Thursday, May 17, 2007

"equally a coming Buddha"

I just wanted to share this excerpt from Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums, one of my favorite books in high school and at every reread. These two fella's are buddies throughout and represent Kerouac himself and one of his ramblin' beatnik pals; all of his books are chokked fulla brief meaningful and not-so-meaningful-but-still-so-meaningful interactions with people in his life.

Try reciting the prayer he mentions, like a mantra, over and over, and picture everyone around you...equally a coming Buddha

'That's the glacier what's left of it. Either that or this rock tumbled here from inconceivable prehistoric mountains we can't understand, or maybe it just landed here when the friggin mountain range itself burst out of the ground in the Jurassic upheaval. Ray when you're up here you're not sittin in a Berkeley tea room. This is the beginning and the end of the world right here. Look at all those patient Buddhas lookin at us saying nothing.'

'And you come out here by yourself ...'

'For weeks on end, just like John Muir, climb around all by myself following quartzite veins or making posies of flowers for my camp, or just walking around naked singing, and cook my supper and laugh.'

'Japhy I gotta hand it to you, you're the happiest little cat in the world and the greatest by God you are. I'm sure glad I'm learning all this. This place makes me feel devoted, too, I mean, you know I have a prayer, did you know the prayer I use?'


'I sit down and say, and I run all my friends and relatives and enemies one by one in this, without entertaining any angers or gratitudes or anything, and I say, like 'Japhy Ryder, equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha,' then I run on, say to 'David O. Selznick, equally empty, equally to be loved, equally a coming Buddha' though I don't use names like David O. Selznick, just people I know because when I say the words 'equally a coming Buddha' I want to be thinking of their eyes, like you take Morley, his blue eyes behind those glasses, when you think 'equally a coming Buddha' you think of those eyes and you really do suddenly see the true secret serenity and the truth of his coming Buddhahood. Then you think of your enemy's eyes.'

'That's great, Ray,' and Japhy took out his notebook and wrote down the prayer, and shook his head in wonder. 'That's really really great. I'm going to teach this prayer to the monks I meet in Japan. There's nothing wrong with you Ray, your only trouble is you never learned to get out to spots like this, you've let the world drown you in its horseshit and you've been vexed ... though as I say comparisons are odious, but what we're sayin now is true.'

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Suburban Sprawl

A friend loaned me an interesting book called Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, et al. It advocates going back to city planning similar to America's initial development, where zoning was highly integrated and arose from the organic demands of citizens. These places are more aesthetic, pedestrian friendly, and living efficient than the current model of single-use zones, which necessitates automobile use, results in traffic congestion and unimaginative landscapes, and perpetuates a system of suburban sprawl. Already at a point where we are past peak oil production, I hope that city planning will turn back to high-density housing (versus the single family home) and organic systems that allow residents to work, eat, play, shop, and live all within a five minute walk.

Just a couple of fun things from the book:

An interesting quote from Zev Cohen during a lecture in 1995: "People say they do not want to live near where they work, but that they would like to work near where they live." Apparently contradictory, I think this statement is both a paradox that shows how perspective influences our desires and revelatory of a human desire to put home over work. We want to have work spaces that are conveniently close to where we have our homes and live our lives, but don't want to be ushered into living spaces because of the demands and proximity of work.

Naming suburbs: I've always found it interesting how suburban developments and streets are romantically named after elements of wilderness, often the same ones that the developments replace. You have "Lookout Glen" or "Eagle's Nest Lane" or something of the sort, and everything looks like the same damn suburb. I've never seen an Eagle's Nest or been to a glen with a stunning lookout (okay, maybe I have, but not in the suburbs), but you can read the names all over the place.

The book pointed out a really interestingly named suburban housing community which reflects its own identity confusion. Symbolic of how a suburb can't even make sense of itself, heads or tails for a front or back, a part of Atlanta calls itself "Perimeter Center". I managed a smile at that one; this place hasn't the foggiest about what it really looks like.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Drunk Baseball Players

I left the house at 7:45 this morning and came home ten minutes prior to midnight. It was a long day of classes, tests, and meetings. The apartment below ours is having a luau style party, complete with six kegs and the majority of the OU baseball team. In the space of five minutes watching them from my porch I saw 2 keg stands, 2 guys throw up 4 times, and heard the following:

"Drink it you fucking pussy!"
"He's puking! He puked! I saw it! Woooo!"
"Vance is puking! Ahh haha! Vance is down!"
"Where the FUCK is my beer!" Grabs his beer, repeats "where the Fuck is my beer!"

The women at the party mostly stood silently, taking pictures with smiles on their faces, or talking quietly to their friends, while the males screamed, gave stumbling celebratory high-fives for shows of excess consumption, and swore profusely.

It's midnight. They are all outside. This neighborhood is small. The boys have a regional tournament that they leave for tomorrow. Good luck to them.

Waking Up Refreshed

I dreamt last night
I yelled to you across
A crowded auditorium

And you, at the podium,
Began to pour your heart
Out in words
into the microphone.

Everyone's smiling faces
Turned from me to you
Then blended into one around me,

And as they blurred together
You were there
Sitting next to me in the theater seats.

Did you say all that
You needed to last night?
I wish I could remember

All the important things
You let me know,

But as it is,
I feel better knowing we talked,
And I awoke this morning
With a fresh feeling.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Is concrete living?

Every piece of life is living
but humans, in concrete,
do not make living,

though art and narrative,
and all can be argued art,
creating living-like exchanges
between here and there
dead and living
present and changing,

and these structures,
social conventions, government and taxes,
are intended to help us
in living
and making living.

We all, plants and people,
sparrow, squirrel, and you,
have the same basic drive,
to keep on living
by making (more) living,

and our intentions should be clear;
the mind of humanity being society,
is segmented off into conflicting emotions,
but all with an innate desire
to keep making living.

We'll have our naysayers,
rhythm and blues,
but as a whole, our interconnected

that is, society (you & Me)
communicating with
sign and symbol,
language and narrative,

in every construct, from
television to kitchen,
classroom to nutrition,

form a single entity,
staring and caring,
striving to keep making living,

and its intentions are clear
(like all those other living things)

we'll keep moving foward
in competition with everything
because that is preservation
and leads to proliferation
of living.

But what does it mean to the world that humans and their way of making living can include replacing the traditional living (plant and animal and earth) with the narrative living (concrete and story and terabyte upon terabyte of the history of human existence in no-space)? Will we go as far as we potentially can and link all these narratives together into a single narrative consciousness, that knows everything? Will we evolve in linear time, the process of being god outside of the single eternal space that is/n't god? I think we will. But at what cost to the traditional living world? Not to say we can kill it all off, for it will evolve in its own ways after us, but is our place in it prescriptively written as done for in a thousand years? Will we exist solely as conscious entities afloat in a wash of everything we(all)'ve ever known? Too much still to learn from terrestrial living, I believe. Too late to figure it out? Possible to figure out?