Thursday, February 08, 2001

an email from my brother jamie, wherein he explains the plural of djinn and some other things of equal importance:

what you've said re sectarianism vs spirituality - indeed, one can live in
both camps at the same time. In fact, I'd posit that if one does not, one is
missing the entire point about 'spirituality'. For me there is no distinction
between the two. I remember a conversation with someone a few years ago in
which I was asked, "What do you think 'spirituality' is?" I replied something
to the effect that 'spirituality' is all in how you treat other people. To
which the other replied, "Yes, that's part of it [but not all of it]." This
person was a self-described 'new ager', whatever that might be, and I think
had his own personal/official 'party line' as to what 'spirituality' really
is ; ie, you have to believe in angels, etc. How many humans of all
religious or nonreligious ilks make this mistake (yes, it is a mistake)? They
assume that being 'spiritual' has to do with controlling the behavior of
oneself or others from the outside, rather than dealing first with what is
within oneself...thus, 'people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw
stones', etc. This is a common human failing, no? Putting the cart before the
That said, I also believe that it is possible to be 'spiritual' and to
grow 'spiritually'/become a better, more mature, moral person by embracing
the tenets of a particular religious descipline- they exist for a reason.
Note that I'm being nonexclusive here, for which various Muslims and I
daresay many others of many religions would have my head, but ¿so what?
Self-discipline is key. It may be easy for some humans to criticize others
for adhering to some particular faith of one sort or another - yep, humans
don't have a hard time being fascists about many things. But the proof is in
the pudding of life, I say, in how a human lives it. And organized religions
teach by metaphor,* doggone it! That's why I am impressed when I read the
Qur'an, because I can't help but read it that way. It is a set of metaphors
that I happen to like. Some literalists may say that, "Hey, if you don't do
such and such(act morally or whatever), you will literally roast forever
after you die!" Whereas I say, "hell or heaven are right here, right now. If
I don't do such and such, I'm going to continue to roast!!" The early
female(hah!) Sufi saint Rabi'a al Adawiyya said all this very well, in a
prayer that I'll loosely transcribe:
"If I worship You for fear of going to hell when I die,
go ahead and burn me there when the time comes.
If I worship You because I want to go to heaven after I
die, go ahead and send me to hell anyway - I don't care!
But if I worship You because you are groovy and because
all I want to do is live closely with You in this life (live in a state of
spiritual exaltation), why then, by all means - help me to do so!"

Rabi'a knew where things were at.

Love, J.
* Yeah, and Schipperkes really are Jan (plural of Jin- beings that
Muslims say inhabit this world with us, eg 'genie of the lamp', etc.), man!
Because it is said that they often appear to us as black dogs, EG in various
folk stories (ie that book of Omani folk stories that you gave me, R.) jan
are described as black dogs that lie about on piles of refuse, in dumps, etc.
So Wilhelmina and Skippy really are Jan, man! Jin are made from fire, whereas
humans are made from clay. As Maura observes, this is why W. and S. spend a
certain amount of time outside even on the hottest summer days, blackfurred
though they are -they must absorb heat to keep their fiery natures
functioning and not become sluggish. So can they grant us wishes, then? I
haven't asked.

Wednesday, February 07, 2001

in my fascination with my new communal web log, i have ignored this one. i'm sorry.

Tuesday, February 06, 2001

oh, heavy heavy sigh. woe is me. why does no one participate in my fun little activities? why is no one comfortable shooting off their big fat mouth when someone actually ASKS them to do it, only when no one wants them to?

James Durham has passed through Tucson, and although he does not have a dog of his own he was able to read the heart and soul of Skippy, neurotic dog-djinn whose parents must have been related to each other. He says Skippy is simply waiting for the time to come when he will be called on to perform as alpha male, and that means his existence is all about waiting, and never arriving. and that's SO TRUE! those of you who know Skippy can see that, right?

Sunday, February 04, 2001

Jim Tully

To me, Tully’s value is more historical than literary. No one else made such absolutely truthful observations of the social realities of the underclass of his time. His observations are certainly deep, insightful and compassionate. His prose is a little flaky sometimes, but whatever he chooses to describe is always worthwhile. If you read no other excerpt, read the one about the lunatic in San Antonio, a road anecdote. It’s so cool.

The world of the underclass is only generally referred to, and rarely really seen; when it is, it is the SRO of Robert Dean Pharr, Tully’s Negro Girl, George’s crackhouse, Gary’s teenage widowed girl mother whose smalltime dealer boyfriend is killed.

That one critic on the back of perdition called Gary’s fictional world ‘apocalyptic.’
I wondered what the hell that person found apocalyptic about it. We’ve been living in the end times for a thousand years. The fiction we try to keep going is that things have always been okay for most of us, and they’re only getting worse just now. People look to the apocalypse as the ultimate way out; maybe that’s the big appeal of the concept of the rapture, where as long as you’re ‘saved,’ you get zapped off the planet before the bad shit starts happening. The rest of us, the eternal rest of us, know we’re just going to be stuck here dealing with it. As usual.
And this is the basic problem with Americans. We are a completely irreligious people who claim to be religious and believe in our schizoid way that god’s gonna save our asses after we spend a lifetime of getting away with all kinds of shit that we shouldn’t. That’s the individual psyche, and that’s the dominant culture. This is where I don’t fit in. there’s way too many ‘believers’ in this kind of get away with it ism, percentagewise, in the united states. I mean you find people like this is in all cultures but a higher concentration of them among white Americans, of which there are just too many constantly shooting off their big fat mouths about what’s right and what’s not and blah blah blah. Fucking capitalist puritanical white-assed culture blithely continuing to tell the rest of us what to do, what will be done to us, or not.

Apocalyptic times, my ass. Business as usual

Anyway, that’s what Tully was about.