DUNE 2021

Yesterday we saw the new DUNE, another great story of the coming of a messiah… Or is he? That’s the question on everyone’s mind in the story. And if he is, then whose messiah is he? 

It was, of course, spectacular, also beautifully made, and over two and a half hours long. It is clearly labeled Part One, so from a certain point onward I was listening for a final-words moment. Happily, after all that time, when they came, I was content. It chose a good solid place to land, answered most of the questions about what things are and how the work, and who’s who, and what they’re after. The only thing it really left open was, And what happens next…?  I look forward to Part Two which will possibly be out in a year or so. 

I’ve heard it critiqued as too long, and in places, too slow. I don’t agree. But then I like the full-immersion in atmosphere to balance the action. I want the awe!

A great part of DUNE with its immense worms moving below the sand like huge locomotives, then emerging to engulf whatever has annoyed it, has always been about the awe-factor. Awe takes time to build, time to overwhelm all other feelings and senses. Part of the wisdom of the film maker is to build that feeling, but not to exhaust it. So we get to see the worms in Part One, we get to be amazed, but still look forward to the later scenes that will be even more astonishing, that will go all the way to awe!

This version has to rise above the level of astonishment and awe that David Lynch’s version didn’t quite achieve with me, at least. Of course, that might have been also due to seeing it on a much smaller screen, and trying to pack the entire story into one film. And also of course, the special effects technology was not then what it is now.

I’m reminded of the climactic scene of MOBY DICK, the Gregory Peck version from 1956: the moment when the great white whale lunges full length up out of the sea, and having only glimpsed his eye and his long sides before, this, to my juvenile self, was awesome! In that moment, the full wonder of the whale, and the extent of Ahab’s hubris is revealed. I want to feel this again, when DUNE: Part Two finally arrives!

Of course, where there are messiahs and those who aim to be messiah-makers, there is always hubris. There is plenty of that in DUNE. The basically bad House of Harkonen are filled with the hubris of thinking there can be nothing more powerful than themselves because they have the wealth to buy anything. The Bene Gesserit, the religion underlying the Empire, takes on itself the long, long game of using eugenics and people to create the messiah they want, imagining that when he comes along, he will be theirs to manage. There is particular satisfaction, especially in these real-world times, to seeing hubris punished. That’s the thing about hubris: It is always punished.

It is in IMAX theaters, too, and I kinda wish I’d seen it on the HUGE screen! I just might have to go see it again.

Regarding the adoption of elder cats and grey-muzzled dogs.

I want to encourage considering them when you are seeking a companion animal. And also, maybe, to discourage, if you can’t actually meet its needs.

This is all about what we can give them, where many of us think first of what they can give us. We want the cuddles, we want the soft fur to pet, we want to be loved and to be not alone. We want how they can make us feel good. That’s not a good reason to bring home a pet. Especially an older animal is going to need a lot more from its people, perhaps, than it can give.

An older animal is likely to have issues. If it was stray or abandoned or surrendered, it’s even more likely that money is going to come into it, to address those issues. So, if you choose an elder because the fee is low, know that there will be expenses that are going to far outweigh that low adoption fee. Adopting any animal, there are going to be financial demands over the years. It is only heart-ache to be unable to handle those demands, and it will be suffering for your pet.

Embers was a ‘rescue’ cat. She was 15 when I adopted her, knowing she might not be with me very long. I was able to see to her substantial medical and dental issues, and improve the quality of her last years. As it turned out, we had 6 years together. I spent about $1000 per year on average, for her medical needs. But I could, and that has made all the difference in the quality of her life and her leaving, and of how I am grieving losing her finally.

Aldous Huxley saw it coming.

Brave New World is coming…

I am convinced, and have been for many years, that when our current dominant ‘civilization’ eats its own foundations out from under itself, the First Peoples of the Americas will still be here. And not just in the Americas: Indigenous peoples worldwide are stirring.

They who have cherished and remembered their cultures, who have fought to retain identity and values even as they have acquired knowledge and tools from Western cultures, will be the teachers and leaders. Their cultural values will move in over those imposed by European colonizers.

There is already a resurgence of land-based spirituality, that recognizes the connectedness of all things, and the life forces within all things, and with this foundation, sustainability will take the power out of greed: The greed-based and unsustainable will waste away.

I believe this because I believe in the power of Reality to outlast all the lies, the delusions, the pretenses. Reality, to paraphrase Philip K Dick, is that which when you ignore it doesn’t go away.

One delusion that was once defined the reality of the dominant powers of the Earth was that white Europeans were in all ways superior to the less-white, the non-European. This attitude of natural, God-granted superiority powered conquest and colonization around the world, establishing itself as a simple, unquestioned, unexamined Truth. It justified slavery; it justified the perversion of the term ‘race,’ making it a tool for suggesting that those not of whiteness were not the same race, not quite as human as white Europeans and therefore not as favored nor as protected by God.

Of course there have always been individuals who knew the lie for what it was, who measured human beings by their character and deeper qualities. There have always been those who swam against the current, who caused small eddies but could not move the entire ocean. But now the tide is turning. All the resistance and denial, all the turmoil happening now is always part of such change, but it can’t reverse or long resist the power of Moon and Sun and Reality.

The Life Civil

Since humankind began building and living in cities, we have claimed as our own the term civilized. The word describes the next stage of humanity, following from savage to barbaric to civic. It follows from family to clan to tribe and implies something beyond the stacking of bricks, the building of close housing and monumental edifices to community uses. 

But all those earlier social stages of development were added to, not replaced by civilization. Most of us, whether we live in cities or not, remain socially tribal and clannish. In the cities are still those of not-quite-civic mindsets: There are savages among us, there are barbaric practices and behaviors still cherished as traditions, as connections to our roots. The idea of civilization is all about people of varied roots, diverse beliefs and traditions, living side by side in peace.

This makes tolerance a high virtue, patience and compassion, and maturity of emotional reaction absolute necessities. Education, health, and social support against poverties of many kinds are  essentials. 

In fact, being civilized doesn’t mean giving up traditions and mind-sets of family, clan, and tribe. It means integrating them with those virues, necessities, and essentials. In fact, celebration of diversity is one of those things that make civilization flower. Diversity and celebration of cultures is the root of all art.  

While we added civilization to our repertoire of humanity, we still have a long way to go before we can really claim that the human race, whether living in cities or not, have earned the designation: Civilized

Just sayin’.

Bad Words

First of all, words are not bad. It takes emotional filters to make them seem bad. It takes intent on the part of the speaker, even of the listener, to make a word bad. Lenny Bruce said it well in his ‘Hard Words’ bit. It’s accessible in this article on the topic.

George Carlin is also mentioned in the article, as he also spoke of the power of words to hurt and manipulate–or not.

All that said by way of introduction and scene-setting, this is what I’m here to write about today:

The greater percentage of words used to insult, offend, provoke, sneer, belittle, and demean are words that refer to women, to the things of women, parts of women, behavior of women. I don’t need to list them here, you already know them, have heard them before, probably used some of them. Run through your own list of them, and get what I’m talking about. 

The ones consider rudest of all refer to what is most sacred in the feminine: the child-bearing aspect. Next comes women’s sexuality, as if that’s an evil, foul thing. 

It is cultural misogyny distilled into words most often spoken to hurt, to damage, to exert dominance. Whether spoken by men or women, it’s always just that: words of the feminine, weaponized. 

If you have to swear at someone or something that has frustrated or threatened you, okay, fine. But kindly take a moment to choose another word that does not re-impress on your own mind, a disdain for women and the things of women. Excise those words from your working vocabulary. While you’re at it, do the same for the ones that belittle men and maleness, for the same reason. And children, too. And dogs, cats, bulls, wolves… In fact, why project any curse on anyone into the world? 

Obscenity is in the heart and mind of the speaker and listener. In Euro-American culture, it is a nasty outgrowth of our joyless Puritan ancestry, which blossomed again in the pants on piano legs mindset of the Victorians. Let’s not be them.

Let us be mindful. And more imaginative.

https://medium.com/applaudience/lenny-bruce-are-there-any-niggers-here-tonight-71c6cf9f2a2c

Bubblewrap

Bubblewrap.

My mom used to fall down a lot, and we told her we should wrap her in bubblewrap. Today, talking about bumping into things a lot due to my wonky eyesight, the topic came up again.

Bubblewrap hat… maybe a turban! Because it would be so elegant.

Then this:

*scene on a bus, train, or any mode of public transportation, maybe an elevator*

‘pop’

“Stop it.”

‘pop… pop pop…’

“Cut it out!”

“Just one more…”

‘pop’

‘pop pop pop’

“No! No more! I don’t even know you!”

‘pop pop pop pop…’

“Aaaarrrrghhh….!”

‘pop’


There’s only one way to prevent a killing here: Give the other guy a big piece of bubblewrap. Give everyone bubblewrap!

And clean up afterwards.

POP!

LAMENT

When the night goes dark,
all glowing wild eyes dimmed and dead;
When the forest goes silent
of song and cry and roar
and there is only the creaking
of trees moved by the empty rush of wind;
When flowers no longer hum
with the dancing bee;
When the sky is bleak of wings
that glitter and crackle
or suddenly rattle or
softly beat the air;
When water is wild and foul
and dry dust bakes unsheltered
from the sightless sun;
When the heart of humanity
is broken with loneliness and shame,
saying and knowing,
We had the warnings,
We had the time–
We could have done
so many things…

CL Redding July 2015

Birthday Card to 30s

A friend of mine turns 30 today. My elder kids are well into their own now, and my youngest is about to reach this mark. I remember my 30s, half a lifetime ago… From here, from now, they look quite different from how they did then. Here is my birthday card to everyone turning 30:

The 30s are a great decade, now I look back…

It’s a time of great energy, high hopes, ideals and notions that have grown more realistic after the 20s slapped the sillier ones out of you… And from here on, the balance of your life will be adulthood rather than childhood, as it has been up to now. It is a significant change in perspective, from which you will make different decisions and choices: those of an adult, more than those of a child. This can be a good thing.You will love like an adult, for one thing: this is love that is more giving than taking, and this will improve the quality of the love you offer, and the love that is offered to you.

You have learned and survived enough that you’ve got more of a handle on life, and know more what kind of standards you require of yourself and others, for happiness and smooth sailing. You know better how to cope with times when those standards aren’t met: how to forgive yourself and others for failures and flaws. As a parent of kids who all have made it to the 30s, that is a happy thing indeed!

Whatever comes between you and joy, between you and your best, happiest self, solve it now. Don’t wait. Don’t postpone. Don’t hope someone will save you. Get thee to a counselor if your habits of thinking and living don’t increase your delight in living.

Look at how you are creating yourself and your body, and start eating for how food works for you, or not, instead of just how it tastes. But drink for flavor instead of effect.

Learn how to give, and how to hold back from giving until you are asked.

These are all the first things that come to mind when I think of what I needed to hear when I turned 30. I might have laid a better foundation for my 40s, and further.

Love, 60s

PS: Strive more to be kind than to be clever.

Love, Nearly 70

Next Time…

Next time, I want a life
in more dimensions.
Not just for- and backwards,
Not bound so tight to time.
I want to live
not only walking on the earth
but soaring, eagle-high,
or flitting among leaves and boughs,
or swiftly coursing distances
between the trees,
the rooftops,
the ledges of great canyons,
coasting on warm rising airs…

Or I will live more slowly,
cruising with the waves
and diving deep and deeper
into the ever more pressing dark…
I’ll go leaping towards the sky
to crash back down again
with mighty, merry splashing!
I will slow-dance in spirals
with my kin
bubble-netting herring,
and scoop up tons of krill
with wide-mouth grin
and cascades of water
pouring down my chin…

Yes, I will live next time
in more of space,
the ups and downs,
betweens and throughs,
joy-quick as a bird above the quiet earth,
or as majestic-graceful
as a great sea-bound whale,
or playing all the days,
a dolphin spinning, splashing,
grinning, hunting, pretend-mating
with patient, ponderous sea-turtles,
and for real with my own kind
of shining, smiling grace.

Next time, next time…!

June 2021

It’s A Dry Heat


A dry heat crackles,
parches the pale and spiny desert.
In the red-rock lands
of colossal clouds
that stride the sky like gods–
lit with sunlight, shadows, sometimes
hearts aflash with lightning glows
and casting the colored laughter
of rainbows in curtains
that never touch the ground.

Warm, essence of sage and mesquite on the air…

Dry heat shatters:
The storm, relentless,
a vivid line between the wet and dry,
audibly advancing;
the potent male rains come on
hissing over sand and rock, enveloping,
drenching, pummeling the ground,
and flinging floods down canyon creeks,
clearing stony channels
of the casual detritus
of more desultory days…

Sharp, the spicy scent of rain on rock…

Dry-heat skies,
brilliant and blue,
Mares’ tails drifting high,
plumes promising
the coming of
a low grey-blanket sky
woven of misty female rains
quiet, slow, and patient,
the saturating grace of water
that quickens quietly and deeply
the baking soils.

Cool aromas breathing from the earth…

Dry heat glimmers
off freshly brightened greens,
darkened greys and reds;
Bright gems of blossoms, fragrant,
overnight a-bloom, 
across the land,quenching
the persistant,
deepest thirst
of eye and heart,
in the desert’s
quivering dry heat.

Savory, sweet and stony, the desert breath…


June 2021