Through the Google Glass
It is a constant joy, near form of poetry to read the search engine phrases that, month after month, click after click deliver readers to this site. Like absolute strangers on a train, mundane queries like“sensitivitytothings.com” and“really good writing that I will bookmark and read every day” sit alongside absolute gems—pennies from internet heaven too precious to ignore: “canada state electronic flash churches,” “delusions electricity sensitivity” and “i afraid of three things.” Admittedly one of those phrases might be made up…
My site statistics tell me the most visited post on this site is the deliberately surreal, first exploration of search engine serendipity, Follow the Rainbow, a post inspired by one vistor’s mind-blowing, reality confounding search phrase,“Seeing a rainbow in your living room means what?,” which to consider the irrational rational, abandon serendipity for cause and effect was one assumes ipso facto attracted to these pages by Sri Chinmoy’s intriguing explanation of the spiritual significance of rainbows. The cause, rather than destination of this seeker’s query however is a matter for speculation—but I hesitate to ask for a serving of what they are having.
I can’t say with certainty why other people enjoyed Follow the Rainbow, but for its author it was most enjoyable to write. An exercise in chance, serendipity and the random, it was written during something of a dry spell—inspiration, ability for anything structured or thought through lacking. So often the portrait of an artist as a procrastinator, I have literally dozens of pieces on the table at any one time, awaiting inspiration or moment of clarity for completion, sometimes comprehension; yet find it usually the unplanned, unstructured I enjoy most—probably the reason why so many remain unfinished. Like a fickle child, I am all too easily entranced by the latest shiny, flashing toy.
Now hopelessly distracted, viewing and reviewing my search engine phrases once more, shall we follow the rainbow again?
Topping the list of Google queries, admittedly by margin smaller than people you can fit into an average car, is“John Gillespie.” Hmm, that name does sound familiar…
Long in search of the true John Gillespie, I hope dear Google user you also found what you were looking for; but should you have been searching for the University of California biologist, failed Republican Congressional candidate from the year 2000, a London based actor, the Canadian hair transplant surgeon or artist from the nineteenth century, I’m little worried—it seems aside from the politician, my namesakes are all worthy of the seeking.
Especially so John Gillespie Magee, Jr, whose all too brief 19 years crash-landed in a 1941 spitfire accident over Roxholm, England, yet lives on in a poem said to be a favourite amongst astronauts and aviators, quoted by a US President following the Challenger Shuttle disaster:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, —and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
This John Gillespie would almost bargain a fiery, cockpit leaping death to have written that…
On the joined via birth certificate topic of Biblical first names, Scottish surnames which sound Italian, my first-name in all pull back the curtains, pretend not to cringe honesty, is actually John-Paul. I’ve confirmed the fact with a weary mother, long tired of sibling rebuke for a possibly poetic, certainly romantic name—at least several teachers immune to my embarrassment so thought. It was even“Jean-Paul” for several weeks in honour of French ancestry on my Father’s side, before the thought of the schoolyard bashings ahead of me, like a boxer’s bell, intervened.
Searching for my namesakes in Google I am reminded that, in a world outside of search engines and broadband connections, I once lived on the same street as one, a John Gillespie who, despite being the father of a classmate—everyone assumed she was my sister—was less than collegial in receiving my mail.
Hmm, we’re not writing comedy here people. Not intentionally anyway…
On the subject of humour unintentional, but not exactly laughing, I am reminded of a new word to share:“bathetic”—and its connection to Japanese writer Kimitake Hiraoka, pen name Yukio Mishima—his writing described as“occasionally so.”
Effusively or insincerely emotional;“a bathetic novel;”“maudlin expressions of sympathy;”“mushy effusiveness;”“a schmaltzy song;”“sentimental soap operas;”“slushy poetry.”
I also have struggled with the emotionally unrestrained, indulgent without perspective burden of bathos, and were I to admit to insecurity’s pinch, would reveal the fear that pieces like the just written Aversion to Violence could be described so; certainly so my first attempts at writing.
“yukio mishima beliefs”
Commenting on Kokoro no tomo, Alf from Thousandeye, more than just a search engine statistic in my considered opinion, was like a number of visitors interested in the back story to the sometimes mushy, not always as tough as steel Mishima, and asked if I could recommend something by the famous, infamous Japanese author. There is very little online, but the following excerpt from a 1970 New York Times article Everyone in Japan Has Heard of Him is well worth the repeating:
I remarked that although he constantly calls for a return to basic Japanese values, his house and his life style indicate a certain ambiguity about the West.
He shook his head.“If you look at my house, it seems completely Westernized,” he said after a pause.“But I am living in a double house. You can see only the visible house. But I also live in an invisible house which you cannot see. Let me give you a simple explanation for the Western civilization you see here.
“Here are two floors of a house. How to get from the first to the second floor is a basic problem. In Western culture, the solution is to make a stairway. Then anyone can climb up from the ground floor.
“The stairway is method—not technique, not civilization, but method inherited from the ancient Greeks. They adopted this method in building their culture.
“Since the 19th century, the Japanese have learned the Western way of using a stairway. We imported this stairway, this method, from the West and with the method we immediately imported all the trappings of Western civilization to modernize our country.
“But in our own Oriental way of thinking, there is no stairway at all. We never believed in method. It has been said of Noh acting that its highest discipline is a flower. How can you reach a flower? There is no method. You can only try hard by yourself. Independently. A teacher may suggest something but he cannot help you. So it is with climbing to the second floor. You must try hard to climb by your own enthusiasm and ambition. Maybe you will jump up. Maybe you will climb a pillar. But you must decide yourself and not rely on method…”
He paused to relight his cigar and offer more brandy, then went on:“Another way of thinking is Indian. The Indian meditates about how to reach the second floor and after a while reaches the conclusion that he already is there. That it is an illusion. But we Japanese can actually climb to the second floor.”
In the last 100 years, that is, since Perry’s“black ships” spurred the modernization of Japan, the Japanese have learned from the West“the quick way” of doing things, Mishima contended. The Japanese are now proud that they can do things a the same speed as the West, he explained.
“But I would like to ask the Japanese people: We think we have climbed to the second floor. But can we be sure? Can we really certify that this is the second floor? I believe that Europeans can certify their results and say they have reached the second floor because they built the stairway. But if we borrow the stairway, the second floor is not our second floor—at best it is borrowed.”
“yukio mishima’s jisei”
I rank quite highly for Mishima in Google despite being such a new site—little wonder I am attracting the intrepid or is that outright morbid searchers of“yukio mishima’s jisei death poems” and“mishima death photograph.” Despite being the original moth to a flame I am proud to report I have no interest in the seeking of such things—they are food come extreme indigestion for this hungry imagination, and mine is the preference to a leave a tortured writer a shred of dignity remaining.
That there is surprisingly little to be found online regarding Mishima may be related to the disregard with which he is held in academic circles—although“dropped” would be more apt; a supposed rightist hated by the right for his insistence the Emperor bear responsibility for Japan’s entry into the Second World War; hated by the left for advocating the Hagakure samurai values of old Japan; a man clearly in search of belief whose final writing suggested complete nihilism; all of little interest to the deconstructionists and clever arrangers of empty words.
“sensitivity of art”
The next search phrase? We’re back on topic people—there and here, myself and my searchers; and apologies, for I do have a tendency to wander off…
For those who haven’t read my About page, and if not I don’t blame you—it is probably the least thought out, least inspired piece of writing on this site—the titular“A Sensitivity to Things” is the translation of the phrase“Mono no aware,” a dominant aesthetic in Japanese art—way of life as well. Another aesthetic and closely related—more limb than separate tree in my view—is“wabi-sabi:” beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, incomplete.
The elegant, refined dictates of wabi-sabi are subject for an article I have been struggling to complete for almost half a year now, although talking about the apple isn’t going to get me any closing to its baking. It does however give me excuse to quote the wabi-sabi-esque wisdom of Deena Metzger from Prayers for a Thousand Years (thanks Quotes and Musings):
“We want to be God in all the ways that are not the ways of God, in what we hope is indestructible or unmoving. But God is fragile, a bare smear of pollen, that scatter of yellow dust from the tree that tumbled over in a storm of grief and planted itself again.”
“how many? counting surprises in serendipity”
Hang-on a minute—the site dedicated to serendipity would be over there. Still, while not my stated raison d’etre, I am more than admirer from afar of the synchronous and coincidental, and were it not for this serendipitous search phrase, would never have had the good fortune to find the Serendipity Spirit Salon, and the following“Poessay” written to its spirit:
“It is possible to float and steer with child-like hope and awe, to understand your precious agenda as provisional, to resonate in harmony with the vibrations of the next existential moment, to be prepared to deliver the grace-note-gift of your presence to the continuing blossoming of goodness.
Life is a joke. If you don’t learn to laugh, it’s a bad joke.
If you don’t learn to love (giving, not getting!),
then it’s a really bad joke!
Delivering love is a powerful and satisfying hobby.
It feels good every time. And like wave after wave of ripples in a pond, kindness echoes, reverberating from person to person, probably forever (whatever such a word might mean in the context of eternal now-ing).
Kindness is the means of exchange in the divine economy. While many live enchanted by the sad illusions spawned by clock and dollar, some (an ever-growing number on the horizon of humanity) are outgrowing such fearful greed and losing track of their time, being far too busy being kind.”
“losing my mind”
It seems nobody was listening to this searcher the first time they asked, so as is wont to do when ignored, they repeated themselves:“i am losing my mind…” and again,“losing my side losing my mind…”
Which leads me, though I really shouldn’t follow, to ask flippantly—“where do you think you left it?”
And if this person’s next Google search was“psychosis in students living in foreign cultures,” may I suggest, from this side on the tangled world web, seeking help—or at least going outside to smell the flowers?
Seriously though, with its implications of break-downs, crack-ups and self-implosion, losing one’s mind is a sensitive topic, one I even know a little about—although I’ll leave you dear reader to intuit the meaning of that. Less obliquely, I will confess that having a mind is not all it’s cracked up to be—in full faculty or otherwise—and losing it, preferably through the soft, gentle submersion in meditation’s infinite depths, is an experience to be recommended—maybe desperately needed.
“poem about sensitivity”
On this topic, the words of poet and meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy—even in prose—are to be appreciated; felt and contemplated rather than discussed and analysed.
Some people wait for the inspiration-bird to come and fly to them and drop on their heads or in their laps. In my case, either I command the inspiration bird to come to me or I chase the bird. As soon as I chase the bird, I catch it.
Poetry can be very subtle; at the same time, it can be very powerful. With two words compressed, you can say so much. Poetry does not have to be delicate and feminine. It can be extremely powerful. Even a delicate word can be powerful.
Sri Chinmoy, Conversations with Sri Chinmoy, p.17, Agni Press 2007
I can relate to chasing the bird of inspiration—in my case more dog barking behind car than vision so poetic. With a tendency towards procrastination and obsessive perfectionism, I have for the longest time been guilty of waiting, delaying, then waiting more for inspiration to finish long envisioned, never actually seen projects—a state or rut which saw me with journals full of ideas, musings and sentences, but ne’er a completed work. At least for this want to be writer ideas are never in shortage—for this I am grateful—but I have learnt through repeated trial, forgettable error the value of self-effort and dedication in the act of producing tangible, hold in hand results. The discipline of making a regular attempt often as not compels inspiration a swift return.
For me, Sri Chinmoy’s approach to poetry—extension really of a broader philosophy of living, of being—is a revelation, and in its living, breathing application, resolution of what was once a conflict, cause of much bathos in writing, in thinking. One who played sport and played instruments, lifted weights and carefully weighted words, the dichotomies of mind and body, power and beauty, masculine and feminine have long been deeply felt—not as arbitrary constructs or ideas alone, but aspects of self. Mountains out of molehills perhaps; subject for words and feelings indulged with too much ink, or obscured by certainly; but within me is an inner aesthete who demands harmony in apparent contradiction; craves goodness, reason and sense of abiding satisfaction in the outwardly chaotic, apparently broken. And meditation, its profound, inner depths of silence, brings harmony to all contradictions.
The unity of all dichotomies exists in the abiding, available always stillness, like an anchor berthed beneath the ocean’s chop and change.
Follow the white rabbit
Consider yourself tagged, if not through the looking glass already, and if inspired—surely something in my random, far too long to write and maybe read as well, oh my God it’s over 2,500 words post was inspiring—write your own blog post based on search engine phrases: Tejvan, Alf, Sumangali, Shardul, Larry, Camille, Jennifer, David, Mallory, Paty, Princess Haiku, Savannah, Rhian, Titania, Desiree, Jackal, and and… well you don’t have to be invited to still be welcome.