Powerful, Gentle, Being

I got the add in google mail and I bought the product from Amazon; it was a metal disk about the diameter of an Eisenhower dollar and as thick as a paper towel with the letters IGB printed on it. It cost seven dollars. It came with instructions that you put it on the middle of your forehead with two-sided surgical tape, and you put on eyeshades and lie down and if you want listen to music or to pink noise, and you have an experience of an incredibly powerful, gentle being. Whoever wrote copy for the web-page (it didn’t seem that English was their first language — perhaps — most likely — it had been translated using a computer) said they did not use the word “infinite” because whether something was infinite or simply so vast that it exceeded human comprehension was a claim “not amenable to evaluation by the FDA”.

I asked the being which was a more revolutionary technology: LSD or money.

The being said, “Oh wow. I remember fifteen hundred years ago when you asked me the same question only you wanted to know (or said you wanted to know) which was a greater gift of the gods: gold or wine.”

“If you remember me fifteen hundred years ago does that mean I am immortal?”

“Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.” said the being “Let me try to explain it to you. You are like a hand in poker — you are like a spade flush — and the cards are immortal but the hands get continually reshuffled.”

“That makes sense.” I said “But what are the cards?”

“Yeah, sure it makes sense you would ask that.” said the being “The cards are also hands of poker so there is so to speak no ultimate level.”

“I wonder why people get insights into the illusory nature of the ego and it gives them a big ego?” I asked the being because I had the sense that it was gentle enough the question would not anger it.

“You might as well wonder why people burn people at the stake in order to teach them to love.”

“I do wonder that, gentle being!” I said “I worry about that one a lot!”

“Well I’m glad you do! You know part of the challenge of being an infinite being is that if you worry everyone worries.”

“Is that why you created me?”

“Or vice versa. Anyway very nice talking with you and I hope we can talk again soon.”


Museum of Your Life

They tell you they will make you live for billions of years — more or less immortal! But because your memory is finite you will not be able to remember the life of billions of years. So you are told to create a museum of your life so far and your new self on its journey of a billion years — practically immortal! — will wake up every day in this museum and learn who you are.

What will you put in this museum?

And…are you already living in such a museum?

And if you are, isn’t it time to throw some things away?

Or better yet — move out?


Why Was the Wanderoo So Furious?

You’d have to ask him, you’d have to study

When I took a trip across myself I packed a valise, halfway through

My arms were tired and I put it down. Now I lost it.

I want to go back to the terminal floor where I put down that valise and ask

“Is there a person who handles this sort of thing?”

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep,

(I’m sure you’ve read about this sort of things in newspapers)

I realized I was “this sort of thing”.

(I bet you have never been in a reading room where the day’s newspapers are on wooden dowels and you can read them.

I lost my bet I hope. didn’t I?)

I opened up the valise and there was my father’s old coat and his father’s old coat

Why did he hate his father? Why was the Wanderoo so furious?

You would have to ask him, but he’s got a head start and is disappearing down the stairs

To a train that will take him beyond your memory, many stops past where your imagination ends


Books To Read

I just finished up — or reached a temporary resting space on — a writing project, and have gotten together the books that accumulated unread. With the national politics in a state of such grotesque unfeeling emergency it’s hard to know if its dilettantish or not to read them, but here they are:

Gate of Heaven by Herrera
Return of Muncchausen by Krzhiazhianovsky
The Debutante and Other Storis — Leonora CarringtonMoses Cordovero’s Introduction to Kabbalah
Bearheart:The Heirship Chronicles
The Fierce nad Beautiful World — Andrei Platonov
The Invisible Bridge – Rick Perlstein
The Nonexistent Knight/The Cloven Viscount – Calvino
Johnson-Orphan Master’s Son
Carson-Eros the Bittersweet
Worldly Wisdom: Confucian Teachings of hte Ming Dynasty
The Incoherence of the Philosophers
Al Ghazzali on the 99 Beautiful Names of God
Universal Science — Mahdi Ha Iri Yazi
Glass Irony and God
The Anti-Witch
The Affirmation of Life
Te-Nehisi Coates: Between the World and Me
From Eternity to Here
Ontogeny and Philogeny
The Executioner’s Song
This is our Youth
Saddam Hussein: Politics of REvenge
Total Orgasm
Travels with Epicurus
You and a Bike and a Road
Frabato the Magician
Between Dog and Wolf
Story of the Stone
8 Skillful Gentlemen
New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese
Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy
The Order of Time
Invertebrate Zoology
The Middle Ground
Reflections on Things at Hand
Charles Darwin Voyagin
The Illiad
House of Leaves
Mystical Languages of Unsaying
The book of Disquiet
The Golden Notebook
Soul of the Samurai
Book of Laughter and Forgetting
Skillful Coping
Wild Ivy: Autobiography of Hakuin
Eros and Magic in the Renaissance
Butterfly as Companion
When Children Grieve
Principles of Neuroscience
Nature of Generosity
Greg Bear: Stories
Alan Ackybourn: Plays
The Cave – Saramago
Yiddish Policeman’s Union
Barnes – The Ruling Class
Creation of Consciousness
Europe and the People w/o a History
Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Ludmilla Petrushvskaya- Stories
Dark Back of Time – Marias
S Shephard – 7 Plays
Distance of hte Moon
States of Mind
Time for Aristotle
Readings from Lu Wang School of Neo-Confcianism
Jabes — Book of Margins
Calvino – Baron in the Trees
Travels with Herodotus
Wisdom of the Throne — Mulla Sadra
Baldwin Collected Essays
The Bin Ladens
Early Islamic Mysticism
Al Ghazzali’s Path to Sufism
Invertebrate Zoology
The Super Organism
The Pleasure Shock
How Jews Became White Folks
The Spinning Magnet
Capella and the 7 Liberal Arts
Free Play
Company Man
Black Sea – Ascherson
Space is the Place
Psychic Life of Power
Martyrs Traitors and Patriots
Nietzsche’s New Darwinism
Dog of the South
Beryl Bainbridge- Visit to the Bottle Factory
Paschal Beverly Randolph
The Theosophical Enlightenment
Bengal Nights – Eliade
Kazin- A Walk in the City


Why Don’t We Help “Our Own”?

I’ve come across the argument — yeah it’s sad to take kids from their parents and put them in cages giving them life-long psychological trauma, but ultimately — so what? Our responsibility is to our own citizens.

I think about the following story. A man has a big mansion on a several-acre property. One day while he is patrolling the grounds with his son in a golf-cart he comes across a terrified teenage woman with a baby. He decides to give them a room for the night and feed them before figuring out what the situation is and how to help her. The son is puzzled. Why are we spending money on food for them? Why not put the baby in a cage and the mother in a separate cage, perhaps with a live video feed that says “This is what happens to trespassers?” Why don’t we take care of our own family? Why not save the money that you are spending on these two for my education?

The father answer: I am spending that money on your education.

And I am taking care of you.

Because my chief duty to you as a father is for you to grow up in a family that cares about love and compassion. I give you food and a roof over your head, but more importantly I teach you what is important about life. The most important thing I can teach you is that all human beings are part of one family. If I teach you anything different I am robbing you of something much more valuable than this fancy mansion, these grounds, and this golf cart.

If we raise our children in a country in which the government inflicts deliberate, irreversible psychological trauma on children who are not citizens we are stealing from them and impoverishing them.


Cling to a Good Heart

Rabbi Elazar says in Pirkei Avot that a person must cling to a good heart. It’s terrifying what’s happening, but we need to cling to care and love for people, especially people who are in distress, powerless, and need help. It’s tempting to cling to other stuff — being an American or a Christian or a Jew, having an education, or being smart or being “nice”, or having a family — but Rabbi Elazar is right. None of that is worth anything if we don’t cling to a good heart. We can be smart, educated, and have a beautiful family but if we don’t have that we get swept away by the rising river of evil.

How? How does that happen? Let’s take a look.

I am a smart boy and my mother loves me and my father is proud of me for being smart. I go to school where I work hard to make my parents proud and I learn to argue very well. I get a job based upon my academic accomplishments and I have a beautiful family.

I read that the US government is taking babies and putting them in concentration camps and I think “all the people who say this is wrong and horrible — they are a bit self-righteous. They think it is easy, but actually they are taking the easy way out. I will use my intelligence to show that they’re wrong.”

And behind that thought is another thought — “If those children sobbing in the desert are really an emergency — as much of an emergency as if my children were sobbing in the desert — then there is a big problem. I’m not safe. My family is not safe. So that can’t be right.”

And I write an article and share it with my friends saying that it’s not such a big deal that kids are sobbing in the desert — these things happen. And after all, the parents broke the law — what do they expect? I make it clear that there is a difference between criminals who get their kids torn away from them to scream, and good people like myself and my family, who things like that don’t happen to.

But what have I done? I now have an education that I have used to justify state terror against crying children, I have parents who sacrificed so their child can use his intelligence to make light of the pain of others, and my children have a parent who in order to protect them, said that caring about the suffering of children is an intellectual error.

What have I done?

I let go of my good heart and lost it all — kids, education, parents. All gone and turned to shit because I didn’t cling to a good heart.