Thursday, July 23, 2009

To wit: to woo.

To wit, to woo.

Well, how do you go about it? Do you have some great lines? "You got any Irish in you? How about, "Shall I call you or nudge you?" "Are you tired?" "What's your sign?" "Do you come here often?"

That is not going anywhere. Thus begins the mating ritual of the most ridiculous species on earth, the Homo Sapiens male. In our effort to woo, men forget one minor detail: women are human beings. They respond to genuine, sincere communication. Because the thought of this kind of interaction makes most men a little queasy, we sometimes look for a way to get things rolling. Palm reading is just this sort of invention. And I think it's on the same plane as astrology and reading knobs on your head, but it has advantages in the mating ritual.

In the course of discussing the lines of your respective hands, you may learn a few things about each other. You know that the line that runs across the upper area of your palm is the heart line. Maybe you can pick up on just how sensual she is by checking that out. Then there is the head line, the one in the middle. Is she smarter than you? Is that what you want? Then the long one on the bottom is the life line. Of course there are many interpretations of these lines.

The life line may be a little scary, if it has lots of breaks or if it is short. And the head line may go nowhere, or streak deeply across the palm. But then, if the heart line is deep and long, you may feel you have advance surveillance going on and have a bit of jump on the mystery awaiting in those eyes so close.

At the very least you'll get to hold a pretty woman's hand for a few minutes, and that is not a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21, the birthday of Earnest Hemingway. I grew up with Hemingway being the literary giant of the age. "The Old Man And The Sea" was serialized in Life Magazine in the Fifties. I read it wondering at the futility of effort and life that exuded from the story, hoping for something more. An old fisherman caught this huge fish that pulled him for days until it surrendered and he brought it in after nearly killing himself to prove to the villagers that he was really worthwhile as a man. But when he got in the predators had eaten it. The reason I put the image in this of the "flowers in the dark" as I call them, is that Hemingway was a man with flowers in his heart but darkness in his soul.

Then he did lots of things he should not have, as most of us have, and had no tool to deal with it or cleanse himself of his overts and withholds as we call them, and suffered. The suffering from such by a sensitive soul is to bring self inflicted justice in such extreme measure upon ones self that it seems inexplicable that one could have so much bad luck. He made the mistake of seeking help from psychiatry, and shock treament. They put electrodes on both temporals and send huge jolts of electricity through to "cure" one. They have no clue as to what this is supposed to do, but it subdues the patient, giving him more problems than he had before. I have seen this happen over and over, and then the patient turns to drugs to ease the new pain overlaid on the old, and dies while still living. Hemingway took a shotgun and blew his brains out for he found he could no longer write or create----it stripped him of his creativity and thus his very life.

I know of a few who do not look for love. Some are able to sublimate the need for a partner with whom to laugh and create and satisfy needs with activity of some sort. I am one who needs both, needing a sexual partner and someone with whom I can create joy and life. I happen to love the grace and wonder of a beautiful woman. I recently fell obsessively into the abyss over an exotic Italian woman who couldn't make up her mind. She had me, lock stock and barrel. Her reach and withdraw was maddening. Maybe something like that happened to Hemingway. He was married a number of times, and loved the ladies, and when you play that game you expose yourself to the vicissitudes and wild random variables of the game, and can become a babbling idiot over a woman. I know it can drive one over the edge, but I fortunately had my tools of Scientology to save me. Poor bastard didn't have anything but psychiatry, the very essence of evil, which crushed him in its tentacles and destroyed the essence of his life.

There's a legend that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to create a six-word story, and he said, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Inspired by this, an online magazine invited readers to submit their own six-word memoirs, a collection of which was published by Harper Collins in 2008 as Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Six-word memoirs include: "All I ever wanted was more" and "Moments of transcendence, intervals of yearning" and "They called. I answered. Wrong number." (The above paragraph was stolen from today's The Writer's Almanac,by Garrison Keillor.

Seems both presidential candidates in the 2008 election said that his "For Whom The Bells Toll," was their favorite book. A wounded man in the Spanish Civil war heroically holds off the enemy while his comrades escape. I can see McCain holding this book to his breast, but the idea of Hussein Barak Obama having any courage or bravery as a mantra is a mockery.

I read somewhere that someone asked Hemingway about rewriting a story, saying, "I hear that you had to revise it fifteen times, why did it take so many times?" Hemingway replied, "to get the words right." Writing is rewriting. Write the story fast, et it out of you, put it on the paper, don't give a damn about grammar or anything, just get it out. Then go back and fix it. He was a master of minimalism. I wonder, with the writer and reader climate of today, if he would be recognized as the great icon he became or have been swallowed up in the stampede of writers trying to get attention---and if the women editors and publishers would have approved of his extreme maleness. I wonder. Seems the male icon is vanishing. At a writers conference, a woman editor/agent brayed to the audience, "The Day of the Male is dead, thank God." Appears she was close to right. Look what we got for a President.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quote by Martha Graham

I am not a great fan of dance, but I have been to the ballet and I have seen some strange things done on stage called dance. But when I saw the Martha Graham dancers performing at the Louisiana State University theater back in the seventies, I was impressed. This was truly dance as it could be, for it wasn't just a bunch of jumping around emoting---it was exquisite, fluid human motion, expressive and so unique that it left an indelible impression of aesthetics on me.

My good friend Eugenio Castillio, of Mexico City, a great artist and performer in his own right (I never saw him dance and would probably ask him not to try when I was looking) sent me this quote by Martha Graham.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.”

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly; to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open…”

“No artist is pleased… There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reaching for ourselves, sometimes finding.

Man reaches for beauty, and in touching knows, but only has a hint of what is there that is his to have. We know there is something there, something so valuable and so powerful that we try to express it in mere words, usually called poetry, or song, or images, to say to ourselves and others what we feel, and always come short for there is no way in this mortal form that we can fully have it or say it for in its raw form would be too beautiful to hold.

I truly believe we had it once, as we had other universes, and I don't mean other worlds or other places somewhere among the stars of this one---I mean universes that were universes of song, of aesthetics, and it is that toward which we long. We sometimes touch chords that resonate through barriers around us we have self created uusually to protect ourselves from the backlash of our own transgressions---so we have gone deaf and dumb to the music that surrounds us. Even the chimp in the image knows something.

The following poem was "lifted" from Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. Poems like this touch the longing in me for that which I feel I lost somewhere along the way.

Black Islands
by Martin Espada
for Darío

At Isla Negra,
between Neruda's tomb
and the anchor in the garden,
a man with stonecutter's hands
lifted up his boy of five
so the boy's eyes could search mine.
The boy's eyes were black olives.
Son, the father said, this is a poet,
like Pablo Neruda.
The boy's eyes were black glass.
My son is called Darío,
for the poet of Nicaragua,
the father said.
The boy's eyes were black stones.
The boy said nothing,
searching my face for poetry,
searching my eyes for his own eyes.
The boy's eyes were black islands.

"Black Islands" by Martín Espada, from The Republic of Poetry. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. Reprinted without permission

It's the birthday of poet and politician Pablo Neruda, born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto,  in Parral, Chile (1904). As a boy, he read all the time and wrote poetry. Even though his father disapproved of his writing, he kept doing it, and he was encouraged by the poet Gabriela Mistral, who lived in his town and later became the first Chilean to win a Nobel Prize. In 1923, when the boy was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight), and he published it under the name Pablo Neruda so his father wouldn't be upset. In 1924, he published Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, known in English as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which was incredibly successful.

The following is a Poem Of You I wrote after reading L. Ron Hubbard's little Essay "You."

A jewel that is not a jewel, but is worth more than all the jewels in the universe.
A light that is not a light but a torch that burns forever witha brightness that illuminates all.
A song that is not a song but contains all the music that is or ever will be.
A power that is not a power but a potential of uniminaginable exquisiteness.
A promise that is not a promise but a future certain waiting to unfold in the fullness of time.
A knowing that is a knowing of all, past and future,and a certainty beyond all certainty.
A truth that envelopes the allness of all, that reaches beyond the beyond, untroubled and waiting for the defoliating of the dreams of pain and storm.
This is song of you, all this and more, a thing of infinite beauty.
May 2007

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Declaration of Independence, my version

There comes a time when you have just had too much, and too much is way far more than enough, and you reach the point when you simply can’t stand yourself any longer for putting up with it. You don’t file for divorce, you just walk. If you gotta fight, you fight your way clear. There is no back door. The only way out is through the front door right in the face of it. If you stand in the way, I am going to walk all over you for if you won’t work with me, and respect me for who I am, I sure don’t owe you a thing. Get out of my way. I am coming through.

A man or woman doesn’t belong to another man or women. Man is an immortal spirit with the right to fight his way free, and if he fails to be constantly vigilant to anything that may deprive him of this precious and God given right and to be always ready and willing to kick the behind of that which stands in his way of this freedom, he will always be enslaved. This holds true whether the suppressor is a man, a group of men, an army, or just an idea within himself that holds him back from being the power that he is. You are not my master. I am going to show you that without any equivocation.

You say you are my friend. You have used my good will and my willingness to share the many things for which I have worked so hard. You constantly refuse to grant me the beingness that is guaranteed by the clear universal imperative to all men. You think you are wiser because you are older and bigger than I, that you have the right not only to rule but to control every aspect of my life through force. You are wrong. I am hereby telling you that I am going to fight you and I am willing to die rather than continue a charade of pretended loyalty to one who thinks of me as a vassal and nothing but a material possession.

I have asked you many times to realize that I am not your possession; to honor me. You do not own me. I am not your suckling babe. I do not need you. You need me. You are too stupid to see that. Yet you continue to trample. I will no longer petition your good faith for you have none. You give me no choice, for your continued harm and threats to me and mine prove that you have lost your humanity. You are only a cowardly bully and I have outgrown you not only in physical prowess but most significant of all in my inner will to kick the hell out of you to make you understand not only to back off but to get out of my house. You are a very unwelcomed guest who has fouled my nest.

While I don’t need to give you a formal declaration of independence, I am doing so just because I am a nice guy. I am giving you this notice for you might wake up from your stupor and realize that I am armed and can and will stomp your royal behind into the ancient muck of ideas you think of as justice. I dare you to cross this line I am drawing in the sand of time. It will set us so far apart in the future that you will lose sight of me as I sail to freedom, while you sour in the arrogance of your ruinous and no longer workable ways. I will soar in the joy of the new light of knowing, in the unfettered manifest destiny that stands before me with my new life that you have given me, thanks to your abysmal lack of common sense.

Get ready, I am about to introduce you to a new reality.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random Acts of Senseless Cruelty

Thoughts on Random Acts of Senseless Cruelty
Reading Jim Harrison’s novelette, Wolf, later made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson, I recognized a trait the character had that I somehow outgrew. He called it “random acts of senseless cruelty.” This struck me with a bit of déjà vu.
The character, Swanson, is camping and hunting in the woods of Northern Michigan trying to stay sober, for he had to put fifty miles between himself and whiskey to try to dry out. As he tramped through the woods, slept amid clouds of mosquitoes, stood naked in the plumes of smoke from a boiling campfire, swam in the chilled waters of Lake Michigan, he pondered over his life and the incidents came to life on the page as little vignettes of adventures and misadventures, usually involving women, sex, and liquor, and more sex and women and liquor, meanwhile wondering what the hell it was all about.
He would wade sloughs and icy rushing creeks, push through brambles and briars, fight his way through clouds of stinging insects, all the while reminiscing about his misspent life. You may think this is a terrible book to read, but Harrison’s prose is wonderful and you get caught up in where he is going and where he has been. I have read everything I can get my hands on. His Legends Of The Fall was also made into a screenplay and was a bit different from his other introspective novels. Just Before Dark is a batch of nonfiction short essays about his experience in hunting, women, drinking gourmet cooking, literature, and another adventure in reading. A wonderful story, A Woman Lit By Fireflies ,about a upper middle class woman tired of living with a man who evidently was a good lover to her, but was totally involved in his business and who never thought of anything but the market, and on trips only listened to stock market news and never involved her in anything though she wanted to listen to classical music sometimes. He was oblivious to any of her needs, and had lived on her money until he became independent of her. On the return trip from visiting their daughter, they stopped at a visitors station and she simply walked out the back door and into a cornfield and kept walking. She spent the night at the edge of the field in a kind of nature made cave of leaves, and while she walked the rows and built her fire and boiled water from a creek in a small can, she thought of her past. All of his stories are filled with flashbacks. During the night she woke completely covered with fireflies, like a living lamp of flickering incandescence. The next day she walked back and divorced her husband. A story worth reading for it leaves traces in your heart of an odd dissonance, a victory but a sad one. I usually don’t go for things like that, but it really left an impression.
Ok, about senseless cruelty. Swanson shot a turtle on a log with his high powered rifle, rendering it to shattered pieces of shell and flesh. He shot into a swarm of bees on the side of a tree. I remember, as a kid, hunting, shooting into a squirrel’s nest, shooting birds nests and little birds like sparrows, beautiful blue jays, rabbits, squirrels, catching bullfrogs and later cutting their legs off for dinner while they were still alive. I never thought of their pain, and how the suffered.
My final hunting trip was thirty years ago when I went squirrel hunting with my cousin David Sledge and his father. I had a shot gun and wanted to see if I could still kill my limit, eight, of squirrels by “still hunting.” That is by being very still and slipping up on them. I killed eight, stuffed them into the big game pocket on the back of my hunting jacket, and when I returned to the camp I dumped them out on the ground and was totally shocked. There lay eight tiny creatures, curled in on themselves, little clawed paws in prayer like position, more like tiny dead kittens than anything else. I felt a horror at what I had done.
At least I was left with fishing. Then I learned that fish had nerves in their mouths. I had been told they had no nerves in their mouths and you could catch them and not hurt them. I saw a demonstration of a lady putting something on their mouths and then released them back to the brook. The fish went into horrible spasms trying to rub it off of their lips in the gravel and dirt beneath the water. Now that screwed me out of my fishing. I have been informed by my old buddies that I am really a pussy for allowing this kind of thinking. I can’t help it.
I have realized that all creatures are entitled to life, even the tiniest little crawly thing unless he biting or infecting me in some way. I cannot understand how such minute creatures I sometimes see crossing my desk can possess this precious thing called life, but they do, and what part do they play, and why are they here? Well, if I don’t have the answer to these things I surely can’t presume to have a right to smush them. My friends simply slam something down on them never thinking about it. I hate houseflies, roaches, mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, no-seeums, horseflies, and will kill them in a heartbeat, but most of those little fellers aren’t harming me, even spiders, and I let them go. I think spiders are pretty cool.
So there is the evolution of a man up from one kind of barbarian to another, perhaps more noble, maybe just silly, but that is the way it is.If anybody wants to take me on about it I am willing to stand my ground and kick his ass for I feel life is inviolate and precious, though I don’t understand it and how it works, but I know I am creating mine in some way that I hope someday I will understand better. Alvin Rubin, my freshman law school property professor, told of the pilgrim who finally made it up the mountain to ask the wise hermit who lived up there “what is life,” and the hermit said “It is a cream soda and a matzo ball.” Oh well, that makes sense when you think about it, I guess.
So there is no telling where a stray idea, like “random acts of senseless cruelty”, can lead. It led me to this point, at which I am going to stop writing.