Monday, April 27, 2015

House-sitting

I don't own a television, don't want one, don't need one; and I especially don't have time to feel high and mighty about not needing or wanting one. But house-sitting provides an excellent opportunity to see what one may be missing out on. LOL. I was very pleased to see that Swamp People is still going strong - Troy still wearing that lucky shirt and hooking legendary alligators (the one I watched featured Crooked Jaw) and Willie is still the lone wolf Beren, going where no one else wants to go, using techniques that no one else wants to use, while Bruce is sometimes still missing that quarter spot on the gator's head, spraying bone shrapnel everywhere (i.e., into his partner's face). I'm amazed at how fraught that occupation is with one little danger after another. It is not something that one can succeed at by being merely athletic or having good reflexes. I suppose it's a kind of art, and it's an art that has a long tradition.

Retro programming. I never watched Columbo before. I do vaguely remember hearing praises about it when growing up. Watched Columbo episodes from the seventies. Watched some other stuff from the seventies as well, like Night Gallery.
 
There was something going on in film and television in the seventies that I can't quite put my finger on, but I know it when I see it. They really knew how to quietly build a scene, to layer, to frame a shot and so forth, and their craftsmanship, for all that may now look cheesy or stilted, shows up a lot of what's made today for noisy, empty, hackneyed digital garbage.

But there's something else. Something creepy. Something almost voodoo. And I'm not only referring to shows such as Night Gallery. Even in Columbo - a terrific show - I noticed in scenes that, outwardly, one could not even really call mildly risque, in which a woman would go into a dressing room to change, or bedroom scenes etc., there is not the usual winking innuendo or the merely dated atmosphere of the accepted and already tired "liberation" of the time period, but something insistent, palpable, something very direct and sustained, made resonant through the stasis of the frame; an almost psychic communication.

To put it in a word: something that is spiritual. And by that I do not mean it the way that people generally take it to mean today. Spiritual does not necessarily mean "good". I mean something invisible and aggressive. It is something that makes me ask, "What the hell was up with that creepy-ass era?"

Anyways, how many back-to-back episodes of Triple-D and Pawn Stars can a person watch? Holy Toledo.

Pehuén!




Sunday, April 26, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

Consider

The consonance between the words "spectator" and "spectre" is intriguing. The range of words beginning with "spec" have all to do with the gaze, with looking, with the eye, or the light that makes seeing possible, or, in the case of "spec" itself, not seeing possible.

But consider how spectre fits into that range - the notion that the defining principle of a ghost or wraith, if we are to run with this line of thought, is one who looks, or one who only looks: a perpetual spectator. The pure spectator is a spectre. It sounds like spectator truncated.

And then start thinking about how much in our culture is set towards being the spectator in some form, and how because of it, we are becoming less able to interact with each other in a real tangible way because we are becoming like ghosts to one another.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Old school method of making char:





You can go to youtube to watch all the parts of the process. I just glanced over most of it. What I found really funny was all the enlightened commenters getting into a big snobbish outrage because the man is making charcoal the old school way as opposed to using a retort kiln, which is clean burning and overall a much simpler process. They're the kind of people who think the salvation of the world depends on the knowledge they received from watching TedTalks. Perhaps they have never heard of volcanoes erupting and naturally occurring forest fires? And a good deal of that smoke pumping out is actually steam, which makes it look very voluminous. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for choosing the cleaner and more efficient (and simpler) method, but making a bunch of smoke in your backyard? What about campfires? It's not a sin. Unfortunately things are going back to paganism, only worse than before. In terms of general assent (which is formed in the absence of moral consensus) a good portion of the population believes it is alright to kill a baby in the womb or in the birth canal or outside the womb and that it's alright to give Grandpa and Grandma their happy sleepy pills from which they will never wake again to their suffering; but may you be stricken a thousand times by lightning if you neglect to compost your veggie scraps or if you make charcoal through low temp burning methods or if you throw a live lobster into a pot of boiling water.

I like that man's method, by the way. It's really cool. Anyhow, that's all for today. Chow chow for now and happy earth day!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The orange moon and the cedars.
The fire on the altar
leaps to the new candle.
The smoke on the spring wind.
The night's horizon of singing frogs.
All time belongs to Him.

Monday, March 30, 2015

When children are petulant they are reflecting in public the inner selves of adults. Of this I am sure. God has ways of permitting things to come to light which people are all too deft at keeping under wraps. This keeping things under wraps is twofold, in that one also believes "I am this" or "I am that". And there is nothing like children to tear this down. He uses the small to confound the proud and the conceited. Maybe that's one reason for the couples who decide to be childless forever. Though more so than not, I think the petulant children are reflecting the inner selves not of the parents, but of strangers or onlookers or observers or those thinking to themselves, "I'm such a saint for not being bothered by that petulant kid."

But how impoverished we are to not take a lesson - in fact, the only reason - from unflattering realizations about ourselves, by which we can mean: lies we've told about ourselves. Adults are way too good at control - at manipulation. We begin this manipulation in a sense on ourselves, when Christ wishes to free us from this. Interestingly, Jesus did not say control yourself, but deny yourself.

I've always loved the saints who did not have a whole lot to say, but whose lives say everything. St. Charbel is one of them. St. Thomas Aquinas is another. That one wrote volumes and the other wrote nothing is really irrelevant. What both had in common was the absence of what we call "self regard". Their lives were journeys.

Everyone has something of a deathbed lesson they would like to yell at the world; a lesson they've learned that they would have as their "if you had one thing to say to everyone else before leaving this earth, what would it be". I'm not really sure, but I think mine would be something like, "You do not know yourselves all that well. Don't jump the gun on yourselves. Christ knows how to deal with you; He knows how to identify Himself with your most vulnerable being; let Him form you."

Pope Francis would say, "Let Him love you." Which is a way better way of putting it. To let Him love you is intrinsically to deny yourself. An interesting paradox.

Something to avoid, by tending to the present moment with care and attention, is the typically American pathology that's always harping to supply oneself with one's own authenticity (and thus to be sealed in a world of mirrors). It does tend to be a libertarian disease, but not by any means is it limited to libertarianism. Nor does it stem from that in particular; rather libertarianism seems more like a willing host. It probably comes from the French Revolution. And Thoreau. LOL.

One sees this pathology spring up fairly consistently in the full range of subjects that people talk about; you see it when people talk about liturgy, for instance, and the banal dissatisfaction with banal parishes. It seems to get conflated with, and take the place of, the life of faith, even while recognizing the need for that which objectively feeds and nurtures. To everything that is ever said there is something else under it also being said; and the Authenticity that's kissing cousin with Americanism speaks quite frequently from under the orthodox words of the Holy Remnant. Our father is Abraham, and so forth.

The strain for Authenticity in today's climate pretty much equals Absolution - and damn the penance. Authenticity wipes away every tear. Damn responsibility. We have twelve kids: that mere fact alone must make us an Authentic Catholic Family. Don't insult us with your talk about responsibility; because we're Authentic. Because who ever heard of a pope speaking to parents about being responsible to their children which came from God? Our children are there to prove how Authentically Catholic we are! But those who have four kids are only one third Authentic. And those who have two? Totally cafeteria! And those who have none? Totally pagan! See first paragraph of this post. Do I contradict myself? Well then, Walt Whitman is also to blame for the disease of Authenticity. LOL.

All kinds of crimes and sins are excused or overlooked or even praised if the perpetrator is somehow deemed Authentic by a culture that knows nothing about virtue, purity and innocence. Committing sodomy, one is being Authentic. One feels inclined to commit adultery, then the self which feels this inclination must be one's most Authentic self. One must have incessant gore graphically depicted in films and get the audience more and more to inflict it with the co-op of their imaginations in order to be Authentic. It would seem today that one is not truly authentic until one is inside a hand basket and being thrown into hell.

There is under this, of course, the cynical and jaded attitude towards virtue and its practice. More commonly, this strain for Authenticity in practice is a hazy sort of ingratitude and the assuming of powers to oneself that one does not in fact possess. As though one could dig into oneself and bequeath oneself with one's own root system (or children). But we all know that parable about the stupid kids who pulled up the plants by the roots to check to see how the roots were growing, don't we?

There is a basic humility that is at the same time a basic self-respect, and it starts not by saying "I am this" or "I am that", but that I am a mystery to myself.

I was noticing some weeks back the "skunk cabbages" (I don't like that name; they should be called something better) starting to poke out from the muck of a swamp with their bright yellow-green leaves, and I was struck by how those tubers remain submerged in all that rank sludge, forgotten. The thought struck me as to how much we are like that. Call it a cliche, but the reality of the skunk cabbages is there, every late winter, to teach us. Our beginning is invisible to us (to borrow from St. Pope John Paul the Great).

Not that we are sludge. It's an analogy. The real point is that there is so much about us that is already established, of which we are frequently unaware, while our mind's occupations, though seemingly of the greatest substantiality and importance, can be quite ephemeral. Our roots grow in the dark, and in a way it is more accurate to speak of our tip-most blossoms as though they were attached from without, like the way a flower is placed in a woman's hair. For their ultimate end is out-bearing and giving, fructified by pollination that did not come from ourselves.

True faith consists in virtuous practice. The greatness or degree of faith is in the steady regard for how the smallest things and the smallest acts are never too small for God, and thus making it not too small for you and me.

We are not here to be authentic. We are here to move mountains. Not in the sense that we are heroes, (like the critics of Pope Francis who are so Super Catholic that they're Protestant) but in the sense that since the death of Christ and His resurrection, that is what there is to do, if you think about it. The mountain of our hard hearts; the mountain of our habitual sins; the ponderous, stupid blind mountain of pride; the mountain of self-esteem; the mountain of personal opinion. The mustard seed that says to the mountain...

The foot of the cross penetrates into the earth, causing cracks to run every way through the strata. The blood of Christ flows down into the cracks.


End note: being responsible does not permit the use of birth control devices or pills. The Church forbids these as intrinsic evils. What it does mean is self-control, which ultimately means self-denial.

Friday, March 27, 2015



Title: Stump Culture II

Medium: Oil on canvas paper

Size: 12in. x 9in.

Monday, March 23, 2015

This is green

I can't wait for the day when this activity becomes illegal. Then it will be so much more fun.

Sunday, March 22, 2015






How far do lies reach?
To any generation,
as waves dismantle on a beach,
but a kind of procreation;
the constant offing, incoming,
the distant one grows
as it is borne inland.

To see a lie, then look
at what the beach folk say
about the little, little wave
out yonder, away; then look
at what they say
about the same wave
as it reaches land.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bread in a pot





Well that turned out well. At least as far as looks are concerned. As for taste, we have yet to see.