A few words from Carl Jung

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), Read it in books on July 10th, 2012 by bill

Lately I have been reading Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, a strange hybrid autobiography that was partly dictated and partly written by its subject. Jung was, as my friend James would say, a stony critter; for someone nominally in a branch of the sciences, he was guided to a surprising degree by his dreams and visions. And these make up a large part of the book, going on sometimes for pages at a time; Jung dreamt on a large scale and in baroque detail.

But perhaps my favorite part of the book is the one that deals with Jung’s travels, which unsurprisingly often take on a dreamlike quality. I was particularly struck by this passage concerning a trip to Africa:

From Nairobi we used a small Ford to visit the Athi Plains, a great game preserve. From a low hill in this broad savanna a magnificent prospect opened out to us. To the very brink of the horizon we saw gigantic herds of animals: gazelle, antelope, gnu, zebra, warthog, and so on. Grazing, heads nodding, the herds moved forward like slow rivers. There was scarcely any sound save the melancholy cry of a bird of prey. This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in a state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world. I walked away from my companions until I had put them out of sight, and savored the feeling of being entirely alone. There I was now, the first human being to recognize that this was the world, but who did not know that in this moment he had first really created it.

There the cosmic meaning of consciousness became overwhelmingly clear to me. “What nature leaves imperfect, the art perfects,” say the alchemists. Man, I, in an invisible act of creation put the stamp of perfection on the world by giving it objective existence. This act we usually ascribe to the Creator alone, without considering that in so doing we view life as a machine calculated down to the last detail, which, along with the human psyche, runs on senselessly, obeying foreknown and predetermined rules. In such a cheerless clockwork fantasy there is no drama of man, world, and God; there is no “new day” leading to “new shores,” but only the dreariness of calculated processes. My old Pueblo friend came to mind. He thought that the raison d’être of his pueblo had been to help his father, the sun, to cross the sky each day. I had envied him for the fullness of meaning in that belief, and had been looking about without hope for a myth of our own. Now I knew what it was, and knew even more: that man is indispensable for the completion of creation; that, in fact, he himself is the second creator of the world, who alone has given to the world its objective existence — without which, unheard, unseen, silently eating, giving birth, dying, heads nodding through hundreds of millions of years, it would have gone on in the profoundest night of non-being down to its unknown end. Human consciousness created objective existence and meaning, and man found his indispensable place in the great process of being.

I’m not 100% sure I agree…but it’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Andy Warhol quote of the day (#7)

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), Read it in books on April 7th, 2012 by bill

Andy on change:

People do tend to avoid new realities; they’d rather just add details to the old ones. It’s a simple as that.

Andy Warhol quote of the day (#2)

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him), Read it in books on March 9th, 2012 by bill

Andy on boredom:

I’ve been quoted a lot as saying, “I like boring things.” Well, I said it and I meant it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not bored by them. Of course, what I think is boring must not be the same as what other people think is [boring], since I could never stand to watch all the most popular action shows on TV, because they’re essentially the same plots and the same shots and the same cuts over and over again. Apparently, most people love watching the same basic thing, as long as the details are different. But I’m just the opposite: if I’m going to sit and watch the same thing I saw the night before, I don’t want it to be essentially the same — I want it to be exactly the same. Because the more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel.

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
1886