Tag Archives: religion

Allen Ginsberg:Transcendentalist?

I have chosen this work to be the best of my critical entries on this subject. I took a real interest in Ginsberg before he and his cohorts were discussed in class. I took an in-depth look at “Howl” and tried for myself to decipher some of the parts, and to give extra commentary on them. Alan Ginsberg is someone whom I would like to study further.

Warning: The videos, and some of the text may be considered obscene:

Image result for allen ginsbergAllen Ginsberg was a poet who bared his mind in the 1950’s. His poem Howl, made him famous, or infamous for it’s somewhat candid and sometimes obscene language and content.

Image result for howl definition

In Part II of Howl, Ginsberg equates capitalist society with the God Moloch, who was a God that the early Hebrews and others sacrificed their children.

“What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?” Ginsberg is saying here that cities, society has taken away any chance of those who inhabit them, of having imagination, of being able to think for themselves,

“Moloch, Moloch, Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasures! blind capitals! demonic industries!spectral nations! invincible madhouses!granite cocks! Monstorous bombs!” Everything is the same with houses, there is no imagination in design. These spaces are there not to be beautiful, but to have a purpose; to fit as many bodies in as little as space as possible. The treasures we build for ourselves and for our companies in this world of corporate greed, do not come without a cost, Many lives are lost, wasted with empty heads, empty brains unable to think for themselves. Invincible madhouses, are invincible because once someone is labelled as mad, that label follows them around, and nothing they say is taken serious from then on, People are defeated. Granite Cocks are the monolithic phallic symbols. Skyscrapers really are a phallic symbol, corporations saying, look how big and powerful am I. And Monstorous bombs refers to actual bombs, nuclear or otherwise that have the capability of destroying millions of lives in one push of a red button.

Why did Ginsberg call his poem Howl? A howl is defined as a mournful cry of perhaps a dog or other animal. Ginsberg may have thought himself a dog, but the emphasis should be placed on the sound, not what makes it. Howl is a mournful cry. Sometimes the cry is made in anger, sometimes in pain, but mostly in a sadness that eats you right to the bones. Ginsberg was expressing the sadness he feels when he think of the world that has lost it’s way. Of a world that has forgotten nature.

Ginsberg reflects on friends left behind, in particular, Carl Solomon, whom he met in a mental asylum and whom remained there as Ginsberg was released. He mentions over and again Rockland, which is a mental asylum but not the one in which Ginsberg met Solomon.

in Footnote, Ginsberg reflects on people and places and things which have influenced his life and his writing. He calls these “Holy”. To him, the people that Ginsberg met and received understanding from, and had an influence in his life, were sacred. People to be revered or idolised.

This is one work that deals with the emotions in such a diverse way. It is a spiritual moment. Once heard, one can never unhear the words in the poem. Once heard, this poem will surely affect your view on socialism, capitalism and what is important to you, and the world.

I have called Ginsberg a modern day transcendentalist. I think that is accurate. Here is a man who walks his own path, one less traveled. Here is a man who has rejected society and become the utter non-conformist. Here is a man who is self reliant, poor he may be but self reliant in terms of not accepting another’s thoughts or ideas without first discovering and telling his own.

Genius or madman? Don’t let me or anyone else sway your judgement. Make up your own mind. Its what a true transcendentalist would do.

 

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Filed under American Writing, Best Critical Post, critical posts, Uncategorized

As I lay dying: Faulkner

“the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat” ?

As I lay dying, wracked in pain  upon my bed, I wonder who I can give my advise to. I have no heirs, no pupils who hang on my every word. Is wisdom, My Wisdom to die with me?

I have written. My words are not written with the graphite of a pencil, that can be erased easily or written over. My words are not written on parchment or paper, which can easily be torn, or wrinkled and thrown in the fire…to warm ones toes. My words however can be lost in the annals of time, on some hard drive, or some cloud, where who knows who will read them in the future.

I am guessing that those who catalog, those archaeologists in the future, will dig down deep into our version of the present, might not, i hope not, just record my ramblings but read what is written and say as we do of Plato, or Blake… “How Profound”.

Has my ego got the better of me in my disease of age? I think not. I think we all desire to leave a legacy. We all desire to be remembered and thought well of. We all desire that someone will use the wisdom that we have discovered, unearthed, perhaps uncovered in dusty books in a dark damp cave of a library.

Some writers, as Faulkner has said, concentrate on matters of the heart, Love is illogical. If you ask someone why they love a person, true love can give no answer, as it is illogical. “the human heart is in conflict with itself”, it knows not which way to go. it has no logic. The heart needs to work in tandem with the head. One beats while the brain thinks. Logic itself, or love itself are somewhat useless. One must use both.

The body cannot do without the brain, and the human brain cannot do without the body. The body is the vessel in which the brain must operate. Artificial intelligence is not yet possible because logic without heart is useless. What good is brains without the body, other than to be food for dogs. What good is a body without a brain, except to follow the instructions of someone with a brain.

Do what you will with my body. Although I do wish you inter and bury me quickly. I have tried not to cause offence when living. I wish to cause no offence (by my smell) when dead.  I do not wish to cause trouble to those who must dispose of my body. Throw it to the fishes. Let the sharks feast on me instead of one still living. Give my body, complete with brain and heart to science, so they may study, and see how the three are connected.

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When everything else is stripped away, these three remain… faith, hope and love. When a person is on the way to the heaven he has faith in, then there is no need of hope, as the head has made him confident of where he is going. Faith is the head and heart working in tandem. The heart loves with an illogical love, the head says that it is the only thing to do..love, and believe. So the greatest of these is love.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

 

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“White is a metaphor for power” James Baldwin

Image result for i am not your negro

I just watched the movie I am not your Negro on the suggestion of my Literature teacher.It is an amazing movie which highlights the struggle that negro people, and other have had at the hands of white people for over 400 years.

Negro people did not ask to come to America. They were brought to America to serve white people.  They were slaves to the white man until 1865, but still considered inferior to white man until very recently… well some white people still consider anyone different from themselves as inferior. Negroes were not able to go to school with white children until 1957 following the civil rights protest at Little Rock High School.Image result for negro protests

Although the 15th Amendment of the Constitution allowed black men to vote from 1896, many states discouraged negro men from voting by including clauses which stated that black men had to be literate to be allowed to vote, and some states also put a tax on voting for negro men. It wasn’t until the 24th amendment in 1965 that Lyndon B Johnson removed all barriers to allow negro men AND WOMEN, the right to vote, thereby treating them as equal citizens.

Black people were shown in advertising from the 1890’s but the images were generally shown in subservient roles, such as Rastus and Aunt Jemima. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement that black people appeared as equals in advertising. It seems then that the nation was starting to come around.

Progressively the nation has included many different skin tones and racial diversions in all walks of life. In 1968 Robert Kennedy announced that America could even have a black president in 40 years. That proved to be true with the inauguration of Barack Obama 40 years later.

Image result for negro protests

The movie showed the rise and fall of such civil rights leaders as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jnr and Medgar Evers. These three leaders were strong voices in the civil rights movement which dared to say that blacks were equal to whites. Malcolm X was a black Muslim leader who thought that peaceful protest was useless. Martin Luther King Jnr was a leader who was a Christian who believed in peaceful protests through negotiation. Medgar Evans was a leader who was promoting desegregation primarily in the public school system. Because these men dared to buck the system, they were all assassinated. The idea was ‘to keep the blacks in their place’.

Its not only in America where white people think they are superior to other races. We look at Apartheid in South Africa. We can look at the colonisation of various countries including Australia and India to name but 2. The treatment of native peoples at colonisation or invasion is appalling. White America does not have  a good record here either. The treatment of Native Americans, including Indian nations and Inuits still continues today.

The line that stood out for me in the movie was “White is a metaphor for power”. This is true the whole world over. James Baldwin equates it with Chase Manhattan bank. That is to say that White man considers themselves far superior to any other race on Earth,

Image result for dont you wish you were white

I saw a sign held up in a protest in the movie that said “Don’t you wish you were white?” No. I am ashamed of my skin colour and what it stands for. I don’t look at skin colour as a difference between people. However, I can see how other people, in suppressed minorities might look at me, as a white man, and be scared, even hate what I represent.

James Baldwin says in his movie that he doesn’t want to be a Christian, as he believes that in America at least, the Christians haven’t yet learnt the golden rule “Love One Another”.

All I can say is, I am sorry.

 

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Do you see what I see?

As part of the inside out CAPA competitions at Uni, I wrote the following poem with the hope that it would shed some light on what asylum seekers, including children have come through to reach our country. Then what do we do, but shove them in detention, without any possible hope for a good future in out country.

I hope that when you look at asylum seekers, you would look with compassion, and understand  what they see.

Dave.

Do you see what I see

Do you want to see what I see.

The mud the blood

Broken bodies on the ground

My family is not to be found

Death and fire all around

 

Do you hear what I hear

Do you want to hear what I hear

The guns the bombs

Echo in the night

And fill me with terror and fright

They give me nightmares each night

 

Do you smell what I smell

Do you want to smell what I smell

The chemicals the flesh

Smoke rising in the sky

Sometimes causes me to cry

And makes me wonder why

 

Do you feel what I feel

Do you want to feel what I feel.

I’m scared alone

In detention on my own

My future is unknown

When will kindness finally be shown

 

Do you see what I see

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Patrick White and Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Ok, I am going to be a bit cheeky here and include this post under both Reading Australia, and American Literature. Why? Because I feel it belongs in both. I believe we can see Emerson, Thoreau and other transcendentalists in Patrick White’s writings. Patrick White was a man who was obsessed with the need for spiritual connection. It is evident in his books and in his life. Is my lecturer going to allow my marrying the two subjects? Paraphrasing Thoreau and Emerson… I am doing it because I believe its the right thing to do, therefore I have confidence in myself and will go on a path that is not often traveled.

In The Tree of Man, Stan Parker is in essence a Christian with ties to a conservative kind of church. He grew up believing in God and the institution of the church, he baptises his kids into the church, he prays and seems to be the spiritual rock of the family; even though he is a man of few words, his conviction is strong. At the end of his life in the book, he has a revelation. He has been striving his whole life for a connection with God, in church, praying and at times cursing a silent God. All that time, God was revealing himself through nature. He is the God in the storm and on the gentle breeze. He is there in good times and bad, even if we cant see it at the time.

Image result for footprints in the sand poem

Patrick White had an epiphany, or a revelation when feeding his dogs one night, and slipping in the mud, that God is everywhere. Before this point, he was searching for a church that was uncompromising in its message, but liberal in its acceptance of people. He was seeking a church that was fervent in sticking to points of scripture that White considered important, while relaxing on the things that didn’t really matter.

I just had an epiphany myself. I have been doing the same thing. As a Gay man, I felt totally rejected by the Christian Church when I came out. Before coming out, I was denying who I was, while in church. I have been striving ever since to find a church that will compromise on the issue of homosexuality, or being accepting of gay people but conservative on other areas of teaching. I can stop searching. I will never find a perfect church, because while it may be perfect for me, it will be imperfect for others, or visa versa.

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I’m still running.

You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.
But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

 

In the words of U2, I still haven’t found what I am looking for. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need a church to justify my belief in God. The church says “follow the leader, follow the rules of those who have gone before. Thoreau says to travel the road less worn, to make your own way. Emerson says to be self – reliant, trusting your gut instinct, your intuition.

For those who are getting caught up in Gay Marriage debates around the world, I say, do not listen to the voices or politics to sway you into voting one way or another. Rely on your gut, and vote your own way no matter how the crowd is swayed. ( sorry to get political).

I hope this post has been informative, and insightful to you, Please leave a comment.

Dave

Each man must walk his own journey. One must not look merely at the teachings of the elders of before but be a leader of our own spiritual journey.

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Filed under American Writing, critical posts, critical posts, Reading Australia

Walter Ralegh said the world is a Liar.

 

Walter Ralegh was not a suitor of the Queen, however she fancied him.  He flirted and presented the Queen with gifts from his explorations, and trophies from his wins in battles. Walter and Elizabeth Throckmorton had found that they were with child and decided to marry. The Queen who was jealous for Ralegh and disappointed at her servant Bess, through them both in the tower for not asking her permission to marry. The first child, a son named Damerei, dies early in life. Subsequently there were  two other sons Walter and Carew. Walter died in a battle, but Carew led a full life before being killed and buried with his father in 1666.

Walter Ralegh served in Parliment as well. The Queen was somewhat moody. At one time, she knights him and asks for him to be Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard (the head honcho bodyguard). At other times he was out of favour with the Queen and was returned to the Tower of London, then a Royal prison.  He was released a number of times because of his skill in the military and he was needed to lead in battles against the Spaniards.

Sir Walter Ralegh is credited with having bought potatoes and tobacco to England, products which he found on his explorations of  South America. With hindsight, one can look back and ask if he did a favour to the ‘ civilised world’ by introducing Tobacco, but the potato became a staple in the British diet.

Ralegh was sent to the tower in 1603 by James I for an alleged plot against the Throne. He stayed there until he was pardoned in 1617 when he went again to South America. He attacked a Spanish outpost when out there. James I was friends with the Spanish. The Spanish ambassador was upset by the hostilities and asked James to have Ralegh beheaded. He complied with the request, to keep the peace.

What is the central complaint that underlines Ralegh’s poem “The Lie”?

Walter Ralegh had an epiphany in the tower, as he awaited his head to be separated from his body. He figured that there is no real pleasure, no good in the world. If there are moments of pleasure or good, they, or the ones who administer it,  have hidden agendas. Every smile is painted over a smirk, every tickle has darker intentions.

Walter wrote many poems in the Tower. The Lie being one of them.

The Lie tells of discoveries that Walter made that are perhaps not documented elsewhere. It explores and discovers the truth about the world and those in it. To Walter, the affections and admiration of those close to him, save perhaps his sons and wife, were all false. The favours people were showing him were conditional. Conditional on his allegiance and devotion to a religion, a monarch or a cause.

To the court and the church, the poem is saying that while you look good, underneath, your foundations are rotting. The foundation of the court was the history on which it stood, but the reports of historians were all lies, biased in favour of the monarch who was ruling at the time. The church itself was not so much a place of relief and solace, but one in which political decisions were made. The church at the time espoused a virtuous existence where in fact they were a puppet of the politicians.

The poem continues in the third verse, to tell the Kings and Queens not to be fooled when some says they love you. They love you only so far as it can fair them well. It is not a love or a loyalty that can be relied upon. It is merely a fair weather love. The Monarchs say they are serving their people, they want nothing for themselves. Ralegh says that is a lie. This was shown when Ralegh was castigated for attacking a Spanish ship, but was forgiven it when it showed to be a bounty for the monarch.

The poem continues in its revelations. Everything is a lie. With this discovery, he finds he has no reason to fight any longer. He has resigned himself that he is going to die.

The final verse tells the world to kill him then. The body may die but you cannot kill the soul.

The Lie

Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church, it shows
What’s good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others’ action;
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition,
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it metes but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters:
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in overwiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is prevention;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it’s fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell manhood shakes off pity
And virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing–
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing–
Stab at thee he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

 

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Filed under literature, Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature, Uncategorized

Rome Photos

In November 2016, I had the privilege of being included in the first National ACU choir to tour Rome. I had a wonderful time. Here are some of the photos I took of my time there.

Dave

I have questioned the opulence of the Catholic Church in Rome, but I figure, someone has to own it. If it were sold and the money given to feed the poor etc, then a private person would own them, and we would then castigate that person for owning such opulence. The Catholic Church, by owning and displaying all these masterpieces, can put them on public display for the world to see. They can create a continual revenue that can be used to feed the poor for as long as there is poor.

I loved spending time in Rome, and I have tossed my coin in the Trevi Fountain, so I do plan to return someday.

Dave

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Face of Christ

Acrylic on Paper. Template for a large oil.

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Purity : Patrick White and Brett Whiteley.

In the Interview on the Life and Faith of Patrick White, David Marr makes the point that Patrick had left conservative religion and went on his own search. His exploration took him on a journey through some Christian Mysticism, Carl Jung,

White lived a life of Simplicity. He portrayed simple people as very wise and spiritual people in a number of his books, including the one we studied. Riders in the Chariot portrays Miss Hare as one with great faith, but simple of mind.

The 1979 Billy Graham Crusade was a turning point for Patrick White. He decided that he couldn’t be a Christian any longer, as he didn’t wish to be associated with a religion which was more like a performance…”religion as opera”.

But it is Marr’s comments about the Patrick white book, The Twyborn Affair which perked my interest in purity and Patrick White. Patrick White writes in that book that “What life is about is the pursuit of Purity”. It was important for Patrick. A purity which incorporated moral purity, purity of life, of work and of spirit.

Patrick wanted to be a good man and defined good as being pure.

Brett Whiteley painted Alchemy as an Autobiographical painting in which if one reads it from right to left, finishes with gold, the pure product of the alchemist, and White, the colour of purity.

Brett Whiteley was inspired by Patrick White to the extent that he included a depiction of him in the work Alchemy.Brett Whiteley also left conventional Christianity and  went on a spiritual journey that took him through the world of drugs, and eastern religions. He also looked at Blake at one stage, depicting Blake’s “Grain of Sand” on the same panel as his exploration depictions.

By depicting purity at the end of his life, I believe Brett Whiteley was seeking purity. I also believed he shared the views of White when White expressed contempt at one who was talented but not working on that talent as contemptible. But he saw in the writer Yukio Mishima one who sought to perfect his art, and one who sacrificed all for it as a pure soul; having achieved purity. Mishima had completed his journey and so decided to end it. I believe Whiteley  was in awe of Mishima, and painted his portrait as a dedication to the writer.

We all search for something. Searching for purity seems good to me. I feel I have not let Patrick White down. My aim in life is to share beauty with those who cannot see it for themselves. I strive to do that. My motto is Creativity is a gift, given sparingly, to be used wisely. I think Patrick White would approve.

Dave

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All that Glitters: Brett Whiteley

I am a few weeks behind commenting on my visit to the Brett Whiteley Studio and Gallery, and indeed on Alchemy itself. I have been in deep thought about what one part to concentrate on. The work ‘Alchemy’ is an incredible artwork mapping Brett Whiteley’s life. Some have said it is a self portrait. I think of it in a literary sense. It is autobiographical. A portrait in art is generally one picture, showing one aspect of a person, with facial features, showing only the surface. An autobiography however, can reveal thoughts and feelings that perhaps were not evident before being revealed.

Alchemy can be described as taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Taking what is common, and making it shine like gold. I believe that what Brett Whiteley was trying to show was the transition of his own life, from conception through to spiritual nirvana, turning one sperm amongst millions, into a life that mattered.

alchemy

The section I wish to focus on is his discovery or what I call the exploration portion of the artwork. I have interpreted this part of the painting to coincide with Whiteley’s adolescence. Adolescence is a time of discovery. We use a telescope to look into the cosmos. We discover what part we are to play in this big wide world. and we realise, with the use of a magnifying glass, that our own worth is infinitesimal compared to the universe. Brett Whiteley depicts this as him looking at his own life as William Blake’s grain of sand, making reference to his work

alchemy-exploration

 

If we are reading the work from right to left (Contrary to the chronological way it was painted), you will see that at the end of what I term Whitleley’s adolescence a speech bubble with …!! enclosed. I believe this is the moment of revelation for Whiteley. the “That’s it!” moment.

And then with the realisation, he has discovered IT.

 

When travelling in the city on the weekend, I had my partner lean out of the car window and take these photos of a mural on the side of a building on the corner of Southern Cross Drive and Flinders St. You will see here that the artist is also facinated by Whiteley and has captured some of the spirit of Whiteley.

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Blessings

Dave

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