Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Secret Knowledge?

This morning, I found a quote in Ishmael that is related to the quote I posted by Kurt Vonnegut a few weeks back. Here is the quote by Vonnegut:

“Meditation is holy to me, for I believe that all the secrets of existence and nonexistence are somewhere in our heads - or in other people's heads. And I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This is to me is a miracle.”

Here is the one I found in Ishmael:

"I didn't want a guru or a kung fu master or spiritual director. I didn't want to become a sorcerer or learn the zen of archery or meditate or align my chakras or uncover past incarnations. Arts and disciplines of that kind are fundamentally selfish; they're all designed to benefit the pupil - not the world. I was after something else entirely, but it wasn't in the Yellow Pages or anywhere else I could discover.

In Hermann Hesse's "The Journey to the East," we never find out what Leo's awesome wisdom consists of. This is because Hesse couldn't tell us what he himself didn't know. He was like me - he just yearned for there to be someone in the world like Leo, someone with a secret knowledge and a wisdom beyond his own. In fact, of course, there is no secret knowledge; no one knows anything that can't be found on a shelf in the public library. But I didn't know that then." [Daniel Quinn, Pg. 5, Ishmael]

Monday, January 30, 2012

More on God

More childhood question answered. Lewis Mumford on God:

"For mark this: if one puts God at the beginning, as the creator of all things, he becomes a monstrous being, as the God of the Old Testament in fact seemed to the sensitive Manichees, who took note of his irrational angers and his bloody commands long before Voltaire. That God is a god of matter, bestiality, darkness, and pain: not a god of love and light. If, on the other hand, one attempts to unbind deity from responsibility for having produced a world half lost to the powers of darkness and death, by promising some redemption, at least for man, in an eternal future which will balance up accounts and make love prevail: if one does this one seems to turn a brutal god into a demented one, a creature capable of condemning human beings to an eterneity of torture for sins committed in the briefest of lifetimes: a savagely disproportionate system of punishment repulsive to reason and justice. If the God who permitted the slaughter of the innocent in the Lisbon earthquake shocked Voltaire, what would he have said to the God who permitted his creatures to invent the insane horrors of Buchenwald and Auschwitz?

Neither faith nor reason could bring such complete defilements and miscarriages of life within the compass of human acceptance, if a divine purpose actually presided over all the occasions of human life. Plainly, if there is a loving God he must be impotent: but if he is omniponent, truly responsible for all that happens within his domain, capable of heeding even the sparrow's fall, he can hardly be a loving God. Such contradictions drive honest minds to atheism: the empty whirl and jostle of atoms becomes more kind to human reason than such a deity." [Lewis Mumford, Pg. 71, The Conduct of Life]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Competent Gods

"In fact, the real gods of the world--if there are any--are competent gods. They created a world that functions perfectly, without divine oversight or intervention. If we don't curb our population growth, the built-in processes of the world will take care of it." [Daniel Quinn, Pg. 61, If They Give You Lined Paper Write Sideways]

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Part of an answer to some of the childhood questions I've asked (related to yesterday's post).

"If God is willing to prevent evil but unable to do so, then he's impotent. If he's able to prevent evil but willing to, then he's corrupt. And so, since evil certainly exists, God is either impotent or corrupt and therefore cannot be God."[Daniel Quinn, Pg.163, If They Give You Lined Paper Write Sideways]

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some Childhood God Questions

Growing up through the eighties and early nineties (I was born in 1974) I was always concerned about our impact on the environment. I mean it was twenty some odd years after Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring", so the message was out there for all those that wanted to see. Of course, being a typical kid, I wanted to see anything and everything I could lay my eyes on. And it was obvious that we were destroying the planet. So some of the questions that I asked on occasion were: Why are we destroying such a beautiful place? And why, if God created it all, is he allowing it to happen? And, also, why if he created us did he program us to do this? You'd think an all-seeing and all-knowing God would know better.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Twenty Years Since

This coming Ocotber it will be 20 year since I move from southern Wisconsin to northwestern Wisconsin. Why? Well, the plan was to live with my grandparents and save up some money for tech school. My grandpa was a logger and owned logging machinery. So, I lived with them and logged for about 6 years, never went to tech school, and was fortunate enough to save up some money. But looking back I think that was only part of the reason I moved up north, because before I moved up I also made it clear to myself that I wanted to become a man in the process.

This morning, while watching the fire in the masonry stove burn down, it occured to me that since I was reading Robert Bly's "Iron John" close to 20 years after my explicit desire to become a man that I obviously still have work to do. But, I wonder, if there is ever a final threshold that has to be crossed in this quest to become a man? We'll see, I guess. Onward.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Something Beyond the Busy Life

A few days ago, I got out of bed and wanted to do nothing but sit in the woods. Just sit and listen to the sounds around me, watch for movements, smell and breathe the cold winter air, and feel the cold northwestern Wisconsin wind blow across my uncovered face. But, I didn't. I was busy and had things I needed to do.

Now this feeling has occasionally arisen in me for the past 25 years. It didn't matter if I was at home or at school or heading off to the logging job. Most of the time I've ignored it, but there are times when I don't and I seem never to regret it.

I was paging through Robert Bly's "Iron John" and found this brief passage while looking for another quote I had in mind to include in a post:

"The Wild One in you is that one which is willing to leave the busy life, and able to be called away.

The strong leaves of the box-elder tree,
Plunging in the wind, call us to disappear
Into the wilds of the universe,
Where we shall sit at the foot of a plant,
And live forever, like the dust." [Robert Bly, Pg.223, Iron John]

I've sat with plants in the past, and hope to do more of it in the future. And the few times I have sat with them living forever did cross my mind. I just might be starting to understand why that is. Thank you Mr. Bly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happened Again

Yesterday, I wrote: "There are times when I'm reading a book and I will notice a different author has said something similar. I will then head over to the bookshelf, pull down the book, and look for the quote. This morning it happened."

Well, this morning it happened again. I started out with Lewis Mumford and ended with Robert Bly's book about Henry David Thoureau.

"The new attitude toward time and space infected the workshop and the counting house, the army and the city. The tempo became faster: the magnitudes became greater: conceptually, modern culture launched itself into space and gave itself over to movement. What Max Weber called the "romanticism of numbers" grew naturally out of this interest. In time-keeping, in trading, in fighting, men counted numbers: and finally, as the habit grew, only numbers counted." [Lewis Mumford, Pg. 278, Interpretations and Forecasts]

"To many Americans in the generation of the 1840's it felt as if the United States had fallen into mesmeric attention to external forces and a shameless obedience to them. The swift development of the Northeast, with its numerous factories, its urban workshops for immigrants, its network of free-acting capitalists, its centralized industry, showed that external forces can and do overwhelm forces of soul and conscience, changing everyone's life for the worse. To many in New England it felt as if some sort of Village King had been killed; the ancient, grounded religious way was passing; a new dispensation had arrived, The sovereign of the new administration was not a king or a human being, but what Blake called "a ratio of numbers," and this ominous, bodiless king lived in the next county, the next state, the next planet. Living under the power of a bodiless king is a bad way to live." [Robert Bly, Pg. 3, The Winged Life]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Headed to the Bookshelf

There are times when I'm reading a book and I will notice a different author has said something similar. I will then head over to the bookshelf, pull down the book, and look for the quote. This morning it happened.

As I said before, I've been reading different parts of Walking on Water for inspiration. While at it I ran across this excerpt:

I ask a student to give an opinion. She says, "We need wild salmon."


She's fast: "Diversity is strength."

"Why is that important?"

"Wild communities with the most diversity are the most stable. If there is some disaster, they're more able to recover."

"Why do you care about that?"

She thought, then came back with, "The strength that diversity gives is not only to the physical world, but also to the mental and emotional world. Everything has a lesson for our human communities, not in any woo-woo way of talking fish but in the way we have always learned how to live in a particular place. Observing and cooperating with everything around us has been the basis of our species evolution and our personal development. More diverse habitat means more lessons, which means more chance of our own survival within that paritclar habitat." [Derrick Jensen, Pg.106, Walking on Water]

I open up Doug Brown's "Roadmap to Sustainability: Interpreting Daniel Quinn"

This is not what Q [Daniel Quinn] means by the Community of Life. The Community of Life and community-through-diversity are not subjective states of being that make people or living things FEEL good. The diversity in the Connunity of Life is an objective criterion essential to maintaining the community. Community is structural and material component of the life process, as is the biodiversity that correlates with it. Humans have difficulty understanding this. And there is a reason for why they don't get it: once humankind stepped out of the Communtiy of Life, or more precisely believed that it did, then in its divorced state as Taker civilizations, it alienated itself from the objective dimension of communtiy and began to liken community to a feeling of "sameness"-to a subjective feeling of belonging together as humans in which diversity became suspect. Community for the Taker way became a means to retrieve what was lost and abandoned in the civilizational process of divorcing itself from the true Communtiy of Life." [Doug Brown, Pg. 17, Roadmap to Sustainability]

So, diversity is what we're after. And it's something that we rarely ever talk about. We're in trouble.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eight Years Later

I mentioned yesterday that I was reading Derrick Jensen's "Walking on Water" for writing inspiration. This morning I turned to the title page and found that it read: "To Curt, It's time to work miracles, it's time to walk on water. Derrick Jensen, 2/19/04 Occupied Tunes"

What surprised me is that next month it will be 8 years since he signed and sent me that book. It sure doesn't feel like it's been eight years. And it's sort of funny because I can remember how much I anticipated for this book to show up in my mailbox. It was worth every penny I paid for it, that's probably why I find myself opening it up 8 years later.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stuck With Me

Found myself reading some books about writing for inspiration this morning. These lines stuck with me throughout the day: "As is true for most people I know, I've always loved learning. As is also true for most people I know, I always hated school. Why is that? [Derrick Jensen, Pg.3, Walking on Water]

They speak to my experience of schooling.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Off to Work

Off to carry mail for the postal service today. This morning, while watching the fire in the masonry stove, I got the chance to read more of Micheal Perry's "Handbook for Freelance Wriging. I'm glad he put this line in there: "First, you must read for yourself. I'm not an academically prepared writer; I have a bachelor's degree in nursing, for Pete's sake. I consider myself a dilettante. I keep waiting to get caught; for someone to say, hey wait a minute, this guy's FAKING it! Not only am I not well-versed in the academics of literature, I can barely hum the chorus.When I'm in literary company, I feel the impostor. I have the greatest respect for those with an understanding of the mechanics and theory of writing, regardless of the genre. I can't diagram a sentence. I can't define the terms split infinitive or comma splice. But I can string together generally acceptable prose. Why? I have to believe it's a result of reading." [Pg.13]

I use to think to become a writer you had to know the mechanics of writing before you could become one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Usage of Quotes

Periodically I wonder why I like to use quotes. Alot of my thoughts are quotes. Of course, there are many reasons why I think I do. One of the answers to my question is found in this quote (Surprise!) by Kurt Vonnegut. Ever since reading "Palm Suday" on those cold winter mornings back in the old farmhouse next to the woodstove it has stuck with me.

“Meditation is holy to me, for I believe that all the secrets of existence and nonexistence are somewhere in our heads - or in other people's heads. And I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This is to me is a miracle.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stopped in My Tracks

I had half a post written out until I came across this quote looking for another quote that I wanted to use in this post. "We've lost our ability to believe that God is unequivocally on our side against the rest of creation." [Daniel Quinn, Pg. 284, The Story of B]

This post was going to be about what I think about most of the political letters written in to the editor of our local newspaper. But after reding that quote I don't have anything to say about those letters. I can't really name it, but there is something in that quote that cuts to the heart of the matter for me this morning.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mow the Roof?

Yesterday a reader wrote and asked for a cordwood update (For those of you who don't know my family and I built a cordwood house a few years back). Over the years I have considered writing up an essay, or perhaps even a book, about our cordwood building experience. Right now, given how busy I am with the life's demands, I'm going to stick to with the occasional small post on this blog. I have a small window of time to write in the morning, and that's usually a couple of hours before the sun comes up. Perhaps some day I will have more time to sit down and put together some thing more significant.

The question we are most often asked about our cordwood house is: Do you put goats up there to mow your roof? First, all parties involved chuckle, then one of us goes on to answer no. I can only imagine what sort of catastrophe would materialize with such an endeavor. My biggest fear would be a goat falling off the edge of our house and hanging itself. Or every time the goat stepped out to the edge to take a bite of grass we'd lose some of our roof.

I think mowing it would defeat the purpose. The longer grass helps keep the dirt moist. And plus I really don't like to mow grass

Monday, January 16, 2012

Are You a Believer?

A few months back a coworker asked me if I was a believer. She, of course, was referring to God. I told her that, no, I really do not believe in anything. She was sort of taken aback by my statement. I think she assumed I was an atheist. I really didn't have the time, or the ability to explain myself clearly and coherently without pulling out a copy of "If They Give you Lined Paper Write Sideways." Plus, her husband is trying to survive late stage brain cancer, so I wouldn't even try. But I will post the excerpt out of Lined Paper here for anyone that is ever faced with the belief in God question. And typing it out might help me some day come up with an answer that I can put in my own words.

Elaine. Of course...I have a question of my own. It's probably been asked many times.

Daniel. Go ahead.

Elaine. We've been talking about living in the hands of the gods.

Daniel. Yes?

Elaine. But you never make it quiet clear whether you BELIEVE in these gods, or any god.

Daniel. When Ishmael talk about the gods...Let me start that a different way. The subject of Ishmael is the unrecognized and unacknowledged mythology of our culture, which Ishmael formulates as a story that spells out the relationships among Man, the world, and the gods. In this context the gods are mythological, which is not to say that they're unreal but rather that their reality is irrelevant. The world was made for Man to conquer and rule, and Man was made to conquer and rule it--according to our mythology. It goes without saying that this is a divinely appointed mission. The Europeans who drove the Indians off their lands and put that land to the plow sincerely believed they were doing God's work.

Elaine. Yes, I understand that. But I don't see how it answers my question.

Danie. Which is, do I believe in God.

Elaine. Yes, I guess so.

Daniel. Being a Martian anthropologist, I have to pull back from your question, have to take off the blinders you're asking me to wear. Believing in things that may not exist--or disbelieving in things that MAY exist--is a peculiarity of your culture, not a universal human activity. Because it's universal among you, you assume it's universal among humans in general.

Elaine. That's true. It never occurred to me that it might not be universal among humans.

Daniel. You variously believe in God, though God may not exist, or you disbelieve in God, though God may exist. You variously believe in angels, though angels may not exist, or you disbelieve in angels, though angels may exist. You variously believe in extraterrestrial spacecraft that have the world under surveillance, though these spacecraft may not exist, or disbelieve in them, though they may exist. You variously believe in ghosts, though ghosts may not exist, or you dibelieve in ghosts, though ghosts may exist.

Elaine. Yes, that's all true.

Daniel. Tell me, do you believe in supermodels?

Elaine[laughing]. Supermodels? I don't BELIEVE in them. That isn't the word I would use.

Daniel. For you, the existence of supermodels doesn't require you to exercise the faculty of belief.

Elaine. That's true. Though I've never thought of belief as a faculty.

Daniel. Oh it definitely is. It's the faculty you must call upon in the face of the absurd. As William of Occam put it, Credo quia absurdum: "I believe because it is absurd." A thing whose reality doesn't seem to you absurd doesn't require belief.

Elaine. Yes, I suppose that's true. But the existence of God doesn't strike me as absurd.

Daniel. It's absurd in the sense that no one can produce even the slightest evidence of God's existence. They can produce PROOFS, but these are only valid if you accept the premises on which they're based. If you don't accept those premises, then they're just empty exercises in logic.

Elaine. I suppose I'm dimly aware that such things exist.

Daniel. Another faculty exists that is a kind of cousin of the faculty of belief. This is the faculty that comes into play with regard to supermodels. You PEOPLE THE WORLD with supermodels. Fifty years ago there were no supermodels, but in the last few decades you have peopled your world with them. A hundred years ago there were no movie stars, but since then you've peopled your world with hundreds of them. Europe in the Middle Ages was peopled with saints.

Elaine. Yes, I see what you mean.

Daniel. The Gebusi of New Guinea consort with spirits on a daily basis. Their world is peopled with spirits, and if you were to ask them if they believe in spirits, they would react just the way you did when I asked if you believe in supermodels... But to return to your original question, I have to say the faculty of belief has completely atrophied in me. It strikes me as foolish to believe in things that may not exist -- or to deny the existence of things that may exist. Nonetheless, I've peopled my own personal universe with gods who have a care for all living things. I don't pray to these gods or build shrines to them or expect favors from them or perform rituals for them. Nor do I expect other people to 'believe' in these gods or to people their own universes with them.

Elaine. I understand. This resolves a question that was very much on my mind--and is probably on the minds of many of your readers.

Daniel. What question is that?

Elaine. I imagine a great many of your readers consider you a nonbeliever.

Daniel. I assume you mean a nonbeliever in the Judeo-Christian God.

Elaine. In any kind of god.

Daniel. I'm afraid I don't know whether that's true or not. But I'm not sure why this is relevant. Or what question I've resolved for you.

Elaine. You've explained how it was possible for you to write a book like "Tales of Adam," in which the gods figure so prominently.

Daniel. Yes...?

Elaine. Some readers must wonder if you were writing from the heart or if it was just a sort of...poetic re-creation of the animist worldview.

Daniel. Someone might imagine that I'd merely adopted an animist persona--a false or alien persona--for literary purposes, as James Hogg did in writing his "Confessions of a Justified Sinner."

Elaine. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that.

Daniel. It's a classic that enjoys a sort of cult status. To write it, Hogg had to adopt a persona diametrically opposed to his own, that of an extreme predestinarian, one who believes that one's salvation or damnation was ordained unalterably by God from the beginning of time. Believing himself to be of the elect, regardless of any sin he might commit, the narrator considered himself "justified" even as he murdered his brother, his mother, and others, and allowed others to be hanged for his crimes. The book, Written in the early 1820s, decades ahead of its time, was received with scorn and fell into obscurity until being redicovered by authors like Robert Louis Stevenson and Andre Gide...In any case, you can be sure that the Tales were definitely written "from my heart," to use your phrase.

Elaine. I didn't doubt it.

Daniel. So...Where are we? I take it we've disposed of the question of my personal beliefs.

Elaine. Yes. ( pages 48-53, If They Give You Lined Paper Write Sideways)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nature and Understanding

Putting together some ideas from others here. The other day I posted a quote by Ran Prieur in which he paraphrased the Tao Te Ching. Ran wrote: "This reminds me of a verse from the Tao Te Ching, which I would paraphrase as: 'When you lose touch with the Tao, there is nature; when you lose touch with nature, there is human morality; when you lose touch with human morality, there is law.'"

I was paging through Daniel Quinn's "If They Give You Lined Paper Write Sideways" and found this quote: "The received wisdom [Of our culture] is that such a thing as Nature EXISTS, that it is a veridical entity out there--as real and substantial as the US Congress or the Roman Catholic Church--enjoying a separate existence from our own. This is the entity people are thinking of when they say that they 'love Nature' or would like to be 'closer to Nature.'"(Pg.79) He then goes on to say later on in the dialogue, "The distinction between 'us' and 'it' [Nature] is a cultural construct, and a very old one."(Pg.80)

As a culture, we've lost touch with alot more then just the Tao. The gulf between mind and matter is vast...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Becoming Holy

Today, while doing the mail route I listened to "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." One of the things that I found amazing was the speed of his conversion to Islam. Here is a quote that I think expresses to some degree why his conversion was so fast: "The old tradition says that if a man loves God he can become holy in twenty years; but if he hates God he can do the same work in two years." [Robert Bly, Pg. 48, The Little Book on the Shadow]

Friday, January 13, 2012

Caught My Attention

This quote from Ran Prieur's blog caught my attention:

"This reminds me of a verse from the Tao Te Ching, which I would paraphrase as: 'When you lose touch with the Tao, there is nature; when you lose touch with nature, there is human morality; when you lose touch with human morality, there is law.'"

Some day soon I'm going to pick up an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What is The Law of Limited Competition?

What is the Law of Limited Competition? Dr. Alan Thornhill answered it over at the Ishmael Community:

"You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food. Lions and hyenas will kill competitors opportunistically (as will other creatures, like baboons), but the law as stated holds true: they do not HUNT their competitors the way they hunt their prey. That is, they'll kill a competitor if they come across one (especially in conflict over food when food is scarce), but in the absence of a competitor, they won't go looking for one to kill. Such behavior would be evolutionarily unstable. (See THE SELFISH GENE by R. Dawkins.) As a strategy, it just doesn't pay off to use your time and energy hunting competitors that you DON'T eat (and that will fight back to the death) instead of using your time and energy to hunt prey that you DO eat. It's not a matter of ethics, it's a matter of calories.*"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

After Dachau and Eliminating Competition

More on the theme of elimination competition. This is an excerpt from "After Dachau." In that book the Nazis had successfully purged the human race of the mongrel races and the only race left was the Aryan race. Here is one of characters describing the inevitability of the Aryan's success:

"The story of human evolution doesn't follow the same pattern as the evolution of other creatures. When reptiles emerged from the amphibians, they didn't destroy the amphibians. When mammals emerged from the reptiles, they didn't destory the reptiles. But the same is not true for humans. Among humans, each emerging species apparently destroyed the species from which it emerged. This explains why none of those earlier species survived to the present time. In fact, most biologists feel this accounts for the tremendous speed with which humans evolved from lower forms. So we Aryans were only doing what humans have done from the beginning. [Daniel Quinn, Pg.125, After Dachau]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Control of Nature

While reading Lewis Mumford's perspective on Karl Marx I came across this quote: "At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy."--Karl Marx [Pg.204, Interpretations and Forecasts]

Monday, January 09, 2012

Working Defintion of Capitalism

Occasionally I make my way over to the bookshelf and pull down Doug Brown's book "Roadmap to Sustainability: Interpreting Daniel Quinn." Today was one of those days. I'm trying to understand why we value products over people.

"Our working definition of capitalism is 'individuals competing to get ahead.' In other words the essence of the market and profit-driven system is competition, along with the relentless pursuit to eliminate it."[Doug Brown, Pg. 41, Roadmap to Sustainability]

I'll see where this leads me.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Understanding the Acorn Theory

More quotes out of James Hillman's "The Soul's Code." This will be the last day of the parenting and adulthood thread. Also, there are more quotes then usual in this post partly because it is in memory of Mr. Hillman who passed away at the end of October in 2011.

He's speaking to adults here:

"I want us to envision that what children go through has to do with finding a place in the world for their specific calling. They are trying to live two lives at once, the one they were born with and the one of the place and among the people they were born into." [James Hillman, Pg. 13, The Soul's Code]

"So this book is about children, offering a way to regard them differently, to enter their imaginations, and to discover in their pathologies what their daimon might be indicating and what their destiny might want." [James Hillman, Pg. 14, The Soul
s Code]

"A child defends its daimon's dignity. That's why even a frail child at a 'tender' age refuses to submit to what it feels is unfair and untrue and reacts so savagely to abusive misperecptions. The idea of childhood abuse needs to be expanded beyond the sexual kind--which is so vicious not principally because it is sexual, but because it abuses the dignity at the core of personality, that acorn of myth."[Hillman, Pg.27 The Soul's Code.]

He explains what the acorn theory or "acorn of myth" is here:

"The acorn theory proposes, and I will bring evidence for the claim that you and I and every single person is born with a defining image. Individuality resides in a formal cause--to use old philosophical language going back to Aristotle. We each embody our own idea, in the language of Plato and Plotinus. And this form, this idea, this image does not tolerate too much straying. The theory also attributes to this innate image an angelic or daimonic intention, as if it were a spark of consciousness; and, moreover, holds that it has our interest at heart because it chose us for its reasons."[James Hillman, Pg. 12, The Soul's Code]

I like the idea the it has chosen us and has our interests at heart. If you ever want to read a good autobiography that supports this idea pick up "Providence", by Daniel Quinn. I think he did an amazing job at showing how his daimon guided him throughout his life.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Parental Fallacy

James Hillman talking about the parental fallacy.

"A 'happy' child was never and nowhere the aim of parenting. An industrious, useful child; a malleable child; a healthy child; an obedient, mannerly child; a stay-out-of-trouble child; a God-fearing child; an entertaining child--all these varieties, yes. But the parental fallacy has trapped the parents also in providing happiness, along with shoes, schoolbooks, and van-packed vacations. Can the unhappy produce happiness? Since happiness at its ancient source means EUDAIMONIA or a well-pleased
daimon, only a daimon who is receiving its due can transmit a happy benefit to a child's soul." [James Hillman, Pg. 83, The Souls Code]

Friday, January 06, 2012

Children and School

More on parenting, with some schooling weaved in.

These quotes, and the section that it was pulled from, changed the way I parent and how I percieve my schooling experience. Plainly put it was dull. Of course that was thirty years ago, but from what I see things haven't changed much.

"Children don't need schooling. They need access to what they want to learn--and that means they need access to the world outside the home." [Daniel Quinn, Pg. 166, My Ishmael]

"But, of course, having your children underfoot in the workplace would seriously reduce efficiency and productivity. Even though sending them to educational detention centers is terrible for children, it's unquestionably wonderful for buisness. The system I've outlined here will never be implemented among the people of your culture as long as you value buisness over people." [Daniel Quinn, pg. 165, My Ishmael]

I especially like the part about valuing "buisness over people." I've liked it ever since I read it over a decade ago. It's clear, to me at least, that our current political and economic systems(Which schooling gets us ready for) value products over human and nonhuman life.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


I'm still following the parenting and adulthood thread. I've always considered this wise criticism.

"Parents of my generation taught our children the codes of responsibility, restraint, and renunciation, but also we taught them how to evade the codes. Stepping through the codes was a secret game among parents in the 1970s, a little payback for being a parent. That would be all right--at least humanly normal--if the code were strong. But widely vayring codes from dozens attractive cultures flood our receptors. If we want to evade a certain element in our code, the renunciation of selfishness and theivery, for example--in which the forbidden is allowed. Some of us spend our whole lives looking, successfully, for holes in the codes. When our parents teach us how to do that at the dinner table, we find those lessons very appealing. We could say that flatness lies in saying yes to everything." [Robert Bly, Pg. 232, The Sibling Society]

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Adulthood and Parenting

I'm going to stick with the adulthood theme, but this quote is going to have more to do with parenting. Ever since I've read this quote it has stuck with me. Partly, I think, because it comes from one of Robert Bly's books and mostly because I'm an active parent in the United States.

"J.B. Yeats, W.B. Yeat's father, wrote to his son after living two years in the United States, 'You know discipline is essential in every family. In Europe the children discipline themselves so that the parents can have a good time; in America the parents discipline themselves so the children can have a good time.'" [Robert Bly, Pg.38, A little Book on The Human Shadow.]

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I was looking through my notebook and found this quote that I'd written down back in the middle of November(right before deer season as a matter of fact):

"Adulthood is connected, in some mysterious way that no one understands, with the number of limitations that there are in your life."--Robert Bly

Monday, January 02, 2012


Given my lifestyle, one post a day for an entire year seems like it is going to be tough. But then I thought about this line by Robert Bly talking about Hanry David Thoreau:

"He walked two to four hours each day and noted with the most astonishing perseverance and tenacity the exact days on which wildflowers--dozens of varieties--opened in the forest. [Pg. 77, The Winged Life, Robert Bly] He then goes on to say, "Thoreau trained himself over many years to see. His training involved a number of disciplines. The first was constant labor. His journals are so immense that they must have required, during his short life, two or three hours of writing each day, over and above the walks he wrote about. Second, he aimed to become just, and in this struggle followed the ancient doctrine, contrary to scientific doctrine, that certain aspects of nature reveal themselves only to the observer who is morally developed. The alchemists founded their penetration of nature on their moral character. [Pg. 81, The Winged Life, Robert Bly]

One post a day doesn't seem so bad.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I've made my New Year's resolution: atleast one post a day on this blog. That means by this time next year my annual count should read 365. It's a lofty goal, but I'm thinking I can get at least get one quote a day posted.