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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: David Lavery (1949-2016)
~~~~ MTSU English Professor
Founder of Friends of Barfield Group
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#173 March, 2017== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Blustery Month of March:
Those who cannot live fully often become destroyers of life.
Anais Nin, American Author (1903-1977)
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GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#173 for March, 2017
Archived DIGESTWORLD IssuesTable of Contents
1. March's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for March
3. On a Personal Note
Rainbows & Shadows Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Household Hint for March, 2017 from Bobby Jeaux: Help Orchids to Rebloom
6. Poem by Bobby: "Plato's Cave"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for March:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Expect Great Things by Kevin T. Dann
- ARJ2: Sic Itur Ad Astra, Volume 1 by Andrew Joseph Galambos
- ART: The Art of Personality by Hazrat Inayat Khan
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. March Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Dressing Nicely.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of early Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Dressing Nicely" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/170214vj.jpg
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2. HONORED READERS FOR March:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for March, 2017:
Michel Munier in Sydney, Australia
Gerrie Protti in Gretna, LA
Congratulations, Michel and Gerrie!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
This month began with a tour of the new French America Line Riverboat, The Louisiane, which is owned by our friend Christopher Tidmore and is docked at the Gretna Ferry Landing. It is due to begin sailing up the Mississippi River as far as St. Paul in coming months. It looks like a paddle wheeler, but is powered like a modern ship. Inside it has luxury accommodations in the Staterooms, the Main Dining room, and other public areas. The Main Dining room sports a stage so it provides dining and entertainment without having to move to another part of the ship. A large breakfast area offers a wide view of the river and opens into a veranda for long walks around the Riverboat. Local travelers will be picked up and delivered back to their homes by a limo.
While reading Kevin Dann's new book, Expect Great Things — The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau, reviewed in this Issue, I made an amazing discovery on page 24. Kevin quoted from a George Herbert poem, which led me to read Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, "Nature." I had first read the essay 60 years ago, but it had little impact on me back then. In it, I found two lines from Herbert, uncredited by Emerson, but credited by Dann in his book, "More servants wait on Man/Than he'll take notice of." I Googled Herbert's full poem called "Man" (1633) and found those two lines in it. Suddenly I realized that George Herbert, some 200 years before Emerson, understood the plant as doctor concept, namely, how plants can heal human beings.
I called Kevin and when I got him on the line I bubbled over in enthusiasm to the one person who could understand and appreciate my essay, Plant As Doctor, and its connection with what both Herbert and Emerson had written. I explained to him the inspiration from Rosie Harris when she put salt on her watermelon, how I learned that when we add something to our food which our body needs, the food will taste better. Then how I generalized that insight to the great taste of my Dad's vegetables.
Buster, my dad, always insisted on taking us on a walk through his garden, even if there was nothing to pick. Now I understand, that without conscious knowledge of the reason, he was getting us to spread our breath over his plants so that the vegetables could heal our bodies when we ate them. The plants change their genetic structure in response to the toxins from our breath and from the sweat exuded from our bodies when we dug potatoes, picked green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, among other vegetables. His father, Clairville Matherne, did the same thing whenever we went to his home in Bourg when I was a kid, so it was an old family tradition, no doubt. And now for the first time, I have come to understand the value and importance of this tradition, something I never did at the times I walked out to Grandpa's or Daddy's gardens. This is a quick summary, but if you're interested, follow the links for more details and references.
There are many kinds of discoveries and interconnections which make life interesting for this writer. "A scholar is someone who remembers his sources" is a bit of advice that I learned decades ago, and I have learned to double-check my memory before citing a reference, so, one morning I looked up the quotation under my Senior Photo in the 1958 Hahnville High School Yearbook, the Roar. I thought all these years that it had been credited to the famous writer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and I wanted to be sure before I shared it with my Good Readers. To my surprise it was from an Irish Poet Oliver Goldsmith (born 1728). I remembered the Oliver correctly. The quotation was adapted from this Oliver's poem the "The Village Schoolmaster":
In arguing too, the parson own'd his skill,
For e'en though vanquish'd he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;
And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumph'd is forgot.
The Roar edited the italicized phrase above to begin this way: "They gazed and gazed . . . ," and their choice of this phrase puzzled me. "They must have done a lot of gazing without my knowing it," I thought when I first read the Yearbook. I am listed as being on the Roar staff, but was not involved in selecting the quotes. Perhaps someone on the staff told me the quote was from Oliver Wendell Holmes and that stuck with me, up until now.
Del copy-edited the first nine pages of my review of Expect Great Things, and after she finished it, I published the first nine pages to the web temporarily. We went into our Screening Room to watch the Super Bowl with Atlanta and New England. Saints fans call Atlanta Falcon by the sobriquet The Dirty Birds, indicating our disdain our frequent NFC-South foe, so we pulled for New England Patriots to win. I remembered our last game against the Falcons. Our intrepid Saints nearly beat them after they went up five touchdowns ahead of the Saints in the first half, 35-0, and yet, if our quarterback Drew Brees had completed his last drive for a TD we would have won, 36-35.Could the Patriots do that after getting behind 28 to 3? Yes, they could and did. Tied the score 28-All by getting 16 points by two TDs and two 2-Ptrs as time ran out. The Patriots won the toss in OT, and beat Atlanta by driving across the field for a TD — never letting Atlanta's quarterback even get his hands on the ball! What a game!
ANGEL IN THE WHIRLWIND
On a Tuesday morning while I was having a massage, a tornado touched down in my first hometown, Westwego, about six miles west of our home. Its touchdown caused little damage and never made the news, but after heading north of us and about 12 miles to the east, the tornado touched down and caused major wind damage to the Michoud NASA facility.
I heard the rainfall, but it was all over when I drove to Rouse's Supermarket to get our groceries. Del was having lunch with her Tuesday Girls and she reported that everyone's cell photo went bonkers due to their tornado alerts, all of them began beeping and honking at the same time. I found out about the tornado after I had picked up the groceries and sat down in our Screening Room to watch the debate on Sessions's nomination to be the new Attorney General. Also watched as Ms. De Vos was confirmed 51-50 after so-called Republican from Maine and Alaska voted against her, causing the Vice President to cast the deciding vote. Why did these two Senators announce so far ahead of their intention to vote against the nominee? Did they wish to ensure that the VP would be in town to cast the deciding vote? A salient moment came when a Senator attempted to speak against the Sessions nomination offering only material which impugned the Senator who was candidate for Attorney General. She wanted to read a whole letter written about Session back in 1965 which has no bearing on the man who has been an exemplary senator since those un-civil rights days in Alabama. All Democrats voted against and all the Republicans voted to bar her from speaking for the rest of the debate. To attribute base motives to a Senator is not allowed on the Senate floor, and she was summarily barred. Senator Marco Rubio gave an impassioned speech, discussing the need for comity in the Senate, "If not here, where can we find it?" I expect he will likely be the next President after this one. He has the fire of Jack Kennedy, a respect for the Senate, and the heart of a Republican.
With all the quickly moving actions by the new president, in spite of the stall tactics of the minority party, there have been whirlwinds in Washington, D. C. as well as in the New Orleans area. I am reminded of what John Page, a Virginia statesman writing to Thomas Jefferson after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 20, 1776, wrote: "Do you not think an Angel rides in the Whirlwind and directs this Storm?" The current President finds himself in a Storm as strong as the founders of our nation did in 1776, when they needed to sweep away the stultifying actions of the British governors in the American colonies, to create a new birth of freedom for the people to replace the petty bureaucrats of King George who wanted to create more and taxes and regulations to stop American products from being competitive with overseas products. Let us hope the Angel directing this twenty-first century whirlwind will guide our country as surely and safely as it did the whirlwind in the eighteenth century.
VALENTINE EVENTS AND VISITS
Del and I went to a Valentine's dinner and dance at the Timberlane Country Club on Friday night and we were delighted to have two couple join us: Phil & Judy Becnel and John Magill & Barbara Louviere. It was a full house for dinner and the music was appreciated by all. On the following Tuesday, Valentine's Day, we met our friends Burt and Renee Lattimore at the Bon Ton Restaurant downtown for a romantic dinner together.
On Saturday between the two events I drove to St. Charles Parish to pick grapefruit from our friend Jim Webb's tree. He helped by picking up and bagging the fruit as I pulled them down with my handy Grapefruit picking gadget. The four plastic grocery bags full will last us most of the Spring. I couldn't squeeze all four bags into our two fridges, so I squeezed most of one of the bags into grapefruit juice, one quart full.Jim's tree makes large grapefruit which are perfect slicing in half and digging out each section with a pointed teaspoon. These are too big to squeeze into juice, so I squeeze only the smaller ones which fit easily into my hand squeezer.
After I left Jim's home, I drove down Lakewood Boulevard to see Mike Brown's new Edward Jones office. It's nice stand-alone building, looks like a home. Such a beautiful day that I drove over to visit some other friends. I worked with Steve Samanie for many years at Waterford and dropped by to visit him and his wife Charlye. We sat out on the back porch with them and chatted for a half hour or so. Now that Steve is retired, our bi-monthly phone calls have ceased, so this visit was just one of our phone calls, only this time Charlye got to listen and chime in.
One more stop at my high school buddy, Shelby's home. Out of the six friends of that time: four are gone: Sidney Montz, Bob Housden, Johnny Picou, and Claude Trosclair. At Shelby's house I rang the doorbell. No answer. His barn was closed, but I noticed a door open along the back side and called out "Shelby" and got an answer. As usual he was working on something with a motor in it, two weeders.He told me that the sac-au-lait are biting like crazy this year. Two man boats are bringing back a hundred fish for a day's limit of the delicious fish, which is called crappie in the non-French parts of the South. The French name means simply "sack of milk" which bespeaks its white belly and white froth in the water when it spawns near the bayou's banks.
Drove home and took a long nap. From all the citrus picking I was tired to truck around the French Quarter for a Krewe de Vieux parade that night as previously planned.
The next day we had brunch with Gary & Anita Arnold at Bresbi's on 7400 Lakeshore Blvd, West End. As usual the conversation was so great I forgot to get a photo of the four of us. I wanted the shrimp and grits and was glad to find that the shrimp were all peeled. The current fad of leaving the tip of the tails on shrimp in dishes like BBQ Shrimp, Shrimp & Grits, and Shrimp Remoulade is abhorrent to me. Want to ruin a nice conversation for your dinners? Force them to stop and look at their plates and remove the tails on their shrimp!
GARDEN TILLING AND PLANTING
The first week after a Full Moon is the best time to plant potatoes because the Moon is waning and this produces the most potatoes. If you plant during a waxing Moon, you'll get great green above-ground plants but fewer potatoes.
Earlier I had assembled my new Kentucky High Wheel cultivator, but this month I used it in earnest to remove the winter weeds, cultivate the ground, and build a row for the potatoes. I got some seed potatoes from Rose Garden and had a bag of Del Dee Potatoes which had been sitting in an enclosed paper bag. This is one of few requirements I need a paper bag for it. The eyes of the potato need darkness in order to sprout. As I dumped out the seed potatoes next to the grocery-bought Del Dee potatoes, I found that the Del Dee had as many if not more eyes (sprouts) as did the Rose Garden seed potatoes. Potatoes grown for seed are better for planting as grocery-store-bound potatoes are sprayed to keep them from sprouting in the potato bins of the store. I alternated the two kinds of potatoes in the row so I can check which one produces more potatoes. I'm thinking there will be no discernible difference, but this was a perfect time to test the old wisdom about the Moon phases when planting underground crops.
First I used the Kentucky High Wheeler to clear the weeds, then the trencher to define a row on the northern edge of the Babe Garden. Then the hill-maker to try to form the row into a hill. Then the trencher to make a trench to insert the potato seeds. Into the trench I added black compost from the Mulch Bed to fertilize the potatoes before inserting them in place and covering them with dirt. Then I turned on the sprinkler to water the row. It was exhausting work, but I got it all done, my tools washed, and later when Del came home I took a nap.After which I said I would like to take a hot soak in the Jacuzzi, but didn't have the energy to remove the debris the orchids left after spending the winter in the Jacuzzi. Bless her, she cleaned the tub and ran me a tub of hot water in which I soaked in with the jets on for 10 minutes and felt great.
I had already moved the six orchids outside to hang under the West Portico, and they were showing signs of blooming. About a week later the first bloom appeared. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, this tall green leafed plant began to break out in to orchid-like blooms. Del told me its name is "Nun's Orchid". Well, it is certainly a prolific bloomer, with nine blooms opened and one more ready to open. Its leaves look like aspidistra leaves and the plant grows as a regular potted plant. It is featured as the Flower of the Month right below the Banner Photo alongside the Table of Contents.
LSU BASEBALL TEAM THROWS OUT THE FIRST PITCH
Nothing can motivate a Tiger Fan towards Baseball Season more than an awful Basketball Season, which we've had. To my recollection, we have not won a single SEC conference game this year. Time for LSU to acquire a top quality coach to guide its basketball team. Strong coaches for all of the LSU sports teams, all except Basketball, up until now. What will it take for LSU fans to be cured of their chronic Basketball hangover? A cup of strong Joe and a hefty dose of Alleva could do the trick! Take these first thing in the morning and cheer for the relief brought by a new coach in by the evening news!
Coach Paul Manieri has dubbed four players his FAB FOUR: Alex Lange, Jared Poche, Greg Deichmann, and Kramer Robertson. In the first week of Baseball, these four acquitted themselves well. Alex threw a 6-0 shutout. Jared threw a No-Hitter 9-0 game, the first in 38 years for LSU — only a dumb collision-induced dropped ball error kept him from a Perfect Game. Greg lasered two line drives into the bleachers of Alex Box Stadium. Kramer put on a shortstop clinic in the Poche game, making four nearly impossible throws from the outfield grass to put out a runner at first. He deserves four assists for his work in preserving that No-Hitter! Two freshman J.S. Guys: Jake Slaughter and Josh Smith went 7 for 15 with two home runs and eight RBI's.Three freshman pitchers made their debut, and while Eric Walker pitched five good innings, each of Zach Hess and Todd Peterson pitched an inning in relief for the third game which was won 10-3.
MARDI GRAS IN FULL SWING RIGHT UP TO MARCH
Prediction: The March 1 Issue of DW173 will be a day or two late this year as Mardi Gras Day falls on the last day of February. As I'm typing these last minutes notes, it is already March first.
It's been a very busy and exhausting weekend: A Carnival Ball on Friday night, four guests from Beaumont arrived while we were at the Ball, then early the next morning we had to pack up our stuff and head for the Intercontinental Hotel on St. Charles where our daughter Kim had arranged for us to have arm bands to watch the afternoon parade from the private stands.
Carla, Molly, Garrett, and Tony rode with me and Del in the van to the parade spot, and when the lot we wanted to park in next to the Bon Ton Restaurant was already full, I drove down Magazine Street till I found the next parking garage and was able to park at street level for 10 hours for $40. Nice spot for quick exit back to the house post-parade and we had only an extra block and a half's walk to and from the Hotel. We got there in plenty time to watch the three parades: Iris, Tucks, and Endymion. The first two were day parades and the Endymion was the mega-size night parade.
The wind was blowing very hard down the wind tunnel that St. Charles Avenue makes between the IC Hotel and One Shell Square skyscraper. The air temperature was comfortable with a light jacket on, but the wind made it a bit chilly, especially for the scanitly clad marchers.Iris floats were populated by mostly females who threw to guys more than than the guy-dominated floats. The elegance of the Iris floats was followed by the Potty Humor of the Tucks floats and throws. Most were unsuitable for a family-publication. The Tucks parade was begun by Tulane students who walked uptown near their campus and threw rolls of toilet paper in the early years. The ubiquitous toilet paper is still thrown, but they have regular-sized floats and lots of new themed throws and beads.
After Iris and Tucks were done, there was an hour break before Endymion and we all went to dinner at Daisy Dukes Poorboy Shop near the Hotel. This was a wonderul blending of the step-sisters Kim and Carla's family members.We returned to the stands for the big Endymion Parade and seeing it at night was spectacular: it was as if the parade's floats are painted with colored lights. Due to an accident at the first part of the Endymion parade, they arrived later and we had to leave in mid-parade as our parking spot expired. But we were all ready to leave and get some rest before the Uptown parade on Sunday.
We drove again in Carla's van, and enjoyed the Okeanos parade, but Carla had to leave early and we missed the Mid-City and Thoth parades which were coming next. As I drove us home over the bridge I was thankful for having Lundi Gras to relax with no company at home and to rest up for our all-day walk during Mardi Gras downtown.
Mardi Gras brought another early morning for me and Del. We drove to our regular spot near the Canal Street Ferry, bought two over-65 fares for round trips for $4, and walked up the stairs to wait for the boat. When the gal came to open gate she informed (rather late) that if we wanted to go lower level of the ferry for the ride across the Mississippi River, we would have to walk back about a football field length to enter at the ground level.The internal stairs of the ferries are now blocked off. Wish we had been told this at the Ticket Booth. All the Algiers folks knew this and more than half the passengers boarded at ground level.
We first walked to Royal and then switched to Bourbon but that street was still soaking wet from the clean-up during the early morning hours. Not many folks on the street this early, so we walked over to Royal, checking out Felix's but it wouldn't open until 11, so we stopped by Monteleone Hotel to greet our Grandfather Clock, take a photo or two, and ask of the doorman if Pete Fountain's Half-fast Marching Krewe had come by. He pointed away from Canal down Royal to where it was coming from, so we walked that way. Ran into Tony Celino, his wife Marcie, and his friends from Birmingham, England, John and his wife. Then we walked until I got a few doubloons from the bright Green Suit Half-Fast Krewe and then headed to Jackson Square where the KOE (ne Krewe of Elvis) were assembling.Talked to the Elvis guy for a while, then got a latte at the Chartres's PJ. Then we walked to Café du Monde for Café au Lait and Beignets and a sit down. Then we walked back to the Monteleone and bumped into Edwin Fleischman and Ruby in costume. We got refreshed and headed to Canal Street where we located my nephew Mark Matherne and his wife Becky with their daughters and friends, and there we watched the first half of the Rex Parade with them. Dr. Stephen Hales was finally chosen Rex this year after many pretend selections to hide the real person's name until the upcoming Lundi Gras. Dr. Hales went from being the Historian of Rex to getting into the History of Rex as its monarch in 2017.
We took the ferry back to our car and drove home and as I got out of the car, we were invited over to our neighbor Gerrie's for crawfish by her Lafayette contingent, her daughter Christie and hubbie Josh (the Doctor, a surgeon) and her niece. Gave the girls each a necklace, then went home and came back with the Krewe D'Etat light-up femur to give to Bones!
I watched LSU beat Nicholls State in a close 3-2 game using five freshmen to put them under fire. I was chagrined that Antoine Duplantis wasn't playing, but when a key hit was needed, he was inserted as a pinch hitter and tied the score.
While the game was winding up, we watched the new President's first presidential (vs. campaign) speech to both houses of Congress. He spoke as the President as he laid out his plans and anyone counting the number of the minority party members who stood up to applaud some of his plans for change should be able to judge which ones will get strong bi-partisan support.
LAST MINUTE EVENTS
After our houseful of company on Sunday, Del began washing the bed clothes etal from the guest rooms and the washing machine BROKE! Right after filling the tub full of water on the Rinse cycle. Del was crushed emotionally by this machine failure, but I knew one thing which never failed, which is her mother Doris's spirit, so I gave Del a long hug and called Doris to come to her daughter's aid. Soon Del's spirits were revived and she wrang the water from the white clothes and put them into the dryer. Our friend Burke and Candice were coming over the day after Mardi Gras and Candice who buys and sells houses after fixing them up recommended her best appliance guy. He came over and fixed the machine: a broken safety switch which kept the tub from doing a Spin Dry Rinse and a broken plastic gear at the bottom of the agitator. Both parts he had with him and fixed it in about an hour!
NEWMAN THE MOVIE
After a long wait I finally got to view the movie about Joe Newman's Life and Inventions which I had been interviewed for a couple of years ago. Here's the link for those of you who might like to see me as a forty-something sitting next to Eddie Albert in the Hilton Ballroom, and even more. Click to View Movie by Jon Fox, Electra Briggs, etal: NEWMAN
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNINGIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
The past 28 days of February has been a month with a couple of mild cold spells, some good garden rains, a nearby tornado and plenty of sunshine and short-sleeve shirt weather in-between. Another month with no air-conditioners running and our heating system was rarely on. There are 56 Carnival parades scheduled between mid-month and Mardi Gras on the last day of the month. Our LSU baseball season began on February 17 and hopes are high for this veteran-filled team to run all the way to a championship in Omaha this year after getting mired down in a Coastal Carolina mudhole last year.
New Orleans hosted the NBA All-Star Game this year with its own super star Anthony Davis on the starring five. Davis exceeded the All-Star Game scoring record of 42 by 10 points and won the Most Valuable Player award. New Orleans put on an ALL-STAR show for the NBA and everyone went away happy.
Our azaleas are blooming, as are the petunias along the East Portico. My red potatoes are sowed and sprouting for the Spring Crop and soon other plants will be added. Our orchids are out on the West Portico again, with four of the pots expected to bloom shortly. Till the last days of Lent and the coming of Easter in April, enjoy the blustery days of March, and God Willing, and the River Don't Rise, whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, be it blustery or balmy,
Remember our earnest wish for this new year of 2017:
MAY THE WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-SEVENTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~
Teach your children to be polite and courteous in the home and, when they grows up, they'll never be able to merge their car onto a crowded freeway.
- A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom.
Henry David Thoreau [19th Century American Naturalist, Poet, and Writer]
- The place we rip open again and again that always heals — that's God.
Rainer Maria Rilke in Sonnets to Orpheus
- Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.
Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet
- A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
Barry Goldwater [US Senator, 20th Century]
- We're all entitled to our own opinions; we're not all entitled to our own facts.
Phil Gram [Senator from Texas in the Senate, Thursday September 26, 2002]
New Stuff on Website:We Thank Jeff Parsons for sending these Two Tidbits on Feb. 18, 2017 to DIGESTWORLD! ! !
Tidbit of Humor:Kids are Funny About ChurchOne particular four-year-old prayed, "And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
A Quick Sample:
Tidbit of History:
Tale of the bootstrapping of a Giant Retail Corporation!
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky.
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 53
Why rainbows and shadows? One reminds us of joyful occasions and the other of things that go bump in the night. First, rainbows.
In 1995 I stood in the open doorway of my garage before driving to work on my last day before retirement from the Waterford 3 Nuclear Power Plant, and I saw a beautiful double rainbow in the morning sky before me. My heart lept up like Wordsworth's when I saw that omen. I remembered that the source of the rainbow is in my heart, and was in the heart of everyone who took the time to observe a rainbow that morning. We each saw a different rainbow, and each one we saw was truly our own rainbow.
In 2015 a double rainbow appeared as I looked out my garage door in the morning of the same day I celebrated twenty years of working full-time as a writer, publisher, photographer, cartoonist, and poet. The beat goes on . . .
Likewise, each shadow we encounter is truly our own shadow, created by the materialistic stuff of our world blocking the light of the Sun. Shadows are the dark colors of the artist's pallette of our lives, without which there would be no texture, no structure, no light. As I reviewed my poems for this volume, I found some were naturally rainbows and some naturally shadows, and I separated them into one section called Rainbows and one called Shadows. My wife Del likes me to read to her one Rainbow followed by one Shadow — they seem to complement each other, she says. I have put the section titles in the header to facilitate such a manner of reading.
In addition to the poem, I have included a short note (where available), which notes altogether contain a panoply of information about my poems: when they were written, what I was doing at the time, what I was reading that inspired them, and on what scrap of paper I wrote them. Poems do not "form in their own water" (as my friend Calvin said of volcanoes), but they may form in the water of ideas suggested by others and completed in some fashion by me. In gratitude, I include in many of the Notes the authors' names and sometimes a brief reference or quote of the source of the inspiration. By reading the Notes, one may readily discern my favorite authors and assorted sources of inspiration during the five-year period of writing this book.
There is an ambiguity in the phrase driving to work that leaves unspecified whether I was alone in the car at the time. Believe me, I could never think these thoughts if I were not alone in the car. Sometimes I listened to jazz on WWOZ, sometimes to classical on WWNO, and sometimes only to the thoughts of the writer of the book I was reading and my own thoughts, but always moving on. Like rainbows and shadows are always moving, so was I.
You may have a moving experience also as you join me in my carpool of one on the highway of life. Welcome Aboard! What would you like on the radio, classical or jazz?
These poems are from Bobby Matherne's 1995 book of poetry, Rainbows & Shadows, most of which have never been published on the Internet before. Here at the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing five poems until all poems and notes have been published on-line. Some of these poems have appeared in earlier DIGESTWORLD Issues and are being republished here with their associated NOTES above each poem.
This month we continue with a poem from the Rainbows Chapter of Bobby's second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). Participation Mystique: This poem was written on June 30, 1992 in the margins of Owen Barfield's book, Poetic Diction , at the top of page 147. It was inspired by the following passage on pages 146, 147: "All literatures are, in their infancy, metrical, that is to say, based on a more or less regularly recurring rhythm. Thus, unless we wish to indulge all sorts of fanciful and highly 'logomorphic' notions, namely, that, before the invention of writing, metrical form was deliberately adopted as an aid to memory, we are obliged to assume that the earliest verse-rhythms were 'given' by nature in the same way as the earliest 'meaning'. And this is comprehensible enough. Nature herself is perpetually rhythmic. Just as the myths still live on a ghostly life as fables after they have died as real meaning, so the old rhythmic human consciousness of Nature (it should be called a participation rather than a consciousness) lives on as the tradition of metrical form. We can only understand the origin of meter by going back to the ages when men were conscious, not merely in their heads, but in the beating of their hearts and the pulsing of their blood — when thinking was not merely of Nature, but was Nature herself."
Participation mystique is a rhythmic feat
that pitters and patters
with metrical feet.
This month we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of Bobby's second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995): Paid in Full. This poem was inspired by page 535 of the Course in Miracles Textbook and was written in the margins of page 546 on July 7, 1992. The inspirational passage is: "The only way to heal is to be healed. The miracle extends without your help, but you are needed that it can begin. Accept the miracle of healing, and it will go forth because of what it is. It is its nature to extend itself the instant it is born. And it is born the instant it is offered and received. No one can ask another to be healed. But he can let himself be healed, and thus offer the other what he has received. Who can bestow upon another what he does not have? And who can share what he denies himself?"
An excerpt from my review of A Course in Miracles Textbook:In Phase 7 work in Ortho-Bionomy®, we learn to recognize the part in ourselves which has been changed from thinking about or working with another person and, as we heal that part of ourselves, the other person heals. I took this training only a couple of years ago, but in writing this review, I discovered this insight I had written on page 546 which lays out the Phase 7 principle. It also shows in the last paragraph why I chose to stop pursuing psychotherapy as a career — I could not charge for something I got as much from as I gave.
Paid in Full
The only way to heal others
is to heal that part of you
that is undergoing
the same change as they are,
For that is what attracted
them to you and you to them
in the first place.
This month we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of Bobby's second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). I Used to Love You: This poem was written on July 1, 1991. It was inspired a song on page 327 of the 1,000 Song book on the Thomas organ: "I Used to Love you" written by Will von Tilzer (1920) which used only the meaning "I formerly loved you", but his song inspired me to write this song using two meanings of the phrase "I used to love you". The first meaning is something utilized in the process of making love which is reiterated until the last usage which picks up the second meaning which is "I formerly loved you."
I Used to Love You
Here's the heart I used to love you
here's the lips that kissed you so
Here's the arms I used to hold you
and to never let you go.
Here's the words I used to love you
with my letters in the sand
Here's the ring I used to love you
when I placed it on your hand.
Memories of all I used to love you,
by a loving Cajun man.
Here's the truth: I used to love you
in a far off distant land.
This month we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of Bobby's second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). The Game Plan: This poem was written on Jan 17, 1991. Back in the late 70s and early 80s when there was a lot of criticism about kids putting all their money in video games, I said that creating neural networks in these kids would jump start them into the technology of the future, especially in case of war. I believe the outcome of Desert Storm, during which the US troops overwhelmed the Iraqi troops in 24 hours, attests to the veracity of my observation. These are period video games, but the truth still holds for video games of the 21 century.
The Game Plan
First you train 11-year-olds on video games,
Hone their reflexes on GALAGA,
STARWARS, and DONKEY KONGAn endless stream of quarters clinking,Then you design smart weapon systems
Lighting up the faces of the screens
and the faces of the dancers
with the screens.
with electronic video interfaces
And recruit the kids now grown
and send them into battle against kids
who grew up chasing camels
for fun and games.
This month we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of Bobby's second book of Poetry, Rainbows & Shadows (1995). I Met A Man: Inspired by old poem about a man who wasn't there. Collaboration of Del Matherne and me in the writing of the three stanzas. Reminds me of the story about a man named George going to work and seeing a man with his ear to the wall at the top of the stairs. On his way home George passed the same way and there was the man with his ear still to the wall. George stopped and put his ear to the wall. "I don't hear anything," George said. "Yeah," the man responded, "it's been like that all day."
I Met A Man
I met a man who wasn't there
and wouldn't go away
I wondered what he stood for
and what he had to say.
So I asked him some few questions
and listened to him tell
The answers of a lifetime
that he knew and told so well.
That man is always there for me
he will not go away
He wasn't there again today —
I guess I'll have to let him stay.
New Stuff on the Internet:
- [add here]
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 have missed along the way.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version."Children of Paradise" (1945) Michael Carne's classic B&W film is full of energy as several men are attracted to one beautiful woman. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"Wild Tales" (2014) Pasternak: a life reunion on an airliner/ You want Rat Poison with that?/ A Crime of Passion by a bridge/ Dynamite Man/ Hit and Run/ Wedding Chaos. SIX DON'T MISS HITS ! ! !
"The Whole Truth" (2016) not just the truth told in the courtroom. The defendant helps his attorney.
"Sully" (2016) 35 seconds to make the right human decision. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Mountain Men" (2016) Two brothers reunited on a mountain top and grow up. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage" (2016) a ship on a secret mission to deliver first atom bombs to airbase near Japan was sunk by a submarine, forgotten about after losing 800 men, and its captain was court-martialed. No Hollywood ending this; a Washington, D. C. ending.
"Hacksaw Ridge" (2016) Great movie directed by Mel Gibson of the taking of crucial ridge on Okinawa. Story follows exploits of medic who refused to touch a gun until the very last. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"When Calls the Heart" (2016) a frontier series with a lovely schoolmarm and a Dudley Do-Right Mountie. True grit in a coal mine town.
"Deepwater Horizon" (2016) Mark Wahlberg rescues captain and others after BP rig explodes in Gulf.
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."Cold Weather" (2010) One hour and forty wasted minutes. A romcom with neither romance or comedy.
"Last Knights" (2015) plot did not last the night.
Your call on these your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:"Tabloid" (2010) Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen pulls off a beaut of a kidnaping called the "Manacled Mormon" which is shown in graphic details. Who got the story right? The Tabloid Beast or the Beauty?
"My Love, Don't Cross That River" (2015) documentary of Chinese couple married 76 years and still having fun right up to when the 95-year old crosses the river.
"Men Go to Battle" (2015) Two close brothers separated by war.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Boudreaux was in Our Lady of the Sea Hospital recovering from a procedure. He was lying in a hospital bed wearing an oxygen mask over his mouth.
Clothilde, a female student nurse, came into his room and began giving him a partial sponge bath.
"Nurse," he mumbled from behind the mask, "Can you tole me sumpin? Is mah testicles black?"
Embarrassed, Clothilde blushed a bit and said, "Mais, Ah don't know, Mister Boudreaux. Ah'm only here to wash yah upper body and yah feet."
Boudreaux struggled to ask again, this time a little louder, "Nurse, Ah gotta know. Please check for me. Is mah testicles black?"
Concerned that Boudreaux might elevate his blood pressure and heart rate from worrying about his testicles, Clothilde overcame her embarrassment and pulled back the covers. She raised his gown, held his manhood in one hand and his testicles gently in the other. She examined them very closely and said, "Mais, Ah see nothing wrong with dem, Mr. Boudreaux. Dey look magnificent."
Boudreaux moved up a bit in the hospital bed, slowly pulled off his oxygen mask, smiled at Clothilde, and said, very slowly, "Merci beaucoup, Clothilde. Dat was wonderful. Now listen very, very carefully, Ah want to know dis: "Is- Mah - Test - Results - Back?"
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5. Household Hint for March, 2017 from Bobby Jeaux:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =Help Orchids to Rebloom
We had been saving all our orchids and watering them for years and none of them ever bloomed again. What did we need to do to get them to bloom? If this has bothered you, too, then this helpful advice will get your orchids growing and blooming again.
The instructions were simple enough. We were at a Patio Planters meeting in the French Quarter when Jeff McNeilly came to talk to us on orchids. We followed his simple instructions, spending about $200 on materials and we waited for a year and amazingly one of our orchids bloomed! We called it our $200 orchid! We had prepared five orchids for reblooming, but we were gone during a hard freeze and four of them died.New Orleans has a sub-tropical climate, but gets one or two freezes a winter, so we have learned how to protect our tropical plants during the winter months. Our bromeliads rarely have problems as they are sheltered near the french doors and receive some heat. Our pineapples we began moving to the same location this winter and they survived nicely. Our orchids we moved into our jacuzzi to make it easy to water them and they are protected from freezing weather. The orchid bloom above right is from an orchid which has been treated as described below and wintered in our jacuzzi tub.
2 bags of Orchid Bark
1 roll of Cocoa Grass matting
5 wooden cages with open work sides and wire hangers
Cut the cocoa grass mat into pieces big enough to fill the bottom and sides of each cage. Remove each orchid from its root-bound plastic pot. Free the roots, cut away any brown dry roots, and place on top of the cocoa grass mat, then fill with orchid bark and any material left in the orchid's original container.
Carefully snip the long shoot on which the orchids had bloomed at a spot right past its third segment. (Will have a light colored band after each segment.) This kind of re-blooming can be done about three times, so when a new shoot appears and creates orchid blooms, you can trim it and it will re-bloom also.
Hang under a cover to block direct Sun. You can hang the orchid plants in an open air patio covered by shady trees year-round. WATERING: Too much water kills orchids! That's why water will flow through the wooden cage's grass matting. One day a week, I take each orchid cage and hold it in an Igloo ice chest which catches rain water. I let the water fill to the top of the cage for a few seconds then re-hang it. Pick one day a week to do this. I have been watering our hanging ferns every Sunday, so I simply adding the orchid watering to my Sunday schedule.
In a shady patio, the roots can be allowed to grow over and through the matting, and you can even skip the wooden cage. Here's an example of a French Quarter patio with this kind of planting with the orchid roots hanging down. Note the roots are green and succulent, like healthy orchid roots are.
Be patient. It will take about a year before you'll see the first blooms, but soon you'll have regularly blooming orchids. Bring them inside if you leave during winter freeze months. Under a covered partio, they are protected from frost, so they can handle temps in the 40s but anything lower, bring them inside to be safe.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY:
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The shadows we see
are our rational thoughts
From which we cannot break free
using our rational thoughts —
they are the chains
which bind us to the walls of the cave
While the spiritual world
dances outside the cave and our ken.
Rudolf Steiner broke free from his chains
and escaped the cave
and was blinded by the light.
He reported back to us what he saw
"Marvelous things," he said.
"A Mystery of Golgotha
that has only reflected shadows
on the walls of our cave, up until now."
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for March:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =For our Good Readers, here are the reviews featured this month. The first review is new. The second review was never published in DW Issue, and the third review this month was published in the early DW#40, but only as a short blurb so the full review will be of interest to our DIGESTWORLD Readers.
NOTE: For your convenience, if you wish to Print the full review, simply CLICK on the Book Cover.
1.) ARJ2: Expect Great Things by Kevin T. Dann
By the time I reached Chapter 2 of this book, I felt like I was reading Thoreau's Journals again, feeling the same sweet, contemplative mood as I accompanied Henry on his daily walks through the woods for 14 years. Looking at the cover artwork, featuring an artist's sketch of an old daguerreotype, it seems I'm looking into Kevin Dann's blue eyes. I followed Henry's walks through his native Concord, to Cape Cod, to Mt. Ktaadn in Maine, et al, reading about them about 150 years in the future. I followed Kevin's walk from Motreal past Lake Champlain to Brooklyn in real-time. How approximate for one walker to document the life of another prominent walker. Henry documented the flora and fauna he encountered on his walks; Kevin documented the people and historical places on his walk. Pick up this book and join Kevin as he walks in Henry's footsteps and reports back to us on his progress through life. We know what Henry wrote; now we can begin to understand why he wrote.
When I had completed my review of Thoreau's Journal, Volume 1, I received this note some fifteen years ago from the author of Expect Great Things:
Bobby in his Thoreau review — review is too small a term for the sort of engagement that he brings to this and all the books — has captured something essential about Thoreau, his deep humaneness. The pulse of quote and commentary seems much like a walk Thoreau might take — steady, measured, punctuated, brisk, rhythmic.
Kevin Dann, Author of Lewis Creek, Lost and Found, and currently working on a biography of Thoreau, Vermont, Jan. 6, 2002.
This is the biography of Thoreau that Kevin was working on as far back as 2002 and likely longer. It has been worth the wait for me. I have read and reviewed most of the books that Kevin(1) has written and have been anxious to get my hands on this one. I placed an advance order for my hardback copy with amazon.com and it arrived on January 4, 2017, a day later than Google showed as the official publication date of the book.
Having walked through the woods with Henry for 14 years as I read his Journals, I came to know him very well, so I was not surprised to discover on page 2 of this book that he was born on July 12, making him a Cancerian like myself. I spent my childhood years studying the Moon and Mars through early science fiction books, but this one trip which Henry took on many nights never occurred to me. He would often lie awake at night and, when his mother asked him why, he replied, "Mother, I have been looking through the stars to see if I might see God behind them." (Page 3)
Henry's Uncle Charles was a vagabond who stumbled upon a graphite deposit in New Hampshire and began mining it. When it proved to be the best graphite source for pencils in the country, his uncle went into the pencil-making business, which Henry's father joined and became the sole owner. Henry got involved in the manufacturing process and improved it enough that by the 1840s, the John Thoreau & Co. pencils were competing against the more established Munroe pencils.
Kevin Dann, a professor himself, recognized how important the judgments of non-academic folks could be about the natural world.
[page 13] Cow-milking farm women and curious boys could be trusted to be as empirically minded as civil engineers and professors of natural philosophy. Free of abstract and elaborate theoretical constructions, the untutored folk of America in fact sometimes saw things clearer than professors.
Columbus was Thoreau's choice when assigned to write an essay in a class at Harvard on discoverers. He chose the untutored explorer over the academic discoverers such as Herschel and Newton.
[page 14] What delighted young Henry Thoreau most about Columbus was his persistence in the face of overwhelming skepticism and derision; it already seemed that the seventeen-year-old Thoreau was speaking about himself.
Living in a time without movies, Thoreau loved story and storytellers: Story inspired him as a writer and observer of the natural world around him. What fascination astronomers found in the stars, he found in the ground he walked upon, both as mystery and as story.
[page 17] Thoreau's own appetite for story carried within it the seed of his vocation, both as writer and naturalist. He believed that all humans craved story because they forever craved the new. "The earth we tread upon is as curious as the stars we gaze upon," he declared, quoting for support one of his own — and America's — favorite storytellers, Washington Irving: "To the thinking mind, the whole world is enveloped in mystery, and everything is full of type and portent."
My four children grew up in a world of Saturday morning cartoons designed for children. My three daughters watched the first child cartoon that starred a girl; she worked at a motor raceway and drove race cars as best I can recall. I remember only her name because of an event which occurred when we were driving to breakfast somewhere and I overheard one the girls saying, "I hope we get home in time to watch 'Penelope Pissed Off'". I asked my wife who she was and was told that the girl's name was actually Penelope Pitstop.
What did children in Thoreau's time have equivalent to my kids' cartoons? They had cheap chapbooks which were sold like peddlers today sell ice cream bars from their carts. Children would likely beg some change from their mother to buy a new chapbook of stories to read.
Thoreau knew the power of an unanswered question, how an innocent nursery rhyme can sometimes reside in a child's mind for decades before it blooms into an important understanding of the world. Simple chapbooks, comic books, and kiddie cartoons can have an important effect on a child's growth as they mature.
[page 16] Thoreau theorized that each child accidentally comes upon something that unveils a new truth to him, noting that if this new object of discovery has been pleasurable, the child becomes a hunter of novelty. Pursuing the "strange" or "remarkable" becomes a lifelong pastime, the "principle of our principles," so that the innocent Mother Goose rhymes of youth give way to adult curiosity about the mysteries of nature and history.
The concept of the "holy fool" reminds me of the Sufi fool, Nasruddin, who always emerged from scrapes victorious and unharmed. When Nasruddin arrived at a stable where he had been invited to go horseback riding, he was offered a donkey to ride on. He immediately jumped on the donkey backwards, and the fellows on their high horses laughed at him, saying, "Perhaps you are not accustomed to the riding habits of gentlemen!" To which Nasruddin replied, "Perhaps you think I did not notice that you had pawned off on me a 'front-to-back donkey'!".
[page 16] Thoreau loved particularly the Mother Goose tale of the three wise men of Gotham, who "went to sea in a bowl." The Gotham "wise men" were actually holy fools whose lack of wisdom got them into deep waters among their fellow men, but who always emerged unharmed and uncannily blessed.
It is too soon to tell, but the new US President may be exactly such a 'holy fool' as appeared in so many chapbooks. One character everyone knows is Tom Thumb who first appeared in a chapbook and went on to become a fixture in the Barnum Circus.
[page 17] These little pamphlets held wonderful worlds within, where characters often not unlike the peddler adventured among ghosts, goblins, mermaids, and elves. Stories religious, diabolical, supernatural, superstitious, romantic, humorous, legendary, historical, biographical, and even criminal filled the flimsy tomes in which American children first met Jack Horner, Jack the Giant Killer, Robinson Crusoe, Reynard the Fox, Robin Hood, and Doctor Faustus. In the chapbook world, dream and omen loomed large, so children also met celebrated prophets like Mother Shipton and Robert Nixon of Cheshire. The heroes were usually children or young adults: Fortunatus, the young man who finds a purse that cannot be emptied and a hat that carries him anywhere he wishes to be; Guy, the Earl of Warwick, who overcomes sixteen assassins, slays boars and dragons, and then goes on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land; even Saint George the dragon slayer was a young man in the chapbook tales. Before Barnum made a household word of a stage midget by the same name, Tom Thumb was a chapbook adventurer whose history of "Marvellous Acts of Manhood Full of Wonder and Merriment" were known to all American boys and girls. Chapbook humor was raw and bawdy, and the chief beauty of the tales was that of all fairy tale and fable — everything appeared to happen by chance, and so nothing seemed anything less than absolutely fated.
In my childhood, Big Little Books, full of raw adventure, mystery, and humor, were sold for 10 cents and were filled with modern versions of chapbook stories, Popeye, Charlie Chan, Dick Tracy, Red Ryder, Smokey Stover, etal. These thick, 4X4 inches in size, books seemed to disappear around the time comic books became popular, presenting kids with Superman and Batman appearing for the first time with their modern adventures, two modern incarnations of chapbook heroes: The first a Fortunatus with super-human strength that carries him anywhere he wants to be and the second an Earl of Warwick disguised as a Bat who overcomes criminals and assailants with his bare hands and a utility belt. Our intrepid explorer of history, Dr. Dann, has unearthed the background of much of our modern storytelling genres.
I was amazed to read on page 18 that Ralph Waldo Emerson belonged to a literary club called the Knights of the Square Table at Harvard. I would assume that if these august collegians were to hold up a glass to toast "Holmes" it would be to Oliver Wendell Holmes, the poet, physician, and essayist who was in the audience when Emerson gave his famous essay, "The American Scholar." (Page 33)
In his poem entitled Man, George Herbert gracefully portrays the correspondence between the microcosm of the human being and the macrocosm of the Cosmos in which we find ourselves. Herbert explains that the very herbs which can bring us back to health, the average person walks upon and smashes without notice. These are servants which wait upon our notice of them to help us.
More servants wait on Man
Than he'll take notice of: in every path
He treads down that which doth befriend him,
When sickness makes him pale and wan.
In our gardens the vegetables do the same: they respond to the stimulants our body gives off and modify their genes to provide to us the proteins that our body needs to return to a robust health. I explain this in detail in my Essay, The Plant As Doctor, and various other sources are referenced there. The humble weeds, that Herbert refers to, respond to our presence as vegetables do in our garden.They can be the prescribing physician, the drug company, and the dispensing druggist who provides our body exactly what it needs. How is this possible, except that the plants around us today were once part of our body as we evolved into human beings? This is what is meant by microcosm and macrocosm. As such, plants are able to recognize the lack that make us ill, and then change their genes to produce new proteins designed to fill this lack and bring us back to health. If this seems like magic to you, perhaps you live in a reality so materialistic that the reality of being truly human escapes you. It certainly did not escape George Herbert(2). You are trampling down humanity like the Man in Herbert's poem trampled down the plants on his path.
Animals in the wild rarely get sick because they consume the plants around them, or consume other animals who consume these plants. Lacking the freedom of a human being, animals have naturally-balanced processes with no need for correction. Humans, however, can imbalance themselves, and the plants, who are not capable of imbalancing themselves(3), receive the stimulants from an imbalanced human (in the form of toxins) and modify their genes to produce proteins which, when consumed, will restore balance in the human by undoing the toxins. The stimulants can be received from a man treading on a path where plants are growing, such as Herbert writes about. Today the vegetables in a garden can receive stimulants (toxins) from a gardener who plows the ground, sows the seed, removes the weeds, breathes on the growing plant, drops sweat near the plant, or rubs oils from his hands against the plant.If you are a gardener who grows and eats your own fruit and vegetables, you will likely have noticed that they taste better than store-bought produce. The improved taste is your body's way of letting you know these home-grown plants are good for your health, that their custom-designed proteins are going to work undoing the toxins in your body.
Dann introduces the Herbert poem, "Man", in this next passage:
[page 24] Having long outgrown his infatuation with the fairy world, still the genii loci haunt the edges of Emerson's thought: "The greatest delight which the fields and woods administer is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them."A paragraph later he alludes to the "frolic of the nymphs," and then quotes George Herbert's statement that "More servants wait on man/Than he'll take notice of." Wholly forward-looking in its radical reliance on Nature, not God, as the arbiter of truth, the essay's embrace of participatory consciousness yet allied it with more traditional cosmologies. The essay's argument is itself largely a modern restatement of the ancient esoteric doctrine of correspondences, and its prophetic conclusion, "Prospects," returns to a language of hidden mystery: "In a cabinet of natural history, we become sensible of a certain occult recognition and sympathy in regard to the most unwieldy and eccentric form of beast, fish, and insect." Emerson, whose intensive reading in seventeenth-century English poetry preceded Thoreau's parallel reading program by just one year, included Herbert's "Man" as a prelude to his essay's Orphic apotheosis. Thoreau loved the poem as much as Emerson did, copying it out in full in his notebook.
Like Emerson and Thoreau, once I heard of Herbert's 1633 poem, "Man", I wanted to read it, so I immediately Googled the poem so I could read all of it. Here was a man, Herbert, still holding onto some spiritual vision of the natural world who was able to understand that the commonest of plants, the ones trod underfoot by passersby, could cure their ills if they but knew to pick them up and eat them. Since these paths were walked upon often in those days of limited means of travel, the plants would have adjusted their genes to produce health-giving proteins to these oblivious local travelers.
In Rudolf Steiner's works I studied the microcosm of Man in the macrocosm of the Cosmos around us. In the evolution of Man and the Cosmos, Man in the earliest stages of evolution went through the plant stage of being. This allows plants to know the deep insides of Man today, leading to what Dann calls "a cosmic hospitality" between Man and Nature, between the human being and the plant kingdom.
[page 24] Herbert's poem presented the highest expression of the doctrine of correspondences, the ancient assertion that man was microcosm, embodying the macrocosm — not just the Earth but the planets and stars as well. Herbert's poem affirmed a cosmic hospitality that both Emerson and Thoreau knew personally.
This next passage comes from Emerson's Nature, included in my 1950 Modern Library Edition of The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He never identifies the "poet who sang" this to him, but we can suspect it was his own Muse or daimon which did so.
[page 39, 40 of Writings] I shall therefore conclude this essay with some traditions of man and nature, which a certain poet sang to me; and which, as they have always been in the world, and perhaps reappear to every bard, may be both history and prophecy.
'The foundations of man are not in matter, but in spirit. But the element of spirit is eternity. To it, therefore, the longest series of events, the oldest chronologies are young and recent. In the cycle of the universal man, from whom the known individuals proceed, centuries are points, and all history is but the epoch of one degradation.
'We distrust and deny inwardly our sympathy with nature. We own and disown our relation to it, by turns. We are like Nebuchadnezzar, dethroned, bereft of reason, and eating grass like an ox. But who can set limits to the remedial force of spirit?
'A man is a god in ruin. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal as gently as we awake from dreams. Now, the world would be insane and rabid, if these disorganizations should last for hundreds of years. It is kept in check by death and infancy. Infancy is the perpetual Messiah, which comes into the arms of fallen men, and pleads with them to return to paradise.
'Man is the dwarf of himself. Once he was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled nature with his overflowing currents. Out from him sprang the sun and moon; from man the sun, from woman the moon. The laws of his mind, the periods of his actions externized themselves into day and night, into the year and the seasons.But, having made for himself this huge shell, his waters retired; he no longer fills the veins and veinlets; he is shrunk to a drop. He sees that the structure still fits him, but fits him colossally. Say, rather, once it fitted him, now it corresponds to him from far and on high. He adores timidly his own work. Now is man the follower of the sun, and woman the follower of the moon. Yet sometimes he starts in his slumber, and wonders at himself and his house, and muses strangely at the resemblance betwixt him and it. He perceives that if his law is still paramount, if still he have elemental power, if his word is sterling yet in nature, it is not conscious power, it is not inferior but superior to his will. It is instinct.' Thus my Orphic poet sang.
How can we understand Emerson's paragraph above beginning, "A man is a god in ruin . . . "? We are fallen from the spiritual world into a material body. If we were innocent and pure, we would live much longer and enter consciously into the spiritual world. But, in our present state of impure materiality, if individual humans were to live for centuries, they would destroy each other maniacally. We are saved from that sad end by dying short of a century, and returning as a baby in a new life. When we receive an infant into our lives, or merely take one into our arms, the babe reveals to us the paradise of the spiritual world from which it has just entered into life and reminds us of our own destiny.
Emerson's next paragraph reminds us that we humans have evolved along with the Cosmos which surrounds us — we were all one in the earliest stage of evolution. In dreams we catch glimpses of the resemblance between the Cosmos (our house) and ourselves (the drop).
Here is how the magnificent passage by Emerson in Nature was summarized in this book. Dann gives us a gentle nudge and bids us to crack open our eyes a bit to see the spiritual realities in which we humans live, move, and have our being.
[page 25] Emerson acknowledged that the reciprocal hospitality between man and nature was broken, not by virtue of human degradation of wild nature, but because modern man mistook himself for a material, rather than spiritual, creation. "A man is a god in ruin. . . . Man is the dwarf of himself. Once he was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled nature with his overflowing currents. . . . But . . . he is shrunk to a drop." As remedy for this disenchantment, Emerson's Nature offered the vague outlines of a transcendental — and what was to become a transcendentalist — research program. Men could not be naturalists until they redeemed their soul and spirit natures, and birthed from themselves higher faculties. When that moment arrived, facts, not fables, would feed man.
Thoreau got a copy of Nature and had just finished reading it when Emerson's sister-in-law who was boarding in the Thoreau home, brought him to visit Emerson. Thus began the interweaving tapestry of their two lives. They had only come close to meeting several times before. Thoreau had found him earlier in Nature, and now would meet him in the flesh.
[page 25] Over the mantel in Emerson's study hung New Bedford artist William Wall's painting of The Three Fates, a copy of a painting that Emerson had seen in the Pitti Palace in Florence on his life-changing pilgrimage in 1833. Within the year, the spinning sisters Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos would weave together Emerson's and Thoreau's destinies more tightly than they could imagine.
Emerson ended his famous American Scholar lecture with these words which Thoreau could have taken as his marching orders, "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds." (Page 34) We don't know if Thoreau was at this speech just outside the Harvard main gate on the day after his Harvard graduation, but he lived his life as if he had taken those words to heart. This is a simple example of the interweaving of the two men's lives. Another example: they shared a rebellious streak. Emerson gave a lecture to the senior class of the Harvard Divinity School on July 15, 1838 and the clergy were so incensed by his words that it was 30 years before Emerson was invited to speak at Harvard again. (See page 65 of Writings) Dann tells us that Thoreau in his second week as a school teacher was reprimanded for not using the cane to enforce discipline. "Thoreau went back into the classroom, selected six students at random, and struck them with the cane. He then resigned." (Page 35)
Dann also points out two salient episodes of rebirth in Thoreau's life. In his first publication, an obituary he wrote for the Yeoman's Gazette, he changed the order of his first and middle names and recast himself as Henry David Thoreau, which names stuck. The second rebirth came when Emerson met his new acquaintance on October 22, 1837 on the street and asked him, "What are your doing now? Do you keep a journal?" Within days, Thoreau was collecting scraps of his writing to place in his Journal which he kept writing into until l861(4). Here is an excerpt from my review of the first volume of his Journal:
On October 27, he wrote a complete story about his finding an arrowhead. Many people find arrowheads, but few have ever found one the way Thoreau did — as the culmination of an imaginative story about Indians.
[page 7] "There on the Nawshawtuct," said I, "was their lodge, the rendezvous of the tribe, and yonder, on Clamshell Hill, their feasting ground. . . . Here," I exclaimed, "stood Tahatawan; and there is Tahatawan's arrowhead."
We instantly proceeded to sit down on the spot I had pointed to, and I, to carry out the joke, to lay bare an ordinary stone which my whim had selected, when lo! the first I laid my hands on, the grubbing stone that was to be, proved a most perfect arrowhead, as sharp as if just from the hands of the Indian fabricator!!!"
Thoreau wandered inside his own magic circle, his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, and was often aided by unseen helpers similar to those who aided Fortunatus in the popular chapbooks of his adventures. Thoreau was reading Goethe at the time he found the arrowhead.
[page 39] Goethe's conception of the poet was one to which Thoreau clearly aspired — one who found unity in diversity, whose mind took in all sensations, and who "In his own magic circle wanders."The magician's circle circumscribed a microcosmos where he became master of the elemental beings of nature, with whose help he could make things appear and disappear. Concord would become the magic circle into which this nascent master of the elementals would soon draw his own — and America's — destiny.
Emerson wanted a poetry for a new generation, not a rehash of past generations. He wrote in his Introduction to Nature, "The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should we not also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?" These words had a powerful impact on me when I read them after I bought my Modern Library copy of Emerson's Writings as a freshman in college. It was only a short time later that I bought a copy of Samuel Hoffenstein's humorous and satirical poems which I found to be full of insight while making fun of tradition. Here's my favorite poem of his, which I quickly memorized and have carried with me since:
Little by little we subtract
Faith and Fallacy from Fact,
The Illusory from the True,
And starve upon the Residue.
This quatrain triggered my search to find a way to add a nutritive essence to what traditions of thought have removed from our now vacuous reality. My own poetry seeks to be a poetry of insight in the manner suggested by Emerson, a poetry which waters and nurtures the residue back into a living reality. Sometimes the best nurturing comes from a good laugh, and a biting satire can offer that to a true philosopher who takes no tradition seriously. Thoreau would agree.
[page 71, 72] The sly satirist Thoreau hides in plain sight as he says, "But the divinest poem, or the life of a great man, is the severest satire; as impersonal as nature herself, and like the sighs of her winds in the woods, which convey ever a slight reproof to the hearer. The greater the genius, the keener the edge of the satire."
Emerson learned about the out-of-doors from Thoreau, grafting apple trees, walking, and boating. Emerson writes of a magical night where the magician's wand was a paddle.
[page 74, 75] In June, out with Emerson for a crepuscular paddle on the Concord, Thoreau shared with his friend his especial dwelling — the night: "Then the good river-god has taken the form of my valiant Henry Thoreau here & introduced me to the riches of his shadowy starlit, moonlit stream, a lovely new world lying as close & yet as unknown to this vulgar trite one of streets and shops as death to life, or poetry to prose. Through one field only we went to the boat and then left all time, all science, all history, behind us, and entered into Nature with one stroke of a paddle.
The riches he shared with Emerson was an everyday experience to Thoreau, so one can find no notice of it in Thoreau's journal, and yet Emerson experiences an ecstacy that he had rarely experienced before.
[page 75] Emerson always craved the sort of ekstasis he had experienced as a young man crossing that "bare common" when he felt himself become transparent, and on the moonlit river with his friend, Emerson felt caught up in "A holiday, a villegiatura, a royal revel, the proudest, most magnificent, most heart-rejoicing festival that valor and beauty, power and poetry ever decked and enjoyed — it is here, it is this." Thoreau's journal records no similar ecstasy, but what for Emerson were episodic encounters were for Thoreau nearly quotidian.
Thoreau could see fairies in his youth and regaled the children of Concord with fairy stories, becoming a living Pan to them. Chaucer, whose works were read by Thoreau, explains how fairies were "illusions" subtracted from fact by the church so that but few men like Thoreau could see them.
[page 93] Reading Chaucer this year, Thoreau had transcribed the opening stanza of "The Wife of Bath's Tale," which tells of how in King Arthur's time, "all this wide land was full filled of faerie," how "many hundred years ago" the elf-queen and her "jolly company" would dance on green meads. "But now no man can see the elves, you know," the narrator had lamented, due to the "limiters and other holy friars," whose activities had driven them away. Chaucer was satirizing the sort of Christianity that rather than respect and honor the fairies, had banished them from their old haunts. For as long as the fairies had been "going away," vanishing from human sight, there had always been individual seers who could catch glimpses of them and report on their activity. Thoreau was — at least up until his twenty-eighth year — such a seer.
Remember the rebellious lecture Emerson gave to the Divinity School which made him persona non grata at Harvard for 30 years? In his talk he called for a hero, a new Teacher, to come, not knowing that would be Thoreau, nor that he would provide the land near Walden Pond where Thoreau would come to give his greatest teachings in his small book Walden, teachings which would echo down the generations, inspiring non-violence in Gandhi, King, etal, and attracting millions of readers.
[page 98] Just days after Thoreau's twenty-first birthday, Emerson had concluded his Divinity School address with a plea for the American hero yet to come: "I look for the new Teacher that shall follow so far those shining laws that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be a mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart; and shall show that the Ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy." At that moment Emerson, almost exactly twice seven years Thoreau's senior, hardly could know that he would eventually provide the land upon which the anticipated new teacher would harmonize Duty, Science, Beauty, and Joy.
Anyone reading this book will want to know about how Thoreau selected the spot for his tiny cabin alongside Walden Pond. A month after moving into the cabin he remembered his first visit to the pond at age five:
[page 105] "That woodland vision for a long time made the drapery of my dreams. That sweet solitude my spirit seemed so early to require that I might have room to entertain my thronging guests, and that speaking silence that my ears might distinguish the significant sounds. Some how or other it at once gave the preference to this recess among the pines . . . as if it had found its proper nursery."
Dann calls Thoreau's modest cabin his temple, evoking the cathedral-like effect its Walden Pond milieu had on its owner and sole inhabitant.
[page 105, 106] Unadorned by a single graven image, cluttered with no relics or statuary, fronted by no massive portal, and bearing no towering steeple or spire, Thoreau's Walden temple yet presented more beauty than the eye might imagine, and had a thousand entrances of the most splendid form. Divinity leaped from every niche and transept of the Walden woods, while a cathedral choir was ever singing ethereal hymns.
Dann writes on page 116 that Emerson eschewed Swedenborg's philosophy of pure evil, preferring the comforting philosophy that "evil is good in the making". This resonates well with Rudolf Steiner's view that "evil is a good out of its time", e.g., Lucifer's so-called evil deed which precipitated humanity's Fall into materialism, but which deed turned into a good when the deed of Christ arrived to allow humanity to rise again to spiritual realities. Look at the early evils of Irish emigration to the USA which resulted in generations of Irish cops defending our people. Each new wave of emigration seems like an evil because the good it will bring will only arrive later.
On page 119 Dann quotes Thoreau as saying, "I know of no rule which holds so true as that we are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect." This parallels my rule, EAT-O-TWIST, which avers that "Everything Allways Turns - Out - The Way It Is Supposed To"(5). Change the suppose to suspect and they are equivalent.
When I read on page 120 about Thoreau wondering about the "vanished neighbors at Walden Pond" who left only a shut up road as a sign of their presence, I was reminded of the years I spend at Union Carbide and Waterford 3 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. For three years in Taft and fourteen years in Waterford, Louisiana, I was daily walking over the sites of the first German settlers of the 1720s. This was in my twenties and forties when thoughts of previous settlers had never settled into my busy mind. Only later did I discover those vanished settlers when I read this book, Germans of Louisiana. Their early settlements were wiped out by the spring flooding of the then un-leveed Mississippi River, which caused them to move to higher ground.
It is a service to the history of science that Dann explains the move from the use of hypnotism (mesmerism) for surgery to the use of ether. He points out that it was a move from a spiritualized agent to a chemical agent. Ether killed people due to overdoses, but it did avoid the appearance of clairvoyance episodes that accompanied hypnotism, so its use proceeded into the twentieth century when it was replaced by other forms of chemical anesthesia.
[page 130] On October 19,1846, the day before the arrival of the news of Neptune's discovery, a Boston doctor named William Morton rejected his patient's request for mesmeric anesthesia, which had become the safest and most effective form of anesthetic, and instead applied ethyl ether before removing the patient's tumor. The success of this operation dealt the death blow to mesmerism as a therapeutic agent, since its full extinguishing of consciousness without provoking somnambulic lucidity meant that dentists and physicians would not have to confront the philosophical question of mesmeric anesthesia's puzzling side effect — clairvoyance.
Why is this history unknown today to the majority of people? Doctors are as capable as any despot of disguising unpleasant historical facts, rewriting history, to hide things they would feel uncomfortable about explaining to their patients.
[Page 130, 131] In banishing the phenomena of mesmerism from open investigation, nineteenth-century American scientists closed their eyes, sleepwalking in the face of the animating power of nature. The exclusion of the history of mesmerism from contemporary history of science attests to the triumph of mechanistic and materialistic theories of nature.
This pyrrhic triumph of materialistic science eliminated all knowledge of understanding ancient myths as records of clairvoyant abilities of early humans. "When knowledge ends, discussion begins" is a major insight I found in Rudolf Steiner's writings. When knowledge of the real basis of myths was lost, the academic discussion and study of what they called mythology began.
[page 131] At Walden, Thoreau was mythologizing Nature and Self at the very moment when modern materialist science made it all but impossible to appreciate the deep truths of ancient myth. The advent of academic interest in mythology came just as the understanding of myth as the record of ancient clairvoyance of spiritual realities disappeared.
Thoreau was a punster, Dann says, he hid his Truth, never doubting it, but often doubling, adding light in juxtaposition to darkness, a darkness that we are forced to cast our own light upon, either while we are reading Walden or while we are sleeping and our own spirit is walking through Walden.
[page 135] That is the beauty of a pun: it deceives and enlightens at once. It is a gift offered also with no guarantee of acceptance or even recognition on the part of the hearer.
My dad kept a copy of Parts Pup in his bedside drawer, a monthly magazine of jokes which he got from the Auto Parts dealer across the street. One regular column was about the writer's "Shirt Sharpener," and, as a ten-year-old, I had no idea what that meant. I thought of a pencil sharper, but how could you get a shirt into a pencil sharpener? It took many years before I realized that man was talking about his wife who kept his shirts looking sharp! It was my first exposure to a pun, and the one person I knew who could tell me what it meant, my dad, was the one person I couldn't ask! I held that phrase as an unanswered question for a decade or so before I happened to revisit it in my memory and solved the hidden part of the pun. This pun was an unanswered question. It was like the "strong and beautiful bug" in Thoreau's parable which appeared out of an old table after someone placed a hot tea pot on the spot inside the tabletop where it had gestated for decades! (Page 139)Thoreau, when he received the 500 or so unsold copies of an early print run of Walden, must have thought of his fine book as just such a strong and beautiful organism in gestation.
Thoreau called a secret agreement an "East quarter bargain".
[page 157] For Thoreau, an "East quarter bargain" was one he made with the wild places around him:
How near to good is what is wild. There is the marrow of nature — there her divine liquors — that is the wine I love. A man's health requires as many acres of meadow as his farm does loads of muck. They are indispensable both to men & corn. They are the only strong meats — We pine & starve and lose spirit on the thin gruel of society. A town is saved not by any righteous men in it but by the woods & swamps that surround it.
Thoreau was an early advocate of burning of forest lands as a means of creating new growth of plants and even trees whose seeds had to be charred to sprout a new tree. Planned burning is a common practice in forest management today , but it was a radical thought that Thoreau offered the world in his day.
[page 168, 169] Because it would be another decade before Thoreau himself would discover that the forest type growing in the location was itself the product of millennia of fire, he couldn't congratulate himself as an agent of ecological restoration, but he did claim that forest fires were advantageous to both nature and man. He noted that by destroying underbrush they favored the "larger and sturdier trees," which in turn made walking in recently burned woods much easier. The berry crop that arrived in two or three years after a burn was a boon to both birds and people. Thoreau speculated — with good reason — that New England's "noblest natural parks" were a consequence of "this accident."
In the middle of a long, rambling description of Thoreau's activities, Dann includes a reference to a real-time interruption while Thoreau was writing in his Journal (V2). My interest was piqued because Henry rarely wrote of something that was happening in the present moment of his life. Here is the cat interruption in Henry's own hand:
[page 98, Thoreau Journal, V2] Somebody shut the cat's tail in the door just now, and she made such a caterwaul as has driven two whole worlds out of my thoughts. I saw unspeakable things in the sky and looming in the horizon of my mind, and now they are all reduced to a cat's tail. Vast films of thought floated through my brain, like clouds pregnant with rain enough to fertilized and restore a world, and now they are all dissipated.
I recall another real-time interrupt while he was walking. He commented, "Some bird flies over, making a noise like the barking of a puppy. It is yet so dark that I have dropped my pencil and cannot find it." (Page 484, Thoreau Journal,V2) We can only guess that he had a second pencil at hand to record this occasion. The immediacy of the note indicates that Thoreau was writing these notes while they were happening, somehow managing it in the dark. Thoreau ruminated while he walked and apparently wrote down some of his ruminations while walking. He seemed to contrast his meandering way of educating himself to academic education when he wrote in 1850 (Page 83, Thoreau Journal,V2), "What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook." And directly below that line, he added, "You must walk like a camel, which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when it walks." Well, we might note that Thoreau was a thoughtful beast like the camel. Since one can do a lot of ruminating on a walk between Montreal and Brooklyn as Dann did, we must add his name to the honor roll of walking ruminators.
When Thoreau went into ecstatic states, Dann says that he entered more deeply into his body and the earth instead of leaving them, that he was able to get into them because he able to experience them without having to understand them beforehand. I have known "I know that!" people who say those words whenever they hear about something new. These are people who cannot, like Thoreau did so beautifully, hold an "unanswered question." Unable to hold questions such as "What might I be missing about this situation?", they fail to learn much about the world they live in and simply whitewash over the beautiful artwork of the world around them. Here is a passage where Henry shows that he appreciates the power of an unanswered question.
[page 183] This moment of ecstatic participation was fleeting but unforgettable. Eleven weeks later he spoke of this episode again, repeating almost verbatim the words he wrote in November but expanding the "I" to "we," turning his singular experience into a general epistemological law: "We shall see but little if we require to understand what we see."
In the passage below Dann conjures up a vision of winter snows in Concord which is vivid and sweet, like the natural sweet cider produced by the freezing and re-freezing of crab apples. For me only 40 miles or so south of Concord, my town of Foxborough had a State Forest full of paths which I daily went through on my trail bike during my lunch break, loving the solitude, the greenery, the flowing streams, the water falls, and even the rough ground of the long abandoned granite quarry on its south end. But nothing was more fun for me than wintery days with new snow on the ground. What I loved was the trails that the partridge, the rabbits, and other fauna left behind as footprints in the snow. No trace of these animals ever appeared to me in the green months, so I braved these slippery paths in winter to gaze on the natural artworks that the forest denizens traced in the snow. Never did I see a human footprint in the snowy paths.
[page 184] Winter's snows shut up Concord's cows, so cowherds — and "cowards" — vanished from remote pastures and hills, but Thoreau kept up his daily walks, appreciative of the extra solitude brought on by winter. Winter's bareness afforded all manner of revelation unavailable in the green months; shrubs and trees inconspicuous at other seasons now leaped out in full silhouette; frozen ponds could be traversed easily, and Thoreau discovered new plants like sweet gale and panicled andromeda on islands previously unexplored; sour, inedible crabbed apples after repeated freezing and thawing were full of sweet cider; wind patterns could be studied from the humping and hollowing of snow, and the winter deposition of sand and stones from cut banks was revealed to leave lines of demarcation as pronounced as the pine pollen which ringed Walden Pond in summer. New walks could be traced out, like the path following the line of bare ground or snow just between the high water mark and the present water line of wet meadows.
It was winter which gave birth to much of Thoreau's poetry, little of which appeared in his Journal, so I appreciate Dann's sharing of these from Thoreau's Collected Essays and Poems, particularly his sharing of Thoreau's "tropes of triumph" and the passage, "there is truth in a small degeneracy."
[page 185] Winter's highlighting of essentials was conducive to poetry. In February 1851 Thoreau wrote four poems reflecting on the meaning of his own life and of life for all who were given the gift of it. Comparing his life to "a stately warrior horse," Thoreau asks when the horseman's "rambling head and neck" will meld with "that firm and brawny beast." He overcomes his hesitancy about his destiny, declaring "my unresting steed holds on its way," and then the steed becomes a ship with "expanded sail, and an eagle with unwearied wings," all tropes of triumph. Another poem allows that while moon, brook, and meteors move "without impediment, . . . No charitable laws alas cut me / An easy orbit round the sun," his current never "rounds into a lake," nor does his life "drop freely but a rod. . . as Meteors do."A third poem gives thanks for this very fact, that by aiming at "the splendid heights above," he inevitably must fall along the way. Out of this richly textured life he lifts the image of an "unanxious hen" bragging of a new laid egg — "Now let the day decline / They'll lay another by tomorrow's sun." The last poem — "Manhood" — though taking as its subject other men, is pure Thoreau. Beginning "I love to see the man . . . as yet uninjured by worldly taint" and continuing "But better still I love . . ." him who "proudly bears his small degen'racy." Thoreau at thirty-three had seen enough of life to know that its nobility lay in the fight against mere fatedness, that "man's eminence" sprang from his undying resolve to make his own fate. The brave man was finally he who, though struck down repeatedly, never lost sight of his high goal.
From reading Thoreau's Journals, I became aware that the verbs "want" could mean "lack," "wonder" could mean "amazed by", and "improve" could mean "make the best use of" — each of these are archaic or unfamiliar usages, but one needs to understand them this way when they appear in Thoreau's writings. Here's one example from page 186, as Dann writes, "The voice of his genius spoke a familiar dialect: 'Improve your time,' it hinted one July morning as he awoke." We today could easily imagine that he understood being told to "make the present time of the world better" but that would be a mistake, as I understand it. Thoreau was being encouraged to "make the best use of his own time."So, instead of trudging the ruts of travel, Thoreau instead enjoyed an adventure under a magnificent blue sky such as was never recorded in history. Here is an example of "wonder" used to mean am amazed, "It is a certain faeryland where we live . . . I wonder that I ever get five miles on my way, the walk is so crowded with events and phenomena."
On the first intercity telegraphic message, Samuel Morse sent this quote from the Bible, "What hath God wrought?" The telegraph was the nineteenth century equivalent of launching the Internet in terms of the rapidity of human communication it unleashed upon the world. When the first telegraph line came into operation through Concord, Thoreau heard the wind singing in its wires and sat down to receive a celestial message from the new invention.
[page 198] Quoted from Thoreau Journal v2: I instantly sat down on a stone at the foot of the telegraph pole, and attended to the communication. It merely said: "Bear in mind, Child, and never for an instant forget, that there are higher planes, infinitely higher planes, of life than this thou art traveling on. Know that the goal is distant, and is upward, and is worthy of all your life's efforts to attain to." And then it ceased, and though I sat some minutes longer, I heard nothing more.
The ethereal sound of the wind blowing through the wires and humming of the telegraph pole inspired Thoreau to call this new invention, the "telegraph harp", a musical instrument soon to be strung from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, bringing its music to all who walked along the railroad tracks and telegraph lines. Many wondered about the origin of the music, but to Henry it seemed clear, as Dann writes: "The telegraph harp seemed to give Thoreau a way to hear the music of the spheres directly." (Page 206)
Thoreau wrote about rules, "Any fool can make a rule and every fool will mind it." (Written in his Journal, February 3, 1860.) Maybe, but if the rule is useful, even the wise will mind it.
[page 215, 216] He even discovered a rule of thumb about the ideal distance between perception and conception. "I succeed best when l recur to my experience not too late, but within a day or two; when there is some distance, but enough of freshness." This rule of thumb is actually a universal law, a function of the rhythm of the etheric body. It takes three days for experiences — observations, images, ideas — to become imprinted into our body of etheric formative forces, and thus permanently into our memory, and more important, even when we have lost our own individual memories of them, into the cosmos, where they are stored even after our death. After three days, the more intensively and faithfully an individual attends to some thought, the more deeply it becomes inscribed into the universe.
One challenge as a writer is to correct one's early drafts of a text. I've found that three days is an ideal time between writing something and going over it thoroughly. This is a process that I call "playing with sentences". Here's how it works. My first draft goes to my Copy-Editor and she finds the missing "a" "an" "of" which I elided while typing quickly, plus she marks passages she has trouble with.Once she pointed to a sentence and said, "No hairdresser could understand that sentence." I resisted but had to agree that one should write at the level of an eight grade education to reach readers in a comfortable way. I usually proof and correct her edits almost immediately. But during this first editing phase this is my writing and I do not really want to change anything. Not until three days have passed. That's when the real work of editing happens for me. After this 72-hour break, I come back and read my own piece as if it were written by someone else. It is then I can see obvious mistakes and can question the text harshly. "What did this dimwit mean by this?" "What an awkward way of saying that!" "Ooh, here's a place where I can add something that he should have said about the subject!" These are the kinds of mental comments which come to me when I undertake the proofing after three days. It is a playful time for me — Why? Because all my life I've read pieces with typos, mistakes, badly worded tripe, etc, and because they appeared in a magazine, newspaper, or book, I was unable to fix them.The wonderful aspect of writing on the Internet is that I can edit my own writing any time I find a way of improving it. The most important improvement typically comes after the magical "three days", the time after which my own writing has become imprinted in my etheric body forces, the time when I can play with sentences to make the best of them. I can imagine that I'll have fun with this paragraph in about three days!
Thoreau built his "woodshed" alongside Walden Pond at age 28 and I built a garden shed in my back yard at age 28. We both used modest materials and built the structures of our own design and own hands. This coincidence had escaped my notice till Kevin Dann wrote this next passage:
[page 225] On this day after his thirty-fifth solar return, Thoreau [wrote]: "The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them." Having impeccably built his temple at age twenty-eight, it seems hard to believe that Thoreau now looked back on it and declared his Walden cabin a woodshed.
It is not hard for me to believe that because I, as a boy, avidly read science fiction, gathering materials in my mind to build a bridge to the moon, and I would at age 28 gather actual materials from hurricane debris to build my own temple, a modest garden shed about the size of a wood-shed.
Thoreau wrote about the earth accepting and mothering the abandoned eggs of the turtle, and Dann comments:
[page 243] This was no Darwinian history, telling of nature red in tooth and claw, but a sympathetic biology founded on the recognition of the "universal world turtle," that same great mother spoken of in Native American mythology, who not only supported the globe with her stout back, but also with her nurturing warmth could penetrate the cools sands to quicken the life-giving yolks below.
This reminds me of a story I heard about William James who was accosted by a society matron after a lecture when he talked about the Earth spinning in space. She said, "Professor James, surely you know that the Earth sits on the back of an elephant." James asked, "If that's so, my dear lady, what does the elephant stand upon?" "Why, on the back of a giant turtle, of course!" "I see, and what, pray tell, does the turtle stand upon?" "Oh, Professor James! Everyone knows it's turtle all the way down!"
On Thoreau's visit to Cape Cod he learned that light along its shore could be misleading.
[page 250] Even light, the transcendental symbol of divine truth, proves untrustworthy when reflected off the sand and sea of Cape Cod. The Highland lighthouse keeper tells about a "looming" of the sun he once witnessed, which caused him to extinguish the lighthouse lamps fifteen minutes before the actual sun had risen.
I recall my visit to the Highland lighthouse on a frigid January day, and note it was most beautiful lighthouse that I had seen anywhere in the world, before and since. This lighthouse appears at the bottom of this page and my early reviews' webpages. It stands above the motto, "Books are lighthouses erected in the sea of time."
One other lighthouse we visited was at the top of an island on the east edge of the Abacos, where the beach falls away to 2 miles deep in a hundred yards. The inhabitants of the island lived off the wrecks and their town was called Hopetown because they lived in the perpetual hope of another shipwreck to fill their coffers. What they did not hope for, nor want, was a lighthouse! Apparently there were Cape Cod residents in Thoreau's time who had a similar means of surviving.
[page 253] The only Cape Cod inhabitant Thoreau portrays as possessing the landscape is the wrecker, who gets his living by grabbing as quickly as possible that which others own but which the sea has violently wrested from them. Amoral and nakedly opportunistic, the salvager is the shrunken spirit of New World discovery, reduced to the petty entrepreneurial capitalism of bandit beachcombing.
This is a wonderful description of the beachcombers, but I take issue with characterizing this activity as capitalism , which is nothing if not the exchange of goods in such a way as both parties benefit. I cannot perceive a shred of benefit from this kind of blatant thievery to those poor souls who might have survived a shipwreck only to find no sign of their own property remaining on the beach.
Thoreau had a knack for finding plants that no one else knew existed in the area around Concord. He was great at holding an unanswered question, for example, about the scarlet oak. He explains how he finds such things.
[page 237] The scarlet oak must, in a sense, be in your eye when you go forth. We cannot see anything until we are possessed with the idea of it, and then we can hardly see anything else. In my botanical rambles I find that first the idea, or image, or a plant occupies my thoughts, though it may at first seem very foreign to this locality, and for some weeks or months I go thinking of it and expecting it unconsciously, and at length I surely see it, and it is henceforth an actual neighbor of mine. This is the history of my finding a score or more of rare plants which I could name.
In every book I read I look for the eponymous quote, the passage in which the book's title is revealed, and here is where I found it. Thoreau had just been surveying and found flowers he had never seen before in the area.
[page 258, italics added] Owning that "a botanist's experience is full of coincidences," in that thinking about a flower never seen nearly always meant you would find it nearby someday, he turned his botanical experience into a general law of life: "In the long run, we find what we expect." We shall be fortunate then if we expect great things."
Unfortunately, most people act as if they expect bad things to happen to them, and the universal rule still applies, namely, whatever you suppose is going to happen will likely happen to you. I gave this the form of a rule with an easy to say acronym, EAT-O-TWIST, which stands for Everything Allways Turns - Out - The Way It's Supposed To. When you find yourself supposing something bad might happen, you can quickly say the three-syllable phrase, eat-oh-twist, to remind you to change your own supposing. If you learn to apply this in your own thinking, you will drop every negative concept and replace it with a positive.For example, instead thinking this is going to be bad weather, you'll think we'll get some good weather where we live. If you study hypnosis, you learn that creating vivid images puts people into trance states. The word not cannot remove the negative image you create in your mind, for example, when you say, "This is not going to be a bad day for me." By the time you've thought that, some bad image will have been created in the form of an expectation. Saying, "This is going to be a good day" will create a better expectation. If you truly learn the power of expectation, you will agree with Thoreau that it is best to expect great things. Did Thoreau stop expecting great things for his book Walden when he was storing in a closet 500 unsold copies returned to him by his publisher? Given his statements above, we can predict that he expected great things to come from Walden, and that expectation led to great things, in its enormous popularity throughout the world and the salubrious effects it has had on so many lives.
[page 301] Magazine editors — "afraid to print a whole sentence, a round sentence, a free-spoken sentence" — came in for Thoreau's especial vituperation. The particular editor Thoreau was thinking of was James Russell Lowell; the free-spoken sentence was one Thoreau had penned in his "Chesuncook" piece for Lowell's Atlantic Monthly. At the end of a meditation on the white pine tree and the necessity of saving it as a piece not only of wilderness, but also of the wilderness of the human soul, Thoreau wrote, "It is as immortal as I am, and perchance will go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still." Lowell cut this sentence without Thoreau's permission; the incident had occurred over four months before, and Thoreau was still livid. Lyceums and institutes were no better. His own experiences as a lecturer had taught him that "they want all of a man but his truth and independence and manhood."
Magazine editors are likely similar today, but they live in a world in which "a whole sentence, a rounded sentence" is becoming rare with the advent of social media, especially Twitter with its artificial limit of 144 characters in a single tweet. No whole trees anymore; only wood chips to kindle a fire! When Thoreau writes, "The deep places in the river are not so obvious as the shallow ones and can only be found by carefully probing it" (page 306), it reminds me that nicely rounded sentences which probe to the depth of a person cannot be written in 144 characters.
One of the advantages of age is to learn to trust one's own opinion on matters about which so-called experts expound contrary views. I've found the quickest way to deal with a tradesman who will not use the components I require in a repair is take my business elsewhere or do it myself. When I repair things I strive to use better materials than used in the original object. The alternative is to spend my time bemoaning the poor workmanship of a repaired object.
[page 308] On this same day, he reminisced about the success of boyhood huckleberrying excursions, and a few days later, he told a story about going to buy a pair of shoes and asking for the shoemaker to replace the wooden pegs at the toes with iron ones. When the cobbler offered zinc pegs instead, along with considerable advice on the subject of shoes, Thoreau held fast: "I have learned to respect my own opinion in this matter," he stated matter-of-factly. Year after year, Thoreau had only become more and more like himself, refusing to compromise, independent of thought and action, even in the humble matter of shoes.
Thoreau was speaking about National Parks as an idea at a time when none existed in this young country. Did his words inspire Theodore Roosevelt and others who undertook to protect and preserve portions of our country in their native and natural state? Henry knew of cow-commons but he extended the idea to men-commons and pioneered the way for what has become our state and national parks, ministerial lots administered by the local and federal government.
[Page 308, 309] As Thoreau had come more deeply into relationship with Concord's forests, he showed himself every bit the uncompromising two-fisted knight in his battle with those who saw forests as commodities. Tramping in Botrychium Swamp among larches turning golden, he dreamed that:
Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation. We hear of cow-commons and ministerial lots, but we want men-commons and lay lots, inalienable forever. Let us keep the New World new, preserve all the advantages of living in the country. There is meadow and pasture and wood-lot for the towns poor. Why not a forest and huckleberry field for the town's rich? All Walden Wood might have been preserved for our park forever, with Walden in its midst, and the Easterbrooks Country, an unoccupied area of some four square miles, might have been our huckleberry-field.If any owners of these tracts are about to leave the world without natural heirs who need or deserve to be specially remembered, they will do wisely to abandon their possession to all, and not will them to some individual who perhaps has enough already. As some give to Harvard College or another institution, why might not another give a forest or huckleberry-field to Concord? A town is an institution which deserves to be remembered. We boast of our system of education, but why stop at schoolmasters and schoolhouses? We are all schoolmasters and our schoolhouse is the universe.
Someone asked, "How many seeds are in an apple?" A wise man answered, "That is easy to count, but who can count the number of apples in a seed?" The seeds Thoreau planted were powerful and are still producing strong tall trees.
Earlier I mentioned my trail biking in the snow of the Foxborough State Park each day, and how much I enjoyed observing the myriad of animal tracks in the new-fallen snow. Perhaps at some level these tracks were planting a seed in my soul about my own tracks in life.
[page 317] The new year 1860 brought abundant snow to Concord, and Thoreau on his walks enjoyed deciphering the impressions left by birds and mammals in their foraging. Finding that the snow showed him woodpeckers working, a flock of goldfinches feeding, a bevy of quail walking long the roadside, all after the fact, he exclaimed, "How much the snow reveals!"
Certainly Thoreau knew how one tracks oneself through life.
[page 316, 317] A man receives only what he is ready to receive, whether physically or intellectually or morally, as animals conceive at certain seasons their kind only. We hear and apprehend only what we already half know. If there is something which does not concern me, which is out of my line, which by experience or by genius my attention is not drawn to, however novel and remarkable it may be, if it is spoken, we hear it not, if it is written, we read it not, or if we read it, it does not detain us. Every man thus tracks himself through life, in all his hearing and reading and observation and traveling. His observations make a chain.
The phenomenon or fact that can not in any wise be linked with the rest which he has observed, he does not observe.
Thoreau loved wild apples and bemoaned their waning due to the Temperance laws which curtailed the production of apple cider among other alcoholic liquors. He warned his audience in a lecture that "soon they would be compelled to look for their apples in a bin," adding a quote from (Joel 1:12): "The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy withered away from the sons of men." Having just returned from the Supermarket where I bought a couple of apples out of a bin (the new apple barrel), these words rang true.
The word "inform" is part of so many modern words, that it is easy to overlook its original meaning which was "to form inside oneself" and by doing that, to come to understand something out in the world somewhere. I learned this from W. K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories. In this next passage, the procedure Thoreau uses to determine the origin of the tracks he found in the snow was identical to how Father Brown solved the mystery of the missing silverware.
[page 322] On his way home one night after tracking otter along the banks of the Assabet, seeing someone a dozen rods off — covered but for his hands and face, which he could not see at that distance — Thoreau recognized the man immediately by his walk. "We have a very intimate knowledge of one another; we see through thick and thin; spirit meets spirit." The next day, coming upon a distinctive footprint in the snow, he guessed it was the trapper George Melvin's, because it was accompanied by a hound's track. He experimented with his gait to get it to match the form of the track, and found himself walking just like Melvin, who later confirmed that the track had been his. "It is not merely by taking time and by a conscious effort that [man] betrays himself," Thoreau concluded. "A man is revealed, and a man is concealed, in a myriad unexpected ways."
There was one more eponymous quote on page 329 where Thoreau wrote (italics added), "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? . . . Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him, . . . he will be surrounded by grandeur . . . ."
Did Thoreau have a sense of humor? Yes, but admittedly a wry one such as in this story where he is confronted by farmers whose property he must cross for his surveying job. When one of them asked Thoreau if he were lost, not having seen him before on this land, Thoreau mused, "If the truth be known, and had it not been for betraying my secret, I might with more propriety have inquired, 'Are you not lost, as I have never seen you before?'" Who really owns the property but the one who walks it the most often?
Here we can read about Henry's last entry in his Journal.
[page 340, 341] He then turned to describing the storm of the previous evening and the long striations that the winds had left in the gravel along the railroad causeway. He gave the exact dimensions of the minute tracks: From behind each pebble projected a ridge an eighth of an inch high and an inch long. The very last line in this his very last journal entry reads: "All this is perfectly distinct to an observant eye and yet could easily pass unnoticed by most. Thus each wind is self-registering." With his last steps in life, Thoreau surely was leaving tracks that could be made by no other man.
Henry grew weak and asked Edmund Hosmer to stay the night with him.
[page 342] The next morning, Sophia read to her brother the "Thursday" section of "A Week" and, anticipating the "Friday" section's description of the exhilarating return journey home, he murmured, "Now comes good sailing." At nine o'clock on the morning of May 6, Henry Thoreau set sail.
Once more, as I did on Dec. 14, 2009 when I finished reading Volume 14 of his Journal, I am sad as I say Goodbye and Bon Voyage to my fellow traveler whose journey on the Earth ended some eighty years before mine began. I have read your long journals, your Walden, and have saved for later your other books, so that your memory, Henry, will never stay very far out of my consciousness and my soul.
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It certainly escapes many moderns today. If you Google the phrase in brackets [george herbert's poem "Man"], you'll find references like this: Please explain "Man," a poem by George Herbert 1633.
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Rightly understood, there are no plant diseases, only bad soil that causes plants to appear wilted, yellowing, molded, and dying. Restore the soil to health and the plant will revive.
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2.) ARJ2: Sic Itur Ad Astra, Volume 1 by Andrew Joseph GalambosFor every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.
— Henry David Thoreau
On many occasions I have been struck by the resemblance of the ideas on freedom of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rudolf Steiner, and Andrew Joseph Galambos. When I have commented on that, I have been greeted by a soupçon of disbelief. That is understandable since Emerson is the quintessential transcendentalist philosopher, Steiner the clairvoyant occultist, and Galambos the inveterate materialistic scientist — three diverse backgrounds and approaches to life that make a syzygy of interests unlikely.
In his landmark book of 1898, The Philosophy of Freedom, Steiner writes about the essence of what it means to be free. Here are eight brief quotations that sum up his ideas:
[page 102] This is to progress from morality based on authority to conduct based on moral insight.
[page 105] General standards always presuppose concrete facts from which they can be derived. But fact are first produced by human action.
[page 107] But the blind urge that leads to crime does not originate in intuition and does not belong to what is individual in the human being but to what is most common in him, to what is the same in all, and out of which a person works his way through the individual aspect of his nature.
[page 104] In so far as the reason for an action springs from the spiritual aspect of my individual nature it is felt to be free; in so far as it is carried out under the compulsion of natural instincts or because of obligation to moral standards it is felt to be unfree.
[page 108] Ethical individualism is the only standpoint from which freedom of action is conceivable.
[page 108] To live in love of action, and to let live in understanding of the other person's volition, is the fundamental maxim of free human beings.
[page 111] Man replies: 'Freedom! Thou friendly, human nature, thou who encompasseth all that is morally beloved, all that my humanity values the most, and makest me the vassal of no one; thou who settest up no mere law, but awaitest what my moral love itself will acknowledge as law, because in the face of any merely imposed law it feels unfree.'
[page 112] A free person acts morally because he has a moral idea; he does not act morally for the sake of morality. Human individuals, with the moral ideas belonging to their nature, are the prerequisites of a moral world order.
Here are eight quotations from Emerson's essay, Self-Reliance.
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side.
There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.
Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion.
Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.
The magnetism which all original action exerts is explained when we inquire the reason of self-trust. Who is the Trustee? . . . The inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct. We denote this primary wisdom as Intuition, whilst all later teachings are tuitions.
There are two confessionals, in one or the other of which we must be shriven. You may fulfil your round of duties by clearing yourself in the direct, or in the reflex way. Consider whether you have satisfied your relations to father, mother, cousin, neighbour, town, cat, and dog; whether any of these can upbraid you. But I may also neglect this reflex standard, and absolve me to myself. I have my own stern claims and perfect circle. It denies the name of duty to many offices that are called duties. But if I can discharge its debts, it enables me to dispense with the popular code. If any one imagines that this law is lax, let him keep its commandment one day.
Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow.
A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
How appropriate that I should be writing this review on July 4, 1999, the last Independence Day to be celebrated during the old millennium. I cannot write this review except as a person who took the nineteen week V50T course some seventeen years ago of which this book is a transcription. The course was recorded in 1968, and even though I took it in 1982 and am reading it in 1999, the contents are as fresh as they were in 1968. But I have had these many years to muse over the ideas of Galambos and to read Rudolf Steiner's works. The ideas of both Steiner and Emerson are aligned directly with Galambos on freedom, but Galambos adds a scientific precision to affairs involving human action that has been lacking, up until now.Here's how Galambos defines freedom using a precise operational definition. An operational definition is one that allows you to operate using the definition to determine whether some amorphous condition satisfies the definition. No other definition of freedom has met that criterion before this one. [I have paraphrased the definitions only for gender neutrality and merged the definition of property into the definition of freedom.]
freedom is the societal condition that exists when one has 100% control over one's life and all non-procreative derivatives of one's life. (1)
As Galambos predicts, you may be thinking that is impossible, and his response to that is a simple question, "What natural law does it violate?" So I ask you to ponder that question. For that is the question that determines if something is impossible — it is impossible if it violates a natural law. At one time, about one hundred years ago, it was thought to be impossible for man to fly, but flying in a heavier-than-air machine did not violate any natural law, and two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio invented the aeroplane.Now WordPerfect® doesn't like that spelling of the name of the machine, it prefers 'airplane', but 'aeroplane' is what the Wright Bros named their invention. That's the spelling that Galambos used, and the name I will use in this review out of gratitude to the innovators. And gratitude, he tells us, is not to be confused with "thankfulness."
[page 777] Gratitude is not a superficial characteristic. It's a very deep underlying concept, and those who are not able to express an understanding and therefore, an ability to make acknowledgment, and therefore, compensation for value they have received, are said to be ungrateful.
But when every one has control over one's own property, that would be anarchy! Galambos points out that an — archy means without a leader and that is the farthest thing from his meaning. No archy or no King was what Thomas Paine said when he wrote the words that became known later as the Declaration of Independence in 1776.What Galambos says is that political leadership is to be replaced by ideological leadership. Political leadership requires coercion; ideological leadership requires no coercion. The ideological leadership or leadership of ideas as developed by Galambos provides leadership without coercion. Political leadership cannot provide freedom, only ideological leadership can provide freedom. Galambos replaces the Left to Right of the Political spectrum by the 0% to 100% Freedom of the Ideological spectrum. Who in their right minds, given the choice of 50% freedom or 100% freedom, would choose 50%, or given the choice, choose anything less than 100%? Unaware of a choice in the matter, most people in the world have settled for much less than 100% freedom, up until now.
People all over the world with the advent of the leadership provided by Galambos' ideas, his ideological leadership, will have the option to choose 100% freedom from now on. The choices are laid out in this book, in detail, many times, often in repetitive detail, for all to see and judge for themselves. This is the Second Phase of the American Revolution according to Galambos, and he is careful to note that a revolution is not a fight, but a turning about of ideas.
How do we get from freedom to morality? If everyone's free to act, what would keep them from acting in some way counter to someone else's interests? Mustn't we have a state to keep that from happening? The answer to the last question is "No!" An understanding of morality is what keeps them from acting counter to someone else's interests. Here is Galambos's definition of morality:
[page 768] . . . the criterion is the action being absent of coercion. To make it moral there is no coercion involved. Whenever there is any coercion involved, that action is not moral. Whenever there is no coercion involved, that action is moral, regardless of whether it affects the pursuit of happiness of one person, ten million, the whole population, the whole species, or whatever.
Galambos gives us an operational definition of morality that is simple, easy to understand and to explain, "any action is moral that does not involve coercion." In other words, any action taken in freedom, is moral, by the definition of freedom. "To live in the love of action and to let live in the understanding of the other person's volition is the maxim of free human beings," as Steiner said.A moral person is one who lives in freedom and uses the 100% control of one's property in harmonious synchronism with other moral persons and all remain free human beings thereby. If this sounds impossible, it's not, as it violates no fundamental law of nature. If this sounds like it's never existed before, it hasn't. For a short time following the founding of the United States of America, when the forces of coercion had not yet organized, enough ability to have 100% control over one's property existed to foster an enormous increase of prosperity. Soon the coercion of the King had been replaced the coercion of the bureaucracy and the United States began its slide down from the 100% Freedom end of the Ideological Spectrum to something much lower.
Galambos uses two fundamental postulates to derive the ideological leadership that will allow us to achieve freedom, to build freedom, in our lifetimes. These are:
I. All humans live to pursue happiness.
II. All concepts of happiness pursued through moral action are equally valid.
If your happiness consists of attacking any generalization or postulate that someone puts forth, have at it, but all your efforts will only bolster the first postulate. Whatever action some person takes, no matter how lugubrious it may appear to others, rightly understood, that action was taken for the perceived increase of happiness of that person. The second postulate was offered by Galambos in the face of the claim of Ludwig von Mises, a man he greatly admired, that the Scientific Method could never be applied to human behavior. By the addition of the limitation "through moral action", Galambos was able to formulate Postulate II and have it apply to volitional human beings.
[page 801] A postulate doesn't have to be a truth about the content of the universe; it can be also a true statement about the validity of a value judgment, if you're dealing with a creature that makes value judgments.
How idealistic, how foolhardy to think that the average person will ever understand any of that hi-faluting philosophizing, you may think. And you would be right, the average person will never understand any of this stuff, any more than they understand Maxwell's equations before they turn on their television set, which set would not exist but for the laws formulated by James Clerk Maxwell in 1864. For twenty years only a few people understood his laws, and then Heinrich Hertz actually used the principles in the equations to transmit a spark across a room. Soon wireless telegraphy was saving the 700 lives of the survivors of the Titanic after it sank at sea.
[page 561-562] How do you get people, in general, to respond to things that they don't know about? Only through explaining to them the benefits, not the theoretical and conceptual understanding of what is involved. Most people won't listen to a long argument of what it means.You can imagine how disastrous the experience of a television salesman would be if he tried to sell television sets to his customers by explaining Maxwell's equations. He would not succeed. He has to tell them the benefits of the particular set from the standpoint of the programs, and the fidelity of the screen, and the fidelity of the sound and the quality of the furniture in which it is encased, and so forth. All this sells the set, not how it works. Another thing that sells it is how easy it is to operate — fewer dials to twiddle. That also sells. How easy it is to operate, not how hard it is to understand how it works. Incidentally, the more thinking there is in the creation of the product, the easier it is to sell it, because it becomes easier to operate.
So freedom is not something to fight for, not a cause, not something that comes after you overthrow a tyrant, rather it is something that one builds. And once built, it will never be destroyed. When I first heard Galambos say these words about freedom being indestructible, I was a little skeptical. Then in 1990 I read The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod, and I highly recommend this phenomenal book. In it, he devised a serial "prisoner's dilemma" game in which he sent out invitations to 63 experts to send their strategies for scoring best on the iterated prisoner's dilemma. The prisoner's dilemma is a classical thought exercise from Game Theory: two prisoners interrogated separately.If both cooperate [with each other], neither will tell who did it and both will get small sentences. If one defects by confessing, he goes free and the other gets the large sentence. If both defect, they both get jail sentences. In the Game, these are converted into number values for computation.
The 63 experts were to submit Fortran code and then he would play each entrant against the others. One strategy, submitted by the great general semanticist, Anatol Rappaport, won over all the others. Strange thing was his entry was the shortest and simplest to explain. Some five lines of Fortran code. Then Axelrod sent out the results to all the 63 [including the winning code] and suggested that folks, based on the evidence of the results, submit a new entry. Rappaport sent the same code back in, and it won hands down again.
What was the strategy? It was this: "cooperate on the first move, then do whatever the other does on the next." If the other continues to cooperate so do you. If the other defects once, you defect one time on the next move. Then cooperate until the next defection, etc. This simple strategy won over many much more complex strategies, and even when the entrants knew it had won and tried to devise a better way, they were unable to improve on Rappaport's strategy.
In a followup experiment, Axelrod send out some 255 invitations to lots of experts in many more fields of endeavor and once more the simplest one, by Anatol Rappaport, won. The name of his strategy is called "Tit for Tat". What Axelrod did next is more difficult to explain, but imagine a large matrix of folks playing this game using defect strategies, these are the strategies in which the first move is a defection.Now seed into a few isolated locations some cooperate strategies like "Tit for Tat", what do you suppose happens?
After many moves, the cooperators's neighbors, who have been losing in the long term using their defect strategies, begin to adopt "Tit for Tat". The islands of cooperation grow. Freedom begins to be built. What I mean is that using a cooperative strategy in the prisoner's dilemma game is similar to using morality as defined by Galambos, that is, you use an action that is non-coercive even though you live in a milieu of others who operate using coercion at will. In such an environment, consider what happens when you locate and identify a person who operates morally, you continue to cooperate, i.e., do business, with them to the preference of the coercive majority. As these tenuous links of cooperation or non-coercion build up, the coercive majority begins to shrink.The build-up is monotonically increasing for the simple reason that a cooperator will avoid a defector, that is, a moral person will avoid a coercer whenever they find one. But's here's the most wonderful part: the process is asymmetrical! When you seed islands of defectors into a matrix of cooperators, the defector islands disappear over time. Non-cooperation damps away. Thus freedom will build up until, as in Axelrod's computer simulation, it will fill the environment, and once built, it can never be destroyed. Thus Axelrod by computer simulation was able to prove the statement that Galambos made on the basis of deductive reasoning from his two basic postulates and associated definitions.
Okay, you may be thinking, this is fine for computer simulation, "But how would this technology work in the real world of people and business?" The best way I can think to answer this question at this time is to tell you a true story. I took the long successor course to V50T, V201T — it was 52 weeks of 4 hr sessions. In that course, a man named Dick Schmidt told me this story during a break between classes. He owned a roofing business; he did large commercial buildings. This guy in town had this fantastic roofing process that Dick wanted, and Dick spend many hours in this guy's office asking him to share his process with Dick. He persevered, became friends with the guy, and one day the guy relented and told him the secret.
Dick said his roofing jobs were so much better thereafter that he sends this guy $500 for every roofing job he completes after that, even though the guy had not asked for any money for the secret. This is the kind of cooperation that will wipe out the coercers and defectors. This type of cooperation will not be forced on folks, but simply through understanding of how to push the buttons on this technology, to use this new ideology of freedom, people will learn that it profits them more to behave this way than not. Profit is defined by Galambos a good received through non-coercive or moral action. Freedom will come when the average person has learned "not only the morality of profit, but also the profitability of morality." (page 643)
How can we build a society of folks who cooperate this way? One at a time. For enough people who are both curious and rational to take the V50T course or to read this first book of Dr. Galambos can do the trick. This excellent soft-cover book with sewn-in signatures, large format 8.5" by 11", of 942 pages is available from amazon.com on its website.
One argument about government that has been popular is that we the people must give up some of our rights to the government in order for it to do its job. John Jay spells out that argument in the quote below made at the founding of United States of America in its present form:
End Notes"Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers." - John Jay, Federalist No. 2 [From Jan. 6, 2005, The Federalist Patriot Founders' Quote Daily]
Note that Jay's definition of government presupposes a coercive bureaucracy of the type which currently passes for government in these United States. But a true government of the type Galambos proposes makes it unnecessary for the people to cede to it any of their natural rights as it will have no power other than to provide services to the people who require them. It will be a power of the type we invest in a restaurant to provide us with food - a power that can be withheld if the restaurant fails in its obligation to our satisfaction.
What do primary thieves often do? They steal inventions and use them to kill people. This happened with gunpowder invented by Alfred Nobel for peaceful uses, the aeroplane invented by the Wright Bros. for peaceful purposes, and the radio invented by Nicola Tesla for peaceful purposes. We know what has happened with gunpowder and the aeroplane, but what about the radio?
Here's how the Nazi Joseph Goebbels put it, "It would not have been possible for us to take power and to use in the ways we have without the radio." (from the beginning of Anthony Doerr's novel, All the Light We Cannot See.)
What about the greatest invention of all, fire? Galambos said in a lecture, "The inventor of fire was likely burnt at the stake." A perfect way to highlight the problem of primary thievery: it leads to the use an invention in ways not permitted by the inventor who owns its primary property. I drew this Padre Filius cartoon with him observing a caveman inventor of fire being executed by a primary thief.
---------------------------- Reference Links for Sic Itur Ad Astra ---------------
A Reference Page to Material written by Bobby Matherne about Dr. Galambos's work on Volitional Science
------- Footnotes ------lockquote>
~~~~ footnotes ~~~
1. Note: I have carefully avoided using the word property in this definition of freedom. For some people it is a loaded word, reeking of self-seeking money-grubbers. It is not so in Galambos's amazing definition — property, he says is an person's life and all non-procreative derivatives thereof. He goes on to distinguish three levels of property. Primordial property — one's life and body. Primary property — one's thoughts and ideas. Secondary property — everything else one can be said to own: right to use a piece of land (although land is not property by this definition), a car, a house, clothes, jewelry, etc.
Return to text below footnote 1.
3.) ART: The Art of Personality by Hazrat Inayat Khan
This volume is devoted to Education, Rasa Shastra (science of life's creative forces), Character-Building, the Art of Personality, and Moral Culture according to the book jacket's cover. What Hazrat Inayat Khan devoted his life to and with which he filled this twelve volume series of books was this ideal [from page 9 of Preface] : "A person's main task and purpose in life is to become human, in the fullest sense of the world." He adds, "Only after achieving that will it be possible for him to return with full consciousness to the source whence he had come."
How do humans begin their development? As infants, babies, children, and youths and these stages are covered in the first four chapters of this book. Many of our children are now adults raising children of their own, and I wish to offer them the advice that Hazrat Inayat Khan gives on raising children. The passages I have selected from his work are those in which he says something that I would wish to say to my offspring and others raising children and he has already said it.
[page 13] In the Orient there is a superstition that an undesirable person must not be allowed to come near an infant. If the parents or relatives see that a certain person should not be in the presence of an infant, that person is avoided, for the very reason that the infant is like a photographic plate. The soul is negative, fully responsive, and susceptible to every influence; and the first impression that falls on a soul takes root in it.
In the science of doyletics, which I helped to found, we understand that every event that occurs to a child before it reaches the age of five years old will be stored as an internal state, a physical body state that we call a doyle. These doyles form the substrate of every feeling and emotion the child will experience for the rest of its life. These doyles are triggered by some event as an adult and the person experiences an uncomfortable or comfortable feeling.They say, "That makes me feel good" or "That makes me feel bad" but what they are really saying is "That event has triggered a doyle in me of an event that happened to me before five". Doyles are like the "first impression" Khan refers to above, and it takes root. It returns thereafter dependably every time unless one does an unconscious or conscious doyle trace to extirpate it. The process of rooting up the doyle transplant the event from doylic memory (the realm of feelings) into cognitive memory (the visual, auditory realm of what we normally call simply memory).
Allow an undesirable person to come near an infant, and you allow the possibility for negative doyles to affect the infant for the rest of its life. Khan's advice makes very good sense in light of the 21st Century science of doyletics.
[page 14] In educating the child the first rule that must be remembered is that one person must educate it, not everybody in the family. It is a great mistake when everyone in the family tries to train the infant or to take care of it, because that keeps an infant from forming a character. Each one has his own influence and each influence is different from the other.But most often what happens is that the parents never think of education at all in infancy. They think that is the age when the child is a doll, a toy; that everyone can handle it and play with it. They do not think that it is the most important moment in the soul's life; that never again will that opportunity come for a soul to develop.
Not only is this advice not followed in most families today, but in the school family, it is abused most severely. Children, beginning in early grades, are shuttled from teacher to teacher every hour of the day instead of having one teacher who stays with the same child all day long. One could do no better than to emulate the Steiner Schools or Waldorf Schools in which one teacher teaches one set of students from the first grade to the eighth grade, growing with them each year as they grow in wisdom and knowledge.
[page 15] There are two ways of controlling. One is the way of mastering, and the other is by becoming friends. By mastering you will diminish the will of the person you master; by being friends you will sustain his will-power, and at the same time help. In the one case you make of the person a slave: in other case you make out of that person a king. In training an infant one must remember that his mind-power, which means will-power, must not be diminished, and yet an infant must be controlled.
One way to control is to always use words that create images of what you want to happen. I see horrible examples of the opposite behavior in caregivers all the time — a mother walking down the steps with a three-year-old son tells him, "Don't trip on these stairs or you'll hurt yourself." What images did she conjure up? Tripping and hurting. Try these words instead and notice what images they conjure up in you, "Watch each step you take and we'll get down to bottom in plenty of time to meet Daddy." Creating images such as "tripping" and "getting hurt" agitates the child needlessly and creates the exact opposite of the goal that the parent desires.
[page 16] The best way of teaching the infant discipline is without agitation, without showing any temper or annoyance, only repeating the action before it. For instance, the infant wants something which it should not have, while the guardian wishes that it should play with a particular toy. This toy must be given continually into its hand; and when the child throws it away, or when it cries, give it again; and when the child does not look at it, give it again. By repeating the same action you will bring the infant automatically to respond to you and to obey. It is a wrong method when the guardian wishes to control an infant and wishes to teach it discipline by forcing a certain action upon it. It is repetition which will bring about discipline. It only requires patience. For instance, if the infant is crying for its food or for something else when it is not the time for it, one should attract its attention towards something else, even against its wishes. The best thing is repetition.
Helping a crying baby or infant is one of the highest skills of parenthood. Allowing a child to cry while providing it with a rhythm that will eventually cause the crying to cease is good advice.
[page 17] Should one stop an infant from crying? It is better to distract the mind of a child that is crying than to let it cry, but at the same time it is very natural for a child to cry sometimes. If the child does not cry, it means that there is something lacking in it, that the child is not normal. One must use discretion in how much one allows the child to cry and when to stop it. One can allow it to go as far as a certain rhythm; when it has reached that rhythm, then it must not cry any longer; that is the time to stop it. But when a mother, annoyed with the infant, stops its crying the moment it begins, it has a bad effect on its nervous system. And very often a guardian will put the child into the cradle or somewhere else to cry by itself. But that means leaving it in the same rhythm, and that does not help. In that way the child will become worse and worse, and more and more nervous every day.
It amazes me how little breast-feeding is done in our modern age. I know a woman who, when she had her first child, tried to nurse the child in the hospital — as she had told the nursing staff she planned to do. When no milk flowed, she asked the nurses why, only to find out that they had been giving her medication to stop her milk from flowing.A few years later when she was pregnant with twins (1960s), she was given amphetamine-based diet pills to keep her weight down by her well-meaning doctor who didn't know she was having identical twins. What he helped create was two hyperactive twin boys. A few years ago in an elementary school near here, a 13-year-old girl gave birth to a boy in the Girl's Rest Room. The boy was healthy and went home directly. The girl was then taken to the hospital moments later for bleeding and they discovered a new son, a twin, was being born. The boy born in the hospital contracted some serious infection and stayed in the hospital for a week to recover. These are some of the examples of the horrors that modern medicine foists on unsuspecting mothers by treating normal human pregnancies and births as illnesses requiring hospitalization, up until now.
One longs for a time when home deliveries and wet nurses are commonplace occurrences once more.
[page 20] While the infant is being nursed by its own mother the heart quality is being formed in it; and it is upon that quality that the feeling of the infant depends for its whole life. Not understanding this, people today have other methods of feeding an infant; and by these that spirit of heritage and many merits and qualities that the child has to develop, become blunted.Mechanical food is prepared, and the child's heart becomes mechanical when it grows up. . . . Just as the flesh of different animals is affected by each particular animal's character, so with everything one eats one partakes of its spirit. An infant is destined to receive qualities from its mother in the form of food; and it is these qualities which become a fertilizer for the development of its heart. Food, made from the juice of fruits or meat and stored in bottles or tins, when given to an infant at an early age, forms undesirable atoms, and causes the infant to grow denser every day. If the mother is unable to nurse the infant herself, the best way is to find a nurse. And that nurse must be considered not only from the health point of view, as many do, but also from the character point of view. She must be looked at from every angle.
It is easy to be distracted by the side-affects of the child's cutting its first teeth and to skip noticing that the child's mind is coming into being.
[page 20] When the infant is cutting its teeth the mind develops; that is the time of the development of the mind. By keenly watching an infant grow, one will find that the day when it begins to cut its teeth the expression of its eyes changes; a mind is born, a thought is created. It is from that time that it begins to take notice of things and begins to think. The coming of the teeth is only an outward manifestation; the inner process is that the mind is forming. It is therefore a most important time in the life of an infant. For what is mind? Mind is the world. The infant at that time is forming the world in which it will live.
Likewise for observing the time when the child stands up for itself and learns to develop its sense of balance and to walk. This is the onset of individuality for the child, the blooming of its "I am," the unfolding of its "whole spirit, " is intimately connected with the time of its learning to walk.
[page 20, 21] The moment when an infant begins to stand up and walk is the moment when power is beginning to become manifest in it. Enthusiasm, courage, the power of enduring, the power of patience, the power of perseverance, all these come at that time; it is the time when power is bestowed upon an infant. And the moment when the infant begins to speak is the time that its spirit has formed, that the mind is connected with the soul and connected with the body; the whole spirit is made at that moment.
[page 21] From that moment the child should be considered as an individual. It is a little individual which then begins to have in itself the essence of everything and all things in the world; for in every soul there is a spark of every object and quality that exists in the whole universe. And so, at the time when the spirit is completed, the essence of all the different qualities and merits and objects that exist in the world has formed as a spark in the infant.
What Khan means by "educate herself" in the next passage is not that a new mother ought to read a lot of books or go to classes or ask a doctor's advice. What he means is for a woman to draw out of herself, the calmness, etc, and to give that as a gift to her new baby. When one reads a book or listens to advice, one draws out only the brain qualities; Khan suggests that heart qualities are the essential qualities to successful mothering and raising of children.
[page 21]The best way, therefore, for a mother to educate an infant is to educate herself. The calmness, the quietness, the tenderness, the gentleness, everything the mother cultivates in her nature at that particular time when the infant is nursed, the infant will receive as a lesson in its cradle. The heart qualities are the most profound qualities man has; brain qualities come afterwards; and it is the heart qualities which make the basis of the whole life.At that particular time such qualities as kindness, sympathy, affection, tenderness, gentleness, mildness develop, and it is at that time also that regularity is taught to the child, when the child learns its first lesson in being punctual. Unconsciously, it learns a rhythm. It knows the time when it should be fed. It does not need a watch to look at; it knows its time of resting, it knows its, time of feeding. And by introducing rhythm into the mind of the child you put it on the road to perfection.
[page 21] Mothers who get annoyed with an infant, who put it aside and say, "Well, let him cry for a time", considering other work more important, do not know what they are missing. Handling the child is the greatest opportunity. And even if they do it at the greatest sacrifice it is worth while; because once an infant is impressed with being neglected by the mother, there remains all its life an impression, in the deepest depth of its being, of a soreness; and when a person grows up he feels it unconsciously, and then he is displeased and dissatisfied with everybody he meets. When one lets an infant be fed at any time and be put to sleep at any time, that keeps it from a proper, even rhythm, and hinders its progress in life. For infancy is the first step on the path of progress.
This next passage reminds me of a famous Sufi dictum that it is only because real gold exists that we can recognize counterfeit gold. Babies are the real kings of the world, compared to which the lot of the kings of the world pales.
[page 34] In the first five years of a child's life, the first two years are considered as infancy, the next three years as babyhood. Very often there is a desire on the part of the guardians to educate the child of four or five years either in a kindergarten or at home. That time in the life of a child is a time of kingship, and the eagerness on the part of the guardians for the child's education to begin is only pressing it with our competitive life. For our life and it is getting worse and worse every day; and the same spirit unconsciously exerts pressure on the life of the child, urging it on to become one among the many competitors of the world, in order to guard its interest when it is grown-up. But what about the most blessed years that destiny has granted to the baby, when there is no worry, no anxiety, no malice, and no ambition? That is the real kingship. If you compare a baby with a king, you will see that the baby is the king and the king is the imitation.
One can read the famous answer the Editor of the Sun gave to little Virginia when she asked, "Is there a Santa Claus?" and see that he applied some of the wisdom Khan suggests below.
[page 40] A child one day came to its guardian very perplexed because a boy had said to it, "Do you believe in Santa Claus? If you do then it is not right, because there never was such a being as Santa Claus." This child was very disappointed, because it had just written a letter to Santa Claus before Christmas. And in its great despair it came to the guardian to ask, "Is it true that Santa Claus exists, or is it not true?" Now suppose the guardian had said, "It is true", then in four or five years" time the child would have come and said, "No, it is not true"; and if he had said, "No, it is not true", then all the child's belief would have been totally destroyed. It would have been completely changed if the guardian had said, "It is not true". That would have rooted out, just by saying no, all the innocent religious belief from the heart of that child. But the guardian said to it, "Remember, all that the mind can conceive exists. If it does not exist on the physical plane, it exists in the sphere of mind. So never say it does not exist. To the one who says that it does not exist, say that it exists in the sphere of the mind"; and the child was very impressed by this answer.
One should also remember the answer the guardian gives in the passage below:
[page 65] Once a wise guardian was asked by a child, "But is it a real story?" and he said, "As a story it is real."
Children of all ages, but particularly after two or three years old, seem to become obstinate and resist all attempts to get them to do something. This is one of the big challenges of parents and caregivers.
[page 42] If the obstinacy of a baby can be directed to its own advantage, then it can be benefited by the obstinacy.
Milton Erickson was a master at directing obstinacy in the direction of benefit for his patients. He liked to tell stories and this story he told about himself can illustrate how one directs obstinacy in the direction of benefit. He grew up in a farm in Wisconsin. During those very cold winters, a cow that was not brought into the barn would die over night. He watched as his brothers worked very hard pulling this one obstinate cow into the barn — they would pull on her rope while she dug her hooves into the snow and drag her into the barn. This cow was the epitome of obstinacy.When it was Milton's turn he knew that the cow needed to be obstinate and would pull back from whichever direction he tried to drag her, so he pulled in the direction away from the open barn door, and allowed the cow to obstinately drag herself backwards into the barn.
[page 44] Virtues are virtues because they give joy once they are practiced. If a virtue does not give joy, it is not a virtue.
It this sounds fresh or strange to one's ears, it may be because virtues have mistakenly been equated with painful restraint in this society, up until now. This tendency is one that can be checked only by a loving parent, one child at a time.
[page 45] What a terrible thing it would be if as a child a person did not play with bow and arrows and sword or anything that is soldier-like, and then when he was twenty-one years of age, the country called him to defend it and he knew nothing about warfare, for he never received any preparation for it.
This aspect is forgotten by those otherwise well-meaning parents and educators who try to keep such toys away from their children, afraid that it will lead to aggressive tendencies and a love of guns when they grow up. My favorite toys were a new set of pearl-handled six-shooter cap guns as a boy. Or my Red Ryder BB gun. Instead of becoming a gun nut as an adult, on the contrary, I found, as an adult, that I had no reason to want to use guns or keep them around. I suspect that many adults who, having been kept away from guns as children, grew up to acquire guns as a way of learning things they missed as a child. Or they enlist in the military and volunteer to go to war as way of achieving this.
[page 50] The greatest drawback today [RJM: 1923] is that home education is lacking, and only school education is given. And therefore in many personalities there is something missing that ought to have come from home.If there were thousands of schools most wisely and wonderfully organized, they still could not take the place of home education; and that opportunity of being educated at home must not be denied to a child, because it is a great blessing.
[page 62, 63] There are three things that a child may be taught at this particular time: perseverance, patience, and endurance. The child may be taught perseverance in anything that it is engaged in doing. Perhaps it is mending a toy, or doing some other work; one should help the child, encourage it to continue and not to leave it before it is finished. For however small this may appear, when this habit is formed, it will show later on in big things. A soul who has learned perseverance in childhood will show a tendency all his life to finish everything that he undertakes.
This lesson is one that I learned. At the beginning of the summer we had our grandchildren stay with us. The 12-year-old girl had a brand new traveling bag and while opening it, she pulled the zipper catch completely off the end of the zipper. Her grandma told her to take it to me to be fixed. She gave it to me with these words, "It is okay if it can't be fixed." She was sure it couldn't be fixed. I didn't know if it could. I spent an hour using finally needle-nose pliers and a tiny screwdrivers to push the zipper catch back onto the soft material of the bag and zipper body. Only after that hour of concentrated effort, I was beginning to see that a compete repair of the zipper was possible. If I had not been willing to spend that hour in concentrated effort, I would have had to say, "Throw away the bag." as she was apparently reconciled to doing.
As I worked on this zipper, it occurred to me that when I was her age, about twelve, I had on several occasions spent a lot of time learning about how zippers functioned and how to maneuver a broken zipper into operation again. In another half-hour, I had moved the zipper catch back on the zipper and it moved the length of the bag, opening and closing it perfectly. The remaining problem was that the zipper catch will fly off as soon as one pulled it completely open. The original design had a cheap and faulty stop at the end of the zipper which created the problem in the first place. I got out my awl and heavy waxed cord and sewed a sturdy stop for the zipper, much stronger than the original stop.The repair was complete.
But it was not just the zipper bag I was working on and with, it was the zipper bag's owner who didn't think its repair was possible. I wanted her to experience first hand the results of perseverance so that she could carry this example of what perseverance can do with her into adulthood. There will come many times when she will be tempted not to undertake some task that seems unlikely of success when she will recall to herself, "Grandpa stayed with that zipper till it was working." and persevere. I gave her a demonstration of the power of perseverance.
[page 63]Accomplishment is more valuable than what is accomplished. For instance, if a person has loosened a knot in a string, apparently he has not gained anything, the time has been spent on a very small thing; and yet the action of completing it is useful, he has built something in his spirit that will be useful to him when he wants to accomplish great works.
I also spent a lot of time as a child loosening knots in strings. String was expensive and not something that I could replace if I didn't remove the knot from it. Each time I did that as a child, I learned something about perseverance.
In Chapter IV, pages 82, 83, talking about the education of youth, Khan tells of a father who noticed his son like drinking and gambling. His advice was spurned by his son, and on his deathbed he told his son this, "Now I will never tell you any more not to do things that you have always liked to do. But will you remember the words of your father, that whenever you want to gamble you must gamble with the greatest gamblers, and whenever you feel like drinking you must drink with the greatest drunkards." So the son set out and asked where he could find the greatest gamblers. He went to those named and found them playing with pebbles, having lost all their money. Then he set out to find the greatest drinkers and when he located them, they said they could no longer drink, having spent all their money on drink. They resorted to having a snake bite them for intoxication purposes and offered him a snakebite. He ran off and never drank or gambled again.
In the Rasa Shastra or science of life's creative forces, Khan talks about people who treat marriage as ownership and the troubles that can lead to.
[page 129] There is a tendency in husband or wife to own his or her mate; and the stronger of the two will often attempt to do this by the right of marriage itself, having forgotten the reason for which he or she contracted marriage. This tendency to ownership makes many a marriage a captivity.
[page 154]And once they are bound together, the laws of the Church keep a couple bound together whether the attachment proves to be real and sincere or not, making them captives for life; so that often the promise taken in the Church service is the only tie that remains, and it becomes a lock that secures the imprisonment of two lives.Having no joy in their union a couple, mutually willing to part, may be thus debarred from experiencing the joy of a real marriage within their Church. And the social law stands ready to enforce captivity and to inflict punishment should they break their imprisonment; and thus prevents them from following that sacred path of real attachment which leads to perfection of contract, though the attitude of the Church makes it appear as the one, and the State as the other.
When Del and I had lived together for a year and decided it was time to be married, it was our earnest desire not to ruin a great friendship by getting married, as so many people had done. They seemed to define a semantic box with the vows that they took, climb inside the box, and then wondered why they felt trapped.We wanted our relationship to be one that each of us felt free at every point. It was this thought that led me to create the 21st Century Marriage Contract back in 1978 — we wanted a contract which gave neither one of us control over the other, regardless of what the legalities of the State might seem to say to the contrary. We talked over our reactions and agreed to each of the points of this contract. Twenty-five years after our subsequent marriage, our relationship is still going strong. The goal of our contract can be described by this next passage by Khan:
[page 147] Freedom of the self and freedom of the loved one, true affection can never lose sight of either.
In Chapter VI, The Character of the Beloved, Khan tells us of four types of women according to the Hindu ideas. This first one struck a resonant note in my heart as it describes Del so well:
[page 135] Padmani, the ideal of the poet, fine and delicate and graceful in bearing, is made to be loved and is herself full of love. Her voice is low and soft, her words are gracious, her expression is sweet and gentle; she is admired by women and her friendship and presence 1 bring heaven on earth to men. When she makes a friend of a man, it is something of a venture or a step, taken as it were out of her . own circle; for women are her natural friends, and to them she turns, both out of interest and for protection. In her heart is kept the beloved alone, whom nothing can remove. Her smile for him is as the unveiling of heaven, her kind glance is a lasting impression, her sweet words ring for ever in his heart. And it is clear to all that she looks upon him as her king.
In the Chapter on Character-Building, Khan says:
[page 198] Self-pity is the worst poverty. When a person says, "I am . . ." with pity, before he has said anything more he has diminished himself to half of what he is; and what is said further, diminishes him totally; nothing more of him is left afterwards.
His point is that when we indulge in self-pity, the real pity that we could take upon others is not available. When we leave our self behind, neither exalting it or pitying it, we have left our false self behind and only then can we discover our true self. With our false self we are like steep rocks jutting above the surface of a river — they can reflect nothing. When we discover our true self we become like the calm river which reflects the steep rocks in its surface. Rocks can reflect nothing, whereas a calm river can reflect everything. (Page 203)
[page 210] To want to know about another is very often a lack of trust. One who trusts does not need to unveil, does not need to discover what is covered. He who wishes to unveil something, wishes to discover it. If there is anything that, should be discovered first, it is the self. The time that one spends in discovering others, their lives, their faults, their weaknesses, one could just as well spend in discovering one's soul. The desire to know is born in the soul. But man should discern what must be known, what is worth knowing. There are many things not worth troubling about. When one devotes one's time and thought to trying to know what one need not know, one loses that opportunity which life offers to discover the nature and secret of the soul, in which lies the fulfilment of the purpose of life.
This is another truth whose application is remarkable by its absence in so many people we meet. I have often had friends remark about my lack of curiosity when they ask me for some detail about a mutual friend and I respond, "I have no idea." If they recognized that their zeal to know about others revealed a lack of zeal of knowing about themselves, they might reappraise the basis for their curiosity.
In the Art of Personality Khan gives us two powerful passages which sum up what he calls the art of personality.
[pag 214] When Jesus Christ said to the fishermen, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men", what did it mean? It meant, "I will teach you the art of personality, which will become as a net in this life's sea." For every heart, whatever be its grade of evolution, will be attracted by the beauty of the art of personality.
[page 226] The art of personality is like the art of music: it needs ear-training and voice culture. To a person who knows life's music the art of personality comes naturally; and it is not only inartistic but also unmusical when a soul shows lack of this art in the personality. When a man looks at every soul as a note of music and learns to recognize what note it is, flat or sharp, high or low, and to what pitch it belongs, then he becomes the knower of souls, and he knows how to deal with everybody. In his own actions, in his speech, he shows the art; he harmonizes with the rhythm of the atmosphere, with the tone of the person he meets, with the theme of the moment. To become refined is to become musical; it is the musical soul who is artistic in his personality. Spoken in different tones, the same word changes its meaning. A word spoken at the proper moment and withheld at the moment when it should not be expressed, completes the music of life.
One cannot write about the art of personality, one can only demonstrate one's own personality, and the personality that Hazrat Inayat Khan demonstrates is one of a very wise soul. He lifts the veil for us that keeps us from understanding all the things of the world and we see that they are like the King's New Clothes, they are nothing. We are led to see that when we abandon that which we value most, we lose nothing, but gain final victory in the battle for our soul. As the famous poet Omar Khayyám wrote:Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under dust to lie
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and - sans End!
Read/Print the Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Remember: A book is like a 3-D kindle. 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 Spots an Unusual Selfie 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 DIGESTWORLD to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre Comes Upon Del allowing a Reindeer to take a Selfie with her:
2. Comments from Readers:
NOTE: I love hearing from all my Good Readers and including your missives here (slightly edited).
If you prefer any comments or photos you send to be private, simply say so and they will not be published.
- EMAIL from Peter Marino in Oakland:
Never had the chance to attend any Mardi Gras Balls but always wanted to see one. Looks like it was a blast!
And yes Alabama losing to the Tigers felt, oh so good!
- EMAIL from Mike Jamison in Metairie, LA.:
Bobby and Del,
Great seeing you at the Caesar Ball. I do miss you guys.
Laurie and I enjoyed the photo and kind words. Also the movie clip of me surprising Del. Glad you had a chance to capture that moment. Hope to see you soon.
Mike and Laurie
- EMAIL from Dr. Michael Izquierdo in Ohio:
Great to hear from you. I hope everything is well with you. To this day I can still eat peanut butter which is just outstanding to me. I never thought I'd be able to do it. By the same token, it really bears witness to the fact that many of the things we do not like or are anxious about for whatever reason have a significant psychological, and bodily memory component.
I have used the speed trace for various other small phobias, and, more than anything, small anxieties. To date, nothing has been as impressive as me eating peanut butter. With me though I feel like I'm more open to experimenting with different things were before I was generally more closed off.
Again great to hear from you. I'm here to help you in anyway. Sincerely,
Dr. Michael Izquierdo
~~~~~~~~~~~ Comments by Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Often the food dislike Speed Trace is the most prominent one because it can be confirmed easily and often dramatically. I suspect that Michael's experiencing things to which he had been previously closed off is a result of tracing away those small anxieties he mentions above. I remember Richard Bandler's admonition to us trainees in NLP, "Remember, if you do subtle work, you will get subtle results." This means, among other things, that you will not be able connect the results you get with any particular Speed Trace you did earlier. But, a Michael explains the results are there, and he is benefiting from them.
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"It Isn't Fair"
Give me your poor, huddled masses, your deplorables 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:
It Isn't Fair
The sweet smell of success
has a subliminal lean
SNAP! CRACKLE! POPCORN!
In the marketing business
only dollars are seen.
Demographically designed odorants
waft about retail concourses
PFFFFT! Brand new Cadillac!
Activating our buying muscles
and emptying our purses.
IT ISN'T FAIR, the conscious mind says,
to bypass my total control,
Ain't gonna let no unconscious jazz
mess with my bankroll.
Laws are passed prohibiting smells
from use in increasing sales
MMMmmm! HOMEBAKED BREAD!
The conscious mind can rest content:
for why it buys it has no hint.What kind of perfume didAn industrial nation that doesn't trust
Bridgette Bardot wear
when she wore
nothing at all?
its unconscious mind
Will find itself not boom, but bust,
A decade and a half behind.
~^~Recently we have received a spate of cell phone calls trying to sell an automobile warranty. On a clue from others, I found that if you do not say a word when you answer the call, the automated dialer will hang up. Each time the call comes from a different number, so it's not possible to block the calls.
My Good Readers can learn from this. The call's aggravating enough as an unwanted interruption, no need to waste your time further if no one talks on the other end of the line (a quaint 20th century metaphor from when calls went over actual wired lines). If it's a friend calling they will invariably say something, and if the call's important, they will leave a voice mail message. So if someone calls my number and doesn't hear an immediate response, please say something first and I'll respond.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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