The Playful Mood

•March 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“We are told that a great life is ‘thought of youth wrought out in ripening years’;  and it is perhaps equally true that “great” thinking consists in the working out of insights and ideas which come to us in playful moments.”

“Men never philosophize or tinker more freely than when they know that their speculation or tinkering leads to no weighty results.  We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential.”

“One suspects that much of the praise of seriousness comes from people who have a vital need for a facade of weight and dignity.  La Rochefoucauld said of solemnity that it is ‘a mystery of the body invented to conceal the defects of the mind.'”

“My feeling is the that the tendency to carry youthful characteristics into adult life, which renders man perpetually immature and unfinished, is at the root of his uniqueness in the universe.”

“When the Greeks said, ‘Whom the gods love die young’ they probably meant, as Lord Sankey suggested, that those favored by the gods stay young till the day they die; young and playful.”

-Eric Hoffer


•March 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Our houses do not contain time.  Our woods do not contain time.  Perhaps mankind had instinctively sensed, just even for a moment, the flimsiness of the objective solidity that enfolds a material thing. Even the actual, that actual time that had been long familiar to us, does not exist nor has it been endowed upon the object.  It emerges that houses and sky and the woods, even more so than that which is actual, do not exist.

When a lone human being lived within his own nail he became saddened and cried and moaned.  But somehow he noticed that there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is only today.  And having lived through the present day he said: now there is something to talk about.  This present day I do not possess; it doesn’t exist for one who lives in his head, who races around like a madman, who drinks and eats, who floats on a raft, who sleeps on the grave of his friend.  We all have identical events.  We have something to talk about.

And so he began to observe the world’s borders, and in the walls of time’s container he thought he saw God.


Judgment, Stupidity, Nietzsche.

•March 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Judgments, value judgments concerning life, for or against, can in the last resort never be true: they possess value only as symptoms, they come into consideration only as symptoms – in themselves such judgments are stupidities.


The Lost Word

•February 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

“If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent

if the unheard, unspoken

Word is unspoken, unheard;

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,

The Word without a word, the Word within

The world and for the world;

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the centre of the silent Word.”

-T.S. Eliot  from Ash-Wednesday

My Blood Sings in the Breeze

•December 26, 2009 • 1 Comment

There’s sunshine in the heart of me,

My blood sings in the breeze;

The mountains are a part of me,

I”m fellow to the trees.

My golden youth I’m squandering,

Sun-libertine am I;

A wandering,  a-wandering,

Until the day I die.

To pitch my tent with no prosy plan,

To range and change at will;

To mock the mastership of man,

To seek adventure’s thrill.

To scorn all strife, and to view all life

with the curious eyes of a child:

From the plangent sea to the prairie,

From the slum to the heart of the Wild.

-Robert Service [selections from “A Rolling Stone”]

Eric Hoffer’s Aphorisms

•November 13, 2009 • 2 Comments

“The fact of death and nothingness at the end is a certitude unsurpassed by any absolute truth ever discovered.  Yet knowing this, people can be deadly serious about their prospects, grievances, duties and trespassings.  The only explanation for which suggests itself is that seriousness is a means of camouflage:  we conceal the triviality and nullity of our lives by taking things seriously.  No opiate and no pleasure chase can so effectively mask the terrible truth about man’s life as does seriousness.”

“Man staggers through life yapped at by his reason, pulled and shoved by his appetites, whispered to by fears, beckoned by hopes.  Small wonder that what he craves most is self-forgetting.”

“Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness.  The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.”

“The superficiality of the American is the result of his hustling.  It needs leisure to think things out; it needs leisure to mature.  People in a hurry cannot think, cannot grow, nor can they decay.  They are preserved in a state of perpetual puerility.”

“The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”

“Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.”

Godwise with Myopia

•October 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Cities’ even horizons continue to elope with their surroundings
and we just tug on our yellowing stockings,
lest we merge into a god,
where we may exquisitely influence every interaction,
or deny others their right of entropy,
or should we prepare for the chance to produce a fascist
as every parent must,
or blur our organisms until we are girdled by time.

Sometimes my body thinks it’s an old man,
the luxury of looping itself around intellectual work,
a natural instinct,
lookaftering wrinkles instead of ripening muscles
where motion carries the stink of a walking stick.
Our bodies have organized asymetrical souls
and we look godwise with myopia.
It’s my [heart] that thumps this chest, and this boxing….
this boxing
craters slowly as thrills wind away in the whorl of a stray tumpet.

-M.J. Sletten

Something astonishing I read today

•October 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

Just as the heart beats in the darkness of the body,
so I, despite this cage, continue to beat with life.
Those who have no courage or honor
consider themselves free,
I am flying on the wings of thought,
and so, even in this cage,
I know a greater freedom.

-Abdur Rahim Muslim Dost, Guantanamo detainee from 1 May 2002 to 20 April 2005.  Currently disappeared in Pakistan and under fear of torture.  His Amnesty International link is here:

Source: p. 252 of “My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me,” by Mahvish Rukhsana Khan.  An excerpt from pp. 256-257:

Writing was difficult because detainees weren’t allowed paper or pens.  Abdur Rahim improvised, using his fingernails to etch prose into Styrofoam cups.  The better ones, he memorized.  Later, he was able to use stationery provided by the Red Cross and even mail some of his poetry home.  In three years at Guantanamo, Abdur Rahim wrote more than 25,000 verses in Pashto.

Jotunheimen’s “God Door”

•October 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Eager to begin the climb up Besseggen Ridge and my trek of Jotunheimen, I glanced at the nicely engraved stone set next to the trail—“God Tur!”  Using the two languages I know (Not Norwegian), I subconsciously translated this as “God” [English, self explanatory] and “Door” [in German Tur].    A bit strange but I was too distracted by the many ‘Hei Hei’s’ I had to give the Sunday-trippers and my overly-laden pack to give it much thought.  But the exclamation point!  Why put one at the end of such a solemn phrase?  This nagging issue was soon resolved as an older man passing smiled and enthusiastically exclaimed “Good Tour!”

Click for full slideshow

Click for full slideshow

—All expansion on top of Glittertind.  The smooth snow caps broken by stretch-mark ice– turquoise lakes and dark grey rock surround. —

–Sun, wind, snow, and joy.  My mind dull and open with quiet ecstatic peace only found in the mountains.–

It was on the fourth day, hour eight, heading up a slippery green rock pass in a blowing snow, that Jotunheimen’s ‘God Door’ opened.  Sunlight burst a brief clearing, revealing the lakes and pointed peaks spread around, the wind-wave fans spread rhythmically on the water, and my mind was only capable of   “!”

“When real and non-real both are absent from before the mind, nothing else remains for the mind to do but rest in perfect peace, from concepts free. ”


“It’s also called ‘the primordial continuity of the mind,’  ‘natural luminosity,’  ‘the ultimate  nature of the mind,’  ‘the natural state of consciousness,’  ‘essential simplicity,’  ‘primordial purity,’  and ‘spontaneous presence.’ ”

— Matthieu Ricard, “The Quantum and the Lotus”

Many names, but the experience is one.  It is the state I seek while wandering.  I was glad I found it briefly in Jotunheimen.

–The final day had it all:  packed up wet in a cold blowing rain and watched the cloud-mist roll until it broke, the sun lighting up the Hurrungane Range as if to send me off well.  Ingerdbu sun lunch–down to picturesque Vetti (how can I live there?), the waterfall above reaching and plummeting until perception is spent and the rocks begin to move upwards.  On out the mystic cart path road, deep in the cliffed valley, trees glowing above, turquoise glacier water running nearby.

My mountain eyes lasted through Bergen and the rest of the trip to Norway.

“Where does reality lie?  Is it not more accurate to say that we’re dealing with a set of interactions that create various transient phenomena, and behind this flow of endless transformations, we have no reason to postulate the existence of an intrinsic reality?”

–Matthieu Ricard

The Way It Is

•September 30, 2009 • 1 Comment

There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among

things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.  

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die;  and you suffer and get old.  

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.


-William Stafford