Mutters and Murmurs: Hmm, Om, Yum, Um, Mmm-mm, Mmm, Mama

The first stage of language is the open-mouthed syllable — the dawn of comprehension – “Ah!” (or repeated) “A-ha!” which can also be an expression of triumph, the “Oh!” and “Ohh” of satisfaction, the “Huhh” of release, the orgasmic “Unhhh.”  These are all unconscious — they are the sounds of respiration — or more correctly they perform the non-conscious skeleton upon which the lights and wheels of consciousness are erected.  Because, and this is the fundamental fact of language, the original speaker of language was an animal, but the original comprehender was a human; Adam and Eve were suckled by beasts, and they understood what the beast wanted, (the beast that was their parent) and gave words to it.  The voluminous PRAJNAPARAMITA literature or perfection of wisdom receives its most succinct formulation in the single syllable “Ah!”

The second stage is preserved in our words “murmur” and “mutter” — a deliberate vibration of the incorrectly named “vocal chords” which are not chords at all, but a pair of lips.  These lips are a genital echo (what is not?) and like the genital the humms and buzzes of the laryngeal lips serve to form the deepier, squishier, riskier connections — where we stake our all and all on the love of another human being, although, it bears repeating that in the first instance, this being is an animal, and it is only the human infants comprehension of this buzzing that makes it human.

Because the “mm-hmm” of comprehension the “mama” of maternal love the “Om” or turiya or transcendent consciousness, the “mmmm!” of serotonic delight, the “um?” of apprehension all are mechanically the same.  The vocal chords are engaged, air passes over them and the lips open and close.

It is fair to say that all language is onamtopoeia and the notion of a word that doesn’t sound like what it is is a very late and etiolated development of human development indeed.  As we open and close our mouths, as we buzz and numble, and mutter, and murmur at each other, we recognize the Universal Mother, who is not the animal who birthed us but the possibility of speech itself.



Waking Consciousness Just a Special Kind of Dreaming

A special kind of consciousness where you check in with others and with physical reality to get the dreams in synch.

Science is just a special kind of myth, a myth that has been bleached more-or-less of its rhythmic function.

Speech is just a special kind of song, where the melody has been deaccentuated.

Song is just a special kind of dance where you don’t move so much.

Basically it’s all just rhythm and dance with the damper pedal more or less depressed.


NRA Video: They’re Hurting Us, You’re Hurting Me

The scary NRA video is about how “they”re” hurting “us” and taking away what’s “ours”.  Scary because the teachers, reporters, young people are being made not part of a “we” with the video’s audience.  And they are — fellow citizens, members of the same family, people trying to do a job, trying to understand the world and share their understanding of it, trying to help us all get by.  How did they become a “they” different from the NRA’s “we”?

John Bowlby founder of attachment theory and Mary Ainworth figured out that the two things we worry about as infants, and must worry about if we are to survive, are being violated and being abandoned.  Is someone going to burst through our boundaries and hurt us?  Or is someone going to leave us alone in a defenseless state, so we die of neglect?

The demons that haunt our childhood are human beings who threaten to abuse/rape/or otherwise violate us or abandon us to die.  They seem like demons because they awaken primal fear.  Of course they are not demons they are actually just other human beings.

The basic pathology or simplest version of it therefore is “I” vs. “You” where you are a demon who will either in fiery fashion burn me up, or in icey fashion do your own thing while I perish.  We get beyond “I” vs. “You” thinking when we have enough security to see that the potential abuser or neglecter is a human being too who has her own fears of violation and abandonment.

I propose we understand the pathology of “us” vs. “them” that is on display in the NRA video on the model of “I” vs. “You” thinking but with a few more wrinkles.  We fear that the other group — the plural group of “them” — will either laughingly go on their way while we suffer, or will push through the boundaries of our group, killing, enslaving and raping us.  That is such a primal fear that it prompts irrational responses, such as we see in the video.

The solution is first of all the same solution to “I” vs. “You” — to see that that nasty arrogant group of liberals, college professors, and reporters is vulnerable too.  Every reporter and college professor is afraid of getting hurt and abandoned.  Just like us, the NRA.

The additional wrinkle is to see that within the group people are being manipulated by “I” vs. “You” thinking.  The leaders have different agendas than the followers, and pursue them by stoking the same primal fears of abandonment and violation.



Sometimes when I’m drinking a cup of coffee I feel like getting a cup of coffee.  Sometimes when I’m checking my email I think I’d like to take a break and check my email.

Strange.  I think I feel a feeling of dissatisfaction but am inexpert at identifying what would soothe it, even to the point of forgetting that the activity I think will soothe it is in fact the very activity I am currently engaged in!


If You Want to See God, You Have to Love — A Quick Chat With John Rufus

I was talking with my old friend John Rufus and finally I trusted him enough to say what so irritated me about all the language of religion and God.

I said “Look, I get that loving people might be a great way to live.  But I would like to know now, before I go any further, does God exist?  If He does I will live my life one way and if he doesn’t another way.

He said: “Look.  I get that it annoys you.  But if a tiger is hunting an antelope it doesn’t see God, does it?  It barely sees the antelope.  It just sees food.  If a pick-up artist sees a girl in a bar he doesn’t see God, he doesn’t even see a woman — he sees his next sexual success.  So how are you going to see an infinite being that created everything and loves everything if you don’t love everything and everyone?”

I said: “Ok, John Rufus, but what if I think What Really Is doesn’t care about anything — it just is – is in the tiger and the pick-up artist and the woman and the atoms?”

“So if you look at the world without caring you’ll see an uncaring world.  Why are we going through this again?  I explained it to you a long time ago.”

“But what if I want to see a God who both cares and doesn’t care about particular things — a God that doesn’t make any sense?”

“Fine, sure, good idea.” Jay Rufus said. He was getting dressed quickly for his journey.  “Let me know how that works out.”

I ran after him holding his luggage.  “Hey!  John!  John Rufus!”

“What is it?”

“Is it possible that everybody and everything is seeing God all the time.”

“Obviously.” he said as the wheels started to turn “Anybody can see God, and do — like it or not.  The trick is to let him see you.”


Riddles: Oedipus’s and Bilbo’s

Man is the only animal that laughs and the only animal that riddles.  In the joke and the riddle we take pleasure in looking at something one way and then having a revelation, which means we can never look at it the first way again.  For example “Thirty white horses on a red hill, now they are champing, now they are stamping, now they are still– what are they?”  Answer: teeth.  When we hear the answer “teeth” for the first time we can never see those white horses as anything else, ever again.

Oedipus began his adventure solving a riddle.   A fabulous monster — part woman part eagle part beast – asked him “What is it that walks on four legs in the morning, two in the day, and three at night.”  Oedipus answered “Man” and the monster killed itself. Oedipus was confronted with a riddle to which the answer was himself at the beginning of his adventure.  In the height of his adventure it happened again.  He was confronted with a riddle in action — we call this a mystery —  that went “Who did the horrible thing that caused a plague?”  The answer to the riddle was the same.  “I did.”

In both the riddle of the sphinx and the riddle of the plague the riddle answerer learned that the answer to the riddle was himself.  So by answering the riddle he learned to understand himself differently.  He changed himself.

Bilbo Baggins asked a riddle to Gollum who was originally Smeagol, a creature much like Bilbo himself, but who became corrupted. Bilbo’s riddle (after he had run through the horses/teeth one) was “What have I got in my pocket?”

Not a fair riddle! Gollum said.

Bilbo’s riddle was unfair because Gollum had no way of guessing it.  And yet it was a cousin of Oedipus’s riddle.  What Bilbo had in his pocket was the One Ring, which corrupted Smeagol into Gollum.  It was a technology of self-transformation.

Oedipus was asked a riddle to whom the answer was himself. Gollum was asked a riddle and the answer was “the thing that gave you power and changed you into something very different.”   Changed who into something different?  Smeagol?  Or Gollum?

That’s why it was a good riddle!

Tolkien’s story was about being perched on the knife’s edge between the world of paganism — what he called magic — and the world of disenchantment.  You could say that Christianity for him was something like being perched on that knife’s edge.

Oedipus’s quest was to find out who had caused the plague.  Bilbo’s quest was to find out what to do about the ring.  The answer to Bilbo’s quest was to give it up, first giving it up to Frodo, and then ultimately having it destroyed in Mt. Doom — destroyed as if it never were.  At the moment the ring was destroyed in Mt. Doom, Gollum died, and along with him the whole world of Faerie — ents, and elves, dwarves and hobbits.  They went to the Gray Havens.

Two strange riddles, Oedipus’s and Bilbo’s, two strange quests.  One riddle (Oedipus) had a simple answer — you.  You’re the answer.  The other, Bilbo’s, had a different answer — the thing that makes you no longer you.  The riddle of Oedipus spurred a quest that led to self-blinding on Oedipus’s part, the riddle of Bilbo spurred a quest that led to the transformation of his world into one devoid of mystery, and devoid of him.

The world’s tangle passes through us; the knot in our heart and the knot in the sky are the same.


Oedipus II

In Oedipus I Oedipus, King of Thebes, is searching for the source of the plague.  He learns that he is the source of the plague because he killed his father and slept with his mother and blinds himself.

In Sophocles’s sequel Oedipus ponders on his fate and dies, but is accepted by Zeus.  The messengers report his death and don’t even know what happened to him:

We couldn’t see the man- he was gone- nowhere! And the king, alone, shielding his eyes, both hands spread out against his face as if- some terrible wonder flashed before his eyes and he, he could not bear to look.

The action in Sophocles’s Oedipus II is a little slow for my taste.

I pitch the following:

Oedipus goes to a weird island — Islandia.  There he learns that all the baby’s are born by artificial insemination and the sperms are all mixed up together.  Every man is potentially the father of every child in Islandia and the lover of every woman — including his mother.  Needless to say there is occasional need to impose the death penalty in Islandia, and this is done by lot as well.  So since nobody knows who his father is every executioner in a sense executes his own father.  Oedipus realizes that Islandia is actually Thebes.

My father said: You and Sophocles are still too obsessed with knowledge.  Oedipus in Sophocles is like “Yes, it was wrong to sleep with my mother, but I didn’t know!”  Your Oedipus learns that everybody has some degree of ignorance.  But that’s entirely the wrong question.

I ask: “Why Dad?”

Dad: I pitch the following story.  It is better than yours and better than Sophocles’s.  In my story the self-blinded Oedipus goes to Islandia and learns their biology is a bit different than ours.  Hundreds of men mate with a single woman and a bit of the DNA from each of their sperms connects with her egg, so every child has hundreds of fathers.  Every murder is an actual fratricide.  Every mating is an actual act of incest, because plasmids cause bits of DNA to hop from male to female, crossing the lines of generation. In fact, what is a generation on this island?  Oedipus realizing this becomes Zeus and has the power to forgive himself.

I ask: But what about the plague?

Dad: The plague is just this same world viewed with resentment.  The DNA popping from organism to organism someitmes seems like evolution but sometimes seems like a plague.

We asked Mom which version of Oedipus she preferred: Dad’s or mine.  She said

“I’m busy.  Ask Grandma.”

We asked Grandma.  She said “Look all these stories are children’s fairy tales and they never appreciate them because children have it exactly backwards.  They want to grow up.”