Didn’t You Know

27 02 2017

 

One morning, after I had set out to find a unique meaning from three different sources of ‘truth,’ I was able to write a song within a matter of minutes once I gathered the materials. The three books that I used to represent the truths were Tao Te Ching, A Brief History of Time, and from Christianity, the Sermon on the Mount. The wish to discern from these wisdoms a unity, which I could then share in song was an experience in universal truth.

Interestingly, the translation of the Tao Te Ching which I am currently discovering, by Ursulsa K. Le Guin, (Shambala 1998) presents the ideas in Ch. 77 in a context quite like the manner in which I comprehend them. ‘The Way of heaven is a bow bent to shoot: its top end brought down, its lower end raised up. It brings the high down, lifts the low, takes from those who have, and give to those who have not.’

The common theme found in A Brief History of Time I found in Ch. 7 ‘Black Holes Ain’t so Black.’ ‘Similarly, suppose one starts with two boxes, one containing oxygen molecules, and the other containing nitrogen molecules. If one joins the boxes together and removes the intervening wall, the oxygen and the nitrogen molecules will start to mix. At a later time the most probable state would be a fairly uniform mixture of oxygen and nitrogen molecules throughout the two boxes.’ Hawking goes on to say that this state reflects more entropy than the initial state, yet this measure of randomness, as entropy is defined in statistical mechanics, becomes a necessary state when this mixture of elements is focused as in a bow, described in the Tao Te Ching. The tension built becomes the expressive force allowing the arrow to be propelled.

From Christianity, I used the King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 5:41-42. ‘And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away.’ These words of course are a strong parallel to ‘it brings the high down, lifts the low.’ As I write a thought which intrigues me is that from the land of science fiction, Douglas Adams has presented ’42’ as ‘the answer’ in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Finding connections, and bringing these three sets of ‘truths’ together across geographical distance, cultural differences, and chronological distinction has been a fulfilling journey.

As I mentioned earlier, the power of these truths became evident later that day, as I was busking on the Ave. in Seattle’s U-district. I had been receiving no donations, when my friend Free Eagle stopped by to chat. I asked if he would like to hear the song that the spirit had given to me that morning, and as I played, my guitar case begin to sparkle with coin for the first time that day. Free Eagle noticed also, and we both were amazed as spirit spoke through the people listening as they walked down the Ave listening to these truths be sung.

Born in Houston, bred in Nashville, I know a little ’bout the bible belt.

Raised to go to church on Sunday, wasn’t always how I felt.

I didn’t mind the suit coats ’cause I though the girls were pretty.

I could sit through pastor talks a lot ’til he started talking about my money.

‘Give to those that asketh, borrowers turn not away,’

about that time for peace of mind, I thought, there must be another way.

 

I heard over in China, of one they called ‘Old Master’,

I thought that he could give to me the answers I was after.

About the time I thought I might start to understand,

I heard some words, I thought for sure, were about the promised land.

‘The Tao of heaven is the bending of a bow,

the low become high, the high become low.’

 

Well, these are all old ideas, I must leave the past behind.

Read about some new ideas in A Brief History of Time.

To say ‘Black Holes Ain’t So Black’ really takes a brilliant mind.

Yet even Ockham’s razor can’t hide the truth from these lines:

two boxes joined together, results in mixing molecules

more entropy, less order, yet God is filling holes.

 

 

 

*Bunny Wailer’s album Liberation is an epic uplifting reggae classic, as well as a powerful demonstration of people’s solidarity.

 

 




Brother, Can You Spare an Al?

21 02 2017

I was recently struck by the similarity between Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,’ and the depression era’s ‘Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,’ by Yip Harburg.  Though what Simon has to say about the song’s creation doesn’t refer to Harburg’s creation, there are too many factors to not draw a comparison. Apparently, I am not the first to make this observation.

The first two verse’s of Simon’s song contain lyrical phrases which are able to be correlated to Harburg’s song, penned for the 1931 Broadway musical New Americana, and many of the images from the  Graceland track are certainly reminiscent of the depression era. ‘Why am I soft in the middle, the rest of my life is so hard.’ – Simon The theme in both songs certainly brings one to wonder about the ‘hints and allegations.’ – Simon

With the exception of the chorus, the strongest direct connections are in the third verse of “You Can Call Me Al.’ From Harburg ‘Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al, It was Al all the time, Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal.’ and from Simon, ‘ I can be your long lost pal, I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.’ This is a very strong correlation in my opinion.

Other strong reflections, I see in these lines: ‘They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead.’ – Harburg which seems to be directly reflected in Simon’s He sees angels in the architecture, spinning in infinity.’ These curious overtones suggest that Simon has never left his folk roots of songwriting, as the theme in each of these songs, as Harburg describes is ‘ He still has faith. He just doesn’t understand what could have happened to make everything go wrong.’

Perhaps from the point of view of  Harburg, ‘Half a million boots went sloggin’ through hell, and I was the kid with the drum,’ being Simon’s ‘cattle in the marketplace, scatterlings and orphanages,’ is one of the things that are wrong. This isn’t the Third World, or our first time around, yet no solutions have been proposed which allow for  ‘First World’ nations to demonstrate anything other than advancement in technology. Apparently, regardless of what technology is available, only compassionate use of resources can overcome the ever present struggles of which Simon speaks, ‘ He doesn’t speak the language, he holds no currency,’ and the age old question which Harburg phrases, ‘Why should I be standing in line just waiting for bread?’

It seems, from the point of view of these songwriters, that not much has changed in the last two generations, many of us are still hoping for Simon’s ‘shot at redemption’, and are perhaps still drunk from what Harburg refers to as ‘Yankee Doodly Dum.’

 

 

 

 




Everything Right is Wrong Again

15 02 2017

The first track from the 1986 release of ‘They Might Be Giants,’ might have been written as early as 1984. The fun and upbeat tempo suggests an überstanding of the lyrical wit. This Brooklyn based duo has certainly mastered the oratory style which has been described by indigenous peoples as ‘speaking with a forked tongue.’ The most obvious example. of course, is the lyric ‘and now the song is over now,’ when in fact, those lyrics are only a bridge.

Regardless of the superficial title created to classify segments of an overall creation, the point is clear. It’s not over when it is announced that ‘it’ is over. As an artistic creation, the lines are entertaining, and thought provoking. This song, penned 1984~6, is perhaps prophesizing what is apparently today called ‘alternate facts.’

I’m not quite able to recall completely the quote from a senior member of the current administration that I read in an article from Time magazine’s 6th or 13th issue, yet I will summarize. Essentially, the quote meant, ‘show me how to do it legally.’ Now, in the age of alternate facts, apparently, I am able to bend these words to mean whatever I would like them to. IMHO, this statement is one of the best examples of ‘Everything Right Is Wrong Again’ that could exist.

The essence is, I know these actions are morally questionable, yet, I’m only concerned with the legality of the situation. Even phrasing this statement is a move away from the Arthurian principle of ‘might does not make right,’ since it is obvious, that to re-spin this statement into  it’s base form, means ‘tell me how to get away with it.’ Personally, I’m glad that it’s finally okay to use double speak publicly, without fear of retribution from a vigilant press. My only regret is that I was burdened early in my life by the belief of honesty, which of course makes great poetry, but not good politics.

 

 




Chameleon – Finding Truth in an Ever Changing Universe

6 02 2017

‘A man without conviction.’ ‘A man who doesn’t know.’ These statements are interpreted often as signs of a weak character, yet to find throughout time other statements which validate the thoughts expressed by the ‘pop star’ Boy George in his song ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Culture Club, suggests that he was in fact, providing insight beyond the veil. That he personally has experience of  what in Qabalistic terms is referred to as the Ain Soph Aur or ‘limitless or eternal light.’ For instance, in a recent translation of The Tao Te Ching, by Ursula K. Le Guin, she translates the first chapter using what I find to be interesting phrases. ‘So, the un-wanting soul sees what’s hidden, and the ever wanting soul sees only what it wants. Two things, one origin, but different in name…’  Shambala 1998.

This idea is reflected in several other elements, one being Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. ‘(The sage commander) holds to no fixed position or identity. Thus his wisdom emerges in the moment, on the spot.’ There is also a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote which essentially means the same thing. ‘Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow, speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day.’ These reflections upon personal engagement with the laws of creation allow for us to see how each moment we face challenges which will either fall into our range of expertise, or not.

The willingness to achieve new solutions to persistent challenges is one of the greater gifts of humanity. It isn’t really curious then, that even Einstein has addressed this type of thinking. ‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.’ To relate this quote to Le Guin’s translation, the persistency of wanting provides the consistency of fulfillment, however this fulfillment is still within illusion. The un-wanting soul, seeing the hidden, is able to engage with ‘the man behind the curtain,’ and thus attend to real needs and address solutions that require outside the box thinking.

As much as each of these statements can be actualized in the Zen phrase of ‘chop wood, carry water,’ the reverse must also be true, ‘chop water, carry wood.’ Or, play as well as you work, play while you are working, work while you are playing. Remembering that insanity is performing the same action and expecting different results.

As each of us reach towards our greatest potential, we must stay aware that others have been in this direction before, that the signpost up ahead, your next stop, ‘The Twilight Zone’ is still  a road marker, and we have not gotten off the path as long as there are signs of humanity along the way.

2,500 years ago, 180 years ago, about 60 years ago, 34 years ago and today, don’t let your self- talk lead you into atrophic thinking, allow yourself freedom of thought, and keep in mind what Emerson said: ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.’

 




Put One Foot in Front of the Other

1 02 2017

As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr stated, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ It’s interesting to see how that phrase is based in truth, like many others which survive the gen.0 updates. A reason why it has been a while since I have blogged weekly, has been my own belief that each must somehow ‘be better’ than the previous submittal.

My ego, my atrophic thinking, insinuated pre-conscious thoughts into my belief about the blog. No More! Hope, humor and child like abandon are some of the qualities that I find in Put One Foot in Front of the Other from the 1970 movie Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. In the scene, Winter, the antagonist in the story, is recognizing his unhappiness, comprehending that is his decision to continue that mindset and learning that he has the ability to change.

These psycho-emotional challenges are true for us today as well, or as my cousine once said, ‘everyone lives in their own existential hell.’ The scene in the song specifically reflects several key points in the archetype of change. From Winter’s first words, ‘I really am a despicable creature,’ to the impetus to change, the use of the word ‘reflection,’ many of these parts of the song relate to points in inner struggle. The song itself is almost like NLP for kids!

Aside from the ‘fun’ inherent in the movie, is self-awareness and self-determination. These characteristics, along with the societal implication of ‘reflection,’ are main ingredients to change, as evidenced by the song.

Self-talk, or in today’s commerce based verbiage, NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) is an inherent part of change. Referring again to Karr’s quote, I was once told ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ In the frame of mind I was in at the time of the conversation, it was a depressing statement. Not until much later did I recognize that the verbal coinage I was tossed also had a flip-side. While I initially interpreted the phrase as ‘you can’t make a difference,’ I later thought of the freedom offered by the same statement. If there is ‘nothing new under the sun,’ why not try a different path?

Or as one of the lines in the song states, ‘Don’t be the rule, be the exception!’

* For the sake of expedience, I have ignored all the symbolism of Kris Kringle. Specifically that KK is two thirds of KKK, or numerically that K.K. is 11:11. On an up note, Snow Miser/ Heat Miser follows Put One Foot in Front of the Other, worth a listen!