It happened last night. As I reflect, I realize it has happened all along. Each day, in most every moment I have an opportunity to look at life and learn. Yet I become consumed with more immediate concerns. He said. She said. The system, situation, or some other entity supplants a deeper assessment. Years ago, I came to understand that I create my own chaos, calm, or shades of what will be. As an Educator, I speak of this often. My students often quote me on the subject of choices. Yet, until yesterday, I never fully grasped how true my words might be. I am unsure why the events of the evening took me where they did. I share the story.
Jul 24 2011
Mar 18 2011
Since I turn 63 in 16 days, I have found myself reflecting on my past history. This essay has grown out of that.
As a young lad I was very unhappy. I didn’t know totally why that was so, but there were conditions that I knew contributed to it. My parents never seemed happy with their lives. Even times where celebration was the expected, like Christmas, turned into times of strife. In later years I have wondered if my father didn’t suffer from some sort of PTSD, having been a B-17 bombadier during WW II.
Whatever. I guess I turned to my dream life to escape the unhappiness. I mean, it wasn’t an intentional choice, but I discovered that I really never wanted to wake up in the morning…to cease being who I was in my dreams and resume being the me who was so dismal.
Dec 10 2009
(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)
AP – A huge demonstration started today with actions being held around the world in a month long campaign to bring knowledge to the world. Internationally thousands of students and people filled the libraries of their towns and schools in order to check out the maximum allowed amount of books and media to bring them home, scan them, and upload them for free download on the internet.
Many armed with only portable and pocket-sized HD video cameras taped their own personal tours of museums all over the world in order to allow millions to view them on YouTube and other video sites. The demonstration was peaceful with no arrests reported. Demonstrators explained that what they were doing was “liberating the humanities” while police and workers at the institutions targeted were powerless to stop them.
“We have no reason to arrest anyone since what they’re doing isn’t illegal at all and even if what they do with the materials afterward might be illegal, we have no proof that they’re going to commit any crimes” said one officer outside one of the libraries.
Many of the museums targeted had online virtual tours posted on their websites, but that didn’t stop demonstrators from making their own “custom” tours of the premises. There were some requests by security to not use flash photography with some of the exhibits which were rules that the demonstrators had no problems abiding by. “We’re not here to start a fight, we’re here to show there’s no reason for conflict” said one demonstrator we talked to. While the publishing companies are nearly powerless to try and prosecute so many who will be taking part in the action, the museum authorities saw no reason why this should be seen as a “demonstration” at all. “To call something a ‘demonstration’ is to suggest that there is something that is being opposed although no one here is opposed to what these people are doing and in fact many of our staff have helped with the effort” said a curator at the premises. In fact, many were welcomed seeing how generous they were with donations as they walked into the museums.
Some public officials have spoken out against the group taking books and media out of the library in order to make them available to the entire world. They believe the purpose of these groups sponsoring the event is to make publishing industries cave to the demands of those who believe all literature should be made freely available despite income. As strong as the words were from many officials, they were powerless to stop the demonstrators from pulling off their actions. There have been suggestions that those who orchestrated this month-long campaign could be charged with “enabling and promoting copyright infringement” by making calls for these types of actions. However, no formal charges hav
Jul 24 2009
Some of Jorge Luis Borges’s stories seem to be mined from that deep dream filled gap between being awake and being asleep. It’s a magical space: vivid events occur that are at once as real as they are impossible. If the sleeper wakes, sometimes the impossibilities are revealed. And then there’s wondering: how could anything that defies physical reality appear to be so real.
In “The Disk,” a story from The Book of Sand (El Libro de Arena)(1975), the impossible object is the “disk of Odin”:
“It is the disk of Odin,” the old man said in a patient voice, as though he were speaking to a child. “It has but one side. There is not another thing on earh that has but one side. So long as I hold it in my hand I shall be king.”
Ordinarily, objects are in three dimensions. Here one appears that has only a single side. Of course, it would be more or less invisible. And physically impossible on earth.
This, of course, is not entirely correct. The Moebius strip, discovered in 1858, has only one side and one boundary component. But that’s not important to the story.
The person with the disk eventually “opened his hand, and [the narrator] saw the gleam of the disk in the air.” But when he returned to where the disk was released, he couldn’t find it. And he’s been looking for it for years. In other words, the disk of Odin vanishes like a dream.
This kind of impossibility sometimes possesses far larger objects.
When you have forded the river, when you have crossed the mountain pass, you suddenly find before you the city of Moriana, its alabaster gates transparent in the sunlight, its coral columns supporting pediments encrusted with serpentine, its villas all of glass like aquariums where the shadows of dancing girls with silvery scales swim beneath the Medusa-shaped chandeliers. If this is not your first journey, you already know that cities like this have an obverse: you have only to walk a semi-circle and you will come into view of Moriana’s hidden face, an expanse of rusting sheet metal, sack cloths, planks bristling with spikes, pipes black with soot, piles of tins, behind walls with fading signs, frames of staved-in straw chairs, ropes good only for hanging oneself from a rotten beam.
From one part to the other, the city seems to continue, in perspective, multiplying its repertory of images: but instead it has no thickness, it consists only of a face and an obverse, like a sheet of paper, with a figure on either side, which can neither be separated nor look at each other.
Alas, the city is a two dimensional solid, another escapee from the chasm between waking and dreaming.
In the moments between sleep and wakefulness these objects seem tangible to me. The city is flat, but it’s a city. The disk glimmers. I know I’m dreaming, but I try to remember to hold onto the dream so that I will be able to examine it more fully when I am awake. But as I awake, as my sleep falls away, the fallacy arises, and the object I am clenching so tightly in my fist, disappears. What was it? I wonder, how could that be? What was that? But it’s gone.
All of this is so reminiscent of the Lankavatara Sutra, “Things are not as they appear, nor are they otherwise.”
Which brings me ever so reluctantly to the elusive dream of a national, single payer health care system. In the dream, I am drinking rum and playing dominoes. Somehow, my empty glass falls off the table, lands on the cement walkway, and shatters. Somehow, probably because of the drinking and the kidding around, I cut my hand deeply on the glass when I try to pick up the shards. My hand hurts and it is bleeding badly. My friends are surprised that there’s so much blood, so they wrap my hand in a bandage, and we head on foot for the emergency room which is luckily only two blocks away. When we enter, a man sitting at a desk says to me and my friends, “I see you’ve cut your hand. Please come with me so we can take care of it.” And then, mirabile dictu, he does. Just like that. I’m out of the hospital in 20 minutes with 3 stitches and a nice, white bandage. It seems strange to me. Nobody asks me questions about insurance or citizenship. They don’t ask me to pay for anything. When I wake up, I realize it was a dream. It was impossible. I must have been in Cuba.
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Nov 24 2008
This diary will suggest a sort of “Earthly dream” in light of the inspiration felt by millions to pursue the “American dream” of the age of nationalism. I want to proceed from an assessment of where we are now, to a short discussion of how we fit into the systems of which we are a part, to a look at how our hopes and dreams may be transformed into a future of ecological dislocation and crisis.
(crossposted on Big Orange)
Oct 07 2008
I guess it’s happened to me at least about a thousand times in my life that I can remember. My dreams have horrible puns in them. It’s not my fault. It’s not on purpose. It’s what my dreams do.
I’ll wake up half laughing hysterically and half screaming with horror at some utterly vicious, merciless twist of semi-conscious wit my strangely wired brain produces.
Well, this morning’s example was too good, and too topical, not to share:
Aug 29 2008
Dreams give us hope. They inspire us to reach heights of creativity and invention that we believed were not possible. Dreams help us through are most desperate times because they allow us to see a future that is beyond the place we presently occupy. Dreams are not just personal moments they can also be public.
Public, being that we allow others dreams to be our dreams by embracing them as if they belonged to us this has happened throughout the history of America. In recent history its been people like Franklin Roosevelt who offered America and Americans a New Deal and delivered it. Roosevelt brought electricity to rural America, created the Social Security Administration providing all Americans with a social safety net something no previous administration had ever done. Rosa Parks a seamstress living in Alabama and a Civil Rights Activist who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama to a white customer setting the stage for the Montgomery bus boycott and the furtherance of the civil rights movement. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King who inspired by the ideals of Gandhi and his use of nonviolence to achieve his goals applied those same principles to the American Civil Rights Movement inspiring millions to join his cause. President John F. Kennedy a man who just didn’t allow Americans to dream but inspired millions around the world to dream. How popular was he? So popular that his picture could find in the most unexpected places in the world be, it in America, Europe or Africa. So popular that he gave a speech to 10’s of thousands West Berliners at the Brandenburg gate one of the most famous speeches ever given.
All of these people and millions more had one common thread among them. They dared to dream. Dreams sometimes which others believed to be impossible but they still dreamt they could be reached.
So, yesterday not only did a dream come true but history was made when Barack Obama was nominated by the Democratic Party to be their presidential nominee. He is the first person of African American heritage or African decent in either America or Europe to be given the opportunity to be the leader of a major political or economic power.
Dreams can come true and Barack Obama has proven just that.