Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
I took my title from a lyric of Bob Dylan's in his song, "Not Dark Yet."
Sunday, March 18, 2012
When the sleep in night reaches for us
These days just sink to the ends of oceans
And I feel the wave coming
Together now in one
So long this life has gone
And this night will be your home
This place of knowing is slipping through
From the water that weathers the ground
Sirius will set in an endless pull
And I see the tide moving
So long this life has gone
Together now in one
So long this life has gone
And this life has let you go
Now in drunken dreams of the father
So long lost in your impact
So long this life together goes
Undertow pulls a darkness in
So long this life has gone
Together now in one
So long this life has gone
On and on, in every setting sun
Friday, February 3, 2012
1. Life is suffering.
With these principles firmly established a Buddhist practitioner can begin and later maintain their journey to nirvana, or freedom from suffering. The Truths serve as guidelines when applied to Buddhism as well as important and useful precepts when applied to other religions, most notably Taoism.
Further, the Eightfold Path is assembled into sub groupings which are;
Taken as a whole, the Eightfold Path can be viewed as detailed instructions that are to be followed singularly and personally with no outside help to rely on. The Buddha had said on his deathbed, “work out your own liberation.” This clearly implies the personal aspect of devotion that is required to follow the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
Monday, January 2, 2012
The importance of the Rig-Vedas in Hinduism which literally means “the Veda of verse and praise” is significant in that the hymns and poems contained within are one of the first examples of a culture that preserved its accumulated knowledge by recording it in words. These texts in the form of written words were first recorded from about 1500 B.C.E. to 400 C.E. and are still recited by Hindu priests and worshippers in the present age. As one text out of a four part collection of works called the Vedas, the Rig-Vedas as an ancient document have come to function as a fundamental grounding in the spiritual nature of the Hindu concept of Brahman. Through history and repetition of the written words within, these hymns and poems to various Hindu gods symbolize the all encompassing nature of Brahman in that the materialism of the world is an illusion (maya) and the spiritual reality of Brahman is everything and the only truth that exists.
The Upanishads furthers the interpretation of Brahman by documenting the concept of a supreme reality from which all other reality exists, and that Brahman is totality, eternal, infinite, and unknowable to the human mind. The work details the structure of Brahman by establishing that ananda (utter bliss), sat (reality itself), and chit (pure consciousness) are pieces of the whole nature of reality. Literally translated as, “to sit near by” the phrase is meant to allude to a spiritual teacher instructing a pupil on the floor. The Upanishads function as a philosophical volume that relies upon written text to store and teach knowledge in Hinduism.
In Judaism, the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible is a historical text that documents the history and plight of the Jewish people. Also recorded within are covenants or contracts that serve as a pact with God that as William Young states, “sometimes the covenant is a promise made by God; on other occasions the covenant includes specific stipulations for the people of Israel to follow”. Time in the written works of Judaism and all Abrahamic religions, is linear and firmly established in a rational way that puts special importance on humanity’s role as a force to shape and create history. The Tanakh is a foundation that has been written down over time to preserve the ideas, philosophies, covenants, and history of Judaism for future study and reference.
The overall belief structure of Hinduism and Judaism contrast sharply when looked at on a large scale. The polytheistic nature of Hinduism compared with a monotheistic Judaism. Beyond the obvious differences in religious practice and philosophy, the two belief systems share a commonality when the written word is taken into account as a means to store information. Both religions have used the medium of writing to document the history and structure of religious practices throughout the ages. However, the Rig-Vedas, Upanishads, and Tanakh contrast in regard to their respective contents and views of reality. In the Hindu texts, the focus is on a spiritual reality that is all encompassing and unknowable to human capacity. As the one and only truth that exists, Brahman is everything as well as a spiritual reality that functions as an impersonal force that unifies everything known and unknown. It is human attachment and ignorance to the spiritual that causes a perceived separation in reality and perpetual illusions that are interpreted through the filter of a human mind. Of course, this warped human sense of reality is contained inside the spiritual reality of everything as well. Ultimately the spiritual nature of the content of these Hindu concepts are recorded in written form for reference and study. In the Jewish view of reality, the Tanakh and the contracts contained within are a more physical and material way of experiencing human reality. When contrasted with the texts of Hinduism, the Jewish reality is one of history, time scales (as in beginnings and endings) and the Hebrew God (Yahweh) existing beyond and outside human reality. Jews adhere to their traditions through the fundamental interpretation of the Tanakh in a material and literal sense of histories and covenants. Potentially enlightened Hindus eventually come to know reality in a spiritual sense that has no boundaries or separation in human existence with multiple gods. Everything is Brahman; gods and humans exist within Brahman through a spiritual perspective. The commonality in the two religions is the written word as documentation, but each faith uses their recorded writings in starkly different ways of interpretation and execution.
Possible problems to these contrasts, could include the notion of the written word as being essentially the same in both religions in its function as language that is used to communicate the philosophies of each practice. While this is most certainly true, language in the form of writing in this sense, is a means or way of communicating vastly different concepts. This is secondary to the information contained within the structure of human communication through the knowledge that is imbued in these diverse religious texts.
The Rig-Vedas and Upanishads offer religious knowledge in the form of poems, hymns, and detailed explanations of the spiritual reality of Brahman. All are important facets to the Hindu religion, and all exist in knowledge as language in written communication. The Tanakh is similar in its use of writing to establish and explain concepts within the religion. It differs from its Hindu counterpart, in its establishment of a material rather than spiritual reality. That is to say that, the Jewish God lies outside of human reality and historical events in Jewish history are of special importance to the human role in shaping the religion. All three religious texts are essential and influential to the establishment and continuing faith of their parent religions.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
“Likeable. You know what I mean. Everyone knows what I mean. I don’t know how many times today I’ve heard you talking to clients with that attitude of yours. That curt, robotic attitude talk. It’s getting a little old around here and I just–”
“Ya know, I don’t know what you mean! I do my job well and treat people with respect. And if you want me to start acting like a bubbly air headed–”
“That is not what I’m saying. You know–”
“It’s called professionalism Don! And I–”
“Okay, okay. Diane, please. Just calm down and listen for a second. Okay?”
She turned her head the other way, huffed, clicked her tongue and screwed her face into a middle aged vice grip that was becoming a familiar feeling. She knew it. She knew if she could see herself now from a distance of 25 years ago, she would be repulsed.
Diane turned back, crossed her arms and waited.
“Alright, all I’m asking is for you to be a little more friendly with people. Okay? I’m not trying to attack your professionalism or anything, I just need you to make an extra effort here.”
A few seconds of tense quiet. They were locked in a stare. One of pitying aggressiveness and the other of contempt. She barely heard him speak.
“Look, no one is doubting the job you do. You’re the best office manager we’ve had in years, but with that comes a degree of affability with people. Okay? And instead of barking platitudes to not only our clients, but to your own coworkers – can you just add a little human touch to things? Hmm? It’s a big part of being professional. In this day and age people don’t want to walk into an office that’s run by a drill sergeant, they want a comforting experience, especially our clients. People have enough negativity in their lives, alright? They don’t need more of it in the workplace, they don’t need it period. And I’m not asking you to baby people, I’m just asking you to be, well, nicer. That’s it. Okay? Can you just put a little more feeling in your work, a little more smile? Life’s too short, ya know. It’s too short to be, uh, angry or whatever have you. I’m not saying you’re angry, I’m just saying even if you are, you could, uh well, benefit from a lighter approach that, well, I think you know what I’m saying.”
He left while she was in the ladies room. At the sink she heard his cell ring and keys jangling as he walked down the hallway passing. In the mirror she smirked and frowned; typical corporate cocksucker. He saw the exit opportunity and acted.
Back at the reception desk she rolled the phones to the night assistant and started to organize client payment plans that had been filled out over the last week or so. Afternoon sun was blazing through the window. The time change felt odd, like she was late for something. She worked faster. She wanted to be away from this place. Roger would probably be home before her and start dinner. Potatoes and chicken, or tuna salad sandwiches with corn or something. Can’t cook for shit. Didn’t matter, his kid would eat anything just like any 16 year-old boy should. She knew he was a mostly decent father if nothing else. He tried to have somewhat of a relationship with the kid no matter what would be spit back in his face – resilience, he did have. Diane loved him for this. For the energy he brought to the household, the attitude of impervious will when things weren’t right, the bullet riddled sheen of his demeanor that he wore with hard earned wisdom. In ways she was envious.
Finished, checked her email a last time and proceeded to shut down the computer. Grabbed her purse and took out her cell, checked for messages and turned the ringer back on. Diane cleaned off her desk, got up and made sure the filing cabinets were locked. She was pretty sure she was the last one there but wanted to check the office anyway. She started walking down the main hallway while reading a text from Roger, “be home late tonite luv u.” As she turned a corner her arm caught the edge of a framed picture knocking it off the wall. “Shit.” The glass shattered when it hit the floor. For a few seconds she just stared at it and wondered what to do. The thing definitely didn’t warrant saving. The sort of exceptionally generalized scene of tranquility that populates office-scapes across America. Country hills with birds and trees, in soft and light pastels with a gold lined border, a brass frame, and semi-opaque frosted glass. It’s purpose was to take up wall space and not to be looked at for more than a few passing seconds, in fact, this was the longest time she had ever looked at it. She took her blazer off, threw it on a chair and pulled her hair back while she walked toward the bathroom for some paper towels. Rolling up her sleeves, she started picking the large chunks of glass out of the carpet and what was left of the frame. It had to be fixed she thought. She would pay for it and have it back here by Monday. It had to be done and she would take care of it.
Regular customers called him Khan and he hated it. A joke, a compliment, a pejorative, didn’t matter because his broad smile and business sense said it was okay. Sometimes he played along telling people that he used to be a wrestler in Ulaanbaatar and “could fuck many people’s shit up.” This would always make ‘em laugh or smile or want to start another conversation about how they too wrestled back in the service or high school, and he would usually nod and pray for it to end with another customer coming up to the counter. They had no idea.
The electronic door chime rang, he turned away from the game on TV and said, “hello” to the newbies walking in. Saying nothing they walked past him and looked. Back to the game, the announcer’s voices mixed with the chatter of the boys in the isle. On a chair, arms crossed he looked from the corner of his eyes. He could tell they were making fun of him and his accent. Dumb-asses. Moronic dumb-asses. He thought, Speak three and a half languages, can write in three entirely different alphabets, and they make fun of my accent. No idea. Everything given to them. Watched and listened. Eyes shifting back and forth from the game to the dumb-asses to the camera monitor above the cigarette racks to the convex mirror in the corner by the coolers. Door chime, the front door; Hector came up to the counter.
“Que pasa amigo?”
“Ah you know. Tired.”
“Ah yes, but Friday it is my friend.”
Kahn reached up and grabbed a pack of Camels, turned and took a pint of Ancient Age off the shelf.
“Nothing but shit.” Hector shook his head while fishing money from his pocket. “Gotta work tomorrow and Sunday. Never, never ends.”
“Pinche vatos.” He collected the bills and change. Put everything in a bag, smiled and said, “you have your Friday night at least amigo. They have not yet taken this away.”
“They try. So far I’ve been able to say no, but with things as they are, who knows how long I ought to keep that up. Oh, and it’s better to say ‘gabacho’ my friend, Mr. Khan.”
He laughed hard. Little closer to three and a half and another half of a language. “Gracias! And take care buddy.”
Hector waved. “Yep.”
He was suspicious. The dumb-asses were standing a little too close together in an isle that he couldn’t quite see. Whispers, laughs, frequently punctuated by “dude” and “fuck,” they looked intently between the shelves and him. He thought of the baseball bat and unregistered pistol under the counter. He thought of hurting them if they tried to steal or hold the store up. It’d happened before and he knew what to do. He watched.
“Help you two find anything?”
They both looked up. Looked at him for a few long seconds and one of them said, “nah, we good.”
Dip-shits. Get the fuck outta my store. Go back to your silver spoon fed lives. He sighed, crossed his arms and turned his eyes back to the game and began to think of his lawn. It had come close to 90 today and he knew his yard had been taking a beating all day. Ever since Vince quit three and a half weeks ago, Khan had been pulling double shifts, and not surprisingly the long monotonous hours had led his mind into places well worn and places that were just about off the map. He knew that even though he’d watered in the morning, he’d have to water tonight as well when he got home around one o’clock. It’d be hard because he was already tired enough to sleep for a few days, but his lawn depended on it, not to mention his reputation on the block as some kind of Asian yard master of feng shui that his liked and not so liked neighbors had bestowed upon him. He dreamed of a sprinkler system. He began to think ‘if only’ thoughts of programmable stations, vari-speed heads, underground soaker hoses; all presumably visiting his synapses from his lawnmaintence.com wish list. All this while basketball was being played and kids were stealing from him.
Khan took out a pair of glasses and a cigarette from his shirt pocket and began to stare. He lit it and slammed the lighter onto the counter in a way that shouted clearly and aggressively that he was not to be fucked with. The two looked up and saw a middle aged, pudgy Mongolian with a round sweat shined head glaring at them through a fog of smoke emanating from wide nostrils. Confusion for a few seconds turned to giggles and smirks. White boys. Without interrupting his stare he stood up from the bar stool and fumbled his right hand underneath the counter for the pistol. Take something! Give me a reason. He wouldn’t kill because he knew there were the so called, “fates worse than death.” A bullet shattered kneecap, paralysis, the blasting of genitals off, and maybe while they suffered on the floor he would lock and bar the front door, run to the back, get the gas can on top of the emergency generator and the fire extinguisher next to it, run back, douse ‘em and flick his cigarette into the puddle of gasoline and blood. Just like the Hollywood movies. And then of course he’d spray the fire retardant so they wouldn’t die and wait for the cops to take him downtown where he’d gleefully confess. Try me. Do it. He clicked off the safety and felt for the trigger. Do it.
She had cut her hand pretty good. Right in the center of the palm and by the time it was noticed Diane was already on the road. Blood on the steering wheel, keys, stick shift, blouse. So wrapped up in everything, she hadn’t felt a pain until she saw her face with a few strands of hair caked into a mix of blood and makeup on her forehead and right temple. She reached for some kleenexes to wipe her face and eventually found the source. She wadded up the tissues into the core of a tight fist.
She drove erratic, like she had almost nothing to lose. Now the pain was intense. She breathed like she couldn’t get enough air, she was sweating, losing blood, and felt like it. She rummaged through her bloodied purse for cigarettes and a lighter while halfway navigating the road. The late afternoon sun was at a position of maximum intensity and annoyance that obscured the view through a pitted and dirty windshield. Inhaling the smoke calmed and satisfied her in the same way that eating after a prolonged hunger feels. Her hand didn’t throb as hard and she stopped caring about the bleeding. Driving down the road in an old rundown part of town, she passed liquor stores, pawn shops, ethnic restaurants, and read signs advertising programs for inner city youth at risk, lawyers with corny nicknames in parentheses, and property hocking realtors that dangled dreamy promises to the gullible impoverished masses below. The sun had finally set and city lights were sporadically turning on. Diane rolled down her window and felt the evening air. She came to a red light where there was a man holding a cardboard sign that read, “Spaceship broken. Need money for parts. Anything helps. God Bless.” She smirked and marveled at the homeless man’s joke. They made eye contact. She turned away and felt for some change in her purse. Found a quarter and turned back to the bum and saw that he was still staring at her. She flipped the coin in his direction and it hit the sidewalk in front of him. He nodded his thanks and slowly bent down to pick it up. Light turned green, she put it in first, and flicked her cigarette out the window.
Her car felt like a purgatory. The necessary middle ground between destinations that was completely neutral. It was her sanctuary of reflection and pause. Within her protected vehicle of neutrality, she embraced the dirty and eclectic city around her. Pushing through it all like a cultural drill bit. A parade going by in all directions. She was not at ease. She needed a drink. Rather, she wanted a drink but knew that she shouldn’t tempt her desire. The struggles of yesteryear came to a head. She was born with it. It was part of her. Knew it well, and knew that her younger naïve self was genuinely happier when the longing desire was satisfied. It made her smile. She would dance in sweaty morasses of sensuality and light to pulsing rhythms until dawn. Drink herself into a painless body that the endless ecstasy and sex couldn’t hurt anymore. In corners of doorways with the shaft of a pen and a broken light bulb. A bump in the bathroom stall. Stamps and pills on her tongue. All of it a lifetime ago. The hard truth that she had been happier navigating the ride into mysterious territory and letting the reigns go. The manic flights of energy and bliss shot so high that she wouldn’t feel the eventual gravity of Earth and body pulling her back. Down and past the point of origin until she found herself docile, yet angry with a glass of mid-grade cabernet and a television. Once she admitted that her unbreakable vessel was far from the stronghold she’d always imagined, Diane handed over the keys to empirical wisdom and sitting groups of weary types in circles.
She saw the illuminated red sign that said, Liquor. Pulled into the rutted out parking lot and turned off the car. She sat in the muffled noise of the city and waited. Not in thought, but in a catatonic state of worn out monotony and disgust.
The Russians had always been the lesser of two evils. They had imposed their language and political ideologies into the general zeitgeist of a soft, post-war generation. And this was just the way things were to the young. Long enough to seem natural, yet to the elders, it was recent enough to remember the uncertain joys of independence from China while simultaneously retreating to the refuge of the Soviet bloc. Once older, he remembered feeling small. A small human insect wedged between two bloated giants. When the Sino-Soviet split climaxed, Khan in secondary school, became one of the many young nationalists that exploited and used the opportunity between their quarrelsome gatekeepers to further a renewed Mongolian national character. They were The Young Turks of their sparsely populated land. He pushed the notion of political independence and cultural identity as far as his comrades would let a spry young man attain. He remembered feeling a certain winner’s pride from witnessing a turnaround in people to genuine hope. It was fleeting, but good. Something that could never be taken away. Then Nixon started grooming Mao, and he and his formerly strong countrymen felt betrayed by the West. Like a discarded item in a pawn shop selling far below any kind of value, it all decayed into whimsical hubris. The California of his Hollywood dreams had exchanged him for new photo ops and a posturing political dog show. Even worse, when the 1980s became the newest theatre of Cold War tension, the West never even acknowledged Mongolia as part of the oppressed bloc. It was all Eastern Europe and the plights of Slavs, Hungarians, Romanians. In fact, Khan came to believe that America’s view of the “East” abruptly stopped somewhere in the longitudes of the Ukrainian wheat fields. His homeland of nomadic warriors of the Asian Steppe and former global empire, became circus style wrestling matches and weekend horse archer’s tournaments. He was angry. And his anger carried him through his young adulthood as he continued to fight the good fight as a defiant and then ostracized police officer, to later finishing his academic studies to practice law. Gradually the weathering of age, family, and wisdom dulled his vitality and found himself settling for a variety of acceptance. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lawlessness that ensued, he cashed in and bought his way to the West. Yet, the America of his adolescence did not exist. He thought that, it too had become worn with age and abuse. A crabby king that wielded intense power, and grand illusions. No longer a lawyer, Khan became a cab driver, a dry cleaning technician, an Asian and Mexican line cook, and finally a liquor store owner. He now lived in the middle latitudes, middle age, and middle ground. A veteran of experience; he had adjusted accordingly.
She thought of the broken picture, the glass, then Roger and decided she didn’t care. He’d be worried later. Worried that something might’ve happened to her. He would ponder things and wait. Make her dinner and wait. Watch the game, read the paper, check his email, and wait. Eventually he might call the police. He was efficient like that. Responsible. An operator might tell him that he had to wait 48 hours in order to file a missing person report and he would dutifully raise hell. An abduction, a suicide made to look like an accident, a tragic murder, a disappearance. She sat in the middle of her thinking. She knew something. She was scared. It swept over her entire body. Fear of nothing – no thing, non thing. Without. None. Non-. Nowhere in empty space. Nonexistence. Nothing.
The boys had pocketed one 750ml bottle of Vodka each into their enormous baggy trousers. This is what he saw. He felt his jaw tighten. His thoughts, his life; all racing to somewhere. They were re-stoned after having just woken from a long afternoon’s couch coma with what remained of the half empty bags of Cheetos on their chests and diverse gamer apparatus strewn about. Black hoodies, bloodshot eyes, and fluorescent crumbs on their exterior, he saw them as perfect representatives of a certain kind of stereotypical American teenager. Normally he would silently laugh and admire the vapid stupidity and arrogance of these kids. But now they were stealing things that belonged to him. Taking things that weren’t given to them. They had been born with everything and raised in utter banality, and now they sought relief in petty crime. He knew this as he watched them in his store. Sweat was running down into his eyes while he exhaled miniature clouds of tobacco smoke that rose to the ceiling. He slowly pulled the gun out from under the counter and waited with an intensity. The sounds of the air conditioner and television commercials. Heart was hitting hard, while his hands and arms met to aim the pistol. He focused through one eye and lined up the sight – right in the middle. One boy looked up in the direction of the gun pointing liquor store clerk. His mouth opened. He went pale and now truly looked like a child. Then the other. And dumbfounded by fear, the first kid started to say something when the door chime rang, cutting him off.
Shameless Plug: If you liked this story, you might also like an earlier one I did found here. If not, you'd probably hate it more, and then wonder why you're reading this shit.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
“Neurillogikal” serves as a general introduction to what the next 55 minutes will sonically contain. Droning low frequencies mixed with higher band sounds that swirl and oscillate within the stereo spectrum. The combined effect is like that of a Rothko painting, where shapes and colors, blend and fade into a cohesive and unified whole. Here, the blurry drone rotates, while crisp higher pitched sounds move in outer revolutions about a listener’s center. This track is a sound collage that has a sinister yet meditative effect, that perhaps alludes to the passivity needed on the part of the television viewer to effectively be communicated to. As a title, “Neurillogikal” is a curious portmanteau that implies divergent meanings within itself; neuro, as in relation to the brain, logic, illogic, illness, and a protrusive “k” used in the same hardline Germanic way that Kafka applied it.
As “Neurillogikal” tempers the listener’s senses, “AldouHux” rides within the same auditory channels as its predecessor, albeit with some added samples of humans speaking. In fact, the two pieces work in the same fashion that the latter’s namesake wrote of in Brave New World. Recall that, Aldous Huxley portrayed a utopian society that existed in passive happiness. The indoctrinated (Huxley termed it, hypnopaedically conditioned) population sought the dumbed-down passivity required to live, because life without passivity was no life to live. This, and Walter Lippmann’s phrase, “the manufacture of consent” come to mind when listening to this piece.
On “The 300”, KWA expounds on the notions of world government and generalized paranoia. This track is also an example of the way in which KWA evokes his message. Judiciously, as a cooperation between himself and the sampled speakers featured on the CD. KWA provides the backdrop and mood, and the speakers provide the content. He nobly credits all of them in the liner notes with additional sources cited for more information. The intended cumulative effect is to better communicate the topics in the sampled oratories with the aid of audio scores, in the same fashion that movie soundtracks enhance emotional responses from an audience.
By the time the listener finds their way to the beginning of the last track, “Venetian Casino”, they will have a general idea as to what they’ll experience. The track is essentially a continuation of the previous two. A sampled speaker talks of discontenting situations that are interposed and supported with musical renderings. “Venetian Casino” is the point in which the art either sells itself, or fails completely. If the audience is open minded to the kind of artistic expression KWA practices, then the polarizing nature of the work will either inspire or annoy. This is the bottom line when any kind of experimental art is put forth to be experienced.
KWA makes music in a world that will not recognize it as that. However, the discerning audience member and possible fan will understand that such an indictment of music is ridiculous, and hitherto realize the constrained notions of what music is. With all the sounds available to humanity, only a few small specialized groups of timbres are used to make, and in turn, experience musical expression. A shame for sure, but artists like KWA will always exist beyond the outskirts of orthodoxy, offering a welcome alternative to the accepted paradigms of thought and expression. This is music that will have to be doggedly pursued by avid connoisseurs of experimentation and will only succeed if the listener wants it to.