Saturday, October 01, 2022

I can’t help listening

 Brain pain explains rain

(not today, no) rain, that is —

mute sonority 

alles klar

 “How do you fare,” asks

benevolent inquirer —

“fine, just fine,” he lies

not attending memorial — he’ll know why, or won’t

About solitude
Like pain, it measures itself
By your attention
When you think “I’m gone”
When you think “no pain,” there, both

Art by Margaret Cook from a rare 1913 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

no silly lovesong

off northwest car up

hill behind owl call returns

quiet, solitude

Friday, September 30, 2022

confinement as simple imagining all those hours bedside

 hospice, cat visits,

duration is delusion —

small moves, beads, eight bells

Thursday, September 29, 2022

some things are beyond our experience

 Archangels, you say?

Order of beings far above 

humans? Waddya know?

a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon

Writing Journal

For Philosophy and Jung

Independent Study, with MB

Bill Halpin, Thurs. 28Sept 2022


   1. Objective,

   2. Subject, 

   3. Projective

a. individual consciousness

b. collective (un)conscious

  1. Objective:

 From The Undiscovered Self,The Dilemma of the Individual in Modern Society, by C.G. Jung, c. 1957)

These considerations must be borne in mind whenever there is talk of a theory serving as a guide to self-knowledge. There is and can be no self-knowledge based on theoretical assumptions, for the object of self-knowledge is an individual – a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon. Hence it is not the universal and the regular that characterize the individual, but rather the unique. He is not to be understood as a recurrent unit but as something unique and singular which in the last analysis can neither be known nor compared with anything else 

Now whether it is a question of understanding a fellow human being or of self-knowledge, I must in both cases leave all theoretical assumptions behind me. Since scientific knowledge not only enjoys universal esteem but, in the eyes of modern man, counts as the only intellectual and spiritual authority, understanding the individual obliges me to commit lèse majesté, so to speak, to turn a blind eye to scientific knowledge. This is a sacrifice not lightly made, for the scientific attitude cannot rid itself so easily of its sense of responsibility. And if the psychologist happens to be a doctor who wants not only to classify his patient scientifically but also to understand him as a human being, he is threatened with a conflict of duties between the two diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive attitudes of knowledge, on the one hand, and understanding, on the other. This conflict cannot be solved by an either-or but only by a kind of two-way thinking: doing one thing while not losing sight of the other. (Ch.1, pp. 5-6, C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self)


2. Subjective:

    Jung has always been, for me, a curious and attractive thinker. 

His sentence in the first paragraph above, "a relative exception and an irregular phenomenon" is as good a non-definition of what you and I are as any other philosophical or psychological definition of a human being. 

When we had a bookshop/bakery in Camden, a woman who managed a shop across the parking lot, would often come back to the small building we rented on the harbor. It was a pot-belly gathering place, so to speak, and every day there were a group of folks who sat around drinking our free (ie, by donation) coffee and annoying each other with their oft-repeated stories, then quieting down when reputable visitors and tourists would drop in. When our neighboring woman walked in she'd always look around and laugh, saying "So, how are the Meetingbrook Irregulars doing today. 

Danny had difficulty abiding Sadie. Whenever she'd arrive he'd abruptly get up, put his cup in the sink, and say loudly enough for anybody to hear, "I've gotta go, Billy. I've got a dentist appointment." Over thirteen years, I don't think Sadie, or anyone else, ever remarked on how often Danny went to the dentist. Unless they all practiced the soul of discretion. Overlooking things can be an art-form. Jane saw it. Smiled at us. Waved back as she left telling everyone to "Carry on!"

Saskia and I grew fond of these exchanges. Over the years Jane would come in holding a multi-colored lumberjack shirt, or a green and mauve Anorak jacket, or a tan flannel-lined barn coat and ask me if I'd be willing to take them off her hands. I was willing. She'd say, "I don't know why my girlfriends over the years always bought me such extra large gifts." They were nice pieces of clothing, even a little too large for me. I have them to this day, some twenty five years later.

We're all exceptions. We're all irregular. Unique. Like Jane, we are "not to be understood as a recurrent unit but as something unique and singular which in the last analysis can neither be known nor compared with anything else "

This notion cheers me. I don't want to be some line in a statistical sample, I don't want to be a category. In fact any externally-derived descriptor I hear coming my way is likely to annoy and disappoint me. 

I've grown to like phenomenology and the phenomenological method.

What is phenomenology?

In simple terms, phenomenology can be defined as an approach to research that seeks to describe the essence of a phenomenon by exploring it from the perspective of those who have experienced it [6]. The goal of phenomenology is to describe the meaning of this experience—both in terms of what was experienced and how it was experienced [6](--How phenomenology can help us learn from the experiences of others, 


And yet: 

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.—Douglas Adams 


So, maybe I love the notion but fail to practice.

Or maybe I have not grasped (yet) the demands of learning and the dedication pedagogy asks of me.

Jung writes above, "Since scientific knowledge not only enjoys universal esteem but, in the eyes of modern man, counts as the only intellectual and spiritual authority, understanding the individual obliges me to commit lèse majesté, so to speak, to turn a blind eye to scientific knowledge." 

This sacrifice of intellectual knowledge and categories when in the presence of the individual is not easy and does not mean (I think) that we give up thinking. Here I regard 'thinking' as reflection, contemplation, philosophical observation, open receptivity to what is presenting itself. To be able to do this, without locking away the experience into some categorical or conceptual vault (or file cabinet), is a vital action and engagement with the individual (as individual) allowing the field of experience to remain open and capable of change, renewal, and transformation.

I had too look up lèse-majesté


: an offense violating the dignity of a ruler as the representative of a sovereign power

Lèse-majesté (or lese majesty, as it is also styled in English publications) comes into English by way of Middle French, from the Latin laesa majestas, which literally means "injured majesty." The English term can conceivably cover any offense against a sovereign power or its ruler, from treason to a simple breach of etiquette. Lèse-majesté has also acquired a more lighthearted or ironic meaning, referring to an insult or impudence to a particularly pompous or self-important person or organization. As such, it may be applied to a relatively inoffensive act that has been exaggeratedly treated as if it were a great affront. 


I begin to think my idea of myself, my ego, is that which is violated and insulted when I encounter Lèse-majesté. All the perceived slights from others, all the mental put-downs and offenses taken and nursed for decades, these have been the de-throning of the fabricated and pompously enthroned ego, or false self. My individual consciousness might not even be my individual consciousness. 

Who's been walking around inside the lumberjack shirt, anorak, and barn coat all these years?

3. Projective

    a. Individual consciousness:

Going forward I'd like to reexamine all the ideas I've carried with me about what an individual is, and how to experience and understand the individual. This might be done phenomenologically by looking at experience, mine and others, and reflecting on "what and how" the experience is/was experienced, avoiding what we have called instant judgment, prejudicial reaction, or vault protection of personal valuables carried forward from family or cultural unconscious.

I'd like my individual conscious to be mine, not some pastiche of others' fabric sewn onto my shirt without my awareness.

    b. Collective (un)conscious

We are both served and attacked daily by hidden energies and phenomena that blind-side and usurp our conscious experience and intelligent response to that experience. One Jungian observation is that unless we become aware of what is influencing our thoughts and emotions we will continue to miss our life. It will be someone else's life.

That awareness is, many observe, sorely lacking in our contemporary culture. The underlying penchant to eliminate what and who we do not like, to destroy ways of life that just might be ways that nurture and sustain us, to retreat into bunkers of solipsistic and seclusive beliefs that isolate and alienate us from others -- these are troublesome. And, for the greater majority of us, might be hidden from us in a great sea of murky lack of understanding.

We've become stuck in the conflict between self and other, and, in the very lack of understanding of what is self and what is other. We see opposition in these words. Self/other. We feel driven to take sides, to separate and oppose. To explain away something that gnaws at our subliminal intuition urging us to look again at the divisiveness and distancing, to allow our shadow to make of us a fuller being, to stop choosing fear as our front and lack of care as our back.

Jung writes: "This conflict cannot be solved by an either-or but only by a kind of two-way thinking: doing one thing while not losing sight of the other."

I think I'll start there. Maybe it's a good starting place for us all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

where have I been, where are we going

 Frontline’s Lies, Politics, and Democracy.

A study in cowardice, compromise, and poor character,

An object lesson.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

view from under the weather time out

There are times when diminished space contracts to lesser space much the same way someone in discomfort and displeasurable contraction looks for only a square inch of relief.

Tea, toast, soft boiled egg, chamomile teabags for eye relief, service healing cat, Panta Rhei, not moving much right now.

Monday, September 26, 2022

to douse their lights

Sometimes it takes more than one reading. 

candlelight vigil
the coolness of a bugle
bringing on the night

— Susan Polizzotto

Most classical haiku work through juxtaposition—the combining of two images that, placed side by side within a single poem, add up to more than the sum of their parts. One image contains the season word, the other amplifies the essential meaning of that word, illuminating some special facet of it. In haiku, the season word is a given. The rest of the poem is not. It is through the secondary image that haiku poets express their deepest feelings or thoughts.

The winning poem alludes to a military tradition that originated during the Civil War. With the help of his bugler, Oliver W. Norton, Union Army General Daniel Butterfield adapted a melody popular in the French Army for use in battlefield funerals. By the end of the war, the new version—a twenty-four note solo called “Taps”—had been adopted by both Union and Confederate Armies. Since then it has been used both at funerals and as a “signal” to troops to douse their lights.

The poet, a former US Coast Guard captain who is now a writer and a haiku teacher, has agreed to share her inspiration for the poem:

The haiku isn’t based on a single event but on my collective memories and impressions of military funerals. The Coast Guard follows the same rituals as the other Armed Services. A bugler always plays “Taps.” Even though I’ve heard it played any number of times (including at the graveside during my grandfather’s burial in the military cemetery in Knoxville) something always stirs me. Those notes from a brass horn, cool and metallic, remind me of the cooling of the body and its return to base elements. 

Although the poet was drawing upon her “collective memories” of military funerals, she has not described a funeral in her haiku, but rather a candlelight vigil on the night before the funeral, presumably in the presence of the body. As 10 p.m. arrives, the familiar “lights out”melody is played. Drifting in from a distance, its sound seems to “bring on the night.”

That choice (to use the song during the vigil, rather than at the funeral) allows for a moment of quiet reflection in which to listen so deeply to the bugle that the late summer coolness can be heard in its sound. 

(—Tricycle, Summer Season Word: Cool or Coolness! — Winner)

A delight to read.

A sounding description to feel. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

a crude hoe

 What is the task?

What do you need?

“But if the task is to uproot, the finest sword is still inferior to the crudest hoe.” (—p.259, in novel Haiku, by Andrew Vachss)

 My job, right now, is to move through this poorly time.

What I need is water to drink, lozenges to melt, tissues to relieve congestion, time to let everything pass by and disappear.

To uproot time is why the farmer of the soul pulls on boots and steps over the worn wood under porch door.


 Afraid of death?

Who would dare to say “no”?

“Death – to blink for an exceptionally long period of time.”  Robin Williams

When I die,  and I will, it will be the beginning of a long long pause between

One line



Don’t wait around. 

The stage light in center of proscenium is a dim-litted watt.

whence compassion, one’s own discomfot

 Long, long night, (then) dawn

I will  commiserate with

Sick and suffering

In hospitals and elsewhere

Their long, dark, unhappy nights