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That Place in My Mind

Posted 12 June 2004, 2.40 pm by shaggy

Throughout many contemplations I have, the most difficult problem I have is defining humanity. I do not believe it is as subjective an experience as the postmodernists believe, nor as objective as science would perhaps like to believe. Like everything in life, I believe it is a balance between the two, which makes it difficult and a tricky thing to define.

One can and cannot describe it.

The moments of universality, moments like love and hatred, can be explained and indeed, across the paths of literature has been discussed many times. Even, to a lesser extent, the more subjective experiences have been attempted to have been described, like George Orwell in 1984 when his character says that the greatest books are those that tell us what we already know. Yet, with the above example, the subjective becomes the objective, what was thought to be an oddity of humanity becomes something which can be shared.

And yet, still the question remains, what is humanity?

The reason I ask such a question is because of a thirst I have. As I grow older, I realize more and more how much love fills my heart for this thing called humanity. At bitter moments, I have become very cynical at it, even so much as to scorn this life for a better one, to scorn flesh for something greater. But I think that doesn't solve the problem. I still believe in something greater than flesh, but I realize now I was being selfish and irresponsible.

If I see a problem with this world, I should, after all, try to solve it. The problems might not be solved in my lifetime, but as Chekhov said in Three Sisters, happiness is not ours but something we build. We will never see it, but we will have built enough for our children, and those who come after us.

One of the problems I see is a slight irresponsibility. We recognize that we are all human, and yet rarely does a discussion on the universalities of said humanity come up. Psychology attempts such a feat, but again, I think its focus is too objective or too subjective, depending on whether it is treated as an art or a science. We are, I believe, a little bit science and a little bit art.

It is the balance between the two I search for... a scientific art, or an artistic science. Perhaps, as I have found many times, they cannot be blended because they are the same thing. But the point is that I want to blend what I feel to be naive in both the studies. Science is naive in thinking everything is objective, art can sometimes be naive in thinking everything subjective (and yes, I know, I am so very cruel to those postmodernists).

So where do I find this? In experience, I believe. In knowledge of the world and the experiences it brings. In compassion and love, but also in understanding and appreciation. In cold calculation about warm, loving things. In careful, warm appreciation of cold, hard science.

I am not out to break down any binaries except those that do not work. I think there is very much a difference between the subjective realm and the objective, and at times I have felt at war with myself between them. I want to see, to know what it means to find the middle ground, because I believe that in that middle ground lies humanity.

I know a group of intelligent fellows like I have here at akpcep will be more than happy to tell me "oh poor naive Shannon, here is the pathway you thirst for, these are the books you need to read." Or perhaps it is that they have not been written yet.

Any comments?


Posted 7 June 2004, 7.51 am by cris

A couple more acrostic poems to ponder.

Soft are the whispers of the wind
Alluring me deep within
Nowhere to lay my weary bones
Cherished wishes one makes alone
Temples adorned with flickering lights
Unto shelter from the night
Anticipations oh so bleak
Refuge for my soul I seek
Yore hopes for which I weep


Thirsting for your flesh and soul
Embers burn inside
Masked are reasons untold
Pleasing desire's whim
Temptation grows strong
Anguished heart aches
Torment lies deep within
Ill passions lust hesitates
Oh, the vises of our sin
Now that we have given in


In Remembrance

Posted 23 May 2004, 6.55 pm by cris

I think writing can be a form of therapy and a way of remembering history. It is in this way I am writing. Thoughts and feelings put into words. I am sharing a piece of history, my history, Carl's history. A piece of us, I now share with you.

In Remembrance Of
Carl James
3/16/87 to 5/28/99

The over stuffed recliner is warm and comfy as I cradle Carl in my arms. He is a bit heavier now than when a baby, but that is no matter, we are settled in. Why is it in death people's minds tend to wander? My mind is a flurry of activity; after all, we knew this moment was coming. We had met death head on many times in this child's past. From the moment of birth when he was whisked out of the delivery room doctors stating "he will be alright, he just needs to get some oxygen". His lung disease always will be an issue and the gamut of disabilities ran the length of my arm. I didn't realize at that moment I was going to take on a role far greater and challenging than that of mother. I would have to in time become his nurse also. Such is life. Take what you get and go with it, which is how I handled things before. What we got was a happy child, never learning to walk or talk but his laughter filled the air on almost a daily basis. He was described by most, as a living angel, it was hard to dispute. It was almost like he could see angels, waving his arms and laughing as they danced around his crib.

But now the angels call, death can not be held off this time. Now I hold him in his chair as his brothers and sisters say their good-byes. We laugh at memories and they cry knowing that he is leaving. Knowing that he is going to die. "He is going to heaven off with the angels", we say, trying to soothe their fears. God is a great comfort when no one is sure what indeed will happen and our family has always believed. I am calmer than I had imagined and have not cried. Even when asked "when mommy, when will he go?" I just respond "when it is time". The pastor, who came to be a support, tries to help by consoling them and the home nurse fights back tears. I take comfort in holding him, in kissing his forehead and stroking his hair. I have my goals I had told every one of my three goals for his death. I didn't care what death had planned; I knew what I wanted for him. To know he is loved, to be holding him in my arms, in our home and to have no pain. God knows the child had more pain in his life than most adults. I couldn’t even count the number of times he had been in the hospital, but the pile of hospital bracelets in his dresser drawer was large. I was set on my goals and made the necessary plans so when this time came we were ready. And now was that time, no more planning, just waiting. Jim has to be the mom for the day. Taking care of the kids, answering the phone which is a task in itself, keeping family informed. The household is a whirlwind of commotion and emotion. Plus trying to keep his own emotions in check. I have still yet to cry.

Suddenly Carl's lungs restrict more, his body flinches and a muffled groan from his sleep is heard. A quick glance to the nurse and she is off to get the next dose of morphine. Fear drives through me at being told "it's too early, I can't give him more yet". He flinches again and I along with him. I stroke his head and talk to him as calmly as I can "I love you, I am here, it will be ok". Anything I can do to make him comfortable. She calls the supervisor along with the doctor and is able to give him more. I talk with the doctor, who is already aware of my feelings, "I will not watch him suffer" I tell him. He tells me the maximum we can give him and the frequency. For now it works, for now he is calm and sleeping in my arms. The house begins to calm also as the clock ticks and time passes. It is late evening now. The kids say a goodbye again and Jim shuffles them off to bed. Taking the extra time to talk with them again and calm their fears. The pastor gives his final blessings and departs.

Time can be joy and agony. Relieved that we are at home, that he is sleeping peacefully, unaware that the next breath could be his last. Agony with each passing minute, that it could be his last. Agony, as I hold him, I can feel him slip farther and farther into death. He has been as pale and cold as death itself. His breaths shallow and his body limp. But Carl refuses to give in. He never let death win before why should he now.

I shift in the chair as my arm starts to fall asleep. It is the early hours of the morning now and the house is quite, the nurse is talking to me just making idle conversation and reminiscing of Carl's life. We disconnect some monitors; there is no need to watch numbers fall. He has been receiving the max. oxygen that the tanks can put out. The morphine is working and we have been giving it to him as often as directed. I am relieved that I do not need to administer it myself and put the nurse in an awkward position. But I had prepared myself for the possibility. I will not let him suffer I was determined to stick to those words. Time passes and I grow tired.

Carl gasps, no flinching this time just an exhale that seemed like a balloon lost all its air. Then nothing, I remain still, my heart and mind racing in tempo. The nurse checks his vitals and he gasps again. I had been warned of this. A type of breathing that can occur at the end of life. Death is here his body hasn’t realized it yet. My mind spins, how can someone breathe one breath every 2 minutes or more and how long can he breathe like this? My screaming is only heard to me as my heart breaks open. The half sleep and calm is replaced in a split second with a rush of adrenaline. He gasps again, his body still limp. A breath then nothing, time passes, a breath then nothing, again. How long can he do this? I kiss him and whisper its ok you can go, you don’t need to fight anymore, I love you, I love you.

A final breath and this time no repeat, all is still, he is gone, it is over, death has won. I keep a hold of him and say my good-byes. It matters not that his life is gone. I feel the need to still hold him, so I do. The once still house has a silent commotion this time as if thieves in the night, the doctor comes and the nurse's supervisor comes to relieve the nurse of her duties. I now release him laying him in his crib, no need to raise the sides and find it a disturbing sight to see his motionless body in the crib. I resist the urge to raise the side for fear that he will roll off. Finding it half scary and humors how the mind works. The nurse hugs me tears in her eyes, she has no need to hold back emotion now. I have still yet to cry. Everything is occurring as if I am in a trance, as if in a dream. The funeral directors come and protocols are met, sympathies given. Then all are gone - the doctor, supervisor, funeral directors and Carl, my baby. My baby is gone. The house is total silence, all are gone. I stand in the hall face pressed against Jim's chest in his embrace and begin to cry. Now I can finally cry. The battle is over. Carl is at peace, he is finally at Peace. Peace.

C. P. J. May 15, 2004

Choices: A Curse

Posted 20 May 2004, 3.08 am by shaggy

"I intend to love you again."
"I will never do that to you."
The world is chaos,
The world is order.
There is no meaning,
We all have purpose.
We all love you,
We will tear you down.
A dangerous risk of love
Or a fresh start
Danger is so sweet on television
Fire burns, pain is not romantic
Suffer for me,
Save yourself
It is not nature that tears us,
It is only a human curse.
Our fickle heart a vestigial organ
Our beliefs only a pathway
When we know what we have to do.
Maps only help you when you are pointed in at least one direction,
And even then, you need the desire to a destination
"One path leads to victory, the other to hell."
This I know and know it well.
But the devil likes to wear God's robes,
Grow his beard, not truly God's but our mortal eyes,
Our vestigial heart, cannot see...
We all are our own coma, our own nightmare.
Confessions only make us feel open, but help us not.
Necessary good, but the evil of free will still remains.
May God, in His boundless mercy, forgive me. Please forgive me.

The Act of Observation

Posted 20 May 2004, 3.00 am by shaggy

We create (the great poets of our time) from observance. We are the soldiers that trudge through the beautiful and the sick, the lovely and the horrid, in order to see fully, and in seeing, by observing, perceiving, and interpretation, we paint the colors on the canvas, plant the seeds of our life; our poetry is the true building block.

Yet what should poetry truly be, in itself? If poetry is the paint, from what is it composed? One of the most fundamental uses of observation is in the sciences. Here, knowledge becomes a tower of Babel, man striving to make his domain higher and higher still. It can only stand on itself, its own past. On the backs of the dead, it leaps higher.

Yet, science also operates under a different human necessity: it explains how things are connected. This is the key to all human art. The artist connects with his mind and soul what he cannot with his flesh. This is the kinetic build-up that the poet feels when he composes. His heart beats greatly, his lips move without his control. The music which spews from his lips may be discordant, its harmonies drastic or under-developed, but from his heart, he creates a (possibly-- though probably not) new understanding, fashioning the world from his passions. When the Muse catches the artist, he is attached to something greater and far different than himself.

This is why the Bible was written in dramatic style.

There is, however, at the same time, an element of mimesis. Love exists as a feeling, though words fortify its meaning. The heart beats, sweat may go to the palms, heightened awareness, mouth watering, excitement... none of which constitute love itself, but upon observing, the poor fool suddenly realizes what his body is actually doing: it tells him that he is, more than likely, in love.

Language is a system. A great, cycling system that creates. And yet, no matter how fast the poet creates, the world begins to crumble. This is the absurdity Albert Camus speaks of when he talks of Sisyphus. The world crumbles and we rebuild and renovate. We must survive, the edifices we create must stand.

Ours is a fight against gravity.

What do we support on our backs, the great poet foundation? The answer is simple: Humanity. A more difficult question would be "what is humanity?" Indeed, the answer has always alluded us. What exactly are we? Are we a thinking beast? Are we the children of some magical Creator, who watches over us? Whatever the case, there always remains the interest of what we are to each other. In some cases, what we are is embedded in our simple existence. We are born brother and sister, daughter and son. What we also are proves a matter of our creation: We are lover, teacher, and friend. The problem becomes one of free will: Why does one choose his or her role? The poet hears the call of language, attempts to create ways to communicate that which has no words, but where does this call come from?

The existential problem is not that there is no purpose. The problem is that we do not understand what we feel within ourselves. We know that it is theoretically possible to have no reason to exist, but still we strive to exist. This is, to some degree, absurdity.

We don't know why we exist, we can come up with only unsatisfying answers, but we still remain, observing our own handiwork with great relish.

We have no purpose which we can understand except for pleasure. We relish in observation, we must see all not only with one sense, but with all our senses, and not only with our senses, but with our mind, our heart and our soul.

I watch, complacent, as the waves crash against the shore, and as the rain trickles down my skin. I think to myself, as I observe, "my god, but life is beautiful." A terrible, powerful, wonderful beauty is born.


Posted 19 May 2004, 9.49 pm by shaggy

Lost in comatose breath,
You spill me out amongst the
Stars, where wondrous
Death breaks me down,
And self-sustained but tired,
I play the gentle trick I've
Always known: Repeat with me
The marks on the doorways.
We cannot see them,
But without them, we drown.


Posted 11 May 2004, 9.21 pm by shaggy

The amateur poet turns to poesie's seductive path often as catharsis. Like religion, poetic contemplation gives meaning and order to an otherwise dreary state. Just as George Orwell admitted in 1984, "the greatest book is one that tells you what you already know." So is the case with poetry. Poetry (and by which I mean fiction in general) gives the reader glimpses of a solution. They can be only glimpses, only momentary, because of subjectivity. The author cannot solve all problems, but can merely posit answers to the questions he has experienced for himself. Even to make up a fictitious problem is to deal with it through experience, and this is the power of our great authors. Poe did not need to be haunted literally in order to have his "Tell-Tale Heart;" he massaged his own experiences into an all-new creation, projected as a discussion of guilt and Poe's (in)famous Imp of the Perverse.

Of course, there is such a thing as fiction which serves as autobiography. Pierre Drieu la Rochelle's Will O' The Wisp offers a startling glimpse into the mind of the troubled. Indeed, to read la Rochelle's words is to become troubled. But even here, there is comfort: someone has been in this situation before.

Even if our heroes do not survive, or even if our hero is Prufrock, we can still move on if we remain connected to each other. If fiction brings the reader into the author's world, Poetry is a kiss. That feeling we as humans need so much, that shiver down the spine of the lover as he kisses, is our greatness.

Even through darkness, knowing we are more than one, knowing that I am many, gives us strength. This is why literature has always acted like religion, and vice versa. It tells us what to do when we are lost. This becomes the dilemma for the poet, then. What remains to be solved? What secret passages need to be mapped? We can leave no stone unturned, no word unspoken. There may be no orginal phrasing, there might not even be any original problems, but the ever-changing world constantly kills off our forgotten poets, leaving their song as only a memory in the few minds that have heard.

Whenever the well-read poet runs into a situation without answers, poetry is born. Even the most well-read and astute student must inevitably say to himself, "where is my answer? Where is my God, my Zarathustra, my burning bush?" At these moments, the poet may not shine in his decisions, but as Nietzsche would praise, the poet proves to himself that he can stand through his greatest lover and enemy: confusion.

There is nothing more painful to the philosopher poet than confusion. Both the poet and the philosopher work in arguments, either syllogisms or emotional metaphors. Both implore that we not only see the world past Plato's shadows on the wall, but understand it and ourselves.

sophrosyne -- "know thyself and nothing in excess." Following the Greek attribute is not always simple, or even easy; this is where the philosopher and/or poet lends a helping hand to wisdom.

In a world of Nietzschean eternal return, where culture and society repeat themselves, there is a great challenge to the poet. Dream images, no matter how personal, become potentials for plagarism. So the existentialist problem becomes even more absurd, and the absurdity a function of education (or perhaps of archetype).

The importance of experience grows exponentially. The old aphorism, "if I could have know back then what I know now," separates the immature poet and the mature scholar of poesy. Both poets are equal in importance. The immature poet encourages well-meaning naivité, where the mature scholar speaks of things as they should be, as the wise voice that speaks of what the confused need (though often at first cannot find).

With this in mind, it becomes apparent that the problem of consciousness is not to "bridge the gap" between our understanding and Kantian things-in-themselves, at least not completely. Though we can never understand what exists outside of the mind, the problem (at least for the poet) is to understand what is universal in mind and contemplation. There is little in consciousness that is particular. This is why plagarism is almost-- if not completely-- unavoidable. The most seemingly random thought still has been organized by the mind, and though the mind holds many variables (necessary for evolution of any sort), there is an amazing overlap for procedures.

This, incidentally, is also how we can ever know one another. This is how we can sympathize with the pain of another.

The duty of poetry is, in essence, healing. Because we can know of our many similarities, this wisdom comes with the responsibility of exposition. With poetry, the feeling of disconnection that one may suffer from can be healed. We all are, to some extent, sufferers like Prufrock, and poetry begins to allow ourselves forgiveness for this, acknowledgement that we exist inside our skin, though we so rarely admit such a thing. We both contemplate the great questions (existential, nihilist, religious, et alia) and worry about our thinning hair and if we "dare eat a peach."

We are both simple and complex simultaneously.


Posted 11 May 2004, 9.16 pm by shaggy

Do not remember me,
As I am gone.
Do not forget me,
As I have lost.
Take me as your own,
Use my blood to drink
To help you as you think.
This was not my game,
But I am dead, all the same.
People tell me that I'm gone.
How can I be? I live on
In my words, in my life.
History saves me, paints my swollen face
On the pages of man where one expects grace.
I am not gone, but a dark reminder:
Things need to change.

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80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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