the idiotplayers podcast 09: Hamlet & The Divided Self

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

Lawrence Olivier as Hamlet

Welcome to idiotplayers podcast episode 09. In this episode something different. In idiotplayers podcast 08 Anthony Blake spoke of the divided self and mentioned how he agreed with JG Bennett that Shakespeare was the master of dramatizing the divided self. He also mentioned that among Shakespeare’s plays, that he considered Hamlet the razor’s edge of this mastery, and so I’m aiming in this podcast to cross swords between myself and the task of bringing important aspects of the divided self into view. I’ll be drawing on material from JG Bennett, Anthony Blake, RD Laing, Maurice Nicoll and Margaret Atwood, weaving this together with my own commentary as well as some musical selections that I hope will fit with the subject.

References

“Headlines October 13, 2008 Whole Show | First Story.” Democracy Now! Web. 16 Mar. 2012.

Atwood, Margaret. “Gertrude Talks Back.” Good Bones and Simple Murders. New York: Nan A. Talese, Doubleday, 1994. Print.

Bennett, John G. A Spiritual Psychology. Santa Fe, NM: Bennett Books, 1999. Print.

Bennett, John G. The Dramatic Universe. Vol. 3. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Bennett Books, 1997. Print.

Blake, Anthony. “The Human Actor.” duversity.org. The Duversity. Web. 14 Mar. 2012. PDF.

Fripp, Robert. “You Burn Me Up Like a Cigarette.” Exposure. EG Records, 1979. Vinyl recording.

Jung, C. G. Psychology and Religion. New Haven: Yale UP, 1938. Print.

Kruder, Peter. “Who Am I”. Peace Orchestra. G-Stone Recordings, 1999. CD.

Laing, Ronald David. The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

lucidbarbara. “You Been There” The In-Between Things. G. Dominato & E. Kim, 2007. iTunes.

Nicoll, Maurice. Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff & Ouspensky. Vol. IV. York Beach, Me.: Weiser, 1996. Print.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet. Project Gutenberg, July 2000. PDF.

 

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the big wheel

story by idio

He has the marks of a traveller: a long gaze, a twitch like he might need to get out of the way of something, a stained, greasy swollenness under his eyes. He does not know where he is right now. Sometimes this happens, and when it does there is a secret delight that plays about the vesicles of his middle back. He can live off this delight when it comes, sipping it lightly for some time.

Photo by idio

He’s ventured into new territory and it brings him to a sand beach. There is a wide glade of tall grass running headlong down the cardioid field of his vision. Breakers sound and turn in their echo. Gulls cry. There is a woman sitting on a dune looking out to the ocean not very far from him. She’s looking through him, but he’s sure that she is aware of his presence.

Walking toward her, but keeping his distance, he calls out, “Are you from around here?”

Without any change in her position she says, “No, are you?”

“Well, no,” shouting over the surf. “I’m not even sure how I got here. I have a map but apparently things have changed since it was made. My name is A’naf.”

She motions him closer. When he’s come to within a conversation’s length, he stops to take her in. She is a slight woman in a caftan hoodie sitting on her haunches, hands on her thighs, sandals neatly arranged. He can see her mouth and angular jaw coming out from of the shade of the hood in the strong afternoon sun.

She says, “There’s no slow way of telling you this A’naf, so I’ll just say it. I am your death.”

Mandala from Robert Lawlor's "Sacred Geometry"

“Hm.” His eyes hunker down into his sockets. “Really?” He scans for weapons and other signs of malice.

She hasn’t moved other than to move her lips. “You might say I am that part of you that can see the ocean.”

“Sounds appropriate, even poetic,” he offers.

“I’m not here to take you away or anything.” She lingers. “Anyway it’s not like I take you anywhere really. You simply become me,” pausing. “Or I simply become you. It’s hard to tell, as there’ll be nobody left to do the telling. At any rate, it’s not time.” A’naf makes a deep throaty sound, and she asks, “Do you see that ship out there?”

He does not turn.

“Well anyway it’s been looking ominous there for some time.” She then says, “I didn’t think that you were going to get here.”

“I didn’t think that you were here to be gotten to,” he says scrying her more closely.

“I look beautiful now, no?” Pulling back her hoodie, she turns to look at him. It’s not so much a look as a glance. She smiles quickly and turns back to the ocean. Her Asian-black hair blows up behind her, and with a quick graceful gesture she ties it all in a knot on the top of her head. Her features are wide and cut with fineness. Her lips are peaked with the slope of a French curve, her cheeks the gentle rise of the Mongolian steppe.

“It’s a big moment for me too actually,” she says. “I’m told most do not meet their death until much later.” She raises her eyebrows. “Some advice? When it comes time for the ocean, to actually get in, when it comes time for us as I was saying, just take your clothes off and get right in,” she says.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asks A’naf, sensing, perhaps, a come-on vibe.

“Are you ready for that?” she answers.

“Who are you?”

“I am your death. I told you that already.”

A’naf sees that the woman is no immediate danger to him, and he is, indeed, somehow attracted to her. At any rate, he wants to hear what she has to say. He realizes that such things do happen, that such conversations are written in the book of the possible. The veil has been lifted more than a few times on the lines of that book. He has peered into the sucking emptiness of it. He wants this situation. He is, after all, a traveller.

“Okay, I accept you for what you’re saying.” He narrows his gaze. “I’ve cooked enough in this sun today. I’ve been cooked enough to play the cards as they come.” He pauses to hear his words. “What shall I call you?”

“You needn’t call me anything.”

He wants to come at the question again from a different angle, but rolls his lips instead.

Her tone changes, “The middle is disappearing. The middle is always disappearing, of course, but people often don’t see that. We’re on a peninsula here, an isthmus between two oceans. Soon it will be one ocean. They’ll come to meet. The land is shrinking.”

“I’d like to say that’s helpful. Where’s the other ocean? In my mind?” A’naf asks with some bluff.

“Come and sit, A’naf. Really that was very kind of you earlier, giving me my distance, letting me know that you were not a threat. Anyway, come and sit.”

When A’naf is sitting beside her, he sees that there is no ship and says, “No ship.”

She responds with, “No ship. Just checking for stray curiosity.”

In some places and times A’naf might be sitting trying to figure this whole situation out, this situation of him sitting with his death just now. Yet, he is looking out to the ocean and simply taking in the curious strange sensation of sitting with his death. He knows it may well be a fiction. After all, where are the facts? She’s a woman on a beach talking mysteriously, and he’s the kind of sucker that falls for such things. She might be an escapee from a local institution. For that matter, he might be an escapee from a local institution. Nevertheless, as near as he can tell, she is playing all of the cards.

They sit for a long moment in the gaze of the ocean. He begins to feel a pain, not a body pain, but a feeling pain. His mind flashes to moments of bald stupidity: things he said that he needn’t have, moments of being caught out beside himself, the stupidity of private fixations and lies told and untold. All of this balls up in his gut, his collected stupidity. The failure to see and be in the same moment curses him. It bursts up like something he may well puke out. He finds his breathing and swallows a salty mouthful of air.

“Hmm,” she offers philosophically, “don’t you find that we so often take responsibility for things that are not really ours? We find it so hard to see without getting caught up in the seeing. The wise person is wise enough to see that he’s riding a donkey, although many times the donkey is smart enough to see that it is riding him.”

He grits his teeth. “You said earlier that you are my death,” he manages.

“Yes.”

“So you’re not death in general,” he wonders.

“All of a sudden you’re sitting with me, and really starting to have a good conversation, and you’re wondering whether that’s enough?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Better now than never,” she smiles. She looks at A’naf a long while. “This is all well and good, but I need to tell you that soon you may find yourself somewhere else, starring at the shadows on another ceiling,” she gestures to the sky. “You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself — well…how did I get here?” She pauses. “Letting the days go by. Let the water hold me down.” Gesturing to the ocean. “Letting the days go by. Water flowing underground, into the blue again, after the money’s gone, once in a lifetime, water flowing underground.”

Laughing, A’naf says “My death knows Talking Heads. That’s perfect.”

She turns to him and with a candid purse of her lips says, “Why not? I know everything that you know,” she pauses to catch his eye, “plus I know much that you don’t know.” She laughs now too, and says, “But really A’naf, I’m not here to mess with you.”

A’naf is getting that puking sensation again. Though he cannot quite picture it, nevertheless he feels the truth of who she is.

She continues, “The ocean is here. All of the underground water is flowing here,” she points with her chin. Her voice catches when she says this. A’naf gets a sharp pain in his side. She says, “This is a peninsula, an isthmus. The ocean is coming in from both sides. The land is shrinking.”

The wind blows a strand of her hair over her face. “Say listen, there’s a beautiful walk over the dunes there. She motions over her right shoulder. It might be just the thing for you. I have to say, you’re looking a little pukey.”

He catches her eye. She is my death. Instinctively he kisses her hand. It is cold. A shiver falls into his depths.

“Now you know,” she says.

Image of sound vibration from Robert Lawlor's "Sacred Geometry"

They part. He walks up and over and through the tufts of grass pawing at his clothes. There is a line of trees not far, and he finds a way through to them. The sound of the ocean fades. There are songbirds singing. They sing so high that they clear a path directly into the coolness of the upper octaves of the atmosphere. The lightness in his head congeals into a slow pulse, like a hand clenching and relaxing, clenching and relaxing. He can sense animals in the brush. There is nothing to stop him, and so he moves on. He finds a path and walks for a long while through the trees.

Suddenly, there is a buffeting of the air, a quick pulse of pressure, then the distant sound of waves flows into the sphere of his awareness. There is the musk of salt water. The path carries him along.

Coming out from the woods, he is back among dunes and grass. Climbing to the top of a nearby dune, he looks out over a large body of water breaking in pulses on the beach. Has he walked in a circle?

It is an isthmus between two oceans.

It is late afternoon now. Not far down the beach the inky structures of a seaside amusement park rise out of the mist, obscure and rare, like the fleeting evidence of life on other planets. As if on cue, the lights on the big Ferris wheel come up. In his mind’s eye there is a greasy carnie with a sideways grin, hand on the stick, ratcheting it up. The idea of seeing people at the amusement park amuses him, here in this place where he sat with his death not long ago as a beautiful woman by his side. He picks up his pace.

Photo by idio

Coming into a small cluster of houses he sees they are well kept. It is old suburbia, a dream of the future etched in yards and murmurs. People sit out on the front steps in the early evening keeping company with the twilight. A woman in blue jeans calls out to him and waves. People know him here, and he feels like a returning hero. There is the smell of dinner cooking, corn on the boil.

He cannot stop to eat. His feet are carrying him somewhere, and he simply cannot stop. He’s a train passing through with a dopler-note of longing. He leaves the cluster of houses walking toward the entrance to the park. The big wheel rises out of a jumble of signs, turning like someone stopping to think mid-sentence.

He walks into a parking lot.  There is one car, in the corner. It looks like it has been bombed out. He’s not sure. Something is wrong. He runs in panic through long shadows. The doors have been blown off. The paint is charred. The windows are cracked and sagging. A moment of recognition. It is his car. What is my car doing here? The computer in the trunk is nothing but a blackened shell. All of his data is gone. His data is gone. He does not remember leaving it here.

Suddenly it is as if he is lost in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. There is no one but himself and the unfathomable depths beneath him. There is no one but himself, and he is shrinking.

He narrows his eyes to the charred bits and then widens them to the gaping mouth where the trunk once was. Why this? Why this? Where will he go? What can he do? It’s more than the car. Much more. The grief of it cuts his legs out from under him. He falls to the pavement in a shudder.

After a long while of trying to remember, of trying to remember himself in bits and pieces, he hears the birdsong again like a prayer. He follows the overtones up into the blue again. Slowly getting to his feet, he walks toward the carnival gate.

Photo by idio

There are a few carnie people around. No one notices him overly. Setting up or tearing down, he cannot tell. A man behind a coin-toss game sits with a guitar playing the blues. A young woman in a velveteen bodice looks like she must be on her way to the beer garden. An enormous man in a Nehru jacket and goatee beard stamps vouchers. And there he is, the greasy carnie at the base of the big wheel. He is brilliantly tattooed in the Irezumi style. Gesturing with a quick chin, the carnie wants a ticket. A’naf has no ticket. Reaching into his pocket nevertheless, he finds a playing card. It is the three of hearts. The carnie nods as he takes it. A’naf is the only rider. He asks the carnie his name. It is Stewart. The Ferris-wheel man is named Stewart.

He reaches the top of the first go round. Suddenly he finds his body beneath him and sinks deeper into the seat. He’s just in time to see the sun sinking into the ocean, the other ocean, a good distance across the strip of land. The gondola then comes down into the coolness of the trees. A’naf calls out to Stewart to ask whether he can slow it down. The big wheel tumbles into a gentle swirl. A’naf exhales. The big wheel climbs out of the trees and into the night above. He calls out to thank Stewart.

Just as A’naf reaches the top, the big wheel bumps to a stop. In just these few moments, the sun has dipped below the horizon. He relaxes back into the seat and looks up to the stars coming out of the falling light. Are they the signposts of higher intelligence or are they the ceiling lights in an apparently vast theatre? He clears his mind and becomes watchful over it. The only thing he lets in is the air and after a while he even holds onto this. He drifts and falls away from himself.

* * *

He is back in his room releasing his breath. Where did he go? The meditation is over and a fine thread of experience lingers in the room, though his mind is blank. It is the presence of something cool and familiar, though with the taste of a foreign land. Some new contact has been made in the wires and fibers of his body that is not entirely clear to him. He is wearing a hoodie sitting on his haunches, hands on his thighs, house sandals neatly arranged. He sits on his haunches as if he is sitting atop the big wheel of life surveying the land between the moments of time, the land from which time comes. Strange. A torrent of energy rushes up and down his spine and he shivers with its flow. In the pit of his gut he feels that death is not far, it is so not far that it is close, very close, even living within him. He cannot reconcile this into a clear thought and he wonders at the incongruity of the impression.

There is a gentle knock on the door, “Stewart?” his wife calls softly. “I’m going to bed now.”

“Yes, I’m coming soon sweet,” he responds.

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Residential Course Opportunity with George Bennett

George Bennett, a recent guest on the idiotplayers podcast, is facilitating a two-week residential course July 7 – 22, 2012 in Massachusetts. Click the picture link below for details.

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the idiotplayers podcast 08: Anthony Blake

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

Welcome to the idiotplayers podcast episode 8. In this episode we welcome the return of Anthony Blake. Anthony was our first guest on the podcast when we started in 2011 and since that first conversation, which was posted as episodes 1 and 2 of the idiotplayers podcast, I’ve been looking to have him back again to speak more in depth about his wonderful book A Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence. The book is a tour and tour de force of many intriguing possibilities for the manifestation of higher intelligence, ranging from the human, to the non-human and to very the dimensions of time. It is refreshing in its non-dogmatic approach to the subject and sounds a ebullient note amidst the din of the doomsday device of modern times. In the book, Anthony employs the ancient technique of ring composition that Seyed Safavi and Simon Weightman have uncovered as the structural basis of Jalaluddin Rumi’s masterwork The Mathnawi and which Mary Douglas wrote about as being central to biblical and western classical literature. This work along with The Supreme Art of Dialogue, are both available from the duversity.org website.

Many thanks to the new subscribers who continue to register for idiotplayers.org. I must admit that I’m still getting my hands around how best to moderate this situation so please accept this as my formal welcome to the caravanserai. Dr. Nevit Ergin’s podcast has sent the downloads soaring as people from around the world imbibe his deep message of Itlak Sufism. Some of our listeners have offered excellent suggestions for possible future guests. Personally I’m looking to balance the genders as I’ve realized that our first 8 episodes have been men. Speaking of past guests, I understand that Elan Sicroff, whom you heard in episodes 3 and 4, has completed some ground-breaking recordings of the de Hartmann repertoire in Amsterdam this past October under the musical direction of Gert-Jan Blom. Although it is not clear yet when and how these recordings will be released, we will aim to keep you posted.

We are considering hosting some arts-based workshops in the Niagara area of Ontario, Canada, perhaps in the summer months of 2012. So if any of our listeners are interested in exploring spiritual work through movement, music, story-telling and improv, please drop us an email at contact@idiotplayers.org.

This conversation was originally recorded on Jan 22 2012 and is being published on Jan 23 2012. The running time is approximately 1 ½ hours.

Biography

Anthony Blake (born 1939) studied Physics at Bristol University with David Bohm(see Bohm-Bennett Correspondence 1962-4) and the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge with Gerd Buchdahl. He collaborated with engineer Edward Matchett on Creative Design (numerous papers) and worked with John Allen and the original team that built Biosphere 2 (see Biosphere 2 – the Human Experiment, edited by Blake). With the philosopher-technologist John Bennett, a leading student of the ‘fourth way’ teacher Gurdjieff, and his team he worked on the development of methods of structural thinking called systematics that led to ‘Structural Communication’ (see Kieran Egan, Structural Communication) and ‘LogoVisual Technology’ (LVT for short , see entry in Wikipedia). In 1998 he co-founded the non-profit organisation DuVersity (in the USA) centred on dialogue for which he is Director of Studies (see www.duversity.org). He has authored several books, including the most recent, A Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence. He has worked with leading practitioners of Group Analysis, specifically Patrick de Mare inventor of the ‘Median Group’ and Gordon Lawrence discoverer of the Social Dreaming Matrix, conducting and filming video-conversations with them and others in the field. He has conducted transpersonal psychological seminars in the USA, Europe, Mexico and China as well as conducting training in LVT in the UK, USA, Italy and China. He extended from physics into publishing and from philosophy into psychology but his core interests are dramatic process and dialogue, following the idea of the ‘dramatic universe’ he was introduced to by his main teacher, John Bennett; seeking spirituality in life’s uncertainties.

Index of topics:

Gymnasium, Alfred E. Orage,  John Bennett, Gurdjieff Movements, creative dynamism, practical actions, the game, play, work, work = force over distance, 3 centers, Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski, reactional self, belief, the colours of belief, unconscious emotional attitudes, sensing and feeling, communication of the 3 centers, keeping people stupid, John Taylor Gatto, Edward Bernays, Peter Levenda, freedom and the human will, the gesture of will, I, sin, higher intelligence, the demiurge, Francis Thompson, the tangible substance of not-knowing, seeing between, the plan of the book A Gymnasium of Beliefs, human potential, the higher centers, non-human agencies, Thomas Aquinas, alien intelligence, systematics is pilates for the mind, alam-i-imkan, alam-i-arvah, Gustav Fechner, Biosphere 2 project, John Allen, Vladimir Vernadsky, kesdjan substance, dimensions of time, creative intelligence comes from the future, Jay Kennedy (Plato’s Symbolic Code), Mary Douglas: the meaning is in the middle, Dr. Nevit Ergin: the human being is a concept between two unknowns, Charles Sanders Pierce: man is a sign of himself, Bertrand Russell, the number 12, ring composition, dissonances, mind is only present when there is active play, the simple encounter of will, self remembering, speak it yourself, reading is a form of higher intelligence, writing and reading as meeting, the moment of creation and re-writing the book, who is the author?, Hamlet, the divided self, systematics of drama, the enneagram as a way of understanding dramatic structure, Aeschylus, Sophocles, the death of Hamlet at point 6, comedy, deus ex machina, Philip K. Dick, point 5 of the enneagram is the divided self, Bennett said that Shakespeare knew better than any other writer the divided self, it can’t be resolved but through commitment to freedom, Horatio (the reason), the progression of Greek theatre through characters, character, Robert McKee, write your own version, George Steiner, the encounter, the intimacy of meeting in conversation.

Music

intro and outro music by the idiotplayers: urgent carnaval, advice to the drunk at heart.

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New Essay by Anthony Blake “The Language of Will”

Find a new essay by Anthony Blake at Duversisty entitled “The Language of Will“.
Here’s an excerpt:

Man has in general two kinds of mentation: mentation by thought, in which words, always possessing a relative sense, are employed; and the other kind, which is proper to all animals as well as to man, mentation by form. (All and Everything p. 15, G. I. Gurdjieff)

This paper has been an attempt to develop a dialogue between the left and right sides of the brain/mind in order to express an idea of ‘the language of will’. It is hoped that its use or misuse of certain formalisms will not cause offence and that it may actually give rise to some pleasure of contemplation.

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News and Events Listing

I will try to keep this listing up-to-date with news and events related to the following topics:

- arts and spiritual work
- conscious community building
- interesting news items related to creativity, consciousness and perception.

If you have suggestion, let us know.

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Pennies from Heaven: Found Introductions

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Anthony Blake consented to write a few words as an introductory impression to our idiotplayers rendering of the song “Pennies from Heaven” by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston. I mentioned to him that I would also write such an introduction. We offer them here as two found introductions to this piece.

Owl in a Workshop, Vancouver B.C.

The Angel in the Rubbish Tip
Anthony Blake

In my book Gymnasium of Beliefs in Higher Intelligence, I constantly hark on the theme that whatever might be ‘higher’ than ourselves will not speak to us according to our ideas of what is higher or important. To put it crudely, we would more likely find an angel in a rubbish tip than in a bank. The world of popular songs taps into this instinctive wisdom, celebrated in that wonderful book Gods of the People by Denis Saurat (who so admired Gurdjieff’s All and Everything). It surfaces as the gut-felt belief that heaven does shower us with blessings –  pennies from heaven — even though we largely ignore them. What is spiritual must be freely given to us to every moment. We just don’t get it and complain all the time.

The idiotplayers’s rendering of the song, done with such feeling, is a restorative tonic. ‘If you want the things you love, you must have showers/ So when you hear it thunder don’t run under a tree’. It’s almost a commentary on Gurdjieff’s idea of the transformation of negative emotions. And also an enrichment of what I wrote about as ‘The Saintly Dust of Humanity’. Let alone an echo of the story of ‘manna from heaven’ in the story of Moses. And even an extension of Shakespeare’s ‘The quality of mercy is not strained/ It droppeth as the gentle rain upon the place beneath’.

The song speaks to me of the early version of All and Everything in which the reconciling will of God enters into every triad even down to the lowest level. This must be the basis for reciprocal maintenance because the message is that in some ultimate way all creatures are equal in the sight of God.

Story Pole Workshop, Vancouver B.C.

A Long Time Ago, A Million Years B.C.

Many songs from the era of the 1930s and 1940s were written with musical introductions. Many performances of these songs, versions that have become standards, omit the introduction. This is the case for “Pennies from Heaven.” If you google simply for the lyrics of “Pennies from Heaven”, you find the verses only, some even added verses, but not the words for the introduction. The same is true for the versions I found on youtube. Of course, you can find the words. They’ve not disappeared down the memory hole. However, you have to know some of them already in order to pluck them out in full. Recovering the whole means remembering something more of the whole. The words are these:

A long time ago,
A million years BC.
The best things in life
Were absolutely free;
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them,
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That’s what storms were made for
And you shouldn’t be afraid for
Every, time it rains, it rains…

The introduction tells the story of the transition from everything running wonderfully, smoothly, delightfully, to something that has a different tension to it. When everything runs wonderfully, smoothly, delightfully, perception loses it’s edge. Entropy sets in. Information is lost, because no new information is being produced. The sky is always blue. The moon is always new. Perceptual nets operate not simply on the rate of change, but on the rate of the rate of change. Perception is a field of acceleration like gravity.

Perhaps this approximates in informatic terms Gurdjieff’s key idea about a shift in world system, from the system he called the autoegocrat to the system called the trogoautoegocrat. In terms of information production, in the autoegocratic system no new information is produced, and so therefore its informatic content starts to leak away. With the trogoautoegocratic system, there is provision for dispersion as well as for concentration and new information is produced. The new element is what you pay for this process of informatic renewal. In human terms, you must be able to perceive across a wider bandwidth. Shifts in perception are required. Shocks. Thus, getting your clothes wet in the rain is a delightful humiliation. The poetry flows from the oxymoronic wound.

Native Story Pole, Vancouver B.C.

That popular music can provide more than a flippant touchstone into such musing is a fine thing. Deep thoughts provide a basis for deep feeling, and vice versa. In performing this song I struggled with how to hit the feeling in it. I could not come straight at it. If something started trembling in my breast as I sang, and I began to want to express this feeling energy directly, then the singing suffered. I breathed at the wrong spot, or pushed too hard. It’s difficult now to try to put myself there in the singing of it to say exactly what I discovered, though certainly it had something to do with technique.

Eunji, who plays piano and sings the harmony so breezily in this recording, is the musical director of this duo, and she is merciless in her insistence on singing the notes just as they are noted on the sheet. As a folk musician who relies on my instinctive sense of music, this was often a painful regime. Nevertheless, I had consented to it from the outset, and this consent led to learning something new-for-me about how technique is a container for music. The “pennies from heaven” moment is that keeping the moving part of my singing apparatus working properly as per the “notes” opens up the other parts of the song. Now I know this may sound obvious to some, but what isn’t as obvious is that opening up room in the moment of performance, however that might be, allows for gravity. Something accelerates. It is a sly way, perhaps, of letting the field find you.

Music
Piano and Vocal: Eunji Kim
Vocal: Gregory Dominato

Photos
Gregory Dominato

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poem

idiot I am

How much of my life is me?
You see, I can’t even ask the question without begging it,
Without using myself to point at myself.
There is no outside place.
I am entirely in media res.

And so now that I have concluded that the poem is
stuck in the first stanza, let me move on,
For there is no standing still.
Should I worry and fret at such a mess?
Is there comfort in taking the being for its dress?

Comfort? Why sure. I can get on with things
And plan and dream the dreams that life has put in me,
Anything else would surely be an idiot’s symphony,
A montage of silences.
Alas, idiot I am.

gj dominato, january 2012

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the idiotplayers podcast 07: Dr. Nevit Ergin

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Welcome to the idiotplayers podcast. In this episode you will be glad to listen to Dr. Nevit Ergin. Dr. Ergin is the man who has translated into English the 44,000 verses of the Divan-i-Kebir from the poet and Sufi Jalalluddin Rumi. These divan are currently widely available as a 22 volume set or as individual volumes. A new collection of Rumi’s rubai will be available in the spring of 2012 with special recordings of selected poems read by Coleman Barks and recorded in the Mevlana mausoleum in Konya, Turkey.

Dr. Ergin trained and worked as a surgeon in his professional life. He now works solely to bring Rumi’s works and teaching to a wide audience. He says “Understanding the message of love in Rumi is our last hope to avoid nuclear winter.” Please go to the website for the “Society for Understanding Mevlana” at sfumevlana.org for more information about Dr. Ergin’s work. You’ll find an excellent set of posts on many topics.

The content of the conversation is excellent as Dr. Ergin covers many topics ranging from the Itlak path of Sufism that he was initiated into by Hasan Shushud to aspects of Rumi’s life. I cannot imagine that there is anyone better qualified at this time to speak to these topics.

I apologize for the recorded quality of the first 12 minutes or so of Dr. Ergin’s conversation. The quality does improve when we switch to a landline. In any case, the conversation requires a quality of careful listening that the idiotplayers audience is well capable of, I believe. I have provided a summary of topics covered in the show notes so that you can follow along as the conversation develops.

As usual, the introductory music and closing music are excerpts from the idiotplayers. As well, in this podcast I have included a taksim played on the guitar by your host and simply entitled taksim 3.

I lost the donation button on the site temporarily, but if you would like to donate to the work of idiotplayers.org you can so through paypal directly by addressing your donation to gregory@idiotplayers.org. Your donations are appreciated. If there is anyone out there with WordPress experience who would like to contribute a bit of expertise, that would be most welcome. Thanks to all of you for getting the word out about the high-quality conversations that we have been posting this year, and I encourage everyone to post something of their own in the way of a comment or reflection to the blog. Let me know that you’re out there listening.

This conversation was originally recorded on Dec 23 2011 and is being published on Dec 28 2011. The running time is approximately 1 ½ hours.

Biography

Dr. Nevit O. Ergin, a Turkish-born surgeon, is the original translator of Rumi’s 44,829 verses of the Divan-i Kebir into English. He has been a student of Sufism and the poetry of Rumi since 1955. Nevit spent 35 years translating the divan (or anthology) from the Turkish version prepared by Golpinarli, one of the most important Turkish scholars and an admirer of Rumi.

Dr. Ergin emigrated first to Canada and later to the United States to pursue post-graduate medical work. He founded The Society for Understanding Mevlana in 1992. Dr. Ergin currently resides in San Mateo, Northern California, in a little house called a Rumi Sanctuary.

Links

Society for Understanding Mevlana

New collection of Rumi’s Rubai

Review of  “Tales of a Modern Sufi” by Nevit Ergin

Index of Topics

The truth of death;
Death before actual chronological death;
Die before you die;
Human perception;
The heart that has not learned ecstasy will always stay under the feet;
The problem of the knowledge of good and evil;
Creation has never taken place;
We are fooled by the gods;
Essence and existence;
We are the children of perception;
Adam and Eve;
Change of perception through changing eating and breathing habits;
Mevlana Rumi;
Translation of Divan and Rubai;
Qualification as a surgeon (FRCS);
Golpinarli;
Zaman Furuzanfar;
Ahmed Aflaki;
The Divan is not for beginners;
Translation of the Rubai available in Spring 2012;
Shems of Tabriz;
Rumi’s son Aladdin;
Rumi’s letters;
Rumi was 62 years when he met Shems, who was older than this;
Rumi and Shems were not in a relationship in the everyday sense;
The non-material nature of love;
Plato’s idea of love;
Zikr, fasting, suffering, fellowship;
The humiliation of the path;
Hasan Shushud;
Fana, Annihilation of Self; ladun; Fana al-akham (Fana of laws—Presence of Body), Fana al-af al (Fana of Actions—Spiritual Presence), Fana al-sifat (Fana of attributes—presence of potentiality), Fana al-dhat (Fana of essence—presence of Ipseity);
Fana of Actions, all intellectual problems dissolve;
Fana of Attributes, love and ecstasy;
The love we experience in life is a gateway to Love;
Love of Self;
Prey and predator mechanism of the self;
The selflessness of motherly love;
Mevlana Rumi is the last hope for humankind;
The importance of breathlessness;
Fellowship – sohbet;
Fellowship, however, is effective when breathing and fasting practice is in tact;
Mathnawi;
Husamuddin Celebi;
Shems came to Konya in 1244 and left in 1247;
The power of Rumi’s work;
Sanai and Hafiz;
Mathnawi written beginning in 1265;
Work on Divan continued during Mathnawi;
The form of the poems in the Divan;
The life of Konya as seen through the Divan;
Method of translation of the Divan – word by word;
Life as a Dream;
Man is not an object, he is a concept, the touching point of two unknowns;
Wine;
Mevlana and wine.

Music

Opening: Urgent Carnival

Interlude: Taksim 3

Closing: Advice to the Drunk at Heart

All music copyrighted by the idiotplayers (idiotplayers.org).

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the idiotplayers podcast 06: George Bennett p02

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The idiotplayers podcast is a caravanserai of conversations with important thinkers, be-ers and doers. The idiotplayers podcast aims to explore art, creativity and expression.  If there is an elephant standing in the dark, as the Sufi story goes, we want to do more than grope and theorize. We invite conversations with people who aim from the heart to make practical, the far-reaching.

In episode 6 of the idiotplayers podcast we present part 2 of a conversation with George Bennett originally recorded on Sunday, October 16, 2011. Here the conversation turns to a discussion of some of the remarkable people George has met and the influence each has had upon him. He speaks personally and engagingly about these experiences while at the same time keeping a keen practical edge.

Biography
George Bennett was born in 1951, and was raised at Coombe Springs, the experimental spiritual community led by his father, JG Bennett. The ideas and practices of GI Gurdjieff, Subud, the Shivapuri Baba and Idris Shah formed some of the background of his childhood. After gaining a bachelors degree in history, George attended the third basic course run by JG Bennett at Sherborne in Gloucestershire, England. These ten-month courses were designed to give people an experience of the reality of the spiritual life, establish practices and spiritual ‘tools’ that could be developed over a lifetime, and to impart a sense of the spiritual task that confronts every individual, and humanity as a whole.

After Sherborne, George completed a masters degree in US history and then spent seven years as an international truck driver, an occupation that took him to countries across Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East. In 1982, having given up his driving career, George spent some months in the USA, where a visit to George and Mary Cornelius, long-time students of JG Bennett, reconnected him to ‘the Work’ as expounded by Bennett and Gurdjieff. Subsequently, George attended several seminars at the Cornelius’s institute in southern Oregon.

Working as a journalist in magazines specializing in trucks and transport, he learned the business of magazine publishing. He became editor of two magazines and, for a while, was responsible for the production of the market-leading ‘Car’ magazine in Britain. In 1990 George, with a business partner, bought the trucking titles he’d worked on from the Murdoch organization, and set up a small publishing company, which he co-owned for seven years before selling it in 1997. In 2001 George qualified as a school teacher and currently works as a 4th-6th grade teacher at The Village School, a small private elementary school set up twenty-two years ago by a group of Gurdjieff-Bennett students in Massachusetts, operating under the name Millers River Educational Cooperative (MREC).

Since the early 1990s, George has been involved in an international group running annual ‘Work’ seminars in the UK, and in 1994 he convened a conference at Claymont in West Virginia, on the twentieth anniversary of the death of JG Bennett. Some one hundred and fifty people attended the conference, mostly former students of Bennett who had taken his training as a point of departure, and had tried to develop their own understanding and methods of transmitting the ideas and practices of Bennett and Gurdjieff.

George currently helps to run a group in Boston, Massachusetts, but he remains convinced of the value of longer courses, to give people sustained experience of practical and spiritual work together. To that end he, with a small group including Elan Sicroff, the foremost specialist in the music of Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, initiated an experimental fourteen-week course in the fall of 2006 at Camp Caravan, a facility owned by MREC. This course was followed by a six-week ‘Intensive’ in the summer of 2010.

While it became clear that longer courses continue to have a real value, it is also apparent that people find it much harder than they did forty years ago to take a long period away from work or studies. As a result George, with a small group of collaborators, is currently experimenting with a series of shorter, ‘modular’ courses on specific aspects of the Work. The first of these two-week courses will be held at Camp Caravan in July of 2012. For further information, contact George on geoanab@gis.net.

Show Notes

jgbennett.net, Pak Subud, JG Bennett, Mrs. Annie Lou Staveley, George and Mary Cornelius, the reality of conscience, Ashiata Shiemash, Shivapuri Baba, Coombe Springs, Elizabeth Bennett, Idiots in Paris, Summer Intensive at Camp Caravan July 2012.

Notes

Music by the idiotplayers urgent carnival and advice to the drunk at heart.

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