Last night that candy-colored clown they call the Sandman brought me: the beginning of a new Buckaroo Banzai film.
Perfect Tommy was in the desert, pursuing psychogeology, searching for quartzite veins. Across an exposed rock face, weathered arches of stone, he had outlined the veins with black Sharpie marker, wrote little notes next to them.
“Did the minds of the inhabitants affect the formation of the veins, or vice versa?” asked Buckaroo.
“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” answered Perfect Tommy.
An alert came in. Fissile material was on the loose. Buckaroo and Perfect Tommy reported to the Banzai Institute Supertrain, a rolling fortress. A conference was called in the briefing car. Buckaroo was sure he knew the responsible parties. The enemy was there, and he would strike at him. A Blue Blaze heavy weapons team, bulky in rubbery new battle armor, scrambled for the attack.
Perfect Tommy knew Buckaroo was mistaken. Deep in his past lay a terrible secret that gave him insight Buckaroo didn’t have. He wanted to say something, but Buckaroo had a full head of steam up, filled with righteous hubris. Besides: how do you tell Buckaroo Banzai he’s wrong?
And that’s where I woke up. I like to think in some other world, this film exists. I don’t plan to write any more of it. I like it just as it is.
“Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin,” by Alice Echols
Very good bio of Janis, well conveys the transition between the folk/beatnik early Sixties and the rock/hippie High Sixties (a transition that Janis herself experienced). Things that stick with me are:
-the idea of the “Saturday Night Swindle,” which Janis heard from her father: “…about how you hear over and over that if you work real hard, you’ll go out Saturday night and have a really good time. And everybody lives for that good time, but it never really happens.”
-that Mnasidika, one of the first hip businesses in Haight-Ashbury, was originally intended as a store for lesbians. Due to lack of lesbians in the neighborhood, it switched focus to hippies.
-From Linda Gravenites, one of the best one-sentence summaries of the Haight I’ve ever heard: “Up until then , people came because they were full to overflowing and were sharing their fullness. After that, it was the empties who came, wanting to be filled.”
The story of Janis herself is very sad, a cautionary tale of wanting fame and getting it. The main testimony to Echols’s abilities as a biographer is that you want to reach into the page and give Janis a hug, to comfort her. But it’s far too late for that.
Immediately upon entering into prayer, my head and body will by God’s grace transform into flowers, my head a cabbage rose, my eyes black-eyed susans and my ears daisies, my digits pansies and posies, my limbs lilacs and rhododendrons, my torso a mass of dogwood blossoms, and my tongue and very words made a torrent of tiger lily blades, pouring forth in pentecostal fire, praising God. In joy shall I begin, in joy shall I complete, in joy my going forth and in joy my return, and all this by and for God’s glory.
A revealing question to ask is: are those who think deeply and thoughtfully about life happier, richer, or in any consistent way more successful in life?
Philosophy is the search for wisdom. If you take philosophers as a group, can you discern any advantage they take from their wisdom? Searching across the whole of them, can you find any consistent wisdom at all?
Let me give you an example of Predicate #5.
A few years back, I realized that when I thought of the Buddha, I saw him in my mind’s eye as a person of East Asian descent. And I was confused. Because I knew, and had known since some point in my high school years at least, that Shakyamuni Buddha was of South Asian descent, from the great Gangetic Plain.
But the vast majority of my interactions with the idea of Shakyamuni Buddha had been through a screen of East Asian history. Most of what I knew about Buddhism came through my study of Chinese & Japanese history; most of the images of Buddha I had seen were from Confuciosphere cultures. So, naturally, I thought of Buddha as East Asian.
But he didn’t look like that. He looked like this. I was grateful to have that image of Sinhalese bhiksus. Buddhism having faded from all of South Asia save Sri Lanka, they were the only model I had for a historical Buddha.
I went through a similar process with Jesus. Early on I realized that Our Lord did not look like Hippie Surfer Jesus, but like a Jewish man. I have a mental image of him of which I’m fond, of a young man with ringlet beard and classic Jewfro, laughing.
I was once told (though I never confirmed this) that the Yemeni Jewish community was the oldest and least interbred in the world, so that if you wanted to think about how Jesus truly appeared, you should look to them. Here are pictures of Yemeni Jewish men. Here we have a model for the reality of the Incarnation.
There is a great gulf between knowing something on the level of theory and knowing it on the level of fact. You can have a piece of information in your brain and yet never connect with any empirical reality in the world beyond you. If something known only in theory becomes realized in life, it is often a shock. Such shocks can lead to new ways of thinking.
Neither the theories nor the facts necessarily have any connection with truth.
If you see any reference to “the devil,” substitute “Ted Bundy” for it.
This is particularly true for any reference to the devil as a symbol of human freedom, or a giver of knowledge. Put Ted Bundy’s face on that and see if it still works.