Thursday, August 31, 2006

Walking along in the Powell Street BART station this morning, I was walking along a series of ads that said, "Skinny Black Pants" and showed the same, looking great on great looking women.

Skinny black pants with a bulky sweater on top. Skinny black pants with a skimpy white top. Skinny black pants with a long white blouse and shorter black leather jacket. On and on. Black and white photos which stand out in a mega-color time.

It's working. I'm feeling, "I don't know what the question is but skinny black pants are the answer."

Fortunately, I have no money so I can't march up to the GAP store right there by the Powell Street Station and experience what these skinny black pants would look like in color and 3-d on me instead of on hipless wonder models.

I am an enhipped wonder and there for a while my appropriately loose pants are feeling shamefully baggy.

I come up out of the BART station and the trance and remember that I haven't seen fabulous skinny black pants. I've seen fabulous advertising photographs.

Once I met a woman at a party job was doing model's hair on advertising shoots. She told me that she felt that being part of the process of making shoddy clothes look good was evil. (She wasn't talking GAP, but several cuts below.) I wouldn't have thought of hair combing in the context as being evil. I was passing out some peacenik thing I'd written at the party. I think she told me, confessed, because I was presenting myself as a moral human being. Maybe also because I presented myself as someone who doesn't think a lot about clothes.

Combing hair as part of a lie. Evil? Could be.

For one thing she could have been doing something she liked more. It wouldn't take much for her to like what she did more than she was liking her current gig -- which paid well, I guess.

Noam Chomskey talks about manufacturing consent, a phrase coined by one of the inventors of public relations.

He says in the US you have eighty per cent of the people who have to be fooled for things to continue as they are, the very top people who decide, and the 20 per cent, 19 per cent, whatever, whose job it is to manufacture consent. To sell the 80 per cent that all this is a good idea, and that new wrinkles on all this, new wars, new people to be scared of, is all a job idea.

I'm clearly in the twenty per cent, good with words. In olden days when the guys who ran things, or thought they did, looked at me, they saw someone young enough to be their daughter who was, they thought, smart enough to understand what they were saying.

They assumed I was interested in what they were saying. Chuckle. No so humble opinion--I was too smart to be interested in what they were saying.

I'm interested in what is actually going on, which is hard to figure out. Listening to guys twenty years older than me talk and talk has rarely been helpful in figuring out what's going on because they don't want to know. Thing one that's going on is they aren't as important as they'd like to be--it's a big world, and getting bigger and more potentially democratic.

Skinny black pants can be pretty good. Loose beige pants like I'm wearing now can be pretty good. Whatever the question is, skinny loose black beige pants or not the answer.

Once women didn't have so very much time to think about what is the question? what should the set-up be? because they were busy taking care of kids and often died in childbirth young, or what would now be considered young.

Now some of us have more time, more space than that. Having fun is good. Having a big mind is good. Getting away from the ads and noticing--what does you body think is the question? What does you mind think is the question? Your soul? Your heart?

Early days in personal computers, Teresa Carpenter wrote a story about a computer program that let a person talk to themselves and find out what they deeply knew.

In its first editon, it was called the prayer program. A person talking to themselves and God about what was best.

The creator tweaked it a little, and called it the hunch program for men and the intuition program for women

What do you know?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's odd to go someplace like Union Square in midday in high tourist season because so many people who are there don't know where they are that I get the feeling also, sometimes, of not knowing where I am. Traveling to the well-known sights is like people come from around the world to be confused together.

I read an movie actress who travels a lot to film and to promote films saying she never goes to the well-known spots but finds someplace nice famous where she can sit and relax and watch people who live in that place live.
So I hear someone was shot dead at a San Francisco Park, Fort Funston, and I go "Hmmm. . ." A concerned but not alas too deep hmmm. I hear that someone was shot dead at Garfield Square Park and I go, urgently, "What time?"

I don't know exactly where Fort Funston is.

I don't walk near Garfield Square Park now, but I used to quite a bit. A Plan C way to walk between Bernal Heights and 24th and Mission. Really not direct, but I like to walk and see different things.

The man was shot dead at about 6:45 p.m., just a time when I would be walking there during daylight, like now, going from 24th and Mission to Bernal Heights.

Scary. He's deader to me and matter more, and that's not good. I guess it's good for anything to matter.

I've been across the street from Garfield Square Park recently enough to know
that when this guy was shot dead part of the park was torn up for construction to make it better. They already tore up one corner of that park to build a good children's playground. Now they are tearing up another corner to, what?, make the grassy part better?

So did the torn up ness have anything to do with the murder. Two guys shot, one died, from one ethnic group by a group of guys from another ethnic group. Doesn't seem like construction site quality would have anything to do with it. Construction sites have a harsher vibe than parks. Would a little harshness make a difference? Less maneuvering room? I guess I'm thinking about this killing to make up a bit for the many I haven't thought about enough.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I'm reading the book "Last Orders" by Graham Swift which is about four men taking the ashes of a fifth to scatter off Margate Pier as he wished --an easy day trip for London, where they live, but they aren't going too fast.

Some of the men and the dead guy knew each other originally from the desert war, the war against Rommel. They speak of and remember to themselves riding on a camel in free time and going to prostitutes, but they don't speak of or remember the combat part.

This reminds me of a British play I once read where in the first act we are with two guys in that very desert war, two guys not in free time but in the battlefield part of things, though there isn't shooting right this second.

Whenever any one passing by asks them for directions to anything, they direct them to a nearby minefield, without saying it's a minefield.

Even though it was a play and I never thought war was nice, I really didn't want to take that in when I read it. That they were directing people on their own side to walk into a minefield.

I didn't want to take it in because it had the flavor of reality.

Why did they do it? They were a couple of young guys sitting around without much to do at the moment and sort of--why not?

When people are trained in meanness and surrounded by meaninglessness, sometimes the meanness and lack of meaning spread because they spread it.

I read the sports section because I somewhat understand it, it has a plot line, and I don't care that much. It can be a relief from the parts of the paper I care about more, where young guys spread meanness and meaninglessness with or without government support.

I fantasized to a friend once a whole section of the paper about relationships, a section as big as the sports section about people making big and little breakthroughs in how they related to each other. The mistreated kid in a better home relaxes some. The person who really does love their partner manages to deal with conflict in a way that isn't a copy of how parents did it.

I fantasized a whole big stadium like a sports stadium filled with people celebrating better ways of hanging out with other people, making it real somehow right there in the stadium

My friend told later me she told her girlfriend about this fantasy. Her girlfriend totally got it and got scared and cranky. She couldn't stand thinking of things being that much better and that much more like a good home on a large scale.

Maybe she couldn't stand thinking of better because it put it too much up against the worse that is our daily life. Or maybe she's addicted to what is and the faintest thought of that drug not being universally available, in your face, in your heart, every moment was too painful.
Looking at the bus window, I see the sun lit floor of the bus and it seems to be sliding along the sun lit street outside.
Any human has certainty inside because this whole thing is too much. If I look at a face and don't see the uncertainty, I'm missing a lot.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Not quite tight but not loose is how her clothes fit.

She was wearing a blue hooded sweatshit with the red letters GAP on the front. Her jeans were exactly the blue of her sweatshirt. She looked elegant.

The woman with her spoke to her in French, which semi-explained the miracle, but how do the French do it?

She took garments that would seem more familiar than interesting on the rack and wore them in a way that seemed to express the essence of her and the essence of grace.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

* When people have been badly hurt, you have to be really patient.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Punk rock has the term straight edge which makes it different than other make art and change the world for the better movements.

Straight edge means doing no drugs, legal or illegal, no cigarettes, alcohol, or street drugs.

The boozy beatniks and the druggy hippies probably had people in their midst who did not do drugs. However, there wasn't an inside the movement word for it. Straight edge says you aren't drugging, and you are punk.

An artist is a better seed if sober. A seed is right down there in the soil and right there having the soil rich water run by. So the seed takes than and grows to be what that seed is supposed to be.

Living life at a chemical removes means the seed that is the artist isn't learning and growing right there in reality. The products isn't as good. The product often isn't finished. There's this art drive to rub against reality and take inside reality and push it outside like a birth to make outside reality different.

If you aren't fully present to either the inside or the out, that drive isn't there. The book, song, album, picture isn't done. Outside reality stays it's same old self, as the drinking or drugged one gets stupider.

Why today? Why am I saying this today? I've started reading "The Maltese Falcon" a good Dashiell Hammett novel I haven't read before. I am thinking how very bad his books that aren't good are: "The Dain Curse," what a turkey. I'm thinking about how few books he wrote.

Yes, his health wasn't good; he had tuberculosus. Yes, his health and stick-to-it-ivness were not good; he drank a lot. There are missing books. Missing good books. His and others. He really wasn't straight edge.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Secret decoder. You can talk about busses in San Francisco, and I do, Actually busses are one of the many kinds of large people movers.

Old F trolleys (1950's or before) on rails powered from wired above by electricity brought in bybig insect antennae reaching up, trolleys powered like that but running on rubber tires, busses, running on their own diese engines, MUNI Metro cars running above ground and underground powered by electricity, cable cars pulled along from underground by cables.

Getting off these by the reccommended back door isn't automatic. There are different ways to do it.

The way where you wait for the driver to open the back doors for you applies to on kind of rolling stock--the old F line trolleys from Milan. The others you get our by, after the driver makes the back doors openable, touching the handles on the doors, touching the handles by the steps, or stepping on the steps.

You learn to do these things by experience or having fellow riders yell at you.

The cable cars don't have back doors, often you're already outside and you clamber off. One of the F line cars doesn't use its front door. It's back entry has a conductor standing by it and doesn't have a door that covers the opening. It had a steel bar that the conductor takes up and down as needed.

Sometimes I've thought it's mean in a tourist town filled with people who haven't done any of this before to have just getting off a bus, getting off a public transportation vehicle to be so different and like trying to read the message without the secret decoder ring. (Most of these vehicles have instructions on what to do, but they are presented in that reverse magic instruction way so that no one who needs them notices them.)

But then I thought the wild variety of exit plans is part of the San Francisco message. You can have very different things all in the same small space, and it's okay. You can solve the same problem in several different ways for no particular reason, and it's fine.

Non-standardization was the way of humans for millions of years and a touch of it now and then is not bad, is good, is, in its own way, like being alive, the part of being alive where you pay attention and new things happen.
When you wake up and say, "What a perfect day for a street fair," around 3 in the afternoon, it's too hot.

That happened at the 2005 Haight Street fair. There was a certain crankiness underlying the packed crowd around three. I noticed that a father with a 4 year old had miraculously found a place to sit, a stray milk crate, at the edge of the crowd.

He got out a tie dye, presumably newly purchased, that was a piece of silk big the size to be a table cloth for a card table. It was blue and white. Blue mostly, with jagged exanding white looking like a couple of galaxies being born.

He put the silk over him and his child. So there she was, not with the crowd, but with blue and white smoothness. They stayed there for a while, and when they came out, she stroked the silke and looked at the blue and white pattern. The crowd had its crankiness, and she and her father had their own big, small calm world. The feel of the crowd didn't have a chance against the feel of the silk.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

In 1848, there were revolutions all over Europe against monarchies and things like monarchies. They mostly failed and sometimes led to some change and loosening and sometimes led to tightening.

My immigrant relatives almost all came over from Europe in the 1840's.

Inference: The economy in Europe in the 1840's was shot.

Leave or revolt. Or be a descendent of the leavers and try to work for profound change here.
She was walking quickly to get to work.

She was walking quickly to catch the N-Judah and get to work.

She passed the racks of plants outside Cole Hardware, and they affected her like a powerful magnet. She walked slower and slower. She looked at individual plants, which seemed to get greener from being well seen.

Slower and slower she walked but never stopped. Finally, she escaped the force field of her life work and picked up the pace to make it on time to what she does for a living.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Always wrong. Always alive.

When life started on this planet, if a critic had been around, it might have seemed wrong, so very wrong.

All these molecules had been liquidly being around each other for a very long time and maintained inertness. It was the way things were and had been at great length.

Then some of the molecules, taking advantage of randomness and vast time, connected in a way that made there be life.

And here we are.

Connections never before seen may be our job though they can look odd, or depending on your mood, wrong.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Meryl Streep is on the New York stage as "Mother Courage," a great part for an older woman. A while back she was acting on the New York stage in "The Seagull" by Chekhov in another great part for an older woman--she played a powerful, self-centered, aging actress. The actress in her daily life chewed up the scenery so the part offers a lot of scope.

The New York Times was not thrilled by either of her performances. The Financial Times loves her in "Mother Courage."

I love her ongoing performance of finding great parts for older women and making them happen for herself and us.

I want Meryl Streep or some non-young actress to do a tv show like "The Loretta Young Show" of the fifties.

Loretta Young, wow, beautiful, was past her prime, and I didn't know it watching her on TV. I later saw earlier stills of her movies, when she was even more beautiful

She had a TV show where she played someone different every week. The continuing feature was her. They were dramas.

Much happened, much was solved for a different woman every week.

I only remember a couple of them in any detail, but I loved the show. Knowing the time, I imagine a huge number of the solutions to the women's problems had to do with finding the right guy.

But now. . . on, say, cable. . .the women could have tons of different kinds of problems with different kinds of solutions.

On cable, they could even have insoluble problems.


Meryl Streep could call people she's acted with, or would like to. She could give good TV and movie writers a place to be interesting and unpredictable. I think she lives on the East Coast so she could use all those underused New York actors and writers.

In a recent interview, Streep said something to the effect that she still "loves, loves, loves, loves, loves to act." The interviewer said that each "loves" was in a different character, a different tone, a different voice.

Hey, this could be fun. Streep could do one-acts she liked back in acting school. She could sometimes let somebody else she digs be the lead and have fun in a smaller role.

"Mother Courage," the play, essentially says all war is horrid by the time it gets to the poor people on the ground, and makes them horrid, because there is nothing else to be. So Streep doing this right now seems to be working off some anti war feelings about current events by doing a great piece of art written in 1939. A high class protest. Tony Kushner, the "Angels in America" guy, threw in some Iraq references, but not, "The Financial Times" says, too many.

She could work off various big ideas in a short series format, elevate the conversation sometimes, show off skillfully and have fun. She could do color- blind casting like New York stage folk often do, and show the country in general it works--it's another interesting way of doing the magic trick of acting.

We could all see her more.

She could play an older woman with a partner, a sex life. In three big recent Streep roles, in "The Seagull," "Mother Courage," and "The Devil Wears Prada," the wildly different women are unpartnered, one of the ways entertainment deals with people it considers marginal. The gay best friend, the older woman, the recent immigrant. You're not quite a real--no sex for you.

But if she produced her own show, she could play the sex, partnership, intimacy thing the way she wanted. Perhaps sometimes yes and sometimes no.

The magic trick part of acting is one of the really cool parts. People who can do it can do it in more directions than they are usually allowed to. Meryl Streep choosing and commisioning her own scripts could be a lot of different kinds of people.

And thereby expand, in a fun way, our ideas of what older women can be, what women can be, what people can be. Let's go.

(I had forgotten, till I googled, that the Loretta Young show--1953-1961--led to similar shows where women played a different woman every week--shows done by June Allyson, Barbara Stanwyck, Ida Lupino and others. The Loretta Young Show was the longest running, but it was the creator of a movement. I'd love to recreate the movement now that people can imagine more ways for women to live because they see them right before their very eyes. Right now, googling The Loretta Young Show and choosing the high up Museum of Broadcasting entry is really interesting. I knew that I remembered some kind of association between The Loretta Young Show and the Dinah Shore Show, but I couldn't pin it down. In the Dinah Shore Show, which involved singing and chatting with guests, Dinah Shore had on a different outfit every time she re-entered, and she re-entered often. Lots of clothes to look at. In The Loretta Young Show she introduced and outtroduced the show in really dressy clothes, and then went into the show where she played middle and working class characters. I could get into that feature reappearing. Get as much fun as possible out of things, eh? Red carpet opening, acting to follow.

And introducing things skillfully can create more room. When there was a very big deal production by Oprah Winfrey of a Zola Neale Hurston story it was very skillfully introduced as being about choice and power. It was about a young woman who ran away from her perfectly decent boring much older husband. Having the introduction point out ways to think about that was wise and kind to both the viewers and the characters. Saying quickly and clearly why any given piece seems worth doing to Meryl Streep would let more people in. That would be liberal in the sense of open and generous.)
Shall we?

Since we're on the same planet, we're already dancing. Sometimes it's pleasant to notice it more.

Monday, August 21, 2006

You could pick a fight this way. You could also pick a fight that way. And there's another way you could pick a fight. The research in this area seems endless. Scenario creators employed by governments do this. Lots of people do it. How could I resolve the situation into a fight--a familiar genre where I live--and make it look like it's not my fault.

How to do more research in the other directions? The other directions which I don't even know what are.

It's not: Don't pick a fight and eat injustice. That's not it. Never change. Sit and stagnate. That's not a good no-fight path either.

It's something else, like a scent that brings back a memory of something that didn't happen in your life time. A nourishing perfume from a less fiesty future. To smell it and know how to go with it and help it--we don't know how.

Got to keep guessing. Keep spending time on long slow guesses that look much less important than the fight of the day.
Fast food seems to me not food but grease shaped into food-like objects. Which is not to say I don't eat it.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

God may want you to be here later. You may not get to know why. Like, someday, the sun on your hair on the bus goes into the dream of a rider six seats back who wakes up and doesn't remember the dream but feels great and smiles at the stranger on the street who is then extra nice to a child who keeps an extra ounce of original wisdom so you have no right to kill yourself or even to go numb while faking being alive.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Is life great? Klezmer music sounds like the answer is yes and no.

Poor people's music, fast and minor key.

Dance quick, dance detailed, and hear as you dance the sadness that never goes away.
There are those who instinctively know the power of repitition.

Repitition convinces physical reality. It wears through the stone.

Repitition convinces people that this is real because here it is again.

As the dust settles from the explosion and the explosion is gradually forgotten, the person in the corner who has been doing the same thing the whole time gradually gains power.

You can live like this. Watch. Again. You can live like this. Watch. Again.
[Logistics: The wonderful people who run the site I use here are making the site better.

Which means that sometimes, now, it's worse.

Which means that sometimes I might not be on for a day (or more?) as improvements happen.]
Everything is always great in Utopia, which is why Thomas More's book, the original Utopia, is sometimes tedious to read.

It's hard to believe that there is someplace where everything is great. The idea that everything is great doesn't get more believable when you describe all these little details of how things are set up.

Utopia, by Thomas More is about an island called Utopia--a word More invented. Derived by More from Greek words, it means nowhere.

On the other hand, when More uses the framework of describing Utopia to comment on his own society, things perk up.

"What natural or true pleasure can you get, if someone bares his head to you or bends his knees? Will the pain in your knees be eased thereby, or the madness in your head?"

After the book explains that no one owns anything in Utopia, no one is rich, no one is poor, everyone is provided for, the text goes on like this:

"How could anyone dare to compare the justice of the Utopians with that of other nations? If there is any trace of justice or equity among other nations, may I perish among them! What justice is there in this, that a nobleman, a goldsmith, a moneylender, or some other man who does nothing at all for a living or does something that is of no use to the public, lives a sumptious and elegant life? In the meantime, a servant, a driver, a blacksmith or a farmer works as hard as a beast at labor so necessary that the commonwealth could not last a year without it. Yet they earn so poor a living and lead such miserable lives that their condition seems worse than that of draft animals."

I picked up Utopia partly because it's short, less than a hundred pages, and I thought I could finish off a famous book easily.

No way. Utopia, is, for me, a very tough read. Slog, slog.

I think that's partly because it was written hundreds of years ago. But I think it is also because as More writes it, he is also hiding.

He's a lawyer who sometimes worked directly for the king. He is criticizing the way things are usually run and imaging whole other ways for things to be.

As he does his imagining, he is very cagy.

He says that all this imagining happened in a conversation he had when he was out of England, in Flanders (now part of Belgium.) He says the conversation originally happened in Greek. He is writing about it (really) in Latin. Internationally known smart people like More did write to each other in Latin back then. That also protects him from any charge of rousing the rabble with ideas of extreme change, extreme betterness, in how things were run. People in general couldn't read Latin. (Me, either. I'm reading a translation made in 1949 by H. V. S. Ogden.)

Also this whole thing is portrayed as a conversation More had in Italy, but in the conversation he is not the one talking about Utopia. He isn't the one saying how Utopia is better, or noting that some things in the usual countries, including England, are not so hot. He isn't the guy saying wealth is distributed with extreme unfairness.

That Utopian and critical talking in the conversation is done by Raphael Hythloday, who has travelled much and lived in Utopia, which is a distant from Europe island, for several years.

*Hythloday is from the Greek word for nonsense. It is used only once. Almost always, the man proposing the new ideas and the ideas critical of the current set up is called Raphael, like an angel, a messenger of God.*

Raphael makes the case for doing things differently. More is two people. He is a character in the conversatio,n and he is the author of the book.

It isn't really possible to know how More the character or More the author feel about any of the ideas proposed. The fact that he has written the book implies that he must think some of the ideas are good, but he never says specifically he likes any one of them.

At the end of the book, he says that he and Raphael went into dinner and he hoped that they could talk in greater detail about Utopia some time in the future.

The book ends thusly (in translation):

"I trust such an opportunity may come some time. Meanwhile I cannot agree with everything that he said, though he was singularly well informed and also highly experienced in worldly affairs. Yet I confess that there are may things in the Utopian Commonwealth that I wish rather than expect to see followed among our citizens."

In other words, he agrees with parts of his own book, but he won't say which parts.

I think that hiding energy affects the whole book and is one of the reason it's difficult to read these in the version I'm working with 88 pages.

That and the fact that hope is hard. That sharing property thing has been tried, or various countries say they were trying it, since More wrote and it doesn't always work out well. It seems to hang out with secret police and midnight executions quite a bit.

The distribution of goodies in the Soviet Union was less skewed after the revolution than before. The czar's family, the family of the last czar, being held by revolutionaries, wore dresses that were solid with gems. That slowed down the process of them being shot to death.

No solid gem dresses in the Soviet Union, but the KGB lower level guy in "The Cancer Ward" is stunned that he is in the same 8 person ward with poor people from the poor republics of the Soviet Union that had lots of Muslims. How can this be, he who has always not waited in line, not had to go in the front door, but slipped in the side.

So no property, equality of stuff, equality of opportunity is easier said than done, and reading Utopia now we know that more than More did when he wrote it.

There are two times in the book when More's heart and the bigger reality burst through that make the book feel more alive.

Reality intrudes when the people having the fictional conversation talk about whether or not a guy like Raphael, who is smart, who has travelled a lot, who has great ideas about governance, should work for a monarch.

Raphael says no. The people around the king won't listen to new ideas. It does no good to try to present new ideas in the court around a king.

Thomas More, the character in the conversation, says, sure you can't produce the best ideas, but you can nudge things a little toward the better. Since it affects so many people, it's worth it.

In their several page long discussion of whether Raphael, or any smart person, should work for a king they never discuss the possible disadvantage that actually happened to More.

The king might kill you.

"Utopia" begins saying that Henry the Eighth sent More abroad on a diplomatic mission, and while there, out of England, he had this conversation about radically different governance.

Specifically, "Utopia" begins with this sentence: "The most victorious and triumphant King of England, Henry the Eighth of that name, in all royal virtues a prince most peerless, had recently some differences with Charles, the most serene Prince of Castile, and sent me to Flanders to negotiate and compose matters between them."

That's sort of standard for the time. Books were often dedicated to someone powerful, usually in a kiss-ass way.

Thomas More wanted to have it both ways. As he says as a character in his own book, you can do some serious good having it both ways. A German radical in the 1960's called it "the long march through the institutions." Get inside and change things there. If you're in there, there are moments you can make moves that help thousands of people.

Raphael, the man in "Utopia" who says all the idealistic things, doesn't buy that idea. He says of working in a court and trying to influence some things, if not everything, "The only result of this
will be that while I try to cure others of madness, I will myself rave along with them."

Not a hint of the executioner's axe there. But the king might go mad and be mad at a guy who seemed to semi-fit in and semi-get with the program, and have him killed when he finally wont go along anymore. It happened to More.


So he starts the book "Utopia" praising the king who will ultimately have him killed and he ends it saying he thinks some of the things in the book are a good idea but they won't happen anyway and he won't say which ideas are the ones he hopelessly likes.

Another reason I wanted to read "Utopia," in addition to it being famous and (misleadingly) short was that I really liked Thomas More as a character in Robert Bolt's play and movie "A Man for All Seasons." I thought I should get real and read something by the man himself.

So I do read something by the man himself and there he is, in a fictional conversation, a fictional character created by himself.

One part where it feels like his heart is coming straight through all his caution is when Raphael talks about the hanging of petty thieves in England. It feels like More's voice, longing, wishing, dreaming beyond what he can believe.

Raphael wants, and I think More aches for, an end to hanging petty theives. But the way it's presented is like one of those dreams many of us have--wouldn't it be grand, but I know there is no way.

It's been a while, several centuries, but petty thieves are not hung in England. The United Kingdom has no death penalty. I think More, if you had spoken to him as he had Raphael criticize the hanging of petty thieves, if you had said either of those things to him--no hanging of petty theives, or no death penalty at all--I think he would have been unable to believe that either would come to pass, even several centuries in the future.

He was smart, and his hopes were smarter than he was, though he didn't know it.

***rewritten paragraph followed by new words

Directly criticizing the current laws of his own country is not what More is usually up to in Utopia. He criticizes customs (he has Raphael criticize customs, that is.) He, as Raphael, criticizes how things might be done in France. (In France the king might go to war when he didn't need to and tax the people too much, for example.) He, as Raphael, admires the different ways things are done Utopia.

But it's hanging people for stealing a loaf of bread breaks his heart and opens his mouth in a different way than the rest of the book. Even though the words are still from Raphael, it feels like More himself is speaking, directly and in agony.

"A Man for All Seasons" presents the idea that the lawof England is a great love for More, the love of his life, and he is part of the law and the law is a part of him in a profound way.

So if that represents the actual More in some way, hanging people for stealing bits of food to eat would hurt him with real pain. Not as much pain as the people hung for stealing, but pain.

And in the end, the pain of execution was More's. He was beheaded with an axe, not hung, a class distinction. People above him in class, royal, were beheaded with a sword--Anne Boleyn insisted on it and got it--her last successful power play.

He was beheaded for treason, a crime above the bread thief's orbit--for not saying what the king wanted him to say. The king wanted him to say the usual--"You're right!" and he wouldn't.

And died for it.

"A Man for All Seasons," and the performances by Paul Scofield as More and Wendy Hiller as his wife portray how a man and woman could be strongly bonded in deep love in spite of vast differences in education. She was smart. Could she read? It doesn't come up in the play and movie.

She was smart, and she loved him, and she didn't get at all this thing of dying because he wouldn't say a few words.

His heart was partly made of the law. The law is words. If everyone said the easiest words for them to say, true or not, the law wouldn't work. More couldn't say "You're right!" to the king when he thought the king was wrong.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The woman said, "Which of these buildings is the Ferry Building?"

She was about three blocks from the Ferry Building, so that wasn't precisely the right question.

I said, "That right there is Market Street. Market Street deadends into the Ferry Building. Walk that way, " I said, pointing. "When you see a building with a clock tower, that's the Ferry Building." As she and her husband walked away in the direction I had pointed I called, "In other words, walk three blocks."

When I pray to whatever gods that be in whatever mood I'm in, I try to remember a prayer that they hear the right question, even if I don't ask it. That they ignore my whole prayer, if it's a clueless one that will do more harm than good.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thinking impatient is like thinking drunk. It isn't really thinking.

Monday, August 14, 2006

There's spelling things out, and there's letting the spell work.

Spelling things out is "We're going from here to there and this is precisely the path to take."

Letting the spell work is different. Put some people and things in the region of each other, and let the space between them change as it will.

You've go to be fond of the people and things to do that.

Taking path 2 means we're not going from Point A to Point B.

We are changing the space in which Point A and Point B exist. We are being changed ourselves in the process is living in the changing space.

We emerge into a new world in the same place, for which we are all equally unprepared.

We sing songs of thanksgiving, remembering what the old, familiar world was like. We learn much fast.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A different kind of music, thank God, to save us from the march.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

She is very funny, which is a way of changing the subject.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"The only war that matter is the war against the imagination," Diane di Prima is often quoted as having written that. Close.


She wrote in many times, always all caps, in the poem in question.

What could happen. What might happen. What might happen right now next.

What's the background music of possibilities that accompanies the rhythm of our steps.

What are we afraid of? What are we hoping for?

A friend of mine who worked in education reform said one reason it's hard to create good schools is that most parents have no idea what a truly good school would be like, never having been to one.
I thought the air was bad, but my glasses were smeared.
A guy on his phone near the convention center was saying, "It's one of the best cities in the world so it's hard to compare it to a Marine town. You'll just have to visit."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Numbered streets south of Market become streets with names north of Market. First Street crosses Market and becomes Sansome.

Jiggle Sansome a little, and it looks like other names around here: San Some.

Saint Some. Holy Some.

I don't have to dream of all for me. I can be content with blessed, easy some.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The middle of the night is dangerous.

Darkness and quiet can look like a good time to commit a private crime.

The middle of the night is worrisome.

Darkness and quiet can feel like the right time to worry about something not thought about so much in the busy day.

The middle of the night is fertile.

Darkness and time can look like a good time to concentrate on making that precious person feel good, feel as good as they would feel more often if the daylit world weren't so tough.

The middle of the night is fertile.

Darkness and quiet and time can mean inviting in hopes and focussing on them as intensely as I focus on night worries, when I'm worrying,

Things that seem so impossibly good that they aren't even thought of in the daytime are waiting quietly at night.

They know they are possible. They are waiting for someone to notice them. They are waiting for someone to think around them.

If it were possible, how would it be possible?

If it were possible and came to exist, how would we feel then? How would we live our mornings, noons and nights.

And what impossible ideas would then begin to loom on the new horizon.

Being out in the part of night running up to dawn in a place where there is enough nature for nature to speak its own way, there are many stages of dawn before the light changes in any obvious way.

There is a lightening of spirit before the lightening of the sky.

And the air changes. There is a newly focussed coolness just before the sun's gleam starts to show.

This is the air as it would be if we didn't do so many things to it day by day.

The without us air which is big, more connected to the big universe than day air.

Breathing this air we can easily think and hope things that are hard to believe when we're breathing the old aquarium water of daytime air.

"Let's go out in the dark of the night and kill somebody."

"Let's go out in the dark of the night and feel a distinctly different kind of hope."

It seems like the definite crimes would overwhelm the vague hopes. But no. We're still here.

Sometimes foreplay is all about that moment and that's enough. Sometimes foreplay includes being about the ultimate kid--the child who grows out of the act of love.

The foreplay choices have a lot to do with who the child is because this moment or that moment for coming means this sperm or that sperm swims into a very transformative future.

To have this many people, we need more new dreams. The vague hopes of the early morning air are vague because they haven't happened yet. Things like them haven't happened yet.

The vague hopes are sometimes a fine and needed morale booster for the moment.

Other times the vague hopes are foreplay for the birth of a new way of living in the world.

Sometimes night time is dangerous for ways of being that need to be endangered.

"Let's make something really really happen. Let's be violent."

Awful lot of propaganda for that point of view. The boomiest is the realest.

And the counter that we have. . . .

Patience with the vague hopes of early morning. Patience to stay with them when we aren't experienced enough to see how they will be real. Patience enough to stay with them and make them real one little bit at a time.

Each bit of dream made real is real and important. It's as real as all the people who don't get shot in the middle of the night. And if you look around in bright daylight you will not that such people are real and numerous. (And secretly numinous--that's what we work on making realer in the department of hope.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Knuckles make many things possible.

Detailed manual work, clever or beautiful depends on knuckles and knowing how to use them.

Referring to knuckles specifically usually refers to fighting with fists, or the unattractiveness of knuckes.

Knuckles are as much about beauty as about anything else. Many beautiful objects have been made with fingers that are in parts and go back and forth.

Many beautiful touches would not have been possible without knuckles, dearly beloved flexible and therefore baggy knuckles.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I thought it was about crossing the river and living in the land on the other side.

It may be about living on the river, moving in as the river moves, and visiting the land sometimes, feeling the land as the river feels it.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My email was out of it briefly today and is now
It used to be humans moved without explosions.

Then we cleverly invented the internal combustion engine where small explosions in small circular rooms inside the engine make movement possible.

The background noise of cities is largely all those little explosions in the engines blended together into one rough grey sound.

The background noise of how we think is also explosions. We drive cars, and sometimes think a good way to get things done is a series of explosions. We drive cars, and often think that if we make explosions, we can steer to results of the explosions to exactly where we want.

Body parts that were recently people flung about in many directions from an on-purpose explosion is one reason I'm ashamed to be a human.

The city roar is a tiny bit quieter these days. Some cars, hybrids, move sometimes without explosions going on at all times as they move. Electric cars skip the in-car-gut explosions all together.

So maybe the ear of God can hear the increased quiet.

Maybe in that secret quiet we can listen for ways to move from here to someplace else without going boom. . .molecules and people and birds all intact and yet we're someplace else. The quiet move quietly moves from dream to how we do it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Forty-eight angels weren't enough. They needed you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In the Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching, it says that it's okay to withdraw from the affairs of the world if you do so in order to work to "create incomparable values for the coming age."

Oh, right.

But it's true that there's only so far I can go in responding to the strangely familiar stupid hurting of people, of everything.

At some point, it's good for some people to hang back a bit from the dialog started by the stupid hateful habit, and find what might be truly different.

Not everyone who tries to do that will be successful. Several somebodies have to try for some of us to succeed some day.

Different will look so different that at first many of us won't be able to see it.
That things keep going may be evidence that God is an optimist, to not get ticked off and roll it all up.

One of the things that hasn't been stopped is the injury sequence, where someone is injured because somebody else was injured and the injured person wants to, consciously or unconsciously, pass it on. And so creates another injured person.

God, the possible optimist, may look at a person formed a certain way by injury and feel that a person of this shape could be a unique tool to do something good and generous that wouldn't be possible for someone who wasn't injured in that way.

So the messed up get the assignment that they are capable of doing, and they do it or they don't. Attempted unusual generosity is a more pleasant way to spend time than passing on injury.
Being seriously non-violent means arriving early, working on problems before people get so uncomfortable they become violent.

Hell, no, we won't go. We'll stay, and find a future hell ,and prevent it.
Very quietly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We could be unAmerican. We could make going slow fun

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Here comes easy, cleverly disguised as hard.