Friday, September 28, 2007

Letter of the law, or spirit?

Is really just the difference between a copy editor and a conceptual one. I am currently in Denver at the Mountains and Plains regional trade show. Today there was a panel with Morrow and Houghton Mifflin. Editors from both publishers were there. Both conceptual editors. They are responsible for taking that little bundle of raw material, keeping it absolutely true to the voice of the author, and making sure the ideas and character developments align. They do not edit line for line--they leave that to the copy editors: the folks who rake the whole thing with a fine tooth comb, in the name of one consistent template, namely the Chicago Manual of Style.

And really, if I were to choose I would be probaly go conceptual. Yet, copy editing is absolutely essential to the precision and finesse of a manuscript.

In my own sermon on the mount near the Bodhi tree, I would perhaps call both necessary. And, if I wanted my sermon published, well, I couldn't say one was more important than the other.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why are so many against Iran?

I am perplexed. I listened to the president of Iran when he spoke to the students at Columbia University in New York. He made some really adroit points.
We are taxing the Iranians with our contempt, and they are not represented in our parliament.
The president of Iran wants sovereignty. He wants the holy land to also have sovereignty. The people who live there should have the right to govern themselves. Why can we not get our fingers out of the middle east?
Our president, Mr. Bush has plans to make a library when he retires. oh the irony. It is to be called something like the Freedom library, to advance freedom and democracy in non freedom and democracy loving nations. But for now he wages war with Iraq; Iran. When he does not have the power to shove it down their throats, he will build a library to accomplish his purposes.

"My dear friends and scholars, distinguished participants, science and wisdom can also be misused, a misuse caused by selfishness, corruption, material desires and material interests, as well as individual and group interests. Material desires place humans against the realities of the world. Corrupted independent human beings resist acceptance of reality and even if they do accept it, they do not obey it.

There are many scholars who are aware of the realities but do not accept them. Their selfishness does not allow them to accept those realities. Did those who in the course of human history wage wars not understand the reality that lives, properties, dignity, territories and the rights of all human beings should be respected? Or did they understand it but neither have faith in nor abide by it?

My dear friends, as long as the human heart is not free from hatred, envy and selfishness, it does not abide by the truth, by the illumination of science and science itself. Science is the light and scientists must be pure and pious. If humanity achieves the highest level of physical and spiritual knowledge, but its scholars and scientists are not pure, then this knowledge cannot serve the interest of humanity, and several events can ensue." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Barack Obama said in the democratic debate tonight not to be afraid of people who are different. Because I am different, I liked it when he said this. seeing you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Return With Dust on Your Shoes

Because that is where you were born—
next to the old milk barn, the one with the red roof.
You were given to believe from a young age,
that the farm didn’t wash off. That you’d always smell
like the cow you milked that morning
or the hay you baled over the weekend.
That the dust on your shoes exposed your class—
each under-bellied embarrassment from the social strata
that molded you. And, that farm–free people always
looked shinier than you, in their farm-free clothes.

But, there will come a time when you wear alfalfa,
like essential oil on your skin and walk into the wetlands
where the cows graze. You will reach toward the arbor
of grapes in the fall and pick them, willingly;
and make grape juice with mom. You will return to the farm
in winter with Great Horned Owl or in the spring
with the Canadian Geese. And when you get a little dust on your feet
you will look down and smile. You will carry the dust
back to the sterilized world, where cleanliness,
next to godliness, gratefully, becomes its own dead maxim.

Friday, September 21, 2007

And so, dreams.

They have been epic and long of late. Sometimes I live someones lifetime from birth to death. I awake in review every morning. I arise from another living, to concrete awareness--awakeness. Fragments of each nights episodes stick to my day. At work, the fragments hum those other awarenesses and cause smile.

Last night there was a scaffolded structure called the Unago. It was either 4200 or 7200 feet tall. It was built in the desert on Indian Land. There was an audience who stood in back of the structure awaiting a show. My friend Jessica jumped from the platform at the top, with the help of bungie ropes, down into a small hole in the ground that was filled with water. The hole was small but the water was deep. She went all the way down the depth of the water, and was then pulled out with the bungies and swung into the air, like a trapeze artist. The crowd was awed. Later, the tribal elders provided a meal for everyone. Jessica sat down, and composed an essay about her experience jumping. I awoke with the essay, like a mantra, repeating in my mind.

And so, dreams.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lucid Dreaming

I came across this article in the New York Times a few days ago that has me thinking. Whether it is by some psychosomatic reflection or pure coincidence, the idea has been in my head recently. Do you ever fly in your dreams? Do wield a sword and fight the good fight? Some new studies in the area of dream theory might give us all a moment of pause.
Established sleep researchers say lucid dreaming is occasionally reported by subjects, though it is difficult to validate scientifically. “Yes, lucid dreaming exists,” said Dr. Rodney Radtke, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Duke University. “Yes, people certainly can, within their dream, realize ‘this is just a dream’ and continue to participate.”
The article in the Times goes beyond this, suggesting we have ultimate power over dreaming, that it is a universe of pure will...
Do I believe that someone could potentially alter or interact with their dreams in such a way that they could change the dream? Yes,” he said. “Do I think that you could essentially design a dream — ‘Oh, I want to go to Honolulu and have this big hunk hit on me’? It’s a bit of a stretch. But I can’t say it can’t happen.”
The article also suggests some lucidity aids, provided by institutes dedicated to lucid dreaming. But, there is no better aid than being conscious of this potential. Point in case, I've been willing flight in my dreams lately, and its been happening at a lot more frequently than ever before. Will is important, consciousness is key.

So, happy dreaming.....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pa Chin's "Family"

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.
Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto

Modernity brought in its wake a series of civilization changing events. Social tradition, family life, government, nothing was safe from its long lumbering march over the corpses of outdated societies. Like some Darwinian experiment, whole civilizations were forced to upheave their past and redefine themselves, or face crushing colonization from countries that had already undertaken the great change. Modernity brought technology, and technology brought power. To exist in the modern world, to survive, a country needed both.

China’s modernization came later than most. By the beginning of the twentieth-century, Japan had instituted the Meiji reforms, albeit under considerable duress, and stood as the principal power in Asia. China, suffering under their ancient history and a somewhat complacent Qing Dynasty, had stalled. Reforms, mostly in the form of political capitulations and contained rebellions, had little consequence. The structure of society itself would have to change, but that would mean total revolution, and those in power had little interest in that. It was in this environment, the year 1931, that Pa Chin published his celebrated novel Family. The novel presents its reader with a clear window into the “struggle for the liberation of youth and women from the fetters of the old patriarchal family system.” It exposes the birthing pains of modern China.

The novels principal characters are three brothers, Chueh-hsin, Chueh-min and Chueh-hui, each of which faces rising challenges squaring life at home, with all its antiquated morality and hierarchical dependency, with nationalization and liberation movements issuing out of Beijing and Shanghai. The brothers are like souls caught on the threshold between heaven and hell; conflicted, they juggle between their responsibility to the old system and their desire for the new.

Set in Chengtu, a large city in the province of Szechuan, Pa Chin’s Family illustrates beautifully (and at times tragically) the social tension created by China’s move toward modernity. The eldest brother, Chueh-hsin, perhaps the meeker of the three, is given responsibility over his younger brothers following the death of their father. The three live in their family estate with uncles and aunts, cousins and concubines, and of course, the Venerable Master Kao, their grandfather. Though Chueh-hsin is nominally responsible for his brothers, we find out in the novel how little he is actually able to exert this charge.

Owing to the delicacy of his position, he adopts the “compliant bow” philosophy promoted by Liu Pan-nung (1889-1934), which suggests not wasting “time and effort on discussion, but rather outwardly agree with one’s adversary and greet his statements with a bow.” This position at first appears possible, but as we see through the course of the story, it adds great misery to not only his life, but also the lives of those he loves most. He repeatedly sacrifices himself on the alter of filial piety, only to lose the treasures he holds most dear.

Chueh-hsin is met at every step of his adult life by tragedy, and under the immense pressure, he folds. He is conflicted in that he agrees with his younger brothers that the system that holds them captive is dying, but can’t seem to muster up the courage to do anything about it. His grandfather (yeh-yeh), the symbol of dead Confucian values is simply too powerful to oppose. In a sense, Chueh-hsin’s relationship with yeh-yeh represents the early revolutions relationship with the Qing Dynasty. The eldest brother wants to believe that the Confucian system can be fixed, that the values represented within it can be transmuted and, like some philosophers stone, remade into something remarkable and relevant, but only realizes the impossibility of it too late.

The youngest son, Chueh-hui (the so-called humanitarian because of his refusal to ride in a sedan-chair) represents perhaps everything his elder brother wanted, but was too timid to fight for. Chueh-hui is a true revolutionary character, and one supposes him to be a young Pa Chin. Full of zeal and intelligence, he follows the lead of his contemporaries in Beijing by publishing a weekly magazine (Dawn) to give voice to the new ideas of his peers in Chengtu. Chueh-hui’s attitude toward traditional Confucian society is best described in Pa Chin’s words:
That book Yeh-yeh gave me—“On Filial Piety and the Shunning of Lewdness”—was still on the table. I picked it up and skimmed through a few of the pages. The whole thing is nothing but a lesson on how to behave like a slave. It’s full of phrases like “The minister who is unwilling to die at his sovereign’s command is not loyal; of all virtues, filial piety is the best.” The more I read, the angrier I became, until I got so mad I ripped the book to pieces. With one less copy of that book in the world, a few less people will be harmed by it.
Chueh-hui considers the values of western civilization triumphant without completely understanding them. What he does see clearly is the dead system inside which he is caged, and without which he would soar. He embraces modernity not for its own sake, but as a means to release him and those he loves from the crushing weight of a broken system. He was a slave to his dead ancestors, to bureaucracy, to tradition.

But modernity, as understood by bright-eyed revolutionaries, is certainly not its reality. Chueh-hui and his older brother Chueh-min understood that, at least as much as they were able to glean from the writings of foreign authors and thinkers. This awareness is represented vividly in Pa Chin’s account of the civil war that spilled over into Chengtu during the warlord period (1917-1927). The Kao family averted becoming victimized by the spreading violence, and for some time remained holed up in their complex, afraid of the advancing armies and their impending death. This glimpse into the brutal reality of revolution and modernization tempered the brothers understanding, one can only suspect, of what sacrifice actually meant, and how much sacrifice it would require to move the country as a whole toward modernization.

Historically, China assumed an ethnocentric view of their place in the geopolitical system. As xenophobes, it is understandable that it took so long for them as a nation to accept the realities of a modernizing world. Their political and social system was proved and prided, and had accompanied them across that millennial march of time. It is patently understandable that they would then drag their heels at any prospect of change, at any hint that their system was somehow inferior or in need of reform. But what was required didn’t necessarily demand originality, only improvement. This was evidenced in Sun Yat-Sen and his three principles of change, namely Nationalism, Democracy, and Socialism.

The struggle of Chueh-hui and his brothers broadly represented millions of Chinese in the early twentieth-century. It was against this backdrop that China embraced the external principles of modernization. Even though they had yet to formulate a national identity, or even what their particular brand of modernity would look like, the work of revolutionaries of previous centuries, and contemporaries, gave them hope against their seemingly Herculean struggle.

Modernity has exacted a fair price from each society willing to undertake reform. WWI and II are perfectly adequate examples of that. Modernizing China though, with its billion people and unreasonable self-pride, is a different affair entirely. China had to choose its own way, on its own terms. Like Pa Chin’s protagonist Chueh-hui, China would embrace modernization or face certain death. There was no choice for Chueh-hui, only various options which seemed to lead to less tragic conclusions. So while the brothers (symbolizing China) didn’t necessarily agree on the way forward, as each ends up going in separate directions, each understood the unassailable need for change.


This is a review of the classic novel Family by the author Pa Chin. I highly recommend reading it, as it offers an intimate look into the early days of the Chinese revolution.


The madness of it all...

With all the craziness out there, Bin et all, it is nice to interject some humor into such religious absurdities.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

the bin laden video, and what we might know about the power players because of it

it is obvious to me at this point. the united states has already captured osama bin laden. they have probably always had him. but even if not:

having taken my clues from the facts on the ground, i drew a direct route to this conclusion: bin laden is doing karl rove's bidding.

it would require a tremendous amount of disbelief for the average person to conclude Mr. Rove, politico extraordinaire, would not use bin laden's capture to win in the 2006 election.

re enactment of rove's thought process in 2006: "so we'll hit them with a bin laden video on the sunday before the election of 2006, then we'll hit them with a bin laden video on september 11, 2007 when general petraeus gives his report to the Congress: three huge news items occur on the same day as 9/11. then before the election of 2008 we will announce that we finally caught bin laden. bush with that "history's teacher" he'll keep talking about will be vindicated."

i remember somewhere in the folklore of mormon theology a professed time of secret combinations, and conspiracies against men. what is it when a conspiracy theorist theorizes an actual conspiracy?

why is petraeus giving his report on iraq to the senate on 9/11/07?

there are a few required things for my conspiracy theory to be true:

-karl rove has patience.
-bin laden knows he is caught.

two things remain undecided:

-has karl rove been really working for dick cheney all along?
-if so, does bush know or not know.

tell me why i am wrong.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

unleavened toast and sunday morning coffee

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I have the distinct impression that I have been in some other place while I slept. This morning I thought that this particular incarnation of myself is a steam engine providing unused energy to those other incarnations of myself, energy to use up for free-er movement in those other places. Sometime I presume, the reverse of this is also true.
If you are instanced in belief which provides for yourself a heaven, you must take into account the particular quality of time which presences you, (a version of time which betrays the fundamental quality of any and all versions of time), that quality of perpetual universality: if you are alive now on earth, you are alive now in heaven, (perhaps dreaming and remembering your present experience).
If you do not have heaven as an option, like bread without leaven, you are flat: two dimensional.
I have an idea of heaven as: the sum total of all your incarnations, equally as you play them out in the eternal present of your perpetuity: thus, you are God of heaven and earth: just as God intended it.
When I wake up on the Sunday morning, I drink a cup of coffee and reflect on as many of the real problems in the world I can get my head around. Every week I cannot underestimate the problem of Iraq, when I prioritize the problems for myself: in this, I hope that some other incarnation of myself may have more power or presence to solve the Iraq problem in the place of that other present: the problems of the world will not be solved until the solutions have been determined; by artificial or natural means, whichever has more presence: they must be thought about first, and enough people have to do the thinking before a transcendent state of mind may come into being.
The New York Times sums up President Bush's solution quite succinctly:

"President Bush, however, seems to be aiming for maximum political advantage — not maximum clarity on Iraq’s military and political crises, which cannot be separated from each other. Mr. Bush, we fear, isn’t looking for the truth, only for ways to confound the public, scare Democrats into dropping their demands for a sound exit strategy, and prolong the war until he leaves office. At times, General Petraeus gives the disturbing impression that he, too, is more focused on the political game in Washington than the unfolding disaster in Iraq. That serves neither American nor Iraqi interests."

Be seeing you.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Allow Me To Introduce You To (Meet) The Press

Allow me to introduce you to (meet) the Press:

The media moguls, those who pontificate for the major information distribution centers in the United States, play a dangerous game. Robert Novak, the Scaremonger of early 2003 says he is worried about Hillary Clinton. Other Republicans are scrambling around looking for Hillary Clinton's double in their party. Mary Matalain, Cheney's aide, looks over her eyebrows and defends Fred Thomspon while failing to sound sympathetic to even one of the 1800 humans in Iraq defeated, killed in August by her master, the dishonorable Vice President's dangerous policies.
General Petraeus' "September report" will be filtered by the White House as it is disseminated to the citizens of the US of A. He has already said that stability in Iraq requires ten more years of American occupation. How much money will that cost?
I think that I am beginning to see a trend. Perhaps I am the last to recognize that we are stuck in Iraq; the last to recognize the consequential quality in the human condition. But, when you plug the tragedy in Iraq into the equation which sums up my personal philosophy, the result presents itself as a quandary: act such that you can deem the maxim of your action a universal law: we can never give back to Iraq what we have taken from it.
We used the blunt instrument of war, to undermine millions of people's lives to protect our oil, and remove one dictator. How can we turn the tide of 200 years of American aggression: firstly to the Native Americans and lastly to the Iraqi innocents. We owe every innocent Iraqi, more than ten years of American Military occupation. We owe them a hundred years of humanitarian aid.
Larry Craig, poor guy; he was caught with his pants down. (One cannot speak of his strife, without punning.)
Alberto Gonzales is gone, he resigned last Monday, less than a week ago. His name didn't come up once in my requisition of this mornings news.

....It is a dangerous game they are playing us in;

September 2, 2007