THE STALKING

The thing I hunt,
it lurks in every shadow
that ever consumed a human soul:
In crevices and pits and fens
it hides, and snarls softly–
knows I’m here…
I hear it breathing, very near,

and I am ready–
must be ready for it
–when it rages up
and out from pit and fen–
to cast my spear, my spell–
I mean to conquer and compel!

Even now, upon
the mountains’ cutting edge
the glowing moon, it sets a-light
and limns the highest peaks–
It pales the night,
obscures the blessed stars,
this first jagged crescent blade
of cold moonlight rising…

Great Gods, I feel it near!
It stands beside me in the night!
I cannot sort its cursed breath from mine…!
Ah Gods! I must be strong,
I must prevail…!

The moon escapes the broken horizon,
rises full
and brilliant in the sky…

My enemy likewise reaches up,
it chokes my cry–!
It rises from the shadows and the fens
Of my deepest inner soul…

And howls in ecstasy
and celebrates the darkness
and the rising of the moon…!

by CL Redding revised 10/2022

Why Education in America Stinks

The root problem in American education comes from the fact that Americans don’t actually much like children. It’s a nation so young compared to one like Finland, that the relationship of authority towards children is more like older sibling/adolescent to younger child than parent/adult to child.

Underneath the surface where, at the privileged end of the spectrum children are spoiled with stuff and managed by ‘helicopter’ parents, where parents would do anything for their darling offspring, including cheating to get them into ‘desirable’ schools, in fact, children are status symbols, proof-of-concepts, more like things than individual, autonomous-spirited people.

At the impoverished end of the spectrum, children just happen, or even if wanted, poverty makes raising them a burden, and out of the necessities of desperation, children are often physically as well as emotionally neglected. Kids are on a track to be burdens to family, to become burdens on society. Ironic, isn’t it, that it is society itself that drives this dyanamic?

What it comes down to is this overall culmination: That children in this society are not cherished for themselves as individuals. Below the surface, they are resented, they are minimalized, they are punished for being children. Our history shows it: the society in general has undervalued children and anything to do with children, undervaluing their carers and teachers, under-supporting education, and designing educational systems that rely on punishment for achieving learning. In fact, punishment seems to be the point.

All the worst hallmarks of adolescence are displayed in American society: Selfishness, resentment, intolerance and disrespect for anyone or anything older or different, refusal to be taught, failure to understand how much we don’t know, competitive aggression against those who are younger, weaker, bullyable.

We will only begin to do better when there are more individuals who make decisions and choices, and act from maturity, than the adolescence that dominates American society now.

I have often wondered how anyone survives adolescence. But they do. We do. I do try to keep faith that America will, and while we’re here, the human race, as well. We will be so brilliant, if we do!

by CL Redding 10/2022

In Praise of Patience

I was cold in the morning, shivering,
but I knew the day would warm
with the rising sun.

Hearts broken by 
humankind unkind, 
humanity inhumane,
we bear the meaness
of our worlds
plodding on, plodding on…

between the shadows cast
by obstacles half-seen,
mistaken,
misinformed,
misunderstood–
we go on seeking truth 
with our broken hearts.

Beset by grief,
taught guilt and shame
and fear by all its names, 
even so we plod
yet sometimes also dance.
We weep and mute ourselves
yet sometimes also sing
and laugh aloud…

Either crushed by age,
impatient, disappointed–
or lifted over time by rage
and faith and hope
and charity,
owning kindness,
choosing humanity
denying the small and mean
and misinformed–

We also rise, 
warming
like the sun.

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