrill and make
their first few days so bright;
but soon, their glamour fades and dulls
like day will turn to night.

But little things, they will remain
beyond their seeming use,
bind fast together one’s whole life
and never let it loose.

So I am thankful for the small
and plain and unobscure;
For in the presence of such things
my faith in life is sure:

That every action, though unseen,
unnoticed by the throng
still makes a ripple in the pond
and sings, with its small song

That music humming underneath
the bustle of the world –
the little seed from which, in spring,
a flower may uncurl.

For these small things, and others too,
I thankful raise a toast;
And so remember, for a moment
just what matters most.

Share This:

The Reins

The hand that grips so tightly at the reins,
its fingers numb with effort after time,
will endure bruises, callouses and sprains
so long as it still feels the tugging line

that links it to life’s pulsing, straining steeds
as they careen along the path ahead.
In time, firm hands grown weak may start to bleed
and give the team, once strong and fresh, their head;

but then, their sullen backs and swollen legs
will want only their oats and warm, dry stalls.
Despite how earnestly the driver begs,
against such joys the thrill of travel palls.

And so it is with youth that is so bound
it does not love the road, only the goal;
and in its waning moments, can be found
just remnants of a whole and vibrant soul.

21 NOV 2004

Share This:

Random Thought

There is only one thought
that is scarier to the industrialist
than “Workers of the World Unite”.

It is “Want What You Have”.

Share This:

Neo Politics

Neoconservatism is not a threat to the free-living, free-wheeling, bleeding heart liberal philosophy of us drug-crazed, sex-minded hippie freaks.

No, despite its definition as “an approach to politics or theology that represents a return to a traditional point of view (in contrast to more liberal or radical schools of thought of the 1960s)”, it is not the left wing, per se, that is the target of neoconservatism. It’s target is not to return us to before 1960, but before 1760. After all, the traditional point of view in politics or theology is not democracy. It is monolithic, totalitarian and unquestioned rule. It is fascism, painted with a nostalgic brush called “the good old days” — those days before liberal science gave us the conveniences that gave us the free time to sit around and reminisce without having to actually experience the minor setbacks of medicine, culture, diversity, equality, and economic well-being that were in those halycon days available only to the extremely wealthy, or extremely lucky (and luck would be defined as in the right place to benefit from the temporary whims of the current dictatorship). It is belittling, beheading, excommunicating, exiling, or executing any who disagree with your point of view. And it is the point of view of rich, white men — who have convinced, somehow, the remaining 95% of the population of this country (that’s right, 95% of the wealth is controlled by 5% of the people, remember, and those aren’t people living in Harlem, or Watts, or Chinatown) that this is the agenda upon which America should settle. The course which we must steer by. Our mandate.

Let me get this straight — our mandate, as a democratic nation, is to abandon democracy, much as the Anasazi abandoned New Mexico.

Under a banner of religious self-righteousness, jingoistic nationalism, military might and xenophobic paranoia — particularly regarding people of Semitic origin and language.

Careful with that swastika, Eugene.

You will not successfully barter the illusions of freedom and liberty for the illusions of control and safety on my watch. The former may be undisciplined, untamed and only nebulously defined, but even in that raw, feral state they are worth ten times the most alluring manifestations of the latter.

That’s what I call a Neo-Liberal agenda. Fixing the broken left wing so the eagle doesn’t have to spin in circles and wear itself out trying to leave the ground.

Or to put it more bluntly, you can have the Constitution to wipe your ass with when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

The right to bear arms is NOT the same as the right to own or use a gun.
Schools and hospitals should be a greater priority than prisons and graveyards.

The ends never justify the means.

A Democracy is more fragile, and therefore needs more protection, than a Republic. The former is an idea, while the latter is a thing. That’s why the Pledge of Allegiance is somewhat misleading. A symbol, such as a flag, stands for an idea or ideal, not a thing. A thing is a limited interpretation, a casting in the temporary stone of time, so to speak, of an idea. It is not the idea itself, only a small part — in the same way that a religion is merely a bucketful of seawater mistaken for the entirety of the ocean.

Once you disregard ideas in favor of things, you stop thinking. Once you stop thinking, it doesn’t matter what the polls say, because the opinions you are offering are not your own, anyway. Most likely they have been given to by someone who does not know of, care about, value, respect, understand, or have any responsibility for, your life.

The responsibility, at least, they can never shoulder anyway. Responsibility is the price you pay for ideas — whether your own or someone else’s.

Share This:


I subscribe to several poetry journals.
I do not find kindred spirits there,
only other wandering souls who seek
no connection with the poetry I find
pulsing under the surface of the world
that has a natural rhythm, that breathes
its own cadence, that does not merely wish
to impress with some artistic notion
of importance.

I have been a musician my entire life.
Playing jazz, classical, bluegrass, country, punk,
rockabilly, metal, goth … and combinations of them all,
I find too often that the emphasis
is on the next gig, the money machine
that seems to feed on other genres too
and leave bitter, isolated writers of songs like me
wondering why anyone would consider
themselves a professional (meaning for the money)
versus an amateur (because they love doing it);
and an attitude that seems antithetical to the expression
that music is the universal language.
There are more partisan barriers in music
than between the left and right wings of government.

I belong to a number of pagan organizations;
and there are too few members of those groups
who understand what it means to harvest anything,
yet subscribe to some version of mumbo jumbo
that insists they have a harvest festival,
that fail to hear the voices of trees and plants
and somehow still feel that human beings,
as opposed to other forms of energy,
have a right, nay responsibility, to focus energy
for their specific purposes.

I have been a liberal since I first took a political stand.

And I have been a vocal American.

And somehow, today, when the voices of victory are raised
by those who appear to believe that America is right
by virtue of them affirming it is so
(and in the absence of any factual evidence to back it up),
I realize as I have said before,
that the lesson Napoleon failed to learn from Elba was this:

All men are islands.
Some are just in better climates.

Share This: