Monday, October 26, 2009

down the drain

A heavy-drinking man, middle-aged man, who has since lost his job, been divorced, jaded, subject to sudden flashes of anger, and known for erratic, aggressive remarks, advised me, as we sat in a bar back in 1980, to not piss my life down the drain. That image stuck with me. I got up to use the urinal and reflected on his words as golden fluid flowed down the white porcelain niche to the little hockey pucked shaped deodorant pad sitting above the metal drain. Those old arch-shaped porcelain pissers, it felt like being in church to stand there and empty the bladder, a venerable bodily function, a clear stream of beer piss providing a connection to the underworld as the mind sailed away in a wash of pleasant sensations.

It's now 2009, at what age does youth end and middle-age begin? I didn't play the game, missed a lot of opportunity, made disastrous decisions, experienced a fair amount of upheaval, but also got educated, gained some experience, went here and there, nothing to write home about, as a Celine character liked to say. But it's ok. It's enough, no big deal. Everybody does it. Everybody has their tale of ups and downs. Each person's story is a big deal to that person. Scream as loud as you like, for help, or in attempt to get someone's attention. Most people are too busy trying to find help and get attention to hear your cry for help or notice your attempt to be noticed.

The best thing to do, I conclude, is to learn how to be alone, confident, resourceful and imaginative. Don't expect anything from anyone. People are too busy expecting. Great expectations, if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (read a recent email from a friend. I immediately jumped up and clapped hands). It's ok to be happy sometimes. People prefer it when you're not happy. If you're happy, someone is bound to be jealous or suspicious. It takes courage to manifest as a happy person. When you walk into a gathering of people and smile, subconsciously, people will band together to make sure that smile gets wiped off your face. However, if you're happy and confident, your smile will reduce such people to the level of worms. They'll slink back to their private misery, after doing all in their power to create obstacles in your life. But the obstacles they create could be turned into new opportunities. Aggressive, miserable colleagues mobbed me at work. I lost my job. I now have a year to relax and figure out what to do next. So in a way, I could thank them. Their jealous desire to wipe the smile off my face has caused me to smile even more.

Ok, I know this is a lot of nonsense. Life is not fun; however once born, there's no choice but to keep on living. Eventually death will turn this body into a corpse and provide relief from the agony of existence.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


After coming home from the café, I sat at the kitchen table to read a book about knowledge and understanding, about various ways in which a person describes or attempts to understand reality, or the nature of things. The clock tick on the wall has become soothing. It’s a good mix, the soft, comforting click of the clock, and the beat of my heart, ringing in the ears, and breathing. I’m able to concentrate and read philosophy. The humor of philosophy is that nobody has the final word; the mysteries of life are never eliminated. Concept is limited by the nature of being concept. Understanding can only go so far before it reaches the limit of reason or thinking.

Beyond reason, your guess is as good as mine. The sky is the limit. Imagine whatever you like. Some people enjoy creating fantasies to plaster over what can’t be explained. If the fantasy is seductive or pleasing enough, one might even forget that it’s just a fantasy and begin to treat the fantasy as fact. Through force of habit, the fantasy turns into belief. Belief solidifies into faith. Presto: one becomes effectively sealed off from the nature of things. One sinks into comfortable distortion, the simplification provided by faith and belief. Naïve views about reality and strong emotions become a way of life. If anyone dares to argue, you could get angry and then the person would stop arguing and either agree, keep quiet or go away.

As for the nature of things, I have not much to say, except that it's helpful to examine the various ways in which one creates fiction and fools oneself into believing that which is not. The act of recognizing self-deception opens the mental horizon. One could plunge into the vast and profound ocean of existence, without trying to shrink it down to personal size.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doctor Narine, Nosturologist

Another Dance of Death photo. Each photo has a story. As the dance progresses, it might be nice to share some of the stories.

The above image shows Dr. Narine, an ear specialist posing as an expert on noses, in order to work his way through top security into a nurses' residence. What an unscrupulous man! Such a sleaze, led by desire to peep into nurses' nostrils!

He worked three years examining ears, but then went through fragmentation. Intense attention to sound caused his identity to crumble. To get an idea of what this means, pause for a moment and listen. Most obviously, you'll hear outer sounds. In an apartment you might hear the sound of a refrigerator, or the hum of the furnace or purr of air vents, the sound of traffic outside, the neighbor flushing the toilet or washing the dishes, the thump of bass from the neighbors below, someone making love upstairs and so on. Next, listen to sounds of your own body, the sound of your breathing, the sound of blood rushing through the veins. Listen to the sound of the ears, a kind of ringing. The ears contain a scale of sounds. If you listen carefully, you will hear them. Next, listen to inner sounds, or the sound of thoughts in your head. Sometimes thoughts have voices. Some thoughts have a male voice, others a female voice. Some thoughts are melodic, others mumble, growl, complain, preach, proclaim, plead, pander, whimper and wheedle, voices happen in an infinite variety of tones. Do this exercise for fifteen minutes and then you'll understand how someone could take it the wrong way and end up at a complete loss of who or what one was pretending to be.

This happened to Dr. Narine. His behavior became so bizarre, he was forced to quit his practice as an ear specialist. Oh no, this is getting too long for the little space of this post. I'll have to continue in future posts. I'll tell the story on radio tomorrow and also on Tuesday night, how Dr. Narine went from being an ear specialist to an expert on nostrils and his adventures at a nurses' residence.

The Aggression in Me

The above picture is part of a work in progress called: Lohbado's Dance of Death. Dance of Death is a respected genre, popularized during the middle ages, during the time of the plagues. One of the most famous death dances was Holbein's series of woodcuts, The Dance of Death.

Death is part of everyday life. It's not something to fear. For example, what happened to five minutes ago, or to yesterday, last year or ten years ago? What happens to this instant? Where does it go? Could you even find the essence of this instant? Are you afraid of what's going to happen to right now? I'm defining death as impermanence. Look at photos of yourself from ten, or twenty years ago. What happened to the person that existed then?

What about aggression? Aggression sometimes bubbles up in me, like dark clouds. Grandmother used to complain about how the bile would back up into her face. At times, her talk became erratic and belligerent, so much bitterness and anger. Where does it come from? I thought about the aggression in me, and then thought of the Jim Thompson novel The Killer Inside Me, published in 1952. What is the origin of aggression? What is it all about?

Before jumping in with predictable ideas that we've all heard many times, take a look at the aggression in you. Sit up straight and look at it. That's what I'm doing. Look at the aggression, but don't act out. Practice non-aggression. Some of the "disturbing" images I create might be considered aggressive. They're actually an attempt to look at aggression, to try and see it for what it is and at the same time, to contemplate death, or rather, to contemplate life. What does it mean to be a physical, thinking being? What is this life all about?

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Healing cream, balm, salve, rub, antibiotic ointment, various healing substances applied to the skin for a variety of purposes, it's all part of the healing process. Jesus made ointment using mud and saliva. He rubbed the mixture in a blind man's eyes and the man was able to see (John 9: 1 - 12).

I overheard a wise man spouting wisdom at the cafe in a strip mall the other day. He said western medicine is a disappointment. He went to the dermatologist about a skin condition and got the same advice the doctor gave to everyone. His mother had a liver transplant. Using different disciplines before she was dying, a herbalist asked her to take thistle tea.

"Chinese have been using it for three thousand years. Don't know what it does. Give it a try. Some doctors are more open-minded than others. Energetic body things come out," said the man, loud enough for everyone in the cafe to hear.

Coconut smelling sun screen, urine colored glass of brandy, bubbles on top, I sat in the comfort of the kitchen, a drink to soften the rough edge of reality and thought about his words . "If you use the word "maybe", people stop listening right away, because it suggests that what you propose won't work. You go in there and say, ok, here's what we're going to do. You do it. Then if problems arise, at least you're in the game; whereas if you say "maybe", or indicate any uncertainty, you won't get past go."