Monday, 31 October 2011

*Please see this link for an explanation as to why in this post every time I refer to God what I am really meaning is Godde.  And even though I'm not happy with referring to s/he becuase it is clumsy and just plain ugly, until we invent a third category in the English language that is gender neutral, or gender inclusive, I can't for the life of me work out what else to call ... them/it/her/him.


It is very uncool to believe in God these days.  Whenever I hear someone referring to God like I did the other day on the radio, it gives me a bit of a jolt.  We are a secular nation here in Australia and when I attended my second cousin's Scouts meeting the other day and the Akela prayed a prayer at the end, that sort of shocked me too.  Not because the prayer was boring and perfunctory but because a group of six year olds bowing their heads and talking to God barely happens in this country.  It just felt really weird!  And I turned and sort of smirked at my cousin who was standing in the corner and it might have looked as if I was turning to smirk and say, "Wow, what morons.  They're praying."  But it was more the delivery that made me smirk.  I am always sort of touched when people pray out loud.  It is a vulnerability.

But anyway.

I remember a few years ago my cousin telling me that if I stopped believing in God, then things must be really bad because I had such a strong belief that God was just there, and didn't seem to waver off that.  And I know what she means.  For ages I that a sense of that thing that threaded its way through everything like a perfume - the golden thread weaved through all living beings - well, that was God.  It just didn't really seem to make me waver at all because I felt it there, every day.  It strengthened when I meditated, when I did creative things, when I loved.

I still do feel that.  But the last two years - only sometimes.  I have wavered over the past two years in ways I haven't in the previous 16 years simply because it has felt like God has flipped the off switch.  Just ... not there.  That sense of the golden thread is like a golden memory in some ways to me.

And then it comes back, out of the blue, and the world all turns golden.  And then it's gone again.

Maybe it was never really there all the time like I thought.  Maybe it's still here just as much now as it was then, but I'm imagining a golden age.  Memory is bizarre and weird and deceitful and we imagine things were all sorts of ways in the past that they patently just weren't.  Hindsight and frozen history puts a glaze over things, makes them seem clearer than they were at the time.

You know, it's never really been an intellectual exercise for me about whether God is there.  I find reductions of God down into doctrine and dogma to be patently really fucking boring really quickly, and everything gets lost for me then.  All the things that feel like God to me are not reducible.  They just are.  To get caught up in what therefore you need to do or be or behave in order to show that you are following after that God in the particular camp of [insert your particular tribe here and tick box] seems weird and childish to me.  I just don't want to play.

So intellectual exercises about God have never really been the main point.  It's been the experience of God that I've been after.  If God exists, you must be able to feel him/her.  You must be able to interact in some way.  When I believe that God is everywhere, I begin to see God everywhere.  It is as if a fine layer of gold dust descends on everything, and it makes people more lovable somehow.  I notice much easier that spark inside of everybody that makes us all priceless.  This might sound like squibbly bullshit but it's how it has been for me.

And Jesus ... well, I don't know about Jesus any more.  And I'm not talking about the believe-in-the-resurrection-or-you'll-go-to-hell-forever kind of stuff.  That has always seemed like banal nonsense to me from the get-go, ever since I first picked up a bible and started reading it when I was 21 years old and felt something stirring in there somehow.  I still feel it whenever I read the words ascribed to him.  Whatever or whoever he was, he had a fine grasp of the absolute shining pinpoint of it all, the gist, the stuff that humans diligently must work on all the days they breathe so that life on earth is not hell.  I am still hit by the profundity of his words.  I still love him, or the thought of him, whatever he is.

I remember reading something Mother Theresa had written maybe a few years before here death where she said that she'd dried out like an old leaf at the end of autumn in terms of feeling God's presence.  She didn't even know if she believed in God anymore.  I understand that space.  I guess we all do.  Everyone who professes to believe in God must often have doubts or else perhaps what they have is really only intellectual assent to a particular view, rather than any faith at all.

In one sense I don't feel any more separated from God.  In one sense what it feels to me is that I have come from that called God, and one day I shall return to it.  That I am a part of that creation and there can not ultimately be any separation unless it is wished for on our side.  That if there is a hell it is a purging.  That if there is a devil it is in every single one of us and we all come under its fire and influence at certain times in our lives.  And if that devil, then that god too, in every single one of us.  I do think maybe I believe those things, and that maybe they are more than just archetypes (though as real in archetypal form as in literal, and work as such too).  But those are intellectual assents.  What I would like very much is to feel God close the way I did before.  But maybe I have gone from the person of great feeling faith to the person of very little.  Perhaps that is all I need in the end.  Faith the width of a thread.

How about you?  What do you think about God?  What have you experienced of Godde?  Has it changed over the years?  Are you surprised/amazed/loved/disillusioned by/with Godde?  I know there are people who read here who cover the spectrum when it comes to your beliefs.  If you feel comfortable sharing here, whatever your ilk, I would love to hear how it is all looking for you :)

Occupy Melbourne


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Great post here from someone who attended and was arrested at Occupy Melbourne yesterday.  A large contingent of police going in with riot gear against ... 100 supporters.  Who were peacefully protesting but still were treated with violence.  And yet the Victoria Police claim they did not use undue force.  I beg to differ.

Meanwhile the Lord Mayor bleats about $15,000 worth of damage, but I don't know what he's talking about.  Must be the damage to the commerce of the shops which now line the City Square.

Well, I do feel sorry for those shop owners who may be losing out.  But this is a city square, after all.  A public place.  Public places are for the public.  Commercial interests are only one element of a citizenry.  A wonky, cumbersome element that reminds me of cancer - it does not know when to stop, where to stop, how to stop, ever to stop.

Well, stop.

Meanwhile, across the seas in the US, Erin posted a link to The 99 Percent Declaration, a document which sends thrills, chills, hope and fear all kareening through my veins all at the one time.

The Theoretical Garden


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I was talking back in May about how big my garden would need to be if I grew my own ingredients from every plant or tree that I ingest in handy form from the shops.  There are a few more that need to be added to my list at the moment.  Those who have read here for a long time (all three of you) know that I'm on an ongoing quest for better health, and for ultimate recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome.  It's an ongoing quest because, quite frankly, parts of my body are not in particularly good, well-functioning order after a long-term illness and antibiotic regimens.  Those parts of the body are also the ones that are not generally spoken about in polite society.  (I find in my online readings of forums that women, so often, seem to have to go on with the requisite "Eww" and "That's gross" and such comments so that everybody knows that even though they're talking about such gross stuff like their own bodies, they're still feminine and all, you know?  But honestly, there's so much of that stupid squirmy my-body-is-gross stuff that goes on that you would think that they had Barbie mounds and their shit didn't even happen, let alone stink ... but anyway, I digress :)

Hmmm.  Anyway, so even though I diverged there, I do most heartily concur that trees and shrubs and living things are far prettier than me talking about my bowels.  Even though it's fascinating (did you know, for instance, that the gut has receptors in it that are connected to your brain?  A second brain, as it were.  Hence trusting those gut feelings because they balance out the brain in your head with a different kind of wisdom.  A body brain.  And also, my father's comment to people he disliked on the  TV and to us kids that "You've got shit for brains" ... well, Dad, you're not so far off in some respects).

Anyway, my digression digressed.  As I was saying, as my bowels are not of interest to you, instead of talking about them I will add a few more plants to my theoretical garden (which looks far more organised than the real garden, which does not have any of the herbs or vegetables we had planned to plant into it by this stage but instead is growing a lovely pile of daisied weeds at this point in time).

The first new tree to the theoretical garden is the black walnut tree, or juglans nigra.  It's a gorgeous-looking thing, and I could sit under it in my garden and read.  My partner with his magic hands could fashion it into woodish things, as according to this site it is "unquestionably the finest wood in the world."  But what I'm after in my apothecary is the nut, the black walnut, picked green and hulled.  This little baby goes into a nice little concoction with the two items listed below to kill parasites, the latest of my health quests.
Creative Commons pic by Jean-Pol Grandmont
I would need to be careful about where I planted this next shrub in my garden because it can inhibit the growth of other plants grown near it.  Artemisia absinthium, or wormwood, is the bitter herb that goes into absinthe and drives you into beautiful before it drives you mad, according to folklore (although this Wikipedia entry argues that it is no more harmful than other spirits).  The pretty silver-green leaves will be pressed for their oil, to go into the tincture form.

Creative Commons pic by Matt Lavin

Can you guess what spice these flowers are?

Creative Commons pic by Dainee.
They're more easily recognisable in their dried form as cloves (syzygium aromaticum to you, Jack).  Apart from being the most wonderful-smelling air freshener when you boil five or so on the stove with a cinnamon stick, cloves go well in apple pies and, less appetisingly, here in my tincture, where they kill parasitical eggs.  Those tiny little sticklike buds come from a tree that can grow from 8-12 metres tall.

Creative Commons pic by Adrien2008

Better to travel hopefully ...


Friday, 14 October 2011

"Better to travel hopefully than to arrive" - Robert Louis Stephenson

It is not coincidental that I have as my desired career entry into a room - writing fiction - that has no age barriers hanging over its lintel.  I am taking my entire life it seems to find work that doesn't bunch up around my middle, with too-short legs and a crutch-crunch.  Luckily, writing is one of those careers with no age barriers, where in fact you get better and lauded as you get older.

Which is good, because I don't think I'm really gonna get the hang of this whole deal until I'm, oh, I dunno, 70, 75, maybe?  And even then, even if I start plumbing even the edges of the mystery that is dreaming and drumming out of your depths something that plops out surprising you on its way, you still only ever learn to labour to write this particular book.  Beginning the next book, or the next story, takes you back into a state of babyhood once again.  That is mysterious and alluring enough to keep me captivated, even though I sit in front of this whole area of creativity slackjawed, feeling like a moron, like a twit, like a nincompoop, a single-cell.

I wish I would be enamoured with something that didn't display your lacks and not-learned-yet bits and needing-to-be-cranked-up bits and cracks and blindnesses quite so obviously to everybody else out in the world (especially now with the advent of such platforms as this one I am writing and you are reading on :)  But oh well.  There's nothing for it but to plod on.

And the enjoyment - I keep forgetting this - is in the travelling.   Not so much in the bookcase full of books you've published.  Although hell, who am I kidding to say that I wouldn't want that?  Surely part of writing is wanting to share what you have laboured over, to be recompensed so maybe you don't have to do work that drains your soul out through your guts.

But being published may never happen, to me or to you.  We may never reach any sorts of pinnacles (and when we get there we may find that the pinnacle doesn't give us as much of a buzz for as long as we'd hoped).

Gotta enjoy the trip.   :)

Hope by Arte Kjara (cc)

Please Leave the House, Dear


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Please leave the house, dear.
Oh, I know that a gargoyle
is hiding in the umbrella stand and
a labyrinth of spiders is waiting in
the dark corner of the hallway to
occupy your hair.

I know that you can't go out wearing this, and
this happens to be attached to your body and
you're trailing drops of blood down
your legs from out your middle and
you haven't learnt to filter out the frantic
braying of demented goats lining the roadside.

But the big tall man is a terrified boy and
the young girl is scared but assured and
the old man is snoring and dreaming and
the baby is spouting wisdom out
through his babbles and they are, right now at least,
occupying the streets.

There are moments in life when we experience something out of the ordinary.  Moments when we feel the trembling and then a long silence.  Something shakes us out of our daily world into something new and we feel an ecstasy.  We get caught up in something outside of and greater than the self.  We feel a moment of what Garcia Lorca called duende.  We get entangled in a direct experience of meaning without having to go through the medium of language.  We have an experience like this ...
The reporter had been assigned the story by his editor.  Human interest story.  Kids, dolphins.  You know, are they intelligent, aren't they cute.  But this guy wasn't interested in the story and resented having to do it.  He was someone to whom the concept of intelligence in dolphins was a joke.
Bored, his disdain under the lightest of social controls, he accompanied the scientists to the long glass wall of the lab where the dolphins waited, as they did every morning, to say hello.  He watched the scientists go through their morning ritual, watched the dolphin family respond.  Made nice noises over the six-week-old baby dolphin, took a short tour around the lab, went through a desultory question-and-answer session, drank the obligatory bad coffee that scientists can never seem to remedy, and then spent the rest of the time leaning against the glass wall of the dolphin tank, chain-smoking cigarettes.
Now, for whatever reason, the young dolphin was fascinated by this guy and instead of swimming off with his family, he just kept floating there looking at the reporter in the curious way that the young of many species have about something new.  The man, with his back to the glass, ignored it as long as possible, but the young dolphin seemed to possess inexhaustible patience.  He just kept hanging there.  Staring.  After awhile the reporter began to get twitchy, then mad.  So, he took a deep drag on his cigarette, turned, and blew smoke at the glass, directly in the dolphin's face.  The dolphin back-pedaled in surprise, looked at the man for a moment, then swam rapidly off.  The reporter, at peace, leaned back against the glass, and continued to smoke.
But in a minute or two the young dolphin returned, swam up close to the glass, and waited for the man to notice him.  And, of course, eventually the reporter did.  In irritation he turned and glared at the young dolphin, and at that moment, the young dolphin blew a cloud of smoke directly in the journalist's face.
And the whole room stopped.
It took awhile for everyone to figure out what had happened, for of course dolphins don't smoke (and anyway, even if they did, it wouldn't work under water).  The dolphin, who was still nursing, had gone to his mother, taken some milk, and come back and puffed it in the man's face.  A very sophisticated response, especially in a six-week-old infant of a species considered to be inferior in intelligence to humans.
But something else happened in that moment, something that caught up everyone in the room.  It was not simply a series of mechanical behaviors that occurred.  A then B then C.  Some living essence came out of the dolphin and touched the man.  A communication occurred.  Some deep meaning came reverberating up and out of that moment of touch and swept away the statistical mentality.  For a moment in time every human in the room swam in deeper waters.  They stopped thinking, caught up in feeling the meaning that had entered the room.  Time seemed to stop and each human there was caught up in contemplation of an invisible thing, something that captured their whole awareness, the attention of the deep self.
A person who observed the interaction said he had never seen cynicism and skepticism evaporate in a human being so quickly.  In that one tiny moment of time, the journalist's separation from the other life forms with which he shares this planet ended.  He was touched by a living, aware, caring, intelligence from the world and he could not deny it.  Some door in him opened and the whole aware universe came flooding in and he was never the same again.  For him, the long loneliness of the human species ended.
Stephen Harrod Buhner - Ensouling Language:  On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life

Pic by David Blaikie

This true tale is recounted in Lyall Watson's piece, 'The Biology of Being' in the book  The Spirit of Science, NY:Continuum, 1999.

In My Language


Thursday, 6 October 2011

I've just come across this video by Amanda Briggs, a non-verbal autistic woman whose video sheds some real insight into her world.  Wow, we live in some amazing times.  The first part of the video, she says:
... is in my "native language," and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.
Here's to an expansion in all ways of what gets considered and appreciated as personhood. Here's to multi-linguality :)