Last Thursday afternoon, I made the scenic drive up from Somerville, MA to Portsmouth, NH, for yet another viewing of the film West Side Story, at the Cinemagic Stadium 10 Theatre, where they showed this particular film as this month’s part of their Cult Classic events. Leaving Somerville at around 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, I …
Jan 31 2015
All the other times I began writing my autobiography (which supplied some of the chapters I have already shared) in the end suffered the same fate: I couldn’t figure out how it was going to end. After all I wasn’t dead yet.
But perhaps this will be the terminal chapter in my book. I’ll have to think seriously about that.
I sometimes (partially facetiously) refer to myself as “immortal until proven otherwise.” This is different than I have felt about the subject in the past (witness four suicide attempts). But I am a survivor and see no reason for that to change. Sure, my body might wear out and no longer function well enough to support keeping my being in contact with the world of our outward shared reality (or is that our shared hallucination?), but I cannot believe that my body is the sum total of who I am (for one thing, there’s just not enough room in there to hold all that is me).
Our culture (is there really such a general concept?) has always seemed to me to place too much emphasis on death, about how we must “prepare” for it (some people spend way too much energy doing so, in my opinion) and how we must live our lives so that some unknown Good Thing will happen when we die. The truth of the matter (well, it’s my truth) is that we don’t really know what will happen to us when our bodies no longer function. All is speculation or hope…faith, if you will. Someday my heart will stop beating. What will happen at that moment is anybody’s guess. Think of it as passing through a door that only permits one-way travel.
I think the worst that can happen is that there will be nothingness, that the “me” that is connected to my physical form would cease to be. What a waste of lessons learned that would be!
Dec 07 2014
George Carlin on Death
Jul 21 2013
Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Capitalism causes cancer by bigjacbigjacbigjac
Capitalism causes cancer,
both the kind you’re thinking of,
and another kind:
Cities are tumors on the Earth,
our precious home planet.
Oct 13 2012
Popular Culture 20121012: Rituals for the Deceased
I originally was going to write about the new Dark Shadows motion picture, but circumstances have intervened. It turns out that my dear friend’s mum’s twin brother died either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, alone except for his little dog. My friend called me around 9:30 Thursday morning to go next door and try to comfort her mum, and I was honored to do so.
Her mum was a basket case. She and her brother were Christmas Day babies, 65 years ago Christmas past. I have a brother, but not a twin, and my brother and I are separated by 14 years. She and her brother were separated by fewer than 14 minutes, so they grew up together.
I did comfort her, and she cried in my arms. I could not do much except to try to let her know that I really care, and she appreciated that. Now for the culture part.
Sep 11 2011
The War Rages On
Turn on the TV today and you will see many reminders of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The images and stories are all present, while the MSM are all very compliant with selling the fear.
Politicians will pose for the cameras with their hooks of “God bless America” and thanking the troops for their service …
But it occurred to me …. what is missing?
May 09 2011
The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the Bush Administration
Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette
Apr 08 2011
Divining Our Grieving
Last night, in memory of a Friend who died suddenly, shockingly earlier in the week, we held a Memorial Service in his memory among those who knew him best. (Quakers do not use the word “funeral”) One Friend in attendance noted that, in addition to the worship, there is a certain group therapy aspect present. I agree. Yet, I think this is quite understandable and necessary. It’s a part of the grieving process. Each of us manages coming to terms with tragedy in different ways, but there is also something very human present that augments the purely religious aspect of the event.
Mar 24 2011
To Become as Gods or to Die in the Faustian Bargain
I beg you to watch this video. Embed has been disabled as “inappropriate” material on You Tube. It is theoretical physicist Michio Kaku discussing the nuclear disaster for Japan and the world. I think the embed was prohibited by the nuclear power industry out of fear for what he says.
What he says is inspiring. Interviewed by Eliot Spitzer, Kaku ends with an incredible statement of where humanity will be by 2100 when/if we get by the Faustian bargain within which we all currently live.
I couldn’t agree with Michio more, he clearly elucidates where we can and must go to accomplish the evolutionary imperative of the nuclear age.
With the splitting of the atom, everything has changed save man’s way of thinking. And thus we drift toward unimaginable peril.
Since the embed has been disallowed, I can only cite the link. Please go. Do yourselves a favor:
Mar 17 2011
A Beautiful Day To Die
The earthquake and the tsunami and the nuclear event have finally shut me up. I haven’t been able to write. I don’t have anything clear or witty or insightful or clever or new to say about these events. I am avoiding the talking heads on TV, and I’m reading as little as possible about the event on the Internet, and I’ve been absent from this blog. Why? Because I have no confidence at all that what I’d hear or read would be the truth. And I have the dreadful thought that the situation in Japan is far, far worse than what we are being told. I have no proof for the last sentence other than the plethora of contradictions I find in the news stories. And a tight feeling in my heart and chest and stomach that warns of impending, large scale disaster. I hope I’m wrong about this, but alas, I don’t think I am.
Mar 12 2011
Where Do We Go When Our ‘Time’ Comes?
I have always liked the myth and metaphor that Alan Watts in the mid sixties used in his “The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are“:
“There was never a time when the world began, because it goes round and round like a circle, and there is no place on a circle where it begins. Look at my watch, which tells the time; it goes round, and so the world repeats itself again and again. But just as the hour-hand of the watch goes up to twelve and down to six, so, too, there is day and night, waking and sleeping, living and dying, summer and winter. You can’t have any one of these without the other, because you wouldn’t be able to know what black is unless you had seen it side-by-side with white, or white unless side-by-side with black.
“In the same way, there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.
“God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.
“Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that’s the whole fun of it-just what he wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self-the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
“God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
“You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn’t really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.”
“The Ultimate Ground of Being” is Paul Tillich’s decontaminated term for God” and would also do for “the Self of the world” as I put it in my story for children. But the secret which my story slips over to the child is that the Ultimate Ground of Being is you. Not, of course, the everyday you which the Ground is assuming, or “pretending” to be, but that inmost Self which escapes inspection because it’s always the inspector. This, then, is the taboo of taboos. You’re It!
I highly recommend Watts’ book.
Dec 29 2010
On Starving In Prison, Or, Who Gets Pardons In Florida?
If you were with us on Christmas Day you heard the story of Betsie Gallardo, who, unless something changes quickly, is going to be intentionally starved to death in a Florida prison after being convicted of spitting on a cop.
In fairness, the State did not decide simply to starve her; instead, the Department of Corrections (DOC) first chose to withhold any further treatment for her inoperable cancer…and then they decided to starve her to death.
Her adopted mother is trying to get her released on humanitarian grounds; the DOC recommended in October that she be allowed to go home and die, the Florida Parole Commission refused.
Governor Charlie Crist chairs the Executive Clemency Board, who could also agree to let her go…and so far, they’ve also refused to take action.
Funny thing is, the Governor and his Board have been more than willing to step in when other Floridians requested pardons and commutations, even in situations that seemed a lot less dire.
Today, we’re going to look at that history-and to be honest, as with many things in the Sunshine State, from the outside…it all looks a bit bizarre.