Hey, Look! Another Book Giveaway!

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Monday, June 22, 2020. This is Ruby at six weeks or so (that’s the breeder’s foot). We’re told that she’ll be ready for pick up in another three and a half weeks. Again, she’s an Aussie but with some so-called breed faults; namely her white face (there ought to be a mask), her stand up ears and the fact that she’ll keep her tail. Regarding her ears, I suspect she’s got some Border Collie in her. Anyway, it’s all good as far as we’re concerned. There are many very finicky, demanding Aussie buyers out there with innumerable requirements regarding eye color (Ruby’s are still puppy blue) and coat coloring. We aren’t those buyers. In fact, Ruby may have unusual coloring on her face – we’ll see if the developing patches under her eyes get any larger – but come what may she’ll have a home with us even if she resembles a fur covered quarterback.

I have a couple days off from the home improvement store (a television sitcom idea waiting to happen – oh, the characters; oh, the stories!) to rest my aching bones and reenergize my depleted creative energies. A warm summer and closing shifts make for a lazy brain and body. Nevertheless, I continue to fumble along with journal entries that I edit during the posting process (which involves and annoying amount of manipulation with images and formatting block quotes, etcetera – all this stuff ought to be just a cut-and-paste process, shouldn’t it?), argh. I suppose I could be using a more user friendly hosting and website package instead of the piecemeal, DIY style of Dreamhost + Boldgrid + WordPress, yadda, blah. But that would add yet more cost to the whole affair that costs me, including the book advertising, several hundred dollars, at least, a month. Ouch. The question remains: is it worth it?

On the accounts receiving side, KDP forwarded a couple of royalty statements or, more accurately, royalty notices because for whatever reason I have to wait until the data posts in my bank account to see the dollar amount. Oh well, I can see the numbers elsewhere, prior to taxes, and of course it’s all merely token money anyway, contributing virtually nothing to the bottom line and functioning more usefully as a nudge of encouragement. Yes, that is to say, I am a professional. I am a paid author. Compensation? I have to remember that such a thing primarily includes the reward of the work itself and the privilege of continuing it. My writing, like the writing of so many others sharing the authorpreneur adventure, amounts to a paid vocation, indeed, except paid in the wrong direction. So be it.

If you’ve read this far you are automatically a member of the Day of Pigs Secret Society. You’re a pig. In all the best ways. Members will recall that I’d posted a secret giveaway within the “Five + Five” post and while two folks were kind enough to “like” it, no one took advantage of the offer of a free paperback. Thereby providing scientific proof of my theory that nobody, save perhaps DOPSS members, is reading this blog. At least not all of it. Hmm. I suppose the giveaway offer will have to appear higher up, in the blog title, say, if I’m going to entice any takers, we’ll see. I’ll think of one. An enticing title, that is. Meanwhile, it just goes to show that followers don’t necessarily mean readers, that’s okay, it’s part of the game, I get it. Best wishes to everyone regardless of their level of interest but should you read this and already own a copy of TC, feel free to pass the offer along. Again, just email your mailing address to me at carnegie@carnegieolson.com, include the phrase “the future is the past” and the first five folks to reach my inbox will receive a copy.

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DOP1 (2012) Vintage Post “Changing Light:”

Thursday, November 29, 2012.

“Yoga helps you to change, grow and evolve.” – Nirvair Singh Khalsa

Nirvair Singh is a Kundalini Yoga instructor and his instructional video, Kundalini Yoga for Beginners, part of a course he taught in 1990s at the University of Alaska, is the first one I remember Angie using, back when we lived at 1709 in Ann Arbor, and it was my introduction to Kundalini. For at least a year or two, it was the only yoga session I would participate in. Angie was just beginning to explore yoga back then, and she bought programs from other trainers, but I never identified with them, or wouldn’t allow myself to identify with them. I resisted yoga as girl-stuff just like practically every other male I knew. I figured it was just stretching and strange breathing techniques and since I had spent a considerable portion of my youth in organized sports and in what we called “gym” classes, especially in what we called “middle school” (grades 6-8), I figured I knew most of what there was to know about staying fit, let alone how to stretch. Of course the postures are what attracts and repels people – in the U.S. it seems the physical challenges, especially the ridiculously acrobatic poses of some practices, are what receives all the attention. Most of us can’t bend over backwards, stand on our heads, nor do a handstand and most of shouldn’t try if you ask me. It’s not the point to become a gymnast. The physical aspect of yoga is to work in concert with the mental, psychological and if you like “spiritual” aspects. Anyway, Nirvair Singh is still doing his thing: https://www.yogatech.com/Nirvair_Singh

I otherwise suspect that many of us lose touch with our own bodies and suffer for it psychologically. Clearly our bodies, our physical, biological nature is keyed to our “inner life” or the life of our minds, which includes our psychology, intellect, personality, spirituality (I think everyone experiences some aspect of an “other”), philosophy and the idea of our personal myth. Therefore our biology (or our biochemistry) begets our mind. It goes back to what Campbell stated and what I quoted from him in my chapter (or essay) entitled “The Unreality of Reality”: if we’ve all come from the material of the universe – if our bodies are composed of the matter of the cosmos – then it’s logical to assume that our minds – what we think about and how our minds work, our consciousness – is an expression, iteration, example, permutation, demonstration or configuration, what have you, of a particular ordering or matrix of physical (sub-atomic, eventually biochemical) components, a matrix that is itself supporting and supported by a larger, even more comprehensive matrix. The existence of an outside or exterior intelligence, a first mover or a divinity beyond that of Nature, say, is not required. Our spirituality, then, indeed can be a result of our psychology, hence our biology. Of course this does nothing to explain the why of things.

That we can contemplate the nature of ourselves – that we have “access” so to say, unlike the animals, to the so-called “fourth chakra” – the “level” of the heart or heart-mind, whereby we go beyond survival, security and sex to what it means to “be” neither supports nor refutes the idea of something about us that goes beyond our biology. It’s not useful to me, especially after studying the concepts at length, to conclude that I should live according to anything but my personal myth, which contains the whole of the universe and my place in it. All else, all talk of a personal god, of man created in the image of this or that other-ness, or even of a larger Self of which we’re but temporary expressions, just leaves me wanting. It doesn’t help me to live here by creating or identifying with any man-made mythology that steps away from my place in the world as it is. In some sense I’m discarding every mythology and in another sense I’m including every mythology. I’m going to spend more time reading about Shinto – I’ve ordered a slim, well-reviewed book on the subject – to see how completely I identify with it. I’m not looking for a religion. I’m not looking for ritual. I’m not looking to join a team and to be a part of something larger. I don’t have any expectation that any mythology that the mind of man can create will “answer” all my questions about how to live. Man creates, as Campbell has described, mythology as a result of his biology, which explains why the hero journey is universal and how we’re teaching ourselves how to live – if you’re like me then you believe that humans are progressing, however slowly, in their understanding of how to live their lives in concert with this universe. It doesn’t seem to me that an American Indian mythology for example, where nature itself is a spirit, is any better or worse, overall, than that of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Shinto or whatever the fuck. We’re always talking about something larger than us and our biology. It helps us to deal with or otherwise integrate our personal biology into the larger biology and physics of the universe. We need help and we’re helping ourselves. Jung’s “collective unconscious” for me is probably just a collective consciousness.

Beyond that, I can’t speak to anything with conviction – I return always to the idea of letting any larger mystery be and focusing on figuring out my personal mystery – of demystifying myself. I’m enamored of the idea of finding my place in the world-of-action, of being who I am intuitively and as completely as possible. I want to see what happens when I do that; I want to see if I can do that. I don’t claim to have found THE answer. I’ve got a plan that seems like a good one based on what I’ve seen of the world, what I know about myself and what I’ve read. So far. For me, it seems like a process of elimination more than anything else. The idea of figuring everything out so to say, whether you want to call it enlightenment, transcendence, whatever, has its appeal but so does just finding my place in the world so that the Truth or its mystery recedes into the background of my happy life. That’s a kind of peace that I want to try to experience; to loosen my grip on the whys and wherefores – the grand philosophy – and to live my version of an artful life, mindfully, present, engaged in my vocations, with the stars in the sky and a cup of coffee in my hand. I know pain and suffering and how there’s more of that to come. I know I’ll end and I don’t know why. I know everything changes. I want to be here now and I want to contemplate the eternal. I want to quit so much of the digging my way through the labyrinth – the wasted time and energy, the back-n-forth, the up-and-down-stairs, the being lost in the woods – and instead be guided forward to see as much as I can see in the time that I have. I want my series of adventures to serve me better than it seems like they have. I want a sense of living MY life versus some version of somebody else’s life. Why? Because I perceive happiness and peace there. I’ve experienced “bliss” and I know how much better life is when you follow it. It’s not a fiction, it’s certainly not a religion, it’s something I’ve tasted, it’s something that I know, it’s not a dream, a vision or a fantasy. It’s here in this world and I want more of it and I want to be better at knowing it when I have it. That’s why I’m writing this. It’s part of my bliss though I spend too many hours and days struggling instead of surrendering.

I read something in Parabola about James Merrill and how his The Changing Light at Sandover was based on his twenty years of fucking around with a Ouija board. Supernatural experiences aside, it inspired me to re-read some of his poetry which to me expresses an admirably self-composed, quietly confident and graceful examination of our mysteries. I might take on the challenge of The Changing Light…. What I have now of Merrill’s are a few poems in my Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy, an important book to me because I found it in NYC when I was writing my own poetry. It’s still my favorite book of Poetry – it opened up that world for me and somehow it remains the most accessible and digestible of books.

I’m impressed with the title of Merrill’s book. “The Changing Light at Sandover” creates a fantastically elegant and inviting image from the start, but of course one can consider the changing light of any place. I’m especially enamored of the idea of “the changing light” – the elegance of the words together and all that the phrase conjures up about life and Time. Like all great writing it captures so much, so universally. I think about the changing light that I have seen in my life. Living here in this apartment, its expansive wall of north-facing windows unrestricted by decoration, provides for a veritable theater of changing light – a big-screen movie of this corner of the world. With the possible exception of our 1709 house, which had a marvelously big view across the yards behind our house and into the small woods beyond, I don’t remember being as attuned to, or as affected by, the changing light of morning, day and dusk. It’s like living in an observatory, not of the planets and stars, but of the aspect of days and nights. We get just enough of the setting sun through our west door-wall in the winter, and maybe a little too much in the summer (because I find it necessary to lower the large shade late in the day), to satisfy my east-west orientation requirements, without suffering the sun’s direct punishments. I’d like to see more of the moon at night, but a northern exposure likewise doesn’t lend itself to that planetary trajectory. I’ve already learned to depend on this big view of the light and sky maybe too much as it sometimes dramatically affects my mood. I now miss the sun when it’s gone more than ever – the city lights deny the comfort that might come from a view of the stars. A partly cloudy day provides interest, a stormy day provides intrigue and drama, but a completely overcast day is gray agony. The return of the sun is a return of a friend and fills the day with promise. The rare appearance of the moon is an unmitigated surprise and always worth craning one’s neck to appreciate face-to-face, or even howling at. One appreciates the mythologies of the cosmos – how cosmology affects mythology – only when you get a great view of it. It doesn’t have to be daytime to experience cosmological awe of course, but a city-dweller like me has had only rare opportunities to take in a full-on starry, starry night.

I’ll never forget emerging from our tiny cabin at Shovel Pass Lodge in the Canadian Rockies in the middle of the night, my small headlamp illuminating the rocky path to the outhouse, and looking overhead, (possibly concerned that moon was failing to light my way), only to behold a polymerous glut of stars suspended above me. The sense of wondrousness, of awe, was undeniable, unavoidable even without my glasses on, and I was inspired to squint long and hard enough to capture in my mind a “snapshot” of what must have been my first contemplation of the Milky Way – a veritable riot of stars – before lowering my gaze and stumbling along through the moonless dark. On another night, the moon took the stage in white splendor and the stars were in abeyance. Indeed, it was bright enough at midnight for moon shadows and the horses escaped from their corral that night, jumping over their fencing with some magical ease apparently. Leaving no evidence of their efforts – no open gate, no dislodged timbers – they were said to be seen by one of our fellow hikers, an insomniac, moving quietly among our small cabins, so peaceful in the moonlight that it never occurred to him that something was amiss. In the morning, we found the horses vanished, a consternation until we were told they had all appeared again at their home ranch more than several miles away, having retraced their steps in the moonlight, from memory.