Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Animal Intelligence

I was just out back [full disclosure, smoking some extremely intense legal! marijuana yay! and] listening to the lovely flock that lives in our hedge; and the extremely fine (as well as large) variations in pitch and rhythm they display in their communication raises a question for me: if those minute, intricate riffs on their deceptively small repertoire of sounds are completely deliberate, someone mathier than I am could start throwing out numbers of separate “words” or “letters” these subtly different strings of “chirps” could theoretically represent. I may well be hearing them pass on ancient oral histories, stories, poems, riddles?

When we were kids in the 60's, I used to hear people say “the one thing that separates humans from the animals is ...” ad nauseam, usually preceding a metaphysical assertion like “... we have ‘souls’ and they don't.” An anthropologist in the 70's told me it's the fact that we make tools. (Oops.) Then I heard it was that we are capable of altruism. (Oops.) Recently someone on TV said that the only human behavior he had never seen in another species is that we cook our food. That may be true, although I wouldn't count volcano-vent extremophiles out quite yet. Just not with frying pans, and perhaps "intention" the way we experience it.

Popularly in those days any animal sound was referred to as a “mating call.” Shit! Forget the whole damned universe. In our unfortunate arrogance we have made ourselves “all alone” right here on Earth.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Repent! The End is Nigh!

I came across a typical explanation of what is about to happen in these here "End Times," as foretold in the Book of Daniel and the Revelation of John. This throws a huge question mark over all the web posts and YouTube videos identifying President Obama or Pope Francis as this Antichrist, considering that according to this—the most authoritative theory on the subject, as it comes directly from Church Fathers Irenaeus and Hippolytus—he has to be a Jew. (Although there is a sect of anti-Semitic Catholic traditionalists that accuses "the Antipope Francis" of  "heresy and apostasy" for "practicing Judaism," so there may be a possibility there yet.)

Here is the text:
"1. Satan will appear as a man in the person of the Antichrist because he seeks to reign as king over mankind and desires to focus the worship of God on himself.

2. The Antichrist will be a Jew, and will achieve his stated objectives by being accepted as the Christ, the messianic king of the Jews, taking his seat in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, pretending to be God Himself, and thereby becoming the 'abomination of desolation' spoken of by the prophet Daniel and mentioned also by Jesus (Daniel 12:11, Matthew 24:15).

3. The Antichrist is the 'little horn' of the fourth beast mentioned in Daniel 7. He will slay three of the other horns and reign as an eighth with the remaining seven (Hippolytus explains that those three are the rulers of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia).

4. The Antichrist will achieve his objectives in the middle of the final 7-year period of this age. At that time he will be proclaimed the messianic king of the Jews and will take his seat as God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. He will reign for three and one-half years.

5. The Antichrist, during his reign, will deceive the majority of people living on the Earth at the time into believing he is God. However, he will persecute those who refuse to worship him because they are able to see through his delusion.

6. Jesus Christ will return to Earth at the end of the three and one-half year reign of the Antichrist, destroying Satan's kingdom. The resurrection of the just will occur at that time."

(Found HERE. Emphasis mine.)
In other words, these Fundamentalists imagine that after rebuilding the temple, Israeli authorities are going to let this character install himself on a throne there as "God," and that a "majority of people living on Earth"—Hindus, Sufis, Scientists, Secular Humanists, Atheists, Communists, Orthodox Jews, people with master's degrees—are going to fall for all this and "worship him." More likely they would just commit him to a mental hospital and nothing more would come of it.

I'm fascinated trying to imagine what life is like for people who literally believe this kind of stuff. I had a co-worker for many years who quite literally believed that demons and evil spirits were floating around her in the air, trying to make her sin. By "girding her loins with Jesus" she could ward them off, but it required constant vigilance. Real dangers, like car crashes, earthquakes, nuke plant meltdowns, radon, serial killers, muggers, disease, drowning, brain worms, poisoning, domestic violence, black widow bites, falling from a high balcony, falling in the bathtub, obviously existed for her, but it was clear that all these took a back seat in her mind to these more vital, more deadly, supernatural risks. To lose one's life after all is nothing compared to losing one's soul. And all being said, I suppose it was easier to cope with all those natural dangers as well, with the Lord to protect her.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Nun and Me ...

Here's a story.

If you ever take a class in music history and wonder if Gregorian Chant will ever be of use to you ...

I was on a plane in 1980, seated directly across from some nuns, some of whom I had overheard in the terminal talking to a priest about the conference they had attended and their return trip to Ireland. The one right across was a lovely, kind-looking woman of around 50, with thick, waist-length, metallic sterling silver hair. It was stunning. And the one next to her was one of those sad, bitter old prunes I was just exactly unfortunate enough to have studied under in college.

So I looked across at her amazing hair and she scowled. And I smiled a smile I thought said "Oh hey, no, I know you're a nun, and..." and she scowled. So how best to proceed? "Say, sister, I overheard some of your colleagues discussing ..." ? Sigh.

Without any further thought, I picked up a magazine and started "idly" whistling the chant version of Ave Maris Stella. After the first three notes she looked across and beamed, though I gave her only a few sidelong glances as I struggled to whistle the rest of it through a smile. The whole rest of the flight we kept looking across, shrugging, smiling, chuckling. It was three hours of the most enjoyable conversation I've ever had, and neither of us spoke a word. When we got to my stop I got up and shook both her hands, both of us laughing happily, and said "Safe journey, Sister!" And I gave a little nod to the other one. When I turned around to get my bag I heard the other one say "Who was that!?" And she replied simply, (the only time I heard her lovely Irish accent), "A friend."

So yeah. If you ever need a medieval hymn to flirt with an Irish Catholic nun on an airplane, an intimate knowledge of Gregorian Chant is just the ticket! I speak from experience.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What is it about Fridays?

We had a bear in our back yard on Friday, walking right past our glass door across the deck. She jumped over the fence while I was calling Animal Control. We drove off to work having no idea she was up in one of our big ponderosa pines, right over our heads, until we saw it on the evening news! Our tree is the one with the light brown bear. Wow.

     Hunger drives three more bears into city

Two weeks ago Friday another of our ponderosas took a direct lightning strike. Bark and pieces of fence-post were scattered up to 40 feet away. And it was LOUD! Aimée practically fainted. Hopefully the tree will be alright.


a journey of throbbings
       eyes faces
            teeth lips


shadows of the other
shadows of the self

knowledge ever-altering

an endless falling
     of hands
        of body
      of just-felt joy
               ― by James, on the refrigerator with those little word magnets, using vocabulary from the works of Walt Whitman. Fun!!