See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

World at War: Faith and Clarity

Warp Spasm writes in his latest post: As the world continues to crumble around us I am feeling an incredible sense of impotence. I waiver between rage and resignation. If I could I'd grab all these so-called world leaders by the lapels and shake the living shit out of them. How can they continue down the road to ruin? Why aren't people everywhere rioting over their lack of influence and power? Impotence?

It seems to me, they are. That's what's going on in the Middle East, and in parts of Europe and Asia, and almost everywhere but here; the riots here have been supressed by something that seems like a drug released into the air (it's not literally, but it may as well be). The world is at war, and it's not a war between Christianity and Islam, or capitalism and terrorism, or any of those lies. It's a war between ignorance and ignorance; but in this case, part of the ignorance, the ignorance of the suppressed, the tortured and the starved, is understandable. Familiarity with Maslow's hierarchy of needs shows us why most people in this modern world have no time to develop "higher values," which we often forget, can easily be a bourgeois affectation. The willful ignorance of the oppressors, which in this case is the Bush cabal and its puppets, is not so easy to forgive. It's still ignorance -- the mistaken belief that the their heinous acts and execreble lives can be of true benefit to them, as they artificially set themselves apart from humanity and existence -- but it's impossible to forgive. This willful ignorance is the closest I can get myself to believe in damnation.

...Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. - William Butler Yeats.

Often these days, I feel like I'm walking around in a sci-fi movie. Often it seems to me that humanity is divided into two subspecies: those who can see their hands in front of their faces, and those who can't. The division crosses all lines of education, age, culture and intelligence. There are old people, poor people, even people who I wouldn't considered stupid at other times, who can see the current world situation for what it is. Some of my good friends, including the educated ones and the ones who have no reason to love the oppressors, can't. There seems no rhyme or reason to it.

I would like to thank my Buddhist practice as renewed in the last couple of years for my particular ability to see -- and in this case it's pretty much a lifting of the veil -- but I can't. As loathe as I am to speak of the particular benefits of Zen practice, it's obvious to me at this point that clarity is the chief one, at least for me. But of course it doesn't take zazen to see the Bush Cabal for what it is, most of those who see it have never sat cross-legged. One of my best friends, a sober alcoholic for thirty years, once remarked to me that for a lot of people who stick with AA, it's an excuse to remain sober. Perhaps for me zazen is an excuse to see clearly.

When I say clarity, I don't mean everything is clear all the time, or that there is some new hidden depth to the world that wasn't seen before. Things are just seen as they are. I'm gonna stop trying to talk about it, here, for now. It just can't be done.

The last sesshin I attended in Atlanta was taught/led by one of the students in the absence of the abbot, and he listed the theme for the weekend as "Faith." I'm sure this was a consciously-perceived dissonance for Steven, as he was quite aware that running from blind faith and the ignorance fostered by religion brings most, or a lot of, people to Zen in the first place. But there is a kind of faith in the consistent practice of zazen -- faith in the process, not in the goal. This faith is more of an empirical finding, backed up as the experiment leads to confirm the original induction. As long as the process works, we must be willing to follow the process wherever it leads us; I have no idea what perceptions I may have tomorrow, but I have must have faith in my willingness to be true to them. Ultimately, I think, the journey leads us right back to where we sit, and the destination is the same as where we start, and not. Enough of this babble; it reduces the experience.

You can read Warp Spasm's quote in context at his blog by following the link in the column to the right. If anyone empathizes with his rage, and mine, validate yourself by reading this article titled "Peace Prize Winner Could Kill Bush," also in a link to the right. Also, the movie I was trying to remember was "They Live," with Roddy Piper. Only people with special sunglasses can see the aliens. Get it?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Strange Disappearance

Strangely enough, when I tried to load this blog this morning, the 911 Eyewitness video failed to load. I can't imagine why. Since then, the video has begun to load again normally; but if you haven't seen the movie or haven't had time to finish watching it, and the movie in the previous entry won't load, try this link:

Friday, July 21, 2006

911 Eyewitness

Since I started this blog last October, I've never yet posted anyone else's work here, since it's all about my own opinions and perceptions. However, tonight I ran across this excellent film, and I think it's important that everyone see it. It's called "911 Eyewitness."

The one thing that was immediately apparent to me when I watched the World Trade towers come down, live, almost five years ago, was that they weren't collapsing as a result of the impact from the planes. I'm a liberal arts, not a math, person, but I took physics in high school. It was especially obvious when one of the towers blew sideways, then straightened up and fell straight down.

This film is an hour and forty-five minutes long, so you can't skim it the way you could one of my blog entries. But if you watch it and understand the principles involved, you'll at least understand that the Towers came down as a part of a controlled demolition. I thought that was pretty obvious when I saw it the first time, but like a lot of people, I listened to the spin put out by the government through the media, and I let myself be deceived. Then I learned that this was the issue Hunter Thompson was working on when he died, and I saw some of the footage included in this film.

If you didn't already know, after you watch this you should what understand what happened when the buildings fell. I don't pretend at this point to know why. The most innocuous supposition would be that the government made a rational response to control the damage, and decided to sacrifice the lives of the people remaining in the buildings to avoid larger disaster if the buildings were allowed to fall naturally. However, after reviewing the physics involved, it appears that the buildings would not have fallen at all. So I don't know. I don't have information available to me to know why we were lied to like this. I just know that we were.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ms. Johnson, part 2

As some of you have doubtless noticed, my blogging has slowed down again. I just haven't been inspired lately. But I got a lot of feedback in my email about Ms. Johnson and her recent problems, and on reviewing where I left her story, I realized that the surprising number of people who seemed concerned about her were left hanging, with her health in doubt.

So don't worry, for now, Ms. Johnson is eating and drinking and using her litterbox just fine, and walking around the best she can. As I left it last, the vet thought she had idiopathic vestibular syndrome; I still think she had a stroke. She can get around the house just fine, though she's learned she can't depend on her hindquarters to get her up onto the furniture dependably any more. She has less energy than she used to and sleeps more, but she doesn't seem to be in pain. In short, she's old. According to some web site (, she's 84. So I imagine she'll get by as she is until some other event takes place. So thanks to all of you for your sympathy, but be assured: Ms. Johnson is dying, but no more so than we all are.

So I believe I paused her life story at the point at which she and Thunder were flown to Nashville from Albuquerque in 1993. At that point, Ms. Johnson was about 3 1/2 years old, Thunder was about 2. This was in late August, and I had to pay extra to fly the cats because it was too hot to let them sit on the ground, especially since they had a changeover (in Texas, I bellieve). My plan was to have my mother, who was 71, pick them up at the airport in Nashville and take them to her house in Manchester, where I would join them all as soon as I wound up some things in Albuquerque. Before the airline would take them, the cats had to go to the vet to have their shots caught up and be certified healthy for the trip. I also asked the vet for some kitty downers to sedate the cats during the flight.

Have you ever tried to get a cat to take a pill? They don't even have the minimal cooperation that dogs do. In the course of trying to get Thunder to take a pill, she clawed the hell out of me, so I decided both cats would have to fly unmedicated. They arrived in Nashville kicking and having screamed themselves hoarse, to be picked up by someone they barely know and taken to a house to live with a spoiled poodle puppy for a week before I arrived. Needless to say, in the months they spent in the house in Manchester, they did not adapt well to their environment. Thunder in particular became so neurotic that she basically licked all the hair off her body. The cats didn't like Suzy the poodle, so my mother didn't like the cats. Chaos.

When I finally got moved to Nashville in the spring of 1995, I was in a very small apartment with no place for the cats, so they had to stay in Manchester. To defuse the inferno in the house, my aunt covered up an old beagle pen at my mother's house and adapted it for the cats to live in. Bear in mind these were inside cats, declayed and spayed, who had really never been outside. But outside they went, into two renovated doghouses, later adapted with light bulbs for heat in the winter. Their health improved dramatically in the poodle-free environment. Thunder got her hair back and they both seemed much happier, confronted with the wonders of nature for the first time.

And here's where my neglect of Ms. Johnson comes in. I mean, she was always fed well, but never wanted anyone but me to pet her (Thunder basically ran from everyone). So I never made it a priority to move the cats to Nashville; my apartments were too small, or shared, or too chaotic for me to bring them into it. My excuse to myself at the time was that they were happier and better off where they were. When I'd visit my mother's, I'd always go out to see them, but rarely went into the pen except to feed them (it was a very low-roofed pen), and when I did, neither cat really came out to be petted. So by the time my mother died in 2003, and I sold the property and the cats had to be moved, I figured they barely remembered me and no longer thought of me as their owner. By the time I finally got myself resettled into Nashville in February, 2004, and was ready to bring them to live with me, they had been forcibly evacuated from their pen (when the house was sold in November, '03) and taken to live in a well house at my dad's place, with no real protection (at my mother's they had the pen, and although the gate was usually left slightly open but locked, they had the protection of the small opening and then the doghouses).

Tragically, in the weeks when I was preparing the move, Thunder disappeared. She never could stop exploring; Ms. Johnson had gotten conservative and stayed under cover. Probably something took her and killed her. Thunder was always a little dense or couldn't see well, I never knew which, and she was declawed and defenseless. So my negligence really led directly to this death. My dad didn't know anything about cats and didn't care about them. Purely and simply, I neglected this obligation I had assumed. Between all the inevitable guilt feelings about my mother's death, and then the death of this cat, my position about assumed responsibilities has changed. Although people and animals will continue to die "on my shift," inevitably, they will never be neglected again.

So in late February, 2004, Ms. Johnson moved into the duplex in Nashville where she lives with me today. She gets just what she wants to eat and will get all the medical care she needs. Regretably, the one thing she can no longer do since her medical event of last month is get up into the recliner with me where she always came to be petted while I watch DVD's. If I help her, she just jumps down. She's just like that. Her favorite food in any brand of Fancy Feast with gravy, although she just licks the gravy out and leaves the meat. I don't mind, even though hard times are coming financially. She will get what she needs in her old age.