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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #106
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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam ~~~~~~~~
Sandra Cannizzaro Tranchina (1941 - 2010) ~~~~
~~ "I am a steel magnolia not a weeping willow." ~~

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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #106 Published June 1, 2010 ~~~
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Quote for the Busting Out All Over Month of June:

"Zen is everywhere," Roshi said, agreeing with a student. "But for you, Zen is right here."
Suzuki Roshi, Zen Master

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Archived Digests

             Table of Contents

1. June's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for June
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Oyster-Artichoke Soup
6. Poem from Review : "Children on the Beach"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for June:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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#1 Jul  #2, Aug  #3, Sept  #4, Oct  #5, Nov  #6, Dec  #7
2001: Jan  #8,  Feb  #9,  Mar #10, Apr #11, May #12, Jun #13, Jul #14, Aug #15, Sep #16, Oct #17, Nov #18, Dec #19
2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
2004: Jan #44, Feb #45, Mar #46, Apr #47, May #48, Jun #49, Jul #50, Aug #51, Sep #52, Oct #53, Nov #54, Dec #55
2005: Jan#051,Feb#052,Mar#053,Apr#054,May#055,Jun#056,Jul#057,Aug#058,Sep#059,Oct#05a,Nov#05b,Dec#05c
2006: Jan#061,Feb#062,Mar#063,Apr#064,May#065,Jun#066,Jul#067,Aug#068,Sep#069,Oct#06a,Nov#06b,Dec#06c
2007: Jan#071,Feb#072,Mar#073,Apr#074,May#075,Jun#076,Jul#077,Aug#078,Sep#079,Oct#07a,Nov#07b,Dec#07c
2008: Jan#081,Feb#082,Mar#083,Apr#084,May#085,Jun#086,Jul#087,Aug#088,Sep#089,Oct#08a,Nov#08b,Dec#08c
2009: Jan#091,Feb#092,Mar#093,Apr#094,May#095,Jun#096,Jul#097,Aug#098,Sep#099,Oct#09a,Nov#09b,Dec#09c
2010: Jan#101,Feb#102,Mar#103,Apr#104,May#105,Jun#106,Jul#107,Aug#108,Sep#109,Oct#10a,Nov#10b,Dec#10c
2011: Jan#111,Feb#112,Mar#113,Apr#114,May#115,Jun#116,Jul#117,Aug#118,Sep#119,Oct#11a,Nov#11b,Dec#11c
2012: Jan#121,Feb#122,Mar#123,Apr#124,May#125,Jun#126,Jul#127,Aug#128,Sep#129,Oct#12a,Nov#12b,Dec#12c
2013: Jan#131,Feb#132,Mar#133,Apr#134,May#135,Jun#136,Jul#137,Aug#138,Sep#139,Oct#13a,Nov#13b,Dec#13c
2014: Jan#141,Feb#142,Mar#143,Apr#144,May#145,Jun#146,Jul#147,Aug#148,Sep#149,Oct#14a,Nov#14b,Dec#14c
2015: Jan#151,Feb#152,Mar#153,Apr#154,May#155,Jun#156,Jul#157,Aug#158,Sep#159,Oct#15a,Nov#15b,Dec#15c
2016: Jan#161,Feb#162,Mar#163,Apr#164,May#165,Jun#166,Jul#167,Aug#168,Sep#169,Oct#16a,Nov#16b,Dec#16c
2017: Jan#171,Feb#172,Mar#173,Apr#174,May#175,Jun#176,Jul#177,Aug#178,Sep#179,Oct#17a,Nov#17b,Dec#17c
2018: Jan#181,Feb#182,Mar#183,Apr#184,May#185,Jun#186,Jul#187,Aug#188,Sep#189,Oct#18a,Nov#18b,Dec#18c
2019: Jan#191,Feb#192,Mar#193,Apr#194,May#195,Jun#196,Jul#197,Aug#198,Sep#199,Oct#19a

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1. June 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: 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 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 Weapons of Mass Instruction.

#1 "Weapons of Mass Instruction" at

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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 June are:

Grace Chapman in Indiana

Vesa Loikas in Finland

Congratulations, Grace and Vesa !

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Out Our Way:


Back last Fall I bought an HP Color Printer and a new Uninterruptible Power Supply, with the idea of installing them after we got moved into the new house, and that time finally came this month. I also had trouble with our network connections and I called the Geek Squad and they sent out a tech who took care of fixing the network connection between Del's computer and mine, as well as installing the new HP Printer onto the network, and setting up the software for the new UPS. When he left, my DVD RW drive was working again. Plus we could print color photos from a memory stick or from each of the three computers. With his okay we put the wireless router, the broadband cable/phone modem onto the UPS so that during power failures, the phone and broadband will stay running. Also ran the master cable through the surge protector as well as the router's connection to the computer, protecting the computer and the modem from power surges due to lightning strikes nearby. Also the power conditioning of the UPS will provide a better power quality to the modem.

Before he left, he also showed me how to print a color photo from the new printer using the simple GUI which requires you know the name of the photo you wish printed. By transferring just the photos I want printed to a blank memory stick, the job will be easy and not require the computer for the final printing. If you haven't used the Geek Squad before, I can recommend them to you for any variety of computer problems.

Our projection screen Mitsubishi went blank shortly before the end of April and I finally called David at AAA TV to come fix it. The problem is the power comes on, but clicks off in 3 seconds, before any image can appear. The first chip he replaced didn't solve the problem and as of the end of May, he's still seeking a solution. All the voltages are coming up normal except one and he's tracking down what might cause that. Still sounds like a solvable problem, but in the mean time, we're down from 5 TV's to only 3 in the Screening Room because the fifth one has been removed from the top of the Mitsubishi until it is fixed.

We had one more curious electronic failure this month. Our Security System suddenly began giving us a FC or Failure Code once a day. Finally I scheduled a Tech to check it out. As he was checking it, I noticed an LED lamp, which gets its power from the telephone, was blinking. Suspecting that the lamp was the source of the problem — I had installed it about the time the FC problem started — I immediately disconnected it and asked the Tech if the problem went away. It did! I had remembered that plugging in two of those lamps caused problems with the ring tone at our previous house and had thrown one away. Del had just located it a week ago and I plugged it in and didn't notice any difficulty right away. The FC came up only once a day and I didn't think to connect the lamp and the FC problem until I saw it blinking. But as a maintenance-minded person, I have learned to check the last change made to a system with any new problem, and that keyed my immediate response to the blinking lamp.


The month of May is the heart of the college baseball season and LSU started off with a bang but is going out with a whimper, having fallen into a deep slump during the second half of its SEC play. Defending its National Championship this year has been extremely difficult, and yet, the problem has not been that the SEC got better, but LSU has fallen in its pitching and fielding execution. During this slump nearly every team LSU played managed to get 7 runs on the scoreboard before the fifth inning! Especially against LSU's best pitcher, Anthony Renaudo, who was the starter on Friday nights last season as a freshman. This season, an early injury kept him out, and he simply hasn't come back to last season's form, up until now. But hope in Baseball, like a young man's fancy, springs eternal and the Tigers are going to the SEC Tournament with hopes of winning a third straight Championship there and playing in a College World Series Regional somewhere. Is there hope of another Alex Box Regional? Scant indeed, but miracles do happen.

In previous years, I suffered through watching LSU baseball games on-line as provided by JUMP-TV, but I finally gave up trying this year. I cancelled my subscription to Geaux after horrendous problems early in the season last year and asked for a refund. None came. Not even an apology from and Athletic Department. My email pleas for help were answered by, "I will pass this information on to someone to take care of."

That someone never even replied to me. If the games were not broadcast on cable TV, I listened on radio, and never had a single problem with either. Internet broadcasting of college baseball is a new medium, but it had better start acting like the old media or it will completely dry up. When a baseball game is on and you're fighting to get a connection, and you're paying for the privilege of being hassled, that's the sign of a failing system. Time to bail out and never look back.

Del and I went to one baseball game this month, in Tulane's Turchin Stadium, to watch our grandson Weslee Gralapp and his team, the Menard Eagles, play for a spot in the State Championship game. Weslee's team was down, but came back to tie the game at the top of the last inning only to lose to Curtis in the bottom of the ninth inning. Beautiful stadium with the sun setting over center field. Only bad thing was the Curtis-leaning announcer who rooted for the Patriots instead of just announcing the game. He rarely said "Eagles" but Patriots was constantly on his tongue. I'd like to see a rematch of these two teams next year when Weslee will be playing in Right Field as a Senior for Menard.

Myopia and Cataracts

This month was filled with problems trying to get my review of Dr. Kaisu Viikari's book edited. I decided to add to the Epilogue and in the middle of discussing the changes, my internet provider decided to bounce the good Doctor's emails, deeming them to be SPAM. That took almost a week to sort out, with the capable assistance of Vesa Loikas, her web master in Finland, who sent me the bounced messages. I had to call tech support which gave me an address to send a message that "this is not SPAM" and soon the editing process was working again. The Epilogue as it appears in the review of her Myopia book can be seen below in the Commentary Section.

Meanwhile, my experiment with throwing away my minus-lensed glasses is paying great dividends! (See photo of me sans eyeglasses above, right) I can see clearly without my minus glasses, and I keep two pair of plus-lenses readily available to use during close work, such as typing on my computer screen as I am now. A person with pseudo-myopia caused by doing close work, as I am, can correct their eyes by wearing plus lenses to reduce the accommodation spasms which are simply constantly tense muscles caused by focusing up close. Reduce the accommodation spasm and one's nearsightedness will disappear. I was leery about this working when I first read her book, "Understanding and Prevention of Myopia", but from my own experience, I can tell you that her procedure works.

Wearing reading glasses (plus-lenses) to read, even if you are myopic and don't need them, will allow your eye muscles to relax and soon you may be able to see distance images clearly. That has been my experience. My normal prescription glasses are -2.5D and -2.0D and I no longer need to wear them while driving or watching TV. When reading a book, I use my +1D reading glasses (+1 D and higher lenses are available at most drugstores) and while watching TV or working on PC I wear my +.5 D reading glasses (which I had to order on-line).

I was wearing my plus lenses one day and walked past a mirror and removed them. I was looking at my eyebrows and within a few seconds, I noticed my eyebrows were gradually, ever so slowly moving down and the slight vertical frown between my two eyebrows was increasing. These two muscle movements I've learned to recognize as signs of accommodation spasm setting in. When I put the plus lenses back on, my eyebrows within minutes relax and move up and apart. This has been going on for over five decades since I first began wearing minus-lens at age 17 and I was not aware of it.

What does all this mean to you? If you began wearing minus lenses after about age 5, likely you were not myopic, but instead suffered from close work induced myopia or pseudo-myopia, and the switch to plus lenses can be a great benefit to your eyesight and your general overall health. Long-term pseudo-myopia can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, intense migraine headaches and a whole variety of nervous disorders.

What does it mean for your children? The enormous increase in the percentage of myopia among Americans (See Epilogue below for details) is testimony to the damage being done by minus lenses to our school age children. If you have small children, as soon as you see them doing close work, get them some +3 or 2 D reading glasses so that when they hold their heads 6 inches from a coloring book their eye muscles will not contracted into the beginning of a lifelong accommodation spasm. If they will wear these in school, you can rest assured that they will be wrongly diagnosed as myopic and go on to a lifelong experience of increasing minus-lenses with all the attendant health problems.

Dr. Viikari sent me an email to check out this website: . I examined it carefully and found that a Russian doctor has created eyedrops which dissolve cataracts. The active ingredient is N-acetylcaprosine and the way it works is that the N-acetyl portion acts as a carrier for the caprosine to enter the lenses of the eye. Once there, caprosine acts as an antioxidant to dissolve any molecules linking together to form the dark molecular chains which constitute cataracts. This website is run by a man who was diagnosed with cataracts requiring surgery and after several months of using the eye drops, his cataracts were gone.

I have completed a month of using these eyedrops and they are the most comfortable eyedrops I have ever used. My small cataracts from my last eye examination will likely be completely dissolved by my next eye exam and I will have eliminated what seems to be the mandatory operation for friends my age, the cataract removal operation. I will let you know how this proceeds. Meanwhile if you are concerned about cataracts and would prefer eyedrops to the scapel, check out the website above for yourself.


On the way to Alexandria we stopped to see my dad, Buster, for a few minutes. Then we arranged to meet my brother Paul and his wife Joyce at Stallion's in Opelousas for dinner. The band started playing shortly after we finished eating and Paul and Del got to dance together. We arived at Kim and Wes' house and had time for me to view the new exterior of their home.

For about a year I have had a brochure for the now closed sawmill town of Long Leaf near Alexandria, Louisiana. I asked our daughter and son-in-law who live there where it was and they had never heard of it. On this trip up to celebrate Mother's Day, our grandson Thomas' 14th birthday and his graduation from the 8th grade, I found the perfect opportunity to visit Long Leaf. Well, not exactly perfect time; the previous weekend would have been perfect, as it was Heritage Weekend with lots of visitors, and the sawmill steam locomotive train would have been running and taking passengers on tours around the sawmill. When I arrived I was the only visitor, a young lady named Kathryn showed me around the Museum. Two other visitors arrived later. But I was not allowed to walk around the grounds of the sawmill, I only saw its building from the outside.

But there was a sawmill, no doubt much like the sawmill in the little town of Donner in which my mom grew up and told me so much about. Mom's sawmill town is gone and the only remnants of its presence are the brick walls of the sawmill which still stand. The sign on one of the exhibits for the Long Leaf Mill says, "GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN", a phrase I used to end the poem I wrote about the Donner Sawmill town. When the clear cutting of the old-growth Louisiana Cypress trees was done, the dikes which held out the waters of the swamp were broken and everyone left the town.

At least in Long Leaf, the town remains and can come alive once a year for Heritage Days and anyone can visit the town on days in-between. A school group of 12 or up can schedule a visit and they will fire up the locomotive for the tour.

While I was locating and visiting Long Leaf, my son-in-law Wes was locating some 225 pounds of crawfish for Thomas' party where some 20 or so 14-year-olds with voracious appetites were converging. When I got back the crawfish were almost ready and soon I was enjoying some boiled crawfish with Wes and some of his friends. Del was helping Kim get all the platters, drinks, and other food out on the patio for the ladies and the teenage horde. It was a fun party and only the second time we've left our new home for a few days since last Fall.

Mother's Day was the next day, and finding an available restaurant without an hour and a half wait was not easy. Del and Barbara and Kim were patient as Wes finally located on his third try a restaurant that had only a half hour wait because it was due to open in that time. We got served right away and enjoyed some stir fry veggies, shrimp, and other goodies.

Del had hoped we could visit our niece Monique Matherne in Alexandria, but she was with her mother for the day, so we decided to go home Sunday night instead of the next day. I did manage a drive-by photograph of Monique's Veterinarian Clinic as we cruised by on the traffic circle on the way home.


Del decided she wanted to improve the area around the park bench on the south edge of our lawn. Instead of letting her make several trips back and forth to Home Depot for mulch, I drove us in the Babe and the store's workers dumped the mulch in the bed of the pickup truck.

I went down to the hardware aisle to look for latches with a photo of what I wanted in my camera. The guy took one look and said, "Go to Neely's Hardware". I knew he meant Neeb's Hardware as I had used it before to buy hard to find items, like a replacement glass door knob for our Four-plex on North Hagan. I showed Neeb the photo and he walked about ten feet away, coming back with the exact latch I wanted. He only had two, so I had him order two more. These will go on the bi-fold shutters we just had installed to make it possible for us to keep the shutters open except in the event of a heavy wind event as we get every few years around here.

Nice thing about owning a pickup is that you can leave stuff like large bundles of mulch in the truck and slide out four or five bags into a cart to haul to where you need it. Del had Babin's crew add sand to the patio area and install enough 16" tiles to make a small patio area for the park bench, planting more St. Augustine sod to fill in the many open areas in the southeast and south area of the lawn. Then she began digging up the area behind the bench to plant yellow knockout rose bushes, oleander bushes, and lots of other flowering plants, until finally she had reached the edge of the azalea grove which surrounds our bird bath.

It was time for us to do our second Bio-Dynamic Barrel Compost treatment of our mulch bed, vegetable garden, and flower beds. For the first time in the ten years we've been doing this treatment, we had some neighbors who were game to assist us, Connie and Don. Their garden is already beautiful and bountiful, but they agreed to help us out and in exchange their garden also got its very first Bio-Dynamic treatment.

The process involves a large bucket of rain water, a handful of Barrel Compost, a yardstick and some stirring and sprinkling. We also invited Fay and Otto to join us, another set of backyard golf course neighbors, and we set up some candles, some wine, some nibbles, and about 8 pm, we threw in a handful of Barrel Compost and began stirring the water for the proper amount of time. When that was done, Otto helped me by moving the cart with the bucket of water along the garden and flower bed area as I sprinkled the water/compost mixture onto the plants using a long-handled car washing brush. It was dark by then, which is the proper time for applying the solution. When we completed our areas, I turned the brush over to Don and he and Del maneuvered the cart and water bucket to his and Connie's garden areas and sprinkled the rest of the mixture.

The rain fell later that night and washed the solution into soil where it will go to work encouraging the growth of microscopic organisms and tiny insects in the soil which will help the plants to receive the nutrients they need. Don and Connie's gardens were prime candidates for Bio-Dynamic treatment because they already practiced organic gardening, eschewing the usage of chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Chemical fertilizers and poisons kill the live organisms and insects which are beneficial to plant growth. Bio-Dynamic treatment makes the plants healthier so that fertilizers are not needed and the plant can resist the onslaught of insects.


We lost a good friend this month, Sandra Tranchina. Del first met her when she began going to Tallulah's Beauty Parlor. Sandra was the manicurist at that time, and later began to work on her own and would do Doris's nails at her Woldenberg Assisted Living apartment. Along the way Sandra and Del became good friends and I always liked talking to Sandra when she came over. She had a great sense of humor and I always told the latest joke I had heard, just to hear her wonderful laugh. After her son Michael died in January, Sandra took ill and went downhill very quickly. She kept up her spirits to the very end, saying, "I am a steel magnolia, not a weeping willow." We will miss her bright smile and easy grace.

Del was elected President of the Timberlane Garden Club, which is an honor for her and a relief for me. A honor because she has garnered the respect and admiration of her fellow members. A relief for me because I have had to help her for the past several years produce the Yearbook for the Club and as President, she can appoint someone else to do that job.


Out of our eight children, four have split up with their spouses in the past several years. Two stayed in the family home and two moved into apartments. The two who moved into apartments are both moving into houses within a week of each other, John and Maureen. The third, Rob, has remarried and will be moving shortly into downtown Bloomington, Indiana.

Maureen was our first stop, in Metairie, on the way to John's house and she met us at the door and showed us around. No furniture yet for her, she's about a week behind John. We had brought over to her the boxes that John had used and she could use for packing up her kitchen and other stuff.

Del had taken a trip to help John pack up his kitchen before the move, and we went on a Saturday to help him with some post move duties of hanging Venetian blinds and assembling a bookcase. I got bookcase duty and had my portable drill all charged up and ready to go. I inspected the partial assembly some college age kids had done before John stopped them, and I examined the several discrepancies John had noticed. Soon it became clear that the outside molding had been installed with the beveled edge inside instead of outside the frame, making the bookcase look wrong. I corrected that mistake and then noticed that in the place in the instructions where a note on the diagram pointed to pieces B and F and said, "NOTE CAREFULLY THE ALIGNMENT", the kids had not bothered to read or follow that instruction and the top decorative bracket was installed upside down. Looked okay till you discovered that it would not fit.

Along the way, I was able to give my ten-year-old going on 27 grandson Collin some hands-on experience hammering small nails to attach the rear panel of the bookcase. At first he said, looking at the job I was about to do, "That's simple." Then I gave him the hammer, showed him how I did it, and still he couldn't do it, not at first, but by following my lead he was hammering the nails in straight (only bending one) and even indenting the head slightly as instructed. John had made a counted cross-stitch of an Owl with two owlets in 1988 for his Gramps, Del's dad, Dick, and Del had saved it from her parents apartment when her mom moved out. Recently Del got it framed for John to hang in his new house where he is like that Owl father protecting his two young sons, Kyle and Collin, and helping them to grow.

The next morning, Del announced that she was going over to help Maureen pack up her kitchen and did so as I began to work on the final stages of my Digest for this month. Maureen's brother, Rob, is the third one moving, sometime in late July, and I'll be driving up for one last visit to the Kerr Creek house sometime in June.


Till we meet again in July, God Willing and the River Don't Rise. June will be full of fresh vegetables from the garden, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants, okra, Creole tomatoes, potatoes, and snap beans, among other things. There will be a French Festival saluting Jeanne d'Arc in the French Quarter, Del and my Cat & Mouse Annual Dinner at Antoine's and ice cold watermelon when we come in from cutting the St. Augustine on a hot afternoon. Whatever you do, wherever in the world you reside, be it hot or cold, make it a great June for yourself! ! !


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  • Five Favorite Sufi Stories:

    Since 1976 when I was first introduced to the Sufis, I have read hundred of Sufi stories whose origins go far back into history. Some of these stories have come into public knowledge, such the one about the Sufi trickster Nasruddin (portrayed in photo on a donkey) looking for his key under the streetlight instead of in the house where he lost it, "Because there is more light out here." Few people hold unanswered questions long enough to mine the spiritual and practical potential of these stories. If the one about the peach doesn't pique your attention, check your heart beat.

    1. Nasruddin's Day in Court

    One day Nasruddin was called to court. When he arrived, he was told that it was the custom of the city to select one resident to be Judge for a Day, and this year he had been selected. Nasruddin donned a judge's robe and took his place. He was introduced to the court as Judge and in came the first case for him to hear and judge.

    First the Prosecuter came up to Nasruddin, and told him all the horrible things the Defendant did, and declared that the Defendant should be found guilty! Nasruddin looked at the Prosecuter and said, "I do believe you are right!"

    The Bailiff was there to assist the judge in the orderly conduct of the trial, and quickly whispered into Nasruddin's ear, "But Judge, you haven't heard the Defense attorney speak yet." Nasruddin looked over to the Defense attorney and asked him to state the case for the defense.

    The Defense attorney pleaded eloquently for the Defendant, explaining what a worthy man he has been all his life, and how he could not possibly have done all the things he is accused of. When the attorney was finished, Nasruddin looked at him and exclaimed, "I do believe you are right!"

    Once more the Baliff rushed to Nasruddin's side and whispered into his ear, "But, Judge, they cannot both be right!"

    Nasruddin looked at the Baliff and said, "I do believe you are right!"

    2. Nasruddin Goes for a Ride

    One day Nasruddin was invited to go riding with some of the local gentry. He showed up at the stable to see the finely dressed gentlemen up on their fine Arabian steeds, whereas he wore his everyday clothes. He saw Al-Kabn, the man who invited him, and asked, "Where is my horse?" The man pointed to a long-eared donkey without a saddle on it. Nasruddin immediately ran over to the donkey, jumped on it facing the rear end of the donkey, and grabbed hold of the reins with his left hand and the tail with his right hand. Al-Kabn said with a sneer, "Perhaps you are unaccustomed to the riding habits of gentlemen?" Nasruddin replied, "Perhaps you thought that I wouldn't notice that you palmed off on me a front-to-back donkey!"

    3. A Master Goes On A Perilous Journey

    Two men set out on a long journey through the desert wilderness. The first man was attacked by brigands and he fought them hand and foot, escaping barely with his life. No sooner had he resumed his journey as a lion jumped him, clawed him, and only by the greatest of effort was he able to slay the lion and resume his journey, only to find the well he was depending upon had gone dry, and he had to dig a new well in order to survive. When he arrived at the distant city, a crowd of people, seeing this man all scratched and torn up, rushed to hear his story and took him into town for a great feast to celebrate his great feats. The second man arrived shortly after the crowd had dissipated, having had nothing of consequence go wrong during his journey to the same city. Which man was the Master?

    4. Tale of the Turkish Maiden

    This tale is a famous Sufi story related by Idries Shah in his book, Learning How to Learn which I read about 1978.
    [page 65] It is related that Hiri was once asked to look after a Turkish maiden by a Persian merchant who was going on a journey. Hiri became infatuated with this girl and decided that must seek out his teacher, Abu-Hafs the Blacksmith. Abu-Hafs told him to travel to Raiyy, there to obtain the advice of the great Sufi Yusuf al-Razi.
           When he arrived in Raiyy and asked people there where the sage's dwelling was, they told him to avoid such a heretic and free-thinker, and so he went back to Nishapur. Reporting to Abu-Hafs, he was told to ignore the people's opinions of al-Razi, and seek him out again.
           In spite of the almost unanimous urgings of the people of Raiyy, he made his way to where al-Razi sat. There he found the ancient, accompanied by a beautiful youth who was giving him a wine-cup.
           Scandalized, Hiri demanded an explanation of how such a reverend contemplative could behave in such a manner.
           But al-Razi explained that the youth was his son and the wine-cup contained only water, and had been abandoned by someone else. This was the reality of his state, which everyone imagined to be a life of dissolution.
           But Hiri now wanted to know why the Sufi behaved in such a manner that people interpreted it as heretical.
           Al-Razi said: "I do these things so that people may not burden me with Turkish maidens."

    5. A Peach of a Story
    If any of the previous stories left you feeling like you wanted someone to explain the meaning of the story to you, here's a story for you. Consider yourself as the pupil of the Sufi master in this story, as a young learner who was used to having someone explain the meaning of everything that happened and every story that was told.

    The pupil was sitting at a table with his Master and there was a bowl with one large, ripe peach in it between them, closer to the Master's side of the table. He says, "Master, would you pass that peach to me?" The Master says, "Yes." and proceeded to eat all the flesh from the peach and then passed the barren peach pit to his student.

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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 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.
    P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.
    Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore or have missed previously.):
    “Air Force” (1943) Howard Hawkes made this movie about the events surrounding Pearl Harbor when the crew of the B17 fondly named Mary Ann left from California before the Japanese attacks all over the Pacific Ocean and arrived at Hickham in Oahu right after the battle and had to fly to Wake Island and the Philippines, having to resurrect the Mary Ann from sure destruction to lead a bombing attack on the Japanese fleet heading for Australia. The story of the men of the crew and the rising of the Air Force as a separate arm of the military from the Army Air Corps is all in this incredibly fine movie. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “The Crossing” (2000) Jeff Daniels portrays General George Washington in his most perilous moment, when the America Revolution rode on Washington’s back and without his resolve to cross the Delaware, the war would have been lost. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “The Edge of Love” (2008) about Dylan Thomas and the two ladies in his life which gave an edge to love which apparently he liked. Wrapped around with Dylan’s poetry, this movie takes us through the Blitz of London and ends in the countryside of Wales.
    “Songcatcher” (2000) is a great look at an Appalachian family and their indigenous music. Aidan Quinn stars as the surly banjo player who seems like he’ll never warm to outlander music PhD come to exploit the music of the region. Was definitely worth a another look for us — was better the second time.
    “My Cousin Vinny” (1992) In which a cousin from Brooklyn shows up in the boondocks of Mississippi to defend two young men accused of robbery & murder. Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei at their all-time best make this one a must, every time it comes on, like Top Gun and Ferris Bueller, A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    Life on Mars, Disk 1 (2008) In NYC, Harvey Keitel stars as the irascible boss of Sam who has plummeted back 33 years to an NYC that existed when he was three, only he’s a detective in the 1973 version of the police station of 2006! Is he in coma, a time traveler, or crazy. Sam would like to know, but he’s got a job to do as he finds out. A DON’T MISS HIT !!!

    “The Lovely Bones” (2009) Tucci and Wahlberg star in this serial killer whose activities are monitored by those he killed.
    Life on Mars, Disk 2 (2008) In 1973 NYC Sam Tyler arrests his dad unknowingly as a kidnapper, and the lady in the red dress during his 4th birthday in the park turns out be a friend of his in his 1973 reprise. A DON’T MISS HIT !!!
    “Nine” (2009) Day-Lewis in his favorite role as philanderer plays Italian director and film maker who can’t make any more movies except one last movie about his entire life, this one. Music and dance fill the big screen in color and black & white. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Body of Lies” (2008) DiCaprio and Crowe star in this gripping Iraqi undercover mission which shows us who our real friends in the Middle East are. (2nd viewing, see also digest096) A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
    “Powder Blue” (2009) Ray Liotta, Patrick Swayze, Lisa Kudrow, Kris Kristofferson etal on a Christmas Eve in L. A. have their lives as priest, mortician, and crooks intertwined.
    “Amelia” (2009) Earhart asks with her life, “What do dreams know of boundaries?” Spectacular movie of her life, loves, and accomplishments. When she missed Howland Island on the last leg of her round-the-world flight, it was a man who let the battery of the direction finder on the island go dead. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Melinda and Melinda” (2004) Woody Allen idea for movie about a woman who shows up unexpected at a dinner party. Is it a comedy or a tragedy? Why not both? Two stories of one woman play out during interesting movie. If you missed it when it came out, it’s time to watch it. See also digest05c.
    "Life on Mars", Disk 3 (2008) In 1973 NYC Sam Tyler encounters problems with women at every level. A DON’T MISS HIT !!!

    “Crazy Heart” (2009) Jeff Bridges in a part one would expect Kris Kristopherson to play, a drunkard blues/country singer hits bottom after Annie (Maggie Gyllenhaal) leaves him and he comes back singing. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Phoebe in Wonderland” (2009) as everyone wondered what was going on with Phoebe, until she won the part of Alice in the school play and everyone began to love, understand, and take part in Phoebe’s Wonderland. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Where the Wild Things Are” (2009) a very fine rendition of a children’s story by Maurice Sendak. A young boy takes a journey to Oz, which like Dorothy, takes him inside himself, and longing for home again. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    "D-Day: The Sixth of June" (1956) with Robert Taylor as a married American Captain who fell in love with a British girl named Valerie. A great line: "A whole country became the voice and face of a single person." That’s what Valerie became for him. The unsatisfactory ending was necessary for it to pass the censors of the time. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Life on Mars” (2008) Disk 4 of 4 this set deals with women: Annie goes undercover as a stewardess to solve a murder and Rose gets Sam to talk to his four-year-old self, and Sam fights Vic. Plus we see for the first time Life on Mars as the last scene fades away and credits roll. The last episode is a MUST SEE! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “The Messenger” (2008) stars two Iraqi vets whose job was to inform the Next of Kin of the death of their loved one. Heart-wrenching stories of coping with loss.

    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.

    “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) After several attempts to watch this turkey, which has as much to do with Sherlock Holmes as Humphrey Bogart has to do with musicals, we gave up halfway through. Time-Warner requires you to play through ALL THE PREVIEWS before you can watch this DVD. Wait for it to DVR it if you feel masochistic enough to watch it. A waste of Jude Law and Robert Downey’s talents and my time.

    Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

    “Life on Mars”, Series 1, Disk 1 (UK Version) (2006) Sam, in a coma, is detecting in 1973, thirty years before his coma life, and his attempts to use procedures not yet invented gets him in trouble, out of trouble, and makes him rather unpopular. Good enough to watch another disk, but we found a NYC Version.

    “Friends with Money” (2006) gossip about friends with and without money and Frances McDormand finally shampoos her hair.
    “The Secretary” (2002) Gyllenhaal and Spader in a warped tale of self-mutilation and repressed sexuality expressed in the confines of world’s weirdest office.

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    Adapted from a story told by Becky Allen's singing partner who heard it from Becky's mom.
    Clothilde and Theophile had been flirting with each other on the bench every afternoon for many years at the retirement village. One day Clothilde said, "Theophile, you jest turned 90 and Ah'm almost 87, don't you think we should go to bed together after all these years we been friends?"

    With that two lovers walked into Clothilde's room and consummated their friendship.

    Afterwards, as they lay in bed together, Theophile looked over to Clothilde with a look of sadness on his face. "Clothilde, Ah want to apologize to you, Cher. Ah didn't know you was a virgin! Ah would have been more gentle with you."

    Clothilde smiled back at him, "Bon Dieu, Theophile! If Ah'd known you could get it up, Ah would have taken my panty hose off!"

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    5. RECIPE of the MONTH for June, 2010 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
    (click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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    Oyster-Artichoke Soup

    Background on Oyster-Artichoke Soup: This is a New Orleans standby and one that I have been wanting to cook for a long time, what with artichokes and oysters being Del and my favorite things. Here is the result. May you enjoy making and eating it yourself.

    1 pint of freshly shucked oysters and 1 cup of extra oyster juice
    1 can evaporated milk (or 8 oz cream)
    1 can artichoke hearts
    1 bunch of green onions
    sprigs of fresh parsley and basil
    2 bay leaves
    1 stick of butter
    6 Tbsp flour
    .5 tsp thyme
    1 tsp chopped garlic
    1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
    Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
    Tony Chachere's Seasoning (substitute 1/4 tsp chayenne pepper)

    Buy a quart of oysters. Drain the juice and separate the oysters, removing any pieces of shell. Use half the oysters and all the juice. (Or buy one pint of oysters and extra juice, clam juice can be used.) Chop the green onions, parsley, and basil, keeping the green onions separate. Drain the artichoke hearts and discard the juice. Chop the hearts, removing all tough leaf-pieces.

    Cooking Instructions
    Melt butter and gradually add the flour, stirring constantly over low heat. Add the chopped green onions and garlic, simmering and stirring. Add the oyster liquid, stirring. Add the artichoke hearts, bay leaves, thyme, and Worcestershire Sauce. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Add the oysters, simmer until oysters are cooked (edges curl a bit), about 10 minutes or so. Then add the cream or evaporated milk. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and basil leaves on top and stir into soup. Return to simmer and it is ready to serve.

    Serving Suggestion
    Serves 6.

    Other options
    Serve with crackers or toast.

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    6. POETRY by BOBBY from Review :
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          Children on the Beach

    Let our lips be moved by Spirit,
           not by decadent dogma,
    Like children on the beach of life,
           making castles out of sand.

    Let our lips announce, "God stands there"
           and declaim the call for proof —
    Like children on the beach of life,
           kneeling in churches made of sand.

    Let the Spirit rise from Nature,
           the moral as a given,
    Like children on the beach of life,
           dancing gladly hand in hand.

    Let our lips be moved by spirit
           not by empty creeds,
    Like children on the beach of life,
           whom the ocean feeds.

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    7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for June:
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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: Seven Types of Ambiguity — A Study of Its Effect in English Verse by William Empson

    Margaret Atwood brought me to first read Empson in 2002 after she credited him in several places in her insightful book on writing, Negotiating with the Dead. I was working on my final paper for Dr. Michael Paulsen's "Teaching & Learning in the College Classroom" and my subject was The Live Lecturer in the Classroom. In that paper, I wrote:

    While reading the classic book, Seven Kinds of Ambiguity by William Empson, I had an insight. What I wrote in the top margin of page 14 was this, "Who is the other when I'm reading but myself?" Suddenly I had the answer to this unanswered question that I had been holding for some three years. Here is where my insight comes in. It's so simple, it's hard to explain. The other is my self. When I am reading, I am receiving direct mind-to-mind communication, not from the author to my self, but from my self to my self!
           Said differently: when I read, I can only make sense of what I'm reading if my mind is receiving direct communication from the me that exists at the point right before I read the next word or phrase or sentence. For me to understand what I'm reading, a part of me must already understand most of what the next sentence is going to contain. The me that already knows communicates with the me that doesn't know as the words proceed into my thoughts, mind-to-mind. Thus, while one part of me was reading Empson's words, another part was doing the live lecture using Empson's lesson plan.

    Empson's book was put aside after that course, partially read, until I stumbled upon Michael Wood's quotation from it in this passage from London Review of Books 17 December 2009:

    [page 10, LRB] Honour itself is not a patient word, and Empson also likes to talk of self-respect, as in the following brilliant passage from Seven Types of Ambiguity:

    people, often, cannot have done both of two things, but they must have been in some way prepared to have done either; whichever they did, they will have still lingering in their minds the way they would have preserved their self-respect if they had acted differently; they are only to be understood by bearing both possibilities in mind.

    With the impetus provided by Wood's article, I picked up Empson's book and read the rest of it and will hazard to review it. This is a dense book, full of literary references and language which many will find indecipherable — I certainly found my share of unanswered questions along the way, but also many gems which sparked from the pages of the book and whose facets reflected in my mind. I will endeavor to share some of those facets with you.

    Here's a salient example, from the beginning of Empson's Preface to the Second Edition, 1947, in which he discusses the problems of coming back to edit one's own works years later.

    [page vii] It seemed the best plant to work the old footnotes into the text, and make clear that all the footnotes in this edition are second thoughts written recently. Sometime the footnotes disagree with the text above them; this may seem a fussy process, but I did not want to cut too much. Sir Max Beerbohm has a fine reflection on revising one of his early works; he said he tried to remember how angry he would have been when he wrote it if an elderly pedant had made corrections, and how certain he would have felt that the man was wrong.

    In attacking the profundities of Empson's subject and trying to discern the differences in the seven types, one would do well to hold his advice in mind:

    [page vii, viii] Apart from trailing my coat(1) about minor controversies, I claimed at the start that I would use the term 'ambiguity' to mean anything I liked, and repeatedly told the reader that the distinctions between the Seven Types which he was asked to study would not be worth the attention of a profounder thinker.

    Empson quotes Mr. James Smith's review of his book which says, "A poem is a noumenon rather than a phenomenon." Translated into Korzybski's words, "a poem is What Is Going On, not a Map of What Is Going On." The poem is an object itself as distinct from a perceived object, i. e., there is always more going on in a poem than what a reader can perceive, so that anyone who calls a poem bad is describing more what is going on in one's head than in the poem itself. On page 8, Empson writes, "It is more self-centered, and less reliable, to write about the poems you have thought bad than about the poem you have thought good." Why? Good poems are good in unique ways, and "you must rely on each particular poem to show the way in which it is trying to be good." (Page 7)

    Critics, especially those who dote on bad poems or literature, are like "barking dogs" of two sorts, "those who merely relieve themselves against the flower of beauty, and those, less continent, who afterwards scratch it up."

    [page 9] I myself, I must confess, aspire to the second of these classes; unexplained beauty arouses an irritation in me, a sense that this would be a good place to scratch; the reasons that make a line of verse likely to give pleasure, I believe, are like the reasons for anything else; one can reason about them; and while it may be true that the roots of beauty ought not to be violated, it seems to me very arrogant of the appreciative critic to think that he could do this, if he chose, by a little scratching.

    Unleash a critic of Empson's sensibilities upon ambiguity and it's amazing to me that he only uncovered seven types!

    [page 25] Among metaphors effective from several points of view one may include, by no great extension, those metaphors which are partly recognized as such and partly received simply as words in their acquired sense. All languages are composed of dead metaphors as the soil of the corpses, but English is perhaps uniquely full of metaphors of this sort, which are not dead but sleeping, and, while making a direct statement, color it with an implied comparison.

    My poem below was inspired by the above passage which hints at how ambiguity may arise from implied comparisons:

    Sleeping Beauties in my prose —
    I'll have none of those.

    Give me ones who
          spring to liveliness
    Without the need of
           slobbery kiss.

    Let not one stay unawake
          till I my terminal period make.

    Please pay respect to my acuity
          if you find an unintended ambiguity —
    It is apt to happen, now and then,
          that one should split in twain and twin.

    The ambiguities in the next stanza by Browning are rife, and yet resolve into a beautiful song before the terminal period.

    I want to know a butcher paints,
    A baker rhymes for his pursuit,
    Candlestick-maker, much acquaints
    His souls with song, or, haply mute,
    Blows out his brains upon the flute.

    One of the more offensive conversational ploys to come into recent popularity is making verbal quotes with two fingers of two raised hands. One wonders if such people could communicate with their hands tied behind their backs. In written text, the habit of quotes or italics around one word for emphasis is equally egregious. One may use such artifacts until one learns to write in such a way that they are not needed, rather as one soon learns to walk as a child without leaning upon nearby objects.

    [page 28] . . . the practice of putting single words into italics for emphasis . . . [ is ] vulgar; a well-constructed sentence should be able to carry a stress on any of its words and should show in itself how these stresses are to be compounded.

    It is easy to be confused by the prolix of spelling and punctuation which fill Shakespeare's plays. Empson points out that our confusion is merely a consequence of having frozen the forms of words and punctuation since then. One does better to consider the leeway which we can have when reading Shakespeare. ". . . the Elizabethan rules of punctuation trusted to the reader's intelligence and were more interested in rhetoric than in grammar." (Page 134)

    [page 83, 84] One must consider . . . that the Elizabethans minded very little about spelling and punctuation; that this must have given them an attitude to the written page entirely different from our (the reader must continually have been left to grope for the right word); that from the comparative slowness, of reading as of speaking, that this entailed, he was prepared to assimilate words with a completeness which is now lost; that only our snobbish oddity of spelling imposes on us the notion that one mechanical word, to be snapped up by the eyes, must have been intended; and that it is Shakespeare's normal method to use a newish, apparently irrelevant word, which spreads the attention thus attracted over a wide map of the ways in which it may be justified.

    Can you spot the pattern in Othello's words, "the flinty and steel couch of war"? We have a noun and noun of noun, a flinty couch and a steel couch of war or taken together "the flint and steel with which you fire your gun." (Page 90) Or in this one from Hamlet (page 91), "Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults." Or this one from Measure for Measure, "Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness" (Page 92). Or this one of the form "by noun and noun, the noun": "As when, by night and negligence, the fire is spied". There is a good reason this usage seems familiar.

    [page 94] . . . Shakespeare uses it very often; it has been drummed, therefore, into the ears of his reader till they take it for granted.

    Within the book and volume of my brain.
    Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper.
    The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind.
    The pales and forts of reason.
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
    The whips and scorns of time.
    The natural gates and alleys of the body.

    After reading all these examples of the form, I could not resist incorporating the form into a poem I was writing for an annual event in which my club members invite their ladies to a formal dinner at Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter and read poems to them.

    In this year and night of mirth we come here
    To feast and fete you ladies with our song.
    Let us lift our Spirit and our Task to Thee
    Whose voices and shapes to Heav'n belong —
    While we Earth-bound, and bound to worship Thee,
    Loose our tongue and spirit with our melody.

    What could stay our chorus on this night
    But a look and sigh of Love from Thee
    Upon my fellow romantics and me.
    Hold but a minute and a smile aright
    And we will hold our glasses high to Thee
    To toast the Love that you have shown to them and me.

    This next poem by Pope about old women, seems to me most true about women of the country club set for whom beauty is the be all and end all of their otherwise empty lives. It is droll to imagine the ghosts of beauty haunting the wrinkles where formerly beauty lived. They marry the convivial young stud lubricated by martinis who grows into an alcoholic slug.

    [page 149] As hags hold sabbats, not for joy but spite,
    So these their merry miserable night;
    So round and round the ghosts of beauty glide,
    And haunt the places where their honor died.
    See how the world its veterans rewards.
    Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
    Young without lovers, old without a friend;
    A fop her passion, and her prize a sot;
    Alive ridiculous, and dead forgot.

    Empson suggests that it was the study of Hebrew, especially the Old Testament, and the English versions of the Bible that helped create our tolerance and even penchant for ambiguity.

    [page 193] The study of Hebrew, by the way, and the existence of English Bibles with alternatives in the margin, may have had influence on the capacity of English for ambiguity; Done, Herbert, Jonson, and Crashaw, for instance, were Hebrew scholars, and the flowering of poetry at the end of the sixteenth century corresponded with the first thorough permeation of the English language by the translated texts. This is of interest because Hebrew, having very unreliable tenses, extraordinary idioms, and a strong taste for puns, possesses all the poetical advantages of a thorough primitive disorder.

    With Egyptian hieroglyphics, we find the seventh type of ambiguity most strongly, the one in which the two meanings of a word can be opposite to one another. One word could mean both young and old, with only a gesture in spoken language available to distinguish the baby from the old man. In writing, a hieroglyph could be present to indicate which is meant and to trigger the extra hieroglyph when required.

    Here we are, having survived the seven types of ambiguity and still possessing a working sense of humor, we hope. We have learned a bit about ambiguity and how it brings a liveliness and freshness to poetry. Contrary to our modern "belts and suspenders of meaning", we have discovered the freedom of Elizabethan poetry which required neither a belt of exact spelling nor any suspenders of grammatical punctuation, hanging instead upon the page and awaiting our pleasure for the dressing or undressing of its meaning. To paraphrase my favorite poet, Samuel Hoffenstein, "Lives there a man with hide so tough, who thinks seven types of ambiguity are not enough?"

    Read the Full Review at:

    2.) ARJ2: The Tale of the Four Dervishes of Amir Khusru by Amina Shah (as retold by)

    For what reason should you read this story? Well, there's a story behind the reason.

    [page 8] When the great 13th Century Sufi teacher Nizamuddin Awliyya was ill, his disciple Amir Khusru — the eminent Persian poet — recited to him this Sufi allegory. To mark this event, Nizamuddin on his recovery placed this benediction upon the book:

    "Who hears this story will, by divine power, be in health."

    With these words, Amina Shah, the daughter of the eminent Sufi author, Idries Shah, begins her telling of the tale of the four dervishes and King Azad Bakht. These 144 pages will seem to fly by as you read theses tales, but for any readers who think the stories are too long, consider this: these stories have been greatly condensed by the oldest weapon in the arsenal of story tellers, a weapon which is brandished to lop off great sections of story on many occasions, namely, "to make a long story short"! Shah adds this note:

    [page 8] It is widely believed that the recitation of the story will restore to health the ailing, and that the allegorical dimensions of the adventures of the Dervishes contained in it are part of a teaching-system which prepares the mind of the Seeker-after-Truth for spiritual enlightenment.

    Be prepared to be a bit confused by some of the stories, especially to those academic types who bring their already full teacup to the dervishes' long tea party. Empty your mind of expectations and allow the fragrant aroma of Sufi tea to fill your nostrils as these stories unfold. And unfold is meant literally: after my first reading of the book I went through it a second time (in a paperback edition I no longer have) to track the enfolded complexity of the myriad of stories. I started with a horizontal line and each time a new story was entered, I dropped down a half inch, then drew a horizontal line until either a new story was entered (if so, line dropped down) or the story ended (line returned back up). The major lines are the stories of the four dervishes plus that of King Azad Bakht, interspersed with stories of Princess of Damascus, The Generosity of Hatim Tai, and Prince of Nimroz, plus many smaller stories too numerous to put into the Table of Contents.

    Note that Shah advised us to hear the story, not just read it. During my earlier readings of the story back in 1988, I did not take the opportunity to read it to someone, but enjoyed it in solitude. For this new reading, my wife and I read the stories of the book to each other during an automobile trip one weekend. We each got to hear a recitation of the story of the Four Dervishes.

    My first impression after this recitation was to compare the stories of the Four Dervishes and Azad Bakht to those of Odysseus in the Odyssey of Homer. Those stories were recited from memory for centuries before the invention of writing became necessary due to the evolution of human consciousness. Humans became no longer able to envision the epic tales of Odysseus directly because they had lost their spiritual sight which had allowed them to view epic tales directly. Soon only a few humans could view the tales and recited aloud to those who couldn't. At that point in human consciousness, writing was invented and luckily the tales of the Odyssey and the Iliad were quickly written down, likely by Homer initially. It is possible that these Sufi tales, like the epic tales of Homer, were not written down at all until recently and that Homer himself (or some other ancient Greek story-teller) heard the Tales of the Four Dervishes and was inspired to create the epic stories of the Trojan War in a similar fashion. Like this book, the Odyssey consists of adventures by a man who must at various points tell his life story, which grows progressively more interesting with each stop along his way home, and listen to the stories of the others he encounters along the way.

    If there is some validity to the Dervish Tale preceding the Homeric epics, then it's possible that the Greek custom of xenia, the concept of hospitality, or generosity, and courtesy shown to those who are far from home, originated in the Tale of the Four Dervishes, for in each tale, one of the Dervishes is abandoned helpless and penniless, far from home, and dependent upon the kindness of strangers. In every case, the Dervish, a King in his own right as was Odysseus, is taken in by a stranger, fitted with the finest clothes, fed the most sumptuous foods, and given an apartment to live in for as long as he desired. Only after the vagabond had been dutifully fed, bathed, rested, and clothed was he asked for an explanation of how he arrived in his host's environs.

    The story begins with the great King in Istanbul, Azad Bakht, who turned forty years old, and faced the attack of gray hairs appearing each day in his beard in increasing numbers, and he was yet without an heir, a son, to whom he could turn over his fortune. He was distressed beyond consolation, and retired to his private rooms and refused to come out. Meanwhile his country fell into ruin and his Vizir hazarded to interrupt his King who came out to set his kingdom right again. But something strange happened.

    [page 11, 12] One day, the King read in a book that if anyone was oppressed with grief which could not be cured by any human act, he should visit the tombs of the dead. 'For,' it said in that manuscript, 'have not all of them left behind their riches and possessions, homes and offspring, horses and elephants, and are lying there alone? All those worldly advantages have been of no use to them, and how have they settled their accounts with God? Having thought about all these things, the flower of a man's heart will always bloom. It will not wither in any circumstances.'

    Azad Bakht decided to dress humbly and exit the palace at night unseen so as to visit a cemetery as the book suggested. He creeps at last towards a flame where four men he took might be dervishes were gathered about a flame. Not wishing to risk his life, he decided to listen to them awhile to be sure they were dervishes and therefore trustworthy. This is how the stories began.

    [page 13] They took out their water-pipes, and started to smoke, and each reclined on his mattress. Then, one of them said: 'O Brothers of Freedom, friends in mutual pain, and wanderers over the world! Let us each tell our story, for have we not met on this same spot for pure companionship? Tomorrow's events are not known; whether we will remain together or part forever, is not yet decided. Let us pass this night in talking, and each will tell his own tale.'
          The others nodded in agreement, and the First Dervish began to speak.

    The first Dervish was the son of a wealthy merchant who passed an early life of carefree luxury until at the age of fourteen, he took over his father's estate when both his parents died. He followed the advice of all the people he hired to assist him, but with his interest in drinking and gambling to excess, soon whatever had not been lost by neglect from his father's estate had been plundered by his own servants for their own use. Soon he was broke, hungry, thirsty, and all alone. His sister takes him in, feeds, clothes, and sets him up in a business of trading with Damascus. Soon he meets the Princess of Damascus with whom he has fallen in love and asks her to tell him her story.

    After her story the two of them set out together on horses, she dressed as a man, and when they came upon a great river, the Dervish asked her to stay as he sought a ford or a ferry. When he returned, she had disappeared and he was left disconsolate, tearing his clothes, became an vagabond fakir, searching without luck for her everywhere. He was at the end of his wits and endurance.

    [page 35] Eventually, I came to a mountain. The idea suggested itself to me that I should climb it, and throw myself from the top, ending my existence and therefore an insupportable misery.
          When I was about to cast myself upon the rocks below the mountain, someone touched my arm. I looked around and saw a horseman dressed in green, with a veil over his face. He said to me: 'Why try to destroy your life? Despair is unfaithfulness towards God. While there is breathing, there is hope. A few days from now, three dervishes will meet. Like you, they are entangled in difficulties; they have had problems and experiences like your own. The King of the country of Rum is named Azad Bakht. He, too, is in great distress. When he meets you four, the heart's desire of every one of you will be fulfilled!'

          I caught hold of his stirrup and kissed it, saying: 'O Friend of God! What you have said has consoled me. Please tell me, in God's Name, who you are.'
          He said: 'I am Ali. My function is that whenever anyone is in trouble, I am there to succor him.' As soon as he had spoken, he disappeared.
          At this miraculous intervention, I felt much encouraged, and, following the advice of this spiritual guide, I set off for Istanbul, in Rum. After the hardships that were my lot on that journey, I have encountered you. We have met. We have conversed. It only remains for us to encounter King Azad Bakht. When we do, we shall surely gain the desire of our hearts. O Spiritual Guides! Let us pray that our problems may be resolved.'
          Azad Bakht, still in concealment, and having listened with great attention to this tale, started to listen to the story of the Second Dervish.

    This is a thumbnail of the tale of the first Dervish, and hospitality, or generosity, and courtesy the succeeding tales will each end in a similar way with the appearance of the green-veiled horseman and a promise that each will soon receive their heart's desire. The green-veiled horseman can be seen as a Christ figure, in the time before Christ appeared on the Earth and took human form, a figure who came when someone was in dire straits and offered them hope if they would but just allow their life on Earth to play out without their own termination of it.

    After the second tale, King Azad Bakht returns to his palace in order to greet the dervishes and when they arrive, he asks the third and fourth Dervish to relate their stories to him. When they are unwilling to do so, Azad Bakht relates his own tale to them which is epic in its own telling, taking up the middle half of the book. Azad as a young king questioned his Vizir who claimed that a merchant in a far-off land had a dog which wore a collar with twelve rubies on it as large as the one the youth Azad had spent his days admiring. Azad found the story incredulous and threw the Vizir into the dungeon "Until someone brings proof of the existence of such an unlikely dog". The tale unwinds with the Vizir's daughter disguising herself to find the man with the dog and the two cages he carried with him in which two sorrowful men are kept and fed on the leavings of the dog. This incredible tale involves the man showing repeated hospitality, generosity, and courtesy to his good-for-nothing brothers who find themselves penniless until he rescues them and they repay kindness attempting to kill him. Finally, the man is forced by the public nature of his two brothers crimes to promise to imprison them forever and treat them lower than any dog.

    Soon we hear the tales of the third and fourth dervish and, as the succoring green-veiled horsemen had promised, the heart's desire of the four Dervishes and that of Azad Bakht are fulfilled. In the course of reading only this review, you have tasted this story — but not in full, rather you have tasted it as one who might go to Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, ask for a menu, read it, and then proceed to eat the menu itself. Could such a person be said to have tasted the food of the famous restaurant? Get a willing friend and begin the recitation at the earliest possible moment, you are in for a feast of epic proportions which will enrich your life beyond measure.

    To Print Review for Reading:

    3.) ARJ2: The Mysteries of the East and of Christianity, GA#144 by Rudolf Steiner

    In the Preface we are given a passage of Steiner's introduction to these lectures by Guenther Wachsmuth, which is a different translation of the text on pages 7 and 8. Rudolf Steiner spoke in German, I prefer to share his speaking about reincarnation and the Mysteries from this translation. He deals with an often neglected aspect of successive incarnations: that the world we arrive in has changed between them.

    [page I, Preface] Just as the evolution of man in the various regions and in these successive periods of human life takes on different forms, such is the case also with everything that we designate as 'the system of the Mysteries.' We do not pass in our soul through successive lives on earth meaninglessly, but for the reason that we experience something new every incarnation and can add this to what we have united with our soul life in the preceding incarnations. The visible external world has in most cases completely changed its appearance when we enter again through birth into the physical existence of the human being, after having passed through the spiritual world between death and this new birth. For reasons, therefore, easily understood, the nature of the Mysteries, the principle of initiation, must change in successive epochs.

    Another aspect that Garber writes about is how Steiner describes the right way of thinking about our brain. He says, in effect, that materialistic science, which claims that thinking proceeds from the brain, has placed the cart of the physical brain before the horse of thinking. Rightly understood, it is thinking which pulls along the brain, helping it to evolve over the ages to match the evolution of thinking. Right thinking in this lifetime prepares in us the ability to mold our brain in future incarnations. Hard, materialistic thinkers in this lifetime will become weak thinkers in their next lifetime. Garber quotes Steiner:

    [page III, Preface] Thus all activity of the brain is the result of thinking — not the reverse — even in the course of history. The brain has been plastically molded by thinking. If only such thoughts are formed as are customary at the present time, if thoughts are not permeated by the wisdom of the Spirit, then the souls of human beings who occupy themselves today only with materialistic thinking will not be able in later incarnations rightly to mold their brain, since their forces will no longer be able to take hold of the brain, having become too weak.

    One reads of ancient people who took long travels to visit places for inspiration and to learn of various Mysteries. There was a time, when if one wanted to learn of the Delphic Oracle in Greece, one had to visit the site itself, or to learn of Egyptian mysteries, one had to visit Egypt, but that is no longer true in our time. Now one has only to travel within oneself. As Collison says in the Introduction on page 5, "Wisdom now has less of a local character — formerly one had to travel to places of Initiation."

    When a man achieves an ability for direct knowing, of being able to perceive in a flash what must be done, it is difficult for him to explain the situation to others.

    [page 13] Then perhaps he is asked by those about him: "Why should we do that?" To be sure, when he can appreciate the other person's point of view he will always be able to account for this from the stage on which he is standing and where he sees as it were in a flash what has to be done, and take his stand beside the other, where he forces himself to follow the train of thought of ordinary life in order to show what proof there is for what he sees through in a flash. This rapid comprehension of widely varying and complicated circumstances of life is that which appears as a phenomenon accompanying the faculty of rising above personal opinions and views and standpoints.

    What makes Rudolf Steiner so valuable a lecturer is that he does the process described in the passage above so very well. It has often been reported that Steiner would custom-shape his lectures for the specific individuals who showed up in his audience, clearly he did this so that he could stand alongside them both to speak to them in ways they would understand and about subjects foremost in their minds at the time.

    In a remarkable passage below, Steiner reveals what happens to the amoral or immoral, those who are amoral by omission or immoral by commission, when they spend time between their death and a new birth. They become agents of destruction acting upon the physical world.

    [page 31] It is a fixed law that is evident here. The seer perceives how souls that have passed through the Gate of Death and whose previous disposition was towards slackness of conscience or unconscientiousness in their dealings, for a certain period between death and a new birth make themselves into servants who must cooperate in bringing about diseases, illnesses, and untimely deaths into the physical sense-world.

    [page 33] . . . they will have as souls to be servants of the god or gods of Opposition, those gods who place particular obstacles in the path of evolution. And these again are the spirits who are under the rule of Ahriman.

    Where does this slackness of conscience come from? In another book, Steiner relates how the age of maturity in our time is 27 years old. That age has decreased to its present levels from a high of 55 or so during ancient times in India. Back then, an old person was revered and respected and sought out for advice. Why? Because, regardless of what a person did, when a human reached the age of 55, they were automatically more intelligent and wiser than a 40-, 30-, or 27-year-old person. Today the age of automatically wiser is 27-years-old and a person reaching that age is smarter than a 25-, 20-, 15-year-old person. What happens after the age of 27 today? If the person does not study further and coasts along in the work place, enjoying a busy job, and afterward lots of leisure time and ease, that person gets older, but not smarter, and at age 55 is not any smarter or wiser than at age 27.

    Steiner is a seer and it is from his own personal experience that he reports what a seer can see, but he also knows that what he sees is true because his own perceptions match those of other seers in so many ways. An example of this was that he was able to head up the German Section of the Theosophical Society because what he taught from his own seer-ship matched that of the age-old teachings of the Society.

    [page 31] To take another example, we can look at that which the seer learns when he turns his attention to a quality that is very widespread among men — the desire for ease and comfort. This desire for ease and comfort is really more widely spread than one generally thinks. People indulge far more in indolence than one realizes. Men are indolent in their thinking, indolent in their manner and behavior. And particularly indolent do they appear when they are required to alter their thinking or their habits. If men were not so ease-loving in their innermost souls it would not so often have happened when the necessity arose for learning anything fresh, that they resisted it. They struggled against it because it is uncomfortable to have to unlearn anything.

    When I was taking Philosophy 101 in college, a farm boy in our class during some discussion mentioned that he had noticed, as had many other farmhands, that if one dug postholes for a fence during a full moon, there was always more dirt left over than if one dug the same postholes during a new moon. We debated the merits of his observation and even proposed that we put it to the test, but that was impractical, so it has remained an unanswered question in my mind, up until now. Steiner mentions the tale of Gustav Theodor Fechner who studied the Moon and came to the conclusion that more rain occurs around the Full Moon than around the New Moon. Steiner says, "There were many people who wanted to prove their scientific learning by laughing at Gustav Theodor Fechner and his studies of the Moon." (Page 37) A test was made by a famous botanist, Schleiden, and Fechner. Their wives captured water for their laundry once a month, Schleiden's wife was asked to capture her water during the New Moon and Fechner's during the Full. Fechner's wife had more water every month!

    I postulate that the reason for more dirt being left over during the Full Moon than other times of the month was due to the extra rain which falls on average near the Full Moon — the extra moisture in the soil leading to a greater density and thus a reduction in the amount of compaction it could withstand when placed into a posthole. Therefore more dirt would be left over during a Full Moon post-holing expedition.

    [page 38] Thus, I might say in an ironic fashion, a decision was reached, to which, however, we attribute no great importance now. Later, however, it will emerge that everything — sunlight, sun-heat and also the other stellar influences — will make their influence felt on the plant world.

    As we go through grades in school, the arithmetic we learn in grades 1-4 we use in higher grades, the algebra we learn in grade 8, we use again in high school and college, and so on, what we learn at early grades we use again in a repetition of learning at other levels. It should come as no surprise that similar repetition occurs at all levels in the evolution of the cosmos and of humanity.

    [page 66] Everything that appears at a certain time in the evolution of humanity, in order to bring this evolution forward, must in a certain sense contain a kind of repetition of what has gone before. In every later epoch the earlier experiences of humanity must again appear, only in a fresh form. We know that it was especially the sentient soul which was concerned in the third post-Atlantean epoch; the intellectual or rational soul in the fourth or Greco-Roman; and that in the [fifth period] in which we ourselves are living, it is the consciousness soul that should come especially to its development.

    From the time of the sentient soul when humans were beginning to understand the cosmic forces coming from the stars through the twelve signs of the Zodiac, there came into being King Arthur and his Round Table of twelve knights, each knight representing one of the signs. These knights carried out purges in the sentient world of monsters and giants which represented the purification of the human astral body. In the Legend of Arthur and his duty-bound knights we have preserved for us a vivid image of the purification we each must go through in our own astral body if we are to progress as full human beings of the fifth period.

    [page 68, 69] . . .those [cosmic] forces during the fifth period inspired certain persons; so that in the dawn of the fifth period there were persons who, not exactly through their training but through certain mysterious influences which operated, became the instruments, the vehicles of cosmic influences issuing from the sun and moon during their passage through ,the Signs of the Zodiac. Such Mysteries as could then be won for the human soul through these individuals constituted the repetition of that which was once experienced through the sentient soul. And the persons who expressed the transit of the cosmic forces through the Signs of the Zodiac, were those who were called" The Knights of King Arthur's Round Table." There were twelve of them, and they were surrounded by a number of other men, but they themselves were the principal knights. The other persons represented the starry host; into them flowed the inspirations which were more distantly distributed in cosmic space; but into the twelve knights flowed the inspirations which came from the twelve directions of the Zodiac. And the inspirations which came from the spiritual forces of the sun and moon were represented by King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Thus in King Arthur's Round Table we have the humanized Cosmos.

    What we may call the pedagogical high school for the sentient soul of the West, proceeded from King Arthur's Round Table. Hence we are told — and the legend here refers in pictures of external facts to inner Mysteries which were taking place in the dawn of that period in the human soul — how the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table wandered through the earth and slew monsters and giants. What is here presented in external pictures points to those efforts which have been made with the human souls who were to advance in the refining and purifying of those forces of the astral body which expressed themselves for the seer in those pictures — the pictures of monsters, giants and the like. Thus everything that the sentient soul was to experience through the later Mysteries is bound up with the conceptions of King Arthur's Round Table.

    This is no easy matter to comprehend, but if we follow Steiner's presentation to the end, we find the Round Table Legend representing the evolution of Man's sentient soul, the Grail Legend that of our intellectual soul, and the Parsifal Legend that of our consciousness soul. Whatever attraction these legends have yet today stems from these underlying connections, which for non-Initiates remain unconscious, but nevertheless very real.

    [page 73] Thus the Secrets of the Grail referred to the permeation with new wisdom of the intellectual or mind-soul.

    [page 79] . . . and all that finds expression in the figure of Parsifal, this ideal of the later Initiation, in so far as this later Initiation is dependent upon the consciousness soul, represents the forces which must especially be made our own through that which we call the consciousness soul.

    Our consciousness soul must come to deal with the vacuity of modern materialistic thinking, which uses its sharpened rational thinking to arrive at such concepts as the "heart as a pump", "motor neurons", and worst of all, "the brain as the origin of thoughts". Treating the brain as the origin of thought is the most materialistic of all the concepts being taught to our children in standard schools today, schools which rightly understood, should be called substandard. What would educators do if they understood their prominent mode of teaching our children today will lead these children inexorably to become imbeciles in successive incarnations?

    [page 81, 82] That which man has been learning for some time, that which is considered the right thing to give to a child and to instil into it, and that which is taken as the foundation of the newer education, is not to be judged merely in accordance with the fact that someone who considered himself clever says he understands things and they are absolutely true; but everything is to be judged according to how it affects the soul and fructifies it, and what impressions it produces upon it. And when a person becomes cleverer and cleverer in the sense in which it is the fashion today to call people clever, he develops within his soul forces which perhaps even in this incarnation make him very capable of dominating the conversation where one wants to live materialistically or monistically, but then certain vital forces which ought to be within the human organism wither.

    And when such a soul has taken into itself only these extraordinary dregs of modern education, it lacks in the next incarnation into which it enters the forces for properly building up the organism. The more understanding, the "cleverer" one is in an incarnation with regard to the time which we are approaching, so much the more imbecile is he in a later incarnation. For those categories and concepts which relate only to sense-existence and to such ideas as hold external existence together, set up such a configuration in the soul as may be ever so fine intellectually, but which loses the intensive force for working on the brain and for making use of the brain. And to be unable in the physical body to make use of the brain means to be imbecile.

    We ignore these soul forces to our own peril and that of our children. Unless we come to understand that our thoughts work upon shaping and forming the brain, the soul forces we bequeath to our next incarnation will be inadequate to work upon our brain, and we will become soft-headed and incompetent.

    The materialists who claim the heart is a pump cannot explain how the circulation of blood precedes the development of the heart. I have seen a movie clip of the so-called beating heart in a fetus at a time when the heart was merely an enlarged area in the blood stream. Yes, it was pulsing, but this nascent heart was not capable of pumping, in my opinion, it was merely acting as a tiny hydraulic ram which interrupted the blood flow as to facilitate the oxygenation of the blood by the turbulence created. Another example, the eye was formed by the presence of sunlight which had to precede the existence of the eye. The irritation caused by sunshine impinging upon the eyes led to the creation of a sensory organ to perceive what the light contained. If we had some equivalent means of viewing the evolution of the brain over aeons of time, we would notice brain being built up by thoughts, just as the eye was built up by the presence of sunlight.

    [page 82, 83] If what the materialists maintain were the truth, namely, that the brain does the thinking, then one could certainly give them some comfort. But this assertion is not true; it is as false as the other assertion that the" center of speech" has created itself. It has created itself through the fact that men learned to speak, and hence the center (or agent) of speech is the result of speech. Similarly all cerebral activity even in history is the result of thinking-not the other way about. The brain is plastically modeled through thinking. If only such thoughts are developed as are usual now, if the thoughts are not permeated by the wisdom of the spirit, then the souls which only busy themselves today with thinking about material things, in later incarnations will no longer be able to be too weak.

    In this next passage, I came to a full realization of an understanding which had been developing over the decades since I took a degree in the most materialistic science of all, physics, an explanation for why I could not work simply as a physicist for very long! After a decade or two of working as a physicist, I began an earnest search which eventually led me to Rudolf Steiner books and lectures, and the answers I was seeking for the cause of my own seeking I found in his writings.

    [page 83] A soul which to-day is merely occupied with, let us say, calculating debit and credit, or busies itself with the usages of commercial and industrial life, or only absorbs the ideas of materialistic science, is only filling itself with thought-pictures which gradually in later incarnations darken the consciousness, because the brain like an un-plastic mass (as today in the case of softening of the brain) would no longer be capable of being affected by thought-forces. Hence for him who looks into these deeper forces of human evolution, everything that can live in the soul must be permeated by the spiritual comprehension of the world.

    Our unconscious contains the dead forces of our soul. Gradually my experience of those dead forces in my soul, though I could not call them that at the time, led me on a life-long search which continues to this day, this very second, as I tap these keys. Only through infusing my consciousness soul with spiritual knowledge have I found the relief I was seeking. Friends ask me, "Why do you not use your physics?" I answer them now, "I do use my physics, it is the foundation of everything I do." But you see, one can not worship in the foundation of a church, the foundation is cold stone. One can only stand atop the foundation to worship within a church. To understand the spiritual world without a solid understanding of the physical world can lead to spiritual inflation and religiosity instead of true knowledge. To understand the physical world without grasping its spiritual underpinnings creates a philosophy as dead as stone.

    [page 84] That is part of the fruits of the newer Mysteries; those are the important and significant results which must be appropriated from the present-day Mysteries, which are an after-effect of the Grail Mystery. But unlike all ancient Mystery-wisdom it can really be understood by the generality of people. For gradually the unconscious and dead forces of the soul and of the organism must be overcome through a strong permeation of the consciousness-soul with spiritual knowledge, i.e. with a knowledge that has been understood and grasped spiritually, not a knowledge that is built up on authority.

    [page 85] The more present-day man looks into himself and tries to exercise honest self-knowledge, the more he will find how strife is raging within his soul, which is a conflict within the intellectual or mind-soul. For self-knowledge is a thing which is more difficult in this connection today than many people think, and will in truth become more and more difficult.

    This lecture by Rudolf Steiner speaks directly of my own search, my own seeking, in a way which convinces me that he also went through such stages in his own life. Yes, you may be thinking, but few people bother about such seeking or searching today. Steiner would agree with you, especially when talking about scientists.

    [page 85, 86] The difficulties of this inner life may perhaps never occur today to those persons who see true knowledge and true cognition in external scientific occupation. But a soul that takes this impulse towards knowledge seriously and worthily is in a different position when it obtains a true insight into its inner being. This soul seeks perhaps in this or that science, seeks and seeks, seeks also in life, seeks to find some reconciliation between all that manifest in human life. After some searching it thinks it knows a little. But then it seeks further. And the more it seeks with the means which the times provide the more does it frequently feel torn in pieces, the more does it feel itself drawn into doubt. And the soul that, after having absorbed the education of the period, own to itself that with this education of the age it can know nothing, this soul is frequently the one the exercises the most earnest and the most worthy self-cognition.

    In the image of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we find the modern equivalent of Parsifal and Amfortas, the competent doctor of healing and the wounded, hurting, and angry man. We must each go through the wounding of the Amfortas in ourselves in order to come to know the Parsifal in us.

    [page 86, 87] Thus one who approaches the nature of modern Mysteries must really feel that he is so confronting himself, that he must endeavor to become such a one as strives after the virtues of Parsifal, and yet one who knows that through all the modern circumstances that have been described he is something different, because he is a man of the newer age — he is the wounded Amfortas. The man of these modern days carries this double nature within him: the aspiring Parsifal and the wounded Amfortas. Thus must he feel in his self-cognition.

    From this there flow forth the forces which from this duality must be brought to unity, and which should bring man a little further in the world's evolution. In our intellectual soul, in the depths of our inner being, there must be a meeting between the modern man — Amfortas wounded in body and soul, and Parsifal the cultivator of the consciousness-soul.

    Steiner suggests at the end of Lecture 4 in February, 1914 that he may later speak in "clear terms — if that may be — of what the nature of the modern Mysteries discloses concerning the entity of the modern person, concerning the dual nature which man bears within him: concerning Amfortas and Parsifal." Any one who doubts that the Legends of the Round Table, the Grail, and Parsifal hold important lessons for all of humanity should take another look, take a deep draught of these legends and allow them to work upon one's soul, so that the wounded Amfortas within can speak up and call upon one's own Parsifal to ask, "What ails you, Uncle?"

    Read the Full Review and 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.

    1. Padre Filius wanders through French Quarter:

    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.

    This month the good Padre finds a Curious Drink at a Bistro.

    2.Comments from Readers:

    • EMAIL from Carol Fleischman in French Quarter:
      Hi Del and Bobby,

      Missed you at my French Quarter Fest Brunch — it was a huge success — perfect weather, over 100 great people (the important part), delicious food, music etc. I did have help of Laurie and my sister, Helen.

      A belated Happy Birthday, Del! I hope you celebrated well.

      Let's catch up soon.
      Love, Carol

  • EMAIL from Russ Copping:
    Everyone..., This site deserves close attention by most of my circle of acquaintances. I think it'll turn out to be a Ground breaker. Got it from my friend, Father Don.
    This web site is phenomenal! Watch the preview when you have the time and it will boggle your mind. There are no limits to what you can do with this is a "keeper!" Be sure to copy it to your "Favorites." Watch the Introduction first:

    Then save the Site in your favorites:

  • 3. New Epilogue Added to Review of Dr. Viikari's Myopia book:

    ~^~ EPILOGUE ~^~

    This next passage is quoted from Kaisu Viikari on her website:
    Myopia means, increasingly, frequently repeated, easily managed visits to an ophthalmologist or optician due to this complaint, profitable trade of glasses, plenty of contact lenses; and mutilation of healthy eyes that poses a risk to the eyesight and often needs to be repeated, as well as other surgical inventions, which keep an immense money-making racket going – a criminal abuse of the doctors’ knowledge, which is intended for the safeguarding of people’s health.

    What Evidence is There for a Claim of Criminal Abuse?

    In the January 16, 2010 issue of Science News under News Briefs was an article about the increase of nearsightness (myopia) in the USA. Nathan Seppa wrote:

    Researchers tapped into a wide-ranging health survey to rate vision, comparing data for more than 4,400 people tested in 1971 and 1972 with that from another set of 8,300 people test from 1999 to 2004. This broad survey showed that 25 percent of theose examined in the early 1970s were deemed nearsighted, compared with 42 percent examined three decades later, researchers report in the December Archives of Ophthalmology.
    If these statistics were describing an almost doubling of actual myopia (which is always due to the anatomical elongation of the eyeball), this would be incredible — it would mean in a short thiry-year span some mutation has occurred in Americans to cause their eyeballs to be elongated! As Dr. Kaisu Viikari says below:
    [page 2] Before perusing the theme I will be dealing with, we should take a short trip back in history to realize that myopia is not about an ordinary development trend. It is unlikely that any other consequence of evolution, if this is what we can call it, has come about as fast as myopization. We only have to remember how valuable a myopic slave was in ancient Greece, as a rare person who preserved his ability to read and do near work far longer than the majority of the population. Spectacles were only invented some 700 years ago.

    Given the unlikely nature that actual myopia is responsible for the increase in myopia prevalence, it must be the case that these data are revealing the increase of pseudo-myopia, which is easily prevented by the protocols that Dr. Kaisu Viikari describes in her books.

    Pseudomyopia is caused by nothing more than a fatigue cramp in an overworked accommodation muscle of the eye. The cramp is brought on by an insufficient opportunity for the muscle to relax (e.g. from too much reading). Pseudomyopia, being a 'spasm of accommodation' can be released. Left unattended however, the spasmic, overworked accommodation muscle will cause the eyeball to elongate causing irreversible, actual myopia. This happens especially in a young eye. Even though an actual myopia has developed, there is always some pseudomyopia included. The pseudomyopic portion of the 'total myopia' can be released, thus the worsening of the myopia is prevented and a variety of symptoms can be relieved (migraine, headaches, etc.).

    Perhaps instead of "criminal abuse" it should be called "criminal negligence" because eye doctors have had access to the research and methods of Dr. Viikari and chosen to ignore them. To be "criminal abuse", eye doctors would have to be choosing some more-profitable approach to eye-care which is detrimental to the eyesight and general health of their patients. In either case, eye-patient abuse by the medical profession seems evident from the statistics reported in the December Archives of Ophthalmology. It is rather unbelievable, that an esteemed medical journal writes about the situation without further ponderings of its etiology.


    This website by the The Francis Young, Maurice Brumer and Jacob Raphaelson Scientific Study for Threshold Nearsightedness Prevention offers information about a study of myopia reduction and prevention in Navy/Air Force pilots who must have 20/20 uncorrected eyesight in order to fly. This study lists Dr. Kaisu Viikari as an advisor. Here is the website: See for yourself is the best advice.

    WHY? What happens when people give reasons . . . and why

    Charles Tilly

    In this book, Professor Tilly gives his four categories of reasons. Using those four categories, one can easily see that, while Dr. Viikari gave numerous personal stories of healing during her decades of service to her patients, and while she gave detailed technical accounts, the people who opposed her work used the grounds of conventions and codes as reasons to ignore her work. If they had merely ignored her work, they would have deemed it worthless, but for the very reason that they attacked her work, they proclaimed her work worthy of consideration. They revealed by their actions that the danger was to their cherished profession, not to the health of Dr. Viikari's patients. Her patients' improved health is best evinced by the patients' esteem for this courageous researcher in the field of ophthalmology. One example of a patient's testimony is given below in a cartoonal and poetical tribute by Dr. János Székessy.


    Here are the covers of two earlier books by Kaisu Viikari.
    After examining them carefully, I wrote to her that her book covers
    are a lesson in themselves.


    Examine them for yourself and note how the faces have vertical frowns and other symptoms of ocular accommodation spasms on the Book Cover of her book, "Ocular Accommodation Strain", and how the face on the cover of "jotta" is shrunken by the heavy minus Diopter eyeglasses. She sees these frowning and unhappy faces as correctable symptoms of pseudo-myopia caused by over prescribing of minus lenses. One gentleman wrote after she helped remove his ocular-caused unhappiness, "You saved my life. I am no longer suicidal!"

    You will recall that you were kind enough to give me a prescription to order a pair of .75 positive glasses in order to avoid migraine in later years. Now the glasses have arrived and I am happy to report to you that the result is incredible. As you will see from the following description the change 'Before and After' seems unlikely but I am prepared to testify that it is true.

    Cartoon Figures Illustrating Life-Changing Nature of Removing Ocular Accommodation Strain. On the Rear Book Cover of Dr. Kaisu Viikari's earlier edition entitled 'Panacea' were these two cartoon faces drawn at the bottom of a letter from Dr. János Székessy.


    Professor Matti Saari has suggested the vertical frown or furrows be named after Dr. Kaisu Viikari because of her extensive research into identifying and relieving severe optical accommodation spasms in thousands of patients. Dr. Viikari has uniquely and incontrovertibly identified the etiology of the vertical frown as a result of long episodes of severe accommodation spasm, which her research indicates can lead to various severe medical conditions. The facial feature may be a simple curved line or a deep furrow but it remains as a visible feature so long as the spasm continues.

    Her success with treating these medical conditions, especially migraine headaches, by adjusting eyeglass prescriptions led thousands of patients to treatment in her surgery in Turku, Finland. They came from all over Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The Viikari furrow is one sign of the Viikari Syndrome which comprises a complex of presenting indications.


    Yet within ten to fifteen years my mother and I and most of my cousins in the photo were wearing glasses for myopia. The simple and inexpensive expedient of wearing plus lenses (reading glasses) for close work at an early age would have prevented the pseudo-myopia which occurred later.

    4. Instant Justice How many times have you wished that those responsible for some egregious mistake which causes a disaster could be brought to immediate justice? Consider the case of the British Petroleum oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I'll get back to that, but first let's examined what seems to have happened.

    It an old saying, but a wise one, that one should wear suspenders and a belt. I witnessed an old who had forgotten his suspenders get up from a table where he had eaten lunch and loosened his belt. As he walked down the steps from the porch to lawn, in the front of all the celebrants at a birthday party, his pants fell to his ankles. An embarrassment, but not a disaster. What are the equivalents of belt and suspenders for an oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico?

    A working Blowout Preventor is the belt, the last resort, and a heavy slug of mud is the suspenders. Why? Because if everything else fails, the mud will hold the pressure from gas and oil and prevent it from reaching the surface.If for some reason the pressure is greater than the mud, an unlikely event but possible, then the last resort is to trigger the Blowout Preventor and within a second the hydraulic rams will shear everything in its way, pipe and even drill stem, and prevent a blowout from occurring.

    What happened? The suspenders were taken off before the final sealing of the well! The drilling mud was removed to speed the well closure. "Okay, if the well blows out, it will be expensive, but the Blowout Preventor will shut the well," the well-managers could well reason. And their reasoning would have been valid, if only the battery which is essential to trigger the Blowout Preventor had been working, but unfortunately, like the battery on the Tracking radar at Howland Island was dead and caused the death of Amelia Earhart at sea, the BOP battery was dead and not tested.

    To make matters even worse, it was revealed this morning that the Schlumberger crew sent to test the integrity of the cementing job with their downhole acoustic tool were aboard the rig and were sent home and never ran the essential test of integrity which would have shown that the cementing had flaws which could lead to a blowout and the well closing would have been stopped.

    Where were those responsible for these shoddy practices at the time of the explosion caused by their neglience? They were in the cafeteria aboard the rig and were slammed against the wall by the explosion and killed. What were these responible managers in the cafeteria doing? They were celebrating a seven years safety record on the rig. We mourn with the families of all those killed on the rig, but one can see justice at work.

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