“Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.” – Hafiz
Hamsa – The Hand Of Fatima – A new design from Gwyllm-Art.com for clothing and bags
Up until last week I had spent my last minutes at night for a couple of weeks reading “Delicious Laughter” (Rambunctious Teaching Stories from the Mathnawi) from Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks. This is a most delightful book, I recommend it highly. For those who find parables and stories easier to read than poetry, this is an excellent transition read. I really appreciate Coleman’s translation efforts. Of any of the modern translators, he is almost always spot on as far as I can tell. As I said, a delightful read, and a wonderful introduction to Rumi’s teachings and ideas.
I was quite sad to lay it down, but here I find it in my book pile next to my desk. You will find it a delightful companion book, and one that you’ll return to time and again. It really gave me clarity on some of the processes I have been in as of late…
Anyway, it has been a very busy week for us here in Portland. The weather went from the sublime to the foul, and it is like being in winter again. It is absolutely bucketing rain at this point, and will continue to do so for days. We had glorious sunshine though, and we were walking through drifting flower petals from all of the trees. I can’t believe how beautiful it gets here at times, truly amazing. As I write, it is dropping 2 feet of snow up in the Cascades. Winter still has it grips in the heights, and will continue so for awhile.
The burst of creativity that I experienced before the last art exhibit is continuing, which is a good thing. (read below in “The Matrix Of Ideas”) Hopefully after all the prep work on other projects I can get back to writing. So much on the plate.
Rowan is working on his film, out with his friend Gen looking for costumes for “Amour Sincère”… He achieved his funding goals with the help of many a good person! Thanks so much for that! Rowan and I visited with his mentor, Tom Beckett and his family yesterday. Tom just finished playing as “Kent” in King Lear. He is sporting a rather fashionable shaved head as of late because of it as well.
This edition is as eclectic as any as of late, from Progressive Electronica from Germany (Ulf Lohmann), an article by Antonin Artaud, to a very old translation from the Mathnawi (not Coleman’s), to quotes from Hafiz… with info on new projects and a request from yours truly. I hope you enjoy it all.
Well, that is it for now. More coming this week, I have a back log of 2-3 other post just waiting to come out.
May this find you and yours in good health.
On The Menu:
The Matrix Of Ideas (Gwyllm-Art.com)
Prayer & Meditation Request
Ulf Lohmann – My Pazifik
The Theater and Culture – by Antonin Artaud
The Poetry Of Rumi: The Mathnawai (an excerpt)
Ulf Lohmann – Because
The Matrix Of Ideas:
So I have been coding, designing and upgrading images for Gwyllm-Art.com, my art site. I have a bunch new T-shirt designs for women and men (including “The Hand of Fatima” above!), as well as a new line of Tote Bag designs!. I’ve brought back designs that were very popular a while back, and will continue bringing out new items as we go along.. We will be expanding our clothing line as the seasons change with hoodies, long sleeved shirts as well as other items, and expanding on the varieties of bags also.
So keep tuned, and please pay a visit to Gwyllm-Art.com, lots of stuff to look at! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Prayer & Meditation Request
For my long time friend Rik, The Wizard Of Upper Cascadia.
The Wizard has been diagnosed with Leukemia, and is going in tomorrow to find out the results of test to determine what type.
We have known The Wiz for many a year, and have often enjoyed his company both here, and in his aerie up against the western slopes to the north.
Our thoughts and prayers are with him at this time. I hope you join us in meditation and prayer for his recovery, and for a positive change in his health.
He is an original, one of a kind being, that we hold dear to our hearts. I salute you with a glass of that beautiful green essence that you brought back into my life!
Ulf Lohmann – My Pazifik
“Stay close to any sounds that make you glad you are alive.”
“Time is a factory where everyone slaves away earning enough love to break their own chains.”
“There is no pleasure without a tincture of bitterness.”
“Never refuse any advance of friendship, for if nine out of ten bring you nothing, one alone may repay you.”
“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living In better conditions.”
Preface to The Theater and its Double: The Theater and Culture – by Antonin Artaud (1938)
Never before, when it is life that is in question, has there been so much talk of civilization and culture. And there is a curious parallel between this generalized collapse of life at the root of our present demoralization and our concern for a culture which has never been coincident with life, which in fact has been devised to tyrannize life.
Before speaking further about culture, I must remark that the world is hungry and not concerned with culture, and that the attempt to orient toward culture thoughts turned only toward hunger is a purely artificial expedient.
What is more important, it seems to me, is not so much to defend a culture whose existence has never kept a man from going hungry, as to extract, from what is called culture, ideas whose compelling force is identical with that of hunger.
We need to live first of all: to believe in what makes us live and that something makes us live – to believe that whatever is produced from the mysterious depths of ourselves need not forever haunt us as an exclusively digestive concern.
I mean that if it is important for us to eat first of all, it is even more important for us for us not to waste in the sole concern for eating our simple power of being hungry.
If confusion is the sign of the times, I see at the root of this confusion a rupture between things and words, between things and ideas and signs that are their representation.
Not, of course, for lack of philosophical systems: their number and contradictions characterize our old French and European culture: but where can it be shown that life, our life, has ever been affected by these systems? I will not say that philosophical systems must be applied directly and immediately: but of the following alternatives, one must be true:
Either these systems are within us and permeate our being to the point of supporting life itself (and this is the case, what use are books?), or they do not permeate us and therefore do not have the capacity to support life (and in this case what does their disappearance matter?).
We must insist upon the idea of culture-in-action, of culture growing within us like a new organ, a sort of second breath: and on civilization as an applied culture controlling even our subtlest actions, a presence of mind; the distinction between culture and civilization is an artificial one, providing two words to signify an identical function.
A civilized man judges and is judged according to his behavior, but even the term “civilized” leads to confusion: a cultivated “civilized” man is regarded as a person instructed in systems, a person who thinks in forms, signs, representations – a monster whose faculty of deriving thoughts from acts, instead of identifying acts with thoughts, is developed to an absurdity.
If our life lacks brimstone, i.e., a constant magic, it is because we choose to observe our acts and lose ourselves in consideration of their imagined form instead of being impelled by their force.
And this faculty is an exclusively human one. I would even say that is this infection of the human which contaminates ideas that should have remained divine” for far from believing that man invented the supernatural and the divine, I think it is man’s age old intervention which has ultimately corrupted the divine within him.
All our ideas about life must be revised in a period when nothing any longer adheres to life; it is this painful cleavage which is responsible for the revenge of things; the poetry which is no longer within us and which we no longer succeed in finding in things suddenly appears on their wrong side: consider the unprecedented number of crimes whose perverse gratuitousness is explained only by our powerlessness to take complete possession of life.
If the theater has been created as an outlet for our repressions, the agonized poetry expressed in its bizarre corruptions of the facts of life demonstrates that life’s intensity is still intact and asks only to be better directed.
But not matter how loudly we clamor for magic in our lives, we are really afraid of pursuing an existence entirely under its influence and sign.
Hence our confirmed lack of culture is astonished by certain grandiose anomalies: for example, on an island without any contact with modern civilization, the mere passage of a ship carrying only healthy passengers may provoke the sudden outbreak of diseases unknown on that island but a specialty of nations like our own: shingles, influenza, grippe, rheumatism, sinusitis, polyneuritis, etc…
Similarly, if we think Negroes smell bad, we are ignorant of the fact that anywhere but in Europe it is we whites who “smell bad”. And I would even say that we give off an odor as white as the gathering of pus in an infected wound.
As iron can be heated until it turns white, so it can be said that everything that is excessive is white; for Asiatics white has become the mark of extreme decomposition.
This said, we can begin to form an idea of culture, an idea which is first of all a protest.
A pretext against the senseless constraint imposed upon the idea of culture by reducing it to a sort of inconceivable Pantheon, producing an idolatry no different from the image-worship of those religions which relegate their gods to Pantheons.
A protest against the idea of culture as distinct from life – as if there were culture on one side and life on the other, as if true culture where not a refined means of understanding and exercising life.
The library at Alexandria can be burnt down. There are forces above and beyond papyrus: we may temporarily be deprived of our ability to discover these forces, but their energy will not be suppressed. It is good that our excessive facilities are no longer available, that forms fall into oblivion: a culture without space or time, restrained only by the capacity of our own nerves, will reappear with all the more energy. It is right that from time to time cataclysms occur which compel us to return to nature, i.e. to rediscover life. The old totemism of animals, stone, objects capable of discharging thunderbolts, costumes impregnated with bestial essences – everything, in short, that might determine, disclose, and direct the secret forces of the universe – is for us a dead thing, from which we derive nothing but static and aesthetic profit, the profit of an audience, not of an actor.
Yet totemism is an actor, for it moves, and has been crated in behalf of actors; all true culture relies upon the barbarism and primitive means of totemism whose savage, i.e., entirely spontaneous, life I wish to worship.
What has lost us culture is our Occidental idea of art and the profits we see to derive from it. Art and culture cannot be considered together, contrary to the treatment universally accorded them!
True culture operates by exaltation and force, while the European ideal of art attempts to cast the mind into an attitude distinct from force but addicted to exaltation. It is a lazy, unserviceable notion which engenders an imminent death. If the Serpent Quetzalcoatl’s multiple twists and turns are harmonious, it is because they express the equilibrium and fluctuations of a sleeping force; the intensity of the forms is there only to seduce and direct a force which, in music, would produce an unsupportable range of sound.
The gods that sleep in museums: the god of fire with his incense burner that resembles an Inquisition tripod; Tlaloc, one of the manifold Gods of the Waters, on his wall of green granite; the Mother Goddess of Waters, the Mother Goddess of Flowers; the immutable expression, echoing from beneath many layers of water, of the Goddess robed in green jade; the enraptured blissful expression, features crackling with incense, where atoms of sunlight circle – the countenance of the Mother Goddess of Flowers; this world of obligatory servitude in which a stone comes alive when it has been properly carved, the world of organically civilized men whose vital organs too awaken from their slumber, this human world enters into us, participating in the dance of the gods, without turning round or looking back, on pain of becoming, like ourselves, crumbled pillars of salt.
In Mexico, since we are speaking of Mexico, there is no art: things are made for use. And the world is in perpertual exaltation.
To our disinterested and inert idea of art an authentic culture opposes a violently egoistic and magical, i.e. interested idea. The Mexicans seek contact with the Manas, forces latent in every form, unreleased by contemplation of the forms for themselves, but springing to life by magic identification with these forms. And the old Totems are there to hasten the communication.
How hard it is, when everything encourages us to sleep, though we may look about us with conscious, clinging eyes, to wake and yet look about us as in a dream, with eyes that no longer know their function and whose gaze is turned inward.
This is how our strange idea of disinterested action originated, though it is action nonetheless, and all the more violent for skirting the temptation of repose.
Every real effigy has a shadow which is its double; and art must falter and fail from the moment the sculptor believes he has liberated the kind of shadow whose very existence will destroy his repose.
Like all magic cultures expressed by appropriate hieroglyphs, the true theater has its shadows too, and of all languages and all arts, the theater is the only one left whose shadows have shattered their limitations. From the beginning, on might say its shadows did not tolerate limitations.
Our petrified idea of the theater is connected with our petrified idea of a culture without shadows, where, no matter which way it turns, our mind (esprit) encounters only emptiness, though space is full.
But the true theater, because is moves and makes use of living instruments, continues to stir up shadows where life has never ceased to grope its way. The actor does not make the same gesture twice, but he makes gestures, he moves; and although he brutalizes forms, nevertheless behind them and through their destruction he rejoins that which outlives forms and produces their continuation.
The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything – gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness – rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations.
And the fixation of the theater in one language – written words, music, lights, noises – betokens its imminent ruin, the choice of any one language betraying a taste for the special effects of that language; and the desiccation of the language accompanies its limitation.
For the theater as for culture, it remains a question of naming and directing shadows: and the theater, not confined to a fixed language and form, not only destroys false shadows but prepares the way for a new generation of shadows, around which assembles the true spectacle of life.
To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theater; the essential thing is not to believe that this act must remain sacred, i.e., set apart the essential thing is to believe that not just anyone can create it, and that there must be a preparation.
This leads to the rejection of the usual limitations of man and man’s powers, and infinitely extends the frontiers of what is called reality.
We must believe in a sense of life renewed by the theater, a sense of life in which man makes himself master of what does not yet exist, and brings it into being. And everything that has not been born can still be brought to life if we are not satisfied to remain mere recording organisms.
Furthermore, when we speak the word “life”, it must be understood we are not referring to life as we know it from the surface of fact, but to that fragile, fluctuating center which forms never reach. And if there is one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.
Ulf Lohmann – Burning Bright
The Poetry Of Rumi: The Mathnawai:
To illustrate the exalted state of identification of the will with the Divine will just described, the poet tells the story of the visions and mighty works of the holy Daquqi. Daquqi was journeying in pious fervor, and in hope to see the splendour of “The Friend” in human shape, the Ocean in a drop of water, and the Sun in an atom, when late one evening he arrived at the seashore. Turning his eyes to heaven, he saw seven great lights never before seen of men, for “God directs whom He will.” 1 Overwhelmed with awe, he watched these lights, and while he still watched them they united into one light. Still more amazed, he watched on, and the single light shortly assumed the likeness of seven men. Afterwards these seven men changed into seven trees; but, strange to say, although crowds of people were passing by, none of them could see these trees, so that Daquqi shared the feelings of the apostles “who lost all hope” (of convincing the world), “and deemed that, they were reckoned as liars.” 2 Possessing his soul in patience, Daquqi still watched on, and saw the seven trees bowing down in prayer, and was reminded of the text, “Plants and trees bend in adoration.” 3 Presently the seven trees again changed into seven men, and Daquqi was appointed to conduct their devotions. While he was yet acting as Imam in front of them, and they were following the prayers he recited, a ship was seen in great distress and all but lost. At Daquqi’s earnest prayer the crew were saved, but straightway vanished from sight; and this led his followers to doubt the reality of the miracle which had just been performed before their eyes.
Description of a saint whose will was identified with God’s will.
That Daquqi possessed a sweet aspect,
As a lover of God and a worker of miracles.
He resembled the moon of heaven come down on earth,
He was as a light to them that walked in darkness.
He rarely tarried in one place,
And seldom stayed two days in one village.
He said, “If I tarry in one house two days,
Attachment to that house becomes a passion with me.
I guard myself from being deceived into loving a home;
Up! Soul, and travel in search of eternal wealth.
My heart’s inclination is not satisfied by houses,
So that they should be places of temptation for me.”
Thus by day he traveled, and by night prayed,
His eyes were always gazing on the King as a falcon’s;
Cut off from mankind, though not for any fault,
Severed from men and women, though not for baseness;
Having compassion on mankind, and wholesome as water,
A kind intercessor, and one whose prayers were heard.
Benevolent to the good and the bad, and a firm ally,
Better than a mother, and kinder than a father.
The Prophet said, “To you, O blessed ones,
I am as a father, affectionate and indulgent;
For this cause, that you are all portions of me.”
Wherefore should you tear away the parts from the whole?
If the part be severed from its whole it is useless;
If a limb be rent from the body it dies.
Till it is again joined to its whole,
‘Tis a dead thing, and a stranger to life.
Thus Daquqi, in devotions and praises and prayers,
Was ever seeking the particular favorites of God.
Throughout his long journeys his object was this,
To interchange a word with the favorites of God.
He cried continually as he went his way,
“O Lord, let me draw near to Thy chosen ones!”
So Daquqi (the mercy of God be upon him!)
Said, “I journeyed long time to East and to West,
I journeyed years and months for love of that Moon,
Heedless of the way, absorbed in God.
With bare feet I trod upon thorns and flints,
Seeing I was bewildered, and beside myself, and senseless.
Think not my feet touched the earth,
For the lover verily travels with the heart.
What knows the heart of road and stages?
What of distant and near, while it is drunk with love?
Distance and nearness are attributes of bodies,
The journeys of spirits are after another sort.
You journeyed from the embryo state to rationality
Without footsteps or stages or change of place,
The journey of the soul involves not time and place.
And my body learnt from the soul its mode of journeying,
Now my body has renounced the bodily mode of journeying;
It journeys secretly and without form, though under a form.”
He added, “One day I was thus filled with longing
To behold in human form the splendours of ‘The Friend,’
To witness the Ocean gathered up into a drop,
The Sun compressed into a single atom;
And when I drew near to the shore of the sea
The day was drawing to a close.”
All religions are in substance one and the same.
In the adorations and benedictions of righteous men
The praises of all the prophets are kneaded together.
All their praises are mingled into one stream,
All the vessels are emptied into one ewer.
Because He that is praised is, in fact, only One,
In this respect all religions are only one religion.
Because all praises are directed towards God’s light,
Their various forms and figures are borrowed from it.
Men never address praises but to One deemed worthy,
They err only through mistaken opinions of Him.
So, when a light falls upon a wall,
That wall is a connecting-link between all its beams;
Yet when it casts that reflection back to its source,
It wrongly shows great as small, and halts in its praises.
Or if the moon be reflected in a well,
And one looks down the well, and mistakenly praises it,
In reality he is intending to praise the moon,
Although, through ignorance, he is looking down the well.
The object of his praises is the moon, not its reflection;
His infidelity arises from mistake of the circumstances.
That well-meaning man goes wrong through his mistake;
The moon is in heaven, and he fancies it in the well.
By these false idols mankind are perplexed,
And driven by vain lusts to their sorrow.
The Man in the time of the Prophet David who prayed
to be fed without having to work for his food.
After the petitioner had slain and eaten the cow, the owner of the cow came up and accused him of theft, and seizing him by the collar, dragged him before the judgment-seat of the prophet David. When he had stated his case, David ordered the accused to make restitution, telling him that he must not break the law. At this order the accused redoubled his cries, telling David that he was siding with an oppressor. David was staggered at the man’s assurance, and finally resolved to take further time for consideration before deciding the case. After private meditation he re-versed his former sentence, and directed the plaintiff to relinquish his claim. On the plaintiff refusing to do this, and stoutly protesting against David’s injustice. David further ordered that all the plaintiff’s goods should be given to the accused. The reason for this decision was, that David discovered the plaintiff had formerly slain the grandfather of the accused, and stolen all his goods. David then led all the Mosalmans to a tree in the desert where the murder had been perpetrated, and there put the murderer to death.
The hands and feet of criminals betray
their crimes even in this world.
He of himself lifted the veil that hid his crime;
Had he not done so, God would have kept it hidden.
Criminals and sinners, even in the course of sinning,
Themselves rend the coverings of their crimes.
Their sins are veiled among the heart’s secrets,
Yet the criminal himself exposes them to view,
Saying, “Behold me wearing a pair of horns,
A cow of hell in sight of all men.”
Thus, even here, in the midst of thy sin, thy hand and foot
Bear witness of the secrets of thy heart.
Thy secret thought is as a governor who says to thee,
“Tell forth thy convictions, withhold them not;”
Especially in seasons of passion and angry talk
It betrays thy secrets one by one.
Thy secret sins and crimes govern hand and foot,
Saying, “Disclose us to men, O hand and foot!”
And since these witnesses take the bit in their mouths,
Especially in times of passion and wrath and revenge,
Therefore the same God who appointed this governor
To blazen forth thy secret sins to the world
Is also able to create many more governors
To divulge thy secret sins on the day of judgment. 4
O man whose only handiwork is crime and sin;
Thy secret sins are manifest; no divulging is needed.
There is no need to proclaim thy sins,
All men are cognizant of thy sin-burnt heart.
Thy soul every moment casts up sparks of fire,
Which say, “See me a man destined to the fire;
I am a part of the fire, and go to join my whole;
Not a light, so that I should join the Source of light.”
Comparison of lust to the murderer in the story.
Kill thine own lust and give life to the world;
It has killed its lord, reduce it to servitude.
That claimant of the cow is thy lust; Beware!
It has made itself lord and master.
That slayer of the cow is thy reason; Go!
Be not obdurate to the prayers of him that kills the cow.
Reason is a poor captive, and ever cries to God
For meat on its dish without laboring and toiling.
On what depends its getting meat without toiling?
On its killing the cow of the body, the source of evil.
Lust says, “Why hast thou killed my cow?”
It says, “Because lust’s cow is the form of the body.” 5
Reason, the Lord’s child, has become a pauper,
Lust, the murderer, has become a lord and chief.
Know’st thou what is meat untoiled for?
‘Tis the food of spirits and the aliment of the Prophet.
But it is attainable only by slaying the cow;
Treasure is gained by digging, O digger of treasure!
1. Koran lv. 5.
2. Koran xii. 110.
3. Koran ii. 136.
4. “On that day shall their hands speak unto us, and their feet shall bear witness of that which they have done” (Koran xxxvi. 65).
5. Bahau-’d-Din Amili, in his Nan wa Halwa, chap. iv., compares lust to a cow, referring to Koran ii. 63.
Ulf Lohmann – Because