A few words from Lysurgus Jackson

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on January 28th, 2012 by bill

“There’s no such thing as a bad mood, only the wrong music.”

—Lysurgus Jackson
The Book of Opaque Wisdom

A few words from Daniel Kahneman

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), Read it in books on December 26th, 2011 by bill

One of my Christmas presents was a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a somewhat intimidating tome that I am tackling on sheer momentum after successfully conquering Anna Karenina over the last few months. Confidence is high but this is exactly the sort of book I start with great enthusiasm and get bogged down in after 95 pages, not unlike Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, currently propping up a window in my bedroom.

12 pages in I mostly feel like I’m following what Kahneman (a Nobel prize winner in economics who is very fond of the word “heuristics”) is saying. But whether I go the distance or not, here is a sentence that I loved and that seems worth remembering for its own sake:

When faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.

Happy Festivus 2011

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 23rd, 2011 by bill

“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.”

—Frank Costanza

A few words from Jim Dodge

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 4th, 2010 by bill

“I didn’t get to be 99 years old by fool speculation,” Granddaddy replied. “It’s hard enough separating the good stuff from the bullshit without adding to the whole mess by wanting to know what you ain’t gonna know.”

Fup (1983)

A few words from Robert Fripp

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), Dancing about architecture on September 10th, 2010 by bill

Within the sacred circle where music, musician and audience meet, there are remarkable possibilities which, were we to fully experience the degree and extent that we miss the mark, might leave us weeping and knowing bereavement. If this were not itself sufficient tragedy, the meeting of music, musician and audience in our contemporary culture is mediated by commerce. This is the bad news….

When the Muse descends, we know directly (one aspect of) the Creative impulse and its inexpressible benevolence. This is the life-giving force that maintains all audients and performers who continue, despite all evidence to the contrary, to return to the place where Music opens itself to us. When we find how many participants in our musical enterprise, even good people with the best of intentions, act to close the door on the Benevolence that seeks to walk in and embrace us, in that moment we know pain, grief, loss. When good people further declare their consumer rights in the event, we know despair….

Despite all, the potential remains. Whenever a musician picks up their instrument, finds a pair of open ears and the Muse is in attendance, life begins again. In this moment, Time has no dominion and the music industry sits outside (albeit most likely with the ticket receipts). This is the good news….

My life changed direction in 1974 following a terrifying vision of the future. Now, three decades later, I find that I underestimated the extent of radical change that is presently underway. In 1974 my response was terror. In 2006, I trust the unfolding process.

May we know, and trust, the inexpressible Benevolence of the Creative Impulse.

Exposure reissue liner notes, 2006

A few words from Ron Swanson

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), The sacred box on August 30th, 2010 by bill

A lovely piece of wisdom from my favorite character on my current favorite TV show:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Don’t teach a man to fish, and you feed yourself. He’s a grown man. Fishing’s not that hard.

A few words from Jerome K. Jerome

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on May 5th, 2010 by bill

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.

— Jerome K. Jerome
The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

Guacamole and Chips

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on January 25th, 2008 by bill


Speaking to an audience in Nevada this week, Hillary Clinton was heard to say:

“All of our problems are interconnected, but we treat them as though one is guacamole and one is chips.”

I find this fascinating, though not necessarily for political reasons. Some commentators wondered if this was her idea of a metaphor that would resonate with a Hispanic audience, but I have to think Hill is smarter than that. One thing no one has ever accused her of being is a dumbass.

No, what really gets me is the Zenlike, circular nature of the statement. It sounds like something Shunryu Suzuki might have said. In one sense it seems clear enough, but when you stop to think about it it’s a real head-scratcher. Are chips and guacamole not connected? What happens when you dip the chip in the guac and put it in your mouth? Are chip, dip, and mouth not all one for that moment? One question leads to the next until you begin to feel pleasantly lightheaded.

Maybe rather than pandering clumsily to Latins, Hillary was really sending a coded message to America’s stoners: “With Kucinich gone, you have to support somebody, and why not me? Remember during Bill’s adminstration how you could channel-surf without getting bummed out by news about the war and stuff? Those were good times. It can be like that again. Vote for Hill—she’s real Chill.”

Or something like that.

The Victory of Light

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 22nd, 2007 by bill


(Transcribed from The I Ching or Book of Changes, the Richard Wilhelm translation, rendered into English by Cary F. Baynes.)

Hexagram 24: Fu/Return (The Turning Point)

above K’UN (The Receptive, Earth)
below CHÉN (The Arousing, Thunder)

The idea of a turning point arises from the fact that after the dark lines have pushed all of the light lines upward and out of the hexagram, another light line enters the hexagram from below. The time of darkness is past. The winter solstice brings the victory of light. This hexagram is linked with the eleventh month, the month of the solstice (December-January).
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A few words of seasonal relevance

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on December 4th, 2006 by bill

Every existence in nature, every existence in the human world, every cultural work that we create, is something which was given, or is being given to us, relatively speaking. But as everything is originally one, we are, in actuality, giving out everything. Moment after moment we are creating something, and this is the joy of our life. But this “I” which is creating and always giving out something is not the “small I”; it is the “big I.” Even though you do not realize the oneness of this “big I” with everything, when you give something you feel good, because at that time you feel at one with what you are giving. This is why it feels better to give than to take.

—Shunryu Suzuki