Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Two-Thousand Year Curse

The other day I posted about the telephone sermon that my firewood cutting, fundamentalist Christian neighbor felt that he needed to give me. I'm a bit worried that come across as anti-Christian or anti-religious or just beyond all of that at times. I don't think I am. I was born and baptized a Christian for gods sakes. I may proclaim that I'm not Christian on the surface but below I am. The great thinker and psychologist James Hillman convinced me of this last year, and he alluded to it here in Lament of the Dead (A conversation about Jung's Red Book that I highly recommend to anyone interested in Jung's work.)

"When I'm talking about the Christians, I'm not only talking about those who are denominationally officially Christian, or go to Church or whatever. We're all Christians. We're all suffering the two-thousand year curse that has been laid on us by what you all like so much, the early Church." (Pg. 218)

Perhaps, I'm just one of the billions suffering from the two-thousand year curse.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Love Pitched Its Mansion In Excrement

The other day I called a neighbor to see if he had firewood left to sell. I soon found out that he was a fundamentalist Christian. Approximately 85% of the 30 minute telephone sermon was biblical quotes, his philosophy on how Obama is the apex of evil; how our nation is suffering because of abortions, men marrying men and women marrying women, and how he hears the lord speak to him while he's cutting firewood.

I should've cut him off five minutes into it. I don't why I didn't. I'm almost 40 and my time here is getting shorter by the day. I don't need someone telling me what they think is the truth. Oh well, here I am a few days later looking up "Crazy Jane," by William Butler Yeats because of it. I should have read him these lines:

"But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent."

Next time...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Waking The Dead

Rumi writes: "Those of you whose work it is to wake the dead, get up, this is a work day." (Pg.106, A Year With Rumi)

Me: We're up and out of bed. My son and I will be reading "My Ishmael" to each other in a few minutes. Doing what we can do to step out of the Great Forgetting into the The Great Remembering, Rumi.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Big Red Friend

I spent some time with my big, red friend this morning. I ran across this statement that Carl Jung made in a seminar back in 1930.

"We are prejudiced in regard to the animal. People don't understand when I tell them they should become acquainted with their animals or assimilate their animals. They think the animal is alway jumping over walls and raising hell all over town. Yet in nature the animal is a well-behaved citizen. It is pious, it follows the path with great regularity, it does nothing extravagent. Only man is extravagant. So if you assimilate the character of the animal you become a pecularily law-abiding citizen, you go very slowly, and you become very reasonable in your ways, in as much as you can afford it." [Pg.296, The Red Book]

It's interesting to note that the other day when I called into Wisconsin Public Radio the guest from the Wisconsin Towns Association kept repeating throughout the program that local ordinances must be reasonable. I'd say that if the citizentry assimilates the "character of the animal," as Jung recommends, a very reasonable response to any potential harm moving into a community is to simply say NO. You cannot mine our sand, spray pesticides on the fields, spread shit across a 1000 acres, or pack close to a thousand head of cattle on less than adequate acreage.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Call To WPR

I called into Wisconsin Public Radio yesterday. I don't rememeber the last time I did this. The hour long program was about local governments in Wisconsin regulating the frac-sand industry. It had two guests: One from the Wisconsin Towns Association and the other a corporate attorney representing a frac-sand company down by Eau Claire.

Here is the point I made when I called in for all the listeners to hear: This is about Community Rights. A community should have the right to say NO to a frac-sand mine. Right now, in Wisconsin, this is illegal and considered unconstitutional for a community to do. When a community forms a citizen majority and tries to say NO they run up against a structure of law that clearly shows them that a corporation has more rights than their local governing body. In other words, corporations (a legal fiction) have more rights than they do. We do not live in a democracy.

They cut me off before I could make any follow up remarks. Both guests said that I missed the point.

It's also interesting to note that during the whole hour the words "rights" and "community rights" came up once in the conversation (It's not really a conversation), and that is when I called in.

If we want to live in a democracy we've got a long road ahead of us.


Read the quote below to my 14 yr. old son this morning. He immediately got the dictionary out and looked up Eleusis and epitaph. Next we start reading "My Ishmael" to each other.

It's a good unschooling morning so far...

“Truly the blessed gods have proclaimed a most beautiful secret: death comes not as a curse but as a blessing to men.”- Ancient Greek Epitaph from Eleusis

Monday, March 24, 2014


It's at least 10 degrees below zero at sunrise this morning. That set a record for this area on this day of March according to my phenology calendar. We've been seeing mallards, Canadian geese, and hooded mergansers on the crick that runs behind the house. A few days back I saw a skunk standing on the side of the road. Still well over 2 feet of frozen snow on the ground.

Masonry stove fire roaring. Van Halen's "Unchained" playing in my head.

The other day author and psychologist Thomas Moore wrote on his Facebook page: "Freud, Jung and others explored the mysteries of the soul, but the psyche has largely gone out of modern 'psycho-logy.'"

I asked: "What would be some good indicators that the psyche has gone out of modern psychology from a therapist's perspective?"

He said: "Therapists thinking they know what a particular person should be; using only meds; using evidence-based methods; trying to change behavior instead of listening to the soul. . . ."

Off to feed the animals and start the car....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jung's Red Book

Yesterday I got the chance to pick up Carl Jung's "Red Book" from my local library through inter-library loan. The book is huge. My wife says it's bigger than a sheet-cake pan and it looks like a real page turner. She also said it'll also cure me of falling asleep in bed with a book. It's possible that it could give me a concussion or a bloody nose if I hold it just right and doze off. My son laughed at me when he walked by the kitchen table as I was reading it. He said it looks like a giant wizard's book. When I walked out of the library with it I felt like a boy again. Similar to what it felt like when I walked out of the grocery story with a new pack of baseball cards thirty years ago. Part of it, I think, is because of the sheer size of the book and the other is that I'm giddy about having it in my hands. I'm interested in reading about an intense conversation between a man and his soul.

Like usual I was looking through the footnotes and found this quote: "If he [A Man] accepts the feminine in himself, he frees himself from slavery to woman."( pg.263) D.H. Lawrence once said something like if a man doesn't organize his life around his vision he will become a slave to a woman's sex nights. I'll have to look the quote up again. I probably murdered it. I wonder if this is why some men can't live without pornography. They have a hard time accepting that other half of themselves.

That's my amatuerish psychological insight for the day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When It Finds You

"When death finds you, may it find you alive."--African proverb

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rubber Boots and Soul

I promised myself I'd read the section titled a Democrat's Platonism out of James Hillman's The Soul's Code before everyone got out of bed this morning. I did it, and it's left me with a few questions to ponder as I go about my day: Democracy has Founding Fathers, but does it have angels? Can I imagine democracy more than just a collection of opinionated victims?

Reading this section also cuts to the question that Paul Cienfuegos asked at the beginning of the We The People workshop I attended last weekend: Why are you here? I wanted to simply say for the soul, but I didn't....

Time to cut firewood then a trip to town for haircuts and new rubber boots. Our front lawn will soon be flooded and rubber boots will be required if we plan on venturing anywhere out of the house.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Pinch of Pain

This morning I find myself sitting next to the fire reading through material that I've been asked to read for a community rights workshop I'm interested in attending next weekend. The paragraph below hit me hard:

"Corporations and their owners have learned quite well that when you control the law, you can rise swiftly to power and wealth by shedding -- and shredding -- bothersome laws adopted by communities. By configuring and perpetuating a corporate culture -- that embeds corporate values into the culture: government bad, free enterprise good; jobs vs. the environment; efficiency and modernization good, leisure time bad -- people are slowly colonized to believe the unbelievable."--Thomas Linzey

We live in a corporate state. Corporations run our country. We simply go along without resisting real heavily. And if we do we know the consequences. I've known this for well over a decade now. But for some odd reason it hurts more this morning. I think the psychologist Thomas Moore referred to it as the "pinch of pain."

I don't know why. My only guess is that if one is going to stare this corporate state in the face one is going to feel pain and grief. I've learned that much on this path so far. To hold back these feelings takes more energy and just creates flatness.

The only thing I can say to myself is welcome to adulthood. You're not a child anymore. Welcome to the pain and grief of manhood. Real men know grief. Real men know how, as Robert Bly says, to go down in the ashes.

I continue on down the path from laws to legends.

We're all on it whether we like it or not.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

New Generation

The "new generation" isn't just those born at a certain time, but all of us living now. We can all cultivate a new vision.-Thomas Moore

I see Ishmael as one of the foundational building blocks of that new vision.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Belief and Believing in God

I read the quote below to my 14 year old son this morning. He's a big fan of The Percy Jackson series (My wife is actually reading it right now) and the rest of Rick Riordan's work. And he occasionally wonders out loud if the Greek Gods actually exist. The answer I usually come up with usually is: Well, Carl Jung use to have a latin saying above one of his doorways that said: "Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. ... Summoned or not summoned, The God is present."

Also, the quote below also reminds me of deer season a few years back. On the afternoon of Thanksgiving, my dad and I were in the bar having a couple of beers after registering a deer I'd just shot that morning. There was a guy about my age (I'm 39)sitting across from us that was close to falling-of-his-barstool drunk. He looked over at me and asked if I believed in Bigfoot. I shot back with, "I don't believe in anything." It just came out.

"James Hillman: Belief is captured in the realm of religion and Christianity makes a big deal of it. Credo. And the Christian God, you know, starts with the credo, I believe in Jesus Christ, and so on and so forth. That's part of the testament of faith. And I often wondered what would happen to the Gods of Christianity in no one believed in them. They require belief. If the God says you have to believe in me, then belief is what supports the God. The Greeks did not ask people to believe in their Gods. The Gods asked for certain rituals, or not to be forgotten, that was the most important thing. Not to be forgotten.

"Sonu Shamdasani: Belief automatically valorizes disbelief. To say 'believe in something' is a statement: the addressee is starting from a position of disbelief, or nonbelief, and is asked to move from that state to one of belief. This is the whole shift that Jung completely tries to discount. It's not a question of belief, nor was it a question of disbelief." [Pg.128, Lament of The Dead]

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Soul and Imagination

I had a guy tell me the other day that he didn't believe that we have souls. I don't know if we do or not. But I found this quote referring to Carl Jung and "The Red Book" interesting:

"...actually what he [Carl Jung with his Red Book] reestablished was that the psyche is a living world of imagination and that any person can descend into that world. That's your truth, that's what you are, that's what your soul is. You're in search of soul, and your soul is imagination. As Blake said, Jesus, the imagination, meaning the very creative power, the redemptive power, the strength that you are, is given to you by this remarkable thing that Coledridge called the esemplastic imagination, this force that presents itself figured. They are your teachers, they are your motivators, and they are your landscapes. That's what the habitations of your depths are. This seems to me the prophecy. I think this is the teaching that DOES come out [of the Red Book]."--James Hillman, Pg. 114, Lament of the Dead

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

One More

I had -5 F at the official sunrise this morning. It's warming up! You know that you've had bad winter when you start feeling this way.

More signs of spring are in the air. Last night, at around 8 o'clock or so, Hayden (4 yr. old) approached me wearing his spiderman suit, his left hand wearing a baseball glove holding onto an orange Ripken foam ball. We ended up tossing and rolling the ball back and forth to each other for a half-hour or so. Me on my knees in the middle of the kitchen and he standing on the pitcher's mound in the middle of our round house. He didn't catch any balls I tossed to him. He did well on grounders, though. He let me know that Cal and Billy (He's watched my Baseball Fundamentals by Ripken Baseball videos more times than I can count) taught him how to take grounders. Despite all of the missed tossed balls he doesn't give up. He'll go close to a hour and catch only a handful of balls. I'll be begging for mercy and he'll be asking me to throw "one more." Someday I'm going to have a T-shirt made that says "One More" on it. I'll wear it during baseball practices. Why? Because that is one of the most oft repeated phrases you hear when your throwing batting practice or catching pitches from Little Leaguers.

I'm afraid my son is going to one more my arm into retirement sooner then I wish. Time to load up the boys and start hauling slab wood for next winter...

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Last night at the dinner table our teenage son posed this question: "What does it mean to be sentient?" I couldn't come up with an answer off the top of my head. Which is terrible because I don't know how many times I've read about sentience in Derrick Jensen's work. Annie threw her definition out there which was being conscious of your own existence. I then fumbled around for awhile with idea of perception. Then got my feet underneath me and a head of steam and explained to him that this is the problem with our culture. Most of us at some level believe that humans are the only sentient beings on the planet. We think that we are the only ones that can perceive with our senses that we exist. The rest of the creatures are basically unfeeling machines. If we didn't think this I'd probably see a lot less frozen dead deer plowed up into the snow banks along the roadways as I deliver mail. Perhaps we wouldn't have cars or roads either.

My Webster's Random House College Dictionary that sentient is: 1. having the power of perception by the senses; conscious. 2. Characterized by sensation and consciousness.

Before posting this, Annie asked: "Isn't that why we believe animals don't have souls?"

Time to get the van warmed up to head to town for a doctor's appointment

Monday, March 03, 2014

Cold Again At Sunrise

It's well over 30 below zero Fahrenheit this morning. The starter turned over hard on the Saturn (Our mail car) at 6 AM. And that was after the oil pan heater was plugged in for a couple of hours. I didn't think it was going to go but it finally popped and Annie was off to work.

Had breakfast with my family yesterday. My dad and grandpa let me know that folks around the area are finding frozen wild turkeys on their land. One women said that she found some frozen up in their roost and on the ground below it. On the mail route I almost had a deer jump in the car with me as I was cruising down the road at 40 miles per hour. It just stood on top of the snow bank and decided to bolt as I was passing by. The plowed roads and driveways are some of the only places they can go right now where they're not up to their chests and neck in snow. The black bear: They just sleep through it.

Broken glass by baby hands in the house. Time to go..

Sunday, March 02, 2014

15 Years Or So After...

The other day I ran across this line out of "Lament of the Dead:"

"There's something very different about feeling that I'm being lived by a story."--pg.92

Yes, there is, Mr. Hillman. And that is one of the big reasons, I think, Ishmael had such an impact on me. I had no idea at the time that you could be lived by a story. Or maybe at some level I did, but it helped me to have it brought to light by a good teacher.

Next I ask myself why I'm thinking about this book 15 years after its reading. Am I being like Alan Lomax, the main character in Ishmael, and just hanging around my guru and not got out into the world to live my life with these teachings. No, I'm not. The soul, as Plotinus and others have taught us, moves in circles. It's not linear and therefore not progressive. I'll probably circle around and periodically return to these teachings for the rest of my life.

Ishmael helped me remember that the soul is immanent.