Monday
Apr032006

« Soul Food »

This last week or so, and in a broader trend as well, I've been working on being a human (being). I've happened into a somewhat balanced work-versus-personal life arrangement. I work part time for AV Concepts now, and the hours shift both within the week and within the days themselves. I am sort of capped at 30 hours for now, and don't really get even that on a predictable basis. Still, for the expenses that I keep, it suffices in some way. I worry a lot less now than I did when I started with the company in August, and had just moved house in a completely tortuous breakdown of the last of my blood-family relations. But you would barely know all that happened.

My project has been to separate from all that downright negative shit the best I can, and get on with things. Kelli of course has been an angel in that regard, offering me at least one relationship where things can go right, and can help reverse years of all sorts of mediocre to downright horrid associations I have of family life. I am always amazed at how doing even some of the most mundane things with her, the most domesticated things, just seems to feel so right. Its amazing to me that she can be not only the woman with whom I do mundane chores, but we talk theology and philosophy, ecology, literature, psychology, and more, but we also can also become the best childhood play buddies, or we can fill any of a number of other roles for each other. I have to say that marrying her is the best thing I've ever done, and I've never done anything more right. It can be amusing sometimes when we talk about the theology stuff. She is in a seriously good school in the field of Christian theology, and is doing exceedingly well, despite doubts she might express. What's funny is that I've taken an interest in most of what she's been talking about, and sometimes pick up some of her texts or read up on some of the topics, people, or whatever. I gather my own body of knowledge, and sometimes it's funny that I would know something she didn't. She was fretting a paper on the Beatitudes and I told her to look into what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to say on the matter. She forgot that we saw the same video about him and his belief that the Sermon on the Mount should be lived to the letter! She took my advice and went on to do a great paper. Or last night we were talking about existentialism and somehow I dropped in that Nietzsche was not an existentialist. He prefigured it. She said, how do you know this stuff? I had to tell her I read it on Wikipedia the night before!

However we get our information, we have fun sharing it.

But even beyond the Kelli interactions, I've had a jones to crack into life and wander around some. I got the Joseph Campbell/Bill Moyers Power of Myth series to watch all the way through in one short span of time which I have never done before. I've seen scattered parts of it over the years, but it was nice to finally sit myself down and see all six hours of it in a short period. I also ripped off the audio track so I have that to hear at will now. I just dig that series because it highlights that any human has a far deeper connection than difference with other humans. The themes are so prevalent across the whole chronologic and geographic existence of humankind that it is utterly silly and sad to do the things we do to each other. I know people have their reservations about Campbell, but I think he's important to remind us of how much we all have in common. If nothing else, he is good for sparking further investigation into whatever I find interesting, and that could never be bad.

I had one day recently when I just felt like listening to Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2. I don't know why. The song just smacks me upside the head. The more I hear of the older U2 in particular, the more I like it. I totally missed out on what they were about. I knew they were a favorite of friends of mine, not least of which my pastor Jerry Lawritson who always gives me the best stuff to think about. But in more recent times, I've latched on to the U2 message, and Bono's prophetic speaking of truth.

Today I went to the city library and came back with a stack of CDs the size of which I have not plowed into in one shot for some long time. I got stuff that I have never or rarely dabbled in which somehow jumped out for me as I quickly surveyed the racks: Thomas Dorsey gospel recordings, Harmonic Overtone singing, "Lost" hymns from the New England region, Arvo Part, Bulgarian liturgical music by a male choir (I've been a fan of the female choirs, but this is not as adventurous), Johnny Cash's God album, a PBS documentary soundtrack about slaves in America, and some other stuff.

I spent seven hours in LA reading a book called Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by a feller named Eric Brendes. My work gig would allow me a five hour break between load in and loud out, and ostensibly I was to go to a hotel to rest, but that was going to entail a rush hour drive across central LA and a return drive, to which I declared "poop!" So I sat in the truck in the very noisy and inglorious loading dock of this hotel near LAX and read the book from start to finish (nearly—I had an hour or two at the hotel once I got there at the end of the night, but I did finish it there). This Eric Brendes stepped outside of the material world for about a year and a half and lived a life that even the Amish regard as backwards, but apparently it was a very affirming thing for him to rediscover his ability to do real work, to relate to real people, to enjoy a very long tenured-but-disappearing relationship with nature. The book was a great affirmation of a lot of things that have been batting around in my head: our dependence on "laborsaving" technology and machines has really robbed us of our humanity by robbing us of exercise, community resources and effort, and making us lazy, not just physically but morally too. This book had sat on my shelf for a year or more, but this time, I grabbed it on the way out the door and decided that after a week of computer hell, it was time to dive in. I was not let down. The book was just what I needed. I had recently watched 2001: A Space Odyssey which also is a big statement on man's relationship to technology. And, only a few days after this, as I watched the The Power of Myth, Campbell brings up Darth Vader and cites him as being the archetype of what a person can become when he sells his soul to the artificial entity of the state, to machines, to the low road of convenience.

Then I also cracked into a book on the matter which should be paid some attention even now: The Closing of the Western Mind. This book was actually about the rise of Christianity in Europe, and how it systematically buried and disregarded the accumulated knowledge of humanity (significantly, the Greek knowledge) which led to the dark ages as blind faith took over. I think we should take this as the lesson for our age. There needs to be a balance between the passions that religious experience can provoke, but a sanctuary for the science, literature, and other disciplines that inhabit the secular world.

I happened to bliss out on bass last night, playing along with a previously untried bunch of songs—old stuff, styles I never try to play. I just freewheeled for a few hours, calling up all sorts of songs, finding TAB on the net and having at it. I rarely try to do this, so it was interesting to try to read chords and feel my way through the parts on the fly, but it's good practice. I just never do it. But last night, it was fun trying out some Aretha, Chicago, Aerosmith and who knows what else.

I also ordered the entire Godfrey Reggio/Phillip Glass Qatsi trilogy of movies. I'd seen Koyannisqatsi, but will soon see all three in short order. I watched Naqoyqatsi a few days ago and was bowled over by the music, and put it on once more just so I could hear it blaring from my studio speakers while I got mellow on the futon at the back of the room.

A week ago, there was a party for Jerry at the church, to mark his 20 years of being our minister and friend. I took the time to write a letter which I periodically do to reflect upon his place in my life. The whole day was moving for me. The party itself was fascinating because a good number of people gave some reflections on what he had brought to their lives, and since that sort of thing is rare to hear, it was sort of like meeting him all over again as one story or another was offered, with them all adding up to reassure us of what we already know—we have a tremendously great man for a leader, teacher, and friend. Kelli and I are some of his most devoted students, but also we have a good deal of love for him because he's done so much for us. Twenty years is a long time for people who are only about 30. Anyhow, it was just one of those great times to behold, among people who obviously care about each other, and have some stirring shared experiences. Really, the family that Kelli and I have is centered around our church, and Jerry is a centerpiece of that. I often say that I would not go to other churches if not for this church, with Jerry at the helm. I don't generally feel that I could entrust my faith journey to just any minister. I spent ten years away, and came back. How's that for validating my estimation?

Oh, there is more I want to tell, but it's time for me to go to bed so I can wake in seven hours and go play my part in the Satanic Mill tomorrow, where part of me dies a little with the realization that I am somewhere near the tip of the spear in corporate America's quest for dominance in every way it can possibly acquire. I say that because my line of work provides corporations with all the slick tools and production to help veil their real intent to destroy most things in the drive for profit. I hate my part in it, but for the time being, my part time effort there allows me to carry on my Kafka-esque double agency working for the Man during the day, and subverting it all at night, by studying up on all the stuff that really matters in life—all the stories and songs and theories of how to be free, how to live like humans in an inhumane world, how to enjoy life.

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