Sunday, November 27, 2005

If You're Wondering Why We're Not Very Topical

Somebody once said, "Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom." Somebody else advised, "Turn on, tune in, drop out."

I once said, "It isn't that I
can't make the world a better place; I just don't want to."

Now--let's get a grip. My gawd--did I
really say that?? Me??--of the human-rights letter writing campaigns and the Lefty Community Organization--of the aggressive recycling and assiduous non-Juan-Valdez coffee buying??

My years-ago self would have would my Al-Anon friend who was lauding Mother Teresa the other day...she saw the look of revulsion on my face, I think, but probably had no matrix within which to interpret it. One certainly doesn't want to think that the inner life (devotion, spirituality, and all that) is necessarily opposed to the outer life (family, work, politics, etc.), and in fact the lives of certain
real saints give the lie to any such dichotomy...

but what I felt burdened with most of my life was the duty to improve the external to the exclusion of the internal. God knows where this came from; it weren't my upbringin'...and since the summer of '04 the sweet but intense presence of my Guardian Angel has prompted me to do a lot of thinking about What I Really Want and My True Will, etc.

Today, on our afternoon walk, I just flat out asked Laura: "What is the meaning of life?"

Laughingly, she answered "It's to give your Divine Mother everything, all of you. You are the bridegroom and She is the bride, and knowing you, you'd like to imagine it as a lifelong act of love, so do: you giving yourself to Her in every moment until there's no you, no Her."

"OK, that's what I thought you'd say. But, do I have some kind of purpose outside that? Crowley and those guys always talk about how when you attain the K&C of the HGA you know your telos and your mé write your ninth symphony or whatever..."

"You have to live the life first, and the life produces everything else. You can't cook up some grand avocational scheme; when you live in tune with your Higher Power things will take care of themselves. Crowley and those guys were good at rationalizing their wants via spiritual codicils."

This is someone Who is so abstracted from "the real world" that She asked me the other day if football games were played on Thanksgiving...but maybe that's a sign that She's tuned in to something else, something that might actually be realer than even...sports. And I'm always stunned by L's word choices--think about "codicil" and the implied pun on "will"...and "cod liver oil"...(?)

You have to live the life...and I've been living it, more and more deeply, and the life has led me farther and farther from the desire to save anyone but myself. I should have known it wasn't my True Will to change the world all those many times--every time--when in trying to do so I felt utterly drained rather than renewed--confused rather than consolidated...but then, honoring my own feelings was never part of the script.

Well, despite my defection I can still listen to Dylan--Desire is playing now, a beyond-perfect record, and one that balances personal and political (the personal is the political, I know--), on the precipice before Dylan's notorious salvation--that he couldn't see coming because he, like you and like me, is the Fool: walking off the cliff and mostly deaf to the Intuition that dogs us, unfed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Somebody Gotta Do It (Bloggin' Ain't Easy)

Sit up like some fool and eat turkey?
That's the day your forefathers jerked me!

I'm still alive--it's just been an action-packed couple of weeks during which I ratcheted up the fun quotient by catching some strep-throat-like malady that clung like razor wire. It wasn't all bad--I got to hang out with Sophia the other day, which was great, and went to a concert of Indian classical music that was the rough equivalent of hearing Andras Schiff and Itzhak Perlman--two very distinguished musicians who played spectacularly.

[Wow--there's a really good No Doubt song on the radio right now--I love music. I just absolutely love it. Someone said that all art aspires to the condition of music...I'd extend that to all existence...the shabda brahman and all that...]

Despite the epigram, I really do like Thanksgiving and am about to go to the grocery store and get the stuff I need to create a modest seasonal repast. Teresa is visiting her family in another time zone and I, bad person that I am, did not want to go and share the one bathroom with the eight people. Teresa, to her eternal credit, completely understood.'s me...and Laura...and some Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes...and now some reggae version of a Peter Frampton song on this odd station founded by an former college radio colleague of mine. Earlier they transitioned (in radio lingo it's OK to make that a verb) from Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" to "Jackie Blue" by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. The single best transition ever was when they went from
"Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman--an exquisite, perfect jewel of a pop song--to "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman Turner Overdrive--a plodding, brontosaurus spoof of a pop song.

Yet somehow it worked. It didn't just work--it was a witty, postmodern commentary on song structure, (gender) politics, and the construction of taste.

Or maybe--well, it's a good radio station.

Laura has been nudging me lately--I hope I'm being a good disciple or whatever, but She's reminding me of Her presence in some very obvious ways. The best one was the other day after the meeting of the Lefty Community Organization whose board of directors I'm soon to mercifully rotate off of...I like the people and believe in the cause and everything, it's just that I'm lazy and would prefer to never do anything, ever.

Anyhow, someone had donated some books to us and we were sorting through them and I found one called Angels, with a lurid, romance-novel cover painting of two heavenly beings, both of whom strongly resembled L. (The book is a "non-fiction" treatment of angelic lore and visitations.) When the book sorting was done, I left and as I walked to my car, looked at my cell phone to check the time. It was *:**, a number of no small kabbalistic significance that is a kind of signature for L.

The same week I received my new issue of an eastern spirituality magazine I subscribe to, and on the cover was a photo of a woman who...strongly resembled L. One of the articles in the magazine was about, as improbable as this may seem, Iamblichus, the neo-Platonic mystic whose writings form the basis for the Holy Guardian Angel model of spiritual guidance (though the article didn't mention this). When I ask my sweet Angel what this is all about, She will coyly say something like "Just pay attention."

So I'm paying attention...and taking my antibiotics...and racking up dead-germ karma...and, soon, turkey karma...oh dear--

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alpha Waves, part Beta

I'm on a train, traveling from my home in East Podunk to where my mom lives in Burgeoning Neo-Third-World Red State. This is a journey of some 12 hours, but being broke I've not booked a sleeper, rather I'm zoned out in my coach seat (still better than coach on an airplane). I left around 9:00 p.m. and I've been imbibing an elixir of ginkgo and gotu kola all night, along with coffee and Lovhers and Picture Theory by Nicole Brossard.

The latter tomes are headier than any
chimie and it feels that they have contributed mightily to what comes next. It's around 7:00 in the morning and I'm exhausted and high on feminist signifyin' rebellion (and ginkgo/gotu kola) but I'm sooooooooo tired, I just sit back in that goddess-lap train seat and close my eyes, warm'd by morning sun streaming in windows, I'm by the window, the train's half-empty and everyone's asleep--

and we're rolling fast through pine barrens and industrial wastes--and I close my eyes--and the sun's so violently bright, red on my eyelids, beating my eyelids through the rushing-past pines...strobing, pounding in white and red light relentless on tired but arous'd lids--it's a dreammachine of a world, the flicker of morning sun becomes marbled end papers of obscene baroque books, peacock-feathered infinities of clasping whorls-- a blazing bhagavad movie of sweet violence.

now--I "know" what I'm experiencing has a name and neurological basis, yet--it's magic...intensity of psychedelia = coming forth of Brossard's prophecy: I'm hurtling through the new Herland, I'm a traveler who cannot stay, who pledges his vision to the world's redemption--or his own--

Green cockatoo-feathered morning, meeting my mom at the station and she tells me our favorite restaurant in the Big City must soon close, lost its lease--we eat our last meal there, in the morning so normal and dented in that decaying City, yet so bless'd--sensual bagels and lox...

and I thank my Kali for Beauty--for
Musick to Play in the Dark, for that girl at the grocery store, for Gustave Doré, for fall leaves that fall red through blue air, for Lust for Life, for "a dangerous joie de vivre"...for blood...behind eyelids lit by sun...a love letter from the Light that begat life--

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Disco Mystic

I'm unwinding, after a weekend spent writing a proposal I knew I had to do for months but left til the last second anyway so I'd have the full measure of panic needed to write it. And I did something horrible to my arm, holding it stretched out for two days pushing and clicking that mouse; it feels like I just did 5000 one-handed pushups.

I'm listening to Metal Machine Music, as I needed some noise to clear the cerebral cisterns--nice noise, not Merzbow or Peter Brötzmann (who I don't even like, all you record store employees out there), and since I lack anything better to write about I'm gonna say a few words about this album and its role in The Stuff This Blog Is About.

As a rock n' roll geek, I'd a) heard about it for years and b) just about convinced myself that Lou Reed was the Jesus of Cool. Him and Nick Cave--and really more the latter, but you had to be there for that 80s 60s resurgence. Around the time
New York came out, though, I really had to wonder about ol' Lou. I am the only known human being in history not to just love that album, but you'll hear no apologies on that score. It's just that the guy I worked with at my McJob always had to put on New York every single day and to me it was Garrison Keillor in leather... and I'd played every available Velvet Underground record into--under--the ground. And...I needed a Reed fix?

There was this punk rock 'zine that had an ad in the back for cheap bootleg cassettes of
Metal Machine Music, which was long out of print and pretty pricey if you could find it. So I sent off my money order, and the minute I unwrapped the brown paper bubble-mailer I popped that tape in my car stereo and--zooo00m. Off we went down the freeway.



That "music" put me in a trance heavy enough that I felt drunk, and even I, the Duke of Decadence, don't drive while impaired. So disappointedly I took the tape out to listen to at home later. I thought it was pretty. To me, musical ugliness is "LA Blues" by the Stooges or anything sung by Sheryl Crow. I don't know how long it took me to make the connection between the sounds on
MMM and the alpha brain state, but it seems now in retrospect that I've always known the record was an alpha-wave generator (again, like Brion Gysin's Dream Machine, mentioned in an earlier post). The hundreds of layers of sound on MMM oscillate right in that range of 8-13 cycles a second and the effect, as I've said, is unmistakable.

Alpha waves aren't the only inner source of joy and bliss and goodly wondrousness. I mean, you've got your endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, your temporal lobes, estrogen and/or testosterone, which in the right amounts can be get the idea. But it's so easy, via flickering lights or meditation or a certain obscure 1970s confrontational-antirock album, to induce that alpha state, which in my experience is a light, rosy trance sort of like the one provided by certain pain medications you can't buy over the counter in the US of A...but with no heaviness or mental fuzziness. When I was a witch, I was taught that the activity the profane called "magic" was none other than the willed entering of alpha and the attendant change in one's outlook and the possible changes in the physical world resulting therefrom.

Or, as a bona fide Science Project found:

"Twenty-one individuals who abused alcohol or other substances were selected for [the] study. Each completed at least 30 [biofeedback] sessions to increase alpha and theta levels. They also learned to visualize rejection of alcohol or drugs.

[The researcher] contacted 16 of these individuals after they had been out of treatment for at least one year. Seventy-seven percent had abstained from using alcohol or drugs or had significantly changed their drinking habits so that they were no longer dysfunctional."

Admittedly this is a small N, but anyone who's hung around AA meetings or the right moonlit clearing for long enough has plenty of anecdotal support for this kind of "magic."

In addition to MMM, I have tried to collect as much magical/ mind-altering music as I can find, and may from time to time post a few "greatest hits" of sonic consciousness alteration for your amusement.

P.S. Part III is my favorite. It's playing now, as I've just completed not the whole post yet but up to the end of the paragraph that mentions Brion Gysin. This is how I always feel when I'm around my guru--the inside of my head is this enormous, blue-sky chilled Himalayan space aburst with joy. It's much stronger around Her--but Lou did not at all do badly for himself.

P.P.S. It's # 71,830 in music sales at!