Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"It is quite another question whether he was conscious of any such antithesis - whether he was not merely felt to be this antithesis. Then here for the first time I touch on the problem of the psychology of the redeemer - I confess there are few books which present me with so many difficulties as the Gospels do."
-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dead-man's Hand

"Throughtout the West, the combination of aces and eights is known as the dead-man's hand. This superstition was handed down from the time that Jack McCall killed Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota, while he sat in a poker game holding his hand."
-R. Adam's, Western Words: A Dictionary of the Range, 1946

Surt is the “Jotun .. set free”. "Surt is no enemy of Tivar or wight, but a primal force of nature (unlike frost Jotuns which are absolute uncontrollable chaos). Where Frey is the green-vegetative world, Surt is either the warming hearth fire or the blaze that levels a home. His is a necessary darkness, much like a volcano - ever destructive yet leaving behind new land. The dead reach Hella’s Hall through Surt for he is the Jotun of funeral pyres, the flesh-eater and purifier. Surt is a messenger who conveys all sacrifices to their proper destination."

From: VöluspáSeiðr as Wyrd Consciousness, by Yngona Desmond

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Litany Against Fear

I first came across the _Dune_ books, by Frank Herbert, in the early '70s. Immediately, I was drawn to the Bene Gesserit and the Litany Against Fear.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

I understand this to mean:

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer."
-Indeed, fear is a paralyzing agent that has the ability to immobilize the mind. It is the impetus for 'fight or flight', so that we either stand our ground in calm resolve, or flee to reconsider the original stance.

"Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration."
-The moment of indecision brought about by fear is an opportunity for death to rush in. Cowardess is never rewarded - the names and deeds of fearless folk are remembered long after their body has expired, so that their memory of boldness remains to fortify those who take heed.

"I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and throughme."
-This is my favorite verse because I can feel it. Instead of running from fear or merely turning our back on it, we face it. Then, "permit" it to "pass over" and "through". When we are able to accomplish this, then fear has lost its grip upon us. Our body has experienced fear, its reaction to this experience, and has mastered the ability to welcome fear, allowing it to enter in and pass through. That is personal power.

"And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path."
-Beyond the strength to allow fear's entrance and passage through our being, is the will to "turn" and watch its leaving. A warrior's experience says never turn your back on an enemy, even when they come to the peace-table. This sentence says something more. Beyond simply not-trusting fear and our reaction to fear, we have literally taken a different position in our relationship to fear.

"Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
-Fear has "gone" through us, our being, leaving nothing behind. No 'lingering doubts', no 'residual apprehension', but the calm abiding of Nothingness. As such, "only I .. remain".

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"What do you mean by outside?"

"On the margin. Peasants: only they are not really peasants, because they have no land, or what land they have does not feed them. And citizens: only they are notcitizens, becasue they do not belong to a guild or a corporation: they are the little people, prey of anyone. Have you sometimes seen groupsof lepers in the countryside?"

"Yes, once I saw a hundred together. Misshapen, their flesh decaying and all whitish, hobbling on their crutches, with swollen eyelids, bleedings eyes. They didnt speak or shout; they twittered, like mice."

"For the Christian people they are the others, those who remain on the fringe of the flock. The flock hates them, they hate the flock, who wish all lepers like them would die."

-conversation between William and Ado, page 201, from U. Eco's, The Name of the Rose

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.

Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.

Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on “Interpretation and Education (Director’s Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”

“As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan,” Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the creationist book. “We sincerely hope that the new Director of the Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job.”