By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Fri, May 18 2007 - 4:40 pm
June 25, 2007
I forgot to say I think I know why Julie Dreyfuss likes the word 'imply' and hates the word 'infer'. It is fun to imply stuff, but it is not so much fun to have others infer stuff from what you have said. Especially if you meant to imply it! Heh.
Another loose end, if I can only remember it - oh, yeah, what do you think about the feckless Paris Hilton getting a million dollars for an interview for going to jail? If one were inclined to be bitter, that is enough to make a person so! Except for remembering that money isn't everything and Paris probably longs for respect from some people she admires! Maybe so, maybe not, but I think happy people don't end up in jail in the first place.
Of course, that just goes along with my view that sane people don't commit murder. If you commit murder (and I mean outside a military context - although that's craziness too, of our societies!) you are by definition insane. Too bad our judicial system doesn't go along with that idea. (Or maybe not. Maybe I'm too naive about the nature of some murderers.)
Yesterday I was sorry I had "wasted" my commentary on something so mundane when I had a much better idea. Today I have lost it - c'est la vie! Demain....
June 24, 2007
I am beginning to understand why older people miss "the good old days."
When I was shampooing this morning, I was using an old bottle of shampoo (one that my parents had meant to send me 15 years ago and was still in the box with a dozen more beauty products and had survived, presumably, 15 years of freezes and thaws. Still in the box, ready to be shipped, with my name on it. (Well, maybe I exaggerate the amount of time. After all, I certainly did not go 15 years without visiting my parents!))
Anyway, when I was shampooing from this old bottle, which is getting low, I had to wait for a couple of seconds, or shake the bottle to get the contents out, and I noticed it!
What happened to the good old days, when we could just sit and watch the shampoo come out of the bottle in its own sweet time, maybe shake it a little, and still think all was right with the world?
Well, I exaggerate. I still think all is right with the world. (Well of course I definitely do not think all is right with the world, but you know what I mean....) I didn't get upset. I'm not in any particular hurry this morning. But I noticed it, and thought of the wonderful invention of bottles with wide tops that are meant to be stored upside-down.
And I kind of regretted the days when we didn't think every second counted so very, very much.
June 23, 2007
Anybody else wondering about the effect of email on our understanding of the words "next" and "previous"? When I first started using email I would try to navigate through my email list chronologically. The "previous" email, was, to me, the one previous in time. The "next" one was the one that came later. Not so on the email list!
The "next" one is the earlier one, or the one next on the list but not in time. "As I said previously" in a book would mean up and left, in an email or a blog means down.
Well. Now it seems obvious. But it did cause me some confusion. Must be a generational cultural gap thing.
Speaking of confusion: people who are suffering from it (most of us most of the time? let me know what you think!) don't enjoy it, do they? I don't remember enjoying it. What causes confusion? Do we outgrow it or just learn to dog-paddle above it?
Rumi says that whatever stage of enlightenment people are in, they glory in. Shows what spiritually rarified spheres he traveled in! I know lots of people who are not particularly happy in their spiritual state! (Or did he mean they are "stuck" in it for better or worse until they are ready to move on?)
I really think the State of Confusion is a very uncomfortable one. But is it the worst? There is the State of Delusion, the State of Ecstasy, the....(my lumper tendency is setting in - let's all hope we end up in the United States for the Better!)
(And Who gets to decide that, I wonder...?)
June 22, 2007
If you haven't read Sophie's Choice by William Styron, don't read today's entry! It's a great book and I wouldn't want to spoil it for you!
When I was scanning Pietsch's blog yesterday I noticed a comment about Sophie in which Chelsea calls her choice a pragmatic one, as well as one which made her complicit in the death of her daughter.
I remember writing about that as one of the hardest choices anybody could be required to make, and thinking that I hoped I would refuse to go along with such an evil, but who knows what they would do in a similar situation?
I would hope that I would refuse to hand over one of my children in preference to another. Because, really, who knows what might have happened? At least your children would know it wasn't your fault, whatever happened. And who knows? The Nazi who forced her to make such a choice wasn't God. Maybe he was experimenting or testing her. Maybe a fire, external attack, earthquake or storm could have come up and saved them all! I'm not saying there was much chance she could have saved both her children, but it was a possibility. Stranger things have happened.
Poor Sophie! She had half a minute to decide, not years!
June 21, 2007
When I was young, my grandfather quoted a saying to me that I will reluctantly repeat here just so I can talk about it:
He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant. Teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him. (I had either never heard, or had forgotten this line.)
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise. Follow him.
I'm reluctant to quote this here because I have decided I don't like it, and when I Googled part of it, there were already four million references! Not all quoted it in its entirety, however. Or at all. You know how Googling is. (N.B. I don't!)
When my grandfather first said it, of course I listened. I could not have been older than twenty. The fear of being shunned is pretty universal, I bet. That was enough to make me want to know as much as possible!
I told a friend about it on the phone today, and he said he liked the Socratic version better than the Chinese (which is the one above.) Socrates talked about knowing more and more, and finally knowing enough to know he knew nothing.
Well, maybe that's the difference between Eastern and Western (I almost wrote Estern heh) knowledge.
But the blog I looked at and immediately loved was Chelsea Rae Pietsch's, headed by "Wise is she who knows she knows nothing."
And as for shunning fools, there is not a person on this planet who doesn't have some misperception or misinformation tucked away somewhere that he doesn't know about. So, everyone, let's by all means shun everyone, including ourselves!
Who does the speaker of that saying think he is? Who does he think he's speaking to? And if he is anywhere around me, I don't know anything! But I don't know that I don't know anything! Please, take your sententious crap (whatever that means - I don't know!) elsewhere! Any elsewhere! I don't know where! Shun me! Please!!!
June 20, 2007
Well, anyone who has only looked at Rumilluminations Now within the last five days probably thinks I am awfully serious and maybe even - heaven forbid - humorless!
And right now it's late in the day and I have to help prepare for an unusually communal supper. So, if you have time and want something a little more lighthearted than this, hop on over to Aester's Fables!
Meanwhile I was going to rant and rave about airlines keeping people on airplanes for longer than one hour before takeoff. I call that false imprisonment! (Admittedly, I'm a little more claustrophobic than most, but....)
June 19, 2007
Reading about Rumi's dad (see Book Butterflies) and his conflict between his own spiritual pursuits and his cares and concern for his children, makes me wonder.
Baha says (in translation), something like "I either ruin myself or ruin my children."
It reminds me of a (character?/historically 'real' person?) in one of Carlos Castaneda's books who feels that in order to be saved she has to steal her 'edge' (or her 'spirit' - I forget which) from her daughters. When she has it, they won't, anymore. But she says that they, not knowing of her spiritual path, "won't know the difference."
Christ said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me!" But have you ever noticed, (I'm repeating myself here) how few saints in the tradition of the Catholic Church have been parents?
(I always joked that was because we are only too full of error to our children. The high esteem in which Rumi and his son hold their fathers would certainly seem to belie that! But Rumi's father was about fifty when he had Rumi. Maybe he was a little more grown up than most of us!)
But really, what gives here?
Is the spiritual life really as dog-eat-dog as some of its major proponents seem to imply? Is that 'me-or-them' mentality really spiritual? It seems to model itself on God's world more than God's World!
In being in love with God and striving toward God, are human beings really only striving towards union with God upon their deaths - in other words towards what we call 'death' itself? Do people become so anti-life that although the whole world is supposed to be of God and part of God, somehow their own children don't count as part of that creation? Do they consider their own children to be obstacles in their paths?
I don't have any claim to a spiritual path except that I do seem, in spite of myself sometimes, to eventually grow up and mature a little more. When I had small children I struggled with the daily drudgery and responsibility - forget a hankering after the spiritual life! But when I asked the I Ching what to do about it I got a hexagram and moving line talking about welcoming my "visitors from heaven" and treating them well. How much I fell short of that they certainly know!
So why the dicotomy between the pursuit of God and taking care of God's visitors from heaven? (I'm just trying to understand, here, and I'm wondering....)
I know people who claim that they are really lazy. Yet they seem to trudge along and get their work done as well as the rest of us. (Hey, maybe better than I, and I won't cop to being lazy. Well, usually.)
But today I was picking strawberries and found myself ruminating about an incident at the neighboring farm where the berry season was over (unexpectedly - what crazy weather we are having this spring!). Or maybe about the people who let us come back here and pick in their fields. (It obviously wasn't important - I don't even remember what it was!) But I was trying to get in touch with the 'reality' of what was going on in these interhuman exchanges. (Hey, if I didn't 'review' these interchanges, I might never 'get' them!)
But all of a sudden I thought about Rumi's father Baha al-Din and his whole mystical God in and behind everything but also beyond everything (as well as I can perceive what his biographer is saying) and all of a sudden - pop - here I am very present back in the strawberry fields with all the idyllic blue sky and red berries and green leaves. I feel a wave of relief and joy.
It really is better just being here now. Beautiful, really. I do appreciate it - feel lightened in spirit.
Except pretty soon grasses are tickling my face like bugs and lots and lots of the strawberries are rotten from unseasonably hot weather and others are too green and they are all smaller than usual and quite slug-damaged and I am getting heartburn from bending over (even from a squat!) and speaking of heat it is a getting a little warm....
My mind drifts away, back to anything other than what I am doing. Oh, I touched base enough to do the job, and I did have a good time. But was I really there? How many other 'realities' did I successively occupy during that hour of berry-picking? If we really are supposed to "be here now" in order to be spiritually "with it," maybe I will have to pursue a more ivory tower, contemplative, comfortable life?
Or am I just, spiritually speaking, lazy?
June 17, 2007
I'm feeling kind of lackadaisical today and I'm thinking, "My don't we have delusions of grandeur?" about my proposed project for the day: more words for different kinds of reality. (Notice the editiorial "we" when I want to distance myself a little from such delusions.)
But the bare fact is, when I have been to the library recently I have managed to forget to try to get more books on the string theory sorts of reality. I'm pretty sure they are all pretty theoretical, anyway. (No, no, don't get me wrong! I mean to our understanding!)
But really, don't we need more words for "reality"? There is scientifically "objective" reality, which is based originally, often, on a very intuitive interpretation of data.
Then there are the "realities" that are based on what people feel about their God or gods. And we know there are many of those!
Then there are pragmatic "realities" based on on a person's experiences, which many people declare are outcomes of the individual's belief system and what they have been led to expect out of life.
Then there is that "virtual reality" caught in the World Wide Web and people's computer games - which becomes very real indeed when it changes from your virtually accessed account balance to someone else's genuine spending power! Not such a virtual reality, that!
It seems that the computer world has diluted the meaning of "virtual!" It's evident that it is more real to many than all that ordinary everyday stuff outside....
Really, "reality" it is just so complex that it makes me want to shake my head and say, "What was I thinking?" (I learned a long time ago that I am a lumper because I am such an extreme splitter that I end up with only one specimen of whatever I'm dealing with in each category. In that case, why try to split them into separate categories? They are all just one thing, oomplahs! (No, they don't really exist! I just made them up...I think!))
And I just give up and pile 'em all back, whatever they are, together in one box. They're all just "words."
It's a good thing other people have come up with all sorts of great systems!
So, folks. Do we need more words for "reality?" Or would that take even more objectivity than sorting out "love"?
June 16, 2007
My mom always said I would have to learn everything the hard way. That was simply not true! I didn't learn not to rob banks and do other people grievous bodily harm the hard way.
But with regards to almost everything non-criminal, well, perhaps she was right. Learning things the easy way, however, is especially easy on those around you. It makes their lives easier, I'm sure, that you are not crying on their shoulders. (You notice I'm saying "you" at this point. Because I, yes I, I confess, do learn a lot the hard way.)
But oh, when I learn the hard way to save my work, how much more do I learn! Last night (with the help of a friend, via telephone, I got conducted on a tour of my hard drive that actually reminded me of the computer classes I took fifteen years ago! Sorting *stuff* and such! Just to know all those layers and files exist! (Shudder. It's like reading a thriller! What a frisson!)
Now I know what the TV detectives are doing when they seize computers and look at their hard drives! (Except now I remember, what we did fifteen years ago was not user friendly and was, like old TV, in black and white. Yup, I bet they know how to dig deeper than we did last night... all the way down to the root itself and beyond ....)
Well, now I do know I'm getting carried away.
Thank you, my friends and my children, for all your attention and support as I do not learn things the easy way. I'll try to remember your good services if/when you call for mine!
Oh, I almost forgot! Last night I learned that archives.org has about a 6-12 months lag between when they "troll" your site and it gets into their "go way back" section. So that is why that, although the current date is at the top of what you are looking for, the web pages may not be listed. I'm going to keep an eye on archive.org and hope to retrieve my stuff. Bless you, all you wonderful free internet services!
Hmmm... tomorrow I think I'll write about reality - that might just be a word - like "love" - that is going to need a lot more definitions once we get more string-theoretically perceptive....
June 15, 2007 (p.m.)
Well, I am just sick. I started to read all my Rumilluminations from the beginning, (just to see if I am repeating myself too badly) and I have lost some from last month! My daughter told me I should write them separately and save them, but I thought I would print them out instead. And at the library, that takes dinero, which I always feel I don't have. I don't like the way the articles look when I transfer them over from microsoft word,either.
At first I thought, no big deal, I would look in archive.org and copy them. But they aren't there! Now ten days worth of writing - gone. Into the ether. Well, I have only myself to blame, but I still don't have to like it!
June 15, 2007
Here's one for you: Are we responsible for what we do in our dreams?
This morning I woke up angry from a dream in which I, standing, confronted three people sitting at our old kitchen table (one of whom is now dead), telling them something they didn't want to hear. They sat with averted heads - didn't want to deal with it.
In a way I can't blame them. This all dates from more than fifty years ago! More than half a century! Whew!
Well, to any young'uns who read this, fifty years doesn't look like all that much time from this end - unless, maybe, you start remembering... -- no, no, anything but that!
(Actually, I don't think I would have even had that dream if present concerns weren't bringing up old issues.)
The first time I ever remember anyone talking about controlling your dreams was when I read Carlos Castaneda. I don't remember in which volume he starts talking about dreaming - 'with intent' - I think he called it.
Now, of course, you hear all the time about improving your sports performance through daydreams and visualization. Why would night dreams be any different? Kind of frustrating if your out-of-control nightmares undid all your daytime 'practice?'
How about family relationships? Should I have been 'dreaming with intent' a scene of love and forgiveness? But I guess in order to do that, you would first have to feel it.
And I've noticed it's hard to feel it when nobody is asking for it, or even looking at you.
So, are dreams real? More to the point, do we control our dreams?
The book on Rumi I'm reading recounts an instance in which Rumi's father Baha al Din has a dream that some higher being told him he should be called Sultan of the Ulama, or King of the Clerics. Several other people had a similar dream about him. People started calling him this in real life with some negative repercussions from those who did not feel he was in a position to make such a claim.
In 'reality' perhaps he was not. Goes along with my policy of not expecting other people to acknowledge the reality of your dreams.
So I guess I've answered my own question. If others don't want to believe in your dreams or be held accountable for what they do in your dreams, why the hell should you be?
except i really do think that dreams are a 'reality' and I do think that reality affects us all kinda scary huh?
and don't even talk to me about night terrors... really scary!
June 13, 2007
This one's pretty looney, so if you aren't in the mood for foolishness, better stop reading now!
Yesterday I ran across another word for my Dictionary of Love in Feng Shui Detective by Nury Vittachi. The kind of love that makes you do crazy and highly dramatic things is "lurrve."
Here's yet another. It came out of my recent obsession with the idea that names with more 'o's in them elicit more love. (Actually, as I recall from a numerology book by Vincent Lopez (?) that I read years ago, an absence of number 6 letters in a name (including the letter 'o') signifies a tendency to have difficulty settling down to happy harmonious domesticity.)
So the presence of more of these letters should signify the opposite, right? (I once fell madly in love with a guy with three 'o's in his name.) (I know, I know, anecdotal. Listen, this whole day's message is fantasy and anecdote, so if you can't handle it, scoot!)
Look at how many double 'o' words have great associations: moon, spoon, croon, Boone, Clooney.... well, you get the idea! See what I mean?
Moms and cows 'coo' and 'moo' at their babies. People who 'cathect' alcohol call it 'booze.' People who 'cathect' breasts call them 'boobs' or 'hooters'.
Even rejecting words like 'shoo', 'kerflooey', and 'hooey 'are relatively gentle and affectionate.
So I suggest a love of particular visceral intensity and longevity that we could call 'loove!'
(Or does that sound too much like 'Hoover?'
And what about 'shooters' and 'looters', and 'boogers'? (Well forget that last - it's not pronounced the same!)
Still...hmmm... might have to rethink this. This morning I was thinking of all positive things.
But that was before I went to the dentist. And right noow, forsooth, my tooth it rooeth!
Good loord, I think I have sunk to a noo loow! (Noo, not 'loo!')
But I still love those 'oo's.
They mean hugs, and ....they're in 'smooch'...and...oooh...do not forget Double O Seven! Too cool!)
June 12, 2007
Something kind of interesting happened the other day while my mom and I were doing crosswords - I think it was 'Saturday Stumper' day. We weren't getting anywhere and were getting kind of frustrated. One of the pens wasn't working well. No big deal, right? Well, maybe.
Needing to perform a little displacement activity, I got up for half a minute and found a better pen. Voila! The puzzle started solving itself! (Almost!)
Have you heard the old saying, "The poor craftsman blames his tools"? When I first heard that, I thought, "Well, okay." I accepted it and filed it away in my mind. In later years when I heard it, I would remember all the lousy tools I have tried to work with and did not blame the poor craftsman at all!
But now I can think of a couple other ways to view that old saw (heh.) One is that a good craftsman won't tolerate lousy tools. He will do whatever it takes to get a good collection of workable tools. Otherwise he is wasting his time.
(Honest but not beloved labor done to earn money to buy tools that allow you to express your creativity isn't a waste of time, just like working to eat and have a comfortable place to live isn't.)
Turning out a product that even you, its creator, cannot respect and admire is a waste of precious time.
Another way to look at it is that the poor craftsman is financially poor because he is a lousy craftsman. Then he blames his tools instead of becoming a better craftsman. Maybe he's right. Maybe his tools are worthless. Or maybe his self-esteem is too low to allow him the optimism and hope to put more energy into his craft. Either way, he's caught up in a vicious cycle.
Of the two 'enablers', the tools or the craftsman, however, I can guarantee that the tools are not going to magically shape up and start performing well.
But lo and behold - magic! The craftsman can! And there is no magic more delightful than having your performance exceed a discouraging plateau by simply buying a better tool!
Now, having said all that, I have to admit I'm not the best at my craft. But at least now I know to take responsibility for my flaws. (Really I only keep my work below the highest standard in order to avoid the charge of being a perfectionist! Ha-ha.)
I do not blame my tools.
Except - my stitching isn't as small as it used to be, and I think it must be my eyes because....
June 11, 2007
I used to think I didn't have any heroes. I kind of wondered, what's wrong with me? I didn't really idolize anyone. But now I realize I do have heroes. They just aren't spelled with a capital H.
Of course, anyone who is brought up a Christian has many models of good behavior to follow.
Also of course, all kinds of characters in all kinds of books I read as a child were heroes, and even more of course, were their authors.
Thomas Mann set me on a course of taking more responsibility for my life and even what happens to me (hey, I still won't take blame!)
Ian Anderson's (he of Jethro Tull) mind- and emotion-nudging lyrics are full of challenges as well as entertainment and come to my mind often.
All the people who worked on, contributed to, and developed the hauntingly beautiful imagery and invaluable lessons of the I Ching are big-time heroes to me.
But some people I have met personally have also been my heroes. Just in a more understated way than a Superhero. And that's a good thing. (Who could really hear what a Superhero was saying, in his presence? Too much excitement and awe getting in the way!)
Margaret Embry, who wrote The Blue-Nosed Witch and other children's books, taught me that right now is as good a time as any to do things we otherwise would just be talking about.
An anonymous couple in their sixties I met scampering around on the big rocks decades ago (yes, they were scampering!) while on a hunt for mineral goodies in the mine country of northern New Mexico have provided inspiration in all the intervening years that have brought me closer to my sixties.
The utter calm with which Pamela Seaworthy greets car trouble has given me a new take on coping with life's more unpleasant surprises.
Oh, yes. I have my heroes. I just didn't know it when I met them!
June 10, 2007
When I was a child, we kids were not allowed to spend our money on comics. They were not considered worthy reading material, to say the least! Sugary treats were okay, but not comics! (There was an inkling of thinking that the body is not as worthy of respect as the mind, maybe.)
Visiting other people provided us our only access to comics. The biggest trove I saw as a child, ironically, was at Grandma and Grandpa's house. One of their tenants had left behind a whole box full of them. Worthless as comics were in our grandparents' eyes, they couldn't bear to throw them out. (After all, they had lived through the Depression.) We kids read them every chance we could, which wasn't often, because every time we were caught reading a comic, we were assigned a chore. (Well, sorry, that's the way I remember it!)
My all-time favorite was Unca Scrooge McDuck. (omigod, I just realized that he might have been named after the McDonalds, or did I just make his last name up? Was Donald's last name McDuck? All this to testify to my bona fides as being ignorant of Disneydom on the whole.)
Unca Scrooge was rich! He had a maroon coat and a top hat! He lived in a mansion! But that is not all, he was adventurous! He had his own plane he flew anywhere, anytime, in any weather! He was generous - he took his nephews along for the ride when he went to far-off places! He was enterprising!
Now, I'm not sure I ever read more than one Unca Scrooge comic book. In it he flew his own airplane and had a fountain made from dimes instead of water. I'm sure I have seen him sanguine under fire in some developing country ravaged by civil war. I know he had many economic investments (in a hands-on kind of way) in third-world countries.
I did take my three kids to 'Duck Tales', but (true confession) I fell asleep.
I'm sure that were I to read Unca Scrooge now, I would find him very politically incorrect.
But when he was created (intentionally?) as a version of what Dickens' Scrooge might be like decades after his fateful Christmas, Scrooge meant very well, I'm sure. Bringing business to poor people in other countries was seen as good for everyone, wasn't it? Just as three spectres gave him gifts, so he passed on his gifts and knowledge to three nephews.
Now I wish I could read about Unca Scrooge all over again. Anybody got a Scrooge comic book? Anybody write a Ph.D. thesis about the social impact or psychological influence of Walt Disney's Unca Scrooge? If so, please get in touch! I would love to read it! And while I'm waiting to hear from you, I'll check Unca Scrooge out on the Net....
Surprise, surprise - only about 650 entries came up on the first engine I tried! Amazingly few, considering, but fun... I recommend browsing Unca Scrooge!
But alas, ignorance was bliss. Unca Scrooge was unreformed, probably social commentary at the time, but as an child of very otherworldly ((for the most part) parents) I didn't get any of it. But funny, funny, funny! Darn! Youth was wasted on the young with me, for sure! Now I know that probably my grandparents secretly read Unca Scrooge themselves! They probably had a whole box just of Unca Scrooge hidden away and the one I read was just the one they missed... why didn't they share??????
Now instead of 10 cents a piece, they are more like $10.00! Aaargh! Well, I'm too much of a Scrooge to pay that!
...damn grown-up know-it-alls mutter mutter mutter....
June 9, 2007
Boy, after complimenting Leno on his monologue yesterday, I have to say that last night's was really mean. Funny sometimes, but really mean. The part about Paris Hilton, that is. Really uncalled-for comments.
Makes me look back at my yesterday's remarks. Maybe a little bleatingly hypocritical myself. When I was in my twenties, I was no angel. I didn't have a car, though. And I would never have gotten a DUI. I rode in a car with a bunch of people (including me) high on marijuana once, and I was scared to death!
But I know if I had been arrested like Paris Hilton, I would not have been a scofflaw. I think that is part of why we find it difficult to sympathize with her. That and her making fun of those of less privileged birth who have to take low-level jobs seriously in order to survive.
Before I wrote that last sentence, I was all ready to say, "It's too bad that she had to be put in jail before somebody managed to teach her that her behavior is not acceptable to society."
Now I'm mad all over again. Who does she think she is? Who does everybody think she is? Why does she deserve all this attention?
She doesn't. Let her live and learn just like the rest of us have to. Or let her not, just like the rest of us don't.
She doesn't deserve all this attention. I will never write about her again.
Heh... You know what they say...
Because I think she probably deserves all this attention because she's so damn entertaining....
June 8, 2007
Why are we so fascinated by Paris Hilton? Is it the easy-to-remember conjunction of two famous names? I think that is a lot of it. The conjunction of name and wealth would probably be enough in a monarchy to make a young woman (a princess!) famous in a country where she could end up to be ruler of the land. Oh, yes, don't forget about her prospects, which are of interest to everyone because everyone might be affected by them.
But poor United States! We don't have princesses! Presidential daughters, whom some would expect to be our 'princesses,' are usually protected from publicity. This makes sense. They are not as politically significant to us as future monarchs are to the British (even figurehead monarchs).
So why, why should anything rich little rich girl Paris does have anything to do with us, the average citizens?
Well, for one thing, she is, loosely speaking, a member of the oligarchy. (Remember, we really aren't truly a republic anymore - let alone a democracy.) But certainly there must be lots of pretty, rich girls out there whom the media successfully ignores.
Usually I'm just not interested. I change channels on Paris Hilton almost as often as I do George W. Bush. (I refuse to listen to his hypocritical little bleats on principle.) But what Paris wears is more interesting, so I might pause to take a look.
As a middle class Midwestern-bred girl, the performances of Paris and Nicole on the simple life offended me. But still I basically wasn't interested, any more than I was interested in O.J. Simpson before.... Exactly. Before.
But now Paris has joined the ranks of those treated so unequally before the law (according to some, too harshly in the sentencing, too leniently in the shortening of her sentence, now back she goes again! Maybe...) that we cannot take our eyes off the horrid fascination of it. No wonder she is sick. The merry-go-round she is on would nauseate me, too!
Well, at least Paris has doctors and a mental health practitioner to help her.
This is my serious proposal. In addition to a court-appointed attorney, every accused should also get a court-appointed physician and psychologist. Then Paris' treatment might not be so out of line, and think of all the wonderful job openings for psychologists! Think of what association with mental health practitioners would do for the criminal class(es)! (Yeah, right, Nicole Richie, everyone goes to jail!)
Jay Leno was in top form last night, getting good laughs from me on many subjects. He mentioned that (I forget which) Nicole or Paris' mom was going to get a reality show. "What's this? How do these people get reality shows when they haven't even experienced reality?" (Apologies to Leno if that is not an exact quote.)
Anyone else figured out why Paris Hilton is so fascinating? Is she our bad-girl anti-princess? Or is she just an excellent example of how awry our democratic ambitions have gone?
Meanwhile, if I ever have to go to jail (for civilly disobediently protesting, or something) I would like to serve my time at Paris Hilton's house!
June 7, 2007
The other night I was sitting around at a potluck of Valparaiso Old-Time Dance and we started talking about the word 'phoney'. I'm probably the one that brought it up - wondering if it came from the word 'telephone'. Someone else thought it might come from the word 'phonograph'.
The next day, I remembered I have a book Why You Say It by Webb B. Garrison that has a lot of explanations for sayings in it.
Well, I had started the book months ago and put it aside for a while. Imagine my surprise when I saw that 'phoney' was in the first part of the book and that, moreover, that I had already read about it!
Phoney is actually from the Irish word 'fawny' meaning 'ring' - the kind you wear on your finger. (It refers to a scam practiced by sharpers, long before the telephone, most likely!) So when you say that a ring is phoney, you are saying that it is a 'ringy ring!'
Pretty phoney, huh?
But hey, that wasn't really my point. My point was, I already had the correct answer, but I was so enamoured of my imaginary explanation that I forgot it! Hmm... was I so in love with it because it was my solution or because it so obvious and easy and simple?
Dunno. But I can tell you the real explanation of phoney, if Garrison's explanation is not phoney, is way more interesting and complicated than mine.
If I were Jesus you would call this story a 'parable'. (Now where does that word come from...?
June 6, 2007
I got a brand new book on sale a few years back called The Gift of Fear. I hope that the fact that this book was on sale did not mean that it did not do well in general, because I think it is very helpful. At least three or four people read the copy I bought!
The author makes us aware of certain techniques used by people who mean us harm. One such ploy the author calls 'false teaming.'
In true teaming, he says, the people involved - like a church group or a baseball team - have a common goal. In false teaming, the person using 'we' has a hidden agenda. He means you no good.
All my life I have lived with the 'we' of teaming. We all do, and most of the time this is a good thing. But the meaning of "we" is subject to all degrees of dilution and manipulation.
This morning I started thinking about the editorial and kingly "we"s and realized something about them that maybe is obvious to all the rest of you. With regard to the primary roles of their users, they mean completely the opposite of each other!
The editorial "we" means "I."
The kingly "we" means "you."
June 5, 2007
Last night I tuned in to Inside the Actors Studio and saw that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was being interviewed, so I stayed channeled to watch it. She was very funny, of course. When she had to say her favorite curse word it was the most common one. The reasons she gave for liking it reminded me of how the word was made humorous for me years ago. A very wise guru (who? Tell me!) gave a little lecture using it scores of times, citing interminable examples of all of its myriads of applications.
Smart move. He really transformed that word for a lot of people - made it laughable. Unfortunately, I cannot pretend that every time I have used it since I have remembered that it is a funny word!
Julia went on to say that 'imply' was her favorite word. Well, okay, I could see that, I thought... maybe she was being funny... or at least unexpected...
So this morning I was lying in bed, thinking, "What is my favorite word?"
And I would have to say that my favorite word is f...romage. Fromage. Hey, who says your favorite word has to be in your native language? Here's why fromage:
It's hard to pronounce. To prepare, I have to take a deep breath. (After first taking an even deeper cleansing breath, of course!) Then I straighten up - hold myself more erect to face the challenge!
Then, making an 'o' in the back of my mouth to prepare to make that throaty 'r' - but no, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Making that 'o' in my throat makes me open my eyes wider, creating in me a sense of wonder.
The uvular 'r' in the back of the mouth, well, for an American, that takes focus.
At this point, I hope I have taken a deep enough breath, because I am going to need it after I have tilted my head back for the 'm' - not only for the long breathy "ah" of an 'a', but for the fluttering of the eyelids that seems to be necessary to make all those oral changes happen.
Then that wonderful soft 'g' - so pleasurable a purr-sound after all that consonantal challenge!
Why, it brings out a small smile of accomplishment and contentment. Kind of like the mysterious smile on the face of the Mona Lisa.
That's it! I've solved the mystery! All Leonardo daVinci had to say was,
"Just say, 'fromage'."
June 4, 2007
I feel kind of sorry for young men and women today - at least the ones that had stay-at-home moms. In looking for a mate, the young men probably are looking for a level of serenity and nurturing perhaps not to be found in a young woman who is struggling with the same issues the man is! And the poor young woman who has such demands made upon her, when she is struggling with all the worldly concerns he has, plus the question, 'why am I even having to do this, anyway?'
It's a rough economic world out there for lots of people now. A writer named Johnson who wrote about the role of the sexes said it was a man's responsibility to deal with threats from outside the home, and the woman's specialty to protect the family from threats from within. (I think this includes threats from within the psyches of family members.)
It seems to me partly luck when families succeed excellently with these in the best of times. If both men and women have to deal with external and internal threats, that might be a good thing. It certainly equalizes the balance of power between them. But women are learning perforce how to deal with the world and its stresses, and it takes its toll. They are going to be a little less sheltered and a little less sheltering.
Do young men of this generation feel a commensurate responsibility to be more aware of and protective of the spirit and psyche? Do they recognize that a woman, forced to worry about a job, her status (in competition for a mate, even!) literally cannot bear this burden alone? The inner Self, the Spirit - whatever you want to call it - is so damn invisible! Does the average young man in the U.S. even acknowledge its existence?
I don't know.
What I do know: if it is too badly neglected, we read about the consequences in the newspapers.
And the news isn't good.
June 3, 2007
Why do so many religions put such a division between the physical and the spiritual, as if they were mutually exclusive? About the only person (besides some Far Eastern sects) I have ever heard talk about the link between the spirit and sexuality is Alice Walker during a lecture of a mega book conference in New York City years ago. (Although, come to think of it, I have heard it said also that the greatest sexual organ is the brain!)
I read somewhere that people tend both to undervalue and overvalue the person they are in love with. It almost seems that if a person turns another person on physically, it must be a sinful thing. It lowers their standing somehow, that they arouse such a strong physical (and therefore of necessity sinful) response. It's too bad, because if a couple turns each other on physically, there is less trouble with infidelity later on in the marriage. (I read it somewhere as fact, don't ask me where! Some psychologist, I think.) And a lot of men seem to want to marry their mothers. What fun!
Why are we all so afraid of the body?
I think we equate pleasure with sin. Otherwise why is cheesecake so much more pleasurable to so many people than say, a really good salad?
It could simply be a matter of supply and demand. We can have a good salad any time, but we should have cheesecake only rarely. But if I switched the frequency factor and ate cheesecake every day, well, I would probably kill for a salad! In fact, a big piece of cheesecake makes me want to throw up.
So guess what I'm taking to the potluck this afternoon!
No, silly, I get to make and eat salad every day of the week!
June 2, 2007
When I was a homemaker years ago, I started wondering how I chose my chores. I worked pretty much all day long to keep up in those days, but my order seemed a little random. What motivated me?
Imagine my surprise when I figured out it was temperature! I only really felt like doing dishes on a cold winter's day. When I was a little chilly doing active things like vacuuming or making the beds had more appeal, as did baking.
When I found myself in the northern room I sewed in, chances were the whole rest of the house was a little too warm.
This discovery was a little embarrassing to me. It made me feel like planaria, a very small simple little worm with an eyespot that said "yes" to light, moving toward it, and "no" to the lack of light, moving away from the dark, presumably in search of more of what it could say "yes" to.
I guess that 'yes' 'no' system is the basis of electronics, maybe the basis of everything including who we are. We move through our lives with 'yes yes no yes yes yes no no no yes/no/yes/no/etc. (we call that last one ambivalence, or 'maybe', or approach/avoidance) yes yes Yes YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES (doesn't even look like 'yes' anymore, does it?)
June 1, 2007
I am really sorry to see the month of May go, because I think it is the most beautiful month of the year here in Northern Indiana. The mock orange outside my window seems to feel the same way. In full bloom yesterday, today it has - foom - dropped its petals.
Spring and fall always seem to bring out a restless streak in me, which calms down once summer or winter sets in.
This morning I was out mowing the lawn (alas, yes, lawn, but maybe someday that will change!) near the wildest part of our yard, which has five-foot-tall grasses and lots of phlox and blackberries. (It is probably also the wildest part of the neighborhood this side of the railyard, come to think of it.)
It set me to thinking about cultivation.
When someone speaks of a cultivated person, it's a good thing, right? The person is educated and accomplished.
The same with cultivating land. We do it to grow our own food and make our lives more beautiful. All a good thing, right?
Well, yes, of course. And yet - can't it sometimes be too much of a good thing?
Nowadays some people don't want to let their children out from under supervision because they feel the need to "protect them." Others are so intent that their children succeed in the world that they supervise every minute of every day, cultivating the poor kid for "success" within an inch of his life.
If indeed so many of our young people are angry, maybe they have been over-cultivated. Or worse yet, over-controlled without the corresponding benefit of some redeeming cultivation. Kind of like putting concrete all over the yard to keep out the weeds.
Today children in the United States are driven from place to place. This keeps them from getting a feeling for distance and an appreciation for where their bodies can take them. I truly believe that not being allowed to navigate their own bodies stunts their ability to find their way around the world.
Children here are supervised everywhere they go. As far as I can tell free play without the interference of adults and/or the other kids in the play group just doesn't happen much any more.
Sure, kids have always had siblings. But usually children are spaced so there is at least some difference in interest and mobility to help separate their territories. Too many other people around can distract even an adult. How are kids supposed to experience the world directly if there is always that kind of deflection from having an experience of their very own? Let alone an appreciation for nature!
One of my fondest earliest memories was of walking home from Sunday School at age three. I had been told to wait for my sister, but got bored and left.
I knew where home was. Everybody else got all upset, and as an adult I can sympathise with them. But me, I was fine!
Give the kids a break! Loosen the reins a little! Let them have some fun and freedom now!
"Oh, that magic feeling - nowhere to go..."
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