Sunday, August 22, 2010

Run-Around in Oz - Chapter 2

"The King and his Diet"
The Royal Palace of Salador stood at the north-west corner of Max-a-million Square in the heart of Koto. It was actually five large housed cobbled together with a marble facade covering the three directly facing the square, but the Frogman didn't mind that one bit. Dressed to the nines in his yellow, white, green and purple, he was ready to move among the movers and shakers. Which, observed Trot, adjusting her oversized black hair ribbon, was exactly what the palace was doing. The outer walls pitched and swayed, and the roof heaved up and down. "Why, it's like being at sea in a squall," sighed Cap'n Bill. "Oh, do come on!," called the Frogman, who was already presenting his card to the doorman.
Inside, the little party waited in the vestibule. They could not enjoy the bits of bric-a-brack strewn about as fine art because of the huge din closing about them from all sides. Trot drew closer to her old and true sailor, but the Frogman broke away, feeling himself at last in his element. "I will go exploring," he announced, coattails swishing behind him. "No!'" called Trot, "You must wait. We are guests here." "Arr, let him go," said the Cap'n. Just then, the Royal Bottlier arrived. He looked about as if confused by some awful smell. "Eheu!," he cleared his thoughts, "I was given to understand there were three of you." "Just us two, my good man," cut in Cap'n Bill. "Verrry good then. Please fol-low me." Trot giggled, for all her tension broke. "What is is?," whispered the Cap'n. "I thought he was going to say 'Walk this way' and I was going to--" "Well it's good he didn't then, I suppose."
Through the maze of doorways and passages they tracked, until they reached the common room of one of the five cobbled houses. Here, the ceiling had been cut away to create a throne room. But what a room! Swirling papers flew from their stacks as good people and animals of Salador in all stages of fashion crowded around the throne. The Royal Bottlier cut a way through with his staff, parting courtiers and ministers, members of the diet, of the army, and of the bureaucracy, all shouting and gesturing on a stage-set sprung as if from the mind of Kurt Schwitters himself. Far off in an alcove, the Cap'n thought he saw the Frogman, speaking with what appeared to be a black bear in a frock-coat with high starched collar, pince-nez perched precaruiosly on his... "Oyez, oyez!," shouted the Royal Bottlier, his voice soaring above the turbulance. "I announce the presence of the Embassy from the Emerald City and its ruler, Queen Ozma."
All voices hushed. All eyes turned to them. Trot froze, and reached for Cap'n Bill's hand, her port in the storm. "Don't be afraid of them," he whispered, "Just do what you came here to do, for Ozma's sake." So the young lady pulled herself together, and began her speech.
Later, back an the inn, the two remaining members of the embassy sat together at supper. "Who would have thought it?," said Cap'n Bill between bites. "Yes," replied Trot, finishing her Salador stew, and wishing the dessert cart would return soon. "A king with no power! A royal figure-head." "And not a very good head at that," winked the Cap'n. "Well, we shall just have to go and see the retired king then, if he has all the power here." "And what about the frogman?" "He can stay here, as he appears to be enjoying himself. Found a pond of fish just like himself." "Yes," sighed Trot, "Perhaps he will end up negotiating a treaty."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ozzy Resources

For anyone who loves the Oz books, or is thinking of exploring them for the first time, I can think of no better resourses than these:

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

Run-Around in Oz - Chapter 1

"The Great Jack of Salador"
Trot and Cap'n Bill, were sent off one fine day on a diplomatic mission. Their task being to represent Ozma in her soverignty to the ruler of the newly discovered Kingdom of Salador. Since this miniature domain lay a way off down in the Winkie Country, the Frogman had been asked to assist them. So he went forth from the land of the Yips, leaving his dear wife Cayke the Cookie-Cook and their wee little tadpolings, to meet the party from the Emerald City in Koto, the capital of Salador.
When the party had gathered comfortably at the Royal Patent Inn of Koto, Cap'n Bill asked the innkeeper about local customs. "For we do not wish to look like fools," declaimed the Frogman, who had regained some of his confidence, being out of range of Cayke's rolling-pin. The innkeeper assured them that if they wished to see the king, they should apply first to the Royal Favorite Timba Limba, who was presently all-powerful with his majesty.
So after a hearty meal of sausages and salad, or what passed for salad in this realm, they had a good rest on soft, quilted matresses. In the morning they bade farewell to the kindly innkeeper, and set off to find the mansion of the king's favorite.
Aah, but the main gate of this dwelling was closed fast against them. the Favorite's doorman would not let them pass. "Let's go 'round back," said Trot, "There's bound to be a way in somewhere." "Capital idea!," boomed Cap'n Bill. So around they went, coming at last to the servants' and tradesmens' entrances. "Hmmm," mused the Frogman, "We have a Maid's Door, a Butcher's Door...all locked! ---Eureka! What's this? The Salad Door is open!" So on they went, surprising the poor cook at her work. She called for the bulter, who sighed, and took them into the receiving room.
There upon a shabby throne sat a thin, gangly fellow dressed in so many frills and lace that he looked as if his grandmother's sewing box had exploded all over him. "G-greetings, O Royal Favorite," announced Trot politely, "I come rep--" The figure on the throne shot bolt upright, as if stuck from behind with a needle. "But I'm not!", he stamped. "Not what?," asked Cap'n Bill, who was on the verge of getting angry at this rude interruption of Trot's carefully prepered speech. "Not the FAVORITE!," he blasted, "I'm the JACK, the Great Jack of Salador!" "Jack?," sprung the Frogman, ever curious about royal titles. "Let's him do the es'z'planin," cut in Cap'n Bill sternly. "Well...," said Timba Limba, appearing relieved at the chance to explain himself, "The King was told by his father, the retired king, and by his grandfather, the retired-retired king, that he must marry, and have him a queen. He didn't want one, but they made him get one anyway. So the king---our wonderful king---said, 'fine!, if I have to have a queen, then I will have a jack as well!' So he married me---his best chum---and made me his jack, the Great Jack of Salador."
Trot has listened carefully to this whole explanation. Quickly, she brought the topic of conversation back to its original purpose. "Ahem! O Royal Jack of Salvador, may we..." With a big "Harrumph" the butler cut in, "His Majesty, the Great Jack, if you please." Cap'n Bill felt his blood begin to boil again, but Trot calmed him by gently touching his hand. "Very well." she began for the third time that morning, "Your Majesty! Great Jack of Salador! May be have your permission to see His Majesty the King?" "Certainly!," came the reply. "Brave bulter! See that papers of a suitable nature are drawn up for these visitors!"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting rid of attached books

Haaa! Here I am again in my library trying to get rid of books. It is sooo hard to do because each of them is attached to a personal narrative about time & place, interests long cherished, or to the person who gave them to me. So how do I break free from these narrative attachments? Well first I must single out the personas that serve as the focus of the narratives. The bits of identity that comprise "me" (Lacan's le corps morcele) have gathered into these chemical compound-y things. These personas, as I will call them for lack of a better term, are imprinted with an idealized image and labeled with a name, such as "me the scholar ...behind my Lennon-glasses I am wise and kind, always eager to study history and philosophy."

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, 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

Shadow People

All the bits of identity that we claim or reject (for the rejected bits still cling to us), are pulled into a human shape by Lacan's mirror. We get an imago of the "I" that we now come to believe exists. Ah! Someone has even given this "I" a name. So, equipped with this ideal image and name, we procede into life's tempests. Which bits of identity we include in this image/name construct, which I will call analog-I, are determined in each "now" by feedback from interaction with others.

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

In the now

In the now, all the bits of what we think is us are assembled as if drawn from a puzzle box. We use what we have chosen for the situation within the bounds of the situation as we perceive it. But these bits, these fragments of our identity, encompased within the ideal imago that we want to be seen as us, have narratives attached to them. We only think we are a "something" continuous through time because of these narratives. As soon as the now passes, the narratives are augmented by what we think happened, what we think should have happened, and what we are told has happened.

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

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.