Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Not knowing the solution can and will reverberate back to no longer knowing the problem, or seeing it; even to positively misconstruing the problem in the name of truth, and thus bringing forth untruth.

Another Observation (not having to do with graphite)

One of the things I love so much about Pope Francis is how the insecurities, lack of faith, doubts, fears, lack of trust, misplaced ideologies masquerading as the faith, intellectualized substitutions for true religion, heady and preemptive categorical approaches to life that completely disregard the paramount importance of Divine Mercy (Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand!), etc. all come to the light and are revealed, left and right. And through no other instrumentation than peoples' own, though they make flailing efforts at projecting it onto the Pope through social media. Tremors run through the epicenter and Super Catholics think this must, hence, equate their true center - when the true center lies out in the existential peripheries. :)

It is good because it is healthy for these things to come out and not to grow like mold in the damp darkness (oh, the things that grow in our darkness of which we are unaware!). Very good for these things to be tested and for people to chuck them and know their true nature; to be clearer, more rooted; to know their absolute dependence on Christ.

But also, like with the revelation of sin, it is exposed as so much nothingness. So it is with the blogosphere: its hopped-up super critics who seem to have nothing better to do are really just making their thesis statements in the well-lit room of one idea, over information that has already passed multiple times through the Roman Rumour Mill before arriving through yet several more hands into their mouse-clicking laps.

So much of it is just a bunch of empty, hypocritical humbuggery.

And all you have to do is make a little incision and the whole thing deflates in a burst like that dessicated turkey in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

It's kind of lame actually.


A book about Pope Francis. I liked the subtitle.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Just Discovered

Graphite makes paper curl. Charcoal does not.

The things you suddenly notice for the first time.

Referring just to regular paper. Obviously does not apply to thicker.

Chow chow for now.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Mess

"And the past is about to happen." --T.S. Eliot, The Family Reunion

The Church is the only institution that penetrates deeper into history with each successive year and, as such, sort of breaks apart the human conception of calendar: root tip and bud tip share a proximate extension. The Church neither dons nor doffs. The life of the Church infiltrates, excavates, transpires. She sets a table in the midst of our foes. The life of the Church makes peace out of conflict and brings life out of desolation; and it is the only institution that does this one person at a time.

The notion of ending an old year and beginning a new one, with its concomitant new year's resolutions, well-intentioned but ultimately self-centered and always tinged with the sadness of man-made effort, is kind of facsimile to the Church that gives us the deep renewal of Epiphany in the dregs of winter; the miraculous star in the depths of darkness; the Child under the star who is worth more than all the stars; that brings us to a present in which is all of the past, and submerges us in a past that is entirely present; that frees us from our sins, not as some time-distant acquisition of new habits, but in a moment, sacramentally procured, after which you are completely and totally free of them, washed of them; that makes us children of God.

And yet there's another sense in which the Church is not only like the oak, neither donning or doffing in the season of other trees, but is like the baobab that the Africans call the upside-down tree, that looks like a tree that was thrust top down into the earth, with its naked roots sprawling in the air. For we are the Church of Pentecost, of the Holy Spirit. There are indeed even varieties of trees that go beyond looking like they have their roots in the air, and actually grow aerial roots in order to breathe air in water-logged regions. The Church is founded from above and is in fact not the Church without the Holy Spirit. So the Church is not the Church simply because she is old or even the oldest, but also because she is new and the newest. People talk of new year's resolutions with an intention to change, but these changes are nothing when you consider how Peter and the other Apostles were changed in a substantively different way, and changed forever beyond any human understanding, at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

One of the things I love so much about Pope Francis is that we see the nods toward the Catholic Charismatic Renewal given by his two predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, gain to a certain head in this present papacy. The gap between "fear of the authorities" and "I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your opposers shall not be able to reply to or resist" seems to be bridging. And Francis ever talks about "newness" (which the blogging authorities register according to the hermeneutic of suspicion) and "going out", of not being "closed in", of a healthy "messiness" that is open to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that renews an encounter with the Lord Jesus and doesn't develop "spiritual Alzheimer's".

The testing  of anything "charismatic" and pentecostal is warranted in these deceptive times, but we do well to realize that when this becomes persistent, automatic and preemptive; when it becomes suspicious, derisive and disdaining, then it begins to smack of the Protestant error that says the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles with the decree to bind and loose ended with their deaths, and that it was given only for that time to get done what needed to get done. Now, we know that what the Apostles were given by Jesus and the Holy Spirit is passed down to the end of all time, from bishop to priest. But the Consoler given to the Apostles that made them go out into the streets proclaiming the Gospel, accompanied by various gifts, or charisms, is something that can happen like the wind, on any of us.

The suspicion of this - automatic, preemptive and disdaining (like those saying the apostles were drunk on new wine) - could be said to be done by those who seek to "tame the Holy Spirit". But Jesus said we must be born from above. He said the Holy Spirit is like the wind that blows and from where it came and where it goes no man knows: certainly a nightmare for those with a worldly attachment to accumulative knowledge.

The hermeneutic of suspicion begins to look like Protestantism. This Protestantism is truly Protestant and not that of the "denominations", for they have centuries and decades of entrenched belief they are either born into, or acquire out of ignorance of Catholic teaching, but also because it is simply no longer of that which knew no other "Christianity" than the Catholic Church yet still rebelled and rejected her, while Super Catholics of the Blogisterium know better, but they rebel; they protest. This form breathes by help of a second lung, Anti-papism.

Remember that God was born in the veritable mess of history, and more, was born in obscurity and poverty. As our pastor reminded us on Christmas Day, this manger we call "the seat of learning". At this time of Christmas we do well to learn at the seat of learning, the manger. And remember our Mother who was the first to ponder in her heart at this seat of learning. Remember the Wise Men: they didn't stay at home blogging about what they knew. They did not know about the virginal birth. They did not know about the Immaculate Conception. They did not know the word "Incarnation". They left their homes, and traveled far, exposed to the elements and to robbers; and they came to the seat of learning.

In a sense we today perhaps know more than they did (in terms of knowing Revelation, of theology) but are we wise like they?

I think not.

Wisdom is the first and highest fruit of the Holy Spirit. And it is given from above. Consider the self-emptying of God in the Incarnation. As Pope Francis said, "he became nothing for us" - and He went even further in instituting the Eucharist. Doesn't this give us a huge security in divesting ourselves? Can anyone of us ever match God in His self-emptying, in forgetting self, in renewing our charity, in renewing our sight of our neighbour, in finding joy in life and in simple things? We've been freed beyond anything we could ever imagine.

We have these days to go to the manger, the seat of learning.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thoughts at night

Every time we receive holy communion in a state of grace we are invited to be formed a little bit more into a cradle and a cross.

In order that the cross of Christ be formed in us, to have the courage for this, he comes to us in a cradle, rests in us, and resting in us forms in us his cross.

It is a source of never-ending delight to ponder that all theology is book-ended by the unutterable simplicity of the cradle and the cross - the cave and the tomb.

He asks of us in a silent moment for a silent collaboration. He asks us to forget criticisms, dramas, the high stakes that our self-referential formulas demand, to forget even the judging of ourselves; and to bring perfect love into a moment, which can only be his love.

We can only have charity when it is his cross alive in us, living in our death. Cradle becomes cross. Cross becomes cradle.

A Christmas Story - Part 2

The elves of the North Pole are some of the most serious creatures to go about on two legs. The fact that they take everything so lightly tends to hide from the ambitious their deep connection to reality. Moreover, the elves have a constant, positive care for everyone and everything around them, but to the self-centered they appear as complete sycophant idiots.

Thus Bert, chief secretary and messenger of all Santa's messengers (there being fourteen of them), who seemed somewhat frivolous and terse with Harrie Pawter's cagey disappointment, called a tryst with Coswald, Codger, Lodger, Roger, Patton and Flabby. He approached each of them individually in the Supper Hall the night in which Pawter smashed a toy; for though no elf but Pawter knew of the smashing of the toy (after which he promptly cleaned up the pieces and secreted them away), Bert did catch that unmistakable whiff of...directness - he had no other word - and that particular lack of twinkle-twangle.

But who is an elf to judge, one might ask. Who is even Santa to judge? Bert was not judging Pawter, not suspecting any dark  motives. Only he set about as any elf would: not to expose (for they know not how) but to prevail upon the charm of twinkle-twangle, and putting it where it ought to be. This was the purpose of the tryst he wished to hold with the elves to whom he gave notice in the Supper Hall.

Being not at all direct in their ministrations, the seven of them actually held the meeting three weeks later.

"Harrie is such a worker!" began Bert to the other six. "Wouldn't you agree, Codger?"

They were seated in Bert's living quarters - a modest space of squat, rounded arches and rounded corners: the interior, like most of the elves' homes, had no sharp, hard edges. Windows were rounded, yet not perfectly circle; the walls and the aforementioned rounded corners were not plumb; the low roof flowed like a wave.

Codger said, "A terrific worker is Harrie Pawter!" The others couldn't help also answering in the affirmative. "In the shop for flying toys, under my administration of worker-cum-inspiration, we could not imagine how it would be without him! Yet, there are moments in which he seems to get away, so to speak, from the inspiration that flows out to one's other fellow workers - you know the inspiration I refer to; and I wonder if maybe I'm not giving enough...inspiration - that maybe he's just a bigger hole to fill, if you catch me..."

"He does seem direct, but what could he be with more twinkle-twangle!" said Flabby in a burst of sincerity.

Roger joined him with, "And more: think of the ideas that would happen in only Santa-knows-where of all the workshops!"

Coswald snickered with delight. Patton chuckled. They had such hopes for Harrie the Elf. In the firelight they hatched a plan that, to be honest, was really no plan in the sense of being manipulative - no hatching to bring about Harrie. They just started admiring Harrie Pawter, more so in fact than in any other time. So they decided to bake him a big cake; a towering cake of many steps leading to a pinnacle with some kind of surprise on the top and a surprise inside the cake - many surprises, of all kinds of sweet jellies and creamy textures and rummy fruits, and they would bring this cake to Harrie's house and blow a trumpet at his window and dance around the cake when Harrie opened the door!

They did this the very next night. They spent all day baking the cake. They brought it to Harrie's house, blew a trumpet, and there was nothing. Pawter was not in any of the workshops that day. He was not in any of the streets. They blew the trumpet and shouted his name and the smell of the cake flowed through the window they opened. But there was nothing. So they opened the door. They went into every room. They looked under every object. They looked into every closet. No one was home.

Harrie Pawter had vanished from the North Pole.

End Part 2.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Christmas Story - Part 1

Santa Claus was drunk in his jacuzzi, brandishing a great bottle of fragrant liquor that came from Elf C-sector 3 of the the North Pole distillery, while bellowing his loud "Merry Christmas everybody!" as practice for the coming festive season. Mrs. Claus was in the jacuzzi with him. It had been a hard day of work and the elves for the time being were not to disturb him with updates of the ongoing duties.

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Maaaaaahhhrryy Chrishmush everybody!"

The bottle caught the edge of the tiled jacuzzi with a sharp clink as he swung his arms out in gesticulation.

"That almost broke, honey. Now, now, I must say, that was the best one yet. The jolly gusto is ever with you."

Santa took another long, deep swig from the bottle by way of self-congratulation.

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Maaaaaaaaaaaaahhhrry Chrishmish evvvreeybodeeeiii...."

"Oh deary, you'll do just fine. The night-sky will reverberate and snow the wondrous crystals in response."

The bottle went as vertical as the pole marking the North Pole, and the liquor went down his gullet like dishwater down a sink when the stopper is pulled.

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Maaaauuuuiiiiiii Quishmish evweeebodiiieeee...."

"Should we roll in the snow?"

"Nah, nah...oh sweety pull the bell now."

Mrs. Claus reached for a rope lever just behind her and within seconds a pert elf came through a hidden door without a handle.

"Oh, the cinnamon has come in a swirling burst of twinkle-twangle!" said the elf excitedly.

"Good! Good!" said Santa as he threw the empty booze bottle away into the distance of the snow where it dashed into crystalline pieces of never-cutting glass. These pieces became one with the frost and the ice, for the frost and the ice were something of the glass that held the booze of the North Pole. The elf began sniffing the air with delight.

"Ah!" he said, "That's the lemon-guava with the secret spice #5!"

"Yes, it is--er, it was", said Santa, and started laughing. "Bert, now tell me, how has Ernie come along on those chocolate coffee beans?"

 "He's all done. He's ahead of schedule. The aroma from the coffee roaster went down three shops and the D-Sector 8 elves came up with a new and brilliant idea for train connector tracks."

"Yes, I thought it would do something like that", said Santa with a sly, knowing grin. This sent Bert into a fine fickle of happiness, such that he gathered himself up and gave vent to a question that he had been hesitant to keeping plying Santa Claus with, but which nonetheless had been growing in him to ask.

"Now come, Santa! I keep wanting to put the question to you; what elves are going to be at the sleigh launching; what elves will ride with you? The time has come certainly to decide. There's Bob and Hank and Roger. Pawter they say has performed some marvelous feats in the past years of the workshops, and his name seems to come up quite a bit in the talk of elves when they start whispering about who gets to go this year - among a host of others of course: there is Tom, Poppy, Giles and..."

"Pawter eh? Harrie? Harrie Pawter? No..." Santa fell to deep thought. "No, no, not him. I'll take George for sure, but not Harrie. Roger, yes. Tom, yes..."

He heaved himself out of the jacuzzi and grabbed a towel from a peg, wrapping himself. "Codger, yes. Runty, yes. Jimminy, yes. Cricket, yes. Filbert, yes..."

Bert's face fell. He realized that Santa was not really answering his question but was just rattling off names of elves for no particular reason. Santa stopped, turned with a smile on Bert and said, "Come Bert, let us call the elves to supper time!"

No sign anymore was there of drunken stupor. Or perhaps one just couldn't tell whether Santa was drunk or not, for he was always so merry. But that was also the way of liquor in the North Pole under the Santa-Elf distillation process: you could drink and drink and get really smashing drunk without either loss of sense or the repercussions that one gets from heavy drinking. Isn't that wonderful?

Down several candy cane poles from Santa's house, Bert came to the shop for flying toys - Elf B-Sector 2. Coming up the pathway he could hear the merry din from within. On opening the door a host of elves were fully engaged in something like an orchestration or dance, each elf looking to his own business, but all woven together by parts of toys that went flying from one end of the workshop to the other, one hand to the other, in a continuous flow that was hypnotic to behold.

There were two dozen elves here at work. Bert, who was one of Santa's messengers, rang a special bell. All the elves knew what the sound meant: suppertime!

"There is only 6 months more until Christmas Eve, as you all I'm sure know," exclaimed Bert. "Codger, are we up to speed?"

"We are ahead of schedule", answered Codger with glee. Being ahead of schedule was fairly regular in the North Pole. Though being ahead of schedule was ever treated as though it was a pleasant surprise.

"Dandy!" Bert said, clapping his little hands. "It's to the Supper Hall! Wash up!"

Rounds of cheering went up as the elves began bustling out of the shop, in groups or pairs. Bert cast a glance to one in the exiting crowd that was approaching him. "Hi ya Harrie! Delightful evening isn't it?" said Bert, giving him a wink.

"Bert, Bert, what did Santa say?"

Pawter had a directness about him that tended to set him apart from the other elves. He could rattle out more toys in less time than anyone, and yet - and this was a frustration to him - somehow time in the North Pole favoured the efficiency of no one particular elf. Being ahead of schedule happened like the falling of snow, and it was ever surprising as a burst of twinkle-twangle.

"Come now, am I to ride?"

"My Harrie, it's my special pleasure to tell you that Santa..."

Here Pawter's face blushed and grinned with the bliss of something long hoped for and sought after being eminently satisfied.

"...that Santa has given you the noble task of feeding the reindeer before the sleigh launch!"

Pawter audibly choked. "What! Er, the - reindeer...feeding? Do I go with Santa's ride?"

"Other elves, as yet to be confirmed, will ride with Santa. You, Harrie, will feed the reindeer for their journey."

"I am out of the ranks of those yet to be confirmed?"


Bert, perceiving Pawter's obvious disappointment, added, "But so am I, 'out of the ranks' as you put it, though I see no reason to see it that way. And so are a great number of other elves, speeding Santa along his way! Suppertime!" Bert gave him a great smile, turned and left for the Supper Hall.

Harrie Pawter remained, stunned, alone, in the empty shop. He glowered into space. His face grew more strangled with an awful look by every second. His hand reached for a toy airplane that had just been completed.

There in the shop of flying toys something happened that had never happened in the whole history of the North Pole, neither by accident, and certainly never on purpose: an elf broke a toy. Pawter threw the airplane down to the hard floor with a furious violence. The toy smashed into flying pieces in every direction.

"Damn him! Damn him! Damn the man! DAMN HIM TO HELL!!!"

End part 1.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I read that you can make booze from lichen and that it used to be a popular drink in certain places.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Youtube Comments

You know they're not worth reading...unless they are comments for some classical piece of music.

Concerning Rachmaninoff's Symphony no. 2:

Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu:

Rachmaninov!! Rachmaninov!! Rachmaninov!!
All the suffering and torment of this Sisyphean farce we term life is worth it, if even for a moment, one can behold perfection! Half seductive melancholy, half incandesent bliss.

mrsbrown andhercat:

Yes dear, it's very nice isn't it? My hubby plays this on the banjo, but it's not the same.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Child of Light

None of us can know ourselves by ourselves in any ultimate sense. One of the things I love so much about Kurosawa's Rashomon is how it gets this across. We cannot face the truth of ourselves: when a group of individuals are somehow incriminated with each other, and each individual is questioned by a judge as to what happened and their behaviour, what we get is a variety of fabrications according to each person, neither of them telling even a remotely similar story. It becomes thought-provoking to reflect during this film that any of the characters may not be lying simply to cover up criminal involvement, but that they may actually be innocent: they still cannot tell the truth of the event for that would involve them facing the truth of themselves; and this mysterious event, whatever it may be, demands the revelation of some part of their being they have not faced, and cannot.

I wonder how much people enjoy it - that is, the refinement, the finality, the intricate weaving that we give to our problems, articulating them to ourselves and to others. It can become a rotten luxury by which people avoid facing the ordinary duties of life - and consequently themselves. They render themselves perfectly incapacitated; a hermetic state in which every single little doo-dad gets spiritualized to infinite proportions. They think their problems (as they've articulated and woven them) make them special.

Our problems (and/or sins) do not make us special. The only thing that makes us special is how dearly we are loved by God. He created us after all. And He redeemed us. And strangely, when we begin to accept this and submit to it, we discover how blind we have been to our actual wounds - the source of our problems. Only then can we truly leave off of them, without having avoided them or having indulged in them; when our wounds are disposed in the wounds of Christ - for Christ takes up all the space - we actually see our wounds for the first. Strange, but true.

At the end of Kurosawa's film I remember how the two men are utterly stumped at the endless onion layers the storytellers/liars continually put up; lost at sea, as it were, in contemplating the nature of the human soul, and they hear a baby crying nearby and one of them, the priest, goes and picks up the baby and begins tending the baby.

Some people think the ending is hokey, but it's not.

It is the answer. The answer and the way to face the truth of ourselves.

In the midst of all complexities, where we sit, there is a Baby, crying out to us.

They should show Rashomon on tv as a Christmas movie.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

West Coast Haiku

Vines push down a house.
Inside a sea's hollow wave,
a man on a board.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My feet are burning for the salt of the south
that sweeps in groaning water over sand
and heat is broken never, nor any drouth
dries the fertile, oceanic land.

My bones complain of winter over much
and blood is slow against this miser cold;
but fiercer burns against this hutch
the want for beach's eye-hurt out of wold.

Take away yule log, take the fir tree;
take the artificial pine scents and the bling.
Nothing are these but cabin fever to me
in this want for a driftwood door that swings

by some beach ghost's hand: on the offing
is fish, is shrimp, is salt and wine
and all the hazards of that realm
may come and dine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In the dead days of the autumn sun,
the birds sail like horse-back skeletons.
Dreams are dreamt that matter as much
as leaves that fall in the ground's wet clutch.
Upon this autumn ground, turned over,
what will count is how bare we touched
to bared bones of earth, our soul's sower,
even though it bring unnoticed, dusty clover.

Monday, December 1, 2014


"I almost wonder if we are all so jaded that we confuse emotion with sentimentality, story structure with cloying cleverness, and virtue with unreality. A good film, we have convinced ourselves, must be gritty and nihilistic." --Michael Rennier, reviewing Interstellar

Amen. I have not seen Interstellar, but now I want to. Because, for one, I keep hearing people moan and whine about its length. LOL. Whenever I hear someone complain about a film being almost three hours long - and meandering or what-have-you to boot - my ears prick up excitedly.

It's film. A film should take its time. My favourite film is Tarkovsky's Stalker. Whenever I look up a movie that seems promising and I read that the film is something like a meagre one and a half hours long, I say, "What, are you kidding me?"

I think I might go see Interstellar - instead of the third Hobbit. If I lost all caring about the Peter Jackson franchise at the first Hobbit installment, my hatred/indifference was hardened beyond anything I could have ever imagined at the second installation.

Isn't it amazing though? When The Fellowship of the Ring first came out, or The Return of the King, remember how it felt to many like some Catholic Cultural thing was ramping up?

And now? People are forced to go see that monstrous deformity that can only be summed up by saying, "What Sauron did to the Elves, Peter Jackson did to The Hobbit (and also to TLOTR)", either just to see how bad it is, or in some vain and unfounded hope that it might redeem itself.

I mean, who would have seen it coming? LOL.


What will cross it – coyote, owl, deer?
A figure in the just sprung mist
stride across in silence? Will you only
see a row of stones beleaguered by
grass years, greeting coyote, owl, deer?

What will cross it when you are not there?
Off with thoughts to the dimming meadow, where
it may be void, and sit and let your bones
be numbered – while the moon slings over
from the east, like a streetlamp in the trees.

Off, off – mark the loneliness, where the shrouds
of evening fall into the meadow,
or you’ll be made to mark it mid the crowds.

Downward from above

"Nay, Bennet, never. Nay, not he," said the priest. "There cometh never any rising, Bennet, from below--so all judicious chroniclers concord in their opinion; but rebellion travelleth ever downward from above; and when Dick, Tom, and Harry take them to their bills, look ever narrowly to see what lord is profited thereby." --Sir Oliver in The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Picture of a bill. Long handled.