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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Patricia Neal (1926 - 2010) ~~~~
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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #109 Published September 1, 2010 ~~~== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Jumping Off into School Month of September: First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.
— Ray Bradbury , Science Fiction Author
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THE GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #109, September 2010Archived Digests
Table of Contents
1. September's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for September
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Cucumber Dip
6. Poem from Bobby's Review of The Power of the Word and Cosmic Language by Hazrat Inayat Khan:"Pollination"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for September:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness, GA#177 by Rudolf Steiner
9. Closing Notes - our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
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1. September Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn about Mammograms.
#1 "Mammograms" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/081810jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR September:
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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 September are these two guys:
TJ Bryant in Florida
Kim Roux in New Orleans
Congratulations, TJ and Kim!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
YEARBOOK AND COMPUTER PROBLEMSThis started with an array of miscellaneous computer problems which we managed to get resolved in the first week with a little help from our friends at Bell Business Machines.
With Del as President of the Timberlane Garden Club, we thought we'd get a bye this year on doing the yearbook, but the committee member's computer was unable to handle the job and Del took care of it again this year. After several years of doing it, most of the bugs were gone from the procedure, and it went rather fast. Add new names, take out old ones, redo schedule and copy-edit. Plus we needed a new magnolia flower for front and back cover and I had taken enough magnolia flower shots over the years to find two photos for the covers. We had a problem with connecting Del's computer to mine over the local network, but a memory stick took care of the simple file transfers we needed.
Then the color printer suddenly went off the network and neither of us could print over the new Laser Jet Color Printer. I was going to have to call out the Geek Squad to get our network working properly again. I called them, but before they showed up, I managed to get the Color Printer working over the USB switch and Del and I could print in Color again by the simple expediency of pushing a button to connect the printer to our computer. My PC worked immediately via the Plug-n-Play feature, but Del's did not. After about 3 hours work, I had cleaned out her computer's memory of the Color Printer and got it to Plug-n-Play. During that process I noticed that Del had access to my PC over the Network, so I went back and finally located her computer on the network from my PC. I had obviated the need for Geek Squad to come out. I've often said that any computer problem takes about 5 hours to solve and this just about used the whole budget before I was done.
I did need to have Bell Business Machines send out a repairman to look at our two other HP Laser Jet printers, the 4+D and 5Si. The 4+D was curling the edges of the paper and that plays havoc with printing two-sided printing and wastes a lot of paper. The 5Si had a paper tray which wouldn't close properly. The upshot is that they replaced the faulty rollers on the 4+D before the month was out, and the 5Si is going to be sent to the Old Age Home because he takes up too much room under Del's desk. Now that we have the HP Color Laser Jet, the 5Si has become expendable, and we're waiting for the guys in the white coats to come and haul him away.
WHITE LINEN AND CHICKIE WAH WAH
The first Saturday in August is known as White Linen Night and Julia Street is filled with folks dressed in white clothes enjoying music and food in the streets at twilight. During the hottest days of the year in New Orleans twilights are usually pleasant if you're dressed in light clothes because the humidity has been mostly squeezed out of the air. If there's a light breeze, it can be very pleasant, but there's no guarantees. We had a light shower from the edge of a thunderstorm which missed us and that helped cool the temperature and keep the humidity up. The Painted People Parade brought a bit of excitement to the streets. A couple of dozen folks in various states of undress were painted like living Mondrians shouting Who Dat chants as they marched and performed along the way. Over the years the number of people attending has escalated and exceeded the cooling capacities of many of the art galleries, so instead of cool galleries, there hot bodies rubbing shoulders in most of the galleries we went into. We met our friends Martine and Kevin Wiseman and had a nice chat with them.
The next night we went to Chickie Wah Wah's on Canal Street to a private birthday party for our friend Ted Graham. At his party was a gal with a large tattoo extending over one shoulder and covering the part of her back that was visible. She asked to have a photo made with me. Reminded me of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie we had just seen recently. I watched it alone on my laptop at Orange Beach, and we watched it together on large screen at home the night before this party. To view photos of the party, simply click here: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8Abt2jNm3ctWpT .Ted had booked John Mooney to perform for an hour and it was a blast listening to this man play the guitar and sing. At one point he sang a song about his early days hitch-hiking around the country. He was like a fast freight train rumbling by and never stopping. He played the guitar like a madman on steroids, getting more music from it than it seemed possible for one person to do. After the set, he stopped by our table and I asked him if he stopped hitch-hiking when he reached New Orleans. He said yes, that he was from the country and no other cities had appealed to him until he found himself feeling right at home here. I took several photos of him playing and one of them was so dark that I had to lighten it and I noticed that it had a wonderful effect of colors, so I applied an impressionist brushstroke macro using Picture Publisher and the result was like a painting. Using my new Color LaserJet I printed an 8X10 color photo and framed it for John. The next Tuesday we went to Chickie Wah Wah and I gave it to John. He looked at the photo and said, "I see you've done something to this photo." Then he looked up and said, "Hey, I'll have some art for my walls." The way he said it, I got an image of walls bare of anything not required for making music.
THE SAINTS ARE COMING — TWO DAT IS THE CATCH PHRASE FOR 2010! !
From Who Dat last year to Two Dat this year. It means simply that our Saints are going for a repeat of their run to a Super Bowl win last year. They have gotten better in almost every category except special team kick and punt coverage and Sean Peyton has just cut the Special Teams captain of the last two years. The message is clear: cover those opponents and remove the excitement from kick-offs and punts by the opposing teams!In the first preseason game, the two New's: Orleans and England went head-to-head and almost went into an overtime playoff forestalled by a last second field goal by New England. The Saints play against the Houston Texans was much improved and Coach Peyton left Chase Daniels in for the entire game after Drew Brees came out near end of first quarter. Chase is a quarterback much like Drew and showed some fancy footwork and passes to score the last 24 points of the game. Another interesting and exciting preseason game, although I must note that the Saints did so well against Houston that an exciting wave rounded the upper decks of the Superdome during a couple of drives when Houston had the football. No one bothered about watching them as our defense had held them under control. It was a great start for our World Champions back home again for the first time since they beat the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC Championship which sent them to Miami for the Super Bowl.
San Diego came to town next for the third game, and my friend Gus came to that game with me. He and I walked to the Championship Square and there were a dozen or so great restaurants' food to choose from: Galatoire's shrimp remoulade, Drago's Oysters, etc. Everything looked and smelled great and Gus and I chose the Shrimp Remoulade from Galatoire's. What a treat! Taste and size the same as the one at the restaurant where we hold our Carnival Luncheon each year. The most amazing thing at the new plaza area was not the large HD screen hovering next to bandstand where lots of loud music and dancing were going on, but the AIR-CONDITIONED and CLEAN REST ROOMS! ! ! Holy Cow! Did the Saints win the Super Bowl or something?
We then walked up the Saints Steps (like the Spanish Steps in Rome) and it was a much more pleasant experience entering the Superdome than ever before. Even the Hyatt lobby through the New Orleans Center was too crowded and noisy when it was open before Katrina.The San Diego game was another offensive and defensive show by the Saints' first and second teams that never left the winner in doubt. This game's Most Valuable Player was a new halfback, Chris Ivory, who barreled through San Diego's line for first downs on a regular basis, and then show some incredible moves on a simple flair pass he reeled in at the 24-yard-line and wheeled, plowed over, jumped over, juked around, and stiff-armed his way through 7 San Diego defenders for 76 yards till the ball was finally touched down in the end zone for a touchdown. An amazing play!
Next the Saints head to Nashville for a match with the Tennessee Titans for the final warmup to the season spectacular: a rematch of the NFC Championship against the Vikings and their Energizer Bunny Brett Favre who just keeps going and going. Will this be his second retirement party at the hands of the Saints' defense? You can bet your AA Batteries, the Saints will welcome him with open arms and introduce him to the new Field Turf on the floor of the Superdome.
WHAT'S A FENCE PARTY?
That's what we said as we were driving up to our son John's new home in Prairieville near Baton Rouge. He needs a fence and his brothers, parents, and friends converged to help cement the fence posts and mount the planks. His subdivision is so new it didn't appear on the GPS in our new Maxima, but neither did the street in nearby Gonzales that I tried to locate. But we found it anyway.John's two brothers came along for support. Jim and Gina came from Beaumont and Sue and Stoney came from Mandeville. Stoney is recovering from shoulder surgery and was unable to help. Brett showed up later. Del and I brought the food and drinks for the crew and it was a small family reunion as well as work party.
HALF-TON BABE AND THE BLACK KOW
For the second time since we've owned the F-150 Pickup truck I call the Babe, we've had to load it to its designed weight limit of a half-ton or 1,000 pounds. This time it was 20 50-lb bags of Black Kow manure for our vegetable garden. Lowe's loaded the manure in the truck's bed and when we got it home, I backed up to the veggie garden. We slid the heavy bags onto the country cart two at a time and I dumped them into a bare spot in the garden.Then I sliced open each bag with my machete and pulled the bag away, leaving the manure on the top of the garden's soil. Later I used Tillie, our rotary tiller, to mix the manure with the garden soil. We had already layered mulch from our compost pile into the soil and the mixture of sandy soil, mulch, and manure made a good garden soil for our first Fall garden at our new home.
We are planting broccoli, brussels sprouts, green onions, potatoes, bell peppers and other fall veggies in our garden. The okra from the Spring garden is still producing and it's been used in many delicious Cajun Stir fries. The recipe of the month came from our daughter Carla who had a bumper crop of cucumbers this year and needed a recipe to use the extra cucumber, exactly as we did.
With completion of my review of Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course I was in possession of the all the instructions necessary to make his various Bio-Dynamic Preparations. Previously we had bought these preparations already prepared separately at first, and in the more convenient Barrel Compost form. But part of learning about the Bio-Dynamic process is learning through making one's own preparations and that's what we have decided to do. Notice that all of the ingredients except the quartz crystal are from living plants and animal. The same ingredients added to the soil in chemically purified form from a laboratory or factory will not have a helpful effect and will be a waste of time.
This month we made two preparations and set things in motion to make several more. The preparations require a motley set of ingredients such as valerian flowers, yarrow flowers, stinging nettle, dandelion blooms, chamomile flowers, cow manure, oak bark, cow horns, bovine mesentery (artery of cow), cow intestines, stag bladder, animal skull, ground quartz crystals, equisetum plants, among other things. We have thus far managed two Preparations: 503 and 508.
Preparation 503 requires chamomile flowers to be stuffed into cow intestines (called "hank" by butcher). I got some from butcher Anthony Terranova and Del and I carefully stuffed three tiny sausages with chamomile tea. The tea bags contain only chamomile flowers, so they are an excellent source for 503 until we can grow our own chamomile. We buried them in our herb garden, marked off the spot and took a photo of the spot in the garden. Prepared in a cow's long intestine, cured in humus for six months and inoculated into the compost bed, this preparation will enhance the plant's ability to absorb Calcium, Sulfur, Potassium from the surrounding soil.
Preparation 508 required some equisetum (horsetail rushes) and we got a large bag full from Del's garden club friend. I immediately used the majority of large plants and we potted the rest so that we might grow our own here at Timberlane for future 502 preparations. The result was an "equisetum tea" which was very concentrated and I poured out about 8 ounces at a time into a sprinkling can and treated our troubled Japanese Plum trees (Loquats) along the south lawn of our property.Already after a few days we can see some improvement as the dead branches are sending new shoots. Large sections of two trees had to be pruned away and now we have hope of keeping the remaining trees. Also treated some south side azaleas, our citrus orchard, and many other areas of concern. This tea concoction protects the plants and trees from excess Moon influences. Steiner said of this tea, "It will work far and wide, even if you only sprinkle a very little, and you will find it an excellent remedy. Strictly speaking, it is not a medicament, for in the true sense of the word a plant cannot be diseased. It is not a healing process in the proper sense; it is simply the opposite process to [the excess Moon influences]".
GARDEN CLUB MEETING AND MASTER GARDENER GRADUATION
Del called for an Executive Board Meeting here at Timberlane and I was so busy greeting the ladies as they came to the front door, the meeting was already over before I realized that my photographer (me) had not shot any photos of Del's meeting. From a club that was in danger of becoming extinct due to too few members, Del has brought an influx of new members to fill out their roster again. And the new members are younger members to supplant the older members who have died or moved away. She got a motion passed to name Rosie Harris as an Honorary Lifetime Member sans dues and attendance requirements in honor of her long and illustrious work for the Timberlane Garden Club over many years. Rosie is planning to move in with her daughter in Slidell and will be unable to attend all the club meetings, but the hearts of the club members will always be open to welcome Rosie to whatever meetings she can attend.
Del has been enrolled in the LSU Agriculture Extension's Master Gardener course for several months and this month she took the Final Exam and made 97 on it. We dressed and drove to Longue Vue House and Gardens for her graduation. About two dozen or so gardeners were there to receive their diplomas and their coveted Brass Master Gardener badge. The graduation and luncheon took place in the Playhouse of Longuevue and there were the customary speeches and information about what happens after graduation. The course work is followed by 40 hours of mandatory volunteer work (yes, an oxymoron) to keep their Master Gardener status. After the first year's 40 hours, each year afterward there's a 20 hour requirement. With lots of activities to choose from, Del had no trouble finding the ones she wanted to do.
FROM ROADHOUSE TO DRIVEHOUSE
Thankfully the lady who bought our house on Timberlane Road allows us to remove any plants we wish from her yard. We made a short trip over there to retrieve some papaya plants, a wild cherry tree, 3 large rocks I had used to prop up the large cactus which died after the hard freeze, a sprout off our beloved Yucca Glorioso, some wandering jew, monkey grass, an orange canna lily, about a dozen sprouting loquats, and a bunch of purple Louisiana irises I had dug up from marshy areas years before. We spend many hours getting all these properly situated and transplanted into the lawns of our new house on Timberlane Drive. On a very hot day, we were all sweating and took a quick shower, and went to DiMartino's Deli for a hot meal and ran into Bill and Sylinda Ward and had a wonderful time talking to them as we ate. As we drove home later, we wished for a good movie to relax in front of and we got it: "City Island". I would say it is easily the best movie we watched in the past year. If you haven't seen it, get hold of it and you're in for a real treat.
MATHERNE CONVERGENCE AT TIMBERLANE
The last week of the month we prepared for a visit by three of our Matherne offspring, Rob, Maureen, and Carla to Timberlane. Suspecting we might have a BBQ opportunity, we stocked up on hamburger buns, bun-sized Portobello mushrooms, cheese, hamburger patties, three colors of Bell Peppers, Yellow and Green Squash and other accompaniments for a full-fledged BBQ. Our large, heavy BBQ Pit needed its first test and it would come on a day during which it rained constantly.
The three Matherne kids converged around noon and we enjoyed a sit-down dinner at the dining room table with my Cajun Stir fry specialty (Like a veggie jambalaya), some grilled burgers and salmon. Plus a fruit salad, veggie plate and large Doberge cake for dessert. Maureen had to leave to get ready to chaperone an East Jefferson High School dance where she is an Asst. Principal, and the rest of us took naps and enjoyed a quiet afternoon while a light rain keep dropping from the overcast skies. That night we hooked my LT to Plasma Screen and Surround Sound and watched "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" for the third time for me, second for Del, Pat and Carla, and first time for Rob. Rob had suggested a BBQ for supper, so Del prepared some colorful Shish-Ka-Bobs and I got out the charcoal and lighter fluid and Patrick got the fire going while the Dragon Tattoo wiggled suggestively in the Screening Room.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
I turned on the outside lights for Patrick and I joined him as soon as movie was over to help him with the grilling chores. The weather cooperated with a light, cooling drizzle that never slowed us down as the sizzling items on the grill came to completion. It was another feast that saw all the Portobello-burgers quickly disappear, and I added some Stir Fry to Patrick's plate as a special treat for his hard work getting the BBQ pit going and cooking started while Rob and I enjoyed the movie with Carla and Del. With Doberge cake for dessert, we were all grandly stuffed and happy. Another great feast and a fitting end to a marvelous day. Rob had to print out his airline boarding passes for his flight home the next morning (Memphis, then Indianapolis) and I set up my PC to help him. Then we all went to bed. And with this, I put my September Digest to bed.
TILL NEXT MONTH
Till we meet again in October, God Willing and the Levees Hold. September will be a wonderful cooling off last few weeks of official summer and segue into Fall. A time for planting Fall gardens hereabouts. Whatever you do, wherever in the world you reside, make it a great September for yourself! ! !
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New Stuff about Website: Five Featured Reviews of Paul Watzlawick's Books:
In the year of 1977, I began in earnest reading about psychotherapy and this was one of the first books that I read during that time. Prior to then I had read some of Eric Berne's books [Layman's Guide, Games People Play], a little Freud, a little managerial psychology, and not much else. Nothing prepared me for the vista of insights that Watzlawick and his colleagues had laid out for me in their books. There were tricks and traps set for us by the very nature of our language structures and other means of human communications. When one became aware of those tricks and traps [interactional patterns, pathologies, and paradoxes], one was better able to understand those who seem inextricably caught up in those counter-productive activities that lead them into seeking therapeutic help to escape from them. Here was my first exposure to meta-communication, or communication about communication. As you read on, I caution you that you are entering a "Meta-Zone" which, not unlike the "Twilight Zone," may leave your head swimming at times and the rest of your body trying to catch up. Enjoy the swim — you may just come out better able to handle the dizzying array of everyday communication by those unconsciously competent experts in meta-communication, those who are or should be seeking counseling for their problems.
If one examines the fox population in northern Canada, one finds a four-year cycle of peaks and valleys, a situation that is unexplainable by just examining the fox population. When one expands one's purview to include the local rabbit population, one finds an inverse relationship of population between the two species, which suddenly becomes explainable since the fox population lives off of the rabbit population. Next the authors tell of a man who collapses and is rushed to a hospital. They find basically nothing wrong with the man and no reason for the collapse. Then someone informs them that the man had just returned from mining copper for two years in the Andes at 15,000 feet. In the final anecdote a bearded man is observed crawling around an open meadow in circles on his hands and knees and quacking like a duck — a totally crazy behavior in anybody's book. Well, anybody but Konrad Lorentz's book, (page 43), where he described how he went about imprinting ducklings to take him for their mother. [paraphrased from pages 19 and 20]
[page 43 of King Solomon's Ring ] Inside one frame, a behavior is meaningless or seemingly crazy, inside another frame, the behavior makes imminently good sense. No amount of studying the physiology of the foxes who were dying out every four years would have helped explained the cause. No amount of studying the Andes miner's physiology would have explained the cause of his collapse. No amount of studying Lorentz's mind would have explained his curious behavior in the meadow (except asking him what he was doing and why). Studying the mental structures of mental patients will often come to the same end: no answer because there is basically no difference in their mental structures from a normal person.
The three examples cover the subtitles triad of interactional patterns (fox-rabbit), pathologies (man's collapse), and paradoxes (Lorentz's crawling in the meadow). On page 26 the authors invoke the concept of memory by including a story by Ross Ashby in which he was at a friend's house when a car went by. His friend's dog rushed to a corner and cringed there. The friend explained the strange behavior by saying, "He was run over by a car six months ago." The car incident was unobservable to Ashby, but the dog's behavior was. We might say the dog has a memory of the car accident, but Ashby says that memory "is a concept that the observer invokes to fill in the gap caused when part of the system is unobservable."
Next topic covered is feedback and the authors give this brief description of positive and negative feedback:
[page 31] Feedback is known to be either positive or negative; the latter will be mentioned more frequently in this book since it characterizes homeostasis (steady state) and therefore plays an important role in achieving and maintaining the stability of relationships. Positive feedback, on the other hand, leads to change, i.e., the loss of stability or change.
Both types of feedback involve re-introducing the output back into the system. In positive feedback, an amplification occurs as a positive signal results in a positive increase of the signal. In negative feedback, a positive deviation from the system norm results in a negative signal or decrease and results in the system moving to back to the system norm. An electric motor heating up is an example of positive feedback: as the motor ages, insulation breaks down, increased current heats up the windings, more insulation breaks down, causing greater current flow and more heat — eventually the motor burns up. A home thermostat is an example of negative feedback: as the room heats up, the thermostat reduces the heat applied to the room so that the room cools down once more.
In addition the authors cover the black box concept, the consciousness and unconsciousness, present vs. past, effect vs. cause, the circularity of communication patterns and the relativity of normal and abnormal. All this material in Chapter 1 is but prologue to what follows.
Chapter 2 contains "Some Tentative Axioms of Communication" and I will cover a few of these to give you, dear Reader, a flavor of the book
Axiom: One Can Not Not Communicate. "Behavior has no opposite; one cannot not behave," the authors say, "if it is accepted that all behavior in an interactional situation has message value, i. e., is communication, it follows that no matter how one may try, one cannot not communicate." (from page 48) One need only watch the police psychiatrist on the tv program Law & Order interview reluctant suspects as to their state of mind during a criminal act to confirm that one cannot not communicate. Whatever the suspects do or say during the interview, the psychiatrist develops a diagnosis of their state of mind during the act in question.
[page 50,51] The impossibility of not communicating is a phenomenon of more than theoretical interest. It is, for instance, part and parcel of the schizophrenic "dilemma." If the schizophrenic behavior is observed with etiological considerations in abeyance, it appears that the schizophrenic tries to not communicate. But since even nonsense, silence, withdrawal, immobility (postural silence), or any other form of denial is itself a communication, the schizophrenic is faced with the impossible task of denying that he is communicating and at the same time denying that his denial is a communication.
Meta-communication is something that I was quite familiar with in my early career as a computer programer and system analyst. It was like computer code which could be described as meta-communication about what to do with the computer data. Computer code during execution by the computer is a process and computer data at any time is a content. If you allow the computer to confuse its code with its data, the result will be a computer crash or meaningless results. The authors give the example of a sign in a restaurant that illustrates a con-fusion of the content of how the manager acts to the process of talking to the manager about a problem:
[page 53] "CUSTOMERS WHO THINK OUR WAITERS ARE RUDE
SHOULD SEE THE MANAGER"
[page 54] As we shall see in the chapter on paradoxical communications, confusions or contaminations between these levels — communication and meta-communication — may lead to impasses identical in structure to those of the famous paradoxes in logic.
About the time I was reading this book, I started drawing cartoons that illustrated many of the paradoxical communications or confusions or contaminations that I encountered in my life. These cartoons can be viewed on the Violet-n-Joey Cartoon Page.
Axiom: Sequence of Events Can Be Punctuated Differently. This axiom is a real beauty as it explains otherwise unexplainable communication deadlocks. I recall this process of understanding the punctuation of events from Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind where he illustrated that the simple description of a lumberjack chopping down a tree may be described two ways:
1) Man swings axe into tree, then chips fly away from the tree.
2) Chips fly away from tree, then Man swings his axe into the tree.
Both descriptions are equally valid, only the punctuation is different. The problem arises when one uses the followed-by-therefore-caused-by fallacy. Thus to say, "chips fly away from tree causing the man to swing his axe into the tree" is clearly a fallacy, but based on one valid punctuation of the sequence of events. Now let us move into less clear interactional sequences.
[page 56] Disagreement about how to punctuate the sequence of events is at the root of countless relationship struggles. Suppose a couple have a marital problem to which he contributes passive withdrawal, while her 50 per cent is nagging criticism. In explaining their frustrations, the husband will state that withdrawal is his only defense against her nagging, while she will label this explanation a gross and willful distortion of what "really" happens in their marriage: namely, that she is critical of him because of his passivity. Stripped of all ephemeral and fortuitous elements, their fights consist in a monotonous exchange of the messages "I withdraw because you nag" and "I nag because you withdraw."
Sequences can be punctuated differently and the nature of the relationship will be determined by the chosen punctuation of each party.
Axiom: Human Beings Communicate Both Digitally and Analogically. This next axiom is laughable or rather leads to an understanding of the origin of what laughter is all about.
[page 60] In the central nervous system the functional units (neurons) receive so-called quantal packages of information through connecting elements (synapses). Upon arrival at the synapses these "packages" produce excitatory or inhibitory postsynaptic potentials that are summed up by the neuron and either cause or inhibit its firing. This specific part of neural activity, consisting in the occurrence or nonoccurrence of its firing, therefore conveys binary digital information. The humoral system, on the other hand, is not based on digitalization of information. This system communicates by releasing discrete quantities of specific substances into the bloodstream. It is further known that the neural and the humoral modes of intraorganismic communication exist not only side by side, but that they complement and are contingent upon each other, often in highly complex ways.
Consider my following thoughts as a brief summary or beginning of an aetiology of laughter. If I may re-state simply what the authors have said above: the nervous system is digital and the humoral system is analog. One deals with discrete on-off signals and the other with continuously varying signals.
We know from split brain experiments that the nervous system on the left side of the body receives its digital signals from the right side of the brain and vice versa. However, the humoral system has no such left-right polarization. As such the analog chemical signals generated by the humoral system are spread across areas of the body, whereas the digital signals generated by the brain converge at the midline of the body, the signals from either side of the brain meeting or slightly overlapping along that midline. Not surprisingly, most of the interesting and fun things in life happen along the midline: nursing at one's mother's breast, kissing one's sweetheart, and sexual intercourse.
What happens if the signals from the left brain and right brain are incongruous? Suppose the signal from the left brain tells the right side of the body to relax and the signals from the opposite side tells the left side of the body to tense up? Right at the midline, there appears a signal to both tense up and relax! How does one deal with mutually contradictory commands? One natural way is to follow both commands sequentially: first follow one command and then another. When your body's midline follows that procedure, your abdominal muscles first clench and then release in quick succession. Does this seem like an operational or procedural description of what we otherwise know simply as "laughter" to you? It does to me.
Another process would involve the humoral system. It can only flood the body's torso with the continuous analog signals of chemicals or neuro-transmitters triggered by either the right or left side of the brain. The humoral signal will match the digital neural signals on one side of the body, but, if the other side of the body receives a digital neural signal that is different from the analog chemical signal, then laughter is the likely result. One side of the body tries to accommodate itself to two mutually incompatible signals, which results in the paroxysms of delight we know as laughter. In this process, the side of the body with the incompatible signals will experience the sequential spasms and the repetitive muscle clenching and releasing could lead to muscles cramps or pain. This is commonly called, "side-splitting laughter."
Back in 1978 I had been living with a woman for about a year and asked if she would marry me. "Why get married and ruin a good thing?" she said. I gave serious consideration to her question. I knew couples that had been good friends such as we were who got married and then came to hate each other. What was it about marriage that could lead to good friends hating each other? The authors point to an interesting paradox of marriage in Jay Haley's book:
[page 119, The Strategies of Psychotherapy] "When a man a woman decide their association should be legalized with a marriage ceremony, they pose themselves a problem which will continue throughout the marriage: now that they are married are they staying together because they wish to or because they must?"
[page 66] In the light of the foregoing, we would say that when to the mostly analogic part of their relationship (courtship behavior) is added a digitalization (the marriage contract) an unambiguous definition of their relationship becomes problematic.
How did my wife of 24 years and I avoid that problem of why we were staying together? We decided that we were not going to stay together for any specified length of time nor treat each other differently. "The next two or three weeks" is enough was our motto. We basically deconstructed the usual marriage vows, promises, and expectations. We saw them as a box that people defined and then jumped into and wondered why they felt trapped. We decided to create the usual box, but to define our relationship as existing outside of that box. The clauses of our agreement were written up in what I called the 21st Century Marriage Contract and is posted at: http://www.doyletics.com/21stcmc.htm Check Clause 4: We do not promise to stay together for any specified period of time. And Clause 7: We do not agree to treat the other differently just because we're married.
Axiom: Communications are either symmetrical or complementary. This is an interesting axiom. Relationships between equals are symmetrical and relationships between non-equals are complementary. I remember hearing once that "marriage is like having two department heads for the same department." A department head has a complementary relationship to the other members of the department. If both partners in a marriage are department heads, then by definition, they are equals, and thus have a symmetrical relationship. But since each one is a department head, the other one is a member of the department and by definition, they each have a complementary relationship to each other. Given all these strikes against marriage, it is a wonder that marriages survive at all.
[page 81] He and his wife had experienced many violent symmetrical escalations, usually based on the question of who was right regarding some trivial matter. One day she was able to prove to him conclusively that he was factually wrong, and he replied, "Well, you may be right, but you are wrong because you are arguing with me."
Double Bind: A Definition in Three Parts. Everyone knows what it's like to be in a bind — you must do something and are prevented from doing it. Many think that "double bind" is just a doubly hard bind, and that is not the case. A "double bind" must have three specific components [quoted from page 212]:
1. Two or more persons are involved in an intense relationship that has a high degree of physical and/or psychological survival value for one, several, or all of them.
2. In such a context, a message is given which is so structured that(a) it asserts something
(b) it asserts something about its own assertion and
(c) these two assertions are mutually exclusive.
3. The recipient of the message is prevented from stepping outside of the frame set by this message, either by metacommunicating (commenting) about it or by withdrawing.
A person in a double bind situation will be punished for correct perceptions and defined as bad for even insinuating that there be a discrepancy between what he does see and what he "should" see. The old joke about the Jewish mother illustrates this dilemma. She gives her son two new shirts for his birthday. When he goes to his mother's for dinner the next time, he wears one of the shirts she gave him. "What?" she says insulted, "you didn't like the other one?" Typically the son will be speechless, unable to metacomment and yet forced to comment by the structure of the question from his mother. A more detailed example is given from Johnson et al. in a footnote:
[page 213] When these children perceived the anger and hostility of a parent, as they did on many occasions, immediately the parent would deny that he was angry and would insist that the child deny it too, so that the child was faced with a dilemma of whether to believe the parent or his own senses. If he believed his senses he maintained a firm grasp on reality; if he believed the parent, he maintained the necessary relationship, but distorted his perception of reality.
Luckily for people who get stuck in double binds, there are therapeutic double binds and therapists who know how and when to implement them to extract a patient from a stuck situation. These are mirror images of the pathogenic ones. Let's examine the three components of a therapeutic double bind [quoted from page 241]:
1. It presupposes an intense relationship, in this case, the psychotherapeutic situation, which has a high degree of survival value and of expectation for the patient.
2. In this context, an injunction is given which is so structured that it
(a) reinforces the behavior the patient expects to be changed3. The therapeutic situation prevents the patient from withdrawing or otherwise dissolving the paradox by commenting on it. Therefore, even though the injunction is logically absurd, it is a pragmatic reality: the patient cannot not react to it, but neither can he react to it in his usual, symptomatic way.
(b) implies that this reinforcement is the vehicle of change
(c) thereby creates paradox because the patient is told to change by remaining unchanged.
One technique using this process was pioneered by Mara Selivini Palazzoli in what she called "paradoxical prescription" or "prescribing the symptom." The authors give an example of a patient who was concerned about a hidden microphone in the therapist's office. Rather than trying to talk him out of his notion, the therapist insisted on searching every square inch of the office for a hidden microphone. This led the patient to be increasingly unsure about his suspicion till finally the patient "plunged into a meaningful description of his marriage, and it turned out that in this area he had good reasons to be suspicious." (page 243)
When I worked on the Crisis Line many years ago, I would occasionally get phone calls from people who would ask for help with a problem and when you offered them a solution, they would slough off the suggestion with such comments as, "That wouldn't work for me." "I already tried that." and so on. No matter what the suggestion or how many suggestions one offered, they countered with a good reason why that wouldn't work. Finally I took to using the following process. After identifying that this person was one of those types for whom no suggestion would work, I would stop suddenly and say, "I've listened carefully to your problem and all the reasons you've given me why none of the suggestions I offered will work for you, and I must tell you that in my professional opinion your situation is hopeless." This advice was offered as a suggestion similar to the other ones that they had refused and they would invariably just as strongly refuse that suggestion. They might bring up a suggestion I made earlier and say, "What if I do x?" I'd recant for them the reason they had previously told me why x would not work and that would force them to overcome their objection. Suddenly the roles were reversed, they were working to find solutions for themselves and I was the one casting doubt on every suggestion they came up with.
The authors describe a similar case with a woman with persistent, severe headaches. Medical test showed no organic damage and yet the headaches persisted. The psychiatrist realized that the mere implication that psychiatry might help would doom his efforts to failure with her. Here's what he did:
[page 246, 247] He therefore began by informing the patient that from the results of all the previous examinations and in view of the fact that no treatment had given her the slightest relief, there could be no doubt that her condition was irreversible.
The woman refused to believe this and asked what use was psychiatry if it could do nothing about her case. The doctor simply held her case history in the air and explained that she would have to resign herself to the facts. She kept coming back for more of this, but each time she came she was more and more free of the pain from her headaches. Finally she left treatment, greatly improved, and convinced that the psychiatrist was unable to help her.
The pragmatics of human communication are stranger than I ever conceived them to be before I encountered this book. If you will read and assimilate the contents of this book, you may also reach the point where human communication seems manageable even in the midst of its wonderful strangeness.
2. Paul Watzlawick's Change with co-authors John Weakland and Richard Fisch
The Preface begins with a famous story about relationships. An army in Tyrol had surrounded the impregnable castle Hochosterwitz and had it under siege. The army was getting restless and the commander had other pressing things to do. Inside, the fortress commandant was faced with the fact that they were down to their last ox and last barrel of barley. What he decided to do was the stuff of which myths are made: he had the ox slaughtered, had its guts filled with barley, and had the ox thrown over the side of the castle. The army became so discouraged at seeing this message of disdain for their siege that they pulled up their tent stakes and went away. This example shows the theme of this book dramatically.
[page xiii] It deals with the age-old questions of persistence and change in human affairs. More particularly, it is concerned with how problems arise, and how they are perpetuated in some instances and resolved in others. Most of all, it examines how, paradoxically, common sense and "logical" behavior often fail, while actions as "illogical" and unreasonable as those taken by the defenders of Hochosterwitz succeed in producing a desired change.
From the authors' work at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto, they were accustomed to looking at things in the present rather than the past, in terms of the here and now process instead of the reified content that constituted the past. They also had considerable experience with the "startling and innovative techniques of Milton Erickson" - a master of hypnotherapy, who often got results in the most counter intuitive manner. Infusing all of their approaches and techniques was communication and change.
[page xv] It is difficult to imagine how any behavior in the presence of another person can avoid being a communication of one's own view of the nature of one's relationship with that person and how it can, therefore, fail to influence that person.
To introduce the concept of change, look at those parts of one's experience that is constant first. As I read the passage below some twenty years ago, I drew a cartoon of two fishes talking. One fish is responding to the other, "Water? What's that?" When one is in a constant environment, one without change, it's difficult to notice those things that are constant, much less to talk about them or discuss them. As Rudolf Steiner said almost a century ago, "discussion begins when the thing discussed is not known." To perceive the invariant parts of one's experience as something to be discussed means to make some part of it unknown. Making the known into the unknown is something that an artist does in the process of producing an art work. The artist takes known colors, mixes them and applies them in some unique combination and the result is something previously unknown to the world, a new art work.
[page 1] In the Western world the philosophers of science seem to agree that change is such a pervasive and immediate element of our experience that it could become the subject of thought [RJM: i.e., discussion] only after the early Greek philosophers had been able to conceptualize the antithetical concept of invariance or persistence. Until then there was nothing that change could be conceptually contrasted with (this is a matter of conceptualizing experience, not of finding "reality"), and the situation must have been like one proposed by Whorf: that in a universe in which everything is blue, the concept of blueness cannot be developed for lack of contrasting colors.
Another important process for understanding change is the theory of logical types that explains how the words used to describe a member of a class are often used to describe the class itself, which exists at a higher level or logical type. An item on a menu and the menu itself are two logical types and Bateson like to point out that "only a schizophrenic is likely to eat the menu card instead of the meal (and complain of its bad taste, we would add)." (page 9) Another example Bateson gives is the word wave which can be applied both to the class of movements and a single member of a class. "Under friction, this meta movement will not lose velocity as would the movement of a particle." A change within a class or a system in which the system remains unchanged is called a first order change. The individual movement of a water molecule in a water wave or local currents due to a fish passing by would be an example of first order change in the wave. A change, such as the appearance of a thunderstorm that increases the height of the wave would be a second order change. In a dream, to move from one scene to another is a first order change, but to wake up is a second order change. As becomes clearer, the further one reads into this book, the authors are focused on second order change, a "change of change", so to speak, a change that makes a difference.
What about change that makes no difference? The authors give several examples. The wife who divorces a weak man to marry a strong one and finds that the source of her discontent remains. During WWII, the Nazis posted a sign giving the choice "National Socialism or Bolshevik chaos?" This meant to imply that the Nazi choice was obvious over the Bolshevik one. The underground pasted a sign under the poster that said, "Erdäpfel oder Kartoffel?" which translates to "Spuds or Potatoes?" in English. A similar case could be today made for the choice in the USA between many Republican or Democrat policies. When people in a relationship are in hurting circumstances, their common choice is for change that makes no change at all, namely, first order change, up until now.
There is a connection of opposites that drives one irrepressibly into the other. Jung called the process by which this happens "enantiodrama." It is as if one cannot discover a way to affect real change, second-order change, by staying within the system. The authors, writing at the close of the 1960s predict the following enantiodrama which seem to have been played out in society today:
[page 21] And, to cast a brief glance into the future, it is a fairly safe bet that the offspring of our contemporary hippie generation will want to become bank managers and will despise communes, leaving their well-meaning but bewildered parents with the nagging question: Where did we fail our children?
"Beware the Enantiodrome, my friend," and "Be aware of its working in your life," would be good advice to all. Why is it so easy for the Enantiodrome to hide from us? It hides in the shadows; in Jung's terms, it is the Shadow, that discounted and pushed away part of ourselves that sneaks back when we're not looking.
Everyone has heard of the nine dots problem and how the solution to it involves "thinking outside of the box." Here's a summary of the problem as the authors laid it out a quarter of a century ago. "The nine dots shown in Figure 1 are to be connected by four straight lines without lifting the pencil from the paper."
[page 25] Almost everybody who first tries to solve this problem introduces as part of his problem-solving an assumption which makes the solution impossible. The assumption is that the dots compose a square and that the solution must be found within that square, a self-imposed condition which the instructions do not contain. His failure, therefore, does not lie in the impossibility of the task, but in his attempted solution. Having now created the problem, it does not matter in the least which combination of four lines he now tries, and in what order, he always finishes with at least one unconnected dot. This means that he can run through the totality of the first-order change possibilities existing within the square but will never solve the task. The solution is a second-order change which consists in leaving the field . . .
Consider now that the unsolved problems in our personal life remain unsolvable for a similar reason: we have adopted and self-imposed conditions that were not in the original instructions and we cannot find a way out of the problem so long as we remain within our self-imposed limits. Those limits are like water is to fishes: a pervasive and unconscious part of their milieu. We cannot see our eyes except in a mirror because they are part of our seeing apparatus. Likewise we cannot see our problem because it is part of the way we see the world. In that case, a counselor, who exists outside our self-imposed limits and can see our problem in its totality, can offer suggestions that we would have never considered from within the problem.
What happens if we choose as a counselor a close friend or neighbor? Usually the friend sees our problem through the same filter of limitations as we do and cannot come up with any better solution that we can on our own. Their solutions are better than doing nothing, so we apply them, one by one, but no matter how many we apply, nothing gets better. We may even begin to think, "This problem is impossible - look at how many things I've tried." More of the same in personal problems, just like trying more combinations of four lines in the nine-dot problem, will not result in a solution, but only a feeling of hopelessness.
What about such pernicious social evils as pornography or drugs? Will more of the same repressive laws ever solve the problem? Read what the authors say about it. If I may summarize their observation: "the problem is the solution."
[page 33] But the Danish example has shown that the complete liberalization of pornography has not only not opened the floodgates of sin and general depravity, but has actually made people ridicule and ignore it. In the case of pornography, then, the "more of the same" solution (legal repression) is not just the greater of two problems, it is the problem, for without the "solution" there would be no problem.
But, I can hear at least one of my readers saying, what about the effects on our children? Won't that lead them to become godless, evil, and lazy? My answer to that question would be, "How would we tell the difference from the way they are now?" And is that really any different from the attitude that adults have had of their children and teenagers for all of written history? If you doubt this statement, read what was impressed into cuneiform clay tablets:
[page 33] A Babylonian clay tablet whose age has been estimated to be at least three thousands years reads: "Today's youth is rotten to the core, it is evil, godless, and lazy. It will never be what youth used to be, and it will never be able to preserve our culture."
On page 35 is where I first encountered the phenomenon of the "Be Spontaneous Paradox" which was later given the name by the authors in Chapter 6, Paradoxes. "Sleep is by its very nature a phenomenon which can occur only spontaneously. It cannot occur spontaneously when it is willed." The willing of any spontaneous act makes it impossible for the act to proceed due to the paradoxical nature of the command. "Smile!" when said to the subjects of an imminent snapshot will produce a dutiful faked smile, not a genuine smile. "Tell me you love me." will produce the opposite effect of what one intends and is disastrous to any relationship, if continued over long enough period of time. Experts in the BSP abound once one becomes aware of this harmful process which claims to produce wanted results, but instead tends to undermine the very reality it claims to create. Once again we have an example of relationship interactions in which the problem is the solution.
In Paradoxes I found the following passage which may well have become the original inspiration for my creation of the 21st Century Marriage Contract. The nine dots problem was the box that we know as the usual marriage vows. In creating the contract, I built the box and defined my wife-to-be and myself as outside the box by inverting the logic or sense of every spoken marriage vow or unspoken expectation that I could conjure up at the time, and she and I undertook an overt negotiation over the clauses of the contract.
[page 73] In general, the problems encountered in marriage therapy more often than not have to do with the almost insurmountable difficulty of changing the quid pro quo on which the relationship was originally based. Of course, this quid pro quo is never the outcome of overt negotiation, but is rather in the nature of a tacit contract whose conditions the partners may be quite unable to verbalize, even though they are extremely sensitive to any violations of these unwritten clauses. If conflict arises, the partners typically attempt to solve it within the framework of the contract, and they thus get caught in a nine-dot problem of their own making. For whatever they do within the frame is being done on the basis of group property a, and therefore leaves their overall pattern of relationship (the group of their relationship behaviors) unchanged. Tacit interpersonal contracts of the kind we are examining here are bound to become obsolete, if only as the result of the passage of time, and the necessary change then has to be a change of the contract itself (i.e., a second-order change) and not merely a first-order change within the bounds of the contract.
Confucius quote on page 77 says, "The way out is through the door. Why is it no one will use this exit?" Is it perhaps because the door is not visible against the background of the invariance of first order change? Or perhaps because we fear to step outside the comfortable box filled with problems we already know about?
Another form of paradoxical injunction is when a parole officer tells the newly released convict, "Trust me." The officer is an agent of the state and has to enforce the rules and thus is not really worthy of the trust of the convicts. The authors, in training parole officers, found it useful to suggest that they tell their parolees, "You should never fully trust me or tell me everything." This has the sound of truth more than the "Trust me" statement and leads to the necessary development of trust for a successful interaction between parole officer and parolee.
The Gentle Art of Reframing chapter begins with the classic fence painting story of Tom Sawyer. Simply by a subtle reframing of painting as fun rather than work, Tom acquires a bevy of volunteer helpers. Tom's skills would apply well to that of being a psychotherapist, as it is usually fruitless to merely point to a doorway out of a client's problem, they must be led to consider that walking through the doorway is preferable to remaining inside the security of their all too familiar problem space.
We must ever be aware of what motivates anyone that we would wish to understand or motivate. This quote from Francis Bacon goes back to 1577 and is still much applicable today:
[page 105] "If you would work any man, you must either know his nature or fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him, or his weakness and disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have interest in him, and so govern him. In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for."
The setting of goals for a therapeutic contract is one of the things covered in the Practice of Change chapter. If one approaches the presenting problem as the tip of the iceberg, the "way toward the solution will be long, tortuous, and even dangerous." On the contrary the authors set up a positive Rosenthal Effect by setting concrete, reachable goals. The power of expectation in achieving results was shown experimentally by Rosenthal in 1966. EAT-O-TWIST means Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To, and this epigrammatic acronym that I crafted some twenty plus years ago was based in part on my understanding of Rosenthal's work.
[page 112] Robert Rosenthal has presented experimental evidence that the opinions, outlooks, expectations, and theoretical as well as practical biases of the experimenter, interviewer, or we would add, therapist, even if never made explicit, have a definite effect on the performance of his subjects, whether they are rats or humans.
There is a potpourri of therapeutic approaches in the penultimate chapter Exemplifications. Dealing with the "Why Don't You, Yes But" game players is one of them. My approach to such people on the Crisis Line was to listen to their problem, offer half a dozen solutions, to which the predictable response would come, "Yes, but I tried that, etc." And then I would pause, take a deep breath and say in the most authoritative voice I could muster, "I have listened carefully to your responses as I offered you solutions, and now I must tell that in light of my years of experience and professional knowledge I think that your situation is hopeless." Then I would wait -- I could almost hear their resisting muscles flexing on the other end of the phone line. Soon, they would say, "But, what if I ..." and would offer a slight modification of something that I had suggested earlier. I would say, "Yes, but remember that ..." and I would repeat one of the many objections to change that they had offered me earlier. All the while this interchange went on, a remarkable thing had happened: they were on their own side! They were offering suggestions to be tried, any one of which might get them through the door of solution to their problem, if they chose to actually apply it. The hopelessness was now gone, and life seemed manageable again.
People say they want change when what they want is for things to stay the same while their problem is invisibly lifted from them without any effort on their part. Or perhaps they want change, but change is so scary to them that they reject every change out of hand for some spurious reason. An oyster has very strong muscles that prevent it from being opened against its will. When an oyster shucker opens an oyster, the oyster's muscle is severed and the oyster dies. Many people in hurting situations are like the oyster, they would die rather than allow their shell to opened against their will and their problem removed from within. This book has ample suggestions about how to go about the paradoxical task of getting the oyster to willingly open its shell. Will all of these suggestions work? One can only say with the authors, "The only reliable basis for judging the value of a method remains the result achieved by its application."
3. Paul Watzlawick's The Invented Reality
In the inside of the front of this book I pasted a Jim Davis Garfield comic strip from the Times-Picayune of Feb 8, 1985. It shows Garfield on a fence getting hit by a thrown shoe and the word SPLUT! marks the sound of the shoe's impact. Garfield turns, raises his index finger and objects to the cartoonist, "Hey, wait a minute! Shoes don't go 'SPLUT'!" In the next panel, a pie hits him in the face with a SPLUT! and he says, "That's more like it."
Here was Garfield helping to invent his reality or rather shape it to his expectations as the rest of us do unconsciously all the time. The process of creating our reality hardly ever appears in the cartoon panels that we call "life" unlike this Garfield cartoon. Garfield was breaking the frame of the cartoon to interact with the cartoonist, a process not unlike what we do in therapy with our therapists. We explain how we have invented our reality, and we expect them to take out the rough edges that we forgot that we had put inside our cartoon of life. Jim Davis was inadvertently making a "contribution to constructivism" — as befits the subtitle of this book, which is full of such contributions carefully selected and edited by Paul Watzlawick.
Watzlawick writes in his Foreword of a "growing awareness that any so-called reality is — in the most immediate and concrete sense — the construction of those who believe they have discovered and investigated it."
[page 10] In other words, what is supposedly found is an invention whose inventor is unaware of his act of invention, who considers it as something that exists independently of him; the invention then becomes the basis of his world view and actions.
Does a ship's captain, who without charts sails his ship through a strait at night, add to the knowledge of the world? No, he does not. He does not even know that the strait existed because he experienced none of the constraints that the strait imposed. A captain whose ship foundered on the rocks that line the strait does add knowledge of the existence of that particular constraint to be avoided. Thus Ernst von Glasersfeld is led to say, "The only aspect of that 'real' world that actually enters into the realm of experience is its constraints. . ."
[page 24] Radical constructivism, thus, is radical because it breaks with convention and develops a theory of knowledge in which knowledge does not reflect an "objective" ontological reality, but exclusively an ordering and organization of a world constituted by our experience. The radical constructivist has relinquished "metaphysical realism" once and for all and finds himself in full agreement with Piaget, who says, "Intelligence organizes the world by organizing itself."
This seems silly, some of you may be thinking, can we not know something by seeing it? Consider that the thing you see exists in a past some milliseconds before the light signal reaches your eyes and is transmitted by your nervous system to your brain. Thus our knowing that we saw something is not immediate knowledge but is a construction of what happened after the fact. "It allways happens before you know it" is one of Matherne's Rules. In fact, Glasersfeld points out that "factum and fact both come from the Latin facere, to make!". Even facts are constructed from our experience, an experience that Thomas Kuhn warns us has been formed into a set of stable perceptual filters he called paradigms and these paradigms lead us to see what we expect to see. Thus when the Trobiander islanders saw Darwin's ship the Beagle sitting in the waters off their island, it was so much bigger than their tiny canoes, that they could not see a ship, and reported seeing only a big bird floating in the water. What one sees out there in the world today is constrained because one's trained to it. One might say because one is con-ned and trained to it. [See Goebbels advice to his propaganda managers below.]
Epistemology, that mellifluous mouthful of a meaning, is the science, simply put, of how we come to know something. It "becomes the study of how intelligence operates, of the ways and means it employs to construct a relatively regular world out of the flow of its experience." (Page 32)
In Heinz von Foerster's chapter he proposes "to interpret cognitive processes as never-ending recursive processes of computation." (Page 48) The more recent application of this insight can be found in the Edelman's "Theory of Neuronal Group Selection" in which recursive loops of neuronal groups are postulated as the unit of selection in the construction of brain function. Such a view is reminiscent of Rupert Riedl's statement on page 73 that, "Evolutionary epistemology generally regards the evolution of organisms as a process of accumulating knowledge."
In Watzlawick's chapter, he attacks the "followed by, therefore caused by" fallacy in which it is assumed to be the case that the cause always precedes the effect so that if an event occurs after another event, the prior event is deemed to be the cause of the latter one. In a recursive loop, there is a blurring of cause and effect that makes it difficult to discuss either one in isolation. Much of psychotherapy is such a recursive loop where the therapist attacks problems that didn't seem to exist before the therapist attacked it. The most memorable example in recent years has been the discovery that "recovered memories" of childhood sexual abuse were often fabricated. In addition one need only watch the tv show "Law & Order" to discover a plethora of psychiatric diagnoses that "unlike the diagnoses in all other medical specialties — do not so much define as create a pathological condition." A pathological condition whose main purpose, it seems to me, is to get a criminal defined as a victim of the pathological condition created for that very purpose.
[page 66] Half a century ago the Viennese writer and critic Karl Kraus hinted at this possibility in his bitter aphorism according to which psychoanalysis is the illness whose cure it considers itself to be.
In Watzlawick's chapter on "Self-Fulfilling Prophecies" he gives the following definition of the process that is too often used and too little understood, up until now.
[page 95] A self-fulfilling prophecy is an assumption or prediction that, purely as a result of having been made, cause the expected or predicted event to occur and thus confirms its own "accuracy."
Thus "prophecy" is too strong a word for the process, but I also hold that "prediction" is also too strong a word, whereas "assumption" or "expectation" is closer to what happens. Our construction of our reality so often entails an assumption, an idea, expectation or supposition in our mind about how something is going to turn out, and it makes little difference whether the outcome is supposed to be good or bad. Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To (EAT-O-TWIST) is how I describe this process, and I will often say or think the short acronym EAT-O-TWIST to remind myself that, whenever something negative happens, it was my supposing somewhere back in time, usually unbeknownst to me, that led to this outcome. With that reminder to myself, I proceed to update my suppositions with more positive outcomes for the future from now on.
One application of EAT-O-TWIST is in the rule that the first time is always the hardest — after all, the first time is not preceded by any confirmed supposition. Scientists trying to grow a never-before grown crystal will work in a laboratory for months or years to get the first one grown. Afterwards growing the same crystal is much easier."So what — everything's easier the second time." you may be thinking. And you would be right if it only applied to those same scientists who did the first crystal, but it is a well-known phenomenon that once a crystal has been grown for the first time, even scientists halfway around the world have an easier time of growing one like it, even if they do not change their method of growing the crystal. I first encountered this in Rupert Sheldrake's "A New Science of Life." One pernicious effect of EAT-O-TWIST is in the area of psychiatric diagnoses as Watzlawick points out:
[page 105] Suffice it to say that an essential part of the self-fulfilling effect of psychiatric diagnoses is based on our unshakable conviction that everything that has a name must therefore actually exist. The materializations and actualizations of psychiatric diagnoses probably originate largely from this conviction.
Propaganda has the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy if we read the words of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's chief propagandist of World War II. As I read this I thought of the recent book "Media Bias" in which it is pointed out how the major broadcast media use the label "Conservative" to refer to those to the right of mainstream thought but omit the label of "Liberal" to those left of mainstream, as if by omission to saturate the American public with the idea that Liberal ideas and their proponents are in mainstream of public thought. Perhaps they have studied Goebbels carefully.
[page 112] This is the secret of propaganda: To totally saturate the person, whom the propaganda wants to lay hold of, with the ideas of the propaganda, without him even noticing that he is being saturated. Propaganda has of course a purpose, but this purpose must be disguised with such shrewdness and virtuosity that he who is supposed to be filled with this purpose never even knows what is happening.
One would imagine that the sane can easily be distinguished from the insane in an institutionalized setting, but the very nature of the setting is such that all behaviors exhibited by inmates are interpreted as resulting from a presupposed insanity. EAT-O-TWIST! A study was made by placing eight normal persons into such an institution and instructing them to behave normally. None of the inmates were discovered to be sane by any of the staff of the institution (although it was reported that few of the inmates were fooled). One of the normals who took copious notes during his internment was diagnosed as having a "writing compulsion." The complete results of the test case is reported by David L. Rosenhan in his chapter titled, "On Being Sane in Insane Places."The suicide arrives at the conclusion that what he is seeking does not exist; the seeker concludes that he has not yet looked in the right place.
The Garfield cartoon mentioned at the start of this review was an example of the topic of the chapter by Rolf Breuer on "Self-Reflexivity in Literature", if I may stretch literature to include the comic strip, my first acquaintance with literature as a youth. As I read the following passage I was reminded of Woody Allen in a movie queue having a disagreement over what Marshall McLuhan said and having Marshall McLuhan step into the discussion to straighten them out on what he said.
[page 147] Above all, in comedy, and again and again since classical times, passages can be found in which the level of representation is interrupted by references to the spectators or to the fictive nature of the play.
One of the problems of modern society is the prevalence of suicide among our young people. In this passage from his Epilogue, Watzlawick tells us that both the suicide and the seeker are both looking for something, but the slight difference in their approach makes the difference between life and death.
[page 326] The counterpart of the suicide is the seeker; but the difference between them is slight.
There may be only a slight difference between our normal of reality as something out there and the view of the constructivist that reality out there is constructed within us, but that slight difference can make an enormous difference in one's life.
"How do we know what we believe we know?" In the words of the song from the musical "South Pacific", we have to be carefully taught. Watzlawick returns the favor to those who taught him by teaching us in turn to discover the roots of the unconscious thinking processes called reality construction which are the basic building blocks of our lives in so many ways, up until now.
4. Paul Watzlawick's The Language of Change
This book was written in the mid 1970s when interest swelled in Milton Erickson's hypnotherapeutic work. Watzlawick dedicated the book as follows:
To Dr. Milton H. Erickson, Who Heals With Words
Around the same time interest in split brain studies began and Right Brain-Left Brain studies were written up in many journals and books, especially in the field of psychotherapy. The reductionists even claimed to be able to explain Erickson's techniques in terms of left-right brain communication. In this book, Watzlawick explains the two languages of the brain, the left brain mode of the scientist and the right brain mode of the artist. The studies of the sides of the brain used the standard tool of medicine: examine how a human with a defect in a certain area acts in order to determine what function missing in one who has a defect or lesion in that area compared to one without a similar defect in the same area. A normal person without lesions is like a fish swimming in water who is unable to understand what water is until it flops out of the water and is unable to breathe. Once a lesion is present studies of functions are compared to normal persons and pertinent functions are identified for the area with the lesion.
[page 26] In his book The Double Brain, Diamond mentions several studies which show that lesions of the right half of the brain can also impair the execution of sequential processes (for example, dressing), which — I assume — have become quite automatic as a result of numerous stereotypical repetitions and were probably stored as right-hemispheric subroutines, recallable at will before the lesion.
It is normally understood that the left brain controls sequential functions and the right brain more holistic or global functions. Diamond's studies showed that the global repetition of certain sequences are stored by the right brain even though they comprise sequences of left brain functions. Watzlawick goes into details about the split brain experiments with patients who had their corpus callosum cut, a commissurotomy, as it is called. Severe epileptic seizures were eliminated by this surgical procedure and only specially constructed experiments could discern a difference in the patients. They acted as though they had two different brains. Their visual field and hands acted as a channel of communication to replace the plenum previously provided by their corpus callosum which connected the two sides of the brain. Thus, the experiment required that the visual fields be separated and objects placed in the visual field of one side of the brain be handled by the hand connected to the other side of the brain. Under those conditions very interesting and insightful results were obtained.
[page 30, 31] In the series of neutral geometrical figures being presented at random to the right and left fields, a nude pin-up was included and flashed to the right (nonverbal) hemisphere. The girl blushes and giggles. Sperry asks, "What did you see?" She answers, "Nothing, just a flash of light," and giggles again, covering her mouth with her hand. "Why are you laughing then?" asks Sperry, and she laughs again and says, "Oh, Dr. Sperry, you have some machine!"
The experimenters noted how similar her response was to someone who might be repressing some inappropriate sexual material. It is almost as if someone suffering from repression had achieved a functional commissurotomy such that communication between their left brain and right brain were blocked for certain subjects even with an otherwise intact corpus callosum.
[page 31] The minor hemisphere also commonly triggers emotional reactions of displeasure in the course of ordinary testing. This is evidenced in the frowning, wincing, and negative head shaking in test situations where the minor hemisphere, knowing the correct answer but unable to speak, hears the major hemisphere making obvious verbal mistakes.
The authors are "led to the assumption that we have two conscious minds which, ideally, are capable of harmonious, complementary integration for the purpose of grasping and mastering our outer and inner reality, but which, if and when conflict arises, may be unable to communicate with each other for lack of a common language." (page 38) How does all this knowledge of left-right brain function become useful in therapy? The author list these three ways and deal with them in separate chapters:
1. The use of right-hemisphere language patterns
2. Blocking the left hemisphere
3. Specific behavior prescriptions
These three chapters 6, 7, and 8 comprise the bulk of the useful part of the book. There are many examples given in the three chapters, all of them worth reading directly, but I'll share one in the behavior prescriptions chapter. It involves Milton Erickson, world-renown hypnotherapist in his time, who paradoxically did his best work without doing anything identifiable as hypnotic trance. This was one of those cases. A couple who owned a restaurant came to Milton for help. The wife insisted the husband should manage the restaurant, but the husband insisted he'd like to manage it, but she won't let him. What did Milton do? He arranged for the husband to get to the restaurant a half hour before the wife did! That's it. And here's what happened:
[page 134] When the husband arrived a half hour before his wife, he carried the key. He opened the door. He unlocked everything. He set up the restaurant for the day. When his wife arrived, she was completely out of step and way behind. So many things had been set in motion by him and he was managing them.
Within a week or two the wife was staying longer at home, finding things to do there, while her husband showed her that he could run the restaurant. Both parties were happy. All it took was a little action — no interpretation. Master at work.
Just in case you may think that this example makes it sound all too easy to create deep pervasive change in a person, let me demonstrate a technique for anticipating resistance offered by the ancient Greek therapist Aristotle. This is bound to sound a bit ridiculous, but you preempt the resistance by bringing forth reasons to show that you are justified in offering advice. If you still don't understand what I'm getting it, let me say that there exists a relatively simple solution, but I'm almost sure you're not going to understand it or like it at first, especially if you feel that I'm doing something a little sneaky. This will be difficult for you, because on the surface this approach is likely to look quite absurd.
The previous paragraph was a summary and a demonstration of the methods the authors give of "preempting" the resistance (Pages 150-151). If you weren't reading this right now, I would explain to you a close derivative of preempting which is pretending that you're not saying something while you actually say it. In fact, when you use the word "not" you are likely using this very process. "Do not think of a pink elephant." was the example I heard Bandler and Grinder use a lot in their early seminars in the pre-NLP days. What was the color of the elephant? Everyone knew it: pink. Try this: as you listen to people talk, drop the not's from their words. You'll have immediate access to the images or realities that they are living within. I would not want you to think that you can always re-phrase a sentence containing a not so as to create a positive image of what you want. I know that as of now most people do not look at communication that way. Cut that out!
Sorry 'bout that, Chief, got carried away. It will not happen again.
Okay, I'm incorrigible, but if you do not think that this book contains lots of great ideas about how to achieve deep pervasive change in people's lives, then perhaps you should meet my friend Tony who told me the other day, "You know, Bobby, there is no such thing as piano playing; I have myself tried it several times and nothing came of it."
5. Paul Watzlawick's How Real is Real? — Communication, Disinformation, Confusion
This was a landmark book when I first read it back in the late seventies, and the chance to re-read it in my own hardback copy in the nineties reminded me of the new concepts I first encountered in Watzlawick's work. (Note: This book contains the harpoon story that led me to my idea of how dolpins communicate. You can read about it in my novel, The Spizznet File.) The idea of confusion as a creative point of change came from this book. (I had a sign on my counseling office: "I don't avoid confusion, I create it." I got it after reading this book.) Next is the concept of the Be Spontaneous Paradox. This is the only written reference I've found to it. This paradox occurs when someone attempts to do consciously what can only be done effectively unconsciously. Examples are: sneezing, going to sleep, and enjoying oneself. Recognizing the source of a problem as this paradox tells one how to undo the problem. For example, telling the amnesiac to try staying awake an extra hour every night past her normal bedtime. The unconscious effort, the switch from "making oneself fall asleep" to "trying to stay awake" will usually allow the natural sleep process to prevail. Whereas the body stays awake when "trying to fall asleep," it will drift into sleep while "trying to stay awake." Another example is the following cure for sneezing: offer the sneezer $20 for the production of another sneeze. This immediately changes the sneezer from an unconscious victim of a natural process into a manufacturer of one. The resulting change of process turns off the sneeze reflex as if a switch had been thrown to deactivate it.
Watzlawick's insights into communication and reality are valuable additions to the field of human interaction. He brings the mind of a scientist and the heart of a psychotherapist to his work and has produced a book that is as accessible to the layman as it is useful to the professional. After reading this book one is left with the impression that reality is rather un-real after all.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- Thanks to Captain Rod for passing this along. Listen and Watch Vince Vance's Music Video, I Am New Orleans.
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.“Surrogates” (2009) See Bruce Willis at his “Moonlighting” best, it’s only his surrogate in a world where everyone works via a surrogate while their “meatbags” rest at home directing the show. What’s an inventor to do if he screws up the world? Fast-paced, hard-to-follow, but eventually Willis get banged around and it gets fun.
“Happenstance” (2000) A Tatou special about a series of butterfly’s wings incidents which strung together events leading to separation, reunion, and love. A fun, interesting, and delightful movie.
“Bright Star” (2009) a true story wound together of poems and love letters between John Keats and his muse and love, Fanny Brawne. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Madness of King George” (1994) caused all kinds of crazy behavior, mostly on the part of his doctors, his son and his advisors, but a royal relative suggested a doctor who had cured her mother of the same illness. Soon, just in time, the King’s water turned from blue back to yellow. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“St. Trinian’s” (2007) is the worst girl’s school you could imagine, but when they come up with a plan to steal the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” from the National Gallery to save the school, one wonders how the girls and the school will ever survive the ignominy.
“The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” (2000) Narrated by Peirce Brosnan who does a great job explaining about the seven wonders: Pyramid, Hanging Gardens, Ephesus Temple, Olympia Zeus statue, Parthenon, and the Colossus of Rhodes. Now that I’ve seen and heard about each of them, they are burnt into my memory.
“The Onion Movie” (2007) has the distinction of being the only movie to ever be reviewed in the middle of itself. Get ready for side-splitting laughs when Neil Armstrong’s first words on Moon are quoted in Onion, and other unsavory bits of arcana that rarely makes the prudish newspapers of today. Like Mad Magazine on steroids with the handcuffs on and off. A rollicking good time is had by all.
“An American Crime” (2008) an actual torture and murder of a young girl by her temporary foster mother and her children in the basement of a house in Indiana. Not light fare before supper. A look at a reality than few fictions can match.“Dirty Pretty Things” (2002) is about the seamy side of London clothing and organ donation business. A fugitive doctor from a political flap in Africa is cab driver and night clerk at a rent-by-hour hotel in which the manager runs an organ donation business: you donate a kidney and he gives you a British passport, making you a citizen. What can a doctor do if the person he loves becomes such an organ donor?
“Whip It” (2009) is what a high school senior did to survive — a roller derby move which gets the scorer ahead of everyone else. Suddenly a sign appears in her dad’s front yard for the first time! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944) never gets old nor loses its kick. Cary Grant at his zaniest trying to protect his old maid aunts from their heavenly rest plan. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Life of the Party” (2005) hero never grows up, always on the run from one drink to the next, and his friends finally call him on his alcoholism and self-destructive behavior. Can he survive himself without sobering up first? It’s worth a look to see how this plays out.
“The Art of Travel” (2008) is to change your plans. In plans is the sameness which Art is the process of destroying so life can happen. Three crucial points in movie: Conner’s “I Don’t” on the altar, Chris’ motivational speech with the jeep stuck in the mud, and Conner’s speaking the Guerrilla General’s own words to him. An amazing travelogue of highs and lows. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Neighbor” (2009) is also a landlady who wants her overhead tenant replaced by her fiancé and after a tortuous path manages the job very well.
“Intolerable Cruelty” (2003) George Clooney and Zeta-Jones square off as worthy opponents in a multi-part game of legal Razoo — who gets the house and money in a divorce?
“The Edge of Darkness” (2009) Mel Gibson in a dark thriller in which he as a detective has to uncover the killer of his own daughter. Great line from movie: “We live awhile and then we die sooner than we planned.” A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Diner” (1982) a hidden treasure of a movie set in 1958 in Baltimore about just-out-of-high-school bonding: with football, buddies, and wives. Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Steve Gutenberg, Ellen Barkin, Paul Ries, and other familiar faces all beginning their careers in this one. Like American Graffiti scribbled on Colts Stadium. A DON’T MISS HIT! ! !
“Ready to Wear” (1994) wears well after sixteen years mostly due to the star-filled line-up of Hollywood stars, Couture magnates, and Super models strutting their stuff across runways and Metro stations in Paris. Two businessmen with the same atrocious green tie get involved in a murder, and two Americans reluctant to share the same room enjoy the same bed.“The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” (2000) Narrated by Peirce Brosnan who does a great job explaining about the seven wonders: Pyramid, Hanging Gardens, Ephesus Temple, Olympia Zeus statue, Parthenon, and the Colossus of Rhodes. Now that I’ve seen and heard about each of them, they are burnt into my memory.
“The Neighbor” (2009) is also a landlady who wants her overhead tenant replaced by her fiancé and after a tortuous path manages the job very well.
“The Madness of King George” (1994) caused all kinds of crazy behavior, mostly on the part of his doctors, his son and his advisors, but a royal relative suggested a doctor who had cured her mother of the same illness. Soon, just in time, the King’s water turned from blue back to yellow. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
"The Art of Travel” (2008) is to change your plans. In plans is the sameness which Art is the process of destroying so life can happen. Three crucial points in movie: Conner’s “I Don’t” on the altar, Chris’ motivational speech with the jeep stuck in the mud, and Conner’s speaking the Guerrilla General’s own words to him. An amazing travelogue of highs and lows. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
"St. Trinian’s” (2007) is the worst girl’s school you could imagine, but when they come up with a plan to steal the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” from the National Gallery to save the school, one wonders how the girls and the school will ever survive the ignominy.
"Pandorum” (2009) about a ship carrying the last of the human race from Earth to a new planet. Something goes wrong and the stars all go out, mutated cannibals roam the large ship, and the reactor is sputtering out. In this chaos awake two heroes to sort out the mess and make decisions. Will the human race go out with a bang or a whimper or survive in a new Eden? See the materialist’s view of the situation.“Intolerable Cruelty” (2003) George Clooney and Zeta-Jones square off as worthy opponents in a multi-part game of legal Razoo — who gets the house and money in a divorce?
"Happenstance” (2000) A Tatou special about a series of butterfly’s wings incidents which strung together events leading to separation, reunion, and love. A fun, interesting, and delightful movie.
“City Island” (2009) a great production by Andy Garcia who played a prison guard who wanted to be an actor. One day he recognizes a prisoner as Tony, his son whose mother he abandoned shorty after his birth. The result is Greek in scope! Tony in handcuffs, his daughter in a stripper’s garb, his wife confessing to passion with Tony, his younger son watching all this with two fat broads, how can Garcia resolve this denouement? The result is A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
“Something’s Gotta Give” (2003) when the irresistible force Jack Nicholson meets the implacable object Diane Keaton in this marvelous show of talent in these gracefully aging stars. As fresh as a 2010 movie and just as fun second time around. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Feast of Love” (2007) is where friends become lovers and lovers friends. Where is God when bad things happen to good people? “If God didn’t exist, he wouldn’t have made her heart so strong.” A DON’T MISS HIT !
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009) 2nd Viewing even better than first especially seen on big screen at home. Was able to decipher Anita and Harriet and the plot better this time and Del loved it, her first viewing. One of the best movies of the year. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
“I Love Trouble” (1994) Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts square off against each other as star reporters and then join forces in a battle of wits and wiles sure to please viewers. An oldie but goodie you might have missed.
“Fame” (2009) update of 1980 popular film with new fresh faces, bodies, and voices in Blu-Ray format.
“Bright Star” (2009) a true story wound together of poems and love letters between John Keats and his muse and love, Fanny Brawne. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“Daytime Drinking” (2008) and decided to STOMP IT before it led us to night-time drinking. A DVD STOMPER !
“Joyful Partaking” (2002) is anything but.
“Daytime Drinking” (2008) caused us to STOMP IT before it led us to night-time drinking. A DVD STOMPER !
“Miss Conception” (2008) is a misconception from the initial screwing by the preview to the final crash-and-burn of the predictable plot. Anyone else notice the lack of acting ability on the part of all cast members? Where did the blonde Heather Graham come from, a TV sitcom? Didn’t anyone tell there would be no laugh track to juice up her unfunny faces, dumb pratfalls, and inane comments? Or that cuteness doesn’t make a movie?
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Live Free or Die” (2007) is the eponymous motto of New Hampshire and a local cult hero “Rugged”. Each dilemma he gets into, his plan to escape puts him in deeper trouble. “No, not that, Dummy!” comes to mind at each decision he makes.
“Accidents Happen” (2009) and the biggest and best one was the one which landed Geena Davis back in a movie again. She plays the hapless and humpless mother of a girl and three boys. Neither she nor her husband know how to use their authority as parents to prevent accidents from happening, so in succession, they lose their daughter to an auto accident, which permanently disables one of the twin boys. Then the philandering husband divorces her, and the remaining two boys cope: one by getting drunk constantly and the youngest one by creating more accidents, one of which kills his friend’s father. The entire movie is like watching one accident after another. Luckily there is still a few characters left alive at the end of the movie.
“Post-Grad” (2009) gal so enthralled with herself and her new job out of college, she loses the only guy who really loves. Michael plays the quirky dad and Carol Burnett the dying grandmother who offers up a sacrifice for her grandson’s boxcar derby entry. A modern family full of accidents-happen mentality.
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4. CAJUN STORY:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This Cajun joke adapted from the woman's joke in the September 2010 issue of Esquire.
Boudreaux was invited to play golf with a new guy from work. He carefully studied the rules of golf, especially the protocols, so when they were nearly through the course, two ladies were holding them up. They taking a long time on each shot and the two Cajuns were getting impatient.
Boudreaux told his friend, "Mais, Ah t'ink Ah'll axe dem if we could play through." He nodded okay, so Boudreaux walked towards the two lady golfers, but suddenly he stopped, paused, then turned around and quickly walked back to his fellow golfer and said, "How you like dat?"
"Wat's wrong, Boudreaux?"
"Dat's my wife and my mistress playing golf together. You gotta go axe dem if we can play through."
His friend walked towards the lady golfers, but suddenly he stopped, and turned and strolled back to Boudreaux.
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for September, 2010 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Cucumber Dip by Guest Chef Carla Matherne
Background on Cucumber Dip:
My daughter Carla and I have both had bumper crops of cucumbers this summer and she got this recipe from a friend which she recommended for those extra cucumbers.
2 to 3 cucumbers
8 oz cream cheese, softened
Small yellow onion
1 tsp Hidden Valley dry ranch dressing mix
Take the cucumbers, peel them, remove seeds, and lightly chop them in a food processor. Add Salt and squeeze liquid out. Allow cream cheese to soften. Chop the onion finely. Click in New Window to see Preparation Photo: lower left is cucumber spears ready for cutting away seeds; top left is minced cucumber; upper middle cucumber being peeled, upper right pieces of cucumber in food processor jar ready for mincing.
Mix cucumber with the cream cheese, onion, and dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing.
Allow to stand overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to blend. Excellent with your favorite chips during warm summer days and hot football games on TV. Serve with Tostitos or Ritz Crackers. Our Guest Chef Carla says she likes it best with Kettle Potato Chips and also uses the dip as a sandwich spread for grilled veggie sandwiches.
Want to be a Guest Chef in Bobby Jeaux's Kitchen?
Send him a recipe in an email, he'll prepare the recipe, and if he likes it, we will share it as a future Recipe of the Month.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from The Power of the Word and Cosmic Language by Hazrat Inayat Khan:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Notes on Poem: We pollinate our own yonder star as we walk through the world shining our flashlight of reason, perception, and imagination upon what we find around us. We are born into this world as a baby crying. We are lost in an empty world until our triple-beam flashlight begins to shine and we start to make sense of the mason jar world into which we are born.
Paint a song of sculpture
Sketch an azure sound
Listen to the velvet moor —
Those tinkling apples all around.
Fly on wings of reason
Inside a mason jar,
Buzz your yellow season
Pollinating yonder Star.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for September:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness, GA#177 by Rudolf Steiner
Awake! That's the theme of this book, these series of lectures given in 1917, near the end of World War I and the time of the Russian revolution. "I am awake," you may be thinking, and the fact that you're reading this review indicates that you are awake to the physical world, plus the fact that you're reading about Rudolf Steiner's lectures indicates you are able to develop ideas about the spirit and are thus awake to the spiritual world.
[page 16, 17] We need to be awake and alive for the sake of humanity. If anthroposophy is to fulfil its purpose, its prime task must be to rouse people and make them really wake up. Merely knowing what is going on in the physical world, and knowing the laws that human minds are able to perceive as operative in this world is no more than being asleep in a higher sense. Humanity is only full awake when people are able to develop notions and ideas of the world of the spirit. This is all around us, just as air and water, the stars, the sun and the moon are all around us. when we are physically asleep we are wholly given up to the internal processes that go on in the body during the night and have no idea of anything in the physical world around us. We are asleep in exactly the same way when we are wholly given up to the physical environment, and to the world and the laws of the intellect, and have no idea of the world of the spirit that is all around us.
How can people mature into old age and not know about the world of the spirit which is all around us? Certainly the people in ancient India knew of the world of spirit and each of them grew wise as they grew old and were revered. Think of an elderly person you know. Do you consider them wise? Would you seek their advice about some problem which is troubling you today? Likely you answered, No, immediately without much thought. Why is this? Are people today sleep-walking through life by their monomaniacal focus on the physical world? Yes, one might say that. But there is a deeper reason which involves the evolution of consciousness over the millennia since the time of Old India, an evolution which had the curious effect that each century there was a decrement in the age in the age of maturity. What was 50 for Old India has been reduced to the age of 27 today. This is the age at which our automatic maturity ends, if we do nothing on our own accord to further our wisdom. Since few people take such measures, the majority of people in our world remain at the age of maturity they were when they were 27. The graybeard judge sitting on the bench a year from retirement is likely no wiser than he was at 27, or the hospital administrator after 30 years experience in her field who is no wiser than she was at 27.
Someone once said that a high school graduate today is fit at 18 only to flip hamburgers and at 27 is running a company. One cannot at age 27, without an extraordinary childhood, be expected to understand the spiritual world, since our educational systems teach primarily how to maneuver and succeed in the physical world. Anyone who succeeds dramatically in life in the physical world will have little inducement to learn about the spiritual world, until perhaps it is too late. In an interesting synchrony, the Mystery of Golgotha took place at age of maturity for its time, 33. The upshot is this, "People who do not take up anything spiritual remain 27 years old even if they live to be 100." Our world today is ruled and governed by such people, no matter what country or culture, whether in a town council, the White House, or the United Nations, at whatever level, our so-called leaders are only as mature as any 27-year-old. In our physical prowess, we head downhill after twenty-seven, but as far as maturity in soul and spirit, we have around us a level playing field. Anyone who rises from that level field is deemed as remarkable, even though if pressed, few could express why the person is exceptional. The reason is that one must possess maturity in soul and spirit to recognize it in others, but one can recognize its importance even if one is on that level playing field of 27!
Steiner in 1917 recognized David Lloyd George who was Prime Minister of England from 1916 to 1922 as the epitome of the 27-year-old man pressed into high office. George was in fact elected as a Member of Parliament at age 27 in 1890. One can see the 27-year-old naivete in the older Lloyd George's laissez-faire attitude towards Hitler in the 1930s as he moved into power, saying such things as "Germany is our friend", and even after Hitler moved armed forces into the Rhineland, he called Hitler the "George Washington" of Germany. Steiner had equally condemning remarks about the youthful naivete of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson with his famous 14 Points which helped sow the seeds of German resentment which led to World War II.
We live in an age of increasing knowledge of the physical world and increasingly amazing technology. Few people stop to think where all these amazing new ideas come from. If I asked the typical 27-year-old (anyone over 27) I would get the answer, "Somebody thought it up."Few study the intense work which went into the "thinking up" of an invention. It is a process which like Edison said, is "98% perspiration and 2% inspiration". But where does that vital 2% come from, Edison never mentioned, because he was one of the most clever 27-year-olds of the 20th Century, but only clever about physical things, how to make intricate machines from ideas, usually ideas from other people. He did it with his phonograph, motion pictures, and light bulbs, and many other inventions. So where does that 2% inspiration come from? Not from a machine, not from a human being, certainly. Ask any inventor where the original idea came from and if you dig deeply, you'll get, "It just came to me." Or "out of the blue". Both of which are ways of saying it came from the spiritual world, but inventors are part of that level playing field of 27-year-olds — what else could they think to say?
There is a basic law which governs evolution and it is one that all humans should be aware of because it will help us to understand the direction of evolution and how we are prepared for each next step in evolution.
[page 62] . . . the law of world history of which I have spoken is that as evolution proceeds, the gods always rule for a time within a particular sphere of elemental spirits and then human beings enter into this same sphere and use the elemental spirits.
It is important that we discover that these elemental spirits are the "same kind as those used by the gods to bring about birth and death."
[page 62] In earlier times, the elemental spirits of birth and death essentially served the divine spirits who guided the world; since our day — and this has been going on for some time now — the elemental spirits of birth and death are serving technology, industry and human commerce. It is important to let this disturbing truth enter into our souls with all its power and intensity.
Is it possible, you may be thinking, that when human beings take over some job of the gods, they mess up badly? One need only look to the sinking of the entire primordial continent of Atlantis for one example of a catastrophe resulting after humans failed in taking over the processes of the gods.
[page 63] This led to serious mischief in the Atlantean age, so that over the last four or three periods of civilization the whole of Atlantean civilization had to be guided towards its own destruction. Our own civilization was saved and brought across from Atlantis, as I have described elsewhere. . .
Humans do not learn without making mistakes and those mistakes can lead to catastrophes which arise to correct those mistakes, wipe the slate clean, so we can proceed in a better direction on the next cycle. "Civilization cannot continue in an unbroken upward trend; it has to go through a succession of rising and falling waves." (Page 64) How many times have you seen in history that humankind worked toward something good which turned out very badly? "We therefore must seek ever new ways, look for new forms over and over again." (Page 66)
What is philistinism except trying to solve the problems of today with the solutions of yesterday? It is well to stick to norms, to follow established rules, but each evolution of consciousness, of humanity brings with it new norms which the philistines among us will detest and try to subvert.
[page 83] In some respects, philistinism is the opposite of a true understanding of human nature, for philistines always like to stick to the norm. Anything which does not fit in with this is considered abnormal.
To overcome the increasingly materialistic and philistine tendencies requires that humans seek spiritual understandings and ideas which meet the new and changing situations. Unless humans rise to this challenge, the last remaining portion of our original body, soul, and spirit which is non-physical, that is, the soul will be taken away from us by definition. Can this happen today? Recall that in an early Ecumenical Council, the spirit nature of man was declared non-existent by fiat by the authorities of the world at the time.
PLANET WITHOUT LAUGHTER
This reminds me of a story written by Raymond Smullyan in his amazing book,"This Book Needs No Title". There existed a planet without laughter in which the few people who laughed were put into mental hospitals by psychiatrists to cure them, suspecting their irrational laughing behavior was clearly of psychogenic origin. They found a drug which cured them of laughing, called "laughazone", but the drug had the side-affect of causing the patients to scream. Some doctors thought that the laughing people were happier than the screaming ones, but the argument was made, "What use is it to be merely happy, when the happiness is based purely on psychotic delusions?"
One might think that Professor Smullyan was joking with this story, but his carefully crafted story gives us a serious look at how various behaviors can be deemed undesirable by the use of abstract logical reasoning and lead to incarceration in a mental hospital until the person is cured by some drug or vaccine. Believe or not, having a soul may be deemed a pathological behavior in the future by the authorities of the world in our time, the materialistic scientific establishment. Those who blithely call themselves "humanists" will attempt to do the most inhumane thing of all: remove the soul from the human being. This will be done by a vaccine, Steiner intimates. Recall that he was speaking of this in 1917.
Ever think about what the elemental world consists of? Ever think that it's some airy-fairy, non-existent world? If you have thought about such things and other things, then you have lived in the reality of the elemental world and helped create substances in the elemental world with your thoughts. How could materialistic physicians be so dense as to have thoughts about driving the soul out of human beings? What is the relationship between the physicians' thoughts and the elemental thought-space? The elemental thought-space has living thoughts and these physicians have dead or corpse-thoughts. Abstract thoughts based on the sensory data around us are corpse-thoughts. All of us utilize corpse-thoughts when we use abstract logical concepts.
After science and medicine, the other field which is filled with corpse-thoughts to day is education. Steiner says, "There is no other field where humanity has entered as deeply into materialism as it has in education." (Page 100) Clearly if you wish to pass an examination to be a teacher, you must respect and hold these corpse-thoughts but once you become a teacher, you will have to learn to deal with living thoughts to receive the intuitions and inspirations necessary to reach your students.
[page 101] Examinations for prospective teachers must therefore be organized in such a way that candidates with intuitive and prophetic gifts do particularly well. Candidates who do not have such gifts must be made to fail their exams, however great their knowledge.
Do we search for and recognize that our teachers of our youth today must be prophets? Likely, we do not, but the time is coming when this will be necessary.
[page 101] The last thing we do today is to consider the prophetic gifts of people who are to become teachers. We still have a long way to go with regard to many thing that will have to be done. Yet the course of human evolution will eventually force people to accept such principles. Many of the materialists of our age would, of course, consider it a crazy notion to say that teachers should be prophets. But it will not be for ever. Humanity will be forced to recognize these things.
There is another aspect of teaching which is not taken into account today: karma. Surrounding us everywhere we go are people with whom we have connections from a previous lifetime, some of them will be family and associates, some will be teachers, and others will be students.
[page 112] Something else, however, which relates to something much more subtle, will be important. It will be important that the question of karma, or destiny, is taken into account, especially with regard to education and teaching methods. The people with whom my karma brought me together in childhood and youth certainly are important. And a tremendous amount depends on it that in our teaching we are aware that we and our pupils have been brought together. You see, much depends on a particular quality of mind and attitude.
Children are imitators, especially during their seventh through fourteenth years. They need authority figures, parents and teachers, who will speak the truth to them as they will believe everything they hear during this crucial seven year learning period. How good the teacher is — that's less important than how the teacher is connected with the soul of the child, but the teacher needs to be aware of the possibility of karmic connections. The child may seem to be a blank slate, but the child's soul likely had a personal relationship to the teacher in a previous lifetime from which both child and teacher can benefit in this lifetime.
There is one attitude that both capable and inept teachers must avoid, one which can poison their relationship with a student, it is to demand that each child learn everything they teach. This is simply not possible — this deleterious attitude stems from the bank metaphor of pedagogy where the student is like a piggy bank into which the teacher inserts learning which can later be drawn out again when needed.
[page 114] It is poison to demand that children should understand everything, as it is often demanded today. I have frequently pointed out that children cannot understand everything. From their first to their seventh year they do not understand at all; they imitate everything. And if they do not imitate sufficiently they will not have enough in them later which they can use. From the seventh to the fourteenth year they must believe, they must be under the influence of authority, if they are to develop in a healthy way. These things are to be made part of human life.
Here is where the corpse-thoughts enter education as a poison which will inflict mental paralysis upon our children in guise of early intelligence! "People must realize that dead truths cannot govern life, only living truths can do so."
[page 114, 115] The following is a dead truth.
We are supposed to train human beings to be intelligent human beings. Therefore — as dead truth says — we must cultivate the intellect as early as possible, for this will produce intelligent people. This is arrant nonsense, however.
Did I choose a college professor for my father so I might be intelligent? No, not that I recall the decision consciously, but the fact is my father was a working man who was very authoritative in his parenting of me. Frankly, I did not like it, but I accepted his authority and followed his commands as a necessity. It was literally his way or the highway.
[page 115] People will, in fact, be intelligent only if they are not given intellectual training too early. It is often necessary to do the opposite of what we want to achieve in life. . . . You cannot make people intelligent by cultivating the intellect as early as possible, but only by cultivating in them when very young the faculties which will later have them prepared to be intelligent. The abstract truth is: the intellect is cultivated via the intellect. The living truth is: the intellect is cultivated by healthy belief in authority. Both parts of the statement have quite a different content in the living truth compared to the dead, abstract truth. This is something humanity will have to come to realize more and more as time goes on.
In my Final Paper for a Ph. D.-level graduate class in College Teaching, I wrote about the importance of the "Live Lecturer" in the classroom. My thesis was that teaching moves from the professor to the student via live thoughts and concepts and the lesson plan of the professor acts as an outline to ensure that the live thoughts and concepts are active during the lecture and available for transmission and reception. In a world in which so much education is done over the Internet, the presence of a live lecturer in a classroom is becoming less common, and few voices of reason have been raised in opposition to the lack of a live lecturer. Steiner raises another important issue about the need for a live lecturer. Teachers needs to dream about their students as a very real way of opening up a clairvoyant channel to facilitate teaching and learning.
In one place Steiner says that we dress dreams of the future in the garments of the past! This is important to understanding the revelations of the future in our dreams, because we can easily mistake the recognized garments for dreams of past events and ignore the important future events they portend. Here is a poem I wrote to help me remember this revelation:
Dream of the Future
When we dream of the future,
we dress it in the garments
of the past
Because the garments
of the future
have yet to be designed.
When we arrive in the future
we don't recognize it —
we don't recognize having
been there before —
Because it is wearing different clothes.
When a time wave from the future
We recognize the feeling
in the present
And remember our dream of the future,
Not from its garments,
but from the feelings
We had as we wore those garments
in our dream.
If we feel that the world ought to be different, we can learn to accept that judgment as a projection — we want to be different and feel that if the world were different, we could be different. What psychology teaches us is that if we become different, the world will seem to have become different. We frown, e. g., because we live in a world of frowners, then we decide to begin smiling and suddenly we find that the world has changed around us and everyone else is smiling.
Yes, we can discover the world ought to be different and what we do can make the world different. We can hold wrong ideas about the physical world and that world will ignore our wrong ideas, no matter how many times and ways we try to apply them. But the world of human society is shaped by our ideas, wrong or right, and we suffer from the wrong ones until we learn of our error and correct them. Sometimes we learn of our errors only from the misfortunes which beset us because of them. WWI was such a misfortune.
Philosophers can hide the brutality of war behind beautiful words and sprinkle concepts like eternity and temporality calculate the toll of war in so many tons of organic matter, "but he ignores the fact that eternity, infinity, lives in every human being, and that every single human being is worth as much as the whole inorganic world taken together!" (Page 123)
Steiner talks in Lecture 6 about how when prophesy comes true, modern science says "Chance willed it." (Page 94) We can see how medical experts often ignore the spiritual aspects of their patients recovery, attributing the recovery to chance. In the 1994 movie,"The Madness of King George" one sees a splendid example of such behavior on the part of 18th Century physicians. The mad King's doctors administered all kinds of materialistic cures such as blistering his back to extrude the bad humors, all to no avail. A royal relative suggested a Dr. Willis who had cured her mother of the same illness. What's the chance that one doctor could cure two people of the same disease? This doctor restored the King to sanity by the expediency of looking him in the eyes, something usually forbidden. Dr. Willis activated his strong "I" and stared into the King's eyes, restraining the King when he showed any errant behavior. Soon the King was forced to behave or be constrained, and he gradually acquiesced and became normal again. At the end of the movie, the medical science of today placed the following statement, "The King had an illness was called porphyria, an inherited disease which comes and goes at random." Proving that yet today, science calls any remission not from some recognizable medical cure as due to chance.
Our materialistic science including medicine has come to love the fallen spirits of darkness which fell to Earth after the victory of Michael over them in 1879. He effectively cast them out of the spiritual world from which they fell into human hearts. We gained human freedom in the process, but unless we understand the deleterious effects of these ahrimanic spirits, our spiritual progress will be greatly hampered.
[page 140] It is because the ahrimanic powers entered into us when Michael won his victory that we are gaining in human freedom. Everything is connected with this, for the crowd of ahrimanic spirits has entered into all of us. We gain in human freedom, but we must be aware of this. We should not allow the ahrimanic power to gain the upper hand, as it were, and we should not fall in love with them.
How did Darwin's idea that humans descended from animals first take form? Curiously, it was from a book in the 18th Century which claimed Ahriman (called the devil) comes to expression in animal species. (Page 152) The Press joked about this possibility, but the joking gave the idea widespread notoriety, setting the stage for Darwin. Today we have secular humanists who are striving to remove every trace of spirituality from the world. They virulently attack the works of anyone writing about spiritual science, using skepticism as a weapon to destroy knowledge rather than to foster knowledge. They fight what they do not understand, what they choose not to study or master, and they help the ahrimanic powers in doing so. They strive to replace religion based on spiritual concepts with a purely secular religion based on doubt and sensory experience.
[page 154] One way to help the ahrimanic powers, therefore, is to establish an entirely naturalistic religion. If David Friedrich Strauss had fully achieved his ideal, which was to establish the narrow-minded religion which prompted Nietzsche to write an essay about him, the ahrimanic powers would feel even more at ease today than they do already. This is only one way, however. The ahrimanic powers will also thrive if people nurture the elements which they desire to spread among people today: prejudice, ignorance and fear of the life of the spirit. There is no better way of encouraging them.
Just think how many people there are today who actually make it their business to foster prejudice, ignorance and fear of the spiritual powers.
If some prediction is made which not based on their secular science, these humanists will call the prediction's coming true, pure chance. And yet, they do not have any idea of how the predictions are made, so their own response to the prediction coming true is unscientific. Science requires investigation before judgment, and the humanists violate this principle lasciviously when they demean anyone who is the least bit spiritual. They call them superstitious as if that were saying enough. In a world filled with ahrimanically-tutored minds, that is often enough. The materialistic science of the secular humanists is the science of the past! It studies things which have already happened and strives to predict the future from them. The very same secular humanists who look down upon the people of the Greco-Roman age who predicted the future from examining the entrails of animals have rather strange superstitions themselves, at least that is the way they will be judged by those far in the future.
[page 157] Clever people will say today that the priests of ancient Greece and Rome were either scoundrels and swindlers or that they were superstitious, for no one in their right mind can believe it is possible to discover anything about the future from the flight of birds and the entrails of animals. In time to come, people will be able to look down on the ideas of which people are so proud today; they will feel just as clever then as the present generation does now in looking down on the Roman priests conducting their sacrifices. Speaking of Laplace's theory and of Dewar they will say: Those were strange superstitions. People in the past observed a few millennia in earth evolution and drew conclusions from this as to the initial and final states of the earth. How foolish those superstitions were! Imagine the way in which those peculiar, superstitious people spoke of the sun and the planets separating out from a nebula and everything beginning to rotate. The things they will be saying about Laplace's theory and Dewar's ideas concerning the end of the world will be much worse than anything people are saying today about finding out about the future from sacrificial animals, the flight of birds and so on.
Since Rudolf Steiner's time, we have progressed to where we have predictions of how the universe began as a Big Bang in a universe which is constantly expanding. In the future perhaps it will be said, speaking of our time, that "the dumbest man in the world sat in a wheelchair and talked about the Big Bang superstition". (Note: Stephen Hawking, wheelchair- bound physicist is widely known as the smartest man on Earth, and he is responsible for much of the cosmology of the Big Bang.) Steiner stated it clearly, though this will fall on deaf years today, "Everything connected with modern science has grown from myth; myth is its root." (Page 158) It pleases Ahriman enormously that so many people accept the current superstitions of materialistic science as if it were the God's truth, instead of merely statements about the past using a process which grew out of myth.
Once I was introduced to an audience as having a double-Ph. D. in Rudolf Steiner. The emcee said that he had heard that "If someone had studied over 75 books in a single subject, that qualified as a Ph. D. and Bobby Matherne has studied over 150 of Rudolf Steiner's books." He was gracious, but most other people would be incredulous and ask me questions in the vein of, "What are you doing reading that many books by one person?" Which left me with an unanswered question, a big one, for many years, up until now. After reading this next passage, I have begun to see my self as a bridge builder from material science to spiritual science. My degree in physics provides me a generalist view of all the sciences and my degrees in Steiner gives me a detailed view of spiritual science, two foundations, one on the physical side and one on the spiritual side, upon which to build a bridge from one side to other.
If we are awake to spiritual realities, we will understand that the study of spiritual science allows us to keep a lid on the ahrimanic spirits which will otherwise run rampant. Steiner says the result for these dark spirits is like a consuming sacrificial fire for the salvation of the world.
Steiner says that parents and teachers should providing the souls in their care with ideas not yet understood — do you, dear Reader, understand what this means in your own life? Do you immediately answer questions which arise with a sleepy, "I know that." or "That's nothing new." or "Can't understand it — it must be silly. Forget it." Do you? If so, you have not yet understood the awakening power of the unanswered question. I consider this aspect of life so important that I formed it into Matherne's Rule #25 and created an explanation of it on the Internet for anyone to read and discover the unanswered question asked by this Rule, namely, "What is the power of an unanswered question?" The answer to this question will not come immediately or easily even if you read all the material describing it. The real answer will only come when one day you find yourself confronted with a difficult question and, instead to tossing it aside like a coffeeshop receipt, you hold it unanswered in your mind and days or weeks later, you are rewarded one day by the answer appearing in your mind, right out of the blue. An answer, which would not have come to you ever if you had not held the question as an unanswered question, likely a useful and important answer, brings you brightly awake and invigorated.
Teachers who do not understand the importance of what is happening in the soul of the children spend their days in one form or another dinning knowledge into their pupils minds as if they were piggy banks which must be filled in school so that they can be cracked open after graduation to provide the funds of knowledge in the workplace. Surely such teachers could be enlightened by the comic strip which ran in our local Times-Picayune newspaper one morning. Two teenagers were lying on a bed talking and one announced, "The real school vacation has begun! I have just forgotten everything I learned last year!" The piggy bank does not even last through the summer vacation, much less till graduation!
Unfortunately, most teachers surrender their children's life to ahrimanic powers by jamming knowledge into their heads with excessive repetition, treating them more like a target on a machine gun firing range than a human being. One of my pet peeves is parents who explain everything to their children before they can make a decision and then allow the child to make the decision instead of the parent doing their crucial job of providing authority to children between the ages of 7 and 14 instead of information! The child is not ready to grasp most of the issues these parents try to explain to them and the parents would serve them better by allowing the child to hold most of the mysteries they ask questions about, to hold them as unanswered questions, which will be a soul-strengthening exercise for them, rather than providing answers above their child's "pay-grade" which is a sure-fire soul-deadening exercise, a recipe for disaster, and a worst waste of a parent's time cannot be conjured up, and an activity that more enlivens ahrimanic spirits does not exist.
[page 166] The way people feel they must behave towards growing children and young people in education and training has entirely come out of this stream of rationality: always do everything in such a way that the child can immediately understand; children should never experience anything deeper than they are able to understand.
Enlightened parents are exactly what we call such parents today, as if it were a badge of honor instead of infamy!
[page 166] It will have to be realized that this is the worst possible way of providing for the life of a human being, for it takes us to a truly disastrous extreme in human life. Just consider this: if we make every effort to give children only such things as are in accord with their level of understanding, things they can grasp, we do not give them anything for later life when they are supposed to have deeper understanding.
We rob them of the treasure that would otherwise be stored up in their souls as unanswered questions. The type of adults this produces are running the world today, the large corporations, the newspapers, and most unfortunately of all, the school and college systems at every level of education. Something else must be done and it must begin with education at the earliest levels. It was this task of doing something which led Steiner to give the lectures on education in Stuttgart which resulted in the formation of the Waldorf Schools world-wide.
The rise of suicides in our nascent 21st Century is a sure sign of the prevalence of the psychological phenomenon of anomie, described in the Webster's Medical dictionary as: social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values; also: personal unrest, alienation, and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals. It is the "lack of purpose or ideals" type of anomie which seems to result in suicide.Can such lack of purpose or ideas exist in someone who has a healthy inner life? Probably not. What can one do to prevent this emptiness? The one word answer is education, education of the kind which Steiner is discussing in this lecture.
In a recent movie, "Surrogates", one of the robotic surrogates refers to human beings as "meatbags" and that phrase struck me as an apt way of understanding how materialistic science has created a demeaning view of human beings as simply chunks of meat evolved from dumb animals.
We cannot permit a school teacher to just list items and drum them into our children's heads, such as who was Plato's teacher, Aristotle's teacher, Alexander the Great's teacher, etc. These lists are deadly and dreadfully dull to students — their minds will grow barren if that is all the kind of learning they are exposed to. (Del was exposed to this kind of teaching in her chemistry class, and she told me how the class jocks and athletes had the same response to every question asked by the teacher, "Copper Sulfate, Prof!" Clearly, they escaped the dreadful lists of chemicals by remembering just one and spending the rest of their required time in class thinking of other things in order to survive. Their cheerful response to every question indicated that they were happily surviving, probably thinking of the next football game they would play. ) If teacher merely drum lists into children's heads, these children will strive to remember them for the final exam and about two weeks into summer vacation they will dump the lists from their memory banks, likely, forever. We need teachers, on the contrary, who can liven up history, make the events come alive to students at every level today. If it is a task worth doing, we can always find someone who will do it.
Christ Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me." And also, "You must become as little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven." We, you and I, each of us, are heading as human beings to a point where after many deaths of our physical body upon the Earth (and subsequent re-incarnations), the Earth itself will undergo a physical death, and we need to begin now to prepare for our transit into spiritual beings when that happens. It will be a global catastrophe, such as those populating the imagination of science fiction writers and movie-makers in our time. Only those who have nurtured themselves and have maintained themselves as little children, growing younger each year, each lifetime, will make the transition through the gate of death into spiritual evolution after our mother Earth disappears from the physical plane of existence. This is difficult to imagine or contemplate, but it is nonetheless true.
Now we are ready for Steiner to reveal to us why the "fall of the Spirits of Darkness" was a necessary part of our evolution as human beings.
[page 198] The kind of spiritual experience which is utilized in the spiritual science of anthroposophy would have been impossible if the spirits of darkness had been victorious, for they would then have kept this life and activity in the spiritual regions. It is only because of their fall that instead of merely critical, physical intelligence and the mediumistic approach, it has been and will increasingly be possible to gain direct experiences in the spiritual world. It is not for nothing that I recently told you how the present age is dependent on spiritual influences to a far greater extent than people believe. Our age may be materialistic and want to become even more materialistic, but the spiritual worlds reveal themselves to human beings in many more places than one would think. Spiritual influences can be felt everywhere, though at the present time they are not always good ones.
Steiner warns us of a vaccine, an anti-religious vaccine, which will innoculate us against having a soul, an anti-spiritual vaccine which will ensure the success of the dark spirits in completely materializing many as human beings. This warning came almost a hundred years ago — perhaps that vaccine already exists and is affecting our children and young adults today. Suppose such a vaccine existed today which inoculated children at a young age to keep them from having a soul — what signs of this might we find?There would seem to be some epidemic of children being born who do not maturate like children, they would be unable to store feelings of their early childhood, they would have trouble acclimating themselves to other human beings, they will seem extremely intelligent with sharp calculating skills, almost machine-like precision of drawing and copying skills. Does this not sound familiar to the recent concerns of the sudden rise in the incidence of autism and its possible connection to certain vaccination processes? Have the anti-soul vaccinations already begun?
History is not what it used to be. That's a phrase which is often spoken in jest, but the joke will be on us if we do not acknowledge its truth in the sense which Steiner explains it in the next passage.
[page 220] The term 'history' will only have real meaning when spiritual impulses are taken into account. There we can speak of what really has come to pass and, within limits, of what. happens behind the scenes. Limits are set in so far as we compare this with what can be predicted to apply in the physical world in future — the position of the sun next summer, for example, and so on, but not every detail of the weather. The world of the spirit also has elements which are like the weather of the future in relation to the future position of the sun. Generally speaking, however, the course of human evolution can only be known on the basis. of its spiritual impulses. History is therefore embryonic and not what it is supposed to be; it will only finally be something when it makes the transition from its 100 years of existence to consideration of the spiritual life which is behind the scenes of what comes to pass at the surface level for humanity.
It means that people must really wake up in many respects.
There is that phrase again: Wake up! Surely this phrase must sound a Wake Up call to us or just as surely it will sound our death knoll. Listen, learn, hold real, live unanswered questions and perhaps the wake call will toll inside of you.
This Blurb comprises about half of the review. Read the Full Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Checks out a Weight-Watcher s Meeting.
2.Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL from John Bershak about Bad Effects of Leaving Kids's Lights on at Night:
Vision Tip of the Month: The Affects Of Night Lights
Most of us believe that leaving a night-light on for our kids is reassuring, but a new study from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center suggests that, by doing so, we may be inadvertently damaging our childrens vision. The study found that kids under 2 who sleep with a night-light on are three times more likely to develop shortsightedness than those who sleep in the dark.
The study also found that children who slept with high-powered bulbs, such as an overhead light, are up to five times more likely to develop myopia, indicating that the effect worsens with brighter ambient night-time light. It appears that a daily period of darkness is needed for the postnatal development of the eyes," says Richard Stone, professor of ophthalmology at UPenn.
RJM NOTE: I have telling our offspring to turn off all lights at night, but as John says, most people think it reassures the kids, when reassuring should be done by parents, not by some baby-sitting light left on in the place of good parenting. This is the first inkling I've received that my intuitive hunch about the night lights and room lights left on for children is bad for them. Thanks, John!
- EMAIL from 3 friends re: Sergeant Truth and General Lies poem.
Note: you can read the poem Click Here. It has been recently added to this review from maginalia I made at the time of reading the book.
From Kristina in Australia:
That title is hysterical Bobby — "Sergeant Truth and General Lies" Kan you stand it?
From Kevin in New York City:
Oh boy Bobby, just barely — that is, I kan just barely stand it! Touché!
From Ed in Lubbock, Texas:
I got a right good kick out of it. Very clever imaginative expression of the situation.
- EMAIL from Chris Bryant in Texas about our 100,000 Visitors a Month:
100,000 a month that's fantastic. Maybe we'll both live to see doyletics taught to our children in school, then they will never have to say "if only we had known about doyletics then". Carla and I say that often, but we quickly add that we know it now.
Taking off the training wheels in Texas,
- EMAIL from Kevin:
Thanks for the excerpt on karma and teaching, and the new Digest. Carole is keen to read the review of the Agriculture course. Nice photos!
- EMAIL from George Parigian:
Hope all is going well in your life. I am doing ok, but of course always consumed with questions. In a previous email message you told me of a way to "fix" eyesight using certain type of glasses. I am interested in writing a web page similar to what I did with Doyletics to help people who are coping with deteriorating eyesight.
Is there a resource you can point me to where I can find detailed information on this technique? To date, I have held off writing about eyesight even though it is significantly affected by the aging process. I just don't know enough, and even though I can read up on it, what I really want to create is a page that shows people what they can actually do about it, not just regurgitate a bunch of theory.
Our medical system unfortunately seems filled with people who study things incessantly but never seem to be able to come up with solutions to problems, just more studies and more therapies that only treat symptoms. I want to (with your help) offer some kind of solution, that if it is followed, people can actually improve their eyesight.
I will of course link back to your site, or anywhere you would like. The Doyletics page that I built with lots of help from you is one of my most popular. I am not necessarily looking to make money with this idea. I do so with other aspects of my site. I would be pleased to spread information that will help people out there fix their vision problems. Since my readership is international, it will be spread far and wide.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTE from Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dr. Kaisu Viikari has graciously sent George a copy of her new book in English, Learn to Understand & Prevent Myopia and I have promised to help George as he builds this new webpage.
EMAIL from Ginger Thiele in Florida:
Good morning, Bobby,
Would you please so kind as to send me your news letter again? For the past few months, it has not arrived...I miss it and hope that you will once again include me on your mailing list.
I am hoping that you, Del and your familes are well and enjoying your lives.
Thanks so much,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTE from Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We have now gotten Ginger instructions subscribed. Her email is a reminder to us that, when we went to a professional email list with topica.com, we lost many people who did not subscribe, and these former Good Readers have been lost from our Digest readership. If you know anyone personally or have had someone ask you why they were dropped, tell them to email me, and we'll get them properly subscribed poste haste.
EMAIL from Fernando in the Netherlands:
Please subscribe me, I'm a hypnotherapist and I know I could add some information to your page.
Thanks and regards,
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTE from Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I just checked and by the end of the month Fernando has yet to subscribe. As much as I would like to subscribe him to my Digest, I am helpless to do that on my own. I can only send him an invite to subscribe — as I sent all the Good Readers we lost, several hundred of them — and then he must do the rest. I will send him another invite right now.
EMAIL from Christian:
Hello Bobby Matherne
I stumbled across your website the other day. The idea of muscle memory is used often in massage therapy. Is this the same idea?
I tried to download the Panacea program. The link works but what is downloaded is an empty zip folder. Is the program still available? Could you email it to me if it is. I would be very interested in seeing how it works, compared to the stand alone technique you have devised. I am not so good at staying focused and I think if I had something helping me to do the technique I might get a better result.
Is the book Panacea also still to be had somewhere? I looked all over the net and could not find it or the program anywhere. The one website I found where to buy it nolonger woorks properly and I cannot purchase it.
Is Doyle Henderson still around?
Thank you for all your work and putting this information on the internet.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NOTE from Bobby and HELLO from Doyle ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just talked to Doyle on the cell phone August 31, 2010. He is on full-time oxygen, living in a 55+ apartment alone. He's unable to drive or walk. Just got his phone fixed, so I was able to reach him. He gets dizzy when he stands and runs out of oxygen if he walks more than twenty paces. But he does his groceries on a small sidewalk scooter which goes only 6 mph. His daughter Vicky lives nearby and his friend Norma (ex-wife) drives to visit him in Yorba Linda, every so often. I'm sure Doyle would want to tell all of his friends on the Internet a big Hello! He is, as always in great spirits. Says he has two oxygen generating machines and uses one of them to fill the small tanks he uses when he is away from home.
My REPLY to Christian, a couple of weeks ago:
No software, no book around. Last time I talked to Doyle he had a serious auto accident, ramming his head thru a windshield. He was recovering, but at 85 and in already frail condition before the accident, the prognosis for full recovery is uncertain.
Thanks for writing. Watch my video on how to do the Speed Trace, read the Introduction if you need more help, do a food dislike trace, practice your Time Marks, and be ready to extirpate the first live doylic memory which grabs you.
I was in J. C. Penny's this month looking for new frying pans for Bobby Jeaux's Cajun Stir Fry preparation. A man was also looking at the pans and mentioned how he loved to cook. Just as I was feeling good at having found a fellow cook, he went to explain that he hated chopping onions and wanted to find some device which take that chore away from him. I felt a huge chasm gape open between us and I no longer wished to converse with him.
I love chopping onions and I insist on doing it by my own hands, using only my Cutco Chef's knife. It is a form of meditation because if you do meditation right, you cannot fall asleep, and no one ever falls asleep while chopping with their fingers inches from a large sharp knife! When I chop the ingredients for my dishes, and no dish requires more chopping of more different ingredients than my Cajun Stir Fry, I think of the people who are going to eat and enjoy it.
To cook potatoes in the Stir Fry, the pieces must be very small or they will take too long to cook properly, that requires a lot of manual dexterity and I find it fun to do, not a chore to be eliminated if possible. In my Cajun Stir Fry all the various veggies, the leeks, the onions, the Portobello mushrooms, the garlic, the okra, the tomato, the Jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, the potato, the eggplant, basil, green onions, and parsley are chopped and placed into separate containers so they can be added to the pan at the appropriate for best cooking. There is not a single ingredient that has been shredded to smithereens and beyond recognition by some mechanized food chopper or processor.
In 1964 I worked for Schlumberger in the Gulf of Mexico running downhole equipment for off-shore oil rigs. In those days, helicopter transportation was reserved primarily for geologists, and we rode to our workplaces in various water taxis, from the Greyhound bus insides speedster which made about 30 knots per hour to the 300-ft-long pipe carrier which made about 6 knots. Divide 6 into 200 to find how long it took us once to get back from a rig deep in the Gulf out of Morgan City. Spent most of that long day and a half trip playing Bourre and after hours of losing every single game, I swore the game off for life.
I was plagued by sea sickness and that's not a good thing when you have to travel to and from work by boat. The sickest I got was on the speedster. It was my first trip, in February, a rather cold day, so I was wearing a lot of clothing, all of which I had to take off in the confines of a tiny bathroom when I got deathly sick, broke out in sweats, vomiting, and could barely stand up. Somehow I survived that ordeal. But every trip offshore brought some form of sickness or discomfort. It was sheer torture and I left that job at the first opportunity for a job where I could ride to work over hard, solid land. After that lesson I avoided any boat trips off-shore, even for fishing which I love to do.
But memory is short, and six years later, working in Los Angeles, I had a chance to go tuna fishing off San Diego with my programming buddies at Lockheed. We arrived in the evening and spent all night playing poker and drinking beer. The next morning my hangover was soon replaced by seasickness which stuck with me for the entire day. I remember leaning over the railing, not looking for a fish on my rod, but evacuating my stomach's contents from the previous night. I helped throw out the live anchovy chum at one point, but never felt steady enough to bait or throw out a fishing line with my rod and reel.
My next foray offshore was about six years later when I had a chance to help crew a 26 foot cutter from Fall River to Newport, Rhode Island, about 26 miles across the Atlantic, past Block Island, just barely out of sight of land. There it was again, seasickness instead of fun. Eleven foot seas could have been like an exciting and bracing roller coaster ride if I had been bent over feeling ill the whole time in the open sea. I remember the relief when at dusk, after tacking against the wind all day, we spotted land and entered the Sakonnet River for the final leg of our trip in nice flat water. I was beginning to despair of ever being rid of this plague of seasickness.
Naturally, after discovering the speed trace, seasickness was one of the first things I wanted to trace. I don't really exactly how or when I traced it, but if ever it hit me again, I would be ready, at the earliest sign of discomfort. Perhaps it was on the trip offshore with Capt. Andy fishing for speckled trout and redfish. The water was rough and his boat was buffet by waves, bouncing up and hitting hard as it came down on each wave, no seasickness. Or perhaps it was on Captain Rod's catamaran when we went to the Midnight Lumps, a hill in 3,000 feet water which rises to 600 feet below the surface. It is the prime destination for sports fishing for tuna, black fin and yellowfin tuna. We spent the entire day in sea rollers, rocking and rolling every way possible, and I was completely at ease, no illness, and I caught a 35 pound black fin tuna along with many other hard-fighting fish which we used as bait for the tuna. It was a fun day and a great test for the robustness of my speed trace, showing that I had removed all doyles of seasickness.
Del and I are cruising up the East Coast from New York harbor to Montreal in a month or so and I have just booked two shore excursions: an America's Cup Yacht cruise out of Newport and a Tall Ship cruise out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. During the masted sailing vessel trip, I will be part of the crew and we will fire off a cannon at sea. These are two exhilarating adventures which I dare say that I would have never attempted had it not been for the pioneering work of Doyle Philip Henderson upon which the speed trace is built. God Bless You, Doyle Henderson!
In the 3 weeks mandatory vacation Del & I took after Katrina, one of the places we visited was a memorial in Nashville and I found an inscription which seemed pertinent to the situation in my New Orleans at the time. It was chiseled in granite on a monument to the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862 with 25,000 casualities.
It was a time when women all over the city, all over the metropolitan area of New Orleans tied up their hair, exchanged their pretty dresses for work gloves and rubber gloves, and went to work cleaning up their city one house at a time. Five years later we can look around and say proudly that they and we "met the stern wants of that hour."
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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Thanks to all of you Good Readers for providing the Sunshine which has made this site a Blooming Success. — Especially those of you who have graciously allowed us to reprint your emails and show photos of you and by you on this website — you're looking good! By December 1, 2018, well into its 20th year of publication, the DIGESTWORLD and the doyletics website has received over 20.6 MILLION VISITORS ! ! !
We have received about ONE MILLION VISITORS per Year to the Doyletics Website since its inception in August 1, 2001, over twenty years ago. About 2.1 million in the past 12 months. We are currently averaging about 180,000 visitors a month. A Visitor is defined as a Reader who is new or returns after 20 minutes or more has passed. The average is about one visitor for every 10 Hits.
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You can read a description of how to do a Speed Trace (either in English or Spanish):
Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here
Or Watch Bobby extemporaneously explain How to Do a Speed Trace on Video:
To make a connection to the Doyletics website from your own website, here's what to do. You may wish to use the first set of code below to link to the site which includes a graphic photo, or to use the second set of code for a text-only link. Immediately below is how the graphic link will look on your website. Just place this .html in an appropriate place on your website.
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner reviews are more detailed and my intention is bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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