Homage to Buddenbrooks


     The entire venerable family were at their usual seats at the antique oak long table in thei patriarch’s dining room.  A delightful aroma came in from outside the double-doors that served as the only exit to the hall that led to the kitchen and pantry, wafting into the grand room in great fragrant waves as the portal was swung open and closed by the scullery maids, who were hurrying in and out carrying decorative silver trays ladened with poached chicken and pear salads and Oloroso sherry.  The penultimate course had arrived.

This being a Sunday, the Christiansons sat at the table eating in an easy silence that came from comfortable routine.  Most of them preferred a long-held precedence over the perceived flippant alternatives – they held tight to decorum in circumstances such as these especially — when all of them came together for their weekly brunch on Sundays to steady themselves for mass.  At these trysts they refused of habit to do no more than share a nice cold repast with hardly more than sliced rye bread and perhaps a Sauvignon Saint-Briswith with which to pair.

The meal, while by itself an essential aspect of the ritual, in fact was most necessary for the grandfather, Christoph Christianson, founder and unofficial administrator of the family.  His health on the decline for years, he, on doctor’s orders, paid special attention to his nutritive intake, being disposed to a wasting disease that, sadly, in the last few months threatened to weaken him to the point of exhaustion.  His still-regal hands, once robust and agile, now gripped the gilded serving spoon for the butter-seared potatoes with trembling unstable motions; his fingers wrinkled with loose skin and  betrayed the fat lost to his accursed affliction.  Only his eyes, which darted back and forth across the expanse of the gourmet spread laid luxuriously across the table-clothed dining table, with a hint of sly merriment, still retained the vigor and spark of youth’s fancy. 

     While his eyes and countenance stayed true throughout his diminution, the rest of Christoph’s form turned faint yellow and desiccated as a plant that had strained and extended itself thin in search of sunlight withheld from it too long, and at last, in resignation, bent itself a little and shrunk sadly back earthwards.

Now in his twilight years, at 71, Mr. Christianson was fighting and losing the struggle for his life. His high Nordic cheekbones, once a cherished feature that formerly made all who knew him comment with genuine sentiment how handsome he looked, now protruded unnaturally, stretching his skin conspicuously and thus enhanced his hollow cheeks and gaunt jawline.  Set against this picture of frail decline, and a little inwards into his sockets so as to create a shadowed look and darken them all the more, his eyes somehow still flickered a deep blue and could have a somewhat unpleasant effect upon the person whom he consented to gaze upon and rest his eyes in scrutiny.

     But today, at the brunch before church, his look betrayed no interest in social games as his eldest, Chad, helped him with his thirds by heaping steamed asparagus and honeyed ginger ham upon his plate.  It was one of life’s little ironies that Christoph Christianson, from the time he had been a little child still being weaned, carefully and practically by his mother, Lynda, as only a woman of culture and sophistication who had already been through the birth and rearing of a first son could well do with an experience hand, never was known to eat more than two small meals a day.  And coupled with an abnormally slow metabolism, he had been able to eat like a bird and still strike a nobly filled-out pose, as if he were a clone of some of those other businessmen with whom he of necessity was well-acquainted, and who, perhaps because of the free time and money to spare from their careers (or else, in a depressing response to these same careers and the idle languid lifestyles they created for them), filled their unoccupied hours treating themselves to the most expensive and lavish of meals.  It was those corpulent men, whom, walking to and from the Exchange with their bloated bellies and fatted shanks which slowed their approaches and departures, although ostensibly resembled in some aspects Christoph’s then rotund figure, did not, could not, have his lively stamina-enhanced gait and bearing, being themselves drawn down by the fat and gristle of raw salted steaks, and the sugar from countless sweets and pastries they consumed and were consumed by.

In contrast, old Chistoph had since a toddler been filled-out, a tad abdominous; but always with an easy mien, a graceful air, with his low-caloric intake a resounding success for his health overall, giving him a youthful intensiveness and potency for which his friends and family had always high remarks, and often subdued envy, the latter a chord of emotional persuasion belonging mostly to his business and political opponents.  The family dietitian advised a heterogenous fare in his case, eclectic in varieties of dark green vegetables for iron and fresh fruit to aid digestion and make up for his lack of substantive food intake with high quantities of vitamins and minerals.  This proud command of the physique could never last, being a castle built on the sands of time, which, however exquisitely built and sculpted must surely sink and ebb.  He was at last beset a few years ago by this gastroenterological illness, that brought with it a remarkable appetite which belied a healthiness, were one to see him attack a meal, and that hid a fatal Demon that, once unleashed, began at once to starve his muscles and flesh, taking all his nourishment meant for his body and diverting it ivillanto the Spectre’s own maw, even as Christoph gorged himself perpetually.

     When, in the oppressive dry heat of an early August three years ago, Christoph fell ill to this intestinal malady, he summoned all the best doctors in the municipality to consult with his own family physician, Dr. Spetic.

Dr. Wilhelm Spetic was a proud man, deriving no small amount of ego from the patronage bestowed upon him by the Christiansons.  He had always been quick to pick up compliments out of indifference, not perceiving the difference between love and necessity.  He was competent in his craft, though not by any means spectacular – his stint at the University of Hadleigh in his youth was delayed by several semesters, not through, it should be said, a lack of endeavor on his part, for he knew the rewards given by hard work; the mental acumen required by the rigors of his doctoral dissertation had proved to be a hurdle he hadn’t anticipated on, and, to save face and keep his family name intact, he honorably withdrew his term at Hadleigh and transferred to a smaller college just outside the township in which the Christiansons summered and took sabbaticals.  It was here that he finished his doctorate, with no honors, true, but nonetheless no small feat, all things considered.  And it was also here that he met and began treating the Christianson family.

     This doctor, who in the classic medical condescending pedantry announced after a quick, high-spirited dance of words with his colleagues, that the “Lord had seen fit to conduct another play of cosmic humor by censuring Mr. Christianson with the very same blessing he had hereto let his health thrive.”  It was apparent after some small analysis and an even smaller collaboration with his peers (the latter to assure himself of his accuracy in diagnosis), that “the tissues involved in hormone production, which had for so long affected his lack of both necessity for high-calorie sustenance and emotional desire for food, had now begun to grow necrotic and unviable from the very same physiological mechanisms.  And, now that their irreversible decay was underway, Mr. Christianson would be forever in an animal state of constant hunger, paralleled with an even slower metabolism than he had had before – the final outcome of all this resulting in his corporal deterioration from the inside out and a rapacious appetence, the two affections for which, sadly, modern medicine would be largely useless against except as in a purely palliative role.” 

This cruel little speech was delivered in a pompous demeanor that had Dr. Spetic speaking with upturned corners of his mouth, looking down at Christoph, who was there sitting in his heirloom reading chair and feigning a look of indifference which aimed vaguely around the study at intervals to escape his doctor’s gaze.  And as the exposition of his condition continued, one could faintly notice his visage of disinterest jerking slightly every time the good doctor accentuated choice words of his oration with a stiff rap of his walking cane onto the painted flagstone floor under which he stood so statuesque, his shoulders square and feet wide apart.

    That uncomfortable conversation in which Christoph barely said but few words, only nodding his  head or gesticulating when the flow of the dialogue demanded etiquette or tact.  The immensity and consequence of the occasion all but muted him.

In the Course of Human Events


Image result for honor and men painting

When the time comes for honor to vanish and eloquence to fade; for men’s dusty glorious banners to tear away from their posts and blow uselessly around in the tepid air, then will the mortals have won with their unrelentless attacks on humanity’s foundation, and all will return to a morbid state of nature to rejoin the grey origins of the past.

But that time is not now, and the day of it’s reckoning has not yet been written.

It is curious to think that all that life has fought for in this inhospitable, opposed construct of chaotic forces and matter will be denied it’s full fruition from the very entity that exposed it to existence.  We have brought randomness into symphonies of complexity.  We built ourselves out of mere floating dust particles to achieve singularities so bright with meaning that they defied their own constituents that they were made from.

Wild hope and ambitions took their place to confront their seemingly impenetrable prisons until the walls were crushed with pure will.

Alas, it was this very will, this volition of life that will one day destroy itself.  With no more true enemies to confront, fear and hatred, coupled with our will has begun to fight itself.  We are warriors with no foes, and so, since we must vanquish and destroy, we will do so to ourselves.

I have bourne witness to these events in my perpetual solitude, my spirit unswayed and unlured by the false fantasies presented in the passing moments of eternity.  But now the old gods come to me and entreat me to allow myself to be their vessel, and I have agreed with much carelessness.  I drink of their essence, and do their bidding in exchange for nothing but the promise of more ineffable knowledge.

There is one goddess who wishes not to entreat me.  Her hair and eyes blaze with the sun’s unbridled light, and her lips speak nothing but wisdom and peace.  She takes her place among the mortals, tied to them with the karmic rope of compassion.  And in her kindness she has blinded her mortal body to the awareness of her true nature.  She is Freya, and she has warmed my stone of a heart so that I can now hear the calls of the innocents and respond with pity and empathy.  I am hers, entirely; I willingly bonded my soul with hers aeons ago.  To her I owe everything, and it is with her that I place my hope.  She is my refuge and my praeturnatural lover.

Humanities and the Hard Sciences


Humanities and the Hard Sciences

Humanities_Source_Ultimate_940X600_November_2016

The assumption I’ve always had about the humanities and the hard and natural sciences is that they are two disciplines attempting to outgrow one another – two branches of the tree of knowledge pushing out in opposite directions, both bearing fruit of different varieties.  The connections between the two are evident to the learned and unlearned alike, but this obviousness is illusory for both because what is obvious to the former is not congruent to what is obvious to the latter (However I am certain a line of tangency connects the two).  My own path deviates in a practical nature from the obvious into the ineffable state of contradictory monist interpretation.  The infighting of creativity and psychopathic intellectualism appears the same to me because I overthrow mutual exclusivity with what I will call here ‘awareness.’  Ego will be limited as a consequence, and truth reawakened through the opaque film of errant perception.  The ego that remains builds, for me, an attitude of indifference towards the humanities and a special attachment for the hard sciences.  One must cut their losses and accept the wrongs in this pluralistic world; one must accept the frailty of the human mind.  Nevertheless I will expound the reasons behind my individual closeness and affinity towards the hard sciences.

The humanities will not be studied in any rigorous effort, because I believe that by their very nature they require none.  All they require is the knowledge of their basic systematic order, and from this one can reiterate in different types their qualities.

To study Yates or Poe, or abstract expressionism as a discipline is a hindrance – one must use them to inspire oneself to complete what they have started, but there is no absolute quality or truth to them (in and of themselves) that would require a meticulous and thorough examination of them.  The hard sciences however, relinquish circular mental effort and retain the dignity, precision, and absoluteness of truth.  Their work requires a deep understanding of all the mechanisms involved because without it one cannot proceed further with the endeavors they inspire.  One must first learn arithmetic to grasp algebra before then understanding discrete mathematics and calculus and number theory.  One must read a few passages here and there from John Milton to create something sublime that may or may not build on Milton’s work directly.  The humanities are an ever-changing melting pot of creativity; one can start anywhere and add to it.  The hard sciences are a structure of bricks laid on top of one another, and one must know the places of the bricks to add another meaningful layer on top of them.

Winter’s Black Decay


As part of an attempt to ressurrect this blog for the sake of seeing something once loved verified and reanimated, I thought it appropriate to start with this poem, written around 2009.  I can’t give much in this prefatory note; I know very little about the circumstances of its creation.  Only that back then I was caught up in passions and violent emotions dipped in the flavor of young love, tempered slightly with aggression.  I was in a tumultuous relationship with my then wife, Nicole.  It may be therefore an expression of the angst from frustrated adoration.

It’s short in content; it may be entirely possible to read it straight through without having ascertained its meaning.  See for yourself.

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Winter’s Black Decay

 

 

In winter’s black decay

Rise sheltered roses that hide in day.

Their sensitive petals unfurl and spread

Giving off luminosity, bright and red.

And through the darkened skies above

Shine tender sunlit rays of love

That penetrate the thick cold air

And soak with warmth these frail flowers fair.

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Experiental Wisdom


During mediation, I experienced a fundamental truth about concentration;  I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring at a small point on the wall in front of me, willing myself to keep concentration on that spot without breaking attention.

At first the attributes of the speck on the wall I was gazing at became very important: about 4-5 of its basic attributes were trying to be kept simultaneously in my consciousness.  But I found that way of fixing my attention on the spot start to fade and be replaced effortless and easily into a quite different modality of concentration.  The 4-5 aspects of that spot (its color, shape, size, material) began to all merge somehow into a homogeneous mixture so that they were all still being consciously perceived, but no longer as distinct attributes – now as one meta-attribute.

When this change occurred, my mind was then free to examine other elements of my attention.  Although the spot was still a focal point of my efforts, the melding of its clear, defined properties into a uniform whole allowed other features of my scrutiny to reveal themselves.

Although the experience itself was subjective and its implications anecdotal, I believe the qualities it exhibited as more objective, inasmuch as they seemed ubiquitous in quiddity.  The other components that became apparent after the shift in comprehension of the speck were, among other things, the space that inhabited the distance between my eyes and the the wall, which was now prominent in my view, and exhibiting qualities of a circular cone in dimension, with the wide mouth open on my side and the point aligned directly with the original dot.  I also perceived lines of demarcation of the cone of vision, represented by different intensities of light that lined the edge of the cone.  Awareness of movement within and on the edge of the cone of vision was also present – myriad small squiggles that few across the lines haphazardly and frantically, small fractal patterns of light appearing and disappearing on different levels of space in the 3-dimensional space.  It was really quite beautiful and instilled a feeling of profundity in myself.

Cone of vision

Because this secondary quality of concentration materialized organically and meaningfully in spirit, and because I couldn’t not categorize this second reality of experience as a variety of concentration that was just as important in the concentration of a single spot, I decided to momentarily reset my awareness by looking away and allowing normal thoughts to arise, essentially stopping my meditative state in order to reinitialize it for another experimental run.

The second time I focused on a small spot on the wall (a different one entirely this time) I found the same sequence of experiential events occurred in relatively the same amount of time and natural development it had executed last attempt.  To me, this helped confirm my hypothesis that this shift in type and level of concentration was not only a normal, modal development, but also put weight to my hypothesis that the attributes of the conversion and of the resultant state of concentration were objective properties that emerged out of a subjective experience.  I am sadly unversed in knowledge of prior philosophical work on the mechanisms in play and processes that allow objectivity to exist significantly within personal subjectivity.  Objective truths can be proven or falsified – I believe the secondary shift of concentration can be proven to exist within this field of subjective experience produced by meditation through analysis of a population of subjects that purposely engage in focused examination of a single point and report any developments afterward, if anything.  That data can be gathered through a simple survey.

It’s important to note that there may be inessential deviations from my experience such as minor differences in content of the concomitant transformation in type of attention, the fundamental nature of both the shift and experience of perception will, I think, be proven empirical.

A bold statement, I know.  Many reading this may scoff at my Aristotelian approach toward attaining truth.  To them I acknowledge the lack of empirical energy and overreach into the metaphysical with no great persuasion for this technique of acquiring knowledge – only stating that I am resting on the powerful beauty and meaning of this experience.

 

The Congregation


monks

The men came to congregate tonight;
wearing faces of brave, rigid skin
that drew taught over their flacid jaw bones,
and furrowed, worried brows that crinkled heavily
and buried the gentle glowing eyes they had deep
underneath,
To the point where their vision
lacked seeing, and their tongues could not
speak with such strong burden.
Inside their fragile organs cried the
collective song of sorrow;
a song unbearably inaudible through
their tough exterior.
Nothing could be said, nothing could be
communicated.
And yet, they rushed together in tides
so harmonious and full of intent
that one looking on would be amazed at
their order and unity of work.
The moon hung in the sky above, swinging
a slow rhythm to their movements below.
They swept through plains of darkness and
shadow, their determination creating a palpable
wave of sadness, so that it seemed the very
atmosphere they breathed out was misty with
tears.
All through the endless night they tirelessly worked –
hands deftly weaving, building, creating,
suffering.
No rests were taken, no respite
was given, and no words were spoken.
Mortle and pistle was mixed with the
blood from their bodies, and stuck bricks
together, one on top of each other to form
an endlessly high wall that ran for miles
in every direction, surrounding them and sheltering
them a cove of black regress. Time and
movement fell away and no one
could any longer discern objects from
observers, good from bad, love from
hate, truth from falsehood.
And so the great city was fortified and rose
up from the dust where the men could live
without living, and recline into a pose of
non-duality.

Jade, belly dancer, thoughts on performance in front of an audience


Jade’s thoughts on performance issues when viewed by an audience.

JadeDancer.com

I have heard many different theories and many different preferences on where to look when performing.  When first learning to perform, I think it’s hard for most people to look at the audience.  Dealing with stage fright can be a process.  Most people have it at some point, and looking an audience member in the eye does not tend to help the nerves.  My first teacher taught me to look over the heads of the audience members if this was the case.  I know some dancers who have been dancing for years and still prefer this method.

Personally, I like to look at the audience.  I feel more of a connection.  However, I don’t tend to focus on one person for too long (unless their body language and facial expressions invite more interaction) because this can be too intense and make them feel uncomfortable.  Some audience members like to feel…

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