Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who do we think we are ??

Thoughts about enemies

Not long ago, I watched the 2001 film, "Enemy at the Gates," which centers around the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. It is a first-rate motion picture, in my view, well acted by people such as Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and Ed Harris, among others. It is a typical war story in most respects, with a love element to make it complete.

I thought I might like to read the book from which the title came. I ordered it without doing any research, and when it arrived I discovered that while the film is mostly fiction, the book is straight non-fiction. In other words, they have little in common.

No matter. The movie stands on its own and is worth watching; the book stands on its own and is worth reading.

There was one scene in the film which struck me in particular. It consisted of these words spoken by the character of Soviet Commissar Danilov moments before he sacrifices his life:

"I've been such a fool, Vassili. Man will always be man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbor. But there's always something to envy. A smile .... a friendship. Something you don't have and want to appropriate. In this world -- even a Soviet one -- there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts .... poor in gifts. Rich in love .... poor in love."

Such a basic, fundamental, elemental truth. Yet, so many among the so-called far left, self-styled elitists round the world, such as Barack Obama and the ilk he surrounds himself with, simply cannot grasp it and are determined to turn the United States into a socialist nation, which would then be ultimately and most assuredly destined to collapse within itself.

Human nature declares socialism an impossibility and history defines it a failure: Some men strive to ascend Mount Everest; some men are content to watch cartoons on television. It has always been, and always shall be ....

Sweet child in time

It seems the past persists. Deep Purple will be performing in Sioux City, Iowa, on August 7. That is about a two hundred, seventy-five mile drive for me, and right across the border from where I once lived in South Dakota. Plenty of places to camp out –- in a comfortable bed at the home of friends or, if I really wanted to play coureur de bois again, on a beach alongside the ever-wondrous Missouri River. Sounds like a plan, hah?

Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and more recent members, Steve Morse and Don Airey, compose the current Deep Purple crew. I regret that Ritchie Blackmore would not be among the players and that Jon Lord is in another existence (sort of), but it sure would be worth the time, money and effort to see even this rendition of a rock legend in concert.

It just occurred to me, if things would have worked out just a little bit differently, this concert would have made a good day-after-birthday present for someone I know. Such is life ....

The mist in the morning

Not long ago, I was asked if I thought of "god" as a "he" or a "she." The opportunity to respond to the question was eliminated almost immediately, so, rather than play games, I will post an answer here:

As for the personification of "god," I was taught, "Our father who art in heaven" .... but I do not follow any organized religion, so that is irrelevant. My imagination revolves around pantheons such as the Old Greek or Old Norse deities, which included any number of gods, both male and female .... but that realm lurks within my "id" and not in my actual reality. My beliefs trend toward a mixture of deism and pantheism (I dislike the term "Mother Nature," too), and my own blend of Native American spirit concepts = if "god" exists, "it" is the mist in the morning and my own conscience coupled with an unfathomable energy which may or may not require our physical being to sustain.

1) If this needs clarification, just whistle ....

2) Of course, my answer might be different tomorrow ....

Sunday, April 19, 2015

When I'm cruisin' in overdrive

Fresh from the annals of 2009
I rarely look at my posts from the past and, when I do, it is for specific purpose rather than for general reminiscing. But, the other day, I did wander through several of them. The thing that struck me most was how many videos from YouTube which I selected to accompany my posts have "disappeared." They "do not exist" or "accounts have been closed" or "copyrights have been infringed upon" or, maybe, they were merely a figment of my imagination. The last item is me trying to be funny again.
Anyway, I decided to re-run a post from November 5, 2009. I doubt I will ever do this again .... run some old stuff, I mean .... but it is my mood at the moment, and my moods rule me these days. Perhaps, I am trying to bring back November 2009. I was happier then.

Happiness is momentary. Remember ?? That is me, one of my mantras, one of my absolute truths. I have been spending a considerable amount of time dwelling on the past this winter -- the past two winters, actually. Maybe, I need to read more of Hunter S. Thompson's books. Maybe, I need to do something without rhyme or reason. Maybe, I need to buy a new car and fall in love with it. (Incidentally, the Audi and the Mustang in the 2009 piece are gone and were replaced by a "hot" Mercury, and the Suburban has been replaced by a newer one.)

I thought I might mention that way back when the post below originally was published, only Natasha, aka Natalie, a Russian-American, left a comment. "She" was a fascinating woman, who once lived in Syria, and, I think, I know why .... but she is gone now, as are so many from 2009. "She" wanted me to travel to Russia with her, and promised to get me inside an "Avtomat Kalashnikova" plant. I almost said, lead on, baby !! "She" was the original she in my mind, but she never knew it because she left and others arrived and took center stage.
One thing is certain: As someone recently reminded me, ".... incompatibility is a reality in all couples ...."
This obvious, simple truth brought realization to me, that it is time to stop searching for my own interpretation of a holy grail or thinking about third chances or even finding a compatible companion. Sort of time for me to forget Neverland and Sanctuary/Refuge and Mythago Wood.
So, what were you doing in November 2009 ?? Were you happier then than you are now ??
He who walks through life as a chameleon sometimes goes to great lengths to present both an appearance and a persona to fit the occasion. Here is a photograph of Fram, taken while on the road (slightly off it at that precise moment) during a recent excursion. Judging solely from his appearance, it probably is safe to assume he was recognized by few and adored by many while on this trip, and that this "boy racer's" style of driving was somewhat more "accelerated" in an Audi than it would have been in a Chevrolet Suburban.

The chameleon returns .... well, sort of ....

It was not too long ago that I was writing an email and I made this comment: "I am melancholy, but happy, if that makes sense. A paradox. It comes whenever I listen to the music of Boston, which I am doing." Another day, I said I needed to play some heavy-duty rock and roll to prepare myself to be "warlike," so as to be in the proper frame of mind for cheering on the New York Yankees in the World Series. These are not the first times I have said such words in respect to the emotional effects of music, and it hardly is an original thought. After all, once upon a time someone noted, "Music soothes the savage ...."

More recently, again while writing an email after having sold my Chevrolet Suburban, I made this comment: "I should have sold the Ford Mustang and the Audi, and kept the Suburban, I think. The Suburban was more me, and I do not drive crazy in it like I often do in the Mustang and the Audi. Style and mannerisms in dress, in vehicles, in music -- in many things -- affect one's attitudes and behavior more than commonly realized, I believe. I drive like a teenage nut case in my Audi, and like a mature, well-mannered adult in my Suburban."

Image is one of the magic words here. Attitudes and behavior patterns are other key terms in the sense they are influenced by the image we desire, and vise versa. Some examples:

I have a well-worn, black, leather jacket. Some might describe it as a biker's jacket, and it shows the wear on its front that only miles riding against the wind can make upon leather. At times when I wear my hair "a bit longer than the norm," I am more inclined to wear this jacket while out and about than I otherwise am when my hair is cut rather short. Visualize the image, if you would: Biker jacket, jeans, cowboy boots, hair over my shoulders and probably sunglasses. Then imagine my attitude and my behavior, even my speech and my gestures. A chameleon passes among you.

In other moods, I will wear a Marine Corps T-shirt or battle jacket when I stroll the shopping markets. The Marine Corps elements affect my attitude and my behavior differently than does my biker jacket or, going the opposite direction, than does wearing a pin-striped, navy blue suit. Similarly, I might not only appear to be, but actually take on, the persona of entirely different people when I wear cowboy boots in contrast to when I am wearing running shoes. We all do, do we not? Or not? As I wander through the sea of blogs, I wonder how accurate a portrait many internet authors present of themselves.

The interesting part about this, of course, is not only how a piece of clothing will alter attitude and behavior, but how the image presented will influence the reaction of people encountered.

Lightning strikes! After all these months, I am drifting back into thinking and writing about the chameleon mode again -- the reporter as a chameleon. Do you remember him? I dress and act and talk like the image I wish to portray, like the person I wish you to think I am, to accomplish the results I wish to achieve. One day, the reporter wears a leather jacket, jeans and boots to interview a drug dealer; the next day, the reporter dresses in a three-piece suit to interview a bank president. In its most elemental form, the idea is to look, act and talk like the person being interviewed in order to win his confidence and trust.

So, then, there is one consistent element in my life, it seems: The chameleon, or, to take it even one step further, the masked chameleon. By all means, lift the mask and reveal tomorrow. Where have I heard that before?

In this instance, though, my thoughts today originate from questioning how the chameleon persona might affect the individual who is one -- his attitudes and his behaviors -- rather than how it influences the people he encounters and interacts with along the path he travels. Absolutely "fascinating," to revive an oft-used word from the chameleon's past. It might be worth writing a post about someday .... somewhere .... over the rainbow ....

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sailing for somewhere, sometime, somehow

From my point of view, there is a lack of realism to the world that is (rather, the world that was) in this depiction of French King Louis IX departing for the Seventh Crusade in 1248 from Aigues-Mortes / Le Grau de Roi in the south of France. There is a quaintness to it, a fantasy-like quality to it, a view of medieval times absent the poverty, the disease, the cruelty –- much less the horrendous butchery and destruction wreaked in hand-to-hand combat with swords and axes. No, the representation here has more the appearance of a wealthy family setting off on a Sunday afternoon cruise on the blue Mediterranean Sea under a sunny sky. The work, incidentally, is among those in a Fourteenth Century manuscript by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus entitled, "Vie et Miracles de Saint Louis." Louis was captured and ransomed on this venture. Undeterred, he went on to lead the Eighth Crusade in 1270, during which disease did him in, as it did much of his army. Louis should have stayed at home. Moving to (not with) the music, "Greensleeves" came along a bit after the crusades but before Ernest Hemingway, so it seems to even out and to be appropriate without too much stretch of the imagination. Read on, if you are curious.

I wish I could paint
I do not know if this is what Ernest Hemingway had in mind when he wrote the following words in a 1953 letter to art historian Bernard Berenson:
"Christ I wish I could paint. I was painting that town (Aigues Mortes) in my head with the crusaders off loading their baggage and their piss-pots to leave from Le Grau de Roi. I remember that Crusade so well that I always have to be careful not to say I made it. But I didn't make it ...."
While Hemingway did not make it, he probably had seen reproductions of this painting of Louis IX departing from Aigues-Mortes / Le Grau de Roi in the south of France for the Seventh Crusade. The representation here is among those in a Fourteenth Century manuscript by Guillaume de Saint-Pathus entitled, "Vie et Miracles de Saint Louis."
What collared my attention were Hemingway's remarks about "painting that town in my head" and "I remember that Crusade so well that I always have to be careful not to say I made it." If I would have been among Hemingway's biographers, I would have grilled him to elaborate on those words .... on those thoughts.
I have been re-reading some of Hemingway's correspondence from "Selected Letters," edited by Carlos Baker, and a few of his short stories. I am not sure why. I noticed the letters among other books a few days ago, picked it up and began reading it again.  I do admire Hemingway's work. Not long before she died, I wrote a few letters to his fourth wife, Mary, and she was kind enough to respond.
Back on point: I suspect Hemingway was saying that he was so much of a student of the Crusades that, at times, he might have felt he had been there and, actually, might have had dreams of having been being there. This subconscious reality was strengthened and magnified just by having been to Aigues Mortes / Le Grau de Roi, a port "complex" from which crusaders set sail for the Holy Land.
Not long ago, I wrote in a comment somewhere that novelist Ole Rolvaag "is among some of the authors whose books I have held in my hand while walking the streets of Minneapolis and the prairies of South Dakota, retracing the footsteps he took and then wrote about more than one hundred years ago." Hemingway is another author I have done the same with, holding his short story while walking alongside and canoeing in the Fox River (Big Two-Hearted River) in Michigan and others from among his stories while strolling a few boulevards in Paris. It was not difficult for me (especially in the Michigan woodlands) to believe I was walking only a few hundred yards behind Hemingway rather than a few decades behind him.
This is getting too complicated to explain thoroughly but briefly, so I think I will end my discussion now and, maybe .... that is a maybe .... continue it another day .... maybe, even, from another place and another time ....
Essentially, you may or may not understand, these things are a search to see within one's self (me) by seeing within others ....
But, one last thing: I have been near Aigues Mortes / Le Grau de Roi, passed by them, but never there, and now I am curious about them and wondering about the possibility of spending a few days there to see if the ghosts of Hemingway and his crusaders might be found where the land meets the sea ....

Something special ....