Thursday, September 25, 2008

Irreligulouse

Apparently, Bill Maher's absecular new film, Religulous, mainly features him doing man-on-the-street interviews with stupid people, asking them about religion. This is done with the intent to demonstrate how stupid religion is, when it actually demonstrates how foolish and shallow Bill Maher is.

For example, what if he had conducted the identical exercise with regard to the U.S. Constitution, or the Theory of Relativity, or art ,or literature, or economics? Would the answers he elicited be a useful reflection on the value of these subjects? No, of course not.

But Bill Maher is not a serious man. Well, perhaps seriously bitter. Which is another point. Maher does not have the insight or depth of character to delve into the roots of his own bitterness and anger, which pose insurmountable obstacles to any understanding of the Subject of the subject he pretends to explore in Religulous. Thus, the whole exercise is one of triumphant self-justification and narcissistic exultation. Obviously, if he were truly curious about God, he could have dialogued with serious intellectuals possessing valid gnosis. But if he were to do that, he would look like the unlearned rube that he is.

It reminds me of what Bion described as the essence of the psychotic mind (which is more or less present in everyone), which is organized around the unholy triumvirate of arrogance, curiosity and stupidity.

The above link is somewhat esoteric, so let me translight it into plain English. We are all subject to an "infantile catastrophe" as a result of slowly assimilating the truth of our precarious cosmic situation, which begins in omnipotence and unicity but ends, one way or the other, in the realization that we do not create reality or control the m(o)ther, i.e., the source of life. A healthy person is able to negotiate this passage and is therefore subject to ongoing growth, while the unhealthy person denies it and is incapable of true emotional growth, or evolution in O. Their souls will stagnate, even while their minds and bodies grow.

In the case of Maher, it doesn't take a psychologist to see that he isn't actually curious about religion. He has no desire to actually understand the Divine, much less to humbly take the steps necessary to develop an open relationship with That which transcends him. Rather, he is bound by a kind of childishly arrogant, intrusive, and presumptuous curiosity that imagines it can know All without any work or preparation, much less humility and surrender.

This is not at all like proper curiosity, which is much more analogous to patient openness to the Real, embodied in faith, or what I call (o). Thus, Maher does not -- and cannot -- reach any useful conclusions about God, only foreordained ones that are implicit in his original arrogance and omnipotence. As such, the film will be a memorial to his own cosmic stupidity, nothing more. No wonder he's so bitter, because the bitterness is merely the residue of some kind of deep disappointment. Bitterness is a "presence" that always conceals a "present absence." So, what is absent in Maher?

It would be uncharitable to go down that route. We'll just leave it alone for now. Rat faced homunculus.

It is not difficult to tell when one is in the presence of an unevolving mind, which can often be traced back to that psychotic part of the mind that refuses to acknowledge primordial reality, or O. I should hasten to add that this mechanism is no respecter of persons, and obviously afflicts the religious and irreligious alike, so to only attack religious, and not secular, stupidity is the height of intellectual dishonesty (or, more likely, just the arrogance/curiosity/stupidity alluded to above). In fact, it is undoubtedly the deep structure that unifies the Darwinian and religious fundamentalist, each of whom "refuses O," so to speak, and instead clings to a kind of mental scaffolding that is reminiscent of the wire mothers of Harry Harlow.

Often, when someone is speaking about a subject, the more important communication is the emotional tone of the communicant, not the supposed subject matter. Or, you could say that the subject matter is just a superficial excuse for the person to evacuate a primitive emotion. For example, we vividly see this in the left's unhinged reaction to Sarah Palin. What is most noteworthy to the discerning listener is the primitive emotionality that she provokes -- very similar to the primitive emotionality that women provoke in the Islamic world.

In the case of the latter, no men in the Islamic world seem to have the insight or maturity to turn inward and wonder at the source of the violence and contempt in their attitudes toward women. Likewise, with the left vis-a-vis Sarah Palin. There are actually some noteworthy exceptions who are alarmed and appalled at the primitive display, but for most of the left, their reaction is all about their own narcissistic trinity of envy, contempt, and triumph.

Imagine the envy Sarah Palin must provoke in desiccated old feminist hags such as Maureen Dowd, Erica Jong, or Gloria Steinem. The envy is intolerable, so it is quickly transformed into contempt and then triumph. But again, it is the triumph of a sick part of the mind, so it is obviously a pyrrhic victory; if you win, you lose. When mind parasites prevail, it's like cutting off your nous to spite the face before you were born.

Grotstein writes that in Bion's cosmic view, the unconscious psyche is "older than man and is the mysterious source of creativity, imagination, evolution and development." This is O, which, as Grotstein points out, is not so much "truth" as perpetually "truing," as it intersects with the Other. In my view, this would not just be human others, but the transcendent Other as well (or fundamentally, in that it is this supracosmic Other who is reflected in all of the other others). Grotstein adds that "Neurosis is a postponement of our rendezvous with the consequences of this fateful meeting, and psychosis is the abnegating disavowel and discrediting of it altogether."

This is good, so I'll continue: "Thus, Bion's cosmic view of the psyche is one in which we sit on the lap of our [own] Godhead who is mysteriously connected to the Ultimate Godhead." (This almost sounds as if it could have been written by Meister Eckart.)

"'I'-ness consists, furthermore, in a prismatic refraction of the emanations of this Godhead and is known as the spiritual, scientific, and aesthetic vertices.... Our sadnesses and our illnesses constitute both our recognition of our failure to live up to our Godliness and the agony of our stillborn preconceptions which hope to evoke us to return to our rendezvous with experiencing our unexperienced experiences -- to becoming 'O.' Bion represents this as the transformation from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained."

Maher represents it as the bitter transformation of Paradise Lost to Paradise Doesn't Exist and I Didn't Want it Anyway; or, to put it another way, I'm Back in a Triumphant and Contemptuous Narcissistic Paradise of My Own Making. Plus, Hugh Hefner Invites Me to His Parties, So I Can Pretend That Those Airheaded Bimbos and Porn Stars Would Ever Be Attracted to a Rat Faced Homunculus Like Me if I Didn't Have All This Money.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time
. --T.S. Eliot

53 Comments:

Blogger mushroom said...

I'm still mulling this. But I would say there is something in the air. Check out Primordial Slack for Joan's coongruent discussion of humor v. mockery

9/25/2008 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

It's from suffering gone horribly wrong, someone close to him must have suffered something awful, and his reaction is to pain on an almost physical, toddler-like level. Except a toddler still trusts, a capacity that seems broken in him.

Layer on top of that the fact that he can attract an audience with this force, and the interest is compounding at a rate he can no longer turn down. It's only a question of ratcheting up the buffoonery with the same old canards that have been with us since forever.

It just makes me sad that he could deprive himself of so much joy.

Big D's principle that if we weren't such scoundrels, we wouldn't need such a great redeemer. O happy fault, etc.

9/25/2008 08:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

"In the case of the latter, no men in the Islamic world seem to have the insight or maturity to turn inward and wonder at the source of the violence and contempt in their attitudes toward women". Really? None?

Why is it that I know personally many male Muslims who would never imagine a violent act against a woman and are horrified by such things? Where is this Islamic world?
I would also imagine that our friend Bill Maher would be quite quickly put to death in this Islamic World as well, and that legally, as he would have been in early America.

9/25/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Where is this Islamic world? Saudi Arabia, Iran, Palestine, Syria. You seem to be referring to Muslims in the Judeo-Christian world.

9/25/2008 08:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

No, from Iran and Saudi Arabia. My point is not that there aren't horrific abuses, which only fools could deny, but there are tons of counter examples, which many here do not wish to see.
I find it appropriate to riff all day on Egyptian clitorectomies (though you don't mention Egypt--I have friends from there, too, and it is awful), but it is not a blanket mentality.
I am pretty sure you would find the same thing in the deep South without a police force.

9/25/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I hope it goes without saying that I am speaking in generalities.

The idea that clitoridectomies would proliferate in the south with the absence of police is insane.

9/25/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Joseph - For instance, generally speaking, I find Mormons to lack a sense of humor as well as the ability to recognize generalities and many figures of speech. I'm not sure, but it seems to be related to some mind set developed within the church.

I have no idea whether this applies to you or whether you might be a Mormon. Just making a general observation. FWIW

9/25/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

No, I did not mean to imply that they would perform clitorectomies, but general abuse to women. Lynchings would doubtless return as well. In other words, racism and misogyny run deep there, as in the Middle East.

9/25/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Nomo,
I am not a Mormon, though I used to be. I am quite familiar with generalities. At times I find extreme polemics not useful, though I usually let them fly.
Having been a Mormon, and though quite aware of its intrinsic heresy, I can with certainty say you are quite mistaken about their senses of humor and ability to catch figures of speech. Obviously, one can't make a statement like "Mormon's don't have a sense of humor", or "Mormon's have no sense of humor" since they are not as homogenous as that. But, in my experience in Utah and in many areas of the country, I found many many hilarious Mormons.
Not as funny as Jews, of course. Much funnier than the Bahai though. They also tend to vote for so-called conservatives, which really takes a sense of humor.

9/25/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Joseph, with all due respect, you must be a damn yankee. To think that men in Texas and across the south are only treating their women right because of police enforcement is worthy of Keith Olbermaroon -- not of an intelligent person such as yourself.

Yes, sure, we're just waiting for the cops to leave so we can lynch us a bunch of our best high school players.

Just put the PMSNBC remote down and step away.

9/25/2008 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Yeah, I never watch cable news, but I do have in-laws in Mississippi and lived in Houston. You need to get out more. I recommend you hang out in the slums of Houston for two years and in rural Mississippi.
My opinions on this subject come through witnessing things not from leftist commentators who only wish to see it continue.
I am also speaking in generalities.

9/25/2008 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Joseph - So then, you're a Jew now?

;^)

9/25/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

(Will, I missed your post last night. I'm so sorry to hear about Fergus. And what what Walt and Bob said; I really can't add more than that)

9/25/2008 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Zophiel said...

Ah, Mushroom, you took the words right out of my mouth . . . or, out of my keyboard, so to say. Not a Southerner myself, but my Mom is, and so's her family, and I went to College near the Deep South (New Orleans which is a completely different thing than "the south" . . .but to continue). I am not naive enough to think that every place is as diverse and well-integrated as my area of Suburban MD but, I also know that the South is not exactly the Whitebread Wonderland most Coastal Folk think it.

As Mushroom points out, no one's gonna lynch the star runningback and as a young woman, I appreciate that the gents o' the South tend to be more gentlemanly than in other places. Tend, mind you. You see, gentlemanliness goes to the root philosophy of most Southerners, unlike, say, Sharia which governs most of what Bob was talking about. For example, women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. Southern women drive quite a bit, often trucks.

There is a world of difference between the most podunk area of the deep south and the hidden places of the middle east. Literally. The exception [joseph's friends] of the middle east is the norm for the Deep South

[Oh, and Mushroom, my Dad's a Damn Yankee--New Hampshire boy that married a Carolina girl-- and even he knows better, so that's no good excuse for joseph.]

9/25/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

The irreligious WaPo takes an, uh, ethical stand. Cowards!

and What 'Shroom Said - sheesh!

9/25/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

I'm no Yankee. Southern Missouri, so part Southerner, part, KRAZO (that's Ozark backwards).
I also appreciate noble Southern values.

9/25/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

Joseph, were you born Mormon, or did you convert to Mormonism?

What religion are you these days?

We have now entered the realm of one of my favorite topics.

Mormonism.

Just the other day, I was reading my Duke Law publication and it had a nice spread on an prior grad who was now on the Mormon Council of 12 or whatever it is called. Prophets or something?

Fascinating section on the dispute between the Mormon church and a Jewish group regarding baptism for the dead with respect to the Jewish holocaust. Apparently, there was a 1995(?) agreement where the Mormon chruch agreed to stop the baptisms, except in some cases.

Religious disputes are often an odd read.

9/25/2008 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Code of the Hills, Joe. If you know where Hartville, MO is, I humbly apologize for calling you a yankee -- not for the rest, of course.

9/25/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

I also enjoy talking about Vegas.

Now, there is another intersting topic...Mormons in Vegas.

Van, as a Vegas man, do you any thoughts on that particular topic?

9/25/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, and Joseph: I spent my formative years in more northerly climes. I've known (and even been related to) lots of people who are abusive, regardless of the potential for police action. To denigrate the South in particular for generally bad human behavior in the West, as though it's only a Southern thing, simply makes you look like an ass.

Conversely, Bob can make his statement about the Muslim world with some degree of accuracy, precisely because religious leaders in the Middle East have given television interviews with instructions on the proper way for men to beat their wives. The distinction here is that in the West, we consider physical abuse to be simply wrong. In the Middle East, it's only wrong sometimes.

9/25/2008 10:12:00 AM  
Blogger jp said...

So Joseph, why are the the Bahai so unfunny?

Never met a Bahai in my life.

9/25/2008 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Both 'Darwinism' and 'religion' have poor critics.

(Oh, and while the importance of any study can be overblown, this probably says something interesting about Northerners and Southerners.)

9/25/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Hm. I've lived in the South most of my life, and I haven't noticed violence arising from Southern values. I find the South a hospitable place, and that's the core of southern values, really. It looks like a stereotype, to me.

I hate to say it, but a lot of the violence I have noticed across the U.S. has followed the disintegration of strong family units, in both the black and white communities, but esp. in the black communities. Without dads around to corral the kids to good purpose, remaining social structures aren't enough to enforce boundaries. I doubt the South is unique in that regard; you can point to D.C., Detroit, NYC, LA, too.

9/25/2008 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous slim pickens said...

I liked ta never found that link and when I did, it shore was a lot a' readin' fer me, 'specially tryin' ta figure out these here regressive bifocals. Anyways, them boys did get one thing right. They's lots a' folks that jus' needs killin'. Ain't no two ways about it.

Thing is, I noticed they used th' word "homicide" -- I don' think they meant killin' homos. Where's that dadburn dictionary?

Homicide -- well, goldern it, that jus' means killin' a feller. It don' have nothin' ta do with murder. It could be a cop killin' some fool, er somebody got shot kickin' somebody's door in. Hell, them southern boys is jus' better shots!

I'd need to look at th' infernals a' this here study -- that's why they say the devil's in th' retails.

9/25/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Whoa! Hey 'shroom, thanks for the shout-out!

:o)

9/25/2008 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Will:
My condolences, and prayers for Fergus the Cat, and you, Will, his worthy friend and keeper. I know. Sometimes I look at ol' Boogies, and it scares me when I realize how much that ridiculous little animal has a hold on my heart. I read your poem and wept.
Rainbow Bridge, Will. (scroll down a little) As sentimental, and corny as that story is, it speaks to that place in our hearts where our small friends live. God bless.

JWM

9/25/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Right Julie, the South has never been known for anything improper. Why denigrate those poor Southerners.

It is, of course, a truism to say that there are bad things everywhere.

In the deep South, among much of its population, and I can't believe I have to tell anyone this, again, go live there sometime, it not considered wrong to hate blacks, refer to them as inferior, and, not so long ago, beat them.

In saying that, I am not equating them with those in the Middle East. But, I would also add, that since no one here actually lives, in Iran, for example, you might want to check with the man on the street about the actual goings on. Just a thought.

In any case, I don't really mind if you think I look like an ass. You are very quick to find them and label them as such, as though no one has ever told you that before.

9/25/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

jp,
That was me being funny.

And Nomo,

I am not Jewish, but I have a weakness for Jerry Seinfeld's humor.

9/25/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Mushroom,

I lived four years on a little farm 5 miles South of Seymour. I worked contruction with the Old Order Amish and stacked lumber at Hanger's Sawmill. The Amish are funny, too. And can they ever hammer nails fast. Gary Hanger, not so funny.

9/25/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I've noticed that people I'm pleased with tend to remind me an awful lot like other people I'm generally pleased with... but those ones I'm displeased with... now... those ones, they tend to remind me very much like those I'm displeased with. It's uncanny!

Joseph, ever been to North Las Vegas? How about some of the less choice parts of Boston... Seattle maybe?

Now of course none of this 'you people' talk amounts to anything, unless you can point to a cultural norm that is unembarrassedly admitted to, even revered and practiced. I don't think you'll find the practice of wife beating, clitorectomies, honor killings or beheading Others being touted openly in public or preached in mainstream churches in either the North, South, East or West of America.

It is not difficult to find just such statements being made by political and religious leaders among the islambies of any general middle eastern region, and not a few locations abroad.

That tends to give the impression that they have much more in common with those people, than those in 'The South'.

9/25/2008 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Joseph, in response I can only introduce you to Enumclaw. (Just Google it - you'll get the picture). Enumclaw is a quaint little suburb of that shining bastion of liberal sensibilities, Seattle. When I was a teenager, my family moved there for a few years, thinking it would be a nice rural place to live. As it turned out, racism was alive and well (the high school student body used to cheer during the MLK day slide show - not at the enlightening speech parts, at the lynching and murder parts. The KKK used to mail out informational flyers, and tried to organize a rally; though to the town's credit, they failed miserably). The local police force bore a strong resemblance to the "Boss Hogg" stereotype (and yes, my family would know personally). And the horse incident? Unusual only in that somebody died. The homicide rates may be lower in the North, but I can assure you general human ugliness is pretty much universal.

I'll admit that I've not spent much time in the South, so maybe I really am missing something. The only hillbillies I ever encountered were in Ohio (and they called themselves that, proudly. Also took great pride in speaking a dialect unintelligible to non-hillbillies. I wish I was exaggerating). Again, they fit many of the stereotypes of ugliness. But they lived in small-town rural Ohio their entire lives.

Your initial point was that you are certain that in the deep South, lynchings and general abuse of women would return in the absence of a police force. I don't know whether that's an accurate assessment. I do know that much of the same mentality of aggression and violence runs just as strongly in other parts of the country. It just doesn't get as much attention.

In singling out the South as the only place in the states where people would regress to brutish behavior in the event of anarchy (which would be the result, absent police), your comment looks silly. That was my point. There is still a vast gulf of difference between acceptable levels of violence in the South and in the Middle East. Westerners, even the most culturally aggressive ones, generally don't recommend killing girls who hold hands with boys who aren't family.

And believe me, I am well aware that I can be an ass myself; takes one to know one, after all. In fact, way back when I first came here, I tried to make a similarly stupid argument against a generality. And here's the thing - I knew Bob's point was quite valid. I tried to argue by specifics anyway, only to realize at the end of the day that I was beclowning myself. It was a lesson in humility that I am glad to have learned. I don't know if anyone called me an ass, but they might have. Goodness knows, I earned it.

9/25/2008 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Since religion has nearly no effect on cultural norms or mainstream life in America any longer, then your argument is only half-right.

9/25/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JP said "Van, as a Vegas man, do you any thoughts on that particular topic?"

Yes a sizable portion of those I grew up with in Vegas were mormon, and no, I didn't notice much different about them than anyone else. Except that they didn't stare at me like a fool when I preferred ice water to Coke. But then of course I returned the favor by staring at them like they were idiots when they passed on coffee. Go figure.

My Grandma, who grew up 1899-1913 St. George Utah, and was actually chased by kids throwing stones at her and shouting variations of "Gentile!"... sometimes had some less charitable comments when the subject came up.

My real take on Vegas popped up when watching "Casino!" for the first time with some friends here in St. Louis, and as the DeNiro character's car is bombed and he escapes, what had been nagging at the back of my head suddenly dawned on me, which means I blurted it out, "Hey! This isn't just a movie! That's Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and the other guy was Tony Spilotro!".

That didn't provide a lot of illumination for them, so I sat back down.

9/25/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Well, cool. This is a small world wide web.

You couldn't have been too far from Dogwood in Booger County. Seymour, man, you're practically kinfolk.

Nothing like pulling up to Kleier's or the Dollar Store in Seymour or the MacDonald's and parking next to an Amish buggy.

I went over to Owens' Theater on the Square to see The Passion. I told the lady there that the last time I'd been in her moviehouse was to see one of the Planet of the Apes movies (Return to, I think, with Roddy McDowell).

She was, like, you make a trip into town every thirty years or so?

9/25/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gecko said...

Will,
Yesterday I was traveling so missed the sad news of Fergus. Cooninkadently, the racoon people I scored sitting next to me on the plane told me about the book Rainbow Bridge that JWM mentions:
"Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
"When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together…"
Will, you and Fergus are in my heart. I always read your posts several times.
As I do our host's and they generate in me a profound sense of gratitude.
Merlin says what Beaky does.:)

9/25/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, and for the sake of clarity, it occurs to me that you might be confusing my use of the word "ass" with "asshole". In point of fact, there's a huge distinction between the two. By "ass" I mean mulish and foolish. And as I said, it takes one to know one.

In context:

'O STOP being an ass, Toad!' cried the Mole despairingly.

9/25/2008 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ahhh, Julie. I love that story...

The Wind in the Willows (1983–1990: ITV1)

The wind in the willows sang softly to me,
Follow my voice wherever it leads,
Through mountains and valleys and deep rolling seas,
Born on the wings of the breeze

Spin me a dream, woven silver and gold
Of sunshine and shadows and days long ago.
Where people are memories and stories unfold
Willows, the tales you have told me.

Wind in the Willows you just seem to know
Who you can turn to and which way to go
To unwind your wondrous mind.
Wind in the Willows, take me home.

[Sung by Ralph McTell]

Another program I raised my kids on.

9/25/2008 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I had a lovely illustrated edition when I was a kid. I haven't read it in decades, but I am now, and it's astoundingly raccoonish:

"'Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him.

'Nice? It's the ONLY thing,' said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. 'Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,' he went on dreamily: 'messing—about—in—boats; messing——'

'Look ahead, Rat!' cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

'—about in boats—or WITH boats,' the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. 'In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

***

"'I beg your pardon,' said the Mole, pulling himself together with an effort. 'You must think me very rude; but all this is so new to me. So—this—is—a—River!'

'THE River,' corrected the Rat.

'And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!'

'By it and with it and on it and in it,' said the Rat. 'It's brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It's my world, and I don't want any other. What it hasn't got is not worth having, and what it doesn't know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we've had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it's always got its fun and its excitements. When the floods are on in February, and my cellars and basement are brimming with drink that's no good to me, and the brown water runs by my best bedroom window; or again when it all drops away and, shows patches of mud that smells like plum-cake, and the rushes and weed clog the channels, and I can potter about dry shod over most of the bed of it and find fresh food to eat, and things careless people have dropped out of boats!' "

Marvelous!
Back to reading...

9/25/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

One more, with yet another excellent usage of the Word of the Day:

"The afternoon sun was getting low as the Rat sculled gently homewards in a dreamy mood, murmuring poetry-things over to himself, and not paying much attention to Mole. But the Mole was very full of lunch, and self-satisfaction, and pride, and already quite at home in a boat (so he thought) and was getting a bit restless besides: and presently he said, 'Ratty! Please, I want to row, now!'

The Rat shook his head with a smile. 'Not yet, my young friend,' he said—'wait till you've had a few lessons. It's not so easy as it looks.'

The Mole was quiet for a minute or two. But he began to feel more and more jealous of Rat, sculling so strongly and so easily along, and his pride began to whisper that he could do it every bit as well. He jumped up and seized the sculls, so suddenly, that the Rat, who was gazing out over the water and saying more poetry-things to himself, was taken by surprise and fell backwards off his seat with his legs in the air for the second time, while the triumphant Mole took his place and grabbed the sculls with entire confidence.

'Stop it, you SILLY ass!' cried the Rat, from the bottom of the boat. 'You can't do it! You'll have us over!' "

You just can't beat the classics. Are there any children's books today that even begin to compare?

9/25/2008 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Thanks, Bob, and all others for your gracious coondolensces re: my sojournering pal Ferg.

Rainbow Bridge, yes. It is there, I've seen it.

No doubt in my mind that our pets do affect some alchemy of the soul within us. And we must do likewise for them. I remember reading somewhere that, due to the particular nature of the animal soul, our beloved pets can and do follow us, even on to Devachan and beyond.

Ah! This fallen world of separation . . . but only for a time, just for a time.

9/25/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Julie - I hope you are also familiar with the wonderful film and series... Truly classic.

Check out youtube for some great cuts.

9/25/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I've seen bits and pieces - I distinctly remember hearing the theme song, at least, and my first exposure to it was in England, probably on afternoon tv. But when I was that young, I didn't watch much - they only had four channels, most of them news, and I was too active anyway.

Thanks for the youtube link, though - once I'm done reading, I'll have to watch. It's amazing what a difference activated coonvision makes.

9/25/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Sal said...

Catching up- my condolences, Will.
His memorial poem was lovely.

9/25/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Ah, Will...Good night, sweet Fergus.

9/25/2008 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

A Salute to Kenneth Grahame.

tw: Julie

9/25/2008 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Wind in the Willows....

'Round about autumn-time, I start to get into the same trance that Ratty did. There's just something about autumn, and Grahame captured it perfectly. It makes me want to go, and go, and go.

We've read it aloud twice here, but we're due for another reading, I do think.

9/25/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous sehoy aka godsdog said...

All the wee beasties will be waiting for us, heads on paws, reclining on the front porches of all those mansions.

The Great Dance! I've been persuing that particular thing my entire life. I caught a glimpse of it once, rounding a corner in Germany. Never have been the same since.

Wierd, because one of the things that I came away with from that glimpse was that certain knowledge that there is male and female, and that androgeny is an abomination.

If I were a smarter person, I'd understand what that means.

*sigh*

9/25/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

(Psst - Dougman. There's a present for you. Djadaj, I think you're up next...)

9/25/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous sehoy said...

"When clouds vanish, the moon appears."

Oh. Let it be so.

God. I am so tired of flailing around in the dark.

9/25/2008 05:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most bitter people are those who have an aversion to religion.

song and dance man

9/25/2008 06:55:00 PM  
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9/25/2008 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Eternal cyclicality makes the mind a bit ... shall we say, cynical and relativistic. If we are simply to be reincarnated a billion times and then subsumed into that vast pudding to lose all we are, what is the point? It seems instead to be a defense mechanism, a justification for injustice. Like Chesterton said, St. George (whom the R. Catholics apparently now officially dishonor greatly =/) took that Ouroborus and gave him the cross to choke on. Cycle eh? Have some spear. O dragon, where is the ever turning wheel now?

Joe, I know many of the people of whom you speak. But I also know your attitude. It is an attitude which seeks to accuse us by making us look worse than others, rather than to find and dig out our real errors. If they are so tolerant and adverse to violence, then why do they not speak up? Ah, alas, alas. Liberty. It is for this reason that in his great economy the Lord gave us a chance with America. Instead of accusing her falsely, I would suggest you take seriously, like any American should, how she should be preserved.

I recall so much Orthodox love for the old world - but it is also in those places that all of the truth of Orthodoxy is subsum'd beneath a wave of medieval backwardness and hate. Where are the martyrs? Or in the same way that many Americans have fallen into the 'consumerism/anti-consumerism' matrix of worldliness, fallen into the zeitgeist of that place? How is that any bit more honorable at all?

9/26/2008 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also, I'd like to think that if one were truly Orthodox one would not hold to the 'world is running down' theory (an example of being 'more Orthodox than the saints') since one of the greatest theologians of the Church disagreed with this idea. I think we understand the world from the context by which we live it, and since knowing is a form of doing, what we do effects how we know. But then again, I guess we are free to give up on the world and 'suffer loss, though his soul will be saved'. As for me, since my childhood I have loathed the idea that the material world be cast aside like some stage or husk, as though God did not look upon it and call it beauty.

I've known many good natured Mormons in my life, But I will not be fooled for a moment to believe that they're basically good because of that. The ideas they have matter, and when push comes to shove they become what drives big things, the big wheels, not the little neighborly friendships we have. I love my neighbor, knowing that he may be my enemy tomorrow.

(lolz, sorry for the soliloqy)

9/26/2008 07:27:00 AM  

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