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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Maxine Cassin ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Poet Laureate of Gen. Pershing Street, New Orleans. In 1976 Maxine wrote a poem entitled, "Jinny Black's Painting of Bobby" — See painting at left. ~~~~~
~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #105 Published May 1, 2010 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Merry Month of May:
A mountain is a frozen wave of Earth.
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #105, May 2010Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. May's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for May
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Crawfish Pasta Laurene
6. Poem from Hopkins Review:"Words and Hush"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for May:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Lord's Prayer, GA#96, 97 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: Musicophilia — Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks—
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #105== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
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1. May Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Gratitude.
#1 "Gratitude" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/041910jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR May:
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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for May are:
Rick Alex in Cyberspace
Vesa Loikas in Finland
Congratulations, Rick and Vesa !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
APRIL COMES IN LIKE A LAMB
This year our March roared in with high winds and frigid weather, and April came in with beautiful cool, Spring weather for Easter, when the Lamb of God arose from the ultimate sacrifice. With its clear skies, dry April is upon us. I call it California weather, having lived in Southern California for three years. This kind of weather lasted till the end of June in Anaheim, but only lasts till the end of April for us. April and October are the best two months for tourists to visit New Orleans. On the negative side, these are the only two months when we need sprinklers for new plants in our garden. Having new St. Augustine grass sod installed across our east lawn, we worked our sprinklers a lot during this month.
A NEW LEAF AND THE BABE
There are new leaves on all our trees at Timberlane, especially the stately Louisiana Cypresses, which have no Kamikaze buck moth caterpillars rappeling down from them on silk lines like some live oaks do this year, thankfully only in other areas of the metro region.
The exciting new Leaf comes from the Nissan Corporation, which finally announced that it's turning over a new Leaf , a car which does not use gasoline. The Leaf is the name of its new All-Electric Automobile which, with the US rebate of 7500 dollars, can be had for only 25K. That's under the cost of the GM Volt. The Volt gets longer mileage than the Leaf.The Leaf only gets about 100 mpc (per charge) but it can be supercharged in 26 minutes, 8 hrs with 220 home outlet, and 16 with 120v home outlet. With the appearance of Supercharging Stations at service stations on interstates and elsewhere, a short food break and you're charged and ready for the next leg of your journey. Only families without children can go longer than a hundred miles without a potty stop anyway.
The Electric Battle has begun. I have suspected for several years that Nissan was not going to waste its resources on designing an interim Hybrid car, but go right for an All-Electric. Those Priuses other Hybrids are gliding dinosaurs and they will be all gone with 5 years. The battery technology will get better as more electrics are made and bought. Charging stations will arise like gas stations did a century ago. We're in the beginning of this thing. Look for after-market solar cell units which fit on the roof, hood, and trunk, or actually replacing those parts of cars with built-in solar cells in a few years.
One morning I got up at 5:30 with Del compaining, oops, a little creative typo there, I meant complaining about her body hurting. Then I remembered that in the past two days she hauled 58 large bags of Tree Bark Morsels from Home Depot and spread them in our East Portico Garden. Looks great, but her back muscles were in pain due to the hard work.She did all this work on the last day of March while I was feverishly finishing up the Digest for the month, so she didn't ask me for help, knowing I couldn't be interrupted during that day. I was vaguely aware that she had made several trips to Home Depot for large bags, but didn't realize how many trips, until Betty called in the afternoon to ask if she could borrow the Babe (my pickup truck) to haul some bags of mulch from Home Depot. Suddenly I realized that Del and I could have hauled all the bags in one trip in the Babe if I had thought about it! Del doesn't feel comfortable driving the Babe yet, but Betty, who bought our old house from us, and driven a school bus for several years had used the Babe for all her heavy moving, since she was only moving from a block away. Neither Del nor I knew it would take 58 bags — this being the first time — but next year we can make it all in one trip. So far, the Babe, our 1990 F-150 half-ton Blue Ox, looks like she'll be parked in our driveway for a long time to come. Del is the new president of the Timberlane Garden Club and has scheduled by popular demand of members the Christmas Meeting here. The Babe will be needed to haul our 8 to 10 foot Christmas tree here once again.
One exciting new development for my movie star, Babe, was on a recent trip with our son Rob to a local crawfish boil at Theriot's Lawnmower Repair. I was driving on the raised expressway and found that the obscurely labeled buttons on the steering wheel's center were for a Cruise Control! "Babe," I said, "how could you keep this from me?" I pressed the buttons and the motor began to zoom along without my foot on the gas pedal! Wow — It works! Power steering, power brakes, power windows, automatic transmission, and even cruise control — who needs AC, radio, CD player, and GPS? Oh, the movie star bit? Well, watch the upcoming 2010 movie with Kevin Spacey, "Father of Invention", and you'll likely see the Babe sitting by a fishing dock in one scene. It's in my saved Netflix queue right now.
OYSTERS AND JEEP
April Fool's Day happened to be my brother Steve's birthday and also the day Del and I were scheduled to tend my 92-year-old father, Buster. He lives alone, but seems rarely to be alone for very long, as on this day. See for yourself in the picture of him above with Betty the waitress at Sal's 90 West Restaurant in Boutte.
So we got in the Maxima at 7:15 am and got to Dad's about 8 in time to see Debbie make her morning stop to help him. Washed him up a bit, but warned him not to dress the next day, as she'll be giving him a full tub bath. Later Margery showed up to clean the house. We noted that he was scheduled to receive Holy Communion at home in the morning. Herschel Burleigh, from the Holy Family Church, arrived to give him communion. I first met Herchel one morning in my sophomore year, my first year at Hahnville High School, when he appeared in front of our class to give us Catholic religious instruction as part of the CCD or Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program. I had thought when we left Westwego to move to St. Charles Parish that I would not have to go to church for catechism anymore, and here they were with a new program designed to bring catechism to me in my classroom.
This was my first time observing Holy Communion being administered in someone's home. Dad is unsteady on his feet and that makes taking it at church problematic, so he has recently begun taking it at home. I had wondered how it would proceed, having heard of others receiving it this way, now I would get to see it. Did the communion minister simply pop the host on the tongue, after saying, "Body of Christ" and waiting for the obligatory "Amen" back? Or what? What proceeded was a short but solemn enactment of the Sacrifice of the Mass, taking about five minutes, ending with the giving of the host.
For lunch, we took Dad to Sal's for oysters on the half shell, his favorite. A waitress, Betty, came over to greet Buster, even though she wasn't serving our table today. Gave him a hug and a big kiss. I said, "Hey, I'm his oldest son. Don't I get a kiss?" She laughed and came over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Sweet lady. We ordered a dozen oysters each, and when Del said she was going to order a second dozen for herself, I ordered the seafood stuffed bell pepper. She then opted instead for the crab and corn bisque. It was all good, but I was the one stuffed afterwards.My schoolmate from HHS Maryann Vial Lemmon stopped by to say hi. Her husband Harry got to meet Del for the first time. Was great seeing the two of them. When we got back from Sal's, a gal in a van came by to deliver his lunch, which will go in the fridge for the next day which is a non-delivery day, since it would be Good Friday, a holiday hereabouts.
I called another HHS buddy Shelby in the morning to see if his restored WWII Jeep was running. He had promised me a ride in it. He said, "Give me a couple of hours — I'm putting new brake pads on it." Sure enough I called him when we got back from lunch and had finished our second Pay Me! round with Dad, and he drove over in the Jeep. Del took Dad out to look at it. I took photos of it, then Shelby let me drive it with him coaching me on how to shift the floor shift. He pointed out the gas tank under the driver's seat. He explained why it was done this way: Usually the senior officer got to be the passenger side, and the driver was a private or other lower ranked serviceman. Under a seat was the best place to put the gas tank to protect it from bullets and bangs. The under carriage was completely empty of any breakable parts.This particular Jeep sat abandoned for maybe 50 years in a Hammond (40 miles north of here) backyard till Shelby talked the guy into selling it to him. Shelby loves working on old engines of all kinds and this one was an easy one, an old automobile engine from the 1940s by the Willys Co. He got the engine turning by soaking it (filling through the spark plug holes) with transmission fluid and other solvents and trying to turn it everyday. Finally it budged and soon it was running. Only parts he had to replace were the lights and starter (when he switched from 6 volt system to 12 volt system). I drove it around the block. Neat to be able to drive one finally. Shelby said he drove one in the service in 1962 or so when the WWII Jeeps were being replaced with newer models, but his base in Alabama still had a few around. One day he was driving the Captain around the back area of the base when he drove off a rise and landed flat on a log in a stream. The Jeep sat there with all four wheels spinning. The Captain said, "You got it here, you bring it back."They walked back to base, about 3 miles, and the only equipment available to retrieve the tiny Jeep was a huge tank retriever which has a 5 man crew and a large cherry picker capable of lifting up large tanks. I asked him about the Serial Number on the Jeep's hood, and he said, "It's my Army serial number." He had painted his dog tag number on the Jeep's hood, so when in the Jeep he driving inside of his dog tag.
WICKED BASEBALL SEASON
During April the baseball season, both college and major leagues, begins in earnest and during the same month the Broadway play, Wicked, came to New Orleans. Del who had seen it in the Gerswhin Theater in New York City last June, went with me to see it locally several weeks ago, and this month went to see it with our daughter Kim and her daughter Katie and Katie's college friend, Carly. I called Kim's husband, Wes, and asked, "Should we be concerned that my wife, your wife and daughter are all taking multiple lessons in Wicked ?" His immediate response was, "It couldn't hurt!"
On the day the girls were driving down from Alexandria and Baton Rouge, I went grocery shopping and bought some freshly boiled crawfish at Rouse's Supermarket where they boil the crawfish outside the front of the store on Fri, Sat, Sunday. Ten pounds. Kim and the two gals left for French Quarter shortly after I returned and missed the crawfish feast. This is a marvelous time of year when the crawfish are bigger and tastier and the prices go down every week as the size of the crawfish catch increases.
Del picked up her mom, Doris, at Woldenberg and brought her here to enjoy the crawfish with us on our kitchen table. Doris was able to peel her own crawfish and eat her fill, which was less than a pound. Del and I evenly divided the rest among the two of us. Another good visit with Doris. Yesterday we took my Dad to lunch to eat raw oysters on the half-shell and today we took Del's Mom to our kitchen to eat boiled crawfish on top of old newspapers spread on the table. What a great place to live, in South Louisiana. Tonight the Wicked crew and I are going to dinner at the Bon Ton on Magazine and Poydras in downtown New Orleans.
In the afternoon, Del and I finished watching the 180 minutes of Amadeus. Incredible movie! Enjoyed this Director's Cut even more than the first run movie. Chill bumps all over the place. Incredible opera scenes of the Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and even more. I drove Del to Bon Ton, dropped her off and tried to find a parking place.All the usual spots along St. Charles were filled up, but I found a parking garage where I could park for $5 for one hour. Given it was 6:05 pm, I planned to eat quickly so I could get home in time to watch the New Orleans Hornets at 7 pm and the LSU Baseball team at 7:30. Hornets lost and the Tigers won 4-3 against Georgia with Matty Ott striking out the side in the top of the 9th inning in a masterful performance. About 11 pm, Del and the three girls came back from Wicked. They seem to have all had a good time, with no other signs of Wicked after-effects. Kim and girls left early in the morning. John had a date the next night in New Orleans and slept over. That afternoon I watched LSU lose 12-6 to a Georgia team whose bats were as hot as the benches in the LSU dugout because the Tigers bats were ice-cold and spent most of the time with their butts on the bench instead of the bases. I predicted that we would slaughter Georgia to win the series the next day. They are not that good. One night wonders.
The next day was Easter Sunday and we had Easter Brunch with Doris, John, Stoney, Sue, and Sam at the fancy-schmanzy restaurant, The Royal Palm. If Catherine's Winter Palace outside of St. Petersburg had been designed by WalMart, you'd get the idea of what this restaurant looks like. The taste of food is, thank God, better than the taste of the decor — Country Club Garish.
I enjoyed the grilled eggplant, bell peppers, etal, the grilled redfish, and a couple of other dishes. She asked me if I wanted pasta, and I said, "No, the shrimp and the crawfish" as I had noticed these were few and far between in the pasta. Whenever we had something delicious at home, Dad might say, "Eat a lot of bread!" Some restaurants dilute the goodies with so much pasta that their patrons fill up on pasta instead of the shrimp and crawfish. At night I watched the final Georgia game which I recorded at noon. True to my suspicions, the Tiger scored early and often, winning out 15-3, with Georgia never getting close. If there's going to be a wicked baseball season, it might be for the teams that have to play LSU, the defending National Champions, this year. Next month we expect to see LSU make another run to Omaha and attempt to steal second, a second-in-a-row National Championship!
HOT WATER HEATER (sic)
Went to PJ's Coffeeshop, my break room, this morning about 7 am and asked David if he had any freshly baked Cranberry Muffins, he said, "No. Only some I baked three years ago." I quickly replied, "That means they will taste better than Starbucks!"The owner's wife was there and we all laughed. We all knew how poor the muffins at Starbucks are, days or weeks old, chewy, and tasteless. Starbucks' muffins are good if you're starving and that's about all. Taste like they were baked in Seattle months ago and shipped by wagon train (except I've had muffins there in Seattle and they taste the same). On the contrary, PJ's bakes their muffins fresh each morning and David knew that I knew that.
Our ace appliance repairman, AAA Wayne, came today and fixed all six items on our list for $120. Main item was washing machine. Took him 30 seconds to open lid, install bypass for switch actuated by cover opening to stop spinning. It had broken when Del washed the heavy king-sized cotton blanket. Better to have heavy stuff like that dry cleaned than break the washer. Then Wayne wrote me out a complete instruction set for draining our two hot water heaters. That will minimize the gurgling. The intermittent thuds are from a wire hanging in tank which snaps like a cricket-clicker at times. Not a replaceable part.
Then Wayne installed a screw to hold the freezer in place. After he left, at his suggestion, I replaced that with a larger screw with a discretionary nut to hold it fixed against the fridge side and keep the freezer from coming out of the wall when one tries to open it against the tight pulls. The freezer develops an enormous suction right after closing the door and it takes about a minute before it opens easy again. Sub-Zero apparently fixed this problem with the freezer in later models by adding a floor pedal assist. The freezer has this problem because the vent has a water-filled J-trap to keep bugs and dust out the freezer, but the fridge has an open vent.
The dishwasher sticking soap dish would cost $120 and the solution Wayne suggested was to use Electrosol Tabs instead of liquid or powdered stuff. The operation of the soap dish is unnecessary then as the Tabs have a built-in time-delay mechanism. The dryer simply needed its vent cleaned out. If your dryer gets warm on the top while it's drying clothes, that means the dryer is unable to exhaust the hot air. This is a sure indication of not enough air blowing up the stack and clothes not drying fast enough. And sure enough, we had never had that vent blown free and got our chimney man to clean it out for us. Something that should be done annually or when that dryer top gets warm again.
In addition to fixing all these things we wanted him to, Wayne fixed something that I didn't think needed fixing as it was something I'd done all my life, and maybe you too, dear Reader. What do you call the device which turns cold water into hot water at your house? I've always called it a "Hot Water Heater" — how about you?Wayne explained that it is properly called a "Water Heater" as it doesn't heat hot water but only cold water! Impeccable logic, but don't you think customers should be able call their devices by any unambiguous name and the serviceman should happily fix them? But, if Wayne gets serious about that subject and mostly jokes about all other subjects, one might want to drop the "hot" from Hot Water Heater when talking to him. In a city like New Orleans where you can hear the following sentence, "My Uncle Oil changes the earl in his car in the driveway and then washes and wrenches his hands in the zinc," one should not be surprised that we say "hot water heater"!
SAINT AUGUSTINE AND FRENCH QUARTER FEST
On one morning David Babin, our landscaper, showed up with his crew to get our East Lawn ready for the St. Augustine sod. It had been newly picked from the ground and shipped directly to us. I kept my french door open while typing on workstation and even sat outside to read while they were laying down the grassy sod.
Del had brought a large Indian Hawthorne home from Lowe's and Antonio, one of David's men, helped by digging the hole for us and extracting the large plant from its pot and placing it in the hole in the northwest corner of our property. Next goes in the two pampas grass plants to mask off the swimming pool area directly behind it.
In the afternoon Del and I went to French Quarter Fest. We decided to eat at our favorite restaurant after parking our car there and taking the streetcar downtown. Streetcars were overfull, so I hailed a taxicab. Actually I looked at one which passed and the next one yelled back at me, "Want a cab?" Was my first time ever taking a cab in New Orleans. Only cost $7.50 to reach Canal from Felicity Street. Gave him a ten spot. I always remember back in July of1967 that airport cab driver grousing because he had to take me home to Kenner and then get back in the queue for the big fare to downtown.I could have blasted him for his broken air conditioner! I had just returned home from a month in Phoenix where humidity was in single digits and the ride home from the airport, a short 5 miles, was in 88 degrees and 95% humidity, and I had a wool suit on! I was soaking wet inside my suit when I arrived home to our air-conditioned home. I have assiduously avoided cabs since then. No more. Met our friends Cordelle and Amy. She lives in the French Quarter and they were taking a walk out from her apartment to see the Fest. Then Jerry and Bonnie Randall came over and we talked to them, taking a photo.
When we got tired, we walked to PJ's on Canal for a café latte and to await the streetcar. We walked down to Common and St. Charles streetcar stop and when the car arrived, it was already Standing Room Only. So we stood. How long could it take to ride from Canal to Felicity? Well, not long, except the streetcar stopped as it cleared Lee Circle. The conductor went around to the back and I could see him talking to some gal who had a spray can in her hand. It was clearly labeled PAM which is a brand of oil to spray on the inside of pots while cooking to keep food from sticking. He finally took the can from her after a long discussion. Del said she heard someone repeat what the gal said about spraying the tracks to keep the noise down in her Bar from the streetcars passing.Obviously a dangerous thing to do and the conductor admonished her properly. But we sat waiting for about 15 minutes with never a word as to what was happening during the wait nor afterward. No loudspeakers in the streetcars to make announcements like in airliners, which is a good thing. No grating announcements, no TV, no Radio, no MUZAK, just the clickety-clack and the wind rushing by. I like it that way. Just the live streetcar operator announcing the street name of the next stop. We reached our restaurant, had a delightful dinner and drove home, stopping at Zack's for dessert, a small yogurt.
CHURCH BELLS CHIME, BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME
With Del at home with me all day on the day before her birthday, I didn't get a chance to wrap her birthday present nor to sign her birthday card. I went early in the morning of her birthday to retrieve the gift and the card.The gift was there, but the card was an Anniversary card! So I went to the birthday card well for a birthday card and found one of a bus, which said, "Life is not about the destination, but about the journey", and inside it said, "Enjoy the Ride." I wrapped her Chakra Bracelet for her open. Inside of sterling silver chakra figures showing the petals of each of the seven lotuses (except the 1000-petaled one) with a semi-precious stone representing the color of each chakra.
On the inside the "church bells chime, born at the right time" is illustrated by a church's bell tower with the bells tolling, like on the day she was born. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, beloved US President, had died that morning in Warm Springs, Georgia, and when Doris held Del, her first-born child, for the first time, church bells all over the city and the country began ringing. Del got a birthday call from a colleague, Don Caserta, whom she invited to have café au lait and beignets at Morning Call in Metairie, their usual watering hole. Afterward Del drove across the Causeway to have lunch with our son Stoney at Trey Yuen in Mandeville. Still noisy, Chinese food okay, large Koi in ponds in restaurant.
The day after Del's landmark 65th birthday was our friend Rosie Harris who celebrated her landmark 90th birthday. We drove to Slidell to her daughter's home where a large gathering attended a gala party for Rosie. There were friends from CODOFIL, Gretna Historical Society, and a couple of Garden Clubs in addition to her two sons and daughter and two brothers, Dick and Bobby Guidry.
I spent the day cutting the old grass for about an hour or so and dumped about 10 loads of clippings on our new mulch bed. Then I watered all the lawns with the new St. Aug. Mr. Pierre was here complaining once again about having to use oil-based paint. He wore me out the rest of the way that grass cutting by itself could not. I helped him take down the two front doors from their hinges and set them back up after he painted them. Got paint on my hands. Didn't have my gloves handy at the time.
St. Aug. sod looks great. Doors look great. Shutters were installed the next day and everything looks great. I even spray painted the address numbers white to make them easily seen from the street. Hated covering up brass, they just would not polish well and seemed to disappear into the dark bricks. We were both exhausted from our busy day, so to celebrate Del's birthday, we went to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, DiMartino's, for some Flounda-Wadonda and Del had a half muffaletta combo and I ate the seafood gumbo and potato salad, and we took the Italian salad home for her to have the next day.
With the East Portico work all finished, we were able to move items onto it. First I attached a piece of plywood to the flat four-wheel rolling cart to make it to move small items. Del and I moved the flower-arranging table to against the Princess Room (Laundry Room's new name) french door windows. First I had to promised to get our Italian carpenter Marcello to add a new wooden top to table and paint the iron legs of the base which came from a century-old sewing machine base. Then we hauled the large clump of staghorn bromeliads to behind and between the two palm trees for its new home where it can receive water from the skies, and mask the view of the garbage cans till the newly planted pittosporum bushed grow up. Also moved many of our bromeliads to the East Portico which is becoming my favorite afternoon reading venue.
The next day we went to our old house together to retrieve some plants we had left there. I dug up the two Japanese Yews and put them into pots and in the Babe, then we dug up a few irises, yellow and purple, a bromeliad, an aspidistra, and some indigo plants. Came home and planted the Yews along the South side of the North sitting area. Will provide shade for sitting on bench during the day. Moved the bench temporarily between the two Yews to support them and tied them in a couple of places to the sides of the bench. Will keep them vertical through the growing season till Fall at which time we can move bench to its permanent place.LAST WEEK EVENTS Del has our landscaper David Babin busy with a new South Lawn garden area. That involves new concrete tiles for the garden bench, and new St. Augustine grass sod to make it look like it's been there a long time. My friend Bill Ward accompanied me to the Annual Shakespeare Society Black Tie dinner at Antoine's. Instead of a condensed play of Shakespeare, we were treated to an original play in the style of Shakespeare which Will is a character. Several club events kept me busy for the next two days culminating with an outdoor party thrown by Armand St. Martin and Patty Lee at Southport just over the Jefferson Parish line at dusk. Eating jambalaya with friends, listening to Armand's inimitable styling of words and music, watching the Sun go down on the first weekend of Jazz Fest, it just doesn't get any better than that.
TILL NEXT MONTH
Till We Meet Again when June Busts Out All Over, God Willing and River Don't Rise. May will be a harvesting month around here, with cucumbers already being picked, bell peppers and Creole tomatoes following close behind. Warm weather and the beginning of daily afternoon thundershowers, flowers, smells, food festivals, Jazz Fest, and Thursday at Twilight Concerts in City Park, all these and even more await our pleasure in New Orleans. Wherever in the World you are, Make it a great May for yourself! ! !
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New Stuff about Website: The First Five Carlos Castaneda Books:
In his Foreword Walter Goldschmidt writes:
[page 9] This book is both ethnography and allegory. Carlos Castaneda, under the tutelage of don Juan, takes us through that moment of twilight, through that crack in the universe between daylight and dark into a world not merely other than our own, but of an entirely different order of reality.
What Carlos did with this first don Juan book was to crack open the oyster of his anthropological maps and glimpse the living world within and beyond those maps. Carlos learned his anthropology by listening to professors talk and by his own thinking. His new professor, the Yaqui sorcerer, Juan Matus, had a subject to teach Carlos that required more than talk, more than thinking. It required a complete shattering of Carlos' most cherished beliefs and unconscious assumptions about the world that were contained hidden away in those maps. Using the available native pharmaceuticals of peyote, datura, and mushrooms, Don Juan shredded Carlos's maps and allowed him to explore the world with the beginner's mind.
At the conclusion of this first book, Carlos includes a 71 page "Structural Analysis" of his experiences with don Juan — the anthropologist part of Carlos got in the last word. Since such an analysis never appeared again in the rest of his don Juan books, one can assume, this was the parting shot of the anthropologist part of Carlos Castaneda. He had found the "path with heart" that existed outside of his book learning, a separate reality, and was never again to look back. Here's a summary of the structural analysis that the author gives in his Introduction:
[page 27] Through my analysis I seek to support the following contentions: (1) don Juan presented his teachings as a system of logical thought; (2) the system made sense only if examined in the light of its structural units; and (3) the system was devised to guide an apprentice to a level of conceptualization which explained the order of the phenomena he had experienced.
An example of don Juan's teaching method comes in Chapter 3 when he tells Carlos that a man of knowledge has four natural enemies. The first one is fear, and after overcoming fear, man reaches a clarity of thinking and that clarity is the second enemy. Once he overcomes his clarity, he receives power and that is another enemy to be overcome. To be defeated is to be through. The fourth enemy is a surprise enemy that any one of us will someday face if we live long enough.
[page 98, 99] "The man will be, by then, at the end of his journey of learning, and almost without warning he will come upon the last of his enemies: Old Age! This enemy is the cruelest of all, the one he won't be able to defeat completely, but only fight away.
"This is the time when a man has no more fears, no more impatient clarity of mind — a time when all his power is in check, but also the time when he has an unyielding desire to rest. If he gives in totally to his desire to lie down and forget, if he soothes himself in tiredness, he will have lost his last round, and his enemy will cut him down into a feeble old creature. His desire to retreat will overrule all his clarity, his power, and his knowledge.
"But if the man sloughs off his tiredness, and lives his fate through, he can then be called a man of knowledge, if only for the brief moment when he succeeds in fighting off his last, invincible enemy. That moment of clarity, power, and knowledge is enough."
One of the big questions that troubles Carlos in this book is finding a "path with heart." He asks don Juan how to know when a path has heart, and don Juan tells him simply, "Before you embark on it you ask the question: Does this path have heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path." Well, that seems to activate Carlos's fears that he might lie to himself. "Why would you lie?" don Juan asks him.
[page 183] "Perhaps because at the moment the path is pleasant and enjoyable."
"That is nonsense. A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it."
Another way of talking about one's maps is to call it a consensus reality. Till his experiences with don Juan outlined in this book, it is likely that Carlos had never been aware of his consensus reality. The last event Carlos describes in the book is an episode of intense fear after which Carlos said that he would resist the first enemy of a man of knowledge, fear. Here is Carlos's own words, the last words of Appendix A.
[page 283] From my own point of view, however, that last special state was the final summation of my apprenticeship. The formidable impact of terror on the level of sober consciousness had the peculiar quality of undermining the certainty that I, in matters of ordinary reality, could provide myself with consensus indefinitely. Up to that point the course of my apprenticeship seemed to have been a continuous building toward the collapse of that certainty. Don Juan used every facet of his dramatic exertion to accomplish the collapse during that last special state, a fact prompting me to believe that the complete collapse of that certainty would have removed the last barrier that kept me from accepting the existence of a separate reality : the reality of special consensus. [italics added]
Having removed this last barrier, Carlos goes on after this book to write a new book in which this idea of a separate reality is raised to the title of the book.
This second book of Carlos's encounters with Don Juan is about "seeing," as Don Juan Matus calls it and the two chapter headings testify. Carlos had a one-track mind which was constantly being derailed by Don Juan's multi-track mind. Here's how their differences were aired out in the beginning pages: [Carlos, as usual, is the narrator.]
[page 12] We were talking about my interest in knowledge; but, as usual, we were on two different tracks. I was referring to academic knowledge that transcends experience, while he was talking about direct knowledge of the world.
Carlos brought his maps of the world to the table and Don Juan ridiculed him for his blatant density and stupidity. Carlos argued for keeping his cherished views of the world, and these views were like clay pigeons at a Skeet Shoot - doomed to be shattered as quickly as they took flight. Carlos began his career as an Oreo - a mass-produced Ph.D. product of the university factory - but by the end of his stay with Don Juan, he would turn into a unique home-baked cookie. The argument is between Carlos and Don Juan, but it is really the argument of the university and the shaman playing itself out before your eyes, dear Reader.
[page 12, 13] "Do you know anything about the world around you?" he asked.
"I know about all kinds of things," I said.
"I mean do you ever feel the world around you?"
"I feel as much of the world around me as I can."
"That's not enough. You must feel everything, otherwise the world loses its sense."
I voiced the classical argument that I did not have to taste the soup in order to know the recipe, nor did I have to get an electric shock in order to know about electricity.
"You make it sound stupid," he said. "The way I see it, you want to cling to your arguments, despite the fact that they bring nothing to you; you want to remain the same even at the cost of your well-being."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I am talking about the fact that you're not complete. You have no peace."
Thus the argument goes. Don Juan tells Carlos that he thinks about himself too much and Carlos tries to defend himself. First lesson Carlos needs to learn is the difference between "looking" and "seeing" and it is in these two definitions that we have the theme of the book revealed to us.
[page 16, 17] "Looking" referred to the ordinary way in which we are accustomed to perceive the world, while "seeing" entailed a very complex process by virtue of which a man of knowledge allegedly perceives the "essence" of the things of the world.
It was many years later that I encountered Owen Barfield's concept of "final participation" which aptly describes the same process pointed to by Don Juan in his definition of "seeing." This is the process of directly seeing the world in its material and spiritual forms that Rudolf Steiner spoke so eloquently about.In Carlos and Don Juan we eavesdrop on a conversation between the Intellectual Soul and the Consciousness Soul; the Intellectual Soul which is the logical thinking intellect, and the Consciousness Soul which is the human who thinks logically, but who also "perceives the essence of the things of the world." Unbeknownst to me, don Juan in those early years of my studies was laying down a foundation of readiness in me for the ideas of Barfield and Steiner which I only many discovered years later; these two writers helped me comprehend don Juan's meanings, not as a shaman, but as a spiritual scientist.
Carlos protested that he could see, but don Juan averred, "You don't see, you only look at the surface of things." Well, this conversation went on for a quite a few pages, till Don Juan finally told Carlos that when one "sees," one sees human beings as "fibers of light."
[page 33] "Yes. Fibers, like white cobwebs. Very fine threads that circulate from the head to the navel. Thus a man looks like an egg of circulating fibers. And his arms and legs are like luminous bristles, bursting out in all directions."
The tête-à-tête continued as Carlos tried to change himself and to understand Don Juan. Each time Carlos got close, don Juan would move a meta-step above him, as in this next passage. Carlos had noticed something don Juan couldn't do and laid a verbal trap for him, by saying in effect, "There is something you can't do anything about."
[page 96, 97] "No. Unfortunately there is no way to make bones for a jellyfish. It was only my folly."
"You've told me time and time again, don Juan, that a sorcerer cannot have follies. I've never thought you could have any."
"... we must know first that our acts are useless and yet we must proceed as if we didn't know it. That's a sorcerer's controlled folly."
What is controlled folly? Carlos became obsessed with finding out. The answer was again an answer in process, not content, but Carlos noted after this next explanation, "I found his explanation delightful although I did not quite understand it."
[page 99] "I am happy that you finally asked me about my controlled folly after so many years, and yet it wouldn't have mattered to me in the least if you had never asked. Yet I have chosen to feel happy, as if I cared, that you asked, as if it would matter that I care. That is controlled folly!"
This kind of serious banter goes on for pages and pages, maybe a semester's worth for Carlos, who was being serious while don Juan was either telling him it's unimportant or laughing at him. This drove Carlos a little crazy or something. Don Juan told him, "Our eyes look so we may laugh, or cry or rejoice, or be sad, or be happy." In short, when don Juan encounters a sad thing he "sees it" and it becomes unimportant; when he encounters a funny thing, he looks at it and laughs.
[page 105] "One must always choose the path with heart in order to be at one's best, perhaps so one can always laugh."
Carlos saw a series of maneuvers of Genaro at a waterfall that he couldn't understand, so he asked don Juan. The answer he got didn't help him one bit. Carlos was to don Juan at this stage as the South American Indians were to Darwin's crewmen who asked them if they saw their ship, the Beagle, moored offshore. The Indians said, "What ship? All that I see is a large bird floating on the water." Never having seen a ship or boat that large before all they could see was something that fit in with what they had seen before. Don Juan told Carlos:
[page 131] "You think everything in the world is simple to understand," he said, "because everything you do is a routine that is simple to understand." At the waterfall, when you looked at Genaro moving across the water, you believed that he was a master of somersaults, because somersaults was all you could think about. And that's all you will ever believe he did. . . . Pablito saw nearly all of Genaro's movements. Nestor, on the other hand, saw only the most obvious maneuvers. He missed the delicate details. But you, you saw nothing at all."
Once in a Bandler and Grinder seminar the co-leaders told us to imagine the two of them sitting on our right shoulder and death sitting on our left shoulder. If we were ever in doubt about what to do, we were to look to our right shoulder and ask them what to do. If we were then in doubt about whether or not to take some action, we were to look to our left shoulder and see death sitting there waiting to take us. That would give us the stark reminder that we are human beings and we must act immediately lest death take us before we do. The key point is that we have as free humans the power of our decisions. Here is don Juan teaching Carlos this lesson about death:
[page 184] "A detached man, who knows he has no possibility of fencing off his death, has only one thing to back himself with: the power of his decisions. He has to be, so to speak, the master of his choices. He must fully understand that his choice is his responsibility and once he makes it there is no longer time for regrets or recriminations. He decisions are final, simply because death does not permit him time to cling to anything. . . . The knowledge of his death guides him and makes him detached and silently lusty; the power of his final decisions makes him able to choose without regrets and what he chooses is always strategically the best; and so he performs everything he has to with gusto and lusty efficiency.
If you could not feel a large WOW! building up within you as you read the words of that last passage, check your pulse to see if you are still alive.
The next passage from page 220 has stuck with me in the twenty-five years since I first read it. It has to do with whether accidents are avoidable or not. While agreeing with Carlos that "No man can control everything around him," don Juan said, "But not everything is an unavoidable accident. Life for a warrior is an exercise in strategy."
[page 220] I argued that he had misunderstood me. I had meant to point out that it was impossible for any single individual to foresee all the variables involved in his day-to-day actions.
"All I can say to you," don Juan said, "is that a warrior is never available; never is he standing on the road waiting to be clobbered. Thus he cuts to a minimum his chances of the unforeseen. What you call accidents are, most of the time, very easy to avoid, except for fools who are living helter-skelter."
"It is not possible to live strategically all the time," I said. "Imagine that someone is waiting for you with a powerful rifle with a telescopic sight; he could spot you accurately five hundred yards away. What would you do?"
Don Juan looked at me with an air of disbelief and then broke into laughter.
"What would you do?" I urged him.
"If someone is waiting for me with a rifle with a telescopic sight?" he said, obviously mocking me.
"If someone is hiding out of sight, waiting for you. You won't have a chance. You can't stop a bullet."
"No. I can't. But I still don't understand your point."
"My point is that all your strategy cannot be of any help in a situation like that."
"Oh, but it can. If someone is waiting for me with a powerful rifle with a telescopic sight I simply will not come around."
The world is a mystery; it is more than we can ever know. What we can know of the world is only in our maps, while outside our maps, the world lives as a huge, throbbing mystery all around us. A warrior treats the world as the "sheer mystery" it is.
[page 264] An average man doesn't do this, though. The world is never a mystery for him, and when he arrives at old age he is convinced he has nothing more to live for. An old man has not exhausted the world. He has exhausted only what people do. But in his stupid confusion he believes that the world has no more mysteries for him. . . . The things people do cannot under any conditions be more important than the world. And thus a warrior treats the world as an endless mystery and what people do as an endless folly.
It comes to me as I end this review, that I have caught glimpses of the tectonic plates that began to move within me some quarter of a century ago, whose movements have re-shaped my continents of today. A today in which I have little time for people without a sense of humor, and endeavor to remove them from my presence as quickly as possible. Let them take their folly elsewhere - somewhere where people exist who will respect them and support them in their folly. There is folly enough in the world without me having to keep them company.
As I wrote in my poem "Fully Alone" in Flowers of Shanidar:
When I live partially
I have lots of company
When I live fully
I am alone
In the best of company.
In the first book in this series, Teachings of don Juan, Carlos was led by don Juan into the "crack between worlds" by means of datura (jimson weed), peyote, and psilocybe mushrooms. In the second book, A Separate Reality, don Juan focused on getting Carlos to learning "seeing" by which he could perceive things he had never perceived before, in effect, the essence of the world that existed beyond Carlos's academic maps of reality. Here, at the beginning of the third book, Carlos shares with us his thoughts about the use of drugs to broach new realities.
[page 7] My perception of the world through the effects of those psychotropics had been so bizarre and impressive that I was forced to assume that such states were the only avenue to communicating and learning what don Juan was attempting to teach me. That assumption was erroneous.
[page 13] My insistence on holding on to my standard version of reality rendered me almost deaf and blind to don Juan's aims. Therefore, it was simply my lack of sensitivity which had fostered their [the psychotropic drugs] use.
This was a sobering message for the young of the 1970s who were experimenting with all kinds of psychotropic drugs in order to enter what was popularly called "alternated states of realities." What don Juan told Carlos was, "For a sorcerer, reality, or the world we all know, is only a description." A description that, in the words of the song from the musical, South Pacific, we all had to be "carefully taught." Our sense of time and our sense of place are descriptions. We are taught what time is, what place is. And yet we all have the capability inside of us in the blink of the millisecond we call "now" to transcend time, place or both. To help explain that, I wrote Matherne's Rules 37 and 38 which state as follows: MR37: Time has no meaning. And MR38: Place has no meaning. What I am referring to the lack of an intrinsic meaning of either; that what meaning time and place have are indoctrinated into us from an early age, and that meaning is only something we attach to time and place by virtue of our early teachers in life.Carlos had such early teachers and when he stumbled onto don Juan, he was in for a shock, in fact, one shock after another, as don Juan shattered his illusions of time, place, and what is possible for a human being to do in the world.
[page 9] He [don Juan] pointed out that everyone who comes into contact with a child is a teacher who incessantly describes the world to him, until the moment when the child is capable of perceiving the world as it is described. According to don Juan, we have no memory of that portentous moment, simply because none of us could possibly have had any point of reference to compare it to anything else. From that moment on, however, the child is a member. . . . For don Juan, then, the reality of our day-to-day life consists of an endless flow of perceptual interpretations which we, the individuals who share a specific membership, have learned to make in common.
What I have learned in my research into the science of doyletics is that we rarely have cognitive memories, what we commonly call memories, before the memory transition age of five years old. And yet, every caregiver, every person who was in our presence before five was responsible for storing doylic memories in us upon which our very belief in reality itself would come to be based as we matured. Doylic memories are the physical body states (doyles) that we experienced in the presence of other people and that were stored in doylic memory, which, before five years old, was the only kind of memory we had available for storage. Unable to store visual and auditory information because our cognitive memory capability was not quite ready yet, we stored physical body states of such things as: bodily movements (walking), vocal cord movements (speech), manipulating (hand movements), and all imaginable internal organismic homeostatic settings of our bodily organs (respiration rate, heart rate, kidney function, liver function, pancreas function, spleen function, skin feelings such as goose bumps, tingling, etc). In short, we were carefully taught. And we grew up with many of the same feelings, and emotions, and responses to stimuli as our peers by virtue of having stored many of the same doyles. This may have led us into the blithe belief that everyone has the same set of basic emotions, but that would be utterly false, while seemingly true as a generalization for many. If it were true, then everyone would be afraid of the same things, like the same foods, and enjoy the same past-times.Practical experience itself plus a little thought can put the lie to the comfortable concept of "basic emotions." What I learned is that doyles are the substrate of emotions and feelings and healing states of human beings. And everyone has a unique set of doyles. And the doyles that one doesn't want, one can easily remove with a simple memory technique called the speed trace.
But I digress with a purpose. It was over 25 years ago when I read the first four books of don Juan and his teachings of Carlos. But for these books, I might never have considered trying the software that Doyle Henderson had created for removing unwanted feelings. I would have considered that to be impossible and have ignored his claims. The very existence of the science of doyletics owes something to don Juan and his student, creator, biographer, fictionalizer (choose one) Carlos Castaneda.
Naturally Carlos was reluctant to believe that reality as he understood it could be simply a description that he introjected as a child. He says on page 10, "For years I had treated the idea of 'stopping the world' as a cryptic metaphor that really did not mean anything." Then he was talking to don Juan one day, as you or I might talk to one another about a friend's child. "The child is a misfit in school; he lacks concentration and is not interested in anything. He is given to tantrums, disruptive behavior and to running away from home."And don Juan stopped him, said he'd heard enough, that no amount of browbeating or physical beating by the father was going to change the child. He instructed Carlos to tell his friend to find a derelict, a young one with still some fight in him, arrange things so that when the child did some objectionable behavior, the derelict would jump out of a hiding place and "spank the living daylights out of him." Do this three or four times and the child's view of the world will change. This procedure was so reminiscent of some homework that Milton Erickson, famous hypnotherapist of the time, might have given a client, that some of us students of Erickson wondered if don Juan weren't possibly Milton himself fictionalized. But Carlos responded to this suggestion, "What if the fright injures him?"
[page 12] "Fright never injures anyone. What injures the spirit is having someone always on your back, beating you, telling you what to do and what not to do."
After the child has these experiences, the father, don Juan tells Carlos, must take the child to where a dead child is, and to have his child touch the dead child anywhere but on his belly with his left hand. "After the boy does that he will be renewed. The world will never be the same for him." This episode caused Carlos to realize that this "stopping the world" was a technique that don Juan had long been using on him. [paraphrased from page 12]
The next technique of changing personal history intrigued me and soon after the time I first read about it in this book, I was studying with Bandler and Grinder and they taught me to change personal history as an exercise one afternoon. Say you've never been to Paris — here's how you change your personal history so that you have been to Paris. You imagine yourself arriving at De Gaulle airport, taking a taxi to your hotel, walking down the Champs d'Elysee, visiting the American drugstore and listening to a CNN broadcast there in English on the television set. By progressively filling in all the modalities of visual, sound, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory, you build up a personal history that allows you to congruently believe and say, "Yes, I was in Paris once."
So this subject comes up between don Juan and Carlos and the first time the conversation ended with don Juan telling Carlos that "to ask questions about one's past is a bunch of crap." But, before I go on, let me digress to discuss this matter of don Juan's personal history. It seems to be a bone of contention with the present Carlos's of the world that are still enchanted by the magical spell of personal history. Here is an example of how they think, "A French newspaper made an investigation a few years ago. It seems that Carlos Castaneda really existed, but probably not Don Juan. The Yaqui unlike other indigenous people, do not, according to the newspaper have much occult tradition."
At one point in this conversation on personal history, Carlos tells don Juan, "You are a Yaqui. You can't change that." To which don Juan pursues Carlos with a series of questions on the theme of how do you know that? Carlos admits that he doesn't for sure, but that don Juan knows for sure and "that is what counts. That's what makes it personal history." Carlos said he felt as though he had driven a nail in, but don Juan merely extracts it and pins Carlos like a butterfly on a specimen board with his own nail.
[page 30] "The fact that I know whether I am a Yaqui or not does not make it personal history," he replied. "Only when someone else knows that does it become personal history. And I assure you that no one will ever know for sure."
Given the personal power of don Juan, which one cannot help but experience in the course of the first two books, any careful reader of the don Juan books will know unimpeachably that the investigation and subsequent report in the French newspaper was a complete folly, and not worthy of consideration or even comment. A sorcerer simply has no use for personal history; if he did, he might be as limited as Carlos was by his holding on to his own personal history. Here's don Juan explaining the implications of this to Carlos.
[page 30] "Your father knows everything about you," he said. "So he has you all figured out. He knows who you are and what you do, and there is no power on earth can make him change his mind about you." . . . "You must renew your personal history by telling your parents, your relatives, your friends everything you do. On the other hand, if you have no personal history, no explanations are needed; nobody is angry or disillusioned with your acts. And above all no one pins you down with their thoughts."
This dialogue goes on for several pages (32 through 36) and every sentence is a treasure to anyone who feels stultified in their life. Chances are they have been pinned on that specimen board of life by their friends and they have been become emptied of life in the process, up until now. A pinned butterfly is consistent — the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I first encountered the virtue of inconsistency in the words of my first tutor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who came to my bedside in the North Stadium dormitory at LSU in the fall of 1958, and has never really left my side since. Here's his words that hummed the future in my ears, from his essay, Self-Reliance :
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.
This paragraph will list the strong draughts of don Juan's medicine for Carlos. After stopping the world, erasing his personal history, Carlos went on in this book to lose his self-importance, take on death as his adviser, assuming responsibility for all his actions, becoming a hunter, being inaccessible, disrupting the routines of his life, becoming accessible to power, taking on the mood of a warrior, fighting a battle for power, learning the gait of power and the doing of not-doing, finding the ring of power and finally undertaking his eponymous journey to Ixtlan. I cannot take you on Carlos's journey in this review — you will have to undertake this on your own. Be prepared to lose all those whom you currently call your friends — they cannot accompany you on this journey. Like the tape which plays Mr. Phelps' voice, they will self-destruct in five minutes.
As all journeys into understanding, this is a treacherous one. Travel light — don Juan on one shoulder; death on the other — de rigeur for the trip.
In the first book in this series, Teachings of don Juan, Carlos was led into new realities by ingesting jimson weed, peyote buttons, and psilocybe mushrooms. In the second book, A Separate Reality, don Juan focused on getting Carlos to learn "seeing." In the third book, Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos was introduced to a plethora of techniques such as erasing personal history, death as adviser, becoming accessible to power, the mood of a warrior, the gait of power, not-doing, and the ring of power. In this book, Carlos becomes a witness to acts of power, learns about the tonal and the nagual, and receives the sorcerer's explanation.
Early in the book don Juan tells Carlos that he doesn't have "enough power yet to seek the sorcerer's explanation." If you analyze his statement you find some interesting presuppositions: "not enough power" presupposes Carlos has some. The qualifier yet presupposes that Carlos will acquire it later. The words seek the sorcerer's explanation presuppose that, one, there is a sorcerer's explanation and, two, it is something that Carlos can and should seek. When I finished a week long hypnosis seminar with Richard Bandler back in 1981, I realized in no uncertain terms that if I expected hypnosis to be preceded by someone waving a pendulum in front of my face, I could expect to remain in the consensual trance of our culture indefinitely. Those four above presuppositions will act on Carlos as four very powerful post-hypnotic suggestions to seek and find the sorcerer's explanation during the course of this book. Carlos' response to the trance induction by don Juan is to ask for more information, what Milton Erickson would call ratifying the trance state.
[page 14] "Then there is a sorcerer's explanation!"
"Certainly. Sorcerers are men. We're creatures of thought. We seek clarifications."
"I was under the impression that my great flaw was to seek explanations."
"No. Your flaw was to seek convenient explanations, explanations that fit you and your world. What I object to is your reasonableness. A sorcerer explains things in his world too, but he's not as stiff as you."
So, naturally, Carlos must acquire more personal power and then he will "slide with great ease into the sorcerer's explanation." To demonstrate the requirement for personal power, don Juan lowers his voice a bit and utters what he calls "the greatest piece of knowledge anyone can voice."
[page 17] "Do you know that at this very moment you are surrounded by eternity? And do you know that you can use that eternity, if you so desire?"
Carlos is even more confused than he was before, and considering the two new presuppositions that he was hit by, it's no wonder. How long does it take for one to recover from a presupposition? [Matherne's Rule #39] Carlos was speechless, and don Juan stared him and continued:
[page 17] "You didn't have this knowledge before," he said, smiling. "Now you do. I have revealed it to you, but it doesn't make a bit of difference, because you don't have enough personal power to utilize my revelation. Yet if you did have enough power, my words alone would serve as the means for you to round up the totality of yourself and to get the crucial part of it out of the boundaries in which it is contained.
Next Carlos was asked about his "dreaming" experiences. This was a practice that don Juan had suggested to Carlos which involved finding one's hands while one is dreaming. When the sight of his hands changed into something else, Carlos was supposed to shift his glance to any other element in his surroundings. This constituted what don Juan called "dreaming." Then he was led to walking with eyes slightly defocused without any internal dialogue. Internal dialogue, don Juan told him, "is how you stayed grounded." Shutting off that internal dialogue was necessary to becoming a sorcerer. Carlos went for a short walk in this manner, the “gait of power,” and when he reported that he encountered a man and a huge bird, don Juan corrected him.
[page 25] "If you want to be accurate in sorcerer's terms, but very ridiculous in your own terms, you could say that tonight you had an appointment with a moth. Knowledge is a moth. "
Carlos began an extended exercise in "seeing" during which he brought some 32 friends before him as he and don Juan sat in the night of the desert. Each one appeared in colors and configurations that were unique. Eligio's form seemed to leap out at him, something a talented apprentice might be able to do. Then don Juan asked Carlos to call don Genaro, "the real McCoy." Carlos went in his "seeing" mode again and reported,
[page 43] "The golden bubbles engulfed me and then in one of them I saw don Genaro himself. He was standing in front of me, holding his hat in his hand. He was smiling. I hurriedly opened my eyes and was about to speak to don Juan, but before I could say a word my body stiffened like a board, my hair stood on end and for a moment I did not know what to do or say. Don Genaro was standing right in front of me. In person!"
What took Carlos aback was that he and don Juan had been alone for a long time and don Genaro was supposed to be in central Mexico. When Carlos shared his astonishment at don Genaro popping up out of nowhere, the two sorcerers broke out into raucous laughter. Carlos was completely unable to explain how the clothes that he saw in his vision of don Genaro in the "golden bubble" matched exactly the clothes he later appeared in the flesh wearing.
Carlos had learned that he had just met don Genaro's double. At one point he asked don Juan, "Are you yourself or are you your double?" and don Juan replied, "My double." Carlos was terrified. Don Juan said, "I'm just kidding." This constant keeping of Carlos off balance went on whenever don Genaro and don Juan were around, almost as if it were for their amusement.
Don Genaro told Carlos about several episodes of "dreaming" - the first one happened as don Genaro was picking up plants in the mountains and laid down to take a nap.
[page 68] "I heard then the sound of people coming down the hill and I woke up. I hurriedly ran for cover and hid behind some bushes a short distance across the road from where I had fallen asleep. While I hid there I had the nagging impression I had forgotten something. I looked to see if I had my two sacks of plants. I didn't have them. I looked across the road to the place where I had been sleeping and I nearly dropped my pants with fright. I was still there asleep!"
Seemed that don Genaro had forgotten to take his body along. The process of "dreaming" is intimately connected with that of the double, as Carlos found out when a similar thing later happened to him. "The double is a dream." Maybe that's who Carlos called when he conjured up Genaro from his home in central Mexico, he called his double. Sometimes the explanations of the events are weirder than the events themselves, e. g.:
[page 82] . . . if you had not gotten lost in your indulging, you could have known that you yourself are a dream, that your double is dreaming you, in the same fashion that you dreamed him last night.
Carlos was always writing down things in his notepad, something don Juan and don Genaro teased him about all the time. His description of the world, the one he wrote down on his pad, and the one he kept going in his head as internal dialogue were both reason-based descriptions, descriptions based in what Rudolf Steiner called the Intellectual Soul. But to put will into thinking is the hallmark of the Consciousness Soul at work. In the next passage, don Juan seems to be talking specifically about the power of the Consciousness Soul with its will over the Intellectual Soul with its reason.
[page 101] "We, the luminous beings, are born with two rings of power, but we use only one to create the world. That ring, which is hooked very soon after we are born, is reason, and its companion is talking. Between the two they concoct and maintain the world.
"So, in essence, the world that your reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and its dogmatic and inviolable rules, which the reason learns to accept and defend.
"The secret of luminous beings is that they have another ring of power which is never used, the will. The trick of the sorcerer is the same trick of the average man. Both have a description; one, the average man, upholds it with his reason; the other, the sorcerer, upholds it with his will. Both descriptions have their rules and the rules are perceivable, but the advantage of the sorcerer is that will is more engulfing than reason.
"The suggestion that I want to make at this point is that from now on you should let yourself perceive whether the description is upheld by your reason or by your will.
In the middle part of the book, don Juan introduces Carlos to the tonal and the nagual, which are pronounced ton-nahl and nah-wahl. The tonal is the left-brain, reason-based, descriptive parts of social humankind - think of it as consisting of maps at all levels of maps. The nagual is the territory, the pure What Is Going On [WIGO] of Alfred O. Korzybski, for which no map will ever be sufficient. Each level of map is at least one level of abstraction separated from the WIGO. Don Juan says at one point, "It is the nagual that is responsible for creativity." Naturally what we can get from the tonal is only more description, but from the nagual we can extract the exciting possibilities that we call by the name creativity.
At one point don Juan and don Genaro simultaneously talked into Carlos's ears, don Juan into his right ear, and don Genaro into his left ear. In Bandler and Grinder's early seminars they would sometime use this "double-induction" technique, with one talking in one's left ear and the other into the right ear. Or they would simply alternate talking, sometimes talking over one another, to the entire audience and we would experience a splitting of our left and right brains similar to what Carlos experienced with the two dons.
[page 184] After that my perceptions became dull. They either lacked precision, or they were too many and I had no way of sorting them. The next batch of discernible apperceptions were a series of sounds that happened at the end of a long tubelike formation. The tube was myself and the sounds were don Juan and don Gernaro, again talking to me through each of my ears. The more they talked the shorter the tube became until the sounds were in a range I recognized. That is to say, the sounds of do Juan and don Genaro's words reached my normal range of perception: the sounds were first recognizable as noises, then as words yelled, and finally as words whispered in my ears.
In the end of the book, one early evening don Genaro was lying on the ground, moving his arms and legs as if he were swimming. Don Juan said he was hugging the Earth, and that "Only the love for this splendorous being can give freedom to a warrior's spirit; and freedom is joy, efficiency, and abandon in the face of any odds." He then reminded the two new warriors, Carlos and Pablito, that "twilight is the crack between the worlds, the door to the unknown" and swept his hand over the northern edge of the mesa on which they were standing saying, "This is the plateau in front of that door." With those words don Juan and don Genaro faded away behind them as Pablito held Carlos' forearm and they said goodbye to each other. Then, in a moment like in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" they began running together and jumped from the northern edge of the mesa into the door to the unknown as the book comes to an end with this sentence:
[page 287] I felt his arm holding me as we jumped and then I was alone.
In this book Carlos does what one must do after he has killed off a major character — he brings him to life by recounting a memory. Don Juan lives once more in this book. Not as the omniscient guru, but as a vulnerable, stupid nagual apprentice to his two benefactors: Julian and Elias.
Julian is the clown and stalker; Elias the wise and the explainer. Here we find Don Juan exhibiting all the behavior that in earlier books, we find Don Juan (at a later point in his life) chiding Carlos for exhibiting: reading a lot, always wanting explanations, being stupid, etc.
This book, at times, takes on an aura that makes you forget it's Don Juan reminiscing, so much does he remind you of Carlos. Its strength is that it captures much of the flavor of Carlos's early books: the teacher and the pupil interacting. Only this time it's Don Juan the pupil and Julian/Elias the teachers. Of course, Carlos is the listener to these recollections, and he asks Don Juan some stupid, as well as thought-provoking questions.
Don Juan's explanations and answers to Carlos's questions are the meat of the book. They detail the processes to which Don Juan had subjected Carlos and his other apprentices, as detailed in Carlos's earlier books. The processes I found which showed up as adventures in the other Don Juan books are described and named in detail here.
The processes are: stalking, intent, moving the assemblage point, controlled folly, place of no pity, and silent knowledge. The last one gave this book its title. The Power of Silent Knowledge is likely how it reached the publishers, who suggested the more mysterious and impactful, Power of Silence.
The theme of this book is silent knowledge in its many forms, and it gives names to each of the forms. One might think of silent knowledge as the "sound of one hand clapping." Or what Alfred O. Korzybski called WIGO, What Is Going On. Or what Wittgenstein call the unspeakable. Or Bandler and Grinder in NLP called the deep structure. It is a part of the unfathomable reality that presents itself to us in a "blooming, buzzing confusion" that we must perceive, abstract, and make sense of.
Don Juan refers to it as that deep intuition which, when it comes, is not noticed as an intuition at all, unless one has been trained as a warrior to notice when silent knowledge appears. "Where is the basket wherein the fruits of one's mind appears?" asked Jane Roberts in one of her books. Don Juan answers in silence.
New Stuff on the Internet:
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Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.“Amadeus” (1984) In the Director’s Cut, we saw a whole bunch of scenes that did not get into the theater production. The Blu-Ray transfer is great. Music is incredible. A marvelous look at what imitators do to innovators. Adapted from the original play by Alexander Pushkin, the Russian Mozart, who knew all about innovators (being one) having to deal with imitators, geniuses with mediocre people. Salieri said, “I speak for all mediocrities of the world. I am their champion — I am their patron saint.” 180 minutes of Amadeus. Incredible movie! Enjoyed this Director’s Cut even more than the first run movie. Chill bumps all over the place. Incredible opera scenes of Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and even more. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Unbearable Lightness of Being” (1988) Milan Kundera’s classic book on kitsch comes to life in this steamy, funny, insightful, and political film. New DVD with Director’s Cut adds some scenes and fleshes out the lives of three lovers who survived the Prague rebellion against the USSR. A DON’T MISS HIT! !“Chuck Jones: Extremes and in Betweens” (2000) In-betweens are the artists who are hired to draw the intermediate cels or animation drawings between key action points. On the other extreme was the Director, Chuck Jones, whose wild and zany technicolor cartoons entertained millions between old drab B&W films all the way through the 1950s. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck he adopted an gave new verve to, Roadrunner and Pepi Le Pew, he created and gave life to. You watched his masterworks, now watch the master. And That’s not All Folks! abudebudebudeep! A don’t miss look behind the animation scenes and A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Little Dorrit: Disc 1” (2008) We watched the baby girl of the Dorrit clan get born in the poor house in London and make her way towards respectability and society. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Burning Plain” (2008) and the Burning Plane. An intricately wound plot involving two groups of people starring Charliz Theron and Kim Basinger unfolds slowly but dramatically in the course of the movie. A DON’T MISS HIT !
“Little Dorrit: Disc 2” (2008) Amy’s father gets released from Marshalsea debtor’s prison because of a rich inheritance and Amy’s life gets worst instead of better.
“Is Anybody There?” (2008) about a young boy growing up in an old age home wondering about life after death until up pops Michael Caine playing out the string of his Alfie life as a aged womanizer whose magic tricks don’t work on women, but he can still pop a rabbit out of a hand and slice carrots and other things with his guillotine. Taking the young man under his wings and vice-versa makes for A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Night John” (1996) returned after running away to show his fellow slaves how the A stands on its own two feet, the B with its double curve is his mother, and the C stands for Courage. Movie illuminates the part lack of schooling played in keeping slaves in bondage to beatings, killings, and long work hours for little or no pay. Their descendants have learned this lesson today, haven’t they?
“Little Dorrit: Disc 3” (2008) is still sleeping in Venice and the sinister Frenchman is sleeping with the fishes. The secret box is now in the Borg Queen’s possession as we ready to enter the final disc, No. 4.
“Stand By for Action” (1942) Robert Taylor as Harvard grad who is thrown into action aboard a re-outfitted battleship as Exec Office under Brian Donlevy who teaches him what it really means to be a Captain. Fun begins when they pick up a lifeboat with a dozen or so babies and two pregnant females.
“Little Dorrit: Disc 4” (2008) her father is now sleeping with the fishes and the Frenchman returns, striving to bring down the House of Clennam and succeeds in an avalanche of events bringing Amy (no longer Little) Dorrit into the arms of her beloved in the only way possible for the time. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“A Rather English Marriage” (1998) featuring two marriages dissolved by death of the wives in adjacent beds in a hospital within minutes of each other. Their husbands, Tom Courtney and Albert Finney, move in together for company and Finney falls in love with a gold digger. What will happen when she finds it’s a depleted vein?
“The Big Picture” (1989) in which a young Kevin Bacon wins an award for directing a small film and is soon swept away by a tsunami of Hollywood mores and expectations and left on the beach high and dry. Returning to what he loved, he shot a movie video of a new band and soon he was the hottest director in town and finally made his movie his own way. Likely a prophetic script for his own life as a director.
“Howard the Duck” (1985) We first watched this movie 25 years ago. I remember enjoying it back then and it’s still a marvelously funny movie about a duck named Howard who came crashing to Earth one day in Cleve-land. Can he survive the mean streets, find love, go back home, or stay and turn Cleve-land into home? A DON’T MISS HIT!
“Elsa and Fred” (2005) are two charming elderly people who move in next to each other and find happiness together and a smile which outlives one of them.
“The Blind Side” (2009) Sandra Bullock stars as a woman who takes in a homeless waif named “Big Mike” and helps him through high school and into college where he continued to star in football as Michael Oher with the Ravens. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Young Victoria” (2009) covers Victoria younger days leading up to being Queen and takes us into the beginning of her reign with Albert.
“I Love You, Man” (2009) and enjoyed again this funny and insightful movie which takes the subject of how men relate to each other and brought ‘man cave’ into the jargon. See also digest094.htm A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“The Country Teacher” (2008) quiet movie which you will not miss if you miss it.
“Day One” (2009) is mishmash takeoff on the old Testament which plays as fast and loose with the facts as the citizens of Sodom played with each other. When it tried to be funny, it was gross and the gross parts were not funny. With more movies like this one Jack Black will be in the Red. All it has to recommend is its fate as A DVD STOMPER.
“Observe and Report” (2009) that this movie is a DUD. It contains very little worth either “observing” or “reporting”.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“London to Brighton” (2006) As bad as things were in London for Kelley and her new friend, 12-yr-old Joanne, they were worse in Brighton. What happened in the apartment of Stuart’s dad which led to his death and caused Stuart to send two pimps searching for the two girls who were there? And what will he do to the two girls when and if he finds them? Lugubrious movie, but some gripping drama which holds to the end.
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” (2009) Bad Script, Bad Film, and finally Bad Captain. Too much like headlines in our local newspaper. Cops planting evidence, removing drugs from evidence room for personal use, beating up suspects, and then getting promoting for doing all of this.
“Men Who Stare at Goats” (2009) and run through walls like Jedi warriors and mostly bore the audience. Ewan McGregor and George Clooney together couldn’t make this turkey a hit.
“Happy Accidents” (2001) in which a time traveler returns from 400 years in future to save Marisa Tomei’s life and she ain’t having any of it. She was angry most of the movie and this spoiled an otherwise very good movie.
“Sugar” (2008) Behind the scenes look at a pitcher growing up in Dominican Republic and coming to the States to play in the Major Leagues. Slow movie but accurate and poignant representation of life for Latins in the baseball game.
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4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Two Cajun men were drinking at T-Paul's Bar in Mamou all afternoon one early Spring day. There was an LSU baseball game on which was tied up 5-5 in the 8th inning and a pitching duel ensued until the bottom of the 14th inning when Dozar hit a home run to win the game. The first man stumbled out the barroom and was surprised to find it dark outside, but he figured, "Mais, Ah'll took my usual shortcut t'ru the graveyard, me." About halfway through the cemetery, he fell into an open grave which had been dug for the funeral early the next morning. He tried to climb out, to no avail. He starting crying for help, but there was no one around.
Luckily, the second man had left a few minutes later and decided to take the same shortcut home. A cold front had just blown through, a cold wind was blowing and the temperature was dropping. He buttoned up his shirt and was shivering, thinking to himself that he should had taken one last shot of Jack Daniels to warm himself against the cold before he left T-Paul's. Suddenly he heard a cry in the dark night, "Help me! Ah'm cold!" and it kept repeating and getting louder as he walked into the graveyard. Soon he reached the open grave and as he looked in the cry came out once more, louder, "Help me! Ah'm cold!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for May, 2010 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Crawfish Pasta Laurene
Background on Crawfish Pasta Laurene: This is a dish served often at receptions in their buffet. I had never made in Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen until brought some home from a Garden Club meeting which a member Laurene Nadier had prepared. When Del cooked it one day from a recipe she got from Laurene, I decided it would make an excellent recipe to share with my fellow cooks in cyberspace. Simple and delicious. Bon Apetit!
1 capful of Zatarain's Shrimp Boil liquid
1 pkg of Rotini tricolor pasta
1 large yellow onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
1 package of crawfish tails
5 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
Tony's Seasoning, sea salt and Malabar black pepper
Bertolli's Extra Lite Olive Oil
Defrost crawfish tails if frozen.
Boil Rotini in water with the Shrimp Boil liquid added. Drain before adding below.
Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Reduce heat to Medium. Add the crawfish tails and the mushroom soup. (If using fully cooked crawfish tails, cook on Medium for about 10 minutes.) Stir in the drained Rotini pasta. After well-mixed, blend in the cheese. Sprinkle liberally some Tony' Chachere's Seasoning and grind some sea salt and gourmet black pepper to taste. Mix ingredients once more.
Can be served as a Main Dish or made double or triple sized and use in a chafing dish over a small Sterno can to keep warm during a family event or buffet. Keep enough liquid in the pasta to keep it moist while serving.
Experiment with other kinds of pasta such as linguine, penne, or elbow macaroni.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from his Gerard Manly Hopkins review:
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Gerard Manley Hopkins walked to classes on the grounds of Oxford University some five hundred years after Johannes Duns Scotus, the famous philosopher. When Hopkins first read Scotus's writings, he noted that he became, "flush with a new stroke of enthusiasm. It may come to nothing or it may be a mercy from God. But just then when I took in any inscape of the sky or sea I thought of Scotus." This quotation led me into a reverie about the inscape of the poet versus the landscape of the painter which resulted in this poem.
Words and Hush
A painter with earthen colors
oils a landscape within a canvas wall.
A poet with ethereal colors
coils an inscape within a footless hall.
What was without is come within
the framéd painter's scape.
Will what was within ever escape
the poet's footless halls?
There stands the painter's view — Behold!
A thumbnail of the world unfold'd.
Where stands the poet's inscape rare,
but in the harmonies of footéd air?
Listen with your heart and soul
if you would hear
the inscape colors in your ears unfold.
The painter works with oils and brush —
The poet works with words and — hush.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for May:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: The Lord's Prayer, GA#96, 97 by Rudolf Steiner
The four lectures in this small book appeared also in The Christian Mystery, but were hardly touched upon in my review of that book. Adam Bittelston's Essay on Rudolf Steiner's view of the Lord's Prayer appeared in 1964 Edition of The Golden Blade, and was given a detailed review. These four lectures expand upon the Bittelston Essay and likely provide the basis for it. Three of the lectures deal with The Lord's Prayer, going over much of the same material from a slightly different point of view in three different cities, and the fourth lecture, given in Berlin a month after the first, expands what Steiner had covered earlier.
If you have ever wondered how important this prayer we usually call the Our Father is, this book will reveal that to you. What better place to begin than to reveal how Jesus received the prayer himself. In his book, The Fifth Gospel, Rudolf Steiner writes of events in the life of Jesus not covered in any of the extant gospels. In this next passage, quoted from my review we watch in amazement as Jesus receives the famous prayer directly from the spiritual world in reverse order.
[from The Fifth Gospel review] In his twenty-fourth year, Steiner reports that Jesus visited a pagan worship site where the people hailed him as a priest come to revive their ancient place of worship. As Jesus neared the altar the people pushed him onto it and demanded he perform an offering service for them. Jesus fell face down on the altar as if in death, and the people scattered in fear. Jesus heard the ancient voice of the Bath Kol saying to him these enigmatic and powerful words [page 51]:
The evil holds sway.
Witness of egoity freeing itself.
Selfhood guilt through other incurred.
Experienced in the daily bread.
Wherein the will of the heavens does not rule.
Because man separated himself from your realm.
And forgot your names.
You Fathers in the heavens.
Jesus apparently understood the meaning of these words, reversed the order to form the prayer, and gave it to us saying, "When you pray, pray this way." It is a prayer fashioned to keep us all and always in the right mode of thought and prayer until the end of humanity's time on the planet Earth.
As we go through the phrases, we enter into the three highest forms of human being during our Earth evolution, which are expressed in the prayer as Name, Kingdom, and Will. When we pray "Our Father" we address the Godhead of which we comprise a tiny part and we acknowledge that "Hallowed be Thy Name", "Thy Kingdom come", and "Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." The connection between these nascent parts of our human being has been known for long before Christ Jesus taught this prayer to his disciples and to us. Each of us are embarked on a journey of purifying (by operation of our "I") our astral body into spirit self, our etheric body into life spirit, and our physical body into spirit man, which journey will only end when Earth itself comes to an end.
Rightly understood, this prayer is prophetic and prophylactic. It is prophetic in that it reminds each of us of the long journey each of us are right now in the process of undertaking, whether we realize it consciously or not. This prayer is prophylactic in that it prescribes how we may best act in our lives today by addressing the needs of our four lower human parts, our physical body, etheric body, astral body, and "I". The prophylactic petitions are "Give us this day our daily bread" (physical body), "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" (etheric body), "Lead us not into temptation" (astral body), and "Deliver us from evil" ("I"). Each of us needs food for our physical body, needs to learn not to trespass on others (forgiving them if they trespass on our etheric body), needs to avoid temptation (which our astral body is subject to), and needs to be delivered from evil (which our "I" is subject to as it operates in freedom, but it is the youngest of the four bodies and needs help to overcome evil).
In Pythagorean form, the spiritual triumvirate sits atop the physical quaternity as a triangle atop a square.
How are we to understand such words as Godhead (Father), Kingdom, and Name? Yes, we have the dictionary definitions, but what do they mean as they appear in the cosmic prayer that we call the Our Father or Lord's Prayer? Physicists try to convince lay people that the universe began in a Big Bang, but what does that really mean, outside of the abstract mathematical equations which few understand? Listen to Rudolf Steiner's description of the origin of the universe. It begins with the prosaic task of looking into a mirror.
[page 30, 31] Imagine yourself standing in front of a mirror and looking into it. Your image is exactly like you in every respect of your physiognomy, your gestures; it is like you in every way except that it is a dead image of you. You stand in front of it as a living entity, and you are confronted by the dead image of yourself, which is similar to you in every aspect except for the living, substantial part of you. Imagine now that your will had evolved to the point where it would be capable of deciding to give up your own existence, your own essential being, and give it to your mirror image; that you were in a position to sacrifice yourself wholly, so that your mirror image was provided with your life force. Such a will is described as 'emanating', as letting its own essence go. It is the highest stage of the will, known to Christians as the 'divine will of the Father'. The human will today, then, is the least developed of our soul forces. However, it is in the process of evolving such power that it will be capable of achieving 'the great sacrifice'. That is the true nature of the potential strength that lies in the power of Atma — of the nature of will in so far as it is an outflowing of the divine essence.
What would possess someone to let their own essence go? one might ask. Who would even consider doing such a thing today? "No one" is the likely answer. But we humans today have only the barest remnants of divine Will inside of us, in what we call will-power. Even Peter did not have the will power to stay awake one hour as Christ Jesus requested him to do, did he? We, two thousand years later, have barely begun to work upon our physical body to create the Will (the Atman or Spirit Man) which is capable of conceiving of and proceeding upon "the great sacrifice." But we are on the path to doing exactly that in the course of our evolutionary future.
[page 30] We shall begin with the highest principle, the one that is called Atma.
What I am going to tell you now is not some kind of superficial definition, but I want to characterize for you the real nature and essence of this particular higher principle of human nature. The force that comes into being as Atma, in so far as it is a force coming from the Godhead, is of the nature of will. When you think of your own will-power, of the force in you that is able to will, that is only a shadowy copy of the principle that comes from the power of Atma, from the Godhead. A human being's will is the part of us that is least developed today. The will is, however, capable of developing more and more until the time comes when it reaches its culmination and will be able to achieve what is known in religions as 'the great offering', or 'the great sacrifice'.
How are we to understand the second spiritual nature of Man, the Buddhi or Life Spirit? Think of an electrostatic sphere, such as appears in various museums and science exhibits: if you put your hand on the glass sphere, a miniature lightning bolt (actually a plasma discharge) flashes to it. The electrostatic field is equal in all directions from the center and no outflowing discharges occur until you unbalance some portion of the field with your finger or hand. When you remove your hand it returns to its quiet, balanced state. Now think of all the spots on the inside surface of the sphere which are under a high potential, they are each a small component of the field which exists in the center of the sphere.
[page 31, 32] Let us now consider the second principle of man's higher nature, the Buddhi or Life Spirit, looking at it as an outflowing of the Godhead — that is the view taken in Christianity. The easiest way to get an idea of it is if you now consider not the force that flows out to give life to the mirror image but the mirror image itself. The mirror image presents a complete copy of the original entity; it is the same, and yet not the same — if you apply this to the world, to the whole universe, it is the way the divine universal will in one point is reflected in all directions. Think of a hollow space as it were that reflects inside. The one point inside is reflected there an infinite number of times — everywhere in an infinite repetition of the divine cosmic will, mirror images everywhere, separate aspects of the divine.Look at the cosmos, the universe; as a mirroring of the infinite cosmic will. No single creature contains the divine cosmic will, but it is reflected everywhere in infinitely many ways. The mirroring of the Godhead-with the Godhead remaining in the point where it is, but at the same time, by making 'the great sacrifice', giving life to every point in which it is reflected-this, in Christian terminology, is the 'kingdom'. And this term 'the kingdom' describes the same principle as Buddhi in man. If you think of the universe from the point of view of the creative, productive principle emanating from what was there from the beginning, the divine principle, then the element that follows directly after Atma is the divine spark of life, namely, Buddhi. As 'the kingdom' it is universal, cosmic.
In our example of the electrostatic globe, all points on the glass sphere seemed identical until we put our finger on the glass surface and then the plasma discharge it attracted makes for a distinction which we could name. We might name it by saying, "Look at this spot where the lightning bolt hits my finger." Suddenly that spot has a name to distinguish it from all the other spots on the globe.
[page 32] Let us now turn our attention from this to the details of the kingdom. We first considered it as a whole. Now we come down to detail. In what way do we distinguish the one from the other? Through what in Christian terminology we call 'the name'. Each thing is given a name, and this is how we distinguish between the many different things, the individual aspects of the kingdom. By the term 'name' a Christian understands what is often called the idea, the mental image belonging to something. Just as individual people are distinguished one from another by having a name, the name is felt to be something that possesses a part of the mirrored divine essence. Christians have the right attitude to this name if they realize that every aspect of the kingdom issues from the divine, and that every morsel of bread is an outflowing, a mirror, a part of the Godhead. A Christian should be quite clear about this in relation to even the least significant things. In human nature it is the individual Spirit Self that brings it about that each human being faces the other as a separate person. What the name is in the kingdom is possessed by human beings in their individual Spirit Self or Manas, because, they are a separate part of the Godhead, and have a particular name for themselves, the name which for each individual passes through all incarnations.
When we understand these aspects of Godhead, Kingdom, and Name, we can come to grips with our own threefold nature of Atman (or Atma), Buddhi, and Manas (Spirit Man, Life Spirit, and Spirit Self).
[page 32, 33] So we can now visualize this threefold nature as an outflowing of divine spirit being, and it is in this sense that Atma or Spirit Man is the will of the Godhead, Buddhi or Life Spirit the kingdom and Manas or Spirit Self the name.
Rudolf Steiner found these aspects of the cosmos, not by retrofitting them to the Lord's Prayer, but by learning them independently of the Lord's Prayer and recognizing the cosmic significance of their appearance in the Lord's Prayer.
Let us move down into the lower quaternity of the human being as we did earlier, but this time with Rudolf Steiner holding our hand.
[page 33] Let us now look at the four lower parts of human nature, beginning with the lowest one, the physical body. It has the same material substance and forces as outer physical nature, but is also constantly converting them. These go in and out of the human physical body, and its very existence depends on this happening. It can only continue to exist by continually renewing itself and changing itself by using the outer physical substance. It is part of the whole of physical nature. Just as you cannot cut off this finger and have it remain what it is — it will shrivel up as soon as you separate it from the rest of the body, and is what it is only because it is part of the whole organism — neither can you separate the human physical body from the earth and have it remain as it is. Human beings are what they are only by virtue of being in connection with the elements of the earth. Physical substances and forces go in and out of us, making us the kind of being that can only maintain our essential nature with their assistance. This characterizes our physical body.
Few of us stop to think about how the physical elements of the Earth go into and out of us again, creating a completely new body in seven years so by which time all the elements of our body have been switched out. This process goes mostly unnoticed by us, we feel the same, but meantime, to use an automotive metaphor: our tires have been replaced, our motor, our seats, the metal body parts, the radio, CD player, all the wires, and all the light bulbs, even the paint, has been replaced. And this goes on and on, every seven years all the atoms of our body have been replaced. The only place we notice it is when children of age seven lose the teeth they received from the elements of their mother's body while in the womb and out pops new teeth made from elements acquired outside their mother's body. Where do all the elements come from? Our "daily bread".
The next aspect of the quaternity is equally unnoticed, except by its absence, and that is the etheric body (life body). We notice immediately its absence when someone dies — the body is "lifeless" we say, that is, absent a "life body" infusing it and keeping the earthen materials flowing into and out from the physical body. The words "ether body" and "life body" are synonymous and equivalent. "Life" refers to its function of maintaining life in the physical body and "Ether" refers to its otherwise non-physically sensible nature. In addition to its maintenance activities, the etheric body also has storage activities.
[page 33, 34] The second member is the etheric or life body. Here we must understand that it is the principle that stirs the merely physical substances and forces into life. It sustains growth and reproduction, in fact all the manifestations of life, but also something entirely different — all the human qualities that are of a more lasting nature than people's short-lived drives, desires and passions. What is the difference between them? To grasp this difference, think back to the time when you were eight years old. Think of everything you have learnt since then, of all the thoughts and ideas you have taken on board and all the experiences you have had — a huge amount. But now you need to think of something else, and that is how slowly, at what a snail's pace something else happens. Think of the violent temper you had as a child, and ask yourself whether this temper does not still persist at times, and whether your temperament and inclinations have not to a large extent remained the same. All this has not changed as much as your experiences have. You can compare what you learn and experience with the minute hand of a clock and the changes in regard to character, temperament and habit with the hour hand. The difference exists because the former are sustained by the astral body whereas the latter, which change so slowly, are sustained by the etheric body. If you change your habits, that is a change in your etheric body. If you have learnt one thing or another, that is a change in your astral body.
Our etheric body sustains our temperament and our inclinations over our lifetime, but it also stores all the memories of our daily lives in infinite detail. When at death the etheric body leaves the physical body, it releases all of those memories to our consciousness in our astral body and the familiar effect of "having one's life past before one's eyes" occurs.
[page 34] The etheric body is also the bearer of memory as a capacity, not as the memorizing of things. For instance, if your memory needs to be made more acute this involves changing the etheric body; if it fades, it is a change in your etheric body, a change in your ability to memorize.
There is another aspect of your etheric body which is important: how it adjusts to the etheric bodies of the other people in your life. If your etheric body infringes on another's etheric body, it creates a dent in their etheric body that is just as real as if you make a dent in their automobile's fender, and sometimes more so. These dents take various shapes and forms but collectively they constitute a trespass on another's property and lead to you incurring thereby a debt to the property owner, and by this I mean property of all kinds, primordial (someone's life), primary (someone's thoughts and ideas), and secondary (someone's other physical properties like autos, homes, clothes, money, etc, i.e., everything else.) Try to find a trespass which does not infringe on someone's primordial, primary, or secondary property — you will find it impossible. The definitions are necessary and sufficient to encompass all kinds of property.
How do you undo a trespass, a dent, you made in someone else's etheric body? It's like removing a debt, you ask for forgiveness and if they require some recompense, you provide it. What does the petition of the Lord's Prayer dealing with etheric body dents suggest we do? "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In other words, we ask that we be forgiven to the same extent to which we forgive others — in effect it forces each of us to say, "If forgiveness is going to be, it's up to me." To withhold forgiveness from others is tantamount to keeping ourselves from being forgiven.
Our astral body is next. It was mentioned earlier as being the minute hand of a clock compared to the hour hand of the etheric body. The astral body is far more changeable over time than the etheric body. The astral body has momentary passions and desires; the etheric body has lifelong temperaments.
[page 35] The astral body determines the individual aspect, and it must above all live in such a way that that person does not commit personal sins. The area in which the astral body goes astray in one direction or another concerns personal sins which are lapses on the part of the astral body, whereas being out of harmony with the community points to lapses on the part of the etheric body. When esoteric Christians used exact terms they called the lapses of the etheric body 'trespasses' or 'debts', things that upset the balance in relation to others. A failing of the astral body, which is determined by the individuality, was called 'falling into temptation'. The astral body is subject to temptation in its drives, its passions and desires. It deviates from the right path by giving way to temptation. This was the distinction made in esoteric Christianity between 'trespassing' and 'falling into temptation'.
Now we have arrived at the portion of the cosmic prayer with which we ask earnestly, "Lead us not into temptation." We know that we human beings are subject to temptation because our Genesis story makes it clear that we will be subject to temptation during our earthly lives. We pray simply that we be led to higher goals and aims than that which temptation provides, that each of us as a human being may be led into a path which avoids a falling into temptation. Temptation is like a chasm over which we must cross and the path is "strait and narrow." In other words the path is strict and rigorous as well as narrow.
We have now examined three of the quaternity, what could remain? Let's see, animals have a physical body, they have an etheric or life body, they also have an astral body (passions which drive them to eat and procreate). Surely we human beings are more than just some advanced animal with only physical, etheric, and astral bodies, don't you think? What is it we humans have which animals don't? We each have a name which refers to us individually which no one else can use. Animals do not have such a name. What is this name? I can tell you because I have one, and I can convince that you have one, even if you were to say in all sincerity, "I don't have one!" I could convince you by simply pointing out that you had just used that very name to refer to yourself individually! The name is "I". I have an "I", you have an "I", everybody has an "I". My Schnauzer, unfortunately, does not have an "I", no matter how much he appears to me to be human at times. Neither does any other animal. So-called talking apes do not have an "I", no matter how ingeniously they can mimic humans in sign language, there has never and will never be an ape who will sign this message, "I am me!" Our "I" is our fourth component of the quaternity of the earthly portion of the human being. How can that be?
[page 26] We hit upon it if we give the matter a little thought. There is one name that differs from all others. 'I' cannot be used to address anyone else. To everyone else I am a 'you' and everyone else is a 'you' to me. 'I' is a name the meaning of which can only arise in the inner soul itself, and can never sound towards you from outside if it refers to you yourself. The more profound religions have throughout the ages embraced this, and they would say therefore: 'When the soul begins in its inner self to describe itself in this way then the god in man begins to speak, the god who speaks through the soul.' The name 'I' cannot come from outside, and has to arise in the soul itself. This is the fourth principle of human nature.
Our "I" is the very basis of our freedom of action as human beings. Each one of us can say honestly, "I will not let anyone else tell me what to do." We have a freedom of action which animals do not. Humans pressed into slavery pulling heavy carts can and have rebelled asserting their rights as a human being to operate in freedom, but oxen have not and will not.
[page 36] Now the fourth member of the essential human being - the I. We spoke of the physical body, which exists on the basis of metabolism, exchange of substances; the etheric body, which can commit transgressions; the astral body, which can fall into temptation. Now the I. It is the very source and origin of self-seeking, of egoism. It is the I which has brought it about that what was whole and undivided in the great divine spiritual being has entered into many individuals. The falling away from the oneness of the divine being into separate individuals was due to the I. Christian knowledge therefore considered the I to be the actual origin of egoism and selfishness. For as long as the individual entities were joined together in the Godhead they could not pull in separate directions. They could do this only when they had become separate egos. Before this they could only will as the Godhead willed. The process of developing in opposition to others, which is what egoism is, is what Christians call the failing of the I. In Christian tradition the moment when the soul descends into the body is exactly defined as the Fall, the biting of the apple. The actual failing of the I is called 'evil'. The failing of the fourth member, therefore, is evil. Only the I can succumb to evil, and this arose through what is described as the eating of the apple. In Latin the word malum actually means both 'apple' and 'evil'.
The fourth petition of the quaternity of the cosmic prayer is, "Deliver us from evil." Animals, lacking an "I", cannot do evil deeds. They have only passions, and while we humans may call some animal evil, we are only attributing to it some human intention to do evil which the animal cannot have. Animals have already been delivered from evil by virtue of never having possessed it. When we plead "deliver us from evil, we acknowledge the presence of evil in the world and in us and we request we be provided the spiritual resources to save ourselves from whatever evil is besetting us. And, recognizing that we may be in error about what is evil or not, we had best hold the mood, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
[page 23] This mood of making way for the divine spirit to be alive in us as we pray, giving ourselves up to it, not wanting anything for ourselves but letting the divine spirit will in us, this mood must form the undercurrent, the keynote, if it is to be Christian.
We have followed Steiner in the details, so let's give him a chance to sum up the case for our human quaternity as it is so ably presented in the prayer which Christ Jesus gave us to pray:
[page 37] So to sum up once more, the physical body is similar to the physical elements all around it and is sustained through the continual exchange of substances and forces taking place in the metabolism. The etheric body is the principle which maintains the balance with the other members of the community, and which can commit sins. The astral body, which ought not to succumb to temptation, and the I, which should not fall victim to egoism, to evil.
We have followed Steiner's vision of how the Godhead separated into Kingdom and Name, but there is one further step which we can discuss now that we have encountered the "I" as the highest portion of the human quaternity. One comes to visualize human beings as a rainbow canopy of stars!
[page 58] Again and again we hear the cliche that human beings must gradually merge into a universal consciousness. This is what redemption is said to be, losing our present-day consciousness and merging into a universal one. However, this is not the way things really are. Ego-consciousness, which did not always exist, will persist even beyond our final incarnation. What once separated out from the common spiritual substance will flow together once again. But now you must imagine it in this way. Originally there was clear water that was soaked up by the many little sponges. In the course of separation, however, we take in everything we can receive from our surroundings and each little drop takes on a quite specific color. When the water is squeezed out of the sponge again each one contributes its own color, amounting to a tremendous variety of colors, shimmering with greater beauty than could ever have been there before. Every individual, in fact, on returning to the universal spiritual element contributes their own special coloring. This is their individual consciousness, which will never be lost. Universal consciousness will actually be a harmony of all the individual consciousnesses. The beings who have passed through the process of being human will become a unity out of their own freedom. While remaining many individual entities, they will also form a unity. But they will do so because they choose to rather than because they are forced. Each one has retained individual consciousness, and of their own will they all form a unified consciousness together. This is how we have to imagine the beginning and end of our current world evolution process.
Let me share with you a poem which was inspired by these lectures. What skeptics can see is only what the eyes of their body see, and to them nothing else can be important. But our soul and our spirit also have eyes, mostly in a nascent or dormant state ready for us to develop them in coming ages and lifetimes.
A body's eyes
see a body's life,
But with all that life gives,
A body's eyes can see
A body lives!
A soul's eyes
see a soul's life,
But with all that life gives,
A soul's eyes can see
A soul lives!
A spirit's eyes
see a spirit's life,
But with all that life gives,
A spirit's eye can see
A spirit lives!
There is one remaining component of the Lord's Prayer, the closing coda, which had been left out of the Roman Catholic prayer I was taught and learned, which has only recently been re-introduced into the prayer as it is said during the Sacrifice of the Mass. "For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are Yours, forever and ever."
[page 68] The esoteric nature of the school founded by the apostle Paul was indeed profound. Outside, Christianity was represented in an exoteric way. Paul assigned the task to Dionysius the Areopagite to cultivate this wisdom esoterically. So people presented the realm of the spirit as the dominions, principalities and powers, and envisaged it in such a way that they said: 'If we live in the kind of way demanded by the Lord's Prayer it will enable us to live our way upwards through the dominions, principalities and powers right up to the cherubim and seraphim, as far as the Godhead itself.'
Here you have these three stages, 'For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory,' for these three stages are in the realm of the spirit.
What I have found in these four lectures is the theme of how the gamut of human evolution is represented in The Lord's Prayer. Steiner says on page 68, "Now the time has come when people must know what was the purpose of these prayers. We should say the Lord's Prayer, and do so every day. There is nothing more we need to know about human nature than what is in that prayer." What can one say after these words but a hearty, AMEN.
Read the Full Review with Footnotes at:
2.) ARJ2: Musicophilia — Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
When Oliver Sacks talks, I listen. When he writes, he takes subjects and follows them to the very nerve-endings and synapses of the brain itself. He never writes without including some aspect of his amazing and diverse life, such as when he introduced the Island of the Colorblind by talking about his love for the cycads which were growing in the London Botanical Gardens. The island whose population were color blind also had these primitive cycad trees, whose existence dates back to Paleozoic times. I was amazed to discover that the subtropical sago palm which grows everywhere around New Orleans was not a true palm, but one of these ancient dinosaur age plants. When I read his books, my life changes — I can never look at a sago plant without admiration since that book. Nor can I think of cold and hot lights (fluorescence and tungsten bulbs) without thinking of his two uncles, one who pioneered in cold light, and the other a pioneer in hot lights, namely, his Uncle Tungsten of the eponymous book.
With this book, he has attacked music in the same way, delving deeply into his own experiences with music and deeply into what happens inside the minds and brains of many patients with various brain and nervous system anomalies which shed light on how our human body works vis-à-vis music. If you thought you understood music because you are a music lover, Sacks will open his bag of tricks and surprise and delight with novel aspects of music which few have heard of or discovered in their own lives, up until now. And once more he has changed my own life. This time, not in a pleasant way.
Did you ever notice a clock ticking in the room you were in? And once you've noticed the darn thing ticking how hard it is to get rid of the ticking? You cannot get it to stop ticking by conscious effort; the harder you try the more aware you become of its incessant tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock . . . Well, during his discussion of tinnitis he describes various kinds of tinnitis, one of which matched a low level of tinnitis in my own ears, one of which I was hardly conscious of, until he mentioned it, I was plagued by my consciousness of it for several days, before I lapsed once more into blissful unawareness of it, but never again into blissful ignorance of it. Like Adam seduced by the apple that Eve-like Oliver offered, I have gotten knowledge of my tinnitis, and it become present whenever I think of or write about it. Let this be your warning, if you suspect you have low-level tinnitis, it may arise into consciousness while this review or the book, but rest assured, it will lapse once more into normal background noise in a short time.
I recall Betty Rankin, aka Big Mama of WWOZ.org fame, once saying over the radio, that she listened to WWOZ radio all night to help her sleep, and now I understand that she likely had enough tinnitis to otherwise keep her awake. My tinnitis is more like light hissing of a steam radiator, very constant and low volume, more like the white noise that some people buy and electronic generator for in order to help them sleep. Me, I have a white noise generator built-in.
In his Preface Sacks writes about music and quotes Schopenhauer, "The inexpressible depth of music — so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain . . . Music expresses only the quintessence of life and of its events, never these themselves." On this point, I would respectfully disagree esteemed philosopher. Once when the French Academy was debating whether a bear could dance, a man by the window looked out and saw a dancing bear in the street. In the face of contradictory evidence, a philosophical argument cannot stand. To those alive today who agree with Schopenhauer's last statement above, I would merely ask them to visit New Orleans and observe and participate in how music is integrated into life and all of its events.
We use the expression a bolt from the blue to refer to ideas which come to us in a flash, but Sacks begins his book with a story of a man, a doctor, who was talking on a pay phone outdoors when he was hit by a lightning flash which laid him out on the ground, dead, for all practical purposes. He reports floating above the scene, watching a woman giving him CPR.
[page 4] Then I was surrounded by a bluish-white light . . . an enormous feeling of well-being and peace. The highest and lowest points of my life raced by me. No emotion associated with these . . . pure thought, pure ecstasy. I had the perception of accelerating, being drawn up . . . there was speed and direction. Then, as I was saying to myself, 'This is the most glorious feeling I have ever had' — SLAM! I was back."
Dr. Cicoria knew he was back in his own body because he had pain — pain from the burns on his face and his left foot, where the electrical charge had entered and exited his body — and, he realized, "only bodies have pain." He wanted to go back, he wanted to tell the woman to stop giving him CPR, to let him go; but it was too late — he was firmly back among the living. After a minute or two, when he could speak, he said, "It's okay — I'm a doctor!" The woman (she turned out to be an intensive-care-unit nurse) replied, "A few minutes ago, you weren't."
The police finally took the doctor home instead of the hospital and later tests by cardiologist showed no problems. Just when his life seemed to have returned to normal several weeks later, he developed an intense desire to listen to piano music. He didn't own a piano, so he got recordings to satisfy his craze.
[page 5] This was completely out of keeping with anything in his past. He did not have a piano in his house. What music he did listen to tended to be rock music.
With this sudden onset of craving for piano music, he began to buy recordings and became especially enamored of a Vladimir Ashkenazy recording of Chopin favorites — the Military Polonaise, the Winter Wind Etude; the Black Key Étude, the A-flat Polonaise, the B-flat Minor Scherzo. "I loved them all," Cicoria said. "I had the desire to play them. I ordered all the sheet music. At this point, one of our babysitters asked if she could store her piano in our house-so now, just when I craved one, a piano arrived, a nice little upright. It suited me fine. I could hardly read the music, could barely play, but I started to teach myself." It had been more than thirty years since the few piano lessons of his boyhood, and his fingers seemed stiff and awkward.
This was only an appetizer for what was to come. Soon he heard music in his head.
[page 5, 6] "The first time," he said, "it was in a dream. I was in a tux, onstage; I was playing something I had written. I woke up, startled, and the music was still in my head. I jumped out of bed, started trying to write down as much of it as I could remember. But I hardly knew how to notate what I heard." This was not too successful — he had never tried to write or notate music before. But whenever he sat down at the piano to work on the Chopin, his own music "would come and take me over. It had a very powerful presence."
The music in his head seemed to "come from Heaven" as Mozart said about his music. Soon a music teacher came to help write down his music. Other than that, this was "a solitary pursuit, between himself and his muse." (Page 7)
When Sacks interviewed him, some details of his inner experiences emerged. His new-found ability to see auras indicates to me that his chakras had been opened. These seven energy centers associated with cardinal points of the human body are like vortices which get stirred up and begin to spin and pour spiritual energy in and out the body in their various locations. Each chakras has definite number of pedals from two to a thousand, and these petals represent what the convolutions of the flowing forces leave as a visual pattern to those who can see these spiritual forces.
[page 7] I asked whether he had experienced other changes since the lightning strike — a new appreciation of art, perhaps, different taste in reading, new beliefs? Cicoria said he had become "very spiritual" since his near-death experience. He had started to read every book he could find about near-death experiences and about lightning strikes. And he had got" a whole library on Tesla," as well as anything on the terrible and beautiful power of high-voltage electricity. He felt he could sometimes see "auras" of light or energy around people's bodies — he had never seen this before the lightning bolt.
There are dozens of such cases of unexpected musical skills in this book, so I include this one in detail. When Dr. Cicoria asked if Sacks thought his experiences were spiritual, he might not have known that Sacks characterizes himself as an "atheistic Jew". Sacks responded he "felt that even the most exalted states of mind, the most astounding transformation, must have some physical basis or at least some physiological correlate in neural activity". (italics added) This statement is interesting because I suspect that all illnesses and diseases process this way as well, some deep spiritual change takes place and the body follows along as if the soul and body were entrained, and I have no doubt they are.
Suddenly out of nowhere, like a grace note in music which doesn't appear in the written score, Cicoria's love of music appears in his life and his life is enhanced by it. Dr. Cicoria's story inspired me to write this poem.
A grace note
not to be questioned
Whether it be
flat or sharp —
A grace note
a lucky strike
A lightning strike
not to be questioned
But to be enjoyed.
A grace note,
In his Preface, Sacks writes about the "extraordinary tenacity of musical memory" saying that "so much of what is heard during one's early years may be 'engraved' on the brain for the rest of one's life." Clearly he is correct about this, but he does not go far enough, lacking the insights of the science of doyletics which postulates that every event in one's life is "engraved" on the brain indefinitely. Not for the rest of ones life, however, because it is easy using the speed trace memory technique to remove events which would otherwise remain engraved for the rest of one's life. As one begins to understand how one removes consciously these engraved events from one's early life, one can see that many of events are removed unconsciously as one matures. These "engraved events" are called doylic events or simply doyles and for simplicity they are assumed be stored in doylic memory, which name is necessary to distinguish it from just plain memory (or cognitive memory). Doylic memory hold physical body states which includes a vast array of events in the body of the pre-five-year-old child: hearing, speaking, walking, handling objects, recognizing objects through their orientation, and various internal states we label generically as sadness, fear, anger, anxiety, joy, happiness, gladness, among many other states.
When I read the case history of Mrs. N. I wondered if a simple speed trace might have kept her from needing a partial temporal lobectomy.
[page 28] She had loved the Neapolitan songs, which reminded her of her childhood. ("The old songs," she said, "they were always in the family; they always put them on.") She found them "very romantic, emotional. . . they had a meaning." But now that they triggered her seizures, she began to dread them. She became particularly apprehensive about weddings, coming as she did from a large Sicilian family, because such songs were always played at celebrations and family gatherings. "If the band started playing," Mrs. N. said, "I would run out. . . . I had half a minute or less to get away."
Since our research into doyletics has found that doylic memories which trigger migraine, asthma, allergies, rashes, and various kinds of automatic responses, it seems possible that a simple minute or two speed trace could remove the very trigger which caused her grand mal seizures. I leave this as an open question, but one could promise relief without surgery for many people who suffer various kinds of seizures. The trace procedure is very fast and after short training, it can be used by the patient on themselves upon the slightest symptom of the seizure coming on.
One of the keys to a general acceptance of the science of doyletics would be a physiological confirmation of the Memory Transition Age of five years old. Extensive traces going back 35 years have shown that if a doyle is traced back before the age of 5, it will not return while traces only going to ages 6 or older will allow the doyle to return at some future time. From the description of how the functional MRI scans were able to notice the filling of musical gaps, it seems clear that a functional MRI could provide physiological confirmation of the Memory Transition Age.
[page 33] Physiological confirmation of such "filling in" by involuntary musical imagery has recently been obtained by William Kelley and his colleagues at Dartmouth, who used functional MRI to scan the auditory cortex while their subjects listened to familiar and unfamiliar songs in which short segments had been replaced by gaps of silence. The silent gaps embedded in familiar songs were not noticed consciously by their subjects, but the researchers observed that these gasp "induced greater activation in the auditory association areas than did silent gaps embedded in unknown songs; this was true for gaps in songs with lyrics and without lyrics."
A speed trace converts a doylic memory into a cognitive memory. The same stimulus which triggered the doylic memory before trigger thereafter only a cognitive memory. Thus the region where the doylic memory had been stored since before five (engraved in the brain) will be bypassed after a speed trace, and instead a section of the cortex will be activated. A functional MRI before a speed trace should show activity in the limbic region's amygdaline structures and none in the cortex, and after the trace, there should be no activity in the same limbic region, but activity showing up in the cortex itself. This research work will be an enormous boon to humankind. It will be done sometime, but why not now? The equipment and the hypotheses are ready for testing and confirmation.
The "motor tapes" which Rodolfo Llinás talks about refer to types of doylic memory which is postulated to be stored in the limbic region and given up to the thalamus directly to activate "action-patterns" for walking, talking, and various movements learned first in childhood. What he calls action-patterns are the doyles which can be triggered into action by some stimulus reaching a particular motor-tape or doylic memory. The speed trace holds the stimulus constant while going down in age until somewhere below five, it goes past the time the original "motor tape" was stored. When that happens, a miracle occurs: the motor tape remains where it was, but a cognitive memory of original generating event in the cortex. Thereafter the motor tape, although still present is bypassed and the simple memory of the event arises in consciousness. When the "motor tape" was unpleasant feeling or illness (such as allergy, rash, hyperventilation, etc), it is subsequent to the trace never activated again. This feature of the speed trace has been confirmed in thousands of cases.
Over years of discussing the principles of doyletics with the original innovator, Doyle Henderson, we often mused over the possibility that absolute pitch comes from musical training or exposure under the Memory Transition Age of five. Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard is able to identify absolute pitch in musicians because they show "an asymmetric enlargement of the planum temporale. They might not be able to identify painters, scientists, or writers, but a musician is easy to spot, even without absolute pitch, they show "increased volumes of gray matter in motor, auditory, and visuospatial areas of the cortex and cerebellum."
[page 94] How much, Schlaug wondered are these differences a reflection of innate predisposition and how much an effect of early musical training? One does not, of course, know what distinguishes the brains of musically gifted four-year-olds before they start musical training, but the effects of such training, Schlaug and his colleagues showed, are very great: the anatomical changes they observed with musicians' brains were strongly correlated with the age at which musical training began and with the intensity of practice and rehearsal.
Clearly musical training before the Memory Transition Age is beneficial to becoming a musician as one grows older. Whether it ensures one will have absolute or perfect pitch, we do not know, but it certainly increases the likelihood of it appearing after such early training. Sacks writes on page 97, "Having absolute pitch, for example, is highly dependent on early musical training, but such training cannot, by itself, guarantee absolute pitch." That may be so, but a systematic study of children under the Memory Transition Age who are given similar instruction would quickly show whether such training will ensure absolute pitch or not. A training which had absolute pitch as its aim and which began at age 4 would likely achieve a very high percentage of success.
This next passage surprised me as it reveals that having absolute pitch can create difficulty when tries to transpose music from one key to another.
[page 122, 123] Transposing music from one key to another is something which any competent musician can do easily and almost automatically. But for someone with absolute pitch, each key has its own unique character, and the key in which one has always heard a piece is likely to be felt as the only right one. Transposing a piece of music, for someone with absolute pitch, can be analogous to painting a picture with the wrong colors.
On page 125 Diana Deutsch asks why is absolute pitch not universal, and later in a recent letter to Oliver Sacks, she reveals, at least to me, the real reason, "My realization that I had absolute pitch — and that this was unusual — came in the form of a great surprise when I discovered, at age 4, that other people had difficulty naming notes out of context. I still remember vividly my shock at discovering that when I played a note on the piano, others had to see what key was being struck in order to name it. . ." To me and others who have studied the principles of doyletics, the key phrase is when she said "at age 4" which is well below the Memory Transition Age of 5. She had already stored in doylic memory the tones of each note and the name of the note, so that when she heard a note the name popped up immediately for her. Doylic memory storage is a function of a person's idiosyncratic environment: Diana's included hearing and naming notes; the others she refers to did not have the same environment as she did. It is commoner in families with a rich musical environment, so long as the pre-5 child is included in it and is given the notes and the names of the notes together at some point.
Certain Asian languages such as Mandarin and Vietnamese are designed with pitch (musical tone) as part of the content of the word. In English and most Western languages, pitch or tone modulates the meaning of a word, phrase or sentence, turning perhaps a serious statement into a facetious statement, but pitch cannot change the content of a word. In languages where pitch is required for understanding or speaking individual words, a child stores doyles of tone from birth onwards and this very upbringing would lead us to suspect that Mandarin and Vietnamese native speakers would have much higher incidence of absolute pitch than Westerners. Deutsch et al. documented findings to corroborate this hypothesis based solely on the principles of doyletics.
[page 127] "For students who had begun musical training between the ages of 4 and 5," they wrote, "approximately 60% of the Chinese students met the criterion for absolute pitch, while only about 14% of the US nontone language speakers met the criterion."
It is not fair to call the US language "nontone" because of the various rich shadings of tone which it uses to modulate and emphasize words, phrases, and sentences. Rather the distinction must be made that US language uses no tones to create content in individual words, only as meta-process for adding coloration and meaning in the course of everyday speech. The result is US speakers can be more sloppy with their use of tone in large brush strokes if you will during talking, but Mandarin and Vietnamese speakers must have exact control of tone to speak the simplest words and phrases.
Without the benefit of doyletics, Deutsch et al. guess at the critical age, saying, as Sacks reports on page 127, "They observed that there was a critical period for the development of absolute pitch, before the age of eight or so. . ." Yes, it is before the age of eight, but it can be shown to be before the age of five as verified by thousands of early traces by Doyle P. Henderson, which is why it was formulated as a basic hypothesis for the science of doyletics. Native speakers of a language learn to speak well before five and if they learn a second language after age five, they will speak with an accent which includes the tone and tempo of their native language.
We have some good friends who are neighbors and the wife especially speaks a wonderful flawless English, but after watching several movies made in India, most recently 'Delhi 6', in which the actors speak mostly in their native language and occasionally lapse a bit into English, we could recognize that wonderful music effect of our friend's speaking was due to her native India language which modulated her English. It was not so much a foreign accent, but a foreign music woven into her English.
Talking about implicit and emotional memories, Sacks writes on page 203, "It seems certain, likewise, that in the first two years of life, even though one retains no explicit memories (Freud called this infantile amnesia), deep emotional memories or associations are nevertheless being made in the limbic system and other regions of the brain where emotions are represented — and these emotional memories may determine one's behavior for a lifetime."Yes, that is exactly true: it may determine one's behavior for a lifetime, or until one does a simple speed trace! The alternative may be years of psychoanalysis in the Freudian mode to unlock his so-called childhood amnesia, which we understand now to be not amnesia at all, but a very real memory of emotional events stored in doylic memory. Doing a speed trace converts what Sacks calls "implicit and emotional memories" stored in the limbic region into explicit memories which are stored thereafter in the cortex. Therefore implicit memories are doylic memories by definition and explicit memories are cognitive memories. We are unconscious of our implicit and emotional memories and become conscious of the first instance in which they were experienced and stored as doyle when we complete a successful speed trace. In effect, implicit memories are converted into explicit memories by a simple speed trace.
In a recent Pyrate Con lecture in New Orleans I learned to sing "Sea Shanties." There are heaving and hauling shanties. To heave is to push on something, like a capstan perhaps to lift a spar or heavy sail, and to haul is to pull on things such lifting up an anchor or a dingy perhaps. Merchant sailing vessels hired a "Shanty Master" for each of their ships because of the increased speed and efficiency of the sailors if they were led by a Shanty Master, especially one who interlaced his shanties with a strong dose of wit and personal characteristics of members of the crew. Sacks found out the life-saving efficacy of a heaving song when he broke both of his legs on mountain trail and had to get himself to safety and emergency treatment before nightfall or he would likely die. Sacks explains how he used a rowing or marching song, "such as'The Volga Boatman's Song', with a strong heave on each beat. Before this I had muscled myself along; now, with the beat, I was musicked along. Without this synchronization of music and movement, the auditory with the motor, I could have made my was down the mountain. And somehow, with this internal rhythm and music, it felt much less like a grim, anxious struggle." (Page 233 to 234)
Sacks described several instances of hallucinatory music playing in his head. Here is one of them.
[page 280] I had another musical dream, and this too continued into the waking state. Here, in contrast to the Mozart, I found something deeply disturbing and unpleasant about the music, and longed for it to stop. I had a shower, a cup of coffee, went for a walk, shook my head, played a mazurka on the piano — to no avail. The hateful hallucinatory music' continued unabated. Finally I phoned a friend, Orlan Fox, and said that I was hearing songs that I could not stop, songs that seemed to me full of melancholy and a sort of horror. The worst thing, I added, was that the songs were in German, a language I did not know. Orlan asked me to sing or hum some of the songs. I did so, and there was a long pause.
"Have you abandoned some of your young patients?" he asked. "Or destroyed some of your literary children?"
"Both," I answered. "Yesterday. I resigned from the children's unit at the hospital where I have been working, and I burned a book of essays I had just written. . . . How did you guess?"
"Your mind is playing Mahler's Kindertotenlieder," he said, "his songs of mourning for the death of children." I was amazed by this, for I rather dislike Mahler's music and would normally find it quite difficult to remember in detail, let alone sing, any of his Kindertotenlieder. But here my dreaming mind, with infallible precision, had come up with an appropriate symbol of the previous day's events. And in the moment that Orlan interpreted the dream, the music disappeared; it has never recurred in the thirty years since.
Once more Oliver Sacks has set a table before me with a feast of incredible stories and amazing insights. His willingness to share his own stories make all of his stories more believable. One can read two dozen books about how the human brain processes music or simply read this one. Sacks has done the homework for us, provided a crib sheet for us, and understanding the human brain just a little simpler for the non-neuroscientist reader.
Read the Review with its Six Footnotes at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
EMAIL about doyletics from Mac (alias):This is a series of short emails from a young man who wanted help quitting smoking. First I directed him to do a confirmed speed. Then gave him suggestion on how he might proceed to stop smoking. These emails illustrate how I operate helping people use the technology derived from the science of doyletics, namely, the Speed Trace. Bobby Matherne, Principal Researcher in doyletics.
I was wondering if you would be available for a phone call to help me with quitting smoking. I would pay you, of course. I really want to nail this, and want to make sure I'm covering all of my bases, as doyletics is the most powerful technique I've come across.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Dear Mac,
Thanks for writing. Great meeting you.
First of all, I am not a practicing therapist of any kind. And doyletics is not a treatment, but a science of how the human being works in a body.
I will be glad to help you learn about doyletics and assist you in learning to do a speed trace at no charge. Simply answer these questions to help me get you started. Let's see I assume you're male, that's one question and you're 47.
Current Challenges in life? (got the smoking challenge already, anything else?)
Answer these and we'll take it from there,
P. S. would be good for you to View my Speed Trace Video Introduction from the Top of Main Page, and let me know how that worked for you when you answer the above questions. Mainly I'm interested in whether you have done a speed trace and enough information to know that you confirmed it was successful.
EMAIL from Mac after Confirmed Speed Trace:
Thanks so much Bobby!
I've done a confirmed Speed Trace...on papaya!
So any tips on smoking doyles or what doyles I should concentrate on?
Again, thank you so much
Yea Mac! Congratulations!
Now only you know what drives you to smoke, likely some bodily state. How best to trigger that doyle? Simply stop smoking until you can't stand it any more. Keep the cigarettes around to tempt you. Then instead of smoking, do a speed trace calling whatever urges etc you're feeling "this doyle" and go down your time marks, knowing that those urges, "this doyle", will be HOLDing you while you go down your time Marks.
This may take several attempts, but each time it should be on a different urge or doyle, and you'll find the time between smoking urges getting longer. Keep the cigs in your pocket, but put a sticky note saying, "Speed Trace now", to remind when you unconsciously reach for a smoke.Take a deep breath and get started now . . .
EMAILS from Steve and Jan (brother and his wife):
Got a call from Aunt Clarice last night about Aunt Alicia passing away yesterday. Her funeral will be Tuesday, April 27th at St. Ann's church in Bourg. Visitation begins at 9 with the funeral at 11.
EMAIL from Bobby about LSU being Swept by Ole Miss:
Dear Anonymous Fan,
I saw LSU Coach Paul Manieri out-coached by a former student of Skip Bertman, Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco.
We lost at least one run maybe more by all our runners getting picked off at first base. Matook didn't get the hint when he got a generous call of safe and then did the same thing and was called out! Then he did it again in another inning. To me this is a coaching defect. Matook should have been locked at first base after that first pickoff. Clearly Bianco had studied LSU's base running and was ready for us. I saw no equivalent signs of Manieri picking apart Ole Miss weaknesses, did you?
Bobby [NOTE: the Reply I got back listed all the excuses, but didn't address the coaching lapses. The very next game with LSU needing runs in the bottom of the ninth against UNO, the first man singles to get on base, the second man singles. With NO OUTS, Manieri, instead of sacrificing Landry with a bunt, ensuring only one out, he lets him swing away into a double play! Where's the Coach!?! LSU is sinking in the polls like a lead Baby Ruth in a punch bowl!]
- EMAIL Excerpt — from Cousins Mike and Deena in China:
Loaves and Fishes International
News from Hidden Treasures Home
Shadi Village, Fuzhou, China
Since our last newsletter in December, we have gone from 28 babies, children and elderly, to 35. We have room for 5 more babies, and we are making arrangements to increase our staff. Please pray that we would quickly find more quality care givers to help care for the children we already have and for those to come. The need is so great. We are asking the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers. With all the expansion, please continue to pray for the new land and building to house all the needs of the school/training center and to have more space for more children. There are so many opportunities right now. We need God's favor for licensing, paperwork, contracts, community agreement and finances. Thank you for your continued love and support that carries us each day. May God Himself come to you with His mighty love and power.
Covered in Him,
Mike and Deena
EMAIL from Chris whose doyle forced him to get an annual very short haircut:
I've had a strange doyle the past few days which has really bothered me because it's been so persistent as well as seemingly so trivial. It's my hair length. Every year at this time I feel a need to get a very short haircut and I finally realized it was doylic. I have been tracing it away to the tune of several hundred traces. It's better but not completely gone. It turns out the Plausibility Question's answer was at age 2 my mother or uncle grabbed me by the hair and screamed, "It's Easter you little bastard!" That gave me insight into why always about this time of year I want a burr haircut.
What I wanted to share was I could tell the doyle wasn't gone. So I would elicit it full strength by grabbing a hand-full of my hair and pulling firmly, boy would it get doylic, in fact it took several times before I got the pq answer relating it to Easter. If this might help share it where ever fitting.
EMAIL from Kevin Dann, about his upcoming marriage to Carole:
Bobby,Did I send you the wedding invitation? There is a neat story to the image: Carole and I went to a museum on our second day together after I came to NY. While passing through one hall, I had a voice come into my head saying that there was something in the room that could tell me about our past lives together. As I spoke this aloud to Carole, all of a sudden I felt a wave of energy shoot through me, and I stopped. "Did you feel that?" I asked Carole, and she said she had. We turned to look at the huge (30' long) tapestry on the wall next to us — we were standing directly in front of the image at left, of Joseph and Mary being wed. It has seemed to me already that this archetype for marriage, which brought forth ultimately the Christ, was a message to us to bring forth through our marriage the Christ within. We've had so many fear-filled episodes these past couple of weeks , that drawing on that image has been a real help. (RJM; episodes during the rush of wedding and moving plans, I gather)
One afternoon I cranked up the Babe, and Del and I drove over to Home Depot, our first date in my pickup truck, to pick up thirty bags of mulch and a dozen plants. But for seat belts, we could have nestled together like the old days with bench seats in all autos and trucks. During the 1950s a teenage gal could snuggle up alongside her boyfriend while he drove. Hey, we had to something back then, we didn’t have cell phones to distract us while driving! Guess which form of distraction was worse! Talking or feeling. And, if we had to park, there was always a nearby drive-in theater where the movie sound could be turned off if the noise got too distracting. Last I heard, texting and twittering were the latest form of safe sex for the current generation.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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