Friday, August 31, 2012

"... couldn't ask for a better grief counselor"

About Dylan Den

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Can't you hear that rooster crowin'?" / Zen Bob's Koans and the Theater of Cruelty meet the Days of Awe

"... Can't you hear that Duquesne whistle blowin'
Blowin' through another no-good town

The lights of my native land are glowing
I wonder if they'll know me next time 'round
I wonder if that old oak tree's still standin'
That old oak tree, the one we used to climb ..."
(Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Duquesne Whistle")

That's the Blue Moon waxing in my little video.  It will be full tomorrow night, August 31st.

This morning as I was waking up I could hear the delighted laughter of the baby boy with blue eyes who had appeared in a dream fragment.  So happy just to be alive.

Thank you to Velveteen Rabbi for the following from This is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared:  The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, by Rabbi Alan Lew:

"Look! I put before you this day a blessing and a curse."  So begins parshat Re'eh, the weekly Torah portion we read as the month of Elul begins.  Look.  Pay attention to your life.  Every moment in it is profoundly mixed.  Every moment contains a blessing and a curse.  Everything depends on seeing our lives with clear eyes, seeing the potential blessing in each moment as well as the potential curse, choosing the former, forswearing the latter (pp. 65-66)

The disturbing "Duquesne Whistle" video with its rollicking soundtrack could be a demonstration of how every moment is profoundly mixed.  And who is Bob Dylan?  The young man? The young woman? The young man lying battered on the sidewalk?  The jaded old man walking around the young man? The 71-year-old man singing, "I can hear a sweet voice suddenly calling / Must be the mother of our Lord"?  A little bit of everyone in that video? Maybe we've been treated to another of Bob's koans.  Maybe it's a nod to Antonin Artaud.  I sure don't know.  I've been listening to Bob Dylan since I was 14 years old,  and I'm grateful for the presence of his mysterious creative energy in this world of curses and blessings, in which we are given the freedom to choose where we want to put our energy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Strange Days Have Come Again / The Master of Cognitive Dissonance / "We Are The World"

Warning:  The following is not going to be easy to watch:

Duquesne Whistle

This is another side of Bob Dylan:

Bob Dylan rehearses for "We Are The World"

Last Saturday I looked up in the sky to the southwest and saw a cloud that looked like a curtain or a veil.  It was a cirrus vertebratus cloud.  That isn't my photo.  I have lost the link that identified its source.

It's time to take a long walk.

May all beings be relieved of suffering.

May love bless and keep us always.

(Or maybe it was a virga cloud.  This isn't my photo either, and the link has been lost.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A change in the weather / Threshold time

A few weeks ago, when I went to the downtown area of Bellingham to visit the Whatcom Museum so I could see "American Quilts:  The Democratic Art," I was startled by and drawn what to turned out to be an embroidered mourning quilt (c. 1900) from California.  It reminded me of a painting I did in April of 2007 as part of my own grief process -- close to a year before I traveled from Washington to California to visit with Richard before he died.

With the change in the weather in the last few days, the sky has been putting on a splendid cloud show.  I'm a late summer, fall, and winter person.  It is threshold time again.  I feel a sense of relief and anticipation as the days grow shorter and cooler.  I walk throughout the year no matter what the weather, but late summer and fall are my favorite seasons for walking in and around Bellingham.  I've decided not to travel away from Washington this fall.  There is so much beauty and variety here in Western Washington as well as Eastern Washington.  If I do travel at all, I will go over the mountains to Eastern Washington.

Above this there is supposed to be a short video of the sky as seen from my porch this afternoon.  It shows up on the preview but not when I publish.  I'll try publishing this post once more.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Laughter and creativity

Thanks to whiskey river for these insights into laughter and creativity:

"A great many people don't know how to laugh at all. A man can give himself away completely by his laughter, so that you suddenly learn all of his innermost secrets. Laughter calls first of all for sincerity, and where does one find sincerity? Sincere and unspiteful laughter is mirth. A man's mirth is a feature that gives away the whole man, from head to foot. Someone's character won't be cracked for a long time, then the man bursts out laughing somehow quite sincerely, and his whole character suddenly opens up as if on the flat of your hand. Only a man of the loftiest and happiest development knows how to be mirthful infectiously, that is, irresistibly and goodheartedly. I'm not speaking of his mental development, but of his character, of the whole man. And so, if you want to discern a man and know his soul, you must look, not at how he keeps silent, or how he speaks, or how he weeps, or even how he is stirred by the noblest ideas, but you had better look at him when he laughs. If a man has a good laugh, it means he's a good man." 
(Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

"The fact is that we are living in a time when the decision to be an artist, to continue to create in spite of everything that's happening around us, IS a radical political act. This is, I feel, quite a dark time, potentially destructive to the best and most noble aspects of the human spirit. And that's precisely why it is terribly important for artists in all disciplines to continue to create, even when it feels like there's little market and little appreciation for our work. Just doing it, and making the difficult decision to continue to do it - to live creative lives that celebrate what life is and can be - is both defiant and affirming, and it's crucially important. People need to know that someone they know - a neighbor, a friend, a cousin - is committed to the arts. Young people particularly need to know this."
 (Beth Adams)
the cassandra pages
via negativa

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"... 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I don't need your organization' ...'"

Thanks to the Doonesbury website for "Alan Watts Animated."

While I was out walking by Bellingham Bay this morning I could hear Bob Dylan singing "I'll Keep It With Mine" in my mind.

That's Oboe up there looking out of her cat-tree house.

I'm still in quiet mode, enjoying these late summer days and nights.

Here's what Bob Dylan was singing in 1978:

The years are flying by.  How could 1978 be 34 years ago?

With fall approaching, I am feeling some creative energy again.  In this last week, I had that recurring dream that the open ocean is right here in Bellingham instead of hours away.  After I write this blog post, I am going to move my 36" wide work table to a place in my living room where I can open it out to 60" in length.   

I've been checking out the recently released 1940 census of the United States of America.  I found my father at age 26.   Couldn't find my mother and grandfather, although I did find the boarding house where they were living in Los Angeles in 1940 according to a photo in my mother's photo album, and I did find my mother's brother, sister-in-law, and niece who also lived in Los Angeles.  

I also found Jack Kerouac at age 18:

A view from my porch here and now:

And Oboe here and now under the Poor Man's Orchid:

 Still wondering about Bob Dylan's "Tempest" to be released on September 11th.
I came to the place where the lone pilgrim lay
And pensively stood by his tomb,
When in a low whisper I heard something say,
"How sweetly I sleep here alone.The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar,
And gathering storms may arise,
But calm is my feeling, at rest is my soul.
The tears are all wiped from my eyes.
The cause of my Master compelled me from home,
No kindred or relative nigh.
I met the contagion and sank to the tomb,
My soul flew to mansions on high.
Go tell my companion and children most dear
To weep not for me now I'm gone.
The same hand that led me through scenes most severe
Has kindly assisted me home."

"I can't provide for you no easy answers
Who are you that I should have to lie?"
(Bob Dylan, lyrics from "When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky" -- 1985)

Inscription on the Statue of Liberty, by Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

In the midst of writing this blog post, I heard two clips from "Tempest":

Gives me a chill.  Yep.

"Dear Word Detective: I was researching the origin of the word "yup" and Google sent me to your discussion about the term "sea change" being found in The Tempest. You wrote, "Well, as old William Shakespeare himself would say, 'yup."' I did not find any mention, beyond your Shakespearean quote, of "yup" on your web site. Did someone other than Shakespeare create the word "yup"? -- Linda Roberts.
Yup. Actually, if you read that sentence you quoted closely, you'll notice that I never said that Shakespeare said (or wrote) "yup." I said that he "would" have said "yup." I meant that he would have said it if he'd been born in, say, Texas, sometime after about 1900. As it happened, however, boy Willie was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. His equivalent of "yup" was probably something along the lines of "verily" or "forsooth," neither of which has ever been very popular in Texas."

Yup.  It's been that kind of summer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Do you know the way to Cold Mountain?"

Something to listen to.  Thanks to Meng-hu at Hermitary for bringing this to my attention.

Those are Poor Man's Orchids behind my Amaryllis plant that decided to bloom a few days ago after not blooming for seven years.

My days have been full.  Still reading my favorite blogs on a daily basis but am in quiet mode.

Just finished reading The Long Walk:  The Story of War and the Life That Follows, by Brian Castner.  Not any easier to read than What It Is Like To Go To War, by Karl Marlantes, but well worth reading to  get a sense of what soldiers and veterans of our current wars are experiencing.

Now I'm re-reading The Spiritual Life of Children, by Robert Coles. Here's an excerpt:

"Here, for example, is what I eventually heard (in 1975) from a ten-year-old Hopi girl I'd known for almost two years:  'The sky watches us and listens to us.  It talks to us, and it hopes we are ready to talk back.  The sky is where the God of the Anglos lives, a teacher told us.  She asked where our God lives.  I said, 'I don't know.' I was telling the truth! Our God is the sky, and lives wherever the sky is. Our God is the sun and the moon, too; and our God is our [the Hopi] people, if we remember to stay here [on the consecrated land]. This is where we're supposed to be, and if we leave, we lose God.'
Did she explain the above to the teacher?
'Because--she thinks God is a person. If I'd told her, she'd give us that smile.'
'What smile?'
'The smile that says to us, 'You kids are cute, but you're dumb; you're different--and you're all wrong!'
'Perhaps you could have explained to her what you've just tried to explain to me.'
'We tried a long time ago; our people spoke to the Anglos and told them what we think, but they don't listen to hear us; they listen to hear themselves, my dad says, and he hears them all day. [He was a truck driver]. My grandmother says they live to conquer the sky, and we live to pray to it, and you can't explain yourself to people who conquer--just pray for them, too. So we smile and say yes to them all the time, and we pray for them.'

... she had seemed a quiet, aloof girl who never had much to offer during our discussions at school, and now here we were standing on the side of a gentle hill near her home, and she was taking 'nature' quite seriously and letting me know that we are also part of that 'nature,' not outside it as perhaps I thought."