Forget the Alamo, and Other Myths that Divide Us.

Forget the Alamo, and Other Myths that Divide Us.

I love mythology. Reading it, studying it, pondering its sources and patterns. I love uncovering common mythic threads in multiple cultures, and how we humans repeatedly tell stories about ourselves that strike the same or similar chords — usually without realizing this. East to West, North to South, and all points in between, our myths, when studied holistically as myths, remind us of our commonalities far more than our differences, which is one of the reasons why that study is imperative.

If we take a bird’s eye view, if we fly above it all, mythic journeys generally follow the same basic routes, and they’re naturally, deeply connected with our own, personal travels from birth to death and beyond — often in hopes of that beyond. While the settings differ, along with the details, styles, and emphases, we share the same dreams, more often than not.… Click to Continue “Forget the Alamo, and Other Myths that Divide Us.”

Happy Bloomsday 2021!

Happy Bloomsday 2021!

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when we celebrate James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, and Leopold Bloom’s long day’s journey home to Molly Bloom.

An excellent source for the above, from the James Joyce Center:

https://www.bloomsdayfestival.ie/

Kate Bush based the title tract of The Sensual World (1989) on Molly Bloom’s “Yes” soliloquy. The video adds dance to this. Kate as Molly, as herself, as every woman, as every human “touched” by the luminous, the unrepressed, the truly free.

 

 At its best, Art focuses, expands, energizes the mind, as it highlights the complexities driving us to explore the inside-out. When we give it its due, pay true attention, give it time and space to breathe within us, we fight back against those who work so hard to block us from that sensual world — from our humanity.… Click to Continue “Happy Bloomsday 2021!”

PJ Harvey’s West Side Story Redux

PJ Harvey’s West Side Story Redux

Walked today in the heat, under the rumbling thunder, and listened to music, hoping I could beat the rain. PJ Harvey sang into my ears and I thought about some of the melodies that may have sparked her own, especially the one in the video below.

My favorite PJ Harvey album, which I dove into a bit in in this post from 2009, is her Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000). Every song works, shows grit, unique style, originality. This one reminds me, just a little bit, of one of the songs from West Side Story, stripped down and turned on its head, with a well-earned edge to boot. The video of the song makes it even clearer that she’s got this, and she knows she’s in control.… Click to Continue “PJ Harvey’s West Side Story Redux”

Michael Herr’s Dispatches from Vietnam

Michael Herr’s Dispatches from Vietnam

The development of slang and jargon. Being tuned into both. Having complete command of both. A way inside and a way to avoid. Everything. Everything you see and know to be utterly insane about your surroundings, your circumstances, but you’ve got the lingo down, and you navigate the slang, the alphabet soup, so it’s all cool.

This is how the opening pages of Michael Herr’s classic memoir of his time in Vietnam may strike the reader, for a moment or two, but there’s more. Much more. It’s beside the point, of course. And it’s essential as foundation for what follows. Navigation is all. Riding the crazed tiger, any way you can, is all.

Anecdotes, journal entries, and dialogues shape new stories of Vietnam. Dispatches (1977) is fantastic at cutting through the spin without preaching.… Click to Continue “Michael Herr’s Dispatches from Vietnam”

Nietzsche was right. Sort of.

Nietzsche was right. Sort of.

Panoply7, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

I’ve often heard it said that “human nature” makes true system-change impossible, that we’re too greedy, selfish, or just plain rotten to ever live in a more cooperative, harmonious way with one another, which apparently means any system-change is bound to fail.

I find that to be blinkered thinking on several levels, and ultimately destructive. First off, there is no such thing as “human nature,” as anthropologists, biologists, bio-geneticists, and psychologists of various stripes have been telling us for more than a century. More than a few philosophers have as well, including the fellow mentioned in the title. If we have any “nature” at all, it’s such a jumble of competing drives, emotions, instincts and “wills,” there can be no singularity, no single “I”.… Click to Continue “Nietzsche was right. Sort of.”

Plastic People and Their Members Only Signs

Plastic People and Their Members Only Signs

Obstacles3, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

 

The Commons

What we can and can’t see
Depends too often on what we can
And can’t afford
Which brings in the poor imagination

To carry much of the load
Far too much of that load

Says that central organ
Of our nature
Its definition
Perhaps

The primordial green and yellow valley
Over there with its endless
Flowered meadows
And spritely creatures

We imagine are there
Waiting to dance with us
Sing with us
Show us their tiny multiverse

Is not ours to see
So we can’t
Outside the mind’s sixth sense
And that      my friends      is not true life

Nor is it true life when a wild run
Down to the sunny shore
An openly free and thunderous run
Down to a pristine beach

Without umpteen hideous glassed in
Towers blocking horizons over the sea
Blocking our unabashed joy in the run
Through the dunes to that sea

Our first home     is impossible!… Click to Continue “Plastic People and Their Members Only Signs”

Richard Wright: Prometheus in Hell

Richard Wright: Prometheus in Hell

A “lost novel” rises from the ashes, after an inexplicable delay of nearly 80 years. Irony rises too from the American underbelly, given the subject matter and historical context. Blues, Jazz, and Surrealism combine in ways we haven’t seen before. Throw in Crime Noir and we get the Quad.

Brutal cops meet Invisible Man by way of “LA Confidential.” Born already guilty, and on permanent trial in the eyes of the dominant class, an innocent man meets Kafka’s nightmare, sees nowhere else to go but under. Is he Lao-Tzu, Jesus, or Prometheus rising from modernity’s sewers, perhaps to show us the Way? Or is he, Fred Daniels, just a flickering image on the Cave’s wall, to be ignored, mocked, and quickly forgotten?

America in the 1940s and America today.… Click to Continue “Richard Wright: Prometheus in Hell”

In Praise of Idleness

In Praise of Idleness

Harmonies77, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

Heartshadows

Grasswoodflower rise and fall
Like fine duets
Sung by Yin and Yang at their limits
Their most egregiously in tune

Shapecolorshadow blend and fight
In the most civil way
Provoking the heart of the matter
Again and again

Each to each while there’s still
A chance for aesthetic tumult

The horses graze in the valley
Sniff the breezesongcontras
Seven times
Before the ghost-stables call

And the birds Make Ten
Above all in bliss
In freedom like star-eyed notes
Choosing their own resonance

I feel blessed to know this
To see the heartshadows
On that side of the cave
Before I roll away the stone

 

— by Douglas Pinson

Maxwell’s Demon and More New Poetry

Maxwell’s Demon and More New Poetry

We’ve added three new poems by Robert Mueller this month. Please feel free to leave comments on the Contact Us page.

I’m almost finished reading a good novel by Steven Hall, Maxwell’s Demon (2021). Postmodern, and very Meta. Some fun facts about Entropy, angels, oxen, bees, Jewish gods and mysticism, and the Apocrypha along the way, which Hall integrates well throughout the narrative. I can hear echoes from Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, and Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds too, but this is really Hall’s show and his alone. 

Boiled down, it’s a book about a writer’s search for a book, or two, or three. His search for a strange and reclusive writer of a debut masterpiece, who never published another novel again, though he may have written them.… Click to Continue “Maxwell’s Demon and More New Poetry”

The Shaman and Time’s Arrow

The Shaman and Time’s Arrow

Night Moves, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I played Daniel-san to the Shaman’s Mr. Miyagi. He had me wash his car, weed and seed his lawn, and take his clothes to the dry-cleaner’s, among other chores. All of this struck me as a waste of time, of course, which was likely the point. Either that, or a lesson in Entropy, a word the Shaman had left out of his lessons so far.

But things changed dramatically soon enough. Archery lessons! This was something I knew I could use, especially given my youthful admiration of Robin Hood, and my hatred toward Paris, the coward of The Iliad. Now, if only we could combine the Zen of Archery with the Zen of Motorcycles — shoot arrows while riding Yamahas — all would be forgiven.… Click to Continue “The Shaman and Time’s Arrow”

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