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There Is No Escape From Telling

There Is No Escape From Telling

By the lake’s lapping shore above the town and the railroad tracks, my wife and I stopped and marveled, struck stone silent by two dazzling Baltimore Orioles, clawed together as they tumbled, wrestling in the green morning breeze above our heads.  They perched upon a branch and sang a morning hymn, an ode to joy and the spring’s morning glory.  Their black and orange throats vibrated amid the green quaking aspen’s leaves as the lake’s low lapping sounds lent counterpoint.  They were sublime.

I too felt a quake, a shiver down my spine as associations tumbled through my mind.  Poems, songs, memories of other early morning walks in spring.  Intoxication, elation, the horripilation that accompanies spring’s rising, the sexual excitement.  Hope, and the loose feeling of being forever young.  No solution to anything, just reverence for existence.  Nothing changed, except a few years.

In quickly putting into words what I felt a half-hour ago, I drew on a vast store of personal and cultural memories that came to me with little thought as I was walking home.  Words strung together without thinking.  You have just read them.  I felt impelled to tell them.

Now as I sit and contemplate, I think about culture and what it might mean.  In my case, I was gifted by my parents and schools with the love of poetry and art from a young age.  I know well that everyone is not so lucky and that, in any case, culture has many meanings.  “Culture,” writes Raymond Williams, “is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.”  From its original verbal meaning to cultivate the land to high, low, and middlebrow culture onto so many other meanings and conflicts that are often tied up with social class issues. There are cultures and culture.

When I say cultural memories, I mean my memories, no one else’s.

I learned early on that the music of verse, the sound of birds in the trees, the rush of a creek murmuring over rocks, the lilt of words spoken passionately, the placement of a certain blue paint on a canvas, a singer’s voice flying with a tune of joy or sadness, and a instrument’s vibrations were all connected to the reverence I felt as an altar boy tolling the bells and repeating Latin responses, whose full meaning I couldn’t grasp amid the incense and candle smoke: Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem mea – “And I go to the altar of God, to God who gives joy to my youth.”

It was the sound of the bells that entranced me, and that I was allowed to ring them.  To sound in, to participate in the ancient ritual that created a musical enclave from the beyond. I knew then, as I know now, that God has many altars, and that reverence before them and their mysteries is the right refrain.   Bob Dylan singing “Ring Those Bells” comes to mind:

Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
’Cross the valleys and streams
For they’re deep and they’re wide
And the world’s on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride

So while it is not necessary to draw on stored cultural memories to appreciate the birds in the trees on nature’s altar on a beautiful spring morning, for me it enriched the experience.  You may have heard echoes of Yeats, Van Morrison, and others in my words, but the reality of the world I described would be the same for those who never heard of these artists, who find their inspiration in the terrible beauty of nature and have other associations.

Are we really at home in our interpreted world, a poet once asked?  It is a good question.  This poet was Rilke, who wrote in the Duino Elegies :

For beauty is nothing/but the beginning of terror/which we are still just able to endure/and we are so awed because it serenely/disdains to annihilate us/Every angel is terrifying/And so I hold myself back and swallow the call note of my dark sobbing/Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need?

Whom can we ever turn to in our need?

Everyone carries different associations that come to us when we are not thinking but are only immersed in our experiences.  Snatches of trace memories, images, words, sounds, smells, the look of light, etc. that usually occur slightly after the first encounter with natural phenomena.  One doesn’t have to know Shakespeare or William Wordsworth to experience nature’s beauty.  Nor it’s terrors. Yet I must admit I am partial to words like these from Wordsworth:

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

But whatever our backgrounds, we are all interpreters of our world and words are our fundamental way of doing so.  Words and metaphors that lead us to myth and art, even when its expression is wordless sound or pictures.  Words that are often unacknowledged prayers to an unknown God.

For many years I taught what are called the liberal arts.  This was an extension of my own education in the classics, philosophy, theology, and sociology, disciplines divided in name only but married in reality to science, literature, history, languages, etc.  It is all one study when rightly understood.  But our schools and  universities have been abandoning this approach for the sterility of numbers and the cold dead hand of technology and digital dementia.  For specialization, where professors know nothing outside their limited disciplines.  For the study of the parts without any sense of the whole.

A new Dark Age is closing upon us, as Max Weber noted more than a century ago when he described the people who run our societies and educational institutions as specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”

Students are being denied the rich heritage of words, images, and music that form the basis of Western culture.  Without such a repository of cultural wisdom, they are left to draw only on popular cultural sources to interpret the world and their lives.  More and more of these sources are anemic, if not degrading.  It is not that some are not extraordinarily rich and meaningful, as is evident from those I link to in this essay, but a quick look around should convince any fair-minded person that the pickings are quite slim. 

We are drowning in cultural garbage that is being pumped out through digital media, primarily so-called smart phones, into young people’s minds and souls.  It is poison.  And the schools have devolved into protection rackets where students are protected from their own thoughts and ideas that might allow them to think and be thought.

To think, question, and debate have been replaced with censorship and the coddling of young minds.  Such censorship, of course, has its counterpart in society at large.  Call it propaganda, which is exactly what it is.

If Rilke is right, we will never be at home on this earth, our interpreted world.  As a poet and a man of words, he no doubt knew that there is no alternative to interpretation, to ask why, to use words to describe our experiences and to seek meaning as we travel through the mystery of time and existence.

I know, however, for those minutes I stood by the lake in rapt silence as the birds sang and the water lapped, I felt at home.

Home, of course, is a complicated word, for we are time-bound creatures always moving on, travelers who are home one minute and gone the next.  Even the word culture derives from an Indo-European root meaning to revolve, tied as it is, as are we, to the idea of a natural cycle, the turning of the seasons.  Doesn’t a contemporary artist, Joni Mitchell, tell this beautifully with The Circle Game.

To say we are wayfarers is accurate, always on the way, as my recently departed dear friend Graeme MacQueen, a Buddhist and 9/11 scholar told me, when he laughingly said to me right before he recently died, that the old folk and Christian gospel song, Wayfaring Stranger, was his story too.  He was a man of many talents who established the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University in Canada, wrote the important book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception, and much more, even a children’s book.

Graeme did all his work with the awareness that we are temporary sojourners on this earth, and that it is through stories and myths and their associations that come to us unbidden that we can connect life with death, the material and spiritual sides of our natures, in the search for peace.  He died at home. I imagine him singing along with the words of the song: “I am a poor wayfaring stranger…I’m goin’ home to see my father/I’m goin’ home, no more to roam/I am just goin’ over Jordan/I am just goin’ over home”

And then laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe, just as he did earlier when he told me his doctor’s name was Dr. Sender, as he prepared to hit the road.

There is no escape from telling.  Life is sublime.

From his album, On the Road, Van Morrison takes us out with “The Beauty of the Days Gone By”


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Beautiful and touchy article.

“We are drowning in cultural garbage that is being pumped out through digital media, primarily so-called smart phones, into young people’s minds and souls. It is poison. And the schools have devolved into protection rackets where students are protected from their own thoughts and ideas that might allow them to think and be thought.”

Indeed. The damage is incalculable, it’s intended, and it has been carefully engineered since Reagan and Thatcher. Brains are being scrambled, attention-spans shattered, young hearts deadened. Reading itself has become suspect, and even joking is now dangerous There’s gold in them thar hills. Everything is going according to plan.

A very recent essay in The Times makes highly instructive but (as the author himself says) “profoundly depressing” reading. Paywall-free archived copy:

By degree, we’re losing touch with humanity

English literature is dying as indebted university students flock to science and technology courses, but in the age of AI we need culture more than ever, writes James Marriott

Neil Postman’s End of Childhood made the point that “childhood” – as opposed to infancy – was “invented” with the rise of the printing press which necessitated an extended period of learning – and resulted in youngsters being sheltered from the adult world for longer – since it meant that secrets (contained in words) could be withheld from the young.

But the new computer technology is creating a post-literary world in which words are no longer so necessary – or even necessary at all. Consequently that period of extended shelter is collapsing. Infants can control a computer screen with icons and a mouse. And of course, they can be exposed to all sorts of images.

So we’re headed to a newly restored medieval world of illiterates.

its worse than illiterate, the technology is about to replace mankind; food sources have been poisoned, access by the masses to potable water is ending, and … . We are approaching the end of humanity, and the beginning of mechanicalelectrical technolife based on an intelligence that humanity cannot compete with. ..

When the 99% decide to take consensus authority for designing the society we want, not what the 1% want, we will be on the evolutionary path to ecotopia.

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Problem is (at least one of them), there will never be a 99%. That’s pure fantasy and probably something thrust on us as a sort of distraction, like Black Lives Matter. There will always be a substantial portion of humans who will serve without reserve the 1%. We will have to work against them as well if we’re ever going to achieve true freedom.

Do we always need precise numbers? The 1% of 2005 is now the top 3% of 2023. We could say the bottom 80% and that would be a truth in the US. But worldwide i think the 99% is accurate. Why we all allow them to make policy and budget without our sign-off consent is insanity.

Well, you were the one being precise, not me. But I think its down to 20-40 percent, depending on your perspective and goals. Did you see what happened with the scamdemic? Those people aren’t on my side, I don’t know about you. I’m old enough to have watched Kent St, and now, so I know the supply of pigs who will do the 1% bidding is neverending, like a cornucopia. And that’s just one small segment. Whether those of us who want freedom can bring more along the way toward that “ecotopia” you’re talking about remains to be seen, but its clear to me a small percentage is going to have to get it done. It’s like the old Margeret Mead quote. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has ”, whether you agree with that or not.

The Russian revolution succeeded because the police and military put down their weapons and joined in. I do not believe most cops are dirty or violent and would welcome making a world where we are all equal and we don’t need cops. For instance i think 70% of voters would approve bodily autonomy, freedom of choice, in regards to medical treatment or any autonomy over one’s bodily choices after the LOCKDOWN exposes itself as fraud. Abortion, mask, vaxxs, or anything else must be voluntary without coercion.

People who can inform and adapt themselves to our earth and universe dont need rules.
Only because some people wouldn’t adapt to nature we needed to make rules for them.
When they also refused to follow these rules, we had to engage a police to make the public a safe space.

Just wanted to point out we absolutely need cops in the public space in our societies, because of the many demoralised and dysfunctional.

Which brings us to Wokeness.

Good poets have this grasp.

They draw their boundless collection of words reflective of the volumes of works they have read and their extensive travels around the world.

Their appreciation of people living their lives in their own way and their even deeper appreciation of nature.

Then you have the city bound, unread, unlearned, pollution breathing angry people who feel oppressed and don’t appreciate the writings of those who are “privileged”.

I get it.

But it’s not my fault.

I don’t think its the “cold, dead hand of technology” but rather the a deliberate cultural change dating back to the late 1970s. The problem was that post-WW2 idealism had led to an emphasis on education resulting in a lot of people who started asking all the wrong sorts of questions. A few that spring to mind are “Why are we threatening to destroy the world with nuclear weapons?”, “Why are we killing people we don’t know in the name of democracy?” and “Why are does skin color matter?”, the sort of thing that could seriously threaten the status quo. So there’s been a consistent, and largely successful, push to change our culture. In education you had politicians talking about making education “more relevant to business” resulting in a shift towards regimentation both in terms of subjects taught and student discipline. Culturally the shift was towards nihilism, skepticism of expertise and the elevation of authoritarianism for our heroes (rather cleverly disguised as ‘the maverick who goes against convention, breaks the rules but ultimately wins out because they had truth, justice etc on their side”). In this technology was just an enabling force — it actually reflects this shift since early work with technology was centered about ‘liberating’ it, making it more accessible, but the shift now is towards confinement and conformance.

None of this interferes with the joy of Spring but its worth bearing in mind that a lot of Nature is competitive — those orioles may be competing for a mate (while their human analogs, the other Baltimore Orioles are more interested in a Wold Series trophy!).

Thanks for your insights & reverence of Nature. The little white-bellied Junco’s provide me with a daily dose of joy with their social antics during the sunny days, the rain or the falling snow.

That we are sojourners puts me in mind of my favorite writer: Thomas Hardy. Most of his novels begin, and many end, with someone traveling from one place to another. The perfect idiom for human existence.

We are always on the move even if are born and live our whole lives in one house. Just as the Earth is always moving no matter how still it seems, we humans are always moving through life.

It is only with great peril, as history has shown, that we consider this planet Earth “ours.” It is no more “ours” than our bodies belong to the bacteria which inhabit our guts. A few maladjustments in our internal biome and poof! there go the bacteria.

So too a few maladjustments in Earth’s trajectory and poof! there go its owners. This should give us pause for thought. Instead, we double down and dig up yet more of Earth’s treasures to “prove” ourselves its masters.

Fine sentiments, but the earth isn’t always moving. That is fiction you have accepted there.

Right, flat earth 🙄

I don’t subscribe to a flat earth but… (as they say)

There can be little doubt that “forbidden” labels, tags, privileges and hates are used to slip out truths but at the same time to portray them as toxic.

Truth will out – the point for the controllers is to make sure the majority is scared away.

The J word, the B-b-b- Bible, C-c-c- Conservative, D-d-d- Deplorable… all are used to reveal ideas yet rope them off.

I am susceptible to the question: if we are spinning like a snooker ball, why are the stars in the same place from night to night.

It’s the same reason that if you stand in your living room facing your window, close your eyes, turn 360deg and open your eyes again – you’re still facing your window.

The earth spins once on its axis in 24 hours, the stars “move” in relation to us as this happens, coming back to the same position as every rotation concludes.

Thomas Hardy was far from the madding crowd.

Hardy chronicled the vanishing of a world that was very much real. Although sneering at Victorians is a modern sport we forget that they built much of our world.

When I was a child, the sewer systems and water, the railway lines and the Underground, the fire stations and schools, the libraries and the town halls, the docks and the ports had all been bequeathed us.

Victorians were deeply aware of the destruction of rural life and the impact of industrialization on people. In The Dynasts Hardy presents the idea of “evolutionary meliorism,” the hope that human action could make life better.

Evolutionary implies the savage competition in the struggle for life, the harsh economy of suffering and waste enforced by the blind forces of nature, grimly divorced from questions of merit or moral worth.

So writes Norman Vance in Bible and Novel: Narrative Authority and the Death of God. But meliorism, perhaps influenced by Hardy’s reading of Comte, suggests progress towards a better mode of existence. It implies that the evolutionary process, however bleak, might have ultimately positive consequences: that eventually circumstances and institutions will get better.

They contended with much greater change, even compared with us on the cusp of the purported Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Nov 2021:


Miles Mathis is definitely a Dylan fan. He wrote an article that traced his curious rise to superstardom. He obviously had been selected for star status. One of his songs (The Times They Are a Changin’ ?) has strong overtones of Marxist/Banksterist revolutionary sentiment.

I mean’t Miles Davis is definitely NOT a Dylan fan.

Oh I dunno – Miles and Bob had a lot in common:

Unless you mean Miles Mathis who probably has a theory about Miles Davis putting Marxist/Bankster memes into his trumpet notes.

If Miles Davis put Marxist/Bankster memes into his trumpet notes his genius would rise above Blue In Green.

His genius would rise even higher than Zelensky’s comic brilliance.

So, do you mean Miles MATHIS is a Dylan fan or Miles DAVIS isn’t a Dylan fan or vice versa, or…what? 🤯😁

He means Johnny Davis.

Thanks for a wonderful article! You write:

our schools and universities have been abandoning this approach for the sterility of numbers and the cold dead hand of technology

This is a common sentiment for humanities people. Yet there is joy in numbers and technology too.

But the fate of technology students is just as cruel. They are trained in obedience and models of control. They never see the beauty of numbers, they never feel the joy of creation.

The problem is not “enemy humans”, but the patterns of our society.

You stated: “Yet there is joy in numbers and technology too.”

Ah Yes. And it’s the joy of an infinite universe – laughing the stupidity of measuring an infinite Universe with the idiocy of tiny numbers…

Technology invents technological traps, period. Not food. Not health. Not spiritual mastery. Just “stuff” we can throw away in exchange for more stuff to throw away…


The Baltimore Oriole looks beautiful. I think I glimpsed a few in Can Cun, Mexico. We could see the magnificent frigate birds circling overhead at Can Cun. I managed to photograph a racquet tailed Mot Mot near a cenote near Can Cun. The full name of the Mot Mot escapes me. An amazingly beautiful bird. The most common bird in Can Cun is the rather drab Grackle. Grackles were the only birds I saw in Dealey Plaza on a scorching July day five years ago.

Chichen Itza

The cenote, a water hole was actually closer to Chichen Itza, the famous Maya site.Like Dallas, Can Cun and Chichen Itza were very hot that July.

Yeah, God and his carpenter had their days.

Read the full article at the original website


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