Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Final Day of Ganesha Chaturthi - Part Four

I pulled into first gear and we assumed a slow pace on our pilgrimage to the river. The girls danced and the boys sang and broke coconuts. The older representatives of our clan smiled as they observed the younger generation heralding the New Year’s bounteous future while we walked slowly and deliberately forward. The end of the festival was not necessarily the end of our journey, but rather the journey itself. From our side street, we became a small rivulet of merriment that would join the main artery of the town’s celebrants.  It was a  constant stream of the faithful, the fanatics, and the indifferent; all setting aside personal motivations to engage in a slow and deliberate procession to the water. Our family’s retinue blended into the larger parade and added to its genetic make-up one of the larger clay idols to be dunked into the river that day. The sun was setting and the moon, which I always was taught was wretched, was soon to appear.
            It took us about forty-five minutes to reach the ocean side. I pulled onto the crest of the beach and we undid the statue of the god, which was to be, then, carried into the water. The family swarmed around the truck - many hands reaching and acting as one to lift the holy idol off the truck and into the air.  The surrounding crowd of fellow believers broke into a fresh refrain of the holy mantra to intensify the experience of having the Lord Ganesh thrust into the waters. 
I let them carry out this important task without me – another thing that I had never before done in my entire life. I leaned against the hood of the truck, watching my family work as a  team to lift the heavy flawed clay statue - chanting and singing as they prepared to commit the final act of Ganesha Chaturdashi by immersing their god into the water. Some of my cousins motioned for me to take a space on the palate and heft him into the air for the final leg of his journey home, but I couldn’t do it. I saw the moon start to peek over the trees on the far side of the river.
            “Don’t forget that we must never look at the moon, Razak. For it is the enemy of the Lord Ganesh and we must treat it as an apostate.” Prakash Priyani, our Brahmin, had quietly crept up to me.  “We must view the moon as one who has left believing in the Lord.” He wore his red silk robe and a yellow shawl. His fingers and palms were stained red from the sandalwood holy paint.  This had been an busy time for him as he had many statues of Ganesh to bless.
            “Hello, Brahmin.” I gave my mentor a small respectful bow. We watched as the Lord Ganesh wobbled above the heads of his adherents as they took the first steps from the truck towards the water. I bit my lip and a small surge of adrenalin coursed through my stomach, making me exceptionally aware of my breathing. The reality of the situation was becoming clear and my indignant projections were dissolving.
“We haven’t seen you from Shukla Chaturti until now. Is all well with you?” Prakash smiled in away that didn’t reach his entire mouth that resulted in putting others at ease. Around us, the crowd gave a happy murmur as the bearers of Ganesh gained a confident hold on their statue. A renewed chant was struck and every one in earshot sang with broad smiles of flashing teeth.
            “Well, I have had a very busy month at the dig. We found some . . . things.”
            “Really? What things?”
            “I don’t …think that I can go into it right now.” This was the complete opposite of what I had planned. This was supposed to be the moment that I displayed the contents of the bags and demanded answers, but the economy of the situation was overwhelmingly acute.
            “Razak, you have always been interested in science and the correctness of the world. But, remember that there is only one science that is important – the science of the Spirit. How can one look at an object in this world and hope to understand another world? Our senses and the objects of our senses are constantly changing form and in their relation to each other. We must put our faith only in the Lord Ganesh.” He gave me that confident smile, which before had always been a touchstone for me in the crafting of my worldview. Today, that smile didn’t give me the same comfort that I was used to, but it was also one that I that didn’t want to disappear. Prakash folded his hands in front of him. “Did you ask for his blessing today?”
“Brahmin, I no longer want the Lord to worry about my obstacles. I think I need to handle this world on my own.”
            The men in my family had entered the water with a final push that evoked a satisfied low moan from everyone. Prakash looked at me with a silence that penetrated the noise of the crowd.  “I don’t know if you realize how real the Lord Ganesh is. He will operate in your life in a way that you cannot understand. Let him work hand in hand with you and guide you.”, he said, closing his eyes in finality.
                        “Prakash, you have always given me good advice and taught me the importance of having him in my life. But I need you to know that I believe in Ganesh more than anybody. And, pardon me for saying, but even you, Brahmin.”
            The Lord Ganesh had been awkwardly tipped in the water, instead of the slow deliberate immersion required by the science. My brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews were all waist deep in the foamy water, clapping their hands and chanting together. Prakash watched the spectacle with his half-smile and a small shake of the head. If I was going to confront him, it would have to be now.
Ijaya, my niece, came running out of the water, hair soaked and laughing. She saw me by the truck talking to Prakash and dry as old bones.  “Uncle, what happened? You missed the ceremony.”
I hurt myself giving her a dismissive nod and she gave me quick frown and went back to her friends.
Prikash gave me a fatherly tap on the arm.
             “Razak, your faith has always guided you. Remember that Ganesh is the Lord of Intelligence and he is married to Reason and Spirit. You will make the right decisions.”
            He gave me a another tap on the arm and moved into the crowd.
             It was another hour at the beach before my family decided to return home. They all walked back on their own without any particular procession, but together all the same.  The other crowds finally dispersed from the waterside after all the idols had been immersed with a few meditative stragglers. I stayed and watched the moon rise high into the clear night. I smiled as a boy ran by holding a grey balloon twisted into the shape of an elephant head. I sat on the water’s edge, listening to the jubilation spread throughout the town. The loudest music I was certain was from the gargantuan stack that I passed earlier. There was something about that discombobulated structure inspired its adherents to dance longer than any other.
 I stayed out there all night, watching the moon ascend and descend on to the water’s distant horizon, waiting for the last moment of moonset. When the moon started to vanish from the sky and became halfway hidden by the horizon, I opened the bed of the truck and removed the two coconut sacks. Inside the bag, in a dusty jumble, were the bones that had made me late for Ganesha Chaturdashi. Pulling each bone from the bag and unwrapping them from the protective newspaper, I lay them on the open flap of the truck bed. All of the bones I had brought to the river side were from a single skeleton, although, that may not be clear to the average archaeologist that might have seen me remove and unwrap no less than three sets of arms. My tests at the site revealed them to all have the same genetic makeup. The DNA that sat slowly decaying in these bones that would have marked it as, at the very least a genetic anomaly, was also found in the skull, which I had put in the other bag. It was the skull of an elephant. It’s right tusk predictably broken and found in it’s right hand.  These were the ancient bones of the Remover of Obstacles, the Lord of Beginnings- long dead and useless.

            I collected each bone and threw it into the ocean as the moon disappeared completely. The Brahmin could go on living according to his science, but I had discovered the end of both science and truth, What is science but a form of religion? And what is religion, but a form of science? Ultimate answers are sought in both and I no longer had a need or want for those answers. A loud powerful laugh from the revelers pierced the night. As the waves pulled the fragile bones deeper into the ocean waters, I felt a burden had been lifted from my shoulders that I hadn’t expected. The muscles in my neck released a tension that I never realized was there. The morning was approaching and the celebration still raged in the town. The black obelisk of music continued to pulsate with deep bass frequencies that I became increasingly attuned to as the moment was crystallizing in a way I hadn’t foreseen. Hungry, I grabbed the coconut from the seat of the truck and cracked it with a rock hammer. The hairy orb broke into a myriad shards. With my left hand, I picked up a fleshy curved piece, smelling the its happy sweetness. I bit into its flesh and a pain coursed through my mouth. With my right hand, I removed the shell of the coconut meat and with it came a broken tooth. I closed my hand over the tooth and held it firm. The pain and the my happiness complemented each other  as the music from afar became deeper and urgent and I thought about the good things of the day. With the coconut in my left and my tooth in my right, I was overcome with the desire to dance to the music from the distance.. I brought my right hand to my chest and my left hand to the morning sky. I drew my right leg up to balance on my left for a short moment and then  I moved to the music that would propel me from now on.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Final Day of Ganesha Chaturthi - Part Three

It seems that this year Ashok had made a half-hearted effort to get the scientific elements of the statue right. The left hand raised to the sky in blessing. In his right, he held a broken tusk. A flag waved above him with his mouse companion emblazoned on it. Last year, I would have been over the moon about this. I took in the clay statue of Ganesh on his throne. He had the head of an elephant, but his eyes were as penetrating as only a man’s could be. On every statue and idol that I had ever seen of him, the eyes that stared out were always deeply personal. I walked up to the idol and I stared into his eyes. Red sandalwood dripped off his forehead like blood as evidence that Prakash had blessed him. Of course, it would be too large and immodest to be effective for him, who no doubt tried to deliver Ashok a lecture on the impropriety of its largeness. How could you pray for blessings and communicate with the Lord Ganesh if you are grunting and pushing and pulling, due to the spectacle of the image? Simplicity allows the mind to focus and opens the channel to heaven.
 One of my nephews opened the gate on the back of the truck and tried to remove the white sacks in the back of the truck.
“No, no! Leave them!” I closed the gate and put the stabilizing pins on the rim of the pick-up’s bed, ready to slide into the receiving holes on the idol’s palate.
“But you have coconuts. We counted 400 coconuts smashed today already!” Only one coconut was needed to release one’s karma, but the young men were always vigorous in their desire to break coconuts for bragging rights of the day.
 “Those bags are mine. It’s time to put the Lord Ganesh on the back.”
            As we worked to secure the idol on the back of the truck, the rest of the family started the chant we all sang on Ananti.

“Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya.”

   Oh father, Ganesh, come again early next year.

I had sung that so many times in my life, but it never  sounded as transparent in my ears as it did at that moment. The chant detached itself and floated away from the deepest part of my self – the secure place that once determined all my actions and gave me my sense of time and space. What was once a harbinger of good fortune now became an empty echo in an abandoned chamber. My recent discoveries broke the mold of reaction I had at hearing the chant of Ananti on this day in the light where once they had produced personal feelings of safety and goodwill.
Ganesh was hoisted up and installed to the top of the bed of the truck with the pallet screwed into the stabilizing pins.
Our signal to our family for readiness to the journey to the ocean triggered a wave of coconut destruction that littered the street with jagged shells and white meat. Everyone descended from the house to accompany me as I prepared to drive this massive profanity to the waterside. My nieces and their friends, who were all of an impressionable age, had matching orange and red saris that they wore for a coordinated dance - something they had pulled from one of the local cinemas, which they planned to do on the way to the beach.
“Uncle Razak! We were worried that you wouldn’t be here.” This was Ijaya, my fourteen-year old niece. Her face was made of pure innocence and unbreakable. I blushed with my own embarrassment at being absent. What possible answers did I have for her?
They had planned well; in fact they could think of nothing else for the past six months except how closely to the original version of their dance they could come to on Ananti Chaturthi. It was the first time they had ever tried to coordinate something together to represent our family. I thought about how upset they might have been if I didn’t return that day. They would probably remember these times well into their future. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Final Day of Ganesha Chaturthi - Part Two

I don’t know which of the suggestions expressed in Prakash’s list regarding what not to do and how not to act escaped the  ignorance of my family, who, ironically, seemed to live for nothing else but the celebration of Lord Ganesh’s journey home as he took our misfortunes with him across the water, granting a successful year ahead. Prakash gave up a long time ago trying to bring our family’s statue of the god in line with the proper discipline of spirituality. The science of it was always embarrassingly off, ensuring an empty sacrifice. After years of unheeded counsel, he has been reduced to giving it the cursory blessing and smear of red sandalwood paint – an ornamental gesture, but not before giving me some personal words of spiritual encouragement, knowing that in this house of reckless worship, there was at least one person who cared. I couldn’t bear to be in the house two years ago, when my brother-in-law, Ashok, who has always crafted our family’s statue, fashioned the Lord Ganesh as dressed in his favorite football team’s jersey with both hands raised in victory, as if Ganesh would give special consideration to the movements of a 12-inch sphere of latex that accomplished nothing. There were too many evenings wasted in argument about the lack of respect and the danger of improper construction of the idol between Ashok and I. He would inevitably reply: “If you care so much, Razak, you should make it yourself,” knowing that I was gone from home often and had no artistic ability. Ashok was the one who controlled our statue and it reflected whatever whim struck him that year as I labored in a archaeological pit somewhere or was holed up in a laboratory. To my dismay, his team did win the cup that year, giving credence to his devotional artistic liberties and fueling the apathy of my family toward the correct way of channeling harmful yama frequencies.
My small white pick-up truck crept through the massive crowd as I headed toward home. It had been a long thoughtful ride back from the dig.  I had needed to secure the contents of the bags in the back before I left the team. I was the only one who knew the true meaning of their contents and my answers would need to be extracted from the Brahmin. My team was more concerned with the architecture of the temple and the nearby battle-site, giving me exclusive access to the throne room.  At Kanyakumari, we had made a crucial discovery that I had to deliver from the site, even though I knew that everyone at home would resent my missing a majority of Ganesha Chaturthi and that I had the family’s only pick-up truck large enough able to carry the Lord Ganesha to the river side. The size of our statue was, of course, another malpractice, and was typical. Ashok had made the statue far too large out of some sense of false power that was completely contrary to Prakash’s direction to make the Lord Ganesh of a modest size in order for him to be immersed properly, instead of clumsily dropped into the ocean.
I found myself in another mental projection: one half-second after I strike with my pick up truck with maximum velocity a statue perfectly formed and scientifically accurate, small molecules of clay and Plaster of Paris violently taking every possible trajectory away from the moment of impact caused by me in a blaze of destruction, just as the first few micro-seconds after the Big Bang saw the universe on a path through every possibility in the blaze of creation.
Through the streets, worshippers gathered around large white canvas bags full of the traditional coconuts, used in a devotional breaking ritual. They were identical to the ones that were in the back of my truck. The incessant crunch of broken shells under my tires signaled my lateness to the festival, increasing my anxiety as I knew my family would be irritated at having to leave for the ocean so close to evening.
Pulling close to the garage next to our house, I could see the Lord Ganesh on a platform in full display, waiting to be driven to the water’s edge and cast in. Milling around the main house and the garage, there were brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins of all stripes, and relations of questionable association. Cheers accompanied by applause tinged with sarcasm broke out as I drove up to the happy throng. I put the truck into reverse to back under the scaffolding that held the Lord Ganesh.  Ashok stood out amongst the celebrators, coconut in hand. He didn’t wait for the truck to come to a full stop before yelling into the windshield. Of course, Ashok was not concerned about any disregard for the holiness of the day, but my lack of concern for his own personal convenience From inside the house, the television was at full volume showing coverage of celebrations around the country. My family had the odd habit of incorporating the celebrations of strangers on television into their own. I had always felt it crass. Whatever tirade Ashok was shouting through my window had burned itself out by the time I opened the door. He fixed me with a evil look and handed me a coconut. Traditionally, I was supposed to pray to transfer my karma into it, and then smash it on the ground to release the offering, which would allow the Lord Ganesh to take it away to his home across the water, thus ensuring good karma for the rest of the year. I tossed the coconut in through the driver’s side window, where it lay unbroken.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Final Day of Ganesha Chaturthi - Part One

             All eyes were drawn towards twenty-three black speaker cabinets of various shapes and sizes, stacked to form an uneasy monolith at the north end of  the intersection. It boomed with one of the radio’s top songs, that despite its ubiquitous presence and universal appeal, had no relationship to the nature of that day - one of the holiest of days in the worship of our gods.
 Casting a long vibrating shadow across a dancing mob that gathered at its feet, the stack was a god in its own way, having a hundred vinyl mouths singing in cheerful disregard of the holiday. The matte blackness of the wall of woofers, horns, and tweeters was adorned, draped, and bound with coarse rope that united the collection into a awkward mass of audio technology. Nuance was only an obstacle to this one-dimensional wall of noise, designed to bring music to the crowd in its bluntest form. Dancers in yellow trimmed with purple and drummers of every order ignored the uncomplicated shape of the music they were adding to with their singing and their drumming as they were caught in the rapture of the day to the point that, even though one could see the fifteen-foot tall edifice sway with the slightest breeze, the crowd was entirely too propelled in its own ecstasy to show fear toward their unpredictable master.
In a white mud-encrusted pickup truck, I came in from a street that was identical to the seven other streets that fed the intersection that would be the last turn before I reached home
 Every year prior to this one, this stack had always bothered me - an incredible amount of work and attention for something so inadequate. The sloppy creation appeared annually on this day, always in a slightly different form, distracting everyone from the instructions of the Brahmins on how to celebrate our sacred festival. I had always taken these sacred warnings to heart. But, a year ago from this day was the last time I cared about the tower of sound that sat at the end of my street. It was now as real a god as any.
A dancing man dressed in a collarless white shirt and black linen pants jumped ahead of my truck, hands together above his head, fingers pointing to the sky, swaying in time to the music as he walked towards my truck. He was my neighbor and a friend of the family. He came to my window and talked as I crept through the crowd.
“Razak, I do not envy you today. I’ve heard your brother-in-law shouting your name in anger all week. He has been asking all around to borrow another truck in case you did not return.”
“I know, I know. I’m rushing to get home. I had too much business to take care of. I am ashamed to be so late.”
“Hmmm. Business before worship? So, unlike you, Razak. You have spent all of your minutes this holiday.” He nodded his head in goodbye and wove away, disappearing back into the throbbing mob.
I  missed almost all of the ten-day holiday of Ganesha Chaturthi. My work as an archaeologist took me deeper into the jungles of the rarely-explored Kanyakumari, which was where we had uncovered an especially ancient temple – one older than any I had ever seen or heard of.  I had to make it back home for a least this last day, which was called Ananti - a day that Prakash Pritani, the Brahmin, had always taught was supposed to be a day of moderate respectful worship, not one of manic pleasure seeking. The Lord Ganesh required that we follow the science of our faith in our actions and in the way we construct our objects - a science that requires deeply controlled concentration and observation -an attitude I could appreciate, for it was identical to the procedures we had instituted at the laboratory in our tests. Distractions lead to a false outcome both in the lab and on Ananti, if the conditions are not set up perfectly.
I knew that I would encounter the Brahmin tonight. He would find me and give me the spiritual guidance that my mother and father would consistently fail to provide as they poured so much effort into their religious celebrations. They were devout people in their own way, but they couldn’t answer most questions regarding our faith and they never really bothered to ask them either. As I turned the corner, the white bags that were the payload of my small pickup truck shifted. I envisioned the moment that I would upend their contents in front of the Brahmin. My face automatically adopted the accusatory expression in resonance to the mental projection of myself as I demanded answers to the questions that fueled our worship and that the Brahmin presumed to answer. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Can Drink as Many Glasses of Water as You Can Bring.

A Hiatus has come down the pike for Man is Men due to a new term of school starting and the preparation for the presentation of an original piece of fiction from Man is Men at a conference for school, which shall be posted here in the coming weeks.

I will say that school is very fine for learning but I must agree with Sarah from the very creative blog The Wolf of Insignificance, when she comments on The Hand is Divided into Fingers

"I prefer the salon model - an evening with friends, drinks, and just a dash of drama."

There is something strong about the salon model that goes back through the history of creativity. One particular example that comes to mind is the Vienna cafe movement. The Viennese cafes were a phenomenon that are at the root of that, which we we would off-handedly call a coffeeshop. However, the Viennese cafes were the centers of creative action that served as a vortex of musicians, artists, writers, and intellectuals. For many like-minded thinkers, the interchange between those who sought to progress in their particular art served as its own education. Up-to-date, relevant, and without a preset program of instruction, one could learn things at a Viennese cafe that could never be learned at a school. 

The attitude of the proprietors is key here as well as there was no expectation of purchase if one wanted to just sit and read the newspaper in the morning or plumb the depths into the night. A glass of water would cheerfully be topped off into infinity if that was your wish.

Unfortunately, the  movement was largely Jewish and came to an abrupt end, when Nazi Germany decided that it would like to have Austria in 1938, leaving Hitler to drink by himself at the Cafe Sperl, probably not arguing with anybody.

(An Aside.)

Through many burns and false paths, I have built the hypnagogic mind machine. However, the microchip PIC16LF628A is eluding me. It apparently comes in many forms and the form I have will not marry to the socket I have provided for it. So, there will be a further delay until the right chip is found. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Applying Occam's Razor has Put Your Abilities in the Sink.

It's easy to become conditioned into thinking in certain patterns and forms due to being locked outside the chaotic innards of the mind. The same conclusions are often reached repeatedly because you apply the same formulas to reach them. These formulas and conclusions become the only thing you know. Why do we fall into the same roads of thought? Is it a desire for closure that keeps us from thinking down different paths?

Writing requires a broader and more flexible interaction with the world and with the self.

Here is an example of insulated thinking from my own perspective:

As a very young man of eight or ten years old, I had a wallet with no money in it that I carried around with me constantly. I didn't have anything in it, actually, except for one piece of orange stiff paper that was signed  by Lillian Oppenheimer, President of the Origami Center of America, an organization that operated out of the basement of the American Museum of Natural History, a place that seems to have no end of interior chambers for personal exploration.

Origami was a soothing art for me. It had specific rules and diagrams to create three-dimensional objects from a two-dimensional sheet of paper. Its crisp lines and corners coupled with its sharp points and creases translated to me the mathematical and geometric nature of the world. One could have a diagram of an origami form and replicate it anywhere on any piece of paper. 

Hooray! You did i......zzzzz.

I was one step closer to understanding the universe. That is until I discovered the iconoclastic origami style of Akira Yoshizawa. This is his famous Gorilla, which is displayed in the Lourve in Paris:

Yoshizawa had had enough of the restrictions of diagram-based origami and sharp lines and invented wet-folding, which allowed him to sculpt the sheet of paper rather than merely fold it. He introduced curves to replace straight lines, which are seldom found in nature. 

His creative output was from a place that broke away from the strict methodology of other origamists of the time. But, he harnessed the chaos of the mind to the point of being awarded an honor by Emperor Hirohito called The Order of the Rising Sun, one of the highest recognitions of citizenry, second only to The Order of the Chrysanthemum.

Now, a whole wave of imitators who are actually innovators have swarmed in on the origami scene to make pieces like this:
and this:
and this:

All of these pieces are from one single sheet of paper, which prompts eight-year old me to remove the orange piece of paper from my wallet and, instead of folding it, putting it deep in the folds of a very large book, which will be stashed high on a shelf, away from my traditional origami shame, lest I be called on to create something original from it. 

Now, this is all entirely too dramatic. But, it does resonate with the creative process in regards to writing, which is something that, unlike origami, I am looking to achieve and fulfill. Are there predictable creases and folds in my methods? Am I looking for creative comfort in lines and planes that I go over and over again in my head? It's frightfully possible and more than likely.

In the next week, I am ordering the parts to build the hypnagogic mind machine from the last post and we shall explore the state of creativity possible through this method..

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hopping the Velvet Rope of Your Mind.

Who or what is the biggest enemy to the creative mind?

It is my estimation that all creative minds have the same potential brilliance and there is a certain philosophy towards child rearing held by the baby wranglers at the Institute for the Achievement for Human Potential that is inclined to agree with this:

"Every child born has, at the instant of birth, a higher potential intelligence than Leonardo da Vinci ever used."

The question is, then, why isn't the world full of like-minded geniuses, inventing inventions that will be used in centuries to come, producing exquisitely wrought pieces of art across multiple platforms, and dissecting the world down to levels of behavior never before imagined?

Ah, I was wondering about that.

Well, it is actually. But, just not in one person! 

So, what is different about the average man that prevents him from "Vetruvian Man"-level genius? Isn't it the walls that we build up around our potential starting the day we interact with the world? The mind is conditioned by our own egos telling us what we think we are or aren't and is amplified by the egos of others telling us the same thing. Lord knows mine is!

So what is to be done? How do you overcome the ramparts of years of mitigated thought process? 

The answer is that you need to lay siege to your sub-conscious. There is a party in your own mind that's happening right now that you don't even know about. All day, every day, your sub-conscious is coming up with a constant steady stream of ideas. A lot of them are ridiculous. A lot of them are ludicrous. However, there are gems and diamonds in there waiting to be plucked for your pleasure. Would you complain if you had to wade through fifty ideas if you ultimately come upon a great one?  It's statistically in your favor to be privy to what your sub-conscious is saying behind your back. 

Let DaVinci Help You Help Yourself.

There are a number of ways to penetrate the barriers of the ego. Among the engines of war thats some people employ is the use of substances to achieve an altered state of mind, but I feel that the price demanded by chemicals may potentially be too steep for the reward. 

There is a passageway that can be travelled to find yourself in the secret parts of the self. It is called the hypnagogic channel. It is that place between being awake and being asleep, also known as threshold consciousness. We all necessarily fall into the hypnagogic state as it is literally the hallway that we must pass through to achieve sleep. To be aware that we are in this place, however, we can prolong our stay in it and use it to our advantage.  We can marry the concerns of our waking world with the river of ideas that our dream state can provide. 

For anyone who pays attention to dreams, they know that dreams have the powerful ability to dredge up memories from our past that our conscious has forgotten, to combine images and concepts that we would never imagine if we were awake, and to push the boundaries of the possible out of sight to the point of pure omnipotence.

Creative ability is the harnessing of that omnipotence. If it can be imagined, it can be done.  

But how can we possibly dwell in the corridors of the hypnagogic state if it is only transitional and momentary, you may ask?

There are a number of exercises that are quite effective that we will go into later, but for those of you that want to be there now can order one of these:
Comfort is the Enemy.
Cre.ations.net will sell you the parts and you can follow these instructions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hand is Divided Into Fingers.

 Regarding the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James once wrote that "the best things come, as a general thing, from the talents that are members of a group; every man works better when he has his companions working in the same line, and yielding the stimulus of suggestion, comparison, emulation."

This sentiment is one that swells a desire within me for all my friends to pursue the art of writing as well. 
Not to have writing done by committee, mind you, but to amplify and enhance the conversation.

The unique world view that each individual holds is squirreled away in their minds, only to appear at infrequent dinner conversations or at passing social engagements. Writing allows one to channel the chaos of the individual mind into a solid form to rub against, to interlock, to resonate, to repel or repulse, to change or be changed by the forms of others. Writing will ultimately enhance by adding to the collective form that we all assume.

So, write! Don't worry. As Kerouac says "just blow and blow."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Scenes from the Forthcoming Book "Love the Destroyer"

"No input, no output" said Joe Strummer of the Clash.

For those afflicted with writer's block, write prompts take the form of a shot of adrenalin to the heart, forcing arterial action in a time of need. As seen in the strange box provided by Mr. Dunkley, sometimes you have to throw every thing you have at a problem and see what sticks.

But, the best write prompts appear from hidden places and when least expected to burn the fire inside of the writer. They arrive unbeckoned and take the choicest seat among the creative places of the mind.

Here are a host of images that stood forward to make up the novel I am writing, tentatively called Love the Destroyer:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Opening the Northwest Passage Had its Obstacles.

This is an iconic image of silent film:

Please Withhold Judgement On Others For The Obvious Reasons.
The shot is from Le Voyage Dans La Lune by Georges Meiles, an early experimenter in special effects in film.

In the early days of film, the inherent value in the content of the first "Cinemagician" was overlooked and dismissed by the general public. Meiles, although creatively adept and prolific, was behind hundreds of films displaying cutting-edge techniques. Some films existed solely to provide a vehicle for the process, much like Man Ray's experiments in avant-garde cinematography.

Sci-fi website io9.com posted an amazing clip from a century ago- the devouring ice giant of Meiles film The Conquest of the Pole.

Mieles actual troubles seemed to be a bit more pedestrian than ice golems as a large percentage of his films were melted into boot heels for the French Army during World War I after he filed for bankruptcy and was forced to work in retail in a train station.

Meanwhile, Birth of a Nation, another movie dealing in fantasy, albeit unintentionally as it elevates the Ku Klux Klan to heroic warrior status, goes on to be the highest grossing film of that era.

Just another outworking of the less-then-perfect H.L. Mencken's "booboise."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Amongst the Stones; Amidst the Sin.

At the height of my delusion in regards to joining the Explorer's Club, I felt compelled to join another association that had looser standards towards their members - the American Museum of Natural History.

Where the Explorer's Club is exclusionary, the AMNH opens its large feathery wings and gathers all sorts under its large umbrella.

Most of you may have visited and enjoyed the fruits of Theodore Roosevelt's scorched earth policy to spare no expense in bringing New Yorkers awkward stuffed specimens of grand beautiful beasts that roamed free half a world away. The Museum was the perfect moral foothold to cling to as he slaughtered his way across the world. The body count at the end was close to 12,000 beasts!

In his defense, Roosevelt said "I can be condemned only if the existence of the National Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and all similar zoological institutions are to be condemned."

So there. We ALL share the burden of those six rare white rhinos that were blunderbussed.

But one must still live even when crushed by the collective weight of our evils and the moral uncertainty of it all. 

Deep in the bowels of the Natural History Museum, there is a room that may at first seem lifeless and dull, but has a hidden virtue.

It is the Hall of Gems:
Waiting to be Zardoz-ed.

It's not very easy to get excited about ancient rocks and pebbles when there are two floors of monstrous dinosaur reconstructions immediately above you and, unless you are taking a Geology class, the act of looking at samples of anthrocite, feldspar, and granite loses its luster pretty quick.

But it is not the content of the Hall of Gems that makes it so inviting. Rather, it is the low lighting, the carpeted ampitheatre steps, and the severe unpopularity of the room that makes it the most appealing  place to study. 

It's all so very Senatorial or, actually, it's the distinct feeling one has that may be similar to the Acolytes of Plato when they lounged at his Academy, plumbing the depths in a way that only lounging lets you do.

Not unlike this:

Don't mind me, I'm plumbing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Sound Beating from my Own Ideology.

There was a brief moment in time where my life became quite open-ended and many things seemed possible through the haze of accelerated idealism.

For a short time, not very long ago, I was seriously set to take on a very long educational undertaking with the pointedly farfetched aim of receiving an advanced degree in Science for the sole purpose of going to a very remote part of the earth to make an incredibly important discovery so that I could sit in this room.
Your monocle, sir.
The fabled Explorer's Club, where adventurers and expeditionists meet over tea and whiskey to discuss the outer reaches of the known.

Notable members in history:

Roald Amundsen - Discoverer of the Northwest Passage

Ernest H. Shackleton - Adventurer in Antarctica and inspiration for the frozen Biggie Shackleton

Charles A. Lindburgh - Atlantic Ocean Traverser

Sir Edmund Hillary - Mt. Everest Climber

James Watson - Rascist DNA Discoverer

Charles E. Yeager - Spaceman

Theodore Roosevelt - Museum Afficionado 

Dian Fossey - Gorilla Studier in search of Dr. Leaky

Fantasies abounded in my mind during that phase of my life where I fancied myself as both Rudyard Kipling and Sean Connery/Michael Caine in The Man Who Would Be King or Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days or even Bertie Wooster from the Drones Club in Jeeves and Wooster.

Of course, the practical side of these flights of fancy quickly came to bear and I realized that in reality I am only somewhat and not very much of a scientific fellow at the end of the day.

I realize that discovery and exploration can come in other ways as expressed by the antithesis of the Explorer's Club, Emily Dickinson:

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Look Upon You as a Gem of the Old Rock.

On Friday, we had a tiny peek into the enigmatic Katie E. Lynch's unique world.  But there is something that many, if not all, people do not know about her. This something I had heard long ago and it returned to me as I noticed that she became increasingly favorable towards all manner of seeds.

She is directly related to the legendary American Nurseryman Johnny Appleseed.

I believe she is his great-grandniece by a few generations. They share some distinct similarities in their attitudes and approaches to the world with their love for seeds being just the starting point. Other parallels include:

-Both Johnny Appleseed and Katie E. Lynch understand the value in used clothing. 

Appleseed wore the equivalent of resale clothing in his time, but he always reserved the best bits for his friends. Katie does the exact same thing. She rarely buys anything new and is quick to give her favorite pieces away. She finds amazing treasures here and here.

-They are both aware of the value of life - great and small. 

This is a story from the annals of the legend of Johnny Appleseed.

One cool autumnal night, while lying by his camp-fire in the woods, he observed that the mosquitoes flew in the blaze and were burnt. Johnny, who wore on his head a tin utensil which answered both as a cap and a mush pot, filled it with water and quenched the fire, and afterwards remarked, “God forbid that I should build a fire for my comfort, that should be the means of destroying any of His creatures.”

Katie E. Lynch has rescued the tiniest of creatures and feels pain at any discomfort wrought upon the smallest of beings. One notable occasion was when an orchid was delivered from the swamps of the Okefenokee to our house, bringing with it a displaced Anole ten digits long --- 1234567890.

What does an Anole look like?


He was immediately christened Roger Anole and bathed in warm light and swaddled in leaves and twigs and served the finest aphids, which he refused to acknowledge by going on hunger strike with the effectiveness of John and Yoko in their hotel and the misanthropy of Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones. Roger Anole died holding onto false ideals, much to our chagrin.

-Finally, Johnny Appleseed and his scion, Katie E. Lynch are both strict vegetarians, which goes hand-in-hand with their sensitivity to the living. I am convinced that Johnny Appleseed would totally be a raw power vegan if he were alive today.

Here's Your Primitive Christian!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hibernian Homme: Pulled into Beauty.

Man is Men was not born in a vacuum. There have been many points of light illuminating the vision of this blog and all have their own unique virtues.

But there is a particular aesthete that was particularly inspirational to me in starting this blog and that man is  Dan Monteforte with his incredible blog - Hibernian Homme.

Relentlessly beautiful, thunderous in sincerity, Hibernian Homme helps you regain that part of your soul that you always felt was slightly out of reach, such as his recent expedition into Places of Unknown Beauty here and here.

Part sartorialist, part design savant, Hibernian Homme hones his eye on every situation and finds the happiness that is to to had as the venerable Katie E. Lynch and I can attest to.

Eritrea? Really, Hibernian Homme. You really are a tastemaker, not unlike the previously-mentioned Arthur Quiller-Couch.

Friday, August 27, 2010

You Will Eat Life Itself.

I have the diet of a human being.

In all my years of living, I've been used to opening the cupboards and refrigerator to find the norms of society - flour, butter, eggs, pasta, rice, sugar, and so on and so forth.

However, for fourteen months there has been a sea change in my kitchen since the ever-so-lovely and beautiful Katie E. Lynch has transformed into a raw food power vegan.

Where once we lived in tandem, sharing the same food, our kitchen has now experienced a quantum shift, where two separate dimensions exist on top of each other. One is my run-of-the-mill cooked world and the other is a world of exotic names and substances that I have never heard of and can be quite frightening at times.

And, now, to share with you the new reality of the raw power vegan that exists in our kitchen:

Keep in mind that these things are not sitting on the shelves collecting dust, but are actually in heavy rotation as the intriguing Katie E. Lynch develops permutation of foods never before been tasted.(Really!)