Sunday, January 20, 2013

So You've Decided to Secede

Because your new nation-state is going to need administrative forms and stationary of all kinds (including passport, copyright, and patent applications; including blank forms for proclamations, resolutions, and appointments) consider seceding on a Friday afternoon*. That way fleeing rebel bureaucrats have the weekend to pilfer enough office supplies from the old government to get your new government off the ground.

*The attack on Fort Sumter began on Friday April 12, 1861 and continued through the weekend.

(document from the Records of the Confederate States of America stored in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress)

Medicine Cabinet Raiders III

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.
And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.

-Eugene Gendlin

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Evil Inclination

     The Evil Inclination is like one who runs amongst the people with his hand closed, and nobody knows what's in it. He tricks people and asks each one: What am I holding? and each person assumes that the closed hand holds something he desires very much. So everyone runs after him. Eventually he opens his hand and there is nothing there at all.

     "If this lowlife, the evil inclination, meets you, drag him to the study hall" (Kiddushin 30b).
     At times, the evil inclination prays within a person. The person is like a synagogue in which someone is praying.
     At other times, a person is like a study hall in which the evil inclination is learning.
     The superior situation is that of the study hall. Our sages said that "if [the evil inclination] is a stone, it will melt [as a result of one's learning]: if it is metal, it will explode" (Kiddushin 30b).
    This is why our sages began by saying, "If this lowlife meets you." The word used here for meeting refers homilectically to prayer, as our sages pointed out (Berachot 26b). In other words, when this lowlife is praying within you, and you are only like a synagogue, drag him to the study hall, for it is better that one become like a study hall, since that is more efficacious in dealing with one's evil inclination.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vista Cruiser

John Fowles: The Prince and the Magician

Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the young prince believed his father.
But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace. He came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.
"Are those real islands?", asked the young prince.
"Of course they are real islands," said the man in evening dress.
"And those strange and troubling creatures?"
"They are all genuine and authentic princesses."
"Then God also must exist!" cried the prince.
"I am God," replied the man in full evening dress, with a bow.
The young prince hurried home as quickly as he could.
"So you are back," said his father, the king.
"I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God," said the prince reproachfully.
The king was unmoved.
"Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God, exist."
"I saw them!"
"Tell me how God was dressed."
"God was in full evening dress."
"Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?"
The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled.
"That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived."
At this, the prince returned to the next land, and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.
"My father, the king, has told me who you are," said the young prince indignantly. "You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician."
The man on the shore smiled.
"It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell so you cannot see them."
The prince returned pensively home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eyes.
"Father is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?"
The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves.
"Yes my son, I am only a magician."
"Then the man on the shore was God."
"The man on the shore was another magician."
"I must know the real truth, the truth beyond magic."
"There is no truth beyond magic," said the king.
The prince was full of sadness.
He said, "I will kill myself."
The king by magic caused Death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.
"Very well," he said. "I can bear it."
"You see, my son," said the king, "you too now begin to be a magician."

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