Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
I also received the ADV edition DVD set of Sailor Moon, which includes the first 89 original Japanese episodes, minus episode 67 for some strange reason (maybe they don't like dinosaurs?). I have seen all of the old DIC dubs, except for the Nurse Venus episode, so I jumped right in to watch the ones which were never broadcast in the US. We looked of course for the reasons why. Our upstanding student Melvin (海野 ぐりお) turned into quite the stylish delinquent in one of them. American children could never have resist the dark side if they had seen that. I have a lot of happy memories of watching Sailor Moon, so this will be a fun series to watch during the coming year. And now, since DADT has been repealed, perhaps we can finally get a US edition of Sailor Stars.
Friday, December 24, 2010
If you read Hunger as a narrative, a traditional novel, you will be disappointed. Better to stick with Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment. Hamsun's narrator, his K, his analog-I, seems to drift on through from one thing after another by the power of his own inner compulsions. But what are they? Ahh! Once you ask that question, you will be on the way to seeing the deeper level of Hunger, as a tale of a boy trying to become a man and take a place in the symbolic order.
I hated Biblical allegory because I never saw it on my own. Once somebody pointed out the hidden, deep and secret meaning, then I could say, 'Aha! I get it!' But never a minuite before. In literature, sadly it is the same, but, thanks to Freud, Jung, Erich Neumann, and the demigodic Lacan, I enjoy what I find so much more. And Hamsun digs deep, oh so deep.
The novel is about 200 pages in the Penguin Classics edition, divided into four sections. In the first, we are dragged along through three days of the narrator's life. And what a life! Signs and talismans abound. But I don't want to spoil your digging, so I will only hit the high points. Our poor young man has already pawned all that he brought with him from home. What remains are the clothes on his back, his pencil and paper, and a borrowed blanket which will eventually become part of a great moral struggle. But let's look at the pencil. It is the extention of his hand, and thus of his brain, where all the knowledge cramm'd in by classics-loving schoolmasters is kept. And it is the way he proposes to earn his place in society. Write!-- yes, but what? He wants, it seems, to write serious literature, but the only things he can sell for now are newspaper articles, articles to the public taste (ugh!) and not learned gobbledeguk, as his father..oops....I mean his editor reminds him later. But today he must move one more step down the ladder of life and pawn his vest. Trouble is, he forgets to remove the pencil from the pocket! His talisman of manhood is lost! And he must do all he can to get it back.
Having no vest meant that it is no longer possible for him to even pose as a respectable person, much less keep warm at night. In part two, the narrator takes refuge in jail for a night, where he takes on the identity of an important person who has not been able to make it home. He does pull it off, but then cannot take part in the breakfast provided for the homeless, lest he blow his cover. Andreas Tangen, journalist--is his assumed identity, but it is a sham. When he does get to the place of empowerment, the editor's office, what he had written is rejected out of hand. To the editor it is a non-incident, for he has a place in the symbolic order, but for the narrator, the pittance he would have been paid is a matter of life and death.
In part three, he meets a girl around whom he has thrown a web of fantasy as his 'Princess Ylajali.' Turns out, she has taken a fancy to him as well, though God only knows why. He can's smell very good, and sleeping in one's clothes does nothing for the appearance. In the real time of the novel, I cannot explain it, other that a strange whim, but in the world of symbols she is the (gasp) mother figure in his Oedipal drama. On the winding way to her sitting-room he is symbolicaly castrated twice, by biting his finger and when a bakery wagon crushes his foot. If that were not enough, Hamsun hits us with a third symbolic castration when, just before he reaches his prize (no, not THAT!), Ylajali discovers that his hair is falling out. (Think Sampson, but dont run off to read Milton's Sampson Agonistes.)
I wont spoil the fourth part, other than to say Primal Scene? Yeh, it's in there. From the 1700s on, I have found that education went well ahead, even though based in the classics, but jobs for all these newly educated were few and far between. Hölderlin could be a pastor, if there were a parish for him, or he could be a tutor to some rich brats, treated no better than a house servant. Not that there's anything wrong with being a house servant, but the education received put the mind on lofty, unobtainable things. The Brontë family, including brother Branwell struggled with this as well. The girls could be governnesses or work in a Madeline-y school in Brussles. Branwell tried to work for the railroad. Baudelaire has a better start, but his voyage was a disaster; he gave up half way and returned home. We can only hope for better things from the voyage of Hamsun's narrator in Hunger.
And, yes, I give this book seven thumbs up^^
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
old father!-- born afar
flowing from many mothers
up from hidden deeps
out from primal forests
past field and bridge
mill and rusty town--
here you push apart
two ancient noble houses
named York and Lancaster
where long ago lands
taken by wand'ring children
who crossed cold oceans
laying their bones here
in soil that resents
yet still somehow enfolds
their storehouse of memories
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Hölderlinist-Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) embodies the poet as vates or shaman. The spiritually gifted among us, those who bridge the gap between humanity and divinity, are few in any generation. The gift is not easy to bear, and at its must intense, cannot be sustained by even the strongest. We should be thankful for the gifts and sacrifices of those who are able to bring back and share with us divine oracles, in whatever form they come.
An Ozian-Hölderlinist seek out the divine oracles which surround us, absorbs them, and shares them with others. In doing so, the connection with divine things is renewed and continued.
~Waiblinger, Phaethon I.42
pass hope and pain
joy and forgiveness
until at last
two borders meet
then at length
collide full measure
all gates o'erwhelmed
awash with light
until no more
is you nor i
but only one
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
The feeling of being lost in the wilderness that I felt in the book is well-reproduced in the movie. Our characters that we have come to know and love (or hate) are there doing their parts. Shadows of nazi-ism aside, the plot winds on to a reasonable caesura, leaving us to wait until next June to continue on to the neo-apocalyptic conclusion.
There are only two small problems. One is the lack of Hogwarts. I felt this in the books as well, since I had come to love them primarily as a school story. Good Bye Mr Chips always brings a tear to my eye, so I was looking forward to a peek into a 7 year boarding school. But I did not get that, unless Deathly Hallows is a metaphor for senoiritis. My other problem is Severus Snape. I have always thought him a bit too complex. Perhaps this has to do with my wondering why there is a Slytherin at Hogwarts at all. To me it is as if God invited the Devil into heaven to be a part of the Trinity. Ok, well He may have tried that in the Book of Job, but, Origen's apokatastasis aside, it grates on me. Slytherin is evil, get them out! Ok, maybe I am too muggled or not spiritually evolved enough to get it.
Bottom line: if you are a fan, it is a must see. If you have, like me, enjoyed the books enough to overlook any faults, dont turn back now!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Gottlieb Christian Storr (1746-1805) was Hölderlin's professor of theology at Tübingen. He gave a nod to the Enlightenment, which enraged the traditionalists, but in the eyes of the students secretly reading Kant, he did not go far enough. This "Old Tübingen School" recognized the validity and possibility of divine revelation, but did not believe that Divinity spoke today.
So what did Hölderlin learn from his religious education? Well, if we accept that divine revelation was possible in Bible times, then why is it now now possible? And if it is possible today, who within our society is best equipped to receive the word of God? Not the clergy, with their rigid adherence to dead forms, and the belief that Jesus had been the best and last revealer. Not the government, who know it was dangerous to have unrestricted access to divine things. The other half of Hölderlin's education gave him the answer--the Classical World. Since the time of Augustine and Jerome, the Church was tied to the great pre-Christian models of the liberal arts. Hölderlin says to us that divine revelation is still possible and the poet is the one who is best equipped to reveal divine words to the community. Thus his education proved both his making and his undoing. Like many students of theology and the Classical world, he was pulled in two directions: to see the Dantean Christian Kosmos and be a part of it and to see that humans had once lived another way in a time when they knew neither Jesus nor the Bible. Hölderlin found his path, but did not find his community to be receptive. While Storr's pupils continued to focus on God's Biblical communication through His chosen messengers, Hölderlin tapped into the wellspring of divine life, and in the doing found the ecstasy and emptiness that accompany the office of divine messenger.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
'Well, yes, it is a good copy, but this is funny bunny munny, and I can only accept real bunny munny in exchange for goods at my store." So lil bunny took back her funny bunny munny, and trudged sadly home. There she sat at her table, and plotted a terrible revenge. She grew up, went to university, got a degree in economics, went forth and mastered Bunny Wall Street, and came back to her home town with enough money to buy that shop several times over!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Then a long time passed. I saw a movie in which a character bought the complete works of Baudelaire, so I tried a copy of Fleurs du mal. Aah! It was amazing, like the first time I heard the Sex Pistols at Terry Lancaster's house circa 1978--now THAT was MUSIC! Anyway, Fleurs is Dante for the modern age, where the supernatural world of the Commedia has collapsed into the streets of the modern city. Liking Baudelaire, I tried Verlaine, Rimbaud, Valery and Mallarme. Of them, all greats to be sure, I could only bond with Mallarme. He combines the desire for the mystical with the hidden fear that there is really nothing beyond life after all. But please try some Baudelaire--this is from my favorite, le jet d'eau--
So does your flashing soul ignite
In lightnings of voluptuous bliss
And rushes reckless up the height
As though the enchanted sky to kiss;
Then it relaxes, grows more fine,
And in sad languor falls apart
Down an invisible incline
Into the deep well of my heart.
The image is that of a fountain or fireworks. English cannot quite do it justice.
Which brings me around to Hölderlin. I knew he existed, but knew nothing about him until recently. Coming off a magical journey to Oz, I wandered into my ancestral homeland of Swabia, and decided to explore Hölderlin's world. Like me, he lost two fathers, and while pointed to the church, was undone from that path by a classical education. In exploring Hölderlin's life, I found the world of my ancestor Johann Martin Obermuller (1743-1803). The education at Tubingener Stift (Seminary) was free, but a graduate was under obligation to the State Church all the rest of his life. I believe my ancestor was enlightened, as Hölderlin was, by his education and as a result fled to America to escape the obligation. For Hölderlin, escape was not so simple. He had to register every lodging, have every employment approved, all the while struggling against the power of his mother and society to take his role in the State Church. In the end, he escaped into 36 years of madness. Johann Martin Obermuller spent 36 years as a farmer in York County, Pennsylvania, living in Rousseau's happy state of nature. Hölderlin's hope for his society vanished with Napoleon's betrayal of the ideals of the French Revolution, but my ancestor got to see the American Revolution close up and personal when the Continental Congress sat at York City in 1777-78.
Currently, I am reading Hölderlin's poems and letters. Amazingly, he is becoming, like Baudelaire, a part of me. So if you think that your heart loves poetry, yet you cannot seem to find the right poets, just keep looking and they will find you.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
My mind has always worked like this: it fixates on a topic, person, or thing that has come into view. The desire arises to know and experience everything about him/her/it, often at any cost. The wonder is over the perceived possibility that a connection can be made. The awe in that a wonder has arisen that I identufy as a Lacanian objet petit a. I get quite obsessed with my objet, to the extent of extending my meagre resources to gather all that I can if it into myself. Thus the objet as I perceive it becomes a part of me. When that happens, I bring forth fruit in imitation of it, whether in writing, or in drawing. When the obsession fades, the objet remains as a part of me that may be recalled and used at any time in the future.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In conclusion, we have come a long way, but have far yet to go by far, perhaps even in an electric car. In the last Presidential Election, we saw the spectacle of two doughty Irishmen battling it out, McBama and O'Cain. Why just 50 years ago it was a stretch to have just one doughty Irishman in the race! (Side note: here in Pennsylvania, we hoped and prayed that neither of them ever ever found out what happened at Duffy's Cut in 1832...) Of course while O'Cain was a true Munsterman, some wags implied that McBama was nor even Irish at all, but a Scottishman transplanted to the Ulster Plantations in the 1590s by Sir Edmund Spencer, landholder and author of the Faerie Queene (!)!
Anywayhow, I am a socialist, supporting socialism in one nation, which should NOT be confused with fascism or leninism or anything the UK or Sweden have done. I believe in housing and employment, and in using the skills of those at hand to improve our rusting infrastructure. So, come on candidates! If any of you have real ideas, let us know! There is still one week left to the election after all.
Monday, October 18, 2010
And Piper, the middle sister, the aspiring chef. I didn't approve of her transition to a club owner, but I tolerated it. She is the home-maker, the potential mother, stern, yet understanding...and willing to do the work. My favorite episode is season 1 episode 4. John Cho played a character whom I wish Piper could have developed a relationship with. And by the way, what was wrong with Officer Andy? And...whe Piper went to the church to ask obliquely about being a witch...well, that pastor and Piper.... But nooo, she ended up with Leo, who is a good guy, and I'm glad & all, but, sooo vanilla, sigh.
Phoebe...ugh, should have stayed in New York. And what's with that hair!? Pick a style (and a color)! But without her return there would have been no power of three, so I guess I will tolerate her presence. My ideal character developement would involve Prue rising to the top and running her own auction house (no photography!). Piper would run her own kitchen like Lenny Henry in Chef. And...well I suppose Phoebe could....aww, I don't know...stay in New York. Noo...
So I am going off in a strange direction. I want a show with two sisters, two professional women. With some romance (I'll accept Andy, but he must live!!), and Britcom humour. And lots of great food and historical references from the auction house.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I have always loved tiny kingdoms, mini states which once spread over the Rhineland and British India, or the realms which reproduce by symbol the family drama of our childhood. Such a grouping of petty rulers arises when soverignty is divided, whether by policy or by weakness at the center. A Holy Roman Emperor might make a grant of Reichsfreiheit to any person or entity, thus freeing them from all liege lords save the emperor himself. A landholding, a convent, or even an individual could be reichsfrei. Pressure from Napoleon forced the 1803 Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, consolidating these somewhat, and the Congress of Vienna settled the rest down to a manageable number, all of which were swept away (except Liechtenstein) in the Revolution of 1918. In India, the maharajas arose as the Mughal Empire contracted and the East India Company expanded. They flourished under the Viceroyalty (1870s to 1947) and were swept away when the Republic of India decided that it could do without them. It is still a hobby of mine to compile lists of the rulers of these micronations. from the Gaekwars of Baroda to the Reichsfürstin (princess-abbesses) http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/womeninpower/Princess-Abbesses_2.htm
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
My grandfather grew up speaking German in his home. Since his mother lived until 1961, that means that his ancestors had been here in America speaking German for almost 300 years! He interacted with the German community in New York City when he lived there (1927 to 1940). Alas this gift was not passed on to me. My mother was born in 1939, and my grandfather worked for AT&T Long Lines division. It just wouldn't do to have a child learning German in the 1940s when her Dad worked in such an area vital to national security.
This is just something to think about today, when some people are all concerned about others whom they hear speaking Spanish or Hmong or Russian or whatever. Not taking anything away from the importance of English, it is my hope that children can grow up bilingual. To really learn a language, it should be learned in childhood. We are all Americans, but we should not forget our heritage. I know about "Dutch treats" and "Dutch courage", but Ish only hap' ein biszchen Deutch.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Jenny Jump is Neill's premiere character creation. With her red hair, green eyes, fiery temper, and willingness to help others and be a part of Oz, she is quite unforgettable. In New Jersey she is a misfit with a gift for seeing fairies. She arrives suddenly in a new place, but soon fits in due to an unexpected gift and a talent for fashion. In Jenny, I see a young John R. Neill in the 1890s, going to the big city and using his artistic talent to make a living.
Lucky Bucky is Neill's male version of the newcomer to Oz. He works for his uncle in the USA, and it is no coincidence that he encounters the "Land of Uncles" in Oz. Davy Jones, a wooden whale, is the catalyst for Bucky's "rebirth" into Oz. The boy is secure on his uncles well-run boat, but in the background lurks a fear of prison and the sound of hungry boys begging for bread. Through sheer accident of fate, Bucky Jones becomes a benefactor to the Oz community. Again, I see echoes of the strggles of a young man in the 1890s, one who reached success almost be accident, because he has a talent that he can use to escape the harsh fate of others of his generation.
Number Nine is the Munchkin boy who becomes Jenny Jump's office boy. He leaves his large family to follow the path blazed by his uncle and seek his fortune in the Emerald City. By chance he meets Jenny, and this is his making. Through her, he meets the celebrities of Oz and establishes himself there. Just as Neill become the "assistant" to L. Frank Baum and his legacy, Number Nine becomes the assistant to the great Wizard himself.
Popla the Power Plant becomes a good friend to Scraps when she runs away from her life in the Emerald City. She has to be uprooted, but has the ability to put down roots wherever she finds soil. Popla is very strong, and willing to help her friends however she can. I like Popla almost as much as Jenny because of these qualities. But Jenny reminds me so much of my grandmother that I will state unequivocally that I like her best of all.
Monday, September 13, 2010
A daughter was a blessing, but there were to be no more children. And this one received the full brunt of her mother's medical theories. Please keep in mind that many of the things that Germany took blame for were part of the common beliefs of all "civilized" nations at one time. Then, at the appropriate time, the daughter was sent to college to find a husband, having never even chosen her own clothing, or had the chance to learn her father's native tongue.
And what a husband she found! An old, hard-drinking combat veteran, who loved honky-tonks and cigarettes. Their first home was a brothel where she worked as a maid while he tried his hand at a shoe factory. Once, when a customer mistook her for another kind of working girl, he put his hunting knife through the fellow's hand.
They had to get away from there, even he could see that. A one room shack behind a store was affordable, so there they went. The night the baby was born, dad couldn't drive to the hospital. The neighbor was drunk too, so she poured a pot of coffee into him, and got to the hospital by 2 a.m.
The little fellow cried so much. Mommy didn't know what to do, and daddy had to work. Once mommy gave the little guy a does of laudanum to shut him up. Daddy was cracking under the pressure. It was time for grandmother to step in. This was what she had been waiting for. She had failed with her daughter, but at least the girl had provided her own replacement. So our older and perhaps wiser Apache-featured RN took the child and put him into his mother's old room. Throwing herself into the task, she was sure things would be better this time.
But time was running out. Our little fellow lost his father and mother by the time he was four. At seven, when he had never bathed himself, dressed himself, cut his own food or tied his shoes, grandfather died. On his death bed, the old man repented that he had not involved himself in the life of his daughter or his grandson. Before witnesses, he made his wife promise to put the little fellow into a charity home for children. To her credit, she did this, though she plagued the staff there until her death.
So, what then is left for this child? Having lost the equivalent of two fathers, he might long for a love he can never have, like in Springsteen's "My Father's House." His mother abandoned him and he begged her not to go, this may lead him to push friends away, because he believes they will abandon him anyway. And....being so severely dominated by his grandmother, both physically and emotionally...well that might make him shun physical contact with any people, as well as other issues.
Ah, the past! Each of us is dragging along a whole collection of narratives, perhaps even like these. They can twist our present and rob us of the possibility of happiness in the future. Whether we are female or male, society shown us it's ideals and when we look at our narratives...well...who can ever measure up to an ideal? So, if we cannot escape them, at least let's help each other create some new narratives that will be challenging and fun!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Within the universe of Oz, there are some books that are *ahem* less esteemed than others. John R. Neill's 3 or 4 contributions seem to fall into this category, so I just had to read them. Ah! I can say that I found them wonders of surreal and psychological phantasmagoria! Well, I do have odd taste, so I won't ask anyone else to like them. Just give them a chance.
Today I want to look at some aspects of "Lucky Bucky in Oz," published in 1942. Neill uses a type of character that I find exciting and numinous---the sentient enclosed space. The living houses of "Wonder City," and the scalawagons exemplify this to a degree, but Davy Jones, the wooden whale, is the best of them. And, Davy is the vehicle for Bucky Jones' rebirth as a citizen of Oz.
Here I must pause to thank the spirit of Erich Neumann (1905-1960), pupil of Carl Jung and author of "The Origins and History of Consciousness." I discovered this work at college some 30 years ago, and whenever I encounter a story that resonates with my soul (Xenogears and Evangelion spring to mind), I get out my Neumann. Joseph Campbell is all right, Julian Jaynes is a bit loopy, so I will stick with...Lacan! No....well....*cough*
Anyway, Bucky Jones arrives inworld when he lands on a dough volcano, a "Doughminion," as it were. This mountain is an unending source of nourishment, indeed the cupboards in the back of the wooden whale are filled with its products. Such is the power of the mountain that even invading pirates are turned into bakers. Hmmm...a metaphor for....well, I'm not using Neumann's "The Great Mother: An Analysis of an Archetype" today, so we'll give that a miss.
Bucky is cast off into the sea where he meets Davy Jones. The wooden whale is monstrous and fascinating to Bucky. It overpowers and befriends him by its swift, strong actions. Davy is older than Bucky, and they share a last name. The wooden whale protects, shelters, and nourishes Bucky, as well as providing him a map to his new life in Oz and the means to follow that map. Traveling inside Davy Jones, Bucky is carried through air and water to the Emerald City. There the boy is symbolicaly reborn as the hero, in that his actions are the catalyst for the transportation of the "Doughminion" to a place where its gifts can be shared by all.
I am wading in deep here, I realize. If Davy is the Good Mother archetype, then imago-Mombi may be the Terrible Mother.... I don't want to say that this is a true interpretation of Neill's work, but Neumann-interpretation has always added a dimension to my reading.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
This is a insightful and witty commantary on all of the books included in the Famous Fourty. These blog postings are short and to the point, so you can get an idea of which of the books you would like to read, and which you might want to pass over.
Pumperdink is an archive containing more in depth discussion of the books. It includes books beyond the 40, as well as other works by L. Frank Baum. My only gripe is (and it's a small one)--the contributors seem to expect narrative consistency. While this is not necessarily a bad quality in a published work, in a world such as Oz, it is simply not necessary. To draw upon the model I used in my blogs on identity, Oz is a cosmos made up of many, often conflicting, bits. Each and every author who takes up the quest to "write Oz" gathers the bits that they want and excludes the bits they don't want. So what if RPT didn't use Shaggy Man? Or that John R. Neill and Jack Snow cherry pick or ignore RPT's contribution? Just pick up the bits you want and put them together! After all, if you have already succumbed to the temptation to believe you are worthy to "write Oz"...and this includes everybody who reads it, I think...then you might as well enjoy yourself and have a great visit to this marvelous land!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
But these seemingly benign personas have trapped me. They are difficult to live up to, for one thing, and the bits of me that are excluded from their mix cry out for attention--and go off to form personas of their own. (Be quiet, Mariko! Not NOW!) That may be the norm in Second Life, where these personas can be given pixilated form, but in Real Life, this process becomes problematic. As narratives of support for or the failures of these personas weave themselves around them, they become like prisons.
So how can we free our identity from these personas, which grow in power as we use them in our interactions with others, and as narratives grow upon them like weeds? Julia Kristeva says we should use language to free ourselves from these bonds. We must disrupt our process of identifying with the personas we have created or have been created for us by the expectations of others. When we believe in and act out our narratives, we are in as much of a fantasy world as Oz or Middle Earth. The narratives are easy and comfortable habits to slip into, but they are self defeating as they keep us going around in circles, stuck in the same ruts. Help me, Julia! If I cannot be a sage like T'oegye, free from narrative attachment to the past or the future, at least let me have more conscious control over what I do have.
*Ahem*...anyway, to get back to the original problem, the personas that have attached to the narratives of why I am such a person who should like these topics or should read these books...today, here and now, I confront you! Monk, Renaissance scholar, Hermetic Philosopher, Wm. Blake scholar, JRRT lover, Bible student! You are not me! (What a presumptive collection!) All of you together have included in your make-up parts of me, but not some of the most important parts (like humor, general silliness &c)! Begone, I adjure and command you, in the name of the Thrice Great Hermes and his disciple Tat...(oops), ummm...I mean, in the name of Ozma, fairy soverign of the marvelous land of Oz! Ok, that's done, now...back to the books. Anyone want a 38 volume set of the Church Fathers?
Saturday, August 7, 2010
But sometimes stronger forces are at work within us, often related to residual emotional content from out childhood. This content is often raw and pre-verbal, coming from a time when we did not have the mental capacity to process it. How then does this content affect our analog-I? If it is strong enough, or if it receives outside encouragement, other self-images may develope. These at first have the same name as we do, but over time may become self-named, for example Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta became Lady Gaga. But not all alternate analog-I's become so powerful. For the most part, they exist as shadow people, emerging only when the environment is safe for them to do so.
In a virtual world such as Second Life, the bits of our identity can be broken out of their analog-I and shadow people shells more easily than in real life because their are more options and opportunities for us to really "build" ourself. Some people take a safe route and reproduce an idealized version of their real existence; others pick one of their shadow people that they have always wished to display, but for whaterer reason were unable to do so in real. Even those who experiment radically with image and name eventually find the form(s) with which they are most comfortable.
Lacan tells us that the core of identity itself is a falsehood. We are really all the bits of us, but the image we think we are and the name that attaches to that image can only hold a few of those bits. Therefore that analog-I, in whatever form we try to present it to others, is not really "us"--it is just a picture and a word. Perhaps Lacan was right, we can never experience the Real--all those bits of identity that make up a human being. But that should not keep us from experimenting!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Each situation we experience as a now is unique. We must use the tools at our disposal as they are needed, and find a way not to allow negative narratives to overwhelm our good intentions. To live in the now is to become unattached from the narratives and deal with each experience as it arises.
These thoughts arose out of an attempt to explain my actions to someone. In the past I have thought of these actions as a form of magick. Attempts to manipulate the environment of the now to gain the outcome we desire. For the most part this is not consciously done, because the nows pass so quickly, but it can be. Master manipulators are known to exist, and mass media only extends their power. A good book on the history of this art is http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Renaissance-Chicago-Original-Paperback/dp/0226123162
A virtual world, like Second Life, can help us sort out the various bits of what we are, by giving us a way to express them in real time interactions. Being aware of these bits of ourselves will help us to use them more effectively, though sometimes just acknowledging their existence can be a huge step forward. Sometimes fear will hold us back, fear of what others may think of us, fear of admitting to ourselves that we even contain some odd bits within us. But all that we find, all that is encompassed within that boundary we have set between us and the world, is truly us, and must somehow be integrated into the whole.
Pictures can also be useful. If you like a picture, ask yourself why, especially when it is a picture of a person. Do you desire the image, or identify with it? And if you identify with the image, then--why? Whom do you "see" as seeing the "you" in the image? Explore the idea of the interaction of the you as the image and the ideal viewer of the image. Images are useful in unlocking the narratives attached to the bits of ourselves we are looking for, but anything may trigger a memory. So let's go and explore the puzzle box! Accept the bad and build up the good, and be prepared to use what divinity and experience have given you to make your cosmos a better place for everyone.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Am trying to get through Proclus' On Timaeus too, but it's Thomas Taylor's almost 200 year old translation, so it is a struggle. Damascius' great work will be out this year, in a modern translation~~I hope to have better luck with that; it is a foundational work of 6th-7th century thought, I believe. I want to find the time to watch Wagner's Lohengrin again, and to finish Tannhauser at last, esp. after reading Baudelaire's essay, but when will I have the time? Watching all this anime is eating up my free time...Persona, and Toradora, then on to Spice & Wolf and...and...
Have I had enough of history? I would like to find a good home for some of my books, but not if I will be filled with regret about it 5 years from now. The church fathers can go, I have had enough of them, but am I really ready to give up on William Blake, and Tolkein? Joyce went away, and I don't miss him...well maybe just that one passage at the end of Portrait of the Artist.
Aah! Help! I have really got to set my library in order...where can I find the will power.....
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I believe that what we get from people we admire has little to do with that person and more to do with us. By that I mean in most cases we do not know our designated celebrity personally, rather, we respond to something in them that we also recognize in ourselves. It is in the bringing out of these hidden qualities that we become more truly ourselves.
Which brings me to Lady Gaga. I don't know Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, and I doubt that I ever will. As a public persona, she might live to a Mick Jaggerish old age, flame out like Janis, or even pull a Britney. But that does not matter to me. In her Baba Wawa interview, she spoke about feeling like a freak, an outsider. Then the struggle to be free from that often self-imposed fear and creating a space of ones' own. And she has done that in the most flamboyant style.
When you feel like an outsider, like you don't fit into any of society's imposed categories, you can be hard on yourself. You know no one who shares your interests, your passions, so you learn to keep silent about them. Until someone like Gaga comes along, it never crosses your mind to create your own space, to be yourself, whatever you are, without fear of the judgement of your peers, and most harshly, the judgement of your own inner voices. Some people do get this instinctively...so much the better for them. But for the rest of us, a Gaga speaks like a voice from heaven.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The White Waterlily shows the ultimate failure of human communication. In the online world Second Life, I attend several discussion groups. After each meeting, I come away with the feeling that the words mean something different to each of us, based on our education, bias, and life experiences. How can we comprehend all that context in a few short sentences? The word God, for example, is often connected with the word Father. If you has a good father, or a terrible father, then that word drags in a whole set of concepts to enliven God. But what if you never knew your father? Then, that word would bring none of the meaning the communicator expects us to be hearing.
In Mallarme's prose poem, the rower sets out with specific goals, a search for water plants, to survey the property line, and to say hello to a friend. In his little boat the fragile self is carried along until a swamp halts his progress. In my mind, the swamp is all the clog of sensory data that is hurled at us day by day, compounded so very much since Mallarme's day. Then, he sees the "other"...he senses her presence, he imagines her thoughts...but he cannot ever know them. She makes no indication that she has even seen him. At last, he gives up and departs, taking one flower as a memory of the (non)-event.
In speaking to others, we use words that we hope will cut through the swamp and reach them intact and full of our intentions. But these words arrive naked, and are re-clothed by the hearer. So we must not only judge our own, posssible hidden, intentions, but guess at the mind of the hearer...what do they think we mean? In that moment, human communications fail, and we drift back downstream, clutching our version of the memory of what may have occurred.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair.
Ever since I read those lines more than 30 years ago, I have recognized and claimed the place of Saturn. It is far away from the "normal" world, the path of social expectations, a protected place of one's own in a world that seems at once hostile and uncaring. But a defined space that one can really belong, and be the unique person that you are. The place of an outsider, but not of self-pity. Rather, of self-definition, or the never ending attempts at such. A place not unlike the little rooms that are prepared for K in Kafka's The Castle. Rooms which are cozy and inviting, but rooms which he sadly rejects as he continues his futile search for the castle.
Ugu the Shoemaker, in L. Frank Baum's The Lost Princess of Oz, has created for himself such a saturnine space. But unlike K, Ugu does not want to leave it. He wants to strengthen it with all the magic that he can gather. But Ugu crosses a line. He begins to desire to impose his will on others. In the moment he impulsively kidnaps Ozma, his plan fails. He is not emotionally mature enough to deal with the introduction of this uncontrolable, random element into his lair.
Ugu has a great heritage in the city of Herku, his family had been users of magic for centuries. But he was cut off from this heritage, and forced to make a living as a shoemaker. We are all born with a fantastic heritage of art and literature, but life compels us to find a job, to make a living and be a productive member of society. Ugu discovers his heritage, and upon absorbing its implications, desires not to enrich his fellow citizens, but to flee and make an island unto himself.
In one night, Ugu gathers all the important magic of Oz, including one "item" not on his list, but probably the most important magical force in Oz, Ozma herself. He has planned for non-sentient magical items, what is he to do with a real magical being? He cannot deal with her, he cannot fit her in to his world-view, so he, being afraid, "disposes" of her.
At this point in the story, my imagination leapt into action. What should have Ugu done? What could have Ugu accomplished? So, for a brief time, I became a Ugu/Ozma shipper. a little three act play took shape in my mind.
Scene 1--Ugu's Study--Ugu reflects on his painful past as shoemaker, and on his recent accomplishments, obtaining the Magic Dishpan, various magic tools, Glinda's Book, and the Magic Picture. But there is also Ozma---what is he to do with her? He knows a rescue party is coming. Ozma is trapped. She sees that Ugu is a "bold and clever magician" but at this point can do nothing to oppose him. A typical Oz solution might occur to him--Ugu:"You will wash my dishes and clean my clothes!" Ozma:"Humph...I might as well be your wife!" Ugu:"AHA!"---and he goes off in the Magic Dishpan to gather a wedding party.
Scene 2--Ugu's Study--The kidnapped wedding party huddles together in fear. Carlo Luigi, the fat old Pontifex Maximus of Ev, is mopping his brow. Two inventors, William Ding XXI (whose ancestor invented the "Bill-Ding") and Arthur Q. Tillery, Esq. (who is working on a sort of tube-gun at the moment), cower behind a table. Then Ugu and Ozma enter in all their wedding finery. As the visitors gape in wonder at Ozma's beauty, Ugu lays out the situation. Carlo Luigi will perform the wedding ceremony and the two inventors will witness it. With much comic fumbling, the ceremony is performed, and the new couple withdraws from the assembled company.
Scene 3--Ugu's Study--The "guests" have been sent home and Ugu is back to work studying his magical books. But Ozma emerges in her nightgown, now strangely eager to assume her wifely duties. In fact, she just wont leave poor Ugu alone! Finally, the exasperated magician enchants his new bride into a peach and collapses on his chair.
Both in the canonical story and my frivilous contortion, Ugu cannot accept the physical manifestation of magic--Ozma--into his world view. Since he cannot come to terms with her, he is doomed to fail. There is something Jungian here, but I will not persue it. Just be careful with whom you bring into your lair.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Why did I fail to create a paracosm? Deity knows, I tried. I pull from the corner of the room a map of Iargalon. At 34"x 102", it is (almost) the largest work I have ever created. In fact, it was even bigger once....
At first, I tried to place myself into the stories that I was reading. There is still a log somewhere of all the miles I walked in Middle-Earth. As a "mary sue"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue i did not place myself with any of the main characters. I wanted to have my own adventures, and explore interesting parts of the map. So i did actually walk all of those miles arould the grounds of the chlidrens' home where I lived. But the adventures took place all in my imagination.
With Dante's Commedia, my experience was similar. I explored Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven (aided, to be sure, by the illustrations of Gustav Dore). But, again, I had my own adventure, seeing people I wanted to see...envisioning them in Dante's landscape. With each of there authors, JRRT and Dante, I performed the magick of conjuring the world through their words, and entered therein to explore. Here it can be clearly seen that I was not strong enough to pull away and create my own unique world, my paracosm.
In high school, I tried to break free from my influences. A poem called Protogenesis was created, destroyed, and re-created, as I went through phases of "enchurchment." A re-casting of the basic Bible narrative, with Tolkenian touches, this work focused on the loss of parental guidance, and the desire to find a new Eden in a cruel world. Only the apocalypse could bring in the longer-for new world.
Later, the Rand/Wissar narrative was also heavily JRRT influenced. The more detailed sucessor to this, the Iargalon World, presented kingdoms expanding to subdue indigenous peoples and set up new realms all over the world. The Iargalon map got so big because the expansion continued unabated, untill it became impossible to continue, due to the size of the map. Iargalon was basically a Biblical-type kingdom set in a map of New England, which was attached to S.France/NE Spain. Greece was attached to Italy.... From the original kingdom crusader armies set out to explore and conquer, only stopping when larger empires blocked their way.
The last narrative paracosm I attempted was Irland/Ladakha. This started as an island realm, based on Ireland being conquered by Anglo-Saxon types. They set up kingdoms, were converted to "Christianity," and were then themselves conquered by invaders. I later transported this whole realm to the area of Tibet and re-wrote it, as works supposedly surviving from the "fall" of the imagined kingdom. This book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Country_of_Albania was a huge influence.
Finally, since the time I read about the Bronte family and their paracosm Angria/Gondal, I have wanted to try to create a world with someone else. A few years ago I tried this with a person whom I had known for a long time, who had a great imagination, and who would not be freaked out by the proposal. She wanted to do it, so I started a story and gave her a note-book. But after a month, she gave it back to me and said she could not do it. I was really crushed by this, because, at my age, I don't see any other person with the vision and acceptance of imagination coming along to make the attempt. But I had to accept this failure and move on.
Even now I am drawn in to the worlds created by others. And there are so many more of them now..in manga, anime, movies, video games, books &c My personality leads me to be drawn in to them, to conjur them in my mind, rather than to create my own world. My last hope was the shared world, a world created by two people accountable to one another, and, sadly, that moment has passed. So this is the story of my paracosm fail...I will always wish to be a JRRT or Henry Darger, but in reality I will always be stuck in the dreams of others.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
How do we view the world around us? We take in signifiers from our surrounding society and modify them as we add our own experiences. I'm not saying this as an absolute, but as an explorer of human consciousness. We create models and destroy them, but all the models show a facet of truth. Right now I am fascinated by Lakoff &Johnsons' books on metaphoric thought. How many have I used so far...."have time"--possession of an object, "(time)spent"--time as money, "concepts (going) hand in hand"----well, you get the idea.
The world view of some is shaped by the paracosm(s) they create. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracosm defines paracosm as an imaginary world--developed during childhood--and continuing over time. Paracosms are a bit different from fantasy worlds because the person who creates them does so for survival, rather than for entertainment. The elements of a paracosm arise out of one's everyday experiences with the society around us, but these experiences are woven on a faerie loom. This loom contains the desire to create, as well as the desire to reshape and control. Those of us who create paracosms do so because we are unsatisfied with the world as it is. This can be for a variety of reasons...the death/departure of a parent, or a close friend, illness, injury, betrayal... The key, I believe, is having the knowledge that YOU can re-write the narrative, you can use the words, the ideas, the elements around you to bring about the world that you desire, and having the will to do so. The Brontes' did it, Henry Darger did it, as did JRRT, William Blake and Dante Aligheri.
A key to this is...how do you read a text? To gather information? To be entertained? Or to live? In my own experience, reading is an act of magick. By that I mean that the words on a page are a conjuration of thoughts, they "become real" in the very act of reading them. I believe that this is how writing was viewed by society when the art was first invented. As the writing "becomes real" it is like a seed planted in the mind. We each have our own ideas and histories about what the words mean, so these seeds will grow in a variety of ways according to the hearers' experiences. What this brings forth in us depends on our personality. Some wish to re-create what they are reading by acting out, by writing our own version, like a fanfiction, but some use what they have read to re-create the world as they see it. This truly is high magick.