You Call A Tree A Tree…

The-hobbit-first-edition-dust-jacket-book-cover

I probably first read The Hobbit when I was about nine years old. And then I immediately read it again a couple more times. Thinking on it now, I really don’t know that I have read it since then though, but I do know the story by heart and its very special to me. By the time I was ten or eleven I had collected and read The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarilion, and The Unfinished Tales. At that time I think the last two books listed were beyond me, but The Lord of the Rings… I read that over and over again. Back then me and my family were living in Taiwan, and there was this book store up the street that had these beautifully bound hardcover copies (same dust-jacket as the one pictured above) with a giant map in the back that I could unfold and pour over. We lived in the heart of Taipei by the Chiang Kai-shek memorial. Even though that was a pretty public monument and park, there was this secluded spot with a small waterfall I’d climb up to. I’d go up there and read about Ents, Hobbits, and Elves. Good times!

Tolkien has been a great companion in my life. Even though I may go for many years not reading anything he has written, its inevitable that eventually I’ll pick up and read one of his stories again and thoroughly enjoy myself. I think it was last winter that I picked up Morgoth’s Ring and read that for the first time. It’s really good! These days, The Silmarilion is far and away my favorite work though. The mythology in there is mind boggling, and his creation story is definitely one of the best.

Tolkien was a very religious person, and it shows in his writing. Even though I am not religious and I don’t really believe in a personified supreme-power (its hard to explain what I believe. Some sort of animism I suppose), there is one thing that always came through in his work, and it is also something I agree with… Tolkien believed that you can experience God directly in his handwork. God (or Iluvatar in Tolkien mythology) moves through Nature, and by spending time with Nature you can come to know and understand the mind of God. And it is our creativity and imagination that allows us to participate directly with God and Nature.

The quote below, taken from a conversation between Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, is really the point of this post. I wanted the quote to appear here on ArtDuh!

You call a tree a tree, [Tolkien said to C.S. Lewis], and you think nothing more of the word. But it was not a ‘tree’ until someone gave it that name. You call a star a star, and say it is just a ball of matter moving on a mathematical course. But that is merely how you see it. By so naming things and describing them you are only inventing your own terms about them. And just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.

We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil….

You mean, asked Lewis, that the story of Christ is simply a true myth, a myth that works on us in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened? In that case, he said, I begin to understand.

Geek Out!

middle_earth_map

Skinwalker Ranch

Loup-garou

I was probably in Junior High or something when I first heard about skinwalkers. Some other kid told me about people down in the four-corner region who’d sew animal skins onto their bodies (that’s how the other kid described it anyway), run through the wilderness as a cougar or wolf, terrorizing the innocent. For some reason, that story really creep-ed me out and wedged itself into my imagination. I’ve thought about it a lot over the years, and even read a few books about it.

I’m a reader, and I listen to even more audiobooks, but I don’t often post about the books I read (other than comics :) ). Maybe that’s because even though I am not a scientist by any means, most of what I read is scientific. I love science and am very inspired by scientific thought. In my heart though, I am a complete mystic. I read a lot of religious, Gnostic, and occult texts as well. I am a-okay with that though. To tell you the truth, I see no conflict between science and mysticism at all. A lot of people do, and that is okie-dokie, but I don’t. I only bring that up because I think it relates to the book referenced below.

Anyway, the book that I found thoroughly entertaining and even thought provoking is called “Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah“. I suppose there really isn’t a whole lot of science in this book, just scientist saying what they’re witnessing can’t be measured. But its still interesting. I first picked up and read it years ago. At one point I learned that there was a movie in the works that is based on the book, called Skinwalker Ranch. Earlier this week I found out that the movie was due to be released on October 30, so I decided to read the book again…

This book is supposedly true and based on actual events, even though so much happens that it can become hard to believe any of it. I am open to a lot of different ideas, but I do remain a skeptic. Still, it seems odd to me that the authors would try to link all of these strange phenomena together if it wasn’t something they believed happened, because if it is a complete fiction that’d just send up red flags right away, if that makes sense. But yeah, so much going on in this book. Giant wolves terrorizing a cattle rancher family, giant pterodactyl (thunderbird?), UFO, poltergeist, old man Sasquatch, hauntings, alternate dimensions, wormholes… it’s all here. One of the authors, physicist Colm Kelleher, set himself up on the ranch to study the phenomena. Even though he reports on the bizarre experiences he witnessed, he also admits that much of the data he came away with is unusable.

I do enjoy and recommend this book. I have no idea if its real, hallucination, or flat out fabrication. But who am I to judge someone else’s experience?

I will say this though… I’ve spent a huge chunk of time in the region and up in the Uinta mountains, especially in my teens and early 20s. I’ve had a few unexplainable experiences up there that raised the hair on my head, and probably turned a few of those hairs grey. There was one experience in particular that I am not going to go in to, but it scared the hell out of me and literally had me running for my life. And I know it was very real.

So, if you’re looking for a good book this Halloween, try the Hunt for the Skinwalker. Hopefully the movie will be a good one too!

Hexen 2.0

TAROT_Hermit-TK

I’m able to listen to a lot of audio-books and podcasts while I work so, of course, I do. One of the podcasts I look forward to each week is Expanding Mind, and about a week or two ago they interviewed artist Suzanne Treister about her new tarot deck and book, Hexen 2.0

I’ve always liked looking at old alchemical charts and diagrams, and that is what Treister’s work reminded me of. Even though I don’t really use them, I’ve also been intrigued by the tarot. I like looking at the different decks and have thought for a very long time that the artwork illustrates very powerful symbols.

I decided to get the Hexen 2.0 book, and I’m glad I did. I enjoy the artwork very much, but what I think I like the most is that each card uses a historical person or event to illustrate the meaning of that specific card. Although with other decks I think I might have an almost intuitive understanding of each symbol (we all probably do), Treister’s deck helps make it a little more clear. I like that and appreciate all of the work that went into her deck.

If you’ve ever had any questions about the tarot, this book might be a good place to start.

ensemble.va.com.au | HEXEN_2_TAROT

ensemble.va.com.au/Treister

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WandsQ_HArendt TAROT_Emperor-DSinope
TAROT_Magician-Leary Chalices5_Lovecraft
TAROT_Sun-AnarchoP-PLA WandsKing_Tesla

A person’s life purpose…

“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art or love or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.”

Albert Camus

in Just

I’ve mentioned here before about how much the poem “in Just-” has wedged itself into my imagination. I feel like posting it today. Every year at about this time, snippets surface right behind my eyes and I feel alright. Rain is falling, flowers blossom, trees are a-blooming, and the world is puddle-wonderful.

in Just-
BY E. E. CUMMINGS

in Just-
spring       when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles       far       and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far       and       wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

   the

goat-footed

balloonMan       whistles
far
and
wee

Sailing to Byzantium

(I feel old today…)madabamark

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

by W. B. Yeats


			

The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

"Poetry London" by Ceri Richards, 1945

“Poetry London” by Ceri Richards, 1945

Some words I have been thinking about a bit this week…

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

by Dylan Thomas