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December 17, 2007


And here it is, Miss Americ... errrrr... my final project. It was mostly completed on November 30, 2007, actually. What it consists of is my failed attempt at National Novel Writing Month, a 10,300 word manuscript, and an almost 1,800 word introduction that discusses my views on writing in relation to Chapter three, verses six through nine of the Bhagavad Gita. I'll leave it at that. I am burned out. I just have to turn in all my papers and take all my tests. I could almost fail all of them and still graduate (not that I will be in town to walk). So there. One less left. Boom. Signing off...


English 421 Reflection.doc




December 4, 2007


It has been way too long since I got on here and posted. That's what happens when you never get back in the flow of things after a break, I guess...


Anyway, life this week is hectic. I'm working somewhere in the neighborhood of 32-35 hours at Zeno's because of two things. First, the fucking Dark Star Orchestra is back in town, so they want a full compliment before, during, and after shows in case there is a rush. Really makes things insane. Secondly, and more importantly, my boss, who some of you may know, is having health complications and will be out of work for something like two months. This means all doormen/barbacks are getting extra shifts as five bartending shifts a week have to be covered. It's all insane and I've already worked five days in a row, averaging something around three hours of sleep a night. It's been crazy. I don't have a day off until Friday, and next week does not promise to be any less crazy.


Now that that is out of the way, the fun news. After a lot of consideration, I am strongly considering getting a tattoo. I guess what makes this different from other times that I have said this is I have a design. One of my co-workers at Zeno's made it and I think it kicks ass. It's a tribal with a kind of badass looking rabbit in it and a moonish symbol. Right shoulder blade. She's even said that if I don't get it she very well might. The craziness of it all is that it really reminds me of what I've been doing for the last seven months (almost to the day). I am Rabbit, I work during the night. And this design came from where I work. Good stuff...


And on it goes... Because as of midnight, the start of December, I failed at National Novel Writing Month. The manuscript is something like 10,500 words, well below the goal of 50,000. I knew about half-way through the month that making it would be a long shot; there is just too much going on in my life right now to actually "win" at NaNoWriMo this year. That being said, it was an eye opening experience and I still plan on writing about it for my final project. Why? Because I want to examing the creation of a trainwreck, not of stream of consciousness, but of a trainwreck, as a sacred experience. It's the same reason why I dislike reading everything as an allegory: sometimes things just are. In that sense, it goes very well with the Bhagavad-Gita. It is process with purpose. Writing for the hell of writing. Simply, it is making a statement through action and through trial and error. The way it works for me, even though I failed at the creation of a 50,000 word manuscript, I made the goal I set for myself with two weeks left and less than 5,000 words written, and that was to write over 1,000 words a day on the days I had off work. And in that, I performed at a level that I think was very admirable. However, if I hadn't eschewed what I had planned on doing, which was writing a little every day (though even 1,000 words a day would not "win" NaNoWriMo) I think I could have taken this damn thing down. Oh well. It relates. I have my reason to write and I have my connection to sacred texts. Woo!


So what else? There is a lot more that I want to talk about, but I have to get back to reading some 200 pages before Thursday. It has to get done tonight because I work from 5pm to close tomorrow night.


Which reminds me: PLEASE at least think about copyrights, intellectual property, and free culture even if you do not read the book. Hell, I haven't even read most of the book. Mostly I have just skimmed it multiple times, gaining minimal understanding of what Lessig's arguments are. More so, I am just fascinated with the concept of fair use, public domain, and copyright extensions (the Disney rule), especially since I have been recently introduced to both Project Gutenberg and Sacred Texts.org. It's just wild.


Focus, focus, focus... Back to work with me.





November 25, 2007 (early morning)


I am not sure how I let it be this long between wiki updates. All I really have to say is oops. It's been a busy break and I really haven't had the free time to do much of anything until today. And today has been dedicated to football and an attempt to relax, which I think has mostly failed. The fact that I am still awake pounding away at the keyboard of my laptop sort of implies that. Again, oops. I just wish that I had had a little more free me time during the break. Really, Saturday I moved home and was able to squirril myself away for a few hours. But leaving my room invited interaction. Don't get me wrong, my parents are awesome, but I just need to get away from everyone and everything sometimes. So being in the basement, throwing darts, and then being asked if I want to play a few games of cricket by my dad (say no? yeah right) was not always the best scenario for my sanity. Sunday to Wednesday was preparation for Thursday and the insanity of having my Aunt, Uncle, two cousins and a family of four whose parents are long-time friends of my parents and who come up everything Thanksgiving invade. Also, I got to work Wednesday and Thursday nights. So that didn't make my life any easier. Do you have any idea how hard it is to slip into a ranch style house with squeaky floors at 3am and manage to only wake your parents, who happen to be sleeping on the pull-out sofa you have to walk right past to get to your room? That was an interesting night. Not necessarily a fun one, but an interesting one.


So here I am, it's almost one in the morning and I'm taking a break from working on my National Novel Writing Month experiment. I am behind. Substantially. The goal for tonight was something along the lines of 5000+ words written. I am getting close to that number and starting to think that despite the complete lack of time I have had and will have for the next five days, I might be able to pull this off. Hell, even if I don't the scramble in these last few days will make a good story, and therefore a good final project. Somewhere beyond page 13 but before page 15 I began to wonder about how I am going to narrate the experience and discuss how it is sacred, but now it is all starting to fall into place in my head. It is not about what is written, after all. That is made very clear at the beginning of NaNoWriMo. It is about writing. And beyond that it is about taking time for yourself. That is why there is no editing in NaNoWriMo. It is just a fucking sprint to the finish. Call it the 110m high hurdles. So far I've tripped over the first however many I've come across. Time to see if I can make it over the last few and nail that sprint to the finish. I am of two minds about it, but I will try to keep the doubt supressed. I've been told I need to start being a more positive person, anyway.


Thanks for your comment - it's definitely nice to know there's someone else out there that has similar misgivings to my own. As for break - I hear you about needing some you time. I feel like parents and family don't always get that that's the main purpose of break - alone time. They don't seem to understand that we don't need a break from people just at school; we need a break from everyone and everything. Keep your demands and save them for a longer vacation! - London Bridge 



November 14, 2007


I had forgotten about this until I was looking around for something to write an Op-Ed style paper about for another class. The gist of it is as follows: Jay Leno brought on a team of text-messagers, one of whom held the record for shortest amount of time to send a 160 character message (57 seconds), and a team of Morse coders, with a combined 81 years experience or something like that. The were sat down and given the same message to send to their partner. It's amusing, and the outcome will surprise most. I won't spoil it, but here's a link to a page with the video.


Very cool, very fun stuff. It makes me think about the creation of language, and with it, the degradation of language. In that sense, I am a lingual luddite. I love the OED. I do not abbreviate in text messages or in instant messages. I let punctuation lapse to an extent; everything I say still retains its full meaning even if I speak more in phrases than sentences and over use ellipses. But I spell out everything, for christ sake. There is something holy about actually being able to understand a message that gets sent to you. Most of the abbreviations that are thrown around today mean nothing to me. It seems that every word is shortened, even if the shortened word really does not save any time or space. I was reading an article and appently text speak for "pigeon" is "pidgin." Seriously, people. What. The. Fuck. Not even close. Completely different WORDS with completely dissimilar DEFINITIONS.


To say this bothers me is an understatement.


But damn does that video make me want to relearn Morse code... Kick ass...





November 11, 2007


Without much to say, I thought I would start a list of works mentioned in class that I scribbled in margins and such. Feel free to add, organize, whatever. Fun stuff. It's a good way to take time and feel like I've done something somewhat productive...




November 8, 2007


Well, rabbit, kudos for getting involved anyways. There is a Bukowski poem that is appropos to your situation. Many people take offense to this poem because they see Bukowski as being elitist. I prefer to take it as Bukowski saying "let the writing come on its own time, in its own way" or in the words of Burrowes, "you can't force good writing." It is interesting, though, to read all the discourse produced around this little poem. It's become the classic "he's totally right" vs. "he's totally wrong" debate online. Anywho, if you drink, I also suggest drinking a glass of wine before you start writing to help loosen you up. I mean, don't get totally wasted, but you'd be surprised what a little buzz can do for your typing fingers. --Echan


I figured I was in trouble within twenty-four hours of starting it, but now I'm pretty sure, more than ever, that attempting National Novel Writing Month is insanity. It's not because 50,000 words is impossible. In fact, I think that in any other year I would be cruising along and already be well on my way. But this was a bad year to attempt it for a first time. Between two on-campus internships, classes, work, and job hunting (which most people consider to be a full-time job on its own), I'm struggling to find time to write when I am capable of writing and not just sitting there staring at the screen.


Don't get me wrong, half the battle is staring at the screen until the words come. It doesn't normally take more than a minute before words flow, but I need background noise, and that doesn't work too well right now. The background noise often comes into the forefront and takes over the writing. Thanks to this phenomena, I am behind like I can't believe. Thanks to some impressive efforts tonight, I am not right around the 10% mark, just below 5,000 words. Far, far from where I had hoped to be a week or so into NaNoWriMo. But in another week I will have a full week off with little to do other than write. That will be a good time and it should catch me up in a hurry. Now I just have to convince myself that this is doable. It's fun, but hell if I know how it will end up.


Writing is such a screwy art. I am glad that I am more inclined to spend my life editing the works of others instead of writing my own.


Also, at some point I plan on posting all the works that have been mentioned in this class that I have copied down. In addition, I might end up posting all the works listed in a number of my other classes as well. After all, I am, largely, much more interested in works suggested instead of works actually studied.


Oh yeah. And I just checked out the biography of Timothy Leary this afternoon. I'm only about four or ten pages in, but I can already tell that he had a weird god damn childhood. It should be an interesting read. Now if I can only find the time to get through it.






November 5, 2007


To begin with, I had the pleasure of laughing at what the University of Virginia calls a home football weekend over the past few days. I mean seriously... Every student can get in? The streets in and around town aren't completely mobbed? What? There was so much wrong with this picture. It was hilarious. And visiting my friend who graduated from here last year and who is now working on her AT Masters down there was great for commentary (as well as one of the worst rounds of golf I've played in the last three years or so). Very good times. And a much needed break from State College.


And I took that break because today I turn 23. It is an unexciting birthday that falls between 21 (booze) and 25 (renting vehicles without paying out the ass for insurance). After 25 there isn't much else to look forward to. I mean, 30, 40, 50... they're all benchmarks, but nothing ridiculously exciting. Another birthday won't mean too much until (and this is a gigantic if) I make it to 100. The century mark means something. It is, after all, an accomplishment. Life expectancy is something around 68-70 for males, I think, so breaking that so drastically would be cool, as long as I were still a functional human being. Who wants to be a 100 year old vegetable? Sounds like a garden project gone wrong, a tomato left on the vine for too long. Then there is the analogy to wine that is often drawn. The problem there is wine often turns into vinegar if it is left too long. Believe me, I've had a number of those out of my parent's stock. (They don't believe in being called "wine snobs." In fact, they got uppity with me for saying I used that term to describe them occasionally. Instead, my mom suggested that they are really just winos. A very humorous description seeing as she is already a self describe Coke addict who needs a can daily for the caffeine. A Coke addict and a wino. How amusing is that?)


Where was I going with this? I am not sure, but I can say for certain that, despite enjoying my classes, my tenure at Penn State has turned to vinegar. I am now five or more years older than some of the students in my comp lit course (the fact that I have to take that is a whole other can of worms and bitching about how worthless the English department advisors can be). That is wrong to me. But that's what I get for still being in school.


Anyway, an installment of the "novel" (I use the term very loosely) will end up being posted eventually. I just have to actually get online when I'm on my laptop (which is where all the writing is occuring). Eventually, I say. I am only a few percent of the way there, but it's going, and even if I am not always inspired to write, at least I always know more or less where I am headed. For now. Good stuff.





October 30, 2007


And with one utterance, "Catcher in the Rye meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez," I have my final project. The concept of a spiritual autobiography spurred it on. And more so, this class made me decide to actually go for it. The "it" I refer to is National Novel Writing Month. That is, during the course of November, I will be aiming to write 50,000+ words as a semi-coherant novel. Should be interesting, if not exhausting. I was think more of a modern Holden Caufield at first, but when Mobius mentioned spiritual authobiography today, it sparked what could be an incredible idea or a horrible disaster. I don't know which and I don't care, quite frankly.


The manuscript, however it ends up, plus a much shorter paper discussing what the experience was, from several points of view, no doubt, is the final aim. That gives me a month to write a novel, and something like two weeks to write a paper about writing a novel and how it was a "sacred" experience. Arts for arts sake, only more of a trainwreck, I think...


**Trainwrecks are a beautiful thing. The "self" is messy, but the "self" is valuable, so I think that makes mess valuable as well. If you really want to see a trainwreck, read the class notes I just posted on my Wiki. And, for what it's worth, writing a novel (or even just an absurdly long MS Word doc) takes guts. For that I applaud you and look forward to the first installment of your book. I'm all ears, Rabbit. (Pun intended). - zee_deveel



October 29, 2007


It's been a while since I had enough time to really post. Then again, it's been a while since I've had enough time to really sit and think for more than 10 minutes without anything interrupting me.


Every time I get to it, though, I start thinking about all sorts of stupid other things: resumes, the great job hunt, work, and other classes, more specifically. And right now that pertains to trying to think of a topic to write an op-ed on for one other class. A fun thing would be to tie it into something from class, but somehow melding sutras, Rumi, et al into a idea that has some... reason for me to write about is daunting. Largely because I don't really care about much of anything right now other than escaping this damn town.


Which is why movies are fun. I'm actually really looking forward to Ratatouille coming out on DVD a week from tomorrow. I have yet to meet a foodie that doesn't like it.


But I digress. That's probably because I'm already looking forward to next weekend and my short trip down to UVA to play a round of golf or two in nicer weather. Golf and meditation. And nicer weather. And a place that is not State College, even if Charlottesville, Virginia, really is just another college town. It's something different. And that is the point of using Sacred Texts.


And now I'm running late to get to work... Oh well...





October 25, 2007


Note to self: Hero worship and how it has emerge, specifically in the last 100 years, is a pretty interesting topic that can be traced through popular and sacred literature.


Another note to self: Eschatology works the same way.


Yet another note to self: Sleeping is a good thing.





October 18, 2007 (circa 12:45am)


I spend too much time thinking on random subjects. I think that is proven with the fact that I just felt comfortable enough to push through my 750 word review I have to have a draft of for tomorrow. It's on As Good as It Gets. Fantastic movie. Wonderful characters. Jack Nicholson, as always, is a joy. And the movie is ten years old as of Christmas. Such a random happenstance that is. I just want to see what the reaction of the viewing public to part of what I have used that (and now this) soapbox to say:


It is the common misconception that humanity or “human-ness,” which is often misrepresented as “humane-ity” or “humane-ness,” is impossible if one hates – and I use the term quite liberally – hates people. What is wrong with misanthropy? Nothing is wrong with misanthropy, I say as an active practitioner and avid believer in the cause.



Any thoughts? I just think that the topic of humanity versus humane-ity seems fairly apt for this class, as well. And tomorrow I will find time to post on topics that have been assigned or have already been thrown into the open, such as the William Penn article. Keeping up is fun, but trying to get some semblance of sleep is better. That's my choice, at least.




October 15, 2007


Why do I find it so sad that every time I hear the title Autobiography of a Yogi I start thinking about pic-a-nic baskets, Boo Boo, and Jellystone National Park? It's kind of like how I am writing a review of As Good as It Gets for another class and I feel like a more bitter, cynical, and generally worse person than Melvin Udall.


Anyway... Focus. Chapter 39:Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist of Bavaria (Purely because I like the title. As good a reason as any, really...)


The concept of Stigmata is, to say the least, intriguing to me. I mean, the concept that one can have the tortures of Jesus Christ divinely visited upon them is... out there. Now, the Yogis' account is strange. The stigmata is a stigmata. But what got me was the thought that one could tune themselves into the same frequency. Theresa had said that she could not teach anyone to live like her, sustaining herself on the light of god. Yet another divine man from a different religion was able to join her trance. Why does that sound so strange to me? It's not the religious divide: divinity is divinity and one who communicates with their god should be able to communicate with any god (There's my Rumi-nition). It makes sense, but I guess it's my questioning of divinity in general that makes me so skeptical. But why would I question such a well known, historical truthful man? Because I can?


For some reason, no, because I've been reading Mr. Vertigo, which harbors an unhealthy scatalogical obsession, I couldn't help but snicker when it was mentioned that Theresa has no excretions. She produces no waste. Everything is bled out of her once a week and then she is cleansed, I guess. It puts a new twist on "She thinks her shit don't stink." I guess that would be true if no shit existed to stink.


*Wondering about whether or not Mother Teresa's shit stinks makes me chuckle a little. Then, I chuckle even more, because I realize that I'm thinking about saint poop. Anyway, I see a connection between "stigmata" and "waste". Is Mother Teresa's weekly bloodletting similar to bearing the stigmata as a symbol of religious torture? When people practice religious self-mutilation, or experience mutilation from an outside source, is what they're experiencing a closeness to the divine through a process of cleansing? Does the experience of pain signify an experience of purification? I thought purification was defined by the sifting-out of negative things. Therefore, do the stigmata make suffering a positive thing? I don't know. You tell me. P.S. This computer lab is freezing. - zee_deveel


Back to reality. I love how Yogi thinks of these things as tests. Her knowledge. The sharing of the visions. So both "scientifically" and spiritually she passed. I don't know. It's a fantastic story. But strangely it has the feeling of a movie. It has Hollywood written all over it despite the reality and, theoretically, veritifiablity of the story. Unsensationalized religious miracles. Now there's a concept that doesn't exist. It's impossible, otherwise religion would be uncivilized heathenistic ritual. It all comes back to the media. And the victors writing history. And Michael Bay or Spielberg twisting their magic. Crazy.





October 11, 2007


I'm actually really looking forward to class tomorrow. Now if I could just find anything I've written in the last 48 hours. It's wild how things domino... Eisenhower would've loved it if nations fell to dominos the way my life seems to fall apart.


Anyway. Monotheism in Egypt. London Bridge. Very nice. There are a lot of theories surrounding Akhentaten (which I think is spelled right). The one that I think is most interesting is that he had Maran Syndrome, hence the sun worship, the change in artistic styles (emulating the physical abnormalities of their leader), and some other stuff. The details are a little fuzzy for me right now as it's been two years or so since I took Near East Mythology (CAMS 044, I believe). I highly reccomend it. Get Redford, the missus, if you can. Good stuff. Excentric, but who isn't?

I probably should re-read notes and books about this stuff. It won't happen before tomorrow morning. It's just another item on the list of things I need to read. Oy.





October 9, 2007


A summation of my last five days:

Thursday - interview that the other parties blew off (which I skipped two classes for), classes, work, migraine starts.

Friday - incapacitated for most of the day

Saturday - work during the day, Scrabble in the bar by night

Sunday - BBQing, Scrabble, and croquet all day

Monday - internship, work, migraine


Which is why I am posting now instead of sitting in class. Oops. I'm sure anyone who saw me walking home last night laughed when I twice almost fell over--once when a bus went by, and again when some fool in a car with at least one if not five coffee-can sized exhaust tips on it drove by. Since I am awake, I guess that means I should get ready to make at least some of my classes.


Later today I will type up thoughts on Matthew that were written a few days ago. I'm getting worse and worse at remembering to acually post what I write for classes...




October 3, 2007


I'm well aware that being busy isn't a real excuse. But oh well. That's my reason now. So, Matthew or Heart Sutra? That's all I have time for tonight. Let's go with remixing

the Sutra. Sounds more fun.


The original:

Because nothing is attained, the Bodhisattva, through reliance on Prajna Paramita, is unimpeded in his mind. Because there is no impediment, he is not afraid, and he leaves distorted dream-thinking far behind. Ultimately Nirvana!



404, page not found. Bodhisattva, through the use of the Google, can find anything. The limitless resources at his fingertips extinguished his apprehensions. The flow of information was free and safe search was on. He avoided the unfortunate world of benignly named pornography sites. Ultimately work safe information!


That really makes no sense, but it was an attempt that, well, is better than other attempts at remixing that I've done because it actually changes the situation as opposed to just glossing over it. Oh well...




September 26, 2007


I think I want to work with something Norse... The stories of Odin are a lot of fun. But I've read those a lot. For years. Almost 10, actually. My mom has always bought me and my brother random books for... whatever reason: the end of the school year, birthdays, other holidays, or for no reason. At some point I picked up The Norse Myths, introduced and retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland. It's good, but the text on Sacred-Texts is at least as good.


But I almost feel too familier, too attached to those stories to deal with them. I want something fresh. Time will tell. This weekend will see a lot of time spent pouring over various and sundry Norse myths. It's amazing what a search for "Iceland" will do.




September 24, 2007


First thing's first... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ikH9ZRcF2Q It's a video of a drunken squirrel. It's glorious.



More Rumi! Since I'm behind on other readings and I can't seem to make myself go to my Monday/Wednesday lecture class...


Discourse 30


What gets me about this discourse is how the duality of good and evil is introduced. "Is the source of good and evil one thing or two?" The response Rumi gives, of course, is vague enough and all encompassing enough that I'll be damned if it doesn't just make sense. It does exactly what the gray matter or a rheostat does: it allows for personalization.


"From the point of view that they are continually at war with one another, the answer is obviously two—since a person cannot be opposed to himself. But, from the viewpoint that evil is inseparable from good—for good is the giving up of evil, and the giving up of evil is impossible without evil, and were it not for the incitement of evil, no one would ever abandon the good—from this point of view they are not two."


I mean, that's brilliant. He goes on to say that the desirable can never be separated from the hateful because without one there is not the other. A life can't be judged until it is over and can be reflected on... I mean... He is right. Good and evil, life and death... all of these things require perspective. Good cannot be good without a counter. A superhero isn't really anything without a supervillain or some other nemesis. Really, to live is to be an unanswerable set of dualities. To be stuck in the middle ground of the rheostat.





September 23, 2007


This weekend has been such a wash. Obnoxious people, a not-so-surprising Penn State loss, and terrible music last night at work. (It's a miracle that my ears weren't bleeding by the end...) However, there was one upside. Really, it was a confirmation of something I already sort of knew: keg rooms are wonderful places to relax and do some minor meditation. I know it sounds weird, and the cold would probably bother most people, but I like it. It's quiet. And no one has to go in there unless they have to. I have a feeling I will be using this as an escape more and more as the semester progresses.


so ironic, it's genius! a keg room for meditation... when I worked as a waitress, I used to go for cigarette breaks just to get away and get some peace of mind. But then I started smoking cigarettes every 5 minutes and I got majorly addicted. Now I try to avoid those kind of jobs that make you need to get away, but sometimes it can't be helped. -Echan


It is quite interesting how I have avoided smoking. I mean, technically working in a bar is like smoking at least a pack or two a night, but I am not buying and smoking or even bumming. Nor will I ever... I spend enough drinking where I work that. I can't imagine how broke I'd be if I had to pay for two habits!




September 19, 2007


I have this problem with reading Sutras. And the Diamond Sutra really just made me realize it... They all, for some dumb reason, make me think of the game Earthbound. I know why, yet at the same time I really don't understand why I continue to make the connection. So what if one of the characters is a rich prince who goes through training in order to become enlightened? The part that gets me is as follows:


Therefore in emptiness there is no form, no sensation,

perception, mental reaction, consciousness;


no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind,


no color, sound, smell, taste, touch, object of thought;


no seeing and so on to no thinking;


no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance,


and so on to no old age and death,

and also no ending of old age and death;


Again, it's stupid, but it's built into the game as the "training" you must complete as Poo in order to gain the power of teleportation, among other things. During meditation a spirit asks you if it can take your eyes, ears, and so on until it finally takes the body. The idea being that enlightenment is spiritual and there is no need for all these things listed above from the Sutra. Why? Why can't I get more than a handful of steps into this reading without wanting to play that stupid, yet ridiculously sweet, Super Nintendo RPG?


It's frustrating in a goofy sort of way...




September 18, 2007


Things make me wonder... The job fair, for instance, is a perfect example of chaos in motion. Students, suits, and companies. The outside chance of employment after graduation makes people do stupid things. But then again, who wants to work for major accounting or finance company. Or, better yet, a large pharmaceutical company. Why? Why would I want to do that?


Granted, I went in with the hope of one, maybe two leads. None in the areas a normal Smeal business college areas. Bose was about the only one that truly interested me. So how did it pass that I ran into a guy I went to elementary school with, I mean, played backyard football and organized baseball with... and come out of it with what sounds like an entry level job opportunity at a business-to-business selling data storage company? Whoever said luck wasn't a good thing? Connections are a phenominal thing, whether they are planned (like me approaching my aunt, who is currently writing a book and has connections in publishing, academic and otherwise) or not, like today.


It's strange. I'm now looking forward to graduation in December more than I already was. The hope of having a job in a place as cool as Boston that I can start in January makes counting down the days even easier.





September 15, 2007


The Big Ten network is pretty funny. Today is the first time I've watched it and I have to say I am not impressed. There is something to be said for generating an insane amount of money, but the network does not have good people. The play-by-play announcers are pretty average with good insight, but there isn't much color. Maybe it will improve over time, but I kind of doubt it just because of the nature of the beast.


Beyond that, I have to admit, I like John Madden. I like Tony Kornheiser. I even liked Dennis Miller when he was briefly on Monday Night Football. Madden's an idiot. Kornheiser actually has a brain. And Miller was just a funny guy who spoke completely over his intended audiences head. I guess that's a commentary on the American public. After all, fantasy football is a booming, and very profitable, industry. Publishing and newspapers are spiraling down and mindless entertainment is booming.


Maybe if more people read and actually thought on something like Rumi for a little (it doesn't seem like work at all, which is a nice change of pace) the world would be a better place.






September 12, 2007


It's hard to read Rumi when you are angry. That is one thing that I hadn't noticed until I returned home tonight and re-read a few of the discourses. Being on the edge of irrational makes things seem a lot more distant and, even if they are wonderful and make a lot of sense (like most of Rumi, in my opinion) they tend to just push you closer and closer to the edge because they seem so good.


Discourse 24 intrigued me the first time I read it and continues to now. The underlying idea, as far as I can tell, is that glories to God are even greater when they are not the true intention of the purveyor. His stance on saints not being considered any greater than the average person is so different than anything in Western dogma, but at the same time, I like it so much better. It follows his underlying idea so well because they didn't perform their duties, or miracles, or whatever, to gain noteriety. They did them because they were the right things to do for themselves, for others, and for God, even if that wasn't the first intention. I like that.


The worst part about liking this idea that Rumi has thrown out there is that I'm still here, at Penn State. And this place is so self-centered, so egotistical that it makes me wonder, "what went wrong?" It's all those small things that make people believe that "Chivalry is dead." It's not chivalry, it's common decency. It's "do unto others" as opposed to "me, me, me." I've heard some people blame Mr. Rogers for this phenomena. His "everybody's special" rhetoric has, undisputedly, led to a culture where self-esteem is put above common decency, politeness, and general good nature. So I guess it follows, obviously, and possibly strangely enough, that I detest the materialism, not that already existed, but that has boomed of late. Yes, I have my areas of material concern: my golf clubs, my beer, and my squash equipment. That's the majority of it. It's pricey, but it's not... everything because I am not the end-all, be-all in my world.


I readily admit that I am highly jaded when it comes to State College. Nineteen years here will do that. So I don't know. Maybe my opinions on State College and Penn State are over blown, over stated, over done. No matter what, I like Rumi's point that the best reason to do good is not for fame or fortune or even temporary noteriety, but because it is good. Because it's the right thing to do.


I wish more people actually took that idea to heart, be it in Rumi's terminology, the Christian Golden Rule, or where ever else it shows up. Not to sounds corny, but the world would be a much better place.




September 10, 2007


Remixing? Not an easy task. The problem is trying to determine what motivation to give to the words. Even with that... I'm not sure I can do any of it justice. Let's try to make KJB into more normalized, modern-ish prose.


Genesis 40 KJB



9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: 11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. 12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. 14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: 15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.



16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: 17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. 18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: 19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.

20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand: 22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.


"Remixed" Version 1.0


The chief butler shared his dream with Joseph. "I saw a vine," he said. "and there were three branches on it and it looked as if they were budding. They blossomed and the blossoms turned in to bunches ripe grapes. I was holding Pharaoh's cup, so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup to make wine. I then handed Pharaoh his cup." Joseph paused and said to the chief butler, "The three branches represent three days. In three days Pharaoh will give you your job back and you will once again wait on him and hand him his cup." He continued, "Remember me and show me kindness when these good fortunes befall you. Mention me to Paraoh and bring me with you. I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews and I have done nothing punishable here."


Hoping to also get good news, the chief baker described his dream to Joseph. "I had three white baskets on my head," he said. "In the top basket were all sorts of bakemeats for Pharaoh. But the birds came and ate everything." Joseph again took his time before replying, "The three baskets, like the three branches, represent three days. In three days Pharaoh will have your head. He will lift you up and hang you from a tree. The birds will come and eat your flesh as they ate the breadmeats." Three days passed, and it came to be Pharaoh's birthday. He arranged a feast for all of servants. At the feast he brought forward the chief butler and the chief baker. As Joseph had interpreted, the chief butler was restored to his position and he waited on Pharaoh, bringing him his cup. Also as Joseph interpreted, Pharaoh hung the chief baker. However, despite the accuracy of Joseph's interpretations the chief butler failed to remember Joseph.



That may or may not work. But it's good enough for now. There may or may not be further iterations before this is final. Call it version 1.0.




September 6, 2007


I am actually really glad that zee_deveel brought up the concept of infallibility and its often completely absurd application to protagonists and how that is a limiting factor. For the record, I like Beowulf. I like Achilles. And I feel they are far from infallible. Hooray for hubris, hooray!


There is a dirth of infallible characters in sacred texts. Here's the paradox: they all make some sort of mistake. Yet those who defend them sluff these mistakes off as "part of the plan" or "intentional." "The Fall" is said to be Satan's fault as opposed to God's, but why would God make a temptable, flawed image of Himself? Well, it's Eve's fault. But he created Eve from Adam who was an image of Himself. Does this mean God is fallible? Of course not. He meant to give man a choice. So he's just cruel? No, he wanted to give man a chance to become divine through obedience. So, if Adam was created in the image of God and since Eve was made from the image of God, either God messed up or we're getting that copy of a copy of a copy thing going here, aren't we? But isn't that still fallibility?


It actually reminds me of the South Park Easter special from the 11th season. The concept presented (I'd hoped to find the very end of the episode online somewhere, but haven't been able to yet) is that the Pope was always meant to be a bunny. Why? Because man is dumb. They want answers and interpretations. They want to have God's Will dictated to them. So the big hat covers the ears and the Pope sits there, not saying a word. Just as God intended, apparently.


My mind draws really odd connections. I will never deny that.


There is more to say about infallibity, stock characters, and sacred texts / mythology, but I'll get to that later when I'm not running late for my entire day.


Genesis 2:16-17


Young's Literal Translation:

(16) And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; (17) and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it -- dying thou dost die.'



King James Version:

(16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.





September 5, 2007


There is a certain wonderment that attaches itself to the questions of "what belongs?" or "what is real?" or, better still "what exists?" It is these questions that are sought to be answered any time a new "interpretation," "reading," or "translation" of any religious text, Judeo-Christian or otherwise, emerges. of course this mind numbing display immediately makes me think of Jon Krakaur's wonderful book "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," but that's really more of a critique of a cult rather than an actual religion.


So. Genesis. A book that easily more than half of the American public believes is the literal truth of how the world was created. (That on its own would be enough to cause me to lose faith in middle America had I not done so many, many years ago. Cynical disillusionment is an interesting beast. Especially one that makes a person believe that if people are going to live in tornado alley they deserve to get hit by a tornado. The same goes for Florida and the rest of the Gulf/Southern US coasts. But then again, I digress. It's reading "White Noise" that is causing this rant.) Now, there is the stock story. Every culture has it. Is it a lack of faith of a dirth of practicality and a willingness to listen that causes disbelief? Further more, is that willingness to listen what brings about a culture of practiced acceptance of, tolerance for, and acknowledgment that faith is not a problem? Where is the line drawn between faith and fanaticism? Faith and intolerance? Faith and brainwashing?


In a severely round-about manor, these questions speak to the intentions of the author. Why would the King James version use the rhetorical techniques that were discussed in class ("And," declarative statements, the intentional creation of a cadence) if the purpose were not to entice and convice? Enticement is the primary goal, after all. As was also discussed briefly, even the non-believer who fights a text is a success for the authors because they have been engaged. Dialogue, or really argument, spun in the correct manner can only aide the author. I will point back to "Under the Banner of Heaven" and the LDS church. Their founder was a convicted con-man. Who started a cult because it was the "in" thing to do and the new way to make money. How did it survive? Charisma and the willingness to fight across the board. This is not an isolated incident. I am not picking on the LDS. Christianity started in similar fashion and has, during many points in its history, been led by the ruthless, the false, and the greedy. (Look no further than the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the "conquest" of the Americas, and the War of the Roses, just to name a few.)


That went on longer than I intended to, but I feel it has the possibility of sparking some entertaining discussion points, even if it does make me sound much more anti-religion, anti-cult, anti-Christian than I really am.


The point I want to get back to, however, is the simple concept of faith and its etymology.


  • 3. Theol. in various specific applications. a. Belief in the truths of religion; belief in the authenticity of divine revelation (whether viewed as contained in Holy Scripture or in the teaching of the Church), and acceptance of the revealed doctrines. b. That kind of faith (distinctively called saving or justifying faith) by which, in the teaching of the N.T., a sinner is justified in the sight of God. This is very variously defined by theologians (see quots.), but there is general agreement in regarding it as a conviction practically operative on the character and will, and thus opposed to the mere intellectual assent to religious truth (sometimes called speculative faith). c. The spiritual apprehension of divine truths, or of realities beyond the reach of sensible experience or logical proof. By Christian writers often identified with the preceding; but not exclusively confined to Christian use. Often viewed as the exercise of a special faculty in the soul of man, or as the result of supernatural illumination. (First observed in use in 1382)


  • 4. That which is or should be believed.

a. A system of religious belief, e.g. the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc., faith. Also, confession, rule of faith, for which see those words. (1325)

b. the faith: the true religion; usually = the Christian faith. Also, without article in certain phrases, as contrary to faith, etc. of faith: part and parcel of the faith. (circa 1300)


The three major definitions that we seem to be working with when discussing Genesis are above. There are many more, all of them implying some sort of credibility, owed respect, or trust. In fact, the earliest written use of "faith" that has survived, based on what the OED has to offer, is from around 1250. From Genesis and Exodus. And it meant the following: "The quality of fulfilling one's trust; faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty. to bear faith: to be loyal to," or "the duty of fulfilling one's trust; allegiance owed to a superior, fealty; the obligation of a promise or engagement." The "superior" referred to was not a God, in the Christian sense, but "king pharaon." So it evolved with time. "Superior" went from god in a pagan sense to God in a Christian sense. Borrowing works.


So what does faith mean? The opinions on that are as varied as the definitions in the OED. In the end it is still a personal choice, as is just about everything. However, to appreciate it, one must look at the word with a blank slate, not allowing the concepts that are so pervasive dictate meaning. So, what is faith? It is everything you want it to be and more.





This has nothing to do with animals. Simply, it has to do with names. More specifically than that, however, it has to do with how names get lost in the creation of nicknames, of which I have many. Rabbit just has too many fun connotations to ignore the humorous possibilities.


If nothing else, I have claimed space that would otherwise be dedicated to small, furry creatures that deliver Easter Eggs. No, I am not religious. Yes, I have a minor obsession with mythology, with stories. And yes, I believe that rabbit is the ultimate Easter dinner.


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