Thursday, March 31, 2016

acrobat /ˈakrəˌbat/

Immediately upon my ascension to the top of the long long staircase a woman encounters me and asks for directions. Who does she think I am? Superman? My diaphragm does not support both climbing and talking on the same calendar day; much like the most talented singers and dancers cannot, as far as I know, do both simultaneously; singing and dancing, that is. There are certainly videos out there which suggest otherwise but I can’t help but assume there is some lip syncing going on.

Of course I had no way to explain any of this to her. I just stood there panting and shaking my head.

To me, all staircases look like this:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

acrid /ˈakrəd/

I used to think that if politicians came equipped with brains or balls they might be inclined to accept my suggestion with regards to tobacco regulation and simply raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco by one year every year, in effect banning them but grandfathering them in so that current addicts may be allowed to go on destroying themselves if that’s what they need to do – and I mean that with sympathy.

Of course now I’m not nearly so naïve and I realize it has nothing to do with the brains or balls they are missing but rather that the community of friends, family and business associates of which politicians are a lifetime member, include valuable friends family and business associates making kazillions of dollars in the tobacco industry, and loving every breathless second of it.

I wish they had accepted this grandfather regulation suggestion when I first made it 29 years ago when a dear friend, Captain Plonk in fact, declared that he wished tobacco would be outlawed because he figured that was the only way he could manage to quit. If so, the minimum age would now be 45!

Very happily though, Plonk managed to quit on his own.

Okay, I'm sorry...

... for that last post. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I hadn't written a word all day and if I went back to sleep then my writing sticker streak would end at day 54 and then I'd have to start all over again and I just couldn't let that happen so I had to get up and write something... and now I got sticker 55 and I can go back to sleep. Except I probably won't because I can't seem to pull myself out of night shift mode even though I've been off since Monday morning. Meanwhile I have appointments today at 8:10, 9:00, 11:30, 1:30 and 3:00... Am I speaking giberish? Is that how you spell giberish? Gibberish? I think I want a cola. People have been coming out of the woodwork lately and complimenting my blog material. I think this should remedy the situation. That's a stingray by the way. I think he's smiling.

Hi Koo!

I am

A haiku


Monday, March 28, 2016

acre /ˈākər/

The Jazz Lion and I hit it off spectacularly the first time we ever got together outside of the college where he was about to graduate from a fairly prestigious music program which he seemed not to have much regard for other than the networking it availed him, and his relationship with music professors.

He pitched his knives at me and then – sorry. He performed his kitchen knife sales pitch – for me and then out of seemingly nowhere we suddenly discovered our rare connection; how we both had been experiencing incredible joy of late; in total awe of the planet, of life and humanity. We were both at the same peak stage of an evolution. We shared parallel attitudes and understandings; his stemming from musical discipline, deep contemplation, psychedelic exposure and tremendous restless energy for new pursuits. Mine from the discipline of writing and truth-seeking, deep contemplation, poetic escape and total avoidance of anything requiring energy!

With his girlfriend, they acquired a ten-acre farm and plotted a music festival fundraising – slash – charitable food-harvesting enterprise and invited me to move in and participate. In hindsight I should have been braver. I should have taken part and strengthened the endeavor in whatever ways I could, but I took the safe inert route instead and declined. They did launch one event and then new interests slipped into their lives and they have since moved out and split up. I think she went looking for a mediocre reliable father type man instead of a potentially brilliant father, making the same tragic mistake which most of us constantly make: we regard liability over opportunity. As such, a world which desperately requires change does not change. And so we are all collectively slip-sliding away.

More and more I am realizing there are realities of energy flow which science has not yet explained but I think undoubtedly will so, gradually. I have dropped my guard and admitted to witnessing evidence of Reiki validity. The Healer has channeled insights through it, which I have validated. She has also released me from back pain just by waving her hands at me!

I have felt natural environments strengthen and revitalize me.

There was no material reason whatsoever for this one music student of many to ask this one security guard of many, “Hey, you want to get together some time? Maybe I could practice my knife selling pitch!”

“Yeah. Sure! But I don’t buy knives. Not ever. No chance.”

“Perfect! Let’s do it!”

No reason. Yet we were unerringly drawn together. Energy... Crazy, I know.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

acquisitive /əˈkwizədiv/

They tell me about a TV show called Hoarders and I have to laugh. It seems to me that we are all hoarders; all addicted to acquiring material evidence of our success while there appears little regard for true success. For that is difficult to judge.

It is a chore to drown out the dark accuser at the apron of consciousness. We embrace such distractions to drown him out. We hide in the noise. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

If you don't hate me already, read this and you will

I don't have a cell phone. I did for a while, lost it, immediately became a happier person and plan to hopefully never have one again. Hopefully!

Mind you, I also had planned not to still drive a car by this point in time and voila... still driving!

I don't think I know a single other person without a cellphone. I honestly can't think of one. And I firmly believe that every single one of you is making a horrendous mistake. What follows is not necessarily linear or an official position or accusation or judgement. It is not precisely essay but rather an honest interpretation. It is one point of view; an exploration of my feelings:

When I see a cell phone I see a device which is using more energy and contributing more to global warming than a refrigerator does. That's right. And how can that be? Because refrigerators don't require the colossal infrastructure that is constantly being manufactured, operated and maintained to support your networks, constantly drawing down the capacity of the biosphere to support oxygen-related life on this planet. That capacity is shrinking every single moment. We are constantly reducing the amount, and crucial diversity, of life on this planet.

When I see a cell phone I see an impossibly miniaturized machine which can only be created by using various rare minerals which this planet contains only in tiny doses and which are extracted in violent desperate wasteful manner, destroying rain forests, exploiting simpler wiser communities of people who wouldn't want a cell phone if you offered it for free, and raising corporate-political corruption resulting in violence and death of innocent lives.

When I see a cellphone I see someone who is ignoring me and stifling a conversation which is now not going to penetrate as deeply into any kind of truth, at least at this point, because that kind of incredibly valuable and tragically rare penetration through the illusions of our lives is not possible without focused sustained thinking or focused sustained conversation.

When I see a cellphone I see someone who is obsessing over the trivialities of life instead of learning the only way we truly learn which is through experience and quiet contemplation of our experience. That doesn't happen in a phone.

When I see a cellphone I see someone obsessed with their reputation and their fears; desperately needing to know immediately who is approving of them and who is not and what people are saying about them and whether their posturing and positioning is holding up and what the latest gossip and information is because they need to be on the leading edge and god forbid, they can't miss out, because they need to be popular and in-the-know!

When I see a cellphone I see someone travelling horizontally through life and not vertically. I see someone connected to others in a shallow non-dimensional context while being entirely disconnected from humanity at the core spiritual level; absorbed in the electrical energy of ones and zeroes and severed from the natural energy of the Earth and its living things.

When I see a cellphone I see someone immersed in the clever realm of intelligence, and not the realm of wisdom. I see someone making life into a kind of video game, choosing limited options, choosing between flawed soundbites of other people's configuring. I see a society so fully plugged in that solitude is finally dead, along with any hope for wisdom; the gradual understanding of the realities behind life's illusions.

When I see a cellphone I am reminded that studies are revealing that industrialized citizens, as individuals, are literally the dumbest people on Earth; losing the ability to think for themselves or to interpret the realities of the natural world which we are intent on destroying anyway.

When I see a cellphone I see someone who has signed off on their unread terms and conditions of their mobile company and apps providers and social web sites; companies who have large full-time staffs devoted to selling your logistical patterns, contact history and yes, actual content to third parties, most significantly to your own government (yes, even in Canada) who is spying on you and using your own tax dollars to do it, and who is in essence swiftly solidifying permanent dictatorial privilege by amassing the means to potentially crush the formation of new challenging parties and to potentially crush the formation of legitimate social protest, the only democratic freedom that matters. This is horrifically astounding, I know, and also beyond debate. The evidence is solid. Even schoolchildren have been arrested and detained for misconstrued twitter and facebook jokes in the USA and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Read your terms and conditions if you don't believe me. They all have a privacy policy which gradually reveals you don't actually have any whatsoever, if you can get past all the imprecise language designed to lull you into perceived innocuousness. Cellphones and internet have become the "screens" of 1984. George Orwell, Gawd bless you. You warned us and we're totally blowing it.

When I see a cellphone I see a societal robot; an obedient product-sponge confirming that the human creature is still hard-wired for slavery and slave-mastering.

When I hear cellphone noises I am distracted from thoughts or conversation which may or may not have been developing toward the next valuable revelation. I will never know. Or I am distracted from valuable connections with the people I love, waiting to see if they have to suddenly give their attention to someone else or not; well aware that they have chosen to leave their phone turned on in my presence because they might hear from someone more important to them than me; or something might come up that is more valuable to them than my time is. This is not an ego thing; just awareness. I'll very happily confess to you when ego things happen!

When I see a cellphone I see someone jumping at their beeps, their dopamine surging, or dipping into a little game while conversation lulls, either way adding another layer of multi-tasking to their daily habits, and who does not understand that when your trifling conscious mind switches attention from one thing to the next and the next and back again, you think that you are concentrating on them one thing at a time but in fact you are not. Your actual brain continues working on all of them simultaneously, long after your surface-attention has shifted, and our brains have not actually evolved yet to handle that properly. You are stressing your brain and it is not performing well for you. You are generating less intelligence and teaching your brain to think less deeply.

When I see a cellphone being used by a young person - up to their early twenties, I am very deeply sorrowful. I know that these multi-tasking problems do far more harm in young people whose brains are still going through the insulation process. I know that the multi-tasking volatility immediately affects the ongoing pruning process which is always attempting to specialize a young brain, and confuses its strategy, causing drastic increases in the severing of neural pathways which never grow back. Multitasking, including typical aggressive cellphone usage, and drugs, as far as I know, are equally harmful in stunting the young brain's potential for growth, sentencing adolescents to a slower-thinking adulthood and a shallower more dependent life than they otherwise might have had. And every parent is eagerly dishing out cellphones to their kids. To me it is a heartbreaking tragedy.

When I see a cell phone I see a device which has swarmed and infected a civilization for a short time and will shortly disappear, leaving a wake of destruction, because planet Earth can simply not support this industry for the entire population of the planet nor can it support our first-world cellphone habit for very long. There are not enough resources available (barring extraterrestrial mining and industry).

When I see a cell phone I am reminded that for the entire human population to have evolved in the manner North America has, granted every privilege up to, and as, vain as cellphones, we would already have had to destroy three planet Earths by now and be well on the way to depleting the fourth planet Earth. That's how fucking special we are! Are you feeling special yet? We only have one by the way. One Earth. In case you didn't know.

When I see a cell phone I see someone who might not be interested in understanding the consequences of what they do, or else someone who might be consumed with self-importance, who has never truly grown up, and still believes the instinctive force inside which assures that you are more important than anyone else and you deserve to have whatever nifty convenience, trifling entertainment or insecurity crutch you want, even if others can't have it, even if it hurts others. What noble selfless work are you trying to achieve in your life that the price we pay for your conveniences is worth it? I have to ask myself that question with regard to things other than cellphones and I certainly don't always like the answer!

When I see someone lose their cellphone, I see the worst panic attacks I have ever witnessed; positively frightening. I presume that horror movie climaxes are created by stealing the actors' cellphones and filming their reactions.

When I see the poorest people I know receive their monthly solitary income from the government, I see them spend the largest share on their phone. And that looks to me like perfect insanity.

When I see a cell phone I see someone who is afraid to be alone; afraid to be left behind. And as with all societal fears, they are products of illusion.

When I see a cell phone I see the saddest side of you.

Poets have told us for more than a thousand years that solitude and reflection are the core of life, our most valuable assets, and our disregard for them is what has sentenced us to existences of illusion and of slow dying, rather than living. In the last eight or so years I have experienced this dual landscape with great awareness. It is unerringly true.

Every time I see a cellphone I see the last nail in the coffin of humanity. I see the evaporation of hope.

Sorry if you're insulted.

Now grow up and stop buying the wicked things. Life happens around you, not in the wires, and you are missing out.


You're probably thinking: "New Day, you miserable bloody hypocrite! I'm going to track you down and strangle your pompous ass for being so *@!%&* self-righteous!"

Well, sure I'm a hypocrite! I have never once claimed I'm not. And I have no doubt I could isolate hypocrisy in every human on Earth if I tried. I eat innocent cows. I drive a car. I operate a laptop computer. I take hot showers. I sign my terms and conditions on fucking Google. Yes. I contribute to harmful things too. I totally confess. I do them because I can't figure out how to accomplish the good things I want to accomplish without certain tools or because I haven't developed the strength to let go of some of these things yet, or because I feel trapped in a society of rigid structures where it's near impossible to avoid these things or to access alternatives. I hope I can become stronger and become better and more benign. It's a struggle.

Understand me please. We're all in this together, however we deal with the extraordinary privileges we have claimed in this society, which are not, and have not been available to 99.9% of the humans in history, and how we justify it or how we suppress the dark realities behind it, or else remain blissfully ignorant as the case may be. It so happens I have drawn a line somewhere and it happens to be the cellphone, and thus the cellphone is a constant reminder of the problem at large for which I am also to blame. That is all.

Still, cell phones are something I know I can do without and I'm confident that you could too. However, if you now want to run out and buy a new cellphone just to spite me, please choose wisely and consider your poor giblets:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dragging a few scraps of democracy out of our precious oligarchy

ATTENTION READERS! You are cordially invited to skip the following cynical rant and proceed from the juncture marked by the big yellow smiley face. In fact we recommend it!
Sincerely, the editor

I like to think we’re moving more and more toward a mainstream realization that Canadian (and Western in general) democracy does not really exist; that the wealthy lawyers who come from the elite, insidiously rich community who have a stranglehold on parliament and costume themselves as red and/or blue are all in essence happy and well-cared-for as long as their red-blue alliance maintains the collective power they have carved out for themselves, regardless which side of the house they park their asses at for any given term, as they maintain their personally profitable and necessary relationships with their rich corporate friends and family while putting on a super-exciting and super ineffectual political theatre show for the swarms of apathetic who either fall in line every four years or else stay home and do nothing every four years, and have every motivation to appear responsive to the public but with no real motivation to let any of the doomed foundations of our industrial matrix; a.k.a “society” be altered a single blessed iota. 

Personally I’m sure that they will cling to their wretched existence, salivating over their money, looking shallow and plastic and phony on TV and speaking in their carefully rehearsed lie-detector-proof voices while internally every pale wrinkle as ugly as Gollum fondling his precious ring, for just as long as these last twisted shreds of threadbare capitalism can wring the last frail life and profit out of the dying environment and the enslaved third world of mankind who we occasionally pretend to give a shit about while we continue to support the structures which exploit them because secretly, internally, we’re either glad as hell that it’s them at the bottom of the new-and-improved pyramid when it should have been us by now (ah, precious reprieve!)

So there. Aren’t you glad you dropped by today?

So that's a quick summary of the bad news. Now for a scrap of good news which I shall deliver to the empty room, now that you’ve all fled for the exits, and along with a promise to dig up some further good news coming soon! ‘Kay?

So while the real issues of the day which the red-and-blues bury under the contrived issues of the day, may be impervious to the ballot box, they are not impervious to grassroots activism. When hordes of disenchanted "electorates" gather to make their point and draw news cameras, the things brushed under the carpet tend to get dragged out into the light, dust bunnies and all.

Now I know very well that you are too busy earning a living so you can send your daughters to university (and rape-prevention classes first, I pray) to go out and join in marches, but there is another way and it’s real quick and simple!

Online petitioning has become very legitimate since the early days of email chain-letter nonsense and also very effective in forcing politicians to grow up for a bit and make a couple adult decisions. For the time being the rosy sexy relationship between government and media allows for this and miraculously the relatively free internet accommodates it. God knows how long either of these privileges will last. Make no mistake, the American government is sinking billions of dollars spying and studying the content and flow of most digital communication on a global scale. I have no doubt at all I’m on a third-tier watch-list somewhere along with a couple million others. Big deal. It’s just a vast collection of ones and zeroes. No one is coming to kick my door down unless I get promoted a couple times. But the thinking people of the world need to take advantage of this opening while it lasts!

Anyhoo…. Here’s the point: We do have the opportunity to participate in real democracy and it’s very liberating to do so. Avaaz,, ipetitions,, Mercy for Animals… these are some of the effective and responsible organizations with which you can launch or support petitions. It takes nothing to get involved and make a real difference at local and/or global scales!

For a while my participation in online petitioning was moderated by my stringent standards for integrity. I felt I had to do significant research on a subject before choosing to support a view and therefore I had to pass on a lot of movements which sounded good but which I lacked the time to properly research.

But here’s what I came to realize. You don’t actually need to do as much work as I once took for granted. What is more important is, after absorbing whatever material (usually brief) which the petition author provides or links to, you often need only carefully absorb the wording of whatever brief statement you are signing to. As long as that statement – and the target audience of the statement – is logical and sensible, by your accounting, then there is little potential harm in signing it, should the author happen to be askew in his position. Because if there were anything false in the statement, the onus is on the receiver, a politician in many cases, to interpret the flaw and the petition’s unsuitability and to disregard it. In other words, in many cases, you are supporting an idea more so than a course of action. The receiver will decide if the idea adheres to the real circumstances or not.

I really urge you to get involved if you are not already. Once you start signing a couple petitions you'll get on email lists and more suggestions will come your way.

Here are some references to petition success stories, just from Avaaz alone and just from 2016 (three months) so far!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Struggles with justice

Grandpa Munster and the Lonely Lumberjack have a similar resistance to making friends. They make do with very few because they have no stomach for trying to make friends outside of the limited environment of the parole community and related volunteer circles. It is obvious that this is because they are ashamed to present themselves in other circles, or perhaps sometimes – perhaps, I say – that they are angry or resentful at other circles for looking down on them or excluding them, often by official policy.

Their reputation is permanently dismantled.

In recent years I have seen many workings of the justice community; some measure of the indictment process, but more so of the transition process; the supposedly final phase. And what strikes me is how lawyers, judges, police; officials and officers of every type; institutions of every type, at every step along the way, seem to take every opportunity to see to it that offenders reputations are as thoroughly destroyed as possible.

There is a central idea that debts to society can be repaid but the truth is – we never ever ever allow that to happen. It seems essential in practice that their reputations be permanently annihilated.

The problem I wish to point out, from my point of view, is that reputation is what keeps most people out of jail, or otherwise on a “good” path by any codes or standards, legislative or otherwise, in the first place. We don’t seem to recognize that fear of being branded bad is largely what stops us from doing the selfish things which our instincts are always desiring. And this observation is easily supported: Just look at how people behave when given the privilege of anonymity such as internet spaces or the roadways. Motorists and internet commenters are by and large despicable! Anonymity protects their reputation.

When we destroy a first-time offender’s reputation more so than necessary, we are, in a way, sentencing them to life as a full-time criminal. Those who escape such a permanent transformation – I think it is much to their credit. From most insiders’ point of view, prisons are a criminal recruitment and training centre.

I think that most people do not much consider the fact that their reputation is their dearest, most coveted possession because that would lead them to ponder to what degree they are phony. And people do not enjoy pondering to what degree they might be phony.

When we destroy an offender’s reputation (or one who is determined by a court to be an offender, sometimes incorrectly) we are giving them license to turn to the only community who will not punish them for their new reputation and that is – the alliance of full-time criminals.

Please understand that I am not here making condemnations or offering solutions at this time but merely pointing out a problem. 

It is my confident thinking that the only real punishment that exists, the only punishment that is naturally just, is the inevitable self-punishment that an offender brings upon himself – and make no mistake – that includes you and me and everyone else who has never been to jail for our various "unlawful" practices from the great realm of sanctioned lying and cheating that this ill society so unwisely permits and assuages. The punishment we bring upon our self is exclusion from participation in the natural joy and freedom which the nascent burgeoning consciousness of the human species has birthed, yet seems so very uncommonly manifested in this society. Your sins haunt you. Unresolved, they hold you apart from this joyful natural reality.

So why is this dire consequence not enough to deter people from crime?

Because we are all so unaware of that reward. Because from a very early age we have been accepted into the rich human tradition of societal delusion; drawn in by the ruling structures, all of them thoroughly corrupted by communal instinct, and signed off by parents who don’t know any better or who seem not to have any choice.

When we maintain good behavior; truly good behavior: kind, generous, loving and harmonious; not the rationalized "good" behavior which is our normal mode – there are only two possibilities: We experience the joy and the freedom because we are being real and being kind for the incredible joy and wonder of it, or else we do not experience the reward because too much of our kindness has actually come from reputation mongering. In which case we are not much different than the criminals. We have placed ourselves in our own prison of the mind.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A-to-Z: Theme reveal!

Welcome April Alpha-Bloggers!

I’ve already assembled much preparation for this year’s April A-to-Z blogfest. Last year I did 26 must-read books, one per day except for Sundays, and succeeded for the first time, getting all 26 articles posted on time! Now I know how it’s done and nothing can stop me!

Being a giant movie-buff (I literally watch six films per week on average) I am going to plug unforgettable must-see movies this April, but I can’t choose just twenty-six. So you’re getting a hundred! A few each day. Most of them are rightfully popular so likely you will have seen many or most already, but I invite you to skim over those mini-reviews and read up on those you haven’t seen. Let me convince you to hunt down and view some special flicks with the power to move your heart, challenge your views and strengthen your insights!

Whoever you are, I hope you’re going to participate this April. If you leave a comment here, I will make sure to follow you along.

Going forward I am planning to participate in A-Z every April. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the projects I am already laying the groundwork for, for the coming years (in no particular order):
  • the A-to-Z of ecology/climate change (tons of research here)
  • the A-to-Z of spiritual evolution (celebrating the very compatible core wisdoms of both science and religion, and the surprisingly accessible route to joy and freedom in the modern age. I have been working at this for years!)
  • and A-to-Z short films. Not reviews but rather I will publish for the first time 26 short videos of my own creation! Obviously I will not produce them daily but will be working on them for a year or more in advance.
See you April first!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

acquire /əˈkwī(ə)r/

The question remains: am I capable of building a noble work which might garner enough renown that people who need it might find it?

Or must I first impress the Matrix? Must I play the game and work at building a conventional resume and only then, leverage what reputation follows.

Of late I have doubted my abilities, though I have heard good writers say, Of course! We all do! I still wonder if writing is my way forward. Perhaps that question will soon be resolved. Recently I made a breakthrough. I believe I know, finally, what story it is which I need to write and even what approach to take. So perhaps this is the test. I begin April first.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I'm not proud of this

Here’s a horrible confession: I have at times literally despised Eminem. Every time I’ve heard his voice I felt like my brain was instantly dissolving into a formless radioactive sludge and I would immediately yearn for him to die die die please oh please die let a giant meteorite obliterate him and send his demon soul back to the lowest plane of hell!

Harsh, eh? Ten thousand apologies if you are an Eminem fan.

But I know that every time I’ve ever heard a popular song and said, “Wow. That’s crap!” I have been guilty, not of infantile thinking, but worse: of not thinking at all. Any song reaching popularity will have at least something inherent worth connecting to, or it could not have generated a single fan.

I know that it is no more the song’s fault then mine for failing to connect.

Obviously more work and talent goes into some songs than others and they may contain more ports – of sorts; more pathway opportunities to subconsciously connect, but all of this is under the radar of consciousness so who the hell are we to act as though we’ve done all the accounting! When we feel like we do not like a song we have accomplished no accounting whatsoever. The patterns of musical experiences seem to give evidence of what is good music and what is bad music but that is illusion. These are only signposts which point toward inaccessible destinations of internal mind. It is hopelessly ignorant and narcissistic to call a song crap because all that that means is that we have failed to connect to it, where others might have succeeded.

To call a song great, however, is legitimate and substantive because there we have evidence of successful connection. Light escapes the secret internal source and shines on our accessible mind. There we have proof of the song’s success as well as our own, though we can not truly trace it! Every song you like is a credit to you! Celebrate it! Boast of it!

This is why I do not give a flying care, whoever you are, what songs you do not like and why you should not give a flying care what I think of Eminem’s dark soul – I mean – Eminem. Just tell me about the songs you do like! For that is all you are qualified to do!

(Such a big meteorite – like – fifty metres wide, but not big enough to cause a mass extinction….)

“The simplest emotions are born and grow in impenetrable darkness, attracting and repelling each other like thunderclouds in accordance with secret affinities. All we see on the surface of the darkness is the brief flashes of the inaccessible storm.”–Georges Bernanos

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Show me, don't tell me

How do you know what you know?

All the little stories you tell, whether on the page or in the bar or around the water cooler: how did they get into your head in the first place?

There are two ways, right? There are the events you personally experience and there are the stories that are passed on to you from the lips of others. Right?

So which stories are richer? More real? The ones you heard about? No. The ones you experienced with your own five senses are more real; the stories where you were present; a participant.

When a storyteller writes a novel or other story there are two ways to get material across to the reader and no requirement to be consistent from paragraph to paragraph: At any given point you can explain things, such as the way a character is feeling or what a character is thinking in their head for instance. This is telling. In the old days telling was the norm. Most novels of old were mostly told; explained in other words.

The alternative is showing. When a writer shows, he embeds the reader in the story by writing only dialogue, description and imagery. In other words the writer restricts the narrative to a transcript of the five senses, describing what is seen and heard, and sometimes what is smelled, tasted or felt to the touch, all without explanations of relevance. When this is done well, the reader can interpret what is going on; can interpret what the character is feeling; can interpret what is motivating the characters. Regular (audible) dialogue is always show of course. Internal dialogue is tell.

Telling is explanation. Telling is a story you just hear about. Showing requires more work. It requires more work of authors because they must fully imagine a scene in order to know exactly what sensory material to provide. And it requires more work of the reader’s brain to interpret the products of the senses in order to deduce the softer realities of the story and through this work is brought into the story and experiences the story first hand. A well-shown story makes the reader feel like he or she was present in it. It feels real.

These days agents, publishers and teachers of writing clamor for “Show! Don’t tell!” and it’s funny because hordes of beginner writers nod their heads but then don’t get it. They think they are showing when they’re really telling.

Is telling outlawed? No. Mostly I try to show stories but lots of telling slips in. I’m not convinced there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to write a novel that is 100% show. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road perhaps achieves this or at least comes close.

Toronto author Ray Bradbury is a master of subtlety. That’s a code word for showing. Showing is subtle because no meanings are stated but are all derived from reading between the lines or deciphering the products of the senses just as we do in real life when we absorb everything around us through the senses and then interpret the events; when we interpret what the people around us are thinking and feeling and what is motivating them.

Can you still write a great story by telling? I think perhaps so, but you will be limited in how real you can make it feel. I celebrate the diversity of stories and some unique stories with unique styles are perhaps best told; not shown. Regardless there is certainly a market for tell. Most notably the YA (young adult) market.

When I began working with grade seven/eight kids I was startled to see them failing to appreciate the opportunities I gave them to learn subtlety. I finally came to understand that kids are not ready for it. They instinctively aren’t prepared to work that hard intellectually, or rather, it just doesn’t happen for them naturally yet. They are still expecting explanation. This is one of the most profound things that I learned from that whole coaching experience; that the kids taught me. YA books are glaring to me in their absence of subtlety. But I now understand that this is intentional; this is the primary criteria which makes a book YA and not adult.

Many adults profess to love the YA genre. They prefer it. My interpretation is that they just haven’t evolved to appreciate show-don’t-tell subtlety. Reading YA is easier to do, but it does not offer the richest rewards of experiencing a story; being there, rather than just hearing about it.

I have never shed tears when an author writes, her heart collapsed under a wave of sorrow. Provided the right context, I would shed tears when an author writes, she collapsed onto the bed, face buried in pillow, and wailed silently.

Monday, March 14, 2016

acquiesce /ˌakwēˈes/

This is what I have done so much of and with so much of my time. Remained silent in the face of absurdity. Graciously letting people talk at me. And like the song Solsbury Hill, thought about cutting connections. Not with scissors but with transparency. Those who could not stand the transparency; they would feel alienation between us and they would do the cutting.

But with time my circle of associates slowly migrates, as with everyone I suppose. But my pattern is clear. I make more and more friends with more artistic and spiritual interests and lose touch with more friends whose interests are of little use to me, and thus the imperative to draw the line, or even to disappear, gradually dissipates.

It helps that I have finally found myself in a solitary employment role where I need not be constantly diplomatic with some of the direst morons in the land.

I could be optimistic like others I know (and even Eckhart Tolle) and say, whoa! Things are getting better! People are waking up! I am tempted to see it that way, but no. I must be honest. I think it is just that I, and others who are similar to me, are gradually tuning their personal circles into superior configurations. I see no evidence that the world at large is waking up.

Look at the ghastly sickening horror show going on in the United states. A man with no wisdom, very little intelligence, a lot of bestial cleverness and false bravado is gathering reams of frightened sheep to his bidding; sheep who are so afraid of the monster inside themselves that they will adore a mighty liar who assures them the monster is someone else. This is the antithesis of waking up.

Kill the pig… bash her in… build the wall… take him out…

Saturday, March 12, 2016

acquaint /əˈkwānt/

Dante, Petrarch, St. Augustine, El Greco, William Blake, William Cowper, Georges Bernanos, Nietze, Goethe, Einstein, Eckhart Tolle, Michael Gualtieri…

Call them teachers, scientists, journalists, statesmen, philosophers, artists. Call them by the tasks they undertook at different stages of their lives, some of which they abandoned as they learned better. To me, they are all poets. That is the qualification they have earned by my accounting.

I like to think that I understand them just enough that I may consider them role models; that it is authentic, this function I undertake on my best days, and in their tradition.

“And I resolved in Thy sight, not tumultuously to tear, but gently to withdraw, the service of my tongue from the marts of lip-labour: that the young, no students in Thy law, nor in Thy peace, but in lying dotages and law-skirmishes, should no longer buy at my mouth arms for their madness.”–St. Augustine

Friday, March 11, 2016

acoustic /əˈko͞ostik/

The first time I picked up a guitar and tried to strum D and G chords with some manner of competence, I could not believe I’d ever get the hang of it. Like so many early students I would have given up and put it aside, but a force drove me on. I had to do this! Humans create! That’s what humans do because we are each a new day rising!

I persisted. I learned. Some chords became easy. Muscle memory I guess. It became instinctive and so did the composing habit.

The odd time I would allow the guitar to linger for a couple days I would start to feel uneasy; out of sorts, and then realize why. The instrument and the process had become an integral extension of my mind.

I wrote simple folky songs that were not spectacular but worked, and almost accommodated the wafer-thin range of my singing voice.

Though that urge still whispers to me now and then, the imperative has faded and the calluses have become a mere tingle.

acorn /ˈāˌkôrn/

Jamie, a former associate, once proclaimed in serious fashion that he did not believe squirrels pooped. His reasoning was straight forward: He’d never spied one pooping.

While I approved of his methodology, I preferred to interpret that squirrel poop remained unproven in my own experience yet an extremely likely reality based on logic and reasoning and scientific testimony.

It was some years later when he finally recanted. “Squirrels poop,” he said. It seems one had found his way into Jamie’s house and pooped on his desk. Right where he couldn’t miss it. Mystery solved.

Some would call that a coincidence. Some might call it an act of cosmic significance. To me these are flimsy labels. Causality cannot be trumped. The pervasive interconnections of all things in reality are the building blocks of all events and provide infinite opportunity for anyone with an imagination to connect dots in all manners of short-cuts, creating the illusions of coincidence, signs, karma, intelligent design. These little tricks might help to navigate patterns of causality but they are never the root of causation.

The proof is in what happens before my eyes at every waking moment every day. If causality were not omnipotent, then it would at times have to fail and be witnessed failing. Has anyone ever dropped a dime and it fell, not to the floor but up into the clouds? I doubt it.

“I believe everything happens for a reason!” said a friend of mine who drinks too much.

“For one reason?” I asked, “or for a combination of reasons numbering near infinity for all intents and purposes?”

“A reason!”

It’s interesting how many people escape high school with diplomas who did not learn the single most basic principle of reality. Makes you wonder who’s managing the curriculum.

If you wish to further explore Jamie’s ideas, he is a writer, most recently of the script for film Unearthing (2015) starring Tim Rozon. I haven’t seen the film yet. I assume it’s about the unearthing of squirrel poop or evidence thereof.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The loneliest lumberjack

He’s short, old, bearded and staggers around swiftly, hunched way over and leaning into his wheeled walker. “I look like a dog humping a football,” he says. He’s as gruff an old bastard as they come.

He frequently speaks negatively of himself and much more so of other men. I am one of the very few he can tolerate. Women are angels in his mind. He writes poems for his women aquantances and many poems about his truest lady friend of all: Mother Earth. He even wrote a poem for me once.

“I like having you over,” he said one time, in a very rare moment of sentimentality. I heard this from his little living room behind me as I walked into his little bedroom to peruse one of his bookshelves. “I mean that, you know!”

“I know,” I replied. He wishes I would come more often.

For two years we maintained a friendship on the sly. My workplace forbade it but only after it was too late. We’d already become friends and I was not going to abandon him to make some dipshit director happy who couldn’t manage an ant trap let alone a corrections centre. There is no need to keep secrets now. I am no longer working at the centre and he is in the apartment full-time. But I have not been there in well over a year.

He speaks very ill of black people and very ill of gay people and I have told him rather sternly at times that I wished not to hear it.

“I know what I’m talking about!” he barks. “I’ve known those people…! The things they do…!”

On the flip side he is hugely pro-native and a feminist of sorts.

Finally one night I'd had enough. We’d shared a great meal together and then he’d ruined the night with a little rant. I haven’t been back since then and he has not called in a long while. I used to think I might get through to him, help him see the error in his thinking; that bad behavior is a symptom of being human; not a symptom of being black or gay. and then I gave up that night.

I’ve seen him now and then at creative exchange sessions at the Mennonite church. He’s the one who started the tradition. He usually plays a harmonica or recites one of his rhyming poems about trees or the wind. Sometimes I strum guitar and sing one of my songs. It feels a little awkward now but he has been gracious. At the last session we did more than nod toward each other. He told me why he hasn’t been calling people much anymore, giving me a sort of opening I guess; permission to pretend I haven’t been ignoring him.

“Yeah, no problem,” I said. “I’ve been real busy myself.”

He said he really liked the silly poem that I read, about the time I covered my dinner guests in salad dressing.

Then on Friday I made it out to one of the community’s bi-weekly reflection dinners where thirty or more of us eat dinner, sing a few songs (this night we sang the words to Amazing Grace to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight!) and then someone introduces a topic and we go around the big circle each reflecting on it; volunteers and ex-cons alike, each acknowledging our sins and our struggles and our lessons in life.

The Lonely Lumberjack and I are the only ones who don’t sing along and the only ones who don’t join in the prayer. Sometimes our eyes meet across the big circle. On Friday we hadn’t even said Hi; hadn’t even nodded to each other upon separately arriving.

Then at the close of the night, as I helped to rearrange tables and chairs, he careened by me, leaning into his walker and paused and smiled; a rare event, and patted me on the shoulder. I nodded and smiled and he departed without words.

I think about his life. He spent it on working farms and logging camps and prison. He spent his whole damn life in the company of men. At logging camp dinner tables, it was forboden to speak. This rare potentially social time they spent together; they spent it like wolves or Neanderthals, feeding in silence. Out in the woods it was too loud and dangerous for optional conversation.

Yes, It occurs to me now that he spent his whole life with men, and in environments where men could only be at their worst; uncivilized. No wonder he can’t stand them. No wonder the gays and blacks he knew behaved badly in his eyes. Everyone was behaving badly in his eyes. Prisons and logging camps make ass holes out of men. He hates lazy men too. He has said so many times and at those times I have said, “Hey, I’m lazy!” but he doesn’t care.

I wonder if he knows why I haven’t made time for him for a year. He might. I’m inclined to pick up the phone soon and arrange to come by once again. I should probably tell him these thoughts and try to give him another chance.

Friendly ghosts

Through my work “week” of 12-hour night shifts, all my real time is spent at the office where I am very comfortable and happy and productive and getting paid to do a little bit of The Man’s work (which I welcome) and a lot of my own work (which is a joy) and there I eat my meals and watch my daily movie. At home, in my short twelve hours between shifts, I am just in bed sleeping or trying to sleep.

Saturday, I awoke and made myself at home in my home for the first time in a while. These are the times I would normally have chatted with the Liberal Theologian over coffee. My heart felt heavy in her absence yesterday, the heaviest yet since her passing a year ago.

After a while I realized why: because we would have been talking about the latest news from our dear friends. Aqualad has been accepted at MacMaster University; a critical step in the long road to becoming a veterinarian; the singular dream he has nurtured since early childhood!

L.T. and I would have been talking about him and how special he is and how much we love him and his moms too; Earthwriter and Dog Whisperer, and that would have been such a joyful conversation!

But wait.

Why do I say that it would have been?

Where did L.T. go, after all? Her body was turned to cinders and put in a box. Is that my friend in the box? I was not friends with her material form. Our connections happened in the air; in our ears. The agents of our minds connected through language. Those connections are not in the box. They have remained.

I realized today “People live on in our memory” is not just some platitude; not some trick to ease pain. None of the substance of our friendship went in the box. Her words remain in my head as real as they were when she first spoke them. Feelings remain. Sights remain.

What is friendship? What are human connections? These things are not material. They continue to affect me. My brain’s rewiring with each and every observation of her, they are not reversed upon her death. Her effects live on.

Her physical body meant nothing to me; only the things we shared. Our friendship consisted of energy and interpretations. They are not in the box. They are real and eternal and they apply themselves now to these new affairs which make me happy! I am having the joyful conversation after all.

She is still in my mind as real as ever, and there in my mind we are having the conversation.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

acolyte /ˈakəˌlīt/

My blog profile blurb once read something like this: “I am a seeker, poet, counselor, […] alchemist and priest… in training.” Something like that.

And what I meant is that these are the directions I was moving and the kind of functions I was dabbling in; the pursuits which had become meaningful and applicable to me in various manners which lie rather outside the normal workings of our commercial society. And I suspect that any regular readers of this blog would get what I meant.

A friend said to me pointedly, “Have you been ordained? Because you might be misleading people here.”

I confessed I had not been ordained in terms of actual ceremony under the structures of popular religions and their recruitment of seekers of lucrative employment. Nor, for that matter had I received any organized instruction with the regards to the manufacture of gold out of lead. But I do possess notable insights into each. Regardless, the meaning was not meant to be literal.

The friend advised that I should not make any untrue claims and I took this under advisement and later (possibly for another reason) changed my profile blurb to a quote which I’d been trying to track the source of for years! I loved the quote because it seemed to speak from my very own heart and say precisely what I most cherished. And finally I discovered the source, by the way. I discovered its very genesis in multiple versions in my very own handwriting! I had loved the quote for its intimacy with my own feelings because I had written the damn thing myself! And this is not the first time I haven’t recognized my own work. I’m going to have to start copywriting my work simply to make sure I remember it’s my own!

But I digress.

Am I ordained? In the ordinary sense, of course not. For a time though, I thought some form of priesthood a wise choice of pursuits but I could not find a religion which my own solid understandings could fully support. Humanism came so very close but it was too devoid of legitimate joy; of wonder and spirituality; of regard for miracle.

Look at me still digressing.

I have since remembered the reason I put priest (in training) on my blog profile. Because beyond the regular societal use of the word (and our society bears no ownership of language by the way), I did indeed qualify by my honest interpretation. I was – in theory only, without practical experience – a qualified leader of a new religion: a fully integrated system of thought, understanding, life-guidance  and problem-solving structure. A religion which chooses not to employ the term religion but which possesses the dogma of comparable scope to that found in the books of Hinduism or Christianity for instance. A religion with one founder, one leader and one participant: me, myself and I! A religion without the numbers to suggest legitimacy of the banal standard but with a global consolidation of theory and applicability which frankly blows the mainstream religions away, by my own priorities, because (according to all honest dissection it has so far suffered under my own auditing) it:

1. appears to cover all the worldly and spiritual landscapes as the big religions.
2. appears to unite said big religions under a common compatible set of understandings.
3. appears fully compatible with the living experience of human beings as interpreted by the clear mind and the five senses.
4. appears fully in line with the application of logic without resorting to “God works in mysterious ways” or other such cop-outs.
5. does not suffer constant (or any) self-contradictions (especially the constant contradictions concerning violence and punishment versus mercy and peace).
6. appears fully in line with the science of the day (and without requiring obscure translations to do so).
7. appears fully compatible with the teachings of eminent, perhaps preeminent, spiritual author Eckhart Tolle.
8. appears to include, and fully consolidate, all relevant areas of human and worldly consequence, leaving no measurable gaps or mysteries.
9. appears to supply the attainable solutions to any conceivable problem.

Do you believe this claim? Does it seem outrageous? Too lofty to be true? It’s not actually a big deal if you consider that these landscapes are far less complex than we might otherwise interpret once you see through all the fog and fragmentation of the illusions of mind and society. Regardless, I don’t invite belief or even suggest belief; only awareness that the claim exists. That is all.

My, what grandeur I must suffer from, eh? I must think I’m a Jesus or Buddha, right? What I think is that Jesus and Buddha were ordinary humans who were merely untethered from the constant bindings which suffocate normal society and were simply free to think simply, and were blessed with the opportunity to avoid a lot of distracting, time-consuming work of a normal role in their societies, and the associated stresses. 

I don’t at all think that Jesus or the Buddha did anything which is beyond the reach of normal humans and that the belief otherwise, the putting them on a pedestal, is among the most harmful consequences of normal religions.

And if my above claim is true and is enough to qualify the work a religion-of-sorts, then regardless of the rite of ordination and its legal bearing, I would best qualify its leader, at least for now, in the current absence of someone more qualified, whom I would eagerly invite or subscribe to, for I interpret that my leadership skills are lacking.
Although, where among the above nine qualifiers is its “holy” book? Alas there is none. Its “scriptures” are here, there and everywhere and very much incomplete. And frankly I wonder if all the remaining undocumented material is still retrievable from my mind.

I have so very often tinkered about with plans and short-lived attempts at creating such a tome and the scope of the project feels often unbearable. It is simply so big and interconnected that organizing it all looms a monstrous beast.

I do possess a skeletal framework though (which only Neo has seen), which is workable I think, yet somewhat flexible and arbitrary in arrangement, which I produced years ago and which organizes the broad landscape into a hierarchy of eighty-something sections, mapped by prerequisites. Some sections would require further breakdown into chapters.

Perhaps my two attempts to write the thing from the beginning toward distant end, in quite contrasting styles, were the wrong ways to go, and I should simply expand on the framework in gradual stages; building it outward in rings instead of trying to travel the linear circumference.   

Sometimes I wonder what the point is in bothering with such a project? My closest trusted associates seem to suggest it may be unnecessary. The result will be so huge and unsuitable to any known genre of book that no publisher will touch it. Yet perhaps this claim above is the very reason. Perhaps I need to write it just for myself so that I can observe the result and confirm that yes, a piece of written evidence exists to support my claim above, and on the rare days I might wish to call myself “priest in training,” here is my qualification!