London Bridge


I have, like so many other, decided to keep constantly adding things for my final project as I complete them. I had a really great experience when the best paper I've ever written, a masterpiece of research and original thought, disappeared due to a crappy Dell hard drive. Here's to cyber space.



Here’s a forewarning: I don’t want this final project to read like a final paper; I think I’ve had enough of those to do in my college career so far. There is no thesis in this “work,” rather, I want it to read like a discussion, or a huge ass wiki post. I apologize right now for the huge amount of text. I think I may look for pictures to keep everyone entertained along the way, if you're actually brave enough to jump in. If I’m making any conclusions in this sea of writing, they are my own. Feel free to tell me that I’m wrong and going to Hell. Satan is an angel, so how bad can it really be?



Throughout the semester, our class of English 421 has been concerned with discussion of the sacred. From Egyptian monotheism to Australian aboriginals, meditation to Tarot card readings, and the lost civilization of Atlantis to the world of computers, we have discussed the different traditions of what is sacred as well as how humans go about attempting to connect with the sacred. However, I feel that we have neglected the two areas of the sacred that are of the most interest to me: the issue of free will and human connections, both to the sacred and to each other. And are not these two subjects closely intertwined with the each other? I’ll let you come to your own conclusions. In order to discuss these two issues for my final project, I will be employing two very different pieces of literature, Paradise Lost and the Golden Compass. For those of you who have not read either, I highly recommend them. They are vastly different works, obviously written in very different times, and both taking very different stances on organized religion. But anyways, on to free will.


            What exactly is free will? When I ask, they tell me that free will is “the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will.” So in terms of our class and the way that I’m interpreting this definition, free will is Adam and Eve able to do what they want without repercussions from God, it is my choice to write this or not without any punishment (as represented by my grade), and it is my ability to do anything without it having been already written in the stars, woven by the Fates, or planned by God. My life is a blank slate, and only I will be writing in it. Hopefully by now you’ve realized that free will is something that I just don’t have. My grades hang in the balance of whether teachers know who I am, notice that I come to class, and like what and how I write. Sucks. But what is the origin of the thought of free will? I’m going to tie it back to John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  

            The Fall is actually necessary to prove Adam and Eve’s true loyalty and devotion to God. If they stay in Eden, they are living under God’s house rules, which are slanted to allow easier worship of their father. It is only by leaving the parent’s house that Adam and Eve can achieve true independence from their father, and in facing tests of their faith be able to prove their continuous devotion to God. While the forbidden fruit was the only test in the Garden of Eden, temptation in the parent’s house is more of a guilty pleasure than an actual test of devotion to a parent. Furthermore, the Fall provides a new situation in which Adam is able to change his moral standard from obedience to attachment. A flaw in God’s knowledge that “Not free, what proof could they have giv’n sincere / Of true allegiance?” (PL III.103). Adam has his own understanding of this statement, and knows that freedom cannot be given, only taken.

            Well, shit. I tie this whole concept back to something we briefly discussed in class one day; you can’t know something without its opposite. You can’t know good without evil, hot without cold, full without hungry, or happy without sad. We need comparisons to know anything. This is why we have the concept of a Hell; without it, we could never know Heaven. Free will? Sorry. I pose this question to you: Was it God’s actual plan for Adam and Eve to taste from the tree, so that they could know A. evil in order to know good, and B. learn exactly just how good they had it when they obeyed God. I mean, is this not a great reason to obey God for the rest of your life. Now you know that He wasn’t just bullshitting you, and you have to work to get what came so easily before. If that’s not a major bummer, I don’t know what is.

            Warning: potential spoiler ahead. God claims that man has free will in Paradise Lost … but He also claims that he knows that Adam and Eve will eat of the Tree. In Book V, God actually sends an angel to warn Adam and Eve of Satan’s plan, and also reminds them that they have the free will to resist, all the while knowing that his guinea pigs are going to fail him. Does foreknowledge infringe on the rules of free will? I still haven’t decided, so I’m asking you. Personally, I’m leading towards the side that says that foreknowledge does get in the way of free will. I go back to my blank slate – if someone already knows what’s going to go on it, then to me it’s not really blank. Theoretically.



Now this is where we get to relationships. John Milton’s Paradise Lost portrays a world in which the woman is the plague upon mankind and the cause of man’s individual misfortune. Eve is the weakest link, exhibiting narcissistic characteristics that cause a desire to rise above her station. However, Eve is not the only character involved in mankind’s fall; there are other characters and contributing factors that influence her actions and decisions. Milton portrays relationships in Paradise Lost such that the fall cannot be any one character’s fault alone, but is the result of the relationships, both functional and dysfunctional, between God, Satan, Adam, and Eve. In Paradise Lost, God’s assumed perfection creates major conflicts in his relationships with others due to his lack of empathy which results in feuds, hate, disassociation, confusion, and misunderstanding of God’s laws and word. So how does free will work with all of these weird relationships? Again, I don’t know. It seems as though Milton is somewhat blaming Eve for being a temptress, but I’m going to turn that around and say that Adam is just weak willed. He doesn’t have the moral strength to stand up to what his “other half” wants, and even in the scene of the Fall he claims that even though he knows what he is doing is wrong, life just isn’t worth living without Eve. That’s beautiful. But essentially, I figure that Paradise Lost describes such a circle of people’s wills influencing other wills that it’s hard, even impossible, to tell where free will starts and other people’s desires begin. Because the relationships are so complex and just twisted (Satan wanting to be with God but not really, Adam wanting to be on Eve but Eve really wanting to be on herself, etc.) will is not free, but is twisted with complicated desires and wishes.




            Because of the way that free will works, God is supposed to do nothing to stop the Fall of man, which results in Death. In order for God to prove that there is free will, He had to let His creations fall off the beaten path, so to speak, so that they might make their own conscious decisions without his all-knowing input. But is the Fall really God’s fault after all? I think so. Remember too, Adam and Eve are not God’s only creations who take a fall to temptation. The ultimate sinner himself, Satan (or Lucifer), is also made by God and takes the first fall. So in the context of relationships, God is Satan, Adam, and Eve’s father. His kids all fall off the societally accepted train, but while he disowns Satan, he welcomes back (kind of) Adam and Eve.

            (Sorry, this is where it gets a little research paper-y.) God’s relationships with his children are very peculiar in some ways. God is supremely unbending in his rules and laws, but he does not give his children all of the information that would be helpful for them to make the right decision in staying completely loyal to their father. In other words, God is not a good role model or mentor for his creations that need extra help. While his black and white law may be good enough for some, Satan, Adam, and Eve need more help in sorting through the gray. In this matter, God fails as a parent and does become an unreasonable tyrant in imposing harsh laws. However, when taking the religious principles of the poem into consideration, God is justified in his decisions based on the ethics that he is the Creator, not just a father. While Fulmer claims that “[God] renounces his relationship with one third of his angels …[and] sacrifices his relationship with Adam and Eve for his principle” (Fulmer 36), God is not merely upholding a principle. As God, he does not need to prove anything to anyone, because as Satan proves in his battle against Heaven, God is right and powerful in every situation.

Despite God’s justification in eliminating Satan as a potential constant problem, God shows allowance and charity by allowing Satan to exist in a type of physical freedom, despite his extreme actions. However, when reading Paradise Lost, one cannot look at Satan’s actions without examining his motives and emotions behind them. Richard Fulmer claims that one of Satan’s major problems in his relationships is his unceasing narcissism (Fulmer 34). Satan is unable to see past his own experience with his Fall and what he has suffered to be able to sympathize with his father. He sees any apology to God for his actions as a “submission” (PL IV.81) rather than an acknowledgement of God as ultimately right and good. Satan’s interpretation of God’s actions assumes a type of adolescent egocentrism when he says “But what owe I to his commands above / Who hates me” (II.856), which is a common problem in adolescence when the child thinks every action in the world is in some way related to himself (Sharp). Satan demonstrates himself to be the egocentric adolescence rebelling against a father whom he sees to be unfair. He shows almost perverse pleasure in exhibiting tendencies and actions that he knows his father will hate:

                        To do aught good never will be our task,

                        But ever to do ill our sole delight,

                        As being the contrary to his high will

                        Whom we resist.  (PL I.159)

As most adolescents, however, his limited view of the Father’s word shows imperfect understanding and faulty reasoning. The portrayal of Satan’s character also shows many interesting characteristics of young or adolescent boys. William Pollack describes young boys as being able to “live out and express only half of their emotional lives - they feel free to show their ‘heroic,’ tough, action-oriented side, their physical prowess, as well as their anger and rage” (Pollack 13). This “mask of masculinity” is exactly what Satan shows as experiencing throughout Paradise Lost. He is unable to share the hurt and anger he feels with anyone, preferring instead to express his feelings in desperate soliloquies rather than taking his problems to God and trying to work out his issues. In a symptom of restricted boys from a study, some say that “they feel frightened and yearn to make a connection but can’t” (13). 


“With Satan, God moves from closeness through harsh rejection to vigilant coexistence. With Adam, he begins as a somewhat overindulgent father.” (Fulmer 29) Fulmer does not actually describe how God is overindulgent, although he stresses the way in which God sets limits, rather than nurturing. In terms of overindulgence, however, God does not appear to indulge Adam in much of anything. Even when God gives Adam his companion in Eve, God justifies his actions in testing Adam’s reasons for wanting a human mate. While God may not be a good example in indulgence, Fulmer fails to mention his “hands off” method of raising Adam, which may be a larger factor in Adam and Eve’s later decisions resulting in the fall. According to Erin Sharp, studies show that when fathers are more heavily involved in their offspring’s upbringing, the result is better adjusted and self-aware children. God is not as involved in Adam and Eve’s upbringing as he could be. While he does give advice, there are no concrete examples or reasons of why they should not do certain things, but instead tells them to rely on their faith and devotion to their father.

            With growth and experience, it is normal for children to question their parents about objects they observe in their world and wish to understand. Adam begins the role of questioning the Father as an inquisitive son when we wants the “telling of things invisible to mortal sight and in justifying the ways of God to men” (Fallon 207)  In the aspects of an unsatisfying relationship, “God’s and the heavens are…to be praised and admired (in the sense of wondered at) rather than questioned and admired (in the sense of puzzled over)” (Fallon 207). Relationships in which the parent does not explain phenomena to the child often can result in the child finding his or her own way to obtaining an answer, often in a way that the parent disapproves. Eve proves this by obtaining unexplained knowledge when she eats the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.

Adam further needs to fill a void in his life that God alone cannot fill by obtaining a partner. This is a logical argument, and one could say that because of the fact that God does not have a spouse, consort, or partner but produces children from his own creative powers, his offspring have no security or example to follow. Adam and Eve do not have a positive example of marital success or failure to model their behavior off of, which reasonably can only lead to their own difficulties. This idea also leads back to the human flaw; man needs examples and opposites to know what is good.


And now on that note, sans transition, I’m jumping into The Golden Compass. Hopefully most of you have either read the book or seen the movie, although of course, compared to the book, the movie is crap. And on an interesting note, it seems as though the Church is banning the book/movie. Why? Well, Philip Pullman’s movie turns the Magisterium (organized religion) into a type of organization that seems set on mind control in a Stepford Wives kind of way. The Magesterium believes that by eliminating the presence of Dust, which to them is free will, they can control the population. For what ends, I’m not really sure. The book, however, doesn’t seem to go as far as mind control. The central theme of the book is the issue of Dust, which as far as I can tell, is a type of religious presence. It firmly settles on people when they reach puberty, and conjectures from the novel implicate its presence as original sin. Therefore, the Magesterium (because it figures they would) are trying to find a way to erase original sin by severing the connection between humans and their dæmons (the animal form of the other half of a person’s soul.



The interesting thing to note in The Golden Compass is that there doesn’t seem to be a God. Where in Paradise Lost one of the issues is God vs. free will, or at least deciding if God has allowed for or controls free will, in Pullman’s novel there is no real mention of God. The issue here seems to be free will/original sin vs. science. Lord Asriel’s goal of the novel is to make a bridge to other worlds, which he can do using Dust. What is Dust in their world is also the Northern Lights. Check it out!



 Dust, he claims, is nothing more than a huge energy source that has yet to be tapped. The Magesterium tries to stop him, of course, because how can they possibly allow him to disprove original sin? The entire foundation of religion would crumble. But inevitably science wins over, and Asriel makes his bridge and the worlds are thrown into chaos.


So why is free will important, or even sacred? I think as humans, we value our “freedom,” so to speak. We don’t like the idea that anything we can’t see is controlling us like we’re puppets. We like to think we’re above the animals that we callously lead, unknowingly, to the slaughter. Give me my free will. I may do stupid things, I may end up in Hell, but at the end of the day the only one I will have to blame will be myself. I think a good ending quote is one we’ve all probably heard from the movie Braveheart: “Aye, fight and you may die, run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!” Sing it, Mel Gibson.




11/26.07 VALIS Continued


I talked about Valis today in counseling - not only do I have absolutely no motivation to read it, it's almost a type of fear. I know you're supposed to "face up to your fears" and all, but what if you've just had enough? I've had enough of suicide, I don't want to drag it into my classes. To me, it is the most profane thing in existance right now. As I try to find the good, sacred if you will, things in life, I can't find enough understanding to contemplate with any sympathy why you would want to miss out on a single living second. As my family was doing our annual Christmas tree hunt, I couldn't help but think "What reason could ever be good enough to miss out on this?"


Family might be a thorn in your side, they might nag and make you want to run away to the Ukraine (My family is from Eastern Europe, so my choice of hideaway would probably be somewhere in the Amazon. - Z.D.), but all in all, family is sacred.


11/24/07  Plea for Comfort - VALIS


We all have our ghosts. They come in different shapes, sizes, forms; past, present, and future. Some of us have suffered them, some of us are living with them now, and some of us have yet to encounter our particular ghoul. Our ghosts make certain times particularly sacred for us. We wish to take a moment that may have happened or has yet to happen and freeze it - hang it in its crystallized form. I think this Thanksgiving was particularly meaningful for me. I've always been reluctant to leave the relative "freedom" of school to return to a curfew, rules, and restrictions. I learned this year that coming home isn't just about giving up my butterfly existance at Penn State. Breaks are more than a time to detox, catch up on work, and stuff yourself with mom's home cooking. Home is sacred. Those routines that you slip back into so effortlessly - where to park the car, the timing that allows you to share the bathroom with your siblings with limited contact, where you sit at the dinner table, the hassle and pleasure of seeing family and enduring the same questions to which the answers always change. There's something sacred, and yes, comforting about familiarity and routine. Everything that normalizes our lives, even if it's just using the same coffee mug or taking your shower in the morning can be sacred. It's yours, and only something drastic (call it evil) can take it from you.


On a side not, I find myself staring at Valis, completely hesitant and even afraid to open it and start reading. I know exactly why I feel this way. It stems back from a class discussion we had in class over a month ago about the opening of the novel, which most of us hadn't started on. We talked about suicide. I feel that suicide is a somewhat ..... no, it IS a taboo subject. We have a fascination with it, like roadkill. When it happens, we crane our heads to watch as we pass, not being able to fathom what the sensation is like for the attemptor or completor, or their family and friends. We don't want to know, and yet at the same time - what would it be like? What could make us want to do such a thing? Most of us will never know.


I guess what I'm getting at from this post is this - my ghost is suicide related (no, not me, but too close for comfort) and I want to know that this book isn't going to make me tweak out. I can't handle the off-handed, cynical comments about suicide; it's not exactly a light topic. So what will I be getting into???



As odd as this will sound, it is comforting to know that someone else is struggling with the concept of Valis. As little time as I have had this break, it has not been devoted to finding a copy, much less reading the electronic copy that was distributed. That being said, my cringe-worthy problem with Valis runs much more along with the idle mention and use of drugs that shows up in the first pages. After all, this is how people die, whether they plan it or not. And having had that icy hand reach into my life on more than one occasion makes Valis a hard read. In fact, it makes me cringe whenever I hear anyone joke about Oxycotin or other similar medications. Off handed remarks about drug abuse and suicide are just frustrating, beyond anything else. This short rant has actually been a really nice break from trying to crank out 5,000+ words tonight (I'm way behind in my National Novel Writing Month document with only five days left), and I hope that getting all this out there helps both of us actually start Valis. -- Rabbit








Well ... it's been a while. And on that note, I feel like we've discussed a lot about writing, what gets people to write, etc, but we haven't really talked about things like people who DON'T write, or have no desire to. Sure, everyone, even people who do like to write, are sometimes plagued by that blank page and blinking cursor, but that's to be expected. I'm talking about people who on a day to day basis will do whatever they can to avoid going anywhere near that white page. Maybe definitely I'm talking about myself.


Writing itself doesn't bother me. But being encouraged to write without a definite prompt ... now that's my Hell. Set me on a huge long paper with a prompt - I'll be at the library researching and typing away, happy as a clam ... a clam who can read. But tell me to write a lot about nothing in particular ... hells no. Maybe a big part of it is I feel that whatever I write is being judged by everyone else in the class, everyone else who seems to have quite a bit to say on everything. Intelligent, well-informed things to say, no less. Is part of my writer's block formed by the fear of others reading my work? Maybe.


But possibly another part of that is my utter contentment in editing. In my mind, I'm not a creator, I'm a shaper. Even the best writers need a subjective party to pick apart inconsistancies, look up obscure grammatical thingies, and structure things that seem to make no sense. That is what I'm happiest doing, when it comes to writing and literature. You create, I'll pick it apart!




10/15  CALIFORNICATION (Chapter 48 of Autobiography of a Yogi)


OK. Well, I picked the last chapter to read over, and while there may have not been as much in-depth info as some of the "meat" chapters of the book, I came across a couple of little quotes that jumped out at me.


"May obedience conquer disobedience within this house; may peace triumph here over discord; free-hearted giving over avarice, truthful speech over deceit, reverence over contempt. That our minds be delighted, and our souls uplifted, let our bodies be glorified as well; and O Light Divine, may we see Thee, and may we, approaching, come round about Thee, and attain unto Thine entire companionship!"


Anyone make the connection between this quote and my presentation on crazy old Akhenaten? That's right, we have a worship of the light going on here again, and the worshipers desiring to be, in essence, one with the light. And the next quote:


"Like the magi of old, several hundred students gazed in devotional awe at the daily eastern miracle, the early solar fire rite in the sky. To the west lay the inexhaustible Pacific, booming its solemn praise; in the distance, a tiny white sailing boat, and the lonely flight of a seagull. "Christ, thou art risen!" Not alone with the vernal sun, but in the eternal dawn of Spirit!"



Holy crap! Not only are they recognizing light as divine, they're waiting for it to rise and are staring at it! Sun worship, take two. But seriously, I find it interesting. Why is waterfront real estate so valuable? Sure, people like to go swimming or what have you, but there's just something peaceful and even divine about water. It purifies, it baptizes. Sometimes you can even turn it into booze. So it makes sense that a place made for meditation and holiness would be best placed on the water, or as close to it as possible. And the combination of water and light can be mesmerizing. What is more holy or sacred than nature?




Great work on your presentation today, London Bridge.  I was trying to make a reference of the first god in existence in class today but failed to explain myself sufficiently.  The quote is below.


"In the extract from the XVIIth Chapter given above, we must note that 1. Tem originally existed in Nenu, or Nu, the great mass of primeval waters. 2. He was the Only One in existence when he had come into being. 3. He created himself the Great God. 4. He possessed various names, and these he turned into the gods who formed his Pest or Ennead, merely by uttering their names. 5. He was irresistible among the gods, i.e., he was the Over-lord of the gods. 6. He comprehended time past and time to come. 7. He dwelt in the Solar Disk (Aten). 8. He rose in the sky for the first time under the form of Ra, and he was himself the Bennu, i.e., the Soul of Ra. 9. He kept the Registers of things created and uncreated."


Here we have an incredible when life was created from primeval water and than into divinity.  I'm pretty sure life on earth was created in some primeval waters.  If the Egyptians are right, that means life can aspire to be the divine (possibiliy in the after life or in life as a saint/yogi/swami...) - Realityor




Worshiping the Aten





Sorry for the lateness of this posting, in case anyone was anxiously searching the wiki, looking for clues about monotheism in Egypt. I foresee a shadowy tunnel of crap that is lurking before me in the form of all the work that I have to do in the next couple of weeks. To that end, I'll put in a quick push for you all to attend the Writing Center Conference that is happening next weekend (10/19 - 21) here at Penn State! Go Writing Centers!


Anyway, monotheism in Egypt. I was just having a conversation with my roommate about it, who was completely unaware of any such thing ever happening in Egyptian history. He said something like "wait ... isn't Egypt the one with all the different people running around with animal heads on?" Indeed, wise roommate, Egypt is just that place. "But," he asked, "what does that mean in terms of incest?" Completely unrelated to anything I'll be talking about (in terms of incest), we began a conversation on the various forms of religion. What is the difference between relgions that have only one God and relgions that have many?


Personally, I think it depends on the way you look at things. For me, everything comes from one thing. Therefore, many gods are only different representations of the One God. They can represent different functions, different personalities, different characteristics, different anything. Here's an interesting site to go to on this theory in terms of Egypt:

Probably one of the reasons I have for taking this stance is a class I took last semester: CMLIT 108. In our Hinduism unit, we learned that the different gods Brahmah, Vishnu, and Shiva were really just different functions of the same god.

What take do you have on the number of gods in a religion?


Despite all of this information on Egyptian religion being monotheistic (if you Google Egyptian monotheism, pretty much anything you get besides what appears on tells you that all of Egypt religion was/is a monotheistic one), there was a very dark period for the Egyptians in which all other gods were banished except for the Aten. "What is this here Aten?" you might ask yourself. Well, it's very probably that you haven't heard of the Aten unless you've taken a Near Eastern mythology class.


But never fear, faithful readers. Tomorrow .... errr, today at this point, I will enlighten you to the history of this crazy time in Egypt, and we will explore some of the literature together (or I'll read it out loud because I don't have enough free pages left by the university). So if you're feeling particularly ambitious, go here to print one of the hymns we'll be discussing tomorrow. Until then, peace out!









10/7 Mr. Vertigo as the Shiva Sutras


I just started reading a novel, Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster, for my senior seminar. First off, I'm just going to say that so far, I'm enjoying it a lot more than the previous novel, Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid. As I've started trucking along on Mr. Vertigo, I can't help but connect some of the events of this novel to the Shiva Sutras. Plus, I definitely process these abstract ideal a lot better if I have some sort of example ... so here goes. First off:


SS 2.8. The body is the sacrifical ladle.

Walt is required to go through all of these "trials" if you will in order to achieve what he wants - flying. Master Yehundi (yogi?) buries him underground for a day, makes him chop a finger off, ties him to the roof for 3 days, makes him sit inside a circle of fire for a night, among other turturous things. These are the steps that Walk has to take in order to achieve his goal, all without knowing exactly how this process works. So ... his body is the sacrificial ladle to achieving the mindset for flight? So it seems - Walt is hovering soon after. The way in which he describes getting in the "floating mode" also reminds me of the whole meditation, Hindu, Budhism, etc. mindset as well: "I took a long slow breath and exhaled, spread my arms in the loose, slack-jointed way I'd worked on for so many hours, and went into my trance. I began to rise almost immediately..."


The way in which Walt first starts to float is also really interesting. After having an emotional breakdown and indulging in a crying fit, he describes feeling "still, almost tranquil, and bit by bit a sense of calm spread through me, radiating out among my muscles and oozing toward the tips of my fingers and toes. There were no more thought in my head, no more feelings in my heart. I was weightless inside my own body, floating on a placid wave of nothingness, utterly detached and indifferent to the world around me. And that's when I did it for the first time ..."


Reading this made me think of floating in the REST tank as well. With no external stimuli, the only thing to do or be is detached. What is the purpose of reading the Shiva Sutras? Is it to become totally detached in order to gain a better perception on things? To reach mental perfection through sacrifice of the physical?


SS  3.26. The existence of the body becomes a religious vow.

3.27. Conversation is mantra recitation.

3.28. The act of offering is being-wisdom.

3.29. Whosoever is in this state is the means of knowledge.


Walt is in the state of aquiring knowledge, so I'm not sure if this applies to him quite yet. But what does it mean for your body to become a religious vow? Some people might take this to mean that the person takes a vow of celibacy, are vegitarian, go to the gym a lot, fast, self-mutilation, or use it in ways I couldn't even begin to imagine to get closer to God. What does this mean to you? However, his mentor - Master Yehundi, who seems to be in "the means of knowledge," doesn't seem to treat his body as a relgious vow - he possibly treats Walt's body as the vow, and goes towards a harsher religion.






Oh look, the apocalypse again in Matthew 13!


I'm going to be upfont about reading this and tell you that I didn't have too many thoughts of my own. I agree with Gonzo that all of the "thou," "soweth," and "ye"s were a bit distracting, to say the least. I am lead to conclude that there must have been [a reason that Mobius linked us] to this particular version; there are so many more versions that are simpler to read. As I was reading, however, I was reminded of two particular works.


The first work is a graphic novel I had to read last year in English 446: Milton. The Sandman: Season of Mists has actually been one of my absolute favorite things to read, especially in conjunction to my favorite classical literature, Paradise Lost. Morpheus (the Sandman) goes to Hell. He finds Hell empty, because Satan has decided he doesn't want to rule anymore and kicks everyone out. Lucifer gives Morpheus the key to Hell, goes and chills out on a beach, and two angels are named rulers of Hell. What does this have to do with Matthew 13? In my mind, the apocalyse! Jesus talks about the "bad seeds," so to speak, being sown out by Satan on judgment day, the angels being the reapers, and only the worthy being admitted to heaven. But crap, remix that! In The Sandman, we have angels in Hell, Satan claiming that all he did was provide a place for dead people to torture themselves because they wanted it, and Hell was God's plan all along. "Hell is over." Where does that leave us now?


The second work is Rumi's. All this talk of the prophet being the chosen one is very similar to what Rumi says in Discourse 12. "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." Jesus is obviously the prophet. Yet he is self-fulfilling a prophecy about how he is going to speak in parables by speaking parables to fulfill the prophecy. His parables seem to have no figurative relevence until he explains what he really means. As Rumi also says, this is the prophet's job: God lights a path for them that is not lit for anyone else. All the prophet can do is try to enlighten a select few (disciples, students) and hope that they understand.


And hey look, reversal!!! "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:" ....uh .....what??? Clearly I'm not a prophet, a disciple, or a student.






Rumi Discourse 12: The Devil's Advocate


There are mainly two themes to this discourse that I'd like to talk about: earthly pleasures and the path to God.


Something I'm sure we've all come across at one time or the other is the wise warning away from bodily pleasures, etc. Oh look, it's in Rumi too!


"It behooves us to turn away from the pleasures and delights of this world, that are the rays and reflections of God."

This reminds me of Plato's example of the cave, where a prisoner's vision in a cave is distorted by shadows and such, which prevents him from finding the light. That's right, we're all the prisoners. Just as there are only a few men (of course it's men) who are able to penetrate the creepy shadows and crazy monsters doing the hokey pokey on the sidelines in order to see the true light, there are only a few chosen Prophets that are chosen by God. But wait ... hasn't Christianity told me that if I want to find God, I can? "Since God has such love, then everyone who seeks in truth shall find" Yaaayyy! I'm saved because I have the desire to find the truth! Oh crap, but wait for it ... "but without a guide this does not come to pass." Well, never mind then. Guess most of us are screwed after all unless we come across one of these so-called Prophets. The example in this discourse is that of Moses leading the Israelites in the desert. While they obeyed and followed him (who was chosen by God), they were safe and knew where to go. But once they started straying from the path, so to speak, they got lost in the desert for 40 years.


I'm not sure how I feel about this whole guide thing. It goes against many things I've been lead to believe, with the basic principle being that God, his love, his forgiveness, and his light are if not easily accessible, at least a legitimate option if I so choose. But now Rumi is telling me that I need a guide? I feel that guides are a bit hard to come by these days, unless I want a guide to the nearest bar. Even if I were to seek the guidance of a pastor, minister, rabbi, etc., they can't all be guides, can they? I doubt it - that would be way too many guides.


So why should I turn away from all of these pleasures and delights? The only legit prophets were around gajillions of years ago, and I don't think Rumi is even claiming to be a guide. It's all very well and good to seek God and become closer to him by abstinence from everything, but why should I give up my fun if it's not going to get me anything? Maybe it'll give me some bonus points in the next life?






Well now that I still don't have a computer and this one doesn't seem to want to open Rumi in any text that makes sense to me, I'm going to go off on a mini tangent. So far this semester we've been talking about sacred texts. How does one come up with them, what is language, what are the discrepancies of language, how can we twist and apply our personal meanings to certain discourses? So far, it seems to me that most of these texts have been dealing with things that are fairly "lighthearted" if not light. Creation, origins, hope, peace, etc. etc. But what about the rhetoric of despair? What about the apocalypse, the end of times, despair, and turmoil? Don't scientists say that the universe was formed from a "big bang," aka turmoil?


What makes people come up with ideas and theories about this? Is it inner pain, rebellion against organized religion, or what?


Or are people just freaking crazy?



Discourse 12, page 98


Crap computer ... this will get up when I can find some time in a lab somewhere or something ... or when I get my new one. You never know how much you depend on a personal computer until yours gets trashed. What did our parents ever do without them??




Well, Marx said religion was an opiate for the masses. I think that is dispair, but maybe realistic if you think about how people use religion. As for scientific theory, I don't know if that is based out of dispair but curiosity. Just because the Big Bang represents turmoil does not mean that it's bad. And to answer your question, I think people come up with ideas and theories for a variety of reasons and there may be no common factor except for human nature (an ambiguous copout I know, who defines human nature?) Realityor



The Play of Language, Rhetoric, and Persuasion


Some of the topics that were brought up in class today reminded me of my extremely stressful night. The beauty and curse of language is that we all bring our personal definitions and interpretations to words, sentences, phrases, etc. There are so many meanings, and again, the good and bad thing is that anyone can put in any meaning to suit their own individual purpose.


In comes my day yesterday, between 3 pm and midnight. Here's a question for you: what's more stressful than your computer freaking out on you and having no idea how to fix it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Any other minor inconvenience, stress, worry, whatever will instantly fade away (probably into the VOID) and there will be nothing more important than your computer and the files that are hovering on the edge of the VOID.


So language and it's crappiness. I'm talking to customer service for way too long. It just so ends up that some incompetent tech support man told me to do something that erased all of my files, and understandably, I wasn't too happy with the whole company. Deciding that I needed to vent my anger to someone who could do something about it, I call the company several more times, trying to get something free out of it (isn't that the American way?). My mistake was that I asked for too many things without knowing what I was talking about. We all know that there's some kind of special computer jargon going on out there. When two computer people get together, it's like magical words or in the air, or they're robots. However, their language is full of power. They have the ability to find files out of nowhere, which is what I wanted. Those files were deleted, erased, or what have you, but aren't they still there? I've heard that even though you delete things from a computer, they aren't really deleted. It reminds me of the VOID, where there is nothing, but something is there, just waiting to be spoken into existence by God. In my crazy computer world, God is technical support, and the earth and everything else is composed of my word, picture, and music files. Speak, O tech support man!


Unfortunately, the moral of this story is that once your system has been reinstalled/reformated, your files will be in THE VOID, rather than just the VOID. Goodbye, files, wherever you are. You are now at the mercy of a higher being.




So ... not entirely sure what this remix of Genesis entails, but I'll try to get a start on it and edit later.">Many Waters ... Madeline L'Engle's take on the Story of Noah's Flood



Genesis 6:1

When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. 5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."


From the Eyes of a Disgusted Insider: A personal account


In the Garden of Eden, God had told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. So they did. But it came to a point, much like the point that humanity is at again today. Whereas at first people were procreating in order to poopulate the earth, eventually they came to the point where if a man saw a girl that halfway decent, he wanted to, in the crudest way possible, get on that/bang that shit/ fk/do it/etc. etc. Basically, humans were behaving like mindless, rutting animals in heat. Personalities were not matched, and I'd even bet on some incest and interbreeding going on. If your sister or cousin is hot, why not? I saw this one guy ... must have been about 100 years old by that point, seduce his own 37 year old daughter. I think she liked it anyway, and she gave birth to beautiful twin boys. Meanwhile, the daughers of man and the lesser of the angels were also having relations, in which men who were more than man and less than angels were born. It seemed that the divine order of things was about to be corrupted, giving an opening for Satan to make another appearance. There were rumblings in the heavens at that point, but not many people paid much mind. They were too caught up in their own squalid lives to even give a passing thought to God. In order to get the populations attention, he decided to limit our lives to one hundred and twenty years. You can't imagine the uproar when young people suddenly began aging at 60 or 70, and dropping dead soon after! Fists were shaken at God, but the ultimate outcome was more decadent and self-serving than ever. As God watched, he saw his creation spin out of control. Not only did mankind not have any consideration for his fellow man and animal, he didn't have any consideration for himself. God began to doubt himself and the wisdom of creating such a free creature, one who was capable of intelligent thought and enslaving lesser beings, and decided to end it. To eradicate all traces of what should have ended with Adam and Eve. Did He really think that eating an apple could be the end of mankind's bad judgment? While we like to believe that God is all-knowing; that he in fact did know that Adam and Eve would fall from Eden, showing that he was sorry that he created such an atrocity shows God's weakness.


LondonBridge, I'm assuming your use of the word "poopulate" was a type-o. Nonetheless, I think this makes you a fierce competitor against Mobius for the "Most High and Venerable Neologista" position. (Poopulate;poo-pu-late;verb: to populate with superfluous crap.) Very nicely done. - Zee Deveel


9/9/07 Define "Day of Rest"



Genesis 2:3

Amplified Bible

And God blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done.



And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.


I've always found people's different takes on Sundays, the day of rest, very interesting. You have your devout Christians, who can go to church for anywhere between 45 minutes to 3 1/2 hours. You have your slackers, who use Sunday as a day to rest, sleep off their hangovers, and watch TV (football recaps and pro games). You have people like me, who use Sunday to sleep in a little, but then clean and do school work for the rest of the day. And of course, Sunday isn't the day of rest for everyone - some people gotta work.


I know of some people who go to church every Sunday and look down upon those who don't. But does God ever say that we must set aside a specific day each week to worship Him, and do nothing else? If I can remember correctly from my Paradise Lost days, Adam and Eve would worship God everyday out of nowhere. It was an inspired, spontaneous act; not a regulated ritual.


I find it interesting to look at the translation from the Amplified Bible, where God "spoke good of." As we talked about in class, God again is using words, not to necessarily say something specific and do an action, but to kind of imply something, and thus make it so. I also like that God "set it apart as His own." What exactly does this mean? This isn't in any other translation (I think). What happens when you set something aside as your own? Usually that involves me putting a sticky note on something which says "DO NOT TOUCH!" In Sharpie, of course. There could be so many meanings for this. Does God want us to also put Sundays aside as our own, because we are modeled after Him? Would that involve solidarity, no work/schoolwork, no cooking or cleaning for others, reruns of football games?



Does God expect us to worship Him? I haven't seen any consequences for people who don't worship. And there is always the issue of public vs. private forms of worship, as well as different forms of religion. God exists to Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. as the one creator, but with different names and different histories. Who is right, who is wrong, and are those who are wrong going to be punished for their beliefs?


I feel that Sunday has become less and less hallowed as a day. For many, Sunday is just that day to relax, no God included. Worshiping is work, and sometimes strenuous. And hey, we're supposed to rest, right?


Now ... the difference between Genesis and John? No difference. While one says that there was the Word, and the other says that there was nothing/void, to me (probably because I've taken various random mythology courses), the Word is void, and the void is the Word. If God was there, and in my mind He always is, was, and has been, then does it matter? God created from nothing, and the Word was not something physical. It was more of an idea; an intention, which is what God is. He's not a tangible entity either.




Today I became a floater. In a way it was a shame. I hate the power of suggestion - either I conform my experience to resemble what I "expect" of the situation, or I rebel against it and am dissappointed once the experience is over. In a way, I rebelled when I heard some of my classmates say that it was one of the most relaxing and amazing experiences of their life. Over the course of the floating, I was very aware of my shoulders and my lower back in a way that they kind of hurt. Maybe that's just me though, because I have a big booty and poor posture.


While I can't say that I ever fully relaxed during the float, I had quite an amazing experience. I was concerned that I was going to bring my present day baggage into the "coffin" with me, but there was never any room for anything other than me in there. To put it bluntly, I felt divine. Sacred, if you will. I felt like a goddess, floating in an empty vastness of space. Can you picture those movies where the girl is pretty much naked, floating and kind of arched over like she's doing an unconcious backflip, hair streaming and limbs sprawled?

(Not quite like that) That's how I felt. I felt like I was revolving, first to my left and then to my right, as though some divine force was spinning me. Was it God, or my own power moving me? I couldn't rightly say. I felt all powerful, in a feminine, one with earth and kick your ass kind of way. Like I could narrate the great feminist novel right there, right then. I could feel the water almost touching me, and my hair streaming around my shoulders and back (I recommend that if you have short hair, wear a wig). Not going to lie, it was pretty sexy. An interesting image to connect to my description would be the statue of St. Theresa in Ecstacy. I feel that many women/girls give a bad name to other women/girls by certain deeds (coughfrathooches). But where should the line be drawn at reveling in your own sexuality and being too loose with it? Isn't that just the question of the age.



Mobius - my sensibilites were shocked today in class when you said that Saturday was the first time you've ever been to a Penn State football game, especially after being here, what, 13 years?? Terrible! While I've gotten the impression that you disdain the institution of the university (not necessarily what they attempt to do, but how they go about doing it), football Saturdays are something not to be missed! To me, they are Penn State during the fall. Which brings my topic to light.


Definition. The beautiful thing about language, as we discussed in class, is that it can have so many meanings. Each of us may have a different connotation for a single word. Penn State. To my roommate, these two words mean drudgery, classes she doesn't want to take, being separated from her boyfriend (oops, fiance), and a nameless face that takes money she doesn't have. What does it mean to you? Penn State means so many things to me, and I'm slightly abashed to admit that while academics are on my list, they're probably somewhere near the lower half.


So, Penn State. Football. Blue Band. Beaver Stadium. Friends who will last a lifetime, and who have changed my life for the better. Old Main. The Creamery. The Nittany Lion. Yelling at tours. Lounging on the quad. Skipping class to do work for other classes. Too many bars that are always too crowded. Frats. Family. Networking. Academics (ahh there it is). Never being lonely or bored. The Writing Center. Paul Posluszny. Tailgating. Sun. Rain. Is it sacreligious to say at this point in my life, Penn State is my religion? I worship at the Beaver Stadium shrine every Saturday, rain or shine. My eyes glaze over when I talk about Penn State, and my fanaticism drives my friends insane. I bleed blue and white, and God help anyone who puts my university down.


Hi London Bridge. I was perplexed by my own response to your above statements, which could be described as a sort of revulsion. And I don't want to give you the impression that I'm revolted by you, but I couldn't contain my initial reaction. I feel like football Saturday's are a large part of what's WRONG with this university, and then exemplify a side of the student body I'd rather not see. Perhaps it's my perspective as someone who went to high school in State College, but I always feel like the students at Penn State look at the town itself as a place to drink, to puke, and to behave like children in. At no time is this worse than on the weekends in the fall. What seems to be ignored, however, is that there are houses, children, and people whose entire lives have little or nothing to do with Penn State right next door, laying awake at night because someone is screaming about Ohio State beating so-and-so. The traffic that comes into town changes entire family schedules. You can't drive around after the game because there are so many drunk drivers out that it's dangerous. In other words, PSU football takes over State College...not academia or music or any other sport: football. Just because it's a moneymaker for the University, it's tolerated and encouraged. Something about chanting "WE ARE" and "PENN STATE" just annoys me...brings out my rebellious-for-the-sake-of-being-rebellious side (which I'm not proud of), and makes me hate football. So I guess my point (if there is one), is that maybe Mobius doesn't need'' to see a football game at Beaver Stadium, aside from the fact that I'm sure he was greatly amused by the whole spectacle. It's an integral part of your life at PSU, and more power to you. But it's not for everyone. And maybe the point of the class is for both of us to get out of our ruts (PSU football = My religion! vs. PSU football = the bane of my existence), and look at it from an entirely new perspective: rhetorically, analytically, and with an eye towards what's going on behind the white-outs and waves.

- Ceridwen


**Ceridwen, I appreciate the comment! I was expecting a couple of less than happy responses and replies to this post, and I'm glad that yours makes so much sense. I can't definitely see (from a far removed perspective) that the whole Penn State football atmosphere would and does annoy many people. I'll admit it. I'm brain washed. I watch people making fools out of themselves and acting like idiots and getting themselves arrested, and I laugh. I should feel shame for them and for myself, because I'm being associated with them (May no act of ours bring shame) but I can't help but be amused by what people do to themselves. Yesterday, when I was waiting to march pregame in the tunnel, I saw this guy arrested and led out by two cops. He was shirtless, staggering, and handcuffed, and had either been in a massive fight or pepper sprayed in the face. My mouth fell open in disgust and wonder, but I have to try to imagine what he did and what he was thinking. It's almost incomprehensible. There you are at a game that so many people would kill to go to, getting yourself kicked out, and for what? Being drunk? Disorderly? Fighting a Notre Dame fan? Seriously, what an idiot.


I recognize the flaws of the atmosphere, the experience, and what it does to the town. But I also see the positive side. Think of the revenue that the alumni and fans bring to State College, as well as the surrounding towns. Think of the networking that can be done, and the sense of community that it instills amoung students and alumni alike. A large part of the reason that I'm so enamoured of the Penn State experience is the sense of pride and unity that I get from these football days. I feel like I'm a part of something bigger. I just can't get the same feeling from say, being a part of the tutoring program at the Writing Center. Guess it's not Rah-Rah enough for me.


***haha talk about "synchronicity" boyfriend of seven years just finished his four years in the blue band (Jason Smutz...he played the smallest bass drum last year - squad leader the year before last) and I'm currently taking ENGL 250 in order to start at the writing center sometime this semester. In response to your response though, I understand the need to have something to celebrate and revel in. It's a natural feeling, and if Penn State gives you that feeling of a natural high or release etc. etc. then go for it! We're all just looking for happiness, and finding it in pregame, halftime, postgame, or corner is just as acceptable/admirable as any church/temple etc I can think of.