Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ironwood Rhubarb #7

"Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do." (Wendell Berry)



Every human  being goes through transitional states in life. At some point you outgrew your diapers. Later you learned how to tie your shoes and learned how to read and write. Perhaps at one point or another you decided to get married, take a job in a different state, buy a house, or start your own business. Too many changes (transitions) in a short period of time may have adversely your mental health and overall satisfaction with what life has brought your way.

If there was a sanctioning elder during these transitional states your experiences might be considered liminal, a threshold between two differing personal realities. If there was no sanctioning elder, these threshold experiences would be considered liminoid.

In the book of Genesis Jacob wrestles with an angel and is given a new name and mission.  He suffered physical injury while wrestling with the angel. Thus we have the motif of a shaman as a wounded healer.

Proverbs 26:4 and 5 give two contradictory approaches when a fool is messing with your reality: respond in kind or don't respond in kind. You will be in a transitional phase as you decide the appropriate response.

The liminal/liminoid state is a threshold state, neither here nor there, neither up or down, neither up or down. One has to dispense with the old before acquiring the new.

An entire society may go through these transitional states. One that comes to mind is the 2000 USA presidential election, ultimately decided by a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court.

Sometimes a liminal/liminoid state can last a long time with no clear outcome or sense of finality. George W. Bush declaring war on terror might be considered an example of this. Even Donald Rumsfeld felt that the phrase "war on terror" was not quite right.

Cultural anomie--deteriorate/shifting norms of a society--also came about as a result the Roe versus Wade decision, creating division regarding unwanted pregnancies.

For an ordinary Joe or Jane a transition may come after a vivid and disturbing dream. Other changes could be deterioration in health, falling in love with a third person while in an unsatisfying marriage, loss of employment, or the death of a loved one.

The milieu for a successful liminal transition will involve sacred space and time with a tribal elder--often an individual that is a psychologist or a minister of a church that you feel comfortable telling your stories to.  For a liminoid experience you might want to spend time at the seashore, camping/hiking in the woods, or reading a book that guides you through your change, the author filling in for tribal elder.

When Ronald Reagan wanted to quite using tobacco, he started munching on jellybeans, though I don't know if that was the best way to transition.

You can't win them all. Happy transitioning!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Meme Generals

"A meme general is one who controls vast influence. His or her army shapes the messages consumed by the masses, enchanting the listeners to understand their message. For countries this is called propaganda, for churches this is now called a sermon, for companies it is called marketing or communications." (Howard Campbell in "Poker Without Cards by Ben Mack)......for more on the subject see Ironwood Rhubarb #4 below.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Ironwood Rhubarb #6


He tells me to take some Reese's Pieces for the flight crew, so of course this week's New Yorker has a cartoon of a robber inquiring "are those Reese's Pieces?" while holding up the store clerk during a robbery.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the network of mutuality, the Unitarian Universalist speak of the interdependent web, and not many years ago Al Gore invented the Internet. He might have had a little help from his friend, Joe Cocker.

The notion of acausal synchronicity was first promulgated by Carl Jung after handing one of his clients a scarab beetle to complement the beetle that appeared in her dream life. It apparently became a breakthrough in the therapy sessions that seemed to be going nowhere.

"My sister and I are 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 33 hours apart in age. Our mother's favorite number is 3." I told her to look up Jeremiah 33:3 and that my son was born when I was 3 decades, 3 weeks, and three days old.

"I had a dream I was selling lollipops out of a cigarette carton. A few weeks later two co-workers were talking. One said 'these are the cigarettes I am smoking now.'  She pulled lollipops out of a bag. I was shocked. It was the fulfillment of the dream that I had."

If you overdo the obsession with patterns and coincidences in your life you may be drifting into apophenia, a word coined by Klaus Conrad a German psychotherapist. He felt this could indicate a form of schizophrenia.

I had somewhat of a foray into paranoia in the fall of 1994. Due to obsessing about coincidences I felt I had caused the death of 68 people on the 68th anniversary of the death of Houdini. It was on the 17th anniversary of my first day on the job in Brazil, Indiana. The 68 who died were on flight 4184 and the plane was in a holding pattern in NW Indiana, waiting for permission to land. There was ice buildup on the wings, but I felt I was responsible for the crash--just as one woman felt she was responsible for the carnage of September 11th, 2001

Most patterned coincidences appear in hindsight rather than foresight, but I had one experience in foresight that I feel is worth sharing.  It happened in 1985. A man I met one morning while out and about handed me his business card. I noticed that the four last digits of his phone number matched the four digits on my  friend Joreen's car tag.  I thought "I am going to run into Joreen today." Sure enough it happened. She pulled up in a gas station  in her car.   We remain good friends..

"Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." "Remark made by Albert Einstein who formulated a mathematical construct between matter and energy.

The writer Nelson Algren's ideology can be summed up in a remark made by one of his characters, a defrocked priest. Asked  by law enforcement why he was defrocked he replied "because I believe we are members one of another."

That's from the Good Book and should inform our meaning making, our logotherapy. We are bound together in the web of synchronicity, the Other is the Self  sometimes and the One is the All. Something like energy equaling mass times the speed of light squared.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jack Grew Up Fast

First verse:

Jack grew up fast and Jill grew up slow. Childhood don't last I guess I should know.


Where are all my children?   They've taken them far away. It's getting hard to remember when they were young as the newborn day.

Second verse:

Told 'em about being bad. Told 'em about being good. Sometimes I  feel so sad. Did I say what I should?  [Repeat chorus]

Third verse:

Jill was a cheerleader and Jack ran track. Told the kids many times I would always have their back. [Repeat chorus]

Fourth verse:

The kids robbed a bank and I couldn't pay bail. They served their sentence in the old county jail. [Repeat chorus]

Fifth verse:

 Jack became a preacher and Jill directs the choir. They both sing gospel tunes over the telephone wire. [Repeat chorus]

Sixth verse:

 And now it's about time to end this song. I know another rhyme wouldn't be more right than wrong. [Repeat chorus]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

IRONWOOD RHUBARB #5---Imprint (by Dave Rowe)


Stroh's Sunday Beer--only 3.2 alcohol, sold someplace to minors--and bright green marijuana--that's what I and 11th grade buddy had to look forward to that Saturday night. Saturday afternoon found us on the windswept streets of Cleveland, Ohio, checking out the used record stores and scoping out the hot-looking clerks inside the ritzy department stores. Then out on Euclid Avenue--outside Halles we were approached by a small man, a small white man in thin white garb.

"My young men," he spoke, "how are you doing on this blessed afternoon?"

Frank shrugged. "OK, I guess."

"Can I bestow upon you some words?"

Another shrug from Frank. "Yeah, I guess."

The man gave each of us a small pamphlet, then told us the words inside would ward off misfortune and trouble. I looked inside and saw featured prominently the words "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Rama." I folded mine back up, Frank deposited his in the trash can at the Rapid Transit station.

Back homed--a west-side suburban one--the first thing I did after greeting the black and tan dachshund was go up to my third floor quarter and fish out my George Harrison "All Things Must Pass" LP--the one Harrison put out shortly after the Beatles breakup. The album marked "poor" by the record dealer--crackled, but that didn't faze me. I went quickly to "My Sweet Lord, the second song on side one. The chanting--"Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Rama" at the end had me joining in. From there it was "Wah Wah," then "Isn't it a pity," then it was downstairs where supper was soon set out on the dining room table.

The fare that night--lasagna, garlic bread, tossed salad, with tomatoes and Italian dressing couldn't be beat although the talk was, well, downbeat. "That Nixon," said my father, a middle school History teacher, "He lied to us, he lied to us on TV."

"Yes, it's awful," my mother said. Then she winked. "So Dave should we be waking you up for church tomorrow morning?--It's Reformation Day."

We were Lutherans and we had a new minister--the previous one got seduced by a sexy divorced parishioner. I was understandably disillusioned. "No," I told mom. "Frank and I will be out pretty late tonight."

Dad set down his seven percent alcohol Rolling Rock bottle next to his plate. "So what are you two guys going to do?"

"We, uh, we're gonna see a movie."

"A movie about what?"

"It's a movie about a rock group."

"The Beatles?"

"No. It's a group called Led Zeppelin."

"Well, be sure to take the dog out when you get home."

Shortly thereafter I was seated next to Frank in the front seat of his father's Pinto. First stop was Twin's Deli where we purchased our 3.2. That accomplished, I pulled the baggie with the marijuana in it out of my front jean pocket and poured a bowl for Frank.  The  light from my Bic showed on his face as he inhaled. He coughed and then a flashing light behind us--a red one--came to our attention.

"Frank," I said. "Frank, you'd better pull over."

Frank pulled over. Then up came a man in blue, a man in blue carrying a large flashlight. "So boys," he said chuckling. "What is it in those cans you are drinking and what is in  that bag with the green powder?"

"Cigarettes," was what Frank offered up. It brought a smirk.

"Why don't you just hand it over?"

Frank complied. The officer inspected the contents of the bag, then scattered the contents to the wind. As for the beers, he took our cans and emptied them out onto the concrete. "Beers," he said smiling. "Root beers--that's what you boys should be drinking. Now run on home to your mommas and daddies--they're worried about you being out so late."

"We will, sir," Frank said. I reached into my pocket--there it was, my pamphlet.

Now it's twenty something years later and I, a Methodist lay reader am on my deck enjoying a full-bodied Pabst Blue Ribbon and reflecting on that incident. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Hare Rama Hare Hare Rama. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

CREATING NEW WORDS??? I must be schizo!!!

Well well well....i just saw that creating new words may be a drift into psychosis...especially if only i. as the speaker undrestands the neologism/new word that I utter...hey hey hey i just typoed a new word. undrestands....whoopee whoopee due..

Don Rewd Drowned...double dyslexia....hmmm!?!

This is 2015...the year that a pitcher in baseball has been created: the amphibious pitcher came into the lexicon....could that be my late dad as the place of his birth is now underwater as part of Gallatin StatePark near Altoona, Pencilvaneyah.

So the first word i herewith neologize is vav--my shorthand for  the French expressionvis-a-vis, similiar to tete-a-tete ...I use it in my journal whenever i want to juxtapose something with something or Kate vav Edith...having cake and eating it two. VAV is also an acronym for variable air volume, variable air flow at a constant temperature.

The second word floating out of my schizophrenic self is bristherhood that's BRISTHERHOOD, the working as one the brotherhood and sisterhood of a society, or of any plural gender related harmonious construct or endeavor.

The third neologism I offer you is....donut call her your ex-wife, call her your woty, your WOTY....Wife Of Thy Youth. See Malachi 2:14 and realize she once was your February Fourteenth <2nd day="" month14th="" month="" nbsp="" of="" the="">Main Squeeze or Spouse, or Better Half, or parent of your children.....WOTY is considered an acronym for woman of the year and word of the year...can we now have one word from the woman of the year,whoever she may be?

So ten years ago Reader's Digest said you could tell if a man was married if there was chewing tobacco juice on both sides of his pick up truck, unless his mother in law rode shotgun with him I suppose o he was Cain in a same sex arrangement with another male......just sayin'....mickbic

Friday, July 03, 2015

Ironwood Rhubarb #4 (Meme)

Memes--by Howard Campbell

This year, the word "meme" is 39 years old. This is an article about memetics, the study of memes, and thinking about thinking.

Some say that the word meme has grown up stupid. Cynics of memetics say the best thinking about memetics came and went in the 1990s. Today, we generally know that colloquially the word meme is used to mean a picture with text on it. However, this growing awareness of the word does not disparage that the meme, meme, originally meant a single unit of thought, of anything a mind can replicate from another mind, opening up a new field of of exploration into consciousness, the fruits of which we can see today.

Memetics appears to me as an inquiry into our changing system of thinking. However, humans studying memetics is like a fish studying water--we are inquiring into the invisible currents surrounding us.

Meme, as a word, is credited with being coined in 1976 in Richard Dawkins' seminal book *The Selfish Gene.* The word "meme" was intentionally minted by Richard Dawkins years earlier when he was an ornithologist, a studier of birds in an academic setting Dr. Dawkins was a pro in birding, a hobby notorious for competitive amateurs.

Dr. Dawkins was tracking the source of variation in a bird song. When he tracked the migrating birds, he found they summered in New Jersey. There, in the valley of their traditional summering ecosystem, was a new factory, and the rhythm of the machines had been incorporated into this bird call, creating the shift he noticed.

Dr. Dawkins coined the word meme to reflect birds have adopted a specific unit of human intelligence, a unit of cultural reproduction that was traceable and capable of being coded for analysis. 

Meme allowed us to think about thinking in a new way. Thinking about thinking appears to me as similar to drawing about drawing--they both bring to life our own optical illusions. What Dawkins did for thinking appears to me as having many similarities to what MC Escher did for drawing--bringing the medium back around to examine itself and show where a surrealistic reality  gets created, allowing us to see that we are constructing a make-believe in our recreation of the Universe.

Thinking about thinking changes your thinking--or maybe you are doing what many philosophers call thoughting, which is to parrot back memories of people using the word thinking.

Dr. Dawkins saw a new phenomenon and he needed a new word for the phenomenon he saw. He documented a new scientific generalization. Consensus around a new generalization is a big deal in science. I think Dawkins' generalization is a big deal in the evolution of human thought, an echo of Einstein's generalization  of Relativity. I believe Dawkins removed intelligence from something being measured by man to anything a mind replicates, whether conscious or not. I read Dawkins as saying that there is complexity that oozes out, crossing the previously indelible lines of species-ism. This in an important part of our changing mind and evolving zeitgeist

The word meme appears to me as important to thinking as Copernicus' helio-centric model was important to our sense of place in  space. What Copernicus  did for space, Dawkins appears to me as having done for intelligence, showing that humans are not at the center--intelligence is something being measured, our mind is experiencing itself subjectively--we are the imagination of ourselves, crafting ourselves by thinking about ourselves and our interconnected thinking.

I am optimistic because I see more and more humans recognizing our interconnected with all living things, a perspective that the word meme helped open up on Spaceship Earth. I find heartening the words of Donald Kaufman from his movie *The Three.* :"Like cells in a body, we're all interconnected. 'Cept we can't see the body. The way fish can't see the ocean. And so we envy each other. Hurt each other. Hate each other. How silly as that? A heart cell hating a lung cell."