22 January 2011

Morality Mythos

According to the Law, the desire to do good, yetzer ha tov, develops later in life (think age 12) than the yetzer ra (man's basic animal nature that can easily be corrupted into yetzer ha ra.) However, the later emergence of the yetzer ha tov is not to suggest that it is a less natural or less human trait. Rather, it is to be seen as a fundamental, intrinsic mark of basic goodness that humans share with the Creator Of All Worlds. Through the yetzer ha tov, the yetzer ha ra is mastered and subdued.

Obliterating Diamond Realm

"As Saint Paul puts it so well, 'The will is present with me, but how to do that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would do, I do not, and the evil that I would not do, that I do.' In other words, we all come down to something in ourselves that is called the yetzer ha ra, the wayward spirit that God is supposed to have put into the soul of Adam. In my translation, it is our element of 'irreducible rascality.' We are all basically scamps in one way or another..."

- Alan Watts

18 January 2011

Jewish Moon

”...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

- Mark Twain, “Concerning The Jews,” from Harper’s Magazine, 1899

12 January 2011


As for man, his days are like grass,
He flourishes like a flower of the field;
The wind blows over it and it is gone...

Psalm 103: 8-17

07 January 2011

Bad Is Good

At the tail-end of last year I read Johnny Cash's autobiography, which was good food for my soul - equal parts moving, hilarious (unintended irony abounds here) and provocative (inasmuch as reading about suicidal speed binges and Minnnie Pearl can be provocative). A part of Cash's life that never made it into Walk The Line is the ostrich attack he boldly (while stoned) provoked in the Eighties, which almost killed him. The bird clawed into his abdomen, which provided Cash the opportunity to feed a lethal dose of Valium directly into the oozing wound a little while later. Again, this scene never made it into the movie...and that's particularly interesting to me. If I was the director of Walk The Line, the movie would have opened with this scene. But I suppose the literal confounds the mythopoetic compulsion. And (apparently) people need to view Cash as a man who never relapsed (often), who didn't suffer from eternally poor judgment (see ostrich attack), and who had a kind of hillbilly genius (he didn't. That would be Carl Perkins). I like the music of Johnny Cash, and I probably like it even more now that I know what an insane, conflicted fuckup he was. Being that fucked up isn't interesting, per se. But being that fucked up and also being a working singer-songwriter, father, husband, and recalcitrant Christian - is 63% interesting. Spanning the Rilkean contradictions of his conflicted personality was this faux image, "Cash"/The Man In Black, and that unifying lie is what paid his rent. It's also the lie that Walk The Line depicts. Also, June didn't redeem Johnny near as much as Rick Rubin did. And that door swung both ways...

06 January 2011

Amphibian Mind

post argument, i am beside the aquarium dividing my attention between the brine shrimp and spate of old photographs, finding after all these years evidence of my chin's particular wisdom - as the barometer of my cool, as predictor of relationships soon to be shipwrecked, as knowing dolt of the bald terror skating around my pelvis. meanwhile, everything carries with it a whiff of the apocalypse & sea monkey babes are suspended in their slick of albumen and the cryogenic starfish counts down the minutes until sticky light dashes into its gill nodes. And behind my eyes - a pair of webbed feet & legs escaping a half-revealed hunch, behind a tripod, all fiery in the atmosphere.

03 January 2011

Ali Palimpsest

"That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out."

-Unnamed George W. Bush senior adviser,
speaking to New York Times reporter Ron Suskind in 2002

02 January 2011

The World Of The Mesa Verde People

When I died, love, when I died
there was a war in the upper air;
All that happens, happens there.

- A. Ginsberg, "A Western Ballad" (1948)

01 January 2011

Just Like Hemingway

Partially because of my adventures in commerce, this glorious New Year's Day has been a day of eating massive amounts of collards, cornbread, blackeyed peas, & pork. And, yes, beer. There is always the beer.