Saturday, July 04, 2020

hospice for illusion; happy inter-dependence day

      (for 4th of July)

Truth, like birth, demands

Change — (not de-, nor in-,) but (yes)


...   ...   ...

Commentary: If love is the Ground of Being, then, being born humus — ie, of earth, humble, the possibility of becoming human — is our clear, compassionate, cri de coeur. 

No divisive, hateful, solipsistic preaching or pontificating political propagandistic posturing should dissuade us from the task at hand. That task is the realization of who and what we are in our deepest nature and most truthful manifestation with one-another.

Happy Inter-dependence Day!

Friday, July 03, 2020

upon receiving 4july poems from zen irishman


        (for Hugh)

The poems he sends cry

Beauty disheveled, a wist —

Fog filled Friday dawn

Thursday, July 02, 2020

there is suffering in life


Who do we blame?

No one.

3 pandemic predictions from Lucretius

Old poets and philosophers can still help us see our present time.

Lucretius, (c.99 bce - c.55 bce), was a Roman poet and philosopher

An excerpt:
3 pandemic predictions from Lucretius
How being afraid of death is making some people less ethical

The global spread of the coronavirus has forced us to confront our own mortality, and fears about illness and death weigh heavily on the minds of many.

But there’s a risk that fear for our own life will outweigh fear for the collective to the extent that, however unwittingly, we start to act in a way that causes harm to the collective - the global phenomenon of panic- buying is an obvious example.

As early as the first century BC, Roman philosopher Lucretius predicted that humanity’s fear of death could drive us to irrational beliefs and actions that would harm society. And as COVID-19 sweeps across the globe, three of his key predictions are coming true.

Prediction one: being afraid of death corrupts our subjective experience of life.

Lucretius made the case that people aren’t afraid of death unless there’s an immediate danger of dying; it’s when illness or danger strike that we get scared and strive to understand what comes after death.

The goal then becomes alleviating these fears. Some people do so by imagining that they have immaterial souls that shed their bodies or that there is a benevolent God, Lucretius writes. Others might imagine an eternal afterlife, or an immortal soul that is more important than the body and the material world.

Prediction two: being afraid of death deepens social divisions and puts certain groups at greater risk.

Prediction three: being afraid of death inspires some people to accumulate wealth or political power at the expense of the community.

Advice from Lucretius on how to avoid these predictions:

According to Lucretius, being afraid of dying is irrational because once people die they will not be sad, judged by gods, or pity their family; they will not be anything at all. ‘Death is nothing to us’ he says.

(from article by Thomas Nail, associate professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver. Issue 87, 30th March 2020, in IAI, Institute of Art and Ideas)
Article is both on IAI and Academia

It brought me to dawn. 

For which I am grateful.

still they persist

Monastics seldom see

The one they pray to and for —

How absurd my life

Wednesday, July 01, 2020


          (for Canada day)

Beautiful neighbor 

Unveils celebration face —

No one looks away

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

a blinking appearance / disappearance.

Hypermnestra didn't kill her husband on their wedding night. Her 49 sisters did kill theirs.

In Greek mythology, the Danaïdes (/dəˈneɪ.ɪdiːz/; Greek: Δαναΐδες), also Danaides or Danaids, were the fifty daughters of Danaus. In the Metamorphoses,[1] Ovid refers to them as the Belides after their grandfather Belus. They were to marry the 50 sons of Danaus' twin brother Aegyptus, a mythical king of Egypt. In the most common version of the myth, all but one of them killed their husbands on their wedding night, and are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. In the classical tradition, they came to represent the futility of a repetitive task that can never be completed (see also Sisyphus).

This year in the Senate one man from one of the fifty states did not kill his lady justice. 49 states killed theirs. He voted to keep her alive. The good Mitt of the Utah Romney clan honored his natural father but defied the maddened ruler languishing in his kingly seat at head of government. 

Danaus did not want his daughters to go ahead with the marriages and he fled with them in the first boat to Argos, which is located in Greece near the ancient city of Mycenae.

Danaus agreed to the marriage of his daughters only after Aegyptus came to Argos with his fifty sons in order to protect the local population, the Argives, from any battles. The daughters were ordered by their father to kill their husbands on the first night of their weddings and this they all did with the exception of one, Hypermnestra, who spared her husband Lynceus because he respected her desire to remain a virgin. Danaus was angered that his daughter refused to do as he ordered and took her to the Argives courts. Lynceus killed Danaus as revenge for the death of his brothers and he and Hypermnestra started the Danaid Dynasty of rulers in Argos. (ibid)
The grotesque fealty of women and men to persons and ideas both unseemly and unkind is discouraging and depressing. 

Myths, one might say, are patterns of human experience deeply embedded in the neurological network reaching into the beyond-conscious-awareness shared by all beings in this appearing cosmos.

For most of us, dreams represent the hidden door into the mythological dimension of existence. For some, such as artists and poets, unseen unrepresented narratives are unearthed and manifested in their attentive skill of expression.

Uncovering the hidden is the work of telling truth. 'Telling truth' is a phrase suggesting the desire, if you will, of truth to tell itself into appearance. Heidegger notes that there is a curiosity about the unveiling process, that there is a simultaneous concealing that accompanies unconcealing. The unhidden and the hidden coincide in the instance of revelation and concealment.

What does this mean?

It means that truth, like life, is a blinking appearance / disappearance. 

It departs as it arises. There is no holding it, keeping it. There is also no unholding it, discarding it.

Nurses know this with COVID-19 patients as in an episode of This American Life .

Some, curiously, doubt there is a crisis around the coronavirus. Some think there is no virus. I cannot account for such skepticism or, perhaps, denial of fact. I do know there are many deaths, many families experiencing deep loss, many health workers exhausted and devastated by the burden and emotional toll.

Telling truth requires attentiveness and awareness. We're not always attentive nor aware. We miss so much.

Hypermnestra wanted to remain a virgin. Her husband heard her, and lived. To be a virgin is to affirm the inviolate nature of integrity. It transcends sex and sexuality. Perhaps Madonna, in 1st century and 20th century, grasped the notion; and perhaps, in ways beyond our understanding, remained or became virgins.

Perhaps celibacy is a practice blinking between the relative and the whole. Which is where we, all of us, traverse, as with the interim and the eternal.

I sorrow for those experiencing loss. I understand those who know fear and trembling about the dangers surrounding them. I nod to those angry and resentful that their lives are disrupted.

I look at those carrying water for deranged leaders and wonder how they will die, of thirst, desiccated and arid, for want of life-giving water from life-affirming flowing streams. 

As it rains this Tuesday.

night office

There’s nothing to do but wait.

For what?

For next drop to drip from eave.

Then, next.

Help me pray; 

there’s nothing else to do

Monday, June 29, 2020

peter & paul


Finally, rain

Finding Monday morning

Friends until this is


...   ...   ...

Note: 24 years ago on this date we opened Meetingbrook Bookshop and Bakery. Eleven years ago this month we lost our lease and closed. Our website seems to say we are still there. We lost the ability and web skill to change the webpage with the now inaccurate information. In a way, being still and being there are good teachings and good practice. If you finagle them.

Sunday, June 28, 2020


When we pray 
we acknowledge 

union with everyone 
and everything

Go into your room, 
within yourself, 

find everyone and 
everything there

Don’t come out 
until your prayer 


Saturday, June 27, 2020

ipso facto

It doesn’t matter if there is no God.

No God, no matter.

If so, this is not-

being written.

Friday, June 26, 2020

by way of

I asked God

what's new?

God said

I am through.

With what, 

I asked?

I am through,

God said again --

it's my name,

my name is 


Thursday, June 25, 2020

a very different and ultimately dangerous world

Where do you live?

Are you a liar? Or are you a truth-teller? And what do you hear? Are you listening?

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.                (-H.L Mencken)


I live somewhere that is a good shelter. I am not homeless in the current understanding of homelessness. There are many who suffer that difficulty.

The attempt to tell and dwell in truth is a curious effort. So, one prays. To whom one prays, or for what, is also a curiosity.

To pray is to build your own house. To pray is to discover that Someone else is within your house. To pray is to recognize that it is not your house at all. To keep praying is to have no house to protect because there is only One House. And that One House is everybody’s home. In other words, those who pray from the heart actually live in a very different and ultimately dangerous world, It is a world that makes the merely physical world seem anemic, illusory, and relative. The word "real" takes on a new meaning, and we find ourselves judging with utterly new scales, weights, and standards. Be careful of such house-builders, for their loyalties will lie in very different directions. They will be very different kinds of citizens, and the state will not so easily depend on their salute. That is the politics of prayer. And that is probably why truly spiritual people are always a threat to politicians of any sort. They want our allegiance, and we can no longer give it, our house is too big.


(p.4, What the Mystics Know, by Richard Rohr, c. 2015)

What was once a moral/ethical conundrum -- how to behave vis-a-vis the good -- has become a more crass street consideration practiced even in the highest eschelons of corporations, institutions, or governments -- namely, how to get away with illegal acts or dastardly deeds no matter how wrong they are and how much harm they cause.

We no longer might be a "faithful" nation. Sure, there are a plethora of churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. There are many "believers." There's a difference. 

We are no longer living in an agnostic or atheistic culture.  Something else is occurring. 

Ana-theistic inquiry arises to reside alongside theism and atheism.

Has the passing of the old God paved the way for a new kind of religious project, a more responsible way to seek, sound, and love the things we call divine? Has the suspension of dogmatic certainties and presumptions opened a space in which we can encounter religious wonder anew? Situated at the split between theism and atheism, we now have the opportunity to respond in deeper, freer ways to things we cannot fathom or prove. 

Distinguished philosopher Richard Kearney calls this condition ana-theos, or God after God-a moment of creative "not knowing" that signifies a break with former sureties and invites us to forge new meanings from the most ancient of wisdoms. Anatheism refers to an inaugural event that lies at the heart of every great religion, a wager between hospitality and hostility to the stranger, the other—the sense of something "more." By analyzing the roots of our own anatheistic moment, Kearney shows not only how a return to God is possible for those who seek it but also how a more liberating faith can be born. 

Kearney begins by locating a turn toward sacred secularity in contemporary philosophy, focusing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricoeur. He then marks "epiphanies" in the modernist masterpieces of James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf. Kearney concludes with a discussion of the role of theism and atheism in conflict and peace, confronting the distinction between sacramental and sacrificial belief or the God who gives life and the God who takes it away. Accepting that we can never be sure about God, he argues, is the only way to rediscover a hidden holiness in life and to reclaim an everyday divinity.

(--Columbia University Press, re. Anatheism, Returning to God After God, by Richard Kearney, c.2009) 
We watched the series City on a Hill. The antiphonal immorality of both the bad guys and the good guys sent us into a reflection about the carryings-on in Washington DC federal administration and congress, yielding a sobering but equanimous observation that criminal acts and injustice on both sides are to be expected, self-serving cover-ups and blatant arrogance of being superior to any rules or oversight is 
the new daily bread.

According to the moral standards most of us accept and live by, morality generally permits us to refrain from promoting the good of others and instead engage in non-harmful projects of our own choice.1 This aspect of so called "ordinary morality" has turned out to be very difficult to justify. Recently, though, various authors, including Bernard Williams and Samuel Scheffler, have proposed moral theories that would vindicate this aspect of ordinary morality, at least in part.2 Those theories are Integrity Theories. They are generated by treating as a default some moral theory, like consequentialism, that demands. that we do a great deal of good. The theory is then modified so as to make room for individuals to pursue the projects they value most deeply, and perhaps their trivial inter ests as well-i.e., so as to respect individual integrity. The result is (allegedly) a theory that contains agent-centered prerogatives to pursue one's projects and interests rather than the agent-neutral good.


Thus described, Integrity Theories don't fully vindicate every aspect ordinary morality; in fact, they don't even vindicate every ordinary aspect of agent-centered prerogatives. Those prerogatives, as ordinary conceived, are not only prerogatives to pursue our projects and interests, but other non-harmful courses of action as well-e.g., lazing on the couch and doing nothing. Still, Integrity Theories can take us a certain distance toward a vindication of ordinary morality by explaining why we can pursue our own projects and interests rather than the greater good.


(--  Rajczi, Alex. “Integrity and Ordinary Morality.” American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1, 2007, pp. 15–26. JSTOR, Accessed 25 June 2020.)

We are being left to our own dwelling places, relative and absolute.

We are becoming spiritually homeless wanderers along an unrecognizable path in a foreign land.

Looking around, listening to voices from near and far, it is clear there are very few icons and whisperers worthy of attention and devotion. 

We are on our own.

Strangers in a strange land.

Where do you live?

Where do we live?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

john of no one else

look for the one who

comes after me. I am not

shod nor can unshod


(for our time)

may we be for one

another a resting place

for time to change hands

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

observant care, where no-one else is

What is always new is unchanging.

In the same way is death resurrection. Not two events. One. Over and over.


Lord God and Maker of all things,

Creation is upheld by you.

While all must change and know decay,

You are unchanging, always new.

Stanbrook Abbey Hymnal, (—from hymn, sext, Monday, 22june2020) 

Each of us is form and emptiness. Emptinesss inside, emptiness outside. Between inside and outside, the form both containing and separating inside from outside.

When our form breaks and dies, the inside is the outside, outside is the inside.

Where do “we” go?  Nowhere!

This new reality is unchanging. It is always a new reality. The more a thing changes the more it becomes itself.

The “itself” is what is, and only what is. Whatever is not itself is illusion.

Is this unchanging new the actual process of God? What God is? Not some anthropomorphic being deciding whether to parcel out reward or punishment, demanding fealty and adulation, the great surveillance camera in the sky.

But, rather,  God is unchanging always new unmoving movement through and through. That which is barrier-less emptiness, boundary-less open space within which we, in uninterrupted manifesting appearance, live and breathe and have our being.

This is it. And this. And this. And this.

It is said we long for God. Of course we do. Why? Because there is nothing else. And no-one wants what is not, because if we got what is not we would not be, not actually, not really. What is not is not who or what we are.

We say we want God.

We want what is. We want what is without the false and illusory facsimile that masquerades and beckons us out of the sanity of revealing stillness moving silently within itself throughout.

It is good.

No matter what happens. At core, at observant care, we feel, we know, it is good, it is all good.

You are already there.

Be where you are, as you are, becoming.



Where no-one else is.

Monday, June 22, 2020

frightening presence

When my father died

The feared intruder entered the house

I was never sure about this entrance

Now I think it was the illusory belief 

Someone had died — the frightening presence

No separation, merely open space that all is.

Belief has lingered a long time and is a long

Time gone. 

Intrusion vacated. Alone unfearing peace

This anniversary

no reaching for metaphor

It sure smells

Dead animal in wall

Attorney General and SDNY

Decomposition from inside

Sunday, June 21, 2020


I know God's name
God's name is 

God lives in 

open space
There, I've said it --

Now are you 
through with me

thanks dad

my father moved through dooms of love

by E. E. Cummings

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if (so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who, his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father’s fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer’s keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly (over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father’s dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn’t creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
less humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise
offered immeasurable is

proudly and (by octobering flame
beckoned) as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he’d laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine, passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear, to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit, all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
—i say though hate were why men breathe—
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all.

light comes up

Buddha is in stillness

Christ in silence

You and I between these two

As one, alone, can be

Saturday, June 20, 2020

where we can emerge whole-hearted

The heart doesn’t know its ground until it sits alone with everything.

Suffering is one of the deepwater mysteries of human existence. It can neither be explained nor controlled, but it can be met by a deepwater mystery of equal force – the mystery of human presence.

- Alan Lew

The stations of the cross, take a stark and riveting turn in this portrayal of Afghanistan and Iraq, 

Do we still pray?

And if we do, why we do?

These Stations of the Cross are dedicated to all the victims of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, civilian and military. + + + Written for Pax Christi USA by Rev. Sebastian L. Muccilli + + + Photo selection and blog layout by Beth Cioffoletti + + + Copyright 2006

We forget, time to time, how dark night can be. 

This world is a solitary man, a solitary woman, suffering.

If you pray, pray for human presence -- not the deluded, insane, absence we embody. What we call war.
What we call my will, my wants, my accumulation.

No wonder the myths glorify the birth of goodness and compassion to save us from ourselves.

No god out there is going to make things right.

Our deepest inner reality is the place to begin.

The place beyond illusion.

Where we can emerge whole-hearted.

where to look


Friday, June 19, 2020


     (on Juneteenth)

Sometimes truth is slow

Walking through ignorance — be

Joyful — take next step


there is nothing known

Of course the world is chaotic. Virus, odd leadership, tension between races, branding upset, racist murders, economic uncertainty, mortality.

Only spontaneous poetry will pull us through.


You are here alone

No one cares to tell you why 

There is nothing known

I feel better.

Such nonsense, thinking some meaning undergirds existence.

Sleep a while. Wake up. Take a walk. Brew coffee. Read the silliness of human hypocrisy.  

Feel the chagrin.

Feel the distress.

Allow love 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

as simple as that

Compiling yearly CEU submissions for hospice volunteer continuance, I find these excerpts:

“Our greatest fear is that when we die we will become nothing. We believe that we are born from nothing and that when we die we become nothing. And so, we are filled with the fear of annihilation. The Buddha has a very different understanding – that birth and death are notions. They are not real.”     
(– Thich Nhat Hanh.) 
A few weeks later the weather became warm again. As I walked in my garden I saw new buds on the japonica manifesting another generation of flowers. I asked the japonica flowers: "Are you the same as the flowers that died in the frost or are you different flowers?" The flowers replied to me: "Thay, we are not the same and we are not different When conditions are sufficient we manifest and when conditions are not we go into hiding. It’s as simple as that.” 
(—Thich Nhat Hanh) 

Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. Only when we touch our true nature can we transcend the fear of non-being, the fear of annihilation.

The Buddha said that when conditions are sufficient something manifests and we say it exists. When one or two conditions fail and the thing does not manifest in the same way, we then say it does not exist. According to the Buddha, to qualify something as existing or not existing is wrong. In reality, there is no such thing as totally existing or totally not existing.                   

(—Thich Nhat Hanh)


No Death, No Fear, Comforting Wisdom for Life, by Thich Nhat Hanh, c.2003; 208pgs,  

empty names

 We live. We die. No one knows why.

The greatest sages from ancient times 
Have not shown us life immortal. 
What is born in time must die; 
All will be changed to dust and ashes. 
Bones pile up like Mount Vipula,* 
Tears of parting would make a sea, 
And all that's left are empty names. 
Who escapes the wheel of birth and death?
                                                  (--Han-shan )

* A mountain in India.

Nothing but deep June green out front window facing Bald Mountain.

And bird song.

Passing motor vehicles.

Emptiness between.

Nothing else.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

truly homeless

In September 1968, three months before his death, while at Christ in the Desert monastery in New Mexico, Fr. Louis (Thomas Merton) wrote:

“...I am not going ‘home.’ The purpose of this death is to become truly homeless.”   (Journal entry, The Other Side of the Mountain, 174)
That’s what you get when you read Buddhist and Hindu writings, as he was, at that time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

we now live in an anarchic age

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. 

The word arche* is dictionary defined as principle:

* something that was in the beginning : a first principle:

a.  in early Greek philosophy : a substance or primal element

b. in Aristotle : an actuating principle (as a cause) 

If, as one philosopher held, we live at "the end of the epoch dominated by an arche, by the principle, so that we now live in an anarchic age." (Vattimo; See below).

Has expediency**, (in its contemporary usage), not principle,  become our current mode of dwelling in the world?
** helpful or useful in a particular situation, and without considering any moral question that might influence your decision: (Cambridge Dictionary)

Principles such as fairness, justice, honesty -- have been rivalled and replaced by self-interest, power acquisition, and disregard for what is factual or true. Reality, that always elusive foundation of meaning, does not exist in itself anymore, but is a malleable and manipulated commodity in the hands of those who hold the reins of power.

We live in a dangerous time. The metaphor extended to us during this Covid-19 time is the tension of remaining inside or going outside.  

Final question. Returning to Negri and Hardt, and adding Giorgio Agamben to the discussion, they have expressed grave concerns for the future of democracy. Hardt and Negrfs Multitude begins with a crit- ical analysis of the permanent state of war that has become a standard feature of the current international order as dominated by the United States. Similarly, Agamben has written extensively about the 6istate of exception" that threatens to transform democracies into totalitarian states. Speaking from your dual expertise as a philosopher combined with your experience as an actual politician as a former member of the European Parliament, do you agree that this state of exception has become the new working paradigm of government? If so, then what can be done?

If I believed that this had become the paradigm, then the simple answer to the last question would be that there is nothing that can be done. On the basis of my experience in the European Parliament, I feel very strongly that the logic of war is becoming the logic of everyday life. We speak more and more explicitly in war terms. It is also the game of power. For example, while I would not say that Bush provoked 9/11, surely he has exploited it very, very well, to the point that books such as Before and After by Phyllis Bennis or documentaries such as Loose Change by Dylan Avery make us all wonder if such exploitation has any limits. The repercussions of this become tragically evident when his government proved too slow in responding to Hurricane Katrina, which utterly devastated the city of New Orleans, ex- posing the finite resources the government has in hand and the fragile balance of a society still haunted by its legacy of racism. Many criticized Bush for responding too late and devoting so much of the nation's resources to the war of choice in Iraq when his own country remains in such grave need.

But, returning to Negri and Agamben, my problem, as I suggested earlier, is that they are both guilty of too much ideological rigidity. By interpreting the state of exception in absolute terms, everything fits together quite reasonably. The only possibility for democracy in our current situation is to exploit the holes, the margins, which was, by the way, the idea in the 1970s behind something Tony Negri called autonomies the effort to construe or build autonomous communities—not try to take the power, but try to construe peripheral powers. If people around the world protest the war in Iraq, for example, it doesn't mean taking control of Windsor Palace or the White House, but, nevertheless, it eases and slows down the wheels of power. --"

At the beginning of the nineteenth and twentieth century, philosophy was very suspicious of technology. This has changed. The only possibility today is not to categorically reject the machinery of power but to slow down the process of the reproduction of capital. How can this be done? There are the hackers and the saboteurs, of course. But imagine, for instance, how Italians could ruin Berlusconi if we all decided to boycott any merchant who advertised on his many television stations. But we don't do it. Why? Because we are not yet so poor, so angry. But when that comes, we cannot oppose the logic of power with weapons because they would kill us. But we can try to extend the replication of autonomous centers. I believe in that. After all, there is nothing better to believe in. Isn't this the very idea of the multitude? Having many communities working—not necessarily together in the sense of a coordinated effort—but simply working against.

That is why I sometimes call myself an anarchist. I have proposed in the conclusion to one of my recent papers that we take seriously the idea from a book by Reiner Schurmann on Heidegger (On Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy). Schurmann emphasized how Heidegger had preached the end of the epoch dominated by an arche, by the principle, so that we now live in an anarchic age. But now I would say we have to interpret this a little more literally. We have to be outside. This is a postmodern idea. The idea is that I must subtract myself from the game of power. For instance, it was important for me to no longer be elected as a member of parliament. I discovered I could do something without too many engagements vis-a-vis a party. I discovered that when you get into power, it is not because you have conquered the power, but because the power has conquered you.

(-- pp.111-113, A PRAYER FOR SILENCE, Dialogue with Gianni Vattimo, in After the Death of God, by John D. Caputo and Giavani Vattimo, c.2007)

There is something else to consider, namely, the way words and their understanding shift and change over time. Remember that the Greek word arche (Gk αρχή ) also means beginning, outset, inception, origin, commencement. 

So too, the Greek word for expedience, (σῠμφέρω, sumphérōfrom σῠμ = with, and φέρω = to bring or carry), has a sense of gathering and moving together, to confer a benefit.

Heidegger says that "Language is the house of Being," that we bring Being to language, that "Thinking is the thinking of Being."

“Thinking accomplishes the relation of Being to the essence of man. It does not make or cause the relation. Thinking brings this relation to Being solely as something handed over to it from Being. Such offering consists in the fact that in thinking Being comes to language. Language is the house of Being. In its home man dwells. Those who think and those who create with words are the guardians of this home. Their guardianship accomplishes the manifestation of Being insofar as they bring the manifestation to language and maintain it in language through their speech. Thinking does not become action only because some effect issues from it or because it is applied. Thinking acts insofar as it thinks.” 

(p. 217, Letter on Humanism, Martin Heidegger, 1947) (cf. Martin Heidegger: "The Letter on Humanism" A series of lectures by Paul Livingston, Villanova University March 2, 2005)

If language loses its meaning, if we no longer think, we threaten the very ground of our Being.

We have to be careful. Careful of our thinking. Careful of our language. Careful for Being.

We exist, always, at the beginning, at origin.

What we say about our existence, our world, one-another, must be said with care. 

We must bring the inside out. We must bring the outside in. 

When we behold what is within without, and what is without within, we are, once again and always, at the beginning, at origin.

There, our beginning, is the opportunity to rethink things. 

To redefine whether we wish to carry together the burden of dwelling in this world. Or, by a lapse of awareness, we might want to divide, harass, and exclude one another from dwelling productively and harmoniously in this world.


Here we go!

Monday, June 15, 2020

a reflection of a society

Jon Stewart answers a question we didn't realize needed asking: 

You know, I’ve been trying to think of some precise, encapsulating question to ask you about what we’ve been witnessing over the last few weeks, and everything I was coming up with felt forced or phony. Maybe it’s better, because you’ve been eloquent during times of crisis in the past, just to ask what you’ve been thinking about and seeing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing? 

I’d like to say I’m surprised by what happened to him, but I’m not. This is a cycle, and I feel that in some ways, the issue is that we’re addressing the wrong problem. We continue to make this about the police — the how of it. How can they police? Is it about sensitivity and de-escalation training and community policing? All that can make for a less-egregious relationship between the police and people of color. But the how isn’t as important as the why, which we never address. The police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to torment the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it. Then that situation erupts, and we express our shock and indignation. But if we don’t address the anguish of a people, the pain of being a people who built this country through forced labor — people say, ‘‘I’m tired of everything being about race.’’ Well, imagine how [expletive] exhausting it is to live that.

(--from Jon Stewart is Back to Weigh In, by David Marchese, 15June20, The New York Times Magazine) 


Are the controversial things that President Trump says structurally motivated? Do you believe he’s thinking on that level?  

I think he understands very well — and the right understands very well — that undermining the credibility of the institutions that people look to for help defining and making sense of reality is the key to bending reality to your will. It’s a wonderful rhetorical trick. He had a great one on Memorial Day weekend:16

 ‘‘We’re getting great reviews on our pandemic response. But of course, not getting credit for it.’’ The twisted logic of that: If you’re getting great reviews, I’m pretty sure that’s considered credit. It’s like saying, ‘‘I’m being praised, but of course I won’t be praised for it.’’ Language is utterly meaningless. Everything is placed into its category in the tribal war and who its real victims are: Donald Trump and his minions. Poor little billionaire president who can’t catch a break. It’s incredible. Are we all just extras in this guy’s movie? But I do feel as if his approach has worked for him his whole life. 


becoming holy scripture for future reading

Kneeling on a man's neck until he dies after buying a pack of cigarettes. Shooting a man in the back as he runs from being asleep in a Wendy's drive-through. Refusing to allow those from other countries seeking refuge to enter the process of asylum to step into a refugee-capable country. Intentionally fomenting divisive and dangerous antipathy in a country and culture straining to hold together decency and creative healing. 
evil (n.)

"anything that causes injury, anything that harms or is likely to harm; a malady or disease; conduct contrary to standards of morals or righteousness," Old English yfel (see evil (adj.)). [Online Etymology Dictionary]

The words of a dark-skinned Middle-East man sound like cautionary counsel a Black father would give to his Black son about encounters with the police or anyone criticizing the president of their country: 
“Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”
(--Matthew 5:38-42)
Or, maybe it is clearer in Latin:
In illo témpore: Dixit Iesus discípulis suis:
  «Audístis quia dictum est: “Oculum pro óculo et dentem pro dente”. Ego autem dico vobis: Non resístere malo; sed si quis te percússerit in déxtera maxílla tua, præbe illi et álteram; et ei, qui vult tecum iudício conténdere et túnicam tuam tóllere, remítte ei et pállium; et quicúmque te angariáverit mille passus, vade cum illo duo. Qui petit a te, da ei; et volénti mutuári a te, ne avertáris».
(Excerpt From: Universalis. “June 2020 - Universalis.” Apple Books. )
Human beings have always been dangerous and unpredictable. We've tried to enact laws governing behavior, ethics to assist our deliberations as to what actions are right and considerate, customs to ease our uncertainty and facilitate communal civility.

Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850 in Canto 56 referring to man:

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw 

With ravine, shriek'd against his creed     

(--in The Phrase Finder)
 It is unnerving that a virus has entered our country. A Covid-19 virus. And a Trumpian Political Party virus. Each seems to have its own mind. Each doesn't care who it attacks.

Jesus, for me, these days, is a Honduran father and son (cf. This American Life's Pulitzer-Winning Episode); is George Floyd and the too many martyrs for awareness; is the cosmos itself originating new life and new horizons of exploration toward cohesion and complementarity.

At Sunday Evening Practice we meditate on three poems: two by Wendell Berry, one by Muriel Rukeyser, and the last 5 minutes of Mandy Patinkin's interview at The New School:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(Poem by Wendell Berry)


Stay Home 

I will wait here in the fields

to see how well the rain

brings on the grass.

In the labor of the fields

longer than a man’s life

I am at home. Don’t come with me.

You stay home too.

I will be standing in the woods

where the old trees

move only with the wind

and then with gravity.

In the stillness of the trees

I am at home. Don’t come with me.

You stay home too. 

(Poem by Wendell Berry)

The Poem as Mask 

When I wrote of the women in their dances and 
wildness, it was a mask,
on their mountain, gold-hunting, singing, in orgy,
it was a mask; when I wrote of the god,
fragmented, exiled from himself, his life, the love gone
down with song,
it was myself, split open, unable to speak, in exile from

There is no mountain, there is no god, there is memory
of my torn life, myself split open in sleep, the rescued
beside me among the doctors, and a word
of rescue from the great eyes.

No more masks! No more mythologies!

Now, for the first time, the god lifts his hand,
the fragments join in me with their own music. 

(Poem by Muriel Rukeyser)
We are all, at this time, people of the arts. We are, in this moment,  creators of a new time. We are, courageously and compassionately, called to be what the cosmos longs to look like going forward.

The hurt and the fear and the uncertainty are our teachers. 

Let us be the bodies that become holy scripture for future reading.