Wednesday, March 9, 2011
"History" never existed. It's merely a construct established as a part of this play or drama "we" are a part of. "We" is another construct. It is really all just "I," but divided up into millions of individuals. When we speak of "previous lives," it really means "myself" as the billions of other individuals who exist in the world right now. I "currently" experience this particular individual experiences as "myself," but in other "lives," I experience the other individuals. So, I was once, or will in some incarnation, am right now, my Dad, my brother, Saddam Hussein, G.W. Bush, etc. When I hate someone, I really am hating myself in differing circumstances because I've failed to see that it's the various conditions and situations in this incarnation that make up the "differences" in individuals, but it is really just me in different contexts. When I judge someone, I judge myself with the same measure.
The world started circa 1966, but we only agreed to call it "1966." Nothing existed before that. History was created just to make the game seem more real. Jesus Christ, Hitler, Nietzsche, and George Washington never existed.
Oh, I'm just funnin'...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I come from a long line of eccentric uncles. They exist on both sides—maternal and paternal. Mom’s brothers were a no-brainer set of eccentricity. Her ancestors settled in Breathitt County, Kentucky a generation or two before the Revolutionary War. Just the fact that they were Appalachian farmers is enough zaniness for most people, but the fun didn’t stop there. My grandma, Mom’s mom, was pregnant more than fifteen times. The count is somewhere between sixteen and eighteen “children” depending on whether you count miscarriages as viable births. Still, that’s a lot of kids. She married Grandpa when she was thirteen—he was in his late twenties, revealing something of the dirty “old man” tendency in my collection of eccentric uncles. Grandma got pregnant not long after the wedding and had kids about every two years for the next thirty or so years, well into her forties, which explains why some of my later-born eccentric uncles died in childbirth, or were stillborn.
My oldest uncle died at the age of eighteen in unagreed upon circumstances. Some say he died of suffocation where he worked at Dupont as a spray painter. Others say he died of diabetic complications. Neither is out of the question. His next younger brother, Manuel (pronounced MAN-yull, not mon-WELL), was the oldest uncle in my mind. He chewed tobacco and rarely bathed, explaining the greenish tint on the top of his forearms arms where he’d wipe his mouth after stepping up to the front porch of the trailer in Lost Creek and spewing a glob of chaw out at the chickens on the patio. He spoke in riddles that actually revealed a latent intelligence, but were difficult to process in my young mind, partly from the Appalachian dialect that put a strange twist on everything my uncles said. As an example, he used to tell my mentally challenged aunt that her bright-red lipstick made her mouth look like a fox’s butt during pokeberry time. He used to crock my males cousins’ and my heads in the crook of his tobacco-stains arms and give us “roosters” and “hens”—variations on the theme of using his curled index finger to knock some sense into us.
Merle (pronounce Murl) was cleaner, quieter, and more sensitive than Manuel. He favored making up pet names for all of the grandkids in the family. He called my older brother Chris “Critter” and he called me “Marchus.” When my sister was three we went to visit my grandma in her house on First Street in East Dayton. The kitchen had flooded and Merle was extracting the offending inundation when we arrived. I asked what that goofy sounding—“guk, guk, guk”—contraption in the middle of the kitchen was. Merle said, “That’s a sump pump.” Michelle said, “Sunk punk?” Merle nearly died laughing and until the day he died some twenty years later, he called Michelle “Sunkpunk.”
Aside from Merle’s endearing nomenclature, he also had a penchant for wooing and bedding teenage girls. While in certain circles in Kentucky such behavior is more or less considered normal, in the somewhat more main stream America in suburban Dayton, Merle often came off as a freaking pervert. This was especially noticeable to me when I, at the age of fourteen, was dating my cousin Timmy’s neighbor Carrie. Each time I came back from a visit next door, Merle would ask, “Did you poke ‘er yet?” To which I’d answer, “No, not yet.” To which Merle would reply, “Boy, I’d be pokin’ that. Mmh!” One day, Carrie was walking up her driveway. Merle stood at the sliding glass doors of Timmy’s Florida room, repeating his passioned observation to no one in particular, “Boy, I’d be pokin’ that. Mmh!”
In this climate, in relative terms, Jimmy Dale and Goodlo were far less off kilter, but I still retain some good memories. Not long before my ex-wife Faye and I were to head off to Africa to work as missionaries, we went to visit Mom’s family at my cousin Timmy’s, something of a central hub for the Neace clan in them parts. Jim sidled up to me at the dining room table and said, “You going to Africa?”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding.
“Ain’t they a bunch o’ niggers over there. Why the hell you want to go over there and be with a bunch o’ niggers for? Ain’t they enough a them over here for ya?”
I had almost no common ground to find with Jim in this interchange and sat stunned, paralyzed in my effort to formulate some kind of response that wouldn’t compromise my own views on race while not raising the hostilities in the room. While most of my family were not so extreme in their hatred for African Americans, they also weren’t likely to appreciate my own personal views that considered all people equally valid representations of humanity. In my moment of hesitation, Goodlo came to the rescue. “Why, he’s going over there to civilize ‘em, Jim. That’s a good thing. They need that.”
How to summarize all I’d learned from personal experience, a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, and a couple of semesters of Linguistics and Anthropology in graduate school? I settled for, “Yeah. Right. What he said.”
It’s speculated that somewhere along the way the Neace family incorporated genetic material from the Cherokee Nation. It’s a family rumor, but it’s not really so far-fetched. The first time I saw a picture of Geronimo—at the age of four or five—I thought it was a picture of Merle wearing an Indian costume. Grandma and most of my uncles look Native American and many of my students from Asia over the years had uncanny resemblances to my mother, aunts, and uncles. Standing with a group of Asian students at a Chinese buffet one day, a Texan came up to me and asked what part of China I was from. I was flummoxed, but when I relayed the story to one of my colleagues later, he told me, “Yeah, I can see it.”
The funny thing is, no Native American shows up in any of the Neace family genealogies. My theory is that some kind of interracial hanky-panky was going on in that valley in Lost Creek, Kentucky. Likely, it was one of my great (great) grandmothers. She got pregnant, pretended it was my great (great) grandfather’s, and like Dale on King of the Hill, he was either blissfully ignorant or hopelessly in denial, but never made an issue that his own boy or girl looked more like the Cherokee tracker in the county than himself and the Cherokee gene pool merged with the Neace line and thus some ancient roots from Asia made themselves ready to formulate my body for this incarnation.
Friday, January 21, 2011
I've written a couple of times about the 111, 1/11, 1/11/11 musing I had around the beginning of the New Year. More has come about from this and it ties into a number of themes I've been writing about lately.
It starts with my daily practice of drawing mandalas. Over last weekend, I tried a mandala while staying at my parents' house, which resulted in Fig. A. I've used Photoshop to paint the rabbit and make it easier to see. In this particular mandala drawing, the rabbit is coming out of its burrow. I thought about rabbits and their meaning and intuitively thought it related to transformation, especially as the rabbit in the mandala was coming out of its burrow--out of the subconscious to walk about in the waking world. A quick search on the Web confirmed this intuition, most notably in the Easter Bunny's connection to Christ's Death and Resurrection.
Fig. A--Rabbit Coming Out of Its Burrow
On Tuesday night of this week, I began cleaning my house and came across a note card on which I'd written 1/11/11 and hung on the fridge. When the day had come and gone without any particularly notable happening unfolding, I had set it aside in a pile of other note cards. As I moved these note cards in order to clean my shelf, the one with 1/11/11 written on it fell from the pile, face upward, as if looking straight at me. I wondered to myself if I'd missed something, if something had happened that day that I hadn't noticed. I thought to myself, "Maybe it's significant in some way." I didn't think about it again that day. The next morning, I did more of my scribbling and looking for shapes. The first mandala (Fig. B--Thorn Birds) looked to me like a bird, and since I'd watch part 1 of The Thorn Birds the night before, I wondered if it was a an indication to reflect upon that movie and its theme more closely. I wondered if the circular shape might be the sun, or a mandala within a mandala.
Fig. B--The Thorn Birds
Later that night, I tried more mandala drawings and seemed, one drawing after the next, to keep spotting angels in the scribbles. Figs. C, D, and E show three angles in various kinds of positions.
Fig. D--Angel 2
Fig. E--Angel 3
These drawings are striking to me partly from the standpoint of art. The "scribbles" make for very natural, energetic lines, and then create compelling shapes. The resulting drawings of the angels carry that energy and show reasonably good composition. My theory is that my subconscious leads both in guiding my hand during the scribbling and then guides my brain in spotting the images it wishes to communicate. I am not certain I could draw such nice pictures if I just sat down to do it. At any rate, I felt encouraged by the appearance of angels, and even as I looked at Fig. B the next morning, I thought that it, in an Old Testament Prophet sort of way, could certainly be an angel as well, and the circle could be a halo.
In case you haven't been following the days, we are now on Wednesday. I'd continued thinking about the 111, 1/11/11 experience, but could make little sense of it. I tucked it away, figuring some day it would make sense. Well, that "someday" was that very day. I was at the library, feeling a bit antsy and began strolling amid the stacks. I walked past the Self-Help section and noticed a book binding with the number 11:11 (red against yellow). I took the book off the shelf and looked at the cover, which had a bunch of pictures, all of them in one way or another interpretable as the number 11, or related to people or concepts that reveal some grand cosmic geometry. Intrigued, I looked at the back cover and read the following:
"The reports of people noticing repeated associations with the number 11 are on the rise, prompting theories connected with this phenomenon with the coming Mayan calendar end date of 12/21/2012. But it's not just the number 11 that is showing up in people's lives; it is often accompanied by unusual events or profound insights."
As it turns out, there is a theory that appearances of the number 11 in such configurations as 111, 11:11 (on a digital clock), 11111 (or 1/11/11) are indications of a particular kind of angel attempting to make contact with the person. You can read about some of this at Suite 101: (http://www.suite101.com/content/what-does-1111-mean-a109040). Experiences with the number 11 has to do with people waking in the middle of the night or happening to look at a digital clock and seeing 11:11, 12:12, 12:34, 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, etc. Other experiences have to do with things like what I'd written at the end of last year regarding 111 and 1/11/11. (Just an intriguing coincidence: I brought the book home, needed a bookmark and grabbed at my pile of note cards. The one I grabbed turned out to be the one on which I'd written 1/11/11).
I swear that I knew nothing about this phenomenon before I saw the book, but had wondered about my own 111-1/11/11 experience and in a way had asked for an answer. In addition to all of this, my interest in mandala drawing led me to order The Mandala Book by Lori Bailey Cunningham (http://www.amazon.com/Mandala-Book-Patterns-Universe/dp/1402762909/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295629156&sr=8-1) a book about the spiritual and geometric properties of mandalas and how they help us understand the deeper mysteries of the universe. By what I consider sheer synchronicity, the information in The Mandala Book very closely parallels the information given in 11:11 The Time Prompt Phenomenon by Marie D. Jones and Larry Flaxman (http://www.amazon.com/Mandala-Book-Patterns-Universe/dp/1402762909/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295629156&sr=8-1), the book I got at the library.
This has started me on a kind of artistic/spiritual quest that I'll write more about tomorrow. Some really interesting and fascinating things are happening.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Fig. 1 -- Mandala
Mandalas date back to ancient times as images used for meditative purposes. I recently watched the movie The Last Mimsy, which included mandalas as an important part of the development of the story. I found out that making your own mandalas can be a spiritual practice, like meditating. As it turns out, at the beginning of last month, I sat and made some of my own mandala's without knowing that was what I was doing. Fig. 2 shows the drawings I made in December 2010, a night when I felt myself open up, as I do when I'm writing, drawing, playing music, or observing some beautiful scene in nature.
Fig. 2--Mark's Mandalas from Dec. 2010
I know from reading Betty Edward's books, especially Drawing on the Artist Within, that that feeling of connection at least partly includes activating the right side of the brain, and was in fact why I was drawing these pictures on 12/10/10. I felt peace and harmony within myself, and my brain had a satisfied, relaxed feeling. I find it striking, therefore, that there is a skull in my favorite one from that night.
As it turns out, two times in December I reached what I would call serious levels of despair. In my mind, I think of this despair as emerging as a reaction to my current circumstances--not finding success with my writing career, living on credit cards, living in a town, state, and region I don't particularly like, etc., etc., etc. Later in the month, on two occasions, I'd become serious enough about committing suicide to plan the date and the means. On the most recent, I actually wrote out a suicide letter. Today, this very day, I'd be dead if I had carried out the plan.
Yesterday, a book came into the library that I'd ordered after watching The Last Mimsy. It's about creating your own mandalas. Last night, I just sat down and started scribbling away. What works for me is to scribble for a while, and then highlight shapes that I see in the figure and shade them or the surrounding areas. The important thing to realize here is that at the time, I had no plan or idea what I was doing. When I engage in this activity, I become happy, joyful, and positive. I sing and dance my way around the house, whatever I may be doing. Indeed, something incredible happens when I do these drawings, but at the time I had no sense of their potential meaning.
Last night, the first drawing I made (Fig, 3) I named "Spider," mostly because the shape in the middle looked like a black spider. The second drawing I did that night I entitled "Coin," but might just have easily named it "Pentacle" because there is what looks like the Coin/Pentacle suit in the Rider-Waite Tarot decks directly in the middle.
The third drawing I made that night (Fig. 5) I entitled "Butterfly" because it looks like a butterfly to me in an abstract way. This morning, I got up and instead of meditating, as I usually do, I elected to draw mandalas. I drew a drawing that I entitled "Heart" (Fig. 6), but it felt inauthentic, as if I was intentionally trying to make something hopeful. I grabbed another piece of paper and just started scribbling. The result was Fig. 7, which I entitled "Door." This mandala, for me, held the same mysterious force of the others in compelling me to look, to pay attention, to feel life and light inside me. It was quite strange, and then, I began to see the pattern and to match them to some really important insights I've been making recently.
The Spider is a dark being or presence creating chaos and mayhem. As I sat working this morning, I kept getting glimpses of underlying anxiety in me, a dark cloud of fear that has me sitting in my house hating my life, fearing the worst, nitpicking, complaining, and feeling hopeless despair. I think, this is the part of me that made plans to kill myself and wrote a suicide letter. But it's elusive, hard to pin down, a shadow that isn't easy to detect, but the chaos it creates is very real.
The Star mandala is nearly identical to the Spider except that there is a star in the middle and there is a pattern, or the chaos is patterning. It is as if the coin/pentacle is creating order from chaos. There is another part of me, also elusive, that is like starlight--not so easy to detect, but somehow hopeful.
The Butterfly reflects the outward sign of that hope. I wrote in this blog some months ago about the Moth and Butterfly signs I saw, that spoke of hope. I've recently finished another draft of my failed project Wayward Son. In a couple of scenes in the story I experience the unfettered starlight and the sight of a comet that spoke to something deep inside me. The presence was sad and lonely as it was joyful and expectant.
The Door is the way through. Again, the image is very similar to the Spider and the Coin, but the middle is empty, as if that is the direction I should go. The darkness and chaos is scary, but I feel compelled to follow. I know in this that I am passing into the seemingly upside down world of soul, a place where the thoughts and feelings associated with the heavy matter and karma of this life are ridiculous. However, living in soul is dark, mysterious, and frightening to the self locked into the karmic conditioning of "reality."
I was at a place that felt like the end, and it was, but in a way I didn't fully understand. Living the old way is done. If I continue to live that way, I already know what waits for me. I understood this morning as the realization of all of this was dawning on me that I likely committed suicide in my previous life. In this life, my task is to overcome that karma and truly live, live in a way that makes being here worth it. It's an interesting place to be, sittign here and watching this transformation take place.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I was feeling pretty lazy and really would rather have continued to lounge in my parent's apartment, but I really felt compelled to go for a walk. I'm glad I did.
I stepped out the front door of my parent's apartment building to see a pink and orange sunset. What was most remarkable, however, was a column of fuchsia-colored light shooting from the horizon straight upward, like a great pink sword about the cut through the gray, purple, and red clouds. It was like a beacon and reminded of the light coming out of the top of the head of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Once on the walking trail--an old railway bed converted into a paved walking path--I strolled in the crisp, dry air of the purple twilight, still able to see the pink shaft of light through the spindly spines of the hardwoods going along the path. Usually during walks I talk to myself, aloud, basically converting the idle chatter of my ever-anxious left brain into verbiage that allows me to air and resolve some if it, but lately, I've grown weary of the endless babble. The other day, it seemed appropriate to put this part of myself to death. The next day, lying in bed after awakening, I envisioned this dead blathering fool as an endless chattering, frantically anxious skeleton and lay in the quiet darkness laughing heartily at the image. I named him Skullboy and at times just let him chatter along while I allow life--life that I've not been too keyed into because of Skullboy's endless prattle--to come into my awareness.
This time, I wouldn't allow Skullboy to needle, but quieted my mind as I strolled along. I closed my eyes and let all the sounds that normally escape me come into awareness. Soon, I could feel a rhythm, or was I sensing it? I don't really know. What I do know is that in those moments, all of the sounds I heard--my breath, the scritching of my jacket, the crunch of snow under my feet, a single leaf rattling on a branch as it falls, squirrels frolicking among the spindly fingers of a maple, even the rumble of cars on the road I was approaching, the squish of their tires on the pavement--it all fit together somehow in some vast rhythm, some connected and united dance where all of the participants were synchronized and flowing in harmony and cohesion. I felt old; not in a tired and dying way, but like an old, old soul who has lived for thousands of years and has finally awakened from a long and wearying dream.
Skullboy wouldn't stop blabbing, and occasionally his words sunk in "...we're in trouble, we're in debt, it's getting dark, it's too cold, i don't like it here, i need to leave..." I pictured his frantic, skull jaw flapping like wind-up teeth and I laughed, as I tend to laugh whenever I picture Skullboy's anxious chattering.
On down the trail, I spotted Alpine and Doug, an Alaskan Malamute and his owner. I've run into them a few times out here. I don't especially like dogs, but Alpine has some presence about him that stands out to me. He sees me and begins to howl. Doug hasn't remembered meeting me, but he says, "We must have met you before because he uses that howl when he sees someone he remembers and likes." It seemed an omen to see Alpine, to run into an animal, a dog no less, to which I feel some primal connection.
In the growing darkness, I continued down the trail to its end, a wooded area near the freeway. As I turn around and walk back, I'm aware of ancient spirits in this wood, old Native American ghosts, but then, I sense guardian spirits of the forest and from them sense a positive energy, a connection, a welcome, love. On back toward my parents, the feeling has passed as I come closer to residential neighborhoods, but the feeling of connection to the rhythm in creation is still there. It's a rhythm I want to feel connected to always, even in a room constructed of cinder blocks watching the News on TV with a group of people who think they're hearing the truth. That would be a life well worth living.
I am in a kind of old garage that has been converted into a room. The place is unpainted and fairly Spartan with a concrete floor and unpainted walls. Outside, it is fairly rustic looking, dead leaves lying around, peeling paint. The surrounding area has a lot of big hardwoods and there's a kind of drive going past outside the door.
Outside the room, there's a covered area, like a porch. The garage is a room where I am living with Rusty as a roommate, but Michael and Denny are there also. There's some sense that we are all teenagers. I am sitting at my desk in the room playing with a MIDI program on my laptop. There's some interaction with a stereo and wires, but that seems left over from the previous dream or string of episodes. Rusty is listening to music—Country Music that I don’t care too much for. I am thinking I need to remember to turn my music on before he does so we don't have to listen to his stuff. It occurs to me that I'm being a bit of a music Nazi.
I’m sitting at my desk with my desktop. We’re all waiting to go to a movie together. It’s time to go, so I pull away from the computer and note that a really bad thunderstorm is moving in with dark clouds, driving rain, and intense thunder and lightning. The lightning is striking the ground and trees outside the room and leaving bluish, tinsel-like arcs of electricity. The lightning strikes down by the lower left of the door and I can see the tingling charges there.
Denny walks over to check it out and he is hit by a bolt of lightning. He lies there with the bluish charges arcing around his body as he convulses with a surprised look on his face.
Soon, Denny is standing again. He steps over toward the door and a pair of giant hands--like the praying hands of Jesus with the flowing sleeves of his white robe undulating in the breeze--reach down from out of the sky into the room. The hands are held like a pair of scissors and clamp around Denny’s neck, lifting him off the ground. The hands become electrified, like lightning, shooting jolts of electricity through Denny’s body. His arms and legs flail as the bluish charges arc around his body. He's screaming in terror and pain. I tried to reach over and pull him free, but felt a jolt of electricity and so let go and just stood there helplessly watching. The hands open and Denny falls to the floor of the porch. The hands recede back up into the sky.
I stand there stunned, looking at Denny's motionless and smoking body lying on the ground. His eyes are wide open. Before I make a move or can even think what to do, the hands come reaching back down from the sky and grab me around the neck. I'm terrified, expecting a jolt of electricity to course through me, but it doesn't. The hands pull me out of the porch and lift me high into the air, above the trees. I expect to be killed, but then I realize the owner of the hands is gentle. I look down and see the world below. The hands carry me over to a newly paved street with freshly painted, crisp yellow lines against the midnight black asphalt. Newly poured, white curbs line the street, providing crisp boundaries for the manicured lawns across rolling hills. There are no trees here. Everything seems clean and new. A white van is passing on the street and the giant hands place me inside the van. Now, I’m inside the van on the passenger side. Someone is driving and we head down the road together.