Saturday, July 22, 2006

'Cuz That What Dreams Are Made Of

I've been struggling of late. Can't get my head into any kind of productive space. Much of that is the new no-nap, ten-straight-hours regime of LivCare these days, but nearly as much is the result of unrest and chaos in my heart and mind. In such times, I turn to comfort foods.

I watch Scrubs. I re-read Harry Potter.

The latter I am up to right now, book six. I've read them all a number of times, and even wrote a grad school paper on literary dialect in the series. Just came upon a point in book six that interested me.

At then end of book five, Harry hears a prophecy about him and Voldemort that says "Neither can live while the other survives..." Rumors about the prophecy spread, leading the wizard media to brand Potter "The Chosen One."

What I am finding interesting is the unmitigated optimism of such a move, and how really very likely a move it seems. News leaks that Harry and a famous evil wizard cannot both survive, and it is interpreted to mean that Harry has been Chosen to rid the world of the evil. Yet, that is not at all what the prophecy says. There is no promise of a happy ending. The inevitability of a happy ending is the lens through which the news is interpreted.

And damned if that isn't one of the smart little things that Rowling slips into her books. Much is made of her being a single parent, but she was also an accomplished university student in her time, and I stick with the series because it betrays a wisdom behind it.

We are conditioned to believe, to hope. It is reflexive. One of two who must die becomes The Chosen One because it has to. Good must win. We assume eventual success on the part of good because we have to. These aren't mere illusions to hold on to, but the bedrock of the impetus forward through each bone-crushing, soul-deadening day we encounter.

We don't believe the best because we want to, but because we have to. It has to be reflex because it defies sense, and it has to exist at all so that we can live, can continue.

And we kinda know it. It is the fallibility, the intellectual decrepitude that writers like Rowling and Vonnegut refuse to deride or disavow, and instead celebrate. Silly as it may seem in an intellectual moment.

Hope makes us human. Lack of hope makes us dead.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Beware false prophets

I just read Lyam's post on his official move to Buddhism, and have been a frequent and vocal correspondent with TBO on the same subject to the point of being unfair in a non-disclosure kind of way.

It sounds like a fantastic move for Ly, and TBO damn near emits light when he speaks of his beliefs. And yet, I find myself time and again the kicker of sacred cows. Which in itself I am ok with, but which is completely unfair when I allow no access into my own beliefs, admit to no cows suitable for kicking.

So, here is my deal, as far as I can articulate it.

Our, meaning all individual's, struggle to rectify a finite life to an understanding of the infinte is the fundamental thing that binds all of us together, mainly because it produces such an elaborate array of flailings about, nearly all of which manifest in the creation of false binaries. At best, we understand Truth in bites. But when we do... well, that is what we live for.

Any path one might find to even the briefest contact with Truth, I'm down with. But, I believe that seeing Truth is a one-way proposition: one can only see Truth when looking towards and contemplating Truth, and not when looking toward or contemplating non-Truth (which is just mullings over of the false binaries we create).

I trust and am willing to listen to any person of faith, any strain of religious thought, up to and until the inevitable move of "beware false prohpets" and its like. When someone, Christian or Buddhist or proclaimed atheist, tells me what they believe and how it makes them feel and what it helps them understand, I am rapt (largely because of my own difficulties feeling the same way). The moment they begin to tell me why any other strain of thought is wrong, I tune out. The conversation is over.

If you are enlightened, if you have found an access to Truth, there is nothing to be gained from kicking anyone else off the train because their ticket was punched by a different agency than yours. And while I will not jump to the support of any particular ticket-punching agency, I will rush to defend the holder of any ticket from assault.

Here is the important distinction: religions almost invariably develop political arms. This is the portion of a religion that enforces the "beware false prophets" edicts. Christianity is a prime example of the importance of this distinction. I will join in on kicking the Chrisitian church for its every attempt to spread its dogma into political systems, and find much to hold in contempt in both the history of the church and its current agenda, but it does not follow in my worldview that Christianity cannot provide an access to Truth.

When that distinction is crossed, I rebel, every time.

As to what I believe, well, I'll try. I believe in the essential fallibility of human beings to resolve the paradoxes of existence, and in the redemptive power of embracing those paradoxes. I see little of the universe to be mutually exclusive, if any, but rather always a negotiation of forces whose existence is inextricably tied. I believe in more than I am, which is also incomplete without me, and that the goodness, the infinite Love, of the universe proven in the fact of existence, of Life.

I believe that all paths are equal, have the same potential for bearing fruit, and the one slap-across-the-forehead-able offense is to lose focus from the path to Truth to denigrate another path.

Plus, I really like kicking cows, but only sacred ones. Because the only other thing I believe is that the Universe is a colossal joke played upon those who don't get it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Because it's fun to cut yourself

I hain’t been writing fer shit lately (I won't use the w.b. word on principle). Have to muscle it up for this effing blog even. So, being the stupid sombitch that I am, I figured the sure cure was to start picking apart my “writing,” such as it is. Here's my first go-round.

I believe I rely on the word unsatisfying, and render it exceptionally unsatisfying as a result, because it is an equation. Not merely an empty word like nice or weird, but an equation of a word like unsatisfying because it appeals to my need to use logic as a ruse and a dodge. That word enables me (and boy do I know about enabling) when asked by an astute reader “what does that mean?” to draw myself up and state, not say but state, “it is that which does not satisfy, depending upon what the conditions for satisfaction are,” implying all the while that a truly astute reader should know what those conditions are without having to be spoonfed by me (the classic dimunization of critic move). It is exactly the copout of poorly crafted postmodern fiction, which believes merely embracing meaninglessness has meaning. (It doesn’t.)

It is the kind of shortcut you don’t realize great writers aren’t taking until you wonder why their prose stands erect while yours flips floppily flaccid (yeah, take a bite into that with a feminist critique – juicy!).

Specificity. It’s hard. That’s why we get married. So we can approximate and be understood. (The reason used to be sex, but we have that anyway, so we really needed a new reason.) * I shit you not, but True Companion by Marc Cohn is playing on the coffeeshop radio as I pen these poignant lines about matrimony.

Yo, actors. Give me a shout out. Specificity. You dig, right?