Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pooh's path to Enlightenment

Often times enough I'll save an interesting quote either in my little .txt file or in the notebook I've made a habit of carrying around with me.  Sometimes I'll go months without remembering it until I decide to quickly glance over my archives and find it pop out at me.  This time it was a Winnie the Pooh quote that caught my eye.  I find I work best if I leave an idea to ferment for a little while, and then come back to it every now and then to see if it's ready to be bottled.  I never realized how much wisdom there was in these old Pooh stories, or perhaps the wisdom I discovered was relegated to my childhood, not to be unearthed again until my thirst for pearls of insight caused me to dig in forgotten locations.  

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known." -Winnie the Pooh

Wow, did Milne read Hesse or something?  Or did he glean the same knowledge from the Buddha that Hesse did, and he decided to use the same symbolism?

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry.  We shall get there someday."  -the Pooh

I recently re-read one of my favorite books the other day.  My beloved copy of Siddhartha died a quiet death in my former car during one of its monsoon seasons.  The dashboard gutter would often get clogged (thanks to that foolproof German engineering) and the rainwater would collect and overflow in the passenger seat well, right where I neatly kept my copy.  With the old copy waterlogged, I bought a new one after perusing a bookstore while doing some holiday shopping.  Reading it again refreshed my memory of one of the more profound paragraphs contained within:

"It may be a thought, but I must confess, my friend, that I do not differentiate very much between thoughts and words.  Quite frankly, I do not attach great importance to thoughts either.  I attach more importance to things.  For example, there was a man at this ferry who was my predecessor and teacher.  He was a holy man who for many years believed only in the river and nothing else.  He noticed that the river's voice spoke to him.  He learned from it; it educated and taught him.  The river seemed like a god to him and for many years he did not know that every wind, every cloud, every bird, every beetle is equally divine and knows and can teach just as well as the esteemed river.  But when this holy man went off into the woods, he knew everything; he knew more than you and I, without teachers, without books, just because he believed in the river."

It's interesting that one of my favorite passages in the novel is seemingly in contradiction with some of my close-held beliefs.  How can I agree with anything that states that things have more importance than words?  I'll be one of the first to say that empty materialism is a problem in today's world has always been a problem.  But Hesse's insight explains his statement:  

"If they are illusion, then I also am illusion, and so they are always of the same nature as myself.  It is that which makes them so lovable and venerable.  That is why I can love them.  And here is a doctrine at which you will laugh.  It seems to me, Govinda, that love is the most important thing in the world.  It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it.  But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect."

Talk about an easy lesson to agree with, but a difficult one to take to heart.  It's something that I, that eternal pessimist, need to remember every now and then.  With a little thought, it's too easy to see how bad everything is; to point out how hopeless our situation is and how nothing has ever changed.  I still insist that it is foolish to ignore all that and to pretend that everything is hunky dory, but to transcend the world one must embrace it and look past it.  Hesse wasn't able to finish Siddhartha until he himself had discovered what Siddhartha was to discover in his life's journey.  I can't say I know much about A. A. Milne, but he has to have had some interesting life experiences himself to have come up with the choice bits of wisdom that he conveyed through his famous yet humble characters.  

Hesse simply uses the river as an allegory for the flow and cycle of life--an allegory Siddhartha discovers while staying with the ferryman.  However, just as he iterated in the quoted paragraph, anything can be used as an allegory, or as a teacher in its stead, if you look closely enough.  I'm fortunate to have made it to the river, but I still have yet to discover all the lessons it has in store for me.  Anyway, after so much writing, I may as well leave you with a bit of wisdom from another Milne character I'm often compared to.

"This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it." -Eeyore

Friday, January 28, 2011

More nonsense

Texture has texture

Cacaphones and sanctimones-
where does the time go?
Clean slates and mind breaks-
come back from vertigo

Vestigial thoughts knead and curl
heave and hurl
dervishes whirl
with reason, unfurl

Convivial lots cast and sought
lasting thought
to propagate naught

Ctenophore of semaphore-
you reap from what you sow
Radiate visions agate-
basking in your afterglow

I forgot I finished this

the holes form in my head and
the thoughts fall out
better they get lost than
fall into the wrong hands

my mind melts out of my head
through my fingers
and through my larynx
but through my eyes

through my eyes come your color
and through my ears come your music
the music you didn't know you made
but can't help

blahdidi blah blah blah

The charm of impossibilities 

A million thoughts ring out at once and crash together 
 leaving me with nothing but cracked shards of ideas

dreams scintillate while caustic truths eat them away,
 etching harsh realities before succumbing to the 
 inescapable entropy

simultaneous beauty draws moth eyes to stare
 despite the flame’s stark despair

looking away is futile; fractals of terror permute without end
 in the paralysis of the sleep of reason

reflections of fractured hopes echo
 the charm of impossibilities
 and the dread of what is.

in progress, Two works

Invert and alter

Emerging in periphery
only to vanish in focus
My mind is bursting at the seams
endless dreams
I have to hold it together, 
let out water, streams 
rivers, oceans
Just one drop at a time.

Diffraction Monochromatic

Spectra separate
washed out and used up
they visit no more
Existence is so heavy and light
                      day and night
                      black and white
                      illusory duality 
permeating the seen and sight 
diffuse deflections 
reflect in your eyes.
There is no encore

*edit: formatting this shit is a pain in the ass.

Friday, January 21, 2011

So it begins

Well I'm back to posting my thoughts on the ultra-saturated world of weblogs and the internet in general.  The cliche is that opinions are like assholes-- everyone has one.  If that's the case, then I have a million assholes, and this is the venue for conveying them to the world.

Anyhow, I type this on my new laptop.  I'm much more excited about the portable music recording and editing possibilities for this contraption than I am for any other reason for having it.  I did buy that Tascam Digital 4-track recorder, but my capabilities for editing were limited thanks to my previous relic of a computer.  My resistance to electronic gadgets is not out of an inherent luddite attitude.  I grew up with a healthy affinity for modern technology, rapidly soaking up any info on the subject thanks to a subscription to PC/Computing and an internet subscription as a kid.  I used to have the ambition to become an electrical engineer, then a computer engineer, and then a computer programmer.  Ah, despite an "affinity for language," writing code couldn't sustain my interest for more than a semester in high school.

Nowadays, it appears as though we're all shackled to our electronic devices.  Smartphones become more and more ubiquitous.  Tablets are slowly gaining a foothold in the affluent beach cities I now have to frequent.  I'm still puttering around with my seemingly ancient pay-as-you-go phone that I paid $30 for.  I resisted getting a cell phone for the longest time.  It's probably the little bit of Django Reinhardt in me that stands in opposition to the electronic tether.  Back in his day, often enough he'd forgo any commitments he had made for the day in order to go for a walk in the park.  I guess the way I look at it is that I spend enough of the looking at an electronic screen through the screen in my head.  It's nice to simply stop and smell the damn roses.

Now I'm not about to ignore any of the advantages offered by the technology in my life.  Youtube and Wikipedia are probably my top two most frequented sites, and I am extremely grateful for the resources availed by them.  However, I'm of the (perhaps mistaken) idea that this technology exists in order to enrich my life, not hold it hostage.  I'm reminded of a great article I read about the "coming technological singularity" and the potential dangers contained therein.  While I'm more inclined to agree with Douglas Hofstadter's assessment that it won't be so easy (or necessarily even possible) to just transplant human consciousness into bytes and silicon, I don't find it hard to believe that (assuming economic and political situations allow) sometime in the future we do find ourselves irreversibly "wired."  While this may make life more "convenient" so to speak, will we necessarily be more spiritually fulfilled?  Oh, there's the dangerous line I might be crossing--moving from technobabble to quasi-religious psychobabble.  Now, obvious to anyone that knows me, I'm not necessarily talking about the replacement of God in our lives with a silicon calf.  I'm just always wary about anything that merely fulfills and increases our desires rather than abating them.  This is a topic I could go on about, but I'll leave it here for now.

Anyway, I'll end this with one of my favorite pieces by greatest rhythm section ever.