March 10th, 2007

rengeek fucking silence

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Book Report #21: Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

The grandaddy of the Zen in books. A little uncomfortable in its Orientalism, but still fascinating nonetheless.

I cannot help, myself, to equate Zen philosophy with modern Western understandings of the mind. I am a synthesist: it's what I do. What follows is my own natterings and theory, sort of, of the mind, and as such is presented without warranty.

Except to say that it works for me.

And it seems to me that Zen is a series of techniques for detaching the conscious mind, the ego or I, and allowing the much more powerful, nonverbal subconscious mind to perform its magic. I think it's a flaw in our societal philosophy to privilege the conscious as much as we do.

The idea of a paired system of consciousness is older than the Appolonian/Dionysian divide, and its manifestations are as varied as humanity, and our temptation seems always to be to pick a side to root for. Which seems to me a little self-limiting, because consciousness is useful for a bunch of things (like breaking behavioral conditioning, for one thing), but to rely on that tip of the iceberg is a loss as well, because the "It" that shoots is as genuine a thing as the "I" that must get out of the way to let it shoot.

And the "It" is powerful. And healing.

It's probably weird to hear that from somebody who intellectualizes as relentlessly as I do, isn't it? But it's true. The "It" is much better at many things than the "I" is. It's one of the reasons I find exercise so inspirational--because the focus on the animal body, for me, helps get the I out of the way so the It can do its black magic.

One of the things I'm working on now, after years of "I" intellectualizing work on my art (and writing is a Practice, of sorts) is now learning to let the It carry much of that work. The I can explain it to the It, and the It can do it without actually needing to involve the I in the process at all.

We talk about the writing koans and how they unpack, and we talk--half-joking--about how to be an effective writer you must have suck and not suck at the same time. So yes, I can relentlessly intellectualize what I do. (Any number of people, including stwish, like to tell me how much I overthink things.)

But I also feel the shape of it in my head. I can sense its weight and curve and specific gravity, and when I spin it, I can feel how it wobbles or if it purrs around in a circle.

And in saying this, it sounds like the two sets are completely separate, and of course that's not true at all, because the It and the I are in constant communication. The It knows and can do amazing things. But it can't manipulate linear symbols, which is what the I is good at. The society I was raised in tends to train the I at the expense of the It--in fact, in some cases to train to I to ignore the It- (except in those cases where we glorify the It over the I ("go with your gut")) which limits us in unexpected ways. We perceive things in terms of categories rather than continuums:

Head/heart. Eye/hand. Left/right. Ego/id. I/it.

But in practice, what's effective is not either/or. It's and.

I had gotten to a point where I was doing everything consciousnessly, and now I am working on learning to do it all mindfully, which is different. And much more peaceful. And more likely to bring success. Because mindfullness is the synthesis, the meditation where the It and the I are working in harmony, rather than fighting.

The rider does not control the horse. The rider and the horse between them negotiate the world, and make each other stronger/braver/smarter/more nimble/more perceptive/less spooky in the process.


For added fun, I recommend reading this book in conjunction with Blindsight.
rengeek kit faustus commodorified

a girl in trouble is a temporary thing

Right. Tonight, I need to slush, and I need to write my next column for Subterranean. I would MUCH RATHER go play lit crit games analyzing the names of TV characters over at truepenny's livejournal. But such is life.

Eunice (the little red truck) is home, and my pocketbook is somewhat scarred, but the pain was much ameliorated by the pleasure of driving a vehicle that is quiet and responsive. Although I'm going to have to relearn clutching, as the amount of play in the old slippy clutch was, yanno, about sixteen times what there is in the new tight shiny clutch. On the other hand, I can stop on hills now without rolling back into the guy behind me.

The guy behind me is pleased by this change.

And I only stalled it three times on the way home.

Also, it means that tomorrow I can go to the gym. Yay, gym!

I came home by the back way, because there was construction on the bridge I usually take, and that meant I got to swing through Wethersfield and stop at the tea shop and buy tea. Mainly Teas, the tea shop in the center of Old Wethersfield, is not far from Comstock, Ferre, and Co., which is sort of the world's most yuppie garden supply shop, if you can imagine such a thing. Picture, say, a nursery with no plants and a lot of apothecary desks in it. I have no idea what they sell there, other than seeds and tchochkes. But they have got this conservatory.

Well, I say conservatory. What it is, really, is sort of either the airiest greenhouse ever, with a graveled earthen floor dotted with paving stones, various sand tables with a paltry selection of plants on them (they used to have the giantest pitcher plant evar, but it seems to be gone now), and like, big trellis things that I guess you could grow potted clematis on, if you had a greenhouse/conservatory.

I covet this conservatory.

You all need to buy more books, so I can buy a house with a conservatory attached. And I will espalier dwarf lemon and grapefruit and lime trees up a brick wall on the north side, and plant a climbing fig and and a bouganvillea on a railroad tie arbor, and put a painted iron table in there that I can work at in my silk pajamas.

And I will sip tea and eat sliced pears, embrace the glamourous life of the writer, and think kindly upon you all.

What? It could happen!

...oh right, time to go earn my three cents a word. ;-) Tomorrow is Sunday. Maybe tomorrow I will write fanfic, for I am still on vacation for another five days.

truepenny, who is evil, force-grew a "five things that never happened to Aaron Hotchner" idea in my head the other night.

In other other news, Gordon Lightfoot is an evil evil man.
rengeek player king

so many mouths to feed on the farm

Anybody got anything in particular they'd like me to essay on, for Subterranean or for Storytellersunplugged? No promises, mind you, but I'm open to suggestions.

I have a topic for this month for Subterranean, but then there's the next SU column due in early April. Any topic considered: it doesn't have to be writing-related.

Though for SU it should be.
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bear by san

Fic: Marksman

Title: Marksman**
Author: bear (matociquala)
Fandom: Criminal Minds
Rating: FRM
Warning: Character death, among other things
Genre: Gen
Pairing: No.
Spoilers: And anti-spoilers! through 2x15
Disclaimer: *boilerplate denial of ownership here*
Acks: thanks to cpolk and truepenny for prereading
Summary: Five things that never happened to Aaron Hotchner.

(four linked drabbles, and a triple-drabble at the end.)


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***
**"Marksman" = in poker, a full house, three twos and two aces. "Three ducks, and two bullets."

(yes, I finished a draft of my column first. sheesh. what do you take me for?)