Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Storehouse Of Treasures Opens By Itself - A Thanksgiving Day Reverie And Homage To John Tarrant

So the grackle wrestles with the tree top...

These pentitential psalms of David play while snow flurries out over the creek below, the spruce trees sift-sort out just which large bird will try their tips to rest upon...grackles and, yesterday, an enormous eagle regally perched in stillness as the tree top bent from feather weight still, a day after the grackle's heft, gently sways. 
No need to watch the breath here in Keene.
What is seen is enough to nestle one inside and out.
Cold feet. Too ensconced to move and search - sort for socks.
Upstairs a toilet flushes. Two year old feet clumsily thump
as David laments, 
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. . .My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?"
Meanwhile baking turkey aroma, and sage cornbread (NO sugar) dressing, wafts downstairs where I am beside the large plate glass door waking up, espresso cup full and steaming, taking in the what is seen. And heard.
Pondering this offering from John Tarrant, Western zen teacher who, I am sad to say, I discover online just this morning, passed in 2010 and, I am surprised to read, had been living in Jersey City just a Hudson River away from my East Village perch. Had I known he was so close by I would have gladly trekked over bridge and river to sit with him. 
I discovered Tarrant years ago via an anthology of American Buddhist poetry, Beneath A Single Moon, and fell madly in love with his poem, Poem To Be Recited While Banishing Loneliness (posted in comment section below this post) where I instantly memorized the phrase, "he does not shut out any part of himself." This is the essense of Jungian psychology, Jung's notion, or more-than-notion but arrival again and again to an authentic experience of wholeness (what I experience as hold-ness) which includes everthing (natch) and does not exclude or shut out or prefer/value one quality over another. Conscious wholeness, conscious being the operative word, is what Jung means as does Tarrant's line and poem entire. 
So the grackle wrestles with the tree top where I sit with fullness and grief knowing that a remote teacher has been dead 7 years and I had often enough entertained sitting with Tarrant and perhaps find some help with my own wresting a poem, my life's too big to wrestle with, the mind not withstanding, into some good-enough resonant holding/beholding (my frozen fingers just typed "begolding", thank you Mr. Tarrant).
This koan comes to me from Tarrant now, fitting for the present view through the glass, a black cat named Shadow now at my feet, news of Tarrant taking off "the tight shoe of the body" seven years now and now the word year means nothing at all, and while I sit watching the world is shaking off its dusty robe. And will continue to do so. Did so while I slept with cold feet and nose tip, the room being frigid inspite of a heater hissing away, its blue flame, gold too, somehow burns without any motion that I can see, my eyes trying to catch some fire to warm from the outside in. Evenso, in spite of discomfort up here in winter mountain cold is the thing, reminds me that I am heavily ecstatically (a rare event in older age) alive.
Having lived in a giant city for half my life now I wouldn't exchange my freezing toes and nose, these flannel sheets, red red, for all the miracle of its bridges and its parks, the mourning dove on my fire escape waking me to receive the noise of the all too human world mugged by machines and machinations, odd treasures that they are or can be or we must alchemize into.
From John Tarrant a fitting koan for Thanksgiving day:
The storehouse of
treasures opens by 
You can take them,
you can use them,
anyway you wish. 
I look up from this just in time to see a large black wing disappear behind a stand of spruce. What eyes and wings are for.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Brunch With Nietzsche - A Dream With Mimosas & Twilight

In a dream 10 years ago Nietzsche spoke to me over Sunday brunch where we drank mimosas which he thought were an "absolute delight," absolute as in "I spent my entire life in search of the Absolute without much luck but for the pursuit as an adventure of mind. A century later, a mimosa will do indeed." With several already quaffed he sparkled as did the drinks and without warning or asking he proceeded to make a long confession to me, "not you, well, yah, you but also to your century and this new one just born" and so he told me many personal things, joys, sorrows, sins most severe, and sheer moments of ecstasy in and out of the body...his heart always broken over the Death of God, the Western, Judeo-Christian one, THAT Twilight, its Star setting on the world horizon. And there was his suffering too for ancestral German gods demise, cue music off friend and enemy Richard Wagner. He also mourned for Dionysus whom he revered most of all, whose very name means "born again" - dio = twice, nysos = birth), his, Dio, being ripped/torn apart at the height of epiphany and of youthful beauty flush with passion and Eros (that cousin to Dionysus), "Little did I know that I too would be twained, my vanity too large to contain for I became identified with Dio and the Other deities and so such hubris needed to be broken and so it was I entered a broken world inner and outer and became, or was perceived to be, only a shouter, a town cryer, that "The End is near." And I was right, am right still, but what brain can sustain orientation in the face of that FACT?" 
He grew silent, held the champagne flute in his hand, gazed at it, then out of a sunken but kind self said,
"History and an inaccurate interpretation of my exaggerated, sometimes effusive bombastic style of thought and writing in my work has made me sound like I was a terrible man incapable of linear logical thought and exposition, and of bad temper and arrogance but that's not true. Irreverent, yes. And bluster. Bluster counts here as disguise for I was (long pause as if struggling for the right word, then) pretty. Not handsome. Prettiness counts for much in youth, in older age it is (sadly) sacrificed for Beauty.. A necessary assault in order to grow wise. Wisdom comes from loss and blood, always of the Moon.. Even gorgeous buds must go. Nature says it so. And we can and should protest their going but in older age one loses energy to fight so gives in to what is "just so." In sorrow sore, in broken mendicant hearts, having touched tenderly and tasted the binding buds, wisdom is born."
Thus I have loved Nietzsche the man, marvel at the archetype he was and has become but his life was one of tremendous suffering in the grip not only of a personal daemon but that one of an entire aeon, it's final centuries 19th and 20th and, yes, this new one here. He was, as was Mani, Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Buddha, others, an epochal man. All these men and women who turn the wheel of a culture, an epoch, an aeon, suffer. But let us not forget Nietzche's book, Beyond Tragedy, and the gist of his oevre as a whole, this being a sketch of our table talk over brunch, his talk, rather, me the glad partaker of the grand expansive intellectual/spiritual meal being fed me; there is little of contraction in Nietzche unless it is to step one foot backward in order to leap ahead on the other, an effort catch up to the torrents flooding up from the unconscious into emotions into mind, thought, words to be quickly captured in sensation and feeling laced/infused aphorisms. 
Whether sickly Nietzsche, nervous Nietzsche, or whichever symptomatic Nietzches was the ubermensch/overman, or none of these, he was certainly uber in perspective which was projective, far seeing into the next century (or three) ahead, of floods of blood and war, conflicts of mind and nations swelling up from depth into massive tidal waves of destruction and devastation. Such are not unheard of, are synchronous as the central value of a civilization and aeon begins to wane and die, in order to renew/transform into the new central value as yet unseen but showing up as hints, portentions, in dreams, hallucinations, free-floating anxiety and mania (as in the United States of Mania) via imagination via arts all kinds and, yes, harvests of mad men and women gripped by what is unseen but felt, what is building and fragmenting within fragile sensitive egos which preceed the destruction of nation, perhaps world. 
Thus spake Nietzsche, a kind of scarer/thruster in the face of the culture of what he had powerfully felt and intuited spewing forth, spouting, proclaiming only to be merely dismissed and interpreted as a pathetic sad man defamer of Gods, of inflated calcified society and so-called Almighty Reason (all in their twilight before a new light can begin to dimly rim the Eastern horizon though Nietzsche was a part of that unwanted/rejected prescient light) - Wisdom seeks continual birth and rebirth, always new articulation, fabrication, artifice, expression, culture, beauty all kinds, to meet the tempering hammers of present mind and fashion that we humans may be satisfied with existence, with life. Or life-enough, finally foregoing demi-urges of egoic inflation and projection, anthrocentrism overruling ontic participation with all beings known and unknown.
Nietzsche spoke of fashion and fashion sense but only in the sense and tension of making, shaping, morphing thought, the language of thought, the cultural productions therefrom in order to convey some new force(s) which might bring sustained attention to what is born of creative conflict, clash, the concentration of effort to bring out the right meaning, and with such rightness, as in finding the right fit, the fit image, concept, action, expression, all the right productions of human effort, 
that we humans might transcend or, if not transcend, transform enough into greater enough beings than we already are "but still, still we remain so very far from the actualization of the new man, the new woman I have clearly seen rising out of penitential fires, and by fires I mean PASSION fires which have driven, drive still, fires of mind for, what, 3000 productive years and more...yes, we have "reaped the Whirlwind" but that only reveals how far we have come from flint sparks and scratches/scrawls on torch illuminated cave walls. 
Now Whirlwind is the challenge of this age and it may very well be the end of the homo sapiens Experiment, all the sound and fury from primal ancestral grunts and shouts to shofars to later symphonies; but for lack or loss of simple human sympathy for all creatures great and small we people may conclude as brutes after all. Magnificent brutes, yes. But to bring ourselves and everything else to ruin.........(shrugs)..."
Nietzsche tsk tsk tsks quietly, a pained look, a hint of anger too, "What a species we are." He slams his hand loudly upon the table, the cutlery and plates jumping, the flute glasses swaying and ringing, 
"What a species!....Humility....if nothing else, humility may be our salvation. Perhaps I was a bit overwrought when I wrote of the ubermensch, the over or super man. It is precisely HE that has brought the Whirlwind into all our lapse, pun intended. And it is precisely HE who must confess that tired but persistent and violent sin of hubris, Satanic indeed. For that majestic Angel most sublime, dark and powerful wanted to run the whole show, go for broke and be God Almighty. He does so still. So down he flew, thrown down. And so here we all flounder, magnificently, makers all, such great things of power, might, sound and sight, but we must kneel here at the near end, bend the knee and take our penitient place and...and justly pathetic, confess to having too much fire for our own good, all force with little or no goal or plan but for immediate gain which when desired becomes the only absolute in town.
Have, or can, we finally understand that what we can do, what we can create is indeed innately good when adequately understood and known? So good. But we undo it by our self-obsession with transcendence for its own sake for we mistake such transcendence for power.
Whom have we served from the beginning to now (which may be the end or near) after all? 
Only our sad and presumptuous selves. 
We must take the knee, plead our case before Existence Itself and hopefully be successful enough in turning the inexorable Wheel, Its great momentum, of the Whirlwind another way, slow it, perhaps harnass it, whatever it may take to tame it, turn it as ourselves to the better for once and all. It is the heart, the human heart, that may do this if enough are broken open in the face, the grind, of what is overwhelming the globe."
Raising his his glass to me, gulping down the last few swallows of his mimosa, he smiled, eyes sad, kind, but then a flash of mischievousness,
"Well," he said, "let's get on with it, empty another glass and then let's you and me be all about this Ecce Homo-Ecce Whirlwind business, shall we?"
He winked at the handsome young waiter whom he fancied who seemed to magically apear at the "shall we?"

"Another last round, dear...hmmm....Adagio. Shall I call you Adagio?"
"Yes," chuckled the joven, "why, yes you can." He casually strolls away swinging his arms side to side as the ballet dancer that he is should, to the bar for our final mimosas.
Nietzsche's eyes remain upon the youth. 
He says softly, but to whom, me? himself? "Ahhh-dagio...more mimosas...more...more Adagios.....of sunlight....Adagios of sunlight. Yes. That the right thing for now."
He shakes his head to break the revery, says to me, 
"They" (the mimosas, Adagio), go quite well with twilight, yes?"

Nietzsche's musical compositions may be heard here:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Small Favors Of Mourning - An Early Journey, A Later Arrival (Almost)

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.
Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.
Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction...
— Thomas Merton, from the poem "When In the Soul of the Serene Disciple, from A Thomas Merton Reader

"A song to go with your image de moi now that Value is and will be internalized, integrated and is foundation for the further raison d'etre revealing first unpublished book of poetry writ in my 20's and early 30's, pitiful things with some shining moments of image, a musical phrase, an imagistic apt saying/conveying, is titled, 

Small Favors of Mourning.  

It spilled out one basement morning in Harlem 1982 as I wrote a dream for my upcoming analysis session (Jungian)...I had moved to NYC, it suddenly occurred to basemented-me, to consciously mourn the first third of my existence...thank god for William Blake, Rilke, Roethke, Eliot, Kenneth Patchen (a constant companion in my coat pocket always), Asian poets and the very many other poets, writers, artists, musicians and, yes, mystics and misfits of the church and Church (Thomas Merton, others) who ratified the mystic in me whose name, Dark Night, was given to me by an old Swiss-German nun smelling of soap and incense (but not peppermint) on a Greyhound bus crossing the nation east to west late '70's middle of and through the long straight highway night, she with her rosary praying/sleeping/counting an occassional bead between snores leaning in hard upon my left shoulder...I was reading Merton, the Thomas Merton Reader, selections from his then published writing and though I was not yet officially Jungian (but one in soul already) I knew it, She, was no accident...she was curious about me and my Merton book and the other, The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen..."vas ist dis Chournal?" she asks me in the illuminated spotlight cone of overhead buslight to read by, "dis Passion fellow?"  

I explain what I know of him, his extreme physical anguish from crippling arthritis, his prolific creativity of writing poetry, prose, and paintings, collages, his readings with jazz musicians playing along with him, his profound mysticism which does not escape the world of suffering but finds the mystical within that very world and its very suffering.  

"Ah," she smiles, nodding her head, pleased, "like Ch-esus, like all mystics, dis suffering renders us to IT, zee mystical, or ist alvays like dis but IT ist such sveetness dis...yah?" Silence. Her hands disappear into the massive folds of her habit, they appear to dig deeply into her thighs but then eventually a hand emerges in the cone of light overhead, opens, a handful of caramels. "So good," she giggles pulling up her shoulders joyfully partaking of a forbidden pleasure. She shares her candy soft and body warm from her deep, dare I say, mystical folds, a pouch, an altar in there somewhere with a crucifix, a scapular, and a bag of Kraft caramels. At her request I read her some Patchen:

"(In my foolish youth, beholding one noxious thing after another, I marvelled at the purity, the kindness, gentleness, sweetness, modesty, and essential goodness of mankind; the mystery increases within me. Right or wrong, rain or shine, I am a man of faith and good works. I no longer despair of the future; yet, having once more considered the matter, despair of it I must . . . 
I am hungry for a good, solid individuality...)" 


"JULY 17 - My window is thrown open by the rain; it beats in with the aggressiveness of liberty. Somewhere church bells peal out over the drenched fields--the eaves drip Sunday. There is something vulgar and satisfying about it . . .On the bed Jackeen lies, her arms flung wide and a perilous spittal on her lips. The hour has come . . ."

Sister, or Mother (I was not at all savvy to Catholic heirachrical designations), nods her head once, slowly. Silence. "I vill pray...I vill pray for zis Passion fellow. He ist und gut man . . . not too long in zie purgatory . . . I feel he has made some-zing beautiful in "zie Hell, from zie fire, for God who ist also fire, who may, I pray, throw open all our windows," she opens both hands and flings outward, "like vat it ist, a rain of liberty..."  

I stare at her incredulously. Wha'? In all my Fundamentalist Calvinist upbringing and education/indoctrination I had never EVER heard such a miraculous statement. Unable to fully comprehend what she said, it IS indeed a Mystery, I nevertheless felt it resonate deeply in my very being, my body being. This, thought I, is Grace indeed...and a chore for me too. Like Passion's, to render "sompzing beautiful from zie Hell." 

Dawn is coming on and in between her dozes and caramels we speak of Merton. Between her sleeps and prayers, bead, snore, by bead, snore, of mystical presence, snore, and suffering, snore, the meaning of an eternally suffering "Jesus" (or Ch-esus in her Cherman charming accented English) who refuses to leave His Cross until all creatures great and small in all forms know the liberating loving presense of the Father is gently suggested...she is the first to reframe my own suffering, "zie Hell" and longing in such a way as I had yet been able to feel was possible/true/accurate and therefore orienting, making meaning of the chaos that was my history and zie then present on-the-bus-in-zie-veeds me.

Just before she exits in Phoenix, pressing another caramel into my palm she quietly says to me, "Here [or was it "hear"?], dear Dark Night [I look around for whom she's calling Dark Night] , some sveetness for your chourney 
t-rough zie Dark Night...He [the mystical Christ, the Shining Stranger] ist sveeter than zis hint [the candy] but take zie Hint und you vill find zat Joy comes as a surprise in zie morning..." She squeezes my hand, full. O full by buslight, in cone light. Darkness yielding to just dawning light, an always everyday new horizon.

Moved, uncomfortable, but knowing that she is probably an angel sent to me at the right time, I accept her candy, her message, and ponder silently as exquisite austere desert expanse passes by the window of my inward-searching and yearning.

Passion/Patchen writes, insists:

"Do not overreach the sky; you will only have another world to contend with...

With the policeman in the alley's black lip. The approach to the inner city. Cats clawing the face of a slobbering drunk. We men at washlines. Chimneys stretching up like the red, pocked thighs of siphillistic crones...

The green tea being poured down the rough throats of the cabmen...

The head of the universe pissing into the gutter...

The great deal of slack to that little lady's churchly ways...

The handsome behind me eats an orange by the garden wall...

The wind blows out the flowers' brains. Not too dark, God. Not too cold, God. Not too lonely, God. What is the case against me?...

I plead guilty. (Get my heirs to explain this.) My parents and friends will attest to the solemnity of my deportment...

Was that a drop of rain?...

Lower childhood into the furrow made by a hurricane of birds....

Close the door on this cell . . . I lament for mankind."

Next stop, unplanned, mid-desert, past midnight, nowhere, further west, opens a bus door. Enters a young Native American youth, probably 16 or 17 years old, sits next to me...he smells of booze and cigarettes. And sweat. He shivers from waiting for hours afer-sunset cold desert sands. He too falls asleep on my shoulder. First a nun, now a young Indian youth, hair long, thin frame pressed against my shoulder/body, perfectly shaped tears slowly falling from his sleeping eyes, I wonder "just what is this bus I have caught for my journey to the west?" 

At a bus stop in another town he awakens looking a little frightened and confused...looks at me puzzled..."we're in ______," I say (can't remember the town)...He blinks, shakes his head, rubs his eyes and face hard and long to adjust himself, to inwardly orient to the moment in his hands, behind his face, and beyond it/them. I offer him a caramel. He takes it. He offers me a sip of whiskey from a small bottle. I decline. A large orange moon slowly lifts though his proffered bottle from behind a jagged dark purple mountain range

Is it
dawn shoe

the Orange

the old
animal heat
turns in on

beneath skin

the bone bruise
fuses out
against what
yearning once
meant in





We strike up a conversation...he tells me he is on his way to ________ to get his brother out of jail. What? his younger brother is in jail, I can't remember why. He's going to get his brother out of the jailhouse and then they are going together, he says staring onto some distant but present invisible map of a plan, "to leave the res..." There are friends and some distant family in California so that is the destination.  

He was orphaned, raised "on the res by the res", grandmothers, families...he is devoted to his brother whom he is very protective of, AND he also loves to dance.  


"Yes, pow wow dance, but," looks shyly out the window, "I want to be a ballet dancer."  

WOW. What?! (this in my thoughts, not said)...

"I saw ballet dance on my cousin's tv and knew that's what I want to do...I love pow wow dance, too, but that's a different thing. I want to fly like ballet dancers do. And I can learn to dance ballet in LA." 

I admire his clear vision though his daily vision is blurred by orphan light and deserted desert plight. He has had his "vision" though via television as have millions of youths now. And he is going to get his brother out of jail, get to LA, settle in, find a ballet school, and dance. Stunned. How much poignancy can I stand from this vortex of a bus ride, this waking dream? The Sister and the Warrior Dancer and me with my lost fartedness and nunfall of caramels, a mystic book, no, two, to eat/drink/think from.  

We connect. Daniel, his name. Daniel Eaglefeather. He thinks that I am Indian (I have some Cherokee from my mom's side and, then time of that ride, I have long dark brown hair and her (mom's) high cheekbones, I am thin with a dreamy but thoughtful look my head always in a book or a cloud reverie) and when he hears my name he exclaims, "Falcon! you Indian, man!" 

Whiskey bottle almost empty, the bus pulls into his destination for brother retrieval. We embrace after I buy us some coffee, some donuts, some peanuts. "No whiskey. Buy you and your brother a good meal then move on out toward the Pacific." I give him $5 bucks of the $10 that I have to my name. He grins, intense, concentratred eyes flashing, turns quickly toward his mission, he is prepared to battle and to even kill to set his brother free, so rushes out the door into the blinding glare of the too too clean streets the 

too too straight 

too too rigid streets 

their planned

murdering geometry

their belly laugh

their gut punch
and rabbit

that moment
of consent
with bridges
orange sky

and assholes
a cigarette
each hand a
bottle of gin

a back pocket
search for
quinine the
brine of men

the run-on
trousers limp
the cobbled
street where
a spring





Why all this recounting? 

All this recounting has to do with the sketched wings, I think.  

And Calling/Vocation, or "raison d'etre" which is daimon - the unique force that drives the stem of the flower, or life, and prayer even when I could then, though young, only "kneel where prayer had once been valid" (T.S. Eliot), already disconsolate.

As the bus pulls out of the jailing city I am conscious enough to pray to the "Mother/Sister/Angel of Mount Caramel" and Thomas Merton and to Daniel's ancestor spirits, the Elements, the Great Spirit, that he be successful in his mission to liberate his brother O Israel from captivity and to become his dream, his wounding into Beauty ("Beauty before me, Beauty behind me...that Hopi Prayer), a ballet dancer.  

I didn't know it then but I was already at my own work in my own way and with my own fledgling already molting wings - "what I do is me/for that I came" (Gerard Manley Hopkins) - what I DO now, who I am now...those early years of childhood/youthful mourning, by the time I got to NYC, not Phoenix, not at all rising, but deeply depressed "these my greatest sufferings (Duino Rilke), had begun to yield some small but signifant and signifying fruit and though the inner weather was despondency-much I began to find that hope, as Emily Dickinson sings, "is that thing with wings" a feather of meaning beginning to arrive from the alchemical sullenities the post-teen murmurs mutters smatterings which brought little surprises of grace - insights, aha's, what I found myself writing down in a Harlem basement room o dark dark as - "small favors" arriving from the big fissures and fractures already

much the

falls for
(One) love
each night
from the

of pitch 

avenue smells
of singed

a humming
boy hums

pokes bits
of scalp on
the walk

white thumbs
alone touch
the white
lattice kiosk

selling the
face again





- from "Midnight In Dostoyevsky", Norman Nightingale, from The Cathected Poems.

So, good news is - 

joy, new Value, new meaning, continually comes through the mourning into the new morning, the new Center, the new raison d'etre formed from/built upon the foundation of the earlier one(s) and always based upon transpersonal fundaments/dynamics seeking to be lived uniquely new life by life, person by person.

I am still, now more than ever 
"Madly Singing In the Mountains" 
- Po Chu-I (772-846)  

There is no one among men that has not a special failing; 
And my failing consists in writing verses.
I have broken away from the thousand ties of life; 
But this infimity still remains behind.
Each time I look at a fine landscape, 
Each time that I meet a loved friend, 
I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry
And marvel as though a God had crossed my path.
Ever since the day I was banished to Hsun-yang
Half my time I have lived among the hills.
And often, when I have finished a new poem, 
Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock.
I lean my body on the banks of white stone; 
I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch.
My mad singing startles the valleys and hills; 
The apes and birds all come to peep.
Fearing to become a laughing-stock to the world, 
I choose a place that is unfrequented by men.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Father Will's Biography & 2 Dreams, "The Vale" & "The Constable"

Some Gratuitious Autobiographical Thoughts

[Should you wish to go directly to further account of Father Will, his biography and more dreams during the counseling work scroll down to
I believe that James' division of the two types of spiritual health, albeit pragmatic and convenient for rational discussion does not actually acknowledge the fact that both experiences are within and are optionally available as response for every individual. Carl Jung, who studied and greatly valued James, helpfully discovered the binary nature of human consciousness, simply put, that whatever is in the conscious mind has its opposite equally and powerfully in the unconscious which manifest as shadow, symptom and synchronicity for "what one does not live consciously," says Jung, "one is destined to live as Fate". If one is as James says temperamentally healthy-minded then the "sick-soul" attitude is in the unconscious and shows up as shadow and symptom in the self-identified (meaning ego-identified) healthy-minded one. Positive "mind-cure" approaches automatically engender tremendous resistance against locating and integrating the so-called "sick souled" aspect of oneself. Sick souledness is shadow in the healthy-minded one and is destined to be lived as fate, both consciously and unconsciously.

Having personally studied and spent years amongst both religious attitudes which are temperaments I can attest that the denial of the negative side of human experience and of evil is just as unhealthy as the overbearing negative sick souled emphasis I encountered in Protestant Christianity of the Calvinist ilk. More bred in the latter the time spent in the former was well-spent but at some point became out of balance until I realized that both approaches are expressions of the soul which is inclusive of both. I recall here a client overly identified with the healthy-minded viewpoint in compensation for too much suffering in childhood and adolescence. He began to dream repeatedly of high buildings and expansive climbing bridges terrifyingly collapsing. He dreamed of being on the edge of ledges and cliffs at great heights with powerful forces which he could not resist pulling him into the abyss. In other dreams planes fell out of skies, mountains crumbled into seas or into the earth. Having read widely of New Age material regarding thoughts "creating your own reality" and a student of psychic channeling he interpreted the dreams as precognitive and psychic rather than beginning with his need to come down to earth and deal with the painful side of his personal history and the tragic side of existence. It was only when his hair began to fall out in clumps that he began to confront his past, discover compassion and the healthiness of wholing powerful human emotions which the New Age books and channels had discouraged and judged as unhealthy contributors of his, the culture's, and the sickness. I must confess that this is one of the most prevalent and most difficult of belief systems to work with. To take a cue from a client's dreams like these and begin to gently approach the message of imbalance in too much "positive, high-up thinking" puts one in an awkward position as an advocate for the darker side, the down side of things, existence, behaviors, energies. Although I do not seek to change a person's personal belief system nor should I, I have found that the Psyche does which is why I pay attention to dreams.

In my own healing work and psychoanalysis my symptoms, complexes and dreams (night ones, and the dream of waking life) engender ongoingly, without caring for my ego and it conscious beliefs, a "confrontation with the unconscious", to quote one of the most important chapters in Jung's autobiography, Memories,Dreams, Reflections, deconstructing and destroying like my client's skyscrapers falling down along with the waking dream of his hair, my one-sided ego identifications/reifications evident in behaviors derived from what Jung calls the ego complex, the conscious and unconscious beliefs, deductions, conclusions and contusions about my personal existence and the cosmos in general. The psyche addresses, guides, corrects and, yes, demands a change of mind with one's persona and behavior altering (often with resistance, fear and trembling or with relief, joy and relish!) to accommodate the greater wholeness being insisted upon by what Jung calls the "Self", that totality that we are of which the ego is only a part and can know only in part thus the importance of a conscious relationship to one's dreams and the Imagination. This cuts both ways as the psyche also can assert, yea, insist the overtly too positive upon tho ego-identified dour sour puss of self. The psyche does not want saintliness and perfection but rather wholeness which does not mean perfection but, rather, maturing, ripening, evolving and developing in time as one intergrates both positive and negative aspects of self, the opposites, which insist upon living what Zorba the Greek calls the "full catastrophe" of fuller humanity, haloes and hellholes as equally valid options of expression and creation depending upon psychic balances, circumstance and awareness.

Perhaps my biggest "beef" with both healthy-minded and sick-souled religious approaches is that they both deny their opposite while elevating one over the other thus forcing the split in human consciousness further into the shadows and therefore guaranteeing painful yet meaningful, ultimately and essentially creative confrontations with the unconscious. Peter Brooks, the gifted British director of plays and films, in a documentary interview about the life of Jungian analyst, the late Helen Luke, spoke of his "being a realist. If one is an optimist one is too imbalanced. If one is a pessimist, likewise. Being a realist gives one helpful and multi-dimensional recourse to full spectrum living with access to both realities of optimism and pessimism thus enriching life, its experience, its meaning and its art.

This "mind-cure" belief system is still very much the stuff of American popular culture and religion and one only need peruse bookstores on and offline to find how pervasive these paradoxically dangerous and toxic-because-one sided pragmatic "positive thinking" beliefs are which mostly deny and certainly, if acknowledged at all, judge and devalue, the dark, tragic and evil aspects of human existence.

Much of New Thought, Science of Mind and other "new" religious movements derived and developed from "mind-cure" and current New Age and psychically channeled material derives and repeats "mind-cure" beliefs. Interestingly, it is no accident that Jane Roberts, probably the most famous and widely read "best seller" channeler in the hippie and post-hippie New Age movement wrote a channeled book called "The Afterlife Journal of William James." Roberts claims to have never read James but James, American pragmatism, New Thought and other positive and spiritualistic belief systems are such a part of the American psyche and culture, brilliantly intuitive though Roberts perhaps was, it is not a stretch to think that many could have set down something of this American "mind-cure" without knowing of any of these men or movements. It is not necessary today especially since one needs only to tune in popular culture, TV talk shows, films espousing "The Secret" and "Bleeps", Fields of Dreams and reams of channeled material purveying anti-intellectual, non-critical thinking pablum appealing to reptilian brain, child mind and the quest for stuff which we are told will make one happy.

I highly recommend Louis Menand's excellent book, The Metaphysical Club, where he explores in detail the historical personages and personalities of American pragmatism. If one is at all conversant with New Age, New Thought, Science of Mind, Jane Roberts, the Hickeys and other channeled material Menand's book provides foundation to what has come to be a religious phenomenon of positive thinking that could never have happened anywhere but in the United States.

Will's Dream and the Dream of His-Story

Will's dream of dying, his sudden intuitive insistence upon hearing "of the Resurrection" set within the immensities and extremes of remoteness, of heights, of depths, and of majestic yet cold and cruel Nature out the retreat master's window, of the givens of sickness, decay and death, depict his inner tumult as does the violent sea wrack wrenching rendering stone and soil from the yielding shore into the relentless sucking sea. A former religious (one who takes vows and joins a religious order) who lived the severities and austerities required, according to Will's early enthusiatic beliefs, , in order to cultivate holiness requisite for relationship to Go post-ordination into priesthood he eventually left the order after a series of recurring dreams of Vocation where he was continually tending to an abject dieing man in a third world country in extreme poverty. With permission from his abbot he left the order and joined one who served the poor and dieing of India, then East Pakistan. He was there, a young man, during The Bangladesh Liberation War, an armed conflict pitting West Pakistan against East Pakistan (two halves of one country) and India, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan to become the independent nation of Bangladesh. Many men, women and children were displaced, starved, killed in the warfare or died of diseases.

It was in Bangladesh Will became one "well acquainted with grief" ( Isaiah 53:3). His exposure to sustained human suffering took its toll psychologically, calling into question the supposed goodness of an All Good God. His faith in tremendous crisis, he took his daily and sustaining grace from encounters with the living and the dieing, their attempts at affirming life in the midst of ongoing human catastrophe. He reverently told me of children playing witha mostly deflated soccer ball in the midst of human carnage wit and immediacy of ecstatic presense as only children can have in their resilient innocence. Will feelingly spoke of the passion of Christ, the suffering, the crucifixion, the burial and of the account that while He was dead He descended into hell to minister to the lost souls there. We both mused that if such was indeed the case, that the Great Physician spent time in hell then hell would never be the same after that. We were amused together about "when was the last time you heard a good sermon preached on this most obvious and revolutionary story of Compassion's descent into hell therefore hell would never be the same again from such a Visitation and assumed liberation. Will willed himself to live in the antinomy of the meaningless suffering he witnessed and ministered to and the mystery of the Paschal Christ suffering, dieing, descending into hell and being present with those there. His dream urgency to hear of the Resurrection speaks to his lack of belief in it as a living experience but for the incidents of human kindness in the midst of injustice, cruelty, and suffering.

After some years in Bangladesh Will served the poor in various orders in Africa and eventually, semi-retired, returned to New York City where he taught in several seminaries. The extreme contrast between America, its extraverted materialistic values, New York City being a glaring example, and emphasis upon the self, upon money and all it can buy, became toxic for him. The almost comical and maudlin mostly media-driven "god talk and spirit talk" he heard daily from politicians to TV preachers to talk show hosts, the consumerization of not only Christianity but of other world religions parsed and piece-milled together by choice (remember, America is pragmatic, one picks and chooses a belief by ego and will) in a hodge podge porridge of sentiment and show ("namaste") appalled him. He could not identify with the almost protoplasmic drive of American "greed and gimme gimme", and the apparent, he felt, unholy wedding of many religious institutions, including the one he spent his life within, and spiritual belief systems. From the conservative Christian prosperity gospel to New Age "think and be rich" spirituality which are actually one and the same in terms of means to monetary ends he found himself more and more alienated. He also reacted to the mania, what James Hillman has pointed out as a manic defense, passed off as "happiness" in one of the most, if not the most, depressed country in the world ironically devoted to, in part, "the pursuit of happiness".

He, too, became depressed, a man without a country in his native land, his isolation exacerbated by his life experience of living amongst the most profoundly poor and suffering of the world and witnessing the most authentic joy and happpiness amidst the worst of circumstances of genuine human suffering. Potentially serious health concerns from years of diseases, the physical and emotional hard work in third world nations now prevent his longed for return to live and die amongst whom he believes to be "the poorest yet most joyous". Observing the tragic and buffoonish irony in the manic pursuit of American recreational shopping and acquisition, its addictive and psychopathic disregard for others, even wealthy others much less the less well off and more unfortunate, "culture shock," he said, "does not even come close to what I am feeling here and for all of my inner and outter resourcefulness in the midst of my work with "the used, abused and utterly screwed up" (a phrase he culled from Thomas Klise's profound novel of the decline of the world, The Last Western) I am at wits end to find a way toward meaningful living in a culture which complains but essentially turns a willful blind eye away from any activism and self-examination about this "culture of death." From his work in the third world his mysticism was nurtured and grounded within Liberation Theology which was born and developed in the 20th century in the poorest, most oppressed and ignored areas in third world countries. Globally powerful religious institutions intent on impacting peoples personal morality while not focusing upon and emphasizing focus social and economic justice, not taking care of the poor, "the least of these among you" , he found himself becoming more and more bitter in bloated America.

"My bile is actually a healthy response to what is going on. It's just that I don't have the venues now as an older man that I would have had as a younger, healthier, more resilient man. I'm also humiliated to find that at my age I would be depressed and stuck. I'm not happy though happiness ala capitalist America is not my goal here. Meaningful living with what you, Warren, call the "givens of existence" is enough for me. One takes comfort and gives comfort where one can but I'm in this damned dark night of the soul; at least, NOT the one I expected. Damn it!"

I immediately recalled the last paragraph in Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

"Will, if we work together I must now warn you that you will hear me speak much of Carl Jung. And I may read a bit of him here and there outloud to you if he seems pertinent and you are game. Jung may fit here if you allow me to read just a paragraph, the last, in his biography."

"I'm game. Read."

Keeping my Jung books near at hand I easily found the book and began to read:
When Lao-tzu says: "All are clear, I alone am clouded," he is
expressing what I now feel in advanced old age. Lao-tzu is the
example of a man with superior insight who has seen and ex-
perienced worth and worthlessness, and who at the end of his
life desires to return into his own being, into the eternal un-
knowable meaning. The archetype of the old man who has seen
enough is eternally true. At every level of intelligence this type
appears, and its lineaments are always the same, whether it be
an old peasant or a great philosopher like Lao-tzu. This is old
age, and a limitation. Yet there is so much that fills me: plants,
animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The
more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has
grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it
seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me
from the world has become transferred into my own inner world,
and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself. 


Manic mode:

this extended quote from the old British Isles region and religion in
which great happiness is taken about the dark, they who dwell aware of
the shadows within and round about, the mysterious and dubious forces
which expand us with fear, awe and if endured, happiness, authentic
happiness which embraces pathos for these dark ones inhabit us, concern
us and our well-being in terms of psychic wholeness, as well.

'hoppin'ed 'pon this' while researching the etymology of the word
'happy', an extended entry upon the word 'hobbit' in which whilst
reading I felt extremely happy to happen upon this entry haphazardly as
luck, which is what 'happy' means etymologically, would have it. Be
sure to read the entire list. Some great names to call people. Here is
the link to what is below:


"Hobbit Look up Hobbit at
1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
"Hobbit is an invention. In the Westron the word used, when the people was referred to at all, was banakil 'halfling.' But ... the folk of the Shire and of Bree used the word kuduk .... It seems likely that kuduk was a worn-down form of kûd-dûkan [='hole-dweller']. The latter I have translated ... by holbytla ['hole-builder']; and hobbit provides a word that might well be a worn-down form of holbytla, if the name had occurred in our ancient language." [Tolkien, "Return of the King," 1955, p.416]
"On a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why." [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]
The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d.1859), printed in volume 2 of "The Denham Tracts" [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham's scattered publications. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.
"What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks necks, waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins Gyre-carling, pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!"
[Emphasis added] It is curious that the name occurs nowhere else in folklore, and there is no evidence that Tolkien ever saw this."
Important to note that as pertaining pathological happiness, to pathos and pathology in particular, that Tolkien's first note about hobbits is that they live in holes in the ground which is underworld imagery, the place of the dark, the hidden, the mysterious and tricksterish forces. Suffer, the word etymologically means 'to undergo', sub = under, ferre = go, carry. It can mean "under carriage", that part of a cart or car which carries and sustains the weight of the cabin above it. Hobbits are known to be innately happy creatures (see my William James reference in the text below re: 'healthy minded religion' about tempermentally people with positive dispositions. The shadow of hobbits, healthy-minded one, to use James' term, is 'sick-minded', those innately aware of shadow and the pathos dimensions of being. The entire hobbit series can be seen as a hobbit's individuation process of integrating the shadow, pathos, sick-minded aspects of self naturally in the unconscious of those predispostioned to "healthy-mindedness". That hobbits live in holes in the ground belies the as yet to be made conscious awareness and integration of the depth dimensions, the pathos dimensions of existence. But I am ahead of what lies beneath this beginning. I'm in the hole already. Proceed with all the listed nether beings above to accompany you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Brunch With Nietzsche, A Dazzlement On The Ocassion Of His Birthday

for mis compadres, Low McClendon and Andrew Linton

[Autumn leaves cling on.  Keene, NY.  March 2016.  Photo by W. Falcon]


It's undertow that matters. -- Jango Kammenstein

Dear Friedrich,

I am the man most pursued in last night's dream.
That emaciated thing at my back keeps tracking me.
I remain just out of reach. Classic. Even there
as here I am escaping something, a life time of
practice in this Kingdom of the Canker.

It was no banker who followed me last night
but a starved lacklove rejected by Canker and, well,
by me. Who'd want that part all start and no finish?
Replenishment has often enough meant hiding out
and a demand that it keep at least 5 arm lengths away.

I will try, I tell it, to look at it but I find its presence
most disturbing. Its handful of leaves continually
proffered leaves me in a quandary. What do they
mean, this offering, though my father was a lumberjack?
Perhaps this is a track of sorts to follow for an end
to the mystery.

I am stumped.

One adjusts. Continually.

The persona is adaptation
appearing to be solid but sleep reveals the neutrality
of the animal.

Dreams tell us otherwise
when we remember them as it takes an ego to witness,
to remember.

They reveal that we are
caught up into something so much greater than
flush and stir.

It's a wonder we make do
as much as we do and still call ourselves by name,
a species of animal, 'homo sapiens'.

I regret self pity.
I'd reject it if I could but it adheres,
last resort of old coots born honestly
into it no matter the copious Mercurochrome baths,
the smelling salts obviating the needed nipple.

The stippled trout I nightly catch,
pink insides turned out by blue blade
kept beneath the pillow,

baits me with the riddle
again and again.

Something about a stand of trees,
a man carving some bark,
what breath is for.

Today the Market reports a run on Mercurochrome.

Birth goes on.

I am for rebirth.

A dirth of days makes me suddenly Hindu,
foregoing gurus and bindu point.

I've made my own here.


Still, methinks I'll have your ear
for a little while longer, a handful of leaves only for
my thanks,

one foot well into
Cracked and Crank, the drunk tank a memory
worn out.

Doubt is my companion.

Love, too. No remorse here.
Buys me time, aftershave and
loads of underwear for the trickles ahead.

Thank the gods for all that.

Oh. And one last good cigar.




Just Finished Rereading "The Paintings Of Giocometti" by Jean Paul Sartre

[Sketches from Giacometti's sketch books]

"He rejects promiscuity, the casual relations of proximity..."

"Diego is not solidly stitched, but, in the language of dressmakers, only basted...."

"Emptiness seeps in everywhere, between the eyes and eyelids, between the lips, into the nostrils. A face becomes an archipelago."

- Jean Paul Sartre, "The Paintings of Giocometti"

Just finished yet another read of one of my favorite essays, period. Jean Paul Sartre's The Paintings of Giocometti in his book of essays, Situations. I first read it in a Steak n Eggs, downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee near the U of Tn, in self-exile from the Christan college I had attended, alienated by and from the Southern culture I had inherited and so very much needed to flee. Amidst the grease stains, the hash browns, King James, Pall Malls, and weak coffee, to make matters worse an agonizing case of chilblains, also known as pernio, had me on the wrack and the hard booth seat, a naugahide special ripped and filthy,, this essay soothed and siren called me eventually Northward to NYC, to museums where I could embrace Giocometti and more who bore my inner burdens no ill will though artists, writers, were all spilled, and spilling still, out of Western cultural seams, thank god, but even god was in question thus Jean Paul and the tenderness with which he wrote of Giocometti, his paintings, for all ourselves:

"The small statue at my feet is a pedestrian seen in the rear-view mirror of an automobile--about to disappear. In vain do I approach him: he keeps his distance. These solitude repel the visitor with all the insuperable length of a room, a lawn, a glade one dare not cross. They bear witness to the strange paralysis which grips Giocometti at the sight of a fellow creature. Not that he is a misanthrope. This numbness is the effect of surprise mindgled with fear, often admiration, and sometimes respect. True, he is distant, but distance, after all, was invented by man and has no meaning outside the context of human space; it separated Hero from Leander and Marathon from Athens, but does not separate one pebble from another. I first understood distance one evening in April, 1941. I hadspent two months in a prison camp, which is like saying, in a sardine can, where I had experienced absolute proximity. My skin was the boundary of my living space. Day and night I felt the warmth of a shoulder or a thigh against my body. But it was never disturbing, as the others were a part of me. On my first night of freedom, a stranger in my native city, not having yet reached my friends of former days, I pushed open the door of a cafe. Suddenly, I experienced a feeling of fear--or something close to fear. I could not understand how these squat, bulging buildings could conceal such deserts. I was lost; the few drinkers seemed more distant than starts...If these men, shimmering comfortably within their tubes of rarified gas seemed inaccessible to me, it was because I no longer had the right to place my hand on their shoulder or thigh, or to call one of the "fat-head." I had rejoined bourgeois society, where I would have to learn to live once again "at a respectful distance." This sudden agoraphobia betrayed my vague feeling of regret for the collective life from which I had been forever severed. The same is true of Giocometti. For him, distance is not voluntary isolation, nor even a movement of withdrawal. It is a requirement, a ceremony, a sense of difficulty, the product--and he says this himself--of powers of attraction and forces of repulsion. If he was unable to cross those few feet of shining wood separating him from those nude women [the paintings Sartre is discussing], it was because poverty or shyness nailed him to his chair. But if he felt the distance insuperable, it was because he yearned to touch that luxuriant flesh. He rejects promiscuity, the casual relations of proximity, because he wants friendship and love. He dares not take for fear of being taken. His figurines are solitary, but when placed together, in whatever combination, they are united by their solitude, to suddenly form a magical society...

- Jean Paul Sartre, "The Paintings of Giocometti"

A sampler on google here


A face becomes an archipelago.

[All photos by Warren Falcon]