January 6, 2011

Same as it ever was: The meaning behind the lyrics of "Once in a Lifetime"

[a work in progress]

The video
The lyrics
The meaning

The viddy

"Once in a Lifetime"

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful
Wife
And you may ask yourself-well...how did I get here?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...

Water dissolving...and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? ...am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My god!...what have I done?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones/there is water underground.

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the moneys gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...same as it ever was...

January 4, 2011

Purpose and Meaning

The Evolutionary World: How Adaptation Explains Everything from Seashells to Civilization
Quote is from Geerat J. Vermeij's new book The Evolutionary World
Water, a molecule consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, is utterly unlike the two component elements.  It is a liquid rather than a gas at room temperature, it expands rather than contracts in the solid state, and it is an exceptionally good conductor of heat.  The properties of water seem irreducible, much as our complex brain might appear to be irreducible to its many constituent parts; but in fact they arise through the interaction — the working together, or synergy — of components.  Likewise in music, chords and melodies convey patterns and evoke emotions that single tones cannot. Sentences, paragraphs, and books have meanings that individual words and letters do not.  Living things, too, work together to add dimensions of value, function, and meaning.  Survival and propagation are themselves expressions of emergence and synergy common to all life-forms; but we humans are motivated and enriched by more than these lifewide aspirations.  We perceive a greater purpose — through love, curiosity, a social conscience, helping others, and perhaps above all, through aesthetics — a deeper meaning that makes our individual lives worthwhile to others.  Without that added significance, and without the intentionality that enables us to create a future according to our tastes and values, life would be empty; we would descend into apathy and callousness.  Purpose and meaning, however they come into our lives, are as real and as essential as the evolved imperative to survive and reproduce.

December 27, 2010

The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end. In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.

~ Wendell Berry

(Collected Poems 1957-1982)

December 9, 2010

Blogisattva Finalists have been announced

The Blogisattva Award Finalists (with “honorable mentions” in most categories included) were announced by co- administrator Kyle Lovett at The Blogisattva Awards website yesterday to some fanfare.

As founder of the awards, and administrator during its beginning spell of three years honoring English-language Buddhism blogging, I, of course, have a keen interest in the splendid resurrection of the awards, done by administrators Kyle Lovett and Nate deMontigny. [AND with spiffy new design features contributed by Anoki Casey.]

The first thing I noticed as I read through the list of finalists was the women! Wooho! In the first three years of the awards the noticeable absence of woman’s voices [texty key tapping?] in the ‘competition,’ and, perhaps, in the Buddhoblogosphere, generally, was a point of controversy. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 [honoring blogs, bloggers and posts of the prior year], woman were little represented.

I can’t pull together data to prove it, but I think that it was both a fault of the Awards in the ought-years, and that there was, genuinely, a paucity of women dedicated to blogging at that time. I think it is known that guys had been overwhelming dominant in the Internet and that this situation is much more level, with, well, nowadays, everybody, pretty much, hooked on the web.

Many of the stalwart blogs of the awards in the ought-years have passed from the scene, changed the focus of their blog, or just aren't contenders this year. A notable exception is The Buddhist Blog -- which continues to be to the Buddhoblogosphere what Kellogg’s is to cereal [nope, that’s not it]. General Motors is to vehicles [nope, not right]. I’ve got it!: The Buddhist Blog is to the Buddhoblogosphere what Buddha is to Buddhism!

James Ure’s TBB is a finalist in three categories and the recipient of three honorable mentions, which, with a total of six, makes him/his blog tops on the Kudos Count, both this year and, probably, all time [I'll have to run the numbers].

The reason the awards lapsed after 2008 was difficulties I was having, and am having, including easy access to the Internet.  I haven't yet had time for the delight of going through the Finalists List and reading the posts and blogs that have been honored.  But I do see that the quality is there, and for that the administrators and judges should be congratulated.

I am delighted to see nominations for Smiling Buddha Cabaret, one blog I have followed somewhat in the past few years.  And, ditto, for cheerio road and thinkBuddha.org — long-time blogs that I follow on my RSS reader.

Congratulations to all the worthies and their nominations.

BUT, it would be no fun if I didn't share at least one disappointment.  Awards are like that; controversies are a part of the thought process that makes us think about what is good.  I confess to being disappointed that Marnie Louise Froberg's "A Comment on Dharma Wars: Ignoble Silence, Transcendental Egotism and Getting Straight with the Truth" wasn't nominated for Best Post.

Awards!  Are they a Barrel of Joy, or what!!? 

December 6, 2010

Blogisattva announcements on Dec 8 & Dec 12


The Octobuddha, preparing the awards.
A post at The Blogisattva Awards website tells us that the finalists for the 2010 Awards will be announced in a post on December 8 and that winners will be announced on December 12.

The post also thanks us for our patience. [What patience?]

LET THE HONORS ROLL OUT!! LET THE FUN BEGIN!!

Categories for the 2010 Awards are…
  • Blog of the year, Svaha!
  • Best Post of the Year
  • Best Achievement in Skilled Writing
  • Best Achievement Blogging on Buddhist Practice or Dharma
  • Best Buddhist Practice Blog
  • Best "Life" Blog
  • Best Blogging on Matters Philosophical, Psychological or Scientific
  • Best Achievement in Kind and Compassionate Blogging
  • Best Achievement Blogging Opinion Pieces or about Political Issues
  • Best Engage-the-World Blog
  • Best Achievement in Design
  • Best Achievement in Wide Range of Topic Interests Blogging
  • Best Achievement with Humor in a Blog Post

November 4, 2010

What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be human?

An essay in the Arts section of the Unte Reader blog, titled “A New Way to Act,” by David Doody, tells us that acting/performing has moved beyond the Method method to something new because what it means to be human isn’t now what it was.

It’s a weird essay on the face of it: A declaration that being human has changed, yet that provocative statement is sublimated to the idea that acting must now be done differently.

Acting as it is, and shouldn’t be, declares Doody, is one of mimicry. A performance like that of Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire is [quoting Sheila Heti],
… a version of the human as a deeply individual, emotionally rooted being, with psychological depth, continuity of self, and a past that profoundly affects present behaviour and relationships
Doody tells us, citing Heti, that humans today
… have moved from the Freudian era toward cognitive behavioral therapy, meaning that “we are not determined by our past experiences….We are now in an age in which to be human means, in part, to be able to choose what sort of human one wants to be.” As Heti sees it, our actors have not followed the trend, but rather are still attempting to act the way Brando did. Even the best of this acting, Heti sees as bad, as it is only “high mimicry.”
So, is Doody [really, Heti] right? Has the nature of being human changed because of the new trend? Was the old Army ad perhaps wrong then, but right, now? We can “be all you we want to be?” Or do we still drag the ball-and-chain of our prior conditioning in a continuity of self?

At the end of his essay, Doody fully bails on Heti, who is inspired by sight of the next leap in how acting should be.
So what, exactly, would Heti want to see replace the form of acting so commonly used today? She gives one example: the artist Ryan Trecartin’s videos. The characters in these videos have “no personality at the core” and “[t]here is no sense that [they] have what we consider an emotional history, or have lived days and years prior to the moment they are currently living on screen before us.” Other than that, she pretty much offers only a call to duty for screenwriters and actors to discover what the next stage of acting will be.
It’s all very odd, but surely there is some truth to the idea that human society/relationships/'senses or self' go through radical changes over the course of ages [and maybe, now, decades] that we find hard to fathom.

The acting in the 20s and 30s seems wholly artificial to us. While it can be pleasurable to watch an old Bette Davis movie, her performance doesn’t fell like it is representative of a real person. Ditto Marlon Brando; he’s archly theatrical and emotionally unstable. His performance seems like “acting,” not being real.

I know from reading books about how people used to think in ages past that the sense of ‘what being human is’ changes. Living in a “world” that is really only just within a few miles of where you were born is profoundly different than knowing the news of what goes on everywhere on the planet. Reading the newspapers or going online makes us different, and that difference isn’t necessarily better or ‘more knowing.’

Before the Renaissance period [say, befor 1450AD], people had no real conception of history. Things changed so slowly that people didn’t think in terms of change. They thought everything was very much like it had always been. History was recorded in a jumble; there was no timeline. There was no sequence of events to tell a story of advancement or change or 'reason why/how things changed or could change.'

What meaning life had was necessarily found in religion, since there was little else. Whereas today we can see the planet being in a world of dangers [global warming; terrorism] and adventures [longer lifespans; new technological gizmos; constant profound and surprising scientific discoveries], in the past, life was almost wholly one of duty.

But how are we today? WHO are we today?

Maybe we’re journeying to a place where living vicariously in the movies is feeling phony. Maybe we’re benumbed by not knowing who we are or what we’re supposed to be.

Maybe the prior paragraph in this blogpost is phony. Maybe I don’t know what to think or write to conclude things, here. Maybe it’s annoying that I’m getting all postmodern about now, losing my seriousness and thinking more about what I want for lunch rather than being respectful of all you blog readers. [Hmmm. Hannah’s Deli!? Mmmmm.]

October 25, 2010

Affirming the intrinsic worth of all conscious beings

There are certain kinds of events that take us out of ourselves, that allow us to transcend or break out of the egocentric circle of concerns that all too often binds our thinking life. A possible beginning is a romantic episode in which another conscious being becomes a passionate object of interest. The being of the other assumes an intense importance that, if it lasts long enough, can mature into an appreciation of the other as a kind of hero, struggling against existential limitations to which they are ultimately destined to lose. This mature appreciation of the other would be an ugly narcissism if focused on the self; but focused on the other, it can be a model for, eventually and personally, affirming the intrinsic worth of all conscious beings.

Written by Joe Frank Jones, III, from "Introduction to The Pluralist symposium on Ralph D. Ellis's 'Spiritual Partnership and the Affirmation of the Value of Being'.(Critical essay)." in the Fall 2006 issue of The Pluralist, preceding Ellis's long essay "Spiritual Partnership and the Affirmation of the Value of Being"
---
Update 10/26/10:  I note that today the splendid William Harryman posted sentiment that one should be compassionate with oneself in his Integral Options Cafe blog:  "Om - Create Time for Self-Compassion."

The issue rages on, for me.  Are there times, or people, for whom being compassionate with oneself is appropriate? Are there others of us that are better 'served' by always batting our ego down in whack-a-mole style!?  I guess we each need to choose for ourself, BUT the choice we are inclined to make is, perhaps, not the best for us.