Mar. 25th, 2009 02:57 pm
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Hook was not his true name. To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze; but as those who read between the lines must already have guessed, he had been at a famous public school; and its traditions still clung to him like garments, with which indeed they are largely concerned. Thus it was offensive to him even now to board a ship in the same dress in which he grappled her, and he still adhered in his walk to the school's distinguished slouch. But above all he retained the passion for good form.

Good form! However much he may have degenerated, he still knew that this is all that really matters.

From far within him he heard a creaking as of rusty portals, and through them came a stern tap-tap-tap, like hammering in the night when one cannot sleep. "Have you been good form to-day?" was their eternal question [...] Most disquieting reflection of all, was it not bad form to think about good form?

[...] To tell poor Smee that [the children] thought him lovable! Hook itched to do it, but it seemed too brutal. Instead, he revolved this mystery in his mind: why do they find Smee lovable? He pursued the problem like the sleuth-hound that he was. If Smee was lovable, what was it that made him so? A terrible answer suddenly presented itself--"Good form?"

Had the bo'sun good form without knowing it, which is the best form of all?
-- J.M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (or Peter Pan, if you must)

I've read a handful of translations of the Tao te Ching, several commentaries thereon, a few books of koans ... but this passage, right here, by a Scottish author no less, still articulates the central idea in a way that's dearest to my heart.


Aug. 27th, 2007 12:34 pm
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"The Church says the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church." -- Robert Green Ingersoll

Total lunar eclipse tonight (well, tomorrow morning, if you want to be technical):

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I was at a grocery store earlier today, and I overheard a snippet of conversation between two men:

"Now, I know it was controversial, but I remember that play .... "

My ears immediately pricked up -- I don't know much about theatre, but I do have an interest. What play were they talking about?

They were, of course, talking about football.


Every day I pray that the angels will come down and tell me, "There's been a mistake. We apologize for the inconvenience. We're here to take you to the planet you were supposed to be born on."
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"I don't know you very well, you know, but I wanted to ask you - how'd you get Diane Court to go out with you?"
"I called her up."
"But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?"
"I'm Lloyd Dobler."
"This is great. This gives me hope. Thanks."


May. 1st, 2004 12:13 pm
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Chi Hsing-tzu was raising a fighting cock for his lord. After ten days, the lord asked, "Is he ready?" Chi answered, "No, sir, he is still vain and flushed with rage."

Ten days passed, and the prince asked about the cock. Chi said, "Not yet, sir. He is on the alert whenever he hears another cock crowing."

When the prince's inquiry came again, Chi replied, "Not quite yet, sir. His sense of fighting is still smoldering within him."

When another ten days elapsed, Chi said to the lord: "He is almost ready. Even when he hears another crowing, he shows no excitement. He now resembles one made of wood. His qualities are integrated. No cocks are his match -- they will at once run away from him."

-- Chuang-tzu


Oct. 21st, 2003 12:12 am
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"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

That's Mad Girl's Love Song, by Sylvia Plath.

Perhaps it's morbid of me, or at the very least a little trite and obvious of me; but I'm fascinated by the artistic output of the suicidal. I want to know, to feel, whatever it was they couldn't bear to carry around in their hearts. Maybe to try to carry it for them. I don't know.

Anyway, I bring this up because it is time again (now that it's after midnight) for Tunes for Tuesday, and I want you to hear how a band called Fisher have set this poem to beautiful, haunting music.



Aug. 10th, 2003 07:58 pm
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Without context or commentary -- from [livejournal.com profile] hetaera15:

"Kate is not made out of bacon!"

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Pray for Peace

Pray to whoever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat,
Yahweh, Allah, raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper
of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down
to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work,
pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus
and for everyone riding buses all over the world.
If you haven't been on a bus in a long time,
climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latté and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already a prayer.
Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin,
the fragile case we are poured into,
each caress a season of peace.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.
Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves
we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard
with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.
With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust
of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

-- Ellen Bass


Mar. 13th, 2003 09:46 pm
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I don't usually go in for this sort of thing -- posting lyrics, answering quizzes, or taking part in any LJ meme-spreading, really -- but after [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf posted this game ("Resurrected from alt.gothic-- answers must be in the form of quotes, song lyrics preferred"), I found out that she was disappointed I'd never answered it, and disappointing treebyleaf just Won't Do. So, by command performance, here are my answers.

Read more... )


Dec. 13th, 2002 10:19 pm
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So I've been reading 'Tis the season, a Christmas weblog by sisters Meg and Anna. I've been keeping up with it because it's usually laugh-out-loud funny, as they've been answering questions from their readers "involving ettiquette, botulism, family and social trauma, economic depression and all sorts of other miseries."

But I just ran across this quote, and it didn't make me laugh. But I did want to share it:

"It's funny, but for as long as I can remember my definition, my aim, of 'being rich' or 'comfortable' has been being able to give the perfect presents to the appropriate people at every single present-worthy occasion.
And for years I haven't been in that situation.
I approach every Christmas and realise that I haven't access to the kind of money that society expects me to spend on the people I love.
It doesn't mean that I love them less. I don't think.

I know exactly what I would buy the people I love, if I had the best paid job in the world.
And yes, We all know what we would buy, if we did have that job; which we don't.

But in a way, thinking what you would buy for those people is just a way of sorting out who are the most important people in your head.
Who are the most important, and who are the people who deserve spoiling.

We don't, it's true.
We don't have enough money to prove to each other how fond we are. It's a shame.
We should find a better way."

Yeah. I think if there's one Christmas miracle I could wish for all of you this year, it would be that; may you find that better way.


Sep. 1st, 2002 02:26 pm
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"Joel, you wanna know something? Every now and then say, 'What the fuck.' 'What the fuck' gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future."

-- Miles

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King Solomon (so legend tells us) wanted to teach Benaiah ben Yehoyada, his most trusted advisor, a lesson in humility. He summoned him and said that he wanted the minister to bring him a magic ring -- one that would make a happy man sad to look at it, and that would make a sad man happy to look at it.

He gave Benaiah six months, until Sukkot, to find the ring, knowing he had given the man an impossible task. But on Sukkot, he returned, bearing the ring.

It was a plain gold band, with a simple inscription: three Hebrew letters gimel, zayin, yud, which stood for "Gam zeh ya'avor" -- "This too shall pass." (*)

Solomon's smile faded. All his wisdom, all his riches, all his power would one day be dust.

He kept the ring, and read its inscription in times of danger, doubt and defeat, and in times of conquest, triumph and glory.


Jul. 25th, 2002 03:32 pm
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Hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin' daddies,
Knock me your lobes,
I came to lay Ceasar out,
Not to hip you to him.
The bad jazz that a cat blows,
Wails long after he's cut out.
The groovey is often stashed with their frames,
So don't put Caesar down.
The swinging Brutus hath laid a story on you
That Caesar was hungry for power.
If it were so, it was a sad drag,
And sadly hath the Caesar cat answered it.
Here with a pass from Brutus and the other brass,
For Brutus is a worthy stud,
Yea, so are they all worthy studs,
Though their stallions never sleep.
I came to wail at Ceasar's wake.
He was my buddy, and he leveled with me.
Yet Brutus digs that he has eyes for power,
And Brutus is a solid cat.
It is true he hath returned with many freaks in chains
And brought them home to Rome.
Yea, the looty was booty
And hip the trays we weld(?)
Dost thou dig that this was Caesar's groove
For the putsch?
When the cats with the empty kicks hath copped out,
Yea, Caesar hath copped out, too,
And cried up a storm.
To be a world grabber a stiffer riff must be blown.
Without bread a stud can't even rule an anthill.
Yet Brutus was swinging for the moon.
And, yea, Brutus is a worthy stud.
And all you cats were gassed on the Lupercal
When he came on like a king freak.
Three times I lay the kingly wig on him,
And thrice did he put it down.
Was this the move of a greedy hipster?
Yet, Brutus said he dug the lick,
And, yes, a hipper cat has never blown.
Some claim that Brutus' story was a gag.
But I dug the story was solid.
I came here to blow.
Now, stay cool while I blow.
You all dug him once
Because you were hipped that he was solid
How can you now come on so square
Now that he's tapped out of this world.
City Hall is flipped
And swung to a drunken zoo
And all of you cats are goofed to wig city.
Dig me hard.
My ticker is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And, yea, I must stay cool til it flippeth back to me.

-- Lord Buckley


Jul. 9th, 2002 03:38 pm
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"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

-- G.K. Chesterton

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And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.


Apr. 10th, 2002 11:03 pm
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"His father had made it clear that the money for college wasn't there -- so after he went to the City and starved, he could come home and get a job down at the factory and get down to the business of being an adult. But not now. He was a City guy now, part of the world; he was involved with a vampire, and the danger of living a normal, boring life had passed completely."

-- Christopher Moore, Bloodsucking Fiends

That little piece of text caught my attention and held it, earlier tonight, leaving me unable to turn the page. I understood it.

All too often, I forget that normal isn't something I ever wanted my life to be. All too often, I forget that the simple, straightforward life I threw away to be with [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf isn't a life I really wanted. I think about the life I think I'm supposed to have and I forget to look at the life I actually do have, and see how filled it is with love and light and possibility.

I forget. And I forget to thank her. For rescuing me from the danger of living a normal, boring life.


Feb. 24th, 2002 03:49 am
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I finally have my proper copy of the Tao Te Ching again. It's a pocket edition of the Stephen Mitchell translation, and I owned a copy of it years and years ago. I lost it and replaced it with the John C.H. Wu translation, and I just simply never warmed to the Wu version -- it's use of language lacks a certain flow and simplicity that the work really requires.

I found the Mitchell translation at East West Bookshop a few months back, and I reluctantly let the friend I was with talk me out of buying it for myself, since I "had a birthday coming up soon," but the implied present never materialized. But I found myself back there tonight and there was still a copy on the shelves.

I don't think I can really explain how much it means to me to have this book back in my life again. I've been reading through it and seeing again the very words that helped shape much of how I look at life and the world.

"Things arise and the Master lets them come; things disappear and he lets them go. He has but doesn't possess, acts but doesn't expect."

Today, wherever I went, I kept hearing the Beatles; on the radio in my truck, in a used CD store in the U-District, in the lobby of the Egyptian while waiting to see The Dark Crystal. Odd, like someone unseen was putting a soundtrack to my life, but not unwelcome: the Beatles have always meant effortlessness and joy to me.

It's time, I think, to remember effortlessness again -- the Tao's "non-being." I've spent the past few weeks at hand and at ready, there by [livejournal.com profile] treebyleaf's side, to support her as she was going in to her surgery and as she's been home recovering from it. I've barely been home myself. It's been relaxed and enjoyable but it's also felt, at some level, like a constant state of crisis. That's not sustainable.

The Dark Crystal was wonderful. I'd never seen it on the big screen. It was a transporting experience; I was twelve years old again. Magical.


Feb. 8th, 2002 10:41 pm
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"You know what I'd like to be?" I said. "You know what I'd like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?"

"What? Stop swearing."

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye? I'd like -- "

"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye!" old Phoebe said, "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."

"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."

She was right, though. It is "If a body meet a body coming through the rye." I didn't know it then, though.

"I thought it was 'If a body catch a body,'" I said. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around -- nobody big. I mean -- except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff -- I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."


Nov. 24th, 2001 02:19 am
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I wish we could have made it at least another week. It would have been nice to make it a whole year.

You get, of course, lyrics. What else?

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why.
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind.
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time.

Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while.
It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Green Day

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Scorpion approaches Frog and makes its small request. Carry me across the stream, Scorpion says.

(This is happening. You know this. The old stories happen and always happen.)

No, Frog says, backing away fearfully. You will sting me and I will die.

Why would I? asks Scorpion, if I do that, we will both drown and die.

Frog is slightly reassured, and agrees. Scorpion climbs on Frog's back and they set out across the stream.

Halfway across, it happens.

Why? Frog gasps as the stinger is withdrawn. When we both will drown? Why?

Because I am Scorpion.

It is my nature.


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