Archive for October, 2011

Quote of the day: INITIATION

October 31, 2011


Here’s the dilemma: people can’t initiate themselves. The only way I can reveal myself to myself is if someone else is protecting, supporting, and challenging me. The person who’s undergoing the initiation has to feel safe enough to let go and challenged enough not to stay still. When the function of the ego, which is to protect the self, is taken over by others, we can go into a deep descent and find elements of our own soul. If I try to initiate myself, I’m either going to make the temperature too hot, so to speak, or too cold. Initiation needs caring others who know what temperature is right for me. This is a real problem in a culture that thinks, I’m going to do it all myself.

Something else you need is nature. In traditional cultures initiations don’t happen in the village. They happen in wilderness. Initiation is going to bring out your nature, which is connected to greater nature. But you also have to be connected to a living, meaningful community. It all has to come together. Mass culture often sets the individual against the community, because the community doesn’t acknowledge the uniqueness of each person’s soul. Instead of the community versus the individual, the goal of initiation is to get individuals involved in the community in a way that’s meaningful to them and inspiring to others.

— Michael Meade, interviewed in The Sun

Occupy: Halloween highlights

October 31, 2011
One of the most inspiring things about the Occupy Wall Street movement is the outpouring of participation in citizen democracy it has engendered.
Here are a couple of excellent contributions I’ve encountered, while spending a sick day in bed with the device that Nicholson Baker calls my “rectangle of slip-sliding joy”:
This excellent bit of cyber-activism intended to Keep Wall Street Occupied is not only an amusing prank but an intelligent analysis with good modelling of thinking-through-the-project AND its reminder that there’s no substitute for taking to the streets with your body.
Also, see Keith Boykin’s excellent eyewitness report in Huffington Post on the Top Ten Myths About Occupy Wall Street. Very moving and inspiring is the sign posted in Zuccotti Park listing “Principles of Kingian Nonviolence”:
1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future.
3. Attack forces of evil not persons doing evil.
4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve a goal.
5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.
6. The universe is on the side of justice.
“You may retaliate against us with all the forces of hatred, but we will in turn respond with all the forces of love, and we will wear you down.” — Dr. Martin Luther King
Thanks to Craig Weltha for turning me on to both these links, along with Eduardo Porter’s sensible essay in the NY Times Sunday Review.

Photo diary: Easton Mountain 10/28/11

October 31, 2011

it snowed our first night at Easton


in the morning, the trees were sagging with wet snow

first thing in the morning, it looked like Winter Wonderland

not exactly what we were expecting at the end of October

we don't usually think of the fall colors including snow white

but the day turned out to be clear and bright

fresh snow in the sun has a crystalline beauty

the wild geese (calling Mary Oliver!)

Dave did a great job building a fire in the fireplace for us every evening

a moment of ecstatic peace


Photo diary: a day in Siena, 10/11/11

October 25, 2011

the Duomo in Siena is one of the most spectacular churches in Italy

this was Andy's first visit to Siena, and he was understandably dazzled by the Duomo

the white, green, and red polychrome marble facade is modest compared to the density of artwork inside

everywhere you look

the first time I visited the Libreria Piccolomini, I was mesmerized by the enormous meticulous beautiful illuminated manuscripts

this time I took in the extraordinary frescoes on the walls and ceilings

the last time I was in Siena, four years ago, the crypt had only recently been discovered -- fantastically vivid murals whose colors had not been exposed or seen in centuries were just beginning to peek through. Now much more of the room has been excavated, the frescoes restored

also since the last time I was here, they've opened a walkway along the top of the arch of what was intended to be the Nuovo Duomo

we had to wait in line for half an hour to go up, but it was worth it for the panoramic view

In this week’s New Yorker

October 23, 2011

The central feature is a long, absorbing profile by Ken Auletta of Jill Abramson (above, photographed by Mary Ellen Mark), the first female executive editor of the New York Times. I admire her and wish her well, and the article told me lots of things I didn’t know. (Among other things, she’s exactly my age and was at Harvard while I was at Boston University.)

David Sedaris’s “Personal History” piece about his travails as a boyhood swimmer and his unsuccessful attempts to ever get his father’s approving attention is funny and stinging, typical for Sedaris. (And if you’re a subscriber, you can hear him read the piece aloud on your app.) And John Lahr’s review of The Mountaintop and We Live Here  served the purpose of confirming my suspicions and convincing me that I don’t need to see those plays.

I also appreciated this “Critic’s Notebook” by Joan Acocella, brief enough to quote in full:

“Press releases and reviews are always telling us how our savviest artists ‘deconstruct’ the things of the past: take them apart and reveal their wrong, wrong assumptions. In fact, when today’s artists do adaptations of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ or Martha Graham, it’s usually not because they scorn those old favorites but because they cherish them. Modernism was a harsh, puritanical movement. Times have changed, under postmodernism. Actually,w e should probably thank something more specific, the gay art movement of the nineteen-sixties forward. In a world blasted beige by modernism, Charles Ludlam, John Waters, and Jack Smith gave magenta back to us. But all reforms get absorbed, and John Kelly is a product of such synthesis. His 1988 dance-theatre work ‘Find My Way Home,’ which will be revived at New York Live Arts Oct. 21-29, is a modern take on Gluck’s ‘Orfeo ed Euridice.’ There is no ‘deconstruction’ here: no knowing-better. The piece is a tribute to Gluck, and a serious essay on how it is to lose the thing you loved.”

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