Three in the morning, thought Charles Halloway, seated on the edge of his bed. Why did the train come at that hour? For, he thought, it’s a special hour. Women never wake then, do they? They sleep the sleep of babes and children. But men in middle age? They know that hour well. Oh God, midnight’s not bad, you wake and go back to sleep, one or two’s not bad, you toss but sleep again. Five or six in the morning, there’s hope, for dawn’s just under the horizon. But three, now, Christ, three A.M. ! Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had strength to rouse up, you’d slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that’s burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It’s a long way back to sunset, a far way on to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead—And wasn’t it true, had he read it somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time . . .?Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Trait to change:
Stop thinking I have a library of information in my head and “have it figured out”, and work towards seeing everything with the eyes of a child, including those things that seem familiar or that I think I’ve encountered before.
E.g., empty my teacup.
“Must be a nice feeling,” said Shivers.
“Thinking you know all the answers…”Joe Abercrombie, Best Served Cold
“Good morning, Eeyore,” said Pooh.AA Milne
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning, which I doubt,” said he.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.“
“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
However contradictory the coroner’s report — whether he pronounces Consumption or Loneliness or Suicide to be the cause of death — isn’t it plain how the true artist-seer actually dies? I say that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience.JD Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour
I am suddenly compelled to read some Salinger for the hundredth, thousandth time (or at least tenth time, but let me excessively overstate the number of times I’ve read this or that or the other just to humor me). I don’t mind reading Catcher, but I am more inclined to reading Nine Stories or the other four novellas. I think that Catcher was charming, but far from his best work.
Kafka would suit my mood as well. The Trial? Anyone? Anyone?
We sacrificed all the things we love to get more of nothing.Justin Sullivan (New Model Army), Echo November
If you want to be a new man you have to stay in new places, and do new things, with people who never knew you before. If you go back to the same old ways, what else can you be but the same old person?Joe Abercrombie, Last Argument of Kings
©2021 Michael Raven
weary of this dream the butterfly life beckons on the other side of waking
Zhūangzi (c. 369 BC – c. 286 BC)
Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.
Interesting thoughts [edits and emphasis mine]:
Odin, the chief of the gods, is often portrayed as a consummate shamanic figure in the oldest primary sources that contain information about the pre-Christian ways of the Germanic peoples. His very name suggests this: “Odin” (Old Norse Óðinn) is a compound word comprised of óðr, “ecstasy, fury, inspiration,” and the suffix -inn, the masculine definite article, which, when added to the end of another word like this, means something like “the master of” or “a perfect example of.” The name “Odin” can therefore be most aptly translated as “The Master of Ecstasy…” This establishes a link between Odin and the ecstatic trance states that comprise one of the defining characteristics of shamanism.Source: Daniel McCoy (author of The Viking Spirit), Norse Mythology for Smart People, https://norse-mythology.org/concepts/shamanism/
My current issue is the overuse of the word “shamanism”, my own use included. I think it has lost most of its intended meaning and it is a borrowed word to boot, that may not have a direct mirroring of the intended meaning to add to the confusion. In other words, I think it’s a poorly appropriated word that has lost all meaning thanks to pop culture as people try to glom on more an more meaning to a word that inaccurately reflects what it was used for in the first place. And that may have been entirely fictional and derived from anthropologic suggestion influences or outright misinterpretation.
And yet, “shamanism” at least hints to the lifestyle, whereas most of the alternatives I can think of are so loaded with baggage from one source or another as to be even more useless for the purposes of trying to describe or explain things. When someone says, “Spirit Worker”, “Spirit Walker”, “Ecstatic”, all of these have been suffused with reconstructionist paganism or New Ageism (or Christian reactionism) to the point that the meaning is lost (you know, because “ecstasy” is always sexual in nature according to some narrow-minded ways of thinking).
I’m big on trying to dig into disused words for such things, but that comes with it’s own hazards: inefficient attempts to explain those choices, cultural appropriation accusations, and (once again) people trying to instill meaning into the words that never existed based on their own biases.
That said, I wasn’t aware of the linguistic derivation of Odin’s name and I find it interesting in a cloying way — it seems to suggest the nature of Odin outside of the “god” sphere and put him in the realm of shaman, and it always intrigues me when you humanize someone’s deities; but it seems too good to be ‘true’, inasmuch as I tend to mistrust self-proclaimed experts (and especially those with letters after their name to indicate just how expert they are in something because they argued it sufficiently in an institute of higher education). But it is interesting all the same, though for what argument that can be made, I don’t rightly know. I trust McCoy more than some for no other reason than he has called bullshit on some of the pop culture’s revisionist attitudes about the Vikings. Anyone who can sit there and say, hey, that belief you cling to about the old Norse religions would be interesting, but it’s not true, nor is there evidence of it ever being true, and then gives a compelling argument (with supportive evidence) as to why it isn’t true is probably okay in my book. It means he doesn’t just accept things because so and so said so — he actually did some digging on his own and confirmed or disproved a claim. Scholarship, which is far too often lacking in books about the old ways, often confusing reconstructionist approaches to the old ways with the old ways themselves and lacking the intellectual curiosity to actually question what you are selling as “truth” when it is, more often than not, a fiction.
Not that I’m against someone clinging to fictions… But I don’t sell my personal fictions in a book and call them truth. I give my bullshit away for free and remind you that your mileage may vary as I do so.
“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man. The air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.”
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”