Delving into unusual matters of import….

Composing these Pearls every day has become the central stanchion on which the rest of my day is built. No matter what time I now arise, sometime between 5 AM and 9 AM, the process defines the morning’s activities, with very little else happening until it is done. Only coffee, breaks from sitting, and restroom urges are part of the routine; no other activities are engaged in prior to publication of the morning’s effort. I’ve found this to be the best way to ensure that it happens each and every day, which has my goal for this blog since its inception on August 11 of 2011.

Unfortunately, this also means that I’m spending a lot of time sitting at the computer, and very little time out exercising my mind, or body, in the real world. Of course, as a retiree, my need to relate to the real world is diminished, to be sure; I have the choice as to whether or not I wish to go out and mingle, or stay home and polish my curmudgeon trophies. It’s nice having the choice for a change; for most of my life, the real world pretty much dictated my activities according to the needs of my family, or job, or something else other than my personal choice. I don’t think that is unusual, and that’s a bit sad, isn’t it?….

But, now that I can choose, I’ve chosen to “hermit up” a lot. This has a lot to do with the fact that living on the poverty line doesn’t allow much extra cash for entertainment purposes, and most activities that have to do with other folks involve at least a minimum of disposable income, in order to engage in going out to eat, or have a cocktail, or go to a ball game, etc. Very few things these days are free, and if they are, it takes some money to get to where they are… such as the beach. A lack of funds is a serious handicap to a player, for sure, not that I ever was one, but, hey, a guy can dream, right?

For now, though, until my income has settled at last into what I should have been making for the last two years, I am pursuing a life of “quiet desperation”, and generally doing so alone….. except for the wonderful friends I have found here on the internet, at WordPress. The interactions I am fortunate to have with the other authors here have been uniformly positive. People here show each other support, and compassion, and kindness, in such a free and easy manner that the Dalai Lama would be proud, indeed. It makes up a lot for the lack of face to face engagement that I lack in my life; the ffolkes I’ve met here are people I am proud to have as friends, and have helped me get through some pretty hard times lately, just by being there….

So, I write…. for me, for them, and for my kids, and grandkid (so far just one). I write to express the “stuff” inside me that has been storing up over the last 50 or so years, waiting for me to get done with the things I needed to do to take care of the family, until I could begin the journey toward becoming a writer, my lifelong dream. It’s kind of destiny-like, actually; books, and literature, have been the backbone of my life, and producing them seems like a logical outcome for my nature. So I am polishing my skills as a writer here on WordPress, ever hopeful that some editor will drop in one day, take a look at what I’ve written, and ask me to start writing for a larger audience, for pay…..

Having thus spent five hefty paragraphs discussing the very thing I’m doing, (good writing practice technique, don’t y’know?), I will cease this assault on your sensibilities, and go now in search of pearls with which to populate this page….. care to join me?  Let’s Pearl….

Practice Acts of Random Kindness and Senseless Beauty. — Hippie Philosophy, circa 1968

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Taken together, these two statements offer a possible treatment for what ails the world today. Albert’s words, spoken not long after he had helped to create the hydrogen atomic bomb, are clearly true. We, as a species, continue to display the same vicious, insensitive, violent nature that enabled us to struggle our way to the top of the food chain; the difference now is that we have the power to completely destroy an entire planet, should we give vent to that nature in our conflicts with one another….

Thus, the first statement, made common during the Peaceful Revolution in the Sixties, can be seen as a possible antidote to that nature, and to the danger it implies for mankind. It has been said, and truthfully, that the next evolutionary change that our species needs to make to survive is a change of the mind, of spiritual strength. Mankind needs to put aside our species’ natural response to conflict, which is generally to meet such tests with violence. Now that our ability to destroy ourselves is complete, we cannot afford to allow that part of our nature dictate our actions; that would be suicidal, for sure.

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.” — William Wordsworth

Instead, each of us needs to learn to acknowledge in us the connection we have to each other, to celebrate that connection, instead of trying to sever it. The world, and people, respond to kindness, and to beauty; that, too, is part of our nature, and may be our salvation. as well. We all need to help each other to develop responses to stress that act from a basis of compassion, that try to promote beauty in the world.

Change within ourselves is the only real, lasting effect we can have on Reality, and with the help of each other, I believe it is possible to effect the changes to the human spirit that are so obviously necessary if we are to survive…. If we all practice Acts of Random Kindness, and Senseless Beauty, then we may live to see another millennium…. if not, we’ll be fortunate to see the end of this century…..

“And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.” — James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

An American Fascist seeking power would not proclaim that he is a fascist.  Fascism always camouflages its plans and purposes. … Any fascist attempt made to gain power in America would not use the exact Hitler pattern.  It would work under the guise of “super-patriotism” and “super-Americanism”.  Fascist leaders are neither stupid nor naive. They know that they must hand out a line that “sells”.   Huey Long is said to have remarked that if Fascism came to America it would be on a program of “Americanism”. — U. S. Army (1945)

Interesting, no? To discover that the US Army was aware of this is not as surprising, or as disappointing, to me as the fact that no one listened. If one is to go by the description of fascism presented here, then it becomes clear that we have allowed this to happen, right here in the good ol’ USA…. I offer as proof of this assertion the latest batch of crap that has dribbled out of the Republican camp in the last couple of days. Mitt Romney spent some time to outline some of his ideas on foreign policy changes he would seek if he is elected.

I have yet to read the article for details of those policies, as I admit to a certain amount of trepidation, regarding just how crazy they may be. It was enough for me to see the headline of the article…. “Disturbing foreign policy changes outlined…”  If the FIRST take by the media on these ideas prompts the word “Disturbing” in the title, then they MUST be pretty outrageous, and I am sure they will become the subject of an upcoming rant, once I’ve read them through….

For now, I will merely point out that Mitt’s entire program is based on the words used above in the educational treatise from the Army. From the beginning of his campaign, Romney has painted himself as a “PATRIOT”, wrapping himself in the flag, depending on that to deflect any criticisms aimed at his sincerity. He has voiced completely ILLEGAL ideas of things he would change, ideas that fed into the fears of whatever particular fringe group to which he was speaking, not even bothering to hide the fact that what he proposed was not only against the law, but was in direct contradiction to what he had told another group the day before. More than one instance of this was reported in the news; I didn’t make it up. For goodness’ sake, the man has seriously proposed a law to make it illegal for a woman to get pregnant without being married! Pure Muslim Sharia Law, from the mouth of a Christian bigot…

“Can you say “Pervert?” I thought you could.” – Smart Bee

As I’ve noted, I’m not altogether certain that the current administration is overly concerned with what is in my best interests. They, too, are politicians, and sought the jobs they are holding, which, in my mind, classifies them as insane right from the get-go. But, what I’ve observed during this Democratic administration has been much less destructive toward me and the general public than ANY of the policies that Mitt has voiced.

He has made it perfectly clear in his speeches and programs that, if one is not white, Christian, rich, and bigoted, then he isn’t interested in doing anything but oppressing you, and making himself and his cronies more wealthy, and more powerful. THAT is his underlying goal, not any patriotic wish to make things better for the average American. He couldn’t describe an average American if one was standing in front of him, spitting in his face….

An Extempore

When they were come into Faery’s Court
They rang — no one at home — all gone to sport
And dance and kiss and love as faerys do
For Faries be as human lovers true —
Amid the woods they were so lone and wild
Where even the Robin feels himself exil’d
And where the very books as if affraid
Hurry along to some less magic shade.
‘No one at home’! the fretful princess cry’d
‘And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride
And all for nothing my new diamond cross
No one to see my persian feathers toss
No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool
Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule.
Ape, Dwarf and Fool why stand you gaping there
Burst the door open, quick — or I declare
I’ll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.’
The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape
Star’d at the Fool, the Fool was all agape
The Princess grasp’d her switch but just in time
The Dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme.
‘O mighty Princess did you ne’er hear tell
What your poor servants know but too too well
Know you the three great crimes in faery land
The first alas! poor Dwarf I understand
I made a whipstock of a faery’s wand
The next is snoring in their company
The next the last the direst of the three
Is making free when they are not at home.
I was a Prince — a baby prince — my doom
You see, I made a whipstock of a wand
My top has henceforth slept in faery land.
He was a Prince the Fool, a grown up Prince
But he has never been a King’s son since
He fell a snoring at a faery Ball
Your poor Ape was a Prince and he poor thing
But ape — so pray your highness stay awhile
‘Tis sooth indeed we know it to our sorrow —
Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow —
While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite
Peal’d the brown hazel twig to lilly white
Clench’d her small teeth, and held her lips apart
Try’d to look unconcerned with beating heart.
They saw her highness had made up her mind
And quaver’d like the reeds before the wind
And they had had it, but O happy chance
The Ape for very fear began to dance
And grin’d as all his uglyness did ache–
She staid her vixen fingers for his sake
He was so very ugly: then she took
Her pocket mirror and began to look
First at herself and [then] at him and then
She smil’d at her own beauteous face again.
Yet for all this — for all her pretty face
She took it in her head to see the place.
Women gain little from experience
Either in Lovers, husbands or expense.
The more their beauty the more fortune too
Beauty before the wide world never knew.
So each fair reasons — tho’ it oft miscarries.
She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries.
‘My darling Ape I wont whip you today
Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play.’
They all three wept but counsel was as vain
As crying cup biddy to drops of rain.
Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw
The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw.
The Princess took it and dismounting straight
Trip’d in blue silver’d slippers to the gate
And touch’d the wards, the Door full courteously
Opened — she enter’d with her servants three.
Again it clos’d and there was nothing seen
But the Mule grasing on the herbage green.
End of Canto xii.

Canto the xiii.
The Mule no sooner saw himself alone
Than he prick’d up his Ears — and said ‘well done!
At least unhappy Prince I may be free —
No more a Princess shall side saddle me
O King of Othaiete — tho’ a Mule
‘Aye every inch a King’ — tho’ ‘Fortune’s fool.’
Well done — for by what Mr. Dwarfy said
I would not give a sixpence for her head.’
Even as he spake he trotted in high glee
To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree
And rub’d his sides against the mossed bark
Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark
Except his Bridle — how get rid of that
Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait.
At last it struck him to pretend to sleep
And then the thievish Monkies down would creep
And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away.
No sooner thought of than adown he lay
Sham’d a good snore — the Monkey-men descended
And whom they thought to injure they befriended.
They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough
And of[f] he went run, trot, or anyhow–

John Keats

This is kind of long, but while reading it through this morning, I was struck by its dream-like quality. The act of reading it seemed to put me in a trance-like state, and the characters in the poem took on the faces in the news. It all made sense, too, at the time. Maybe it’s something in my coffee, or some old hippie mind tricks arising out of my sub-conscious memory…. or maybe I’m just strange.

No matter, the poem, long as it is, is the beauty break my head needed to finish the morning’s effort, so, deal with it….  🙂  And enjoy the trip through Keats’ dream…. It’s kind of fun to put the faces of Romney, Barack, Newt, Rush, and all the others who inhabit the front pages, on the characters in the poem, at some elegant non-partisan ball. ….  “And off I went run, or anyhow….”

Somewhat late, but not a bad effort, all in all. As is often the case, whether it will do or not is a moot point; it’s done, and it’s now going to be published, before I have any second thoughts about it…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you….

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.




Endless variations of spiral complexity….

If I can convince one more neuron to wake up and smell the coffee, I’d have a functional synapse, and I could get started. Sadly, none of them seem to want to join the party, so I’ll need a few moments here to gather up some wherewithal before I jump all the way in… right back….

Well, I managed to find a few old, semi-retired neurons sitting around in the corner of my mind, and convinced them to put in a couple hours for me. My mind feels as if it is an old four-cylinder Ford, started with a crank, and sputtering & coughing like an old sow, but it’s running, so I’ll take it…. not much choice at this time in the morning….

“Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.” — Terry Pratchett.

Now that I AM old, or at least nearly so, I am experiencing something I think everyone does at this age, to wit: surprise and dismay, both of which stem from the lack of material in the manual. You know, the manual we all are issued at birth, the one that tells us what we can expect at the various stages our lives go through. What manual?, you may ask….

Well, that’s another part of the problem here. Not only is the manual sadly lacking important information, but the process of issuing them is pretty hit and miss. I myself, like so many others, never did find the copy I was issued; it seems to have disappeared sometime before I learned to read. I’ve heard from others that the same is true for them; they never saw it. So, there is either a conspiracy, or the system has serious flaws.

I know I would have appreciated having a bit of advance knowledge of puberty; it might have made it seem less like unending purgatory. And a little notice of the trials and tribulations of male/female relationships would have come in very handy, too. Then, just when I get to an age where I begin to feel a little confidence in how much I know about life, age sets in, with all its glorious new physical challenges, mental strikes, functional failures, and internal issues. The whole bladder issue is one that nobody likes to talk about even when it is present; nobody gives any warning about it, that’s for sure…..

“Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” — Andre Gide, Le traite du Narcisse

Ah well, I suppose that if there actually were a manual, most folks wouldn’t read it anyway… If computers are any indicator of how little people use the manuals that come with them, then we wouldn’t have the acronym RTFM as a common complaint amongst the geeks who fix computers….( RTFM = read the f___ing manual! ).

However, I would use it, even if no one else did; being part geek has given me some respect for manuals, though little of that is for those who write them. Those guys seem to delight in emulating Will Shakespeare, trying to make their manual more difficult to read than everyone else’s. I think there is a school in Japan dedicated to teaching students to torture the English language for use in technical manuals…..

Well, enough of this…. it’s all just a roundabout way of minimizing my daily morning complaints, most of which are age-related. It’s probably time we got to today’s program, or it won’t get done at all…. Shall we Pearl? Off we go then….

In the 17th century, Kikaku, one of the ten disciples of the great Japanese poet Basho, composed a haiku:

Take a pair of wings
From a dragonfly, you would
Make a pepper-pod.

Basho told Kikaku: “That’s not a haiku. You kill the dragonfly.” Kikaku recomposed the lines:

Add a pair of wings
To a pepper-pod, you would
Make a dragonfly.

— Amal Naj, PEPPERS

I really don’t have any discussion here, except to say that I like the solution that Kikaku came up with to the criticism from Basho. I have to disagree slightly with his opinion as to what a haiku must be, but his genius lends power to that opinion, for sure. I like both of them, however…. and the contrast between the two is a clear indication of the power of words, and how they can express such different ideas using virtually the same words in a different pattern, changing only one word from one poem to the next…. exquisite!

Being But Men

Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.

If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.

Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.

Dylan Thomas

I’ve always liked the work of Dylan Thomas, though I find it to be a bit heavy on the emotional scale. His feeling for modern culture was precise as well as broad, and his style of writing strips bare the bones of reality to display the truth that hides there. This poem is one of his more elevated pieces, and as such it appeals to that side of my nature.  🙂  It’s also a good way to cut down on how much I have to write, as my words are less essential than decorative in such cases…. lazy, but efficient, yes?….

“All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.” — Albert Einstein

I have a lot of respect for Albert Einstein. I consider his time on Earth to be a perfect example of a life well lived, as his every action was based on reason and good will, and his dedication to the betterment of mankind was both constant and sincere. This observation of his is one of many that indicated that good will, as well as being an accurate description of reality in the political arena. Today’s headlines bear ample proof of that….

I read today that Mitt Romney has secured enough delegates to sew up the Republican nomination for the Presidential election coming in November of this year. This, to me, is both heartening and dismaying….

It is heartening because I believe firmly that as long as he continues to speak in public, he will continue to alienate and essentially “piss off” enough people to ensure a Democratic victory for the incumbent. Unless something drastic happens, like a five month case of laryngitis, that keeps him from speaking at all, he is bound to spout enough outrageous nonsense to sink his own boat. That much is certain, given his track record….

But, it is also dismaying, in that I cannot believe that there are that many people in this country who believe the tripe that he has been serving up for consumption. His stands on women’s rights, LGBT rights, same sex marriage, immigration, economics, foreign policy, separation of church and state, and almost every other subject that has come up are so far to the right, they can’t see the middle. It is frightening to think that there are so many millions of people who buy into this crap.

In reality, I probably shouldn’t be surprised, as I firmly believe there is no limit to human stupidity, but it is unsettling to say the least, to know that there are that many folks out there who refuse to use the few functioning neurons they possess for anything other than procuring food, and, unfortunately, breeding….

I’m trying to have some faith in the American voting public, but it scares me nonetheless, as faith is so often disappointed by reality. If the election is anything other than a landslide in favor of Obama, then my faith will have been unfounded. I find it unacceptable in any way to contemplate Romney in the Oval Office; we would be involved in a war within days, and probably with our own citizens. Society will dissolve into its various parts, and conflict will be rife amongst all of those segments. Almost every word that escapes Mitt’s lips is divisive, elitist, and discriminatory against one part of society or another, and his administration would create that atmosphere with every ill-considered act.

I hope I’m wrong in my fears. I don’t think I am, but hope so, for if what I think could happen does happen, then the world will become a much more dangerous place to live. If the Republican party regains control of this country, I can see revolution not far off, as the underlying conflict between the forces of ignorance and those of reason will be facing each other on a daily basis, and that can only lead to conflict.

So, let’s pay attention ffolkes, and make sure to register, and to vote. Either way, I’ll be stocking up on ammunition, tightening my own security procedures, and hoping I never need to employ any of them….

Well, that was a polite little rant, wasn’t it? And I didn’t even call any names! Perhaps aging has mellowed me a bit…. Nah! No way…. Only one day to go to payday, so things are moving along nicely, and I can look forward to eating tomorrow….  🙂    Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.