When there should no longer be any Charles Swann, there would still be a Mlle. Swann, or a Mme. something-else, née Swann, who would continue to love the vanished father. Indeed, to love him too well, perhaps, Swann may have been thinking, for he acknowledged Gilberte’s caress with a ‘Good girl!’ in that tone, made tender by our apprehension, to which, when we think of the future, we are prompted by the too passionate affection of a creature who is destined to survive us. — Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
Buy neither gun nor blue-edged blade.
Avoid green rope, high windows, rat
poison, cobra pits, and the long vanishing point
of train tracks that draw you to horizon’s razor.
Only this way will another day refine you. (Natural death’s
no oxymoron) Your head’s a bad neighborhood:
Don’t go there alone, even if you have to stop
strangers to ask the way, and even if
spiders fall from your open mouth.
This talk’s their only exit. How else
would their scramble from your skull
escape? You must make room first
that the holy spirits might enter. Empty
yourself of self, then kneel down to listen.
Mary Karr, Viper Rum
Bruce Springsteen honors Pete Seeger at his 90th birthday -
Pete Seeger turned 90 on Sunday, May 3, 2009, and a huge birthday celebration was held at Madison Square Garden. Bruce Springsteen was one of the headliners. He had this to say about Pete Seeger’s legacy.
As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama’s inaugural celebration, he told…
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The scholarly approach is less violent … but at the same time it is extremely contagious in the sense of bringing you down. Continual bondage is put on yourself, all the time. You become heavier and heavier and heavier. You don’t accept anything unless it is logically proven, up to the point that the logic brings you pleasure, the discovery brings you pleasure. In certain neurotic intellectual states of mind, everything is based on pain and pleasure. If your discovery brings you pleasure, you accept it as a masterpiece. If that discovery or logical conclusion doesn’t bring you pleasure, or victory, then you feel you’ve been defeated. You find this with certain college professors: if you discuss their sore point in their particular subject, if there’s the slightest usage of certain words, since their whole world is based on words, the structure of words, they become extremely upset or offended. The whole thing is based on pleasure and pain, from the point of view of getting logical conclusions. But the scholar doesn’t claim that he or she has spiritual experiences, as any other person would claim. In fact, the scholar would be afraid of any actual experience of what he’s teaching; he wouldn’t actually commit himself at all. He may be a professor of meditation, but he wouldn’t dare to take part in sitting meditation because that doesn’t bring pleasure or any logical conclusions for his work or research. — Chögyam Trungpa, Transcending Madness: The Experience of the Six Bardos (Boston: Shambhala, 1992), p. 12.
From the series “Ecce Homo” by Swedish artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, 1998. Source: susannavaris.com.
Research has found that many street offenders anticipate an early death, making them less prone to delay gratification, more likely to discount the future costs of crime, and thus more likely to offend. Ironically, many such offenders also hold strong religious convictions, including those related to the punitive afterlife consequences of offending. To reconcile these findings, we interviewed 48 active street offenders to determine their expectation of an early demise, belief in the afterlife, and notions of redemption and punishment. Despite the deterrent effects of religion that have been highlighted in prior research, our results indicate that religion may have a counterintuitive criminogenic effect in certain contexts. Through purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance, the hardcore offenders we interviewed are able to exploit the absolvitory tenets of religious doctrine, neutralizing their fear of death to not only allow but encourage offending. This suggests a number of intriguing consequences for deterrence theory and policy. — Article abstract of Volkan Topalli, Timothy Brezina, and Mindy Bernhardt, “With God on My Side: The Paradoxical Relationship Between Religious Belief and Criminality Among Hardcore Street Offenders,” Theoretical Criminology 17, no. 1 (February 1, 2013): 49–69.
Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen. Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation. — Leipzig University statute (1495). Source: “How to Treat the Freshmen,” from Ask the Past, April 26, 2013.
Francis Miller—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images. A little girl receiving tests gazes into pool containing baby ducks — an early use of animals as part of medical therapy, 1956. (via In Praise of Water | LIFE.com)
Georg Bartisch -Ophthalmodouleia (Dresden, 1583); earliest printed work devoted to diseases of the eye
El-Maakir-Qaryat al-Kaafa, near Ha’il, Saudi Arabia
4th millennium BCE
H x W: 57 x 27 cm
National Museum, Riyadh
Source: “'Roads of Arabia' Presents Hundreds of Recent Finds That Recast the Region's History,” Smithsonian Magazine (November 15, 2012).
[W]e have a pervasive self-degradation among low-earning academics — a sweeping sense of shame that strikes adjunct workers before adjunct workers can strike… Self-degradation sustains the adjunct economy, and we see echoes of it in journalism, policy and other fields in which unpaid or underpaid labour is increasingly the norm. It is easy to make people work for less than they are worth when they are conditioned to feel worthless. — Sarah Kendzior, “Academia’s Indentured Servants.” Al-Jazeera, April 11, 2013.
Chögyam Trungpa commenting on lojong mind training slogan number twelve, “Drive all blames into one." Source: Chögyam Trungpa and Carolyn Rose Gimian, The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, vol. II (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2010), p. 158.
What about going beyond specific emotions to whole identities, such as being a loser? Ordinarily, this self-image leads you to shrink from the world. The world becomes a world of hopelessness, devoid of promise or fulfillment. Every defeat becomes a painful but reassuring confirmation of your identity and status. You fear challenges because you know you will fail and also because success would be as problematic as failure. You are full of grandiose schemes and you tell everyone what you are going to do. But you never start, because to do so would reveal who you really are. When you are forced to, you approach situations unwillingly or with such a defeatist attitude that you undermine any support you might have had. Things turn out badly, once again.
As the awake loser, however, you know you are going to lose. It’s a done deal! You have nothing to lose, nothing to risk. You accept losing as a given and engage your life, your practice, your interactions with absolutely no expectations of what you may get or how you may benefit. Victory and defeat or success and failure become meaningless considerations. You pour your energy into new situations because you are not concerned with status or outcomes. You engage whatever you are doing without personal expectations or projections. Instead of talking about grandiose schemes, you end up doing just what needs to be done.
— Ken McLeod, “Imagine You’re Enlightened,” Buddhadharma (Sept. 1, 2007).
Printer’s device of William Caxton, reproduced from Doctrinal of sapience (Westminster: William Caxton, 1489), L10v. Via University of Manchester University Library.