Friday, December 29, 2017

The world's sad roses

 Ernest Dowson: 
Before my light goes out for ever if God should
          give me a choice of graces,
   I would not reck of length of days, nor crave
          for things to be;
But cry: One day of the great lost days, one face
          of all the faces,
   Grant me to see and touch once more and
          nothing more to see.
For, Lord, I was free of all Thy flowers, but I
          chose the world’s sad roses,
   And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes
          are blind with sweat

TE Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom:
 Nasir screamed at me, 'Come on', with his bloody mouth; and we plunged our camels madly over the hill, and down towards the head of the fleeing enemy. The slope was not too steep for a camel-gallop, but steep enough to make their pace terrific, and their course uncontrollable: yet the Arabs were able to extend to right and left and to shoot into the Turkish brown. The Turks had been too bound up in the terror of Auda's furious charge against their rear to notice us as we came over the eastward slope: so we also took them by surprise and in the flank; and a charge of ridden camels going nearly thirty miles an hour was irresistible.

My camel, the Sherari racer, Naama, stretched herself out, and hurled downhill with such might that we soon out-distanced the others. The Turks fired a few shots, but mostly only shrieked and turned to run: the bullets they did send at us were not very harmful, for it took much to bring a charging camel down in a dead heap.

I had got among the first of them, and was shooting, with a pistol of course, for only an expert could use a rifle from such plunging beasts; when suddenly my camel tripped and went down emptily upon her face, as though pole-axed. I was torn completely from the saddle, sailed grandly through the air for a great distance, and landed with a crash which seemed to drive all the power and feeling out of me. I lay there, passively waiting for the Turks to kill me, continuing to hum over the verses of a half-forgotten poem, whose rhythm something, perhaps the prolonged stride of the camel, had brought back to my memory as we leaped down the hill-side:
For Lord I was free of all Thy flowers, but I chose the world's sad roses,
And that is why my feet are torn and mine eyes are blind with sweat.
While another part of my mind thought what a squashed thing I should look when all that cataract of men and camels had poured over.

After a long time I finished my poem, and no Turks came, and no camel trod on me: a curtain seemed taken from my ears: there was a great noise in front. I sat up and saw the battle over, and our men driving together and cutting down the last remnants of the enemy. My camel's body had lain behind me like a rock and divided the charge into two streams: and in the back of its skull was the heavy bullet of the fifth shot I fired.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Death smiles at us all - Gladiator

Seneca - The blows of Fortune

No man has been shattered by the blows of Fortune unless he was first deceived by her favours. Those who loved her gifts as if they were their own for ever, who wanted to be admired on account of them, are laid low and grieve when the false and transient pleasures desert their vain and childish minds, ignorant of every stable pleasure. But the man who is not puffed up in good times does not collapse either when they change. His fortitude is already tested and he maintains a mind unconquered in the face of either condition: for in the midst of prosperity he has tried his own strength against adversity.
Seneca, source Brainpickings

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Good Night Sweet Prince

Lost an old friend today.
"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" Shakespeare
I remember with the Stars:

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

unknown elemental drama on earth

Unknown beings and unknown suffering...the overwhelming elemental drama on Planet Earth as Becker knew cannot be digested by mere mortals... just a drop like rain in summer.

Monday, October 31, 2016

When Mother Nature makes you her enemy the Angel of Death comes as a friend

Mother Nature is violent and a struggle. Death is peace.
"Come lovely and soothing death, Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, In the day, in the night, to all, to each, Sooner or later, delicate death."
– Walt Whitman
When Mother Nature makes you her enemy the Angel of Death comes as a friend.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Come, Friend, you too must die.

“Come, Friend, you too must die. Why moan about it so? Even Patroclus died, a far, far better man than you. And look, you see how handsome and powerful I am? The son of a great man, the mother who gave me life-- A deathless goddess. But even for me, I tell you, Death and the strong force of fate are waiting. There will come a dawn or sunset or high noon When a man will take my life in battle too-- flinging a spear perhaps Or whipping a deadly arrow off his bow.” ― Homer, The Iliad

Thursday, August 25, 2016

When knowledge is not power...for the moment

Washington Post:
"Machiavelli kept it(The Prince) for several years, revising and altering it. Finally, he decided to dedicate it to Giuliano's cousin Lorenzo de'Medici, grandson of Lorenzo the Magnificent, hoping that the young ruler would be pleased. "Accept this little book, then, I beg your Magnificence, in the spirit in which I send it; for if you consider it and read it with attention, you will discern in it my surpassing desire that you come to greatness," Machiavelli wrote in 1517. "And if from the summit of your lofty station, your Magnificence ever turns your eyes to these low places, you will perceive how long I continue to bear the burden of Fortune's great and steady malice."
No one knows whether Machiavelli gave Lorenzo de'Medici his work. One story, possibly apocryphal, says Machiavelli appeared at court to present his book while another visitor was presenting Lorenzo with two hunting dogs. The 20-year-old prince was said to be far more interested in the hounds. Whatever happened, the effort failed. Machiavelli's book was ignored, and he again withdrew to his villa and immersed himself in writings of ancient historians and philosophers."
This story of Machiavelli shows us that knowledge may not have immediate power but it can certainly gather power over time even long after you are gone and dead. The ink of the pen has a power that outlasts the blood of empires.
The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stories told and untold

The more stories I know the less I am certain that there is a grand story to make sense of all the stories that have played out on earth from the smallest creature to the most complex. No grand story only a trillion trillion stories. How many untold stories in the universe!

Monday, July 11, 2016

For humans it is about warm relationships not cold reason

For humans it is about relationships not arguments. It is about love not logic. It is about family not facts.
Relationships, experience, and imagination are more powerful in shaping ideology than arguments, facts, and knowledge.
Relationships are more powerful than arguments when it comes to ideology.
Imagination is also important. If you spend your imagination resources on thinking about a god man on a cross 2000 years ago versus thinking and imagining the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 millions years ago, depending on which one you highlight and meditate on can make a difference in shaping your ideology.
Your family, your community, your experiences, and your relationships can be much more powerful than the naked facts of reality in shaping your ideology. In fact human society was built to protect us from the harsh reality. We war against nature’s reality to the very end.
"Reason is the slave of the passions"
David Hume
"She (nature) destroys us--coldly, cruelly, relentlessly, as it seems to us, and possibly through the very things that occasioned our satisfaction. it was precisely because of these dangers with which nature threatens us that we came together and created civilization, which is also, among other things, intended to make our communal life possible. For the principal task of civilization, its actual rasion d' etre, is to defend us against nature."

Friday, June 24, 2016

"to be a hero one must first survive"

“the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success