enlightenment, haiku, humor, miracle, philosophy

Miracle: Satori from an MBA

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.

It started so gaily.

A tongue-in-cheek post about writer’s block led to
 a tongue-in-cheek comment that led to
 a tongue-in-cheek post that led to
 a tongue-in-cheek comment that seemed to
merit a tongue-in-cheek reply.

But the volleyball hit the floor before I could whack it upward.

That last comment in the cascade included the question

What made you the lucky poet whom God speaks through?

While the comment’s “you” is me and my claim to prophecy was indeed tongue-in-cheek (and perceived as such by the commenter), I could not get past the fact that many people do claim (seriously and stridently) to speak for God.  Many of those who are serious and strident are also willing to coerce people they cannot convince.  Many of those who are willing to coerce are also willing to kill people they cannot coerce.

lesson-learnedNON SEQUITUR © 2014 Wiley Ink, Inc.. Dist. By ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION.
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

While I cannot just keep it tongue-in-cheek, I still see the wisdom in Oscar Wilde’s remark that life is too important to be taken seriously.  So I will continue semiseriously.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish literature from either literal truth or bogus claims to tell it.  Now I will tweak the font as a gentle reminder that the rest of this post is just lit.

Management consultants are often hired by executives who want an outsider with “MBA” after their name to bless what they have already decided to do.  While God could bless well enough on His own, He did want advice from a management consultant on how to get out of a procedural rut.

Aware that the complexity of the Real World (and how to thrive in it) was beyond immediate comprehension, He had endowed some otherwise unremarkable creatures with abilities to observe and learn; to imagine and reason; to build bridges and write poems.  He had tried repeatedly to nudge them in good directions by inspiring a few of them, with a little success and a lot of failure.

As He told the consultant:

I keep it simple and age-appropriate, but they oversimplify half of what I tell them and obfuscate the rest.  The Golden Rule gets thru as something to proclaim but not as something to practice.  Absurdly much of what they think has been revealed to them is just their own bigotry and bullshit.

The consultant read over the case histories and concluded that there was a personnel issue:

U tend to inspire people who mean well but score high on credulity and low on humor.  Maybe it would help to go outside the box.  How about inspiring a nerdy atheist who digs sacred music and pushes the envelope of haiku poetry?

God balked at the suggestion:

Does anybody like that exist?

The consultant smiled the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile that sometimes appeared when he was moonlighting as a Zen master.  He leaned forward and spoke softly:

Does anybody like U exist?

At that moment, God attained enlightenment.

Advertisements
enlightenment, haiku, humor

Genesis

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.

There are many images for the Biblical 6 days of creation, and one of them is particularly apt for illustrating this post’s haiku.  The following photo of an exuberant stained glass window comes from the Witterings blog, which also has a fascinating discussion and beautiful closeup photos of the window’s details.

6-days

When God finally rested, did He just chill out?  In response to

(with some inspiration from The Write Idea | Six days), here are 2 haiku dealing with that question.

First Sabbath
 After 6 hectic days,
 writer’s block dissipated.
 God wrote a haiku.

Thus saith the Lord:
 The world I made
 is bigger and better than
 dogmas can describe.

enlightenment, grammar, history, humor, language, politics, science

Writing Well – Part 1

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.

Introduction

lex-dilem_jack-lynch
Writing well ain’t easy.  If the word “ain’t” in the previous sentence raised hackles, U really need to read The Lexicographer’s Dilemma by Jack Lynch.  If not?  Read it anyway.  This post starts a series of posts that includes a glowing review of the book, with my own additions and amplifications for some points (and a few mild disagreements).

One of the few complaints I have about the book is that the title is too narrow.  Yes, the book considers lexicography.  It also considers grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vulgarisms.  In just 276 well-written pages (not counting source notes and such), it considers all these things with serious historical scholarship and considerable humor (mostly dry; sometimes LOL).

Why a series of posts?  Doing justice to the scope of the book in a single post would be tough unless what I wrote was only a book review, and the single post might still be quite long.  Better to write a separate post of moderate length on each of several themes in the book, adding something worthwhile to each.  In between posts in this Writing Well series, I can post on other topics.  If I think of yet another way that the sane and decent people in the USA might resist the Age of Trumpery, I want to interrupt the series rather than interrupt work on a single humongous draft.

Can a noncontiguous series work?  Across the Room and Into the Fire is working quite well for Óglach, with Part 6 (out of a projected 7) posted as of this writing.

Example 1.1: Recency of “Proper” English


Example numbers in this series have the form (part number).(number within the part), just in case I want to refer to an example in one part when writing up another part.

The following quote from page 10 of the book poses a conundrum that cries out for the kind of historical investigation exemplified by the book.

For just one third of 1 percent of the history of language in general, and for just 20 percent of the history of our own language, have we had to go to school to study the language we already speak.

When something is that strange, asking how the Hell it happened is not just idle curiosity.  It might lead to major insights.  Here is something similarly strange in physics.

For every chunk of matter in the entire universe (no matter what it is made of), the gravitational mass is exactly the same as the inertial mass.

For everything we can get our hands on, the equality of the 2 kinds of mass has been verified to more decimal places than I can count on my fingers.  Why is gravity like this?  Isaac Newton had no idea at all.  His theory of gravity could use this fact but could not explain it.  Early in the previous century, many physicists were uneasy about this apparent cosmic coincidence.  They were also uneasy about a piddling tiny difference between how Mercury orbited the sun and how Newton’s theory predicted it would orbit the sun.

One of the uneasy physicists was Albert Einstein, whose more elaborate theory of gravity gave an elegant explanation of the equality of the 2 kinds of mass and yielded predictions that were slightly different from Newton’s.  When Einstein published his theory in 1916, the only known differences were just barely measurable by those who cared about nerdy stuff like the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit.  Today, we know of many other differences.  Thanks to our knowledge of some of them, your GPS is more than just an expensive paperweight.

Acknowledgements


Jack Lynch wrote the book that anchors this series.  The historical perspective helped me refine my own views.  Want to see many examples of clear writing that is balanced and nuanced w/o being wishy-washy?  Read the book.

Óglach is among the bloggers who demonstrate that good writing can thrive in the blogosphere.   Thanking all those I know would take up too much space and omit those I do not know, but I must thank him for the inspiration to try a noncontiguous series.

Miriam Sargon taught the AP English class that I took in my senior year of high school.  (My post on lexicography will say a little more about that class.)  Back in the 1962/1963 academic year, well-informed people could still believe that Enlightenment values were winning (albeit slowly and with many setbacks).  She did not preach those values; she exemplified them.

baseball, enlightenment, humor, philosophy, politics

Riff on a Yogi Berra Quote

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.

yogi-berra-1

Some of the many humorous quotes (mis)attributed to Yogi Berra are trenchant expressions of genuine wisdom, akin to Zen koans.  (In his Washington Post obituary, the subtitle “American philosopher” is well-chosen.)  One of his gems is so widely applicable and important that it deserves a special name.  It is also so widely quoted that 2 versions are common, as indicated by {|} below:

Yogi Berra’s Law
{The game|It} ain’t over til it’s over.

Yes, the original context was baseball.  With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9-th inning, the home team may be trailing.  Yogi rightly admonishes both the home team (to resist despair) and the visitors (to resist complacency).  A lot can still happen with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9-th inning.  I prefer the shorter version of the law because it is more explicit about the law’s generality.  “It” could be almost anyhthing.

My current context for heeding Yogi Berra’s Law is the imminent inauguration of Donald Trump as POTUS.  At best, this event marks the start of 4 long and nasty years in the US.  At worst, this event might combine with trends elsewhere (in China, Europe, and Russia) to start a new Dark Age.  Considering the worst case is prudent, not alarmist.

Mindless repetition of platitudes like

  • It can’t happen here.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • It is always darkest just before the dawn.

is no substitute for the eternal vigilance that Jefferson said is the price of liberty.  (There are other prices.)  I resist the complacency of those platitudes; I also resist despair and continue (in my own small way) to be a citizen rather than just a complainer.

In a late inning in the biggest game of my lifetime, the Enlightenment is trailing.  That sucks.  But 2+3 is still 5 and Yogi Berra’s Law is still true.
enlightenment, humor, politics

Fairness

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.
 

Like the other Enlightenment values (liberty; rationality; tolerance), fairness is always under attack.  Fairness differs in being much harder to determine.

If lumping fairness with (liberty; rationality; tolerance) sounds odd, please note that fairness to me is subtler than crude egalitarianism.  Credit where credit is due.  Ability rather than ancestry as qualification for high office.  Opportunity for upward mobility.  Respect for differing priorities.  Willingness to forego getting all I want so that everybody has a shot at getting all they need, w/o trying to impose the same wants/needs categories on everybody.david-goliath-trash-talking

Downloaded from Clipart Kid, the image of David and Goliath trash talking illustrates a subtlety of fairness.  It may look unfair that Goliath is the only one with armor and heavy weapons.  Should David have them too?  No, he would still be a scrawny youth, just encumbered by all that stuff.  Let David have what suits David’s (not Goliath’s) skills and will not interfere with Plan B:

If my shots miss, run like Hell!

Deciding what is fair and then doing it can be a lot of work, as the endless stream of affirmative action lawsuits illustrates.  Dunno how that story will end.  I do know a true story about the difficulties of being fair in the real world that has a happy ending.  I blogged about it in 2015, before I had a responsive theme.  My post would have been unintelligible to anybody surfing on a phone or tablet (Harrumph!) rather than a real computer.  Now that I have a responsive theme and a renewed urge to defend Enlightenment values (thanks to the current dismal state of US politics), I have revised that post in many small ways, partly to make it more explicit about fairness.  The WordPress previewer assures me that it is indeed intelligible on all 3 platforms.  Here is the link:

Moving the Earth

(reblog), enlightenment, haiku

Invictus in 5-7-5

Typing just [Enter] key into the Search box makes it easy to browse WordPress blogs like this one.   Here, the [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.

As there is already more than enough grimness in the real world, I usually dislike grim art.  The haiku by Poet Rummager that is effectively reblogged below is one that I admire despite its grimness.

An Escape | Poet Rummager

At her throat, he pressed
The knife and told her to strip
She leaned on the blade

View original post

In response to Carpe Diem Utabukuro #12, I admire Poet Rummager’s haiku for 3 reasons.

  1.  It is so well-crafted.
  2.  It pushes the envelope of haiku subject matter.
  3.  It honors an unflinching spirit, as in the famous poem Invictus.

Whether #1 also applies to my own grim haiku is for others to say; I do have #2 and #3.

Edge of Enlightenment
|Behold the abyss
|without flinching.  If you can,
|then you are at peace.

UrbanAbyss_512845-800x600

Image uploaded by Lucas Surtin was downloaded from 6iee.com at 800×600 resolution:

HQ 1920×1200 Resolution, June 19, 2015, Abyss #512845
enlightenment, flowers, history, humor, language, photography

Lion’s Tooth

I like the scattered violets that appeared in my lawn some years ago.  In the spring I let the grass get rather high before I mow, so that the violets will have a good chance to set seed.  The delay also gives the dandelions a good chance to set seed.  Fine.

DandelionViolets

Would the dandelion have a better rep if we had translated (rather than anglicized) the Old French name?  Not likely.  Every flower is the same bright yellow, so there is no variation for plant breeders to coax toward white or red and then offer “Snow Ball Lion’s Tooth” or “Fire Ball Lion’s Tooth” in seed catalogs.  Any klutz can grow dandelions, so they give gardeners no bragging rights.

Nowadays the French have a derogatory-sounding name for dandelions.  Were the royal gardeners frustrated by the plant’s defiance of the oppressive formality of the plantings at Versailles?  The Germans have kept the good old phrase “lion’s tooth” (in their own language, of course), as have the Italians and the Spanish.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When many people see a dandelion, they see a weed.  I don’t.  I see Löwenzahn, the Wagnerian Heldenblume that thrusts green and gold into the grayest and grimmest of our cityscapes.  I see Dent de Lion, the Enlightenment philosophe whose call for liberty and rationality rides the wind.

DandelionSeeds_few

I do pull weeds; I do not pull dandelions.