MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH CINEMA, FROM TEN SECONDS TO HELL, HURRICANES, AND THINGS TO COME, CINEMA PARADISO, AN EDUCATION, AND DISILLUSIONMENT

The Hidden Fortress

“For me, film making combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theater and music come together. But a film is still a film.”

Akira Kurosawa

 

My love of movies

I was probably six years of age when my parents took me to see my first movie ever, at the time movie theaters didn’t allow children less than seven years of age in to the theaters, at the 8:00PM show  mainly I guess at least in my days as a child they put us in bed just after diner no later than 9:00PM, or not to disturb the adults at the theater, besides most movies were foreign movies and had subtitles, if you were too young to read there was no point to take a child to the movies. The movie I remember was Ten seconds to Hell, a movie by Robert Aldrich  with Jack Palance, and Jeff Chandler, the movie was sort of a failure, and not memorable, except to me, since it was the first of thousands of movies I have watched through the years.

Ten Seconds To Hell

Fortunately I learnt to read at five, so I could read the subtitles, now there was no television in town, a thing hard to understand to people now days , but I got to remind you this was 1959, there was no satellites even if the first Russian Sputnik was launched in October 1957, first time ever than TV signal was transmitted from a satellite wasn’t until July 23, 1962, but since in my town we lacked a tower to capture the signal, in fact not until 1968 our town got a TV tower for the first time.

So as a child I missed watching TV, but in our small town we had been watching movies since 1897 two years just after the Lumiere brothers offered their first picture to the people of Paris, and in my childhood we possessed a whooping six movie theaters, or at least three of them running continually, since one did not have a roof and run at night only for obvious reasons, (but not a drive in) aptly named “Tropical” and two of them were out of action periodically, theaters would start selling tickets at 3:30PM, and punctually at 4:00PM the magic of turning off the lights and start rolling the first movie would begin, you could adjust your watch to it, possibly the only thing that would run on time in my town!

And we had at each theater three old movies on Monday, three different on Tuesday, and Wednesday, Three more on Thursday, and Friday to Sunday two new releases, if my math is correct we had at least from 33, to around 60 different pictures,  you could choose to watch at any given week, not counting matinees who were meant for children, and that I did,  watching on the mid sixties to the early early seventies, numerous films, being at the theater four, or five times a week! An evening without going to the theater was a bore, even on school days being out of school by five we could be at a theater to catch the second picture, and stay there if we wish to do so until the end of the last picture around  midnight.

Teatro Angela Peralta

Growing Up Nurtured by Movies

Now I used to joke if it wasn’t for the big old theaters at home showing us so many movies, and a respite to our daily boredom, in a town where the only two things a young person could do was go to the beach during the mornings, and to the movies during the evenings, pretty much there was nothing else to do but to read a book, or go to a bar to drink!

I believe the movies saved many of us young people of becoming early alcoholics, sad to say but on those days there where bars everywhere, I remember a particular corner with a bar in all it’s three points, and the fourth point, the local beer brewery! Movies was an innocent healthy escape you could say, not to talk a respite to the heat as well, since few people could afford air condition, and above all, truly an education on cinema, a window to the world seen on celluloid, in a time when communication with the outside world meant to be able to travel. Going to the movies on the other hand, was relatively cheap, around 35, 0r 40 cents depending on the theater.

And what a first class cinema education I got, the rich fare we were served, through our theaters we saw every movie made around the globe, not only by Hollywood, but French, Italian, British, Swedish, German, Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, and anybody who could make a movie, somehow slowly but surely the heavy canisters of the rolls of celluloid would reach our theaters, and were loaded into the big old projectors. In my opinion the golden age of cinema was reached on the late fifties, through most of the sixties, and had been a long slow decline since, to the point that long after I ceased to go to the theaters, in the early eighties, and renting them instead to watch at home, and finally cancelled my Netflix account quite a few years ago, now days I ever hardly watch a movie, and haven’t been to a theater in ages, by that I do not mean good movies are no longer made, they do, not just that often.

Old movie projector

Cinema Paradiso

I saw Cinema Paradiso on video, some years after it was released in 1988, already somewhat disenchanted with the mass production of movies on a totally corporate business like, industrial line of production, not that old movies were not done that way, but wised up by age, disillusioned, with the so named seventh art, maybe too much of a cynic. One of the reasons for the success of Cinema Paradiso, no doubt was that Toto’s story it’s for many of us who grew up in a small town, our own story, people like me who  left for good their small town, in  an age where people abandoned their small towns to go to the big cities to study, or try their luck in search of work, and a better life somewhere else, and the local movie theater was the window that provided the necessary inspiration to look for bigger horizons.

Toto & Alfredo in Cinema Paradiso

And we share the same story with some variants no doubt, but pretty much on the same lines, leaving a young High school sweetheart behind, family, and friends, to face life in the big city, with farther, and farther in between visits to home, and family, and when back, the heartbreak from seeing the abandoned remains of the old movie houses, where we spend our childhood, for so many hours dreaming…

Abandoned Old Teather.

My Story, A Matinee, and Things to Come

Only twelve years of age on September 26 1965, a Sunday my elder brother and myself did what we used to do every Sunday morning, and that was to go to the matinee that started a 10:00AM. every Sunday, it matter little to us what movies were playing, as long we had not see them yet, we used to go along with three or more friends, little did matter also that the day was sort looking like rain was coming, in those days without satellites to track the weather they relied on weather balloons that would send up every day sketchy weather information, our mother hesitated a little before letting us go, since it looked like a storm was about to hit  town, but we went anyway prevailing over our mother’s fears, we arrived to the old theater and there were two movies to watch, and that was all we cared, we took our seats in our favorite spot and saw the first movie without any incident worth talking, I can’t even recall what movie it was, but during the second movie an interesting old British prewar movie,  about half into it, we start noticing that the old theater roof  was having leaks of water here, and there, first slowly, but as the minutes went by, more and more water start leaking down on us, suddenly a ceiling panel with a loud noise ripped off the false ceiling, and a veritable waterfall equal to emptying a swimming pool on top of our heads come down the theater!

A Hurricane!

The movie being of interest to us took a second seat to the real show when every panel of the ceiling start being coming apart under the weight of the water accumulated, between the roof, and the false ceiling, we were exposed not only to get soaked wet, but in danger of a piece of ceiling hitting us, so we run for cover, not out of the theater as we should have done, but under the projection cabin, to protect us from the water, and the more dangerous debris from the roof, and just sat there to weather the storm and keep watching the movie, and the falling debris of the ceiling!

Theater Reforma after Hurricane

Incredible enough the movie kept playing and we didn’t abandon the protection under the cabin until every piece of the roof was gone, and the corrugated  sheets of asbestos were totally torn off by the storm, and flew away one by one, like if they were sheets of paper, still wonder where they landed, they probably did great damage!

Water kept pouring and we decided we had enough, mainly because we couldn’t see the movie anymore, there was no roof anymore, and the place look like if it was a drive inn with seats, even if the projector kept running and the light of the day, and the rain made it difficult for us to keep seeing the action on the movie, just as we started to leave the theater finally the power gave out, no doubt an electricity pole falling down somewhere, or many!

Every employee of the theater had abandoned the theater, including the projectionist, in fact we were the last to leave the now totally wrecked theater, my surprise had no end, when we descended  in to the lobby and saw the candy shop under water, and the popcorn floating around!

The theater was located in a low zone of the city, in terrain that very likely was a estuary, or a marsh, if not outright land gained from the ocean, that naturally flooded when a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Hazel hit the city.

Luckily the employees of the theater, who obviously knew better, had deserted us for quite some time, but didn’t even lock up the theater, or turn the projector off. With water to our chest and waddling through a current of water holding ourselves cautiously from the iron works of the house’s windows along our way we reached narrow Constitution street where water was running with the force of a river rapid, and had a first hand knowledge at that moment as to the why the sidewalks on that street where that high! We solved the problem by walking back in the opposite direction from where the water was coming, and forded the current so we could come out successfully at the opposite sidewalk, crossing the street at an angle, now reflect how lucky we were of not been swept away by the strong current!

From there we reached high ground on Plaza Revolucion, right at that corner in the picture below, although the plaza didn’t look as nice as in the picture!

Catedral & plaza Revolucion

There was no a tree left standing, every heavy Indian Laurel fig laying on the ground, but to us was an adventure just crossing the park through the the jungle of fallen branches, by that time the storm had subsided, and we reached home all excited by such great adventure, in our young lives, of course mother had another view of the event, herself a victim of an earlier Hurricane adventure, my poor mother was scared out of her wits, and blaming herself for letting us go to the matinee, posted to the window through the storm in hope to see us come safe home that day, and later more terrorized by our account of the destruction of the theater, and the general mayhem at the town caused by the storm.

Aftermath

Later next day my father who was out of town arrived home, and we drove on his car avoiding all sort of obstacles, like downed trees, and big water holes, and cautiously made our way along the coast seeing the devastation of many places and kept driving until we reached a point called  Sabalo, at the time way out of town, where the lonely figure of a local character, famous for his jolly occurrences, nicknamed Pacharo,  who had recently acted on a  minor role, a little above extra, working for scale on a non talking role, along  Yul Brynner and George Chakiris on a forgetful movie named Kings of the Sun, filmed on location on the outskirts of our town, Pacharo who owned a palapa restaurant by the beach, and faced the storm all by himself, very little remained of his destroyed place, but he was so happy to see us, being the first people to be able to reach his place since the day before the storm, he recognized us and yelled my father’s name running toward us as soon he saw us, as we got out of the car to talk to him, in character with his recent movie exploits he exclaimed: I withstood the storm all alone; Like Attila frente a Roma! (Sign of the Pagan) thing that provoke all the members of our family to laugh, and remember through the years Pacharo’s ordeal.

Aftermath of Hurricane Hazel

Palapa Wiped Up By Storm

 Pacharo with Yul Brynner and George Chakiris

Sign_of_the_Pagan

Not My First One

It was not even my first Hurricane, I had a first seat from a window at home, as a witness of great mayhem occasioned by a Hurricane in 1958 or 1959? When I was only five or six years of age and our house’s windows faced another park, and saw every huge Indian Laurel tree in the park being lifted in to the air pulled by the roots like a carrot, and crash with an uproar, like thunder sound, just fifty feet from our house, meanwhile I watched my father and an elder cousin who where trying to rescue my mother who had the bad idea just before the Hurricane hit, to go and fetch up a bag of coffee at the grocery store for breakfast that day, mother spent most of the hurricane a block from home holding in to the iron bars of a window until  my father and cousin could rescue her, and brought her back home safe, a home that no longer exist, and was located in front of the park on the upper right corner in relation to the park (middle) in the picture below.

Neither those Hurricanes were the last ones, been on six Hurricanes through my life, however non as exciting as the two first ones, for many years between our friends who participated on that faithful matinee in September, try to figure out what was the name of the movie we never finished, the main problem being because at that age we cared little to read the credits, all we wanted was for the credits to end soon, so we could start watching the movie, that and the fact we didn’t knew the original title in English, on those days the translators would change the original name and give it any name they saw fit, or they  pleased, as an example the Sound of Music was translated as La Novicia Rebelde! (The Rebel Novice)  go figure!

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H.G. Wells

Well, after almost fifty years later could figure it was Things to Come (also known in promotional material as H. G. Wells’ Things to Come) is a 1936 British black-and-white science fiction film from United Artists, produced by Alexander Korda, directed by William Cameron Menzies, and written by H. G. Wells. The film stars Raymond Massey, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke, Pearl Argyle, and Margaretta Scott.

Thanks to the Internet, and Youtube could solve the mystery,  we went to a matinee to watch Things to Come, and what it come was a Hurricane!

Ironically in my town, the oldest of all the theaters, was the only one to survive, and after it’s almost total destruction by another Hurricane in 1975 was beautifully restored and you can appreciate it on the third picture, now the place for all kinds of cultural events.

Things-to-Come-UK-poster

Wonderful Memories

I have wonderful memories of the great many movies I had watched through the years of my life, even if now days hardly watch a movie, tired of the direction movies in general have gone, some people mainly young ones, sometimes try to talk me into watching this movie, or that other one, rarely if I do, care too much about it, at least not as I did so many years ago, I guess I have changed,  lost that sense of wonderment you carry as a young person, and look at things, and life with different eyes, I will not go to specifics, too well known by many, and in fairness there is a few movies made that are good, and enjoyable no doubt, but I am no more the same small child who looked in wonderment from my seat, in the cool darkness, and silence of the old theaters, with devotion like in a temple, to the magical reflection on the screen that opened new worlds of discovery to my young eyes, and imagination.

Omar Sharif was a small dot riding out of a desert mirage to join Peter O'Toole

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CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE INFLUENCED BY CINEMA, AND OTHER FORMS OF MEDIA.

Annabelle Moore

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

The Silver Age of Literature

The world’s first hand-tinted motion picture was produced by Thomas Edison’s company, Edison Studios, in 1895, more than 115 years ago. The dancer, Annabelle Moore (1878-1961), was just a teenager when this film was released, and her dance caused both a sensation and a scandal.

Ironically the end of the Nineteen century and the beginning of the Twenty century, those were the heydays of Literature, with writers in Russia like  Tolstoy, Dostoevsky,  Chekhov, Turgenev, Andreyev, Bunin, Bulgakov In England Dickens, W Eliot, Bronte, Hardy, Kipling in America Poe, Whitman, Melville, Twain, in France Balzac, Baudelaire, Hugo, Dumas, Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant, Proust, in German Fontane, Rilke, Musil, Roth, Mann, Kafka, Hesse, in Hungary Kosztolányi, Poland  Sienkiewicz, Bruno Schultz, and Gombrowicz, in Italy Pirandello and Svevo, in Spain Perez Galdos, Leopoldo Alas, Palacio Valdes, Valle Inclan, Pio Baroja, Blasco Ibañez, in Portugal, Eça de Queirós, Ireland, Wilde, James Joyce, Norway, Ibsen, and Hamsun, Sweden, Strindberg, Lagerlöf, and Lagerkvist.

And this it’s not an exhaustive list, just a few well known names to a roster of great writers of many nations who wrote great many books in a sort of Silver age of writing after the Golden age of Shakespeare, and Cervantes.

Tolstoy-List-Main

Literature As Art, Or Entertainment?

Before starting throwing accusations to contemporary literature, in all fairness let’s say most people read as an utilitarian occupation, in order to learn something, like a subject at school, like math, History, Biology, etc. We will not talk about business since if you are not able to read basically it’s even hard to get a job!

Then some may read as entertainment like reading a thriller, or a detective story,  romance novel,  science fiction, etc. This it’s what we call genre novels, whose main objective it’s to fill our time to avoid boredom, now some may be pretty good, and engaging, some may even border on real Literature…As to when a piece of writing crosses the line and become an authentic piece of Literature, it’s hard to tell, since most people have different standards to qualify a work of art, sad to say but now days our standards are very low, we consume a lot of garbage, in food, music, movies, television, and mass media.

It doesn’t help that the prime motivator of writing a novel it’s to sell it, not to promote Literature, or good taste on people’s reading habits, so bottom line is that a novel in order to be successful is necessary to produce money to the writer who laboriously wasted uncounted hours writing it, and to the editors as well, who need to profit from the book, so the first requisite of a writer it’s not to produce a piece of art, but something that sells, and here comes the editor saying : Sorry your work it’s very good, but I will not be able to sell it, there is not a car chase, nobody gets kill, there is not even someone stealing something, or nothing really exciting ever happens, there is not even bad words, or sex! How do you expect for me to sell this?

An Editor at Work

Exhibit Number One, The Thriller

Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous sub genres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. The Merriam Webster dictionary: one that thrills; especially :  a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense.

Writer Vladimir Nabokov, in his lectures at Cornell University, said: “In an Anglo-Saxon thriller, the villain is generally punished, and the strong silent man generally wins the weak babbling girl, but there is no governmental law in Western countries to ban a story that does not comply with a fond tradition, so that we always hope that the wicked but romantic fellow will escape scot-free and the good but dull chap will be finally snubbed by the moody heroine.”

Thrillers may be defined by the primary mood that they elicit: suspenseful excitement. In short, if it “thrills”, it is a thriller. As the introduction to a major anthology explains:

Thrillers

 

Thrillers provide such a rich literary feast. There are all kinds. The legal thriller, spy thriller, action-adventure thriller, medical thriller, police thriller, romantic thriller, historical thriller, political thriller, religious thriller, high-tech thriller, military thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations constantly being invented. In fact, this openness to expansion is one of the genre’s most enduring characteristics. But what gives the variety of thrillers a common ground is the intensity of emotions they create, particularly those of apprehension and exhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness, all designed to generate that all-important thrill. By definition, if a thriller doesn’t thrill, it’s not doing its job.

Action movie

Common methods and themes in crime and action thrillers are mainly ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge, kidnappings. Common in mystery thrillers are investigations and the whodunit technique. Common elements in dramatic and psychological thrillers include plot twists, psychology, obsession and mind games. Common in horror thrillers are serial killers, stalking, deathtraps and horror-of-personality. Elements such as fringe theories, false accusations and paranoia are common in paranoid thrillers. Threats to entire countries, spies, espionage, conspiracies, assassins and electronic surveillance are common in spy thrillers.

Characters may include criminals, stalkers, assassins, innocent victims (often on the run), menaced women, psychotic individuals, spree killers, sociopaths, agents, terrorists, cops and escaped cons, private eyes, people involved in twisted relationships, world-weary men and women, psycho-fiends, and more. The themes frequently include terrorism, political conspiracy, pursuit, or romantic triangles leading to murder. Plots of thrillers involve characters which come into conflict with each other or with outside forces.

mission-impossible

The protagonist of these films is set against a problem. No matter what sub-genre a thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The protagonists are frequently ordinary citizens unaccustomed to danger, although commonly in crime and action thrillers, they may also be “hard men” accustomed to danger such as police officers and detectives. While protagonists of thrillers have traditionally been men, women lead characters are increasingly common.[ In psychological thrillers, the protagonists are reliant on their mental resources, whether it be by battling wits with the antagonist or by battling for equilibrium in the character’s own mind. The suspense often comes from two or more characters preying upon one another’s minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other’s mental state.

An atmosphere of menace and sudden violence, such as crime and murder, characterize thrillers. The tension usually arises when the character(s) is placed in a dangerous situation, or a trap from which escaping seems impossible. Life is threatened, usually because the principal character is unsuspectingly or unknowingly involved in a dangerous or potentially deadly situation.

Just when you thought it was safe to read a novel

Hitchcock’s films often placed an innocent victim (an average, responsible person) into a strange, life-threatening or terrorizing situation, in a case of mistaken identity or wrongful accusation.

Thrillers take place mostly in ordinary suburbs and cities, although sometimes they may take place wholly or partly in exotic settings such as foreign cities, deserts, polar regions, or the high seas. These usually tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary heroes are pitted against villains determined to destroy them, their country, or the stability of the free world. Often in a thriller movie, the protagonist is faced with what seem to be insurmountable problems in his mission, carried out against a ticking clock, the stakes are high and although resourceful, they face personal dilemmas along the way forcing them to make sacrifices for others.

Violent World Saviors

Yes unfortunately it’s true, if a novel doesn’t hit us with the brutal force of a koboko whiplash and wake us from our dense, saturated, and insensitive slumber we will not be able to read the book, our attention span, it’s getting shorter, and shorter does not tolerate anything less than a high doses of peak events, like an earthquake, or a tremendous explosion, the hijack of a terrorist, the threat of a nuclear explosion, police descending in mas like the invasion of an army, a terrific car chase where cars fly through the air like airplanes, and explode like bombs, why bother to keep reading? Regardless of the fact many of us never will be in the cross lines of a rifle sight held by a professional killer. A far fetch concocted piece of trash designed as junk food for our minds, the Doritos bag of chips to go along our Friday movie night watching of an exciting movie. This genre pretends to make us believe that what you see in the news as incidents of a highly unusual nature, that are one in a million, it may be happening to you at any moment, when your chances of being hit by lightening are higher, but not as high as wining the lotto!

In principle I am not oppose to consider this type of writing, as Literature if it’s very good, but just like twins conjoined are one in 200,000, and of those only about 5% survive, they are oddities, and the subject is not something it may happen to you, words that come to mind are epic, implausible, far fetched, contrived, Manichean, (good vs evil) it points out as writing for entertainment, Literature in my opinion it’s something we all can relate, and identify as happening to any of us, what makes it great, and different, is just the way is told.

Obi Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader

Exhibit Two, the whodunit

Detective fiction in the English-speaking world is considered to have begun in 1841 with the publication of Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” itself, featuring “the first fictional detective, the eccentric and brilliant C. Auguste Dupin”. Poe devised a “plot formula that’s been successful ever since, give or take a few shifting variables.” Poe followed with further Auguste Dupin tales: “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” in 1843 and “The Purloined Letter” in 1845.

Poe referred to his stories as “tales of ratiocination”. In stories such as these, the primary concern of the plot is ascertaining truth, and the usual means of obtaining the truth is a complex and mysterious process combining intuitive logic, astute observation, and perspicacious inference. “Early detective stories tended to follow an investigating protagonist from the first scene to the last, making the unraveling a practical rather than emotional matter.” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” is particularly interesting because it is a barely fictionalized account based on Poe’s theory of what happened to the real-life Mary Cecilia Rogers.

Edgar Allan Poe

The period of the 1920s and ’30s is generally referred to as the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. During this period, a number of very popular writers emerged, mostly British but with a notable subset of American and New Zealand writers. Female writers constituted a major portion of notable Golden Age writers, including Agatha Christie, the most famous of the Golden Age writers, and among the most famous authors of any genre, of all time. Four female writers of the Golden Age are considered the four original “Queens of Crime”: Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham. Apart from Ngaio Marsh (a New Zealander) they were British.

Various conventions of the detective genre were standardized during the Golden Age, and in 1929 some of them were codified by writer Ronald Knox in his ‘Decalogue’ of rules for detective fiction, among them to avoid supernatural elements, all of which were meant to guarantee that, in Knox’s words, a detective story “must have as its main interest the unraveling of a mystery; a mystery whose elements are clearly presented to the reader at an early stage in the proceedings, and whose nature is such as to arouse curiosity, a curiosity which is gratified at the end.” In Golden Age detective stories, an outsider, sometimes a salaried investigator or a police officer, but often a gifted amateur investigates a murder committed in a closed environment by one of a limited number of suspects.

The most widespread sub genre of the detective novel became the whodunit (or whodunit, short for “who done it?”), where great ingenuity may be exercised in narrating the events of the crime, usually a homicide, and of the subsequent investigation in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the criminal from the reader until the end of the book, when the method and culprit are revealed. According to scholars Carole Kismaric and Marvi Heiferman, “The golden age of detective fiction began with high-class amateur detectives sniffing out murderers lurking in rose gardens, down country lanes, and in picturesque villages. Many conventions of the detective-fiction genre evolved in this era, as numerous writers, from populist entertainers, to respected poets, tried their hands at mystery.

Private Eye

The murder, or the detective novel, a simple premise someone gets killed, no one seems to know who did it, so a policeman, or a private detective have to uncover the mystery surrounding it, and catch the perpetrator(s). A genre so common that many of the writers get a style that it’s easily recognizable by the readers, and even if this give us a pretty good idea how the novel will develop, and after reading two, or three novels by the same author we can figure pretty easy who did it, either you stop buying the author, or keep coming because you identify with the hero, or enjoy his witticism. The novels are done with a mass audience in mind who are not hard to please, and do not demand much of you as a reader, usually short, and very formulaic, successful authors know this, and do not bother to come with anything new, why bother if your books sell? So you keep making the same book over, and over, changing names, and situations a little, just enough to justify the different title. Of course depending on the author this genre can be very entertaining, regardless of it’s merits as Literature, and taken to the big screen very often.

Glued to the book

 

Exhibit Number Three, Science Fiction.

Science fiction (often shortened to sci-fi or scifi) is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas.”  It usually eschews the supernatural, and unlike the related genre of fantasy, historically science fiction stories were intended to have at least a faint grounding in science-based fact or theory at the time the story was created, but this connection has become tenuous or non-existent in much of science fiction.

Literature of ideas a most generous name given to this genre, if you ask me, but like in anything there is some good storytellers, far and few needless to say.

Science fiction is largely based on writing rationally about alternative possible worlds or futures. It is related to, but different from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated physical laws (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).

The settings of science fiction are often contrary to those of consensus reality, but most science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements. Science fiction elements include:

  • A time setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record.

  • A spatial setting or scenes in outer space (e.g. spaceflight), on other worlds, or on subterranean earth.

  • Characters that include aliens, mutants, androids, or humanoid robots and other types of characters arising from a future human evolution.

  • Futuristic or plausible technology such as ray guns, teleportation machines, and humanoid computers.

  • Scientific principles that are new or that contradict accepted physical laws, for example time travel, wormholes, or faster-than-light travel or communication.

  • New and different political or social systems, e.g. Utopian, dystopian, post-scarcity, or post-apocalyptic.

  • Paranormal abilities such as mind control, telepathy, telekinesis (e.g. “The Force” in Star Wars.)

  • Other universes or dimensions and travel between them.

Science Fiction Scenario

The annual Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy have been running uninterrupted (with the exception of a brief hiatus in 1954) since 1953. Voting is open to anyone prepared to stump up the money (currently $40) and the ceremony has been held all over the world. As such, the awards can lay serious claim to being one of the most venerable, democratic and international in existence, not to mention one of the most transparent

Outside the sci-fi community, however, the awards barely resonate. Leaving aside the (admittedly interesting) question of whether democratic voting will always select the best novel over that year’s populist Dan Brown equivalent, there’s the well-known snobbery around these genre books. Science fiction may be one of the defining literature of the last century, but it’s rare that its products get any kind of acceptance by the academy (and when they do, they’re then generally called something else).

I got little taste for this type of writing, born by the advent of our contemporary Science, and based on the infatuation  from  our Western obsession with Science, at the root a staunch materialism, from people with the idea Science it’s a panacea for Mankind, a delusional idea if there is one, who even ignore the second law of Thermodynamics: Entropy, yes the Universe had a beginning, and consequently would have an end,  therefore a material existence ends with death, there is no hope of extending life beyond it’s end, however rosy a picture you may have of a fictional future brought by Science and technology, there will not be eternal life, at least not on this material dimension, so go seek it elsewhere!

To be fair there is nothing wrong to read for entertainment purposes, neither a desire to be thrilled, and we have the freedom to choose and pick our own form of entertainment, even if we secretly may feel guilty of indulging our time in such pursuits, myself a clear example of it, for many years I read WWII History, and biographies, knowing that they didn’t add a thing, but to my knowledge of History, if that has any value at all, now days once in a while pick one of this books, read it and feel a little bit guilty afterwards, in fact reading any book that doesn’t make me feel I learnt something valuable, even if I enjoyed it make me feel that way!

As a fellow blogger just read recently describe himself:

“As my faithful readers must have surmised, I like to touch upon a variety of subjects. I was diagnosed “borderline dilettante” at an early age. Fortunately my Juvenile records are sealed. Fiction, non-fiction, gender, travel and the accompanying “yours truly’s” photographs.”

The cat is a dilettante in fur.

Other Genres

Genre is a label that characterizes elements a reader can expect in a work of literature. The major forms of literature can be written in various genres. Genre is a category characterized by similarities in style, or subject matter.

The classic major genres of literature are:

  • Fiction
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Horror
  • Non-fiction
  • Realistic fiction
  • Romance novel
  • Satire
  • Tragedy
  • Tragicomedy
  • Fantasy

My original intention was to talk about all of these, however for the sake of brevity we would end this post right here, and we may tackle the subject on further posts.

Imaginal Views

Posted in Cinema & Literature, Criticism, Cultural Attitudes, Imagination, Language, Literary Criticism, Literature, Novels, On Reading, On Writing, Science Fitction, Thrillers, Uncategorized, whodunit | Tagged , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

MY FRIEND BOB, CALENDARS, AND THE RELATIVITY OF SYSTEMS OF MEASURE

Mayan Astronomers at Caracol

“The first men to be created and formed were called the Sorcerer of Fatal Laughter, the Sorcerer of Night, Unkempt, and the Black Sorcerer … They were endowed with intelligence, they succeeded in knowing all that there is in the world. When they looked, instantly they saw all that is around them, and they contemplated in turn the arc of heaven and the round face of the earth … [Then the Creator said]: ‘They know all … what shall we do with them now? Let their sight reach only to that which is near; let them see only a little of the face of the earth!… Are they not by nature simple creatures of our making? Must they also be gods?”

 

Popol Vuh

The Devil’s Advocate

My friend Bob it’s a very nice guy, but a little on the stubborn side, when it come to arguing about anything, he rather choose an eccentric point of view than a logical one, he prefers to abandon common sense than to be subjected to established rules, or measures of any kind, as an example recently it took me half an afternoon to explain him, against his better understanding of why we have leap years, his argument was since a day has 24 hours and a year consist of 365 days why we have a need of leap days, and leap years?

When I pointed out a year has no relation to the rotation of the Earth around it’s axis,  24 hours a full rotation known as a day, but  to the Earth  orbit around the Sun 149.60 millions kilometers, 92.96 million miles, he couldn’t figure out why there was not a synchronicity relationship of exactly 365 days, but a leftover roughly a quarter of a day (256. 363 004 parts of a day), and therefore the need every four year to add a leap day to keep an accurate calendar system, I tried to explain him to the best of my ability that a calendar it’s just a conception of the measure of time for utilitarian purposes, and point to the fact even our months are not all of 30 days thanks to the 5 days over 360, a beautiful division of our 360 degrees of a circle, in twelve months of 30 days, but in reality an idealized way to divide a circle,  if we wouldn’t add a leap year in a century we would be roughly 25 days off time, and in a millennium that would add up to 250 days off the mark and that would throw off the seasons, our January first would be somewhere in early September.

Of course my friend Bob argued that if calendars were arbitrary and relative measures of time why we couldn’t just divide time as we pleased, as simple as cutting a cake in 365 equal parts!

Neither to say at this point of the conversation I had to point to the obvious need of an standard system of measure, in order to have consensus, that it may be relative to, but not arbitrary, just like going to his house the time it may take him in his car, has no relation as to how many times it’s wheels may spin, since that it’s determine, by the diameter of the wheels, x π (pi)=circumference or size of the wheel, in relation to the distance, regardless of the speed,  he could be driving 5 miles an hour, or 60, it will not matter, the number of spins from the wheels will be the same, independent of the time it make take him to get there.

Bob pensive (800x800)

Cuneiform Tablets

Measure it’s related to honesty, and justice, maybe you will be surprised to know how our writing it is related to this virtues, not surprising writing was not as we know it today. In Mesopotamia it started out as simple counting marks, alongside which sometimes a non-arbitrary well understood sign, in the form of a simple picture image, that was cut into wood, stone, pots but more often pressed onto clay tokens. In that way, recorded accounts of amounts of goods involved in a transaction could be made. This convention began when people developed agriculture and settled into permanent communities that were centered on increasingly large and organised trading marketplaces. These marketplaces traded sheep, grain, and bread loaves, each and every one of these items was recorded by clay tokens. These initially very small clay tokens were continually used all the way from the pre-historic Mesopotamia period, 9000 BC, to the start of the historic period around 3000 BC, when the use of writing for recording was widely adopted.

No doubt this was simply a practical reason to keep record of any transaction, and in this way to keep people of short memory honest!

Administrative Cuneiform tablet

Any measure it’s Relative to

We have come a long way since, and a preconception of time involve a complex set of variables for a celestial planet, or star in relation to other celestial objects, just like our planet Earth year it’s in relation to our Sun, by it’s orbit, so do the rest of our Solar system, as for example a year in Venus it’s 224.7 days long, but a day in the other hand takes a whooping 243 day of our Earth, imagine a day in Venus, is longer than a Venus year!

A year in Jupiter it’s the equivalent of 11.86 years on Earth. As for a day time it depends on where you are in Jupiter! Because Jupiter is not a solid body, its upper atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The rotation of Jupiter’s polar atmosphere is about 5 minutes longer than that of the equatorial atmosphere; three systems are used as frames of reference, particularly when graphing the motion of atmospheric features. System I applies from the latitudes 10° N to 10° S; its period is the planet’s shortest, at 9 hours 50 minutes 30.0 seconds. System II applies at all latitudes north and south of these; its period is 9h 55m 40.6s. System III was first defined by radio astronomers, and corresponds to the rotation of the planet’s magnetosphere; its period is Jupiter’s official rotation.

Cassini views Jupiter and Io

Human measure systems

As we saw every planet has it’s own particular conditions, and therefore ruled by different time standards in relation to one another, but this is not so different from our way to measure anything here on Earth.

We had so many calendars through History, by every civilization you can think of, that a whole post wouldn’t be big enough to enumerate, and do justice to the subject. There is Solar calendars, Lunar calendars, and Luni-solar.

A little known fact outside of France was the French republican calendar also commonly called the French Revolutionary Calendar (calendrier révolutionnaire français), was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. The revolutionary system was designed in part to remove all religious and royalist influences from the calendar, and was part of a larger attempt at decimalization in France (which also included decimal time of day, decimalization of currency, and metrication).

Each day in the Republican Calendar was divided into ten hours, each hour into 100 decimal minutes, and each decimal minute into 100 decimal seconds. Thus an hour was 144 conventional minutes (more than twice as long as a conventional hour), a minute was 86.4 conventional seconds (44% longer than a conventional minute), and a second was 0.864 conventional seconds (13.6% shorter than a conventional second)

There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The tenth day, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity. The five or six extra days needed to approximate the solar or tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year and called complementary days. This arrangement was an almost exact copy of the calendar used by the Ancient Egyptians, though in their case the beginning of the year was marked by summer solstice rather than autumn equinox.

A period of four years ending on a leap day was to be called a “Franciade”. The name “Olympique” was originally proposed but changed to Franciade to commemorate the fact that it had taken the revolution four years to establish a republican government in France.

The leap year was called Sextile, an allusion to the “bissextile” leap years of the Julian and Gregorian calendars, because it contained a sixth complementary day.

French Revolutionary pocket watch showing ten-day décade names and thirty-day month numbers from the Republican Calendar, but with duodecimal time

Weights and measures have taken a great variety of forms over the course of history, from simple informal expectations in barter transactions to elaborate state and supranational systems that integrate measures of many different kinds. Weights and measures from the oldest societies can often be inferred at least in part from archaeological specimens, often preserved in museums. The comparison of the dimensions of buildings with the descriptions of contemporary writers is another source of information. An interesting example of this is the comparison of the dimensions of the Greek Parthenon with the description given by Plutarch from which a fairly accurate idea of the size of the Attic foot is obtained. Because of the comparative volume of artifacts and documentation, we know much more about the state-sanctioned measures of large, advanced societies than we do about those of smaller societies or about the informal measures that often coexisted with official ones throughout history. In some cases, we have only plausible theories and we must sometimes select the interpretation to be given to the evidence.

Athena Pathenon

By studying the evidence given by all available sources, and by correlating the relevant facts, we obtain some idea of the origin and development of the units. We find that they have changed more or less gradually with the passing of time in a complex manner because of a great variety of modifying influences. It is possible to group official measurement systems for large societies into historical systems that are relatively stable over time, including: the Babylonian system, the Egyptian system, the Phileterian system of the Ptolemaic age, the Olympic system of Greece, the Roman system, the British system, and the metric system.

Scale-balance-iron-brass

Standard weights and measures have existed in the Indus Valley Civilization since the 5th millennium BCE. The centralized weight and measure system served the commercial interest of Indus merchants as smaller weight measures were used to measure luxury goods while larger weights were employed for buying bulkier items, such as food grains etc.Weights existed in multiples of a standard weight and in categories. Technical standardization enabled gauging devices to be effectively used in angular measurement and measurement for construction. Uniform units of length were used in the planning of towns such as Lothal, Surkotada, Kalibangan, Dolavira, Harappa, and Mohenjo-daro. The weights and measures of the Indus civilization also reached Persia and Central Asia, where they were further modified.

Every System Had A Utilitarian Purpose

My point is every measure system had a human origin base on a practical purpose, and could differ according to the specific needs of the task, and the cultural backgrounds of the people who invented the system, a relatively new invention The metric system is a called a decimal-based system because it is based on multiples of ten. Any measurement given in one metric unit(e.g., kilogram) can be converted to another metric unit (e.g., gram) simply by moving the decimal place. Adopted by most of the countries in the world even England the creators, except us here in the United States of America we keep company with Myanmar, and Liberia the other two countries where we cling to the more complicate British Imperial, or Exchequer System.

However no system it’s a God’s given system attuned to every need since as we see in the Heavens every planet, and Star holds different conditions particular, and specific to the given celestial body with their own calendar. Could we have a better calendar now days? Very likely, however changing a calendar just because it’s better it’s not practical just like the Republican French found out, people it’s used to what we have, changing things may bring a lot of unhappiness for the sake of accuracy, an expedience.

As a bit of anecdote the Toltec, Olmec, and the Maya build their calendar, according to their own Cosmological views with their own logic, that until recent were totally unknown to the rest of the world, some people argue the Julian it’s still a better calendar, but the fact remains the Maya adjusted their calendar five days every 52 years, meanwhile in the same period we adjust it 13 times!

Maya pyramid

Posted in Ancient Civilizations, Calendars, Cosmology, Cuneiform Tablets, Decimal System, French Revolutionary Calendar, History, Inspiration, Maya Calendar, My Friend Bob, Relativity, Science, Uncategorized, Weights & Measures | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

STATIONS VS STATES, THE CASE OF MOTHER TERESA AND HIS CRITICS

The Stages of The Statations

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her.

 

A Personal Anecdote

First let me say I was born a Catholic, perhaps a little of a misnomer, no one is born having a particular Religion, or Faith, our parents give us that as a  fact of life, few parents would choose a different Faith for their children like in the Gandhi movie where an individual full with repentance feelings after killing a Muslim, Gandhi recommends for him to raise the child of an orphan from Muslim background as his, but not in his own Faith but as a Muslim, as an act of atonement for his crime.

Nevertheless I was a sort of precocious child and from an early age I start to question my Faith, and figure it was my own teachers who provoked me in to question that Faith being them Italian Francis Xavier missioners priest, not that they want me to change my Faith, however they provided me with the base of a solid education, that I will be grateful for life, but of my own inquisitive mind, and not doubt a germ of a rebellious nature typical of youth,  combined with a curious disposition, and an skeptic character of mine. Let me just say that by the time I was twelve years of age, I no longer considered myself a Catholic, and even if at this time kind of smile at my early change of mind, and now understand the Faith of my parents far better than I did then, never return to the fold of the Catholic church, as a matter of fact do not think Spirituality as an Institution it’s the way for me, whatever Religion it may be.

 

Jesus, Capi, me, behind Peimbert, and the men in the suit background possibly Father

A picture of my eldest brother, and me on our first communion at six, or seven years of age with our Godfather, Father observing in the background the man with the black tie by the doorway.

Now the anecdote; a brother of a close friend of mine interviewed Mother Teresa for the radio, a few years before she died in 1997, and despite of him being a Catholic he still hold reservations about the church condemning birth control, and from all the questions he could choose to ask her, having a short chance to talk to her, he could only make one question to her, he picked that one, asking her  opinion about it.

Of course Mother Teresa a good Catholic she was,  cited 1968, Pope Paul VI  landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

My  brother’s friend, naive as he was in those matters try to argue with her about it saying: “But Mother what about all those children who are born out of wedlock and live in poverty, and many are just abandoned, and thrown in to the streets with no help of anybody, by the thousands?”

Mother Teresa looking him on the eye and holding his hand said: “Do you know a child abandoned?”

He answered: “Well no, but I know there is many!”

Mother Teresa still holding his hand said: “Then what business it’s for you to question the church stance on these matters?”

My friend’s brother stammered something about the injustice of it. Mother Teresa smiling said: “Do not worry my son, whenever you find an abandoned child, if you can’t take care of him, bring it to me, I will take care of him, and that will take the worry out of your head.”

Releasing his hand, and walking away she still turn around and said: “Bring as many as you can find, I will take care of all of them!”

Now my friend’s brother despite being a Catholic didn’t like the answer Mother Teresa  gave him, and  had a poor opinion of her, I sort of smiled and said to him:

“I didn’t knew much about Mother Teresa to have an opinion about her, but now you have left no doubt in my mind Mother Teresa is a saint!”

Mother Teresa holding a child

 

Mother Teresa Critics

According to a paper written by three Canadian academics, Serge Larivée, Geneviève Chénard, and Carole Sénéchal, Teresa’s clinics received millions of dollars in donations, yet their conditions drew criticism from people disturbed by the shortage of medical care, systematic diagnosis, and necessary nutrition, as well as the scarcity of analgesics for those in pain;[ they said that “Mother Teresa believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross”. Some have argued that the additional money could have had transformative effects on the health of the poor by creating advanced palliative care facilities in the city. Abortion rights groups criticized her stance on abortion, while anti-abortion advocates praised her support of fetal rights.

One of Teresa’s most outspoken critics was the English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens, who wrote the extended essay The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995) and wrote in a 2003 article, “This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hell fire and continence to the poor. [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” He also accused her of hypocrisy for opting to receive advanced treatment for her heart condition.

Hitchens thought he was the only witness (Chatterjee, another with views antagonistic to Teresa, was also called) called by the Vatican to give evidence against Teresa’s beatification and canonization process, because the Vatican had abolished the traditional “devil’s advocate” role which fulfilled a similar purpose. Hitchens said that “her intention was not to help people”, and that she lied to donors about the use of their contributions. “It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn’t working to alleviate poverty”, he said, “She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, ‘I’m not a social worker. I don’t do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.

Christopher Hitchens

The Dark Night of the Soul

Analysing her deeds and achievements, John Paul II asked: “Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others? She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart. Privately, Mother Teresa experienced doubts and struggles over her religious beliefs which lasted nearly 50 years until the end of her life, during which “she felt no presence of God whatsoever”, “neither in her heart or in the Eucharist” as put by her postulator, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk. Mother Teresa expressed grave doubts about God’s existence and pain over her lack of faith:

Where is my faith? Even deep down … there is nothing but emptiness and darkness … If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.

With reference to the above words, Kolodiejchuk (the official responsible for gathering the evidence for her sanctification) said he thought that some might misinterpret her meaning, but her faith that God was working through her remained undiminished, and that while she pined for the lost sentiment of closeness with God, she did not question his existence, and that she may have experienced something similar to what is believed of Jesus Christ when crucified who was heard to say “Eli Eli lama sabachthani?” which is translated to “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Kolodiejchuk drew comparisons to the 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, who coined the term the “Dark Night of the Soul”. Many other saints had similar experiences of spiritual dryness, or what Catholics believe to be spiritual tests (“passive purification”), such as Mother Teresa’s namesake, St. Therese of Lisieux, who called it a “night of nothingness.” The Rev. James Langford said these doubts were typical and would not be an impediment to canonization.

Teresa wrote many letters to her confessors and superiors over a 66-year period, most notably to Calcutta Archbishop Ferdinand Perier and a Jesuit priest, Celeste van Exem, who had been her spiritual adviser since the formation of the Missionaries of Charity. She had asked that her letters be destroyed, concerned that “people will think more of me—less of Jesus.” Despite this request, the correspondences have been compiled in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday) In one publicly released letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, she wrote, “Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,—Listen and do not hear—the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me—that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

tumblr_o36pbxJt1b1sqba70o1_1280

Stations and States

The various stages of self-awareness on the Sufi path are known as ‘Maqamat’, or the ‘stations’, which are attainable through continuous spiritual practices and sincere efforts. However, ‘haal’ or ‘state’ can only happen by the Grace of God.

Rumi has described these stages poetically as: ‘Maqam’ is the (King’s) being alone with the bride while ‘haal’ is like unveiling of the beauteous bride.

To elaborate these stages further:

‘MAQAM’ represents a spiritual station, where the seeker finds him after sincerely treading the spiritual path for a while. With gradual polishing of the mirror of the heart through meditative exercises, he keeps on becoming aware of the spiritual subtleties behind the physical realm. With each breakthrough, he finds a new level of awareness. In this process, his previous level of awareness serves as the ‘Maqam’ where he becomes stationed till he moves on. Maqamat or Stations can also be perceived as the ascending rungs of the spiritual ladder. With continuous spiritual practices, a seeker ascends on this ladder. While moving from station to station, he may be touched by the special Grace or HAAL from time to time.

Shrine of Sachal Sarmast

HAAL occurs spontaneously as a spiritual gift. While walking in the spiritual forest amidst pathways decorated with dancing trees and perfumed flowers, a soft cloud appears on the horizon, engulfs the seeker while quenching his spiritual thirst then moves on leaving him in a state of awe. In this state, a seeker neither expects what comes to him from the unseen world nor has the slightest idea about the nature of experience. He is simply taken over by an overwhelming compassionate power. It reflects a state, where a door opens out of nowhere and breeze from the garden of eternity surrounds the seeker and colours him with its perfume. A realm of ecstasy prevails due to unbearable display of beauty. This state of Hal comes and goes on its own. A seeker can never claim such a state due to its extraordinariness and his ordinariness. It always happens as a Grace.

Such stages are not some concrete milestones depicting progress on the Sufi path step by step rather reflects inner spiritual development. This is why; there exists no consensus among Sufi’s on the number and details of these stages.

Dhamal

 

Conclusion

I never cared much for the late English journalist, literary critic and antitheist Christopher Hitchens a controversial figure to say the least, after describing himself a socialist, a Marxist and anti totalitarian, made a turncoat move to the far right,  joining and supporting with his jingoistic tirades in the news media the second Bush invasion of Iraq, this actions left no sympathies in me for his opinions, as for his criticism of Mother Teresa, I question how much he was motivated by his personal atheistic beliefs, and personal complacency, as my friend’s brother, and many others, who having an opinion, on every  subject imaginable, and supposedly worrying about multiple things, still without moving a finger to do anything about it! On that respect any opinion you may express, in my view has little value whatsoever, and more when you do not know nothing about it, specially when you are far from being a saint, yourself!

Another close friend of mine a rabid atheist, in a very recent conversation, a few days ago, or I should said argument, he carried against some nice young Jewish Lubavitcher followers just because he can’t imagine any rational being to posses Faith, and belong to a Religion, who just happen to ask us if we were Jewish, immediately my friend engaged them on an argument about their Faith, for quite some time, one of the nice young men mentioned in his arguments that his father run a kitchen for the homeless in another country where he serves 70,000 meals a year to the poor, my friend after they left, dared even to question the reasons this person may have in doing this, fed up with his reasoning I said: “Stop it, as far as I am concern he feeds 69.999 people more a year, save my occasional guest, than I do, and probably more than you do as well, so you have no right to question his motives!

Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum:

‘To err is human, but to persist (in the mistake) is diabolical.

Mother Teresa was a human being, maybe she did a lot of mistakes like we all do, but she worked tirelessly most of her life helping the downtrodden, and that in my opinion, it is to have achieved a higher Spiritual Station, regardless if she never experienced bliss, or ecstasy like some saints do, the more merit to her since she only relied on Faith to sustain her, and to persist on her work despite her dark night of the soul.

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God Intoxication

I may write in a further post about Saints, Sadhus, Babas, Aghoris, and Holly men who become God intoxicated through meditation, singing, and dancing as Dervishes do, others they even smoke ganja, or drink herbal brews of a psychotropic nature, and acquire Ecstatic states, some briefly, others for  days, weeks, even months, some even years, but as we read above, bliss, ecstasy it’s a grace, or a gift if you wish, not really difficult to experience, the path to Godhead or Spiritual Realization comes  not in a single fashion, but in myriads of ways, some, or most I should add we do not know nothing about, so we can’t judge easy in matters of Spirit when we have no knowledge of it, but to reach a high Spiritual Station it’s what make a Saint great, not the states. In other words; Spiritually it’s not what you take, but what you give what it is important.

Naga Baba With Chilum Smoking Ganja

Posted in Criticism, Grace, Inspiration, Mother Teresa, Personal Story, Religion, Saints, Spiritual States, Spiritual Stations, Spirituality, The Dark Night Of The Soul, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 53 Comments

THE TWENTY CENTURY AN AGE OF FAILED DREAMS, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS, A BLEAK FUTURE

Dresden 1945

The twenty century has been marked by cynicism,

selfishness, greed, and the desire to please,

all without changing the status quo.

In the 21st we must resurrect solidarity and

compassion.

Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace 1986

 

A century of wars, and failed utopias

At the beginning of the Twenty century the world was involved in a class struggle over a hundred years old, since the French revolution, the American independence, the beginning of the end of colonization, and old Empires, monarchies become obsolete, and state nations like America surged here, and there, in other parts like in Russia the monarchy come to a bloody end, after the hecatomb of the First World War, basically a scramble for power between old, and outdated Empires, as the British, Austro Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires. And the start of America flexing it’s new power around the globe.

The Russian revolution saw the emergence of Socialism, and the utopia of communism, a reign of terror of unimaginable proportions, First World War was just a preamble to the unsolved problems of what yet was to come The Horrific World War II that culminated in the destruction of most of Europe, were not only soldiers fought and lost their lives, but also civilian population was involved and not spared, along with genocide, and not only of Jews, but of many other people like Chinese, Asians of many nations, Eastern Europeans, and even the Japanese bombed twice with atomic bombs, as for the need of it with Japan on the brink of collapse justifications are numerous, but of dubious necessity, or credibility.

A cold war soon after, and an armament race that exhausted Soviet Russia, but empowered brutal capitalism and an industry based on manufacturing weapons instead of looking for a better use of science in the benefit of society at large. Mini wars here, and there, all over the globe feeding the war industrialist, and solidifying Capitalism, and shoving it down the throats of undeveloped Nations all over the world.

A sad, and shameless History was the Twenty Century if you ask me, and so far on this new Century doesn’t look any better!

A Sad Twenty Century

The facts about the twenty century and our current condition

No, I do not live with the idea that past times were always better, but neither believe that our time it’s the best ever. It is hard to describe this without being accused of nostalgic idealization of the past, and biased interpretation of History. It’s hard to quantify the degree of deterioration to the quality of life, not only of the privileged, as well of those living in poverty, and disadvantaged, life that has been cheapened and debased, despite the so much vaunted progress, in every sphere of knowledge, and technology, social inequality still reigns unabashedly in most parts of the world, regardless of the relative comparisons between what they didn’t have in past centuries, to our days, since if they lacked many of the advances in technology, science, medicine, and the many trinkets we enjoy today, nevertheless, they enjoyed a more tranquil, and quieter life without the fast pace, and stress  imposed on us since the Advent of modernity,  slavery has been abolished in the Nineteen century, but another type of hopeless servitude still exist well and alive now days in many parts of the world.

The American dream

Few examples are necessary to prove my point, people with only a few   years of school made more money, and lived in bigger, and more comfortable surroundings, than most people in their present life today, many mothers as housewives  never needed to look for a job, they enjoyed a quieter life, and at more relaxed surroundings than most of us do, herded in crowded apartment buildings, and run down neighborhoods,  and neither commuted two hours just to get to work, never the worker was asked to do so much work for less money, as plutocrats now days take for granted you will work for less, not since the time of the industrial revolution the progress of labor have being so dismal. Some may argue the past generation they were smarter, or better than we are now days, being called by some, “The greatest Generation” a myth if I had heard of one, if anything they should be called “The Great War Generation” (That by the way wasn’t WWI but WWII) who just happened to benefit from the work brought by an Industrial war machinery, and from Roosevelt’s New deal together with the GI bill who granted free education for veterans, unlike now days were you have to pay dearly for an education, even to the point to be saddled with debt for the rest of your life! But we also witness that despite their great assets, they also  suffered substantial set backs on their later years, as  result of the new winds of change enveloping all of us in the new game of greater effort, more skills, and bigger sacrifices demanded from you, for less rewards, a common state of affairs we live now days, nevertheless they fared  way better than my generation, were we now endure this trend even from early age where you have to compete as a child through the years we need to spend in school where more is demanded from you, as a preparation for the work ordeal you got to face, and endure now days, for far less return, and without a job security as our fathers took for granted, but a shifty, insecure, and for precarious prospects, with the consequent deterioration, and diminishing in the quality of life for the majority. Like if by the mere fact of your existence you would not deserve, or grant you a fair chance, and decent conditions of living, but have to wrestle it away from other less lucky. My question to you is, what sort of benefit it’s to live under these so much vaunted conditions of  “Freedom and Democracy”? When you are not even a person but a consumer=a sheep to be fleeced! Just read an article were old medicine drugs, costing a dollar, and necessary for many people suffering decease, are revamped and sell in new patents for over $500 dollars! These type of abuse its an everyday occurrence so common as to be relegated to the back pages of the newspapers.

The-Rat-Race

 In Brief, an outmoded, and obsolete form of government.

We remain as spectators, and helpless victims of a political system that now days it’s as inefficient, and out of pace with our current needs, whose only  reason for it’s existence is to enrich the few, and as useless as Monarchy was at the beginning of the Twenty Century, it just doesn’t work and we need to shake it!

There is a chasm that keep on widening, fueled by rampant privatization, mass incarceration, the demolition of the welfare state, a consumer culture, the corruption by money of the democratic process, a failed judicial branch of government, police militarization, military solutions, instead of diplomacy, that favors interests rather than justice, global inequality,   the despoliation of resources of the poor countries, by the rich countries, the subjugation of the same nations by credits who benefit few, but saddle the countries with enormous unpayable debt, the spread of a capitalistic global octopus who cares little what may be the result of such despoliation, and governments that in fact are accomplices of such barbaric enterprises, but above all the corrosive lie that they keep spreading; that things can’t be different or be changed, propagated by a media apparatus of Orwellian proportions, whose labor it’s to control opinion, by a relentless barrage of misinformation, that keep people brainwashed in to believing any effort to confront them it’s futile, and useless, and to accept as normal what should be intolerable.

Progress now day

Posted in A World in Crisis, Capitalism, Consciousness, Corruption, Crisis, Critical Thinking, Cynicism, Democracy, Disillusion with Capitalism, Economy, History, Obsolete Government, Orwellian Media, Plutocracy, The Twenty Century, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

A MISGUIDED BUT COMMON IDEA ABOUT DEMOCRACY, THE FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME IN AMERICA, AND TO KNOW YOURSELF.

 

Dreams of finding Self (Rene Magritte homesickness)

“IN THE FUTURE EVERYBODY WILL

BE WORLD FAMOUS FOR  15 MINUTES. ”

ANDY WARHOL

 

THE NATIONAL DREAM

In the United States of America everybody is entitled to become famous, rich, successful, popular, even infamously, if its necessary, by doing whatever you dream, and aspire to become, regardless of your merits to do so, or at least have a chance to win the big one, playing the lottery, and daydream how you would expend your winnings, once you get the winning ticket.

Most people consider you a rare bird if you do not hold any such lofty aspirations, like becoming somebody worthy of praise by getting rich, or achieve your rightful place in history by succeeding on your not so secret dream of becoming an actor, tycoon, Rock musician, artist, or in whatever field of choice lays your ambition, to make a statement of success.

Once many years ago  by ill fortune, and self made mistakes, I had fallen in hard times, and this may be a subject for another story, anyway I took a low level job since I needed a job ASAP. One thing I had clear on my mind at the time was, that whatever it was needed from me, I would do in order to do a great job of a bad situation, taken one thing at a time, and try my best, despite the drudgery of the work, my attitude after a year was rewarded with a promotion by my good performance, however because my honesty when asked by the head of the personnel department what were my future plans for advancing with the new job position in the company, and manifested I had none, I was dismissed, the offer was cancel,  and sent me back to my old position!

My lack of ambition was judged as a clear sign that I was not good for the growth of the company, despite my excellent work performance at the same, and the reason why my immediate boss applied for my promotion,  ignoring the fact I was willing to do as much effort on my new assignment, regardless of not allowing myself to build sand castles on my imagination, and was perfectly capable of fulfilling such task properly. Soon after, another company offered me a better paid job, took the new position, and did as well, or better in that company as the last one, got numerous awards, being the first, or second employee of the month, gaining numerous prices, and incentives straight for two years, until the company moved elsewhere in the country, being one of the few 4, or 5 employees in over two hundred  employees to receive an offer to be paid for moving to the new location on the other side of the country, and it would represent a good career move for me, regardless I decided not to, since had no desire to start my life at a new place where  had no interest to relocate, judging I would do well at any future job I may be offered  in my city,  and there was no need for me to start in an unknown city, preferring familiarity, and old  friendships, over success, and a monetary reward of dubious satisfaction,  since happiness it’s such a subjective, and  relative thing.

City skyline

FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME

German art historian Benjamin H. D. Buchloh suggests that the core tenet of Warhol’s aesthetic, being “the systematic invalidation of the hierarchies of representational functions and techniques” of art, corresponds directly to the belief that the “hierarchy of subjects worthy to be represented will someday be abolished,” hence anybody, and therefore “everybody,” can be famous once that hierarchy dissipates, “in the future,” and by logical extension of that, “in the future, everybody will be famous,” and not merely those individuals worthy of fame.

On the other hand, wide proliferation of the adapted idiom “my fifteen minutes” and its entrance into common parlance have led to a slightly different application, having to do with both the ephemeral nature of fame in the information age and, more recently, the democratization of media outlets brought about by the advent of the internet. In this formulation, Warhol’s quote has been taken to mean: “At the present, because there are so many channels by which an individual might attain fame, albeit not enduring fame, virtually anyone can become famous for a brief period of time.”

There is a third and even more remote interpretation of the term, as used by an individual who has been legitimately famous or skirted celebrity for a brief period of time, that period of time being his or her “fifteen minutes.”

Andy Wharhol

 

DEMOCRACY VS MERITOCRACY

One of the breakthroughs of political history was the invention and implementation of democracy in the West.  Its virtue was that it could take absolute power away from despots, tyrants, autocrats, and monarchs and emperors parading under a Divine Right, and hand a lot of that power to the formerly oppressed citizens, thus evening up the odds.

In a world where ideas and information flow freely, where governments have to answer to other governments, and where free speech is a sign of a healthy civilization, democracy becomes especially important and valuable, and suggesting that it is not up to snuff is a tricky business.  Even in cases where corruption perverts a democratic system, it’s usually traced to a deviation from this ideal, not to the ideal itself.

Although meritocracy as a term is a relatively recently coined word (1958), the concept of a government based on standardized examinations originates from the works of Confucius, along with other Legalist and Confucian philosophers. The first meritocracy was implemented in the second century BC/BCE, by the Han Dynasty, which introduced the world’s first civil service exams evaluating the “merit” of officials. Meritocracy as a concept spread from China to British India during the seventeenth century, and then into continental Europe and the United States.

With the translation of Confucian texts during the Enlightenment, the concept of a meritocracy reached intellectuals in the West, who saw it as an alternative to the traditional ancient regime of Europe. In the United States, the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881 prompted the replacement of the American Spoils System with a meritocracy. In 1883, The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act was passed, stipulating government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit through competitive exams, rather than ties to politicians or political affiliation.

The most common form of meritocratic screening found today is the college degree. Higher education is an imperfect meritocratic screening system for various reasons, such as lack of uniform standards worldwide, lack of scope, not all occupations and processes are included, and lack of access, some talented people never have an opportunity to participate because of the expense, most especially in developing countries. Nonetheless, academic degrees serve some amount of meritocratic screening purpose in the absence of a more refined methodology. Education alone, however, does not constitute a complete system, as meritocracy must automatically confer power and authority, which a degree does not accomplish independently.

Zhou Dunyi Confucian scholar

MY VIEWS ON THE MATTER

I will not ramble on the merits of one system over the other, my  point it’s to make aware my fellow Americans that we should never confuse our much vaunted democracy as our natural right to success, and fame. Democracy it’s a form of government that allows us to be consider as equals, when it come to our rights as individuals, and we deserve to be respected individually, regardless of our humble rank as the garbage collector, or as the powerful first citizen, the president of the United States of America. Sure almost any citizen could be president according to our laws, but I remind you that in 240 years of our history, we had only 43 presidents a rather short number if becoming a president would be  God’s given right of every Harry, Dick and Tom in America.

Freedom for any individual to pursue a possibility doesn’t mean it’s a free pass for everybody to have a right to become exalted in rank in whatever you do, just because you have dreams of obtaining your fifteen minutes of fame without having to work hard for what you believe to deserve.

Dreaming it’s fine, dreaming too much and lacking the skills, or means to realize your dream it’s practically the definition of a fool. And who wants to be a fool?

06aba53f54b873b730b842f3fc97aa9c

Well judging by the numbers, it seem many of us fit the definition, I will not tire you with anecdotes of such foolery I am sure you have many anecdotes of your own, from relatives, friends, acquaintances at work, or elsewhere, maybe at one point in our life, ourselves played such role.

Yes we all deserve a chance, and yes we all should do our best to succeed, but before dreaming too high, we should do better by studying our shortcomings, and see a way to amend them, after all, success function more like a Meritocracy, than a Democracy despite both being not perfect. There is not a substitute for working hard at what you want, and sometimes that it’s not enough, other factors weight on the balance, so a philosophical attitude it’s necessary to deal with our lot in life, but please do not expect that after a life of mediocrity, and lack of effort to be rewarded with fame, and richness if you didn’t inherit a legacy from a rich family. If we examine our life and figure our handicaps, but are not willing to do anything, oh well, you can still buy your lotto ticket and dream like anybody else!

you-do-not-need-win-lottery-pursue-your-dreams

But my advice save the money of the ticket the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are roughly 1 in 259 million, not very good, rather look at the other side of the coin, and that is to realize, and discover who you truly  are, what its important is to be happy with yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with realizing that you are not ambitious, while this does not bother,  or disturb you, the important thing is to be happy in your heart with who you are, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be better, just the realization of knowing yourself it’s preferable than winning the lotto, in fact winning the lotto it may destroy your life. Meanwhile knowing yourself  will be your real winning.

For many years I thought there was something wrong with my character, since never cared to become rich doing this, or that, neither to achieve success, or pursuing concrete goals, actually I was pretty indifferent to acquire lots of money, and as long as I had enough to go by, was pretty happy with, until…

Well that, is another story to be told on a future post, let just me say, that after years discover that my lack of ambition, turned to be my biggest treasure, and what an asset this is! Precisely my lack of ambition freed me of the need to be the kind of person I was not, and it was not in my nature to be, and stop me from pursuing the wrong things, the kind of stuff that would have been detrimental to my soul.

Life it’s an irony, doesn’t it?

But a wise irony it is!

Carl Jung said: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials. Lin Yutang

Sitting quietly,

Doing nothing,

Spring comes,

And the grass grows by itself.

Zen proverb

Posted in Arete, Carl. G. Jung, Celebrity, Counsciousness, Critical Thinking, Cultural Attitudes, Democracy, Dreams, Fame, Illusions, Know Thyself, Meritocracy, Money, Personal Story, Self, Success, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

LOVE IS REAL, ILLUSIONS ARE NOT

Love Yourself

Love cannot be found in erudition and science, books and pages. Whatever is discussed by people, that is not the way of lovers. Whatever you have said or hear is the shell. The kernel of Love is a mystery that cannot be divulged.

Rumi

 

Why Romantic Love Seems Destined For Failure?

On our day an age we are no wiser that our forefathers were, in fact we seem to fall in to folly easier!

We spoke before about Romantic Love on April 2015 here we go back to it adding unsaid things about Love. For those of you who never read it maybe it will be useful to do it, since I prefer not to repeat saying the same things already treated on another post, but briefly I would say our notions of romantic love, and expectations for most of us in our predominant Western culture are totally out of whack with reality, feed by the media, movies, TV, romantic novels, and crass commercialism, hey it’s not a secret, Love sells! We celebrate it on every occasion, Valentines, super expensive weddings, jewelry, gift cards, flowers, chocolate, cakes, and any other present made in the name of love, from diners, movies, cars, houses, diamonds, serenades, dances, vacations, clothes, makeup, hairdos, you want to look good, and any conceivable expenditure made on the name of love too many to exhaust easily, weddings are also the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry rife with questionable traditions and irrational expenses.

expensive-wedding

Our youth of course it’s the primary target for buying the idealization of love so when they marry can’t be strangers to the idea of throwing the house through the window, and in fact most parents paid for these weddings which tell you how even if the parents are already divorced themselves, still marrying your daughter or son becomes a matter of prestige, to expend extravagantly on a wedding.

With all these high expectations for happiness out of romantic love no wonder the letdown of failing to fulfill that happiness is anything but brutal.

If you look at the history of weddings only the nobility would celebrate sumptuous weddings, kings and princes would celebrate weddings, the rest of the people would have if lucky a blessing by a priest of their religion, before going back to milk the cow, or cook the daily meal. My point if you notice, is that a lavish wedding celebration now days is trying to mimic a fairy tale dream of kings and princesses, living happy ever after. What sort of model is that for realistic expectations for your average couple struggling to make a living?

Royal-Wedding-Pictures

But being the juicy business it is do not expect a change of values, since it is business who fuel the romantic notions of what love should be, my only advice if you want to be a fool for love, is hold on to your wallet, and get rid of fairy tales expectations about love, it is not real!

Love to begin with it is not infatuation, I will not try to define love, there is many degrees of love, but it’s not illusion, to care dearly for a woman, or a man is fine, to expect things to be a fairy tale, well that is a whole different story.

Fairy tales we tell children, hopefully with a moral story to help them to implant good values on them, but for adults to enact these fantasies, at a great price no doubt, tell us the children in us is well and alive, nothing wrong with it you may think, but it will be unwise not to realize there lays an Archetype dream, and that to try to become that Archetype it is not a good idea, since we always be short in fulfilling dreams.

Fairy tale wedding

Archetypes are innate universal pre-conscious psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic themes of human life emerge. The archetypes are components of the collective unconscious and serve to organize, direct and inform human thought and behavior. Archetypes hold control of the human life cycle.

As we mature the archetypal plan unfolds through a programmed sequence which Jung called the stages of life. Each stage of life is mediated through a new set of archetypal imperatives which seek fulfillment in action. These may include being parented, initiation, courtship, marriage and preparation for death.

Hindsight is 20/20 we like to say, as we live the experience we learn from it, but of course it’s too late to change anything, at least for some if not everybody, old age brings maturity and set illusions to rest, and we can see the folly of our past actions, and too understand our dreams, and expectations were too big, and that romantic love was frail with all sorts of illusions that not correspond to our imperfect world of painful realities.

In India the Sanatana Dharma followers call this Maya; Illusion sometimes  translated as the world to be an illusion, it is more subtle than that, more like not seeing truthfully things as they are.

Maha Maya

“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD

WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL,

AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND”

“YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD

AND HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”

As a child remember in my Catechism classes the rule that only God you could adore, and worship, humans and other things you could love, but adoring them and worshiping them was tantamount to idolatry. I guess that was my first hint that you have to take romantic love with a grain of salt, and not to make idols with clay feet. Not that it made me any good later, but we will not get in to that, since either yourself went through it, or you will likely find out on your own!

Relationships they are never perfect, more likely something we have to cope with it, a noble enterprise if you wish, marriage is a such a quandary state of living, as a friend of mine liked to quote her mother: “Marriage is the art of reaching a committed agreement, where the force of habit triumphs over hate.”

Not very romantic, but pretty good advice to any sensible, but full of illusion person wishing to get marry. So do not go overboard with romantic illusions, be practical keep your feet on solid ground, realize marriage it’s not a joy ride, more like a tough endurance race, that you bear with, for love.

And no, this is not a final word about love, Love is inexhaustible doesn’t it? So there will be more of it on future posts.

Simple Wedding

Posted in Archetypes, Capitalism, Crisis of Values, Critical Thinking, Cultural Attitudes, Cynicism, Disillusion with Capitalism, Love, Love Illusions, Marriage, Maya, Romance, Uncategorized, Weddings | Tagged , , , , , , | 67 Comments

MASTERY, AND THE MEANING OF PRACTICE

Sensei's Dojo

If people knew how hard I worked to get my

Mastery it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

Michelangelo

Practice it is what is needed in order to achieve Mastery, and practice is work, the amount of time you work in your practice it will depend on the seriousness of your intention, and the will you exercise in to it, and that’s  practice.

My Aikido, and Zen teacher, will scratch his head when a student with false expectations would abandon the Dojo after a few lessons, realizing it will be impossible for them to acquire easily the skills necessary to be like the heroes of the many Martial Arts movies that at the time where big hits, but now days are a dime a dozen, and shaking his head my Sensei would say:

“Don’t they understand? It’s only a movie!”

Media it’s so powerful today that is easy to forget most things require a great effort to be achieved, at least those things that have any value, they require long time and much practice, be these working as a chef, fishing for crab in Alaska, become a great musician, or a great artist in the diverse fields of Arts, or simply following a Spiritual path.

The results of most enterprises will depend on the amount of time , effort, and work you put on any task at hand, period. To believe otherwise is to be fooling yourself, and setting yourself for disappointment

Excellence has a price, and you got to be willing to pay the price, otherwise you are wasting your time, another great anecdote from my Sensei come to mind.

Concerning a female friend of his who decided to study ceramic making with a great Sensei living in Japan, she announced to him she was leaving for Japan in order to become an apprentice with such Master.

A couple of years later he run in to her at a bank, my Sensei was very surprised to see her since he expected her to be in Japan at the time studying as he was told by her, after a brief conversations they went for coffee so she could explain to him why she was back, and here is what she told him.

ochawan_tea_ceremony_japan_mar_2015_2013

HER STORY

“I was very naive at the time, I loved the beautiful ceramics and thought I could learn this beautiful craft just going over there and learn it easy, but to begin with as you know my Sensei live in the mountains far from populated areas, one of the reasons is that in order to set the ceramic pieces in the kilns a lot of wood it is necessary for the fires to keep them going day, and night for up to a month of work.

As I arrived in the mountains realized how rural, and simply my Sensei lived, there was no electrical power, no modern conveniences, or appliances  of any kind, even the simplest tasks like cooking with firewood, or washing clothes by the creek in the cold waters of the mountain had to be done by hand, the same way with cleaning the wood floors, or mats, on your knees and with wet rags, also we had to care for a plot of land where we grew vegetables for use in our cooking, we cleaned, cooked, mended clothes, and all kind of chores necessary to run a household, plus taking instruction from Sensei about pottery making.

japan-rural-Takayama-home1

You go to bed after diner basically and it’s necessary to do it early because you got to get up very early every day of the year at 3:00 AM in order to go out and collect firewood, every one is required to bring a pack load of wood more or less the equivalent of your weight, and because you can’t just go and cut a tree you are only able to pick dead branches, and for that it’s necessary to walk for miles, up and down the steep mountains with hardly any tracks for you to walk bringing the wood from miles around, in the summer months it’s not an easy task, but in the winter months with the snow well…you can imagine how hard to find the wood in the snow, and darkness,  dig it out, and to carry such heavy weight through the snow back to the house. Not to talk about how cold it gets out there, your hands and feet are numb all the time, and with chilblains, it’s brutal. 

frozen forest Japan

 

During the summer the Master will put the completed ceramic pieces in the kilns and set the fires burning that required vigilance and attendance 24 x 7 for weeks to feed the fires and make sure the temperatures of the kilns will be correct, and everything would go according to Sensei’s orders, of course that mean we couldn’t go to sleep guarding the fires until the whole thing was done, this was an ongoing thing for a whole month!

Excuse to tell you we hardly slept at all for the period and we where totally exhausted by the end of it.

During that time I did a lot of thinking about my vocation to be a Master ceramist, specially when I found out it will take twenty years of my life to live along Sensei in the conditions described, with no life but the study under Sensei’s rules, but what about my own life, and being a young woman. what about finding a husband, making a family, visiting my own parents in America was troublesome, so with heartbreak, and sorrow come to the conclusion being a Master ceramist wasn’t mean  for me, and here I am…

Japanese kiln in the mountains

In a time when we are so removed from simple living by the use of technology we almost live in a virtual world, wherever you go you see people walking holding their new gadget that allow them to live in cyberspace for hours at a time. Our tastes are now dictated by media like movies, and TV, where actors portray fantasies that are confuse with reality by many. We choose to follow the example of fictitious characters portrait by actors in movies, in my city the joke says every waiter it’s an aspiring actor, rock musician, script writer, plastic artist or at  least a poet, but in fact I had run in to many other occupations who are in pursuit of the fame dream, or rag to riches dream, I use to meet casually at the place I work before the crash of 2008 with a lot of phone stock market brokers, now a not so popular occupation, who dreamed of making scripts, or movies, and at restaurants and cafes all kinds of people are in search of a person who may connect them to the right place in order to pedal their dream wares, there is an industry now who prey on these dreamers and help them put together a script, or a small movie, shot with aspiring actors looking themselves for their big chance, and all kind, of advice, and seminars in how to achieve your dreams. If you haven’t watch Zizek’s “The pervert guide to cinema” you should.

To have a vague fantasy of something you want to do, will no turn to be what in reality it is, confused by the romantic side, or the glamour of certain activities, like acting, or being a rock idol, have a way of confusing people’s minds in to believing something unreal to be real, deluding themselves in to making things work according to their fantasies.

When concerned with life as it is, as oppose as how you imagine things to be, things take a turn for the unexpected and we learn a lesson in humbleness after hardship, and enduring trials, and tribulations when you pursue anything of value. For those who go through such experiences there is something gained, even the knowledge that such thing wasn’t for you, or having grown up, character building, a great inner knowledge, and satisfaction of learning a precious thing about yourself.

And for those that endure to the end and Master whatever they choose to do, there is even a bigger reward of Spiritual worth.

Achieving Mastery

 

Posted in Cultural Attitudes, Direct Spiritual Experience, Dreams, Illusions, Infatuation, Inner Journey, Inspiration, Know Thyself, Mastery, Mysticism, Personal Story, Reality, Self, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

EARTH HISTORY, MOTHER AS AN ARCHETYPE, AND SPIRITUAL REALIZATION.

mother-earth

Great Mystery spoke to our heart

and told us that Earth Would be

the Mother of countless life forms.

Cherokee Nation oral tradition

The age of Earth is approximately one-third of the age of the universe. An immense amount of geological change has occurred in that time span, accompanied by biological change.

Earth formed around 4.54 billion years ago by accretion from the solar nebula.Volcanic out gassing probably created the primordial atmosphere and then the ocean; but the atmosphere contained almost no oxygen and so would have been toxic to most modern life including humans. Much of the Earth was molten because of frequent collisions with other bodies which led to extreme volcanism. A “giant impact” collision with a planet-sized body is thought to have been responsible for forming the Moon.

The water must have been supplied by meteorites from the outer asteroid belt and some large planetary embryos from beyond 2.5 AU. Comets may also have contributed. Though most comets are today in orbits farther away from the Sun than Neptune, computer simulations show they were originally far more common in the inner parts of the solar system.

As the Earth cooled, clouds formed. Rain created the oceans. Recent evidence suggests the oceans may have begun forming as early as 4.4 Ga. By the start of the Archean eon they already covered the Earth.

Earth_formation

Theories for the formation of the Moon must explain its late formation as well as the following facts. First, the Moon has a low density (3.3 times that of water, compared to 5.5 for the earth and a small metallic core. Second, there is virtually no water or other volatile on the moon. Third, the Earth and Moon have the same oxygen isotopic signature (relative abundance of the oxygen isotopes). Of the theories that have been proposed to account for these phenomena, only one is widely accepted: The giant impact hypothesis proposes that the Moon originated after a body the size of Mars (sometimes named Theia) struck the proto-Earth a glancing blow.

The collision released about 100 million times more energy than the more recent Chicxulub impact that is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. It was enough to vaporize some of the Earth’s outer layers and melt both bodies. A portion of the mantle material was ejected into orbit around the Earth. The giant impact hypothesis predicts that the Moon was depleted of metallic material, explaining its abnormal composition. The ejecta in orbit around the Earth could have condensed into a single body within a couple of weeks. Under the influence of its own gravity, the ejected material became a more spherical body: the Moon

Artist's collision for the formation of the MoonThis is of course a very brief synthetic version of the formation of the Earth, my intention its not a thorough scientific exposition of Earth history for those interested on Geological, and biological phenomena you can look elsewhere. My views concern more on looking at our Mother Earth in more than Historical scientific facts, and more towards her Archetype role model, and it’s Spiritual connection with ourselves, her children, since Earth it’s our Mother.

Native American

Native Americans say: One general truth that threads throughout the Native American spiritual beliefs is the belief of the Mother Earth spirituality.  The Native Americans felt that the earth is our mother, the sky our father, and all things were interconnected.  The many Creation myths of the Native American stress the mutuality and interdependence between people and other forms of life.  There is mutual respectfulness required when interacting with trees, birds, and plants and also natural forces such as the wind and the rain. Their creation stories empathize that Creation did not just happen a million years ago and end there, but that the Spirit that first infused the world is still with us now and can be experienced as “immanence”, the spirit which imbues all things.

There were 500 hundred plus nations scattered from “sea to shining sea” north to Alaska and south to Land’s End, on Tierra del Fuego (Patagonia) It is a mistake is to believe that all of the 500-600 tribes were alike in their beliefs.  Like most indigenous peoples, their ceremonies were tied to the land and their way of life.  Each tribe’s rituals were connected to the specific qualities of the land that they called “home”. Because of the particular history of these tribes, their way of life was severely curtailed by the coming of the European settlers, and many spiritual practices and rites have been lost forever.

Although most of Native American societies did not have a written language or holy book, some tribes were very advanced and had written history and very organized spiritual ceremonies and practices. Some tribes were totally destroyed and others moved thousands of miles from the ancestral home. It is only in the last 25 years has the importance of the Native American culture and spiritual beliefs became more popularly known.  By delving into the practices and beliefs and experiencing their essence for ourselves, we can be enriched by them and reach a better understanding of traditions that have been practiced for thousands of years.

Amazon forest native shamanMother as an Archetype

It always strike me as naive, and lack of an interior life by those who miss the connection between the Earth and the Mother archetype, not only when it come to recognize the correspondence between Earth as the mother of every living creature in it, but our own relation with our carnal mothers as a mystery to be solve by our own development as Spiritual beings.

The mother archetype is a particularly good example. All of our ancestors had mothers. We have evolved in an environment that included a mother or mother-substitute. We would never have survived without our connection with a nurturing-one during our times as helpless infants. It stands to reason that we are “built” in a way that reflects that evolutionary environment: We come into this world ready to want mother, to seek her, to recognize her, to deal with her.

So the mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognize a certain relationship, that of “mothering.” Jung says that this is rather abstract, and we are likely to project the archetype out into the world and onto a particular person, usually our own mothers. Even when an archetype doesn’t have a particular real person available, we tend to personify the archetype, that is, turn it into a mythological “story-book” character. This character symbolizes the archetype.

The mother archetype is symbolized by the primordial mother or “earth mother” of mythology, by Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean. According to Jung, someone whose own mother failed to satisfy the demands of the archetype may well be one that spends his or her life seeking comfort in the church, or in identification with “the motherland,” or in meditating upon the figure of Mary, or in a life at sea.

Earth Mother image from an alchemical text

Of course this examples are generalizations, it is to each individual to dive in to his own subjective self (soul) to discover how the Mother archetype affect him and what self discovery it’s necessary for the individual to make the connection that will bring resolution to his anima, and put him in harmony, not only within himself, but bring outward this realizations to make his actions on Earth in accordance with this inner self, and become positive steps for a better relationship not only with the environment, the treatment of women as second class citizens, and abuse, but a total understanding as Thelema quoting Aleister Crowley:

“As the Great Mother, represents MATTER, a word which is derived from the Latin word for Mother. She is the physical mother of each of us, the one who provided us with material flesh to clothe our naked spirits; She is the Archetypal Mother, the Great Yoni, the Womb of all that lives through the flowing of Blood; She is the Great Sea, the Divine Blood itself which cloaks the World and which courses through our veins; and She is Mother Earth, the Womb of All Life that we know.”

Carl Gustav Jung suggested that the archetypal mother was a part of the collective unconscious, a term I always like to substitute by subconscious) of all humans, and various Jungian students, e.g. Erich Neumann and Ernst Whitmont have argued that such mother imagery underpins many mythologies, and precedes the image of the paternal “father”, in such religious systems. Such speculations help explain the universality of such mother goddess imagery around the world.

All ancient civilizations had their Cosmogonies, what we call now creation Myths, and explanation of the birth of the Cosmos, or Earth, and the beginning of life, we will explore those in further posts.

Goddess Durga-Chandrima Dhar

Posted in Alchemy, Ancient Religions, Archetypes, Carl Gustav Jung, Cosmogony, Cosmology, Ecology, Environment, Gaia, Historical Evolution, Indigenous Cultures, Inspiration, Mother Earth, Mother Goddess, Myth, Pachamama, Spirituality And Environment, Uncategorized, Unconscious | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

ON ANGELS AND DEMONS, WHY ANGELS ARE FASHIONABLE AGAIN

Angel

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life

Genesis 3-24

 

WHY ANGELS?

Hardly explainable on an age of skepticism, and Science explanations for all kind of phenomena, Angels are now treated like a sort of New Age fad. They  are something we associate with beautiful Pre-Raphaelite and renaissance paintings, carved statues accompanying Gothic architecture and supernatural beings who intervene in our lives at times of trouble.

An angel is a primarily spiritual being found in various religions. In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism, angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God or Heaven and Earth, or as guardian spirits or a guiding influence. Other roles of angels include protecting and guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks. The term “angel” has also been diverse to various notions of spirits or figures found in many other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as “angelology”.

If we look for the origin of Angels we can track them down to Chaldean Zoroastrian beliefs and further back to Indian Devas.

Deva (Sanskrit: देव, Devá) means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi.

In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.

Devas along with Asuras, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.

Devas

JUDAISM

In Judaism an angel (Hebrew: מַלְאָךְmalakh, pluralmalakhim) is a messenger of God, an angelic envoy or an angel in general who appears throughout the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. Angels in Judaism are categorized in different hierarchies. The figure of “the angel of Yahveh” (Heb. מלאך יהוה) has been perceived by generations of exegetes and interpreters as theologically troublesome due to its obscure and perplexing identity. Yet, mal’akh Yahvehseems to conceal the answer in regards to the origins of the idea of angels as heavenly commissioners.

Jewish mysticism or Kabbalah describes the angels at length. Angels are described in Kabbalah literature as forces that send information, feelings, between mankind and the God of Israel. They are analogized to atoms, wavelengths or channels that help God in his creation, and it is therefore, reasoned that they should not be worshiped, prayed to, nor invoked. They are not physical in nature but spiritual beings, like spiritual atoms. Therefore, the Kabbalah reasons, when they appear in the Hebrew Bible their description is from the viewpoint of the person that received the vision or prophesy or occurrence, which will be anthropomorphic. However, they are not material beings but are likened to a single emotion, feeling, or material, controlled by God for his purpose of creation.

On returning home from services on Friday night, the eve of Shabbat, or at the dinner-table before dinner Friday night, it is customary in Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism to greet ones guardian angels (Angels of Service or Ministering Angels) with a traditional hymn beginning with:

Peace be unto you, Malachai HaSharet (Angels of Service)
Angels of the Most High
From the King of the kings of kings
The Holy One Blessed Be He

Before going to sleep, many Jews recite a traditional prayer naming four archangels, “To my right Michael and to my left Gabriel, in front of me Uriel and behind me Raphael, and over my head God’s Shekhinah [“the presence of God”].”

On the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, it is customary to call all the boys (in some synagogues, all the children) to the Torah reading and for the whole congregation to recite a verse from Jacob’s blessing to Ephraim and Manasheh (Manassas).

May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the children, and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them flourish like fish for multitude in the midst of the land (Genesis 48: 16)
Alexandre-Louis-Leloir-Jacob wrestling with the-angel
In Christianity mainly new converts belonging to pagan religions to begin with, had no qualms in accepting Angels, demons and whatever follows along with.

An Angel Appears to Mary

26 During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.

30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months.37 God can do anything!”

38 Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 Mary got up and went quickly to a town in the hills of Judea. 40 She came to Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the unborn baby inside her jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She cried out in a loud voice, “God has blessed you more than any other woman, and he has blessed the baby to which you will give birth. 43 Why has this good thing happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that what the Lord said to you would really happen.”

Mary Praises God

46 Then Mary said,

“My soul praises the Lord;
47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,
49 because the Powerful One has done great things for me.
    His name is holy.
50 God will show his mercy forever and ever
    to those who worship and serve him.
51 He has done mighty deeds by his power.
    He has scattered the people who are proud
    and think great things about themselves.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    and raised up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with nothing.
54 He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,
    remembering to show them mercy
55 as he promised to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his children forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

FRA ANGELICO Annunciation

In Islam Angels Arabic: ملائكةmalāʾikah; singular: ملاك or مَلَكْmalāk are heavenly beings mentioned many times in the Quran and hadith. Unlike humans or jinn, they have no free will and therefore can do only what God orders them to do. Believing in angels is one of the six Articles of Faith in Islam. Just as humans are made of clay, and jinn are made of smokeless fire, angels are made of light

In Islam, the functions that the angels perform vary, one of the most prominent of these functions is their function as messengers. The angel Jibreel (Gabriel) is the most important (prominent) messenger angel, as in Islam, he delivers the message of God (Allah) to the Islamic prophets. Angels cannot be seen as they are heavenly beings but that can take on different forms, including human.
Ibn Arabi discussing why Angels and Jinns can’t be seen said:
God hid them from our view, so we cannot see them except when He wants to unveil them to some of His servants and let them see them. Since they are from the world of insubstantiality and subtlety, they can take on the appearance they wish to adopt among the sensory forms. The original form attributed to them is that of spirit, or to be more precise, this was the first form they received when God created them. Later they took on diverse semblances in accordance with how God wishes them to be. If God were to unveil our ordinary sight so that we could see what form is given by the faculty of image-making which God entrusts with making representations in the imagination of those of us who use imagination, then you would come to see in time the human being (insān) in various forms quite unlike each other.
The Archangel Gabriel carries Mohammed on his shoulders over mountains where angels are shown among golden flames. In the Topkapi Palace Library, Istanbul.

Angelic hierarchy

The Jewish angelic hierarchy is established in theHebrew Bible, Talmud, Rabbinic literature, and traditional Jewish liturgy. They are categorized in different hierarchies proposed by various theologians. For example, Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah or Yad ha-Chazakah: Yesodei ha-Torah, counts ten ranks of angels.

The most influential Christian angelic hierarchy was that put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 4th or 5th century in his book De Coelesti Hierarchia (On the Celestial Hierarchy). During the Middle Ages, many schemes were proposed, some drawing on and expanding on Pseudo-Dionysius, others suggesting completely different classifications. According to medieval Christian theologians, the angels are organized into several orders, or “Angelic Choirs”.

Pseudo-Dionysius (On the Celestial Hierarchy) and Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica) drew on passages from the New Testament, specifically Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16, to develop a schema of three Hierarchies, Spheres or Triads of angels, with each Hierarchy containing three Orders or Choirs.

Michele Tosini The Archangels Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel

First Sphere

Seraphim

Cherubim

Thrones

Second Sphere

Dominions

Virtues

Powers

Third Sphere

Principalities

Archangels

Angels

There is no standard hierarchical organization in Islam that parallels the Christian division into different “choirs” or spheres, and the topic is not directly addressed in the Quran. However, it is clear that there is a set order or hierarchy that exists between angels, defined by the assigned jobs and various tasks to which angels are commanded by God. Some scholars suggest that Islamic angels can be grouped into fourteen categories, with some of the higher orders being considered archangels.

There is also an informal Zoroastrian angelic hierarchy, with specific angelic beings called yazatas having key positions in the day-name dedications on the Zoroastrian calendar.

Francesco Botticini The_Assumption of the Virgin

The Skeptical view
Two-thirds of all Americans believe not only that angels and demons exist, but also that they are “active in the world.” Skeptics are dumbfounded by such “archaic nonsense.”
To believe in nonphysical beings—souls or spirits without bodies or brains—in today’s world may seem, well, delusional. But there are serious scholars who take angels and demons seriously. Why?
Certainly, nonphysical beings would challenge the scientific worldview that only the physical is real. Certainly, angels and demons, in one form or another, populate most of the world’s religions. But do angels and demons really exist?
Dean Radin, a leading researcher in extrasensory perception, has special ideas about angels and demons. “I view them as a projection of the unconscious,” he says. “You don’t need to go too far into the ESP world to appreciate why people persist in believing in such things. There is some kind of inter subjective reality, a reality that we create between ourselves and others by sharing thoughts and feelings.”
This is more than personal psychology. “It’s a natural extension of the idea that you’re not locked inside your head,” Radin says. “The moment that you make the leap of faith that our intentions, to some degree, can affect the world around us and what other people think, then you might create a shared mental space which can appear as if it were an angel or demon. It will seem just as real as a hard table would seem real, but it’s different in type.”
Carl Jung asserted that we must embrace the inner darkness. The shadow must be faced to overcome it. It is our awareness of this inner demon’s existence that brings freedom from its control.

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

Cathedral_St_Michaels_Victory
Rilke’s Duino Elegies excerpts
Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic

Orders? And even if one were to suddenly

take me to its heart, I would vanish into its

stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but

the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,

and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains

to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.

And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry

of a darkened sobbing. Ah, who then can

we make use of? Not Angels: not men.

Finally they have no more need of us, the early-departed,

weaned gently from earthly things, as one outgrows

the mother’s mild breast. But we, needing

such great secrets, for whom sadness is often

the source of a blessed progress, could we exist without them?

Is it a meaningless story how once, in the grieving for Linos,

first music ventured to penetrate arid rigidity,

so that, in startled space, which an almost godlike youth

suddenly left forever, the emptiness first felt

the quivering that now enraptures us, and comforts, and helps.

Hieronymus Bosch Ascent of the Blessed

Posted in Ancient Religions, Angels, Archetypes, Dreams, Genies, Gospels, Hinduism, History, Ibn Arabi, Imagination, Inspiration, Jinns, Kabbalah, Literature, Mary, Miracles, Mundus Imaginalis, Mysticism, Mythology, Paradise, Religion, Revelation, Spirituality, Subconscious, Symbols, Uncategorized, Unconscious, Western Civilization | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments