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Archive for November, 2010

I very much doubt that, back in 1956, anyone congratulating Herbert Kubly — journalist-turned-university professor — on winning that year’s National Book Award could have imagined the life that would play out for a girl of ten at the time. If somehow a mid-1950s mind was able to wrap around what was later known as Punk, the idea of the woman eventually dubbed “Godmother of Punk” winning a National Book Award of her own might have brought on apoplexy.

It has happend. Yes, Patti Smith IS this year’s non-fiction winner for her book Just Kids.

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.

Patti came to music through poetry, a logical step that resonates on just about every level I have and made me a fan many years ago. Her lyrics have spoken , and with a generation I listened, absorbed and was absolved.

Her verse and voice still inspire:

Dancing Barefoot

she is benediction
she is addicted to thee
she is the root connection
she is connecting with he

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly
could it be he’s taking over me…

I’m dancing barefoot
heading for a spin
some strange music draws me in
makes me come on like some heroin/e

she is sublimation
she is the essence of thee
she is concentrating on
he, who is chosen by she

here I go and I don’t know why
I spin so ceaselessly,
could it be he’s taking over me…

she is re-creation
she, intoxicated by thee
she has the slow sensation that
he is levitating with she …

here I go and I don’t know why,
I spin so ceaselessly,
’til I lose my sense of gravity…

And now, what has been called a “beautifully crafted love letter to Robert Mapplethorpe” has been oh-so-appropriately honored.

My congratulations and gratitude to the National Book Foundation for their supreme good sense.

You can read an excerpt from the book here, but here’s a bit from that:

We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark.

I was a dreamy somnambulant child. I vexed my teachers with my precocious reading ability paired with an inability to apply it to anything they deemed practical. One by one they noted in my reports that I daydreamed far too much, was always somewhere else. Where that somewhere was I cannot say, but it often landed me in the corner sitting on a high stool in full view of all in a conical paper hat.

I would later make large detailed drawings of these humorously humiliating moments for Robert. He delighted in them, seeming to appreciate all the qualities that repelled or alienated me from others. Through this visual dialogue my youthful memories became his.

Although it was far from fairy tale fodder and did not end up in happily-ever-after, the Smith/Mapplethorpe relationship … two dedicated artists sharing the path … stirs in my heart and mixes the sediment lodged there into the fluid of what it takes to create.

Ladies and gentlemen, Patti Smith … Dancing Barefoot …

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Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness. ~James Thurber

Not that I have a lot of it spare, but I have been thinking about time quite a bit lately — the non-existance of, the travel through, the wastes of.

You reading me often and in various places must have noticed I have a monkey mind … and I’m not talking evolutionary remnants of a brow ridge but the aptly descriptive Buddhist term for one whose brain is: unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable. Yeah … that would be what happens under my hair most of the time, illuminated here in an article listing six steps to living in the moment.

“We’re living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration, distraction, decoherence,” says Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace. We’re always doing something, and we allow little time to practice stillness and calm.

When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. We don’t appreciate the living present because our “monkey minds,” as Buddhists call them, vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.

I’m a worrier by nature, a ponderer by profession and with a conscience that rarely has me leaving things to rest, all which have me agitating and ruminating when I should just be experiencing.

Today’s Huff Post puts me in this moment, however, so I pause to consider the ideas in an article called: How Often Are We on Mental Autopilot? You Might Be Surprised.

Although I’m not surprised a study suggests people spend 46.9% of their brain time doing a wander, nor that most don’t consider it a particularly happy path, there is some interesting science in the report.

They discovered that people have two distinct ways of interacting with the world, using two different sets of networks. One network for experiencing your experience involves what is called the “study by Kirk Brown found that people high on a mindfulness scale were more aware of their unconscious processes. Additionally these people had more cognitive control, and a greater ability to shape what they do and what they say, than people lower on the mindfulness scale. If you’re on the jetty in the breeze and you’re someone with a good level or mindfulness, you are more likely to notice that you’re missing a lovely day worrying about tonight’s dinner, and focus your attention onto the warm sun instead. When you make this change in your attention, you change the functioning of your brain, and this can have a long-term impact on how your brain works too.

Living where I do and working from my veranda, I have developed the habit of pulling myself out of my work or my ass or wherever my head might be at any given moment at intervals throughout the day to take some time to gaze upon and appreciate the beauty on offer. Right now, it’s a sapphire sea, the viridescent forest and a few puffy, white clouds navigating their way westward that fill my soul right along with my eyes. Throw in a couple of long-tailed tropic birds and the fruit bats in my jack fruit tree and I’m breathing again in that way I forget to breathe when my mind is full of whatever I’m writing, my heart is heavy with longing for what is no more and my nerves fray with concern over the illusive ‘what’s next’.

Inspired by beautiful music, I once wrote for the description of the video that went along with it:

“For me, one of the most precious gifts the universe gives is the Now, and the Now embraced is the Eternal Hug … a gift without conditions of past or future, but only the joy of the moment. And what is life but a series of moments?

The moments bringing those words are now in my past, but I can and do continue to conjure their joys.

It’s remembering to do it that’s the key:

“Mindfulness is a habit, it’s something the more one does, the more likely one is to be in that mode with less and less effort… it’s a skill that can be learned. It’s accessing something we already have. Mindfulness isn’t difficult. What’s difficult is to remember to be mindful.” I love this last statement. Mindfulness isn’t difficult: the hard part is remembering to do it.

Having studied the work of Abraham Maslow way back when, I trust his assessment of moments.

The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

But life does do its bit to beat that out of a girl, doesn’t it?

I’m not one for wallowing in regrets, and it’s too often the future that robs me of moments; not the desire of it, but the anxiety over having some asteroid of shit fall from this clear blue sky and splatter on my life. It’s an ancestor who provides perspective and a bit of solace on this concern:

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time. ~Abraham Lincoln

True enough, thankfully, and one day leads to another.

Yep. This moment is now the past and the next is still the future and each letter I type becomes a sentence and sentence is a pretty good description of life.

As for quantum physics and that business about the past, like the future, being indefinite and existing only as a spectrum of possibilities … well, I rather like a poet’s version today:

Forever is composed of nows.
~Emily Dickinson”

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Dust Bunnies

No time today for working myself into a lather. Nope. This morning I’m cleaning out corners and posting bust bunnies. I collect them, you see …

Although the following almost reads like verse, it’s actually the search engine parameters that led people to this blog over the last two days … see graphic for proof of just how weird some folks are:

Search

baby octopus
girl panties
sex girl panties boxers
“sam parnia”
sandra hanks
anne dickinson wine
tearsscraps for mans
expat seychelles
i am not trying to resuscitate my youth i just happen to be crazy about big tits
opinions against adoption
poems about ejaculation
tiny girl panties
paradisepreoccupied
crying is ok for men poems
sam parnia aware results
nomad
plastic bbobs
johnny g spinning vocabulary
large schlong
a man is good in ruins
a man is a god in ruins
putting on my big girl panties
tits pointing up
meaning of scrabbel
teenage pedofiles

And now for some of my words by the meter ….

This one just popped out this morning … thanks to Robbie …

The Sacraments

Water drip
Salt to lip
Hand that baby over

Tiny room
doom and gloom
all that’s just to cover

tongue to host
holy ghost
Quite the cool maneuver

Pick a name
now you’re tame
Don’t contain your fervor

Troth to plight
wedding night
doesn’t bind a lover

Finished toil
unction oil
No, you won’t recover

In a grave
no one saved
Now, finally, it’s over

Here’s something that’s been hanging around for quite a while:

Cleo, Queen of Denial

It’s dark, they say
but, no,
it’s light
that’s how before me sits the sight
of gems and riches passed compare
and look!
that wall has seen repair

he’s false, they say
but, no,
he’s true
that’s how before me grand he grew
solid, strong and faithful through
and see!
his life begins anew

he’s drunk, they say
but, no
he’s sleeping
that’s how I sit here without weeping
works so hard, he needs his rest
and so
it looks I pass the test

And, just for fun …

Legends in Their Own Mind

There’s no such thing as a man who fishes
insisting I eat filling dishes

There’s no such thing as a flapping git
freaking out ’bout getting bit

There’s no such thing as a guitar man
any star living so far, and

there’s no such thing as someone’s lover
who hopes I never blow his cover

There’s no such thing as an Italian
who thinks he could be called “The Stallion”

There’s no such thing as an army man
whose life lay in another land

There’s no such thing as a drummer boy
who finds in Jesus all his joy

There was the one who took my breath
but, fuck, he ended up with Death

No … all were no more than a dream
that in my waking moments scream
“Please keep it all a mystery!”
No problem, Loves,
you’re history.

Desk now tidy. Time to get some work done …

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Before anyone weighs in with comments about how what follows is based on faulty logic, I’ll start the post off with a full disclosure: it makes no sense at all, has ’bout nothing based in science or fact or undisputed info and I don’t even end up agreeing with myself completely.

Okay?

This is simply a morning diversion, since, after all, I love to go a pondering along strangely convoluted tracks before I settle my brain down before the anvil and commence pounding away.

Today’s journey began at this article on sugar addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94 percent chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed — the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

But this isn’t about sugar, or cocaine and addresses addictions only peripherally. No, it’s about one of the big questions in life:

Why are all the good things so bad for us? And if they are so bad for us, why are they so good?

(Well … that and some other stuff …)

Those are two different questions, and it’s actually the second that interests me this morning since health professionals have no trouble reeling off reasons sugar, fat, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, casual sex and narcissistic men are bad, and we’ve heard them all; include them in your life at your inevitable peril.

My wander is more about why we’re so deeply attracted to shit we know will kill us, and in my wander I wonder if there’s a reason as primal as our ancestral genetic mandate to collect calories when we can.

Back in the early days of humans, life was a short prospect. Breeding started at puberty when hormone secretions kicked off the process that made sex desirable and babies possible, and anyone managing to live past thirty was considered either a burden or a deity. Feeding the clan took more effort than a stroll to the fridge and people were considered snacks-on-the-hoof by some of the neighbors. Yes, we lived fast, died young and … well … pretty is as pretty does.

Some of that fast living included a predilection for a tipple and a partiality for getting high, so there’s nothing new about our fondness for altered states.

Of course, the ancients didn’t know they were playing with their health.

We do.

We’ve made a slew of changes in the way we spend our time on the planet … we moved out of caves, traded our pelts for Prada and prefer Merlot over mead … so many so that our ability to conceptualize the way our ancestors lived has been greatly influenced by Fred and Wilma. These changes have resulted in extending our lives many decades beyond what would have been even remotely conceivable, but to date we have yet to unload the baggage that is a hankering for some stuff our species has been craving since Day One.

Again with the Why?

I’m guessing here one reason may just be that somewhere under our modern veneer, a place deep in our most primal of being, we actually understand that we will someday be dead.

Yeah, yeah … I know that’s a stretch. After all, we’re constantly getting messages about how if we reduce this and give up that and forego the fun of whatever we can cut the death rate (Funny how often that pops up.), giving some the impression that living forever is an option if rules are assiduously followed and enough sacrifices are made.

Okay … much is actually focused –in intent, if not in words — on dying younger than the average death or on being healthier in old age. Fine. I get that. But until there’s a way to stop the cycle — you’re born, you live, you die — there are only two options available; you die, or you get old.

Back in 1960, Maurice Chevalier summed up his ideas on the options when he said: Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.

Allow me to point out that Monsieur may now have a better base of comparison.

Actually, there are three options, the third being you live as best you can, and John Mortimer nails that point to the wall:

There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.

Could it be that we carry remnants of our Paleolithic selves — those beings we once were who knew for fact that life is short and then you die — that prompt us to go for the gusto?

An aside:

At this moment I have three friends engaged in fights against cancers of various types. All are significantly younger than I am (two in their 30s), none ever smoked, all followed reasonable dietary plans, drank in moderation and did not partake in illegal substances.

Back in the 80s I worked with a group of people who, although bound by certain interests, varied widely in lifestyle. My dear friend Robbie and I were the oldest of the bunch and by far the most debauched. Two of those people, perhaps the cleanest livers amongst us then, have now been dead for a number of years. Robbie and I are still kicking … and debauching.

I’m not afraid of death. It’s the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life. ~Jean Giraudoux, Amphitryon, 1929

Toss those dice … and while you’re up, can you pour me another glass of the white, please?

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I am blessed/cursed with a prodigious memory in both the modern and archaic senses of the adjective. My head is stuffed with stuff … including my grandmother’s recipe for stuffing even though I so rarely cook … and although this provides a deep well when looking for a bucketful of references to, say, common experiences with toothpastes, do I really need to carry around, “Crest has been proved to be an effective decay preventive dentifrice that can be of significant value when used in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene and regular professional care … ” and a 40-year-old jingle from Ipana commercials, both of which I can conjure in an instant at any given time? (And just did … sigh … )

This is why I almost didn’t bother looking at this article, titled, “A Novel Way to Improve Memory”. After all, why the hell would I want to get any better at stacking more useless crap between my ears?

But I did … read it, that is … and although finding it peripherally interesting, it doesn’t fit.

The most amazing thing about memory is how precisely we forget. Our brain retains only what it predicts will be important in the future and forgets the rest. There is no point in remembering where you parked your car at Wal-Mart last February — unless it was stolen. That would be unforgettable. Scientists have long known how the brain predicts which experiences to retain in long-term memory and which ones to let fade away. But now they have made a new discovery: why we often remember useless stuff.

The first rule of learning is repetition. Repeating something over and over, as you did to learn your multiplication tables, moves memory from temporary short-term storage into permanent long-term memory. This is because the brain views something that is encountered repeatedly as more likely to be important to the person (or animal) in the future.

The second way events get seared permanently into memory is if they are associated with extremely strong emotional reactions, as would happen if, upon emerging from Wal-Mart with your shopping goodies, you were to find your car gone. This is because, in evolutionary terms, an organism shouldn’t risk repeating a stressful, potentially life-threatening experience to remember it.

Okay … so why do I still not have access to the multiplication tables, but know the name of the dog that played the dog on Topper? The first were repeated ad nauseam year after year in my childhood while the second may have have been noticed a couple of times as the credits rolled at the end of a TV show that went off the air when I was about 7.

Did my brain reject 14×7 as not important to this person’s future. Was I more traumatized by the ghosts of George and Marian Kirby that I realized?

In the last 15 years, neuroscientists have determined the cellular and molecular mechanisms for how these two kinds of experiences are moved from short-term memory into long-term memory. But memory researcher Richard Morris of the University of Edinburgh noticed something about memory that is not explained by these well-accepted rules and molecular mechanisms of memory. Our minds are filled with scraps of completely irrelevant information. This includes snippets of experiences that were neither repeated nor associated with a traumatic event. Indeed, they are useless and would be better forgotten, but they persist nevertheless. How these remnants of trivial memories are retained cannot be explained by the detailed molecular mechanisms that have been carefully worked out in studies of memory in laboratory animals.

Well … no shit, and isn’t that not helpful.

According to the article, a third pot of memory glue has more recently been illuminated:

The answer is found in another factor that helps the brain predict whether or not an experience should be saved in long-term memory: novelty. When our daily routine is suddenly disrupted by an experience that is truly novel, the mind “perks up.” It makes good sense to activate the long-term memory mechanism in this case, because a new experience is likely to provide important new information that will be useful to an individual in the future, and so the experience should be added to the long-term memory store. In the brain, novelty is signaled by neurons that use the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine circuits do not code sensory perceptions; instead they rev up the level of activity broadly across neural networks in the brain.

Hm. So, Bucky Beaver and the Buck (the dog who played Neil) kicked off dopamine production in my head? I doubt it, no matter how impressed rats have been in experiments on memory.

The rats, of course, are remembering where to find food, not the lyrics from the opening sequence of Mr. Ed, so do nothing to, ” … explain how “useless” scraps of information in your mind might have gotten stuck there.”

They could have been surrounded by some truly novel experience that had nothing at all to do with the memory.

Like what? What could possibly have been the truly novel experience in late-50s suburbia that leaves me with full access to the name of every dog on our block and the inability to see Nestlés Quick without thinking of Farfel?

So, I have a head full of useless crap that gives the occasional advantage when trivial knowledge is tested … I was kick-ass at Jeopardy back in the days I had access to such programming … makes me hell to argue with, being able to replay exact conversations without having taken notes, allows me to sing along with every song by the Beatles and lets me identify Paladin’s holster in less than two seconds. I remember my very first telephone number … YEllowstone 50147 … could draw (if I could draw) the dashboard of a 1955 Ford and conjure the smell of the old lady’s house next door to where I lived for about two months at the age of 10. Whoopie.

And, apparently, science has yet to give me one good reason for any of this.

On the up-side, these new studies on memory are providing a prompt for educators to look differently at how children learn:

While the ancient methods of repetition and punishment to drum information into a school kid’s mind can be effective, so too should breaking up the doldrums of a lesson with a fascinating new experience that is completely unrelated to the lesson.

A point taken further in the vid here explaining how a shift in the paradigm is a bloody good idea …

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Today’s topic is biocentrism … and, yes, I’m out of my fucking mind even beginning to go there on a Saturday morning in November, especially after an evening involving wine … and starts with its seven principles:

1. What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An “external” reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.

2. Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.

3. The behavior of subatomic particles, indeed all particles and objects, is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.

4. Without consciousness, “matter” dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.

5. The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The “universe” is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.

6. Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.

7. Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

Got that? No … me neither.

I’ve been giving this thought since learning about that whole particles need observers to do much thing, chicken/egg/cart/horse thinking that shakes my brain like a rattle in the hand of Insane Demon Baby.

It’s this article in the Huff post that handed the noise toy to the toddler-from-hell-living-in-my-head this morning, luring me in by speaking directly to me in the opening sentence:

Why do you happen to be alive on this lush little planet with its warm sun and coconut trees?

Why, indeed.

Although the bit about the coconut trees is nothing but overkill, the Why are you here? question is one I ask often, although usually framed differently: What the fuck do you think you’re doing? … How the fuck did you end up here? … Now what?

Although those questions-posed-to-self are often self-focused, I do ponder the point of me in the greater sense … What is the point of me and him and her and them and those thingies over there? … and the article puts the little in little ole me:

How did inert, random bits of carbon ever morph into that Japanese guy who always wins the hot-dog-eating contest?

In short, attempts to explain the nature of the universe, its origins, and what’s really going on require an understanding of how the observer, our presence, plays a role. According to the current paradigm, the universe, and the laws of nature themselves, just popped out of nothingness. The story goes something like this: From the Big Bang until the present time, we’ve been incredibly lucky. This good fortune started from the moment of creation; if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. If the gravitational force were decreased by a hair, stars (including the Sun) wouldn’t have ignited. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. Tweak any of them and you never existed.

Okay, so I’m a statistical probability as remote as my coconut tree sprouting legs and jogging on the beach … and so are you, neener neener neener.

Or not.

Indeed, according to biocentrism, it’s us, the observer, who create space and time (which is the reason you’re here now). Consider everything you see around you right now. Language and custom say it all lies outside us in the external world. Yet you can’t see anything through the vault of bone that surrounds your brain. Your eyes aren’t just portals to the world. In fact, everything you experience, including your body, is part of an active process occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the mind’s tools for putting it all together.

So, we are all legends in our own mind?

Cogito ergo sum, folks.

In ethics, biocentrism puts us in our place:

Biocentrism states that nature does not exist simply to be used or consumed by humans, but that humans are simply one species amongst many, and that because we are part of an ecosystem, any actions which negatively affect the living systems of which we are a part, adversely affect us as well, whether or not we maintain a biocentric worldview. Biocentrists believe that all species have inherent value, and that humans are not “superior” in a moral or ethical sense.

There is no doubt my dog’s version of me varies greatly from mine, as does mine from hers, and since both she and I exist on the same plane … or veranda, as is the case at the moment … each reality is as valid as the other.

I find the notion of biocentrism in both cosmology and ethics more than interesting, but it falls short for me, lacking just a bit of the imagination it would take to move it just a smidgen beyond the biology that gives the theory its name.

It’s consciousness that seems the point, the indefinable, unmeasurable dimension of consciousness, and it’s biology that limits our capacity to fully grasp what must be accessible when the biojar that contains consciousness is eventually jettisoned.

As Einstein put it:

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Although there are plenty of peeps whose consciousness is suspect … yeah, they watch Fox News … it’s still the elephant in every room — the invisible, densely-packed-empty-vacuum, infinitely there-and-not-there-always-never powering the deus ex machina life inserts to cause all to lose the plot, yet save the day after day after day.

In the case of that ‘particles need observers’ deal, it’s not the fact that eyeballs are aimed in the general direction, it’s that consciousness is, and as Ray Charles proved beyond doubt, functioning eyes are no requirement for soul.

Much like a tortoise is not the shell, yet defined by it … since without a carapace it’s either dead or not a tortoise … we are not our biology. It does define us and, like the tortoise, it also CONfines us.

Einstein again:

“My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as “laws of nature”.

It’s the limiting nature … biology … of the human mind that makes so illusive the far reaches of consciousness, not the other way round, and it’s the consciousness that makes everything else, including the biology. It follows, then, that we are more than our physical form. We’re like tequila … whether it be rotgut or nectar de dioses … most of our potential is wasted while in the bottle.

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A discussion over on Café Philos serves up blog fodder this morning, resulting from a jab-in-jest meant for someone else sideswiping me.

Okay. Okay. I’d had a not-great day, so assumed a snarky posture … one of my best looks, actually … from which I lobbed a few grenades, but — really now! — would anyone knowing me at all not have expected a bitch-slap out of this:

… Sandra. You belong to Paul Sunstone’s harem and I always respect male friends.

Hold the phone!

Yeah, I spat a few nails … good thing I have a plank floor and thereby avoid the ricochet … gave a bit of thought to why this comment grated, took some ideas out for a spin, then came up with this comment:

Excuse the interruption here, guys … but I’m not part of anyone’s harem and, quite frankly, I find the whole idea insulting and arrogant.

Not to take this too far off the path, but I do think there needs to be some reality check going on. I have come to the thought that one reason so many of the men in my life have been significantly younger has a lot to do with a certain mindset that seems to solidify in men of a certain age that pigeonholes women in ways they’re not aware of … an arrogance, as it were. I don’t think it’s intentional … in fact I’m guessing backlash against comes as quite a shock, since most think themselves quite “liberated” in their thinking, but I’ve seen this time and time again.

Any idea how tedious it gets having guys expressing apparent surprise that I’m smart and funny, and how fucking condescending it is to hear congratulations on the fact that I have the capacity to think circles around them?

This isn’t a shocker to men under 40 for some reason … not that they don’t have their own issues.

It seems a bad habit, this mindset, dudes … and something worth examining.

There’s been dialog since, both on Paul’s blog and in my life, so I’m processing as I compose today, checking the vaults of my memory’s bank for interest on deposits and wondering if I should make a withdrawal.

The fact that younger men have always been a feature in my love life doesn’t play into today’s focus; after all, I started that proclivity early and celebrating four 21st birthdays with guys I dated when I was 28 made no cross-generational statements, nor were there any revelations.

It wasn’t noticeable even when my now-ex-husband and I got together … he at 26, and me 41 … a relationship that thrived for a long time and brought us two great kids.

No, it’s only been the last few years that I’ve come up against the challenge presented by men over 50, my chronological peers ostensibly sharing boat space on the sea of singledom.

Finding myself newly single in my 50s came as a surprise, it’s true, sneaking up on me, then leaping from the clear blue without any time to prep, and although I had grown accustomed to sharing life with a 30-something, I was under the impression that age range was now behind me and my future would have a couple more decades under a belt.

I set my heading toward what seemed to be the more settled, but kept running aground on shoals more newly formed. (Yes, there was one 50-something guy who showed up for a while, but he was as close to lifeless as someone still drawing breath can get, so didn’t last more than a few weeks. I think I made him dizzy, and he bored the shit out of me and was terrified of bugs. Sheesh!)

Surprisingly, it’s been the 30-somethings that have wooed me and won.

Why the wooing? No idea.

Why the winning?

As mentioned in my comment response, younger men are neither shocked at the way my mind works, nor do they begrudge vacating the teacher’s chair and letting the class run amok. The very fact that I am older appeals and perhaps makes it easier to accept that along with the years of experience comes knowledge and wisdom and a perspective that may be different.

There’s a give-and-take, mutual learning, that is effortless over broad territory, and although maleness does rear its testosterone-powered head when it comes to who drives and washes dishes and such, few assumptions are made in discourse.

This seems to present quite the challenge to men over 50, and I’m trying to figure out why. Is it arrogance that prompts guys to mention they notice I’m smart and expect me to be flattered … swept off my feet, even … go all girly and ooze gratitude? Habit? Genuine surprise? Detritus of previous relationships?

If it is arrogance, fuck ’em. If habit, someone needs to start busting their chops and get them to give that one up for Lent. Genuine surprise can be overcome by spending more time with smart women. Baggage could be set aside.

A question I’ve posed has to do with the changes to families that happened between the generations, the increase in the percentage of moms who work outside the home and the number of single moms. Does having a doting mother whose entire life revolves around her children produce a different man than one whose female model heads into the world daily, has her own money and often runs the whole shebang? And does this go anywhere near explaining why men of a certain age have a harder time not being sent into apoplexy when presented with a woman who can kick their ass in Scrabble?

I mention Scrabble because of the frequency of “HEY! you’re a smart cookie/sweetie/dolly” moments. I play online when my brain needs a rest, and the number of times I’ve heard some version of that is astounding. It usually comes 4 or 5 goes in, often after a series of questions on my life … Where do you live? How long ago was that photo of you taken? Will you friend me on facebook so we can chat? … and just before I pass along the information that I don’t give out any part of my life story to anyone until they beat me by 100 points. (So far, I’ve given out not even one detail.)

So, what is the deal? Will 30-somethings eventually morph into the shock-and-ahhhh generation? Is it a loss of flexibility, the impact of society during formative years, an inevitable response to women dumbing-down in hopes of getting a date? (I have seen that happen, yes.)

Processing. Processing.

Feel free to discuss, and if anyone should choose to flatter me … it’s okay to mention I have great tits.

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