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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Bob Feller [1910 - 2010] ~~~~
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~~~~~~~~ Fastball Pitcher for Cleveland Indians 1936 to 1956 ~~~~~
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#129 September, 2012== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Back to Learning Month of September:
In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
— Eric Hoffer, in his book, "The True Believer"
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#129 for September 2012
Table of Contents
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1. September's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for September
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Eggs on Toast
6. Poem from Yes, and Even More!:"Autumn "
7. Reviews and Articles Added for September:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ: Transforming the Soul, Volume 2, GA#59 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. September Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, 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 the Mongolian Desert while solving a Crossword Puzzle.
#1 "Mongolian Desert" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/082012jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR September:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are two fellow travelers and worthy Honored Readers for September, 2012:
Hugh Conners in California
Gust Valantasis in Florida
Congratulations, Hugh and Gust!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
FROM THE BIG EASY TO THE BIG STICKY
Hot and Sticky, that is. What New York City is like in the summer time, apparently. On the hottest or mildest day in New Orleans, you get into a taxi and its air-conditioner is already running so that you step into coolness, but not in New York City, from our experience. All three cabs we stepped into had their windows rolled all the way down and we had to beg the driver to turn on his Air-Conditioner! By the time we felt the slightest cool air, we were halfway there and the cab still wasn't cool by the time we were dropped off, one time the idiot driver dropped about five blocks away from our requested destination at the 911 Memorial, assuring us this was the place. All this through stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper downtown traffic during midday. What happened to NYC? Did it lose all its competent taxi drivers? The first hot ride was from LaGuardia airport (LGA) to Times Square, the second to 911 area, and the last a blessed five minute early morning drive to Penn Station. After the first two hot-box fiascos, we took the subway, the D-line to 161st Street exit for Yankee Stadium. The trip was cool, even though subway train was full, and we only had to walk across a wide street to enter the stadium. Coming back was another adventure in hot and sticky again: stuffed shoulder-to-shoulder with some thousand fans in underground waiting area of the subway with no air-conditioning again!About 45 minutes later we finally got on D-line back to Marriott Margquis in Times Square. First day in The Big Sticky and we got hot and sticky no less than three times for over an hour each. I wondered when the fun was going to begin. This was not the trip I had planned on, so I went along for the ride, but I headed away from The Big Sticky planning to stay away. Got to LGA from our nearby Holiday Inn in Corona okay, the next morning, only to have to stand in another 45 minutes long line in the entrance to Gate D, D for Delta, I suppose, but it could have easily stood for Damned, as it was again damned hot and sticky, no place to sit down, no place to use a rest room, and no place to buy water or food till you were strip searched and entered the building from the anteroom which replicated the subway entrance experience from the night before. Yes, I had some fun once we actually got to where we were headed, see below.
What was the trip I had suggested several years ago to take our grandsons to the Hall of Fame? My idea was a road trip during which we stopped first at Canton, Ohio for the Football Hall of Fame, then Cooperstown, NY for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and ending up in Springfield, Mass. at the Basketball Hall of Fame. When one of the grandsons chose money instead of his trip, and the other chose to defer his trip and take an abbreviated trip after his first year of college, I gave up my plan and it got replaced by a truncated, jam-packed weekend trip just to Cooperstown for Weslee who will be entering LSU for his sophomore this Fall. His dad came up with tickets to the Yankee's game and this further packed the weekend.
TWO MYTHICAL BALLPARKS
My lasting impression that I took from my game at Yankee Stadium was Robert De Niro: I could swear that I saw three different guys walking by near the concession stand while I stood in line (again) and later when waiting to leave that looked like De Niro playing the part of a New Yorker. The look, the slouch, the walk, just like a guy played by De Niro in one of his New York movies, or a guy that could be played by him.
Well, there was the stadium. Filled with New Yorkers to watch their Yankees beat Seattle Mariners. C. C. Sabathia won the game 6-3, but he was leading 6-1 in top of the ninth and walked the first batter, who scored on a 2-run homer by next batter. With 2 outs, the manager went out to pull Sabathia and the crowd was upset at the possibility, and so the manager left him in, which brought a big cheer from the crowd, and they won the game.I don't follow major league baseball a lot, but I knew the Yankees won a lot of World Series, just how many, I didn't have to ask because the scoreboard red-white-blue banner greeting me to the stadium, proclaimed the Yankees as winning 27 World Series. Most teams have not been in the World Series half that much, I suspect, and the Yankees have won that many. From what I saw that night, it'll likely be 28 by the end of 2012.
The concession area at the stadium, which someone told me had anything you wanted to eat, lived up to its billing, if you like sausages, hot dogs, pizzas and pretzels. Any of that kind you wanted, it was there, including Nathan's Hot Dogs.
Watching the baseball was not fun. Even though we were only in the second tier of seats, the ball was so tiny that it was hard to follow during play. I'm spoiled by TV coverage during which you can follow the ball easily and then watch again what happened on replays. Yankee Stadium had no replays, or hardly none. A huge TV screen sat out there with fixed data of guy at bat mostly. Saw maybe three replays. The audience was blase, mostly, probably from the hot and sticky atmosphere still surviving into the late innings before anything resembling a breeze showed up as if to flirt with us rather than cool us. Give me a Saints game in the Superdome any night over a Yankees game. While Saints fan are getting CRUNKED, standing, yelling, and screaming on every third down play, the Yankees fans were having a polite picnic in the stands with their Nathan's in the No. 2 Mythical Stadium in New York State.
ABNER DOUBLEDAY STADIUM
The No. 1 Mythical Stadium in New York State is the reconstruction of the stadium on the site of Abner Doubleday's first baseball stadium in Cooperstown New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was our second destination for our grandson's high school graduation trip. On the second day, I enjoyed myself in downtown Cooperstown and wandered into the stadium about a hundred yards off Main Street. I walked through a grassy parking lot that was filled with the cars of Hall visitors who paid $10 a day. The stadium looked the way real stadiums used to look, before concrete and steel monsters replaced the wooden comfort of old ones. Walked up the wooden stairs and a game was going on. Only about 7 people in the stands. Looked out in left field and the old hand operated scoreboard show Home 0 and Visitors 0 in the first inning, so I sat down and watched the game.I had no idea who the teams were, and no one to ask. I tried one guy and he was as clueless as I. So I observed the game. The field was Major League regulation size, 392 to Center and 312 to Right, could see Left markings from my seat behind the catcher. Since I had my choice of seats, I chose to stand as close behind the catcher as possible to judge the flight of the ball. Suddenly an incongruity came to my awareness: the guy batting at the plate had on the same uniform as the guy playing First base with a glove on! How could that be? So I analyzed all the uniforms and found Red Sox looking uniforms and several other teams with different colors, all playing on either Home or Visitors! Apparently these guys play for the joy of the game, arriving with their glove and favorite teams uniform on, and they are chosen for either side before the game from whoever arrives ready to play. What a delight! Watching baseball played by guys who are playing for their own enjoyment! They had an umpire calling balls and strikes, and this guy was special. He was thin and wiry, not over 5'10" I estimated, and he had a unique way of calling a strike.My favorite LSU radio announcers, Jim Hawthorne and Charlie Hanagriff would love this guy because they are always complaining when some umpire does not telegraph his call for a strike, and they are left with dead air until they get some confirmation to report. Well, with this umpire, they'd have no trouble: when a strike came over the plate, he would turn to his right, hold his right arm fully extended parallel to the ground, his five fingers spread-eagle, perpendicular to the ground, and he would pause for a second-and-a-half, then abruptly, he would close his lower three finger, leaving his thumb up and his index finger extended as if it were a pistol and say STRIKE! That delay never varied. Once he did the strike call to his left as if to someone in the stands, but the rest of the time it was to the right side. He was truly a joy to watch: a mythical umpire playing a mythical game in a mythical stadium.
When Del was trying to locate me, I texted her that I was watching a baseball game. She texted back, "Where is this mythical stadium?" hinting that I was making up this baseball game and stadium, sorta what Abner Doubleday did, didn't he? He made up the game of baseball, didn't he? I can imagine the scene now, Abner is playing with his buddies in the first game of baseball on this empty lot just off Main Street in Cooperstown when his son ran up to him as he was covering first base and said, "Dad! Mom wants you to come home."
"Look, son, you run back and tell her I'm playing baseball at the ball park, okay?"
"Sure, Dad," and off Junior ran. Later Junior arrived with a hand-written note from his mom and ran up to his dad waiting to bat and handed it to him, "Here, Dad."
Abner opened the note and it said, "Where is this mythical ball park? And what is baseball?"
Well, as luck would have it, Del, Weslee, and Wes later joined me to watch a few innings in this mythical ball park on site of where Abner covered first and batted on that mythical day. Home was trailing Visitors by 3 to 1 and the game was just getting interesting, but we had another odyssey ahead of us: get to the Holiday Inn near LGA by midnight, so we walked out of the mythical stadium and after we had passed about three rows of parked cars, we heard a crack and looked to see a baseball fouled over the grandstand heading our way and watched as it hit a parked auto. Thoughts flew through my mind in this order: Hope it didn't make a big dent, Glad I didn't park our rental car there, Imagine paying 10 bucks to park and taking home a dent as a souvenir! Souvenir! Somewhere in the childhood recesses of my mind came an 11-year-old voice yelling, "GET THAT BALL!" So, I scrambled around the cars, looking under them, down on my hands and knees like an 11-year-old trying to locate the only ball, which if not found, will end the sandlot game for the day, and sure enough, the 11-year-old me pulled out the ball and held it in the air exultantly and Del, Weslee, and Wes cheered.I signed the ball with my date glyph and gave it to my three witnesses to likewise added their autograph, an autograph being something that can only be written by a person who is present at the time of the signing, and our four autographs label forever that I retrieved this foul ball from Abner's mythical ball park!
TWO MYTHICAL RESTAURANTS
Continuing my theme of mythical two's seems reasonable for a way to report to you on two amazing restaurants which punctuated our tortuous and tortured odyssey from NYC to Cooperstown and back to the airport to fly home. Both of these restaurants I had a hand in selecting for us. The first one came about because I had the duty of programing the NEVER LOST GPS of our Hertz car we rented in Poughkeepsie, New York. How in the world did we end up in this town? I had heard the name many times in the past, sounding like it was spelled PO-KIPPSIE, so had to adjust my mental spelling map for it. Wes wanted us to drive from NYC to Cooperstown and rent a car out of the city that we could then drop off at LGA on way home, so the plan developed between him, Del, and the travel agent for us to take commuter train from Penn Station to Poughkeepsie, have Hertz provide a car waiting for us at the train station, and then we drive to Cooperstown.
How were we to get to Penn Station? A five minute drive in taxi in the morning, we were told. Who told us never mentioned the taxi's windows would be down and it would HOT and STICKY again, but at least he got us closer than five blocks away like the 911 taxi did, and it only took about 15 minutes. We were early in for the train and tried to find someone to ask what to do. Found the only official-looking person, a fiftyish woman with an official name tag and she said, "That's my train!" Great, so we waited for her to give us some directions, but apart from establishing her proprietary rights to the train to Poughkeepsie, all she could say is, "You're early. Go over there" and point to the far corner where there was no sign of an exit or anything. We found after some searching in the other direction from which the train owner pointed, a waiting room in which we could sit down. We waited and listened.Finally we heard something which sounded vaguely like our destination and got into a line, another long line, this time not so hot and sticky as the subway line, and had to go through an inspection point for metal objects, etc, but we got to keep our shoes and our drawers on for this one, and walked down the stairs to a disconcerting display of trains and no idea of where to go and nobody to ask. We walked along one train and finally got a yes, Poughkeepsie and boarded. I was looking forward to an hour or ride out of the city on the train and a walk to the club car for something to eat. No such luck. We were only about 20 minutes out of Poughkeepsie before the Club car opened and before we could move, an announcement came that "historic points of interest will be described by volunteers to all those in the Club car." Having been inoculated in Italy against the cacophonous plague of people talking over microphones in strange accents about points of interest, we remained seated, and I imagined that we were staying on the train all the way to Montreal instead of getting off in a strange NY city. At least I thought it was city, until our taxi cab ride disabused me of that notion. It may be a city, but all I saw was shabby small town streets.
Where was the car Hertz promised to have waiting for us at the Train Station? Nowhere to be seen. A quick call got us the address of the Hertz Rental Office and off we went, windows down, in a hot and sticky taxi, in search of a now-mythical rental car. Our local taxi had no idea where the Hertz office was, something which bothered me immediately, and my concern grew with every turn we took through small-time streets, and homes that looked more like rural Kentucky abodes than city houses. Right, left, right, left we turned and still no sign of civilization, much less a Hertz office. Finally we turned right onto a modest two-lane road which resembled an early twentieth-century state highway, and we saw a muffler repair shop, a fast-food place, and similar meager, but perceptible signs of civilization. The taxicab pulls to the right onto dirt parking lot and stops in front of a mobile home with a large BUDGET sign at the top. As we walked into the place, I saw in tiny print, Hertz. We were in the right place, but what awaited us was yet to be discovered. This scruffy-looking guy was leaning against an empty desk in the left of the almost vacant office, except for the four of us and a gal who was busy in the other side of the office.The guy was complaining about somebody who did something and we had clearly caught him in a middle of a good rant, which customers were not going to interrupt. I looked above his head there was an ominous and welcome sign on the wall behind him announcing in bold letters, "$5 FINE for WHINING". I interrupted him to ask, "Excuse me, does that sign apply only to customers?" He clammed up after whining that he wasn't whining, and the gal came over and got us signed up for our car. It was waiting outside, we got the keys after taking the extra full-coverage insurance for $9 a day. Wes drove the car and I set the NEVER LOST GPS navigation system. Every letter or number I added for our Oneonta Holiday Inn address, a female voice boomed out, SEVEN! FOUR! ONE! EIGHT! and even blasted out the address letters and numbers the same way. No map in glove compartment, AH! for the good ole days where you could actually see where you were and where you were going. But no, not this trip! We were in the boondocks of a rural New York town or city (never saw signs of a city in Poughkeepsie), and we were at the mercy of the BOOMING VOICE device. I chose "SHORTEST ROUTE" and away we went, tracking through similar, but different streets as our taxicab did, but now we were on our own.
Hours, seemingly days, went by and we still didn't know where we were or even how to get the Booming Device to reveal that to us. It only wanted to tell us the next turn, and after endless next turns, I was ready to ask, for the first time in my life, "Are we there, yet?!" As the elevation began to increase, a sure sign when my ears began popping, I suspected the Booming Device was taking us through the Catskill Mountains. Luckily I had, by this time, reduced the BOOM to a whisper by moving every movable object on the GPS thingie, lacking any instructions for this unique proprietary device. Unluckily we were also by this time, by my dead reckoning halfway to our mythical location, i.e., past the point of no return. You know, it's ironic — you can return from the point of no return, but there's no point to it!So we trucked on like troopers, clearing our ears as we topped a rise and the valley seemed to open up to our right as we passed a large building and overlook pull off. Wes was about to pass up the entrance to the overlook when I yelled TURN HERE! and he did. We parked the car, got out and looked down into the valley. It felt great to be outside. I took photos of us, and the valley, and some flowers. As if to punctuate for me that we had found the place to eat, it was past noon already, a beautiful butterfly opened its wings and posed for me while I took its picture. You can see its irridescent yellow, black, and blue wings as it sipped its noon-time treat from a spike of flowers along the edge of overlook. We left the car parked and walked to inspect the place we had just passed up whose parking lot blended into the overlook's lot. A large power boat was parked on a trailer and we met Ken, the owner of the Inn who said the restaurant would be open in about 15 minutes. Del needed a rest room, so he allowed us in right away.
POINT LOOKOUT INN AND ANTIQUE ROSE RESTAURANTThis is how we came to the Antique Rose Restaurant, our first mythical restaurant of two we encountered on this one very long day. Mythical, because it appeared out of nowhere, just like Brigadoon, just when we were hungry, and it opened up just for us. Wes asked if we might sit outside and our waiter Jason said, "Sure." We walked out on an attached porch which sat over the incline of the mountain which dropped a hundred or so feet below our feet on its precipitous way down into the distant valley. It was blue skies and white clouds and cool air. All the things we had not seen or felt while in the Big Sticky. Here was the Big Cool, with freshets of cool breezes wafting by, while somewhere unseen inside the kitchen our meal was being cooked. When I asked about he soup de jour, Jason informed us that he didn't know because the Chef had not yet arrived. We assured him that after our long drive, we were in no hurry.
We sat, enjoyed the view, relaxed in a way we had not relaxed since we left the Big Easy the previous morning. We had the entire patio to ourselves, Jason brought our drinks, advised the Chef had arrived, told us the difference between Monte Cristo and Monte Carlo sandwiches. Seems the Cristo has turkey in addition to ham inside its deep-fried lusciousness. Two hours we luxuriated in cedarn splendor and great food and company, but we were ready to leave to continue our odyssey, this time out of the Catskills, hopefully. We were so blissfully contented that Del and I left our red and blue sweaters draping the back of our chairs (see photo above). The two sweaters didn't say a word as we left, as if they did not want to leave from this wonderful spot. When Ken the owner had earlier talked to us outside the Inn, he explained that this place was decades ago a tourist magnet as it advertized that one could see 7 States from a nearby lookout tower which no longer standing. Still today you can see four states, and he listed them as New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New Jersey. The other three states were Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut, if I recall properly.
Like our shirts, we did not want to leave this wonderful spot, we could only perceive one state here, the State of Contentment, we reluctantly plucked up the courage to leave. No longer lost, we were found, even though we still didn't know where we were, we knew it would be all down hill from here. A few hours later, we saw the first sign for Cooperstown and Oneonta and were checked into the Holiday Inn. Times Square, Penn Station, Poughkeepsie, Point Lookout, Oneonta, and we still hadn't gotten to the Hall of Fame yet, all in one busy morning and early afternoon.
LAKEFRONT RESTAURANT AND LIGHTHOUSE
We made it to the Hall of Fame about 3 PM and I left it first to walk around the delightful town. Went into a shop which advertized "Italian Ices" and got a lemon ice from a cute blonde clerk. Asked her about restaurants in Cooperstown and she reeled off names of places which specialized in hamburgers and pizzas and ended by saying, "If you turn right at this corner and walk down you will come to a restaurant on the edge of the lake." I thanked her and when Del and the two guys showed up, I suggested we walk down to the restaurant. Only problem was, you could look down the street, but no sign of a lake was visible. We started walking and after a block when it didn't show up, Wes decided to go back, retrieve our car and drive it down there to meet us. After he left, at a short angle to the right the lake appeared in front of us.We walked into an open park with a bronze statue of a boy with his dog near the edge of the lake and a man seated on a park bench. We didn't see a sign for a restaurant, so we asked him, and he said the white building with porthole windows was the Lakefront Restaurant which faces the other street. We walked across the base of the lighthouse, looking out to our left on the lake before entering the restaurant. Again we asked for an outdoor table on the patio and got seated right away. I had noticed a sign about the Kingfisher Tower Castle on the lake, so I walked out to the edge of lake about 50 feet from the restaurant with my telephoto camera and shot a photo of the tower with 35X optical zoom. What looked like a tower rising from the water near the right edge of Otsego Lake was revealed on close inspection to be a tower on a small spit of land linking it to the shore. That photo graces our top banner this month. We were seated when I arrived back at the open air patio which was covered with umbrellas giving us an unobstructed view of the lake and restaurant.The menu featured a variety of seafood from which we ordered our favorites and sat, ate, talked, and enjoyed the quiet ambience of the lake with its cool sea breeze and the slowly descending dusk. Sitting there in peace, it was hard to believe that just that morning we had breakfast in Times Square, took a cab to Penn Station, a commuter train to Poughkeepsie, a long, exhausting ride through the Catskills, and spent hours in the Baseball Hall of Fame looking at the likes of Dizzy Dean and Willie Mays. We still had one trip left to take, the 20 mile drive back to our rooms at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta, and we hit the beds after a wonderfully exhausting day.
BITS AND PIECES OF NEW YORK TRIP
Here's a few leftover pieces after I covered the mythical stops on our New York trip. I mentioned we went to the 911 Memorial on a hot and sticky cab ride. What was there to see? A couple of big holes in the ground where the two towers originally sat. There's water flowing evenly over the edges. I didn't see it myself, but saw some photos on the construction walls during our hot and sticky walk there after our so-called taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong place, some five long blocks away. Waiting in an outdoor hot and sticky line for an hour to get in just wasn't in the cards for me, so I waited in an air-conditioned bar across the street. Isn't it amazing that the bar doesn't wait until a customer comes in to start off their AC units, like all the taxis in NYC seem to do? Who would sit in a hot bar waiting for AC to cool it off? Okay, enough of the rant. After Del and the boys were done with the 911 Memorial, we decided wisely to find a subway back to our hotel, involving another blasted five block walk, or so it seemed. Hot and sticky in Subway waiting area until train came up, then a blessed bit of cool.
Before we headed to Yankee game that night, I ordered two lattes at Starbucks at the level 8 lobby. Everything went fine until Del ordered the cranberry muffin. The young kid looked like he was in training, and when he gave it to me, I asked an innocent question, "Where's your microwave?" I looked and saw the answer, "Behind the counter." So I asked him if he would heat it for 20 seconds. Easy enough request, I thought. In the time it took me to ask the question, I could have had it heated and be eating it back home in my local PJ's Coffeeshop. Instead I watched as the muffin sat on the counter. Apparently he was waiting for something. I watched the slow motion production which ensued: Slowly he pulled on rubber gloves, likely his first time ever doing that. I thought, "What for? The muffin's in a paper bag!" Again I watched as he slowly he peeled away the paper baking cup. "Why?" I wondered. Then he split the muffin in half! "WHOA?" I thought, and blurted out, "What are you doing?" Instead of answering me, he put the split muffin in a slow rolling toaster from which it cannot be extracted! I explained that I did not want my muffin toasted and he changed my request without checking with me. Instead he asked his Trainer, some experienced twit who was nowhere around, but hidden in the back room! I was furious! But my fury was wasted on the trainee twit who was clueless and witless. The macheted cranberry muffin, but for its name, resembled in no fashion, a tasty and delicious PJ's muffin of the same name! The next morning when I met an Asst. Manager and told him about my adventure just getting my muffin heated. He apologized and offered me a free muffin, so I chose a blueberry one this time, which was at least a frozen-from-the-factory imitation of the real thing baked fresh at PJ's. If you, dear Reader, ever come to New Orleans, you'll know in advance why there are hardly no Starbucks here, but if you try a PJ's you won't miss a thing, but find a good thing.
Back at the Marriott Marquis from Yankee Stadium, I realized that I had nothing to eat since the huevos rancheros that morning, and I suggested that Del and I eat in the lounge. Our waiter took forever to show up and when she took our order, I said, "Lemonade for her, Strawberry drink for me and the shrimp taco for me." Then Del said, apparently not hearing me order it in the noisy lounge, "I want the Lemonade." I told Del and the waitress that I had already ordered the Lemonade. Well, the ticket showed up with two lemonades on it! The two drinks: the strawberry one looked like lemonade and the lemonade looked like strawberry, but tasted like raspberry. The two frou-frou $10 each drinks were horrible! The strawberry one was a colorless juice flavoring and was not frozen, just a little ice cube or two, and the lemonade was raspberry and frozen lemonade looking like strawberry!
Now for the worst meal I ever ordered anywhere: the shrimp taco. It looked nice in menu photo and the ingredients sounded fine. But the taco had a very hard shell and the avocado sauce was liquid, and when I put some on the taco, it began immediately to drip out of the shell onto the table, the cushioned booth seat, and my pants, so I tried hurriedly to eat the taco and it contents and in my rush a hard triangle of the taco shell went down my throat un-smashed and lodged there! For a few seconds I could not breathe, but I quickly maneuvered the piece to the side and back in my gullet where it remained stuck for the next half hour or so. After drinking a lot of fluids, and swallowing to compress it and soften it, it finally got to the point where all I could feel was where it had been, which was a bit sore, but otherwise okay. The waitress got zero tip, and the restaurant, if it were a DVD, would have gotten a good DVD STOMPING to prevent anyone from ever eating there again. I went to sleep right away and by the next morning my throat was all healed from the stress the dumb taco put on it.
COOPERSTOWN BELONGS IN SMALL TOWN HALL OF FAME
After our delightful and relaxing meal overlooking the valley on the outdoor patio at Point Lookout's restaurant, we were refreshed. Wes pulled back on the highway and we headed to our Holiday Inn in Oneonta, about 20 miles from Cooperstown. There were no rooms closer because of large Little League gathering at the large Cooperstown Dreams Park.
More tortuous driving and wondering if we will ever get there. Finally, a couple of hours later, we saw the first sign to Oneonta and Cooperstown. We unpacked our bags and rested a while before heading to Cooperstown. Wes had been wondering during our trip from Poughkeepsie through the Catskill area about where all the ball fields were, as we hadn't seen one since we left the train station. They are all in Cooperstown, apparently the first flat enough area to hold baseball parks. It was like a gathering of baseball parks, an entire valley area with side-by-side parks to the edge of the foothills in the background.On the way we saw the Cooperstown Dreams Park with thousands of cars, RV's, and motor homes, and about 17 baseball fields, all filled with players and spectators.
Closer into town, I noticed a Civil War re-enactment taking place in front lawn of a church and asked Wes to stop for me to take photos. The guy leading the bayonet attack was having them rehearse it several times and allowed me great shots. Didn't ask them who won the war.
The Hall of Fame was interesting. Enjoyed perusing the plaques of the enshrined players. Found plaque for Gretna native Mel Ott, Willy Mays, Dizzy Dean (given name was Jay Hannah Dean) but no plaque for his pitching brother Daffy Dean. Found out Cy Young was a pitcher with over 500 wins, no wonder the award is named after him for best pitcher of the year. Many amazing statistics, but one stuck out: John Alexander McPhee was a second baseman who played for 18 years, led the league in double plays and never wore a baseball mitt! Sure made it easier for him to make those double plays, not having to remove the ball from a glove. Must have had tough hands, like I got when playing handball without a glove back in the 1960s and 70s.
To summarize the day: We took a taxi to Penn Station in NYC, took a commuter train to Poughkeepsie, a taxi to Hertz, rented a car, drove through Catskill Mtn area, had lunch on patio hanging over edge of mountain, drove to Holiday Inn in Oneonta, drove to Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, toured it, and ended the day eating on a patio on edge of Lake Otsego at dusk. Then we drove to HI in Oneonta and hit the sack.
The next day was our odyssey back to LaGuardia for our trip home the following day. Originally we planned to spend the night in Oneonta then drive in the morning to airport. We were disabused of that notion by several people who explained how horrendous the traffic was on Monday mornings into NYC. So we decided to leave for LGA after another trip to Hall of Fame.
Breakfast in our Holiday Inn was easy: we ordered the Veggie Omelet with everything on it and it was huge and thick. Which was good as it had to last me the whole day till we got back to NYC area at LGA Holiday Inn. Del went to Hall of Fame for a while with the guys and I enjoyed downtown Cooperstown till she joined me later and we waited for the guys to come out. Drizzled on and off most of day as a weather system due to pass through the area we would have to drive through later. Checked the NY map and saw how I-88 went into Albany, bypass on I-90 for awhile and then south down I-87 the rest of the way. I programmed GPS to do MAX Freeways and it took us to LGA, well, almost, as it turned out. There was a glitch in the text message from Del's travel agent which sent us flying across the bridge towards Staten Island till I took us down quickly to lower Manhattan to make a course correction about 11 pm.
On Main Street of Cooperstown I bought an ice cream cone, which had a tiny leak in it. At one point as I was eating my soft-serve cone, I noticed a iron pipe without a head stuck into it like the ones on either side, the head being a foot wide oval with simple painted face. The hole in pipe was large enough to hold my cone, so I shot two shots with these captions: 1) I've got a brain freeze. and 2) I am not a Cone Head. (See Photo Below, Click Here) I walked over behind the Hall of Fame and got photos of the life-sized bronzes of two pitchers, and a catcher in various pitching and catching poses. Also there was a bronze James Fenimore Cooper seated in the median strip.
The entire land of Cooperstown was originally and still largely owned by the Clark family who ran the Singer Sewing Machine company. Mrs. Clark won't have a WalMart in the town, so she buys up land for higher price than Wally wants to pay and has managed to keep them well outside the town.
This town resembles Disneyland's Main Street area, but has this improvement: people own the stores they work inside of, and the probably live on top of their stores. Name a baseball metaphor and Cooperstown will likely have a shop by that name: Shoeless Joe's place, for example. I took a photo of that place with a shoeless kid striding past the entrance door, looking like he was trying walk over the cracks in the sidewalk. (See Photo Below, Click Here)When his mom walked up, I told her I took a photo of her son over there in front of Shoeless' place, and her comment was interesting, "Serves him right." Wonder exactly what she meant by that? Del joined me and we went to Stagecoach Coffeeshop for lattes. Guy poured half a cup of foam in each latte. Later saw the guy who served us with a watering can at the corner of Main St, a block away, watering a flower box. The natural flowers of the downtown area helps make this small town into a gem, worth visiting on its own right, even if you're not a baseball fan. If someone wanted to create a small town Hall of Fame in which beautiful small towns could be preserved already, they would have a prime example already built and living into history in Cooperstown.
REST OF AUGUST
For the rest of August, after that exhausting trip to New York, we rested. But for us resting is our usual schedule, so we didn't need any help figuring out what to do. We had a couple of DVD movies waiting for our pleasure, and a garden to be tended. It had been raining a lot, so I waited till dark when it stopped to go out and check my okra plants in the garden. They had just begun producing when we left, and I walked out there and found giant okra pods looming over me in the dark, many of them 11 inches long! Apparently our neighbor forgot to pick some while we were gone. The stalks were top-heavy from the huge pods and needed to be straightened up. I felt like I was walking into a lush rain forest at night as I clipped the many large pods and placed them in my trug. This is the best year ever for okra. All the previous years, I got long, skinny stalks and very few okra. Not enough to make a single seafood gumbo with, even if I saved all the pods for the entire season. This year, I'm getting enough pods in three days to make a large seafood gumbo. Which I did a few days later with the first batch that was waiting for me. Del and I both agreed that the gumbo was better than anything we ate during our trip to the Big Sticky.
The next morning I got some five 9' bamboo poles from across the street, already dried and lying on ground from the culvert construction and jammed four of them into the ground to support the overgrown okra plants which had begun to tip over due to the huge pods growing out of the top of them.
Then I got the potatoes, a bagful of Del Dee's which I had never opened and had gone to seed, full of eyes sprouting out so long the roots were entangled in the webbed bag and broke off when I removed the potatoes. I had left them out in garage yesterday to begin warming up and today, I took them inside to cut them into eye-pieces and planted them. Spent the rest of the day processing 167 photos from the trip, emptying both of my two cameras. These are the photos you'll see some of this Issue.
SAINTS PRESEASON GAMES
We had as much trouble trying to watch the first three Saints games and they had trying to win them. They won the fourth game in fine order, whipping the Houston Texans in the Dome, by the way. Here's what happened to the first three games: The first game we didn't get to see because I was driving in the middle of a heavy rainstorm from Cooperstown to NYC when it came on.
The second was nearly scuttled by a serious power failure. I was cooking when it happened, well I hadn't turned the stove on yet, but I was chopping okra and onions during a severe thunderstorm and then the power went out. Entergy called to say it wouldn't be back on till 7:40 pm and the game started at 6:30. For preseason games the first string only plays the first hour, so this would mean that I would miss the second Saints game in a row! Sat outside to read while Del was gone, and when rain stopped, I was outside hauling the large fallen cypress limbs to side of driveway and picking small pieces to put into the garbage cans when I noticed two large Entergy trucks heading to highway. I suspected that the power problem was fixed, but Entergy called me to say that instead of 1800 residents out of power, only 800 were out, and that the fix would require until 11:30 pm. Probably a bad transformer to be replaced. We decided to eat at DiMartino's and at 5:50 as we were planning to leave, the power came on, must have something simpler than a transformer replacement. Bought poboys and shrimp potato salad, took it home, ate it and finished it just in time for the game to start. The following week another power outage hit on the afternoon of the third Saints game and left us in doubt as how we would watch the game for several hours, but power was restored with an hour of the game.
FRIENDS CRUISE IN
Two good friends we met on our cruise to Istanbul in May, Gust and Janet, drove over to visit us from Biloxi where they drive to from Orlando to gamble from time to time. We took them to the Grill Room at the Windsor Court downtown New Orleans on a very rainy day for an elegant Sunday Brunch.It poured down raining while we ate at the Grill Room, so we paused over coffee and the Bananas Foster for the rain to let up. Then we drove back home and they followed us. We visited and then decided to play a couple of games of cards, Pay Me!, and it was soon like we were back about the NCL Spirit again, only our ship was steady in the storm. I won both quarters; my first game was terrific, helped by my abundance of wild cards and Del's forgetting to add the Jokers into the decks (she absent-mindedly removed the four jokers and only noticed it halfway into the game). Second game Del took off into the lead Gust and Janet won a bunch of Pay Me's but I had a knockout King round. The Tenth round was an "embarrassment of riches" as I called it. I was looking at two Kings and wondered whether I would be able to keep them, plus a set of three Tens already booked. When Janet mentioned it was the tenth round, I suddenly realized that my three tens were three Wild Cards, and by the time I had picked up my first card from the deck, I was able to call Pay Me! That moved me into the lead. It was a fun couple of hands which everybody enjoyed. When they left, we walked back in and Del remembered Gust's golf umbrella and I told her to call them and went outside to wait for them, "I was just beginning to like this umbrella," I told Janet as I passed it into the passenger-side window to her, and then waved goodbye to them again.
The very next day my brother Paul and his wife Joyce called from Terrytown and said they were coming over. It was great to see them. Paul told me the Cajun joke which graces this DIGESTWORLD Issue. He also demonstrated to me how tasty fresh okra was by picking and eating one off my plants. I tried one myself and agree. I had never heard of anyone eating okra without cooking it first, but Paul told of a guy he knew that had been doing it all his life.
LAST MINUTE ITEMS
Del had a field trip to the LSU Agricultural Experiment Station in Hammond, and she invited me to join her on the tour of the various ornamental plants they are testing for hardiness, sun-resistance, etc. there. Many of the flowers and butterflies appearing in this Issue came from that trip. Afterwards, we met our grandson Sam Hatchett at the Broken Egg in Mandeville. Later Del took a trip up to Alexandria, Louisiana to see our grandson Thomas play in a football Jamboree game, then left with her daughter Kim for a trip up to visit Jim in his new home in the suburbs of Dallas, about 5 hours or so away from Alexandria. There's a tropical storm called Isaac in the Gulf heading up towards the northern coastline over the next few days.The top winds in gusts are estimated to be about what the last two thunderstorms which hit here in the last two weeks were. I expect that the two power outages we experienced recently made our transformers and lines even stronger against the next wind bursts, so that we'll be fine.IMPORTANT MESSAGE:
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO
A NEW BEGINNING, SO UNTIL NEXT MONTH
For the past 31 days August has been a month of mostly rainy days, a welcome relief from the past two years when we fought with sprinklers on a daily basis to keep our new lawns and gardens green. New Orleans has been its usually steamy self, but with many nights into the middle-70s and days around upper 80s, giving our AC's and electric bills a welcome relief. Fall is coming soon to New Orleans, we look forward to the first cold wave which slides over us into the Gulf and brings our cool days, clear skies, and low humidity, what I call our California days which generally last well into November and December some years. God Willing and the winds stay breezy and the showers occasional, we will see you next month in DIGESTWORLD. Till then, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, Remember our slogan:
Take Care of Yourself in Twenty-Twelve ! ! !
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New Stuff on Website: New TIDBITS Pages
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Short Stories of Americans with Grit
Here is one example:
The diplomacy of some people is very admirable and purely inspirational, such as JFK'S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, who was in France in the early 60's, when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO.
DeGaulle said he wanted all U.S. military out of France as soon as possible.
Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?"
De Gaulle did not respond.
You could have heard a pin drop.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Thanks to Jeff Parsons for his August 7, 2012 email for these new Household Hints to be added to Tidbits Page.
Five Flowers of Shanidar Poems, One from each Chapter:
EXAMPLE: Turn Most Elevators into Express Mode.
These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar. and have never been published on the Internet before. Each month this section will have five poems, one from each Chapter of the book. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne)
1. Chapter: Hollyhocks
Conquer The World
You never wrote a song before — what of it?
Alexander never conquered the world
before he did it.
He crossed the sea in harmony
and stayed until the land was won;
His only goal was just to see
what lies beyond the next horizon.
He won the world but not with might,
The evidence is now at hand,
he won it with his rag-time band.
So heed the lessons one and all
the world is at your beck and call
To conquer the world without a casualty
you must first set their bodies free.
Free to dance and free to sing
will bring them joy in everything,
For bodies free will ne'er lie
and let their carefree spirits fly.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
Thought becomes theory
Theory becomes dogma
Dogma becomes no one.
3. Chapter: Rose Mallow
I Am Your Fetus
I am your fetus.
I am a pulsing bulb
Hanging by a stem
From the tree of life.
I am your fetus.
If you pluck me before I'm ripe
You'll have a bloody mess —
If you keep me till full term
I'll be your happiness.
I am your fetus.
Living fruit of life
Conceived in joy
And patterned ecstasy.
I am your fetus.
I swim in my amniotic bassinet
Doing Esther Williams somersaults
In my scuba gear
Looking for a way
Out of this morning cave
Without a gory fuss.
I am your fetus
The father and the mother
Of your child to be.
4. Chapter: Shamrocks
I opened bottles, I opened boxes,
I opened doors, I opened houses,
I opened oysters, I opened beers,
I opened with a straight flush,
I opened a hole for a running back,
I opened up with an open letter
to the open shop
making open work of steel
from open hearth furnaces.
I opened up all these things,
I even opened my mind;
I thought I had done my part,
But I forgot to open my heart.
5. Chapter: Violets
The funny thing is the elves made shoes,
Not wallets, or purses, or handbags —
Shoes — in the style of the shoemakers time,
Not Reeboks, or Nikes, or wingtips.
How did they know the style of shoe
The shoemaker wished to make?
Why did they work at night
When the shoemaker was asleep?
How did the shoemaker call the elves?
Do we have elves around us even now
That come into our shops at night
Producing products of our choosing
For us to discover in our day of light?
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, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Microwave some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray DVD movies from NetFlix.“Flowers of War” (2011) is brutal, gritty, touching, and loving as it looks at the Rape of Nanking in 1937 and a group of school girls who survived it. Christian Bale sparkles as the funeral director who turns priest. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“North Country” (2005) a cast of great actors fill this docudrama of a young woman (Charlize Theron) harassed by male co-workers. Excellent directing shows her trials before the trial and Woody Harrelson as hockey star turned lawyer with his red ice/yellow ice metaphor provides the essential ingredient for the tipping point to score and win! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Chaos Theory” (2007) being ten minutes late throws Time Master Frank into a funk and a mid-life crisis with his wife attacking him until the Karpmann drama triangle is tossed upside-down. Will his chaos swirl him down the drain or help him resolve into a higher reality.
“Man on a Ledge” (2012) what does he have in mind. Something other than jumping as we discover him talking to two cohorts across the street and bad guy Ed Harris appears on screen. Intricate plot and action makes this a DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Red Tails” (2012) with new P51 fighter planes painted with bright red tails, the black aviator squadron makes the best of its chance to protect the bomber squadron.
“Hugo” (2011) is an orphan who inherits the job of clock winding in a large train station when his uncle goes missing. We peep through clock faces with Hugo and follow as he attempts to snatch parts to repair his metal clockwork robot. But where will he find the key to his heart? Great story in a place and time anyone would want to visit. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
“36 Hours” (1965) Rod Taylor plays an American turned German trying to fool James Garner into thinking WWII is over and revealing the planned attack on the mainland. Even after he is duped into revealing Normandy the German leaders won’t believe him. Interesting psychological study of what constitutes the truth.
“King of Devil’s Island” (2010) a Norwegian reform school for young boys to which a newcomer has trouble getting acclimated. Dark movie with drama enough to hold one’s attention. Will he change the school or escape?
“The Artist” (2011) is a poignant portrayal of a fading movie star left behind by new technology and the gal he helped make a star. Will he shoot himself or his dog or be rescued by love? You could hear a pin drop during the first part of the movie, and in the second part of movie you could hear a pin drop. All the noise about this silent movie was well-deserved. A loving Mister and a can’t-miss Miss makes this A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“This Means War” (2012) or does it mean Love, or Both? Chick flick, Spy thriller, Comedy, Guy movie, Girl move, Family? Yes. James T. Kirk, Jr. faces Kobyashi Maru challenge and wins the girl by cheating.
“Kitty Foyle” (1940) is a gutsy gal who falls in love with an uptown Philadelphia heir, but refuses to turn herself into a society matriarch and moves to NYC where he follows her to woo her. But his family’s financial aprons strings and five generations of society high-hats pull him back home. Ginger Rogers stars as a Scarlett O’Hara willful woman who rises above the sculptured-in-stone scripts of life.
“Swing Time” (1936) Ginger and Fred in a tune-filled dancing movie, over a half-dozen familiar pop-songs evergreens were introduced in this early movie of theirs. Like one continuous music video of a boxing match between the two stars. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !“Too Big to Fail” (2011) could refer to the movie, with so many big stars needed to play big bank tycoons and federal employees trying to prevent a repeat of the Great Depression in 2008 by keeping banking institutions liquid by merging them till they were too big to fail. They came up with a TARP to shield the economy from a Derivatives Meteorite Storm about to HIT.
“Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies” (2008) and come home and help each other create cubist renditions of life as they saw it portrayed in the movies.
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.What a LUCKY MONTH! No AAACs!
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Joyful Noise” (2012) loved the singing but OD’ed on the Georgia country accents.
“Tomboy” (2011) prepubescent girl prefers to play with the boys when she moves into new area, until one day she beats up a male playmate and his mother comes over to complain. My youngest aunt was a tomboy and never had to deal with this kind of foolishness just because she liked to play Cowboys & Indians with us.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Broussard Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Thanks to brother Tee Paul from Opelousas for this knee-slapper!
Graman Clothilde was sitting at the breakfast table eating when she suddenly turned to her teenage grandson, Jacques, who was looking at some video gadget, and said, "Tee-Jacques, brought your Graman de newspaper, Cher, toute-suite!"
Jacques took off his ear-buds and walked over to her, saying, "Graman, dis is de twenty-first century. People don't need newspapers anymore. Haven't you heard of de Internet? Everybody has it today. Here, you can use my new iPAD. It's got Wi-Fi, 4G, You-Tube, Facebook, Google, and you can access any newspaper in de world," and handed his iPAD to his grandmother.
Clothilde grabbed the gadget from Jacques's hand and slammed it down on the table, KAH — BAM! "Merci beaucoup," she said, and handing the iPAD back to Jacques added, "Ah got dat maudits housefly!"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for September, 2012 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Eggs on Toast
Background on Eggs on Toast: This classic is known by several other names, such as Eggs-in-a-Blanket, Eggs-in-a-Basket, Bird's Nest, Egg-in-a-Hole, etc., but when Grama Del cooks for our grandkids, they want Eggs on Toast. It's a simple recipe, but use the best ingredients: real butter and stone-ground wheat bread. We tried it with free range chicken eggs, but it was too hard to catch the darn things to get their eggs, so any real egg will work just fine and taste great.
Ingredients, per Egg-on-Toast Serving:
6 to 9 pats of butter
1 slice stone-ground whole wheat bread
Cut the hole with a juice glass of the right size. Place a pat of butter in each corner of the bread and one pat on the removed hole.
Place bread and its removed hole with buttered side down in a heated frying pan or pancake grill. Place sixth pat in the hole. Crack egg and place it in the hole. Add half-pats to uncooked top of each corner of bread and the removed hole piece. Cook until egg white slightly solidifies, turning opague. Then turn over to complete cooking till medium-done, so that the egg yolk is still liquid.
Plan for at least one egg-on-toast apiece for under 7 kids and two or more for older kids and adults.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Yes, and Even More!:
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The Time of acorn rain
when the morning fog strains
against the arched sky
bedimming the noonday sun
like a milky-white
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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.) ARJ: Transforming the Soul, Volume 2, GA#59 by Rudolf Steiner
In the first lecture on "Spiritual Science and Language", Steiner calls our attention to words which become a map of the territory, but which we can confuse with the territory. In the Norwegian Boy Scout Handbook in the section on Map Reading is the statement, "When the terrain differs from the map, believe the terrain." This wise advice was given me in 1974 by my supervisor, Per Holst, who was earlier a Boy Scout in Norway. Per's words rang in my ears as I encountered the work of Alfred Korzybski who famously wrote, "The map is not the territory", and I went on to read and study Korzybski's foundational work in General Semantics, Science and Sanity, in 1977(1). Over the years, I have noticed how some people, after a beautiful and intricate territory I have described to them, will facilely respond, "I know that." They had only absorbed what I related to them on the level of words, but they had blithely evinced the confidence of knowing everything about something that I had merely described to them, myself not fully understanding it and still holding unanswered questions about it in my own mind. Here is how Steiner describes such people.
[page 2] Our concepts frequently cling to words, and when not fully mature a person will easily confuse a word, and or what the word has instilled into him, with the concept. Hence the inability of some people to construct for themselves a conceptual framework that reaches beyond what is contained in the words commonly used in their environment.
Steiner uses the wonderful metaphor, will-o'-the-wisp thinking and explains how the work of the I ( i.e., ego) on the astral body helps to corral such flighty thinking.
[page 5] If the ego has still not done much work on the astral body human beings are slaves to their instincts and desires; but when they purify these and transform them into virtues, when they have brought logical order into their will-o'-the-wisp thinking, then a part of the astral body has been transformed, and has changed from a product in which the ego takes no part into a product of the ego.
The simple change from "I know that" to "I have heard something about that" can be the first step in allowing the ego to work on one's astral instincts, but it requires an effort of the ego to make the first step whereas an immediate "I know that" comeback can dismiss the possibility that one's astral instincts can be wrong. Good listeners never have facile comebacks because they have learned to ask open-ended questions and always assume there is more for them to learn in any situation.
In my review of Jung & Steiner, I created the diagram at left to show how the seven-fold human being can be related to the living plant which exists in three worlds, the underground roots, the stem with leaves climbing into the air, and the leaves-turned-into-flowers producing fruit and seeds for a future incarnation. For humans, the three bodies of spirit self, life spirit, and spirit body will appear fully only in the distant future when humankind, like the plant which has produced its flowers and seeds, is ready to die to its earthly condition. These three bodies require work by the I on the three root-bodies of astral, etheric, and physical, and the work proceeds in that direction, with astral being the first and easiest, then etheric, and lastly the physical body. When the work on the physical body is completed, the spirit body replaces it, and the physical body is no longer necessary. That is my understanding of the completion of the evolution of humankind facing each and every one of us. Which leads to a question for you, dear Reader, do you begin today to exercise your I to work on your astral instincts and desires, to purify them by burning the dross aspects in this lifetime? If you choose not to, which is your option, you will be faced with doing so in your next lifetime. Similarly we will go through purifying the etheric body and physical body in turn.
Where are we now? The purification of our three root bodies to create our three spirit bodies requires a conscious effort of our I, an ongoing effort which will last far into the future. The purification of our three root bodies to create our three soul bodies, the stem section of the Three Worlds plant diagram, has already been mostly completed unconsciously by our I, and thus each of us possesses to various degrees the three soul components of sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul, shown as leaves on the stem of plant. This is the big picture of our progress to date, and progression into the future as human beings.
What does all this mean to me today as a human being? As Steiner gives his overview below, of this progression from the past to the future, note how he describes the various functions of each body are augmented by the work of the I: how the astral body's desire is morphed into gratification via the sentient body, the intellectual soul yields memory and rationality functions, and the consciousness soul our day-time consciousness, all a result of work by our I on our various bodies.
[page 6, 7] Initially then, we see the human being as a four-membered being consisting of physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. And just as we have three members of our being deriving from the past, we are also able to speak of three members of the human being developing in the future, created by the work of the ego. We can therefore speak of a seven-membered human being by adding to the physical body the etheric body, the astral body and the ego, the spirit self, life spirit and spirit man. But when we regard these last three members as something distant, belonging to the future evolution of humankind, we have to add that the human being is to a certain extent already at present preparing for such a development. Consciously the human being will work with his ego on the physical, etheric and astral body only in the far distant future. But in the subconscious, that is, out of a dimly conscious activity, the ego has already transformed these three members of its being. The results are already in existence. The inner members of the human being that we described in previous lectures were only able to come about because of the work the ego did on them. From the astral body it fashioned the sentient soul as a kind of inner mirror image of the sentient body. While the sentient body transmits what we call gratification (as far as man is concerned sentient body and astral body are synonymous, and without the sentient body we would have no gratification), this is mirrored internally in the soul as desire, so we ascribe desire to the soul. So the two things, that is, the astral body and the transformed astral body or sentient body, belong together, just as gratification and desire belong together. In the past the ego worked similarly on the etheric body. This led to human beings acquiring within them, in their souls, the intellectual soul, so that the intellectual soul, which is at the same time the bearer of memory, is connected with a subconscious transformation performed by the ego in the etheric body. And finally, the ego also already worked in the past on the transformation of the physical body, so as to enable human beings to have their present form. And what resulted from this transformation is what we call the consciousness soul, by means of which human beings can acquire knowledge of the outer world. In this way too we can speak of a seven-membered being, for through the preparatory, subconscious work of the ego there arose the three soul members: the sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul. But all this was done by an unconscious or subconscious activity of the ego on its sheaths.
"Everything which lives must come from something living" is a strong principle of Steiner's anthroposophy. One need not believe this to begin a study of his work, but it will become clear the further one progresses in the study. One will also come to understand intellectually the salient difference between humans and animals — which animal activists have yet to learn — that human beings each possess an individual spirit, an I, which animals do not possess, depending as they must on a species-level spirit, or Group Soul.(2) The Group Soul was a stage humans went through during the Old Moon stage of cosmic evolution, when animals of that stage were still at the plant stage of evolution, in effect, growing out of the vegetative stage of the Moon-Earth(3).
In computer systems there is an equivalent principle of living coming from living: the bootstrap principle. To get a working program (i.e., living one) into a computer there must already be a working program (living one) in the computer. If there were not, the computer could never work! Starting a computer is like lifting yourself by your own bootstraps or shoestrings. Ever tried it? Won’t work, right? It just makes sense that you can’t do it. So, you have no problem understanding that a non-working computer must be "booted up", right? Booting means overcoming the bootstrapping paradox, i.e., running that one program which can not be loaded into the computer by the computer, the bootstrap program.That bootstrap program must be coded by a human mind, and loaded by human hands into the hardware of every new computer at the factory, at least once for every new model computer(4). Then it can be replicated into every replica of the new model computer, like one Group Soul goes into every animal of a species, making computers, if you will, into the level of animals at some level, but never will they reach the level of humans, lacking an individual spirit. Artificial Intelligence experts seem to be oblivious to the basic requirement for human intelligence and all their failures will continue to demonstrate their misunderstanding of human intelligence. The best they will be able to do is imitate animal intelligence, but never human intelligence.
The human mind which designs and installs the bootstrap program in computers must necessarily be outside of the computer and involved in its design. Now, switch to thinking of human beings who are alive, how did our living get installed into us? What living beings were responsible for our living? Our parents, that's an easy answer. But track back to the beginning, and you will logically find that it must have come from living beings before there were human beings, makes sense? The answers to this question of human bootstrapping requires a study of cosmic and human evolution, and can be found in Steiner's The Outline of Occult Science.
In this next passage, one can begin to see how spirituals beings operated on human beings to install the bootstraps which brought life into us.
[page 8] Now if we realize that everything we have around us in the outer world is spirit, that there is a spiritual foundation to everything material, etheric and astral, as we have emphasized so often, then we have to acknowledge that just as the ego itself works as a spiritual force from the inside outwards in the course of the development of the three sheaths, so must spiritual beings — or we could equally well call them spiritual activities — have worked on our physical body, etheric body and astral body before the ego became operative and took the work further(5). We are looking back at a time in which so to speak active work was being done on our astral body, etheric body and physical body of a similar kind to the work the ego does on these three sheaths. That is to say, spiritual creativity, spiritual activity worked on our sheaths, giving them form, movement and configuration, until the ego was ready to become established within them. We have to speak of there being spiritual participation in human development until the before the ego could take over.
In the next passage Steiner reveals how humans have passed through the Group Soul stage that animals are currently living through. That humans can speak and animals cannot is a direct consequence of the second level of bootstrapping via the spiritual world which humans have proceeded through and animals have not.
[page 9] This is why in spiritual science we speak of human beings as they are today as having an individual soul, a soul interwoven with an ego, which makes every human being into a self-contained individuality. But before this happened human beings issued from a group soul, a soul entity such as we still refer to today in the animal world as group soul. What we address in each person as the individual soul we find in animals as the foundation of a whole species or kind. A whole animal species has one animal group soul in common. Whereas each human being has an individual soul, animals share one group soul. So before human beings became individual souls, another soul was working in the three sheaths of their being of which we have knowledge today only through spiritual science, a soul that was the precursor of our individual ego. And this precursor of our ego, this soul of a species, this group soul of human beings, which then passed on to the ego the three sheaths they had been working on, the physical body, etheric body and astral body, so that the ego might continue to transform them, this group soul being also transformed from within itself the physical body, etheric body and astral body and ordered them according to itself. And the final activity, fundamental to us human beings before we were endowed with an ego, forms the basis of what we call human speech. When we therefore consider what preceded the life of our consciousness soul, our rational or perceptive soul and our sentient soul, we arrive at work performed on our soul before it was interwoven with the ego, the result of which is laid down in what is expressed today in speech.
You may be thinking "I don't have an etheric body; if I did I would know it." and similar thoughts about the astral body and I. But have you ever had swollen glands, felt nervous about an upcoming task, or flushed red with embarrassment or paled in fright? Would you accept the presence of the three above bodies if you knew that these were the visible signs of their otherwise mostly invisible presence? The physical body you know about because in this Earth stage of evolution it contains minerals which makes it visible to the eyes and solid to our touch.
[page 10] What is the outer expression of what we call the four members of the human being based on? Purely externally how is this expressed in the physical body? The physical body of a plant looks different from the physical body of a human being. Why? Because in a plant only the physical body and the etheric body are present, whereas in the human physical body the astral body and the ego are also active. What is active inwardly also refashions the physical body accordingly. What effect did it have on the physical body that an etheric body permeated it?
The glandular system is the outer physical expression in man and animal of the etheric body, meaning that the etheric body is the architect or sculptor of what we call the glandular system. The astral body is the creator of what we call the nervous system. That is why we only have the right to speak of a nervous system in those beings in which an astral body is present. What is the expression in a human being of his ego? It is the blood system, and specifically when the blood is under the influence of the warmth of inner life. All the activity the ego expends on human beings when the result is to be incorporated into the physical body is channeled via the blood. This is why blood is such a 'special fluid' (to quote from Goethe's Faust). When the ego elaborates the sentient soul, the rational soul and the consciousness soul, its achievements only penetrate into the physical body because the ego has the ability to affect the physical body via the blood. Our blood is the mediator for the astral body and ego and all their activities.
If so much of our body and its effects as we know result from invisible spiritual bodies, how about the ideas which pop into our brain unexpectedly? Can they come from equally spiritual origins?
[page 11, 12] Anyone who claims that concepts and ideas could arise in us even if there were no ideas out there might just as well claim that they can drink from an empty glass. Our ideas would be nothing else than froth and bubble unless they were the very thing that also lives in things outside us as their inherent law. What we bring alive again in ourselves we get from our environment. That is why we can say that everything that surrounds us materially is interwoven with spiritual beings.
The rest of this first lecture is devoted to language and art, and is worth reading in its entirety. One thought, however, for you Readers who may have wondered as I have about Hamlet's famous soliloquy which begins, "To be or not to be". Whatever could that droll iambic trimeter refer be referring to? One possibility is the difference between languages which have the verb "to be" and those which do not. In a standard European language we can say "God is good", but in Hebrew the same thought would be said "God the good" as Hebrew lacks the concept of "to be", which is a concept which opposes the astral body and the material world, instead they use the simpler concept identification by the etheric body which produces "God the good".
Steiner shows us this key difference between Indo-Germanic languages and the Hebrew language.
[page 20, 21] . . . all the words of the Hebrew language are formed in principle in such a way that they relate to things in the environment in the way symbols do.
In contrast, everything occurring in Indo-Germanic languages is prompted more by what we have called the inner expression of the astral body, the speaker's inner being. The astral body is something that is already connected with consciousness. When people confront the outer world they distinguish themselves from it. If people face the world from the point of view of the etheric body they fuse with it, become one with it. Not until things are mirrored in our [Germanic] consciousness do we distinguish ourselves from them. This whole working of the astral body with its inner experiences is, in contrast to the Semitic languages, expressed in such a wonderful way in the Indo-Germanic languages, in that they have the verb 'to be', the establishing of the fact that there is an existence outside themselves. This is possible because, with our consciousness, we distinguish ourselves from what makes an impression on us from outside. Therefore, if people wanted to say in Hebrew 'God is good' they could not do so directly, for they cannot reproduce the word 'is' as an expression of being, because this arises out of the opposition of the astral body and the outer world. The etheric body makes simple statements. This is why in the Hebrew language you would have to say 'God the good'. It is not confrontation of subject and object that is being described. The Indo-Germanic languages in particular are the ones that show a confrontation with the outer world, ones whose main characteristic is the perception of the outer world.
We have language and we expect to use it to communicate with others, but with our words can we help others gain access to spiritual worlds? Steiner answers his question with a mighty Yes! in this lecture and ends it with a quote from Schiller (page 24):
Immeasurably deep is the thought;
And its winged agent is the word!
In his lectures in Toward Imagination, GA#169, he says on page 55:
[Page 55] For this psychology claims we do not see into the soul of another person but can only guess at it by interpreting what that person says. In other words, we are supposed to interpret the state of another's soul based on his or her utterances. When someone speaks kindly to you, you are supposed to interpret it! Can this be true? No, indeed it is not true!
The kind words spoken to us have a direct effect on us, just as color affects our eyes directly. The love living in the other's soul is borne into your soul on the wings of the words. This is direct perception; there can be no question here of interpretation.
The above text helped me to understand that words can be the vehicle which carries soul meanings from one person to another and led me to write my poem, "On the Wings of Words" contained in the body of my review of Toward Imagination, which ends with this stanza:
Fill your words with Love
and send them flying o'er
Love is borne from soul to soul
on the wings of words.
Each lecture, each chapter of each book of Steiner's that I read invariably reveals some mind-boggling aspect of life, shedding light on something familiar, on something about which I might have said blithely, "I know that" before studying Steiner, a study that always takes me from the familiar to the unfamiliar, in a very healthy way. (Page 25) It happens again in his next lecture which deals with "Laughing and Weeping". To show that neither is a commonplace thing, Steiner begins with Zarathustra with a broad smile from birth and a face shining with a divine glow, and segues to Faust who was ready to kill himself when he heard Easter bells and began weeping, feeling a strong pull toward life again.
Directly upon beginning my review of this lecture, I was reminded of Kahlil Gibran who wrote a book entitled, A Tear and a Smile, with its first chapter comprising a poem of the same name that begins:
I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness
makes to flow from my every pore turn into laughter.
I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.
Our ego, our I, residing as it does in the deepest part of spiritual being, does not remain indifferent to the things around us, but instead reacts either with pleasure or displeasure, attraction or repulsion. Perhaps something similar to this has happened to you: you go to some party and dance with a stranger and suddenly feel a warmth and attraction which will not go away but which follows you around wherever you go. Months or years later you talk to that person and find that the feeling was mutual, that both of you were feeling a similar warmth and attraction.
[page 27, 28] From our observations of the ego's activities between waking and sleeping we can see how it tries to bring itself into harmony with the outer world. If a particular object pleases it, and we have the feeling of being warmed by it, then a bond is formed between us and the object, a part of us wraps itself around it. Basically, this is what we do with our whole environment. Our entire waking life, as regards our inner soul processes, appears to us as the creation of a harmony between our ego and the rest of the world.
Sometimes the ego fails to achieve harmony, encountering something it doesn't understand, trying in vain to create a relationship to it. We then withdraw our astral body from our physical and etheric body as protection from the thing or person. Steiner explains that during these special times, our astral body goes slack and expands, and as a consequence we smile or laugh.
[page 30] This withdrawal of the astral body, which would otherwise expend its energies in the physical body to keep its forces together, appears to clairvoyant observation as though the astral body were expanding; when it is liberated like this it spreads out as it were. When we raise ourselves above another being we make our astral body expand like elastic and go slack, whereas it is normally in a state of tension. By doing this we liberate ourselves from a bond of any kind with the other being; we withdraw into ourselves as it were, and raise ourselves above the whole situation. And because everything that happens in the astral body comes to expression in the physical, the physical expression of this expansion of the astral body is laughing or smiling. Every time we laugh or smile in this sort of situation it is connected with an elastic expansion of the astral body.
When we lose something or someone that has been a vital part of our life, our astral body goes seeking for it, and unable to find it, it contracts, and this leads to weeping.
[page 31] It may happen, however, that we cannot find the relationship to our environment that our soul needs. Suppose that for some time we have loved someone who is not only closely associated with our daily life but whose very presence is indispensable to our inner life. Then this person is snatched away from us for a time, and with the loss of the person a part of our soul life falls away; a bond between ourselves and a being in the outer world is broken. Because of the attachment that has arisen through this relationship the soul is justified in going in search of this bond. Something has been torn out of the ego, and the effect on the ego is passed on to the astral body. Now because the astral body cannot find what it is looking for it contracts, or more explicitly the ego compresses the astral body.
Recently I had a chance to meet Annette, the wife of my second cousin, Curtis Matherne. When I realized that I was going to hug an Annette Matherne, a woman with the same name as my transited mother, I was overwhelmed with emotion to the point of tears. I was made aware dramatically of the loss of my mother some ten years earlier and that brought me to tears.
[page 32] In its grief the ego has lost something. It contracts because it has become depleted and feels its selfhood less strongly than before; for its unique strength is all the stronger the richer the experiences are that it gathers from the outer world. Not only do we give something to those we love but enrich our own souls by doing so. And when the experiences love gives us are torn from us and the astral body receives gaps and contracts, it tries to regain the forces it has lost by putting pressure on itself. It tries to counteract its depletion by making itself richer again. The tears are not merely an outflow, they are a sort of compensation for the depleted ego. Whereas the ego formerly felt enriched by the outer world, now it feels strengthened in that it produces the tears itself. What people lose in ego-consciousness on a spiritual level they try to compensate for by spurring themselves on to an act of producing something in themselves, the shedding of tears.
Thus laughter and tears are two prime indications of the presence of the "I" or ego in a human being. Both physiological responses are an adjustment of the ego to its temporarily skewed relationship to the outside world, its best effort to restore a balance.
[page 32, 33] So we see that it is the ego, the center of the human being, that cannot achieve a satisfying relationship with the outer world, and then either raises itself to inner freedom through laughter or submerges itself in order to gain strength, after a deprivation, through tears. Therefore we will find it comprehensible that the having of an ego, which is what makes us human, is from a certain point of view a requisite for laughter and tears.
Animals cannot laugh or weep; neither can newborn children. Children are seldom seen to laugh or weep for the first month after birth.
[page 34] Before the child has acquired the individual character that is uniquely its own it is impossible that its ego can give vent to any relationship with regard to the outer world by way of laughing or crying. For this requires the ego, the most individual part of us, as it seeks for a connecting link to bring it into harmony with its environment. Only the ego can express itself in laughter or tears. For when we consider laughing and weeping we are dealing with the deepest and most inward spirituality in man.
Those who refuse to admit any real difference between man and animal will of course find analogies to laughing and weeping in the animal kingdom. But anyone who understands these things properly will agree with the German poet who says that the closest an animal gets to weeping is howling and the nearest thing in the animal world to laughing is grinning.
Individual humans can be as different from one another, even siblings, as different species of animals. We each have our own biography, but for an animal, the only biography possible is that of its species.
[page 35] Individual biography is significant for human beings but not for animals, for the essential part of human beings is the individuality which moves on and develops from life to life, whereas in animals it is the species that lives on and evolves. Where there is reluctance to admit to the importance of the biographical element, this is not because the significance that attaches to it is any less than is given to natural-scientific laws belonging to the outer world, but because the person who refuses to admit it cannot feel the importance of phenomena of any kind.
To summarize: seeking something and finding it (like discovering a story is really a joke) leads to release of the ego and astral body which leads to laughter. Seeking something and not finding it (like a lost loved one) leads to compression of ego and astral body which leads to tears. (Page 39)
Certain people laugh all the time, especially around people they cannot understand, e. g., comic sidekicks in movies and sitcoms. Perhaps you have a friend who is always laughing, as if everything were a joke, using their guffawing as a way of avoiding having to understand anything, especially anything new to them. It is difficult to hold a serious conversation with them, because they have built an impenetrable defense against seriousness.
[page 39, 40] This is always the case when an immature person laughs at someone else because he cannot understand him. If an immature human being fails to find in the other person the ordinary, limited qualities he expects to find, he does not think it necessary to apply understanding, so he tries to free himself from it, perhaps just because he does not want to understand it. This can easily lead to the habit of becoming free of everything by laughing. In fact certain people often get like this. They laugh or grouse about everything; they do not want to understand anything, so they puff up their astral body and are forever laughing.
On a recent cruise we had a chance to observe the cruise director over a period of 24 days who continually said the command, "Put your hands together for X" to induce the audience to clap for an entertainer about to perform, one who has just performed, or when introducing some member of the crew that few members of the audience had heard of before. She was forcing an act, namely, applause, that can only and rightly be given after some performance and spontaneously! She created the semblance of spontaneous applause without any heartfelt sentiment behind it. The cruise director had turned herself into a trivial auditory applause sign. She was appealing to applause the way some low comics appeal to laughter, and that's not funny.
[page 40, 41] For anyone who appeals to laughter is evoking a response which is intended to lift his audience above themselves. But if he presents the matter in such a way that his hearers need not try to understand it but can laugh at it only because it has been brought down to a level where it appears trivial, then he is counting on human vanity — even though his listeners may not be aware of it.
It is not surprising that the two masks associated with drama are laughter and weeping, smiling and frowning, and that drama has been so popular with every culture since its very beginnings in ancient Greece. Both laughter and weeping are ways people have of strengthening their soul forces. Whether they know that to be the case or not, people are drawn to comedies and tragedies, sitcoms and serious stories, mysteries and thrillers, all of which act to bolster the forces of their I's (egos) and astral bodies.
[page 41, 42] It is no wonder, then, that we rank among the great sources of education for human development those dramatic creations, the effect of which is to stimulate the soul forces that find expression in laughter and tears. Tragedy presents us with a spectacle that does indeed contract the astral body and so impart firmness and inner cohesion to the ego. Comedy, on the other hand, expands the astral body in as much as people raise themselves above follies and coincidences, and it thereby encourages the liberation of the ego. We can see, now, the connection there is with human development, when tragedies and comedies are brought before us in artistic form.
Steiner makes the point that during laughing and weeping "the world's secrets are made manifest." Any mature person will have learned that someone who neither laughs nor cries but rather keeps their emotions all bottled up inside will have secrets they have never revealed to anyone. On Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in New Orleans, one of the joys is walking down the streets where most everyone is smiling and laughing. All the things of the world they may be entangled in on normal Tuesdays are all gone away — they are liberated from their cares for this one special day.
[page 42, 43] If we ask what a laugh expressed by the human face actually is we now know that it is the spirit telling us that here we see human beings endeavoring to find liberation from being entangled in things unworthy of them, and raising themselves with a smile above the things they may never allow to enslave them.
In his lecture on mysticism, Steiner warns about the mystical path to the spiritual world, one that might endanger the unprepared human being. It is a path to be taken seriously and not without an experienced guide.
[page 62] Mysticism is thus an enterprise that springs from a justified urge in the human soul, one that is right in principle, but which should be undertaken only after the soul has first endeavored to make progress in imaginative cognition.
Steiner word for "imaginative cognition" is Imagination, a process undertaken with careful preparation in full consciousness as the first step in attaining supersensible perception.
[page 63] So we can finally say that the question 'What is mysticism?' can be answered by stating that mysticism is a venture of the human soul that is often carried out too early in the course of development. So we need not say much about the dangers a premature practice of mysticism can incur. It involves a descent into the depths of the human soul before the mystic has prepared himself in such a way that his inner being can become one with the outer world. He will then often be inclined to shut himself off from the outer world, and fundamentally this is only a subtle, superior kind of egoism. This often applies to mystics who turn away from the outer world and indulge in those feelings of rapture, exaltation and liberation which flood into their souls when this blissful mood pervades their inner life. This egotism can be overcome, however, if the ego is constrained to go forth and let its activity flow into the creating of symbols connected with the outer world. Then a symbol formed on the imaginative level can lead to a truth that removes egoism.
In the next lecture, on Prayer, Steiner explains that a mystic may develop a small flame and allow it to grow on its own, but a spiritual researcher would use their capacities and wisdom to create a brighter flame.
Prayer, Steiner says, cannot be filled with egoism, and he strives "to study prayer absolutely independently of any sectarian or other influence, and entirely in the light of spiritual science." (Page 67) He reminds us of the words of Heraclitus, "Never will you find the boundaries of the soul, by whatever paths you search, so all-embracing are the soul's secrets." If we to are pray, we do best to recognize the "infinite expanses of the life of the soul." (Page 69) Part of the capabilities of the soul is its ability to provide us with data from the past and even the future.
[page 68] We have to come to realize that the soul is involved in a process of living evolution, and it not only comes from the past and progresses into the future but at every moment of its life in the present it contains something of the past — and even, in a way, of the future. The effects of the past and the effects coming towards us as though from the future reach into the now, especially where our soul's life is concerned. It will seem to anyone who looks more deeply into the life of the soul that two streams, one from the past and one from the future, are continually meeting there.
In an insight I had years ago, I wrote the following rule, "Remember the Future; it hums in the Present." This rule was intended to remind me that future events give evidence of their coming by some feeling which can arise in the present and humming is definitely an example of a feeling. The feeling might be anything: a feeling of awe, of excitement, of warmth, etc. The feeling one gets when one meets someone who will become an important person in one's life, the feeling we associate with "love at first sight" — here is a person in front of us whom we will enjoy years of marvelous times together and the feeling is like all those marvelous times are distilled into a single feeling, here in the present moment, now, as we gaze upon this wonderful beauty. We may not know we're in love, because all we have is this ineffable feeling, but it's enough to cause us to pay attention to this person and get closer to them in anyway we can.
After I had written down this rule, I watched for examples of it in action and wrote those various examples here: http://www.doyletics.com/mrules.shtml#mrn36 where you can read them for yourself, but it would be far better if you simply began looking for examples of the process in your own life. Remember this: It is a poor memory which only works in one direction. Our memories come into us from the past and into us from the future, if only we will notice it from now on. While reading Lecture 4, I penned the diagram at right to show graphically how our present, our NOW, comprises events which flow to us from the PAST and from the FUTURE. They spiral around each other and form the substance of our thoughts and feelings in the ever-with-us eternity we live in that we call NOW. To wait anxiously for the future or yearn for the long-gone past is truly a waste of valuable time we have in the now and belies the inputs flowing into us from both the past and future, inputs which would be blocked otherwise by our anxiety and yearning. Open yourself to the NOW existing in you and accept the thoughts of the PAST and the feelings of the FUTURE in a prayerful attitude. That is my suggestion. Do it good just once in the NOW and the process will remain with you in every moment from now on.
Here is the text which inspired the two streams diagram for me:
[page 69, italics added ] Thus there are two streams, one from the past and one from the future, which come together in the soul (will any and everyone who observes themselves deny that?) and produce a kind of whirlpool comparable to the confluence of two rivers. Close observation shows that the effects of the impressions left on us by past experience have made the soul what it is. We are the result of the way we have applied our experiences of the past; we bear within ourselves the legacy of our past doing, feeling and thinking. If we look back over these past experiences, especially those in which we played an active part, we shall very often be impelled to judge ourselves. And we shall realize that we are capable, from our present standpoint, of not approving of every result but of disagreeing with some of our past actions, of even being ashamed of them. If we now look at our present alongside our past we shall have the sneaking feeling that within us there is something far richer and significant than what we have made of ourselves through our individual powers. For if there were not something that extended beyond our conscious selves we should be unable to reproach ourselves, or even to know ourselves. We must admit that we have within ourselves something that surpasses anything we have made use of in ourselves up to now!
Here is an example of Steiner using what I call the limitation eraser in the italicized phrase at the end of the sentence above. My model of usage is: You may have never seen the limitation eraser, up until now. The bolded phrase at the end of the sentence comprises the limitation eraser. The comma is essential to the limitation eraser because it signals a requirement to pause, to take a deep breath, and only then complete the phrase. If you are skeptical about the need for the comma and its accompanying pause, try this experiment: Read this sentence aloud without pausing between ourselves and up: "We have something that surpasses anything we have made use of in ourselves up to now!" Completely flat affect, is it not?(6) Now, try it with the comma in place, change to to until, and take a deep breath at the comma: "We have something that surpasses anything we have made use of in ourselves, up until now!" If you were able to feel the difference, it came to you as an uplifting time-wave from the future! Why? Because you will begin to append the limitation eraser every time you find yourself expressing a limitation from now on!
[page 70] And this intimation of there being something greater within ourselves is the first awakening of God within us; a feeling that something is living in us that is greater than everything within the present scope of our will. And thus we are led to look beyond our limited ego towards a divine/spiritual ego. This is the outcome of a contemplation of the past transformed into perceptive feeling.
Steiner goes on to explain two moods, one dealing with the past and one dealing with the future. The mood dealing with the past requires holding this question he poses on page 71 as an unanswered question: "How can I acquire the power which has, although unknown to me, lived in all my deeds and experiences?"
[page 71] Out of this mood, whether expressed by a feeling, a word or an idea, comes the prayer directed at the past. This is one of the devotional paths we can follow in seeking for the divine.
Note how a mood is a continuous state of being, a process we remain within for some period of time, an expectancy of receiving an answer to the question we asked. This is what I call the "power of the unanswered question" as described here: http://www.doyletics.com/mrules.shtml#mrn25 — the power is in the posing of a powerful question and waiting patiently for its answer in a mood of expectancy.
The next mood he discusses deals with the future. How can we overcome the distress and anxiety we feel about the future?
You can use the limitation eraser to remove your anxiety and fear and wait in calm patience for the future to unfold for you. Okay, this sounds too simplistic, doesn't it? "Just submission ain't gonna do it for me(7)" — you may be thinking. Well, Steiner has a message for you about the important process you are activating while holding onto your anxiety and fear:
[page 72] Those who harbor anxiety and fear for what the future may bring might hinder their development, hamper the free unfolding of their soul forces. In fact nothing obstructs this development more than fear and anxiety in face of the unknown future.
So how do we get rid of our fear and anxiety? We can't, not alone we can't; we need help. The help comes in the form of "Not mine, but Thy will be done." This thought, which when expressed, is the greatest short prayer. The rest of the prayer is the only prayer Christ Jesus taught us, the Lord's Prayer. At times of distress we do best to say, "God — Fill us with your Divine Presence!"
[page 74, italics added] If the past has taught us that we have more within us than we have ever put to use, then prayer is a cry to the divine that it may fill us with its presence. When we have found our way to this knowledge with the feelings of our heart, we can count prayer among the forces that will aid development of the ego.
Are prayers forces? The skeptical will think not, most of them never having tried prayer, simply avoiding it as mystical mumbo-jumbo. Those skeptics who have tried prayer and given up did so before there was any noticeable effect. I have done this experiment proposed by Steiner and could see the effects on my life.
[page 83] Those who do recognize [the power of prayer] might try the following experiment. Let them look back over a period of ten years during which they scorned prayer, and then over a second period of ten years during which they recognized its power. If they then compare the two periods they will see that the course of their lives changed under the influence of the forces that enlivened their souls through prayer. Forces can be seen through their effects. It is easy to deny the existence of forces if one does nothing to activate them. What right do people have to deny the power of prayer if they have never tried to bring it to effect in themselves? It is only by putting a force to use that we shall discover its effect.
When we pray, must we do so inside a church? Steiner asks the following question on Page 85, "Who would deny that a magnificent, gigantic cathedral is like a solidified prayer reaching up to heaven?" He closes with these beautiful lines by Angelus Silesius which should place each of us in the middle of the NOW diagram with time-waves from the Past and Future flowing into us:
Forsaking time, I am myself eternity,
Then I am one with God, God one with me.
The next lecture deals with Sickness and Healing, continuing a theme of this series of lectures of handling dichotomies, dealing with what Steiner calls "radical questions of the soul", going into "significantly deeper questions" about sickness and healing than previous lectures on the subject. (Page 86) Sickness he says can result in either a cure or death, hinting that all events resulting from an illness may advance or retard our development. (Page 87)
Of our four human bodies, the physical is experienced externally and the astral is experienced, sans clairvoyance, only internally, in our various desires, pleasures, pain, joy and sadness. The etheric body is also internal; it mediates between the astral and physical body, transferring the astral body’s actions to the physical body. Thus while the astral body acts inward, it thrusts the inward feelings towards the etheric body which acts outward, transferring what it receives from the astral body to the physical body. The I (ego) influences the astral body so that we humans may acquire information and knowledge of our physical environment. (Page 88) One might think that animals also acquire knowledge of their physical environment, but lacking an I, they are not able to do so.
[page 89] Animal life proceeds without any individual, personal knowledge of itself, because the animal does not have a personal ego. Animals experience within themselves what goes on in the astral body, but they do not make use of their pleasure and sadness, sympathy and antipathy to gain knowledge of the outer world. What we call pleasure and sadness, joy and pain, sympathy and antipathy are in animals all expressions of the astral body, but animals do not turn their pleasure into a celebration of the beauty of the world, but remain within the element that brings about their well-being. And animals live immediately within their pain, whereas pain leads human beings out and beyond themselves into an enlightenment with regard to the world, because the ego takes them out of themselves again and unites them with the outer world. So we see how on the one hand the etheric body points inwards to the astral body, whereas the ego leads into the outside world, into our surrounding physical environment.
Steiner calls the physical and etheric bodies, which remain together while we sleep, the "outer human being" and the I and astral body as the "inner human being" which leaves the outer human being while we sleep, only to return upon awakening. The etheric body acts as the mediator between the inner and outer human beings. Why do the inner and outer human beings separate at night?
[page 91] The reason is that the astral body and ego, although they are the bearer of these experiences, do not have these experiences coming to them directly. In living our life the astral body and ego are, under normal conditions, dependent on being in the physical and etheric body in order to have an awareness of these experiences. Our astral body does not experience our soul life directly, for if it were so, then we would also experience it at night when we remain united with our astral body. Our daytime soul life is like an echo or a mirror image. The physical and etheric body reflect for us the experiences of our astral body. Our soul can conjure up for us all that it does, from the moment of waking until we fall asleep, only because it sees its own experiences in the mirror of the physical and etheric body. The moment we leave the physical and etheric body at night, although we still have in us all the experiences of the astral body, we are no longer conscious of them because in order to be conscious of them the reflecting effect of the physical and etheric body is required.
During the day the inner human streams soul forces to the outer human and by the end of the day, a fatigue sets in and the soul forces need to be refreshed in order to continue the next day, and that requires a separation of the inner and outer humans.
[page 92] All day long there is active work going on in the soul, constant interaction, and a streaming outwards towards the physical and etheric body. But as evening approaches we see these soul forces passing into the state we call 'tiredness'. They become run down, used up. And we would be unable to go on living if we were not in a position to go, each night, to a world different from the one we inhabit from morning till evening. In the world we live in from morning till evening we can so to speak display our soul life, conjure it up before us. The forces of the astral body enable us to do this. But we exhaust them in the process, and cannot replenish them out of our waking life. We can only replenish them from out of the spiritual world, to which we return every night; and that is why we go to sleep. We could not stay alive without returning to the world of night and fetching the forces which we use up between morning and evening.
In addition to being a time of refreshment of soul forces, sleep is also a time during which our daily experiences are transformed into abilities and wisdom. Take the simple act of writing. Do you know anyone who learned to write during one day easily, successfully, and with penmanship without having one or many nights to sleep on it?
[page 93] When we put pen to paper to express our thoughts we practice the art of writing. We can write, but what were the conditions that enabled us to do so? These necessitated that during a certain period of our lives we went through a whole series of experiences. Just think of all the things you went through as a child, from the first clumsy attempts to hold the pen, put it to paper, and so on, in order to become capable of writing down what you wanted to convey. You may well say thank God you do not have to remember all you went through! For it would be dreadful if every time we did some writing we had to recall all the unsuccessful attempts at doing the strokes, perhaps also the punishments we were given, in order to acquire the art of writing. What has actually occurred? We have been through a real process of development and had a whole series of experiences. These experiences went on over a long time, but they then flow together, form an extract which we call the 'ability' to write, and the rest of them sink down into the indeterminate shadow of forgetfulness. But there is no need to remember them, because our soul has gone up a level in the process. This is one example of how our memories flow together into extracts, essences, which appear in life as our competence, our skills and abilities. This is the way we develop in the course of life. Experiences are transformed initially into abilities of the soul, which can then of course be expressed through the instrumentation of our physical body. All our personal experiences throughout our life take place in such a manner that they are transformed into abilities, or also into what we call wisdom.
[page 94] Any observer of life knows that if we are to master a series of experiences and coordinate them into a particular activity it is necessary to transform these experiences in periods of sleep. For example, a thing is best learnt by heart by learning it, sleeping on it, learning it again and sleeping on it again. If we are not able to immerse the experiences in sleep so that they can emerge as abilities or in the form of wisdom or art, then they will not be developed.
There is what may seem to many a silly episode in Homer's Odyssey in which Penelope — to keep her suitors at bay while waiting 20 years for Odysseus, not knowing if he will ever return from the Trojan War — knits a death shroud for her father-in-law. She tells her impatient suitors that she will choose one of them for her husband as soon as the shroud is done, but to ensure it never gets completed, each night she unravels a portion of the shroud. Falling in love is like the weaving of a piece of cloth: unless we unravel every night what happens during the day with that special person, gradually we will fall in love.
Steiner mentions in several places how an eminent scientist Francesco Redi in the 17th century proclaimed to be a fact what few eminent materialistic scientists would aver today, "Life can only arise from life!" That statement nearly got Redi burnt at the stake. Steiner calls this a self-evident truth (Page 98) and I would agree with him. A simple understanding of the bootstrap paradox ought to convince any right-thinking scientist that life must come from life; life is like a computer program which cannot load itself into an empty computer! There must be already a program in the computer before any program can be loaded because the program loader is a program itself. Life can only arise from life just as the first computer program can only be loaded by a live person. Life can arise from life means that the hypothetical primordial soup creating life is an abstract logical concept with no possibility of ever being found true, no matter how many materialists can fit on the head of a pin.
[page 98] It is always like this with such truths. At first those that proclaimed them were branded as heretics and fell prey to the Inquisition. In those times people were burnt or threatened with burning. Nowadays this has been given up and people are no longer burnt. But those who sit on the curule chair of science regard as fools and dreamers all those who proclaim a new truth which is on a higher level than [their own]. People who today present in a new form the axiom regarding living things which Francesco Redi put forward in the seventeenth century are indeed considered mad.
Anyone who believes that science is a field of monotonically increasing knowledge will quickly be disabused of their confidence if they will study the history of science. Every new discovery invariably brings ridicule upon the reprobate who would dare to challenge the ruling chair of science. Only after years or decades when those who oppose the new knowledge have faded away and the newcomers recognize it as self-evident will a new paradigm arise. The playing field of science is littered with the bodies of innovators and few of the dead are given the honor of credit for their discovery(8).
Redi's principle applies to every human being.
[page 98, 99] And in a similar way someone who speaks from spiritual science must show that the soul/spiritual part of us that enters existence at birth must originate from the element of soul and spirit, and is not just assembled out of inherited characteristics. . . . if we follow the soul/spiritual kernel of the human being back from whence it came, we arrive at an earlier soul and spirit being which existed before birth and which has nothing to do with heredity. The axiom that soul/spiritual element can only arise from the soul/spiritual element entails in the last instance the axiom of repeated earth lives, of which a close study of spiritual science can convince us. Our life between birth and death leads us back to other lives which we went through in earlier times. Soul and spirit comes from soul and spirit, and the causes of our present experiences between birth and death lie in what took place in soul and spirit in the past. And when we pass through the gate of death we take with us what we assimilated in this life as the transformation of causes into abilities. This we return with when we enter a future existence through birth.
We enter the spiritual world each evening, but it involves different circumstances than the spiritual world we reside in between death and a new birth.
[page 99] When we wake up in the morning we find our physical and etheric bodies as we left them the previous evening. We cannot weave into them the experiences we have in our daily life because, in their state of being complete, they present a barrier to this. But when we enter the spiritual world through death we lay aside the physical and etheric body, retaining only the essence of the etheric body. Now we are no longer under the necessity of taking account of an existing physical and etheric body, and during the whole period between death and rebirth we can work with purely spiritual forces, in a world of spiritual substance. We take from the spiritual world what we require to create the archetype of our new physical and etheric body, and into these we weave all the things we could not weave into our previous physical and etheric body. Then the moment arrives when this archetype is completed and we have the ability to introduce into our new physical and etheric body what we have prepared in our archetypal image. The archetypal image will then continue to work during the periods of sleep.
Birth is similar to waking up from overnight sleep, but with a salient difference. Because we leave our physical and etheric bodies on the bed when we enter the spiritual world with our astral body and I at night, we cannot work on them during the night. But arriving at birth we find a new physical and etheric body ready to receive the forces we have developed during our time between death and a new birth. This should give heart to those who are afraid of death.
[page 100, 101] If the physical and etheric body could not be destroyed, and the physical body were unable to go through death, we could not include our experiences in our development. However much we regard death with fear and horror and feel anxious and fearful about our own death, an objective view of the world teaches us that we should actually want it to happen! For death alone gives us the opportunity for the body to be destroyed so that we can build up a new one in the next incarnation, and can bring into our lives all the fruits of our earthly existence.
It is good to strive to be harmonious, but anyone who wished to create an entirely harmonious life would greatly err, according to Steiner, and disharmony is important because our human development depends on it. Yet, when the astral body and ego breach the limits of the physical body, the human body falls into the disorganized states we know as illness and disease. (Page 103)
[page 105] Fundamentally every illness is a disharmony between — a breaching of — the division between the inner and the outer man. What is created by the continual breaching of these divisions will become harmony only in the far distant future, and this remains an abstraction if our thinking tries to impose it upon life. This is true not only of the ego but also of the astral body. Those things that are penetrated by the ego are experienced by human beings between waking up and going to sleep, whereas the way, their astral body is able to breach its limits and is impotent to create proper harmony between the inner and the outer man, lies outside normal human consciousness. But it is present nevertheless. All these things give rise to the deeper inner nature of illness.
Basically, Steiner is saying that we can experience what our I (ego) does, but with our normal consciousness we can not experience our astral body when it exceeds its limits. This imbalance between our inner and outer human is what leads to illness.
[page 105, 106] What are the two possible outcomes of illness? Either a healing comes about or the illness terminates in death. In the way we regard the normal course of life we can place death on one side and healing on the other. What does healing signify for the whole development of a human being? First of all we must clarify what sickness means in a person's whole evolution.
Sickness represent disharmony between the inner and the outer man; when there is illness the inner man cannot achieve harmony with the outer man. The inner man withdraws in a way from the outer one. The simplest example of this is cutting a finger. We can only cut the physical body, not the astral. But the astral body is constantly engaged in the usual activities taking place in the body, and in consequence of the cut the astral body does not find what it would expect to find when it tries to penetrate into the minutest parts. It feels pushed out. That, in essence, is how it is with a whole number of illnesses; the inner man feels pushed back from the outer part and cannot engage in its life because the damage that has been done to it bars its way. Then a connection between inside and outside will be restored to a lesser or greater extent, meaning that the inner man will find the degree to which it can work again in the mended outer part.
When we cut our finger, or bruise our knee after a fall, the pain we feel in the area is a consequence of the displacement of the astral body from the affected area. This process of astral body displacement helps us to understand what happens when a mother sees her young son's cut or bruise and stoops to kiss it better, i. e., her astral body temporarily fills in the spot where the boy's astral body has been displaced and he feels immediately better. A similar thing happens with the laying on of hands on humans of all ages. The filling in of an area vacated by the injured or ill person's astral body seems to ease the pain and promote healing, as I see it.
[page 106, 107] Healing is something we can look back on with satisfaction because in a similar manner that sleep helps our inner being to progress, healing gives us something that enables our inner man to progress. Even if it is not immediately visible, our inner soul being makes progress in every instance where there is a cure. . . . But what spiritual science shows us is that we have to be thankful each time we are healed, for each cure signifies an enhancement of our inner being which can only be achieved by way of the forces we have assimilated inwardly.
What happens if we are not able to enhance our inner being, if we are unable to assimilate these forces inwardly? We die, encountering an illness which terminates in death.
[page 107, 108] The healthy body remains as it is and receives us in the morning; the damaged body can no longer receive us and we have to end in death. We have to leave the body because we are no longer able to re-establish its harmony. On the other hand we can now take our experiences into the spiritual world without them having to pass through the outer body. The fruits that we gain as a result of our damaged body no longer receiving us become an enrichment for our life between death and a new birth. So we have also to be grateful to an illness which ends in death because it gives us the opportunity to enhance the life between death and a new birth and to gather together the forces and the experiences which can only mature during that period.
Spiritual science urges healing using every means available to restore a person to health, but the truth is, when viewed from the standpoint of the spiritual realities, when death occurs as result of illness, "death is beneficial for overall human development".
[page 109, 110] Normal life moves on in such a way that we form abilities from our experiences, and the thing we cannot assimilate between birth and death we weave into a fabric which we can then assimilate between death and a new birth. Healing and terminal illness intertwine with our normal course of life in such a manner that every cure is a contribution to raising human beings to higher levels, and every fatal illness, too, leads a human being to a higher level, in the one case with regard to the inner man and in the other with regard to the outer man. . . . [Without these two streams of healing and terminal illness] human beings would never be able to harvest the fruits of their own efforts in the course of world evolution.
If this sounds like trial and error to you, you're right. Steiner sees error as the seed bed of our human development.
[page 110] To acquire truth in such a way that it activates the soul and influences our development can happen only if it is extracted from the native soil of error. . . . That is, human beings learn on the one hand to overcome their actual mistakes and errors through being healed, and on the other hand, in the life between death and a rebirth by knocking up against just those mistakes that they were not able to rectify in one life; they learn to put these right in their next life.
Make your biggest mistake first is one of my rules, having learned that to err is the quickest and surest way to truth. The young man who has parents who make sure their son's path is smooth and error-free will soon find their son unable to cope with the exigencies of life once he is on his own, perhaps turning to dangerous behaviors like alcohols, drugs, extreme sports, etc., to find challenges which he missed by dint of his parents' overindulgence in clearing away sources of error from their son's early path. With the bureaucracy of our United States now presuming upon itself the role of extended nanny for all citizens into maturity and beyond, it is no wonder that such dangerous activities listed above have become rampant, up until now. Parents would do well to heed Steiner's advice that the striving human errs, and allow their offspring to make their mistakes and learn from them early so that they enter maturity having made enough errors that they have no need to go to dangerous extremes as adults, blithely imagining they will continue to be free from error in any event they attempt.
This leads us into Lecture 6, "A Positive and Negative Frame of Mind", and it is worth our study of what Steiner says about the two types of people who possess these frames of mind. First, the positive frame of mind:
[page 113] From the point of view of a genuine and penetrating study of the human psyche we can call people positive if, in face of all the impressions pouring in on them from the outer world, they are able to stay firm and sure of themselves to the extent that they are not thrown by outer circumstances but can hang on to their clear-cut ideas, their sympathies and antipathies and their usual way of behaving. Their actions follow certain urges and impulses which will not be affected by whatever transient impression may come to them from daily life.
If a person has led an error-free life, any transient impression can derail them and lead them to following the activities of their friends in an effort to avoid the error again, rather than sticking their own life-tested urges and impulses and striving to overcome their error using their own resources and increasing their own self-confidence in the process.
[page 113, 114] On the other hand people can be called negative if they are easily swayed to submit to changing impressions, and are strongly influenced by ideas brought to them by other people or in gatherings of people. They are easily inclined to change the way they have thought and felt about something and take something else on board. It is a negative trait, too, to allow all kinds of suggestions to alter their usual way of setting about doing things.
This is problem encountered by the spoiled or overindulged child as it grows up, isn't it? Their usual way of setting about doing things is to take their parents's advice, and then other people's advice, having never formed by adulthood, an individualistic way of proceeding, a way which invariably would have led them into error, but would have bolstered a self-confidence to proceed and learn by striving and error not by striving to avoid error.
In this next passage Steiner shows us the difference in approach by the negative and positive people. First the negative type:
[page 115] We could call negative those people who have learnt so much that their judgment has become uncertain on every subject. They no longer know what is right or wrong, and begin to be altogether skeptical about life and knowledge.
Second the positive type:
[page 115] Others might absorb just as many of these same impressions, but they work on them and know how to fit them into the whole of their acquired wisdom. They would be positive people in the best sense of the word. A child can, in response to grown-ups, be positive to the point of tyranny, by asserting its own inherent nature and trying to reject everything that contradicts it.
To help us sort out the chaos, Steiner divides the soul into three parts, each of which we have to some extent developed in our individual selves. These are the sentient soul, the intellectual soul, and the consciousness soul. The sentient soul rides on the bumpy sea of passions, desires, likes, dislikes, and "is a slave to every storm sweeping through the soul." (Page 117) The intellectual soul — which this translator likes to refer to as the rational soul, perceptive soul, or both — is the modulator, the captain of the ship (our I or ego) which steers as smooth a path as possible through the stormy sea, sometimes choosing a path through the highest waves to escape the coming brunt of the storm. In the third part, the I becomes most obvious, in our consciousness soul.
[page 117] At this point the inner life turns outwards again, and its conceptual images and ideas are now not only there to control a person's passions, but at this stage the entire inner life of the soul is directed by the ego, so that it becomes a knowledgeable mirror of the outside world. When human beings rise to a knowledge of the outside world it means that the consciousness soul has acquired supremacy in their life of soul. These three soul members exists in each one of us, but in each person one of them predominates.
But this predomination changes as a person goes through the stages of life. One may be very positive early in life while their ego center is barely functioning, but unless they become negative, they will not be able to develop properly, unable to receive new impressions.
[page 120] If they are not prepared to suppress certain positive qualities in their souls so that new impressions can flow in and become part of them, or people are not capable of raising themselves out of a certain level of positivity given them by nature and acquiring a certain negativity so that they can receive new impressions, they will not progress.
If we are to progress, we must suppress something positive. To be a spiritual researcher, to attain supersensible knowledge, one must force oneself to become negative. The exercises in Steiner's book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, give one a procedure to follow by which one becomes artificially negative, receiving no more stimuli from the external world while remaining fully conscious to the stimuli appearing from the inner world.
[page 122, 123] . . . they must be able to open their soul to impressions which at first, if they are still beginners, will be quite new to them; and this means making themselves as negative as possible. Everything in mystical life and knowledge of higher worlds that we call inner vision, inner contemplation, does in fact fundamentally bring about negative moods in the soul. There is no avoiding this. When people suppress all stimuli from the outer world and consciously achieve a condition in which they are entirely concentrated in themselves, allowing nothing to come in of the kind that was in them when they were positive people, then their condition will be a negative one.
In this next passage Steiner says something humorous, "We cannot eat ourselves to supersensible vision!" Such people confuse a concomitant process to the successful attainment of spiritual sight, with the main process itself.
[page 123] Something similar can also occur if we employ an easier external method which cannot of itself lead to a higher life but can give us some support in our ascent — if we turn from foods that stimulate positive impulses in a sort of animal fashion, to a special diet, vegetarian or the like. We cannot bring about our ascent into higher worlds by vegetarianism or by not eating this or that; it would be altogether too easy if we could eat our way up to those heights! What actually does lead us to higher worlds is our work on our own souls.
A report exists that after a meeting with students one night, Steiner joined them for dinner in a small café. The owner came over to take their order and each student in turn hassled the owner, trying to get something without meat in it. When he came to the last person, Steiner said simply, "I'll have the special." The owner must have let out a sigh of relief and probably turned back to the kitchen, missing the students gasping and looking at each other in wonderment. Their teacher had punctured their attempts to impress him by ordering something without meat (which the special definitely had in it). Why did Steiner do this? He gives us a hint above, but below he lays out the danger of his students’ approach:
[page 124] If we become vegetarians just to be awkward and without a proper reason, or as a matter of principle without changing our way of dealing with life, this change to a vegetarian diet may possibly have a seriously weakening effect on our ability to resist bad influences, and particularly where certain physical aspects are concerned we might get run down.
There was a newspaper report recently with the headline, "People get burnt feet from walking barefoot on hot coals". Whatever the reasoning used by the leader, the group clearly were impressed enough to walk over the hot coals. This recent episode is reminiscent of the huge wave of people who paid good money and lined up to be loudly berated and insulted in the est seminars of the 1970s and 80s.
[page 128] Close observation shows us again and again that relatively stupid people, if they have positive qualities, can have a stronger effect on people more intelligent than themselves if the latter are easily impressed by anything emerging from obscure depths. So we can understand how it happens in life that persons with finer natures and well-developed reasoning powers are at the mercy of robust characters with vivid minds whose assertions derive solely from their own instincts and inclinations.
Spiritual science is drastically different from any other method or process of teaching. Whatever teaching method is used, the participants are constantly reminded that what happens within their soul is the most important thing. Lectures and reading can be useful prologues, but the real work happens in the soul of the individuals.
[page 132] They are therefore advised to do active work in their soul so as to bring out its most positive qualities. In fact spiritual science is eminently suited to cultivate this positive frame of mind. This is what is so healthy about its world outlook, that it makes no claims except to arouse the forces sleeping in the soul. By appealing to the autonomous forces in every soul anthroposophy calls forth its hidden forces, so that they may enliven all the juices and energies of the body, having the best possible health-giving effect on the whole person. And because anthroposophy appeals to sound reason only, which cannot be evoked by mass-suggestion but only through individual understanding, and because it renounces everything that mass-suggestion can evoke, it reckons par excellence with the positive qualities of the human soul.
People who are overwhelmingly positive enter a movie and are confronted by people whose lives mean nothing to them at first, but if the movie is gripping, soon the positive mood of these people turns to negative as they begin to feel sympathy and empathy for the people portrayed on the screen.
[page 133] Sympathy and fear make us negative. But so that we can become positive again a tragedy sets before us a hero whose actions are meant to provoke our sympathy, and whose fate calls out our fear. However, the course of the dramatic action gives us the kind of picture of the hero through which our fear and pity are purified, and they are transformed from negative qualities into the kind of harmonious satisfaction we have in a work of art, and we are lifted up once more into a positive state.
A negative person would despair over Heraclitus's statement that "We can never find the boundaries of our soul" while a positive person would add:
[page 134] 'Thank God the life of the soul is so vast that knowledge can never encompass it. For this means that everything we comprehend today we shall be able to surpass tomorrow, and thus hasten towards higher levels!'
The Earth itself seems to have been explored to every far corner, so that little mystery remains, few undiscovered countries remain to be penetrated, but the soul can never reach such a state of discovery; it is the ultimate undiscovered country and each of us can in a single moment become its explorer, and enjoy many lifetimes of exploring.
"Error and Mental Disorder" is the topic of Lecture 7. He explains the reason why the lecture "Conscience" follows this lecture.
[page 136] Today, let us observe an area of human life which can take us deeply into human misery, suffering, and perhaps even as far as losing hope. To make up for this we shall then, in the following lecture, touch on an area entitled 'Conscience', which will take us back again to the heights where human dignity and human value, the strength of human awareness, can appear at their best.
As a physicist, I was taught the importance of boundary conditions, that physical quantities are only valid between certain values or boundaries which means we must specify those values or any statement made about the quantities may be erroneous.
[page 138] This is the reason why in general not much is achieved if we know that a truth exists; the important thing is that to really know a thing we should take note of the limits within which that knowledge is valid.
As Korzybski said, "The map is not the territory; it does not describe all the territory." If we keep this as a guiding principle, whatever anyone tells us, we accept it only as a tentative map and proceed with caution. This is especially important when dealing error and mental disorders, is it not?
[page 138, 139] Who would deny that it belongs to a pathological condition that can be put under the heading of 'mental disorder' when someone is incapable of linking one comprehended concept at the right moment with a second one, so that he applies the first one in a new and completely inappropriate situation, and acts on the basis of an idea that was correct for an earlier situation but not for a later one? Who would deny that this could border on the pathological? If it happens sufficiently often it is absolutely a symptom of mental disorder. But who, on the other hand, would deny that there are people who are unable to advance in their work because they are so long-winded, so fussy? It can happen in normal life that someone gets stuck with one idea; then there comes the point where we have to stop talking about them being in error, and have to start speaking of a pathological mental state.
In this next passage "the soul and the sentient body" seems to refer (See Three Worlds diagram) to the sentient soul and the astral body.
[page 146] Thus we have two three-membered entities of human nature which correspond to one another: the soul and the sentient body; the intellectual soul and the etheric body; and the consciousness soul and the physical body. This correspondence is precisely what can throw light on the threads linking the inner and the outer man and show us how normal soul life is disturbed if these links do not function properly. Why does this happen?
Anything that disrupts the connection between the between the three pairs will lead to errors and mental disorders.
[page 146] The sentient soul is in a certain way dependent on the effects the sentient body has on it; so if the interrelation between the two is not right then the healthy soul-life of the sentient soul is disrupted. A similar thing occurs when the intellectual soul cannot regulate the etheric body as it should, to make it a proper instrument for the intellectual soul. And the soul-life of the consciousness soul will appear abnormal if the physical body is a hindrance as a normal means of expression. If we look at the human being systematically in this way, we can recognize that a regular interrelationship is essential for a healthy soul-life and understand, too, that all sorts of interruptions can occur in the interrelating of the sentient soul and the sentient body, the intellectual soul and etheric body and the consciousness soul and physical body. And only if we can recognize the threads running through this intricate organism and the irregularities that can occur will we be able to recognize what is happening when a force in the soul becomes unhealthy. This happens only when there is disharmony between the inner and the outer man.
There was a time when a doctor studied both the inner and outer man: the time the doctor spent talking in the office with his patient, as he studied the inner man, was as important as the time the doctor spent looking at the results of tests made on the outer man. Today the typical patient is greeted by nurses who run tests and the doctor comes in with the tests and explains what's wrong with the outer patient and the inner patient is never interviewed at all. She leaves wondering if the doctor really understands her condition or wondering if the doctor has the attitude that what she feels is not as important as what the tests show. The disharmony between the inner and outer man is never investigated except when disorders show up in the outer man, by which time it may be too late for physical medicine and surgical intervention to do much to establish an efficient and effective healing.
As the disruption moves up from sentient soul level to intellectual soul level to consciousness soul level, things get more difficult, as Steiner shows and gives detailed examples of each in the Lecture (which examples are not included in this review). Next he covers disruptions between the intellectual soul and the etheric body, and how proper logic use fails under those conditions(9):
[page 147, 148] When such a split occurs in respect of the intellectual soul and the etheric body then the situation is a much more difficult one. Then we go deeply into those states that verge on the pathological. Nevertheless in these cases it is much more difficult to distinguish where a healthy condition ends and a pathological one begins. An odd example will make clear how difficult it is to maintain the experiences of the intellectual soul in complete independence when the etheric body goes on strike, refusing to be merely a tool of our thinking. When the etheric body goes independent and resists the intellectual soul, it prevents the thoughts from coming to full expression, and the thoughts become stuck halfway and cannot be completed. This can happen with the cleverest people.
And next he covers a disruption in the consciousness soul and physical body interrelationship.
[page 152, 153] Now, a similar disharmony can arise between our consciousness soul, which is the basis of our ego-consciousness, and our physical body. Then, not only do these characteristics appear in our physical body for which we are responsible from earlier incarnations, but also those in our line of heredity. But, here, too, the principle is the same; what is going on in the consciousness soul can be hindered by the laws at work in the physical body. And when this happens, then all those things arise which appear in such dreadful forms in the symptoms of mental disorder. This is the very place where all the worst aspects of a particular organ appear when that one becomes especially conspicuous. When the organs of our physical body work properly together and none of them predominates over the others, our physical body is a proper instrument for our consciousness soul, and is no obstacle for us, and more than a healthy eye is an obstacle to seeing.
Our I (ego), in order to function properly requires all the organs in our body to be functioning and relating with each other normally. If they do not, then various mental disorders may appear. From various crimes shows on TV, one can frequently see a persecution complex appearing in certain drug abusers due to this kind of disruption.
[page 153] But if an open exchange with the outer world is obstructed and we do not notice the obstacle in our consciousness, then ideas of megalomania and persecution mania appear as symptoms of the actual more deeply seated sickness.
This next passage is rather amazing, given that Steiner was speaking over a century ago. People exercise and train today as if their bodies were machines and as if improving the functioning of their machines will lead them to healthy lives.
[page 155] At the present time  there is little understanding for what is meant by developing the soul-life. It has been mentioned, when similar opportunities offered themselves, that nowadays people attach great importance to physical education, walking and jogging, and extensive P. E. I am not saying anything against the principle of the matter; these things can be good for the health. But they most certainly do not lead to good results if attention is given solely to the outer man as though it were a machine, and people do exercises aimed only at strengthening them physiologically. . . . care should be taken that each exercise provokes inner joy, and that impetus for every exercise comes from an inner feeling of well-being. The impulses for doing the exercises should come from the soul.
Lecture 8 deals with Conscience and we can best understand what he means by that in a statement Steiner repeats several times in the lecture, "What speaks as conscience in the human soul is the voice of God!" How did we as humans evolve to having a voice speaking within us? In ancient days when a primitive clairvoyance still burned in every human being, if someone committed an evil deed, there was no voice chiding them, but instead a ghostly vision arose of the horrible event and haunted the person.
[page 175] The deed did not present itself to them as something they could inwardly assess. They beheld it with all its harmfulness and shamefulness as a ghostly vision. And when the feeling of it arose in their soul the shamefulness of it came before them as a spiritual reality, so that they were as though surrounded by the sight of the evil they had committed.
Often in movies after someone without a visibly-operating conscience does some horrible deed, they are visited by the kinds of visions that beset the ancients; it is as though the visions are a fall-back option for humans who have stumbled into the twenty-first century sans conscience. If we follow the progression of human evolution through the centuries, we observe the ancient clairvoyance fading and something arising to replace it, a modern invention of the human soul, conscience.
[page 175] Then, in the course of time, this ancient dreamlike clairvoyance faded and the human ego asserted itself more and more. And, in so far as people found the center of the being, the old clairvoyance disappeared and ego-consciousness became more and more distinct. And what they had previously had in the way of a vista of their bad deeds — and also of their good deeds — was transferred to their inner being, and deed once clairvoyantly beheld became mirrored within them.
Steiner leads to see that our conscience stems from the mirroring of our own deeds within our souls. These deeds can be viewed consciously by our I, our ego, as they reflect off of our soul bodies. He adds that we "now experience this reflection as conscience watching over" us. (Page 177) The popular cartoon representation is of an imp sitting on the shoulder to represent conscience, a devilish imp on one shoulder, an angelic imp on the other shoulder.
There is a dramatic difference in the quality of the ego between the East and the West.
[page 181] In the East the ego remains dim and unfree. In the West, by contrast, there is a development among human beings whereby the ego works its way further and further up into the consciousness soul. Even if to begin with, evolution goes in the direction of the ancient clairvoyant consciousness being extinguished, everything is after all designed to awaken the ego and to bring about the birth of the conscience as the inner voice of God, the Keeper of the ego.
One important historical step was required for human beings to understand God in their inner being, the appearance of Christ on Earth in a human being.
[page 181, 182] If the Christ with his divine being had not been present in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, if he had not shown once and for all that God can be grasped in our inner being, because he had once been present in a human body, if he had not appeared as the conqueror of death through the Mystery of Golgotha, human beings would never have been able to comprehend the indwelling of divinity within themselves.
In the final lecture, "The Mission of Art", Steiner restricts his comment to the art form we know as poetry. He shows us how the ancient clairvoyance appears in modern man today in the form of poetry. What would it mean to ancient man to have clairvoyance instead of our presently evolved levels of soul? A writer would not have been able to construct a long narrative sitting alone with pen and paper, as writing had not been invented yet. So, let's call him a story-teller, someone who would have had to sit down to call up some clairvoyant vision and memorize the events which take place, for example, Homer, a prime example of a man who lived before the existence of writing. Who needs writing if an event can be recalled simply by clicking a remote and a vision from some far away time and place were immediately to appear?(10)To our best knowledge, Homer did not write down the two epics he is credited with, but he was rather the story teller with the most powerful clairvoyance during a time when this clairvoyance as a generally available power to all humans was fading. Homer could tell listeners each saga in its poetic verse from beginning to end, and since this was before the advent of writing (it not being necessary), people of the time of Homer could easily memorize the entire story. As human consciousness evolved further for several centuries, the ability to memorize such long stories began to wane, and people began to write down the story, crediting it to Homer, who first told it an estimated 400 years earlier.
[page 190] If we wish to trace the beginnings of art, as it first appears among humankind in the art of poetry, then according to ordinary ideas we have to go a long way back. We will start by going only as far as the extant documents will take us. We will go back to a figure often regarded as legendary — to Homer, the originator of Greek poetry, whose work has come down to us in the two great epics the Iliad and the Odyssey.Whoever was the author or authors of these two poems — we will not go into that question today — the remarkable thing is that both these poetical works begin on a quite impersonal note. 'Sing, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles. . .' is how the Iliad, the first of Homer's epics, begins, and 'Sing, O Muse, of a much-traveled man. . .' are the opening words of the second epic, the Odyssey. The author wishes to indicate that he is indebted to a higher power for the fact that the epic comes to him from elsewhere, and that he can best describe this fact — as we can realize if we have any understanding of Homer — by not referring to what he speaks out of himself but what he is inspired to say by a higher power that was not only a symbol but a real, objective being. If this invocation to the muse means nothing to modern readers the lack is not due to Homer's having made use of a mere symbol, but to the circumstance that they themselves are no longer aware of the experiences from which a poem as impersonal as Homer's could have come.With this amazing revelation by Steiner, we can understand the evolution of human consciousness and put a time on it. Does this impress researchers today? No way. They claim these two epics were fantastic stories such as science fiction writers might create today. The reality of the evolution of consciousness is lost on modern researchers, for the most part.
[page 191, 192] Present-day research is actually wrong in supposing that the sagas of the different peoples were merely the product of popular fantasy. If it is thought that in the remote past the human soul functioned just as it does today, except that it was more prone to imagining things than to thinking intellectually according to fixed laws, and that the figures preserved in their sagas were a product of their imagination, that is itself the fantasy, and those who believe these things are the ones who are imagining things. Where the people of those ancient times were concerned the events described in their mythologies were realities. Myths, sagas and even fairy tales and legends were born out of a primeval faculty in the human soul.Why are our children interested in fairy tales today? Because our children come into this world with the same primitive clairvoyance of the ancient people and are able to see fairies and other spirit folk until the age of about three when their caregivers convince them that there are no such things, caregivers who have long forgotten their early memories of childhood. The so-called imaginary friends of children can best be understood as spiritual beings who are befriending and helping the children. When our children no longer have these imaginary friends, they have progressed in their maturation to the point that humankind had progressed in the time of Homer.
[page 194] What has happened is that, if we look into the period just before Homer, we shall find the point in evolution where, for the people of the Greek world, clairvoyant consciousness ceased and only an echo of it remained. . . . Homer's poetry is thus directly connected with primeval myths, if these are properly understood. Looking at Homer in this way we can see something occurring in Homer as a kind of substitute for the old clairvoyance. The ruling cosmic powers, by withdrawing direct clairvoyant vision from human consciousness, closed the door to the spiritual world, but they left something in its place that could live similarly in the soul and could call forth a creative force. Poetic imagination is a compensation for the loss of ancient clairvoyance.A famous motto goes, "Life is short; art is long". We do well to recall this motto as it applies to all of the arts, not just poetry. Remember that Steiner chose to focus only on poetry for the convenience of one lecture, but meant his insights to apply to all of art. He ends with a powerful quote (Page 211) from Goethe's chorus mysticus, "Everything transient is but a parable." and adds his own amazing thought, "Art is destined to fructify the parable of transience with the message of eternity, of immortality! That is its mission."
With this, we have completed our study of the two volumes of amazing and thought-filled lectures which Rudolf Steiner gave between October, 1909 and April, 1910. Over a hundred years have passed and his words speak vibrantly to us today about key issues of soul we face in this new millennium. If you are a newcomer to the works of Steiner, you can find no better place to begin than by learning all about the importance of his work to transforming your own soul.
Review of Volume 1 of Transforming the Soul can be read here:~^~
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. If you'll look in the upper left corner of this review page http://www.doyletics.com/art/sciencea.htm on-line, you'll see the words "Site Map is NOT the Territory". Reading this book took me an entire year — on a typical day, after reading about 3 pages, my mind was so full that I had to stop reading till the next day in order to absorb what I had read.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Be kind to your pets, but treating them as if they had an individual spark of consciousness, an I, is basically evil, i.e., a condition whose time will not arrive for aeons to come.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. The Moon made of Green Cheese idea was a factual memory of this ancient time during the Old Moon stage; green was the color of the cheese-like structure of the vegetative Moon-Earth body before the Moon separated from the Earth.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. In the early mini-computers I worked on in the 1960s, the bootstrap program was written on a piece of paper and stuck on the front panel of the computer for ease of entering every time there was a power failure or you powered on the computer each morning. About seven hardware instructions in hexadecimal code had to be entered before the Program Loader could be loaded to do real work. Those hardware instructions are hard-coded in permanent Read-Only Memory in PC's and know only how to access the first sector of the primary hard drive which contains the Program Loader, which, not surprisingly, is called the Boot Sector. Lose that sector and your PC becomes what we call a Boat Anchor, merely a heavy weight, useless for much else.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Footnote 5. The idea that the operating system of a computer system played the function of our ego first came to me in 1966 when I began working on real-time computers. Only one program, the Executive Control Program, ran all the time and its job was to locate some other program to transfer operation to and that other program always returned to the ECP. Clearly we have designed computers based on how we humans work, think, and live already.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Footnote 6. Over many years of watching carefully how people use the limitation eraser for the first time, I have noticed how many of them slide over the comma as if it were not there, neither pausing nor taking a breath. Their feeling state never changes from the beginning to the end of the sentence, and clearly they have thereby rescued their limitation from the brink of extinction! But if they were then to say, "The limitation eraser does not work for me, (Pause, deep breath) up until now." they would learn of the power of the limitation eraser and use it every time from now on.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Footnote 7. There is a kind of active submission which I call EAT-O-TWIST, or Everything Allways Turns - Out - The Way It's Supposed To. See this link for more details: http://www.doyletics.com/mrules.shtml#mrn10 and soon you'll find out for yourself that EAT-O-TWIST never breaks.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Footnote 8. As one example, take the discovery of genetics by Gregor Mendel, some thirty years passed before the field of genetics was formed by William Bateson who hadn't the decent to credit Mendel by calling the new field after him, e. g., menes would have been as easy to remember and spell as genes. Another example: Nikola Tesla received no Nobel Prize for his amazing creation of the AC power systems which run our world today. Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
Footnote 9. As an example of half-finished thinking ("half-assed thinking" we would call it), Steiner said, "people say, 'Prove to us what you say about repeated earth lives!' For you cannot prove it to people who refuse to think their thoughts through to the end; whole truths cannot be proved with half thoughts! They can only be proved with complete thoughts, and complete thoughts are what human beings have to develop with in themselves." (Page 158, 159)Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
Footnote 10. Here I purposely call up an image of using a TV set. A TV and a DVR allows us to do today what ancient man could do without an electronic device, using his native clairvoyance. Calling a Muse back then was equivalent to selecting a channel on a remote to call some event forward to be observed.Return to text directly before Footnote 10.
2.) ARJ2: If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino
Calling this book a novel would be like calling the first issue of Mad a comic book; yes, it looked like a comic book, but it was a meta-comment on the entire world in which I lived, and it introduced me to satire. This book looks like a novel, but it sure doesn't read like a novel, but rather as a book about novels, a book about books, a book about reading, all that and even more. It is as if Calvino is saying, to paraphrase Browning,
How do I read Thee?
Let me count the ways.
And count, delineate, describe, expostulate, exemplify, remonstrate, and demonstrate, among other things is what Calvino does in this course of this book. Often he does it for us, sometimes for himself, and sometimes it's the main character in the book, Reader, doing it for Other Reader. Make no mistake, these are not the only characters, but only two of a multitude which seem to multiply with each new chapter.
When I was eighteen or so, I received a set of Yale Shakespeare books, forty small hardbacks, for joining the Book of the Month Club. Working the night shift in a Celotex Plant, I was assigned the hot and sweaty job of feeding bagasse boards into a furnace to be coated with black tar. So hot was the furnace that union rules required an hour break for every hour worked, which gave me time to tackle these books. One night reading King Henry IV, Part I, a curious thing happened, not to me, but to my book. Here, read for yourself what I read at the time, knowing little about Shakespeare:
[page 30] Hotspur
And if the devil come and roar for them
I will not send them. I will after straight
You and your fellows. I'd have it come to question.
If he distaste it, let him to my sister,
Whose mind and mine, I know, in that are one,
Not to be over-rul'd. . . .
There seemed to be a curious disconnect to me at this point, but it was Shakespeare and I was a beginning reader of his works, so I read on, turning the page and I read on page 32 the stage directions "Horns within. Enter Lear and Attendants". I glanced up to the top of page 32 and read in the header, Page 32 The Tragedy of King Lear — what the hell was going on? Flipping back, the left page header read, Page 30 The First Part of Henry the Fourth. Somehow my story of Henry IV had suddenly, on page 31, turned into the story of King Lear! Scanning ahead to page 63, I found the stage direction, Enter Falstaff, and flipped the page to find the header Page 64 The First Part of Henry the Fourth. As I discovered only years later, a complete signature for King Lear had been exchanged for the equivalent signature for Henry IV during binding of the signatures into this small hard-bound book.
In this novel, Calvino deals with the problem of reading books which suddenly turn into other books through various artifices, such as a binding mistake, a process I was unfortunately familiar with. For me, at the time, the binding problem was only a disappointment and a puzzlement, but Calvino turns it into unmitigated fun. Be forewarned, if you love books, you will likely love this book. If you want seamless stories with neat, satisfying endings, like a pleasant ride on a white bay on a bridal path, you need read no further, this book is definitely not for you; it more resembles a wild mustang with you holding tight onto its reins heading down a mountainside, throwing you off about ten times, and stopping to let you climb back on each time to continue the ride.
Riding Calvino begins with instructions on how to read, written by Calvino.
[page 3] You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice — they won't hear you otherwise — "I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!"
I'm serious. That is the way this novel starts. Its impact on you may be similar to the impact that reading that very first Mad comic book had on me back in 1952 on Avenue E in Westwego when it was handed to me by my friend Boo. Within seconds, I knew my world would never be the same thereafter. Comic books can't do this stuff! was my first thought. Maybe Novelists can't do this stuff! is going through your mind. Well, hold onto the reins, the ride is going to get rougher!
Why did I decide to read this book? I had read two earlier books of Calvino, t zero and Cosmicomics, and when I read about this book, it "filled me with a sudden, inexplicable curiosity, not easily justified". Okay, I copied that expression from page 5 list of Calvino, but it's close enough to the truth of any item in the list, a list you may wish to peruse, dear Reader, and find it contains a whole bunch of categories of books you would like to acquire and maybe even read. Any owner of a large library, like I have, will know many of these urges.
Calvino takes you and me on a trip with his Reader who spots the display copy of If on a winter's night a traveler in the shop window and goes into the bookstore and is immediately assaulted by a plethora of books stimulating an onslaught of categories in the Reader's head (and ours) as he plows his way through the shop. (Reader is male, and Other Reader is female.)
[page 5] Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which were frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you. But you know you must never allow yourself to be awed, that among them there extend for acres and acres the Books You Needn't Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category Of Books Read Before Being Written. And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of the Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out In Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too.Eluding these assaults, you come up beneath the towers of the fortress, where other troops are holding out:
the Books You've Been Planning To Read For Ages,
the Books You've Been Hunting For Years Without Success,
the Books Dealing With Something You're Working On At The Moment,
the Books You Want To Own So They'll Be Handy Just In Case,
the Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer,
the Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves,
the Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity,
Not Easily Justified.
Calvino describes you leaving with your new purchase, and goes through the various ways you might first open the book and read it. "Chapter " begins on Page 3 as it is shown in quoted passage above, but wait, what is this that happens when you arrive at the next chapter which has simply the title of the book, "If on a winter's night a traveler", and not Chapter . So what, you might say, I just want to read the book. Why should I bother to check the Table of Contents? Well, when you reach the next chapter, it is called "Chapter " and it is followed by a chapter called "Outside the town of Malbork". So you're still not curious enough to read the Table of Contents? Go another chapter and you find "Chapter " and now you check that infernal Table to find that every other chapter is numbered and every in-between one is a titled chapter. Why? It's a mystery, or rather a Mystery with a capital M.
Enough of this. How does the chapter "If on a winter's night a traveler" begin?
[page 10] The novel begins in a railway station, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph. In the odor of the station there is a passing whiff of station café odor. There is someone looking through the befogged glass, he opens the glass door of the bar, everything is misty, inside, too as if seen by nearsighted eyes, or eyes irritated by coal dust. The pages of the book are clouded like the windows of an old train, the cloud of smoke rests on the sentences.
Whoa, Mustang! What is going on here? How can the steam and smoke of an old locomotive be obscuring the pages of the book in which they are mere inanimate objects being described? So you look at the cover art of the book and find an old locomotive chugging ahead making steam and smoke as it speeds forward from an outward raying, as being born from an explosion — wait, you look closer and see that its steam and smoke are obscuring the rays which contain words from the book, in fact, the tracks are also words from the book, as are the telegraph poles and wires it speeds along!
The Mustang awaits, so you jump back on and hold the reins. The man who entered, now at the bar, keeps going to make a call from the phone booth and his coin keeps plinking down, signaling no answer.
[page 11] I am the man who comes and goes between the bar and the telephone booth. Or, rather: that man is called "I" and you know nothing else about him, just as this station is called only "station" and beyond it there exists nothing except the unanswered signal of a telephone ringing in a dark room of a distant city.
This is an old bar with an equally old bar mirror, and this mirror is personified in this small passage.
[page 18] We are in a city in whose streets the same people often run into one another; the faces bear weight of habit which is communicated even to someone like me, who, though I have never been here before, realizes these are habitual faces, whose features the bar mirror has watched thicken or sag, whose expressions evening after evening have become wrinkled or puffy.
Now we encounter the printers' binding error, at the beginning of "Chapter ". The narrator tells us that you're reading along and you find that what you're reading sounds very familiar, like you've read it before. A signature error!
[page 25] Wait a minute! Look at the page number. Damn! From page 32 you've gone back to page 17! What you thought was a stylistic subtlety on the author's part is simply a printers' mistake: they have inserted the same pages twice(1).
Reader, Calvino's character, decides to return the book to the bookseller he bought it from, something I was unable to do with my mis-bound Henry IV volume, being unwilling to take on the Book-of-the-Month Club. Does he receive a correctly bound copy of If on a winter's night a traveler? No, he receives a curious explanation of what happened to the book he wanted to purchase and to read from the bookseller in the form of a newly arrived letter from the publisher.
[page 28] 'In the distribution of the latest works on our list a part of the edition of the volume If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino has proved defective and must be withdrawn from circulation. Through an error of the bindery, the printed signatures of that book became mixed with those of another new publication, the Polish novel Outside the town of Malbork by Tazio Bazakal. With profound apologies for the unfortunate incident, the publisher will replace the spoiled copies at the earliest possible moment."
But poor Reader has been besieged with information, like that old railroad train on the cover art, and a new reality is exploding into his ken and knocking him off-base, so he ponders his next move.
[page 28] Hold on a minute. Concentrate. Take all the information that has poured down on you at once and put it in order. A Polish novel. Then the book you began reading with such involvement wasn't the book you thought but was a Polish novel instead. That is the book you are now so anxious to procure. Don't let them fool you. Explain clearly the situation. "No, actually I don't really give a damn about that Calvino any more. I started with the Polish one and it's the Polish one I want to go with. Do you have this Bazakal book?"
The bookseller points Reader to a young lady who had a similar problem with her Calvino: she also got the Bazakal book, so Reader walks over to meet Other Reader, who, he discovers has never read Bazakal before, either. They meet, exchange phone numbers, and Reader heads for home to read his new book, only to discover that its pages are uncut. This has happened to me, but usually it's only a few uncut pages due some pages missing the slicing ram of the bindery. Easily taken care of with a sharp knife. So Reader cuts the book open only to be surprised by Bazakal's book, Outside the town of Malbork:
[page 33] Then from the very first page you realize that the novel you are holding has nothing to with the one you were reading yesterday.
So I, the me writing this review, turn to page 34 to find a chapter titled, Outside the town of Malbork ! This is the part where I spent a lot of time inspecting the book and its curious chapter arrangement which alternated between [number] and Chapter Title. This continues on to the end of the book, the pattern breaking only at "Chapter " and "Chapter ".
In each numbered chapter, something happens to the book Reader is reading or to Reader himself, so that he is unable to continue reading the story he was engrossed in, and he is somehow introduced to, stumbles upon, or gets interested in a lost book newly arisen from the ashes, like Without fear of wind or vertigo.
[page 76] You immediately realize that you are listening to something that has no possible connection with Leaning from the steep slope or Outside the town of Malbork or even with If on a winter's night a traveler. You exchange a quick glance, you and Ludmilla(2), or rather, two glances: first questioning, then agreeing. Whatever it may be, this is a novel where, once you have got into it, you want to go forward, without stopping.
At one point in Without fear of wind or vertigo Reader imagines himself and Ludmilla flying as if "suspended over a precipice. . ."
[page 82 ] Perhaps it is this story that is a bridge over the void, and as it advances it flings forward news and sensations and emotions to create a ground of upsets both collective and individual in the midst of which a path can be opened while we remain in the dark about many circumstances both historical and geographical.
If this seems to be talking about the latest Breaking News on FOX or CNN, it may be a coincidence, or perhaps it is synchronicity, that is, a coincidence with a pedigree or royal title.
As Reader discovers a French book, Looks down in the gathering shadow, he is shown a letter and told to read it:
[page 101] "What does the name of an author on the jacket matter? Let us move forward in thought to three thousand years from now. Who knows which books from our period will be saved, and who knows which authors' names will be remembered? Some books will remain famous but will be considered anonymous works, as for us the epic of Gilgamesh; other authors' names will still be well known, but none of their works will survive, as was the case with Socrates; or perhaps all the surviving books will be attributed to a single, mysterious author, like Homer."
This is a meditation for any Reader or Writer to undertake. It's like we writers(3) are each but lowly bricklayers adding one brick to a large construction, say, in the early days of construction, where we can only see a wall as high as our shoulders. If asked, what can we say we are doing? One worker might say, "I am just laying bricks." The next worker in line might say, "I am building a great cathedral." The first worker will feel distraught after reading the above passage [page 101]; the second worker will feel pride and accomplishment. Is it not an individual choice how we can feel? Even the prisoner bound in chains in a deep dungeon has a choice as to how they feel about their lot: they can feel trapped or fly on the wings of angels over the prison's walls in their imagination.
In Ludmilla's apartment, the Reader meets a friend of hers who makes books. That is, he uses books as raw material for his artworks.
[page 149] "I make things with books. I make objects. Yes, artworks: statues, pictures, whatever you want to call them. I even had a show. I fix the books with mastic, and they stay as they were. Shut, or open, or else I give them forms, I carve them, I make holes in them. A book is a good material to work with; you can make all sorts of things with it."
Later we are not surprised that the very book, that Reader was so intent on finding, ends up with its only copy being chopped and frozen into an artwork of this friend of Ludmilla. This leads him to be ensnared In a network of lines that intersect, a chapter title which might bring up in your mind the idea of a kaleidoscope or the " 'polydyptic theater', in which about sixty little mirrors line the inside of a large box which can transform a bough into a forest, a miniature lead soldier into an army, a booklet into a library." Seems innocuous enough, until one connects the work of the masters of the economic engine known as "derivatives" which led to near total economic collapse in 2008 as portrayed in the 2011 movie, "Too Big To Fail," which by dint of one of those coincidences with a pedigree, I had watched the night before I read this next passage. It seems that what Italo Calvino was writing about in the mid-1970s (in this book) was already coming into being in the levels of higher finance, a house of cards, a kaleidoscope of lines that intersect, but which can all collapse if the prices of housing were ever to go down, which they did, precipitously in the 1980s, exactly as the price of tulips went down a century or so earlier. This time it was the taxpayers, not the investors who took it in the shorts!
[page 162, 163] The businessmen to whom, before meetings, I show the collection glance with superficial curiosity at these bizarre apparatuses. They don't know that I have built my financial empire on the very principle of kaleidoscopes and catoptric instruments, multiplying, as if in a play of mirrors, companies without capital, enlarging credit, making disastrous deficits vanish in the dead corners of illusory perspectives. My secret, the secret of my uninterrupted financial victories in a period that has witnessed so many crises and market crashes and bankruptcies, has always been this: that I never thought directly of money, business, profits, but only of the angles of refraction established among shining surfaces variously inclined. . . . I am a man with many enemies, whom I must constantly elude. When they think they have overtaken me, they will strike only a glass surface on which one of the many reflections of my ubiquitous presence appears and vanishes. I am also a man who pursues his numerous enemies, looming over them and advancing in invincible phalanxes and blocking their path whichever way they turn. In a catoptric world enemies can equally believe that they are surrounding me from every side, but I alone know the arrangement of the mirrors and can put myself out of their reach, while they end up jostling and seizing one another.
I would like my story to express all this through details of financial operations, sudden dramatic shifts at board meetings, telephone calls from brokers in panic, and then also bits of the map of the city, insurance policies, . . . .
From the text of this novel, one can discern that real Mega-banks, -financial institutions, and -AIG (the ultimate insurance company) were operating in this kaleidoscopic world of illusions which all came collapsing down and all had to be shored up by the Red Queen in Washington, D. C. to prevent another Great Depression. This all happened within the memory of anyone old enough to be reading these words!
Let us go to another prediction, if you can call the above a prediction, to another prediction by Calvino, that of the Internet and eBook technology. With the Internet someone could be reading this review I am writing on the polished surface of a laptop or pad. Or I have already published my review to the Internet, she is reading it, and I am making a change which then instantly appears on her flat screen. As I make changes to my writing, a process I call playing with sentences, I often wonder about the possibility that this Other Reader is out there wondering how the text she was reading suddenly got changed when she returned and refreshed her screen. This was unimaginable back in the 1970s, and it is reality today.
[page 170] At times I am gripped by an absurd desire: that the sentence I am about to write be the one the woman is reading at that same moment. The idea mesmerizes me so much that I convince myself it is true: I write the sentence hastily, get up, go to the window, train my spyglass to check the effect of my sentence in her gaze, in the curl of her lips, in the cigarette she lights, in the shifts of her body in the deck chair, in her legs, which she crosses or extends.
At times it seems to me that the distance between my writing and her reading is unbridgeable, that whatever I write bears the stamp of artifice and incongruity; if what I am writing were to appear on the polished surface of the page she is reading, it would rasp like a fingernail on a pane, and she would fling the book away with horror.
Calvino's parable of the two writers, the tormented and the productive writers, should be read in its entirety. It sounds like a Woody Allen movie. One writes in the morning, one in the afternoon, and living across from each other in a small valley, they observe the other writer when they are not writing. They suddenly desire to write the way the other writer writes and do so, creating a novel which they send to woman who is often seen by them reading in the bottom of the valley in a deck chair. The young woman reads the two novels and invites the two men to call on her, only to say to them, "What kind of a joke is it? You have given me two copies of the same novel!" Then Calvino gives us six alternate version of the same story. (Page 172 to 179)
The copyist, a defunct occupation, provides another amazing insight of Calvino's. The copyist lives to read while writing, never having to face a lack of words as his pen moves, such as afflicts many authors, the dreaded writer's block. (Page 178)
On a carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon, Calvino gives us a tantalizingly sexual episode, as if as a anodyne to relieve the distress of too many words and philosophical concepts in his recent chapters. The scene consists of a Japanese mother Myagi, her husband Mr. Okeda, their daughter, Makiko, and a desire sparked by the two women in the narrator of this chapter.
[page 208] Desire that her silk robe, loosened or waiting to be loosened, now heightened and rewarded as in an explicit offer, so that with Makiko's apparition in my eyes and Madame Miyagi's contact on my skin I was about to be overcome by voluptuousness.
Madame Miyagi must have become clearly aware of this, for, grasping my back, she pulled me down with her on the mat and with rapid twitches of her whole person she slipped her moist and prehensile sex under mine, which without a false move was swallowed as if by a sucker, while her thin naked legs clutched my hips. She was of a sharp agility, Madame Miyagi: her feet in their white cotton socks crossed at my sacroiliac, holding me as if in a vise.
My appeal to Makiko had not gone unheard. Behind the paper panel of the sliding door there was the outline of the girl, kneeling on the mat, moving her head forward, and now from the doorway her face appeared, contracted in a breathless expression, her lips parted, her eyes widened, following her mother's and my starts with attraction and disgust. But she was not alone: beyond the corridor, in the opening of another door, a man's form was standing motionless. I have no idea how long Mr. Okeda had been there. He was staring hard, not at his wife and me but at his daughter watching us. In his cold pupil, in the firm twist of his lips, was reflected Madame Miyagi's orgasm reflected in her daughter's gaze.
The scientist Kekule's day dream of the molecules comprising the compound of benzene moving around like a snake which finally grabs its own tail in its mouth to create the completed ring structure of what we now know as benzene. With Kekule's insight, the unique properties of benzene and its derivative compounds became capable of being understood by chemists. Like Kekule, I puzzled over the curious double-bond nature of the chapters of this book, every other one a number with a named title in between. What could this all mean? I pondered for several days as I read the book. On the day before I completed this book, I wondered in a day-dream reverie if it might be possible to make one sentence of the various named chapter titles. The book was not with me and I forgot about the idea. My idea of arranging the titles into one sentence has its roots in my eighth-grade English class when my teacher Mrs. Dixon gave each an assignment to write a sentence with each of the 17 words in the textbook exercise. I decided to attempt to make one complete sentence with all 17 words and succeeded. A similar opportunity came to me recently when I wrote one sentence using all the empty boxcar words my friend Jeff March had recommended to be avoided by readers of this EditPros Newsletter.
When I came upon this passage, I realized that I had sussed out Calvino's grand scheme for tying the book together masterfully in his ending chapter.
[page 258] "If on a winter's night a traveler, outside the town of Malbork, leaning from the steep slope without fear of wind or vertigo, looks down in the gathering shadow in a network of lines that enlace, in a network of lines that intersect, on the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon around an empty grave — What story down there awaits its end?"
Keeping in mind the readers who want the happy ending, Calvino has Reader marry Ludmilla and the two of them are in a big bed reading. Ludmilla closes her book and turns off her light to go to sleep, asking, "Aren't you tired of reading?" and Reader answers, "Just a moment, I've almost finished If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino." (Page 12).
And so have I finished writing my review of If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino, and so have you finished reading it, now.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. Note that signature mistake in my two Shakespeare volumes involved 32-page signatures being swapped between Henry IV and Lear. Yesterday I got down my copy of King Lear to see if perhaps the missing signature of Henry IV might appear in Lear. Unfortunately, it didn't. If it had, I could have bound the two volumes with a rubber band so that I or a future reader could read both books in their entirety, by simply switching between books at pages 31 and 62.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Ludmilla has by this point been introduced as the Other Reader.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. In my experience, there are two kinds of people: writers and wannabe writers.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
1. Padre Filius drinks Latte at Stagecoach Coffeeshop in Cooperstown, NY, this Month:
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 with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Contributes Alms.
- EMAIL from Kevin Dann in NYC:
My etheric body is just rejoining the rest of me and I've turned to email after a week away from it, but you already were my welcoming party. . . Cathline picked me up yesterday afternoon at JFK and immediately began talking about this incredible review she had been reading of Wehr's Jung & Steiner; I immediately realized that she had come upon your tome. I went straight to work last night but this morning had no sooner awoken and Cathline had pulled out the printout of your review and was quoting from it. So, even though I had the bad fortune to miss you on your quick NYC junket, you managed to make your presence felt!
- EMAIL with typo from Christopher in Kygrzstan:
Ah! Christopher! You have been where Alexander the Great "married his first bridge"! Don't keep me in suspension here; I cantilever this is true; was she good at Iron Work, perhaps. I don't know how to get this across to you: I will be stayed in suspension till I get a cable from you!
miss you too,
P.S. I remember seing a painting named "Still Life with Bride" and wondered about the name till I realized I was thinking of my first wife! It was actually "Still Life with Bridal" a study with a horse in it.
- EMAIL from Yahia Lababidi:
Dear Bobby Matherne,
I am simply delighted to discover your review of Joseph Joubert's aphorisms, and very grateful for the generous selection that you share with us online.
As a small token of my appreciation, kindly find below a mixed bouquet of my own brief arts — excerpts from my first book, a collection aphorisms :)
Warmest wishes, Yahia http://www.janestreet.org/press/signpostsfore.html
- EMAIL from Renee Lattimore re Transforming the Soul, V2:
It was a really awesome review. I especially liked the subject.
- EMAIL, etc., Title
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Pig on a Stick"
Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare. The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people — will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?" Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:
Pig on a Stick
RJM NOTE: This poem was written before the incumbent, one-term President H.W. Bush's nominating convention. Thanks to Golding's fine novel, Lord of the Flies for the convention metaphor. Any similarity to the current incumbent, one-term President's convention is purely synchronistic.
The Lord of the Flies has a parachute
Piggy doesn't think he's very cute
His mates are buzzing, flitting in and out
Attracted to what they hold dear, not doubt.
The boar's head on the stake is speared
In the service of life's greater fear,
The mob at quadrennial convention,
Picking clean his temples for their board.
The Lord of the Flies has a parachute
Buffy thinks he is very cute.
She angles ever closer for a look
Ere her Lord is squashed by a history book.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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10. GRATITUDE — in Three Easy Steps:
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