Sunday, November 29

"How to repulse a demon (an old problem)? The demons, especially if they are demons of language (and what else could they be?) are fought by language. Hence I can hope to exorcise the demonic word which is breathed into my ears (by myself) if I substitute for it (if I have the gifts of language for doing so) another, calmer word (I yield to euphemism). Thus: I imagined I had escaped from the crisis at last, when behold - favored by a long car trip - a flood of language sweeps me away, I keep tormenting myself with the thought, desire, regret, and rage of the other; and I add to these wounds the discouragement of having to acknowledge that I am falling back, relapsing; but the French vocabulary is a veritable pharmacopoeia (poison on one side, antidote on the other): no, this is not a relapse, only a last soubresaut, a final convulsion of the previous demon."
 - Roland Barthes
A Lover's Discourse: Fragments

Saturday, November 28

"Language is a living thing. We can feel it changing. Parts of it become old: they drop off and are forgotten. New pieces bud out, spread into leaves, and become big branches, proliferating."
 - Gilbert Highet
wood s lot

"Language is the element of definition, the defining and descriptive incantation. It puts the coin between our teeth. It whistles the boat up. It shows us the city of light across the water. Without language there is no poetry, without poetry there's just talk. Talk is cheap and proves nothing. Poetry is dear and difficult to come by. But it poles us across the river and puts a music in our ears. It moves us to contemplation. And what we contemplate, what we sing our hymns to and offer our prayers to, is what will reincarnate us in the natural world, and what will be our one hope for salvation in the What'sToCome."
 - Charles Wright
The Art of Poetry No. 41
interviewed by J. D. McClatchy
the paris review

"Language is, in other words, not necessary, but voluntary. If it were necessary, it would have stayed simple; it would not agitate our hearts with ever-present loveliness and ever-cresting ambiguity; it would not dream, on its long white bones, of turning into song."
 - Mary Oliver
The West Wind

Friday, November 27

"There are no perfect human beings. Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, in fact, great. There do in fact exist creators, seers, sages, and saints. Even if they are uncommon and do not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it."
 - Abraham Maslow

Thursday, November 26

How To Listen
Tilt your head slightly to one side and lift
your eyebrows expectantly. Ask questions.

Delve into the subject at hand or let
things come randomly. Don't expect answers.

Forget everything you've ever done.
Make no comparisons. Simply listen.

Listen with your eyes, as if the story
you are hearing is happening right now.

Listen without blinking, as if a move
might frighten the truth away forever.

Don't attempt to copy anything down.
Don't bring a camera or a recorder.

This is your chance to listen carefully.
Your whole life might depend on what you hear.
 - Joyce Sutphen

Wednesday, November 25

For the traveler today
Among the Zen parables, one koan is called "Just Drinking Tea". Tea represents Zen spirit: he who tastes it tastes Zen.

Hot plum tea is offered to a visitor arriving from afar. Honey and sugar are dissolved in hot water and a pickled plum with the seed removed is proffered between the points of chopsticks. The visitor first steeps the plum briefly in the honey water. He then removes and eats it before drinking the tea. The sourness of the plum and the sweetness of the tea relieve the fatigue of the journey.

For the cook today
The three spirits of zen cooking –
First, the heart of pleasure.
Second, the heart of kindness.
Third, it's a big deep heart.
Pay attention to everything.

These are Dogen's three spirits of zen cooking. The happy spirit feels joy and gratitude at the privilege of being assigned the worthy task of cooking, an opportunity to follow the true way. The venerable spirit calls upon a kind heart in the pursuit of food that will please the diner. The great spirit does not flinch from the smallest detail and offers unwavering help in the unshakable quest for improvement.

For all of us today
"Taste as much of this as you can. Swallow what you need and spit out the rest."
 - Taizan Maezumi

Tuesday, November 24

"Sometimes it's okay. Sometimes it's not one desperate act after another. Sometimes we hear the music that is always there. As the old Irish homily goes: "The most beautiful music is the music of what happens." It is not necessary to run to a remote, quiet place to hear it. It is here already, always. The essence of eternity is how we experience the present. The witnesses are here in ourselves. The fullness of our inheritance denies nothing."
 - Terrance Keenan

Monday, November 23

Praise Song
Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not
despair. Praise what little there's left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees. Praise the meadow
of dried weeds: yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer. Praise the blue sky
that hasn't cracked yet. Praise the sun slipping down
behind the beechnuts, praise the quilt of leaves
that covers the grass: Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum,
Sugar Maple. Though darkness gathers, praise our crazy
fallen world; it's all we have, and it's never enough.
 - Barbara Crooker

  • ". . . as I have said often enough, I write for myself in multiplicate,
    a not unfamiliar phenomenon on the horizon of shimmering deserts."
    - Vladimir Nabokov