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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


mercury up close

Mercury went retrograde today, will go backwards until April 23. An online astrologer said the retrograde will cause much misinterpretation. I thought that was the human condition in all astrological conditions. Yesterday I saw a big one. Fortunately, it was not my own. A man told a woman he didn't know that he didn't approve of what she was doing. She let him have it, loud and uninhibited. I believed he would have known better, but he hasn't lived in the mountains very long and she lived here all her life. I don't ever tell somebody I don't approve of what they're doing, because it doesn't matter what I approve or disapprove in somebody else's decision making for self, unless it directly involves me. I thought he knew better than to talk to somebody like that. He got his learning. I doubt he'll do it again any time soon. That was the day before Mercury went retrograde. Misinterpretations go on all the time. Actually, I'm thinking the word interpretation only has meaning when it includes the prefix mis. Bring it on, Mercury. See if you can make it any crazier than it already is.

When illusion is the nature of our world, I don't see how there can be any real understanding via interpretation. I've an idea we pretend to understand more than we actually do. Pretend to ourselves. When you start thinking about how a misinterpretation of one thing can create a misunderstanding of something else, which goes on misunderstanding the next step, until the belief that the conclusion is correct, it gets way beyond the mind's ability to contain all the weavings, like a spider web made by a spider on lsd. It's too much to conceptualize in the mind, so we give it no attention, take it for granted there is actually some understanding going on. Don't want to entertain the thought of there being no understanding. Then what? Yet, bridges continue to carry millions of cars, trucks and trains over rivers. It takes some confidence in interpretation and understanding to set out to engineer a river bridge. There isn't much room for misunderstandings building a bridge, ask the guys that have fallen into the freshly poured cement foundations that hold the bridge up. Thought the step would hold, but it didn't. They misinterpreted.

There is something about Mercury retrograde I have seen often, that communication breaks down inexplicably from time to time. Understandings between two people, telephones, computers, like that, processes of communication go haywire. I have a friend who figuratively counts the days til the end of a Mercury retrograde, anxious to get back to things making sense again, or seeming to. Maybe I'm used to things not making sense, which may help me not notice a Mercury retrograde so much. Though one thing gives me a little pause. Friday I'm having lunch with a friend of many misinterpretations between us. Misinterpretations come real easy between us. No problem. Basic respect allows for misunderstandings. We regard each other with respect and don't have problems other than a temporary Harumph from time to time. I'll pay attention to our communication Friday and see if anything is different. Of course, there is always something different. How will I know Mercury's influence? Probably won't.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011


seen in whitehead

Less than half an hour ago I was writing a friend a brief on the manner of my spiritual life. I saw myself write that I don't talk much about God, because I respect other people's conceptions are their own, like I appreciate being allowed to have my own. I didn't know, consciously, that's how I saw it. Writing it, there it was. Evidently it was the first time I'd seen that in words. I'm no missionary for anything. This is why I could never be a salesman. I grew up in a church that told me I needed to be talking about the Lord to all my friends at school, getting them saved so they won't go to Hell when they die, and you never know when you're going to die.

The other kids from the church carried their Bibles at school on top of their other books between classes. Not me. Of the kids in the church, I was the black sheep. Liked that infernal rock and roll music. The preacher said Paul Whiteman went to Africa where he learned devil worshipping music and brought it back to America calling it rock and roll. I laughed at it then as much as I do now. It's just that Elvis moved like an N-word. And N-words were from Africa where they worshipped the devil. Even as a kid I knew better than that. Moses came from Africa and he didn't worship the devil.

It was through such excesses, this one example of many, another the threat of Godless Communism and Nietzsche saying God is dead, I couldn't help but wonder why it was such a big deal. So one man says something. That doesn't mean it's so. I could write God is a duck. Baptist preachers would say I'm ridiculous. But a German philosopher they can't even read says God is dead and they went apeshit. Why does it have to be taken for fact? Nobody will consider whether God is a duck, when I'd say that's a much closer example of what God is than dead. I just take it for uninformed on Herr Nietzsche's part. He could see through about everything, but never connected with what's on the other side of what he saw through. Anyway, that's how I see it. A PhD in Philosophy wouldn't regard what I said even worthy of notice. So why should I care what Nietzsche said? My experience says his statement is without meaning. So people pay more attention to him than to me. That doesn't mean I have to believe it or even resist it.

How Nietzsche saw God was very different from how I see God. Maybe the limited God he saw did die. We all have our own way of seeing God and anybody who says there is just one way to see God doesn't get it. It seems to me like to make such a statement nullifies itself immediately. There is nothing that can really be said about God. Like when you live in a culture, it's the way things are and there's not a whole lot that can be said about it. It's just something you live. Until it's over and looked at as a culture. Then it can be written about academically and appreciated from afar. But while living it, it wasn't anything. That's pretty much how I see living with God--it isn't anything. At the same time, it's everything.

I feel like when I call it God or something or another, the Spirit, none of it is even close. It's kind of like the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Arctic oceans. The immensity of all that water, great bodies of water in motion, the enormous power and indifference to the human ego called ocean, one little five-letter word. It's kind of meaningless. It's like calling the consciousness that set the universe into motion as zillions and zillions of spiral galaxies, quasars, Orion, the zodiac, all the beauty we can now see with the Hubble telescope, and this one universe among an infinity of universes in no-time and no-space, calling that by a 3-letter word, God. Of course there are other solar systems in our galaxy, let alone the whole universe, that have planets with life forms of their own, possibly many of them seeded, each in it's own phase of evolution of consciousness. Some would be more advanced than us and some less. Evidently it's the ones more advanced than us flying around in space watching us from wheels within wheels.

About as good as I can do on how to live my life knowing God is, whatever that means, is just live it. I mean live it. I don't mean deny it or strap myself down with taboos. If I wanted to get shitfaced drunk, fall down on the floor passed out and sleep for ten hours, the God of my way of seeing God would laugh and say, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I'm inclined to believe God doesn't even pay attention to what we call good and bad behavior. It's our hearts God knows us by. God is like how Martin Luther King wanted American social life to be, judging us by our character rather than the color of our skin. What is skin to God but a membrane, a sack that holds our guts together. Some sacks are black as a water buffalo and some are pink as pigs. Jesus had African blood.


Monday, March 28, 2011


liberty, whitehead

I managed to piss off a friend a few minutes ago on the land-line telephone. We have a major yin-yang between us. He believes opinions are the highest of the high and I believe opinions are nothing. I state opinions, but I don't take them seriously, even though I might sound like it. When he states an opinion it is fact edged in gold. As per our conversations, he asked me a question that took some answering, like how the bass got into old-time music. I didn't know, so we were looking about, sort of fishing for whatever we could find that might lead us to it. I mentioned Bill Monroe in the mid 1930s went to Chicago and worked in a factory. There, he discovered Chicago blues and jazz. It came to him to jazz old-time and he called his style of jazzing old-time bluegrass. "I don't like bluegrass." Totally out of the blue, had nothing to do with what we were talking about. It got on my nerves, because this is, indeed, as per our conversations. He always interrupts with an opinion out of the blue triggered by key words, in this case bluegrass. I don't like it. My thought: Duh! Who gives a shit? But what I said was, "That has nothing to do with what I'm saying." Silence other end. I attempt to follow my thinking before the interruption and there was the dead silence the other end of someone not listening. OK. I get it. End of subject. Good bye.

Much of the time when we're together talking, this is how it goes. He'll ask me a question, and in the answer I unknowingly speak a key word that provokes an involuntary response, knee-jerk, and it usually amounts to I don't like it. His opinions are holy and to counter one of his opinions is to go up against uber-fact. I often think of the Duck's Breath Mystery Theater when in conversation with friend, "Hi! I'm Doctor Science. I have a Master's Degree in Science. I know more than you do!" I concede. I'm happy you know more than I do. It would be a shame if you knew less than I do. It's just that I've come to a place within where I'm tired of irrelevant interruption having nothing to do with anything but to bust up the conversation and get out of it because he's not the one talking. This is how it goes every time with said friend. If I speak beyond a few sentences, then it turns into a challenge to shut me down, because he isn't listening to all that talk, when he knows better. It pisses me off. I've been pissed off well over a hundred times, over 500 times, maybe even a thousand, as I've known friend for 35 years. It's always this way. This time I spoke back to the rude interruption and pissed him off.

It's something I've not said anything about for years, just bore with it. Then there comes a day that the camel's back broke and I spoke my meaning. OUT OF ORDER. Tough shit. Perhaps I should have addressed it years ago. Perhaps not. I've learned long ago that when we're together, he's the one with dominant knowledge, dominant intelligence, dominant ego, and I see it's incredibly important to him to view himself the one on top, and I have no problem. He wants to think he's top dog, so I say, go for it, have a ball. I really don't care about hierarchical ladders. I'm at the bottom of every ladder there is. I have only one degree. I don't commit political correctness speak. I don't assume myself someone to be reckoned with, position. I don't want "position." I don't want any of that shit, yet I live in a world of people who value that shit. It's called out of step. That's me. I do not do the goose step. Don't even know how. Will not learn it.

He would say I'm over-reacting, and I may be. Over-reacting in this case is simply speaking up about it when rudely interrupted by irrelevant opinion. I don't care whether it's over-reacting or not. He doesn't care that his interruption had nothing to do with anything except to stop my talking. It worked. It works every time. I quit talking when he interrupts and he takes off talking like I'd been holding his head under water. This time, perhaps the thousandth time, I spoke up about it. Buzzers and alarms went off. Politically In-correct. The one of lesser education challenging authority. Voided. Like: That's nothing, listen to what I have to say. Testosterone at its best. Two roosters at the same trough, keeping pecking distance, one pecks if the other gets too close. You pissed me off! Humph! You pissed me off first! Sounds like PeeWee Herman. "I know you are, but what am I?"

This aspect of my friend is tiresome. But I don't care. We've been friends a long time, the kind of friends that can be counted on. This is one of his ways. I have my ways. He can't stand it that when I say something I got from somebody else, I'll cite my source. It runs all over him when I cite a source, until one day he told me to just quit it. Say there are a million attributes to this person my friend and one of them is objectionable. Big deal. I really can't be bothered by that minor an irritation. So I have my moment of letting off steam, which this present spewing satisfies, and then it's over. I fume with it in my head until I've solved it, come to: so what! It's just humans being humans. I don't want to make him into a clone of me. I just decided to speak up for myself today and stepped on a toe. No blame, really. Two egos in the boxing ring of the mind. Both with daddy issues. Look out. I'm actually amazed we can tolerate each other as we both have such overwhelming egos. We practice Being Peace when we get together. He's one of my friends I value. Hail far. Brothers piss each other off and get over it. Friends do too.


Sunday, March 27, 2011


waterfall road

Today I find my mind mulling over the time after oil, maybe 100 years or less from now. There are all kinds of predictions down to just a few years. Things have a way of changing, like Steven Seagal says, real fast. I'm not seeing it a dire emergency. Lord have mercy, 2/3 of the people on earth live in poverty, now. Can it get much worse? Yes. One out of eleven American adults is in prison. High percentage black, of course, as our penal system has become a network of concentration camps for black males primarily. Talk about these being great times and America is the richest country in the world. America is home to some of the richest people in the world, who bank offshore, but they don't figure as American people. They're the ones making decisions we the people live by in obedience. They're not people anymore. They're corporations.

All that as it may. We're right in the middle of the Age of Oil living with products made of oil in everything around us. Computers. Toothbrushes. The interiors of our cars. The clothes we wear are largely oil-based, like the fertilizer that makes our food grow. I look forward to the end of mega-farms producing one thing and shipping it. At a grocery store in central coastal Florida in the time when oranges were in season, the oranges in the store were from California. In the middle of Indian River country. I'll be happy to see the family or community farm come back. Maybe it's a good thing Americans love to have a plot of ground around the house to mow. Yards will make ideal places for gardens.

I can't help but see us cluster into communities when we can't drive cars any more and have to replace bridges that have fallen apart with rope foot bridges. We'll have ferries across the rivers again. We'll walk more, like in the old-time days, and we'll ride horses again. Maybe we'll return to the "Garden," get back in rhythm with the natural world that we actually do live in, that we actually are a part of. Won't it be good not to have traffic any more. No more Highway Patrol. No more car insurance. No more getting break downs repaired. No more wrecks. No more people getting burned up in automobile fires.  I see us more conscious than we are now. We are way more conscious than we were a century ago. A century from now we'll perhaps have at least that much more of a boost in consciousness. Perhaps we will collectively want to live in peace. It seems like it would have to be opening to a new way of seeing all the religions we already have, the core of them the same, like pearls on a string.

Buddhists tend to live in peace among themselves and everyone else. Christendom is the crusader religion that wants to take over the world by might. Christians can't even get along with one another. Christian soldiers marching as to war. Goose stepping. This is where I have never been comfortable with Christendom, the identification with war. Victory in Jesus! God is on our side. Kill a commie for Christ. My way or the highway. Onward, with the cross of Jesus going before. I can't help but think in this summing up time that the Christian passion for killing knows no peace time. Every Christmas people sing sweet songs about Peace and send cards that say Peace. Though Peace with a peace symbol is inappropriate. It's not supposed to mean actual peace. It's just supposed to sound pretty. A good documentary on how Christendom became so violent is CONSTANTINE'S SWORD, made from the book by James Carroll of same title. It answers a lot of questions and questions you never had. By the end you feel like you understand it.

That mind in Christendom will have to be ended before we can have peace on earth. Quite a lot of Buddhists have peace on earth. Buddhists may be the most peaceable people on earth, perhaps the Tibetan Buddhists the most peaceable. They are peace itself. Seems like there will have to be some cohesive spiritual experience everyone will have in common that appeals to all of us, like Jesus did, to live in peace amongst ourselves. Sorry Jesus. It went right over the tops of our heads. What in Christendom is called the Second Coming may be what it takes. I've seen its meaning explained in a lot of possible ways, each one a way it will not be. Things like this never happen as expected. That's the only certainty. And when these matters of the spirit manifest, often it's the ones making the most noise about waiting that miss it and their religion becomes one of waiting.

The best part is we will return to living in communities, largely self-sufficient communties, like old-time small towns, farms all around, though a different kind of farming this time. More conscious farming, each area with its own cooking styles, getting variety back into living. Returning to our humanity from a couple centuries of leaving it as far as we could get. Pushing the envelope. Now, it appears we'll be progressing toward helping to heal the earth and live better. No more anti-depressants. More people playing music. Live music of several varieties per community. No more tv, giving people a chance to know each other again.


Saturday, March 26, 2011


the fiddler

It seems like my mind stays on about one subject over the last few days, the end of the Age of Oil and the transition to living without oil, which will probably take as long as it did to get this far into the Age of Oil. Oil is not forever. It is a limited resource. Oil has been beneficial in having something to do with the collective raising of human consciousness. It has taken us from a horseback army to fighter jet army, to space exploration, to electric razors, to everything electric. It takes coal and natural gas to make electricity. In hydroelectric dams, oil lubricates the machines. No more plastic. No more cars, even electric, as each tire is 7 gallons of oil. Lubrication? The age of the machine that came up with oil will fade as oil fades. The age of gadgets will go away as oil goes away.

In the 50s when machines and gadgets were getting going, "Better living electrically," it also meant better living with oil. Westinghouse washer and dryer. Kelvinator. Convenience the key word. The convenience of garbage disposals, shove it down the drain, flip the switch and into the sewer it goes. Never wash a dish again. Can openers. In the midst of it all, the voice of Ronald Reagan, Death Valley Days. There came a time when conveniences were taken care of. From then on, it became a matter of manufacturing gadgets and a cultural fascination with gadgets that is really odd when you pay attention to it, created entirely by advertising. Baseball is not our national pass-time. Shopping is. Again, made by advertising. Therein is the dumbing down of America, submitting to mind manipulation techniques all the time, told over and over it's right to want things you can't afford.

The cult of the New in this time of rapidly evolving hi-tech gadgets insists that the latest is necessary for a host of convincing reasons thought up by very well paid advertising gurus versed in manipulating the human mind.  All before, obsolete, dinosaurs. Government has learned from business, and by now our government is corporate business using what has been learned from advertising for mind control by propaganda. As oil goes away and electricity goes away, government using the trickery of business on us will go away too. It will have to find a new kind of trickery. Economy is based in oil too. As oil goes, economy goes. As economy goes, big problems arise. Civil unrest. Crime. Political turmoil. Military called on to kill its own people, a la Libya. It will be a frightful time. Like up to recently has been living on more is best, and will next do the reverse of that, more is less.

I don't like to follow my thinking into what it might be like. It will be different from place to place, and like now, everyone will be in his/her own life dealing with what's most pressingly important. It means what the Bible calls the Harvest is coming up. As oil and everything else is priced out of range of all but the rich, there will likely be an ongoing die-off for a lot of decades. It looks like this "economic downturn" is the direction of the future. That is, economic. We will be gardening more. And we will be learning gardening after a renascence in science that can teach us to grow things without oil based fertilizer, and actually be able to live from what we grow more effeciently than ever. In that way, it could create among the people who gather into groups or communities, everyone working toward the good of all, which includes oneself, better physical health, better mental health, better emotional health.

That's idealistic seeming, but after this time of nearly everyone on some kind of relaxation drug, people frantic with worries, the collective anger that I believe has to do with there being no place for the individual any more, when there's no money to worry over, just enough to get by on, I'm seeing it a highly spiritual time where not having money is the real wealth. Undoubtedly, there will be much attention given to healing the earth from all the sickness and toxicity brought to us by oil. I look at the snowbirds at the bird feeder and reflect on how few birds we have. I've seen the bird population decrease quite a lot in my time in the mountains. Tom Pruitt told me there was a multitude of birds in the old days, big swarming flocks of them like clouds in the sky. Farmers everywhere grew oats and other grains. The birds had a feast and no doubt multiplied like crazy. Now they're being killed off by pesticides, oil based.

Much healing will be needed. The end of manufacturing, the end of a way of life we've evolved over the last 150 years, will be a shock. We'll learn how to deal with it. Again, I think it will be a highly spiritual time, not a fundamentalist time--now is fundamentalist time, the peak of the age of oil. This time of prosperity we're in has little place for the spirit. Art appears to me to be the place the spirit dwelled in the time when the spirit took not just back seat, but the trunk. A spiritual awakening for all humanity is forecast in the near future. We'll go back to horses and donkeys and wells, growing our own food, no more agri-business of one crop growing in straight lines to the horizon in all directions. Frankenfood I've heard it called. We'll hear roosters crow again. When the archaeologists of the future go through the mountains of trash that are our city's landfills, they will have a grand time recreating the Age of Oil in their minds. It will be read about as we read about the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, taught in universities, the story of every civilization, rise and fall.

Friday, March 25, 2011


skeeter & the skidmarks

  scott freeman, fiddle; edwin lacy, banjo

sandy grover mason, bass; willard gayheart, guitar

willard gayheart, guitar

 edwin lacy, banjo

Skeeter & the Skidmarks played again at the Front Porch in Woodlawn. It was their 4th show since the beginning of the series almost a year ago. The audience was the biggest crowd yet, 50. Nearly all the faces are familiar by now. The band has developed a fan base in Woodlawn by now. They already have a fan base spread all over the country. Working on their 3rd album after about 15 years since the 2nd one. Edwin Lacy back in the area has made the band possible again.

The band gave out when Edwin had to go away to Ohio to a Presbyterian seminary, then was stationed in Indiana. There was no music where he was. He ached to be back here with the music. He fell into a position in Bristol TN/VA and now is close enough that Skeeter can play again. While Edwin was away, Scott and Willard had a band, Alternate Roots, a good bluegrass band, my favorite band, period. After 4 cds they gave out. Then Edwin came home and Skeeter is reborn. They're gradually putting together a new cd, getting together to record a few songs at a time.

It was a great show tonight, loaded with Skeeter energy.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011


the carter family

I had to open the door a little bit to listen to the rain. It's 54 degrees and falling. The heat will come on soon, but I don't care. This winter has cost so much where heating is concerned, I don't care any more about leaving the door open an hour or so if it costs a quarter in kerosene consumption. I'd rather listen to the rain. If it costs a quarter, that's not much for the price of admission. It's a gentle rain, the kind that soaks into the ground and hopefully adds some to the water table. The rain falls on last year's leaves, the carpet of mulch to be topsoil by end of summer when the new carpet of leaves cover the ground. The wind chimes are ringing lightly.

In last week's paper was an obituary of one of my faithful listeners on the radio show. Loyd Edwards, 79, died a week and a half ago, Saturday, March 12. His mother was a Todd. That stopped my wandering mind for a few moments. Loyd sometimes called on the telephone during the radio show to ask for a song. He loved to hear Norman Edmonds the fiddler play Train On An Island. He liked old-timey old-time, the funky old clucking banjo and rough squawky fiddle. He loved the Carter Family and all the rest of old-time music. He listened closely, had a good ear for the music.

A couple times when I had the store, Loyd wanted in one case a cd by the Galax old-time band The New Ballards Branch Bog Trotters. He bought the cd, asked me to make a cassette from it, told me the song he wanted me to play 3 times in a row and left the cd with me. In the radio station studio playing the music of these hills for my listeners, I would see in my mind's eye the different people along the way who have told me they listen every week and value what I was doing. It was an audience of about 20 that I felt like I knew were listening, so when I talked to the black mic, I was talking to them individually.

Another time, Loyd asked me to put Norman Edmonds onto cassette and play Train On An Island 3 times in a row. Only about half the tape would be taken up by the cd, so I filled in the last half of the tape with a variety of old-time fiddle tunes and banjo tunes I had an idea he'd like a lot. An hour and a half of my radio show without me talking. He liked to listen to the tapes driving his pickup, making the rounds, coffee at the Pines and other stops. He used to stop by the radio station from time to time. He was among the station's greatest supporters of the people who listened to it.

When his grandson, Chris Johnson, took up old-time banjo it was just about the joy of Loyd's life. He loved it that his grandyoungun not only took up the banjo, but was good. Loyd wouldn't brag on him for the world, but it felt mighty good to him that Chris would carry the music on. It was satisfying to him as almost nothing else could have been. Loyd was a retired farmer who didn't talk much and when he did, it was short phrases. Sometimes it seemed like he didn't have much sense, if you went by how he talked, but he had a brilliant mind that didn't function in words. His was a farmer's mind, good at figuring things out, working alone. Yet, he could sit and talk for hours about the Bible and old-time music, two subjects not many people talk about any more.

I never saw a great deal of Loyd, him being someone I knew when I saw him a time or two a year for a moment at a time, a brief conversation about old-time music. Even though I don't see him, I miss him. I missed Roy Boone, the janitor at the courthouse, someone else I knew when I saw him. Every time I think of Roy, I miss him and think of him as one of those souls this world we live in needs more of, not less. Loyd Edwards was one of those people we need more of, not less. You might say he was just who he was. That was it. Buried in Mt Zion Primitive Baptist cemetery. I may stop by to visit his grave one day when I'm on hwy 18 N. It feels like Alleghany County is one candle light dimmer than it was when Loyd was living. Loyd was one of many people I've known in these mountains I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to know, a truly humble man who lived his life with integrity and in truth. Loyd was one of the people I look up to.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011


tom van buren pruitt

Thinking lately about David Lynch's film, THE STRAIGHT STORY, the tale of a retired truck driver who had lost his driver's license due to drinking and driving. He hadn't seen his brother in 10 years---they'd fallen out drunk. Brother lived 2 states over. It's legal to drive a riding mower without a license, so he rigged a trailer to pull behind the mower that would carry his tent, sleeping bag and food. He set out on the highway staying close to the side of the road. In one town his machine gave out and a man at a hardware store gave him a new one. After quite a long ride, he arrives at brother's house, an old house in the country that hadn't been painted since it was new a long time ago. Brother was sitting on a chair or swing, Harry Dean Stanton, and the old boy with the mower sat in another chair on the porch. They sat in silence for a long time, end of movie.

In my first 14 years in the mountains, I knew brothers, Tom Pruitt, who lived up the road to the west a third of a mile, and Millard who lived in Glade Valley, about a 20 minute drive. Tom lived at the homeplace. Millard, an old-time religion preacher, lived close to his church, Laurel Glenn Regular Baptist. There came a time I thought I'd take Millard, who was a shut-in with heart issues, lived in a recliner, preferring it to a hospital bed, to see his brother Tom, my neighbor. I knew they hadn't seen each other in several years. We went in the house and they sat in silence for an hour. They just sat. It was like presence was good enough. A few years later I took Tom to visit Millard. Again, for an hour they sat in silence. I was fairly well aware of country ways then, but that one took me by surprise. When I saw Lynch's film, which was true to life all the way along, I remembered Tom and Millard without words. I respect it for something I didn't understand. They understood.

I'd come from the city where people talk to beat the band. Tom and Millard were of the country. When you think about it, farming was solitary work. Mama at the house with the garden, kids and cooking had as solitary a life as her husband out in the field working the horses, repairing the fences, all of it alone work except at harvest time and wood gathering time when neighbors worked together. No radio. Singing hymns while working. Even working with others, there wasn't much talking. The old-time mountain people were not talkers. They were workers. They didn't have the gift of gab. They committed thinking in abundance. They thought things through. Now, with everybody carrying a cell phone in a pocket, not very many people today think things through. Some do, of course, but it's not as common as it used to be. In this time we're in, we keep ourselves distracted by noise all through the day. Driving, we have radio and satellite radio. At home an infinity of distractions keeps our attention fractured at all times. People now interrupt two people talking like it's a duty. You see two people in conversation, you MUST, absolutely must, interrupt them. It is American as apple pie, baseball and sex-drugs-n-rocknroll. Interrupting so American it's patriotic.

This matter of silence tells a great deal about the differences between mountain country people and the city people taking up in the mountains. They all watch television. The older mountain people are not ones to talk. They've worked all their lives alone. Silence and solitude gives a man time to think about whatever he needs to think about. About all the mountain people I've known are comfortable with silence. That is changing, has already changed, as the younger mountain people are the same as city people, the same influences, the same access to pop whatever you want, the same dread of silence. Some weeks ago I heard a band with a city-minded woman playing the bass. She talked between songs like there wasn't enough time to get it all said. About 2/3 of the way through the show, an older woman, up in her70s, spoke up from the audience and said, "Did your mother ever tell you to shut up?" When I heard that, I thought, there it is. One values jabber and the other does not. Different generations, different ways of thinking, very different experience. She said it laughing, no intent to be insulting. Sometimes enough is enough.

When I was new to these mountains, working outdoors alone, alone at home. It took several winters before I learned how to get through winters. I took up drawing and painting to get through the winters. I came here for solitude and couldn't handle it. I jumped in the deep end too soon, maybe. It took awhile to prefer silence to noise distraction, radio in my case. By now I've learned it fairly well. I like to be alone. I like to be without radio on or any music. I like NPR radio and music too. Mostly I have silence in the house. Caterpillar prefers silence too. Out here in the mountain there are subtle sounds everywhere; woodpeckers, chickadees, towhees, crickets, tree frogs, katydids. Every season has its own sounds, the sounds of silence. In summer I like the door open and windows to let the sounds from outside come into the house.


Monday, March 21, 2011


kyle busch after winning bristol

The M&M car won the Bristol race yesterday. It was a good run Kyle Busch made. He stayed up front most of the race and missed the multiple wrecks that happened behind him. Busch ran against Jimmy Johnson and Carl Edwards. The three of them  raced all-out the last 30+ laps. It was a 500 lap race. It was a good race from start to finish. Not many wrecks, and they weren't bad, just inconveniences good for pit stops. I found the above picture at a website, taken after Kyle Busch had made a show of smoking his tires for the crowd, smoking them good, a major cloud of pollution. If anybody politically correct ever went to one of these races, he'd be in continuous shock. The stadium becomes a bowl that holds the exhaust and rubber molecules from the tires. You can see it like an upside down bowl, like the bowl of night, visible pollution that is a bit noxious to breathe. But that's part of it. Rebellion. By God, you wanna see some pollution, I'll show it to ya. The roar is pure rock and roll, maybe even louder than an Aerosmith concert.

Outdoor activities are cranking up, like the car races. Not that sitting in a big stadium is an activity. But walking to it from where you have to park and walking back to the pickup is a major activity. Good exercise. I have been to one of the races, the CocaCola 500 outside Charlotte. The experience sitting in one of those bowls is similar to a rock concert. The sound is so loud it is thrilling. On the tv now the announcers pause for a minute or so and let you turn the volume up to hear the sound of the track. That is thrilling too. Women don't think much of it, but the guys love it. The car races are about as redneck a thing as you're going to find on tv. I've been griping along the way about television paying no mind to the working people. One day last week I sat before Country Music Television, CMT, 4 hours. Saw 2 redneck weddings and one redneck family reuniting--a daughter in a big working class family had got a high opinion of herself, married UP, drove a Cadillac SUV and admitted openly she felt like she was better than them. She was sentenced to I think 4 days and nights camping with the whole family. By the end of the experience, she broke through her stuck-up shell and became one of them again.

The weddings were berserk. These were casual documentaries an hour long apiece, of the preparations for the wedding, one with a fleet of tractors, obviously let to CMT by Farmall, them all being brand new tractors, and nobody in the cast able to afford even one. For the advertising. Both the wedding films were hilarious. Everybody proud to be a redneck. I had no idea such as that was going on. I think of the reactions of middle class people concerning the documentary, The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, like the Whites are the exception out there all by themselves. They were rednecks and rednecks are everywhere. They are the working class people, the people who quit school or barely made it through and didn't go to college. Secretly, they're people without hope. They're not bad people. A lot of them go to prison, but in America you don't got to prison any more for being bad. You go to prison for trying to make a living by hook or by crook when you're shut out from a respectable job that pays a wage you can live on. The poor go to prison. Unless you're like Bernie Madoff and pist everybody off.

I like my redneck friends the same as my non-redneck friends, who happen to be college educated, as it's college that is the line where redneck stops. Of rednecks I've known, I haven't found but a few that are what you'd call dumb. Just because somebody couldn't afford circumstances to go to college doesn't say anything about their minds. I don't know anybody who hasn't been to college who couldn't make it if they grew up middle class wearing Harvard sweatshirts when they were 10. I was looking at results of archery competitions in SW Virginia on a website a little bit ago. There are an awful lot of names of people who did some really good shooting. I doubt any of them went to college. A quotation I found last week of Oscar Wilde: Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.  Rednecks I know have a great deal of knowledge of that which cannot be taught.

This is where I've come to draw the line between the working class culture and middle class culture, where even gossip circles don't intersect, that the knowledge in the working class is that which cannot be taught. The middle class is characterized by knowledge that can be taught. I appreciate both ways of knowing. When I start to say I prefer one to the other, it comes to mind immediately that it is not so. I don't. It is two different ways of thinking. I think both ways. I appreciate both such that I see them halves of a whole. Rednecks are rough and rowdy because the work they do doesn't afford them a BMW sportscar and a Hummer for the old lady, unless they're dealing drugs on the side, or maybe I should say working on the side. Rednecks only get to work at country clubs. Sometimes the exception happens and it's Beverly Hillbillies redux. What I'm getting at is we're all just people born into every kind of circumstance there is from the slums around the Mexico City dump to the Houston Country Club. The whole rainbow of possibilities in between.

By this time in my life I'm seeing that somebody with a brilliant mind can be born into any social circumstance, the same as with a block of wood for a mind can be born to any circumstance. Whatever our social circumstance we came up in, it's up to us individually to determine the nature of our lives in whatever pool we're swimming in. Too many people who had nothing going for them have come along and made a productive life. Too many people have started out priveleged and let it all drift away. We get for ourselves what we want, even when we live in a slum. It's the inner part that lives our real lives among the people we live among, whoever they are. It doesn't matter if they're rich and decadent or work hard for very little. Who we are is the person inside who sees through our eyes, hears through the ears, thinks by our accumulated experience.

What good or ill comes to us will be the same as the good or ill we act out individually. Our lives are a singular experience in place and time. It's not about how comfortable is the ride, but how we feel about ourselves down in that little cell in the heart where we keep our true self safe from attacks from the outside. The only way to expand out of the tiny cell is to allow vulnerability. Tough decision. I'd just as soon hang on to not being too vulnerable. I've come to believe that to really be able to walk along one's spiritual path guided by the Master, we have to let ourselves be vulnerable sometimes, and that's not so easy for anybody. I remember when I was beginning to allow my vulnerabilities out of the box, there weren't any consequesnces. None of them got hurt. And I felt relaxed about my own soft spots. Eventually it comes to where it's no big deal at all. I'm not there yet and don't know that I know anybody who is. We're all wherever we are along our individual spiritual paths, even when we're not aware that we're on a path. Like in the old mountain hymn, some paths lead to destruction, and some to the pearly gates. I think the pearly gates is clarity within, our little self set free from the cell, free and out in the light above the trees. Free bird.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


bird trough

They say the moon will be the biggest tonight it gets, because it's the closest to the earth it gets. It is 30,000 miles closer. Closer than what? I don't know. And it will be 30% brighter. I don't see it. Possibly overcast or it hasn't come up yet. It's always overcast here when something cosmic happens. In August when we have meteor showers it's almost always overcast. I remember a time it was not overcast. I went to look and didn't see any more than usual, one every once in awhile. Came back in the house.

When I've left the country, went to Europe or Brittain, everything was different, except the moon. It was always the same moon everywhere I've been, coast to coast USA, on the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean. No matter how different the place might be from my home where the moon is a constant part of the skyscape, when I see the moon, I feel at home. There was a time I paid attention to what sign it was in every night and where the planets were in the sky. In my astrology chart the moon is in Cancer in my 8th house. Don't ask me what that means. It means I am who I am. I went just now to and looked up my horoscope and its translation. According to the moon in Cancer, I respond to the emotional tone and atmosphere around me. That's definitely so. It also said I have fluctuating and unpredictable moods. That's true too. Anybody who has read a few of these writings can see that. When I'm unpredictable, I can say it's nothing but my inner moon.

Unpredictable brought to mind a moment I saw in a documentary, MURDER ON A SUNDAY MORNING, a pair of lawyers working a case in Jacksonville. The lawyer, Pat McGuinness, told about the day of the trial, a police detective he knew was lying in court made a wise crack during a break about him smoking. He said, "I always like a cigarette before sex." He said he meant when they go back into the courtroom he was going to screw this detective by tripping him up in his lies. I bring this up as an example of unpredictable. The detective knew he'd be on the stand when they returned to the courtroom, knew he was referring to the questioning as sex and probably wondered what he meant until it was over and he realized he'd been screwed.


Friday, March 18, 2011


by helen frankenthaler

The daffodils are beginning to bloom. Crocus are spreading their petals. Turned the heat off today. Door open. Window open. Let some fresh air flow through. Saw the first towhee today, an orange-black-white bird that scratches among leaves and feeds off the ground. I expect in the past the cats kept the towhee population on the mountain down. Now they can come back. Bird killers don't live here any more. A crow is marching in the meadow beside the house looking for remains of the bread I threw out there yesterday that the crows have eaten by now.

It's been a clear, sun shiny day and I've slept through most of it. Got up early to let Caterpillar out before the dogs get here. I sat reading about General Crook stalking and attacking Indian villages, Indian scouts guiding him. Caterpillar came back in, I went back to bed. In a sound sleep, the phone rang just before 9 and pulled me way up from the bottom of the well. I staggered to the phone and it was the doctor's office telling what the blood drawn yesterday had to say. Staggered back to bed and fell down into the bottom of the well where I stayed until almost 2. Woke then wanting to go on sleeping. Stayed up for awhile reading and went back to bed. Up again later to read some more.

Googled various artists whose work I'm partial to and clicked on IMAGES for pages and pages of pictures of their work. Started with Isamu Noguchi, then Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, Larry Rivers, Helen Frankenthaler, Sol Lewitt. From time to time I like to look at different artists on the google image pages. Click on one, it gets bigger. Meant to look up Carl Andre and forgot to. Save him for next time. It's like a brief viewing of a retrospective at Moma without having to go there. I love being able to google museums and shows in New York so I can see them without having to go there. Going there takes all the joy out of seeing the pieces. Not entirely. I keep imprinted in my mind seeing Brancusi's Bird In Space, a bronze needle with the aerodynamic shape of bird. Came around a corner and there it was. It's at moments such as that I love civilization for the evolution of the human aesthetic. The war seriousness that dominates everything, the corporate buy-out of democracy, the worship of money, that's the lamentable parts of civilization.

If we really are going to have a thousand years of peace after this disaster we're entering like a boat adrift in a whirlpool, the love of money will have to be crushed to powder and thrown in the fire between now and the beginning of the thousand years of peace. Peace isn't happening as long as we go about like Basset hounds with our tongues lolly-gagging from the side of our mouths, dripping on the floor, the American Dream, more and more money, the fake rabbit leading greyhounds around the track. This is the only way I can see a possibility of peace on earth, good will toward everybody. Or maybe the religions that practice peace, Buddhism and Islam, will become the dominant religions of the earth after the Jerusalem religions kill each other off. Or, like John Lennon said in his song IMAGINE, no religions at all. In the Tao te Ching it says, When there is no desire, all things are at peace. It's true individually, collectively and universally. If we're to have peace universally, it will have to come from individuals.

I've an idea if we really are approaching a lord-will-come-again time, the appearance to all people at the same time, a major realization collectively that the kingdom of Heaven is indeed within, it will have to be so powerful a vision, understanding, realization that it will pass along from generation to generation without corruption until 3,000 AD before there's another conflict. That's inconceivable, also not. Muslims have lived together in peace for a very long time. So have Buddhists. Perhaps when the lord-will-come-again moment occurs, all religions will become one, or none. Whatever the religion case, individual differences will be settled, no longer an issue. Evidently, wanting will fall away. This sounds aboriginal, like the Australian Aborigines, people who can live in the desert where everything they need is provided as needed. Wanting is not an issue. I believe, however, we'll still have civilization, just in a new Era that makes all that went before look feral.

At the same time I complain about war, greed and all that goes with it, I understand that this dark side of civilization generates power to the arts in the light side. The avant-garde art all around the globe is in a time of international renascence. A PBS tv show ART:21 shows 20 minute documentaries of different out-front artists in NY now. It's some incredible art that is wide-open and cut-loose. We're blessed to be in a time when artists in the world's major cities are opening more and more to be included as art, until by now when everything is included, everything is art. Art will undoubtedly flourish everywhere in that thousand years of peace. Human cultures will change radically over that time, even more radically than they have changed over the last 1,000 years. Now, the style is to be hard. Then, the style will be to be gentle. When history is no longer an endless list of wars, we will think very differently. We will no longer look up to generals and guns and killing power. A thousand years of not holding up domination of others the highest, we'll be different. Very different.


Thursday, March 17, 2011



I go about everywhere I go the observer, even like invisible, surprised people see me and talk to me. A few days ago I saw a film by Ingmar Bergman made in 1977, The Serpent's Egg. It was Berlin in 1923 when the Nazi's made their first push for power that failed, sending Hitler to prison to write Mein Kampf, the fascist scripture. There were a few times Bergman took the lead man, David Carradine, a Jew, therefore invisible, through a maze of shelves of dusty archives underground. It called Kafka to mind every time he went through that maze. It was the Kafka time. He was not far away. Somewhere I read long ago that in his time Kafka's writing was humorous, funny. Today it is our constant sorrow.

I find Kafka too depressing to read now, because his vision has become the way things are. He was part of the beginnings of the Absurd in 20th century theater and writing from Eastern Europe; Alfred Jarry from Romania, Tristan Tsara from Romania, Kafka in Czechoslovokia, sculptor Constantine Brancusi from Romania, later playwright Eugene Ionesco from Romania in Paris, crossing the channel Harold Pinter in London, crossing the ocean Edward Albee in New York. These are only a few. Jerzy Kosinski from Poland, Andrei Cordescu from Romania. At the beginning of the 20th century and end of the 19th century, Romania was the birthplace of a line of artistic thinking that characterized the 20th century in art of every variety.

Tristan Tsara, poet, and Marcel Janco, painter, went to Zurich during WW1 from Romania to get out of the war. They carried that energy that was stirring in and around Bucharest into the Dada way of thinking when they joined some artist draft dogers from Germany, Norway, France who became the Dadists, who together put the history of art on the chopping block, cut it with a cleaver at the present moment, 1915, rendering all that went before as if it never happened. A group of a dozen or so of them gathered around the Spiegelgasse caberet in Zurich.

In 6 months of rapid exploration they spanned the modern movement through conceptualism, where they found their satisfaction, some of them taking their findings with them to Paris after WW1. From there on, the avant garde artists of New York, Paris and Berlin went step by step through the same evolution as the Dadaists went through in Zurich, but over a period of half a century. It's kind of like they were shamans who performed rituals in the spiritual world that manifested in the material world. That was a highly charged time. Marcel Duchamp was in Paris breaking boundaries with every piece of art he made from before Nude Descending A Staircase that came to characterize the modern movement. Duchamp was surely tapped into that same energy in Paris the Dadaists found in Zurich.

By end of war, they all surfaced in Paris, and Paris was alight with artistic energy until the Nazi invasion. The European artists went to New York and one to Los Angeles. Duchamp continued in a New York apartment, few people knowing anything about him. Until the 1960s when abstract expresssionism was happening in New York, bringing the art world's energy across the sea and we figured at last in the world of modern art. The next generation discovered Duchamp. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and their generation of artists in New York, realized they had the Zen Master of 20th Century art living among them in a small apartment with a wife named Teeny. His art form at the time was taking a piece of rope one meter long, standing on a short stool, holding the rope at arm's length by one end and dropping it. The shape it took on the floor was his work of art for the day. The rest of the time he played chess.

I tend to see art everywhere I look. Today, visiting with someone I didn't know, old, twisted, bent, on the boundary between asleep and awake except when he's asleep, I saw the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the windows, perspectives, questioning how I would paint this room. Looking at his face and twisted fingers I studied how I would paint him, no hair, bald as a baby, bent like a baby, on the verge of sleep like a baby. He could be painted either to give off the aura of a saint or an old cripple of waning spirit, who could be a saint for all I know. I wanted to paint his picture up close, a portrait of the top of his head, hands like bent fists up by his face, eyes closed. Very powerful image. An old Zen monk. I felt like I was just a consciousness seeing him, no more than a consciousness. It was like my body was still out in the car or at home, and only my consciousness was there. It wasn't as empty as that sounds. There was a fullness in it. He, himself was reduced to his own consciousness by a body that doesn't work anymore. He was a full human being coming into his completion. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


caterpillar dreaming

I've spoiled Caterpillar. Since she's the only one of my four-legged friends left, I treat  her like a mother who lost all her kids but one. I want to give her all the attention she wants. This is becoming a bit of a problem. First, Caterpillar is a Maine Coon, meaning she has more automatic behavior than other cats. I spoil her. She wants me to hold her, I put aside what I'm doing and hold her. Whatever she wants, I'm there to serve. I don't mean she's become an ongoing pest. TarBaby used to lie on the desk between my arms when I was at the computer. Caterpillar wants me to hold her when I'm at the computer like I did TarBaby. TarBaby relaxed into it. Caterpillar has spasms when I touch her back toward her tail. So when I pick her up and my hand is on the back half of her back, she squirms like it hurts and has a minor spasm. I'm on the verge of taking her to the vet to see why that is. It's always been that way. I used to think it was fleas, but she hasn't had fleas in quite a long while. I picked her up and put her on my bed, a place that quiets her down immediately. I was getting somewhat annoyed, against my will. She's become so demanding when I sit at the computer the only way I can find to be reasonable about it is to hold her for awhile, until she starts getting finicky, which doesn't take very long, then I put her on the bed and return to the computer.

Watching a Steven Seagal movie last night the 4th time, ON DEADLY GROUND, Alaska oil refinery and Eskimos. In a time when he was recovering from a serious injury an old Eskimo woman told him in a vision she is constantly sad over the human condition, the indifference to life on earth. In books I read, occasionally someone appears who is in sorrow over the way things are--don't ask me to make a list of reasons, there's not enough room in my computer. Yesterday I heard a man talking on I think Diane Rehm show, saying we humans are conditioned from thousands of years of evolution, reading what is wrong occupies us more than reading what is right. After about 20 years of love/hate relationship with living in the mountains, looking at what's wrong, one day I decided to look at what's right. About broke into tears. Didn't take but a few seconds, less than 10, to see there is so much that is right the immensity of it overwhelmed me. I realized I'd been looking at the world I live in the not so beneficial way, not beneficial for me or those around me. That one moment made a major difference in my life.

Now I face the Big Picture, international politics, national politics, economy, all that stuff I know nothing about, except basic human nature that shows in our politicians like it shows in Shakespeare characters, except the politicians are the least interesting half of the equation. I find I tend to read these national politicians on a human scale, when that doesn't apply any more. Our American politicians have left the human scale, like a jet plane has left the human scale. As far as I can tell, a bicycle is the farthest extent of a mode of transportation being within the human scale, like horses. On the human scale between individuals, I think of basic human respect between people as the best way to get along, which everyone else does too. It's what we all do. Those that do not are sooner or later shut out in one way or another. Then you have the world of politicians that is a world of prosecutors and defenders. Lawyers. There is no respect going around except for hierarchical positions and wealth. The rule book they go by is in no relation to the rule book we go by living our everyday lives. I mean the unwritten rule book everyone knows by heart, some more thoroughly than others.

The people making the world we occupy are the rich and the politicians, who legislate for the rich and the rich only. The rich being mega-corporations. The only consideration where we consumers are concerned is control by manipulation. It gives me great sorrow to see my country, the one I pledged allegiance to M-F, K-6, the one I was taught to value because it's of the people, by the people, for the people, becoming a factory of lies to manipulate the people. Our government now only communicates with us lying. It gives me sorrow to know we the people do not apply. Probably didn't apply then, either, when I was pledging allegiance. I tell myself to stop looking at what's wrong and look at what's right. To find what's right I have to bring my attention back out of that kind of thinking to home where my friends are, the people who don't lie to me, the people who actually even care about me as I care about them. It's only when I focus my attention entirely inside Alleghany County and see American people are like the people I'm close to, that I feel no sorrow. There is plenty of sorrow here too, but here, it's on the human scale. Somebody I care about dies or comes down with cancer or any kind of thing---but it's real, it's true, it's not a lie that takes years to see through. The sorrow is for a given period of time and in relation to someone close. It's not an ongoing, life-long underlying sorrow like that of living in a world bent on self-destruction by way of greed, and there's nothing I can do about it but live on the periphery. I don't like the culture greed makes. I prefer to live among the working poor where greed is not a factor, except for thieves and we know who they are in a community. They prey on the people passing through.

What's happening inside me is I'm feeling the sorrow for all of my species on the planet that is our home. It's the kind of sorrow I believe Jesus felt/feels. He wanted to say, "Hey, ya'll, listen up. Take it easy on each other. It's not all that serious." All the way from father lying to child to business execs lying to consumers to presidents lying to the people, like Khadafy does, like Saddam Hussein did, for a few examples. I see this world of manipulation and want no part of it. It makes me an outsider. So that's how it is. It's like being black. It's what/who I am and there's nothing I can do about it. It's not just the bull in me, because one twelfth of us are Taurus, and not all Tauruses see as I see. Not by a long shot. Maybe Taurus has something to do with it, but I won't put it there, because it's more complex than a subtle wave running through the subconscious. It was created by a lifetime of experience. Perhaps more accurately, I might say a lifetime of experience as myself, as my own thinking created my own experience. This is why I don't think the same way you do. You've experienced the world through a lifetime of your own attitude toward life created by your own interpretation of your own experience. This is why I prefer the company of people who can tolerate talking with someone they don't necessarily agree with all the way. I think of people who can allow somebody to disagree with their way of seeing as independent thinkers, real Americans. The ones who must agree all the time are conforming to an extremely complex code of what it's ok to think. They're real Americans too.

What's going on with me right now I think has to do with the quotation from Meher Baba in the column to the right where he mentions attitude toward life down deep below the superficial level. I've been exploring in the back of my mind my own attitude toward life, to see what it is. This has something to do with why I write here every day, writing down my attitude toward life in this way of looking at it, that way of looking at it, examining and exploring it. What I find is a great deal of sorrow for the human condition. Like Ralph Stanley's song, "I've seen trouble all my days." Doesn't mean I've been in fights and prison. It means I've been awake enough to see how we humans generally regard each other, the need for God to take human form to speak our language to help guide us to living a good life. But it gets written down as laws, police, jail, outlaws, heretics, religion, stoning, burning, drowning in the name of God, shooting, stabbing, beating, torturing with God on our side.

Every day of my childhood I was in trouble, so much that my deepest most elemental psyche anticipates continually that I'm in trouble for one reason or another. I'm not and know I'm not. Then I hear about somebody mad because I didn't say what I was expected to say or do what I was expected to do. I can't care about that shit. When getting right down to it, it's me with God, my cat, my friends. I'm in no trouble from any of these relationships. Anything else, I don't care. Yet a feeling that tugs at my soul saying, you're in trouble, is there all the time. It's training we learn early on as a constant and it continues when the trainer is long, long gone. When I'm not paying attention, that kind of attention can fool me and make be believe I am in trouble, until I can't find why, except I don't do as expected by expectations that are not my own. That can be the cause of a lot of trouble if I let it.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


the flow

A day of weather all the way along. It started with very light sprinkles and stayed like that all day, sometimes increasing intensity until it was a light rain full of tiny ice crystals that melted as they slid down the glass on the car. I heard the ground was white at Laurel Springs and Ashe County. In town all day for doctor's appointment, some coffee at Selma's, lunch at the Pines with Jim Winfield, back to Selma's for a couple hours, then home and a long nap. Temperature 2 and 3 degrees above freezing all day.

I met wife and 2 kids of the new Episcopal priest, or whatever they're called, at Selma's. They live half a mile up the road. Actually, my nearest neighbor to the East. I'd been half curious about them, spoken with him once, had seen her go by in a car, knew where they were, and paid them no mind. It wasn't rejection on my part, sorta. It's just how I am. I'm getting surrounded by suburban middle class. The ones I've got to know don't really trip my trigger, as it was suburban middle class that set me in flight from the city, to get away from that mind. Now, they're all around here and the threat of another wave after this so-called Economic Downturn for the rich, and Depression for the working class. The working class has been in Depression since the year 2000, but the news tells about the situation from the point of view of the stock market that bore little resemblance to how things were out in the world.

The oil corporations have us where they want us. This last jump in price a big one of about 20c per gallon. Before, there was public outcry, enough to be noted on the news, when gas prices went up a nickel. Now a 20c leap and nobody even squeaks. We accept. By now, the American people have learned we have nothing to do with anything. We're out. We're not a consideration. On the tv you never see anybody of the working class. TV is about positive thinking, being upbeat, pretty, prosperous. The working class is none of these. The working class is in Depression, has been for a long time and is getting used to it as the new way of life, not as a passing thing. In the times I see tv, I never see anyone of the working class. It's all middle class. The news almost never shows anyone of the working class in it's slide-show of the day's worst events, unless there's a murder, a flood or drug bust. The news people talk about middle class execs looking for jobs. They never tell about working class people absolutely out of work and nothing to look for.

In Amerca we gloss over, bury under the rug, deny. That's how we got to be Number One. Primarily, it is denied that there even is a working class, and never that the working class is the working poor. In this time of gas prices shooting upward, of course, prices increase in everything else, because everything is shipped by truck. But the working people get no raises. Can't afford to pay people. The working poor had it as bad as it could be lived some years ago. Now, and for several years, the working poor are strapped, unable to find anything. Our government once was talking on the news about starving out the Iraqi people inspiring them to start a revolution. It didn't happen. They just got poorer and poorer and fatal diseases spread. American people will never have anything like a revolution as long as they continue locked into Oprah telling us on television we're not supposed to be depressed. Take more pills. Smile pretty. Act like you like it. Screw you if you don't. It's your fault you're not prosperous. Look at all the people that are. You're a loser if you're not rich and you don't deserve anything but poverty.

I honestly do not see Obama doing anything about it. The black people have calmed down on his behalf. He's not done anything that would help the working poor, has not done anything to undo the travesties of the Cheney-Rummy-Bush-Rice Junta. The worst of the travesties are still in place and will go on being in place. The bankers that created the "economic downturn" reaped double-fold with government support, while the people they ripped off were told to take a jump. Get over it. Suck it up, as they say on tv these days. This is why I call Obama a Republican. He's done nothing for the working poor and a very great deal for the rich. What's that spell? Republican. They put up McCain to oppose him, which was the same as nothing. Obama was their man. When I put these words down, I feel a longing to delete them as wrong, but can't find a way to see it like that.


Monday, March 14, 2011


the flow

Every day I notice myself dating the last 35 years by where I was in the mountains and what I was doing in that time, or what was on the news, or what was new that year, or who was elected that year, like that. It gives perspective of receding time. Or gives that warm comfortable feeling of believing I have some sort of perspective. Of course, I don't. It's faulty memory that forgets context and everything. I think of what a thin membrane over the subconscious mind the conscious mind is and how it's not made of anything but electrical charges. It's so insubstantial as to be next to nothing. The only something about it is a mind continually thinking. When it goes away, it just goes. I saw Jr's conscious mind go away over the course of one week. It was like watching a bathtub draining, a little bit more every day, until it was gone. It went away. Jr's mind was blank from then on. He continued to operate by the subconscious mind, and I knew him well enough that the Jr I knew was more in the subconscious than the conscious. I saw that when somebody asked him a question about a name, place or time, his mind went blank. I couldn't stop somebody asking such a question, so I would throw him a key word to get him back on his track.

I came to understand in that time what we call the conscious mind is perhaps the least part of our minds that we function by. When Jr's conscious mind was gone, he was still there. I saw that his identity had little to do with the conscious mind. It's in the subconscious. I have not studied the evolution of the mind, but I'm inclined to suspect the conscious mind developed over thousands of years by figuring things out. First, you figure out how to throw a spear. Then everybody in the tribe gets it and throws spears, pass it on to the next generations and the people they war against, who need to figure out the spear to keep up with the enemy. Arms race. The greatest motivation known to humanity. Next, the subtleties of spear throwing are learned until it becomes a traditional way of throwing it specific to the given tribe, passed on from generation to generation. Arrows and gunpowder. New things to learn. Possibly the conscious mind is everything we've learned, what we believe we know. When that mind is gone, observer mind continues. Language continues, reading eyes and faces continues. Jr's ongoing complaint was that his mind wasn't working any more.

Interestingly, the part of his mind that sees the conscious thoughts is still there. The part of the mind that sees our dreams is still there. I've come to think the latter is the biggest part of our consciousness, that part that is always awake, sees our mind's activity as we sleep, notes what we say to ourselves, that inner self we talk to when we say something to ourselves, like something a parent said repeatedly, "Nobody wants to hear anything you say." Something like that to inhibit a need to speak. I'm inclined toward thinking it enough to maybe say I believe the spiritual path walks through the vagaries of the mind and long, long index of beliefs our conscious minds know nothing about, through the subconscious mind to the consciousness that never sleeps. Looking at it like this, I have to say I'm not very far along on mine. But, like you, and like everybody else, I am where I am, and that's it. Attempts to convince myself I'm farther along than I am are surely tempting to go with. And it's tempting to go with a blow to esteem and think I'm way back where I haven't been for several lifetimes. Best way I can see is to let it be what it is and not concern myself with it. That's what musicians tell me about making music. You can't think about it. Do, and conscious mind comes in and messes everything up. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Don't think about it and the music happens.


Sunday, March 13, 2011



   # 40

Return is the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the way of the Tao.

All things are born of being,
Being is born of non-being.

A little bit ago I was looking casually through the Tao te ching. This brief verse caught my eye. The moment I saw the first line, I also saw like a transparent slide over it the tsunami in Japan crawling through the city streets, black water, cars floating, boats drifting between the buildings, everything suddenly turned to debris. From the little video I've seen of it, I'm glad I wasn't there and feel sorrow for the people that were. Return is the movement of the tsunami. A wave of water sweeps over the city pushing the debris along its forward edge, then the water recedes, taking cars, boats, houses, back the other way out to sea. A living man was found 60 miles out surrounded by floating debris. The return of the water to the sea is the movement of the Tao. I suppose the buildings, houses, garages, cars, people, dogs, cats, bicycles, everything above ground yielded, the way of the Tao. We have the movement and the way of the Tao in the first two lines, the water pushing everything inland, then pulling what's left out to sea.

It's a natural process, an act of God. What else can it be called? Seeing the boats and cars floating through the streets I was reminded of chidlren's bathtub toys, little plastic boats; splash the water and they rock in the waves, fill up the tub too much and they drift over the edge. For some years I'd heard the question, What is the bridge between matter and spirit? I took it for a New Age chicken crossing the road question. Then I heard a philsoph say it was spirit becoming matter, or matter becoming spirit. I don't remember which. I found somewhere reading Pablo Neruda that he said water is the bridge between matter and spirit. There it was. Of course. Frozen, water becomes solid. Heated, water becomes steam, akin to spirit. The bridge between ice and steam is water. I don't know what this has to do with other than the tsunami in the news has me thinking about water philosophically, even, perhaps, spiritually.

Water is one of the 4 major elements, personified, or deified as the three brothers, Zeus, Poseidon and Hephaestus. They received by will at the death of their father, Cronos (time), the sky, the sea, the underworld and earth. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon (or Neptune) received the sea, Hephaestus, also known as Vulcan, was given the underworld. All three shared the earth in common. Neptune, the god of water, symbol of emotions, must have had some sort of emotional release. The underworld, Vulcan popped through, pushing a tectonic plate over the top of another. It set Neptune in motion, a push from the underworld. Zeus watched it all from helicopters and satellites. I think the gods are mad at the humans, because Prometheus was unbound and gave electricity to humanity. Initially, Prometheus gave us fire, which helped us evolve reason and render us independent of the gods. To punish him, Zeus had Prometheus chained to a rock by Vulcan for eternity. But Prometheus was the god of foresight and knew Zeus would need to know in the future who was working a plot to overthrow him, so Prometheus waited. To get the answer, Zeus needed to set Prometheus free. Electricity, the new fire, will help the humans evolve intuition. Humans having electricity does not make the gods happy. Maybe this has something to do with the cataclysms we've been having that look like they're here to stay for awhile.

Oil corporations are surely putting their heads together to find a justification to raise gas prices. Tell it on the evening news for a week and everybody believes it. Someone, I can't tell who, said to me not long ago and I had to hold it back, "I know it for a fact, I heard it on television." I couldn't say anything. The propaganda machine everyone wants bad enough to pay hundreds and hundreds for one, wide-screen, big, Walmart, the most popular channel the propaganda channel. Like I feel sorrow for the Japanese people whose lives were interrupted so rudely by the ocean, I feel sorrow for the people in our USA's near future. The wind has blown, the house of cards is swaying in the breeze, the fundamentalist passion for destruction is cheering it on with disaster movie after disaster movie feeding the popular appetite for destruction. People I know who think and talk this way give me the impression they believe it has nothing to do with them. They'll watch it on the evening news. LIVE ON CNN: The End Of The World. Brought to you by Cadillac.  

In a movie I saw yesterday, a boy told his dad something somebody told him, that water is soft, but the strongest thing there is. The Tao. The story was Danish, pre-electricity, possibly 19th century. PELLE THE CONQUEROR. The ocean was depicted through the course of the story as stormy, dangerous, mortally dangerous, the expanse of water he needed to cross somehow to get to Amerika. We in America tend to think of ocean water as beaches, surfboards, babes in bikinis, benign. Until a shark bites somebody's leg off from time to time. I've read that sharks think surfboards are inanimate, like boats, but somebody lying down on one moving the arms in the water swimming looks to a shark like a big fish. Yum. It really didn't take the movie JAWS to keep me out of the ocean. All I had to do was think for a second---it's another world that is not mine, everything in there is looking for something to eat, and what am I but bait without a hook and line attached. This way of looking at it has kept me on dry land out of reach of the stormy sea.


                                                            vulcan chaining prometheus
                                                                by dirck van baburen