As Robert Kennedy said, all it takes for bad things to happen is for good people to sit around doing nothing, and one is reminded of this during campaign cycles. Karl Rove up to his old tricks, voter suppression, maybe getting ready, as he likes to do in Ohio, to tweak the voting machines a little bit (a company friendly to the conservative cause), the Koch Brothers shelling out big money to get their boys in so they can bend the rules in their favor and support big money making pipelines that rest permanent ruin on the environment, setting up their own crony system, the profiteers milking the War on Terror, making as much money as they can, ruining our reputation forever, harms that will never go away, Homeland Security its own twisted WPA... All the Ayn Rand reading idiots who believe the marketplace will just jump in and save everything, as in a freshly 'conquered' Iraq.
But that's not the point of today's little sermon in the head, the thoughts from the spiritual part of the mind, or the thinking part of the heart. Robert Kennedy's old maxim strikes home on a daily basis as one looks back and sees himself doing nothing, caught in some gentleman's bind, feeling quite unhappy, not knowing what to do about it.
Such that one wants to say, take this cup of suffering away, please, and yet, that is not one's fate. The wearisome problem that seeps into daily life, infects mornings, stifles the enthusiasm if not in a chipper mood, makes one ask, why... And perhaps all you can do with it, really, is try to mine some kind of spiritual maturity out of it. "Jesus, don't I have enough of that already?" Well, like Pema Chodron teaches, breathe in the pain. Do some yoga, find some way to appreciate yourself, your chakras, your energy, your freedom from ego which is an effort to achieve.
Martin Amis, a greatly seasoned writer, makes a quintessential good point on Charlie Rose as he tacitly discusses his new novel, love taking place in the death camp. The world is actually less violent now, and the novel, the inhabiting of another soul, has done its part to facilitate the understandings that make it so. And yes, this is what the novel, or a Chekov story, achieves, the inhabiting of the vast helpless meaningless black complexes of human pain and suffering. Something done in the spirit of Kafka exploring the deviancy-creating all-reaching bureaucracy. something we know is wrong, just that nothing can be done about it but to suffer on until, spirits finally crushed by the silence, we pass away. It's a lot to breathe in sometimes, and maybe that's why you write.
Haven't we all noticed? Don't we feel it creeping in. The better parts of ourselves, the gentlemanly part, the well-read part, the content-area hands-on learning part, our goodness toward strangers once the very thing of tradition have been turned into deviancy. The very subtlety of that which we eerily sense, that which we notice in our hearts, when we don't act like sheep going down to a box store to buy a new flat screen TV, hypnotic stupefying cake for the peasants, that we are being monitored, hopefully not individually--though one hears strange creepy clicks when he calls his mom, a retired college professor with sympathies toward bookish things--but as a whole, us, the very same people who stood as children with their little right hands up their beating hearts, looked up at the flag and recited, in good healthy learning-kind classrooms, the Pledge of Allegiance, thought abstractly of the goodness of Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson and words like "all men are created equal."
(Those who suspect others are, of course, accusing the other of all their own worst sins of betraying that which is good.)
The novel has that quality, call it during political campaign season patriotic. It's the same as walking down your favorite Linden lined street and discovering it's all been dug up, only much much worse, a gross understatement of how it might feel for someone to come into your country, blow up a lot of things, cause a lot of gunfire and bombs, tear up the fabric of daily life, an understanding of which leads us to do our Marshall Plan responsibility, to man the streets with helpful troops and lead the rebuilding ourselves (not waiting for some fairy of the free market to rise up and fix things magically, everyone suddenly cooperating with what is ultimately a selfish profit seeking endeavor anyway.) That old Mark Twain understand-the-other-guy, after-all, he's-your-friend America.
But what Mark Twain could not really write about was the sense of the erotic, that which is the subtext of Chekhov's tale of The Lady with the Pet Dog. That which is the subtext of yoga and perhaps of other religions, the erotic incapsulated, for some, in the sweet form of Jesus and Mary, witnessed in the vulva-image of the chaste Amable Virgen de Gaudalupe, madre y auxillo de todos los Cristianos found on votive candles. Perhaps how to handle such a primal force is a source of tension between Christian and Muslim, ticks of difference in the corresponding concepts of holy matrimony, holding out a unique and reserved disdain for how the other handles their sisters, daughters, wives, abhorring the other, more or less. (Both agree upon the subtext, that the full expression of sexuality leads us to the proper outlets, self-control, rather than mayhem.) Note that devout practitioner Bin Laden, wishing almost be a prophetic figure in his own right, kept a trove of Western pornography, as if there 'just in case,' but obviously used on a daily basis and who knows what mysticism he may have been practicing alongside the obvious practice. Indeed, viewed from one perspective not uncommonly shared, celebrated in Broadway musicals, this, along with news, is one of the great successes of the internet as viewed from a practical standpoint, along with Netflix and Amazon shopping, Google, and Wikipedia.
Anyone who does yoga knows this, can start the day in a great fit of erotic misery of a thousand Chekhov stories over, a nuclear reaction's worth, and find through breathing in from below and rising the breath upward a conquering glow, allowing even those of us who live alone a healthy form of hope. Whether that is wasted in the present or not, that channeling is renowned to be great for your own health, as common sense, as intuition points out, not taking a genius to realize. The great subtext.