Sunday, March 8, 2015

Readings: Dylan on Madonna

It seems that it has always been fashionable for the prudes, the hipsters, and the envious to knock Madonna. I may need to cop to having been among them when she first splashed onto the scene in New York City. But that all changed at some later point when I read up on her life story--I don't remember where--and realized that the woman had paid her dues, worked her ass off, and turned a modicum of talent and beauty into a uniquely innovative, ground-breaking pop music industry. That she is from my home state of Michigan didn't hurt, either. That after coming to New York City to "make it," she studied Graham technique modern dance under Pearl Lang (for whom I worked for awhile, back in the 1970s) served to enhance my admiration. Today, Madonna is being mocked by the assholes of the world for not looking like she's 20-something as she approaches age 60. Well, fuck them.

Yesterday, as I was surfing around on Facebook, I came across somebody's blog post that somebody else had shared and that showed up on my news feed. The post contained quotes from a 1991 Bob Dylan interview with Paul Zollo that had appeared in Songwriters on Songwriting, whatever that was I was surprised to see that Dylan--easily the most influential musical figure in my life--shared my good opinion of Ms. Ciccone--and for the same basic reason:

Dylan considers what it takes to be among the few rare exceptions worthy of true creative respect:
"Madonna’s good, she’s talented, she puts all kinds of stuff together, she’s learned her thing… But it’s the kind of thing which takes years and years out of your life to be able to do. You’ve got to sacrifice a whole lot to do that. Sacrifice. If you want to make it big, you’ve got to sacrifice a whole lot."

And that she did. Thanks, Madonna. And thank you, Bob.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rants: Please Don't Share Your Bad Ideas

Yesterday, while surfing around on Facebook, I saw a meme asking people to boycott products made by Koch brothers enterprises. No! Bad idea! Think a minute! If every one of their businesses went broke tomorrow, they would still have billions and billions of dollars. The only people you could possibly hurt by boycotting their products is the struggling wage-earners who are employed in making them, distributing them, and selling them. Do you perhaps think that you would be hurting the Koch brothers' feelings by not buying their products? I doubt that very much. But, if you really want to hurt their feelings, just do it with a Facebook status: THE KOCH BROTHERS ARE BIG STINKY POOPYHEAD DUMDUMS!! There. Feel better now?

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On a lighter note, since we are snowed in down here in Southeast Ohio, I have just spent several hours fixing the links in the left sidebar to my stories and poems stored at Zoho Writer. If you're bored, have a look at a couple.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rodak's Writings: Marriage and Loss

I am currently a bit less than half-way through Richard Powers' novel, Orfeo.  The following few lines, found on p. 54, generated by the musings of the protagonist, musical composer and amateur gene-splicer, Peter Els, for some reason hit me hard:

"The book on his nightstand opened to where he'd left off the night before. He stopped each evening at the top of the left-hand page, the end of the first paragraph--one of a thousand foolish, useful habits Madolyn had taught him. His wife as still so present in his habits that he couldn't believe they'd been apart now for four times longer than they'd been together."

That habit of ending a reading session as the excerpt describes is a habit I share. I did not pick it up from any of my three wives, nor have I been apart from any but, perhaps, the second, as much as four times longer than we were together. Nonetheless, there are many habits I still possess--or which possess me--that I've picked up from each of them. So, they are all still very much present, and I suppose, they always will be.

These lines in Powers' book, which set me to thinking about my wives, is also what gave birth, I'm quite certain, to the following poem, my most recent:


She sits somewhere, I suppose,
getting all gooey with lust
for her new found freedom.

Here, where I stay,
the juice has run dry.
I coo at the cat and think
about having some light lunch.

Afraid now of shop clerks
and parking lot crowds,
I sit folded within,
pinned down and pithed
by the pointed thrust
of resignation’s dull bliss.

In an unguarded moment
I may I catch myself feeling
with my thumb
for the ring that’s not there.

Isn't it funny how life and art work together at times?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reflections: Tea(Leave)eology

I have lately seen the idea repeatedly floated that high (or human) intelligence is pregnant with the seeds of its own destruction. I have heard it said, for instance, that the human race will destroy itself before its large brain can find a way to make itself immortal. Another variation on that theme is that the human race will destroy the planet upon which it relies for its survival before it has devised intergalactic travel in order to sustain its existence.

These ideas have led me to musings about the Creation Myth that has come down to us from the biblical book of Genesis. Did death enter the picture precisely because humanity came to be intelligent--to "be like God"--rather than because of the disobedience of Eve, and then Adam, to a Higher Power? Does the Eden myth accurately foretell the inevitable suicide inherent to high intelligence?

The myth tells us that God created heaven and earth, and saw that it was all Good. If so, why was there a Serpent in the Garden, unless that Serpent was also Good? We are told that God is omniscient. He would, therefore, have been well-aware of the presence of that most "subtle" of all creatures, well in advance of the circumstances leading to the "Fall of Man."

We are also told that only after eating the forbidden fruit did Eve (and Adam) have knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, it seems that God instructed his newly-minted humans not to do something without having provided them with the equipment to understand why they should not do it. Adam and Eve, then, were not created as moral agents. They were like a pair of puppies. The only way to teach them not to do a particular thing would have been by training them not to do it by using reward and punishment. Yet, in the Eden myth we see that it was a one-shot deal. And how could our omnipotent God not have known from the git-go that this was a done-deal?

But perhaps God didn't place the Serpent in the Garden? Perhaps the Serpent came from Elsewhere, bringing with it that "gift" of intelligent self-awareness and moral agency that constitutes what we understand to be full human-ness, but at an eventual great cost?

The Eden myth ends with Adam and Even being driven from the Garden before--with their eyes now open--they should reach out and eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. Interesting...  Their Creator has somehow inadvertently allowed humans to become highly intelligent (like God), and, as a last resort, strikes back at them by preventing them from becoming (like God) immortal. This being the case, it follows that Adam and Eve never were immortals in the first place. Death did not enter the picture directly as a result of their disobedience; it was, rather, a secondary effect of their acquisition of intelligence.

And the poor Serpent was transformed into a metaphor...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Rants: American Endgame


What we have here is Scott Walker, the governor of a good-sized state, who is also the current front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, comparing labor unions to ISIS. Turn out the lights, America--the party's over.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reflections: Hiatus

I see that I haven't posted here for almost a full year. There must be a reason for that. Of course there is. The reason is that I've pretty much lost interest in it all. If it has no meaning to me any longer, then there is nothing to be said about it. I do post on Facebook; mostly poetry. Or "clever" quips. But no philosophical musings, which is what I primarily posted here. It's dead to me now. It doesn't matter. The game is over.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Readings: A Prophetic Poem


Obituary for the middle class

This whole thing, this way of living beside a can opener
beside a microwave beside a son beside a daughter
beside a river going to college, you get up
and kiss the mortgage and go go go with coffee-veins
and burger-fries and pack your soul on ice
till sixty-five, when you sit down with a lake
and have a long talk with your breath
and cast your mind far away from shore, fish nibbling
the mosquitoes of your thoughts: they will whisper of this life
a hundred years from now to children before sleep
who will call them liars, “Once upon a time,
they had two and half bathrooms and tiny houses
for their cars and doctors who listened
through tubes to their fat hearts, they named
their endeavors and beliefs four-wheel drive,
twenty-percent-off sale, summer vacation, colonoscopy,
variable-rate loan, inheritance,” and we will be
as gods to them in that they won’t believe in us,
and we will be spared the eternity of their worship
as they will be spared money, the counting
and the having and the memory of the middle share
of what gets harder and harder to call a pie