The Universal Pantechnicon

Random and sometime bizarre musings on magic, music, memory, and the mundane

(Belated) Ada Lovelace Day!
luna moth

(and yes, they have t-shirts!)

Yesterday was Ada Lovelace Day!  And I *missed* posting a link to the list at Finding Ada.  So here it is.

Be forewarned, it's a long list.

There's a bunch of other stuff on the site, have fun wandering around. One of my faves is this (from BrainPOP).

I had a chance to try the Urban Moonshine bitters yesterday, and they are *yummy*.  The Maple was particularly interesting, as I didn't get much of a maple flavor initially -- then there was this sort of instant, lovely, well-balanced maple flavor as an aftertaste;  then it was gone.  I had to taste it again to make sure that it wasn't a fluke (it wasn't).

I really liked the citrus, also.  They're pricey, but worth it (and they're made in Vermont).

Language and Magic...

Thanks to Hecate for this link to new insight on some of the earliest art humans have produced.

Here's one bit that stuck in my head:
"One huge question remains, of course: what did the symbols actually mean? With no Rosetta Stone to act as a key for translation, the best we can do is guess at their purpose. Clottes has a hunch that they were much more than everyday jottings, and could have had spiritual significance. "They may have been a way of relating to supernatural forces. Perhaps they had special symbols for special ceremonies, or they may have been associated with the telling of special myths," he says."

Whatever you do, don't forget to
check out the pictures!!!

Today is National Pie Day!!!

Also, from the link: 
In 1644 Oliver Cromwell banned eating pie, saying it was a Pagan pleasure and it wasn't [un]banned until 16 years later.

Pagan Pleasures!!!  Now you're talking! (and let's face it; Oliver Cromwell had, shall we say, issues)

What's your favorite?
(mine is whatever just came out of the oven, and is cool enough to eat)

Choices, Choices.
At the Unitarian Jihad Name Generator, I received the name:

Brother Cutlass of Warm Humanitarianism.

At the First Reformed Unitarian Jihad Name Generator, I received the name:

Brother Joyous Broadsword of Tranquility.

Of course what's playing in my head right now is the Life of Brian scene where they're enumerating the various factions....


There's been a lot of noise on the interwebz, especially the pagan sites, about the latest Cameron extravaganza.  Here's my $0.02 on the subject.  Hopefully this will get it off my chest and then I can move on to better things. 

I'm probably going to get myself in trouble here; I don't really care what the Vatican thinks about a movie, just as I don't really care what any other person claiming to speak for any other religion has to say about any movie. In fact, I agree with at least one comment from l'Osservatore Romano, that Avatar "...tells the story without going deep into it, and ends up falling into sappiness...".   Jason Pitzl-Waters (of the Wild Hunt blog) has been doing a nice job of covering some of the comments about Avatar in the press and in the blogosphere.
Here's the link to the AP story about the Vatican's response:
Here's a link to Mark Morford's comments:
And here's a link to Erik Davis's comments (he's known for a lot of work on shamanism and ayahuasca):
Also boingboing has a number of interesting entries relating to the movie.

I'll admit to seeing
Avatar in 2D  and that I'll probably see it in 3D if I get the chance because it was visually gorgeous, stunning, breathtaking, (insert your favorite superlative here).  By all accounts, Cameron has finally figured out how to use 3D to help tell a story, to pull his audience into his vision rather than simply using 3D as an effect or shock value, and for that he deserves every bit of attention and  money he is getting -- he is, after all, in the business of selling a product.  

I found myself bored by the story about two-thirds of the way through.  Speaking as one who reads a metric ton of science fiction and fantasy, metaphysics, science, and has at least a nodding acquaintance with shamanism and mysticism, Avatar was not any of these.  The story was bad science fiction, not terribly good fantasy, pop-psych metaphysics, bad science, shamanism for people with the attention span of a Coca-cola commercial.  There are any number of things about the movie that made me cringe;  cultural appropriation, corporatism, militarism (in many aspects), an incredibly talented cast that doesn't get to do anything, and that's just a start.   The artificial human characters in  Blade Runner were more alien in their motivations than Cameron's Na'vi;  at least some of the aliens in freakin' Star Wars were less human.

I'll lay you dollars to doughnuts that it will be the next big ride at Disney/MGM/whatever -- and that it will make a shit-ton of money for whoever owns the rights (hell, it's already made a shit-ton of money).  There are already discussion groups about what to do if you're depressed by the fact that the world of
Pandora isn't real (no, I'm not going to link).  There are raging discussions on various sites (and much angst) about the various responses from the Vatican, conservative Christians, and any number of others.  People are seeing the movie as a call to arms for Paganism, action on climate change, environmentalism, you name it.  For the sake of all the Gods and Goddesses, please, it's a freakin' movie.

The noise around Avatar isn't so much about the spiritual aspects of the movie, but instead throws a disturbing light on the extent to which we seem to want all of our spiritual quests to be easy;  "here, just connect to the Tree of Souls with all our uploaded minds where lies are impossible."  I've got news -- it ain't gonna happen.  Spiritual quests are by definition messy, difficult, not always clear, veer off in unforeseen directions, and generally tend to turn the people on them into philosophers, poets, bards, or psychotics (and sometimes all of the above).  Gods are not human, and trying to make them human just leads to misery and madness.  A three-hour long movie in which you sit on your ass and have a story spoon-fed to you is not a spiritual experience unless it somehow gets you to start exploring.  Gets you to turn off the television and start reading.  Gets you out of the house and finding ways to connect with the world around you.  If all it does is make you create your own little fictional world around Cameron's vision, that's your business; don't try to tell me that it's some sort of great "spiritual quest".  And yes, I have the same issues around the works of Tolkien, Rowling, and others.

Now that someone has shown that 3D technology can help tell a story, instead of simply adding effects and shock value, I'm waiting to see what Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott, Alejandro Amenábar (Agora), or the Wachowski brothers are going to do with it.  Frankly, I'm waiting for the US release of Agora.  In the meantime I'm going to clean my house and read one of the (several) books I'm in the process of reading.  Trust me, I get more spiritual practice and thinking done while cleaning than I do out of reading (or watching movies, no matter how visually appealing they may be).

I've taken enough of your time, and I've gotten a few things off my shoulders, and I feel a little better now.  Thank you for listening.
<deep breath>
<reaches for water>.

I'd want to go see this, if I lived in L.A.
luna moth
This looks like a metric ton of fun!! There's even a lot of material online, and you can read some of the works here.
...there's even a T-Shirt...
Very cool!

(thanks to Hecate)
Tags: , ,

File this under "WTF"?
The other day, I was having dinner at Lindy's, reading the new Terry Pratchett (Unseen Academicals), and enjoying my dinner of Eggs Benedict.  Lindy's is the kind of place where  conversation between people, especially if you're sitting at the counter, is practically expected.  So there I am, soaking up egg and hollandaise on my home fries and chortling gently at one of Sir Terry's observations on the world, and one of the other patrons (male, thirties) asks how I like the book.

"It's good, he's always good for a fun read."  I say (or words to that effect).
  To which the response was, as said gentleman got up to leave;

"Terry Pratchett is the greatest living Libertarian writer."

All I could do was sit there, my mouth open and egg on my face as he turned and walked out the door.  I can describe Terry Pratchett in many ways, but I *think* he'd be insulted by being called a Libertarian....

Driving home last night from a lovely, sweet Yule ritual -- and a wonderful time afterward with friends, laughter, stories -- a couple of lines from this were wandering through my head.  Those lines are still there this afternoon, so I decided to post this.

Blessings of Light and Love to all of you!

In a Tree House

Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient fertile plain
You hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

Even if your mind is now
A spoiled mule.

A life giving radiance will come,
The Friend's gratuity will come -

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body
A bow rises each night
And shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
From the lunar vantage point of love.

He is conducting the affairs
Of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties
In a tree house - on a limb
In your heart.

-- Hafiz (from The Subject Tonight is Love, Daniel Ladinsky, translator)

Threshing the Word: Sappho and a Particle Physics of Language
...from Ploughshares

by Meredith Stricker

What if we could look at language as matter

[as real and outside our imagining as granite or cedar trees]
and move inside words, the way particle physicists break

into atoms with the force of their own energy and light?

To track the intelligent chaos of language by threshing
open the word,

olive pressed against stone

disappears into

its own

wet interior vowels in their syllables

wheat crushed white

as the almond in its green husk.

Delving into the fibers and roots of the word fragment
[Sappho’s emblem, her surviving] first unbinds
the alliterative echo of “fragrant

[redolent of sunflower pollen,
basil on a white plate, a single dark
crimson rose]

floating free from a solid core of definition, from meaning
one thing alone as a river of other words is loosened

like sodium and chloride molecules
from the simple compound salt.

And we discover fragment arises from the Latin frangere
which comes from

bhreg: to break or breach — in French: brier or broyer:
to knead

[as in brioche — yeasty and warm in the morning as violets
related to brak-:

undergrowth, bracken: “that which impedes motion”:

[ferny thickets, refuge of mallows and plover eggs,
shelter for the undomesticated: outcasts and resistance fighters.]

While break continues to fragment like a splintered, living shard
and no longer green, vine tangled growth, brak- becomes

“a crushing instrument” : its own winnowing ring

threshing open a chorus of words fragmented from all hope
of referring singly and without complication

to the myriad tesserae of their sources:

breaking bird>, REFRACT, SAXIFRAGE
<“rock breaking herb: small flowered with
rosette leaves”> and on to SUFFRAGARI (to
vote for: “to use a broken piece of tile as
a ballot>: SUFFRAGIUM: the right to vote.

It is not impossible to imagine Sappho grown pale and fierce
at a hunger strike in a circle of other women who will
not be swayed & as she speaks,

we can barely distinguish just under her voice, low and indistinct

the sound of threshing and threshing — the fragments
of fragment like a waterwheel of cicadas at dusk.

It’s not hard to locate Sappho at this overlay of electrons
swarming the throat

each fragment refusing the reduction by which it is defined —
opening instead into a welter of infinity

Sappho’s fragments [“first imagined 2,500 years ago”]
threshed by the “crushing instruments” of time and censors:

broken open but not broken
her own shards scatter like pollen into our lives

“— pointlike, indivisible particles from which the world around us

This is how she keeps writing her way back to us
with an aching persistence

like the almost invisibly flowered saxifrage chiseling into rock

and the white-winged velocity of the osprey.

Copyright © Meredith Stricker

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