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Sadhu and Southern Baptist, Sunday surprise

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — preferred place for prayer — and Gary Snyder’s disciples “will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at” ]
.

That sadhus like to meditate in cremation grounds was already known to me — they worship Lord Shiva, who likes to meditate there himself, not infrequently covers himself in ashes, and wears a necklace of skulls..

What surprised me though, was to find Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home, Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year, recommending so similar a practice..

**

Sources:

  • The Gospel Coalition, A Graveyard Is a Good Place to Make Big Decisions
  • TripAdvisor, Varanasi Photo: Sadhu meditation in smashan – where dead bodies burn
  • **

    And if the sadhu‘s practice seems more extreme — fiercer, spiritually? — than Dr Moore‘s quieter — dare I, should I really say, more contemplative? — approach, that only reminds me of Klaus Klostermaier‘s book, Hindu and Christian in Vrindaban, and this marvelous graph:

    Theology at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade seems after all, different from theology at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Theology accompanied by tough chapattis and smoky tea seems different from theology with roast chicken and a glass of wine. Now, what is different, theos or theologian? The theologian at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is in a good position presumes God to be happy and contended, well-fed and rested, without needs of any kind. The theologian at 120 degrees Fahrenheit tries to imagine a God who is hungry and thirsty, who suffers and is sad, who sheds perspiration and knows despair.

    Here’s Fr Klostermaier saying Mass in Vrindaban:

    First thing in the morning I celebrate the Mass. I wonder if any person responsible for prescribing the liturgical vestments in use today ever read mass at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, in a closed room without a fan? Clouds of flies swarm around the chalice and host. They settle on the hands, on the perspiring face. They cannot be driven away, but return for the tenth time to the place from which they have been chased away. The whole body burns and itches. The clothes are damp, even the vestments. They soon dry. If a priest does not wear them all, he commits – according to existing canon law – at least a dozen or so mortal sins all at once. And it seems impossible to survive, physically or spiritually, without the Mass.

    And Vrindaban?

    Edward C Dimock and Denise Levertov, begin their delicious, delirious volume, In Praise of Krishna: songs from the Bengali, thus:

    Above the highest heaven is the dwelling place of Krishna. It is a place of infinite idyllic peace, where the dark and gentle river Yamuna flows beside a flowered meadow, where cattle graze; on the river’s bank sweet-scented trees blossom and bend their branches to the earth, where peacocks dance and nightingales call softly. Here Krishna, ever-young, sits beneath the trees, the sound of his flute echoing the nightingales’ call. Sometimes he laughs and jokes and wrestles with his friends, sometimes he teases the cowherd-girls of the village, the Gopis, as they come to the river for water. And sometimes, in the dusk of days an eon long, his flute’s call summons the Gopis to his side. They leave their homes and families and husbands and honor — as it is called by men — and go to him. Their love for him is deeper than their fear of dishonor. He is the fulfillment of all desire…

    That, too, is Vrindaban!

    Don’t you mess with (2) the night sky, superb and sacred

    Saturday, January 19th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — a disgusted follow-on to Don’t you mess with my mother the moon ]
    .

    Disgust:

    This Chinese City Wants to Launch an ‘Artificial Moon’ to Replace Street Lights

    The streets of Chengdu in western China could soon be lit up by an artificial satellite moon in the night-time, rather than the more conventional streetlights, if an ambitious plan by a private aerospace company gets the go-ahead.

    The thinking is to save a hefty sum in electricity costs, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., who is behind the scheme.

    Rather than using up energy here on Earth, the satellite would reflect the Sun’s rays from the other side of the planet back on to Chengdu. [ .. ]

    The illumination on the ground would be about eight times what you would expect from the actual Moon, Chunfeng says.

    Have they not read Li Po, Bo, or Bai‘s great poem, The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance, given here in the translation by Ezra Pound?

    The jewelled steps are already quite white with dew,
    It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings,
    And I let down the crystal curtain
    And watch the moon through the clear autumn.

    Were they not taken with the footnote?

    Jewel stairs, therefore a palace. Grievance, therefore there is something to complain of. Gauze stockings, therefore a court lady, not a servant who complains. Clear autumn, therefore he has no excuse on account of weather. Also she has come early, for the dew has not merely whitened the stairs, but has soaked her stockings. The poem is especially prized because she utters no direct reproach.

    Do they not watch the moon? Taste it?

    **

    Disgust:

    Russian Startup Wants to Put Ads in Low-Earth Orbit to Ruin The Sky For Everybody

    Advertising?

    Must I really quote this stuff?

    “We are ruled by brands and events,” project leader Vlad Sitnikov told Futurism.

    “The Super Bowl, Coca Cola, Brexit, the Olympics, Mercedes, FIFA, Supreme and the Mexican wall. The economy is the blood system of society. Entertainment and advertising are at its heart.

    “We will live in space, and humankind will start delivering its culture to space. The more professional and experienced pioneers will make it better for everyone.”

    Faugh! For shame!

    **

    Have I not whispered to another under the stars those words of William Butler Yeats:

    Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
    Enwrought with golden and silver light,
    The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
    Of night and light and the half light,
    I would spread the cloths under your feet:
    But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
    I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

    I am heart-hurt.

    Rape the night sky, and what are lovers to wrap themselves in? poets to raise their cups to?

    Don’t you mess with (1) my mother the moon

    Saturday, January 19th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — first a poem, perhaps my angriest — some further disgust to follow in a subsequent post ]
    .

    Don’t you mess with my mother the moon!
    .

    i

    Don’t you mess with my mother the moon!
    Pearl.
    Superb in the night sky.
    Which you treat as a junkyard.

    ii

    I am serious. I was never
    more serious. This, which you thinking
    life to be composed of things consider
    real estate, rock,
    subtly balances that other,

    portending at the eye
    that same angle — and that other, too
    you would colonize,
    strip, slash, mine, burn,
    rape had you the chance, were it not
    so magisterial a furnace.

    Gold, which figures the sun
    with silver the moon,
    you have tapped for coinage,
    despoiling hills for greed,
    valleys for your convenience:
    nor is your idiocy limited in reach
    by anything but your idiocy.

    Sun and moon are married
    in a wedding you cannot conceive,
    to which you lack invitation
    though it was offered you.
    The simple light of the night sky
    escapes you, neither glimpse
    nor sonata troubles your soul with its ripples,

    for you lack, altogether,
    reflection.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________
    I don’t much care what you do to Mars..

    Oh yes, and this poem is copyright (c) Charles Cameron 2006 onwards, until we get over copyright and have freedom of quotation, imitation and variation..

    PCMatic: at war, the people’s militia, resistance .. and metaphors?

    Friday, January 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — an ad that blew my mind, mil metaphor piled on mil metaphor, and various ways to name theenemy, eh? — troika, wolf pack.. ]
    .

    Here we go.

    I was staggered to see the number of military / militant references inj this commercial —

  • our country is at war,
  • a cyber war
  • the enemy, ransomeware, is rapidly growing in sophistication
  • the enemy is exploiting a hole in our defenses
  • we are pcmatic, the people’s militia to defeat the ransomware empire
  • patriots of the resistance
  • we believe we can build an army
  • we will defeat this enemy and win the war
  • join the ransomware resistance.
  • This is the largest cluster of related metaphors I’ve seen in an ad, and I’m curious as to its rhetorical intent..

    **

    Tina Nguyen has written a fascinating piece for Vanity Fair’s Hive on the metaphors we use for The Enemy, better known perhaps as Them:

  • Axis of evil
  • Network of death
  • Troika of tyranny
  • Triangle of terror
  • Sordid cradle of Communism in the Western Hemisphere
  • Wolf pack of rogue states

  • Cabal of Crazies
  • Circle of Scoundrels
  • League of Extraordinary Villains
  • Oh so much more potent than calling them Hostile statesWolf pack of rogue states is superb!

    The first set above presents ye actual efforts by various pols to provide metaphorical aid to the othering of our enemies — propaganda at its most succinct — whereas the second set consists of jokers’ parodies & the like — second order propaganda at the expense of the first.

    **

    I’ll be using the comments section of this post for further “collections” (metaphors of war, sports, etc, headlines, chyrons, misc items of interest), and may add some stellar examples — if they “fit” — here in this post.

    The remaking of angels, their rank and sweep

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — on, i suppose, the uphill slog or seduction of genius — or a very different take on complexity? ]
    .

    Paul Klee‘s Angelus Novus — described by the Verso writer Stuart Jeffries as “this goofy, eternally hovering angel with hair that looks like paper scrolls, aerodynamically hopeless wings and googly if rather melancholy eyes”:

    was admired and bought for a thousand marks by Walter Benjamin, and moved with him from one lodging to the next until her fled Germany and the onrushing Nazis. It is also:

    Benjamin’s most famous image, in the 1940 “Theses on the Philosophy of History”: the “angel of history” who is blown backward into the future by the storm of progress.

    or to quote Benjamin himself:

    A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

    **

    At a time after Darwin, Marx and Freud have dissolved the basics of fundamentalism, and before the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and the brilliant Christopher Hitchens proclaimed “the new atheism” in an easily-won contest with that same low, popular religiosity — all but ignoring the retreat of angels from Renaissance tryptich to Hallmark Card — we might do well to carry the God-NoBoDaddy debate up an octave, and consider the possibility that once angels have been more or less erased from modern western consciousness, they may, as in a palimpsest, reappear in new-old guises..

    **

    Principally, I think here of Rilke‘s angels in the Duino Elegies:

    Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?
    and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
    I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
    For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
    and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    Every angel is terrifying.

    Ah!

    Rilke told one of his translators that she should not make the mistake of understanding the angel referred to in the elegies as a Christian angel. To the contrary, this angel was quite distinctly drawn from an Islamic tradition. Rilke writes that in the months before his trip to Duino, he had traveled in Spain and had been consumed with reading the Qu’ran and a book on the life of the Prophet Mohammed. It seems fairly clear that this occurred under the influence of his friend Lou Andreas-Salomé, whose husband, Friedrich Carl Andreas, was a leading scholar of Islamic culture in the Russian Empire, particularly including Naqshibandiyya.

    **

    Let Rilke have traveled next to India or China, the apsarases and gandharvas of Hinduism and Buddhism might have affected him, with their sensuality, their song, their dance..

    **

    But while gandharvas and apsarases capture us by their powers of seduction — in some ways like the houris of Islamic paradise — with Rilke’s angels, drawing no less on the Old Testament than on the Qur’an, our surrender is to elemental force:

    I mean the Angel who appeared
    to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
    when the wrestlers’ sinews
    grew long like metal strings,
    he felt them under his fingers
    like chords of deep music.

    Whoever was beaten by this Angel
    (who often simply declined the fight)
    went away proud and strengthened
    and great from that harsh hand,
    that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
    Winning does not tempt that man.
    This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
    by constantly greater beings.

    **

    Constantly greater beings, with which we may if we are spiritually fortunate, wrestle — these are Rilke‘s angels, and they fill the gap in the once-dominant Great Chain of Being paradigm, on a rung above human usualness, demanding, promising, skirmishing, delivering…

    To be carried in the arms of an apsara, to be swept by the gale-force storm of an angel, these are human experiences of the transhuman kind, and we need words for them, both forgetful of any surrounding dogma and delighting in their strength as imagery — gandharvas and angels named as such, and constantly revivified by the poetic imagination.

    Klee, Benjamin, Rilke, but also Jacob wrestling with — who? a man, angel, God? — and becoming IsraelGiotto, Fra Angelico, Michelangelo who wrestled form from Carrera marble, Dogen Zenji for whom mountains were the sages into whom, living among them, he blended.. Kalidasa with his yakshas in Cloud Messenger and perhaps supremely in the gandharva marriage in his Shakuntala..

    Isaac becoming Israel, Shakuntala the mother of Bharata.. Of such are sacred nations born.

    **

    Yet this world is wide and deep, the beings above us multitudinous, and the humans touched by them more than a single mind can comprehend. And:

    The problem of god is a problem in ballistics, Icarus discovered this,
    that to shoot for the sun is to fall short of it, those who shoot
    for beauty achieve prettiness, there is a gravity in aesthetics as there is
    in physics, and theology too has its fall, the problem of god being
    that the mind falls short of what is huge enough to conceive it, give
    conception whatever relevant definition you choose, too vast
    to think of, give birth to it — no, no, mind has sheer cliffs of fall, and
    to shoot for a conception of god is full speed ahead to fall, fail ..

    I bow, salute, prostrate, pranam, bow gassho.


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