Fall from Grace

Big WaveJanuary 4th, 2013

It is difficult to realize how far you have fallen in the eyes of others, without agreeing with that general perception.  You heard, from another source, that your parents look upon you as one who has made several poor decisions.  You have an intuitive feel that they have condemned you as a failure.  It must be tough to look upon a son in such a manner, but perhaps it reaffirms, in their own minds, that they made the right choices and lived life the way it should be lived.  If they don’t look upon you as a failure, then they pity you, which is even worse.

There might be a kind of bitterness between us, a divide – you made almost all of your major decisions without their counsel and support, except for one, that resulted in a lost decade and continuance on the great wave.  What good is their counsel, when they can’t understand and support your desires to break free of exactly what they believe is the right momentum — that momentum that they thoroughly embrace and from which they were richly rewarded?  You were also rewarded…so as long as you played the game.  Oh the lucky few that had parents willing to support and encourage a direction that may differ from their own and the general human gravitational pull.  I know – parents just want their kids to be happy and prosper, but often they mistakenly impose their definition of happiness and prosperity onto their kids.

And there are other disapproving and pitying eyes, friends (acquaintances), other family members, the general public, that also look upon you as a failure.  A “well educated” man, raised by a relatively wealthy family, provided with all the tools and resources to participate in and succeed with the momentum, but finds the momentum shallow and insane.   A man, in the first half of his forties, working the grave yard shift for eleven dollars per hour, divorced, a father, renting a bedroom for six hundred bucks a month, in debt, just scraping by…what a disgrace…how embarrassing…how pitiful.

You were once a respectable member of the momentum and perpetuating its course– division one athlete on scholarship, a “Vice President” hauling in good money, a family man married to a beautiful wife.  Now, you are none of these.  These things that you were perceived to be are all perceptions from the past.  The imposter has been unsheathed.  Is this a mid-life crisis?  Well, yes and no.  Your current condition can be viewed as a crisis, and you are in mid-life should you live to an average age, but discomfort in and with the momentum has been present since youth and has only increased through real life experience and observation.

And let there be no doubt, you are in a crisis, relative to the momentum.  This is certainly no joy ride… your head barely visible in the deep trough of the swelling wave.  How do you duck underneath, without being slammed to the rocks…while your limp corpse is swept ashore…food for the crabs?  And if you can duck underneath, once the wave has rolled on by, how do you stay afloat in the vast uncaring ocean?  You barely know how to swim, having simply ridden along with the momentum for so long.  And if you learn to swim, in what direction are you to go?  And the sharks, the thirst, the hunger, the heat and the cold, how will you ever make it to the safety of a new shore?

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Piece Four

LA at NightI have included two more poems composed by Robinson Jeffers below as I couldn’t decide which one I liked better.  Besides, the two pieces fit well together.  He has had a big influence on me…in that he confirmed my intuition and expressed himself, of course, with more eloquence, wisdom and force.  I have begun writing my journal-like entries, that by their very nature reveal the positive aspect of critical thinking.   I will begin to post after Piece 5 and as various sections are completed.  I don’t know where these journal-like entries will take me or this blog…perhaps somewhere else…or perhaps in a circular loop.  My hope is that it takes the form of the former…rather than the later.

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The Purse-Seine

Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark
of the moon; daylight or moonlight
They could not tell where to spread the net, 
unable to see the phosphorescence of the 
shoals of fish.
They work northward from Monterey, coasting 
Santa Cruz; off New Year’s Point or off 
Pigeon Point
The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-color 
light on the sea’s night-purple; he points, 
and the helmsman
Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles the 
gleaming shoal and drifts out her seine-net. 
They close the circle
And purse the bottom of the net, then with great 
labor haul it in.

I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible, 
then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall 
to the other of their closing destiny the 
phosphorescent
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body 
sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside 
the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up 
to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls 
of night
Stand erect to the stars.

Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light: 
how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how 
beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together 
into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable 
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all 
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet 
they shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children’s, but we 
and our children
Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all 
powers–or revolution, and the new government
Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls–or anarchy, 
the mass-disasters.
These things are Progress;
Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps 
its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria, 
splintered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are 
quite wrong.
There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew 
that cultures decay, and life’s end is death. 

Hooded Night

At night, toward dawn, all the lights of the shore have died,
And a wind moves. Moves in the dark
The sleeping power of the ocean, no more beastlike than manlike,
Not to be compared; itself and itself.
Its breath blown shoreward huddles the world with a fog; no stars
Dance in heaven; no ship’s light glances.
I see the heavy granite bodies of the rocks of the headland,
That were ancient here before Egypt had pyramids,
Bulk on the gray of the sky, and beyond them the jets of young trees
I planted the year of the Versailles peace.
But here is the final unridiculous peace. Before the first man
Here were the stones, the ocean, the cypresses,
And the pallid region in the stone-rough dome of fog where the moon
Falls on the west. Here is reality.
The other is a spectral episode; after the inquisitive animal’s
Amusements are quiet: the dark glory.

The Snowman (Full Version)

I am going to break up these five pieces of deep thought with this YouTube video of the full version of the Snowman.  It ties in perfectly…and loops back to recent posts.  It is so odd…that I came by this film via my nine-year old’s Christmas choir performance…I was expecting to hear the same old shit…Jingle Bells…Frosty the Snowman…Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer…and of course I did hear some of the same old shit…but….then….from some where magical…came this song….Walking in the Air…and it hit a deep chord…and so I looked into it…and thus the multiple posts on this music and film animation.  My brother  texted me and notified me that the full version of the film was now available on YouTube.  So here it is down below…it takes some 28 minutes to view…but it is worth it.  I love the contrast between what the beautiful spirited boy shows the Snowman….the Snowman as I interpret being the embodiment of Nature…and what the Snowman shows the boy…this is…in its simplest form…the point and conundrum I am facing and addressing with this critical reasoning project.  And….the music piece…Walking in the Air…is the highest form of expressing my sentiments.

Piece Two (and what a “piece”…lol)

Perseus-Slaying-Dragon-L

This piece, like Piece One… from Steppenwolf, didn’t really ring true until I was in my late twenties and through my thirties.  From the age of 0 to 20, my life was ideal…improving my mind through school and the university…and my body through athletics.  The world was wide open and dreams were to be had.  It wasn’t until I entered the adult world…the one that requires money making…that the below passage began to sing its heartfelt tune.

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“You have a picture of life within you, a faith, a challenge, and you were ready for deeds and sufferings and sacrifices, and then you became aware by degrees that the world asked no deeds and no sacrifices of you whatever, and that life is no poem of heroism with heroic parts to play and so on, but a comfortable room where people are quite content with eating and drinking, coffee and knitting, cards and wireless.  And whoever wants more and has got it in him — the heroic and the beautiful, and the reverence for the great poets or for the saints — is a fool and a Don Quixote.  Good.  And it has been just the same for me, my friend.

 I was a gifted girl.  I could have been the wife of a king, the beloved of a revolutionary, the sister of a genius, the mother of a martyr.  And life has allowed me just this, to be a courtesan of fairly good taste, and even that has been hard enough.  That is how things have gone with me.  For a while I was inconsolable and for a long time I put the blame on myself.  Life, thought I, must in the end be in the right, and if life scorned my beautiful dreams, so I argued, it was my dreams that were stupid and wrong-headed.  But that did not help me at all.  And as I had good eyes and ears and was a little inquisitive too, I took a good look at this so-called life and my neighbors and acquaintances, fifty or so of them and their destinies, and then I saw you.  And I knew that my dreams had been right a thousand times over, just as yours had been.  It was life and reality that were wrong.  It was as little right that a woman like me should have no other choice than to grow old in poverty and in a senseless way at a typewriter in the pay of a money-maker, or to marry such a man for his money’s sake, or to become some kind of drudge, as for a man like you to be forced in his loneliness and despair to have recourse to a razor.  

Perhaps the trouble with me was more material and moral and with you more spiritual — but it was the same road.  Do you think I can’t understand your horror of the fox trot, your dislike of bars and dancing floors, your loathing of jazz and the rest of it?  I understand it only too well, and your dislike of politics as well, your despondence over the chatter and antics of the parties and the press, your despair over the war, the one that has been and the one that is to be, over all that people nowadays think, read and build, over the music they play, the celebrations they hold, the education they carry on.  You are right, Steppenwolf, right a thousand times over, and yet you must go to the wall. You are much too exacting and hungry for this simple, easygoing and easily contented world of today.  You have a dimension too many.  Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not be like you and me.  Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours –”

Hermann Hesse — Steppenwolf

Piece One

Morning commuteThis is the first of five posts (pieces) that will provide some background for my critical thinking project, that once complete, may change the direction and content of this blog…and then again…it may not.  These background pieces are little snippets from a few authors that wrote works or pieces within their works that struck a deep chord within me…a chord that rung true…to me.  There are of course more authors and pieces, but these few suffice, for they hit on some of the big questions…and their thoughts…are also taken from other thoughts…that came before.

cubiclesNow, we can all say that these pieces, which serve as foundations for my critical thinking, skew the process from the start.  But, this is who I am and how I view the world…for these few thoughts ring true to me…from what I have experienced, observed, and thought…from youth to the present.  These thoughts run deep within me and throughout me…like the blood in my veins…and cannot be extracted…without ripping out a piece of who I am.

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“Whereupon it occurred to me – so it is with every one.  Just as I dress and go out to visit the professor and exchange a few more or less insincere compliments with him, without really wanting to at all, so it is with the majority of men day by day and hour by hour in their daily lives and affairs.  Without really wanting to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waste of the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all.  And they are right, right a thousand times to live as they do, playing their games and pursuing business, instead of resisting the dreary machine and staring into the void as I do, who have left the track.  Let no one think that I blame other men, though now and then in these pages I scorn and even deride them, or that I accuse them of the responsibility of my personal misery.  But now that I have come so far, standing as I do on the extreme verge of life where the ground falls away before me into bottomless darkness, I should do wrong and I should lie if I pretend to myself or to others that the machine still revolved for me and that I was still obedient to the eternal child’s play of that charming world.”

Hermann HesseSteppenwolf

The Power of Critical Thought

Ocean expanseMy mom sent me a book called something like the Power of Positive Thinking.  I never cracked the cover.  My dad sent me an article on the power of negative thinking.  I skimmed through the content.  So which is it?

Well, I think the real power resides in the realm of critical thought.  There is a difference.  Often, people may view a critical thought, observation, or expression, as negative.  But, from my perspective…a critical perspective…such a way of thinking is the means to a positive direction…or a contemplation of a more positive direction…for oneself, and perhaps others.

Of course, like with any tool, there are dangers.  Critical thinking cannot just occur outward, but also must occur inward.  Often, I may become imbalanced, look more outward…and not enough inward.  The danger here, of course, is that one looks outward to explain discontent that is inward.

Hong KongI have a few ideas that are brewing in my head that I plan to post in due time, which will be examples of this critical thinking process and the positive aspects of it…if done correctly.  As I intend to write these posts with truth, honesty, and content, to the best of my ability, these thoughts must first be put to pen and paper…after some long walks, reflection, observation, both outward and inward.  They must first, and foremost, be written by myself…to myself…and for myself.