a pilgrimage together

If we could take a journey, make a pilgrimage together without any intent or purpose, without seeking anything, perhaps on returning we might find that our hearts had unknowingly been changed. I think it worth trying. Any intent or purpose, any motive or goal implies effort—a conscious or unconscious endeavour to arrive, to achieve. I would like to suggest that we take a journey together in which none of these elements exist. If we can take such a journey, and if we are alert enough to observe what lies along the way, perhaps when we return, as all pilgrims must, we shall find that there has been a change of heart; and I think this would be much more significant than inundating the mind with ideas, because ideas do not fundamentally change human beings at all. Beliefs, ideas, influences may cause the mind superficially to adjust itself to a pattern, but if we can take the journey together without any purpose, and simply observe as we go along the extraordinary width and depth and beauty of life, then out of this observation may come a love that is not merely social, environmental, a love in which there is not the giver and the taker, but which is a state of being, free of all demand. So, in taking this journey together, perhaps we shall be awakened to something far more significant than the boredom and frustration, the emptiness and despair of our daily lives.

Krishnamurti, The Collected Works vol XI, p 243

a myth about gun violence

From staff members at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (via The Washington Post):

Myth: Mental illness is behind most gun violence against others.

National opinion polls show that the majority of Americans believe that mental illness [sic]*, and the failure of the mental-health system to identify those at risk of dangerous behavior, is an important cause of gun violence.

Research says otherwise. Only an estimated 4 percent of violence against others is caused by the symptoms of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Impulsivity, anger, traumatic life events such as job loss or divorce, and problematic alcohol use are all stronger risk factors for gun violence . Research also shows that mental-health-care providers are poor predictors of which patients will go on to harm others. Further, most people with mental illness will never become violent, and most gun violence is not caused by mental illness.**

But mental illness is a strong risk factor for firearm suicide, which accounts for the majority of gun deaths in the United States. While improving America’s mental-health system would benefit millions of people with mental illness, it would not substantially reduce gun violence against others.

*I don’t support use of the terms ‘mental illness’ and ‘mentally ill’ as it implies acceptance of the biomedical model of mental health, i.e., that people who struggle with mental health issues are ‘sick’ and therefore need to be ‘cured’, typically through the use of pharmaceutical medications. This ‘Mental Health Literacy’ parable explains more.

**emphasis mine

(read the other myths here)

impostor!

hello

tim hecker – hatred of music i & ii

being alone

You see, you are not educated to be alone. Do you ever go out for a walk by yourself? It is very important to go out alone, to sit under a tree—not with a book, not with a companion, but by yourself—and observe the falling of a leaf, hear the lapping of the water, the fishermen’s song, watch the flight of a bird, and of your own thoughts as they chase each other across the space of your mind. If you are able to be alone and watch these things, then you will discover extraordinary riches which no government can tax, no human agency can corrupt, and which can never be destroyed.

Krishnamurti, This Matter of Culture, p 89

r.i.p. harry dean stanton

Yet another significant cultural figure has passed away. Harry Dean Stanton first captured my attention with his role in the cult film Repo Man. From then on he was one of my favorite actors and his presence in a film always made it worth watching. The fact that he rarely landed leading roles says a lot about Hollywood. Harry Dean was really too cool for the Hollywood star assembly line. He existed on the periphery for a very long time. Oddly I was just thinking about him earlier this week and marveling at how long he had endured. It’s a fitting tribute that his final film comes out this fall, with him front and center as he always should have been. I look forward to it with great anticipation. In the meantime, here’s Harry Dean as Bud explaining the code of the repo man to Otto, played by Emilio Estevez:

r.i.p. grant hart

Musician Grant Hart, drummer/vocalist and co-songwriter with Bob Mould and Greg Norton in the band Hüsker Dü, died from cancer yesterday at age 56.

Hüsker Dü was one of the more important bands discovered in my youth and one that I have never stopped listening to through both good and bad times.

You will be missed, Grant.

 

If there’s one thing that I can’t explain
Is why the world has to have so much pain
With all the ways of communicating
We can’t get in touch with who we’re hating (Who we’re hating)
And now we can’t get in touch with who we’re hating

So turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on) the news
So turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on) the news

I hear it every day on the radio
Somebody shoots a guy he don’t even know
Airplanes falling out of the sky
A baby is born and another one dies
Highways fill with refugees now
Doctors finding out about disease
With all this uptight pushing & shoving
That keeps us away from who we’re loving (Who we’re loving)
That keeps us away from who we should be loving

So turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on) the news
So turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on), turn on (turn on) the news

(Words and music by Grant Hart)

darkness to light

‘Darkness to Light’ was the title of a heavy metal song that a high school friend of mine proposed writing, though never to my knowledge expanded beyond the chorus:

Darkness to light, darkness to light
Darkness to light, darkness to light

which he would sometimes lean over and emphatically whisper-sing to me and one of our other friends in the middle of Biology II class, much to the consternation of Ms. Geyer.

For a heavy metal song its message is uncharacteristically optimistic. Perhaps that’s why it’s become one of those automatic memory shards that frequently ricochets around in my head so many years later.

Who knows what triggers these recollections. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, course through my brain each year. Effluvia of the past, often with no clear relevance to the present or the future. And yet, still they persist in bubbling up and clumping together, forming a glut in the cerebral soup slopping around inside my skull.

The past always retains a strong magnetism, sometimes merely by virtue of its sudden incongruous intrusions into the conscious mind. Upon encountering this detritus, a natural inclination arises to ponder its significance—to sift through and separate the individual elements, perhaps searching for answers to some present conundrum.

The key, though, seems to be not holding on for too long. Each moment spent dwelling on/in the past lures one away from now and down into proverbial rabbit warrens. It feels safer to scan what surfaces with a neutral eye, then let it fall away and dissolve back into the unconscious. Its ultimate significance lies only in whatever self-imposed layers grow over it, all of which are no doubt discursive in nature and the inspection of which leads to nothing helpful whatsoever.

field report: bridges

For once the speakers outside Hard Rock Cafe are playing a song I want to hear so I stand leaning against the bricks and listen to the lengthy bridge from ‘How Soon Is Now?’ It’s the part of the song I have always particularly loved. Just as Morrissey starts to sing for the last time ‘I am human and I need to be loved’ a generic man in fancy slacks and blazer walks by mouthing the words. The song fades out and I walk to the suspension bridge that always buckles in the wind. As I reach the bridge a man visibly down on his luck addresses me. He asks me if there is a mission where he and his wife can get a hot meal and I tell him there is one on the Fallsway. He replies that it’s closed. So I say there’s also one on Gay Street. He responds that it too is closed. I have no money with me so I tell him I can’t help him and wish him luck. He says nothing and turns away. I continue across the bridge and then I walk across the map of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, sometimes cordoned off and sometimes not, that is etched into stone in front of the fish prison. I make a halfhearted attempt to look for birds in the habitat islands but I feel like I have experienced way too much in the past few minutes so I return to the office and read a few more pages of Konwicki.

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