Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This needs to be read, she needs to be read. Reprinted from the original at: http://romaryka.lunanina.com/


back burner

by Romaryka

I know this voice. I've heard it nearly all my life. It speaks so quietly, at first I always think the idea came from me instead, something original, something unique. Just pull, it says. Open yourself. A little blood won't hurt anything, and will make you feel so much better.

I used to obey, and it used to be right, at least the second part. It did make me feel better. The sting of sharp metal, the rush of slow blood. The seduction of going deeper, biting my lip as the vein gave up its secret. Thinking if I could just get down below the bone I'd hit something - like truth, or horror ; like fulfilling a quest - and then, my prize would be getting to walk away changed. Not unscathed, not whole, but free. It was never true. That blank hunger remained after every session, an ache that went beyond the physical, that made me rue the stitches. My heart raced in dismay, and the only remedy for the anxiousness the blade left in its beading wake was the blade.

I quit a hundred times. My first year of college, I would ease the hand-brake down in the VW and let it roll backwards down the driveway so the chuff of engine wouldn't wake my parents. I would push that Beetle three houses down the street before turning the key in the ignition. And then I would get in, blood screaming for release, and roll the windows down and throw the sunroof back and drive down PCH with music pounding all around me until I found a place by the beach where I could park, and run, and sit alone in the dark and try to take deep breaths. I drove ten thousand miles that year and never left L.A., just like the song, only always in the dark. When something in me finally broke with exhaustion, I would limp back to the trusty Volkswagen and turn toward home. Sometimes I watched the sky pink golden-grey with pre-sunrise light over the Pacific. Other times I gave up before the stars faded. Those were the good nights.

Later, I would grab my extra set of keys and a few coins and my mobile, lock the door to my blue-carpeted studio and tiptoe-run down the five flights of spiral staircase. I would walk along the quais, watchful for pockets of darkness that held men sleeping (or not), stepping around the groups of Arab boys gathered in the narrow streets before Terreaux, with their sloe eyes and quick catcalls, falling into step sometimes with a dark companion, shaking my head at the offer of "un verre" or a phone number. Smiling but raging inside. Do you not see that I want the river to myself, I want to walk fast and hard and breathless and take in the night chill until this desperation to tear myself apart subsides. No, what I do not need is your phone number. Or anything made of glass. I will not call you. And glass can break. Sometimes I stopped in a Tabac and bought cigarettes. I would smoke one, maybe two, flicking ash into the air and staring at the Saône. Eventually, I always ended up alone, and orange light from the passerelles broke like bubbles trapped underneath black water, and the water lapped softly at the cement steps where night people came, and passed things to each other, and sometimes stayed. Every so often one of them asked me for a light. It made me laugh harshly, and brought tears to my eyes. And I always gave them flame.

And later still I dropped to my knees on hardwood and begged God to pull me through the ache, to lift my soul beyond the gash of yearning and let me sleep. God rarely answered, but I sometimes slept.

And now I sit here in this strange house in the dark. The lights outside have all gone out, even the college boys have gone to bed, and there is no comfort in the river of this town. I am too cheap to drive all night, gas prices being what they are, and too afraid to walk under the freeway overpass at this hour, and anyway I am a professor now, and not a teenage girl with a car she can roll down the driveway and an econ class I can skip in the morning. In the morning I have to put on my suit and go discuss literature with a group of other professors in suits and an eager candidate who may, if all goes well tomorrow, earn her Ph.D. And a grant application to proofread and send in, and a graduate seminar to prepare, and a grammar lesson on the subjunctive. I can't sleep, and I have to sleep. I can't cut, and I ache for it as strongly as any moment in the years since I quit. This is the moment I would call my sponsor if I had one.

I don't. There is no sponsorship when you just stop.

But oh Lord bless the dark, and if you're listening tonight, please pull me through this, and lift my soul beyond the ache. It has been four years and more, and I am huddled on the stone floor begging for a light, still a night person after all this time.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Feline Zen

There does seem to be a Zen of cats — a state of self-absorption that is without a trace of self-deification, just an acceptance of some natural order where all is right in the best of all possible universes, a mixture of peacefulness, tranquillity, safety, sun-filled laziness, and the joy of knowing life is good. It is contentment of the most natural kind, so natural that it sometimes appears to exist on a higher plane. This is perhaps what cats are here to teach us: to live in the moment so completely, with such absorption, that the moment lasts forever.

- Contentment (Ch. 3), in ‘ The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats : A Journey into the Feline Heart ’ by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Prayer for a Dog

Faithful friend, loyal companion,
I say farewell to you now.
You have kept me warm at night,
You have kept me company when I was lonely,
You have protected me from danger,
and offered me unconditional love.
For this I am thankful,
and I will remember you forever.

In days gone by, Dog ran wild, untamed and free.
Man has tamed your body,
but has never tamed your spirit.
Your spirit is free of your body now.
Go and run with your pack,
Run with your wild ancestors,
Howl under the midnight moon.
Enjoy your birthright.

Join the wolf, the jackal, the wild dogs.
Run with your kin on the wild hunt.
Run, my friend, have fun.
Run, I will remember you forever.
I love you, too.

Prayer for a Cat

You have crossed over now,
into the spirit realm.
May you walk with Bast,
and I will see you again some day.

Mother Earth, we return to you
the body of one of your children.
Her spirit will return to her ancestors,
and she will continue to live in our memories.
We are thankful that we were able
to share our lives with her,
and give her to your loving arms.

Bast, Pakhet, Sekhmet,
Goddess, we give you back your child.
Noble, regal, honorable cat.
Watch over her, and guide her on her way
to the spirit world.
May she be blessed in your names,
and hunt ever after beside you.


Reality is not what it seems to Be.

A graveyard is a place and A Graveyard Is A Place. There is a place in the universe that can be named a graveyard and There Is A Place In The Universe that can Be Named A Graveyard. One is real and one is Mind. Which Is Reality?

When I meet someone I want to share experiences. I want to compare what we know. The Feeling of It must be conveyed so that Reason can be applied to Attempt an Understanding of the Other's Experience.

Life is raw. It burns. Life is Fire. Fire is embodied in the Dance of the Molecules, the Fae Dance. Nature is forever on Fire because Nature is Alive. Fae. Music. Vibrationism. The Energy of Life, whatever it ultimately turns out to Be, infuses Everything one way or the Other. Fae. I want to Know what Life Is.

Death is not the Answer to Life, but many people focus their life philosophy on the goal of a 'good death' or a “good afterlife.' This is Absurdity.

Death is empty. It has no Time. Death is bitter cold. Cold is embodied by the lack of dancing Fae (dancing molecules). Death is the lack of Life. Death is No Time.

I find that I don't want to Know that particular Bit about the How, What & Why of my death just Yet. But ultimately I have no say in the matter, and paradoxically I have everything to say about the matter. I Know that.

Is Not Life the Same no matter How it Manifests? Who says there are Distinctions between Types of Life? Who Decides How Life Manifests -- Who Decides Who Is Alive? Who was the First to Lie? Who Is Satan?

I want to Talk to That One.

Isn't that the Crux of the Matter? Satan = The Lie. The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Life and Death. That Whole Shmegeggie?

Why Am I? Why Are You? Why Are They? Why Is This? Why . . .? Then Again with What, How, When, Where, and More until The Feeling of It, the Knowing of It, is Conveyed.
Feel It to Know It to Name It.

Emotion Guides Intuition. Intuition Consults Reason. Reason Becomes Action.
Name Satan? Heh, heh. Who was the First, I don't know. But I Know who keeps Satan Alive because I Know the Lie.

The Lie is the artificial separation of Beings. The Lie is the artificial separation of Species into Male and Female. The Lie is that Life has different Meaning in each and Every Manifestation of It.

The Lie is the Exile.

Life is Life. Get over it. We got no Reason to Be Here, We just Are.

So . . . Feel, Intuit, Reason. Decide, Move, Act. Live.

What does Life Feel like to You? What's Your gut reaction? What do you Think that Means? What Happens If We Do . . . This?


That's Life.

Whaddawegonnadoaboutit? That's a Whole 'Nother Question.

Rocks. Are They All Equally Alive? Some say it is so, some say it is no.

Plants. Are They All Equally Alive? Some say it is so, some say it is no.

Animals. Are They All Equally Alive? Some say it is so, some say it is no.

Dieties. Are They All Equally Alive? Some say it is so, some say it is no.

Rock, Plant, Animal, Diety . . . Who Made Those Distinctions? Why were they made, and what bearing on which issues does it Matter? How does the Dance of the Fae/Molecules differ for each group?

Ya wanna throw the Dieties out? No place for Their Kind here? Put Humans in there instead? Isn't That the Crux of the Matter? Satan = The Lie. The Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Life and Death. That Whole Shmegeggie? Again? Except this time it's the Racial Identity Crisis -- Human Racial. The Knowing of Life and Death is the What that separates Us from God. Eat the Apple. Know Life. Know Death. Be God. Get the Knowledge to Judge People's Lives and Damn them to Hell or Assign them a spot in the Heavenly Choir.

Whatsamatter? Don'tcha wanna Be God?

Ask any prisoner and you will be told all the little ways, the regular ways and the Big Ways his guards play at Being God. Think about it, and think about how many prisoners find religion . . . and use it as a buffer against The System (i.e. A False Idol) until they get out again. The whole thing is a pathetic microcosm of the sick society at large.

What does Life Feel like to You, Now?


That's Life.

Whaddawegonnadoaboutthat? Isn't that the Crux of the Matter? Satan = Human. What To Do With Our Being? Be God? Be Animal. Reach for the austere Stars in every Goal, and enjoy raw Life in every Sensation, regardless of God or Animal Label of Distinction. Find the Depth and Breadth of Life . . . Experiment, Feel, Intuit, Reason . . . and Then . . . Tell Me . . . Tell Me True . . .

What did You Find?

Then I'll Know Who's Who in the Garden of Eden. Is the Lie the splitting & switching Identities of the Characters in the Story -- God, Angels, Satan, Man, Woman, Animals, Plants, Earth, Sun. Two of them get split and switched . . . or is it four? Hmm, five? Oh man, Who do you Trust?
Scary, huh? Religion always is. Fear. It's all about Fear generated by Lies.

Reality is not something to Fuck With.

Death, are We Afraid of You, or your Sister, Life?

Ah-ha! It’s the Bitch! Life!

Spirituality, now, is a different ballgame. Spirituality is about Life. Spirituality = Personal Belief, also known as Religion for One. Personal Belief is a Salve against the Emotional Wounds of Life. Personal Belief is a crutch to use when weak, scared, lonely or hurt. Personal Belief is a bit of Bad Faith that smells Good for a bit, and is Disposable. Personal Belief is All We Have for a Buffer against the Conflicting Realities of Others. However, we have to be careful not to let it run to Religion by becoming Somebody-Else's Belief.

What is the Real difference between Religion and Philosophy? Philosophy can go anywhere in the Universe, Religion is stuck in its own muddy, little world.

Myth, stories of the 'Ideal Elementals' in the form of Deities and higher beings that portray multiple life lessons when contrasted in correlation with human events, provides the fodder for Spirituality. The myths of Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Kung Fu-tze, Odin, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Ishtar, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Joan Jett . . . whoever . . . me, you, Joe Schmoe . . . are simply life lessons in different colours and flavours. As far as I'm concerned, the AA suggestion of "take what you need and leave the rest," rings True here. Take what is Good, take what rings True, and leave the tacked-on petty, personal foibles of past & present personae in the Realm of the Dead where they belong. Don't let Dead People control Life -- fix their mistakes, throw away their trash and go where they never imagined. They are dead, they have no Say. It's Our turn to Say.

Dead people are dead. Ain't nothing anybody can do to change that . . . yet. The dead are dead, they've had their say and it's done, and now it's our turn.

Ain't no such thing as ghosts . . . but I admit to many things unexplained.

Why am I going over all this? Because I'm readying my psyche to go graveyard spirit hunting. I'm corralling stray and relevant strands of my philosophies together so I can get a good look at them one more time before goin' in. I'm grounding my Self in what I Know and Don't Know. I'm Ritualizing for a Vision Quest.

I make the Rituals. I explore the Rituals of Others and take what I Need and Leave the rest. It’s all brainwashing. The Question is: Who do I Trust? I wash my own brain, do you?
. . . and I must remember to wash behind My Beliefs . . .

When I go see Joan Jett concerts I go on a similar ritualistic vision quest wherein by the second week before the concert all the music I'm listening to is Joan Jett . . . and then the week before the concert I don't listen to any Joan Jett at all while simultaneously preparing my physical & emotional self for the trials and tribulations of a Joan Jett audience. It brings a slightly altered consciousness, and brings Power to Music within My Reality. In other words . . . I prepare my psyche for a lesson to be imprinted. The lesson is unknown but the Teacher is Trusted, and the lesson is made unique through Music (i.e. Dance of the Molecules/Fae). Music has Power.
Actually, everytime I go to a Joan Jett appearance I expect to see through the facade of My Idealizations of her, and everytime (I know its supposed to be two words, “every” and “time,” but me and Time don't get along) . . . and everytime I see her I see the Human in her. She struggles, she gets angry, she fights on and she fulfills my every expectation and more, especially after the show when she comes out and meets us ordinary folk. She has an important Message, and she says it in the best way she can. That, to me, is the Most Important Thing. Do as ye say, say as ye do. I Respect that greatly. Why? Because I Know how Hard it is to Do, and because I Know many of the countless times I have Failed to Live as I Say in so many ways, little ways, regular ways & Big Ways . . . and as I get older the What of what I Say gets Simpler as the Doing of It gets Harder.

Failing is Human, and I am definitely Human.

Anyway, ain't no spirits outside a bottle (I Dream of Jeannie!) or me head (oops, Jeannie belongs over here with the other sexisms), but then again it is helpful to know what one doesn't Know when intending to confront the Unknown . . . and Being in a State of Confusion is ample shock resistance when Truth hits and shatters Everything to shards inside our pretty, little ape heads.

Dontcha just hate all those capital letters? I may be coming out of that phase . . . finally.

OK! I'm about to pronounce the official-like Shamanic Summons:

Who out there in Deadsville wantsta do something out of the ordinary? Are ya tired of the same old worms crawling in and crawling out? Well then, listen here, I got a proposition fer ya. Guide me to ya so I can get some real interestin'-like dead person fer Nan's class, and you'll get to, perhaps, maybe, Be for a little bit. I know "to Be" is not exactly "Being" but it's gotta be better than "Not to Be." I don't Do miracles, so all o' dis is up to youse guys.
It's all a bunch of hooey, anyway (hopefully, eh?). I shall go out there. I shall let Some Inner Feeling Guide Me. Of course, I have druthers . . . I'll be lookin' fer some old gravestone with weird symbols on it . . . or some outstanding feature . . . Something that Grabs me. Some cemetery by the side of the road . . . there are a few around here . . . but that's for tomorrow.
For some reason I wanna meditate on this version of the 12 steps . . . I should remember to remember them more often:

1 - I admitted I was powerless - that my life had become unmanageable

2 - Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity

3 - Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of that power as I understood it

4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself

5 - Admitted to that power, to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs

6 - Were entirely ready to have that power remove all these defects of character

7 - Humbly asked that power to remove my shortcomings

8 - Made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when I am wrong promptly admit it

11 - Seeking through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with that power as I understand it, praying only for knowledge and understanding of my life

12 - Having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I try to carry this message to other people, and to practice these principles in all my affairs

I don't know what exactly it Is about this magickal formula that works, but it does . . . even if you don't believe in deities. It works even if you don't believe in it . . . it's called faking it until you make it, in AA parlance . . . when you break it down and examine every aspect of these sentences you will realize that these steps really have nothing to do with Gods, and everything to do with the Self and People. These words are genuine paradoxical Truths. They don't immediately reveal themselves or their power to many, which is why there is a variety of AA meetings called a Step Meeting. Step Meetings are a type of AA meeting called closed meetings, those meetings where normal people aren't invited or welcome, and alcoholics fear to enter. Behind the door of a Step Meeting there is a deep study of the 12 Steps . . . over and over and over . . . one through twelve, and again, and again, and again . . .brainwashing, really, and AA oldtimers readily admit it . . . but there are a lot of brains that need cleaning . . . or, shall we say, some brains need a little fine-tuning? Anyway, alcoholics get sober for the long haul in the closed meetings of all types.

Only my philosophical, observational opinion, of course.

A preacher tried to "save" me the other day . . . he wanted to know if I wanted to "erase" my guilt (of killing someone in, what was basically, a drunken rage), forever and completely. I told him I didn't need my guilt erased, that it doesn't whip me, and if it was erased then I wouldn't be Me. He kept asking me what I would lose just by Believing, and I answered repeatedly: Me . . . I told him I couldn't make the Leap of Faith he required of me. But still he tried.

Only his philosophical, observational opinion, of course.

It started getting tangled until I said, to end his difficulties: "Y'see, it doesn't matter anyway because I don't believe Jesus was the Son of God. He was a man like you and me, and he's dead now. He can't help me. And I don't believe in God, either." To which he replied: "Huh? What did you say?" (Preachers!) So I repeated it, and while he stumbled over his words, not getting many out except “Jesus shows us The Way . . .”, I thanked him for caring, I told him I knew he was speaking his Truth, and I in turn, in respect, was only speaking my Truth. I told him my jail/suicide/AA story of when I was asked to define God in my own terms -- you know I can write forever . . . I could only write one word all night, and that word just once, and that one word on a single piece of paper. No other words dared touch that paper all night. No other word ever got to the page to be discarded, just one word: Love. And then I said to the preacher: good night, and thank you, again, because I really do appreciate it, but I'm late for work and while everyone really does expect me to be late, because I'm always late for everything, or too early, but in this case I'm late, though I was gonna be on time until a few minutes ago, but that's OK because I appreciate your kindness, and am grateful, and it's not really your fault I'm late 'cause I'm always late 'cause things like this are always popping up, but I really gotta go or I'll be really late, but we can talk over coffee anytime, OK? Thanks, again!

I made him think, and unfortunately, by the look on his face, I may have brought up some of his own, personal doubts. I don't like doing that. People suffer so much when they lose Faith, especially preachers.

Or . . . the look on his face means he thinks I'm looney!

I went grave hunting and was not prepared for what I found: Loneliness.

Stark, Cold Loneliness.

I made three attempts today to find a graveyard. I had an intention to stop at one of the roadside graveyards I've seen (and stopped at some) on my meditative perambulations in my motor vehicle, i.e. I like to drive, rock loud, see, think and wander. Sometimes I get to Wonder.
Somehow, on the first two attempts I either got turned around while my mind was wandering – meditatively, of course – or I just plain missed every graveyard I went past . . . and I know I went past at least three little ones and one big one. Both times found me back at home to start over. Of course, I'm not counting the North Street graveyards in all this . . . I am avoiding them because I seem to fore-Know I won't find my 'experience' there.

On the third try I ended up going in the opposite direction than the one I had intended. I had intended to go East, for the third time, but I ended up going West. Some vague Feeling was drawing me westward, and every time my mind wandered (i.e. Thoughts began Thinking), my hands turned the car down streets that led West, not East. So, when I realized I was way off course I decided to see if there was an interesting graveyard thisaway.

I drove for a while, ended up on Route 101 West, and quickly got antsy – an uncomfortable jingle-jangle feeling that something's up . . . and about to come down. I'm thinking, at the time, this feeling is simply frustration at my own incompetence to drive to one of several graveyards that I pass at least once a week. So I decide to turn around at the next side street and go back the other way . . . and as those words are becoming thoughts in my head . . . I pass a sign that my peripheral vision catches and latches onto, and the sign says: “Abbington Cemetery,” and it marks a small road off 101 that goes up a hill into the trees.

Perfect! Never been here before, never walked this cemetery before and it's in a perfect spot: up on a hill and set back from the road. I can park way back, not be observed and not be bothered, and the hill means we're closer to heaven, right? So I slowly drive into the cemetery to the tortured strains of “Kiss Me Deadly,” keeping in mind your repeated warning to be respectful (sheez . . . I'm not that bad, am I? OK, maybe I am, but that's another story).
I find a plot marker in the back which defines a square of graves separate from the rest. The marker is large, square and boldly proclaims “Harris” above and to the left, and “Rhoades” below and to the right. It reminds me of a Roman Centurion standing guard. The stone marker's only adornment, besides the two surnames, is a grapevine running along the top with one bunch of grapes carved into each side. Tasteful and down-to-Earth, yet elegant and sophisticated. I don't know why the stone reminded me of a Roman Centurion, but I couldn't shake the impression. I could almost see the glow of the burnished bronze of his armour superimposed over the plot marker. The grapevine being the symbol of Connecticut, and so much more, does the final convincing that this is da Place.

Thank you Ampelos, Dryad of The Vine. (we know each other from the old days, I think I might have married her, but that's another story-book)

Imagination . . . or something Else? I don't Know. Insanity? In any case, this is where I was drawn to. There are US flags everywhere. Lotsa veterans buried here . . . all around. Poor bastards. No disrespect intended, just a smoldering anger at the hopelessness of hate (i.e. war).
Damn, it's Cold here this Moment. The wind cuts like icy razor blades . . . dull blades as there's no blood drawn from the relentless lashing . . . still hurts, though, and the lack of blood in my extremities is burning like ice. I almost turn back and leave – I can barely hold the pen in my gloved fingers to write in my little pad. My fingers are frozen inside my gloves. Whatsamatter with me? It can't be that cold! These people died, and the least I can do is spend a few minutes on a sunny day in the late autumn cold wondering and wandering about them.

I've been colder. I've borne an icicle-laden beard, mustache, hair & eyebrows and feared frostbite in more than a few places, and I've fooled (opposite of braved) a twenty-below night in a holey, wind-driven shack with no heat, inadequate bedding and nobody to snuggle . . . I've rescued a dog from an icy pond during a wintery February . . . but it took thinking about those times to get me to loiter by these lonely stones for even a few minutes.

The Harris-Rhoades plot marker has four stones laid in the ground in front of it: two over to the right (north), and two over to the left (south).

North William H. Harris 1870 – 1952 Celia S. Harris 1879 – 1943
South Adana H. Rhoades 1898 – 1965 Charles A. Rhoades 1898 – 1963

. . . and over 'round back there were two markers, one in each corner. The south corner marker, the new one, was sunk into the ground and overgrown. I cleaned it off. By the end of the stay I had cleaned off several, and replanted a flag.

North Ray V. Harris 1900 – 1952
South Charles H. Rhoades 1925 – 1993, U.S. Air Force

Both Charles Rhoades had American Legion badges stuck in the ground next to their markers, with a U.S. Flag also. The others had no adornments. I can't tell much from the stones . . . I idly wonder about the two in the back, Ray & Charles H . . . where are their families . . . are they like me? No wife, no children . . . getting buried with the parents 'cuz the parents gave them a grave site for a birthday present. But there's no way of knowing anything real about these people except that they had a bit of money, for the markers, and were a bit bold with their plot marker. . . but we're missing the rest of the families, the rest of the story . . . maybe buried elsewhere . . . how sad, not that it matters once you're dead, I guess.

I shrug it off.

The futility of cemeteries begins to roll around in my head at this point – I had a good friend, a best friend . . . Terry . . . who worked in a cemetery at one time . . . and is buried in one now . . . and so I know what happens to the coffins and bodies . . . cemeteries are Illusions for the Living, get over it.

So I wandered a bit more, past stones heralding the Harlan Family, including Bankowski Harlan and Terwilleger Harlan . . . past the resting place of infant twins . . .around the final stop of the Goodenough Family – all laid out proper-like, with each stone marked and placed as to hierarchy in the family: Father, Mother, Son, Son, Grand Daughter.

Poems in stone (“Remember me . . .”), gifts of crystal sparkling in the sunlight, porcelain knick-knacks, flowers and flags . . . the glorious red, white and blue winks in the wind from behind half the tombstones of the cemetery, while the presents for the dead are neatly placed on stone, grass and tree. The sadness of the trinkets and forget-me-nots was almost unbearable. Holiday ornaments, a scarecrow, a turkey, pumpkins . . . one inscribed in black marker with a poem of never-ending remembrance. Everywhere I turn in this little patch is sadness, a longing, a lament to the heavens and the hells asking: “Why?”

Remember Me. To the living, I am gone. To the sorrowful, I will never return. To the angry, I was cheated. But, to the happy, I am at peace. And to the faithful, I have never left. I can not speak, but I can listen. I can not be seen, but I can be heard. So as you stand upon the shore Gazing at the beautiful sea, remember me. As you look in awe at a mighty forest And its grand majesty, remember me. Remember me in your hearts, In your thoughts, and the memories of the Times we loved, the times we cried, and the times we laughed. For if you always think of me, I will Have never gone.

The entreaties, however genuine and heartforsaken, fall upon deafness. There are so many stories and theories about a Power greater than ourselves, and they seem to rise from a need to be comforted and lied to about the inevitable. Perhaps that is why we lash out at our environment – as Death is but part of the normal workings of Nature, and down deep we realize and connect Death and Nature . . . and by despoiling Nature we shadowbox Death.
Ok, maybe Not.

Aristotle and the rest are correct: we must study Nature. This study of Nature must be pure, without influence of Money or Power of other sorts, or else the Science of it is but the Confession of the Tortured. The problem is that we've lost sight of what we're studying, and don't realize how little we actually Know about Nature, and how much we refuse to even look for answers. We can pore over countless statistics & data related to stock markets, and develop countless formulae to predict financial trends . . . but we can't even make an environmentally-friendly house the fundamental building for our homes. Heck, we can't even be bothered to align our homes to the sun, wind, terrain and trees . . . We are damn stupid animals.

I really couldn't figure out anything from the graveyard except the Living were Lonely for the Dead. Those people leaving trinkets all over the place need more help than I do. Some priest or somebody should be looking out for these “cemetery families,” and helping them.

Over in another section of the cemetery, five old civil war stones caught my eye standing there at attention, lined up for review with flags & iron Civil War badges proudly standing next to each stone. They were indeed from the War of Brothers, and they were all soldiers – one died in the horror of Andersonville. I looked them up online but couldn't find out anything more about them, personally. I did find out a bit about the battles. The five soldiers are:

Francis Davison, Co C I Regt, Hvy Art'y CV, Died November 15, 1864, Reg't Hosp VA
Henry E Baker Co F II Regt, Conn Vols, Died January 18, 1862, Annapolis, MD
Lucian Braman, Co F II Regt, Conn Vols, Died May 15, 1864, Fort Morris, VA
John G Carver, Co B 16 Regt, Conn Vols, Died September 3, 1864, Andersonville GA
Enoch Phillips, Co B 31 Inf, Conn Vols, Died December 13, 1908, Æ 64

The Dance of Molecules has ended for these bodies in any cohesive way. I'm sorry but I could not sense anything from any of the graves, except an overall sadness and futility that permeated the entire space. Sure, I'd start to imagine this or that about a particular stone surrounded by forget-me-not trinkets or patriotic symbolism . . . but the truth of the matter is that I just don't know . . . and the fantasizing would stop. Instead, a feeling of helplessness would arise . . . anger and helplessness. Lamentation. Why do we have to Die? Why does Everything Die? What's the Sense of Life if it just Ends . . . and is Over? I think Somebody didn't think this Life thing all the way through . . .

So what am I telling myself . . . there are no Fae? Only molecules? Damn. I hate it when that happens.

The next morning I could not stay asleep. I was up at 6AM – way early for me. Usually, I only see 6AM if I've been up all night or I have some work-a-day-first-shift job (which I avoid like the plague, and like the plague, work-a-day-first-shift jobs pop up unexpectedly and stay way too long (yes, I'm reading The Plague before sleep at night)).

Anyway, I had this urge to get up, and then I had another urge on top of that one to continue getting up and go outside. Usually the urge to go out in the (late) morning is for the first cigarette of the day. I didn't want to smoke, so I resisted. But the urge continued and intensified, and it had a different Feel to it than normal – it wasn't the First Cigarette of The Day Urge. So, I went out.

I walked down the outside hallway and opened the outside door to stand on the porch. There, directly ahead at eye-level, tightly framed by trees and the houses across the way, but with absolutely nothing obscuring its glowing orb, was the setting moon.

Luna. (Personal Belief Alert!)

Luna in all Her Glory. It was full, round, large and glowing white. It was beautiful. My mouth opened but no words came out, just a misty vapour: warmth blossoming into coldness reaching for the Divine or Life evaporating into the Abyss of Death, or something else entirely . . . take Your pick.

What is it when the water of a pond ices up from liquid to solid? Are those Fae ice spirits dancing along the top of the water geometrically sheeting and inscribing it into ice as the wind plays multi-part harmonies with the trees . . . or is it Simply the Dance of the Molecules?

Then tell me, Who Plays the Music and Who Pays the Piper?

What do you See when the First Ice races along the top of a pond?

Isn't it Wonderful?

Is that Life, also?

What's different about that Dance? Are you absolutely sure about that? There's absolutely Nothing more to be discovered There? We Know It All?

Must be nice being you.

All last night, whenever I went out I had noticed the light of the moon, but had always looked up at the sky away from the moon. The one time I craned my neck to see the moon it was hidden behind a building and trees . . . and I didn't look for it again, though I continuously looked at the stars in the opposite sky.

For a full second this morning on the porch I thought the moon was the sun. Then I wondered, idly but fervently, here it is fuller and rounder than I had ever seen it, with light streaming from it to brighten the entire sky as if it were the sky's sole provider of Light, My Moon Goddess. My moon, glowing white in the morning sky, full and falling into the West when the Sun is coming up in the East.

Luna. Goddess. There She Is.


So I lit a cigarette, and went for a little walk.

I could see the moon's movement sliding down and to the side as I walked down the street alongside my home that led straight to the Moon as if a parade boulevard that led to a Fae Gathering – and I had nobody to share it with. Oh, I had a person, very close by, I would have liked to share it with . . . but relationships ain't easy, and there are many times Her Reality doesn't gyve with mine.


Sometimes I feel like an ordinary guy trying to stand in for the prince in a fairy tale . . . I'm supposed to be able to kiss the sleeping beauty and wake her . . . but it doesn't quite work like that . . . for me, anyway.

So many Things in my Life I have not had anyone to share with. That moon I will hold in my Memory, and Know the Feeling I had as I first saw it, for quite some time . . . will I remember it forever? . . . who knows, probably not, but I can still weigh that specific Moon Moment in my Mind at this moment. But it will never be Shared because the Moment is finished, the Moment is Dead. However, the lesson of it, whatever that turns out to be, is not lost to eternity . . . yet. Though it will inevitably metamorphize even if it does survive, if it is to survive for new experiences result in new viewpoints on all past Moments.

I like “metamorphize' better than “metamorphose,” don't you? I think that word needs to be changed. Who's in charge of that? Ah, never mind . . . I'll just continue using it on my own . . .
But there's no grave markers to ever remind me of the Moments that pass.

With no reminder, and a scattered minefield of a Mind like mine, I will forget. I do forget. But what is forgotten can be remembered, though remembrances are not always spot on. I have Forgotten many, many events of my life. Whole years are lost within a fog. But sometimes they find their way back out again, briefly. The “Dead Men Walking” event brought a lot of memories out of my foggybottom consciousness, mostly around my time with Danny Stuart. Since his life is finished, my effect upon it can be measured . . . as far as my knowledge holds true, anyway, and I admit a serious deficit of knowledge about Danny's Life.

For instance, and because I need to share in order to philosophize, and life is the fodder for philosophy . . . after Danny got out, he and I lived in the same neighbourhood and became friends again (less than before, but more than before). At one point, late in the game, actually, he saved my life by taking away my boot-knife: my last fighting weapon. That was so I wouldn't get courage from it's familiar Feel and go after a special someone. That someone, as it happened, who's name and face I don't remember, could easily take any weapon away from me and give it back where the sun don't shine . . . he once picked me up in one hand and threw me down the hallway as if I were a bag of garbage . . . but that's another story or three.

I was in the worst shape of my life during that period – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually . . . bankrupt . . . four of a kind . . . jackpot. Anyway, I asked him days later to give it back, and he told me he had thrown it away because he couldn't trust me not to get into that frame of mind again. He threw it away! A good knife. A nice knife! He left me weaponless (OK, favourite weaponless, but that does mean Something to Violent Humans) at a time when Life meant Nothing to me, and ensured I would not suffer near what he had suffered . . . even rightly . . . should I be successful in my knife-quest.

I remember walking with him on a Sunday, walking a long way, all the way through town simply because he wanted to . . . safely . . . and with me along he was relatively safe. It was Safety in Numbers: two being a number greater than one, and cowards can only deal with one. Again, this is after he came back home -- that's all he wanted, was to come Home, but he Never found Home again as far as I know.

We eventually walked through a Used Car lot a few miles from our houses, and in a gravelly parking field beside it, owned by the Department of Public Works, we wrestled. We always wrestled, Danny and I. It started because it was part of the gang initiation we both participated in. When I was told to join the Satan's Prisoners street gang I had to fight Danny to get in. I remember the gangleader, John Shaw (later I hated him more than any person who has ever lived, and much later I found out I was wrong about why I hated him), standing there in his black leather jacket and denim vest, flanked by six others dressed the same way – two on one side, four on the other in rough squad-like formation. He pointed to the end of the 4-row and said: “You're OK. You wanna join, right? Of course, you do! You wouldn't want to disappoint us, would ya? So ya gotta fight Danny to get into the Prisoners.” And before I could formulate a safe but negative reply, Danny, immediately and with gusto, laughed and descended upon me. We wrestled hard, we wrestled to win, we wrestled with no intention to harm each other – just to show how strong and tough and unyielding we were. We wrestled honestly, and we both knew the other was holding back by being fair, trying not to hurt the other seriously while still making it look much better than it was. We were two of a kind. Our friendship was born as we tumbled and threw each other across the ground as our gang buddies hooted and hollered. You can knock me down but I never stay down, and it was the same for Danny. There were lotsa knockdowns but no knockouts. Our fight was a draw of epic proportions . . . but years later in that gravelly field I let my Rage focus and took all my anger at Life out on him for one shoulder hit & throw . . . and I broke a couple of his ribs.

Oh, he forgave me, sorta. It wasn't done on purpose, exactly. Several days later he was walking by himself at night, and got jumped because he was Danny Stuart the Baby-Killer. He told me, through the puffy, cut and bloody bruises a couple days after that, that he coulda taken all three of them . . . even with his broken ribs . . . if they hadn't hit him in the ribs that first time . . . the ribs I had broken . . . they saw him wince and crumple, and that was That. Those ribs never healed right, and always pained him. He was in bad shape, and I suggested he not go out alone anymore . . . but I knew how futile a idea that was.

People like Danny and I always go out Alone even when we're with a gang.

He was just like me in some ways, and in this way: he never listened to anyone except himself at the wrong times. That wasn't the last time he went out alone, it wasn't the last time he got jumped, and it wasn't the last time those ribs cost him dearly. He reminded me of all that every time we were together, as he would go for my ribs the moment I let my guard down and we'd be tumbling over something . . . indoors or outside . . . playfully, but with meaning and feeling – and just a hint of murderous rage broiling beneath the surface.

I have nobody to wrestle anymore.

I can't wrestle anymore. My body is broken.

Danny and I were Warriors together. We had a Bond . . . y'know, that magical, mysterious and mystical Male Bond.


There was an Oath!

Yeah, there's always an Oath. We couldn't Keep the Oath in Life because of our Human frailties, and we can't Keep the Oath in Death, also because of our Human frailties. Oaths, what are they good for? Lying, that's what.

Philosophy. Life.

I remember other times, hanging out . . . before . . . laughing, roughhousing, getting drunk, smoking pot, doing drugs, philosophizin', feeling like outcasts and rebels . . . afterwards . . . drinking, talking, eyes downcast, burrowing holes in the ground, remembering the suffering, wishing it gone and not quite believing it's over . . . waiting for it to begin again . . . then realizing it never stopped.



Satan's Prisoners.

Knowing Helplessness and Hopelessness, but able to share a little . . .

. . . but Knowing that we couldn't help each other should The Man come and Take one of us Away.

Fuck The Man. He can Take you for Nothing and Nobody can Do a Damn Thing for a Long-Time-Maybe-Never . . . too fucking long. Too mother-fucking long.

Sorry, Mom. But they can drive ya crazy in there.

Can I cry now?

That Is Reality. The Man comes and takes you away . . . tell me, how does your whole Life get re-written in a twinkling like that? How does someone change your Whole Fucking World with a Lie?

Ah, isn't that the Crux of the Matter? Satan = Society. People all around you make the rules and decide what you can think and feel but when you try to input your own thoughts and feelings . . . rebel, outcast, misfit, criminal.

Good and Evil.

Who Decides?

What is Reality? What do you see? What do you think? What do you feel? How come Reality is different for you? Who is correct? Majority rules? I don't think so . . . The Majority ain't Good for much of anything but Misery.

When I look at my bank statement and see all the reduced photocopies of my checks a Feeling of revulsion hits me in the gut, and twists up my face into a mask of uncomprehending horror. I see the Nazi accounting of disposed persons instead of my checks, but the writing is still mine . . . and there's my signature over and over. How, why would my name be on such documents? But it's only money, my money, and it's only being siphoned away little by little, only a small piece of my life for each entry . . . not a logbook full of the names of the dead. It's Different, ain't it? How come it doesn't Feel Different?

I miss Danny. I love Danny. He was my Friend, and I was his Friend. He was a Good Person. One of the very few people I have met in my life who truly was a nice person all the way through . . . he had failings, we all do . . . I failed him when I never wrote him a letter all those years in jail . . . maybe I wrote one or two, I don't remember, but it wasn't enough, regardless. I'm sorry, Danny . . . I was afraid . . . if we had both come out the Other Side together to the Here and Now I can imagine us having a good laugh about Everything.

But you did not come out the Other Side . . . only I did.

I remember being in Old Whalley Ave County Jail (built during the Civil War) when I was seventeen. I got an inmate job in the Admitting & Processing Room . . . so everybody going in went through me. I photographed them, took their fingerprints, filled out their admission paperwork, gave them their wristband and gave them their final directions before sending them off to General Population on their own recognizance . . . sometimes I had to make sure they showered good, used bug soap, got their new clothes & linens, didn't need medical attention (emphasis on the didn't, if ya know what I mean) and otherwise herd them into The System. How I got that job and what I did on that job is another story or three or more . . . but the point here is that one day, late, when only I was there (yep, another story) in through the Incoming Door, thrown into the holding cage like an angry dog was Danny. He was beat up, exhausted but still riled up and none too happy to be in Old Whalley Ave . . . but for me he was a sight for sore eyes. I couldn't help but to laugh and smile and welcome him to jail.

All smiles and happiness I exclaimed: “Danny, I know you don't want to be here but I'm damn happy to see you! Man, this is great!”

All spit and blood and hurt, Danny muttered: “I ain't sorry but I don't want to be here seein' you right now.” And he meant it, too. He meant it the entire coupla weeks he stayed there with me (he was unsentenced, and then the case resolved itself). I followed him around like a happy puppy dog, and he growled at me most of the time like a cranky Doberman. He reminded me of that for a long time but it didn't do any good . . . I still forgot.

Anyway . . .

Back at the holding cage when he first came, I smiled the biggest smile I ever had in jail, then or since, even though I tried desperately to hold it back. It probably ranks as one of my all-time happiest smiles . . . though not The Happiest, which is another story. But I remember the Feel of that Smile, and it has engendered a new generation of smiles through it's memory.
Hmm. Is that how Humans work, also? Does the Race have Life? Or is it Simply the Individual? That is not a trivial question. In fact, it is a Primary Question. Are we Each Here Individually, or, are We each Here as an aspect of a Greater Be-ing, the Human Race? It makes a Big Difference to the Meaning of Life. Or does it?

Paradoxically it must Mean the Same Thing – the Perfect Life for the Individual is the Perfect Life for the Race . . . or all My philosophies are hooey.

Senseless talk.

Nothing but . . . hooey.

Isn't that the Crux of the Matter? Satan = Hooey. It's all senseless talk, get over it.

Danny was my Friend.

“We wrote your name on the sand, but the tide washed it away. We carved your name on the tree trunk, but the bark dried up and fell away. We treasured your name deep in our hearts, and not even time itself could steal your memory away.”

Ha! Nice sentiment by an anonymous person, but Absurd . . . somehow, deep down, we Humans must Own Everything, huh? We must Control Everything, right? I get so disgusted with the Human Race getting lost in our blind alleys, false hopes and petty demands. Time steals Everything, I Know 'cuz he and I don't get along. Time and Death Know each Other, but Are Not the Same Thing. Time we can Do Something about, Death is Another Matter entirely. Memory can Bend Time but has no Effect upon Death.

Damn, who do I think I am?


That's Who.

Who Are You?

The cops (i.e. The Man) had beaten Danny up on the way to county jail. Nice guys, beating up a person in handcuffs simply because he's not someone they could dominate . . . he wasn't guilty that time either but he knew who did it, which is why they beat him up: he wouldn't spill. There was a wildness in Danny, an unconquerable independence of Self. There had to be or he never would have made it . . . oh yeah, that's right, he didn't make it all the way out the Other Side.

The Man. Hmm.

Warriors. We're all (all us men, I mean, of course . . . ) warriors in a way, aren't we? But is that Society or Life or Being Male or Something Else? That is a Question for which I want an Answer. Why Fight? What is it about Fighting? Why is it that we so easily fall into stereotypical adversarial roles? Why do we endlessly perpetuate the cycle of predator and prey within our own species? I thought we were the Ones with The Big Brain? How come we don't use our brains? Why do we insist on Remembering claws and fangs we no longer have? And How come the Stupid Insects can build better structures and communities than we can?

Who made that Distinction? Stupid Insects? I wanna talk to that One.

Having a Big Brain don't matter a hill o' beans, sometimes . . . but it's the Human Thing. Big Brains is What We Are.

Or so some say. I'm not quite sure, myself. Perhaps Humans are The Big Oops.

Damn it. I've lost quite a few people I have Shared Life With to the unassailable starkness of Death. More Humans than I can remember. I don't like that . . . having Them die before They knew the Things I Know Now. Seems in an orderly Universe no Being would die until they knew everything they needed to know.

And I don't like having Forgotten some of those who died, those People, My people.
Gone from my memory. Gone from me.

Just people like any other people.

What did their Life mean? What did their Death mean? Is everybody's Answer different, different in each and different in each's interpretation of each? Mine different from their's different from your's different from . . . everyone's different from everyone's different from everyone's interpretation of everyone's . . . no.

Insanity Rules. Isn't that the Crux of the Matter? Satan = Insanity. The Lie is that Sanity Rules. Everybody's nuts but me and thee, and I'm not too sure about thee, or me.

Life. Philosophy.


When You Are Alone . . . What Is Real?

Life and Death, Nothing Else.

So what does life and death mean? I'm getting closer to what it means to me in Absolute terms, but what about You? I Need to hear Your stories, Your philosophies, Your Feelings.


Tell Me.

Tell Me True.

And Then We'll Ask anOther.

AO Spare, Forgotten Master

AO Spare

Austin Osman Spare. Forgotten Master.

Spare was born the middle child of five, on midnight, December 31, 1888, in Snow Hill, near Smithfield Market, London. He was not born into wealth, being the son of a City of London bobby. However, his father played a minor role in Spare's life, and his four sisters, mother and, especially, his "second mother," a Mrs. Patterson, played major roles. This mysterious person was a colonial repatriated, and she claimed to be descended from a line of witches that Cotton Mather failed to exterminate. Mrs. Patterson sparked Spare's intense interest in the occult arts at an early age, and that would birth his known legacy to our present generation: Chaos Magick.

At the age of 13 Spare apprenticed himself to a stained-glass works, and together with his parents scrimped enough money together to send him to Art College in Lambeth. At the age of 16 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, and in that same year had his first painting exhibited at the Royal Academy. His talent and skill did not go unnoticed. Even at this stage in his life his art was being compared to Michelangelo, Blake, Rembrandt and Durer. He would continue to haunt those old masters until his death. He was hailed as a genius at age 17, and quickly became a legendary figure, but not only for his art. One contemporary in Royal College characterized him as "a god-like figure of whom other students stood in awe, a fair creature like a Greek god, curly-headed, proud, self-willed, practicing the black arts, taking drugs, disdainfully apart from the crowd". Even at this young age Spare was exhibiting the rebellion that would mark his whole career, and indeed, his whole life.

At the age of 20 he exhibited at Bruton Gallery in London, and shocked the establishment but enamoured himself to the avant-garde set with his work full of grotesque, sexualized human figures and magical symbols. His work's resemblance to that of Aubrey Beardsley was duly noted. This exhibit brought him to the attention of Aleister Crowley, the Dark Magician Extraordinaire. Spare was initiated into the Golden Dawn occult society at about this time, but left it shortly thereafter, disenchanted with its focus. He joined Crowley in his dissident Argentum Astrum society, but soon left there as well -- and left Crowley as well. At the age of 25 Spare published his first book of magick, the Book of Pleasure. In it he introduced his methods of Sigil Magick, as well as other, less tame, magickal venues.

Immediately thereafter his life took an unexpected turn. World War I rained destruction on Europe, and Spare served as a War Artist from 1914 to 1918. He was stationed with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and his work reflects the horrible torture of war. His last duty station was in Egypt, where the ancient mysticism of the Nile had a profound influence on his arcane studies. Shortly after the war he published another magick tome, The Focus of Life, and became good friends with two other renegades of the art world of this time period: John Austen and Alan Odle. However, neither came close to approaching Spare's artistic mastery or his fierce independence.

In 1924 Spare cast himself as the irredeemable rebel when he published his "Anathema of Zos" – Zos being his moniker in arcane circles. In it he exposed all the sins of the upper classes, and condemned them and all they stood for. He then fled to sanctuary in South London, where he spent the rest of his life, living, in his own words, as “a swine with swine."

This is a poignant place to jump ahead to the mid-1930's, when an adjutant to Adolph Hitler saw a Spare self-portrait, and noticed Spare's genius, and also a striking resemblance to The Fuhrer, and told Hitler of the painting. Hitler then asked Spare to do an official State portrait for him. Having rejected the British art world and high society, a commission from the then rising power of Germany would have catapulted Spare into international circles. But Spare rejected Hitler, and did so in his own characteristic way. He sent Hitler a letter, noting: "Only from negations can I wholesomely conceive you. For I know of no courage sufficient to stomach your aspirations and ultimates. If you are superman, let me be for ever animal." Not content with mere words, Spare sent Hitler a sarcastic spoof of a self-portrait of himself as Hitler.

After moving back to South London, Spare earned a living teaching from January to June, and exhibiting works for sale in his living room, bedroom and kitchen, often in the company of his models, the common people of South London. He despised what he saw as the practice of selling amateurish art for high prices, and instead sold his work for mere pittances to the regular folk. He was convinced there was a great demand for pictures at 2 to 8 guineas each. He was a prolific artist using all manner of styles and media, and his art found itself distributed far and wide, but also far outside the circles of the so-called, art world.

He pioneered a unique form of art, which he called "Siderealism." He used a technique of anamorphic distortion that produced an otherworldly elegance. The distortion was based on precise geometric formulas. Other artists sometimes copy the basic effect of his siderealism, especially for trendy high-gloss magazines, but I could not find any artist after him that uses his specific technique.

Inevitably, his penchant for the wild life brought him to live in a series of tenements, and finally a basement. Wherever he lived, he would always be found with his many cats. Strangely enough, I did not find any artwork of his of any sort of feline or feline-like creature. However, some of his human studies do display a relaxed feline elegance.

Spare became a master of his own brand of magick, and unknown to him he has fostered an upstart branch of magick called, Chaos Magick, which came into vogue in the 1970's and is gaining popularity among the shock-value intellectuals of the Western World today. But Spare did not need to shock to create controversy, though shock people he did. Some of his art is of incredibly grotesque, demonic creatures with exaggerated sexual characteristics engaging in acts of perversion that proved true what George Bernard Shaw said of Spare's work at an earlier age: "Spare's medicine is too strong for the normal man." But much of his controversial art is filled with symbolism that flaunts the foibles of prim society, and extols the human earthiness of the poor. A favorite target was organized religion, and his anti-Church works would still be intellectually controversial today. He had no need of using animal excrement to get his point across. To him, the subject was excrement enough. A particularly insightful piece, which I unfortunately could not get a good scan for the presentation, is of the crucifixion. It portrays Christ as the cross, and nailed to his back and outstretched arms is a nude woman in the familiar pose reserved for the Christian Savior.

During the Second World War he was severely injured while on fire duty. A buzz bomb blew up the building he was in, and not only was his memory affected from the blast, but he lost the use of both arms. He eventually recovered, and did so through his technique of automatic painting, which he had pioneered decades before. Even with his arms disabled he was able to draw while in his trance states, and he attributed to this magick the impetus for his full recovery. In 1947 he exhibited his artwork for the first time since his war injury, showing 163 new paintings that he had done in the last few months.

His later years were taken up with his cats, the common folk around him, the seedy side of life he had always favoured, and an intense obsession with the occult arts. His whole life was lived in controversy created by his refusal to live within the bounds of gentle society dictated by cultural norms. He was always pushing the envelope, seeking new horizons. His art spans possibly every major style of his time, and his lifestyle was all his own. What strikes me the most about all the controversy he generated during his time is the aspect that would still generate the most controversy today, I think. That is his rejection of the accepted art world and rich patrons in favour of living in the slums and using his art to earn a basic living by selling his work to the neighborhood, just as any green grocer does.

Aristotlean Ramblings

Aristotle exclaims that the goal of the individual is happy fulfillment (eudaimonia). He gives a dissertation on the different things we call by the name of happiness, and then accepts or rejects them as being true happiness. He shows that good is preferable over bad, and that good brings happiness and fulfillment while bad brings unhappiness and unfulfillment. The goal of the philosophy of ethics is to instruct the individual on how best to determine good and bad things. Aristotle explains that we all want more good in our lives so that we can be more happily fulfilled. Thus a life of happy fulfillment, eudaimonia, is good. Then we can say that the goal of the philosophy of politics is to use the results from the philosophy of ethics, and all the other philosophies, to instruct people on how best to strive together for the greater good – a greater Eudaimonia.
Firstly, the philosophy must define its terms and put them in some sort of order so that all aspects of a good life can be examined. He is laying the foundation of the science. He walks through the definition and ordering process for us so we can apply it to these, and other, things. Aristotle explains that there is not a single great and divine Good, but actually an orderly set of little goods that if coordinated to the same goal amount to a greater good. Doing a thing correctly is good. Doing little things correctly are little goods, and big things done correctly are big goods. All big goods are actually complicated arrangements of many little goods which, when each is done well, automatically advances one toward a greater good. When doing a thing no longer leads to a greater thing, but is an end in itself – we have reached the highest good that all those subordinated little goods.
In the case of emotions, Aristotle describes a way to discern the best actions. He describes the soul of man has having two parts: the rational and the irrational, reason and emotion. All of our desires and passions well forth from our emotions. The goal of the moral man is to make these emotions subordinate to the wishes of reason. If the emotions are left to find their own way the result will be less than good, and perhaps downright bad. Aristotle relates that when we make choices purely on the basis of pleasure or pain we will find that the pleasurous does not always lead to the good, and the painful does not always lead away from the good. He shows examples to highlight his thought. Generally, the immature and ordinary man will let pleasure and pain, and therefore a false sense of good and bad, lead him unknowingly down the path of vice instead of virtue. Aristotle introduces us to the mean in order to use reason to avoid pitfalls in navigating through the polarities of the vices. The mean is a point between two extremes of vice, not halfway but rather somewhere along the spectrum between deficiency and excess where the best attributes of the vice combines to form a virtue. These means between all the vices is the path of virtue, hence the way to the highest good. We use the mean in order to make virtuous choices, and thereby construct a good life from the repetition of virtuous acts. Repeating virtuous acts makes it easier to discern and perform future virtuous acts. But the individual needs guidance to choose the virtues of the greater good. Politics guides us in a community effort to build good lives for the greatest number of people, and hence, the greater good. Many good lives are more of a good thing, and thus a higher good, than one good life.
The choices we have to make are further made difficult because each situation is different. The mean (i.e. the virtuous, the good) of a situation changes with the particulars. The virtuous man can discern the truth in moral dilemmas, and choose to act correctly within the particular situation.
After we understand that an act of virtue or vice is a conscious choice, we then can use this freedom of choice to live the best life. The trick is applying the philosophy of politics to everyday life. Aristotle shows us that vices have two poles, excess and deficiency. Both excess and deficiency are bad things as they cause bad actions. Somewhere between excess and deficiency is the mean, and it is a good thing because it causes good actions:
the mean between cowardice and recklessness is courage. the mean between self-indulgence and insensitivity is self-control. the mean between extravagance and stinginess in giving is generosity. the mean between stinginess and extravagance in taking is generosity. the mean between meanness and vulgarity is magnificence. the mean between vanity and smallmindedness is highmindedness. the mean between ambitiousness and unambitiousness is the right amount of ambitiousness. the mean between apathy and shorttemperedness is gentleness. the mean between boastfulness and self-depreciation is truthfulness. the mean between buffoonery and boorishness is wittiness. the mean between grouchiness and obsequiousness is friendliness. the mean between bashfulness and shamelessness is modesty. the mean between envy and spite is righteous indignation.
To further describe one of the above examples: buffoonery is clownish, immature and prankish amusement, while boorishness is rude, insensitive and uncouth amusement. Wittiness, on the other hand, is ingenious insight into a situation that reveals an incongruity that evokes laughter. It is clear that in the matter of amusement, boorishness is the deficiency, buffoonery is the excess, and the mean is wittiness – characterized by its virtue of being not only funny, but insightful, and therefore good.
Aiming for the mean in our actions leads to a life of undeniable good, though the exact particulars of each and every action will not have the exact same characteristics. If there was an Absolute Good, as Plato thought, then all good actions must partake of the qualities of this Good. But if any undeniably good-resulting action can be demonstrated to be at odds with yet another undeniably good-resulting action, in regards to the particulars of the choices made, then there simply cannot be an absolute good. Good is fluid, not fixed. Nature is imperfect, and so is good.
Aristotle also teaches that in some emotions the mean is actually all the way over to one extreme, as in fear. Aristotle posits that along the spectrum of fear, the opposites are cowardice and courage. Courage being a mean of itself as Aristotle demonstrates with courage being the mean between cowardice and recklessness in the emotion of confidence. Therefore, despite the emotion and despite the distance between the extremes of that emotion, the mean remains the same.
The freedom of choice and the freedom to act upon those choices is a gift with a moral responsibility. Aristotle rejects the claim of Socrates that no man is willingly bad. Aristotle believes every man makes a conscious decision to be either bad or good, and realizes the consequences of the choice. Common law and history make it plain that because man has choice, he is obligated to choose correctly for the greater good. This also means that each man is personally responsible for the state of his own character, whether virtuous or vicious.