27 April 2012

family camp 2012, prologue

Going to only one week of camp this year. Just too damn expensive.
Volunteering for rate as always. This year rather than sanitation engineer, I will be chaplain.
That's right. I don't even really believe it myself - a chaplaincy.

Will I endeavor to illuminate the grandeur ever present, with the redwoods as my backdrop, the soil as my pulpit, the sky my sermon? Will I share my personal feelings of a constructive nihilism - a shaky and lonely place of wonder? Will I mostly silent, guide each through their own reveries on anything that seeks reverence.

Any of those will honestly suffice compared to the likely stiff and board probability I will present. The monosyllabic and slightly pedantic and likely condescending thing of me I will present.
That is my fear I guess. I hope not

I hope I can offer myself unique and shepherd each attendant which the least intrusion to their new days.

04 April 2012

I was a fool I am a fool I have been fooled

Books. I love books.
I have been reading books for thirty years. I like the way they look on shelves. I like the smell. i like the feel. ( I hate dust covers). I started young, engaging Peanuts Encyclopedias in preschool, off in the corner and forgotten. I read the real encyclopedia en toto - 1963 Britannica. I was a devourer of books. Books are holy. A good book, a really good book is as important to me as any Bible and just as sacrosanct but when I read them I destroy them, broken spines and dog-ears. They are not relics, but the living Word. Books!
I keep them on my shelf. I am not so nearly omnivorous as a younger me was, but they are there. Books are patient. I haven't read most of them but they are there waiting, and I'll flip one open sometime and read and make a serious and non-binding commitment to keep that one around. I have not paid for many of them, and when I have its second hand. Books seek me out but I am not possessive of them, come over and talk and ill give you a couple you might like.
The great books raised me, fathered me. To be a man and then to be human I read Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Miller, London, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Heller, Nabokov, Laozi, Euripides, Dostoyevski, Steinbek, Marquez, Spark, Roth, Vonnegut, Mushima, de Saint-Exupéry, Murakami. I read Mann, Conrad, Whitman, Atwood, Baudelair, Blake, Valery, Sebald, Bellow, Lawrence, Durell, Murakami. And not just read, not just enjoyed, or critiqued. I have believed them! What is shown not what is said. Starting with the Bible and working foreword then back again to Homer, I have held books as volumes of truth - literate art.

"Reading is absurd, isn’t it? Page after page of symbols. Voices in our heads that aren’t our own. Why persist? We may read for entertainment, to pass the time, to visit other worlds, to expand our sense of what is possible. We hunt for treasure, rarely satisfied, but seeking new things to which we can aspire, clues and answers to what our lives are meant to be. At best, perhaps, we read to challenge ourselves and to be changed." Chris Dodge 2005 Utne Reader.

Let me tell you something about all that reading I have done. It has seriously fucked up my life.

This dawned on me as I was watching television. Why am I watching this, I asked myself. Then I answered: I am watching an imagined form wherein nobody is working, or paying bills, or standing in lines to windows that redirect them to other windows. Television and Film - multi sensory expansion on the basic story. Yes, people in stories do have jobs and often struggle with the banalities of life, but they are not engaged in those when we read or watch them, and they are struggling with the banality itself rather than the actual banal processes of life. What wonders that does for these characters. It frees up their time and energy to struggle with the bigger questions or to protagonize against the banalities, or to totally engage their emotions on love,hate, futility, confusion, grandeur, etc.
If you are an astute reader you are ahead of me already. It seems that I have let myself believe that that is how life truly is. Obviously we can ignore that humming truth and live in the sphere of the mundane and vulgar like the other schmucks, but why - when the truth is right there so rich and pure? And what if the truth is a painful burden. It is the burden of the privileged, the illuminated!
I tell you that way is rule the way of the privileged. The privileged patricians and madmen. The real burden is the common one, unshedable and insufferable.

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken"

And I don't even buy this, even as I type it. No matter how much life shows otherwise. No matter how often the things I have let myself believe make my life and relationships untenable, I still won't let go.
Thank you books. I wish I could quit you.

01 April 2012

Life of Birds, random thoughts.

Gyokei Mochizuki

Birds fly.
Who has not dreamed this or wondered? What is shared in us that marvels at this potentiality we divested ourselves of so many millions of years ago. There were birds and there were mammals, and we have mostly gone our separate ways. We on the mundane ground, rational and plodding. They, in the heavens, climbing, soaring, diving, gliding.
The birds have an entire other force of nature to deal with, one that affects us only mundanely or in extremes. The cost to them is high. The must have hollow bones and feathers, must always maintain the flight systems - pruning, and most importantly must somehow strike balance between the energy needed to lose the earth and the weigh limits of doing so.
They do pay that cost and they are successful.

We live on a razor's edge of cost and benefit. I have always considered that 'the dismal science' was a suitable epithet for economics. Economists were pecuniary men struggling to understand and measure the ghost in the machine of our own making. Then there are economic philosophers reducing our experience to supply and demand, labor and production. Perhaps their limitation, or more likely my limitation, is assuming economics is a human driven affair.

There is much science lately on the connections between low caloric intake and longevity. Low calorie diet seems to blocks the enzymes that enhance cell death during metabolic stress. Cells, like engines, acquire energy by oxidizing fuels. It follows, somewhat, that a higher rate of consumption, through a complex system over time, will wear more quickly than a lower rate.

There is much debate over clean fuels and green energy. The reality is, if we wish to move fast and far, to fly and drive around, to lay wires and roads, then we will consume - burn and exhaust, like any engine. No amount of efficiency will eliminate that truth.

I am not saying we should not seek life and health, nor should we run rampant over the earth with our magnificent machines. I am only saying that we should know that everything, every movement, comes with cost. Then we will be able to measure the costs. We can be rapacious adventuring economists, we can be technologically wise economists. We can be glorious flying economists, we can be gentle restrained economists.

We will pass
birds will fly
the sun will burn

Anther opinion: I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Jack London