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the nature of evil

the nature of evil

It isn’t that evil is an illusion.
Evil is illusion.

I don’t know what’s to be done.
Biden didn’t steal the election.
Trump tried to steal it.
And he had also tried to undermine democracy
while in office.

If you destroy democracy in the United States of America
you will go to hell and stay there a long time.

There is no perfection in human governments,
but we could do much worse here,
and we will if Stop the Steal succeeds
in stealing all future elections
from the people.
Do they know that’s what they are up to?
Does it matter?

What’s the difference between idiocy and evil?
What’s the difference?
They both lust after and exult in confusion.

Now
the evil rises
up from the belly
of the sea
as a bubble
that pops oil
on its shimmering surface

Now
the evil laughs
and slaps us
all on the back
Hah hah hah
you can take a joke can’t you?

Authors: AW/BW
Editors: BW/AW
Copyright: AMW

wine chocolate cigarrete

wine chocolate cigarrete

2000 or 1
Everything pebbly-concrete slab.
Walk over that kind of bridge
Wide pedestrian bridge over the highway
100 feet across. Pebbly road and walls same.
From the concrete dorms over the concrete plaza
and then crossing the concrete bridge
but not all the way to the concrete campus.
A concrete-walled bar.
A little outpost on one side of the center of the bridge.
Dark and warm inside.
Some day a little gray
A little swirling outside
Gemuetlich inside
and this is the plan in action
A young man
oh so young a man
buys a red wine
from the wooden countertop
on the side closest
the dorms
after having walked through
the door out onto the bridge.
Settles with his wine
into a plush couch
or chair
or I forget
in the dark room.
The Gorillaz Clint Eastwood
shining through the room.
A pensive bite, sip, drag,
HMMMMM
what does it mean?
Wine chocolate cigarrette/
what does it mean?
He thinks it through:
bite, sip, drag.

And then
two German couples
20ish like our hero
wanted to talk
he forgets about what.

Authors: BW/AW
Editors: AW/BW
Copyright: AMW

Liberal, Representative Democracy is a Spiritual Good

Liberal, Representative Democracy is a Spiritual Good

[Editor’s Note: Well, there they go again! And God bless ’em for try’in! The philosophical arguments for pursuing Something Deeperism get a little boggy. That’s probably dealt with better in the Something Deeperism Institute. But starting with

The individual human has no choice but to seek to grow in the Love that (supposing It exists) Knows we are all in this together and that alone has the ability to help one feel/think/act more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-sharing.

this attempt becomes a blessedly short and fairly readable argument for the spiritual value of liberal, representative democracy. It might also help to read the first paragraph (right below us here) so that you know what they mean when they say “universal values”. Unless you’ve ever met our author and editor before, in which case, you already know exactly what they mean as once again pace back and forth over the same ground, muttering the same soliloquy. In conclusion: Be that as it may, and God bless them for trying!]

We humans share universal values. We need to think/feel/act aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, kind, and joyful-sharing, seeking always what is truly best for everyone. Nothing we humans say or do is meaningful to us except to the degree we follow these values. We do not experience these values as relative; we do not feel that we should seek what is “’truly best for everyone’ – insofar as I understand the terms”; we feel that we should seek what is “truly best for everyone”, which implies an Absolute sense, and thus an underlying spiritual commitment. We don’t know from the outset if there is such a thing as “truly best”, but we do know that we can only be meaningful to ourselves to the degree that we succeed in discovering that and in what sense “truly best” exists. This implies a direction: We need to seek what is “truly best”.

But what is “truly best”? Either “truly best” is what we feel deep inside it must be, or what is “truly best” is not something that can mean anything to our feelings and ideas. And since feelings and ideas are a large part of how we interface with our lives, if what is “truly best” cannot mean anything to our feelings and ideas, we cannot meaningfully grow in wisdom. That is to say: we need the Absolute to ratify and explicate the universal values; otherwise, all is lost because we will never be able to relate meaningfully to the Absolute, and thus we will not be able to grow in wisdom. Once again, we cannot conclude anything from this except a direction: We need to seek wisdom, and we need our inner sense about wisdom to be right: we need wisdom to require kindness to everyone; otherwise, wisdom cannot make any sense to our hearts/minds. Our only hope is that by developing our inner sense about a Love that is “truly wisest and best” we can gain more and more insight into what is really going on and what really matters. Otherwise, we have no way to meaningfully relate to what is really going on and what really matters – we’d lack the tools for recognizing and meaningfully relating to the Absolute.

But what is Love? What is “truly wisest and best”? Humans are not Absolute. Our feeling/thinking/acting is limited. Human ideas and feelings about things what is “truly best” could never be identical with what is “truly best”. And pretending our ideas and feelings about “truly best” are identical with “truly best” causes a great deal of evil. However, we know that we don’t really understand literal ideas anyway: we just use them as tools to solve certain types of problems. Same for feelings: we don’t understand them enough to truly believe or disbelieve in them. We feelingly use ideas and feelings to interact with human-sized life; but we don’t really understand any of it. So how could we expect to understand ideas and feelings about what must be larger and wider than human-sized life (note that the Absolute loses Its Absoluteness if we make it fit our ideas and feelings)?

Without a meaningful relationship to the Absolute (which alone would be capable of providing non-relative validation and explication of the universal values and their underlying spiritual sense), our feeling/thinking/acting cannot be meaningful to itself. But what is it for a limited creature to have a meaningful relationship with the Absolute? The relationship we seek cannot possibly be an Absolute one. The knowledge we seek cannot possibly be literal/definitive/1:1. What can our relationship with the Truth be? What can our knowledge of the Truth be like?

Supposing wisdom exists, it must be like this:

Wisdom is growing deeper and deeper in the kind of insight that is possible for humans: it is a self-critiquing/-improving organization of our feeling/thinking/acting around the Love within that alone Knows that and in what sense it is True to say, “We are all in this together.”
We don’t know at the outset that such a Love exists or that meaningfully relating to It is possible for us.

But we do know that that is our only hope. (Because we are limited creatures who do not understand our own feelings and ideas in an Absolute way, but who do need an Absolute foundation in order to understand, believe in, and care about our own feeling/thinking/acting. [Note the distinction between understanding ideas and/or feelings versus understanding an overall gist of one’s feeling/thinking/acting as it organizes itself better and better around a Love that Knows that and in what sense it is True to say we are all in this together: Picture adequate wisdom as a tipping point where one’s feeling/thinking/acting as a whole has enough experience of Love so as to possess an inside-out, experimental proof for the Reality of Love.])

And we also know that what we’ve just sketched here is a standard non-fundamentalist spiritual path. It is the path that puts our inner faith in the Love that choose everyone ahead of our faith in our ability to literally / definitively understand what is going on and what should be done.

[Note that even if xyz religious dogma were True, that Truth would have to be interpreted by human feeling/thinking/acting. That is why true religion has to be founded in spiritual Love, rather than literal believe in dogmas. Dogmas are only useful insofar as they lead to and from a true connection to spiritual Love; and trying to force literal concepts onto feelings of certainty distracts one from engagement in the Love that is prior to human concepts and feelings.]

The individual human has no choice but to seek to grow in the Love that (supposing It exists) Knows we are all in this together and that alone has the ability to help one feel/think/act more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, and joyfully-sharing. Growing in spiritual Love is the only direction that could possibly lead to more rather than less internal coherency (ie: meaningfulness to one’s self).

And groups of humans? Since individuals can only be meaningful to themselves insofar as they meaningfully engage with and follow the universal values and the concomitant spiritual sense of the brother/sisterhood of all people, groups of humans can only work together meaningfully insofar as they together embrace, engage with, and abide by the universal values. From this it follows that we should seek to form and keep governments that help us together embrace, engage with, and abide by the universal values.

A well-functioning liberal representative democracy allows the people to serve as a final check on madness and corruption in government without spending all their time on the business of government.
The less insane / corrupt (these two evils feed into, exacerbate and eventually merge into one another) a government is, the easier it is to get and maintain power, prestige, and success while being true to the universal values; the more insane / corrupt a government, the harder it is to get and maintain power, prestige, and success while being true to the universal values.

Since goods like “power”, “prestige”, and “success” become more and more linked to goods like “my children have safe drinking water and food” as governments become more and more insane / corrupt, a well-functioning liberal representative democracy – open, honest, equal under the law, with free speech, and shared power and responsibility – is a spiritual good: the more you lose it, the more you force people to choose between their children and their truest, best selves; the more you gain it, the more people are free to be their truest selves alone and together, collaborating on neat and fun and wonderful works while staying true to the Love within that says we are all in this together and should treat one another well.

It is a spiritual duty to protect, nourish, and grow good government practices like openness, transparency, honesty and clarity in debate, equality under the law, freedom of speech and press, and fair elections.

Author: B. Willard
Editor: A. Whistletown
Copyright: A. Watson

On forgetting birthday season

On forgetting birthday season

Dear Children,

I had no idea. It was the start of August and it moved up so quick and sharp, like a needle in the grass. His birthday really is too early in August. One hasn’t time to adjust to August, and with it September, October — That is to say: Birthday Season.

“What!?!? Birthday Season!?!? Already!?!?” I sputtered, many hours too late, days too late, weeks too late, too late and too far below.

You might say I forgot only the first child’s birthday, and now that I’ve been reminded of Birthday Season, I’m remembering all the rest. But that would be neither fair nor accurate. What I forgot was Birthday Season, which to say: all of your birthdays.

I cannot in good faith recall the birthdays of some but not all children. I cannot in good conscious celebrate three-fourths of Birthday Season, having benefitted from the warning shot of forgetting the first fourth. I cannot, in all decency, recognize any of your birthdays this year, which is 2022.

What can I do?

Author: Uncle Ernest Lee Conssernt
Editors: BW/AW
Copyright: AMW

What is the best philosophy?

What is the best philosophy?

That’s easy.

It’s Something Deeperism: The general worldview that there is a Truth and humans can relate to It meaningfully, just not in a literal/1:1/definitive way. We can add to that: A human can relate more and more meaningfully to themself by relating more and more meaningfully to the Truth shining in and through all things — including each conscious moment; and a human can relate more and more meaningfully to that Truth by organizing their feeling/thinking/acting better and better around It as It shines through their every conscious moment. Something Deeperism does not seek to force your ideas and feelings to believe or explain the Truth/Light/PureLove, but Something Deeperism does point out to your ideas and feelings that they cannot help but assume something is really going on, and it really matters what we say and do; and so the only possible way forward is to discover that and in what sense this inner sense of things is correct; but this implies an Absolute standard (ie: somethings are Truly Better than others — that’s not just an opinion); and our feeling and thinking (being limited) cannot understand things in Absolute terms; but that’s OK, because what we deep within are seeking for is not perfect intellectual and/or emotional verification and understanding of our inner, indelible assumption that we need to do what is Truly Best; but a whole-being insight. A whole-being insight is ideas, feelings, and the Truth/Light that is Absolute and thus alone Knows that and in what sense it is True to say, “We are all in this together” and that shines through all things, including every conscious moment: all those aspects of our conscious moment working together meaningfully, though of course not literally/1:1/definitively (since they are not equivalent ways of contemplating and understanding).

This is the best philosophy because it matches, confirms, and explicates what we all cannot help but believe.

If you try to pretend you believe what you don’t actually believe, you just confuse your own thought. And if you misunderstand what you believe, you also just confuse your own thought. And if you try to force yourself to literally and/or emotionally confirm and believe what is ultimately prior to literal and/or emotional thought, you also just confuse your own thought. Something Deeperism does not make those errors: It paints a concise picture of where you find yourself within your conscious moment and it charts a course for you to make more sense of that moment by growing whole-being insight (ideas, feelings, and the Light/Truth shining through all things all working meaningfully, though of course not literally/1:1/definitively together) into it (insight into where you find yourself within your conscious moment).

Something Deeperism adequately describes and sketches an adequate blueprint for meaningfully engaging with, verifying, understanding, and growing what we cannot help but believe deep within.

Something Deeperism: The best philosophy because it’s a reasonably clear statement of the philosophy that we all know we already have. And that’s the point of philosophy: To help us deal with where we are within our own conscious moments. It is not true that different people have different best philosophies. We are all fundamentally the same, and thus we all share a core philosophy. Here we call it “Something Deeperism”.

You might say that much of what we’ve stated here cannot be demonstrated with logic. But that is true of all philosophies. You can never prove what underlies and animates all philosophies, religions, worldviews, and notions: some ideas are better than others; some ways of thinking and acting preferable to others; we can coherently choose better thought and action paths. Some people pretend to be nihilists and thus pretend to escape these shared principles, but the fact that they bother to not believe in anything proves how desperately they need to believe that they have it figured out, that they’ve got the right angle on things. (I’m not judging here; I speak from experience and attempt merely to help would-be-nihilists avoid wasting time and gathering unnecessary headaches.)

Philosophies are not supposed to be purely logical. A purely logical philosophy could not be lived. We are not just logical machines. We are also emotional machines. But we are also not just machines: our most core longing is to know what is really going on and what is really best and how to fit ourselves into what is really going on in a way that is truly best. This is a spiritual aspiration, and we will not be meaningful to ourselves except to the degree that we answer this aspiration with spiritual insight. That alone does not prove the existence of a spiritual Reality, but it does demonstrate that if we wish to become more internally-coherent (ie: more meaningful to ourselves), there’s only one direction we can choose: we need to discover that and in what way the spiritual Reality is True. Not only that: But note that within our longing to discover what is going on, we also have the sense that what is really going on has to be kind, has to be Good, has to be gentle and loving, has to have a place for all of us, has to be decent. Again: this does not prove that Reality has to be good to everyone; but it points a clear direction for wisdom-seekers: If wisdom does not ratify loving-kindness, than wisdom will be meaningful to human beings. And so if we think wisdom is asking us to exalt some people at the expense of others, then we know that either (a) we are mistaken about wisdom, or (b) wisdom is meaningless to humans and we have no hope for meaningfully growing in wisdom. Hence Something Deeperism: You can’t literally demonstrate anything about Reality, but you can accept that your only hope for internal-coherence is to more and more clearly understand that and in what way your inner sense that there is a Light of Pure Love shining through everything is True; and so you can seek to grow in wisdom in the only way possible for a human being: better and better organize your feeling/thinking/acting around the (initially perhaps largely assumed but in time hopefully more and better experienced) Light of Pure Love shining in and through all things. And off you go!

Something Deeperism is what we all already know: Relative truths don’t cut it for humans; but Absolute Truth cannot be understood in literal/1:1/definitive terms by human beings; but that’s okay: because we can follow the mystical path and seek for more and more whole-being insight into the Truth that passes but does not therefore necessarily completely blow off understanding. The wiser person does not Know the Truth: they constantly organize their feeling/thinking/acting better and better around the Light/Truth/PureLove/God/BuddhaNature (of course; this implies they are getting some help from said Light), so that their feeling/thinking/acting points more and more adequately well towards the Truth like a poet who adequately captures a moment strolling on the beach, or smelling a flower, or laughing with a friend.

Wisdom is here pictured as an organization around the Light shining and in and through all things, and as a meaningful poetic (in the sense that poetry paints experiences, and experiences are of necessity wider and deeper than ideas and feelings about experiences) relationship with the Light. An ongoing, self-critiquing, self-adjusting organization and poetry.

Authors: Something Deeperism Cheerleading Squad, Chapter Rah, Ra, Sun God, Wha?
Editors: Bartleby Willard & Amble Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson

What is God?

What is God?

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment is, his answer resonated with his audience of fellow first century Palestinian Jews, and it has since resonated with many other people of many other backgrounds.

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

That’s from Mark 12 in the NIV
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+12&version=NIV

In some other Gospels, some smart aleck then asks Jesus who his neighbor is, and Jesus famously replies with the story of the Good Samaritan.

The motion of wisdom is a dual-motion: inward to the Light within with a whole-being opening-to and embracing; outward to open to and embrace that same Light as It shines out of everything, including the core of each human conscious moment.

“God” is a word, a concept, a notion. God is both the One spiritual Reality that underlies, creates, sustains, and shines through all things AND the interconnected flowing-together of all created things. God is not an idea. Wiser ideas about God point with more poetic Truth towards God than less wise ideas do. Pointing better towards God is more helpful than pointing worse towards God: we are all fundamentally the same and can thus more clearly and profitably understand a good poem about being in love or a moment walking on the beach or the experience of holiness than we can clearly and profitably understand a poor poem about such fundamental existential aspects of human life. But in the end, all ideas and even all feelings about being in love or a moment on the seashore or connecting with God are just poems. They can help one get a sense of what to look for and what to expect; but only if one is at least wise enough to interpret them with a modicum of success. All good poems presuppose that human experience is fundamentally universal. A good poem about God works because everyone already has God shining through them, just as everyone has some inkling of what it would be like to be truly happy giving one’s full delighted devotion to someone who returned the favor, and just as everyone has some inkling of what it is like to breathe deep and feel the lull cradled within each moment.

We say “God is Love”; “God is Light”; “God is everything”; “God is What is”; “God is the underlying spiritual Reality shining through everything that is also everything, and everything runs together as one”

But what is God like? Does God have an individual presence as well as a universal one? Does God get angry? Is God lonely? Poetry about God becomes less effective when you try to hone in on such details. They aren’t the point. They aren’t helpful in the work of orientating one to better and better organize one’s feeling/thinking/acting around the Light within. And that is the point of spiritual poetry.

Still, I wonder about the last of those questions. Is God lonely? God is an infinite explosion of joyfully selfless infinitely overabundant giving/cherishing/compassionating/uplifting. That is to say: God is Pure Love. Human love contains within it a wound for the loved one. One needs to love and be loved by one’s loved ones. Maybe enlightened humans no longer have such a need for a reciprocative tenderness within love, but most of us aren’t like that. So don’t we most of us need God to be wounded for us to feel loved by God? Does God then cut Godself with a wound for each sentient moment so that those sentient moments can feel loved by God in a way that makes sense to them? Or are our spiritual cores arranged in such a fashion that we can feel loved by God without God hurting for need of us?

Is such speculation helpful or harmful? I am lonely, that doesn’t make God lonely.

Mostly in spiritual poetry, one gets the sense that God is enough for Godself, that God is life overflowing, that God is pure joy. Could God be all that and yet choose to suffer along with us? Would God do that just so we — at least in our non-enlightened states — could more meaningfully feel God’s love and more meaningfully connect to God? Or could this suffering-along-with go deeper than that? Is there of necessity suffering within compassion? And does God feel compassion for us, not just to be nice to us, but because God is Love and Love is compassionate?

But is Pure Love compassionate? Or is it only human love that reaches its apogee in compassion? If God is all there is, what does God need to feel compassion for? There’s nothing outside God.

I fear we are wandering too far afield. God is Pure Love. We can experience God more and more by better and better loving the Light within with our whole being and recognizing and fully embracing the Light shining out of everyone else. We can experience better and better God by getting better and better at organizing our feeling/thinking/acting around the Holiness within that alone Knows that and in what way it is True to say, “We are all in this together.” We can experience God better and better by better and better pursuing the universal values: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing. We can experience God better and better by relaxing, breathing deeply, pushing out from within, turning ourselves inside out, listening from the pit of our gut out, opening to the Light shining through all things and ultimately blurring-together everything as One.

So what is God? God is the starting point, the path, and the endpoint: God is the Love that calls us to seek the what is truly best for everyone; and God is the opening to that Way of being; and God is the conclusion of the Way: Pure Love creates, shines through, sustains, and love-lifts everyone and everything; but even more than that: Pure Love is the infinite fire that melts all things into one thing. This is not a future melting, but the current and eternal state of things — it is how Reality and reality relate to one another.

Why does the poem, “God is Love” work? Because you already know that God is Love. If we did not all have the seeds of wisdom within us, we would have no hope of growing in wisdom. Because wisdom is the conscious experience of Reality, and the tool for experiencing Reality is wisdom. We seek to grow in wisdom. We seek to open up to the Light within, to work with It to get better and better at feeling/thinking/acting aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, loving, compassionate, joyfully-together and joyfully-sharing. We can only make sense to ourselves to the degree that we do this; we can only make sense to ourselves to the degree we follow our own inborn rules for feeling/thinking/acting. We can only make sense to ourselves to the degree we develop our inborn wisdom. Our inborn wisdom is who we really are; we need it to make sense to ourselves.

Authors: The usual crew of restless wannabe astronauts
Editors: Bartleby the “Never Mind” Willard & Amble the “What? No, but seriously, What?” Willard
Copyright: AMW

Talking to God

Talking to God

So I says to God, I says, I’m getting out of this place.

And God says, yeah? Me too. I’m taking off to.

But I go, that’s ridiculous! You’re an eternal, infinite Good! Everything can’t go anywhere!

And God says, I won’t be told what to do by metaphysicians! I’m the God, not your half-ass logic!

And I’m like, what is infinitely Good has to be consistent! Anyway, if human thought has absolutely no purchase on the divine, then that’s a serious design flaw in Reality. Because humans cannot relate meaningfully to things that their thought has absolutely no purchase on.

And then God is like, whatever, I’m going to turn myself into a person and get crucified as a fit sacrifice for your sins.

And I’m like, that’s dumb. You don’t need to do that. That sounds like ad hoc after-the-fact reasoning. You can just love and uplift us as you’ve always done. And you have to always keep doing, logically. Since otherwise you can’t be an infinite Lover of all creation.

And God’s like, there you go telling me what to do again!

And then I’m like, speaking of design flaws: I love her. I need her. But she doesn’t seem to love or need me. That seems like a mistake. Why make me perpetually wounded from the lack of her, without giving her a corresponding wound and remedy?

But God just laughs and says that I want to believe I love and need her and that that entitles me to getting her, but that’s just greedy lonely talk, and not at all befitting a servant of the Lord.

Which peeves me off, and I say who said I want to spend all my time being a servant of the Lord?

But God retorts that through my own human logic, I can only make sense to myself insofar as I follow what is wisest and best, and that’s clearly the Light, and that’s clearly Pure Love, and that’s clearly God.

And I say, well, idunno.

Authors: AW/BW
Copyright: AMW

How?

How?

How can I tell you?
How can I ask you?
How can we find out?
In a way that’s OK,
that doesn’t harm,
but only helps?

Rom Com

Rom Com

Rom Com Sketchbook

This project is:
Author: Undecided
Editors: B. Willard and A. Whistletown
Copyright: AMW Watson

The order of the snippets is to be determined.

Idiot Prayer
God please fill me up, turn me inside out,
Make me wise, help me do what’s best
for everyone.
And help me talk to her, tell her, show her.
Help us know one another in this life
and together find what is best for us
and everyone.
What does she need and how can I become
the man who gives her what she needs
in this life
every day and night always?
Or does she need some other congregation?
I wish to connect with her, body, heart, mind, soul.
I wish to fellowship with all of her and just her
for this life
if it can be
I pray that it could be
if we could find a way
for this love
to be right
to be good
to be a family
a safe haven
a flowering field
where dragons and bumbles buzz,
grasshoppers and children thwack,
mice slip and ravens step.
I pray that we might be together for real
and happy and decent and joyful and OK
OK in this life, resting on one another,
pushing into one another, in laughter and fun,
growing together in love.

In a Living Room

Never did I hurt as I hurt now, for want of you.
When will you love me?

What mopes the young man o’er?
Why sag them story shoulders o’er?

Oh me? I’m just half of a two that’s one all alone.

Aren’t we all! Isn’t it just!

Just? But justice is for the heavens. Down here we can only work together against madness and corruption. If we would be so kind.

We need to get you out of doors. You’re so profound you’re sinking like a stone.

Out of my depths. Yes, what a pity! I’ve grown deeper than myself. They name that vanity, self-indulgence, emo, melancholy-on-parade, and fat-fisted ego-tripping.

Let’s take a walk.

The world’s too easy here.

No, it’s as it should be.

Perhaps. Better a sitcom than a war zone. Better a romcom than a police state.

Come, let’s out of doors. Fresh air dissolves all evil spirits. Or at least disperses the vapors to which they cling.

We’ve had it so good. All of us here in this polity, imperfect though it be. We’ve had it so good and now we lie down for he lie. Blind cynicism, blind patriotism: two sides of the same sword.

Up, up! Put away your swords real and allegorical. Up, up! Out of doors!

In the meadow, by the brook

He loves me, he loves me not.

You speak too oft to these petals.

Yes, it’s an evil habit. Killing flowers to scratch a mood.

Isn’t it more than that? Isn’t there prophesy within the petal plucking ceremony?

No. Not for me. Not an effective prophesy. Because my plucking’s never done. I chain pluck. No sooner is one daisy naked that I attack another.

Oh, that is an evil excess! You’ll undaisy our fields and impoverish our souls.

I’m but an easy going bad bitch.

If only that were true! I’m afraid this heap of defrocked daisies testifies the otherwise.

Do you ever wish for a man, just one man, for a life wedded, virgin to virgin, two who fit and meld to one without ever straying from innocent delight?

Sometimes, in a pink-stockinged and pony-tailed reverie. But it’s too late for that. I must make do with a man who likes his horses broken in. Anyway, let’s leave this field of slaughtered innocents. Let’s march.

March?

Stroll. Walk. Amble.

Why say “march”?

“March” contains gusto and self-determination within itself. March is a walk that creates itself.

March is the self-caused cause?

Yes, march is God. Come along, let’s worship.

Very well. I hope that march will forgive my musings, forgive these daisies squandered in objectless idle.

So you’ve no particular man in mind. What of it? You still need to know if he loves you true or not.

I think he does love me. What I’m sure of is whether or not he exists.

Some say the same of God.

They but stroll. Let’s you and I march alongside the bending brook.

At the side of the road

No more.

No more of what isn’t any good. Why do I do what I don’t even like?

I don’t know. Why not try not doing what you don’t like.

But what will I do? I always do what I don’t like. How will I think of anything to do if I eliminate what I don’t like?

That’s why it’s so scary to stop doing what you don’t like. You don’t know what you’ll do. You’re unprepared. You’re at the mercy of the future. By always doing what you don’t even like, you hold onto the past even as you move into the future. You hold onto the past as a pattern.

I will lay down in this roadside ditch.

Is that a break from tradition?

No. Yes. But that’s not the point.

What is the point?

Ta talk to musty fraying decaying leaves and the invertebrates that scoot and crawl and scurry therein.

There’s no point to that! And surely you don’t even like it.

I don’t like the idea of it, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say if I like it or not.

Nonsense. …. Get up! Get out of that ditch! Stop smushing around in the moldy old leaves! And dirt.

I won’t! I won’t stop until I either like this or I can definitively say I’ve tried it and I don’t like it!

I’m not staying around for this.

I think I can at least conclude that I don’t like rolling around in ditches by the side of the road enough to bother seeking them out.

In the cafeteria
A. Why stand on line for glops of bleached-out foodstuffs?

B. When I was young we called this lunch, and were glad.

A. When I was young the cafeteria ladies did more than just open cans of fat and sugar.

B. We can’t all have your beautiful youth.

A. I brought you here to remember Furrs Cafeteria, after the landing and the stroll across the baking, steaming, desert asphalt.

B. I came here to be polite.

A. Is that what this is for you? A social duty?

B. No. It’s just a wish that keeps getting tattered in your tense fingertips.

A. I’m sorry. Please. Please just help me know how to love you, care for you, be with you.

B. Here, with plastic trays on metal-bar countertop, strolling through odors of industrial-scale fried chicken, lemon baked cod, butter-smashed potatoes, and chemical-first muffins?

A. Here, there, everywhere. This place takes me back to Phoenix before the caravan up the mountainside in two vans, riding with my cousins and some siblings, my parents and my other siblings in the other van — my grandparents with the big arm chairs in the middle and the bed/bench in the back. I want to go back and back and back to the beginning, but not alone this time. With you.

B. You weren’t alone. You had your cousins, your siblings, your parents and your grandparents.

A. I was alone with the pieces of me that children can’t reach.

B. I love you though. This is OK, because I want to know you and retrace my life with you as well.

A. why is it like this? Why is sweet and soft and pulling between us like cotton candy when we’re seven and the local amusement park is so fun that even the cracked pavement and runny asphalt feels like part of Wonderland?

B. I don’t know. I hope it is as it seems: something divine, something Good, something holy, something both wonderful and right.

A. Me too. I want to tell you that I love you. Every time I’m near you. I want to tell you.

In the cafe

What will you have?

The hummus salad and an iced tea with lemon.

I’ll the same.

You’ve good taste in food and drink, I’ll grant you that.

Does that become a pun if I’m a grant writer by profession?

Yes, it would then become a painfully bad pun.

We lucked out! I’m no grant writer.

That is good news!.

We shouldn’t take our luck for granted in this life.

And bread?

We’ll have no bread with our perfect meal.

No, the bread here is light, fluffy, and full of ill conceit.

Let’s summon back our waiter and bid he stay the baker’s hand.

Let’s call out for our rented servant, that he come quick and move decisively to effect our bidding.

Waiter! Oh, waiter! Garcon!

Garcon means

(interrupting) Je sais très bien ce que je dis! We require all haste in the dispatch of this our decree.

We temp her as majesty, just as earn your keep as a hired underling.

That’s what sit-down restaurants are for.

Go now, boy, make haste, dispatch, all haste to the kitchen. Rescind the bread. Revoke the starch, let our salads speak for themselves.

Also a side of olive oil, please.

Make that two.

OK, no bread and two sides of olive oil.

Excellent lad!

Match that quick wit with quick feet and your rewards assured!

Me lord, me lady — I fly!

In the wilds

So I say to myself.

Who are you talking to?

I’m telling you about what I was saying to myself.

Oh.

I say to myself, I’m not doing that anymore.

What?

I say to myself that I’m not doing that anymore.

No, I mean what aren’t you doing anymore?

Well that’s private.

Oh.

I say to myself, I’m not doing that anymore. And then, you know what I say back to me?

What?

Yeah, so I fire back: That doesn’t sound like something I’d do. I don’t see the point in swearing off something that I’d never do.

What?

I tell myself, that it doesn’t make sense to quit doing something that is the sort of thing I’d never do in the first place.

But you are doing it?

Well, that’s exactly how I respond to myself’s response to myself. I say, it doesn’t matter if it’s clearly not the sort of thing I’d ever do. I am doing it. Repeatedly. And so it makes all the sense in the world to quit doing it.

And then what did you say to you?

Oh, I went back and forth with me for some time. I won’t bore you with the details.

OK.

In the Park. At the Fountain.

A. What’s your system for figuring things out?

B. What do you mean?

A. Like how do you know what is going and what you should do?

B. Oh, I don’t know, I, I just kind of think things over, weigh the different options, and pick what feels like, all things considered, to be the best choice, given what I know, and if I feel I don’t know enough, I try to learn some more, and —

A. Is that really what you do?

B. Yes. Well, I would hope so. I would hope that’s how I figure things out. What about you?

A. That’s just the thing. We all have the same basic system: some mixture of reasoning, feeling, and gut sense; but in my hands, it turns to crazy bullshit.

B. Oh! I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea.

A. Really, you couldn’t tell?

B. No, you seem to make OK decisions.

A. I am always arguing with God, or the Fates. Well, I’m asking them, what to do. If I should try for this job, or that, if she and I belong together, or it’s somebody else, what I should write, what I should do with a Saturday when I wake up and I’m allowed to pick my own day.

B. Do they tell you what to do?

A. That’s just the thing. I feel Yeses and Nos emanate out of my gut, but sometimes first it’s a Yes, than it’s a No, and back and forth, and I say, God, what’s it gonna be? First you say Yes, then you say No, why do you trifle with me like this?

B. And what does God say.

A. I dunno.

B. Is it God in your gut or you?

A. The idea is to open up wide enough to let God into my whole being, and to guide my gut. Because in the end, no matter how much we humans deliberate, we don’t have a logical reason for even existing or getting up in the morning; and no matter how much we compassionate and feel ourselves, others, and the world, we don’t have a feeling that tells us who we and others really are or how to help anyone for real — for all that, for all the most important aspects of life, in the end we have recourse only to vague senses of things and to our gut.

B. But aren’t those feelings? Don’t we come up with a variety of ideas and then go with what feels right? Or with what the principle that we’ve decided feels right dictates?

A. Yeah, maybe. But I can’t see that feelings, no matter how deeply lodged, or oft repeated inside a questioning mind, can really know anything, can really be wise. And I don’t feel like my feelings are any wiser than my ideas. What feels wise to me is something deeper, something within that only loves. I want this to be my guide, this love that is so true and loving that it must lie deeper than feelings and ideas, because it must — if it is to be as it feels itself to be — be not just about my body and mind and heart, but about everything, and everyone, and all times and all spaces, and what is prior to all times and all spaces, and not just about what seems good or bad to me, but what is actually the way forward for us all forever.

B. You’re talking about a spiritual sense. But isn’t that how we all do it? Don’t we all try to feel that part of ourselves that is wise enough to guide us, and let it guide us? Give it all the reasonings and feelings and ask it to guide the reasonings and feelings and to guide our gut impulse — which is still just a feeling — to guide the whole of our thinking and feeling towards better ways of thinking and feeling, and ultimately better decisions? None of us can prove that our logic matters or that our desires — however altruistic — matter. And so we all know that our only hope to do what truly matters is to find and follow some spiritual path within.

A. Either that, or accept that we don’t have any way to relate our thinking, feeling, and acting to what truly matters; or even to know if anything truly matters.

B. But that’s a false option. That’s like telling a fish it can either swim in the water or, if it prefers, walk on the land. People cannot help but believe that what they say and feel and do truly matters. When they try to believe it doesn’t, they only confuse their own feeling, thinking, and acting.

A. Yes! That’s how I see it. So then I seek for some deeper insight to guide the totality of my feeling, thinking, and acting.

B. That’s normal.

A. But I get no straight answers.

B. Never?

A. I hear over and over again that you’re the one, but is that my wiser, deeper inner Light? Or is it just what I wish so desperately were true?

B. You hear over and over again that I’m the one? The one for you?

A. Yes. I feel it. I hear it. I taste it.

B. Are you coming on to me?

A. I’m asking you to help me think this through, because alone I can’t answer the question. It can only be understood in dialogue with you.

B. But how do we dialogue this? How do we workshop it?

A. I love you. I want you to know that. In your heart, in your gut. I want to communicate with you, to know you.

B. You really are coming on to me!

A. Well, Yes.

In the outside theater space.

A.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

B.
How now, brown cow? A penny for your thought.

A.
And a tuppence for my heart?

B.
Grim-visaged war hath long stayed his steel-spurred heels
within the borders of a safe and snugly realm,
where sitcoms, romcoms, and other gentle arts
make sense — possessed of stakes within our scope.

A.
My grands, for decades in comfort retired.
My parents, with similar prospects.
No joy may rival true freedom:
Both happy and decent. Not forced to choose
between assisting thugs while bones snap
in rooms unwindowed — hidden, and yet known
And having fun while knowing family
But Trump arrives and I fear we fall.
Because he hurts democracy, and where’s
the people? Bulwark, a concerted voice
against madness and corruption?

B.
Alone we cannot follow the winding strands.
Enmasse we can’t agree on goal nor plan.

A.
And not on lowercase reality,
Nor even less upon Reality
writ large and charged with meaning and elan.

B.
In separate boxes, at different channels;
together losing each other and all
the land.

A.
Republicans embrace the tyrant’s lie
that names elections fair “unfair”, that cheers
as cronies run for attorney general.
Awaiting Trump’s call, set to overturn
the people’s will if it affront the Czar’s.

B.
The US Senate is split 50-50 in the summer of 2022.
Democrats represent 185 million people, Republicans 143 million.
44% of the population has 50% of the senate seats.
By 2040, 30% of the population will have 70% of the senate seat.

[https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/12/us-senate-system-white-conservative-minority]

A.
Though Evil is a burly, bare-toothed term,
it reduces to structural flaws
exacerbated by people being greedy and fearful
until a tipping point is reached
when only greed and fear can keep a family safe
and there the rot sets in, black and molded through

B.
Pine’s a small, safe, reliable city. And it has a cute yet still kind of happening downtown: several streets of brick and stone shops and restaurants, including a stretch where the road’s been switched out for a brick plaza and where foot traffic flows from coffee shop to public library to small independent movie house to clean and friendly restaurants offering various cuisines in various (but uniformly refined, respectable, and well-lit) decors to — amongst less ancient watering holes — a sleepy old bar 100 years old still serving dark beer in small square-edged mugs. Why, in the summer: the cut-offs, the T-shirts, the flip-flops, the sneakers! The kids and the old folks, the skaters and the flaneurs, the goof-off of a Saturday morning in a free city!: who can match it? who can put a value on it? who can put a price on letting people find their own way when the sun is up?, on letting the sun shine in?

A.
Liberal Democracy:
You don’t understand how much it is giving you, until you lose it.
So let’s agree to share what we most care about and already share:
awareness, clarity, competency, honesty, accuracy, compassion, wisdom, shared joy —
those universal spiritual values without which none of our values mean anything to any of us.

B.
Let’s agree to keep first things first:
We don’t need to be policy geniuses or to force our great wisdom upon the world;
We need to together guard against madness, corruption, and structural deterioration in government.

A.
How? By worrying less about policy decisions — which, as the democracy weakens are always less and less representative of our collective will anyway –; and more about the nuts and bolts of good government: Honesty and integrity in the process, safeguarding our elections, and undoing this current situation where politics is more and more national but more and more people have less and less representation in national politics — which makes the party with an unfair advantage more interested in defending and expanding (through, for example, laws designed to make it more difficult for their opponents’ voters to vote; or, for a worse example, taking over local election offices so the next time Trump asks them to cheat for him, they can) that unfair advantage than in pursuing policies that are good for everyone.

B. What do you think?

C. Yeah! Definitely. That’s gonna …

A. Make a difference? Wake people up? Shift things?

C. Uhh, I mean, (looks to D)

D. Well, it certainly, it certainly got me thinking.

C. Yeah, me too!

B. But you don’t think it will get the nation to think and move more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, and joyfully sharing?

C. That’s a hard nut to crack.

A. We used Richard the Third.

B. With all its connotations.

A. Did you notice that part?

C. Yes.

D. Yes, uh huh.

B. You don’t think that adds some weight, some force to our argumentation?

D. Hard to say. It is a powerful play.

C. A great play.

D. think with all persuasive pieces, you have to first ask yourself: Who is my audience.

A. We did that!

B. Yeah, we and we decided: Everybody, the whole country and the world and all humans that ever will be.

A. It’s called universal appeal.

B. All the great artists do it.

C. Yeah.

D. Uh huh.

A. Maybe if we start with
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

B.
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

C smiles forward with big, grandma-eyes and then, with the same overwide eyes and roll-top forehead looks over D. D shrugs and, shoulders still forward, gives a bemuse-smiled head-nod towards the players, as if to say, “Some scenes just aren’t ready for honest notes; and that’s OK.”

In the Studio

She and I, we’re giving God a dilemma.

Yeah?

Yeah, because God wants what’s best for everyone.

That’s a dilemma?

It’s lots of dilemmas, actually. But this one is because it’s best for me to be with her, but it’s best for her to be with, dunno, but surely not me.

Oh! Yeah! I never thought of that! God’s got all kinds of dilemmas.

Yeah, except …

Except?

Except what I just said contradicts my metaphysics.

God having dilemmas?

Yes.

Because God’s perfect and everything flows of perfect necessity off God?

No. Well, yes, that. But also because I can’t believe she can be right for me unless I’m also right for her. Also, God has to work all things to the best for everyone — both in the eternal absolute sense and in the temporally, relative sense — as we here poor newts live and perceive our lives.

The latter might be some kind of wide-angle religiosity — albeit a clearly incoherent one that no one who ever lived outside of an easy-peasy sitcom type life could ever believe. It clearly overlooks how some people live their lives in war zones and die alone in a ditch at fifteen, having been raped repeatedly. Still, philosophically and theologically and generally inadequate as it may be, it is arguably still a metaphysics. However, the former position — that she can’t be right for you unless you’re right for her — that’s not metaphysics.

No?

No, just romanticisms about romantic love without any relationship to even a meaningful statement to the ultimate Nature of Reality.

It is about the Nature of Reality, though. I think Reality with a big R is so constructed that reality with a small r is so constructed that one person cannot be truly in love with another person unless that other person is truly in love with them. Because to be in love with someone is not a feeling, but an inner awareness that you belong to each other.

OK, so you have espoused two terrible metaphysics. I don’t see how that’s an improvement over one terrible metaphysics and one mundane idiocy.

They aren’t terrible metaphysics. They’re nice. They’re idealistic.

Both these dogmas are essentially nihilistic.

What? How so?

You’re asking God to keep his magical worlds-redeeming power within the bounds of your lonely daydreams. You’re asking for an Absolute Reality that is nothing more than a safe place for you to get laid in, while It sweeps other people’s real-life problems under the rug.

You think? Well, I wouldn’t want to do that.

What is nihilism?

The belief that life is meaningless.

The ultimate Reality as a rom com — what could be more meaningless than that?

You’re really piling it on.

There is, however, a sense in which you’re right.

Really? Hallelujah! A light at the end of the tunnel!

If she’s not happy being with you, then you won’t be happy being with her. It is a practical, though not — we should all hope and pray — metaphysical truth that she can’t be the one for you unless you’re the one for her.

I would love to workshop my philosophy with you sometime. You give the best notes!

Your philosophies don’t need workshopping. They need to be thrown out.

Yeah … I want to be the one for her. But I also want her to get what she needs in life. I don’t want her to settle. I want her to be happy. I don’t want her to ever have cause to look back and wish she’d taken another path with another guy. This is my dilemma. How can I be what she needs? And if I can’t, how can I see that and accept it and let her go?

What does she need? And what are you?

And what can I become? And what can we become together? And what is best for us to become?

What about the Buddha and the arrow?

Oh, I know that one! The guy who gets shot by an arrow and says, “where did this come from?”, when he should get it out. Except, actually, he should know where it came from, so he can get out of the line of fire.

The analogies not perfect, but you know what he means.

He means I shouldn’t split my head figuring out if our souls are intertwined because of destiny or happenstance, I should simply focus on loving her and being good to her.

The Buddha’s not talking about your love life!

In a round about way, he is.

No.

Round about, winding through the centuries, but probably even as he said it, he had my situation in mind. Like he saw this moment coming — because it had to be.

Uh!

Fugue

For You

For You

Please know that I love you
and help me love you right
Please tell me what you need
and show me where it hurts
Please let me give you love

How can I be a good idea
for you?
To rightly hold and hear
all of you?
How can I make a happy life
with you?
That we may husband and wife
just us two
all through
this sometimes strangely world?

My decision’s to accept
what I never can undo
My answer for all that’s kept
within this heart and chest
is smile past the rest,
is turn myself to you.

If you want me.
If I could be right for you.
If we could belong together.

I want to be good for you.
I want to be good to you.
I want to know you in a way that’s good
for you, for me,
for all that’s in between.

copyright: AMW