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REALITY

In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?

~ Rabia al Basri

I was beside myself upon encountering the potent verse of Hazrat Rabi’a al-Adawiyya al-Qaysiyya, or simply Rabia al-Basri, (718-801) is an early Sufi poet from Basra, Iraq. She lived her life dedicated to passionate prayer, truth in action, introduced the doctrine of Divine Love, and is considered the first female Sufi saint of Islam. She lived as an aesthetic so devout that what remains of her verse were her prayers, mantras, and quotes. What is known of her life are anecdotes and details shared from other Sufi mystics that have mixed with myth, but it is commonly agreed she was always deeply absorbed in prayer, and often weeping. Her story has been excessively co-opted to fulfill moral arcs – she has been described as a slave become free, a peasant become venerated, and a prostitute become chaste – but closer to the truth is, she was a self-realized woman from the coast of Iraq, beyond her time.

When questioned by Sufi leader Shaikh Hasan al-Basri, “the patriarch of early Sufism” as to how she had attained this state of being, she replied, “you know of the how, I know of the how-less.” She is regarded as a saint for spending her nights occupying her days and nights in the worship of God, tying her faith to the highest form of love, Ishq-e Haqīqi (عشق حقیقی) or “divine love” (agape), the abandonment of self which leads to unification of the lover and beloved. The word ‘ishq’ is derived from ‘ashiqah’ which means vine, for it is said when love takes its root in the heart of a lover, everything other than God is effaced.  and what is recorded as her poetry, expresses beautifully that notion.

 

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Digital Schizophrenia

Dear web-crawler, taste these words with caution…

[This is a Wiki-Poem which features mysterious links embedded within the text]

I can swim in existence
as long as i plug in
my device every night.
I pray for a full battery,
strong network receptivity,
reasonable wi-fi availability.
iPhone stays awake,
even while I sleep,
but it rarely rings.

There are other ways
to know somebody
these days.
I follow more strangers
than friends,
and stranger things.
Updating one account,
neglecting some other,
laughing with one face,
and crying with another.

I have abandoned
billions of pixels of myself,
editing, reediting,
cropping, entire galaxies
of supposed selves.
What becomes of the self
that I edit away?
Am i also what i am not?

The Internet archives
every contradiction.

I’ve not been my selfie lately.
As a matter of fact, I’m
between AVIs right now.
My parallel lives,
opened before me,
windows on a screen.
Everyone’s looking in,
but who’s looking out?
Reality is not fully virtual,
no, I am not a catfish,
but I use to be.

Hello, I am Aristophanes and
I’m really lucky to have had so
many friends to say goodbye to.
I am swimming in this existence,
swimming circles around Thebes,
swimming circles in this fish-bowl.

We were all people once,
before we were traffic,
with only one percent of difference
between any of us, genetically speaking.
We who never tired of reinventing, re-framing
our_selves ceaselessly innovating, and
compartmentalizing
the unbroken
line.

Surrogates to socialize, programs to automize,
Legislation to equalize, invasions to harmonize.
Read More >>>

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In [Stories] We Trust

wpid-Photo-Feb-21-2014-512-PM.jpg
Stories have shaped our [human] cultures, morals, laws, spirituality, capacity for reason, and unlocked our innate ability of infinite imagination. There is an endless ocean of literature out there, it can be a little disorienting to trace all the ways our personal lives have been informed by stories told and retold in so many different versions and mediums. When stories transcend nationality and ethnicity, appealing to a larger human audience, they become a part of our collective consciousness – an indivisible human culture – they can be so familiar so as to disguise themselves in new ways, reinterpreted in new mediums, and we can still pick them out.

In “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around” Stephen Ramsay suggests a meandering pathing through the infinite amount of literature available to us. We’re forced to consider, where do we find our common culture if not in a prescribed set of readings (“the canon”)? And, what are the “literary arts” today and how do we forge a common cultures around stories?

wpid-Photo-Feb-20-2014-145-PM.jpgThis train of thought carried me away and I became curious about popular literature and its inter-cultural relevance, especially when stories can now be published and translated with incredible ease. I’ve distinguished five categories of literary arts on a spectrum of cultural significance, to look closer at the communities that gravitate around certain mediums of story, and their sphere of influence in everyday human lives: Mythical, Legendary, Saga, Genre, and Obscure. Read the rest of this page »

The Long String

Adaptation Theory for a Digital World

I was recently challenged by the adaptation project I encountered in my #Lit306e course which tasked me with reinterpreting a borrowed work through a digital medium. While I pondered over the possibilities, other threads from other spools wound their way into my thinking. I was worried mostly about the line between adaptation and copyright infringement. For safe measure I selected a work which would certainly fall under public domain, having been originally written circa 1265. I’m excited to be releasing the first e-book on my site and, because I relished the process, there will be more to come.

Dear reader, please enjoy (& Share!) the finished project, “The Long String: 3 Poems by Jalaluddin Rumi” as adapted by yours truly.  LINK

I’m beginning to understand how copyright laws work and how this capatalistic trend, while protecting the ownership of material, also marginalize the dissemination of said material, effecting the very programming of digital hardware. E-books, unlike their tangible paper counterparts, can’t be easily shared or traded, for the most part the information lies stagnant after we’re done reading through it, and there it sits on our digital bookshelves collecting digital e-dust, or archived in ‘the cloud’ for later reference. Amazon and Apple have designed their products, and publishers have tethered their e-books with share-protected encryptions to limit “unauthorized replication” and protect the authors’ rights. While I’m all for the author and associates making a profit on their work, I feel that in the digital realm they are doing the consumer a disservice by interfering with the interface of our products. In essence, when we purchase any media digitally we are only leasing our private accessibility to this product, unlike a book whose ownership of said product is not contested in any way. I may do anything with a book that I like, deconstruct it in an eccentric way. or tear off the cover if I don’t agree with it, and have on multiple occassions. The ability to finish a book and eagerly press it into the hands of someone I know can get something out of it is one of the most sacred foundations of literary appreciation. I hesitate to amass a large digital library which I’ve paid any money for, because I feel these books are hidden away on a device that only I use. Having a private library only I can access has its advantages I’ll admit, however it remains that literature was meant to be shared, and the enlightenment of the world depends on its unhampered accessibility.

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The Play’s the Thing

Multimodal Explorations of W. Shakespeare’s

‘The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’

My fifth and current reading/study of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” has focused on two insights: First, Hamlet’s struggle with his darkness, how he weighs what violence courage and action could win, and at what point, paying careful attention to when he’s decided on destructive means. Second, the play’s widespread literary influence in multi-modal forms and their impact on the mythos’ accessibility to new interpreters. I chose to revisit this story, for our literature class’ ~ Shout out to my fellow cohorts C2 #LIT205e @ Marylhurst University ~ examination of theater, as a way to understand what I see as a fractal-like nature in the reiterations of Hamlet in cultural media, especially digitally. My study of the text and insight on the characters, has matured and grown over the years, given so many encounters with the doomed prince, and it dawned on me that in order to have a truly authentic experience with a text, one can’t rest on a definitive analysis. There is no superior way to experience ‘Hamlet’ but the best way is to allow oneself to be informed by all the ways there are to experience it. The best study of literature extends into every incarnation of story and multimodal expression. Hamlet’s expansion into digital realms has been kaleidescopic, indeed he “could be bounded in a nutshell yet be called king of infinite space,” assuring the gothic prince’s immortality in humanity’s collective consciousness. And while this transition into the techno-sphere is all good and well, it’s important to have a foundational experience with the play, as a play! 

Of this first focus, I was careful to lay out the progression of Hamlet’s insanity and how it fuels the violence which follows. What gives Hamlet his third-dimensional aspect is his conflict of conscience and being. The questions he asks of himself are at the heart of ontological inquiry, ‘what is the point of being’. Hamlet is also struggling with the concept of will and courage, coming to the conclusion that it is his duty to act upon his thoughts even though they run against his morality, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprise of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action” (III:I). As Hamlet became more confident in his ability to take action and exact vengeance, the more he slid towards the ‘dark side,’ and the more violence did occur. While the ghost of his father drives him on he considers the possibility that it may be his perspective has been tainted by an evil form seeking to use him, ” I know my course. The spirit that I have seen may be a dev’l, and the dev’l hath power t’ assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps, out of my weakness and my melancholy, as he is very potent with such spirits, abuses me to damn me” (Hamlet II:I). So in spite of this self-awareness, why does Hamlet proceed? It sets into motion the play, The Murder of Gonzago, Hamlet has devised to test the reaction of the king. When the play does indeed confirm his suspicions that his uncle is his father’s murderer, Hamlet submits to his insanity which leads to his unintentional slaying of Polonius. This accident leads to Hamlet’s travel to England, where the king has arranged for Hamlet’s assassination. This is a critical moment, because Hamlet has relented his insanity and agreed to go, but when he discovers in the letter, left to the negligent care of king’s sponges, the king’s design to kill him, Hamlet immediately returns to Denmark with the promise that, “my deeds be bloody, or be nothing worth.” It is this commitment to destroy which decides his bloody fate. In the penultimate scene, Hamlet challenges Laeretes, and calls his final fate, “I pray you, pass with your best violence” (V:I). Thus, the best violence is done, the lives of all major characters ends in ruin.

This progression is significant to note because it offers possible insights into the same nature of irrationality which causes many young men to partake in violence – a struggle that echoes in the dispirited minds of ‘outsiders’ who find the courage to enact some misguided sense of justice through destructive means. For each murderer there is much of Hamlet within: father issues, inflamed Oedipal complexes, instability in relationships, impulsive and dramatic emotional outbursts, and a pattern of ethical limitations overcome by an ever-growing reservoir of anger. And each mass murderer, confounded by the impotency of inaction, eventually comes to Hamlet’s resolution, and when they finally succumb to the dark side it is with the same promise, “my deeds be bloody, or be nothing worth.” Horrible, horrible stuff, but hey! Shakespeare!

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The Great Heresy

Unfold Your Own Myth

Mevlana Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)

Who gets up early

to discover the moment light begins?

Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?

Who comes to a spring thirsty

and sees the moon reflected in it?

Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,

smells the shirt of his lost son

and can see again?

Who lets a bucket down and brings up

a flowing prophet?

Or like Moses goes for fire

and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,

and opens a door to the other world.

Soloman cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring.

Omar storms in to kill the prophet

and leaves with blessings.

Chase a deer and end up everywhere!

An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.

Now there’s a pearl.

A vagrant wanders empty ruins.

Suddenly he’s wealthy.

But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things

have gone with others. Unfold

your own myth, without complicated explanation;

so everyone will understand the passage,

We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy

and tired. Then comes a moment

of feeling the wings you’ve grown,

lifting.

“We Have Opened You” Intuitive Inquiry in Life, Analysis, and Rumi

The poems of the Sufi-mystic poet, Mevlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, are layered with illuminated meanings, like a solid wall of coal that sparkles with diamonds and, like this mine, reveal further gems if one is inclined to dig with loving subtly. We cannot proceed carelessly, glossing over the richness in the dark, otherwise the operation becomes haphazard: one’s hands become black from the dissection of verses, the diamonds we glean will turn to dust in the sunlight, forgotten, our eyes fill with dust and darkness. This can be fatal. Is my metaphor purely hyperbole? Hardly, friends. Rumi’s poems awe the ageless reader for their non-lyrical directness, transcendence of religious exclusivity, and messages of raw self-empowerment – qualities which are truly astounding when you consider the medieval epoch in which he was active. Rumi has a kingdom of wealth to bestow to his careful listeners/readers, but some time must be spent delicately unpacking his meaning. No scholarship is necessary but what is imperative to a complete understanding, is our approach; it must be a balance of intuitive admiration and scientific analysis that compliment each other. The keys to the kingdom, so to speak. The meaning in “Unfold Your Own Myth” only unfold its puzzling polemic with this dualistic approach, and rewards full comprehension with sea-changing inspiration.

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Stand Your Ground {Two}

Anders Clausen

“Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.”

Next in the line-up of Revolutiuonary Literature is Herman Melville’s marvelous novella, “Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street.” It is immediately remarkable, as you will discover. Melville pulls us into the office of legal copyists in Wall Street circa ohhh 1830’s! You will never, in all your days, forget the character of Bartleby; the young martyr without an apparant cause, the silent rebel who’d had enough, the original Wall-Street occupier who stood his ground to the very end.

“I would prefer not to” Bartelby says like a mantra and he resolutely ‘prefers not to’ do anything. Bartelby literally stands his ground, giving no other explanation, much to the perplexity of the Wall Street lawyers that have to step around him and his good-natured employer (our expressive narrator). The stocks are soaring, day after day, a corporate circus swirls around Bartelby and the stakes are raised – how long will he persist in this vagrancy and at what costs? This is a theme of critical importance: Sovereignty, because it is a revolutionary quality in itself. It doesn’t matter what le raison d’etre [reason to be] is, Bartelby has made up his mind and there is no external factor which can influence him one way or the other; not by sympathy, bribery, or threat of force – his resolve remains unchanged, his features blank. There is something very zen about this, no? It is instantly admirable, and what we admire so much about Bartelby is that he is incorruptible, he simply won’t be manipulated. He sticks out precisely for standing up and he’s unforgettable because he remains unswayed. Consider your own ‘Soveriegnty’ reader? Are you so resolute as to inspire, perplex, or frighten others?

The prose is luscious, Melville at his keenest, entwining plenty of playful humor with dramatic gravity. The effect is a clean narrative that charms, that challenges, and endures… Read the rest of this page »