Tuesday, October 31, 2006

- note to WesPAC about General Clark's Rising in New Hampshire - 10/31/06

Thanks for this. With the New Hampshire speeches last week, General Clark and the Democrats began entering a new phase. I write about phases of history and specifically how in or around the 60th post-war year, the post-war period falls apart. One sympton of this is the inability of management to think strategically and to act tactically - its the "git 'r done" impulse that today guides the administration; but it is without guidance, or plan. There is no course to stay. But when the crisis comes, the master strategists return again; the cultural breakage occurred between 1925 and 1932 in the last post-war period and the crisis then as now has similar characteristics - in many ways it was a "crisis of incompetence" which led to it but after the breakage occurred it brought forth great strategists; Roosevelt, Eisenhower, George Marshall, George Kennan. We are in a similar phase of in-between now and as far as I can see, only General Clark adresses it substantively. Like Eisenhower, he is a master strategist. The great movie Casablanca is about the period of indecision which preceded action between the wars; appeasors arise - Marshall Petain and Pierre Laval - as the French citizens are intimidated by the German bullies (Capt. Renault - Claude Reins - is surely the spiritual father of the House and Senate today, bullied by Karl Rove into voting for the invasion of Iraq although it was transparently designed by neocons for their specific agenda; lets remember their names). It is very much like a psychological sickness. But when the Marquis leader Victor Laszlo - Paul Heinreid - stands up in Rick's Cafe Americain and orders the playing of the La Marseillaise to drown out the German folk songs, the indecision breaks; the fever passes and the citizens awaken. General Clark is that rising figure - you could feel it rising in New Hamshire. (Thanks to my son Peter for photo crop skill - and to Paul Hienreid.)
Carol Shea-Porter for Congress

- notes for The Fighting Dems on a Daily Kos blog - 10/29/06

Wes Clark and Carol Shea-Porter: A New Direction for the Democrats

We seem to be at the end of things when habeas corpus, a pillar of democratic government, can be swept away overnight almost without discussion in Congress. And we have been hearing these same radicals in Congress and in the Oval Office these last weeks endorsing strategies of torture which have never been even vaguely considered in sound and moral government, and tragically, some of these barbaric and unconstitutional tribal practices have been echoed by leading Democrats.

The Democratic Party is going through a period of change. But it is also a day of awakening. There is new energy and a new climate of discussion, a new willfulness and a new sense of urgency; a new sense of duty. It is a new wind which I didn't feel in 2003. But I got a glimpse of it when General Wesley Clark and Carol Shea-Porter faced reporters after political speeches at the American Legion Hall in Manchester , New Hampshire , two weeks back.

"We know what the Geneva Convention means," said Shea-Porter. "We know what is right. We don't need this discussion."

Carol is a military wife and teacher running for Congress. She and General Clark spoke with one voice about the crisis our country faces.

General Clark's determination, willfulness and drive might have been too rich for the mainstream in 2003 because the mainstream was not yet ready to face the crisis and its challenges. But now it is ready to accept the crisis and ready to address the challenges. General Clark is now becoming the representative figure of the Democrats. His authority is felt to be authentic and is intuitively trusted. He has risen through a waning force; Joe Lieberman's chicanery and Bush appeasement, and a positive charge ?Tammy Duckworth's sincerity and passion and Jim Webb's intelligence, integrity and assertive sense of duty.

I see this same force awakening here in New Hampshire with Carol Shea-Porter as well. Most all present at the Legion Hall were former soldiers and military spouses, and Carol talked to us straight and as one of us, as Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neil, Mary McGrory and Jack Kennedy once did, and with a clarity and determination that the Legion Hall hadn't heard in many years.

This is becoming the new condition of the Democrats and it will become the new forum. Appeasement and denial are falling off like scales and Democrats are rising through the maelstrom. Wes Clark, Eric Massa, Jim Webb, Tammy Duckworth and Carol Shea-Porter are leading the charge for the Fighting Dems to a new century. They are bringing a new direction to our country and a new sense of duty to the Democratic.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Lost, 10/25/06 Henry Gale is Linus

It is learned that the Others live on a different island. There are two islands, as there are two stones, black and white. We know that there is a submarine as well - classically, in dreams a submarine represents a journey into the Unconscious ("We all live in a Yellow Submarine."). The islands form an actual tai chi. Jack is sent to operate on his Other counterpart, Henry Gale - who is sick and suffering from a tumor. As one stone is strong, the other is in remission - it is the way of Tao and the explaination of tai chi. Henry Gale - the name taken from the uncle in The Wizard of Oz - is really named Ben (in Hebrew, "Son of") Linus. Named, no doubt, after he who seeks the Pumpkin of Higher Power & the sincere Pumpkin Patch. Desmond develops intuitive powers and joins Mr. Eko and John Locke as one of the Three. See The Three Celestial Ones on Quigley in Exile.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Suggested reading for the new Torture Buffs:

Kranz Kafka: In the Penal Colony
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and much more
Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon

One question: Who raised you?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

“Scum of the Earth”: The Clintons & Torture

by Bernie Quigley - for The Free Market News, 10/23/06

What have I become? - Nine Inch Nails

Alan Dershowitz provoked a storm of controversy several years ago by advocating “torture warrants” as a way of creating accountability for the use of torture in terrorism cases, he said this week in a Los Angeles Times essay. For this approach he said he was condemned as a moral monster, labeled an advocate of torture and called a Torquemada. Now, he says, President Clinton is in agreement with his position.

Clinton summarized his views in the following terms, said Dershowitz: “If they really believe the time comes when the only way they can get a reliable piece of information is to beat it out of someone or put a drug in their body to talk it out of ‘em, then they can present it to the Foreign Intelligence Court, or some other court, just under the same circumstances we do with wiretaps. Post facto . . . . “

Foreign Intelligence Court? “Some other court”?

They are talking about the “ticking bomb” situation here, which is all the rage in torture circles these days. It is an esoteric, almost aesthetic judicial question, like how many angels can do the Bugalu on the head of a pin?

Dershowitz is correct in including Bill Clinton as a fellow traveler in his egregious position on torture. In an article titled “Hillary Hits Bottom,” Rosa Brooks reports in the Los Angeles Times this week that Senator Hillary Clinton echoes these barbaric positions as well and shares in the public disgrace.

“Has Hillary Clinton been watching too many episodes of 24,” asks Brooks, “or is she just determined to prove that she really is entirely without principles?”

Whichever it is, Senator Clinton hit a new low last week, she writes, telling the New York Daily News that the President should have ‘some lawful authority’ to use torture or other ‘severe’ interrogation methods in a so-called ticking-bomb scenario. These comments appear to directly contradict her previous statements on the Military Commissions Act, Brooks points out, which President Bush signed into law Tuesday.

Dershowitz may be the thug that his detractors have labeled him to be, but he is not a coward. He understands that today in America, as it was in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, most public intellectuals and politicians are weaklings and can be easily cowed, territorialized and dominated with aggressive and bullying tactics as the Clintons have been, and can easily be brought around to the position of the dominant Alpha males - Dershowitz, Paul Wolfowitz and the neocons, the Israeli lobby, Tom DeLay and the Christian Zionist Movement. It was the classic strategy of the Popular Front in Europe in the 1930s and among New York intellectuals early last century in magazines like The Dial and The New Masses.

It is interesting that the neocon fathers and mothers who have nurtured such twisted and dark policy initiatives as we have recently seen took as their original guiding moral light a man from that same period; Arthur Koestler, a key figure in the European Popular Front, who later rejected Communism. Koestler wrote two books on interrogation and torture. In Darkness at Noon he asked how a man like himself could be seduced into the Personality Cult of Stalin and a movement that advocated and practiced torture, as the Stalinists did with such proficiency. Koestler, whose astonishing resemblance to Wolfowitz cannot be coincidental, at one time suggested names in France and Germany which were sent up to Stalin for torture and execution. Later, he offered a different point of view from the torture advocates of today.

Dershowitz insinuates in his essay that his advocacy of “torture warrants” is enlightened because it is shared by the liberal Bill Clinton. Koestler wrote to the contrary. He offered that although he thought he was an enlightened intellectual himself, a distinguished and celebrated man of letters throughout Europe east and west, and an early pioneer to Israel, he and his friends were no better than Stalin and his torturers when he advocated for Stalin. The issue to Koestler and his followers in Brooklyn in the 1950s was not so much the Commissar and the Brute, but the fellow travelers, the enablers and the cowards – editors, intellectuals and politicians – who engendered the Brute.

The level of moral distinction Koestler felt these people achieved is suggested in the title of another book he wrote about torturers, The Scum of the Earth.

But this week I have heard a new voice from a different drummer in Manchester, New Hampshire; that of Carol Shea-Porter, a military wife and teacher running for Congress.

“We know what the Geneva Convention means,” she said. “We know what is right. We don’t need this discussion.”

Most present were former soldiers, and she talked to us straight and as one of us, as Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil, Mark McGrory and Jack Kennedy once did, and with a clarity and determination that the Legion Hall hadn’t heard in many years.

A sign, maybe, that the accommodators and appeasers will begin to retire now to Nantucket, the Magic Mountain or the Presidential Library, and the Personality Cult of the Clintons will begin to dissipate. And the Democrats will finally return to earth again from their long and arduous space journey.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This Week on Lost - 10/18/06 - Hurley, Mr. Eko and John Locke Encounter Spirit Bear

They always call them Polar Bears, but like many things in this thoughtful TV show, it works on two levels. In Dharma culture, these two levels are Nirvana (the Unconscious or inner life) and Samsara (the Conscious or outer life). The white bear can best be understood as a Spirit Bear. Hurley fears the bear. Mr. Eko has a full encounter with the Spirit Bear. Spirit Bear is actually a white black bear which is sacred to the Haida Indians of British Columbia. Spirit Bear finds those in the forest who are psychologically Lost, as all the characters on the island are. When Spirit Bear finds you it will take you on a devastating adventure of transformation & awakening. You come out a transformed person with heightened sensitivities and spiritual awareness. Walt has had a Spirit Bear encounter. Now Mr. Eko has had an encounter with Spirit Bear in a cave (and encounter with the Earth). He finds a preternatural sense and is able to see John Locke’s true nature (“You will find them John because you are a hunter.”) Notice the cross has been torn from Eko’s neck. Eko’s faith is pure as it must be with a shaman, but he will find now a fuller context for his newly awakened state. Perhaps Locke is unable to undergo a Spirit Bear transformation as his faith is thin and based on intellectual properties. He needs “signs” and proofs. Mr. Eko’s faith is innate. Locke will anchor in Eko’s faith. Notice that Locke turns Mr. Eko's church into a sweat lodge, a house of spiritual transcendence of North American First Peoples. And Mr. Eko loses his Jesus Stick in the blast to Desmond. See Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. For more on Lost see Quigley in Exile.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Democratic Party with Southern Characteristics

by Bernie Quigley – for WesPAC 10/13/06

Mark Warner’s decision not to run for President left a large hole in Democratic politics. Warner, born in Indiana and reared in Connecticut, brought a winning smile and a winning strategy to the campaign trail. He campaigned for his Virginia Governor’s seat at Big Top churches and at the NASCAR track, where Nantucket liberals fear to tread.

He may also have transformed contemporary Democratic politics. In Warner's tenure as Governor, Virginia can be seen as a Petri dish. Warner proved beyond any doubt that the South and all of the red states can be brought back home to the Democratic Party by a genuine, enthusiastic and sincere politician with excellent management abilities, who respected his fellow Southern citizens as he found them.

As Governor of Virginia and as a Presidential candidate, he abandoned the politics of confrontation and established a new model, reaching across the isle to create working relationships with Republicans and ignoring ideology and issues-oriented strategies which often alienated mainstream voters and filled Republican ranks.

In Iowa, Warner would refuse to enter into the politics of confrontation and polarization when reporters pressed him into positioning on the most contentious issues. He once answered, “97% of what I do is management.” Jim Webb, candidate for Senator in Virginia, said all his anger and contention fell from him after 9/11. It should everyone.

It’s a management thing. The Democrats need to understand. There is the essence of the new paradigm in Democratic politics, and although Warner has dropped out for the time being, the same management-based political model has been adopted here in New Hampshire with great success by our Democratic Governor, John Lynch. He faces reelection next month with 80% voter support. Three Republicans in New Hampshire state races have cited their support for him in their campaign literature.

It is often said up here that New Hampshire is a Southern state. Lynch’s election to office did parallel Warner’s in Virginia. Like Warner, who followed the ideological Republican George Allen in office, Lynch followed a similar Republican with cranky, eccentric ideas which were Republican political novelty a few years back. Here in New Hampshire, it washed out quickly after two years. Lynch followed with the new model. He does not represent a return to Northeast Democratic politics as usual. Like Warner, he brings an entirely new approach and brings perhaps a historical turning; a return to sobriety, good management, bipartisan cooperation and common sense.

Warner and Lynch bring good news for the Democrats. But the list of remaining Democratic Presidential candidates cited in an AP story about Warner’s decision not to run could bring the country to a crisis in 2008. Most are senators. None have serious management experience. Some are eccentric and inexperienced. Others have been mentioned recently simply because of their ethnic status or because they look good on a horse.

Of the three frontrunners suggested, only John Edwards does not entirely alienate the South, Texas and the Midwest. Wes Clark was not on the list, nor were any inspired or prominent Democratic Governors like Lynch, Mike Easley of North Carolina or Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

Warner had hired political strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders to help manage his Virginia Governor campaign and Saunders is partly responsible for beginning to return Southern people to their Democratic Party roots in Virginia. Shortly before Warner announced that he would not run for President, Saunders went to work for John Edwards.

Perhaps a new group should form today to rebuild the Democratic Party on the new paradigm which Warner, Saunders and Edwards are bringing to the Democratic Party: A new politics which would bring Southern, Texan and Midwestern politicians into the mainstream, and which would encourage and draft candidates like Easley and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius; moderates and conservatives who have abandoned contention and culture wars in favor of cooperation, and who bring with them management abilities and expertise.

It would be a party with Southern features, and it would set as its goal the recovery of red states lost to Republicans.

I’d be the first to nominate my Governor for such a task force or committee to investigate. New Hampshire, in most approximations, is blood red in a sea of light blue. Wes Clark should surely share leadership on such a committee. As Marcos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos pointed out, with Warner out, General Clark is now the only outsider in range of the 2008 Presidential race. (That Clark and Warner, the only two candidates with high distinction as managers, are considered "outsiders" is what the Democrats need to start thinking about.)

And Clark is a paragon of Southern experience and character. He is a manager first and foremost, and he has been traversing the heartland tirelessly since the election, lending support to Democrats in the Ozarks, Alabama and Des Moines just these last few days.

Southern people go to church. Southern people respect veterans. Southern people are unpretentious and unassuming. Southern people care about family and friends. And so do my neighbors up here in New Hampshire and Vermont and so do people all over the country.

But such simplicity doesn’t seem to be pulling the press. The mainstream press is pretty well fixed, Hedgehog like, on the Hillary and the anti-Hillary thing; Warner being the anti-Hillary. They can think of little else.

The Democrats and the press which follows in their wake appear to suffer from visions and ideas whose historical time and purpose have passed, but whose aura still lingers on in the valleys. Virginia and New Hampshire have led the way to a critical turning in Democratic politics and Warner and Lynch represent that turning. The will and intelligence is available to awaken and bring the new paradigm to life. It’s just that the old coat is hard to shake off, especially because the press sees no other path on the horizon and continuously defaults to old ideas.

Part of the problem lies in history and geography. We are at a major historical turning come about by the shift in major economy from North to South. It hasn’t fully matured and manifested yet in the South, and the North, against all odds, refuses to let go.

The problem also resides in the very idea of liberalism. It has lost its true path and purpose over recent decades as a moral initiative and duty and become instead a posturing of public piety and a social style of identification and status (as one would identify with Starbucks or suburban soccer moms); one does not oppose global warming so much to protect the environment as to feel swell about protecting the environment and to identify with that position as "our kind" in polarization of those the swarty Others who are not "our kind" (NASCAR moms and Big Top Southern church goers).

I was raised and educated in New England and worked the most part of my grown up life in New York City. My father worked in cotton mills in Fall River, Massachusetts, and so did my mother’s family.

This is something the new people who come to the Northeast (like the Clintons) need to know about us: What you come here to seek no longer exists. The angel has passed. The spirit of enterprise which came here from Manchester, England, filling Fall River, Lowell, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire, with hundreds of quite beautiful stone and glass factories and millions of immigrants, left almost a hundred years ago. The cotton mills have gone South. My father was an electrician. He turned the lights out.

There is no New England as it is imagined to be by outsiders. Eric Sloane, chronicler of our old covered bridges, wood tools and great Yankee barns, said it passed in 1865. The old school Yankees, like the Bush family, all moved to Texas in around the 1930s. It is the same in New York. It passed away at the same time. James Thurber, the great cartoonist for The New Yorker in the 1920s is said to have written on the ceiling above the stalls in the building’s men’s room the words, “Too late,” for those who came after him.

Red state is destiny. The life force that was the Northeast dissipated before the end of World War II. As population moved South people moved South. Economy is moving Southwest now and population is still dropping in the northern New England states as it has been since World War II.

And as economy went to the South, so did political empowerment. A new cultural relevance emerged. The rise of the Christian Right, the roar of the NASCAR track, the sweet Tennessee and North Carolina Baptist choirs which have long been the mainstay of the Newport Folk Festival and even the popularity of Connecticut-born George W. Bush are evidence of a fundamental shift in American culture. And Otis Redding and Little Richard and Dolly Parton and Billy Bob Thornton.

The South has risen. It is strong. This cultural arc is exactly equivalent to the economic boom of the 1800s, which brought with it the rise of Irish popular culture which enriched New York, Boston and America in the late 1800s – John L. Sullivan, the popular operatic John Mccormick, and the great run of blarney in music, literature, the dance and Vaudeville hall and later, the big Hollywood movie screen.

The Northeast Democrats and liberal culture seem to be in denial of this.

What continually curses them is the illusion that although economy may have moved away, New York is still the center of information, opinion and influence. Certainly it dominates, but it continually fails them. Perhaps because the Northeast no longer centers economy, it yields so easily to narcissism and nihilism, the dark muse of the empty vessel. Power follows economy, and if the Democrats expect to go forward, they must follow power.

The Democratic Leadership Council came into being after Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory in 1984. The idea was to try to make the Democrats more like Republicans – Republicans with more fanciful hair, said one wag. It was a false and imitative effort and ended up alienating the large swath of America known today as red states.

What the Democrats should have done back then was ask themselves why the South, Texas and the Midwest had abandoned them in droves. Howard Dean said he wanted to go after those guys with Confederate flags on their trucks. We know what he meant and it was a good idea. It is exactly what Mark Warner had already done with grace, vision and aplomb, and it is exactly what the Democrats should do today. But a former Governor from Vermont, the Magic Mountain of avant-garde liberalism, cannot start that discussion and even the suggestion brought widespread alienation to the red states.

Nevertheless, the discussion should start and it should start in Richmond, Raleigh, Macon, Nashville, Austin and Dallas, Texas. Texas especially as it is the big place, and as New York was to the old industrial America of vast influence in the world between 1865 and 1929, so Texas is to the new economy and the new culture just very recently awakened and yet to reach full expression beneath the Mason-Dixon Line and west of it.

Only the South can fix this party to make it work again as the South made it work for the Republicans in the 1980s.

But Concord, New Hampshire, Haverhill, and Conway, our singular jewel in the White Mountains, should be talking and listening as well. It is a good fit for New Hampshire.

If you all fix it we will follow you. We have no place else to go.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Notes on Lost, Season 3, Episode 2 – 10/11/2006

Sawyer was bound to get Kate – they both have the strong life force which comes from elementary biology (compared with Jack who’s like force is in his head) – they only needed “island” orientation to get regular. Notice the airlines which crashed in Oceanic Airlines. As much is symbolic and referenced to literature in this, this name is from George Orwell’s 1984, in which the global, oppressive empire is Oceania, a malevolent vision of America. Lost symbolically crashes the empire with the airplane, allowing the people to be “born again” as a new people – we are all new people in America, and distinctions – Irish, Islamic, etc., yield after three generations. Lost is a vision of awakening America.

Ben giving proof of the real world to Jack by showing him the tape of the 2004 World Series which the Red Sox won, was a nice touch. It was so unlikely a possibility that Jack refused to believe until he saw the tape. That World Series was like a Lost episode. In fact, the joke up here in New Hampshire where it was a big event, was that the Red Sox was getting help from the “Land of the Dead” – the team revived as if “from the dead”; the major player was named Damon (daemon – a helper from the dead) and made himself look like Jesus, and a full eclipse of the moon occurred as the Red Sox won the Pennant (moments after the victory, the moon passed back to its normal condition).

When Kate changes from long pants and backpack to dress, her journey has come to its center & she is ready for Awakening. Moreover, it is Alex's dress, daughter of Danielle, the Dakini or Earth Spirit - the lineage of the Earth Mother. Kate has found new awareness is the hnading off of the dress from the one to the other. When has tv or film prepared such compositional subtlety? Not since John Ford and Von Stroheim.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Notes on Lost – 3rd Season, Episode One: Lost is an Aquarian Creation Myth

I’m going to put a few notes ongoing about the TV show Lost over the next few weeks – it is a remarkable show and a milestone in TV culture. These are notes and impressions.

How Lost works on several levels: In the last season Henry Gale (Ben) was identified as a Christ figure by the Christ wound given him by Danielle and by the book, The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoyevsky, in which the prisoner is identified as the Christ in the chapter The Grand Inquisitor. Mr. Eko confesses his sins to him, but Henry Gale (the name of the uncle in The Wizard of Oz) doesn’t understand that he is the “Second Christ’ (perhaps the first did not know he was the First Christ). As the story goes, this third season, all is explained. Ben is a cult leader seeking information. The “real” Henry Gale, the black man buried under the parachute, will be explained – perhaps he was at one time one of the Others. But within the scene itself before the explanation unravels, there appears to be two Henry Gales and we know that the live one (Ben) is supposed to somehow represent the Christ. It appears that Henry Gale leaves behind his “old self” for a new incarnation. This is the classic telling of Krishna’s kicking aside and stomping on a dwarf – in many Hindu pictures and also in Tibetan Buddhist (See "Lost: a Taoist Classic" on Quigley in Exile). When Krishna rises in the new body, be is ready for his new dance of creation “dance of life and death.” The Christ’s second creation is Aquarius. Lost is an Aquarian Creation Myth. Suggested reading: The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus, the Christ (1920, reprinted, Garland Publishing) by Levi H. Dowling

Entering the third season, the Others are revealed to be a kind of Dharma cult, something like Naropa, but with computers and Bucky Balls. J.J. Abrams attended Sarah Lawrence – perhaps he studies with Joseph Campbell – the show is quite knowledgeable about depth psychology and myth, and Campbell taught at Sarah Lawrence. Notice the lights and darks; Jack has a wife and a dark (Spanish) mistress. Then on the island, he has affections for Kate and (dark) Anna Lucia. At the Others camp he may draw affection from Ben’s (Henry Gale’s) girl friend who looks like his original wife.

Until now Jack was almost always with a back pack on and so have other characters. This is a common dream image of someone on a spiritual or psychological journey.

Ahead, Mr. Eko has been shown to be the man of unequivocal faith, while John Locke’s faith is all in the head. Locke fails, but Eko will bring the Dharma Inistative forward – Locke to be his second, following in Eko’s faith. Ben as a Christ figure is way interesting because although he is identified by the Christ wound and the Bros. K book, we see him and we know him to be a bad character – manipulative and self centered – he leaves his girl to die in the prison and Jack saves her. Easy to see that the entire Others cult is tired of Ben and the whole Dharma deal. But Mr. Eko does not see the bad parts & could take him – Ben – as the second Christ; the second face of Christ in the new Platonic month. FYI Lost is about a shift in Platonic Months, a 24,000 year journey around the sun under 12 signs of 2,000 years apiece. The procession started with the Birth of the Christ, 2,000 years ago. We have just left the Age of Pisces, the age of Christ and Mohammed (the dual fish in the zodiac sign) and entered the Age of Aquarius on January 1 of this year. From Madame Blavatsky to Salvador Dali, there has been the suggestion of the Second Christ as a Buddhist monk. Eko, most sincere of the faithful, is making the transition from traditional Roman Catholic to New Age Buddhist/Taoist (the 108 clicker suggests the Tibetan rosary which has 108 beads – the Dharma insignia is the Ba Gua, sing of the tai chi).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Thirteen Moons: Charles Frazier’s Exile

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 10/9/06

In the late 1990s, a host of editors and scholars gathered to reflect on what was good and what should be remembered of the waning century. In one of the most erudite lists, the best non-fiction book of the century was declared to be The Education of Henry Adams, published in 1907 and written by the grandson of John Adams.

At the same time, Charles Frazier was writing Cold Mountain, which seemed strangely out of place when it first appeared in 1997. It was a story of loss and breakage - a Civil War tale in a time of peace and burgeoning prosperity. It was a land journey epic in an age of space travel. It was a Taoist vision of awakening when political and literary nihilism was at its fullest flower. It was a great novel. North Carolina poet Fred Chappell called it “a masterpiece.” The venerable Alfred Kazin called it “astonishing.”

Here in 2006, Frazier has written another great novel, Thirteen Moons, and 100 years hence, when they gather again to determine which were the awakening influences of the new century, they will first turn to Frazier.

Thirteen Moons is written with a flow and subtly of expression which we haven’t seen since Willa Cather and Tolstoy. Indeed, in a century which seemed to take its influence from an American interpretation of Trotsky’s famous maxim – “every man an Oprah, every man a Bart Simpson, every man a Bush,” writing of this depth, ability, subtlety and intuition has been exiled from the Academy.

Frazier comes not from the Academy but from the western hills of North Carolina, the Cherokee region, where the mountain tops flow in the light blue mist like a sea, sweeping the imagination and forming the character of the people. Indians consider it to be a sacred place with magical properties – a place where dreams are full and rich and draw serpent-handling holiness preachers, hippies and Tibetan monks alike to its essence.

Cold Mountain, where Frazier’s ancestors settled, is one of these peaks, and it is the scene of his first novel. It is serendipitous that there are actually two Cold Mountains in the world, one in North Carolina and one in China. Frazier, in a masterful display of literary craftsmanship, combines the two and brings the reader to the essence of an awakening American journey and the new century, via Cold Mountain in China, the home of Taoist shamans and mystics for millennia. China’s Cold Mountain is a mountain of the mind as well as nature, and in the introduction to the book, Frazier quotes Han-shan, the most famous of its inhabitants from the 8th century: “Men ask the way to Cold Mountain. Cold Mountain: there’s no through trail.”

Cold Mountain is a journey home. And if the country was not ready to go there when the novel first appeared, it is surely ready now. For it is a novel which is part of an endless cycle of human experience – a novel which finds the protagonist and his world exhausted from war, going from the edge of an outward push with feverish enthusiasm and esprit d’corp, then turning about and yielding to the heart, and trying to find the trail back. Trying to remember what home was, or might have been, had he still his arms and legs and eyes and head working in full and in harmony one to the other; trying to recall a life without the daily onslaught of wholesale slaughter.

A blind man who sells food to the troops outside a soldier’s hospital says to Frazier’s character: “It might have been worse had I ever been given a glimpse of the world and then lost it.” Therein is the tragedy of all who try and fail in war, and sometimes those who succeed. The journey home is slow and arduous, often impossible.

Yet this is a tale of faith and good hope. For when the illusion of politics and war fall from the eyes or make them blind, the essence of life can be grasped and perhaps it is only then that it can be grasped.

Cold Mountain is a timeless tale. Reviewers compare it to The Odyssey, but it was told long before and since. The Crusades engendered the telling of this kind of story time and again, for it was a war which was perennially lost, which makes it appropriate for today as we are in perhaps the final chapter of that 900-year-long conflict. In Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, the Templar finds no home to return to from the Crusades, only the Plague. The Robin Hood story comes from the Crusades as well, and in this telling, the warriors turn from the endless outward adventure to find again their essence; the Green Man, the Earth Mother and the tribal Albion, the White Goddess, and the woods. Frazier’s telling is related to this as it is an American telling, and the returning warrior seeks the oldest of truths and truest of guides for the white man come uninvited to a new home on a new continent – the Native American as spirit guide and guide through the psychological wilderness.

At journey’s end – the end of a short and perfect life for the protagonist - Cold Mountain’s soldier finds his heart in a Cherokee village in an Indian hut. Frazier’s journey owes to Homer, but owes more to Black Elk, who most succinctly described the journey home. This is Black Elk: “I was standing on the highest mountain of them all . . . And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy ... but anywhere is the center of the world.” And this is Frazier’s journey, a journey to the center of human experience.

Frazier’s two novels form a unified vision which - like the life of the white buffalo in Wisconsin; a harbinger of enlightenment and spiritual awakening to Native Americans - traverses two millennia and awakens in the second.

Thirteen Moons is again auspicious. The protagonist is named Cooper, perhaps in homage to James Fenimore Cooper, who first and foremost saw the white man and the Indian inextricably linked on this continent, and saw in the essence of the American experience the white man from Europe put aside his matrix of big ideas and city shoes and marry instead to the spirit of nature. That is Natty Bumpo, half white and half Indian, but given the Indian name, Hawkeye or Deerslayer, as the Indian nature would ascend. It is that which would allow us to turn inward. Our natures were to be one, guided by the Indian, and if we didn’t find that, we would eventually default to Europe – if only in heart and head - or die in the wilderness.

It was Chief Joseph who said, “Our spirit will walk among you,” and in Frazier’s cosmology it does.

In Thirteen Moons, Will Cooper, at the age of 12, is given a horse, a key and a map and sent alone on a journey through the wilderness to the edge of the Cherokee Nation. The map he carries brings him to the edge of Indian Territory. He stops, afraid, at entering the world which in uncharted. Like Inman, Frazier’s character in Cold Mountain, he has totem animals and spirit guides, animal and Native American.

Frazier’s mastery goes almost unnoticed, as it should with great writers, and his subtlety sometimes matches that of the Taoist monk, Han shan. At the edge of the forest, here is Cooper looking west: “ . . . the map turned abruptly white and all the geographic opinion it ventured further was the words INDIAN TERRITORY, lettered rather big. No fading or tapering off. Everything halted all at once. So the lesson the map was taught was that knowledge has strict limits, and beyond that verge the world itself might become equally unspecified and provisional. In my mind, the place thus rendered could be contained within no state and could contain within it no counties or towns . . . “

Han shan would have understood that the white space on the map was wu-chi. It is the imagination and the American journey of the mind which has not yet hatched and does not yet exist, the benign state from which tai-chi, the countervailing forces of life and the ten thousand things erupt and create the flow of history.

And this is the most auspicious vision for our country and for our new century. For here we are a people not yet born, but soon to be, and soon to find the life of the heart and the mind as we’ve not known or experienced it before - in richness, subtlety, pain and slaughter, love and yearning, peace and prosperity and all that is to come.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Simon Winchester's White Rabbit & the new Lost

Simon Winchester has written a way interesting op-ed today in the NYTs about an obsession to say "White Rabbit" every morning of his life when he woke up for 60 years. Thought it would be worth reprinting my essay on The Matrix and the Magical Animal, a white rabbit, which leads the shaman to his destiny. From Quigley in Exile. Y'all seen the new Lost? From Dostoyevski (The Bros K) to Otis Redding (These Arms of Mine), the Dakini Danielle & Mr. Eko - does anything speak to the millennial condition with such succinct clarity, vision and discrimination? Is like a Saturday movie matinee serial of The Mahabarata. This year is critical - Mr Eko changes from Roman Catholic to New Age Buddhist. A milestone transition between the millenia. Note: Winchester's change of condition might have something to do with his moving from England to Massachusetts. Life changes - John Lennon went from Light to Shadow. (See "Mother," which starts off with Big Ben, as a sad, existential goodby to England.) Jan Morris changed her sex and shifted from great historian to great journalist. It takes three generations and then you enter the realm of Black Elk's vision (anthropologist say one's head actually changes shape after two generations, to one closer to configuration of Native Americans'). I still yearn for Lost Mother; North Carolina, Ireland, Mother. Cheers, Quigley

The Age of Thomas - from Quigley in Exile

Tiny slips of paper falling from my desk which belongs somewhere but I can’t remember where: . . . Neo presents the vivid picture of the shaman’s journey between millenia. It is a great contemporary shaman’s journey as it returns the shaman back to earth from his space journey. As science fiction went to the heavens in the 1970s, it returns to earth with Neo . . . We are an Earth Species and must find ourselves and our way on this planet . . . To desire to find ourselves in the most distant space is to avoid our fate. In some ways it is a childish illusion of avoidance of adulthood and moral responsibility . . . One of life’s little 3 x 5 cards is the understanding of Hegel as a thesis vs. antithesis coming to a synthesis. But this is a Power Principle view of life – a yang view. The two forces in the world in this view are not yin and yang, but yang plus and yang minus. I always see yin and yang presentations as an erroneous understanding of Hegel. Two men sword fighting is not yin and yang. There is no yin present. Thesis/antithesis is a vision of the world without yin, our world in the West since the 1400s. Most marriages today are yang/yang relationships, each partner with a separate corporate identity outside the body of the other. It makes no difference if they are biologically man and woman. They are friendship relationships - pal relationships. Family as Corporation. Relationships. But that is not marriage, and not yin and yang. The popular book and upcoming movie, The Da Vinci Code on the surface suggests the dynamic Seal of Solomon code – the two interlocking triangles of the Seal of Solomon, but on investigation, there are no yin figures in this entertaining piece of pop mysticism . . . Like most marriages today in Matrix world, all man and woman – everyone in the world perhaps - are yang figures and yang individuals (their nests will always be square). Yin is Andromeda, lost in the ozone, dangling her two Japanese fighting fish at the end of a string. But she’s returning to earth now and here her name is Trinity.

The Matrix presents a mythic picture of the yin world and the yang world and the shaman’s journey from the one to the other. The difficulty in seeing comes from the fact that there are actually four things, not two. There is yin and yang, and each has a Dark Face, yin minus and yang minus. The yang plus and yang minus is brilliantly represented in Thomas Anderson’s journey. Before he Awakens, Keanu Reeves’ character, Thomas Anderson, has dual nature (Thomas means the Twin, specifically the Twin of Jesus and cosmoglomically, we enter perhaps The Age of Thomas, with the second incarnation of the Christ in Aquarius, - each of the Twelve will present as the Christ in a 24,000 Sun Cycle – this is suggested in the third Matrix, but put that aside). Neo’s dual nature is in the 3 x 5 Hegelian vision of anti-thesis and thesis (when someone speaks of the dual nature, ask if she means, man/woman, man/Dark Face, Woman/Dark Face, Man/God-Universe-and Male God [Sky and Fire] or Female God [Earth and Water] – I never know what they mean and think they don’t know). The one, the positive yang, is Thomas Anderson working days as a computer programmer. This is Mr. Anderson in the world. The other is the anti-Anderson, yang minus, working nights as a hacker to negate the work he does in the day. They could well be political parties which see in their sole initiatives contervailing the other. This is thesis and anti-thesis, but they do not form synthesis – they simply endlessly swordfight throughout the ages, the one making the other stronger and visa versa. Mr. Anderson leaves this world and finds another, the yin world. Like all male shamans, he is sent inward by the Triple Goddess (Trinity). Mr. Anderson’s is a classic shaman’s journey and it begins in sleep, where the Universe enters the Unconscious of the living individual. Neo is sleeping. In his dream he hears a voice which says; Wake up Neo, the Matrix has you. The Matrix presents Keanu in the Hegelian dual nature of the current everyday world. It is a woman’s voice from the Unconscious which brings him out. A man’s journey into the yin world always starts with a woman’s voice – it is the female inner nature of a man (and visa versa for women). She lives in the part of consciousness that a man living in Ego/Ego Dark face like Mr. Anderson has never experienced and has no abilities to travel in. The Hegelian 3 x 5 says it does not exist (the common misunderstanding is all important in creating culture. It makes no difference and is of no importance as to what Hegelian actually meant and what is true in Hegel) . . . In life, the most critical moment is the very first – the birth moment. It is then the organism is most likely to fail. Mr. Anderson has to respond to this message without any of the tools he has from his everyday or everynight natures. He has to abandon his skills and tools. He has to find intuition. He has to obey it. This is key to Awakening. Trinity tells him one thing to do: Follow the White Rabbit. Like Alice and Arguna, like most journeys to the Self, a Magical Animal will lead the way. Suddenly friends appear at the door. He is not ready (one is never redy) – he is busy – he cannot go with them – then he sees the tattoo of the White Rabbit on one of the partyers – a Trinity manifestation – he immediately says he will go. Without question, he puts aside his former everyday selves, and follows the guiding light of his Anima. The next he finds turmoil. This is the dangerous confrontation with the Unconscious in the modern world bereft of psychic experience and knowledge. Mr. Anderson has never been there, and most who try to go there (as in the Pokemon movie) will not survive the journey. But Mr. Anderson’s instinctiveness in abandoning his reason-based matrix and hearing his intuition assures his Salvation. The Matrix is a classic journey to the Self and one like all others. Every journey a man has to the Self is exactly like this: A female voice invites you to the Psyche and her world, the yin world – (but her Dark Face – vagina dentada - might eat you). Within that journey a man will find the Self if he is strong and if he can survive the Confrontation with the Self – the part of the person which is part of the Universe – the Lord of the Unconscious/Morpheus – and find a new self with a new name. In this Awakening, the new psychic life casts off the old as an abandoned skin. Neo represents us in the world today (or the one half of the world which identifies with the Neo journey/will be opposed by those who do not in equal and opposite counterforce). It is an active journey of the Collective Unconscious. The movie is a catalyst – an avatar – to a greater Awakening of the general public. It could go on to greater phases just as the Mahabarata went on volume after volume. The arcane elements in this series – the Twins, for example, (like the Twin John Paul Popes in occult folk lore, Church arcania, dreams and the zodiac, appear as Gates) present a public dream of a new world hatching. I have only talked to women who have had this journey. They dream of Twins at the beginning. Sometimes they are twins or have twin siblings. They dream of all these elements. But it is interesting and perhaps significant that this picture occurs at the turning of the millennium. Neo emerges a different man. There is a whole cosmology today from Stan Lee to Star Wars to The Matrix, The X Files, Stan Lee again with new movies, The X Men. These have profound inner intricacies which are confluent with mythical and anthropological thinking and have perhaps implications.