Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rainbow Rising from a Stream & Intro to Fushigi: Begun 2009.08.13

I have recently begun to watch The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. He has inspired me to look into the parallels I see between his philosophy of life and the spiritual/philosophical texts I enjoy reading. And while I found myself immediately thinking of Jung and Sheldon Kopp, the book I first picked up to begin my research is

ISBN 0-688-11967-0

Began 2009.08.15

It seems to me that Reynolds may be relatively unknown, as I have never seen or heard him in our broadcast media. I stumbled across him in the time of independent book stores, and found his ideas to be the most commonsensical and immediately/experientially 'true.'
Reynolds keeps it real, and is easily the most direct advocate of living in the moment, which is one of Cesar's most repeated tenets in good dog behaviour. He argues that this is one of the most important attributes of owning a dog, that you need to be living in the here and now because they are absolutely immediate -- they live neither in the past nor the future and to relate to them healthily requires that immediacy. But isn't that immediacy, of being fully alive now, truly what is important to live the well-lived-life?

Anyway, the book is festooned with noted stickies, right now, as I begin the process of researching the parallels between 'The Dog Whisper' and great philosophical tracts.

I learned a great Japanese word, today, from the book.
This translates, per Reynolds, as 'marvelous' or 'wondrous'.
It is applied to the magical moments of synchronicity-petites, as I call them. Synchronicity-petites are the small confluences of life, which when attended to experientially refute the universe as being dead collection of dead matter. This term equates, roughly, to Cesar Millan's use of the term 'the ripple effect', in that events come together meaningfully to those open to them.

The examples Reynolds give are his having purchased as a gift a hair drier for a friend whose hair dryer broke that morning. I find this word most excellent because I keep a black book log of the fushigi events that I find barrage my experience of life, oft-times in ways that, while marvelous, are also distressing to some more or less extent.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Payback: Finished 2009.08.09

Finished, 2009.08.09

Lots in this book to think about.

And some curious examples of how language points to the meaning society has placed and places in things. For example, did you know that a mortgage is a death pledge? ('Mort' death, 'gage' pledge.)

And did you know that there are two (at least!) distinctly different versions of the Lord's Prayer? Until this book I absolutely did not know this, and the difference is puzzling. Here's how Atwood writes it:
... Among the things we memorized [in school] was the Lord's Prayer, which contained the line, 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.' However, my brother sang in an Anglican boys' choir, and the Anglicans had a different way of saying the same line: 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' The word 'debt — blunt and to the point — was well fitted to the plain, grape-juice-drinking United Church, and 'trespasses' was an Anglican word, rustling and frilly, that would go well with wine-sipping for Communion and more ornate theology. But did these two words mean the same thing, really? I didn't see how they could. 'Trespassing' was stepping on other people's property, especially if there was a No Trespassing, and 'debt' was when you owed money. But somebody must have thought they were interchangeable. One thing was clear even to my religiously addled child mind, however: neither debts nor trespasses were desirable things to have (44-5).
[The Wikipedia has a quite interesting discussion on the several versions of the Lord's Prayer, which includes a version that uses 'sin' in place of 'debt/trespass'.]

Perhaps most interesting is that she looks at history in a way that fully discloses how limited is the thinking of our society — if a society can think. In my reading between Atwood's lines, I see her having reaffirmed C.P. Snow's caution that societies do not learn from history, as they fixate on current practices as unswerving truths of what has always been. Atwood's link between what is acceptable social practices and sin is most remarkable, and erudite. And her link between language and these sin/truths is delightful and powerful. For example, at one time lending was far more sinful than borrowing, and now lending is perhaps the cornerstone of the modern economic/social truth, i.e. of capitalism's supreme ultimate authority of truth-in-proper-society, and bad debt-management a sin.

For me this book re-emphasizes the 'truth' that, in general, the people least capable of leading us are our formally educated graduates of business and leaders of industry. Because generally, they have no history beyond numbers, these forward thinking leaders take as meaningful today's numbers for tomorrow's quarterly report with no eye to the rise and fall of civilizations.

I did find the closing ghost of the re-told Scrooge story a bit ... I am tempted to say sappy and perhaps a bit preachy. I hesitate writing this, even as I write it, because I am not sure how it could not be written 'preachily', given the story-line it is emulating, and its purpose. But ... I don't know. Perhaps I am reacting against its glimmer of hope, given that I am not hopeful. And that brings up a curious emotional wrestling match — is it because I am not in my nature hopeful that I, like many who watch Alistair Sim's Scrooge transform against all odds, feel tears of joy/relief well up in my eyes? Hmmmm.

But even this irritation does not take from it any s. On the other hand, perhaps because it has pricked at my beliefs irritatingly, it is more than worthy of the five stars I have given it.

Thank you Ruth T., for lending me the book. It looks like I will now be going to buy my own copy to re-examine and mark-up.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Payback: Begun - 2009.08.03

My friend and serious book worm Ruth T. finished reading...

ISBN 9780887848100

... the other week, and promptly lent it to me as a book I would like.

And thus I began my read August 3, 2009.

There is no question that Atwood can write, and from the opening sentences you can feel that you are going to be entertainingly informed and challenged. Looking forward to finishing this one.