Monday, December 29, 2014

The Good Life

Aaron Jasinski

The Good Life   according to many is one that honors the "self" while honoring the "selves" of others. When our selves (souls) are honored, symptomatic coping skills need not surface.

It is impossible to define precisely that which honors each individual soul as definition is an intellectual enterprise. Intuitively, we interpret the concept soul as one that has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music or people are soulful. Imagining soulfulness, we think of life's particulars - good food, satisfying conversation, true friends, and experiences that touch our hearts and remain with us like old friends throughout the rest of our days.

Whatever the soul is or is not is not the focus of this article. Thus for our purpose here we shall simply state that the soul communicates our innermost feelings and the intimacy revealed in our love for and attachment to others. 

Practical Salvation

Today there are a thousand and one - or more - cures for everything that ails us. The unspoken but clear salvational tone is one that puts all weight onto the shoulders of the individual. If one can learn to be more assertive, more loving, less angry, more expressive, thinner, smarter, whatever the goal, one's troubles will vanish. Self-help is the social science weaving through the wires that connect the globe. Each generation has its Abraham Hicks or Eckhart Tolle telling the world how to "be" and thus emerge more complete and transcended than be-fore if only one (1) reads their book; (2) strives toward similar insights and "spiritual" experiences; and (3) follows a scripted path toward enlightenment. 

In the last twenty years I have read hundreds of such extraordinary accounts ranging from Carlos Castaneda's books on The Teachings of Don Juan to Kyriacos C. Markides's Magus of Strovolos, the rich and intricate world of Daskalso the healer whose work is firmly rooted in absolute love, and whose aim is the expansion of reason and spiritual evolution.

This is the aim of all mystics.

It is as if the western mindset believes that with enough self-examination one can emerge whole. Of course one might argue that if wholeness is a response to any such stimuli, that it must have predated the examination. 

Consider these thoughts

When I consider "reality," truth recedes from my grasp. By "truth" I mean that definitive status of evolving reality that satisfies my opinions... for I associate reality with the cognition that gives me access to it - whatever It is.

It is cognition that western minds associate with being truth and reality. The sensory, emotional, mental, and imaginative circuits of our cognition and its powers form the basis by which we associate all things.

If you think about it, realms of reality look an awful lot like self-generated perceptions and their associated projections of stimuli changing form.

Following self-generated projections quenches the being's thirst for fulfillment. Thus implied in the word "fulfillment" is the western mindset associating truth with the unfinished condition of reality.

Truth is associated as being facts, statements, promises, and the sum of things. Inherent in fulfillment to create truth is the notion of separation. The very embodiment of matter results in a perception of separation (I am here and you are there), but if one feels as if one is occupying a specific space within the realm of reality, then inherent in this thought is the belief in a soul-like force or entity, an essence capable of filling the space one is occupying.

No facts, statements, promises, beliefs, opinions, or sums of things can define the enigma of truth. Thus truth is our truth, it is what we claim It to be. The very meaning of reality held in this perspective is that which fulfills our desires and validates the opinions we associate with those things we define as reality.

The Good Life

The ancient Greeks in their earliest existence accounts, epics, and drama, distinguished metaphysical questions of humanity and their answers - which were found to be intrinsic to the experience of living a good life. The core of the experience being one of happiness and mentally conceived, revelatorial recognitions of perceived experiential perceptions.


The notion of truth stretches our perception of It beyond our grasp. It is for this reason we call It truth, i.e., the unfinished condition of reality.

"I don't know" is then the highest human expression of "truth". If one admits that one does not know, then one instantly knows one is correct in their not-knowing. This is knowledge. 

Similar to how the Sirens enchanted the mariners with their song or how Odysseus exercised a spell on his hearers through his eloquence as a bard1, we ensorcell ourselves into thinking - and thus, believing - that by being sensitive listeners, thinkers, and feelers that we have the means to decipher further horizons of "reality" because of our investigations of this one.

This could be true. Only I would not claim that the patterns of energy and matter in our time/space/location/dimension are identical to manifestations in other time/space/location dimensions simply because they exist here. There could be other forms of reality so far removed from this time/space/location/dimension that all of what we know would be turned inside out.

And then what would we have? Our so-called truth label hanging on the outside of our sweaters looking a bit silly.

Returning to the Good Life

I thus return to the Good Life by nature of my own beguiled enchantment, the speciality associated with human thinking. Striving in the name of truth toward that which is unknown enchants me into thinking that perception flowing from the human condition can illuminate the grandeur of all forms of reality. The crystallization found in cognition and expressed in human discourse is that which keeps me blindly striving outward toward new truths. 

Intriguing is what we encounter along the way. Delightful, even. But those sensations and mentalizations are a result of the mythos we tell ourselves. Here, epiphanies become our most revered experiences; intensities of physical pleasure our most enjoyed experiences. 

The space between experiences and their epiphanies, pleasures or hurts is the space that feels freer. It is in this space that we first conceive of and incline toward those things we associate with living the good life. We may choose to feel compassion and humility through her corresponding stimuli: pain and suffering; or we may choose to feel empowerment through her corresponding stimuli: pushing back. Whatever experience from which we allow ourselves to know is one that was initially inclined toward as a result of an earlier sentiment. 

Whether sentiments flow exclusively from our present manifestation of existence is unknown. But if by nature of our being held within this cosmos means we are "like" this cosmos, the Big Bang that brought us into existence, is similar in nature: at first there was nothing and then it blew up (into us).  

Whatever the nothing was that predates our present existence, It is something that was notably present before we blew up into being. The duration of any such existence thus indicates the possibility of more existences to come, and well as others already having been. 

So the question of how to live a good life isn't about finding "truth" ... 

Living a good life is about finding an authentic space from which to experience many truths ... all truths. Irrespective of whether or not we are pleased with that which we discover is another matter, entirely. The point here is that if the good life (for you or me) means feeling happy, then we simply focus on and explore the complexities associated with the space between happy moments so that when in the "in between spaces" we can incline toward more of these happy moments which allow us to take pause so that we might enjoy them - allowing ourselves to revel in each happy moment prior to heading toward a new happy moment (i.e., "truth") will hopefully bring about more such experiences. 

It would seem that the moments we create are the moments we associate with truth. Since we are simultaneously held in those spaces we define as "in between moments of truth and happiness" we simultaneously define truth and happiness as being unmanifest. Thus the striving for and notion of separation. 

This is easy stuff to consider. What would be tasking for my mind would be to turn this post inside out and consider its opposite form as another form of reality. The question of whether or not A Good Life would be the product of such an examination or experience remains, for now, unanswered. 

1  George B. Walsh, The Varieties of Enchantment. Early Greek Views of the Nature and Function of Poetry (Chapel Hill, London: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.) 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

To Be or Not To Be Good

Socrates and Plato reflected on the gods and demigods, the predecessors of our modern day superheroes. Nietzsche with his superman, Laplace's demon, Descartes' ghost in the machine ... extraordinary entities give us reason to pause, to consider, and to question whether good really is better. 

Is hospitality a form of Superheroism? 

What makes a superhero a superhero? Is it goodness alone? In modern popular fiction, a superhero is a hero who possesses supernatural abilities, extraordinary talents, and a profound sense of righteousness regarding the affairs of humans. In other words superheroes are masked crime fighters with superhuman powers.

Superhumans have the ability to perform  F A R  beyond anything an ordinary human could conceivably achieve, irrespective of talent or training. Superhumans could mean an improved human, a superior form of what a human can evolve into in comparison to what another strand of humanism has obtained. Unimaginable strength, extraordinary proficiency, existential problems as opposed to the problems of the mundane and ordinary mark the daily lives of superhumans. 

Ordinary humans often times associate a superhero by their superhuman problems, called mental disabilities or savant syndrome. There is a scale that ordinary humans utilize to form the basis of their understanding. 

Good vs Bad

It is good to be able to fly, to be able to read someone else's mind, or to have lightening fast reflexes, whereas allowing oneself to feel negative human emotions is bad. It is bad to feel sadness, anger, or frustration. Superhumans, according to ordinary humans, must be (presumably due to their inherent goodness) limited in their range of human emotions. They must be incapable of functioning at any level other than what ordinary humans consider good (benevolence, bravery, bravado). Inherent in this idea is a tradeoff. The tradeoff to be superhuman is that one must render the superhero incapable of experiencing the full range of ordinary human emotions (i.e., the superhuman must have an impediment). No wonder the creators of the character Sheldon have had to depict him as not being able to function within normal ranges of accepted behavior (recall normal means lower than average). What ordinary human ego could accept the presence of a superhuman that does not have problems? Ordinary humans must feel superior to Superheroes in some form or fashion.

Despite any personal impediments ordinary minds associate with extraordinary superhumans, everyone agrees that superheroes must spend the entirety of their existence fighting evil, making the world a better place for the ordinary humans who are messing it up in the first place. 

The personal values of a superhuman requires superhumans to babysit ordinary humans until they evolve into superhumans and can govern themselves. 

An Ordinary Fallacy 

Superheroes must be morally good. They must overcome any temporary or permanent impediment or limitation and still perform well beyond the existing human range. One might consider these superhumans as beings "whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards.

Contrarily, if a superhuman has superhuman needs and desires that are self-serving in nature, he or she is called a supervillain. 

Supervillains are not hyperfocused on helping ordinary humans correct their ordinary lives. They are not interested in ordinary human thoughts. They may play the part of the antagonist, but often times their goals have nothing to do with ordinary human affairs. Though admittedly some so-called supervillains claim to enjoy the scurring their antics cause ordinary humans. Akin, perhaps, to a naughty child taunting insects in the garden. 

For there to be a battle there must be a good side and a bad side. The philosophical and moralistic aspects of any given battle must be considered, chosen, and supported. The superhuman who cares about ordinary human affairs and is willing to risk his or her life for people the superhuman has never met and will never again encounter is what turns a superhuman into a superhero. If someone is a superhero and doesn't go out and fight ordinary human crime, then the superhero isn't a superhero at all, in fact, in this occasion the superhero is referred to as a supervillain because they are failing to serve ordinary humans. 

So it goes. Superhumans, if they wish to be considered Superheroes, according to ordinary human thinking, must be entities that (1) possess superhuman powers (2) are limited in the range of human emotions they can experience (3) serve ordinary humans because they have nothing better to do with their time. 


Should goodness be the prerequisite by which a superhuman or superhero evaluates saving an ordinary human? 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Hulk on Forgiveness

 People who seek forgiveness
have yet to release the anger from their hearts.
~Soph Laugh

There are very few people unfamiliar with the notion of "forgiveness". Expressions such as "I am trying to forgive" or "Please forgive me" make up a large part of the world's vernacular. But what is forgiveness, exactly, and how does one give oneself something he or she already possesses? 

Imagine you are a judge. 

A smallish, conservative-looking man walks into your courtroom charged with a crime. You look at the man and admittedly find it difficult to imagine the scenario brought before your bench. The plaintiff lays out the charges against him. All seems in order. Then, one final summarization offers that the man guilty of said acts was a large, greenish hulk of a person. You double take. This isn't the same man; or is it? 

When we forgive others are we ourselves?
Are we ourselves when we refuse to let go of resentment? 

Is Bruce Banner the Hulk? His self-identity seems to differ, just as our self-identity differs when we are in or out of a state of forgiveness (a state of jubilation, a state of frustration, etc.). 

Perhaps it is that the essence that animates the body is visiting at varying times. A more evolved aspect of that essence is animating the body when forgiveness is a harmonious resonance, when a peaceful aspect of acceptance is the ruling sentiment. In the same respect perhaps it is a less evolved aspect of that essence traversing through the myriad-a-verses animating the body at that given time, a time in which the essence is less evolved. Perhaps the essence that animates the body comes and goes with different aspects of its own growth igniting the human mechanism along the way. 

So how would others know with which essence they are interacting? And can the human mechanism be responsible for the acts of essence perpetrated through it? Could the defendant claim damnum absque injuria, stating that the damage was done unintentionally and thus not responsible?  

Do many not claim that they when in an altered state of displeasure didn't quite know what they were thinking or doing? This sounds like the more evolved essence speaking for the human mechanism. This is the essence that recognizes the imprints upon the host material but was not present when they were made. Nevertheless this essence takes responsibility for these moments as if they were their own. Why? Because it is the essence occupying the space/form at that given moment who is custodian of the system and responsible for its performance. 

But who is responsible? Is the essence responsible? Which aspect of self-identity is the ruling force? or Does the human mechanism have a separate will apart from a given essence animating it? These are the types of questions philosophers ask when they ruminate on the Hulk on Forgiveness. 

Human beings serve as judge and jury, prosecutor and defendant, in a myriad of situations. We put others and ourselves on trial for crimes we interpret violate our shared humanity. But if we do not know from whence we came nor where we are going, nor what many changes of form may or may not be occurring within ourselves at any given moment, nor even if there is a "we" who can decide, then how can we judge? How can we even know which aspects of self are present in our own selves at any given time? and Is there such a thing as harmony? Is there a natural harmonious state in the many changes of form we witness emotionally, physically, intellectually, or otherwise? 

We generally never question whether the physical body, despite its many changes, is the same body. But who is in charge of that body? Who is responsible for our own thoughts and actions? Clearly there are differences in how we think, act and feel that continue changing throughout the entirety of our lives. If today I am not the same person I was at age three, then who am I? Is there an I? How could anyone measure such a thing? 

I resemble myself from ten years ago, twenty years ago, even thirty years ago, though admittedly one might have to look a little closer to recognize the "me" today in baby form. Looking at my grandmother's photographs from a time when she was young to what I remember of her as a child and teenager differs, but my imagination makes her the same person. 

Is it thus our imagination that is the ruling house? If our self-identity changes form in and out of a state of forgiveness, or any other altered (positive or negatively perceived) state, then is it that the imagination only is the force that binds together all these aspects of self, all these varying aspects of self-identity or different aspects of essence? 

I really don't know but when I sat down with the Hulk to talk about these things, he calmed down considerably when pondering these ideas. And he wondered where he went when Bruce Banner appears. 

I wondered, too. 

I wondered if the atoms were different. To grasp the differences I wondered which brain would be doing the considering. I wondered if I might consider this very same question under the influence of creative inspiration, frustration, concern, annoyance, jubilation, joy, reverence... under the myriad of emotions the human being experiences. For under each state I feel a different aspect of myself ruminating on all the information my human mechanism is processing. Just like in the dream state, I utilize different aspects of myself from which to consider moments. This brings diversity to my dreams. 

We bring diversity to ourselves when we recognize our many altered states. However, it is probably easiest to live in the world if there is a common thread: be it imagination, love, entitlement, acceptance, etc. that acts on behalf of all these altered states. Of course, love, entitlement, and acceptance are altered states as we do not approach everything we do with love (brushing one's teeth, activating/deactivating our alarms, etc.). 

If the human body is in a constant flux, evolving through many states of altered perceptions, then is it the human mechanism traversing the many circuits available to it or is it an essence embodying those sentiments that flows through us, with the human body merely mirroring and reacting to a given presence? 

It looks like Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way of exploring these thoughts bring us no true answers. Thus the best we can do is perhaps what is in our hearts. And true heroes are often the ones who listen to their hearts, first ... and also ultimately. 

When the heart is injured, it is often times something we convince ourselves we need to protect rather than use. We forget that we have erected a shrine for our hearts and that until we utilize rather than revere them, we can only pay distant homage to them. This is the concept of false idolatry, when extreme admiration, love, or reverence is given rather than experienced or shared. The only way to act from the heart is to use it. Protecting our hearts separates them from beating in harmony with others. 

It is important to remember that forgiveness is regaining connection with our hearts, with that part of us that wants to walk hand-in-hand with others as they learn their own life lessons. Sometimes forgiveness is making amends for things we have done to others. This is equally important as it helps others hasten the reunification of their hearts and minds. 

Returning back to the judge's bench. Was it Bruce Banner who smashed the car or was it the Hulk? If the Hulk disappears when Bruce is sentenced, who is paying the price for the crime? Mild mannered Bruce or the Hulk? 

Seeing the many forces impinged upon our life journeys makes us less apt to judge and more apt to ask questions, allowing our minds to wonder. 

When we wonder rather than judge, forgiveness is a non-issue. Wonderment softens the hardening of the heart and so renews openness. Here it is an open courtroom, instead of one person judging others (including self), all come together in genuine desire to question and resolve so that everyone leaves the room a free soul. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Return to the Forest of Enchantments

Idylle (1851)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

While her true name is unknown, she is commonly known as "The Queen" or "The Quintessence."  The name was given to her by those who encountered her. 

Child Braiding a Crown (1874)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Private Collection

Travelers to the Forest of Enchantments will see the queen as young, fair and valorously built. The queen has the ability to cure all heartaches simply by playing a tune chosen in accordance with the nature of the complaint; she does not have to touch the patient. 

In the beginning of many of the great quests, the protagonist knows not that he (or she) is about to begin an adventure. Oft times they may be wholly consumed with things close at hand when they hear the calling. These things may be nothing more than daily routines, but may also be competitions for title and treasure…or they may be the guarding of the lands from robbers. In some tales, the protagonist may also be healing their wounds, recovering from battles against deadly foes in which dear ones have been lost. While the stories of the battles and loss may be all too easily found, it is less common in lore for a protagonist in this position to then venture forth in search of the Enchanted Forest and the Mistress therein. But upon further contemplation, we can recognize that it is often those who have survived such battles who fully appreciate the precious and temporal nature of life and therefore might, in fact, be most likely of all possible seekers to adventure forth in pursuit of true love and of the enchantments it brings.

The instrument on which she plays her miraculous music is a curious object: its pipes are made of cassia sticks; its sounding board, of guaiacum; its stops, of rhubarb; its pedals, of tussock; and its keyboard, of scammony. 

The queen herself only cures "incurable" ills; less serious complaints are dealt with by her officers: the abstractors, perazons, nedibins, calcinators and others. 

Art and Literature (c. 1867)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Arnot Art Museum Elmira

The sight of the Queen curing the sick is enough to reduce men to a state of swooning ecstasy, from which they can only be revived by the rose petals she carries with her. 

The nature of the Enchanted Forest is veiled in mystery. Indeed, the Enchanted Forest has characteristics not unlike rainbows, in that they often reveal themselves after a stormy period, they are in and of the heavens, and their location on terra firma may be difficult to ascertain, being mercurial in nature. Furthermore, there may be many dangers along the way, and there may, perhaps, be many different forests with varying degrees of enchantments therein, that may fool the seeker into thinking that they have found it. Some believe that there are many true Enchanted Forests, and that each of them may be revealed to only one seeker.
Young Woman Contemplating Two Embracing Children (1861)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Private Collection

Visitors will notice that the queen speaks in a curious manner, using terms drawn from abstract philosophies and logic. Her greeting to honest men, for instance, is in this style: 

"The probity of scintillating on the surfaces of your persons gives me perfect assurance of the virtues latent in the core of your minds. It is for that reason that I, who in the past have mastered all private affections, cannot now prevent myself from saying to you that you are heartily, most heartily, more than most heartily welcome." 

Sometimes the adventure, the quest, may lead to distant lands, and sometimes into the local woods…either way, it is oft in places least expected, and unless the seeker is open to great travel or looking within, they might never find it. Maybe the seeker is weary of travel, but the quest requires adventuring forth, and success requires letting go of the security of their comfortable castle to find the Enchanted Forest. Or maybe the seeker desires to escape their barren homelands, to fly to distant lands of magic and beauty, but their quest requires them to initially stay close, perhaps beginning their journey internally (or close by at least) to be able to find their Forest. While the Enchanted Forest holds mysterious treasures, the magic of Freedom of the Soul, and Great Happiness, there are those who do not seek it. Either from fear of letting go, or from fear of looking within, or both! And if they fail to seek, they fail to find. 

Tobias Receives his Father's Blessing (1860)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Although an extremely generous hostess who provides an excellent table for her guests, the queen herself drinks nothing but divine nectar and eats nothing but celestial ambrosia. The queen is said to perform all natural functions by proxy. 

There are also some who mistakenly believe they have already found the Enchanted Forrest, but do not recognize the false nature of the forest they are in (without bright magic or the magic there is dark), or they recognize these shortcomings of this false forest but are too settled to venture forth again, or assume there could not be a more magical place than where they have settled. Either way, it apparently may be difficult to not be lulled into staying in such a false forest for the Syrens. Of those who recognize the false Forest they are in, the few who daringly leave the false forest and seek only the True Forest of Enchantment are some of the bravest of seekers.

The Harvest of Festivals in the Forest of Enchantments is said to be very pleasant. A gentle wind blows through the azure, a hollow undercurrent that produces a melody reminiscent of Handel: 

The worldly Hamlet in which the Queen honors the Harvest is reminiscent to those in the Alps or Lombardy. The houses huddle together on each side of a narrow main street, with large, overhanging roofs and few windows, some of which are glazed. Vines grow outside some of the houses; inside, the walls are memorialized with art and artifact and the space is clean and comfortable. 

Rest in Harvest (c. 1865)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Philbrook Museum of Art

Fauna and flora in the worldly realm are relatively unspectacular, though a breed of bougainvillea surrounded by brightly colored papery bracts persist well past their time. The hamlet is nestled in a small town, though its inhabits call it "city." From afar the town gives an impression of lofty steeples and rounded domes. Few statues are found in this land where makeshift dwellings rest on massive pillars. 

The grounds are laid out in terraced gardens, one above the other, with flights of broad steps ascending and descending. 

Children in this land are educated far away from the Colleges of Unreason where the principal study is Hypothetics. Reason betrays minds into drawing hard and fast lines into defining language. Professors from these institutions belong to the Society for the Complete Obliteration of the Past which publicly supports the Suppression of Useless Knowledge. Fluency in all things temporal is the true mark of the successful society member. 

The laws in this land are somewhat strict. Illness of any sort is considered highly criminal and immoral, and for catching cold one might be brought up before the magistrates and imprisoned. However deception and other such moral misdeeds are seen as a matter for convalescence and curative treatment. They are treated by Straighteners. The Straighteners' office requires long and special training with fast "seasons" where practitioners enact each vice in turn, as a religious duty. 

There are numerous physical specialists who practice exercises throughout their lives, though most are martyrs to drink, gluttony or other vices chosen for special study. To be poor is also considered criminal. Loss of fortune or loss of some dear one is punished almost as severely as physical delinquency, and offenders are brought before the Court for Personal Bereavement. 

All Saints Day (1859)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

These laws originated from a number of peculiar social customs. For instance, people enquire about someone's temper, as one would, elsewhere, about someone's health. Ill luck of any kind, or even ill treatment at the hands of others, is considered an offense against society, in as much as it makes people uncomfortable to hear of it.

Because illness is such a dreadful felony, it is polite, according to worldly etiquette to say "I am under the weather," which is a vaguely analogous expression that could mean illness or jubilation, being under the spell of a beautiful day. 

Death is regarded with less abhorrence than disease or banishment. Worldly inhabitants argue that if it is an offense at all it is one beyond the reach of the law, which is therefore silent on the subject. No one is permitted to refuse hospitality to the dead. Generally they choose some garden or orchard which they have known and been fond of when they were young. 

Sainte Famille (1863)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Private Collection

When anyone dies, the friends of the family send little boxes filled with artificial tears (the number of tears ranges according to the degree of intimacy or relationship), and people find it a nice point of etiquette to know the exact number of tears they ought to send.

A notable characteristic of the Worldly mind is that when they are quite certain about any matter and avow it as a base on which they are to build a system of practice, they are seldom prepared to criticize it. 

The worldly notion of time is also quite peculiar to the Enchanted mind. Worldly citizens claim that they are drawn through life backwards; or again, onwards into the future as into a dark corridor. Time walks beside them and flings back shutters as they advance, but the light thus given often dazzles, and deepens the darkness which is in front. As a consequence they cannot see but little at a time, and heed that little with far less than one's apprehension of what shall be seen next. 

Forever peering curiously through the glare of the present into the gloom of the future, they presage the leading lines of that which is before them by faintly reflected lights from dull mirrors that are behind them, and stumble on as they may until the trapdoor opens beneath them and they are gone. 

Prayer at Sainte Anne d'Auray (1869)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Private Collection

Legends say that there are some who know the future better than the past, but that they died from the misery their knowledge caused them. 

Worldly inhabitants worship a number of gods openly, but secretly believe only in that which has touched their hearts or frightened their minds. The gods they worship are personifications of human qualities, such as justice, strength, hope, fear and love. They believe that these gods have a real objective existence in a region far beyond the clouds. The gods' interest in human affairs is keen and on the whole beneficial, but they become very angry if neglected and punish the first person they come upon rather than the person who has offended them. 

The gods have a most unusual law that two pieces of matter may not occupy the same space at the same moment, a law administered by the gods of Time and Space jointly. If the corner of a piece of furniture and an individual's toe occur the same space simultaneously, attempting to outrage these gods by "arrogating a right which they do not possess", a severe punishment, sometimes agony itself, is sure to follow. 

Orestes Pursued by the Furies (c. 1862)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Chrysler Museum of Art

In spite of their idols and temples, this professed belief is only superficial. These inhabitants really believe in the goddess, in the Goddess of Freedom, who is held to be both omnipresence and omnipotent, but she is not an elevated conception in the minds of the true and faithful, for them she is sometimes absurd in her deeds, which confuse hearts and heads. Still, they never run counter to her dictates without ample reason for doing so: in such cases they override their opinion of who she is with due self reliance, and the goddess bids them adieu, for they are brave. 

There is a small but growing sect who believe in the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the disenchanted from deep within the Forest of Enchantment. Travelers who seek this treasure are eternally tortured by healthy and handsome and are rewarded for ever and ever should they reach this quintessential moment. 

The Dance (1856)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Musee d'Orsay

Whether recovering from deadly battle, or in competition for treasure, or leaving a false Forest of Enchantment in search of truth, discovery favors the alert mind, the open eye, the truest of spirit and the bravest of heart (together forming the Authenticity). For in reality, the magic of the Enchanted Forrest may partly be from the exiled Queen, with the remainder coming from within the Knight. And in fact, though the Queen must be in a state of tranquility, she is not actually in true repose, for she too, must be seeking her complement in the Knight to find this higher state of magic, as their contributions must complement and synergize to make the Enchanted Forest it's full, heavenly-dream like potential. And though she has magic, and she is surly an Enchantress, and she has amazing beauty and power and strength, her magical powers and her own happiness is not as great as it could be without this Authentic Seeker, the True Knight. Once together, in the perfect combination, there is a happiness, a warmth of heart and mind and soul, that comes from the Happy Couple, and it expands the Forest of Enchantment, and elevates the energy of the entire realm.

Inhabitant Beings in the Forest of Enchantments recognize the nature of things existing in the world around them, and about them which they will be conversant. For a brief time every year during the Festival of the Harvest, they open the pathway to the Forest of Enchantments. The portal is only recognizable by its shimmery mists. Knights in search of misty eyes travel forth in the truest spirit and the bravest of heart (together forming the Authenticity). The Knight's higher state of magic guides him from the land of his inhabitancy to one of divine origin. He escapes the spell of his barren homeland in a white balloon. 

The greater part of the noble Knight's terra firma contains all sorts of broken machinery: fragments of sadness, a very old runaway thought, notions and biases, and the like. It seems that just yesterday the state of mechanical knowledge was far advanced. However a persistent thought and underlining current foreshadowed an extraordinary moment proving that machines were not ultimately destined to supplant the Knight's natural essence. He convinced everyone and paid homage to the law which strictly forbid all further improvements and inventions equivalent to fevers associated with ecstasy and delight, which worldly inhabitants regard as one of the worst of all crimes. 

It should be noted that the worldly realm is a rapidly changing society and that no information has been forthcoming for many years. The beings that inhabit the Forest of Enchantments cannot therefore vouch for the exactness of the above description. 

Lidylle (1850)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Private Collection

Of all the Forests of Enchantment, and all the seekers of her, the right combination has seldom been. But on those few, rare combinations, the magic is something to behold, as both the Queen, and the Knight together create a magical energy that transforms the Forest into the glowing, floating dream – the heaven it might become. 

The End.  err, Beginning ...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Forest of Enchantments

The Forest of Enchantments is my muse, a place of magic and wonder. Home to wizards, witches and little fairies, wherever the land exists in its wildly noble, natural state is where fairy tales begin. 

Unsuspecting travelers who rarely travel far from their villages sometimes whimsically wander off,  encountering Enchanted Beings when they do. Fascinated and enthralled by their presence, they continue navigating her many labyrinths and towering high cliffs, seeking only to remain in her presence. 

But how does one arrive to the Enchanted Forest? How does one recognize her presence in another?


One must wander away from home if one seeks to find the Forest of Enchantments. A journey through imaginary places and the marvels they behold, delivered under the similitude of a dream, whispered in discovery, and across the river ... this is where our story begins.


The tracks through the forest are difficult to find and dangerous underfoot. At times they are almost impossible to follow because of the dense undergrowth. Travelers are warned that at one spot in the forest there is a bottomless pit into which they are likely to stumble. 

There are no inns or houses in the forest; there are several arbors but they should be avoided, as those who fall asleep in them will never again awaken. 

In fact it is dangerous to fall asleep anywhere in these Enchanted Lands because thieves and monsters abound. It is during the wee hours of the morning that the forest is her most lively. 

The forest is under the spell of the Mistress of this Land, who makes all those who travel here happy. She is tall, regal in stature, and carries her head erect with a dignity identifying her as goddess. There are no colors to paint such freshness, such delicate tints, which alone are hers, and which has been seen in no other being. 

She welcomes pilgrims on their journey, speaking gently and smiling at them; those who surrender to her vision of beauty will never again return home. She is the Goddess of Freedom, no soul leaves her. 

She is fond of feasting and can often be found at banqueting tables. A Queen in exile, she promises crowns and kingdoms by appealing to desires and ambitions, but only those with pure hearts receive her treasures. An enchanted crown may only be placed upon the head whose flesh and heart are in harmony.

Beyond the River of Deeper Slumber, travelers encounter the tunnels of twisted wood, whose low prodigious oaks extend their groping boughs laden with blossom and shine dimly with a phosphorescence of strange and magical fungi. 

Here the furtive and secretive creatures of the forest lurk. It is where the most obscure secrets are hidden. Those with a taste for her sweet nectar enter the Forest of Enchantments and never return. 

Her land is where heroes of legend are born. Their affinities and hers naturally unfold and reveal themselves to one another. Once the hero spends the night in the forest, this union endows him with the ability to evoke her enchantments. 

Bears, butterflies, and all magical creatures follow in her very footstep. Extensions of her essence, they bewilder travelers, greeting only those whom the Queen welcomes. Her choices often bewilder, for only those who can harmoniously traverse her labyrinthine complexity receive her gentle guiding hand. 

The quest for her enchantments become the stories of folklore. 

The Forest of Enchantments is a safe haven and refuge for those who have not been affected by the Dark Curse. Travelers are advised that the only safe time to enter is while she is in repose.

Her land remains unknown. Her graceful shadowy form is an infinite forest with the power to magically restore all that has been lost by restoring something that never leaves us ... our true essence. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Culinary Renaissance

Compliments to the Chef

Foods and their tastes represent and express significance in distinctive "holiday" fashion come fall. Each family has tales of food and their meanings, be them whimsical or profound by considering candy canes, honey hams, turkeys, pickled fish, or Grandma's famous pudding. 

Holiday rituals make food part of our so-called sacred offering, part of the experience associated with a given holiday. The array of foods shared during this season blend childhood, nourishment, and soothing calm into each delicious bite.

Culinary Renaissance

There is a culinary renaissance sweeping the western world. With tastes and techniques from so many countries blending society from across the dinner table, people are more eager than ever to seek out new tastes and incorporate them into their lives.

Once an individual is introduced to a new taste, flavor, or sensation, his or her curiosity follows; the floodgates open and the preference for new tastes drives the individual toward informing their desires with new food choices.

Food serves as an important and palpable aspect of cultural value transmitted across the globe. The simple act of eating another's food is a symbol of accepting their offering, signifying trust.

Whether we are giving or receiving the gift of food, something as simple as a shared meal has the power to connect the world in a way that individual people can incorporate the cultural heritage from other regions as part of their own.

Recall... there was a time on the Earth when we were one heritage, when all the continents of the world were connected. In reality, reconnecting at the dinner table with our global neighbors honors our shared global heritage. Since food is one of the most delicious ways by which we can connect with our global family this holiday season...

Bon appétit!

Smaaklike ete!
T'bëftë mirë!
E Güeter!
Bil hana!
On egin!
Su tripti!
Da vi e vkusno!
Que vagi de gust!
Buen prubechu!
Sihk faahn!
Mang-mang sik!
Bon appetitu!
Dobar tek!
Dobrou chut'!
Jätku leiba!
Da kana!
Hyvää ruokahalua!
Bo proveito!
Guten Appetit!
Kalí óreksi!
E 'ai käua!
Kripyä bhojan shuru kijīyai!
Jó étváyat!
Selamat makan!
Bon appetito!
Buon appetito!
Jal meokkesseumnida!
ylSop! (Klingon)
Bonum appetitionem!
Labu apetīti!
Gudden Appetit!
Mazotoa homana!
Selamat menjamu selera!
Saihan hoollooroi!
Xitlacua cualli!
Vær så god!
Noosje jan!
Bom apetite!
Prijatnovo appetita!
lth gu leòir!
Dobrú chut'!
Dober tek!
Ha kuu macaanaato!
Buen provecho!
Furahieni chakula chenu!
Smaklig måltid!
En Guete!
Tayo'y magsikain!
Tamaa maitai!
Magizhnthu unnungal!
Afiyet olsun!
Mwynhewch eich bwyd!
Es gezunterheyt!
Ku méejtech uutsil!
Thokoleza ukudla!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sun and Moon

Sun and Moon (2014)
Soph and Shenn
Digital Photograph, Private Collection

In Sun and Moon, Shenn appears left embracing a moon lit sky with its varying hues. Soph, meeting Shenn compositionally half-way, appears right enveloping the day with its corresponding hues. Pictured cheek-to-cheek the depth and light-heartedness that radiates from their eyes indicates a connection of the highest order. A mother and daughter symphony. Besti~mates! 

The photo is a praise to the Academies, to those pompous snappy dressers whom we love to disprove. Bucking the natural order, only to house it again in our finest institutions. Voilá! 

Originally intended for private appreciation, displayed publicly on 17 November commemorating Soph's declaration of motherly love to her lovely daughter, the modern embodiment of Raphael's 


extraordinary inventiveness, technical perfection, and unequaled sense of grace. The photograph was designed to honor the journey as explored by Shenn and Soph. 

Sun and Moon represents a simple homage to Earth's satellite and the important role its regular phases have played throughout Earth's history. Equal homage is payed to its allegorical opposite, the Sun. The star at the center of the Solar System. 


The Sun's influence is prominently displayed in the world's mind. The Sun, the Earth, everything ever observed with our telescopes, all known matter - adds up to less than 5% of the Cosmos. Space has amazing properties. The space below the bottom of their chins and between the meeting of their jaws can be identified here as a cosmological constant, a space that possesses its own energy: a scarf, a necklace, lighter colors, darker colors, highlights vs shadow, while only 5% of the space connecting the figures is lit. 

The delightful thought here is that the mother, Soph, has an affinity for morning, whereas her daughter, Shenn, has an affinity for night. The two work in harmony and delight in their sharing of both perspectives. Growing like an expanding universe, the two share an appreciation for existence and her many benefits. 

An inherent question resides in the symbolism of this photograph from the quantum theory of matter. Whether empty space is actually full of temporary ("virtual") particles that continually form and then disappear, whether it is a new kind of dynamical energy fluid or field, or whether it is a quintessence (Greek; fifth element) it is for every mind to contemplate. 

Theosophie & Philosophie & Musik (1617)
Robert Fludd
Segment of the macrocosm showing the elemental spheres 
of terra (earth), agua (water), aer (air), and ignis (fire).

More than the sum of our parts, high concentrations of delight and enjoyment reside in the combining of our elemental forces. Sun and Moon represents our appreciation for the independent phenomena in the natural world. 

Whether a primordial element from which everything else is made is ever found, the time, space, balance, gravity, cosmic, universal, multi-elemental cosmos makes for a wonderfully delightful and intensely perceived playground. 

This declaration refers to the duo's shared appreciation for each bead of time they have together. 

Happy Birthday, Beautiful! 

Enjoy the moments...