THERE ARE MYSTERIES

Dürer woodcut series - Apocalypse Четыре ангела Смерти | Альбрехт дюрер,  Художественные принты, Гравюры

There are mysteries
Psychologist, scientist, and poet
Cannot ignore—
But are helpless before,
Not because it is not what they do—
These mysteries afflict them more
Because it is precisely what they do—
And yet they have no answers—
And this is why, my love,
Today I’m asking you.
You are what they study,
For they have been lovers before
And love is what afflicts them—
Both the secret, and the secret door
Are closed forever. Can you say
Why I am pondering death, today?
Love, can you tell me why
There isn’t a single star in this enormous sky?

THE SUN IS COLD

▷ Mountains and clouds by Antonin Grace, 2020 | Painting | Artsper (932016)

The sun is cold.
The invading clouds are warm.
Sleep under the clouds of the south—
The air of the south is roaming now.
Sleep. There is nothing to fear.
Awake with worry will do you harm.
The cloudy south is almost here.
Apollo rouses his troops in vain
Along the sunny plain.
Far away the mountains meet
The clouds in springs and dens.
Sunlight is the enemy
To the lovers in the drowsy glens.
With his precise eye
Apollo uses the sun to lie.
We counted the gold in the sun
And brought it somewhere low.
We distribute it to everyone
Who sleeps. Dream. Breathe the water in the air.
Wait. There isn’t anywhere to go.

EVERYONE SEEMS

How much money did Uncle Billy lose in 'It's a Wonderful Life'?

12/25/2020 Everyone seems to be sleeping late this Christmas morning—strange weather today: warm, windy, as if change were coming, as 2020 hurries to its indoor conclusion. I can imagine most people—here in eastern Massachusetts—stayed up late, watched old films, and cried in their beer. I was drinking tea. Christian faith has been replaced by nostalgic, secular, sentimentalism, and yes, I found myself prostrate in a world of tears before the altar of It’s A Wonderful Life, my daughter glancing at me occasionally, a little bored, a little unsettled, while she skyped with her west coast boyfriend—a child of two divorced women.

I think the saga which Jimmy Stewart portrays for us annually is underrated, perhaps because it belongs to a time of year—where Christianity hangs on among the secular. The film’s gloriously busy realism and its gloriously fateful idea are never at odds; we always feel both immersed and apart from all that happens—we are Uncle Billy when he loses the money, we are George Bailey when he is happy and sad and these simple things work better than any other film for reasons which precisely belong to great film making and great story telling. All the surrounding things which occur in the pivotal Uncle Billy scene, the phone call he has to take, the pet raven flapping on his shoulder, the bank inspector stopping by, George giving money to the floozy privately in his office, make us think, “ah that’s just how tragedy strikes the ordinary loser—cheery and distracting events accumulate ironically, even as others of menace stoke further fear.” It’s A Wonderful Life has many exact pieces, (many of them are literally stripped from George in the “reversal” reckoning part of the film) and each fits in tragi-comic precision in a manner which takes multiple viewings to appreciate, and so watching the film many times is both necessary and pleasurable—its popularity is not manufactured, but real.

I saw another black and white film on Christmas eve which I had never seen before—The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which I found absolutely beautiful—more condensed than It’s A Wonderful Life, it takes less time to tell its story, but The Ghost and Mrs. Muir has a similar human sweep, and a moral power which blends accident and necessity together effortlessly. The sailor ghost quotes Keats, but there is nothing faux-aesthetic about the film, which belongs to a day when Keats was quoted and loved. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir haunts, artfully and poignantly, without making any special effort to do so.

Watching these old films on Christmas eve got me thinking about Christianity.

And what of Christianity? How does it keep up with the rush of a world full of science—and easy sinning?

A silly question, really. Of course Christianity can “keep up” with science and sinning—Christianity is a highly developed psychological “science,” and its chief subject is sinning.

The practice of assigning things to “bygone eras” is probably the most unscientific practice there is. Things may be getting worse—films are dumber, songs are not as melodic, poems are not as memorable—but things important yesterday are just as important today. Love and romance may be cruder, but they still matter.

Those who are not religious think, “I will sin if I wish; there is no proof of any punishment beyond the grave. I will try and be as nice to people as I can, and let my friends and family be my judge, and I, finally, will be my own judge—I will not obey things placed upon me from afar.”

The religious will respond, “You are, in fact, describing religion! God has granted us free will, so yes, you may sin as you wish. Yes, you should not believe what has no proof. If friends and family—who judge you—are not Christians, you cannot be a Christian—unless you, yourself, are a Christian, and this can only happen if you read the bible, which is mostly a record of friends and families who are Christians speaking to, and attempting to prove things to, those who are not Christians! Nothing is coming to you from ‘afar;’ that’s just your perception. And the fact that you even consider concepts such as ‘punishment’ and ‘sin’ and ‘judgment’ indicate you are far more religious than you think!”

And the religious person will go on, “There are Muslims and Jews and Christians who are less religious than you are. They sin, and afterwards, say, ‘I pray God will forgive me.’ Because they believe in God, they sin more than you do.”

And this retort by the religious may give the non-religious person pause, and they may even smile. And they may respond to the religious this way, “I suppose it all depends on sincerity, then. If you are religious, but not sincere in your heart, you are not religious. But how do we measure sincerity? All of us wish for happiness, and we will always seek out happiness in the best way we know how: where then, is insincerity? It can only be measured by some measuring stick outside of ourselves. But how can we truly judge ourselves if the judge is not ourselves? Sincerity cannot come from without. So all moral wisdom and teachings which come from without contain the ‘sincerity trap,’ and therefore, wisdom which comes from without is a lie.”

“Exactly,” says the religious, undeterred by this insightful response, “this is why you must obey the letter of the law as set down in the bible—it is not a matter of sincerity; it is a matter of obedience. There is much written in the bible on how to behave and think—obedience is crucial, but it is not a simple matter; one must learn how to be obedient, one must learn how to teach others to be obedient—and this is what 99% of religion is. A very small part of religion (less than 1%) pertains to considering whether there is an afterlife or not, or even whether God exists, or not. The science of obedience is a lifetime pursuit, and involves wisdom and all sorts of things—obedience is the most complex thing there is, even as, on the surface, we think of it as a mere simple command: obey. And so sincerity has nothing to do with it, and this is why the word, the text, the law, the letter of the law, is the most important thing. Not even what Jesus is is as important as what Jesus says.”

“I see,” says the atheist or the agnostic, “so that means there are two steps—the first is to have faith in the word of the bible, and second, to have faith in what the word is telling you—and one cannot exist without the other.”

“But the first faith is contained in the second,” says the Christian—“you are seeing two faiths where there is only one. This is what the secular tend to do—make complex what is not complex.”

“But this is my problem,” says the agnostic, “Jesus preaches in the bible—he attempts to convert others, and I would be as one of them, being converted, and he will tell me to turn away from sin, and through Him I will get to heaven, but he does not know how much I love the one I am sinning with. I accept my sinning with the one I love with my own judgment, and therefore, I am sincere. If I accept the least part of moral teaching which comes from without, by something in a book, I cannot possibly be sincere—I am giving up my own judgment, and one cannot be sincere unless one is the judge of oneself. Secondly, if I am sinning, it is because I am hurting someone else, not God—who cannot be harmed by my sin if He is God—and therefore I am certainly not immune to that which approaches me from without, however this will be in the form of judgment from anyone who I am actually sinning against, and doing harm against, and this is real, and far more fruitful than anything written in a book, which does not know me, specifically.”

The Christian shakes his head, and says, “this situation you describe would work if there were no secrecy in the world. But there is. Thieves come in the night, and steal from us unawares, and if you are not able to judge of their wrong, who will? Judgment in this case must come from without—since within, we are deceived. An artificial judgment from without is a thousand times better than no judgment at all. There is no judgment which comes from us—this is why we need law, why we need judgment from without, and why we need religion. You ask for sincerity, and but isn’t it the sincere truth that you do not judge yourself correctly? You only judge things in your own self-interest—and how can this be a law for everyone? And if there is no law for everyone, there is no law. But there is law, whether you wish it, or not. The argument is already over. Jesus is necessary. And his word in the book is necessary. In the world you have described, everyone sins according to what they can get away with in self-judgement—just think of what such a world would be. A world such as that cannot be. It does not exist, and therefore there can be no prophecy which is in that world, or prophecy which predicts that world. It is a false world. There must be law, and there must be knowledge of the law, and therefore we need first, the law, and second, the wisdom which says, ‘Accept things as they are. The law is what is, the law is your guide and you shall not break it.’ And by the necessity of law, all we know of religion follows, and all we know of religion leads up to the necessity of law, too. You do not get to choose. You cannot escape the word. You may ignore the truth, but you cannot escape it.”

The agnostic now says with more passion, “Yes, all wisdom comes down to this: ‘Accept things as they are.’ If I am married—I shall not commit adultery. I must accept my vow of marriage. But if I hate my husband and love someone else, why should I ‘accept things as they are,’ and not love someone else? In fact, my love of someone else is ‘things as they are.’ So we have two competing things, two competing laws: obey the vow of marriage and obey love. And therefore the wisdom of ‘accept things as they are’ is not pure—if wisdom is divided, it is not wisdom, and therefore there is no wisdom, religious, or otherwise—only I, as my own judge, can make decisions; any wisdom which attempts to be moral—and this includes the wisdom of Jesus—is a removed set of general principles set down in a book.”

“You have hit the nail on the head,” says the Christian. “Obedience cannot be divided. The bible is not moral. The bible is not a set of moral principles. The bible is a guide to happiness, and part of its wisdom is that there can be no wisdom, or obedience, divided against itself; there can only be obedience to the one God as found in obedience to the one Son who is the Way and the Life. Happiness is the revealed God of the bible. Morality is only how happiness appears to sinners.”

Here is where the discussion ends. It doesn’t have to end here. Depending on who you are, it will end well—or not. Because there is free will, discussions like this will never end satisfactorily.

But is the impossibility of a good ending a reason not to begin?

The endings feel perfectly right for It’s A Wonderful Life and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

And this is why we love old movies—and hate our lives.

But even if the ending does not please you, or cannot please you, begin, begin.

It is always good to begin.

Yes, you lost that money, Uncle Billy. But there is hope.

i try to write a prose poem

Larrain Nesbitt Abogados

I try to write a prose poem
But everything I write descends into rhyme.
You wish to converse—
I just want to have a good time.
You want to sit down and talk to me.
No, I’d rather write poetry.
I can’t help myself. It’s getting worse.
The odds are, I will jingle.
There it goes. Maybe at an odd angle,
But it’s certain to arrive.
Perhaps not now. Perhaps at quarter to five.
If you ask me what time it is now I’m going to say I don’t know.
What did you want to say to me?
You know what? I’ve got to go.

WHAT DOES MY POEM MEAN?

East Boston - Global Boston

What does my poem mean? There are sufficient shadows
Along the boulevard to make all visits hidden.
My images do not need that question, even if questions
Lurk in the background among the sighs.
Here is a volume by Ben Mazer; choose your diplomat;
The lady and Nostradamus are at Harvard, getting high.
Delmore Schwartz edited poems and baseball cards
And now he is a baseball card, fancy that!
His collection is missing T.S. Eliot and John Crowe Ransom—the black cat!
Lee Harvey Oswald wrote a novel; or am I thinking
Of Dame Edith Sitwell? I believe the library is sinking.
They gave us a tour along the swamps at Boston College.
What does my poem mean? Pronounce it well.
The trees understand your fashionable knowledge.

A SUNNY DAY

Category: Renaissance Tiles - DRAWING FROM THE DAY

To avoid ideology
We focus on the personal, and feelings,
And kindly ask what the other person needs.
Be wary of ideas
Which the conspiracy theory breeds.
Even thoughts are suspect—
Thoughts fly to the moon
And entertain perfection.
The Christmas presents and the unwanted pregnancy
Let you down.
Breathe. Your thoughts have been flying around.
Look at this sunny day.
Just a sunny day. Forget ideas.
I had a thought things might be good
And it broke my heart in two.
A simple thought can be the cruelest thing ever.
You can’t imagine the pain. Never
Can there be a sunny day with you.

SHINE

10 Most Famous Adoration of the Shepherds Paintings - DailyArtMagazine.com  - Art History Stories

Her eyes shine with confidence—
She knows they will make fun
Of her confidence in God—
We must be professional; one
Is either talented or odd.
But the odd who are oddly happy
Are sometimes talented, too.
God is so old, that God often talks to you
Through others—if they seem odd
That’s only because you cannot comprehend
How big and old and great God is in the end.

I DIDN’T WRITE THIS

Illustration art hans christian andersen the snow queen Edmund Dulac  ocularorder •

The light played tricks on my bed—
I imagined a fairy tale in which the fox lived
But many others fell dead,
Or were entranced in another part of the story
And the grandmother wasn’t even sorry.
The window pane was covered in frost
While the roses by the fireplace grew—
The voices in the room seemed to know about you.
I didn’t write this—
I promised millions of children
Gold if they voted for me
And you are—racist if you will not pay—do you see?
My imagination became wild.
I wrote poems for the frightened child
When no one was looking—it wasn’t me
Who came into a fortune and described the large city
As a bastion of influence and graft.
They saw the truth running. The girl with the knife laughed.
Years have passed. You probably expected me to call.
I had to do important stuff—that’s all.
The light played tricks on my bed.
I wanted to call you—
I played with my face, instead.

TO ME, MOZART

Photographs: China — Edward Burtynsky

To me, Mozart concerti are more Chinese
Than the Chinese: for hours my phone is playing
This steady propaganda—I have no idea what Mozart is saying,
The busy industry of Mozart’s concerti overwhelm me,
So that all I can think of is a giant economy,
A sexless professor asking students for more notes,
While I sit below this masterpiece which floats
In an agony of precision, unable to comprehend
The time signature, the measures, the 32nd notes which bend
In a cloud of pious harmony which creases
The falling steel categorizing the falling pieces.
“What do you mean you don’t understand?”
The professor yells at me.
I can listen—but when I listen it sounds Chinese to me.

The professor is next door, he has another life,
He has chores, other responsibilities—
So much is wasted in these economies—
Which rise and fall.
Wages and work and love—I don’t understand these at all.

This is a failure. I shouldn’t have compared
Mozart to the Chinese. I don’t know who I am.
And I’m scared.

THE SPY AND THE CHEAT

Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) | Mars and Venus United by Love | The  Metropolitan Museum of Art

The spy and the cheat
Knows more than you.
They collect friends
With reckless abandon
In a manner which surprises you.
You cannot compete
With all they know—the spy and the cheat.
They converse with others
Who are spies and cheats, too.
They cogitate formulas
For timely presentations of evidence
Which in the meantime they hide from you.
They don’t know everything,
But just enough.
Their arguments and rooms are neat.
You thought it was about love—
They smile at you, the spy and the cheat.

One last thing I will add,
Which will make the sophisticated sad:

The spy and the cheat
Cannot write poetry;
They lack that certain, delicate, touch.
They found out too late you cannot love
If you know too much.

IN THE OCEAN

Let's keep it wild.: Winter song

In the ocean, winter is the same as spring.
Crustaceans scuttle; whales float and sing.
On the land, my winter kills,
But not this comfortable world, which the tide fills.
The ocean puts its misty arm
Around this northern reach; the winter can do no harm
To the thousand miles of sea
Which is like the long idea of my poetry.
The winter looks like spring under the ocean.
December seabirds ride the wave without emotion.
Winter affected our love. The cold. Remember
We hurried inside? Once you said, “Only in winter
Would I consider suicide.”
And do you remember the day
We watched the snow fall furiously on the sea, but it wouldn’t stay?

NOTHING IS FAR AWAY

Garland of Flowers - Abraham Mignon as art print or hand painted oil.

In the middle of December, the long, dark tunnel of the holidays
Yawns before us, and we think the new year is far away.
But nothing is far away. December will be over before we know it.
Next week, in January, the one we love will still be a tortured poet,
Anxious to show us (beside a dirty snow bank) his tortured rhymes,
Flailing, imitating, or not imitating, December’s ancient times.
Long ago, they thought this in December, too, or when the wind was cold,
Whatever that month was, they thought things were moving away, and things were old,
And darkness was closing in, and love would be lost forever,
Even if December was brighter than ever,
And there was peace, and strangely milder weather.
Nothing changes. The one you loved is still irritated by the same things.
Life’s a book. Nothing is far away. The pages are pressed together!
We imagine the weddings and the happiness and the rings.


WHEN YOUR EVENING IS MINE

Other side of Earth - Imgur

Where has the sun been tonight?

Shining in your eyes.

I sleep, you wake. You sleep, I wake.

You and I are only what the internet spies.

 

Our lives are broken by a place.

I move where stars do not see me move.

We move in and out of shadows made by the same sun.

You find my every thought is the same one:

I want to be in your evening, I want to swim in your night,

To evolve in the same sunlight.

 

There is a garden growing in the sixteenth place

Where two suns shine, face to face.

The tiniest upheaval of the sky

Is beyond us, looking up, listlessly.

We woke to a loveless death,

And we slept, that emptiness might die.

 

Before the garden became my bed,

Around a corner came a cloud I found

In a dream, its last shape slumbering in the ground,

Wetting the earth, the moss soft to the touch.

You can never touch the earth too much.

Your earth is yours, and this one is mine.

We seek the complex and the length of ourselves.

Unfortunately, love is the shortest line.

 

Not moon, not fire, nor any planet can take

Notice of how I sleep—or how you wake,

On each side lost in this side’s blue.

The world needs sides as it glides.

You and I burn on different sides.

Ours, the poetry which does not speak

In the morning, ours, a night to hide—

Poetry, dreams, which are round, too,

Are shaped so I can surmise in the moon-rise, you,

But the moon is only what we call the moon.

 

There is more movement

On the orbiting world I am on

Than what my careful movements seem

To you, living at the very end of my dream.

My travel towards you is not done,

Languishing behind your hurrying sun.

 

Time for breakfast. Maybe wine,

And dreaming, falling asleep, to dream

One day your evening will be mine.

ESCAPING THE SHADOW OF NIXON

Mao Zedong meets Richard Nixon, February 21, 1972 | US-China Institute

The long shadow of Richard Milhous Nixon still defines America’s hip Left v. awkward Right.

The battle has been going on for almost 200 years and still rages: The United States of America versus Globalist Socialism (the old British Empire, or whatever you want to call it).

Back in the 1940s, freshman congressman Richard Nixon chose sides in the famous trial of Whittaker Chambers versus Alger Hiss. Hiss was accused of being a communist spy. Nixon took the side of his accuser, Whittaker Chambers—who had spied for the Soviet Union; Chambers defected when he saw what a monster Stalin was.

It’s a truism that Americans have short memories.

When Nixon allied himself with Whittaker Chambers, American patriotism was at least as cool as socialism.

But in the “cool contest,” socialism began to gain the upper hand in the early 60s.

Nixon would eventually symbolize all that was uncool.

This is not an attempt to re-write Nixon and call him good, or God forbid, cool. But Nixon needs to be better understood.

Whittaker Chambers was cool. As a student at Columbia University, the young writer belonged to the Boar’s Head Society, whose members would include John Berryman and Allen Ginsberg. Chambers became a Soviet spy in the 1930s as a neurotic but idealistic young man.

Like Whittaker Chambers, Elizabeth Bentley also defected from the Soviet Union. She eventually named 80 Americans who had engaged in espionage. But who remembers Elizabeth Bentley?

Whittaker Chambers was not only a Man of Letters, he seems to have been a flawed but honorable man. Alger Hiss, jailed for perjury, was an unimpressive figure, but considered “respectable,” a high-ranking State bureaucrat, with leftist, globalist creds: pro-Soviet Union and pro-United Nations. Chambers was not some random accuser; he was a senior editor at Time magazine, and prior to defecting (and losing his woke status?) he ran a spy ring for the Soviet Union in Washington D.C. Both his affiliation with communists and his defection from them seemed sincere. The Left never forgave Nixon for taking up the cause of Chambers, though history really doesn’t show Hiss as the better man.

Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers both came forward at the same time and testified before HUAC. Joe McCarthy, who became the great iconic target villain of the Left (ironic, considering how the Left behaves today) had nothing to do with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee—the famous HUAC resided in the House; Joe was a senator.

Nixon, the young congressman who defended Chambers back in 1948 at HUAC, probably thought he was acting nobly—and only someone highly partisan would see it as anything more than a member of congress attempting to defend his country.

But Nixon eventually became a tool of the Left—Nixon’s semi-successful journey to his Watergate “Waterloo” finally betrayed patriotism and anti-communism—making these things highly uncool.

In the meantime Nixon “opened up China,” helping the Chinese communist regime (who supported Pol Pot, the genocidal communist, in the 1970s)—a Deep State strategy we see playing out (the Bidens) in a large way today.

After he lost to Kennedy (by election fraud?) in 1960 and the California governor’s race in California in 1962, Nixon is rumored to have made a “comeback” deal with the devil (Rockefellers, Deep State).

Nixon being “Watergated” was part of a plan to forever destroy the Republican party and turn the left (Washington Post) into heroes. Nearly 50 years later, many say that journalism has surrendered to activism, and is no longer journalism.

Communism became heroic and sexy during the Vietnam War, thanks to rock music and college protests. In the wake of the 1960s, Nixon and Chambers gradually became very popular bad guys. Through relentless cultural dissemination, communism became cool (even as Playboy initially made fun of un-sexy socialism—mock spreads of large Soviet women posing on tractors, etc). The HUAC was both anti-communist and anti-fascist (it was formed when both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were U.S. adversaries.) There shouldn’t have been anything uncool about Americans defending themselves against Nazi and Communist spies. But in the famous, unfolding career of Nixon, that’s what happened. And as America became the bad guy during the Vietnam War, communism and America-hating became super cool.

For instance, today the Left equates fascism with hyper-nationalism. According to this formula, learned by reading the Washington Post, an American patriot who hates fascism, loves his country, and defends his country against fascism, is a fascist.

In 2020, communism (thanks to the new Chinese economic dynamo and its American corporate allies) is sexy, rich, and winning. Ask Eric Swalwell. The Chinese are buying America and the world, including the Democrats.

I remember the John Birch Society saying a long time ago—I was a pimply kid in HS when I read this—the Rockefellers and the Communists secretly shook hands, and that’s how the bad guys (the Deep State, the oligarchy, etc) were going to win. The pimples are gone, (and I was never a ‘Bircher,’ just a curious kid) but I never forgot that simple observation. What is the Deep State? A bunch of former intelligence officials signing on to “Russian misinformation” as the source of the Hunter Biden story, a lie abetted by Big Media and Big Tech before the 2020 election. That’s it, I think.

A post-election article in Vogue by the daughter of Erica Jong says Hunter is not the issue; Jared Kushner is. Checking the author bio, she says in an interview that she only became interested in politics when Hillary lost and she cried for a week. No wonder this Vogue writer can’t the tell difference between Middle East peace deals and selling out to a gulag adversary. Molly Jong-Fast will lump Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Donald Trump together in her fashionable mind, and go her merry way—I look forward to her future, ultra-hip pieces for Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times.

The liberal litmus test for hating Nixon was the Vietnam War. The founding of the EPA and opening up China, and other policies under Nixon, were fine. The Vietnam War was the egregious thing. All the other stuff, the taking the U.S off the gold standard, tax policy, no personal charisma, was small beer.

Where is Trump’s Vietnam War?

Liberals now invent and spin to hate Republicans, because you know…Nixon.

In 1968 liberals reviled LBJ because of his ferocious napalm bombing of children in the Vietnam War.

(That was a small detour, however. LBJ gradually became cool to liberals.)

Today, liberal heroes like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden resemble LBJ and Nixon—hawks who hate Russia and love China. (And they dissemble and spy on Trump in a way that makes Watergate look like child’s play.) The press now censors what used to be normal debate between left and right—in complete deference to the left. We might as well be living under Stalin. (Liberals have a soft spot for the Soviet Union, but don’t like Russia.) The Left in 2020 thinks about U. S. politics as if it’s 1974, the year of Watergate. The Left thinks Nixon is the ultimate litmus test, hoping everyone else will, too. But the times they are a changing. Aren’t they?

WHAT IF I THOUGHT ALL MY LIFE MY LIFE WAS SAD?

Forum Rare Books on Twitter: "#Poet #scholar, father of #Renaissance and  #Humanism Francesco #Petrarca died #otd 1374. Depicted here his #muse  #Laura, subject of many of his #sonnets. #portrait found in this #

What if I thought all my life, my life was sad?
Would I speak like a poet already dead,
Who became a king simply by what he said,
Dreaming of death, even in the sweetest dreams?

Though life is long, we must summarize it sweetly.
Sweet summation is the lyric law
The old poets followed, anxious
To remember love and the suffering it caused.

There’s too much to memorialize.
But if life is short, the monument is small,
The lyric too brief to be wise,
And we find in the lines no suffering at all.


YOUTH

We are all Edward Hopper paintings now': why the art of loneliness can be  comforting in times like these | The National

The guys downtown were having a laugh:
“A woman’s beauty ends at 47 and a half.”
One guy was saying he would divorce his wife
On her 47th birthday unless she chose the knife.
One said: “What if she’s beautiful within?” The men
Looked at each other. Then laughed again.

The women agreed: A guy must be extremely funny
Or have a low sex drive and lots of money.
One woman said she loved a poet, and he
Courted her constantly.
The women grew silent. They sighed.
“Is he young?” “Of course. And he was young when he died.”

WHAT I HEARD MOZART SAY TO ME IN HIS MUSIC

image

Listen to me. You are wrong about a few things.

I am wrong about many things. But I’m not protecting

Wrongs. I’m learning. Can you feel yourself changing?

I’ve seen people hold on to wrong views as if falsity were a dear child

And when their wrong view is questioned they go absolutely wild—

Which shows how much they confuse truth and feeling.

Don’t be like that. We never know how much brainwashing

There is. There is a lot. That’s why learning

Is so important to me,

Why I play the single note patiently,

And why the note’s tempo pushes me,

And why the note almost cries

In a far silence before it dies,

As harmony rescues a note from the many.

We measure life by the improvement of poetry.

Will you live blindly and resentfully?

Listen to this. And then I will love you.

UP IN THE AIR

Pin on Art, frescoes, trompe l'oeil

It’s not fair. It’s not fair.

The one in love can only stare—

The glorious love unable to speak.

The lover, by loving, is always weak.

How can this be? Paradox of the mind!

I would share myself, be sensitive and kind,

But cannot. What is this paradox? I see, but am blind.

How can doing be not doing? When it’s in the mind.

The mind itself is a paradox, so everything there

Is a paradox. Love is always there.

And yet not. The fact about the mind

Is doing is not doing, and you find

This out because the mind has already done

What needs to be done. Here sits the sun,

Shining in a million different places,

As you kiss her. She has a million faces

Which you kiss, though her face is one.

She is only here—yet she is everywhere,

And more multiple and elusive, the more you dare,

Multiple and indifferent, the more you care.

The mind’s a universe! You know you care,

You want to kiss, but why don’t you dare?

You did it in your mind, and now under the sun

You have ideas for a million poems,

But you cannot write one.

You may decide to pierce the cloud,

The cloud of longing, the foam of song,

And what is wrong, when it’s already done?

Why can’t the knowing mind be strong?

Why is it seen as Hamlet-lonely, in song,

Who loved and kissed already, and is wrong?

It’s not fair.  It’s not fair.  Now, up in the air

Is my glory, my ecstasy. Up in the air

Is my release—but she isn’t there.

And now that I know what I will say in my mind,

What will you say? And will you be kind?

 

PLEASE STUDY ME

Socrates and Euthyphro: The Nature Of Piety | Classical Wisdom Weekly

Please study me.
I defend myself silently.
A teacher in front of class
Can say, “A poet defending his poem
In a poem is not a poem,”
And they, his students, will naturally agree.
While I, this poem,
Must sit, silently.
I do not defend myself!
The poet said that.
And the teacher.
I resist the autocrat.

Nonsense. A poem
Does not belong in a debate;
That’s not the poem’s purpose;
A poem in school is a poem I hate.
A poem doesn’t need to be studied,
Or examined. A poem is exactly
What it is, upon first hearing.
A clutch of trees. A small clearing.
And nothing more needs to be said,
Or explained.
If explanation follows,
Nothing is gained.

Stanzas, stanzas, I am weary of these
Contradictory voices.
Let me do what is right!
No more choices!
Only the large round moon
And the somber night.

Oh God, is that what you leave us with?
An image of the moon?
A cheap symbol?
You missed the point! You buffoon!

This is not a poem. Look.
You’ve gone too far. You’ll need a book.
You were a child. You dreamed a life.
And then you found love, a wife…

MADNESS IS A SURVIVAL BENEFIT

billyjane: “ Illustration for E. A. Poe [close up;] by Harry Clarke * from  50 Watts [former AJRMS, do update your RSS feed everybod… | Art, Harry  clarke, Art design

Madness is a survival benefit.

We all worry about getting enough sleep—which is perhaps the greatest health benefit of all. Most of us have trouble falling asleep at night, but when my thoughts start becoming crazy and disjointed, when my reflections begin to make no sense, it’s not long before I fall asleep. The dreams I have are crazy, too. If one lies awake with clear, cogent worries or grievances, one is never going to fall asleep. Madness is the secret of ease.

Madness is the voyage to good sleep, which equals health and happiness.

This is to say nothing of the ‘crazy trance’ which often accompanies outside-the-box thinking, ingenious breakthroughs in science, and creativity in general.

Plato’s famous dialogue ‘The Phaedrus,” inquires whether the friend or the lover is more trustworthy—only the mad, Plato implies early in the dialogue, would favor the lover, since a friend is reasonable, and a lover is mad—desperate, infantile, jealous.

How is crazy ever good?

It doesn’t seem like it should be.

But it is.

And the first serious defense of madness comes from Plato.

Plato changes things up in “The Phaedrus”—in the second half of the dialogue, Socrates says he fears he has offended the god of love and launches into a speech to make amends—-and the rest is history.

Without Plato, it is hard to imagine the Bible, Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Shelley, Poe.

It is also difficult to imagine divine madness, and “things are not what they seem.”

Deliciously crazy thoughts last night ushered me into sleep, and I dreamed—which gave me insight into what I knew, but hadn’t been able to articulate, even in the middle of writing this, but which I can describe now.

In my dream, I chanced upon my old lover; a simple street during a serene evening; there were a few others around (always those vague others in love scenarios). We were not happy to see each other, only surprised, since we are estranged, and never meet. She in the dream was not as surprised as I, but only because she was the essence of the dream, perhaps. My brief conversation with her was strangely different from any in life (she was whimsical and judgmental at the same time—I was aloof) affected me deeply. Never had I been so moved by her, though our love in real life was profound. Was it her appearance? (She didn’t quite look like herself). I don’t know.

Knowing she, in this dream, was entirely a vision of my own, I had to acknowledge this was not her–she belonged to my madness, my vision, alone. To acknowledge she exists in this dream without any connection to the real world indicates I’m not crazy—my madness is a method, useful to prophets and poets.

She, in my dream, exists and does not exist, exists for me, and not for me, in a manner which is poetically crazy, but not clinically crazy.

The dream experience is real—it affected me emotionally. But the experience is also unreal—merely madness.

This is what Socrates was getting at in “The Phaedrus” when he had that change of heart—after defending the worldly behavior of the friend, Socrates reversed course—defending, in the name of divine and visionary love, the madness of the lover.

Sublime madness is not the complete madness of the psychotic, who stupidly, selfishly, and carelessly acts on the fullness of their madness; Plato’s sublime madness is the useful, reflective madness of the visionary poet

In most of our lives, we work, and the nature of that work defines us. We work from home, perhaps, and the strange object—created by others—which sits on our desk—wholly determines what we do in our defined livelihood—we must do our work, even as it chokes our soul, and any good which lies in the specific work we do wholly belongs to someone else.

But our rebellion against work and responsibility is often just as soul-killing.

Our rebellion is not divine; it only trades what doesn’t concern us for what selfishly does, and this just leads to more pain and suffering in uninspired, sensual existence.

How do we know madness is divine, and not just silliness or stupidity?

When it leads to a good night’s sleep.

When it makes us fall in love with dreams.

JUST NOW

Related image

Just now a cloud covered the sun

And made me cold.

Scientists say climate change is old,

But I can feel climate change happening right now.

The sun may be the sun—

But a cloud just showed me how.

There are arguments inside of arguments and we are arguing, still.

I told her more than once, perhaps too plainly, she was beautiful.

The temperature went down last night

By almost fifty degrees.

I woke to a dry, chilly breeze.

The green house effect was missing all day.

There is no ideal mean global temperature.

All we did was argue. And then she went away.

A PLEA

There goes the sea, sliding into the sea again.
The sea, gone but here.
I loved one who is gone—
The only thing that’s clear.

If you could see my emotional life,
I wonder what you would do?
I’m tired of all this emotion.
I must articulate it, too.

I dramatize my feelings. My feelings,
You must think I’m a wimp.
Or a silent soldier, returned from the war
With a limp.

I have feelings, and those feelings—
Oh you wouldn’t believe—
What is it you want me to say?
As I leave?

I need to get away from the tangle
Of your thoughts and feelings; every angle
Is different, you
Weave poetry into a complex poem, too.

I would rather linger in a simple shade,
Lover on lover leaning
With something syllables made:

The sea as the poem’s meaning.

FORGIVE, FORGIVE

“The serial killer and the leftist are exactly the same:
Their world is wrong—and the prostitute is to blame.
To forgive the prostitute is the strategy He tried,
But new prophets arose when Our Savior died.”
“You can’t do that,” the new prophets said,
“If you forgive the prostitute, morality is dead.
Pursuit of happiness is wicked and lazy.
Christianity as government is crazy.
Plenty overbrims, so government must say
Exactly what impulses are permitted today.
A fake god forgives, while prostitutes turn tricks
Is the evil of right-wing politics.
Civilized and astute, the modern age
Presents smooth jazz to mitigate our rage,
But we still feel it—jeez, I lose my mind
When profits and pleasure pretend to be kind.”

PRAYERS FOR THE INSTITUTE

4 Ideas for Stylishly Keeping Your Books Out of Your Toddler's Reach |  Shelf behind couch, Living room shelves, Room shelves

The Buddhist went west for sex.
The professor went east for knowledge.
A brothel for addicts
Costs about the same as college.
With combed-back hair and tailored suit
The Buddhist ran the Institute
On Midwest donations with a pink business card
Plainly stating, I AM AVANT-GARDE.
He raised the trivial to new heights.
He was a god among the legal fights.
The pile of art resembling garbage grew
(It couldn’t be Romantic. It had to be something new)
Straining with every theory he knew
Purportedly in new designs to forget.
He’d conquer the richest spinster yet.
The professor, meanwhile, found bliss
In Kyoto. In libraries made of glass
He studied for hours statuettes of grass.
The students he sent west applauded
Everything he approved and lauded.
Eventually, garbage is thrown away,
But we can photograph it. See?
The professor has captured it lovingly—
Featuring each precise photograph he took
In a fine arts academy monograph collection
Published in a leather journal inside
The collage cuttings of a picture book.
There it is on the coffee table. My third wife
Without a doubt—where is she?—saved my life.

SINCE MY RELIGION IS POETRY

Religion & Spirituality Pre-Renaissance Art: Prints, Paintings, Posters &  Wall Art | Art.com

Since my religion is poetry,
I own a more delicate sense of morality than you.
I see you with a puzzled frown
Attempting to figure out what it is you should not want to do.
Since my religion is poetry,
My thoughts are by turns beautiful and plain,
Depending on the world that shines
Or the misery of its rain.
I am content.
You do not inquire
On the nature of your injuries. You merely feel them.
My thoughts are a choir.
Since my religion is poetry,
My sense of superiority is a sin.
I am curious as to why I love you so much,
When your sad, mechanical mind
Never lets me in.

EVIL HAS TOO MANY OPTIONS

Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade: An exhilarating journey of love, intrigue  and... - Classic FM

Evil has too many options. Actually,
Evil is too preoccupied to harm me.
Cut-throat self-interest cuts us in two
And evil exploits this division, true,
But my enterprise
Uses self-interest and defies
Self-interest at the same time. Surprise.
The bad will always be around, and should exist;
Not in cartoons; I need to resist
Evil which is real, every minute, by being nice,
Sensitive and nice—so when this poem smiles,
You will take this poem’s advice.
For instance, as a man, I loved you, yesterday,
Which I know was imperfectly.
My challenge is the same as Scheherazade’s;
She had to entice the king with tales
Or die. Unless I please you now, this poem fails.
That’s the way it should be.
I’m not afraid of evil, actually.
I can’t love you the way a man would, all day long—
So let me be a languorous woman.
A sexual feeling is quickly gone—
Like the thrill we get from a poem.
Evil may have—or may not have—taught me to do
Any of these interesting things I am going to do for you.

CONSISTENTLY SLOW

David, Oath of the Horatii (article) | Khan Academy

And then, in our final disgrace,
We started to argue about race.
At that moment I realized sex and my job
Were too much. I began to sob.
You were hard-hearted.
I thought, “how did this get started?”
I thought your cool was cool
Until I saw the textbook you borrowed from someone at school.
The whole world is a reason to exist
Borrowed from someone else. I consist
Of knowledge trying to catch up to itself.
I’ll never understand this. I’ll go.
I had a dream. It was a dream. Everything was consistently slow.

A PARADE OF BEASTS HOLDING HANDS

Renaissance painting clouds Sticker by Duda

Clouds, using only distance, and light,
Created for my turning eye, both terror and delight.
I first noticed a black cloud, shaped like a skull;
I had to crane my neck to see it high above, almost comical.
The horizon was a theater for distant clouds
Which looked like a parade of beasts holding hands,
Or were they elephants, perhaps, tail to tail? The strong wind
Hardly moved the dome of great cloud, but the smaller ones
Were quick to sail into new, insane, realms of vapor.
There were so many hues to cloud and sky
I’m sure my painter friend would have let out a cry.
The hills and homes around the harbor were an afterthought,
As was the hidden sun, known only by the temperature of the air,
And the sunny blue along one part of the horizon. The clouds
Presented and framed what they also, as players, were.
These cloudy clouds—painting the scene, I must distinguish
Between “clouds” (those things) and “cloud” (darker, larger)—
Bloom and bulge and frown—in language—as a solemn, silent blur—
But the clarity of a cloud’s intent, vague miles away,
Is so serenely beautiful, that even you would want to stay.
Gray, majestic, yellow, blue,
I don’t have to wonder what the clouds look like to you.
Everything on earth is the history of temperature, and the fall
Of elements, grieving elements here—O darling!—after all.


ONCE YOU BELIEVE THIS YOU WILL BELIEVE EVERYTHING ELSE

Colleges in Vermont

It is often the case. One fact, one piece of information, one idea, one falsehood, can determine our whole politics and philosophy. Thinkers, beware.

It is a law that in all systems of thought there is one idea you must accept for that whole system to seem real to you, legitimate enough to you, so that you will finally defend it with your soul and your life—or, at the least, let it guide your life to the point where you will cut off relations with other people who don’t believe as you do—though in countless ways, including daily behavior, human emotions, and so forth, they are exactly like you.

In August, 2019, visiting rural Vermont for a family reunion, I noticed the first night was terribly cold, even though it had been extremely hot the previous day. One of my hosts casually observed that very dry air had moved into the area. Without moisture in the air, heat quickly escapes back into space, he said. I said I was familiar with this phenomenon. Sometimes science is how we actually experience things, and understand things, without the need for “expert” explanation. I recalled meteorologists saying the same thing. Overnight chill is always accompanied by cloudless, dry air. Water vapor, I also remembered, is the reason for the green house effect. This too, is a truism. On this particular day in Vermont, the difference in temperature between night and day was precisely the same as the average temperature difference between summer and winter. About a 40 F swing. It was in the 80s at the height of the day and dipped into the 40s at night.

I suffer like the rest of us when summers are not only hot, but humid, and this is the first thing  people say—“it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”—which causes us to be wretched and uncomfortable. But since few people are scientists, we complain bitterly when humidity is present—not understanding the more far reaching truth: the causal relationship between heat and humidity.

August 2019 was the hottest on record in Boston, and this was an accident of the weather—a strong dry front sat off the coast for a long time, and this allowed moist, southerly air to steadily flow into the region.

The experience of the cold, dry morning in Vermont made me ponder: isn’t there enough CO2 in the air to add to the green house effect and make it warmer, instead? Did it all come down to 1. Dry air and 2. The sun?

Yes.

I just couldn’t imagine a parking lot full of cars, with all their engines running, and with their CO2, warming up the air. It made no sense.

There really was no other way to see it. CO2 was not a factor. I grabbed a sweatshirt and I knew why, and I had no doubt CO2 could not counter the chill I felt. I know CO2 is a trace gas. I also know that it’s the culprit (this is what they mean when they say “green house emissions”) for all those dire warnings—beyond anything I could possibly experience as a truth for myself.

How many truths can we know for ourselves? Are there any? Most knowledge relies on things we cannot see or feel, concerning things too vast, too small, too complex, too historical, or too theoretical. We have to accept the authority of someone else. It might make a kind of sense to us, but we cannot see it directly. We cannot prove it to ourselves. Even things which make us feel personally happy or wretched (our diet, for instance) are doubted because we see others impacted differently by the same thing.

But this does not mean our senses and a truth must be divergent.  Leonardo da Vinci, in arguing that painting (related to astronomy and geometry) was superior to poetry, said there were two ways to knowledge—evidence from our senses, and hearsay. He had a point. When enough data is present, the data provided by our senses is what ultimately affirms the truth.

The green house effect of water vapor—and the wide divergence of temperature on this day in Vermont: I could safely say beyond all doubt, I knew this from my experience to be true.

How many simple truths do we know with certainty from our own senses, and not from hearsay?

What about the simple “truth” of ‘two plus two equal equals four?’ What kind of “experience” is this?

Is it my eyes, or “a theory,” which determines four objects in front of me will be the “answer?”

How can math be real when it assumes “four things” is a “whole?” There is no way that four things can possibly be a “whole,” except when we stop counting at four, and randomly consider this our sum.

Am I “doing math,” or something very different:

I name (four) the “answer,” while presupposing a “problem”—asking theoretically how one part relates to another: the part called “four” and the part called “three.”

To “count” is to assume each step is the same; the one is the same as the two, and after we have traversed from one to two, each step is exactly half of the two steps taken together.

Counting discrete objects one, two, three, four, immediately infers the opposite—fractions—3/4 for instance—which is subtracting, not adding, and assumes four things is a “whole,” which of course it is not.

Exactitude never accompanies discrete objects—therefore “counting”—as something mathematically precise—is a lie, or true “in theory” only—and division, which relies on numbers, and posits the precise, such as 3/4, is also a lie, since it relies on the “exactitude” of counting equal things—when no equal thing exists in the entire universe. Every grain of sand is different.

One can see immediately that the system of parts is artificial, because the universe does not exist as discrete parts—it exists as flaming orbs which spin into coolness in three dimensional space. Counting exists only when humans interact: how many cookies do I get? How many runs did my team score? How many days have passed? This means nothing to nature. Unless we understand what “a day” is (orbiting bodies) “counting” the days is random—and not scientific, in how we understand the term, “day.” Counting is naming, not mathematics. This is making up an answer beforehand, where the beforehand is already the answer. Counting (or dividing up) cookies is not knowledge.

I noticed recently, as I was walking by the sea, that a seagull jumped one pier post as I approached, then one more, and then as I continued to approach, it flew up and away and resettled 30 posts away. The mathematics of the seagull looks like this: 1, 2, 30. This is math based on ratio, not mere counting. It is math connected to the real world—not math abstracted on a blackboard, involving only the “math game” of itself. If the seagull flew far away immediately, it would do too much unnecessary flying.  If it hopped the posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 6, etc, it would be vulnerable to predators. So 1, 2, 30 makes sense—even though it makes no “mathematical sense.”  Life should drive mathematics, not the other way around.

Understanding on one’s skin a scientific truth, as I did on that Vermont morning, is quite different from the “accurate” twists and turns of mere mathematics.

As I contemplate the natural world, I begin to realize that water vapor, sun, and accidents of weather (wind currents, etc) determine how warm the planet is.

But I only came to this realization because of the very public, and very vociferous, and never ending, barrage of rhetoric concerning “man made global warming/climate change due to green house gases pumped into the atmosphere.”

Methane (cow farts) is occasionally mentioned, but the main and overwhelming villain is CO2, considered a “green house gas”—but which is also a “trace gas,” and more exactly: 4 parts to every 10,000 parts in the atmosphere—significant because 4/10,000 indicates volume, the volume of a closed system: the earth’s atmosphere, and the addition of the sun’s energy to the earth’s atmosphere to keep us warm and prevent eternal winter that would quickly kill life on the planet—this atmosphere and our sun produces the temperature—differently and minutely measured in every part of the biosphere. There is no ideal temperature “of the planet.” No one knows what the ideal temperature of the planet is. There is no “four” which is the “whole” answer. Not only is there no temperature which the planet “ought” to be, the temperature of the planet quite naturally exists in hot and cold extremes, depending on day or night; summer or winter; dry or moist air. These extremes encompass swings of almost 200 F. So not only is there no ideal temperature, there is no one temperature, either. Adding in historic ice ages, and swings of temperature recently measured over the last 200 years, the evidence points to the fact that temperature shift is natural and common, depending on the sun’s relation to the earth—night is colder than day, with swings of 50 F very common, and winter is colder than summer, with swings of 50 F very common. The reason night is colder than day and winter is colder than summer is due to solar energy. 50 F swings are caused by the sun, not CO2. No scientist confuses this. The theory that 4 parts in 10,000 CO2 (also a benign gas and not poisonous in itself) can heat up the earth, by itself, on its own, to a mean temperature (which constantly swings by amounts of up to 200 F) somehow dangerous to life on the planet, beggars belief. It is a theory only. It cannot possibly be experienced. The temperature difference between the cool night and the warm summer day experienced in Vermont was 40 F. Water vapor varies, but can be as much as 400 parts per 10,000 in the earth’s atmosphere.

These temperature swings are real, but who is to say that the cool night or the hot day is “better?” To say which temperature is “better” is not only unscientific, but absurd. (And in terms of the “danger” of CO2, temperature is all we’re talking about, since CO2 is necessary for plant life).

Likewise, to say which temperature is “better” for the planet as a whole (there is no “one temperature” of the planet, because it swings 200 F from one part of the planet to the other) is also absurd.

The actual, measurable, scientific, warming of the planet—the essence of the “danger” we constantly hear about—is  less than 1 degree F since 1975 and 1.4 since 1880. (And even to measure the entire mean temperature of the planet cannot be done with precision.) Not all of this less-than-1 degree F warming is due to CO2, or certainly cannot be absolutely proven to be from CO2, but even if it were, (whether 97% agree on this or not makes no difference) these numbers which indicate something real (heat) cannot possibly be alarming in themselves, qua number. CO2 cannot randomly jump to very high amounts—the increase is gradual—a 1 part in 10,000 increase in the last 100 years, a .2 part in 10,000 increase over the last 30 years. And so, given the increase in the planet’s mean temperature—and let’s say, though not proven, the entire increase is due to CO2—it is absolutely impossible to be alarmed, even if one tried very hard to be.

And remember—there are no hidden problems associated with CO2, a gas necessary to life on earth—we are only concerned with one measurable vector from CO2—temperature.

The effects of CO2 increase? The effects (storms, droughts, rising sea levels) which are entirely measurable? They are not exactly notable (though anecdotes are aplenty; the earth is very big). Ask for photographic evidence of rising sea levels. Then wait. Surely there are super deals on expensive beachfront property? Let me know. Hurricanes have not increased in number or strength over the past 20, 30, 50 years.

But if one does believe CO2 increase is in the foreground of climate, it will follow naturally that one is a left wing thinker—even an extreme left wing thinker.

One belief drives every belief.

The “dangerous” increase in temperature is due to the “greed” of large corporations which manufacture cars, airplanes, and burn oil for energy. This is a necessary component of all left wing thinking—rich, successful people are evil, and from this follows everything else—the valiant underdog status of the poor, the valiant underdog status of the planet, pitted against those involved in successful, greedy manufacturing.

The sweep of this belief is stunning, the emotions powerful, the evil obviously apparent, and it all hinges on the fact that a 1 part in 10,000 volume of a benign gas is solely responsible for the increase of the mean temperature of the planet by 1 degree F since 1900—and because of this, the world is ending. And the greed and the ignorance of successful (mostly) men is responsible.

Can I look Leonardo DiCaprio and all the other cool kids in the eyes and tell them I know that a vast (very vast) parking lot of cars running their engines could not possibly warm me, due to the CO2 in their emissions, when I’m feeling chilly on a dry, summer, Vermont morning?

What I felt on that Vermont morning was nothing but ignorant apostasy. Only a feeling. And I should laugh it off. And say nothing more. Shouldn’t I?

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