Friday, October 31, 2014

Lliberal Art: Beyond Goodies and Weasels

That damned moral sense, exclaimed Mark Twain.
Beyond Good & Evil, suggested Nietzsche.  Think out
of the Box says everybody these days at one time or another.

Damning our moral sense and moving beyond good & evil
sounds diabolically threatening to traditions, family values,
civic responsibility, decent community relationships.

Call it The Liberal Art then: out of the cave, culture,
convention,  closet—“liberation,” to grow beyond.

Thinking out of the Box sounds benign unless I consider
the box: my morals—local, & regional boxing me in, my
good & evil cultural relativities regulating my  belief systems:
good guys and  weasels? My intuition and counter-intuition?
Build thee more stately mansions O my soul, says Oliver
W. Holmes: shut thee from heaven with a box more vast.
He said dome, not box. Same deal.  Enclosure.

Every word is a prison, says Emerson. Every idea. Man
is clapped into jail by his consciousness, his  moral sense,
his good & evil addiction. .  

               Think out of the C.

It would take something like an  immaculate conception,
some stork  flapping into my  chimney with a  bundle of
unpostponed joy for me to  think out of the C. 

Where  would the  thought come from?   Me boxed in by
bias & belief systems, by  my prejudices and convictions—by
my DNA (directional navigational algorithms) protected
like family jewels or risk re-configuration, reformatting,
reformation.  .

Give me my Moral Sense, or give me  death,  my Good & Evil,
my Coherence , my Consistency my Predict-Ability some what
Certain Sustain Ability.  Determination & the Principle of the
Thing all told  my Big Box I would rather not think out of
terminal pre positions not with standing.

Suffer in translation.
To die for.

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins


  1. A nicely written review of the Stephen Hawkins movie:

  2. Nice. Hero. We should be able to say something more. The movie won't go into physics.

  3. Hawking, sp. I don't even know what his contribution is, outside of the extraordinary effort, which is truly inspiring in itself.

    I climbed a mountain with a lady from North Carolina, yesterday. She had quite a drawl and I asked her it was North Carolina talk. She said no, she grew up in Kentucky and lived in New York. There were also a bunch of Germans on the mountain. They came in all colors speaking regular German and accented German, distinguishing themselves mostly by carrying their water bottles in their butt-cracks and bras--as our husbands observed. My brother-in-law twisted his ankle so that we are possibly finished with hiking in this heat.

  4. His wheelchair incapacity, physical limits-- and yet doing significant work is what makes him heroic to me.

  5. What if he had done "insignificant" work? And maybe his theoretical physics is wrong. It can't even be explained to the mere mortal. (Looking it over now, I do realize that I am familiar with the proposed singularities and multiplicities and horizons, etc.).

    What I am wondering: if there were the unified theory of everything and this complete triumph of reason, would it make a difference? To what? Would it cement or shake our belief in God? Would it have relevance? The Bible tell us that everything came from nothing by the word (Word). Would my life not still be richer with prayer than without? Would I not still be seeking? Would there really be no other frontier? Would I not really want to worship rather than not worship? And where does reason come from? Thomas Nagel wrote his profound little book "Mind and Cosmos".

  6. I don't see how any of this competes, Worship or don't. Right and wrong.No one's going to say it all. Word, Big Bang--origins are beyond me. You seem always on the defensive re these matters Hawkins inspires because he can do significant work while crippled, handicapped,totally constrained and also quite unattractive--all the physical attirubes we cherish are annihilated.l

  7. For one thing I meant would his life have been "heroic" even if the work "was" or "had been" insignificant? Would it have been heroic, just to live, laugh, be married, etc.?

    In terms of the unifying theory, something in me wants it, too, quite badly, actually. I find physics very attractive.

  8. Just the crippling condition which didn't prevent him from his work--significant or not. Heroic. Little kids with cancer and smiles--heroic, you with the loss of your son: heroic. For some or for many--their religion is a unifying theory--grand narrative

  9. His wife said, it fell to her to keep reminding him that HE was not God, possessing a monumental ego, according to her. (Many a wife might say a thing like that.)

    I have thought a lot about my son, here, that I can go on a holiday, and he was cut short.

  10. Monumental Ego--my original and ongoing spin. It's the denial and cover up that's toxic.

  11. You are a systematizer of subjective experience.

  12. I am that I am. All I got is my subjectdive experience. It's the denial and cover up that's toxic.

  13. You want to be a doctor of the soul.

  14. No, but I enjoy tweaking, taunting, testing, tempting them that do. (Satanic: diabolical--dirty work --doing my father's business.)

  15. Doctor of souls to doctor them all.

  16. That would make me a healer, healing--the wounded, the vulnerable, damaged ("damned) and damaging.. But no, as Thoreau said, I wouildn't walk across the street to save the world. How presumptuous THAT would be.

  17. Always a double-edged sword. Always.

  18. And "presumption" is you, you have confessed, or perhaps it is "us".

  19. Double ("doubt"--a diminutive of "double), but usually one side is privileged and the other denied and covered up. Presumptuous, assumptuous “The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and
    if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be
    my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?” (Walden)

  20. Out of the box thinking: the joy of the unaccomplished life.

  21. Right now I have some commandments to obey: my husband ordered the hotel shuttle to take us to early service.

  22. The others are at NASCAR and took the rental.

  23. obedient to another if not higher call?

  24. You could not pay me to go to NASCAR. It is always a highlight to visit the local community in church.

  25. Respectable matron right out of Mark Twain, you must mean.--Looks like the congregation overbuilt some multimillion monstrosity, had a split, and is struggling to amortize the mortgage. Not a pretty picture. Something like the national debt. There was a great big plan laid out for multi-ethnic ministry. (They will be in my prayers. Looks like they are trying to think out of the box.)

    My husband was recruited into some Bible study and I lost him. He ended up in. Romans study of 30 people. I went to some other little group of about 8. With the intimacy of it, and my husband not there, I ventured to share a few things. The leader ignored it pretty much, but a Filipino lady came up to me after, and put her hand on the chest and said she could just tell the spirit and wisdom in me, and said many nice things. We told each other some of our troubles, and we cried quite a bit, and I offered her my arms and hand. I always try to be nice to the Filipinos. They are such spiritual and hardworking people often suffering deprivations. They look you straight in the face and utter blessings. This has happened to me several times, now.

    When we waited for pick- up by the road, I picked up some lemons from the ground, freshly fallen off. I can squeeze them into my hotel-room tea. There were small oleander bushes in bloom, there, too, but They did not have a fragrance, not the way I remember from Sicily. The blooms were perhaps a little far spent. I stuck my nose right up to them--but nothing.

    It's a scorcher, today. The rest of the day should be spent poolside. Edmonton is covered in snow now. Everyone in church wondered if we would be staying for a few months. Oh, oh, no, it is just a short holiday. At this point we can't even picture any idea of being snowbirds.

  26. Lutheran? The mega church?. My daughter asked me if I have heard of Nadia Boltz-Weber--whom she had heard interviewed on NPR. A Lutheran Pastor former drug addict, covered with tattoos and establishing a ministry for the marginals and non-mainstream. Charisma. Makes a difference.,

  27. Lutheran. Yes. Mega is not working. Everything is mega here. Mega Walmart. Mega drug store. Mega Sears. You can't go anywhere without a car to something mega. They don't even have any solar panels although they have so much sun. They should be all off the grid.

    Nadia we have talked lots about before. She has said some memorable things. Maybe she could turn the mega-church around.

    NASCAR is from North Carolina! My brother-in-law said I would not have lasted for 15 min. They love it, though.

  28. Son Jonathan is an ongoing mega-nascar fan.. When I took him to his first race--dirt track in Minn He couldn't stand the noise and we had to leave and he sensed my irritation during the hour drive home. Older & Later in Ashevillle we went to several and since he's become devoted. Maybe compensating for the early failure.

  29. Or honouring the time with Dad, Abba.

  30. I don't share the passion--although his mother follows it and takes notes so they can talk about it --football and basketballl

  31. My Dad took us to the Frankfurt airport. We saw it when it was just a small airport. He also took us on trips. He sailed boat on lakes and navigated rivers. We swam right across gravel pits. He sang and prayed us down. He taught Sunday School once, about Daniel's God and Nebucadnezzar.

    It's not about the score. It's not about the game or the noise, or the vehicle, ... It's always about the relationship.
    A man's son or daughter is the apple of his eye, and so the mother's. She will even take notes so she can intelligently discuss the sport. A father's heart bleeds for his children. "Splanchnon" we have in the Greek, a mercy straight from the gut.

  32. Splanchnon, mercy, visceral--beyond goodies and weasels, beyond winners and losers, beyond achieving and failing, beyond finding or not finding your passion.

    But, hm, "passion" it is closely related to.

  33. I can't sleep, here. I should have brought my sleep apnea machine.

    My father, not an outspokenly pious, gushing or preaching man, would actually say that he had this overpowering feeling for us. In German, it is "Barmherzigkeit", incorporating "gut" and "heart", meaning mercy, but a gut-wrenching one.

  34. Always: about the relationship. I agree. Whatever the token content or experience. It's never just what it's about.--though it seems to be.

  35. Do any of the poems and stories you read ever aim to get at this father's love? I can't think of any. There are smarmy Halmark cards. On the hand, there is all this activity that we need to read behind. Otherwise, in the media dads are mostly deadbeat or absent, uncommitted. We always highlight it when it is missing.

  36. My dad would have been 80 in September. His second oldest brother from Vancouver came around and visited us all, reminding us.

  37. Little House on the Prairie. Bonanza.

    No more honor in this day and age, says the newspaper. Only on Remembrance Day.


  38. my father moved through dooms of love
    E. E. Cummings, 1894 - 1962

    my father moved through dooms of love
    through sames of am through haves of give,
    singing each morning out of each night
    my father moved through depths of height

    this motionless forgetful where
    turned at his glance to shining here;
    that if(so timid air is firm)
    under his eyes would stir and squirm

    newly as from unburied which
    floats the first who,his april touch
    drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
    woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

    and should some why completely weep
    my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
    vainly no smallest voice might cry
    for he could feel the mountains grow.

    Lifting the valleys of the sea
    my father moved through griefs of joy;
    praising a forehead called the moon
    singing desire into begin

    joy was his song and joy so pure
    a heart of star by him could steer
    and pure so now and now so yes
    the wrists of twilight would rejoice

    keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
    conceiving mind of sun will stand,
    so strictly(over utmost him
    so hugely) stood my father’s dream

    his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
    no hungry man but wished him food;
    no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
    uphill to only see him smile.

    Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
    my father moved through dooms of feel;
    his anger was as right as rain
    his pity was as green as grain

    septembering arms of year extend
    less humbly wealth to foe and friend
    than he to foolish and to wise
    offered immeasurable is

    proudly and(by octobering flame
    beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
    so naked for immortal work
    his shoulders marched against the dark

    his sorrow was as true as bread:
    no liar looked him in the head;
    if every friend became his foe
    he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

    My father moved through theys of we,
    singing each new leaf out of each tree
    (and every child was sure that spring
    danced when she heard my father sing)

    then let men kill which cannot share,
    let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
    scheming imagine,passion willed,
    freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

    giving to steal and cruel kind,
    a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
    to differ a disease of same,
    conform the pinnacle of am

    though dull were all we taste as bright,
    bitter all utterly things sweet,
    maggoty minus and dumb death
    all we inherit,all bequeath

    and nothing quite so least as truth
    —i say though hate were why men breathe—
    because my Father lived his soul
    love is the whole and more than all

  39. Thank you. Anthropomorphic in a vague sense? Can you have poetic anthropomorphism? Looks like it.

    His father died in a collision with a locomotive. His mother would not leave the scene until she had dealt with the body, though she was injured.

    Here goes the alarm clock. Big driving day.

  40. Everything is anthropomorphic.

  41. It is really remarkable that while all the other attributes ascribed to God are adjectives, “Love” alone is a substantive, and it would scarcely occur to one to make the mistake of saying: “God is lovely.” Thus, language itself has given expression to the substantial element that is found in this attribute.
    ― The Journals of Kierkegaard


  42. The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.
    ― The Journals of Kierkegaard


  43. What precisely is profound in Christianity is that Christ is both our atoner and our judge, not that one is our atoner and another our judge, for then we would nevertheless come to be judged, but that the atoner and the judge are the same.
    ― The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard

  44. Cummings was into "I-Thou". Some people on-line used this poem to eulogized their father at his funeral. I think that hardly works. But it works as an extended analogy of fatherhood in the image of God's fatherhood. As children we can also deify or fathers, for better or worse.

    Honouring your parents is the first of the commandments that does not deal with honoring God, but serving neighbor. How can you even say you honor God when you don't look after your parents... Jesus upbraids the Pharasees.

  45. If you are a wretch like me you can claim to honor god and ob ey but till ignore parents and neighbors and colleague--what it means to be a sinner and not deny it or cover. I'm upbraidable, accuse-able.

  46. It's amazing how Jesus always said the right thing.

  47. And how so many quote and gloat and nail it down for their own purposes.

  48. Judge and atoner, lion and lamb, omniscient and all-forgetting, father and son, giving freedom, never gloating.

  49. I reckon. So they say and say.

  50. 9After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."…

  51. Come, Sam, you want to be in that number.

  52. Of course--wretch like me. (Did you know hosanna means "save now."?

  53. What does it mean not capitalized without exclamation mark?

  54. Which it? caps and exclamations simply indicate hype--pay attention. Like raising your voice. But you knew that and I guess you have some other agenda with your question.

  55. My agenda right now is to get up and drive across the Hopi and Navaho reservation. Martin has a terrible cold. My brother-in-law broke his big toe on Camelback mountain. But they are back home.

  56. Six weeks in a cast and no driving.


    Mormons can no longer hide the truth about Joseph Smith from their own off-spring and followers and finally admit that he even married his own friends' wives, posting their revealing essays for their community's consumption. -- But how will they explain the deception that has been carried on? Will they still accept whatever they are told Joseph Smith read on the gold plates only he saw?

    I bought some handmade jewelry from some local tribes women, the other day. They seemed to be Mormons by hearing them mention some things. They were lovely people, as have been all the Mormons I have met. They are truly often surpassing most in their good qualities.

  58. Ann roomed with one of the Romney offspring at Duke & she and her husband became good friends our early years. Good people.

  59. They are a,ways told to be sweet. Every wife is supposed to be ever sweet. Peace-mongers.

  60. Going on a day-trip with Laura and Bror to Dorango, Colorado, today.

  61. "How can we live without idols? Auden wondered. What would we do without our generalizations? Thank, God for "they" or I wouldn't have any commentary ever. .

  62. See if he can explain the abomination of presbyterianism for you--and maybe the delight of the circumcision feast foreshadowing crucifixion (it is excruciating to have your foreskin clipped--we have kids at school that rage against female clitorectomy in foreign countries and haven't the grand narrative to frame it as typology for suffering salvation. Presbyterians are retarded in this respect--but I wouldn't call the abominable .

  63. I have got a feeling those won't be the topics of the day.

  64. I understand. Every wife is supposed to be sweet. Peace mongers. (Crying Peace Peace where there is no peace.)

  65. We have covered the subject at inordinate length. Christians don't even circumcise.

  66. Of course they do--as precursor to the crucifixion and in appreciatio of our Jewish heritage. Otherwise: why the feast?But--you are right not to bring it up. Religion and Politics are not peaceful subject to put in play Academics--sure. But not Church or State modes. Enjoy your trip. I'm off to lunch and a nap. (Talk about Luther's farts and beer--the sacredness of the mundane.)

  67. I'm good at it. (Get over to "word" by 5:30 24/7/365)--makes me nap worthy on the weekends. Poning Joy.

  68. "word"? My husband needs/deserves naps regularly, too. Is it when you get particularly acerbic when you need a nap?

    We saw Dorango and the ruins at Aztec, then went to see Bror's church, a beautiful, new building, very plain in a Pueblo look with a Mexican style little architectural element for the bell. Now we have to get ready to get back to the deep freeze.

  69. Sounds nice--Bror's situation. What moved him to leave the Salt Lake area?

  70. If I knew it and understood it all, I would not discuss his business here. He is still in the same organizational district with all the people he knew before.

  71. For one thing, I think it is a huge change to not be ministering in the heart of Mormon country.

  72. Confidential? Thought maybe he felt called by God to move on. Ministering in the heart of Mormon country. My son, Jonathan is administering in the same heart. My old man moved 7 times--4 times after "retiring" and leaving the east for the rural mid west. Ministering in the heart of the heart of the country--which he eventually claimed to love as much as New England.

  73. How does God call you to move on?

  74. Administering and ministering in Mormon country is a very different thing. Mormonism knows that it is the true religion just for the fact that it does not have paid ministry. It is the litmus test.

    I think Flannery has a story, a very strange one about two young girls and a kind of circus, I think, where someone says: in this and that religion it is better to have preachers who know less or have no schooling...

    1. Temple of the Holy Ghost, My old man prayed for guidance for a wife. Told the name of someone he hardly knew from church. When he called, her mother said Betty was down town but if Gurdon called, tell him to meet me at Horn & Hardarts. Called to move on 7 times over his career. I was called move on by a series of manic depressive episodes that forced the issue. Quakers in the East have no paid ministry.--but I believe you see them as un-creative.

  75. I would guess every religion thinks itself the true religion, and every denominatiom--the true manifestation. Can you imagine a religion or denomination that thought it was false?

  76. Keep the adherents sweet and dumb and the insufferable and proud for being sweet and dumb. Could be religious, else spiritual, or possibly atheist. No, no, I forget, atheist are the smartest, most educated, and don't care to be sweet. Let's none of us talk content.

    Temple of the Holy Ghost. Thank you. Did it not end up with some strange person lifting a skirt to show private parts. What did she mean?

  77. Reread it and we'll talk. Sweet & Dumb abound. Praise the Lord. Atheists: self designated smart and savvy -- Liberal Art: ridiculous to the savvy, offensive to the conscientious.

  78. Flying day. One stop-over. No Flannery.

    I brought Aesop's fables in big Penguin pocket edition. The introduction was good and thorough, but I only read a dozen fables, a section on self destructive behaviour, how things backfire and the seed of troubles lies in your own greed, stupidity, laziness, shortsightedness...

  79. Greedy, stupid. lazy and shortsighted myself, I can agree how such at attitude brings about backfire and the seeds of troubles. No doubt.

  80. On the other hand, just as frequently it is our virtues that get us into trouble. A trouble-free life is not possible, and at this point, perhaps not desirable. As one of my pastors liked to say: you have to be in hot water to stay clean. Aesop's fable's contradict themselves, too. What is a virtue in one story is the fault in another.

    Fantastic flight home in a cloudless sky--Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Salt Lake, the Rockies in pink light, sliding onto over the Prairie at dusk, landing in the city with the lights just turned on.

    Nobody else was watching. They were all plugged in. It must have been their umpteenth time down for golfing.

    Alright. Back to real life.

  81. Good description. The Rockies and Grand Canyon contradictions. Window seat .