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Is it break time or not?

Whats going on? The Fall semester is confecto demum. These are the moments between semesters when one has a chance to pull ahead and re-evaluate the processes that didn’t work during the previous semester. Plus, I get the opportunity to read what I want. I started off the break hoping to read books that will be assigned during the semester, but then I thought what am I going to during the semester? Read those works again? Of course, I’m not in graduate school yet so I need to take advantage of this time and indulge myself in works that I will not read during the intensive times of study. However, the Iliad is on my radar for break and the semester. I will be slowly tackling each book of the Iliad during the break, as well as journaling. My reading goal is four solid hours a day. That is 240 dedicated minutes to works. I’m going to log this time keeping track of minutes and page numbers. I know this is a bit neurotic, but if i can find that completely dedicating that time to reading I may possibly find an opening for next semesters reading load. I’m expecting to read 100 pages a day during the semester. I have two classes devoted to American novels and another class focused on Epics and writing, plus I have one more survey course to finish up this semester. So with an entire month that is quickly dwindling away I must take advantage and hopefully makes some breakthroughs.

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Posted by on Thursday, 15 December, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Me and the Devil: My First Meeting with Robert Johnson

There is a knight that rides through these woods. He glides through moving only by his fingers. Only true knowledge makes its way through the foggy years that have come and gone. Some flames narrowly burn on and other flames quietly dissipate. Nobody knows, some don’t even care, but there are flames of life placed within our hearts somewhere.

Growing up two miles outside of a town with a population of less than one hundred, I had the strong ability to entertain myself. The summer time permeated with boyhood imagination. Therefore, when the darkness began to grow my childhood flame began to glint; I searched for a bit of enlightenment that would once again illuminate my desires. Throughout the wintertime, I was notorious for rummaging through treasures buried throughout the upstairs’ collection room (as my parents would call it).

This room vaulted with mystery. It contained random auction, swap shop, and garage sale finds. If one ever wondered where their precious nothings disappeared, this was probably the place. When reaching the landing, a wall of National Geographic dating back to at least 1905 greeted me there. Those magazines were just the beginning of that treasure trove of dust and interest that I would unveil that very day.

I would spend those winter months wading through the forgotten history of this country digging through boxes and crates of old books, glassware, magazines and 8-track tapes. There were piles of magazines, boxes of knick-knacks, and cases of arrowheads towering around this gigantic console record-player that set along the west wall. I truly, wonder how that record player made it up the stairs. It was almost as if the house was built around it, and surely went down with the house as well.

After spending a few sessions in this room spinning such gems by The Beatles and The Beach Boys, I hankered for something a little more. There was a box in the corner that caught my eye. This box was typical of a random garage sale find containing thirty or so records all dated with about twenty years of dust. Some of the records were damaged either by water or were warped. After flipping through a few damaged and moldy LPs, I pulled one of the records from the middle of the stack and gave a vigorous blow to the album cover. What I uncovered was a true artifact of America’s past. This artifact, however, burnt with a flame of intensity.

The record was Robert Johnson’s The King of The Delta Blues Singers. The cover artwork was left open to interpretation allowing a dreamer to fill it with an imagination. The shadow that protruded from the figure was intriguing. I could imagine a smoky studio room, just Johnson and his guitar, recording all he knew into a single microphone while his chair sat facing the corner. Quickly, I found side A and placed it on the turntable. Picking up the needle, I had no idea when the first chords from “Crossroads Blues” resonated from the speakers I would have felt the way I did. From a simple sound, this moment unlocked the door to a feeling of intense emotion that spread from throughout my body. Moving forward I gently placed the needle on the spinning black circle and heard a bit of a silent crackle. This is the very moment. A pivotal swing in one’s life, before they know it, the change comes, sweeping through their heart and stealing that innocence away, as if they were grasping halfheartedly and letting that moment of childhood purity freely fade away.

The guitar was the first sound I heard but it wasn’t your normal vinyl hiss that accompanied the sounds. It was as if the sound was buried in years of turmoil and strife. These songs took me to the deep south of the Mississippi Delta. Being ten years old at the time of this first listening, I had no idea where these sounds were coming from, but I could imagine dusty roads that only seldom had a passer-by. It was almost as if Robert Johnson, himself, was sitting on Main Street of my own town with just his guitar and pouring his bleeding heart to handful of onlookers. The record was released in the United States in 1961 and discovered by this ten-year-old in 1990.

However, these recordings were made in the mid 1930’s. I was not aware at the time, but this record would influence some the greatest musicians throughout the twentieth century. Such British musicians like Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Keith Richards of the Rolling stones, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fretted out Johnson’s sounds on their records. Eric Clapton however, was the biggest flag bearer of Robert Johnson’s music. Clapton first recorded Johnson’s songs on John Mayall’s Blues Breakers album. Later he popularized Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues” with a live recording on Cream’s Wheels of Fire record. So with those greats picking up on these haunting sounds I was in for an unforgettable treat.

As this record spun past such numbers as “Crossroad Blues,” “Terraplane Blues,” “Come on in my Kitchen” and “32-20 Blues,” hearing those haunting sounds chills ran through my bones as they still do to this day. One song in particular really drove me to an anxious pitch and that was Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.” Johnson howls:

“Early this mornin’

when you knocked upon my door

Early this mornin’, ooh

when you knocked upon my door

And I said,

“Hello, Satan, I believe it’s time to go.”

Me and the Devil

was walkin’ side by side

Me and the Devil, ooh

was walkin’ side by side

The song carried a punch that filled my soul with vats of emotion.

Twenty years later as I write this article, I can still picture those dust beaten back roads of the Mississippi Delta and the sticky hot house juke joints that were positioned sporadically, throughout, the Deep South. As I close my eyes, I can see the smoke slowly rising from the gathered crowd, beautiful black women moving to the progressions that rang from this invisible man’s guitar, sweat pouring from the neck down between the breasts of these dancing queens. The smell of stale whiskey and smoke combined with grease that one could scrape from the walls of this music box, a truly forgotten treasure of humankind’s entrainment.

This sound, a forgotten treasure, truly deserved to be dugout of a timeless vault. That would be the case in this situation with this old dusty box of LPs. The record that spun before me that day had opened the door to a love that has never ceased to be. If one could think of all the moments that opened up their burning passions, we could see cultures rise up and fill the air with intellect that burns through all our souls. Some could say this is the day I met the devil, but I say this is the day my heart was opened to filter my emotions and dig deep down through the soul of a man.

Robert Johnson’s record still transcends all the past century and the ones to come. Those haunting melodies that were rather harsh at times still resonate through me to this day. My flame still flickers from that day gone by. It was like finding a lost bottle along the river side with a message.

I shook the sand off and slowly uncorked a mystery. So from that moment, the mystery of Robert Johnson’s sound continues to illuminate my imagination with a true pleasure that weaves its way through my bleeding heart.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 22 September, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Interesting idea for a Saturday read & “The Mercy Bus” by Anna Starobinets

Soulistic Rant—>I wake up this morning, and found a new meaning for “Wake n’ Bake.” I log onto my favorite literature forum and find this interesting post called Short Story Roulette (how I wish I would come up with these ideas). Any way the OP added a picture with 100 short stories and the idea was to role by posting, and the last two digits of you post id number would be the story you had to read. So I rolled by posting and my id was 97 which led me to a Russian contemporary author by the name of Anna Starobinets and a story called “The Mercy Bus.”

I don’t usually get to read a lot of contemporary short fiction writers. I have probably only read a handful, Tobais Wolff, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandra Cisneros, to name a few. But when I do I’m very surprised by the depth their narratives hold. <– Clue that I should be reading more.

(All that for this section)

Anna Starobinets

Anna Starobinets’ short story “The Mercy Bus” which I found on Google books in an anthology called Moscow Noir and translated by Mary C. Gannon. Okay first of all this story is not a typical literary text with many allusions to basic literary imagery or anything of that matter. This was pretty much a well written crime fiction tale. Hints the Noir in the collection’s title. **This is a no spoiler review so feel free to read on.** The story is based around the Kursk Station in Moscow, which I know nothing about so that is far as I will go with that. In “The Mercy Bus” Starobinets’ twists a plot so tight that the unraveling is a bit of a relief. I was scared while reading this, that I have stepped into another dimension of fiction where there is plot scatter everywhere and when I would finish I would have to piece everything together without a definite answer. I even thought about contacting one of my professors and to see if she could help me untangle this mess. Well things turned for the better, This story is not such a plot mess after all. I got that warm fuzzy feeling when the plot started to meld together.  It was really a mental plot tester. I could have easily walked away from this story but after the first couple of pages I was stuck fighting for the end. I usually don’t pride myself on reading crime fiction but this was well worth the thirty-one pages. Okay, I don’t really like to do plot summaries in my reviews for the reason of giving away any details, just read it if you want to.

Here is the story “The Mercy Bus”

It was funny an a bit of a coincidence that the first story I received in short story roulette was by a Russian Writer!!!! I do plan on reading more of her work here is a link to her novel An Awkward Age

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 30 July, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

My Philosophical Views: Taoism Take 2

I had to respond to these two question involving Taoism

  • · Is a Taoist social order possible?
  • · Is it possible to live according to Taoist principles?

I think a Taoist social order is possible. It really is a manner in which people approach this religion. Just like any other religion if one follows the basic principles and believes in what they are doing they should be fine. Moderation really is the key and like Taoism points out, to just go with the flow, like the example in our e-book lecture states, “Tao is like the current of a stream— fighting against it is useless. One must flow with tao” (Taoism, 2010). Being in harmony with the universe is what Taoism seems to be about. Not reaching above or going beyond for personal gain. Becoming one with nature and flowing with it in unison. This religion really highlights the aspects of keeping things simple. For most material thinkers that would be difficult because they are not seeing the world through the right set of spectacles. This reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s novel Walden, really a fascinating piece on living with what you are given. Becoming one with the universe living alongside in peaceful harmony, it would be hard to escape the current world. But just like many other religions you can come to accept what the world is and don’t expect it to give you more than what is there. I believe social order can be found in Taoism, it would just be different from what we are used to.

This is very true about social order but also the principle is not so much different than what Christians or Jewish followers believe. Being humble and following the way of Tao goes hand in hand. They have laws to follow very similar to the Ten Commandments they are called the Ten Precepts. I think if one follows those ten precepts one will gain a life style that promotes humility. The most important aspect that would be question by those outsiders would be the humility. How can you achieve social order or live without money. This opens up a lot of doors for me that I believe that Taoism gets right. Everyone wants to get a step ahead of the next person. They want to achieve wealth and live prosperous. They want to live the American dream.  Is all boils down to wealth and I have been a firm believer that you can achieve spiritual wealth and that is just as good a material wealth. To be rich inside is what is important. Just being a better person can lead too so many more riches. To live a simple life within your means is the answer to living socially within yourself and the universe. Being in conversation with the universe is truly a pleasure. Of course naysayers will think you are loony. But ever since I read Henry David Thoreau’s work I have been inspired to live amongst nature not to live in the woods or a grotto literally, but to understand that if need be I could survive if these material items were gone. It may not be comfortable on the outside but I would be comfortable on the inside and my mind will be well. Sometimes stepping backwards is a good thing. To realize that I’m not the only person in this world and the world doesn’t just turn for me. The water doesn’t just flow and the grass just doesn’t grow for my benefit.

Taoism is difficult to really decipher. I have given my take on what I think it is about. And I believe there are many schools to any idea. Whether it be a hermit style life one leads or a peaceful simple life another leads. Philosophically everything looks good, but rather the practice and the interpretations of thoughts are what initially shape most ideas. Searching for the fountain of youth seems contradictory to what Taoism teaches. Yes life is the greatest possession, but living quietly can bring one eternal life or peace while one flows through the universe. Practicing humility and not letting fame and glory become a man’s burden. Oh wouldn’t I love to see this happen in modern America. Put down the time cards, that gains us material wealth and began to live a life that fosters thought and fellowship toward others instead of stealing, or cheating life to gain fame or glory. It is very possible to live harmoniously with this world and Taoism has some very good philosophical approaches. Becoming one with the cosmos could be beneficial. Man is in control of his own destiny. Social order can be obtained just like our text states “An ideal Taoist social order would involve limited government and laissez-faire economics,” it also adds “People would work for what they need, and quality of life would be of more importance than quantity of possessions” (Taoism, 2010). Very powerful set of words there, be small but be one with your surroundings in a peaceful way. I was told by one of my instructors when I was struggling to understand my position in the field of Humanities. If you get a business degree you learn how to make a living, but if you get a degree in Humanities you learn how to live. That is some of the best advice I have ever received and I will continue to carry that torch with me throughout my career in academics. I was really moved by Taoist thought and believe there are good examples that one can take from this religion to lead a peaceful life while on earth. Understanding your station in life and flowing side by side with the cosmos can help to achieve that inner harmony within this world.

References

Sellmann, J. D. (2003). Taoism. Encyclopedia of World Environmental History, 31183-1185. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Taoism. (1996). In Philosophy of Education: An Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com/entry/routpe/taoism

Taoism. (2010). In religions of the world. Retrieved from The Learning House Inc.

Taoist ethics. (2009). On BBC Religions: Taoism. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/taoethics/ethics_1.shtml

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 28 July, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Doing Some Tao.

Soulistic Rant >>>>>So here we go last week of summer classes. Thank god they are almost over. One thing I always have trouble doing is motivating myself for classes that I’m not particularly interested in. Adding to the bonus they are online classes. Wow I forgot how much I hate the online class atmosphere. talk about a total disconnect from what is going on and lack of interaction from the instructor and class mates. Reminder never, ever take another online class.

Well to the main subject Doing some Tao. So I’m on my last lesson for World Religion and it is the dreaded Tao or English spelling Dao. I prefer Tao, don’t ask me why I just do…

So I’m going to answer a discussion question that needs to be (200-300) words. actually fifty words on the point and 200 plus words of B.S. on this particular article Primary Investigation into Management Ethical Thoughts. This is rather a very interesting piece on the management from a Taoist perspective.

The question I must answer is, discuss (200-300 words) the impact of Taoism on management theory. How does a Taoist, who does not seek power and prestige, lead others?

Very thought provoking huh?

First of all and last according to this article we must focus on what is relevant today. After reading this I’m thinking back to my past experiences in the work force. Previously being  a supervisor myself I find a lot of what Ma says is relevant but in some instances vague. I would like to think this could work in a modern society and I’m sure if we put our minds to it we could do it. but as Ma cautions “thoughts of management ethics by Lao Tzu have great discrepancy from thoughts of management ethics in a contemporary meaning,and even have essential difference. Therefore, at the time when we borrow his thoughts, we should also pay attention to eliminating irrational factors and make a modernized conversion” (Ma, 2009).  For sure this leads true, if I walked into an office setting with a completely non existent outlook I may view as a push over or someone who doesn’t care. People like to be led and people also like to be disciplined, although I think Lao Tzu makes several strong points about leadership. In answering the question How does a Taoist, who does not seek power and prestige, lead others? Well the number one thing that has to be eliminated in this mind set is a person who seeks. Similar to the desire factor in Buddhism if you eliminate the desire you eliminate suffering. The same rings true in Taoism eliminate the factors of power and prestige from your curriculum and focus on the task that needs to be accomplished. Not facing a task for self benefit, but to benefit the entire team. That is how Taoist would lead his troops into battle.

Okay so there it is!!! My final discussion board B.S. of the summer. I really like this article if you get a chance to read it do so. However, My mind quickly becomes fucked when Ma falls into a trance and add this “To let nature take its course is the core of governing by non-interference. Lao Tzu said, “people follow the law of the earth, which follows the law of the heaven, which in turn follows the law of ‘Tao’, whereas Tao exactly follows the example of the nature” (Chapter 25). The so-called nature here refers to the objective law. Holy shit it’s transcendentalism all over again or maybe transcendentalism is rooted in Taoism. Ponder that my friends.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 26 July, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Welcome to Soulisticism

I have  always loved to write. However, when thinking about the aspect I seize up. I’m not into creative writing, like I thought I was. I try to be creative when I can with the words I have at my disposal. The first thing is first, about this blog, I don’t know what is going to be posted on a daily basis. I may post something ridiculous about something I’m studying or reading. It could be a commentary about a movie, song, or an event I went to. I would really like to take more pictures. I think I will purchase a decent camera. Also I have to stop using I so freaking much every sentence this person composes is in the first person. except that last one. Whatever!!! enjoy what you can and if you don’t I don’t really care as long as I’m writing and your still reading.

 
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Posted by on Sunday, 24 July, 2011 in Uncategorized