~~ Albert Camus ~~
The Beatles first major international hit song was “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, with Paul belting out the high notes in that pure Scottish tenor, as yet untrained to any great degree, but, showing the promise of his later efforts. That song came out in 1963, before my birthday, so I was still 12 years old…. A few years later, they released another song, about aging, from the point of view of a twenty-something, titled, “When I’m 64″. That song became one of their biggest hits, off one of their best selling albums, and to this day remains an iconic number, that McCartney still plays at his concerts, now and then….
A few days ago, I explained its relevance, but, my site hasn’t had a lot of traffic lately, so I’ll reiterate for those who’ve been avoiding my incredibly long rants, or have been otherwise busily occupied…. Today is my 64th birthday. I had hoped to have a good day, but, it isn’t looking promising at this point. Without going into tedious details, let it suffice to say I’ll be continuing my battle with an incredibly huge, incredibly evil HMO corporation…. They’ve won the last couple of battles, thanks to some support from their equally evil co-conspirators against the public good, to wit: the government….
Both of them are working at their usual stand, doing all they can to make life less comfortable, and much less profitable for the public, while simultaneously continuing to rip off every penny they can from the public treasury, and the pockets of their so-called “members”, with their selfish padding of every salable item they offer as a ‘service’…. Really? Each tissue one uses in a hospital stay is worth $12 a box? A pill taken by a patient costs $2 or more EACH, when it is impossible for the cost of production to exceed a percentage of ONE PENNY…. Those are typical price points in the healthcare field, and are NOT an exaggeration, so, they are making a profit, hand over fist, on everything they charge for, an endless list….
I see I have indulged myself already, by making a good start on a rant here in the intro, as is my bad habit…. In the interests of efficiency, we’ll call that an intro, but, we won’t be proud of it, okay? I AM trying to rant here less often, but, there are so many targets in our world, they seem to jump up while I’m writing, to insist on being discussed, or included in the day’s subject matter listings, with such piteous expressions of sincerity and purpose, I can’t resist…. Ah well, at least it brought us to this point, where we may do this…. Hang on tight….
Shall we Pearl?…..
“It is as useless to argue with those that have renounced the use and authority of reason as to administer medication to the dead.” — Thomas Paine
As mentioned, it’s my birthday, so, today’s selection is a nod to my status as a hippie, since the age of seventeen, when I went off to college at UC Berkeley, where I found a city full of like-minded young, inquiring minds…. This band, if any musical group could be said to do so, epitomized the ambiance and philosophy of the time….. Enjoy, and especially enjoy some of the concerts listed on the same page you find this sound track…. When you learn to ignore the occasional miscue in tuning of guitars, and the weak voices of young artists still reaching for their potential, you can see, and hear, the improvisational genius that was this band’s legacy….. Abondanza!
Since it’s a special day for me, I don’t much feel like putting myself into ranting mode, though, if the intro is any indication, it wouldn’t be too difficult to get there in my head…. But, let’s do this instead…. Nearly a couple years ago, I wrote some pretty good rants, one of which I will reproduce this morning, as the subject matter, i.e., Sun Tzu’s Art of War, has been much on my mind of late, due to my ongoing battles with HMO organizations… Rather than work myself up this morning, here is a good sublimation to fill in this section…. As most of my rants are, it is still very relevant to today’s issues in our society…. or, what passes for society amongst the humans on this planet….
In encircled ground, devise stratagems;
In death ground, fight.
~~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War (circa 400 B.C.) ~~
The Art of War is still considered by military experts to be one of the definitive books on warfare and strategy, after more than 2000 years. I’m not certain, but would certainly be surprised if it is not still used as a reference at West Point, Annapolis, The Citadel, and the Air Force Academy in classes on tactics and strategy in battle, and in peace time. In the book, which is actually quite short, Sun Tzu gives the basic tenets for success in war, and was so perfectly correct that it remains valid today, even though the landscape of war has grown much larger, and more complex. The issues that can decide victory or defeat remain the same……
One of the most surprising features of the book is the idea that Sun Tzu presents regarding the perfect warrior. In his mind, warriors came in a number of types, each of which required a different method of leadership. The surprise lies in his choice of the type of warrior that he considers to be the most valuable; oddly enough, on the surface he chose… the Spy…..
Not the weapons master, not the brilliant tactician, not the engineer… the spy. According to Sun Tzu, a properly trained and experienced agent provocateur was, by far, the most valuable type of warrior, for, with the proper application of truth and lies, and the correct timing, battles might be won without loss of life or property, or with a minimum of effort, due to the efforts before the battle by the spy. This choice indicates that Sun Tzu recognized the true battle that is waging at all times when people interact with each other…. the battle between truth and lies…..
We see this battle raging in our own society every day, as the politicians vie with each other to see which one can get the furthest from the truth and still convince people they aren’t full of shit. When we see priests telling us that we aren’t the masters of our own bodies or minds, and expect us to not even ask why, we are witnessing the constant struggle for control of our minds… and our pocketbooks…. The former, of course, will always lead to the latter, and you can bet your booties that it is the pocketbooks that the preachers and politicians are concerned with, not just our minds, or our souls….. You betcha, compadre…
Des. To do what?
Iago. To suckle fools and chronicle small beer.
Des. O most lame and impotent conclusion!
~~ William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Othello — Act ii, Sc. 1 ~~
Normally, or as close as we get to normally, I wouldn’t use a Shakespeare quote, and this one probably shows why, very well… I can’t for the life of me figure out what the hell any of it means, but the last line struck home for this discussion… Before what I am saying reaches the point where the last line might apply, I will refer you to the book itself….. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu; copies of it are available at any bookstore, and probably online in a number of places.
It is a fairly quick read, (though there are points that do require some thought and pondering), being less than a hundred pages in most of the versions I’ve seen. As I said above, it’s pretty simply written, but covers all that is needed to get his point across, which has to do with winning, not just at war, but in life. As with many things in Chinese culture, there is more to the subject than may be apparent on first view, and it is worth the time to look more deeply into what Sun Tzu has told us….
Kings would not play at.
~~ William Cowper (1731-1800) ~~
~~The Task, Book v, The Winter Morning Walk, Line 187 ~~
While perusing old Pearls to find material for today, this came up, a poem which fits today’s general theme too perfectly to resist….
Of late, I’ve been writing quite a bit on aging, and it’s effect on me… an occupational hazard, I suppose, for us retirees. Last night, I was reading some WordPress blogs, and was introduced to this Australian contemporary poet, David Lewis Paget. In looking through his poems on PoemHunter.com, I found this one, which speaks very eloquently of this period of life, and beyond, and I’m happy to include it here as part of the ongoing discussion…. It’s a bit long, but worth it…. Enjoy!….
I was wandering through the Nursing Home
In the town of Morton Rise,
Seeking an old and weathered face
That I’d known in another guise,
For Richard Spratt was my father’s friend
That I hadn’t seen for years,
I was going to let him know his friend
Had taken a turn for the worse.
The eyes that stared from the armchairs there
Were blank, and devoid of pain,
They’d taken the pills that dulled them down
So they wouldn’t be restrained,
The nurses treated them all as fools
This gross humanity,
Whose only sin was they’d given in
To age, and infirmity.
It was all so very depressing, I
Imagined my future there,
Staring in immobility
From the prison of one of their chairs,
Waiting my turn to be spoon-fed
By a very impatient nurse,
Who shovelled the food all over my chin
As I sat, and inwardly cursed.
I wandered the home there, room by room
In search of his friendly face,
This Richard Spratt in a cricketer’s hat
I remembered from Ambergate,
He’d batted a decent fifty, while
My father polished the ball,
And took five wickets alone that day
In his bowling, over all.
It was nigh on forty years before
That I’d watched them play as a child,
Out on the green at Ambergate
With the weather, warm and mild,
But the years dismay as they pass away
And my father grew so old,
Now he lay in bed in a kind of dread
As the bell of his lifetime tolled.
I said that I’d find his friend for him
And let him know, at the last,
That he was remembered, thick and thin
For a friendship, forged in the past,
There were days when they both had sunny skies
And met each day with a grin,
But time drew shrouds like storm-filled clouds
And the end was looking grim.
I heard a shout from a private room
And went to investigate,
Quite a commotion in the gloom,
I hoped I wasn’t too late,
And there was a nurse stood over him
In a wheelchair, Richard Spratt,
He’d thrown his meds all over the room
And sat in his cricketer’s hat.
‘You know what to do with your pills, you witch, ‘
He shouted, and turned to see
Just who was stood in the doorway, I
Was grinning from ear to ear,
‘Well I’ll be… You can get out of here! ‘
He said to the wayward nurse,
Who said, ‘If you’re going to be like that…’
And left the room, with a curse.
I told the news of my father then
And I swear, he sat and cried,
Just a couple of tears escaped
That he hid, he still had pride,
‘Life is a trail of sorrow, son,
But we’re all on the same long train,
Your dad and I in the tunnel, while
Your carriage is still on the plain.’
‘What do you value of life the most? ‘
I saw the pain in his eyes,
‘Youth was that great and precious thing
That with age, you realise!
I’d give it all for an hour to spend
In the glow of my lady’s eyes,
The touch of her skin and a hint of sin
But the thing that we love, it dies! ‘
‘I’ve often thought of those balmy days
On the green in our cricket whites,
And think I hear the crack of the ball
On the willow of sweet delight,
I remember your father’s terse ‘Howzat! ‘
When he scattered another’s bails,
Now I sit in this prisoning wheelchair, here
And all I can hear are wails.’
‘Wails from the ones who want to die,
Wails that they want to live,
The future is lost to the best of us
We have but the past to give.
You’d like to know how I feel right now,
Like a leopard, caught in a cage,
If only I could be young once more…
But all that I feel is rage!’
David Lewis Paget
4 October 2012
Other than the intro and closing sections, this is the freshest part of today’s Pearl…. It’s an abstruse little group, commenting, it seems, once again, on the vagaries and idiosyncrasies that occur as part of being human, focusing, as always, on how live a full life, in an ethical fashion that preserves honor, rather than destroying it….
“A man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world.” — Mohammed (570-632 A.D.)
“One cannot play chess if one becomes aware of the pieces as living souls and of the fact that the Whites and the Blacks have more in common with each other than with the players. Suddenly one loses all interest in who will be champion.” — Anatol Rapoport
“… denn da ist keine Stelle, die dich nicht sieht. Du musst dein Leben andern.” ~~ (… for there is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.) — Rainer Maria Rilke, “Archaic Torso of Apollo”
“Nobody does good to man with impunity.” — Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
“A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart, his next to escape the censures of the world.” — English Proverb
“Why, then, do you walk as if you had swallowed a ramrod?” — Epictetus (c. 60 AD) — Discourses, Book i, Chap. xxi
and then they disparaged all high hopes.
They lived shamelessly in temporary pleasures,
and hardly had an aim beyond the day.
“Spirit is also voluptuousness,” they said.
Then they broke the wings of their spirit;
it now creeps about, and defiles whatever it gnaws at.
Once they thought of becoming heroes,
but they have become sensualists.
A trouble and a terror is the hero to them.
By my love and hope, I implore you:
do not cast away the hero in your soul.
Maintain holy your highest hope.
Thus spoke Zarathustra.
~~ Friedrich Nietzsche, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” ~~
I have yet to go back over this, to see how it turned out…. I will say this, though…. I’m pretty sure it isn’t too bad, and is certainly more than I intended when I began today…. In any case, it’s done, so, I’ll get it posted, then go see if I can find some kind of mischief to get into that will help me feel a bit younger, if only for a short time….. See y’all tomorrow, ffolkes…. I have high hopes of that, anyway….. Maybe I can find that hero in my soul….
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…
When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.
Which is Why….
Sometimes I sits and thinks,
I just sits.
gigoid, the dubious
PLEASE STOP READING THIS MESSAGE NOW.
À bientôt, mon cherí….