Jun 012015
 

Said Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell,
My very young friend who is learning to spell:
“The A is for Ape. And B is for Bear.
The C is for Camel. The H is for Hare
The M is for Mouse. And the R is for Rat.”
“I know all the twenty-six letters like that…
… Through to Z is for Zebra. I know them all well.”
Said Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell.
“So now I know everything anyone knows.
From beginning to end. From the start to the close.
Because Z is as far as the alphabet goes.”

Then he almost fell flat on his face on the floor
When I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more!
A letter he never had dreamed of before!
And I said, “You can stop, if you want, with the Z.
Because most people stop with the Z.
But not me!!!
In the places I go, there are things that I see
That I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.
I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends.
My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”
“My alphabet starts with this letter called YUZZ.
It’s the letter I use to spell YUZZ-a-ma-TUZZ.
You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found
Once you go beyond Z and start poking around!
So, on beyond Zebra!
Explore!
Like Columbus!
Discover new letters!
Like WUM is for Wumbus,
My high-spouting whale who lives high on a hill
And who never comes down ‘till it’s time to refill.
So, on beyond Z! It’s high time you were shown
That you really don’t know all there is to be known.”

“Then just step a step further past Wum is for Wumbus
And there you’ll find UM. And the Um is for Umbus
A sort of Cow, with one head and one tail,
But to milk this great cow you need more than one pail!
She has ninety-eight teats that give milk quite nicely.
Perhaps ninety-nine. I forget just precisely.
And, boy! She is something most people don’t see.
Because most people stop at the Z
But not me!”

“If you stay home with Zebra,
You’re stuck in a rut.
But on beyond Zebra,
You’re anything but!
When you go beyond Zebra,
Who knows…?
There’s no telling
What wonderful things
You might find yourself spelling!”

“Like QUAN is for Quandary, who lives on a shelf
In a hole in the ocean alone by himself
And he worries, each day, from the dawn’s early light
And he worries, just worries, far into the night.
He just stands there and worries. He simply can’t stop…
Is his top-side his bottom? Or bottom-side his top?”

So you see!
There’s no end
To the things you might know,
Depending how far beyond Zebra you go!

The places I took him!
I tried hard to tell
Young Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell
A few brand-new wonderful words he might spell.
I led him around and I tried hard to show
There are things beyond Z that most people don’t know.
I took him past Zebra. As far as I could.
And I think, perhaps, maybe I did him some good…

Because, finally, he said:
“This is really great stuff!
And I guess the old alphabet
ISN”T enough!”
NOW the letters he uses are something to see!
Most people stop at the Z…
But not HE!

 Comments Off on Dr. Seuss: On Beyond Zebra!
May 172015
 

What would it be like
to live in a library
of melted books.

With sentences streaming over the floor
and all the punctuation
settled to the bottom as a residue.

It would be confusing.
Unforgivable.
A great adventure.

 Comments Off on Anne Carson: What would it be like
May 122015
 

Tea is an act complete in its simplicity.
When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea.
The rest of the world dissolves.
There are no worries about the future.
No dwelling on past mistakes.
Tea is simple: loose-leaf tea, hot pure water, a cup.
I inhale the scent, tiny delicate pieces of the tea floating above the cup.
I drink the tea, the essence of the leaves becoming a part of me.
I am informed by the tea, changed.
This is the act of life, in one pure moment, and in this act the truth of the world suddenly becomes revealed: all the complexity, pain, drama of life is a pretense, invented in our minds for no good purpose.
There is only the tea, and me, converging.

 Comments Off on Thich Nhat Hanh: Tea is an act complete in its simplicity.
Feb 142015
 

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a
pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaaba and the
Tables of the Torah and the book of the Qur’an.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s
Camels take, that is my religion and my faith.

– From Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi

 

 Comments Off on Mohyuddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165-1240): My heart has become capable of every form
Feb 042015
 

The one activity taught by Jesus in word and deed is the action of goodness, and goodness obviously harbors a tendency to hide from being seen or heard. Christian hostility toward the public realm, the tendency of at least the early Christians to lead a life as far removed from the public realm as possible, can also be understood as a self-evident consequence of devotion to good works independent of all beliefs and expectations. For it is manifest that the moment a good work becomes known and public, it loses its specific character of goodness, being done for nothing but goodness’ sake. When goodness appears openly, it is no longer goodness, though it may still be useful as organized charity or an act of solidarity. Therefore: ‘Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.’ Goodness can exist only when it is not perceived, not even by its author; whoever sees himself performing a good work is no longer good, but at best a useful member of society or a dutiful member of a church. Therefore: ‘Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.’

It may be this curious negative quality of goodness, the lack of outward phenomenal manifestation, that makes Jesus of Nazareth’s appearance in history such a profoundly paradoxical event; and it certainly seems to be the reason that he thought and taught that no man could be good: ‘Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.’ The same conviction finds its expression in the talmudic story of the thirty-six righteous men, for the sake of whom God saves the world and who also are known to nobody, least of all to themselves. We are reminded of Socrates’ great insight that no man can be wise, out of which love for wisdom, or philo-sophy, was born; the whole life story of Jesus seems to testify how love for goodness arises out of the insight that no man can be good.

-The Human Condition

 Comments Off on Hannah Arendt: the moment a good work becomes known and public…