Friday, November 27, 2009

One day on the wagon

Yesterday I took a break from the Internet and learned the following:

1. I got much more reading done--reading by the fire sans laptop was peaceful, even idyllic.

2. Much harder than I imagined: many times I caught myself, without explicitly thinking about it, wandering in my office to check email or the Netflix queue or....

3. How much I miss having 4 or 5 books out all at once, reading some from one, then another: intertextual connection equals paper-textual bliss.

4. How much I miss reading BOOKS with pages I feel and turn with my hand, books I write in, books I caress

5. Felt strangely disconnected from all my Internet friends--what if someone emailed me? what if someone posted a comment on my recent FB update? (which many people did, which I saw on my sister's laptop at Thanksgiving because she had posted a comment on my update, at which point I had to tear myself away so as to not check FB) what if someone made a nifty Thanksgiving post I should be paying attention to? what if my Netflix queque is out of order and they send me some movie I don't want? what about this thing I'm reading about (like the reference to Sir Gawain and the loathely lady in Kabat-Zinn's book on parenting) that I need to Google?

6. How my ideas for blog posts, FB updates soars, and ideas I want to email to others when I know I am forbidden from being online

7. That make-up online-connection is almost as good as make-up sex--I've had an orgasmic flow of online energy all morning.

8. That even with a day off and the euphoria of make-up connection this morning, I still feel a wee bit guilty about the two hours lost with my electronic mistress.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The happiest man in the world

In articulating his sense of what happiness Matthieu Ricard (a French scientist who become a monk), a renowned Buddhist monk, says:

"And also, [mere pleasure is] something that basically doesn't radiate to others, you can experience pleasure at the cost of other's suffering. So it's very vulnerable to the change of other circumstances. It doesn't help you to face the other circumstances better. Now, if we think of happiness as a way of being, a way of being that give (sic) you the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life, that pervades all the emotional state (sic), including sadness."

I was struck by his notion of happiness as a way of being and a resource, one that pervades all emotional states. From this perspective our traditional ideas of happiness are turned on their head. Instead it's the overriding emotion of well-being which supports and allows most other emotions and actions; it's not a fleeting state we strive for, a bliss we hope to keep a hold of as long as possible.

A further discussion of this can be found on NPR's Speaking of Faith, "The 'happiest' man in the world."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Coetzee Serrendipity

I'm reading a compelling novel, Slow Man, by J.M. Coetzee: how is it that I missed this genius of writer, who won the Nobel Prize for lit in 2003, until now? No idea.

Disturbingly enough, I had Elizabeth Costello, another one of his novels (side note: the character of Elizabeth plays a major role in his novel Slow Man) sitting on my shelf for several years until my father-in-law picked it off the shelf while passing through to Alpine, read it in two days, returned it, and proclaimed he was going to read all of Coetzee's stuff. How many times did I hunt for a good book and not even give a second glance to this novel? Further I do not have any recollection where I got the book from.

I'm also going to read everything he has. And, for those who are lucky enough to be English college teachers, his books are Penguins which means you can get them for free.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Hell House

Finally I'd gotten around to updating the many podcasts (TAL, Fresh, TBK, TOF) I have not been listening to over the last two months and amazingly enough I was actually listening to a recent episode of This American Life (TAL) when I heard this:

It's fun to make hell on earth...

A Columbine reenactment with real guns....

At the tryout: "I want to play the abortion girl." (turns out everyone wants to play the "bad" guys)...

In one scene:

"Do you believe in God?"
"Do you believe in God?"
"Yes," she says screaming for her life as he points a gun at her head.
"Why?" and then he shoots her...

At the awards ceremony for Hell House actors: "I want to thank my rapists."


As the documentary film makers ask, who are the good church going adults who sponsor this event?

To steal a phrase from HighTouch's recent blog post and put it in a much darker context, a little piece of me died hearing this story. I was stunned at the inanity of it all, stunned that people would create such "theater" for young teenagers in order to convert them, stunned they didn't see how they were inviting the very things they say they are against, stunned that humanity could stoop so very low.

Even now, writing/reflecting/re-listening to the episode, I'm incredulous--surely well-meaning adults did not subject their teens to this in the name of a God? Unfortunately it seems to they did.