Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Guns & Peace/Spitzer/Laughter/Mysticism/and Fast Food/

(P1) Poetical

"3 Creatures" (acrylic by Jim Spitzer for sale, of course)

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(P2) Political

This is the final paragraph of Bob Herbert's New York Times column January 19, 2011 -

We need fewer homicides, fewer accidental deaths and fewer suicides. That means fewer guns. That means stricter licensing and registration, more vigorous background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Start with that. Don't tell me it's too hard to achieve. Just get started. (my emphasis)

and how's this for irony and hypocrisy?

I bought a 2011 wall calendar for my office. The title is "Messages of Peace." The first message looked good

Peace demands more, not less, from a people.

Then I looked under the quote for the author's name...

Richard M. Nixon (!)

...and I was stuck with this for the remainder of January.

From Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat 1-29-11

"Dr. Jerry Minkoff, chief of endocrinology at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa, said the average super-sized fast-food meal could have fed a village of Paleolithic homo sapiens 100,000 years ago." Minkoff also observed that we possess the same genes but have mastered overcoming starvation. -- That's for sure!

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(P3) Philosophical


(according to Jim Holt in Stop Me If You've Heard This: A history and philosophy of jokes - W W Norton2008)

"A passage in a Bach fugue may fleetingly give you gooseflesh. A line from Yeats might make you tingle a bit, or cause the little hairs on the back of your neck to stand up in appreciation. But there is one kind of aesthetic experience whose outward expression is grossly palpable. It involves the contraction of some fifteen facial muscles, along with the simultaneous stimulation of the muscles of inspiration and those of expiration, which gives rise to a series of respiratory spasms accompanied by a burst of vowel-based notes. Healthful side effects of this experience are believed to include oxygenation of the blood, reduction in stress hormones, and a bolstering of the immune system through heightened T-cell activity. But if the experience is too intense, cataplexy can set in, leading to muscular collapse and possible injury. In rare cases the consequences are graver still. Anthony Trollope suffered a stroke undergoing this experience while reading a now-forgotten Victorian novel, Vice Versa. And, according to tradition, the ancient Greek painter Zeuxis, reacting to the portrait of a hag he had just made, actually died of it.

"What I have been describing is, of course laughter. It is our characteristic response to the aesthetic category of the humorous, the comical, or the funny. This raises an interesting question: What is it about the humorous situation that evokes this response? Why should a certain kind of cerebral activity issue in such a peculiar behavioral reflex, one that serves no obvious evolutionary purpose? As Voltaire mockingly observed in the entry under 'Laughter' in his Dictionaire philosophique, 'Those who know why this kind of joy that kindles laughter should draw the zygomatic muscle back toward the ears are knowing indeed.' "

Later, mentioning Max Beerbohm, Holt discusses "...a parallel with sex. The objective in sexual congress, according to the Marquis de Sade, is to elicit involuntary noisemaking from your partner--which is precisely the objective of humor, even if the nature of the noisemaking is a bit different."

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My friend William Edelen has done it again in his wonderful column. Check this out and go to the link for the full piece.

A Smoky Day At The SugarBowl-Hupa-Edward S. CurtisIn this column, I want to think and reflect on a word that is misunderstood by so many. That word is “mysticism.”

What is mysticism? Mysticism is not sitting in a cave contemplating your navel. You can be a “mystic” and be working in the busiest office in downtown Chicago or San Francisco. In fact, it might save you from a lot of high blood pressure and migraine headaches if you were. Mysticism goes back as far as we can trace, in all religious traditions, including Judaism and Christianity. Experience and intuition are the two key words in mysticism. Wisdom, truth, insights are best discovered through intuition and experience. There is an inner knowledge that is not the result of an intellectual process. The mystic does not ignore reason and the intellect but knows that there is a limit to both. Where reason and intellect end, intuition takes over. The mystic goes beyond the obvious and the immediate and realizes that there is something more, something not visible, that there is an invisible world of realities, and truth, that can be discerned only through a leap of intuition.

The mystical orientation, or experience, is always the same, whether Taoist, Hindu, Native American, Buddhist, Christian or what have you. The mystic always points toward the oneness, the wholeness of the universe of which we are only a very small part. The word “God” is only a symbol for that Mystery that saturates and permeates everything in the universe. As the giant 13th century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, put it: “To watch a child pouring water into a glass is to watch God pouring God into God.” Or again: “Going around looking for God is like sitting on an ox looking for an ox to ride.” Or again: “The dung in the stable and God are One. The flea and God are One. Do you want to see God? Look into a mirror.”

William James, the distinguished psychologist wrote: “The mystic has insights into depths of truth that are unplumbed by the discursive intellect.”

As Carl Jung put it: “The creative mystic has always been a thorn in the side of the dogmatic and creedal church. But it is to the mystic that we owe all that is best in religion and humanity.” It usually amazes people, when I am lecturing on this subject, to hear that a vast majority of our Nobel Prize-winning physicists are mystics. As theoretical physicists, they have, by intuition, seen into the nature of reality that goes far beyond the intellect. Mysticism and physics are fraternal twins. Albert Einstein wrote this: “The cosmic order can be directly apprehended by the soul in the mystical union.”

Today’s physicists and quantum mechanics confirm that the archaic classifications of organic and inorganic, animate and inanimate, do not exist and are invalid. Of course, the Eastern spiritual traditions, the Native Americans and mystics of all time and place have known this for thousands of years. What this belief says is: Everything is One. The Mystery within us is the same Mystery that is in every leaf, every atom, every molecule. The Cosmos is everything. The Cosmos is the totality of all things. You cannot experience God, for you are already It. God and a cucumber are One. God and the flea are One. The wolf, the dragonfly and I, we are One. An old Chinese text reads: “There is no Creator. Everything produces itself and is not produced by others. This is the natural way of the Universe.” Modern physicists would say, “Yes, they knew what they were talking about.” There is only creativity and it is constantly going on. It is a continuous process, and every thing is alive and in movement, even though invisible to the naked eye. We are a part of the cosmic dance. Life is a dance and the dance goes on in time and space.

A text of second century Judaism says: “God is not external to anything in the universe. All is One with the One as the flame is one with the candle.” (Bear in mind, that is second century Judaism). Life, so called, is only a short span between two great mysteries which are yet One. Fall begins with Spring, and Winter begins with Summer, and so-called death begins with birth, and it is all One and all interrelated.

What a dreamer am I. My dream: What a blessing it would be if all the religions that are based on dogmas, creeds and doctrines would give them up and become mystical. It is dogmas and doctrines that cause all of the hatred, violence and bloodshed. What a peaceful and harmonious world it would be, with the mystic philosophy. Ah, what a dreamer am I.

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Duncan said...

Hi, Eddie! Thanks for posting the Bill Edelen piece on mysticism. It's what It's all about.

Don't want to get started on the Herbert thing on guns. Just let me say that he's misguided like so many that wish to iradicate the disease by treating the symptom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed, I'm back from Patagonia and delighted as usual with yyour P3 offerings. Thanks for keeping us both informed, enlightened and etertained. Luci

Rick Posner said...

Love the blog Ed! Jimmy's piece looks great. Thanks for all you do!

Rick Posner

Pull Up A Chair said...

Richard Nixon was big in the peace movement... Ha! That's funny. With thousands of quotes about peace to choose from some dufuss decides to use Nixon.

Sea Breeze said...

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Sonu G said...

Your blog is really great and lot of information. interesting blog thank you man

Anonymous said...

Just get started, indeed. When Senator Dianne Feinstein's ten year ban on the sale of assault weapons lapsed last year (2010), her fellow members of the Senate let it be known that they were not inclined to fight with the gun lobby over reinstatement of the ban. And so, it lapsed. And remains in a lapsed state. It must be true, that Americans excel at exhibiting "three different kinds of stupid." Just my opinion. JP

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha and he he he;
most enlightening to see this
added information that corroborates
my dissertation On the Function of
Laughter (now in the archives of Sonoma State University). Simon