Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter on the Brain, Pt. 1

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude
William “Billy” Shakespeare, it was just about this time last year when I drove up to Kripalu in the Berkshires for a weekend yoga workshop...first one I’d ever been to...first time I’d been to Kripalu...about which it’s not said enough that the food is amazing...would be worth it to go just for that, really....anyway, I drove up to in the midst of a major wet snow/slush/freezing rain/ice storm....okay, here’s the painfully ironic part: I was rushing, going faster than I should have given the conditions so I could get to the afternoon yoga class....I make absolutely no claims to enlightenment at this time...or, certainly that, anyway, crossing the Hudson, I went into major skid, managing to careen right into the opposing lane, moving at a steady pace toward the guard which point, I began actively engaging in negotiations in my head....amazing how much thinking you can do in second or so in a situation like that....basically, “okay, forget the damn car—I’m totally cool with it getting totally totaled....coming out of this not paralyzed from the neck down, on the other hand, would be a truly optimal outcome and..."...the car stopped. As it turned out, conveniently enough, I'd managed to slide over during a momentary lull in traffic on that, mumbling shiiitttt under my breath, I made my way back onto the Eastbound lanes...and, driving at a far more sensible pace, managed to make it to Kripalu with time to spare before the afternoon yoga class...and, actually, if you're gonna show up somewhere completely wired and freaked out, that's an awfully good place for, ummm...I guess I behaved stupidly and got away with it...not exactly the best yogic parable....

what doesn’t bend breaks....
Ani DiFranco

It did get me thinking, though, about one of the great unspeakably unjust truths of modern times, which is that in a collision between a car with a drunk driver and a car with a sober driver, the drunk driver is less likely to be injured. This is because, when drunk, the body is less likely to tense up, and therefore softer and less likely to break. So...I wonder if the same goes for if you get in an accident after doing yoga...breathing more slowly, body and mind more relaxed, less tense and softer in general....not that this is something I’m gonna wanna test, myself....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Talking Books

pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven...
Jack Kerouac dad had a flirtation with radicalism in the late 60’ far as I can tell, it never went beyond buying the books that, at one time, lined the top level of our living room bookshelf...before I found them, that is, and, deciding they’d be a perfect alternative to whatever crap was being assigned by my teachers in high school, took them: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, providing an angry, alternative history badly needed in the days of morning in America...Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and other poems, introducing the notion that reading and writing could be really, really cool, particularly in the midst of endless road trips, cheap wine, tea-smoking, jazz, radical politics, and sex...Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (gotta confess, actually, that, at that point, I didn’t get the nonattachment thing at all...and, actually, I’m still workin’ on that)...and, most insane and influential of all, Woodstock Nation by Abbie Hoffman...We shall not defeat Amerika by organizing a political party. We shall do it by building a new nation—a nation as rugged as the marijuana weed born from the seeds of the Woodstock Festival...sounded cool to me, never mind that most charter members of the Woodstock Nation had cashed in a decade earlier, roughly around the time the draft ended, and helped create the Reagan Nation I was then so desperate to rebel against....

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
T. S. Eliot

...more recently, when visiting my mom, I comb through the shelves in my dad’s den...finding, to my surprise, in the midst of countless volumes on psychoanalysis, Quakerism, and the history of Christianity, things like Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs and Elaine Pagels’ Gnostic Gospels, along with Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, and Jon Kabat Zinn...often featuring copious underlining and notes, which, along with the very presence of the books themselves, feel like a special kind of posthumous communication...with areas of surprising agreement, as well as the same old arguments, which had something to do with why we talked so little during his last, I underline and make notes myself, but always make sure to do it in pencil when he used pen, just so it’s clear who said what....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Worst Comment Any Idiot's Ever Attempted to Post to This Blog!

As has been noted, I don’t generally do the blog awards thing. Nonetheless, now and then, I get a comment that, in its unbelievably crass stupidity seems particularly deserving of both the Worst Comment Any Idiot’s Ever Attempted to Post to This Blog Award and the Best Reason to Moderate Comments Award.

Drumroll please...the awards go to...

...the guy [who shall remain nameless] who, in response to a post on women who’ve suffered horrific abuse and sexual exploitation, left this:

Good stuff! Click on my name for free amateur Kenyan Porn!

Congratulations, a stranger....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three Women

Went to my tutoring gig at the rehab a night or two ago...while trying to figure out who I’d be working with, was told I wouldn’t be seeing Mandy [names and other details are changed]...who I enjoy for her unstoppable sarcastic, irreverent sense of humor...who’s seemed lately, at last, like she’s starting to believe that she might be smarter than she thinks...who slipped out and did a massive amount of coke, and was now back, in the infirmary...though thankfully, she wasn’t sent back to prison...for now, at least....

Janie wouldn’t be there either, though she was brand new....I’d met with her just once, was surprised at how young she fact, well under eighteen...and that she seemed to know something about poetry, and coasted through the reading comprehension practice GED test with little trouble...I was gonna dig out some poems from my shelves at home for her...but there’s not much point in that now...her pimp came to pick her up a day or two ago....

Then there was Sophie, who’ll be leaving before I’m there again....who, in my experience, rarely smiles, and is strikingly reticent to speak, and only ever does so in a guttural mumble...any expression at all seeming to dribble up from beneath layer upon layer of impenetrable scar tissue...any attempt at encouragement I gave her received as if it were some vague insult....Recently, one of the therapists suggested that we make up a certificate for people who are about to leave, formally signifying what they’d accomplished with me, on paper...which, in her case was significant...even if it’s hard to say how much that was a matter of improved ability, and how much simply realizing that she could do more than read the most basic words...not that, practically speaking, that distinction matters, I had this cheesy piece of paper to give her, stating that she’d completed some tutoring...wasn’t sure what to think about that...

...but, oh god, opening the folder I handed her and seeing it...she glowed like the rising sun....

Monday, January 19, 2009

The King and I

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King’s birthday, when I was growing up, was marked by African American kids staying home from school...which, no doubt, would have really, really horrified Dr. King. Now, of course, we have the official holiday (even if most years it's not actually on his birthday...then, somehow only Christmas and the 4th of July manage to escape the overwhelming force of Americans' everlasting desire for a long weekend), though I don’t know how thrilled he’d be about everybody staying home and playing Grand Theft Auto in his honor, either...which is part of what makes the Martin Luther King Day of Service a beautiful thing....last year, I walked around Germantown picking up trash in vacant lots. This year...I must confess...I didn’t...though I’ve spent much of the day reading books on therapeutic writing, which I hope will be useful in helping some of society’s dispossessed to tell their stories....I think maybe Martin would be okay with that....

Lately there’s a lot of talk about how happy he’d be right now...and I can’t doubt he’d be pleased with certain recent events...though it's hard to picture him sitting around with a complacent smile on his face—more likely, I imagine, he’d be thinking hard and planning, eyes focused squarely on all that remains to be done....

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Tale of Two Crashes

...been checking out the footage of this plane crash in New York City....less than a week ago that last little phrase would likely have elicited some very different images in the reader’s mind than it does now...traumatic thought-photos of horror exploding outward from what had been a calm, blue, unassuming morning in sleepy America...ushering in an era of shuddering fear...

...instead we have the image of what, by all accounts should have been an unspeakable tragedy...a plane gliding, as gracefully as is possible in an unplanned crash landing with two blown engines, coasting across the surface of the Hudson River before coming to an indelicate halt...bedraggled passengers standing on the wings, lifted into ferryboats moving quickly to the scene...cold and uncomfortable, no doubt, and lightened of what was no doubt some valuable luggage...but, against all odds, alive and grateful to the calm and unassuming Sully...marking, one can only hope, a new era in which we begin to coast above our fears....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bernie the Enlightened Yoga Master Speaks!

The following is the first entry in this blog’s long awaited Yogic Perspectives guest blogger series, made possible by the generous support of the Worldwide Yoga Merchandisers Association Inc. and the Words of the Profit Spiritual Center of Marin County. Our first guest blogger is Bernie the Enlightened Yoga Master, founder of the Samadhi or Death! chain of yoga studios.

Yo! This is Bernie the Enlightened Yoga Master from Samadhi or Death! Yoga and I’m feelin’ good! That’s cuz I just came outta yoga class, and maaaaaan did I kick some ass! These mellow yoga freaks come in with their cosmic attitudes and I tell ‘em you call that shit downward facin’ dog? I call it frickin’ pathetic...and then I show ‘em how a real Yoga Master does it! If they can’t handle it, it ain’t my frickin’ problem!

Let's face it, for most people, just lookin’ at somebody as physically and spiritually advanced as me crushes their frickin' big egos! And that’s the first step toward showin’ ‘em what enlightenment’s all about! Yeah, I hear what some of these lame-ass so-called yogis say about my style of yoga! They’re like duuude it’s not about bein’ all competitive and shit...and I’m like yeah, I’d probably tell myself that too if couldn’t do a frickin’ chattaranga for more than ten frickin' seconds! And I’m sure I’d have no problem with different body types if I was walkin’ around with a frickin’ spare tire and a saggy ass instead of the perfect six-pack abs and buns of steel I got from doin' the patented asana routines of Samadhi or Death! Yoga!

Now don't get me wrong: yoga’s not just about kickin’ everybody’s ass at sun salutations and scorin’ on all the hot yoga babes...tho that shit ain’t bad, believe me! It’s also about clearin’ out your mind and gettin’ to a more spiritual place and shit! And that’s why these people are soooo frickin’ jealous, cuz they know I’m totally awake and they’re too caught up in their frickin’ egos to see it! But I’m totally past that bullshit! I’m all about bein’ positive and in tune with the universe and shit, and if people wanna get all negative cuz I show ‘em how much they suck at yoga, that’s their own frickin’ bad karma, and I got no frickin’ time for that! When you got rock hard yoga abs like mine, you don’t frickin’ need an ego!

If you think you can handle the real shit, come check us out at Samadhi or Death! Yoga! And be sure to buy a copy of my new book, Restorative Poses are for Pussies! And don’t even think I’m gonna end with any of that namaste crap—you want me to honor the light inside you, you better be prepared to frickin’ earn it!

Yoga for Cynics takes no responsibility, legal, ethical, or otherwise, for the content of this series...really—we’re just in it for the corporate sponsorship money....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: The Yoga for Cynics Interview (yeah, I know...big whoop...)

The following is an *exclusive* interview with Yoga for Cynics, conducted by legendary blogger Kim with a K:

1. What is your favorite line from a song or book and why? Does it relate to a specific occurrence in your life?

...umm...dunno any quotes...except maybe George Harrison, show me that I’m everywhere, and get me home for tea...substitute coffee for tea and it’d sum up most occurrences described in this blog....okay, here’s a line from an actual book, even if it requires a hell of a lot of explanation...and, just to be a pain in the ass, I’m not even gonna reveal the name of the book or its author (and it’s really obscure, so there’s no way you’ll guess): basically, this runaway kid on a raft has to decide what to do about his friend, a runaway he's imbibed the official morality of his time and place, from which he's learned that stealing is a sin, and a slave is property, there’s only one moral course of action....but, alas, he simply cannot bring himself to do the right thing..."All right, then, I'll go to hell"....It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog....thus, ending up making the compassionate choice not because but in spite of what religion tells him is right....

2. You have to choose any person, living or dead, to write your biography. Who and why?

Probably a dog. They tend to see only the best in me.

3. Someone once said that destiny is a fickle bitch. Has this been true in your life and how?

I don’t believe in destiny. Then, that could be because I'm destined not to believe in it....

4. When was a time you realized that you were in over your head?

I’ve often felt that way about life in general...though, when put to the test, it generally turns out not to be the case...that I’m actually held down by a lousy self-image....

5. Were you one of the millions who hated adolescence (high school in particular) or did you enjoy it?

In all seriousness, and knowing exactly how politically incorrect and irresponsible such a statement is, I think getting into marijuana as a teenager probably saved my life...since getting high was at least one thing other than masturbation that gave me hope that happiness might still be possible when life seemed like one giant shit-hole of alienation and misery....yes, I know, responsible readers are thinking you should have gotten some professional which I reply: no, thank you, that was part of the problem....there’s no better way to tell your kids that they’re fucked up than to stick them in therapy...and if you wanna tell them they’re hopelessly fucked up, put them in therapy multiple times a week, in addition to group therapy with kids who are really severely fucked up, so that every one of them will be like a mirror saying this is you...abandon all hope....
Disclaimer to any young & impressionable folk who might have read the above: anywhere drugs can take you, you can get to on your own, without the negative side effects....remember: your crappy school is not the world, and neither is your dysfunctional family....if they don’t like you for who you are, think you should be more like them, or won't let you be one of them, treat you like you’ll never live up to their standards...take it as a compliment, and consider yourself lucky that their limitations will never be yours, that you’ll never need their approval....namasmotherfuckingte....

Bonus: Can you name all five of the Great Lakes from east to west without looking at a map or any other resource?

Ontario, Erie, Michigan, Superior, Huron...[checking a map]...DOH!

Post-script: in response to a comment from Melinda, I've substituted "marijuana" for "drugs" in the first sentence of #5 above. While the remark may still be highly objectionable to many, I want to be clear that I'm not talking about the harder drugs. I am also not advocating use of marijuana, or any drug, as I hope is made clear. The only addictive behavior that is advocated by me or this blog is yoga...and maybe coffee....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ripples, Mental and Otherwise....

Rippling is the Way, flowing left and right!
Its tasks completed, its affairs finished,
Still it does not claim them for its own.
Lao Tzu

....I had another one of these kinda psychedelic experiences in yoga was at the end of class and we were in savasana...that, it should be noted, is the one pose that is nearly always given its Sanskrit name in yoga classes, even if everything else is half-moon, sleeping pigeon, radiant warrior, crazed aardvark, etc....that’s because, in English, it’s corpse pose...kinda makes ya appreciate the Sanskrit, doesn’t it? Anyway, I was lying there, eyes closed, minding my own business, and started seeing these ripples in blue in a large creek...just vaguely at first, but then I started to focus in...and no, I didn’t actually think I was outside looking at a creek...but it wasn’t like the way I’d normally imagine something either...more like projected onto the backs of my eyelids...what my hippie freak friend Jedediah calls an eyelid movie...but a bit less colorful and chaotic than what he’s I lay there watching for a little while...then kinda I moved back a bit, and suddenly, just for a second or two, was looking at the ocean...and then back to plain old eyelids, somewhat illuminated by the sun coming through the window....I tend to put my mat down in an area of the floor somebody called the, if there’s any sun at all on a given day, it’s shining there...

The river flows, it flows to the sea, wherever that river flows, that’s where I want to be....
Roger McGuinn

About forty mile south of Rochester, New York, the Genesee River runs through a long and spectacular gorge with a series of waterfalls in a place called Letchworth State Park. I did a lot of hiking there, and found some cool, out-o’-the-way spots, including a high cliff overlooking the largest of the waterfalls. It was off an unofficial trail, so there were no guardrails or anything, just a sheer drop to rocks and blue water rippling in a very shallow stretch of river far below. Most importantly, the cliff was concave, meaning that there’d be nothing to get caught on, nothing to stop you, no matter how the wind might shift, from plummeting to your death—no chance of ending up quadriplegic, nothing but to sleep, perchance to dream. it turned out, a grad. school friend was getting married that weekend. We weren’t that close, so the wedding wouldn’t have been cancelled, but it would definitely have put a bit of a dark cloud over it...and who would want that? Two weeks later, the planes crashed into the towers, and, on September 12th, having gone to the hospital to give blood, only to be turned away, since, apparently, everybody else had the same idea, I considered walking over to the psychiatric ward and having myself committed, but ended up taking a long bike ride along the Erie Canal, instead...more rippling blue water...and so it goes....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Angst! What Is It Good For?!

As the Buddha said, “All human beings are quite deluded.” The line between the staff and patients is sometimes frighteningly thin....It’s only a matter of degree.
Stephen Cope

Should I pursue a path so twisted?
Patti Smith

I’ve gone through a lot of these incredibly emotionally volatile periods (don’t worry—I’m not going through one right now)–generally when I’ve been getting really deeply into yoga, or therapy, or otherwise simply digging into those messy places inside my head on my own–which at times have led to strained relations, generally erratic behavior, and remarkably poor performance at anything practical I was trying to do at the time. So, for the most part, it’s not very pleasant, and I want it to end as soon as possible, but, at the same time, realize that, if I can navigate my way through the chaos I’ve unleashed and follow it to its source, there are amazing opportunities for change and growth…..

...from a depressed point of view, any situation and any life will look like crap. Not that I’m gonna throw any positive affirmations at you–if there’s one kinda situation that makes me depressed it’s when desperate positivity freaks start throwing positive affirmations at me....probably the most vile book ever written is the 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis De’s about these four libertines really don’t wanna know...but it’s an important book, I think...even though I couldn’t get through more than a hundred pages...and even that was enough to seriously screw with me....I was walking down the sidewalk in Rochester NY and had these unspeakable images stuck in my head...believe me, you don’t wanna know....there was a movie based on it called Salo, directed by Pasolini, best known for a movie about Jesus...which has been called unwatchable...though a guy I knew in grad. school loved it...along with a lot of other things...but it’s seriously tame compared to the book...which maps out those dark places Conrad hinted at like nothing before or since...

he feels that moving into the areas of society that he had rejected is the same as working with the parts of himself that he had rejected.
Pema Chodron (describing a Zen teacher named Bernard Glassman who works with the homeless)

So... what’s all this angst and mental distress good for? I have this extremely part time gig tutoring recovering addicts in reading, most of them from the kinds of backgrounds the nasty old Marquis would’ve taken way too much pleasure in writing about...and, a couple years ago, was a volunteer teaching college writing in a maximum security prison and publishing a now-defunct web-based magazine written and edited by those prisoners....I was there through the auspices of Cornell University, where I taught freshman writing for a year—for a while, I was teaching Ivy League kids in the afternoon, and men doing hard time for violent felonies in the evening...and man, did I prefer that second, having done a lot of self-evaluation in the past year and a half or so, I’ve decided to expand my work with these populations, in terms of both quantity and depth, and am looking into getting the training and credentials necessary to use writing as therapy with them....I’m told that my interest in addicts, prisoners, and the dispossessed in general will be an advantage, in pragmatic terms, since they’re precisely the people most counselors and social workers try to get away from as soon as possible, preferring to work with middle class neurotics from the suburbs...not that I have anything against middle class neurotics from the suburbs...I mean I am one...and I have a lot of experience in the field of psychotherapy...even if it’s all been on the other side of the desk....

...and it's taught me that there are basically two kinds of therapists: (1) those who see themselves as residing on a lofty plateau of pristine normalcy and mental health, and are prepared to help their clients to be just like them, and (2) those who aren’t complete assholes....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Difficult Times Six

So...I’ve been called upon to share six (6) random things about myself...or something like that...but, listen, first I’m gonna tell something not-so random about me...that anyone who knows me at all knows well...which is that I’m notoriously difficult...very much, for instance, since getting into this blogging thing, I’ve found myself a part of this blogger community...and, thus, I’ve made some lovely blogger friends...but also found that this community has its own strange language, customs, rituals, and unique sexual positions...okay, maybe not that last least, nobody’s told me about them...anyway, among those blogger friends are Seeing-Eye Chick who “tagged” me for the six things thing...even though she knows I never follow the rules of these well as Lea, who’s given me two blogging awards I’ve forgotten even to acknowledge, much less follow the rules of...and, dare I forget, my good friend Svasti, who’s once again gonna call me on recycling stuff I’ve said elsewhere...but I’ve done worse things...really...

1. 1966—the year I was born, as well as the year Bob Dylan came out with the Blonde on Blonde album, which features both the best pick-up line ever—she said ‘your debutante knows what you need, but I know what you want’—as well as the best after-it’s-all-fallen-to-pieces line—when we meet again, introduced as friends, please don’t let on that you knew me when, I was hungry, and it was your world....

2. 6 is the first digit in the address of the house where I grew up, and where my mother still lives. However, if you look my mom up in the phone book, you’ll see only the street name, without the number. The reason for that is that, shortly before we moved out from the city, when I was three, my dad, a psychiatrist, ran into someone he’d had committed, a fellow psychiatrist, actually, on the street. The guy said “I know where your children play.” My dad asked “where’s that?” The guy said “Rittenhouse Square,” which, as it turned out, was exactly right.

3. 6 is also the first digit of my phone number when I was a kid, and, thanks to cell phones, it’s the only number other than my own (which also contains a 6) that I still have memorized—I can, however, still remember what, according to the Guinness Book of World’s Records when I was a kid, was the world’s hardest tongue twister: the sixth sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

4. 666 is, of course, the Number of the Beast according to the Book of Revelations in the New Testament. I tend to associate it, however, with the heavy metal bands that massively overused it in my youth, who I always hated, though now I realize that this was mostly because that was the music most popular with the bullies in my high school. I still don’t like heavy metal much, but will admit that the Paranoid album by Black Sabbath isn’t bad.

5. That 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing was never much of a challenge for me...he lived around the corner from the house where I lived until I was three...the one from which, apparently, that crazy shrink followed us to the park....

6. I could tell ya about the 6 Branches of Yoga...but you’d be better off asking somebody who can do twists and inversions without hurting him(or her) Brooks or Linda or the aforementioned Svasti....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Totally Boring Post Where I Talk Seriously About Yoga & Stuff #1

...somebody made a remark about a recent post to the effect of hey, it actually has something to do with yoga! He had a point, and it's one that strikes me at times, particularly when, having just written another post about David Bowie albums and naked hot tub parties, I see Yoga for Cynics listed under the heading of Yoga Blogs on the sites of some of its erudite and strikingly good looking yoga-blogging readers....then, to me, writing this stuff is the sense that it's part of an ongoing attempt to be more open...positive...peaceful...all that crap....then, actually, what I don’t write...or at least don’t post...might be more significant in that regard....hell, I could spew bile all day long...and, in fact, it’s awfully tempting to spend hours every morning ranting to the wireless multitudes about everybody and everything that pisses me off...which is exactly why I don’t do that...except, of course, in the form of comments on other peoples’ blogs....

There is no one here but us chickens and so it has always been: a people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death.... There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.
Annie Dillard

Then, it’s pretty evident that yoga freaks tend to fill out a pretty broad spectrum...with what could be termed yoga fundamentalists at one end (am I getting myself in trouble yet? Probably...), with literal Hindu beliefs, hardcore vegetarianism, celibacy, and reams and reams of ancient dogma...and, at the other, people for whom yoga is a competitive sport and an excuse to buy lots of expensive and fashionable products...with the one end perhaps seeing the other as offering a badly corrupted and diluted version of a pure spiritual product coming out of the mists of a far more pure and spiritual time and which those on that end might reply that they’re freeing useful practices from a tradition bogged down with myth, superstition, and outmoded ideas, as well as enhancing those practices with all the modern world has to offer....when you’re dealing with an ancient discipline that focuses on the here and now, some tug-of-war is probably inevitable...

believe it if you need it; if you don’t just pass it on...
Robert Hunter

Personally, I’ve never believed in an Indian garden of Eden that got ruined by the Western snake...nor do I get all fuzzily spiritual when surrounded with the unprecedented array of designer products now available at the local overpriced yoga boutique...neither tradition nor innovation is inherently good or bad...and the wisdom to be found in ancient texts is no more inherently valid or invalid than that found in the latest magazines...though, admittedly, both are more reliable than anything you’re likely to read in blogs....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Going to Eleven: The Obligatory New Year's Resolutions Post

The Dormouse: You've got no right to grow here.
Alice: Don't talk nonsense. You know you're growing too.
The Dormouse: Yes, but I grow at a reasonable pace, not in that ridiculous fashion.
Lewis Carroll

These go up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap

As I believe I said, or at least vaguely referred to (more likely), I don’t do the New Year’s thing. Nonetheless, to show my deep commitment to personal growth, I here present:

****Eleven New Year’s Resolutions****

1. To forget the lyrics to “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers.
2. To write the Great Southwestern Antarctican Novel.
3. To be the first postmaster general of the United States to unicycle to the top of Mount Everest wearing leiderhosen made of pancake flour.
4. To master new and original yoga poses like Inebriated Oxen Herd, Three Point Sweater, and Muppet Off His Meds (and, of course, to translate each of those into Sanskrit).
5. To eat my weight in zinc every morning, half my weight in artificial sweeteners every evening, and wake up to drink a third of my weight in melted styrofoam every half hour during the night.
6. To read Moby Dick aloud, unabridged, backwards, to an audience of millions, with live musical accompaniment by Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Ludwig Van Beethoven (performing simultaneously).
7. To end all international conflicts that aren’t likely to inspire good movies.
8. To invent the one device that will make the xylophone, zebra mussel, and cotton gin obsolete.
9. To experience photosynthesis and deep-fry myself.
10. To have my tonsils, adenoids, and appendix replaced with those of Werner Herzog, Alfonso Cuaron, and Pedro Almodovar, respectively.
11. To make the Venus de Milo smile.

The untold want by life and land ne’er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.
Walt Whitman

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's All In Your Mind

Dreaming is free...
Debbie Harry

...unfulfilled fantasies can be painful, says a friend...and yet they’re better than no fantasies at all, says I...yeah, I know, live in the here and now...and that makes sense, too...and yet there’s something to be said, while you’re living in the here and now, for letting the mind wander and stretch...even if that means mixing see what we can explore even as we create whatever it is that’s to be explored...that the line between creating and exploring is far hazier than we usually think...that wandering and wondering are essentially the same see what pleasures are possible within the mind...since, ultimately, all pleasure is both created and experienced in the doesn’t exist anywhere else...that’s one thing you learn from antidepressants...acids flowing, momentarily flooding the grey tissue before receding...even God, they say, may exist somewhere in the frontal region of the cerebral cortex...not far from where the yogis say the third eye is located...or maybe I’m making all of this up...

‘Prisoner, tell me, who was it that wrought this unbreakable chain?’
‘It was I,’ said the prisoner, ‘who forged this chain very carefully. I thought my invincible power would hold the world captive leaving me in a freedom undisturbed. Thus night and day I worked at the chain with huge fires and cruel hard strokes. When at last the work was done and the links were complete and unbreakable, I found that it held me in its grip.’
Rabindranath Tagore