Remember, Louis!

At the Neighborhood Playhouse nursery school I wanted to know what it looked like inside my ear.  I asked Louis to look inside my ear and he told me: It looks sorta like the inside of your nose.    The first of many partners I have enlisted in the journey of discovery into the Louisiana Purchase that is me.

“Louis and Clark and the pioneers/Driven by Hunger and Haunted by Fears”

Louis of course named after the Louis-iana Purchase which he explored.  Clark of course named after the physicist Clark-Maxwell whose equations exactly eight decades eight years and eight months later would explain the phenomena of backward causation.

I couldn’t help asking Louise after our first night together — what was it like?  What am I like?  What kind of person am I?

Why would you ask another person what you are like, she asked me.

Why wouldn’t you? I asked her.

Because I’m not that kind of person, she answered me.

And I am?

You are.

Thank you very much!

But of course I am not actually looking for a mirror and I am not actually investigating my self — cause the particulars of my self are no mystery — but I am enlisting both of us to ask question about what it is to be a person at all.  What it is to be a separate person at all.  Why we are different at all and not just like blobs separated out in some kind of human shmear.  And I am looking for partners in this journey, each of us looking into each other looking not for a mirror at all but for someone in the other on the other side, looking back.

Needless to say the famous “three women” — mother, lover, and death — are for women three men.  Needless to say and I hope not true.

I once had a conversation where I tried to patiently explain the mysterious sense in which you can’t see the edge of your visual field, and yet there is an edge to it, and the woman I was talking to said to me “What exactly can’t you see?” and I was dumbfounded.

What a great thing for her to say, what a wonderful state she brought me to.  If I could look deep inside her body at that very instant  she made it all clear to me, I guarantee you, I promise you, I wager, bet and believe it would look nothing like a nose.




A Fascinating Custom

At the age of 50 a Jewish male traditionally grows an ornate pubic beard.  Decorations include shells, beads and coins , but there are no strict rules and a measure of individual creativity is definitely encouraged (fig. 1)

The traditional “Shalok” or “shalooq” is a way for an Ashkenazi male to indicate his approach to life to the father of a prospective match for his children.  At the ceremony of “shal v tuma” prospective interlopers will interbraid their shaloqim and have a mock battle or dance, while all the female members of each clan join in the festivities by singing ribald songs.  These ceremonies, performed under the half moon still bring cheerful melodies to the Ashkenazi communities of the upper West side of Manhattan and Los Angeles, although their initial atropaic function has been largely forgotten. [Fig. 2]

At the climax of the ceremony the most respected member of the community will sometimes manifest an item from the recesses of the shalok using stage magic; here we see a respected scholar produce a baby chicken. (Fig. 3)


Two Kinds of People

My old friend, an Australian philosopher, child of holocaust survivors who had gone to Esarn in Ne Thailand to study Buddha Dhamma under Luang Por Kom Kian (Venerable father Golden Writing) told me there are two kinds of people

Those who think something exists (or hope there does)


those who think nothing exists (or hope so)

And the chief discovery of the Buddha is they’re both wrong

I used to think he was absolutely right but now I think no; it just seems that way because “exist” is vague.  Maybe in a language in which there were more words for “exist” it would seem to us that there are more kinds of people.

But whether either of us is right

Or we are both right

Or both wrong

I wish him well!