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Showing posts from May, 2017

WHERE THE FUN'S AT

This is fascinating. I mentioned earlier an instance of Jung's synchronicity in my own life. That is, I was witness to a meaningful coincidence, or two related events happening simultaneously without any causal connection. I had been watching a baseball game and as a batter hit the ball I said inwardly "he smoked it" only to hear a second later the announcer use the very same descriptive verb. Having heard my father use the term synchronicity to describe such a phenomenon I researched the term and found that it was Carl Jung who coined the word in the early twentieth century and years later elaborated upon the subject in a treatise of the same name. 

Then, whilst taking a shower yesterday, I found myself thinking about a certain girl, and about our astrological chart comparison. And from there to wondering whether horoscope compatibility had ever been formally studied by those less partial than myself. Astrology had been a cherished pursuit of my mother's ever since a…

WHAT SILENCE LOOKS LIKE

Imagine if there were a remedy for all the world's ills, some elixir that would guarantee unending happiness. A panacea that instantly makes you perfect, fresh, eternally youthful and free. Okay, I've exhausted my repertoire of synonyms for the coveted cure-all. But indeed a miraculous magic bullet does exist. But the wonder drug cannot be found in your medicine cabinet. It can only be accessed through meditation.

The Buddha said: "What we think, we become. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world."

Meditation, or contemplation, or introspection - or as I describe it, closing the eyes, quieting the mind and remaining still - is an end in itself. But meditation can also be used to achieve various worthwhile results. For example, by lying flat on your back and taking ten slow, deep breaths, you are instantly made calmer. In today's harried age, unflappable composure is at such a premium that we pay hundreds of dollars per ticket …

THE SINGLE MAN'S ORGASM

In the winter of 1913, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung embarked on a process of what he called "active imagination" during which he gave free rein to whatever fantasies occurred to his mind. He carefully noted what he observed in his Black Books, which serve as records of self-experimentation. Months later World War I broke out, and Jung realized that a number of his fantasies were actually "precognitions" of this event. This led him to interpret and elaborate upon his imaginings in order to understand to what extent they could be seen as actual prognosticators of the war to come. The result was his wildly famous (for a 20th century psychoanalyst, at least) Red Book.

This information I have borrowed from the foreword to the 2010 edition of Jung's Synchronicity, and reading it reminded me of a curious instance in my own life of "foreknowledge of an event, especially foreknowledge of a paranormal kind." It has been known at least since the time of Herod…

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

THE THIN LINE

There is a thin line between love and hate. In addition to being true, the phrase is also the name of a Martin Lawrence dark comedy which hit theaters in 1996 and earned a profit. Being lucrative is something Martin Lawrence seems no longer able to do. Join the club. The film's title was borrowed from a song of that name recorded in 1971 by the Persuaders. There's a little multi-media history for you. And some unintentional comedy. Watch the Pretenders perform and if you suppress more than a few giggles at the musicians' expense - their outfits, their facial hair, their Jheri curls and even the songs' lyrics are so much fodder for amusement- you will think twice before using your selfie stick or wearing your hipster jeans or that ridiculous mustache or getting that tribal tattoo, as all these fads will not only fade one day soon but will also make you look even more ridiculous in the eyes of posterity. 

Or maybe not. I still think the bell-bottoms my mother wore before …

THE BODY OF GOD

I am currently reading Edward Lyton's Zanoni (1842). It is my favorite novel, and not just because it's the one I'm halfway through, though if this were the case it wouldn't be the first time. Zanoni, which I plan to include on my upcoming "ten must-read books that are free" list, if I can ever get around to writing it, is a mystical novel treating the occult. The titular main character evinces super powers which make the Man of Steel seem like a wimp and which include predicting the future. Or in the author's own words, "It was as if this dark and wondrous being could convert the most ordinary events and the meanest instruments into the agencies of his inscrutable will." 

The character reminds me of Sai Baba, an Indian holy man my parents took my brothers and me to see several times when we were kids. Sai Baba possessed miraculous powers of his own, not the least of which included materializing jewelry out of thin air, healing the sick and predi…

A NEW BREED OF BROTHERLY LOVE

I had a hard-on watching UFC last night. I didn't notice it till after the bout was over. For those of you who don't know, the Ultimate Fighting Championship stages fights in an octagon steel cage where two half-naked men can be as vicious as they want to each other. There are few rules. No hair pulling or groin shots. But the standard prohibitions of boxing and other contact sports - no kicking while down, no elbows to the nose, no kidney punches, etc. - are absent. There is something so visceral, so primeval about watching two guys - savage brutes, is the more accurate term - kicking the shit out of each other. 

I sometimes surf YouTube videos of street fights just to see guys knock each other out. Kimbo Slice was my favorite fighter to watch. He was a street fighter literally, beating up anyone who was dumb enough to challenge him to a brawl. And Mr. Slice also made it to the UFC. He even had a professional boxing career - until last year when he passed away at 42 of a heart…

THE RULE OF ATTRACTION

Bret Easton Ellis is a favorite author of mine. The movie version of Less Than Zero, which hit theaters in 1987, is an anthem to excess that spoke to my generation. It may have even been set in Beverly Hills, where I spent some of my formative years. I discovered his twisted American Psycho while living in New York in 2000. After seeing the preview I went straight to the bookstore and picked myself up a copy and read it through and through in a matter of days, usually while sweating off the previous night's six-pack on the Precor machine. Who says you can't do two things at once?

The serial killer genre is tricky. If it is treated seriously, as in the films Zodiac and Silence of the Lambs or the horrific Henry, I'll watch it, even though the gruesome scenes will seed my nightmares. But if all the slash and gash is sophomoric, insensitive, comedic, then I'll usually steer clear. This is what I told a friend who asked me to read his slasher screenplay. I couldn't get …

S.O.S

To be spontaneous or systematic, that's the question. Or SOS, as the Police sing. Within me these two opposing characteristics are ever at war. I suppose we're all born more of the former. What child is not up for a trip to the candy store on a whim? But our educational system drums in the systematic approach to problem solving. You must progress from number 1 to 10 on your test. Each class is 50 minutes long. Etc. And indeed having a schedule and being methodical can lead to greater material success. If you only do what you feel like you may never study math, or organize your closet. But enslaving yourself to a ritual can suck all the fun out of life. To reconcile the two approaches we've evolved the weekend, which is basically a short vacation from the rigid workday, a time to play in an unstructured way. The athlete has his rest days, a time away from play. The family has the trip to the Bahamas. There are semester breaks in school, though having an entire summer off is…

FROM TIME TO TIME

What is the aim of life? What does it mean to live fully? Rudolf Steiner writes: "The student must, from time to time, glance introspectively into himself, sink back into himself, take counsel with himself, form and test the fundamental principles of his life, run over in his thoughts the sum total of his knowledge, weigh his duties, and reflect upon the content and aim of life."

Bertrand Russell weighs in: "In regard to every form of human activity it is necessary that the question should be asked from time to time, 'What is its purpose and ideal? In what way does it contribute to the beauty of human existence?'"

In both of the above quotes we find the expression "from time to time." We must ask ourselves how often this should be. Twice a year? Once a decade? Thrice in a lifetime? 

I nominate every day. Nay, several times each day. Moment to moment.

You are already doing everything for a reason. The unconscious mind, which is largely hidden from awar…

F IS FOR FUN AT KEG PARTIES

Okay, I finally caved. I had been debating whether to take the Myers & Briggs Type Indicator to determine my personality type ever since reading about the pervasive and powerful influence of personality in all aspects of life. It started when I read Mark Twain's story What Is Man? The author has his character discourse on the importance of temperament, saying a man "must content the spirit that is in him—he cannot help it.... YOU CAN'T ERADICATE YOUR DISPOSITION NOR ANY RAG OF IT—you can only put a pressure on it and keep it down and quiet."

As Twain would have us believe, our temperament, which is always "born, not made," is our personal "master." It is our "spiritual appetite." And we must satisfy it or be forever unfulfilled. Beliefs and convictions strive in vain against a person's innate bent, so it pays, as Socrates says, to "know thyself." It also costs, but we'll get to that.
Not only famous novelists and anci…