Quotations Stumbled Upon [Recently]

To survive in this world you have to be many times a coward but at least once a hero.

Adam Johnson, The Orphan Master’s son

The metaphysical assumptions upon which you want to build your life cannot be an inherited duty.

Patrick levy, Sadhus

It is true that if there were no phenomena which were independent of all but a manageably small set of conditions, Physics would be impossible.

Eugene wigner, the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences

I feel about literature what Grant did about war. He hated it. I hate literature. I’m not a literary West Pointer; I do not love a literary man as a literary man, as a minister of the pulpit loves other ministers because they are ministers: it is a means to an end, that is all there is to it.

Walt whitman, as quoted in Yone Noguchi’s the spirit of japanese poetry

Know that all the sects in existence are a way to Hell.

Nichiren, as quoted by yone Noguchi in the spirit of japanese poetry

It is so easy to convert others. It is so difficult to convert oneself.

oscar wilde, the critic as artist

If you meet at a dinner a man who has spent his life in educating himself — a rare type in our time, I admit, but still one occasionally to be met with — you rise from the table richer, and conscious that a high ideal has for a moment touched and sanctified your days. But Oh! my dear Ernest, to sit next to a man who has spent his life trying to educate others! What a dreadful experience it is!

Oscar wilde, tHE CRITIC AS ARTIST

Future Imperfect [Free Verse]

skyscrapers rise & fall
storms hit & wither
waves crash & recede

nature neither blesses nor curses,
despite the constant counting 
of its boons & banes; 
its bonanzas & broken bones

one who can feel grateful 
in the face 
of ignorance & imperfection
is free 

one who feels suffering 
in the absence of perfect comfort
will never know freedom 

such a one as that 
imprisons himself
in a cycle of imagining 
& coveting 
a perfection that has 
never existed  

Diamondless Diamonds [Free Verse]

Diamondless Diamonds?

Sounds like Daoist doublespeak
or 
a crazy Zen koan.

But, it's that which has
imaginary value,
but 
not real value.

Much of what human hands
reach for or produce
(& which human minds obsess upon)
are diamondless diamonds.

People stare at them 
with covetous eyes,

but when those eyes
saccade away
there's no reason to believe 
the diamondless diamond
still exists.

Eyes covet
what the mind knows
to have no particular worth.

Diamondless Diamonds
may change the world
for moments at a time,
but then are gone - 
and instantly forgotten.

Heat Death [Common Meter]

A timeless time will come to be,
when all is uniform.
And nothing 's hot & nothing 's cold,
but all is just lukewarm.

So thank your lucky stars you've lived
in this age of bedlam:
when stars can shine and buildings rise
and we've cerebellums.

Enlightenment in Four Bits of Shakespearean Wisdom

If you’re looking to attain Enlightenment, you may have turned to someone like the Buddha or Epictetus for inspiration. But I’m here to tell you, if you can put these four pieces of Shakespearean wisdom into practice, you’ll have all you need to uplift your mind.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

william Shakespeare, Hamlet

Through Yoga, practitioners learn to cultivate their inner “dispassionate witness.” In our daily lives, we’re constantly attaching value judgements and labels to everything with which we come into contact (not to mention the things that we merely imagine.) As a result, we tend to see the world not as it is, but in an illusory form.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

William shakespeare, julius caesar

In Psychology class, you may remember learning about the self-serving bias, a warped way of seeing the world in which one attributes difficulties and failures to external factors, while attributing successes and other positive outcomes to one’s own winning characteristics. Like Brutus, we need to learn to stop thinking of our experience of life as the sum of external events foisted upon us, and to realize that our experience is rooted in our minds and how we perceive and react to events.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

william shakespeare, as you like it

A quote from Hamlet also conveys the idea, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” If you grasp this idea, you may become both humbler and more readily capable of discarding bad ideas in favor of good. It’s common to want to think of yourself as a master, but this leads only to arrogance and to being overly attached to ineffective ideas. Be like Socrates.

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.

william shakespeare, julius caesar

Fears and anxieties lead people into lopsided calculations in which a risky decision is rated all downside. Those who see the world this way may end up living a milquetoast existence that’s loaded with regrets. No one is saying one should ignore all risks and always throw caution to the wind, but our emotions make better servants than masters. One needs to realize that giving into one’s anxieties has a cost, and that that cost should be weighed against what one will get out of an experience.

There it is: Enlightenment in four bits of Shakespearean wisdom.

Iron String [Free Verse]

Emerson said,
"Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."


REM said,
"What's the frequency, Kenneth?"


Will Kenneth's waves propagate down the line?

If so, would they add to,
or cancel out, 
the waves of others?

That depends on the frequency, Kenneth!

I guess that's why Michael Stipe
took such an impassioned interest 
in the question.

Is it even a good thing if one's waves
add to those of another?

Might it not become disharmonious,
like a runaway washing machine,
shaking violently,
parts flying through the air
in smooth ballistic arcs
only to bounce and clatter 
in dull discordance.

Does one's iron string
even need to come into contact
with Kenneth's? 

Might not the wave energy 
passing through the air
stir up a resonance in one's bones?

Questions, such as these, haunt me --
not to mention:

Who, exactly, is Kenneth?

Poetry on the Cob [Free Verse]

People sometimes tell me 
they have trouble understanding poetry.

That's because they consume it
as they would a banana,
starting at one end and chomping
down to the other.

Poetry has to be consumed like 
corn on the cob.

One should start at one end
and work down to the other,
but then one has to 
go back to the beginning --
change one's angle of perspective --
and - again - go from one end to the other.

I can't
emphasize
this point about changing 
one's angle of perspective
enough. 

There is a difference:
with corn on the cob, one rotates the corn,
but, with poetry, one has to rotate something 
within the reader.
Otherwise, one is just chomping into
an empty rut -
a track devoid of sustenance.

Then, one has to repeat the process
until every last morsel has been consumed. 

That's how one ingests poetry.

The Raging River of Human Nature [Free Verse]

Human nature is a raging river
which a few shitty sandbags of common sense
will not detour. 

Some people stand on the bank
and shout at the river.
I will admit, I've done the same.

But those words neither soak in
nor bounce off that raging river --
they're made silent,
dying in air. 

Some people try to steer
the river by splashing at the lapping waters
near its edge,

But none of them is Moses,
not one can dam a river by force of will.

And - even if one could --
eventually, that person would have to let go,
leaving a backed up and angry river
to rage onward. 

Suicide Slide [Free Verse]

One burning moment --
taffy-stretched to the edge of reason:

stretched so broadly that one 
can't fathom escape -
like Monkey on the Buddha's palm

One burning idea --
cloned, and then carved
to make infinite variants,
and painted infinite shades:
the dark tone of each
darker than the last

Burning ideas populating
the vast expanse of a
burning moment,
until the urge to escape
insists that one carve a hatch 
into living tissue

But what is it that does
the stretching of the burning moment
&
the cloning of the burning idea?

Can't that stretcher and cloner
 be wound back,
scaling all to proper proportions?

And can't it be done before 
that terminal instant 
is carved in jagged stone?

On Intrusive Thoughts & Shoving Someone in Front of a Train

The other day I read that a man had pushed a person onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. 

The week before that, I'd read in a book by Robin Ince that a person who -- having had a baby thrust into his hands -- has intrusive thoughts of throwing said baby out of the nearest window is [believe it, or not] the best person to ask to hold one's baby.

The argument goes like this, the person having these intrusive thoughts is being intensely reminded by his or her unconscious mind that under no circumstances -- no matter what unexpected or unusual events should transpire -- is he to throw the baby out the window (or otherwise do anything injurious.)

I've heard that, at some point, virtually everyone has some type of awkward intrusive thought such as the thought of pushing a stranger in front of a train. 

Most never do it, nor truly want to do it.

Then this one time... someone did.