Posts Tagged ‘ 5 Thoughts ’

5 Thoughts: Resist!

2017.02.09
By

resistancesymbolI DON’T USUALLY GET POLITICAL. But this is no time for silence.

I did not vote for the current President. I find him arrogant, cruel and stupid. His policies, appointments, and disdainful comments about our institutions and values are fascistic and frightening to me.

Fortunately, some people are fighting back:

1. WTF Just Happened Today? Stay informed with this daily update of things bad (and good) related to the reigning regime.

2. Indivisible: A Practical Guide: A strategy (and tactics) for organizing the Resistance. (Takeaway: Be like the Tea Party, only progressive.)

3. Bend the Arc | A Jewish Partnership for Justice: A small but doughty band of Jews and allies who have Seen This Before.

4 Find your Senator / Find your Representative: This is where some of the real power lies. Make your voice heard in the Senate and House. Daily. (According to Indivisible, phone calls and office visits are the best way to do that.)

5. https://twitter.com/RoguePOTUSStaff (you’ll need a Twitter account): Dispatches purporting to be from a rogue official on the President’s staff. Enlightening if true.

And remember: take care of yourself and don’t pass along rumors!

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5 Thoughts: Comic Strips

2011.08.21
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1. THE MORNING ISN’T COMPLETE WITHOUT checking into the daily comics page and some of my favorite parallel universes. I scan most of what’s there (as my friend Gary Nordstrom says, “If the author went to the trouble of writing it, as a fan I should take the trouble to read it”), and while my eternal favorites are now but shrine-emplaced memories (Pogo, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side and Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy) here’s a handful I look forward to each day. What they have in common is strong characterization, technical competency and good writing, but that’s not all:

2. Get Fuzzy. The only “funny animal” strip that “gets” the animal mind (in the way that Jack Vance “gets” the alien mind). Darby Conley’s Satchel Pooch and Bucky T. Katt are, well, not quite human — and they’re rendered that way, as they muddle through each day trying not to give Rob Wilco (their human roommate) one of his perennial headaches. Read more »

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5Thoughts: How To Lead Services

2011.07.14
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0. THE FOLLOWING MAY BE PARTICULAR to Jewish worship services, which are the only sort I’ve led (not counting five weddings and various improvised blessings/moment-summonings). But I’ve tried to adapt the advice for anyone whose worship tradition includes structure and text, and who finds oneself in the liturgical spotlight. Hope it helps; I learned it all the hard way.

1. Know your material. This may sound fairly obvious, but I mean it in a deeper sense: The service-as-conducted is a living breathing entity whose skeleton is the service-as-written. Know the latter like you know your own breathing. At least know how and why it’s structured — what each piece hopes to achieve, and how it leads to the next — and, most importantly, what page everything’s on. (PostIts are a big help here, as is having your own siddur (prayerbook) to notate.) Likewise, see in advance to the functioning of candles, wine, microphones, guitar strings, etc.; there’s nothing like a last-minute surprise on a solemn occasion (ah, but see thought #4). (And if you’re feeling terribly insecure, keep in mind that for group readings you really only need to emphasize the first five words. It takes that long for people to catch on and start drowning you out.)
Read more »

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5 Thoughts: Alternative Pleasantries

2011.01.19
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1. REGRET IS LIKE THE PROVERBIAL potato chip, which is why I am reluctant to taste even one. Living a reasonably full life keeps any real regret firmly in its place; i.e., away. Yet while I regret nothing, there are some experiences which I would like to have but either cannot or will not swap for whatever I’d have to sacrifice to realize them. Think of them as wistful might-have-beens or alternative pleasantries:

2. Steve Jobs doing his annual MacWorld thing. I have friends who are Mac users, and I have friends who are Mac addicts who never miss a product rollout. Yet I have never so much as seen a video of Mr. Jobs’ yearly tech unveilment. Something there is about consensual dedication to intelligent (or any) tools; it would be nice to see the Fearless Leader revealing to the faithful their latest obsession.

3. One more Grateful Dead show. I was never a full-on Deadhead, but would see them whenever they played to their Bay Area homebase, and whenever I could, mostly between 1981 and 1990; the best show I attended was three days at Laguna Seca Raceway in 1988, with camping and girls and everything. It’s true that “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert” — it would be nice to know that the last one was the last one.

4. A few years ago, one of the cable stations ran a couple daily episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This allowed for the taping of the entire series; they were also running daily Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, but we didn’t know then how good (sometimes better) a series it was; or we could now curl up some evening at Quark’s (or, for the hardcore, Vic’s) without bugging Netflix.

5. I think I passed up a chance to see DEVO live in the late 1970s or early 1980s. But I saw them in the ’90s, which was in some cases more interesting due to all the middle-aged punks with their kids. So it all works out eventually.

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5 Thoughts: The Solstice Eclipse

2010.12.21
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1. A CORRECT USE OF FACEBOOK is evidenced by all the pictures my friends took of last night’s eclipse. (Also nice: Chanukah’s virtual latke banquet.)

2. The overhead wonder was no less wondrous for being swathed in translucifying cloud at 0145 local (PST).

3. A good many of my friends are pagans, poets, artists or other types of beautiphile whose inspiration at times like these is also wondrous. I am supremely thankful, at these seasons no less than others, to be surrounded by so many intelligent and creative people.

4. Speaking of which, solstice is a good time to ponder cycles and time in general: say, how life is lived by the big circle in the universe instead of the little one on the wall.

5. Winter solstice even more pondered: how the dark reaches its depth for one half of the world, even as the other experiences summer’s greatest light. Omnia vincit lux! and whatever you celebrate, celebrate the living daylights out of it.

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5 Thoughts: Veni, Vidi, Wiki

2010.12.14
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1. NO REPORTER (OR FORMER REPORTER) can resist two-centsing the Wikileaks Affair. Yet my opinions are still raw and untempered; this movie isn’t over yet, and any real proclamations of herohood or villainy are thus still naively premature. This unfolding fact is some comfort to those of us on the fence: who dislike Mr. Assange’s person and motives, applaud Wikileaks qua Wiklileaks, think some doors work better when closed, are appalled by their government’s heavy-handed attempts to quash fair journalistic game, roll their eyes at the kneejerkisms of “both” “right” and “left,” and feel the “hacktivist”(1) response is both counterproductive and self-seeking.

2. It’s hard to deny that Mr. Assange comes off as a petulant, smash-everything egotist even in his own writings — a reflexive anti-authoritarian who got lucky with a similar and better-connected discontent. That is not a valid criticism against the leaks themselves or what’s revealed in them, and I wonder about the commentators who think it is. Read more »

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5 Thoughts: The Whole God Catalogue

2010.11.14
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1. DESPITE THAT THIS BLOG’S SUBTITLE is “A Journalistic Exploration of Experiential Holiness and Snack Bar,” there seems to me to be little direct dealing with the “experiential holiness” end of things: why any 2010 Renaissance Man would fall in love with a 3,000-year-old tradition, say, and non-ironically to boot.

2. Partly, that lack is due to a recent focus on my writing. But mostly it’s that, in order to discuss “religion” (which term I prefer to “spirituality,” as implying a more disciplined approach), it’s necessary — and only possible — to discuss my experience of it. And my experience is both weird and conventional — and I suspect it’s that way for everybody.

3. On the weird side are experiences which I would call “ecstatic visions” due to their immediacy and primarily visual character. I have had several of these, which always leave me feeling both humble (as in small) and “included” (as if I’m in on some cosmic joke). Those who know, know (including how difficult it is to relate something like, oh, praying really hard and feeling your body dissolve into happy twinkling lights); those who don’t, should know that while I have no firm idea or dogma about what these events “really are” I am reporting them as accurately as I can. (Although I favor the thought that it’s “simply” my brain chatting with its collective unconscious.) Stay tuned for updates.

4. On the conventional side are the love of a familiar liturgy and narrative, even of narrative structure and theme. (I’ve written of this elsewhere too, largely within a Jewish context but also to understand the four ways of encountering God.) This includes the unspeakable joy of praying by myself in a room full of people; the taste of bread and wine (or grape juice) afterward; the glow of familiar faces; leading services for people I love; being led in services by same; the look of the letters; the smell of a room full of prayers and old books. CS Lewis is said to have replied, when asked why he was a devout Christian, “Had I been born in India, I would be a devout Hindu.” (To which I say, “Me too.”)

5. Another way to put it: “It ain’t the finger — it’s where it POINTS!” What gets left out of the Great Culture Clash Debate is that many people aren’t clashing at all — they’re integrating, using their religious or spiritual practice to help themselves become more compassionate, more loving, and (especially Talmudists and Sufis) more wise. We cannot afford to let those louder and nastier define what it means to live religiously.

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5 Thoughts: How To Preach A Sermon

2010.10.26
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1. Make ‘em laugh with, but not at, you and your topic. But make ‘em laugh first.

2. Remember that you’re a student too, no more learned (and sometimes embarrassingly less) than those listening to you. Your task is to reveal rather than entertain, to share rather than “teach.”

3. Be honest. It shows.

4. Know what you’re talking about, but don’t be afraid of facing questions which haven’t occurred to you. They are inevitable, and can be miraculous.

5. Care about the people you’re talking to(1). Not as “subjects of ‘God’” (or “dues-paying members” or, especially, “the audience”) but as people — maybe scared or sad or in pain, looking for comfort and inspiration and sometimes a reason to get out of bed. So give that!

___

(1) This is in some ways the most important of these principles. If your care is elsewhere than the people you serve, you’ll only disservice everyone.

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5 Thoughts: And On Your Left, the Pons Creamery

2010.07.25
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THE METAPHORAGER.NET VISITOR LOGS MAKE for interesting reading; it’s fun to see what rough edges of my prose snags on Google and other search engines; it’s nice to count the international flags and know that any Belgian with an iPhone can snatch up with digital fingers (pun) the latest dispatch from whatever lives in my brain. But it also becomes apparent that some items are missing out; thus, a guide to the un- or lesser-’phoraged pages of This Here Site.

1. Posse Commentatus: It’s long been an observation of mine that the same patterns are exhibited by the institutions and cultures of both the fandom and religious communities (i.e., those religions built around a central text). Posse Commentatus posits that the major difference between Jedi and Jew is about 3,000 years of backstory — and that the text isn’t as important as its message and its inspirations.

2. Clips: A small representation of my journalistic cred. (I mean, I wouldn’t read them either, but I have to put them somewhere; one of this site’s missions is aggressive self-aggrandizement.)

3. A Proposal For The Moon of Earth and/or Lunar Update: Back to the Redrawing Board: Perhaps the idea of looping Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece via lunar projector is a bit crazy after all. If you disagree, pick up a shovel and help.

4. Daily Gasp: This is in the sidebar right under “Wine Country Weather.” It links to NASA’s “Astronomical Picture of the Day” site which, if you haven’t see it yet, you must drop everything to click on. (“NOW, kid.” — Arlo Guthrie) I can think of fewer things more instantly awe-inducing than the view Outside, both for beauty and perspective.

5. Category: Writing See #2 above, except I actually would read these — and I invite anyone who wants to help make me a better writer to click away and start commenting. (On the other hand, if you’re looking for something nice to read over lunch, I’ll see you then!)

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5 Thoughts: EthnoReligiUfology

2010.07.19
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1. IF YOU DON’T READ THIS carefully, you’ll come away thinking that I think “God” is an alien, Moses a contactee and the Event at Sinai one of the humankind’s first recorded UFO sightings.

2. I really really don’t. But I do “believe” (cf. http://metaphorager.net/four-points-of-contact/) that Something Impressive happened in the Sinai desert 3,200 years ago.

3. As high-integrity weird-event investigator Jacques Vallee writes, however, it’s difficult for someone schooled in biblical and weirdological literatures (e.g., me; e.e.g., the 1917 “Fatima event”) not to notice apparent parallels between the two classes of experience: e.g., bright lights coming down from the sky, booming sounds and voices, messages of cosmic import, experienced sensations of timelessness, et al. That doesn’t mean the experiences are the same — or that they have the same catalyst or purpose — only that the patterns appear similar.

4. I have no idea what this means. The patterns appear similar — and because I accept the validity (though none of the explanations) of the so-called UFO experience, it’s easy for me to accept the validity of (though not necessarily any particular explanation for) Torah. (For some people, it’s got to be the word of God in order to take it seriously; for me, it’s just got to be Inspired Writing. And it is — and a recognizable-to-me genre to boot.)

5. Really, I have no idea what this means. But if you, like me, incline toward theories philosophical, aesthetic and noncommittal, you might agree that it’s kind of neat to think about.

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5 Thoughts: Why (and How) We Write

2010.07.15
By

HANGING BY OUR COMPUTER IS a sheet of paper I look to for inspiration. Sometimes it inspires me, sometimes it depresses me, but always it gets me back on the horse. It’s called “Why (and How) We Write.” If you too find it useful, please hang it by your computer.

1. Do it for the buzz.
– Stephen King

2. Finish what you start. Keep submitting until it sells.
— Robert Heinlein

3. a) Fanaticize yourself
b) Fanaticize something greater than yourself
c) “Sheer delight in what you are doing.”
– Robert Anton Wilson

4. a) Arrange events in linear order
b) Now arrange them in narrative order.
c) Write the story.
d) Revise the story.
e) FINALISE.
– H. P. Lovecraft

5. “Most of the characteristics which make for success in writing are precisely those which we are all taught to repress … the firm belief that you are an important person, that you are a lot smarter than most people, and that your ideas are so damned important that everybody should listen to you.”
– Robert Anton Wilson, reprise

Aside

“GOOD GOD, MAN — WHAT HAPPENED?”

“Well, I was on the freeway, and my car stalled right in front of a hurtling semi. Fortunately, the orchestra changed tunes at exactly that moment and distracted everyone.”

“What orchestra?”

“See?”

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< |||| > 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

(See Also: Robert Anton Wilson / HP Lovecraft / Writing / 5 Thoughts / Text As Life)

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5 Thoughts: From Mix to Memory

2010.07.11
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1. A TREASURED ITEM IN HOUSEHOLDS of more than 40 years duration is the Mix Tape: an audio cassette of 40 – 60 minutes per side containing music from an LP or radio station which the user wishes to either preserve or make portable via boombox or Walkman. Some content may also come from such late-night performance venues as “Midnight Special” and “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.” This technology was part of a primitive file-sharing service called the “music industry,” which is something like Pirate Bay only more centralized.

2. Perhaps the most evocative of my own seven or 12 mix tapes was made in late 1978 through early 1979, AKA my junior year of high school. It’s mostly punk and new-wave air-taped from San Francisco radio station KSAN (a”h), which means what’s now played as oldies on “modern rock” stations true to their roots (e.g. KFOG, Live 105 and Alice@97.3): Talking Heads, Boomtown Rats, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Ian Dury, The Normal, Cheap Trick, David Bowie, Horslips, Joe Jackson and various artists whose names provoke blankness in the ignorant and bittersweet pangs in the worthy.

3. Listening to the same tape for 30-plus years builds up a close patina of memories and associations — not only of its making and subsequent hearing, but of individual songs as well. “Warm Leatherette” I first heard with two friends driving to San Francisco; “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” was recommended to me by a mad crush; “Changes” and “Ziggy Stardust” were two of my all-time favorite Bowie songs even before this tape. On the other hand, I can’t hear either today on radio, CD or MP3 without “overhearing” the version on “the KSAN tape.” (And “Harmonia” just doesn’t sound right without that two-second burst of static).

4. Extended listening also implies/shows/initiates a change of tastes, or at least of understandings. The suburban punk who cheered the frantic teenpocaplyse of “Rat Trap” has traded in, so to speak, for “Sultans of Swing” (which once seemed to me just a mellow bass line and amazing Knopflerian guitar run rather than a paean to everyone like “Harry (who) doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene / He has a day-time job, he’s doin’ all right / He can play the honkytonk like anything / But he’s savin’ it up for Friday night”); “Walking In The Rain” is no longer anthemic, but “Surrender” is; the once-defiant dabbling of “Walk On The Wild Side” has given way to a bemused nostalgia.

5. It’s tempting, very tempting, to say that “they don’t write ‘em like this anymore” — that today’s “modern rock” either takes itself too seriously, or ironically, or breathily[1] to be much fun — and to lament that the music of one’s own youth is co-opted to sell blue jeans, lifestyles and safely manufactured rebellion. Such is life among the short-spanned; things will always be both better and worse than they were in one’s youth. But remember this, o my fellow middle-aged punks: When the world gets as grim as it seems to be right now, the most brazen act of defiance is happiness.

_ _ _ _ _
[1] Really. Some of these people need to quit smoking or gargling with cotton balls or whatever it is they’re doing and leave the tentative whispering to spies and other lovers.

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