The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
It was as though Flora had been fated to be always surrounded by treachery and lies stifling every better impulse, every instinctive aspiration of her soul to trust and to love. It would have been enough to drive a fine nature into the madness of universal suspicion - into any sort of madness. I don't know how far a sense of humor will stand by one. To the foot of the gallows perhaps.
Friday, May 8, 2015
"That was a good name," she said aloud. "You almost understood. I have been named many things, but this name came closest. When I am named so am I called, and when I am called I must serve in the way of the name. But this name came closest to what I truly am. You have almost understood my nature, and that part of me which is unnatural. Cuwyn, you were both hunter and hunted, the shadow of your thoughts was the beast which killed you. But for the kindness of my name you shall ride the wide land without pain.
Was he a man for a coup-de-foudre, the lightning stroke of love? I don't think so. That sort of susceptibility is luckily rare. A world of inflammable lovers of the Romeo and Juliet type would very soon end in barbarism and misery. But it is a fact that in every man there lives a lover; a lover who is called out in all his potentialities often by the most insignificant little things - as long as they come at the psychological moment: The glimpse of a face at an unusual angle, an evanescent attitude, the curve of a cheek often looked at before, perhaps, but then, at the moment, charged with astonishing significance. There are great mysteries, of course. Magic signs.
There is magic in a new song.
Yes! Of course! That was the answer. A song. A new song.
At last. So easy. So obvious! She would sing to the memory of Scathach. A silent song, woven about his stone, repeated and enriched from the unknown regions which were her own passions, from the pleasures and visions that were all her own. A song: until the spell was broken.
A song for Scathach.
Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn't a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their own song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their songs instead.
Oh, I know there is no place you can go to
And I know you don't know anyone at all
So come walking in the sun with me my little one
And remember that the only time is now
Well strange is the story your eyes tell me
And quiet all the few words that you say
So come and hold my hand, for you see I'd understand
And remember that the only time is now
Oh I come to you a ragged laughing stranger
And you come to me an angel of the night
So I'll dance and we will sing, for it doesn't mean a thing
To remember that the only time is now
So forget about your yesterday of sorrow
And forget about the darkness you have seen
For there's only you and me at the edge of an endless sea
And remember that the only time is now
"...so the woman Ka-shok, who would become Mother of the T'Sel, sat in the shade of a fish-hook bush, looking through the heat shimmers across the gravel pan where the only midday movement was a drill bird flying from thorn jug to thorn jug, to listen and peep, peck and swallow. And Ka-shok wondered what the truth was of our origins. For to her, the old stories of gods and demons seemed unreal in the world of heat and drought, of hard labor beneath the stars, of bore-worms in the root crops.
It occurred to her then that one should be able to look at a place and what had been there in its past, seeing things the way they had been instead of the way they were at present. If one knew how. It also seemed to her that she did know how, if she could only do it right.
Now to do something, one must first start and she decided to start by closing her eyes to what was there at that time; perhaps then she could see the long before. So she closed them, but before long went to sleep and saw only dreams until a scorpion stung her.
That was but her first attempt, for its failure and the failures that followed, did not discourage her. Before the season of rains came two more times, she had begun to see the past; and not only the past of where she was, but the past of other places. And of living people - things that had happened to them before that lifetime. which she had not expected. And she spoke of these things to her husband, who thereupon beat her and called her crazy, and to her daughters and son, who, in fear, began to keep her grandchildren away from her.
But she continued looking, seeing more and more, and further and further back, only saying no more about it. And it was as if this activity, though pursued in silence, was like a signal fire in the night, attracting seekers. For a certain few people, both old and young, some of them strangers, sought her out, confiding in her their dreams and wonderings, seeking her advice. Until at length, she and some of those few went away, west into the Jubal Hulls, where they lived on the sparse catch of snares and fish traps and the roots of certain planets, and together they sought back in time, with her as their guide.
Mostly they kept apart from any others, but this one and that would return to their homes from time to time. And when anyone asked them what they had been doing, they answered simply that they had been praying in the hills with an old woman. For what they had seen seemed at the time too strange to tell others, who might beat them for it, or drive them away.
Nonetheless, bit by bit, others, not knowing why they did so, decided to go and pray with ka-shok, who by then had begun to be wizened and gray-headed. And they became too many to be fed from snares and fish traps. So one who owned land and water rights took Ka-shok and the others home with him, to the dismay of his son there, and they dug many cells into a hill, that each could have his or her own. And this man declared rules of conduct, and rules of duties, that so far as possible they might continue to seek without the distractions of misconduct, for they did not yet know T'sel.
And not only did they see more and more of what had been in the past, but they began to glimpse behind the Here and behind the There. And before Ka-shok departed the ancient husk her body had become, more and more seekers had come to her, until the community moved again, occupying an entire valley and building irrigation works greater than had been seen before on Tyss.
For they had seen marvels in their past, not only of vessels going among the stars, but of the place they had come from. And from the seeing, learned much.
And of even greater import, they began to perceive the T'sel.
"Reasons" as stated and believed are seldom true, and their seniority is illusory. Rather, intentions and events, in their order, precede the reasons perceived and give them birth, The most common order is intention, event, reason, but it may also be sometimes event, intention, reason. Be aware also that the operative intention may not be apparent even to its originator, on this side of reality. On this side he may not be aware of his actual intention, which, of course, originates on the other side.
You may ask how an event can precede the reason and this brings into question the nature of reasons: more instructive is the question of how the event can precede the intention, which brings into question the nature of time, and once more of reality. But the latter question could only be posed from a this-side viewpoint which is, of course, very restricted.
"Then... it sounds as if you feel it's your fate to die. Or be maimed."
"Fate? I am aware of the term from my student days; we study something of your philosophy, you know. What you refer to here as 'fate', we simply look at as one of the laws - a tertiary, not a primary or even secondary law - but one of the laws regulating the activities of man in this universe. One may sometimes win predominantly, or lose predominantly through an entire lifetime or even a sequence of lifetimes, but the equation will eventually tend toward balance. Or perhaps it is just then balancing from some earlier winning or losing sequence."
Varlik frowned. "But why do you fight then, if you feel doomed to lose eventually? Why would anyone go through the pain and exhaustion and danger, and see his friends killed or mangled, when he's only going to lose in the end?"
"Ah! But we have no doom, and it is not the end."
The T'swi looked at Varlik for several seconds without saying anything further, as if considering how to make his answer more meaningful. "Varlik, why do you live?" he asked at last.
'Why? Because I can't help myself. A person is born living and with the instinct to survive. That's why I live."
"Um." The blue-black warrior nodded thoughtfully. "Yet if you stay with us, you will see us put ourselves repeatedly in great danger. How is it then that the instinct you speak of is inoperative in so many of us? Including you, it seems, for here you are, going to battle with us."
"What you call 'the instinct to survive' is simply an emotional attachment to a body, growing in part from the misapprehension that if it is destroyed, you cease to exist. But in fact, while bodies are notably destructible, you yourself cannot avoid survival.
"The challenge is to live with interest unless one's fear is too great, which seems to be rather common among the worlds of man, one normally prefers that that existence be interesting."
A hint of a smile touched the wide mouth. "And even then, consider the possibility that the person who is fearful, who perhaps is even in hiding, may at some hidden level enjoy the experience.
"As warriors, we find our greatest interest and pleasure in battle, and our next greatest in preparing for battle. Winning is preferred, but the preference is slight. We are not allowed to - ah, 'graduate' is your nearest word to it. We would not be allowed to graduate if we did not know deeply and truly that the fullest joy and reward of the warrior is in being a warrior, and performing the actions of a warrior, with artistry! And that winning is something to favor only very slightly. We do prefer to win, but it is not important to us. We do not allow the matter of winning or losing, surviving or dying, to interfere with our pleasure. We go into battle ready to enjoy the experience, without anxiety over the outcome."
"...we T'swa do not fight. For us, war is a form of play, and we play most skillfully at it. And true play does not have problems, but challenges and opportunities.
"Problems, you see, are a matter of attitude; one being's problem might be viewed by another in the same situation as an opportunity, perhaps for a game or a war. With the attitude of play, you may see a situation and decide you will create a different situation in its place, without any determination that you must succeed. What you think of as success has no part in play. You do it for the doing.
"Think of play as a journey in which the place you have chosen to travel is far less important than the traveling."
Every computer consists of two aspects, known as hardware and software (software here includes information).
The hardware in a solid-state computer is concrete and localized, consisting of a central processing unit, display, key board, external disk drive, cd-rom, floppies, etc. - All the parts you can drag into Radio Shack for repair if the computer is malfunctioning.
The software consists of programs that can exist in many forms including the totally abstract. A program can be "in" the computer in the sense that it is recorded in the CPU or on a disk which is hitched up to the computer. A program can also exist on a piece of paper, if I invented it myself, or in a manual, if it is a standard program; in these cases, it is not "in" the computer but can be put "in" at any time. But a program can be even more tenuous than that; it can exist only in my head, if I have never written it down, or if I have used it once and erased it.
The hardware is more "real" than the software in that you can always locate it in space-time - if it's not in the bedroom, somebody must have moved it to the study, etc. On the other hand the software is more "real" in the sense that you can smash the hardware back to dust ("Kill" the computer) and the software still exists, and can "materialize" or "manifest" again in a different computer.
(Any speculations about reincarnation at this point are the responsibility of the reader, not the author).
...and thus Freud, like Frazier, judged the worlds of myth, magic, and religion negatively, as errors to be refuted, surpassed, and supplanted finally by science.
An altogether different approach is represented by Carl G. Jung, in whose view the imageries of mythology and religion serve positive, life-furthering ends. According to his way of thinking, all the organs of our bodies - not only those of sex and aggression - have their purposes and motives, some being subject to conscious control, others, however, not. Our outward-oriented consciousness, addressed to the demands of the day, may lose touch with these inward forces; and the myths, states Jung, when correctly read, are the means to bring us back in touch. They are telling us in picture language of powers of the psyche to be recognized and integrated in our lives, powers that have been common to the human spirit forever, and which represent that wisdom of the species by which man has weathered the milleniums. Thus they have not been, and never can be, displaced by the findings of science, which relate rather to the outside world than to the depths that we enter in sleep. Through a dialogue conducted with these inward forces through our dreams and through a study of myths, we can learn to know and come to terms with the greater horizon of our own deeper and wiser, inward self. And, analogously, the society that cherishes and keeps its myths alive will be nourished from the soundest, richest strata of the human spirit.
However, there is a danger here as well, namely, of being drawn by one's dreams and inherited myths away from the world of modern consciousness, fixed in patterns of archaic feeling and thought inappropriate to contemporary life.
Significant images render insights beyond speech, beyond the kinds of meaning speech defines. And if they do not speak to you, that is because you are not ready for them, and words will only serve to make you think you have understood, thus cutting you off altogether. You don't ask what a dance means, you enjoy it.
The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind - whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: The inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. And they may remain unsuspected, or, on the other hand, some chance word, the smell of a landscape, the taste of a cup of tea, or the glance of an eye may touch a magic spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the brain. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self destruction of the world that we have built and in which we live, and of ourselves within it but then a wonderful reconstruction, of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life - that is the lure, the promise and terror, of these disturbing night visitants from the mythological realm that we carry within.
She took my hand and we walked together to a gazebo in the redwood-fenced back yard. Its interior was dark and cool beneath a thick covering of pink honeysuckle, and we sat down inside together on its padded bench.
"This place smells as sweet as you feel," I murmured in her ear.
She kissed me, a soft lingering kiss. "Once long ago," she told me, "when you first became a warrior, I met you in a place very much like this. There was already a lot you weren't allowed to remember; you didn't remember who I was, or what we'd been, but you sensed it at a deeper level. It was not a happy time. Close your eyes and look with me."
I did, and remembered. I may have had my memory unblocked, but there was an incredible lot of it, most of which I would never get around to looking at. It was background, very little of which needed to be revisited. But this did. Seeing it again tapped an area of grief that, unlooked at, would have continued to lie there, tainting our happiness with ancient loss.
"You do remember," she whispered.
I nodded. Till then the span of our separation had been an abstract concept to me. Now I felt the extent of it, the immensity. I saw myself reaching out to her in a myriad of mystical moments of loneliness, leaving a trail of tears that spanned the sky. And I'd never truly forgotten her, even though all memory of before was locked away, had had to be."
"You're still misreading Cha's purpose: You think of war as hell, a thing to be avoided or at least won. But Cha thinks of war as a delight, to be enjoyed from all positions: Win, lose, or watch. Of course he plays to win, but he is perfectly willing to lose, and he never has lost - not in the sense you think of as losing."
The beginnings of the universe and of beings are lost in the depths of time. The earliest time known was of beings like gods.
To make existence interesting, these entered into games with one another, and as time went on, formal rules were made to play by. And rewards were added, and penalties, and restrictions on departing a game. These were to add the zest of danger and necessity to games. And beings became avid for games, and did not see, or did not heed, where this was leading.
There were many worlds and many games. And beings who were between games sought other games around the universe. When the game was created here on Ch'matal, Ch'matal was called Weirro, which meant "game field". In time it would have many other names, among them Terra, Eorthe and World. But the idea of "game field" was forgotten.
And all who wished to play on Weirro were required to agree to limiting terms. One of the terms was that, having agreed, they would forget what the terms were, although bound by them with force. And another, they would forget the goal of the game. And another, they would be in ignorance that it was a game. And another, they would not know who they were until such time as the game was over.
This would provide seriousness. It would allow surprise. And it required skill and application in attempting to work out what the terms, the rules of the game, were. For those who could most closely discover and play to the limits of the rules would gain the advantage. Their penalties and failures would be fewer, their successes greater.
And thus came to be philosophy, and religion, and science.
And the purpose of the game and its rules were numerous. The most general were to experience the sensations and emotions that would grow therefrom, and to provide challenges. The goal of the game was to regain full knowledge of the agreement, which would end the game and cancel the agreement.
But the goal was hidden in forgetfulness.
Cal was frightened as he had never been frightened in his life before. He sat in his room, the door locked, and shook.
The shaking had begun a few minutes after events at Rue Street, almost twenty-four hours ago now, and it hadn't shown much sign of stopping since. Sometimes it made his hands tremble so much he could hardly hold the glass of whiskey he'd nursed through an all but sleepless night, other times it made his teeth chatter. But most of the shaking didn't go on outside, it was in. It was as if the pigeons had gotten in his belly somehow, and were flapping their wings against his innards.
And all because he'd seen something wonderful, and he knew in his bones that his life would never be the same again. How could it? He'd climbed the sky and looked down on the secret place that he'd been waiting since childhood to find.
Everything he'd ever wanted had been in that land; he knew it. Everything his education had taught him to disbelieve - all miracles, all mystery, all blue shadow and sweet-breathed spirits. All the pigeons knew, all the wind knew, all the human world had once grasped and now forgotten, all of it was waiting in that place. He'd seen it with his own eyes.
Which probably made him insane.