Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Try, try, try

In yesterday's post, "Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links," I noted how Debbie's comment about the etymology and meanings of knock made me think of the expression "Don't knock it till you've tried it," and how a version of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" I had recently listened to had included instrumentals taken from the P!nk song "Try," featuring the refrain, "You've gotta get up and try, try, try."

That post also dealt in passing with Jesus' childhood (the legend of his bringing clay sparrows to life). I've also been working on a post (not very long, but constantly delayed by sync interruptions) about forgiveness and how Heaven will be populated by former sinners. These two thoughts made me ask the question of whether Jesus had always been "perfect," even as a child, and whether my reluctance even to ask such a question was a sign that on some level I was uncomfortable with the idea that anyone could ever become divine who had not always been so.

This, in turn, made me think of a Mormon children's song I had learned about Jesus as a child, which contained the lines, "He never got vexed if the game went wrong / and he always spoke the truth." The fanciful idea of those lines being chosen as someone's epitaph (perhaps that of J. W. Dunne, whose otherworldly visitants described life as a "game") crossed my mind, which served to keep the song in my mind long enough to remember that the chorus is:

So, little children
Let’s you and I
Try to be like him
Try, try, try

That triple-try is a clear sync with the P!nk song. Then I remembered that on July 31 I had had a sync involving a T-shirt that said "TRY YOUR BEST," with different parts of that text being successively covered and revealed to form different messages. At the end of the post about that, "U R best," I had quoted the First Epistle of Peter: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (4:12). This message, that a "fiery trial" is only to be expected, and perhaps inevitable, syncs with the P!nk song as well: "Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame / Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned" -- in other words, don't think it strange if you "get burned," as though some strange thing happened to you. Keep it in perspective: "Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die."

Another song that came to mind in this context was "Can't Run But" by Paul Simon. It doesn't actually use the word try, but the idea of trying one's best despite limitations is implied in the refrain:

I can't run but
I can walk much faster than this
Can't run but
I can't run but
I can walk much faster than this
Can't run but

Then I noticed the relevance of this verse:

I had a dream about us
In the bottles and the bones of the night
I felt a pain in my shoulder blade
Like a pencil point? A love bite?
A couple was rubbing against us
Rubbing and doing that new dance
The man was wearing a jacket and jeans
The woman was laughing in advance

This syncs with "My dream on the eve of September 11, 2001" -- a long-forgotten dream that was suddenly brought back to my attention last night by inexplicable means.

There was a sharp report, and I felt the bullet bite into my back, just to the left of my spine. . . . The bullet entered my heart, and a dark, warm, paralyzing feeling swept over me. I felt myself lose consciousness, lose identity, and everything was black and silent and timeless. The last thing I heard before I disappeared was my friends' laughter.

The bullet entered my heart through my back, just to the left of my spine -- pretty anatomically close to "a pain in my shoulder blade" -- and of course "pencil point" means lead, which means a bullet. And after the bullet, laughter.

Today I checked the Babylon Bee after several days of not doing so, and one of the stories was "Kim Kardashian Breaks Up With Pete Davidson After She Finally Gets Around To Watching SNL." The photo showed Davidson wearing a jacket and T-shirt; it didn't show his legwear, but the casual nature of his get-up makes jeans a strong possibility. This passage from the article syncs with "The woman was laughing in advance."

"Of course, everyone assumes I dated him because he's so funny," said a rueful Ms. Kardashian. "What it takes everyone a while to realize is that Pete has just perfected the smile and half-giggle of someone who just cracked a hysterical inside joke. You end up laughing because you want to be in on the joke, or think you must have missed something, and your brain somehow starts to believe Pete is actually hilarious. But if you just listen to the words coming out of his mouth, nothing remotely funny ever happens."

Going back the idea of pencil-as-bullet, it made me think of the They Might Be Giants song "Pencil Rain," in which that is used as an extended metaphor. The song begins: "The possible dream / Finale of seem" -- two lines alluding respectively to Man of La Mancha and a Wallace Stevens poem.

Relevant to my recent FBI dream, the news is all about the totally normal FBI raid on Donald Trump's private residence, the purpose of which was to "find" that he had misappropriated classified documents, making it illegal for him to run for president again and putting an end to "the possible dream" that the God-Emperor will rise again. How did that Wallace Stevens poem go?

Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. How is a line from a 1954 poem so precisely apropos to the current political situation in the U.S.?

Related to the classified-document allegations is the bizarre claim that Trump flushed so many torn-up documents down the toilet that the toilet clogged, allowing  NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to photograph them. Trump's response to this?

He declared the story 'categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.'

He also referred to Haberman as 'Maggot' as a play on her name Maggie.

The Poetry Foundation website says that "The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream" is an allusion to Hamlet.

Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots.

My dream on the eve of September 11, 2001

This is really weird, and I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but last night I was trying to type a web address into my browser, and some combination of typing errors and an autocomplete function with a really long memory caused the browser to bring up a Wayback Machine archive of something I had published on a long-defunct GeoCities website on September 12, 2001. I still have no idea how that happened. I have no memory of ever visiting the archive of that site, or if I have it can't have been at all recently, and my browsing history backs me up on that: no record of ever having visited it before last night, and yet somehow the autocomplete function on that same browser served it up.

This obviously indicates the hand of the sync fairies, or of other unseen agencies, so I'm posting it here.

This, unmodified, is what I wrote in my personal journal the day after the attack. As you can tell by reading it, I wasn't planning on posting it on the Internet -- but, for some reason, I now feel like I ought to.

9:30 a.m. Wednesday 12 September 2001

I've been working on my alife insects -- I can't call them ants now, since they're all able to reproduce -- and yesterday morning I was putting some finishing touches on the program when Dad came in the door in a great hurry and told me the news: Hijacked airliners had been crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It took a second to register. At first it was just another news item, just another terrorist attack. Dad's breathlessness over it all helped me realize (academically, anyway) just what a monumental event had just occurred. "It's not going to be the same America after this," he kept saying. He may be right. I don't know. Who can say at this point just what the fallout will be?

Everything was canceled. João came home early because LCC was closed for the day. Institute was canceled. Mom and Dad's meetings were canceled. Everything stood still. The ambient attitude was that to go about one's daily activities after what had just happened would be in very poor taste. Everyone should stop everything, watch the news, and spend the day thinking about the disaster. I didn't. I went about my day. I didn't feel a need to dwell on the incident -- but that evening, when I went on the Internet, my attitude began to change. Every site I went to had some acknowledgment of the disaster. Every blog had an entry -- or several entries -- about it. Arts and Letters Daily had "Jesus Wept" written in place of their usual "Veritas odit moras" motto. Even Google had an attack-related addition to its bare-bones page. Jorn Barger (of Robot Wisdom), pro-Palestinian in his opinions, had a link to pictures of the attack, with the linktext "If you want peace, work for justice." After reading all that, I felt that my blog, too, should acknowledge the disaster -- unless I wanted to look completely heartless. But I had nothing to say about it. I linked to the BBC story, using the date as the linktext and making no commentary. Then I deleted the post, thinking it artificial. That was the idea behind my new blogging style, right? I'm not linking or writing out of a sense of duty -- I'm linking when there's something to link, writing when there's something to write. A link to news about the attack would be pointless: who hasn't read it already? So now my blog doesn't acknowledge the attack at all, and probably won't -- unless I end up writing an article with some substance, which I most likely won't. Why should I let a terrorist leave footprints in my blog?

I feel no sadness, no anger, no hatred -- only a sense of unreality and occasionally a black, empty feeling. It still doesn't feel real. The pictures don't look real; they look like something from a movie. The stories seem to be straight out of a novel. The feeling of emptiness was with me on and off all day yesterday. It was with me from the time I woke up -- before I knew anything about the disaster. It was a new kind of feeling, and as I tried to clothe it in words all my ridiculous brain could come up with was a cheesy line from Star Wars: "I feel a great disturbance in the force...."

Part of me wants to call it precognition or some such, but I think it more likely that the dark feeling was a leftover from the disturbing dreams I had had that night. I dreamed I was shot. An unshaven, black-haired man was putting a new magazine in his machine gun, and we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us. The people who were with me -- my friends -- told me to lay down on the ground and demand to be shot, and I did. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I threw myself on the ground and said, "Just shoot me! Now!" And he did -- that's not what was supposed to happen. There was a sharp report, and I felt the bullet bite into my back, just to the left of my spine. My thoughts were running at a frantic pace: "He just shot me! Am I going to die? Am I ready? Of course I am going to die... and of course I am ready... it's over... it's finally over...." The bullet entered my heart, and a dark, warm, paralyzing feeling swept over me. I felt myself lose consciousness, lose identity, and everything was black and silent and timeless. The last thing I heard before I disappeared was my friends' laughter.

This syncs to some extent with the recent dream I recounted in "Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links." In that dream, an FBI agent I had known as a child came to my house, and I thought, "That's Mr. Graff from the FBI. I'd better go with him," and got in the backseat of his car -- effectively "arresting myself" instead of being arrested by force. Reacting to an FBI visit that way is somewhat akin to reacting to a gunman by lying on the ground and demanding to be shot.

The link that really got my attention, though, was that in the 2001 dream "we were laughing at him -- laughing because he was a bad shot, and could never get us." The reason I posted my recent FBI dream was that a sync related to clay sparrows had made me think of clay pigeons, which made me think of skeet shooting -- the one form of shooting at which the otherwise omnicompetent, Chuck Norris-like Mr. Graff was a spectacularly bad shot.

BÖC is actually pretty good

I only knew them for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and had kind of assumed they were one-hit wonders. Actually, they've done quite a lot of stuff that's good -- and synchronistically relevant.

About Godzilla:

About spontaneous human combustion:

About how just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die:

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Many sparrows, again, and various other sync links

In my August 7 post "Standing in the Hall of Fame, and Christ at the door," I recount how, looking for Greg Olsen's painting of Jesus knocking at a green door, I ran across his painting of Jesus with sparrows.

The painting is called Even a Sparrow and refers to Jesus' saying about God taking note even of the fall of a sparrow. It made me think of two things, though: first, the apocryphal story (Gospel of James; also alluded to twice in the Quran) of the child Jesus making 12 sparrows of clay and making them come to life; and second, a childhood dream in which I had written a book (the second in a trilogy) called Many Sparrows.

By "coincidence," hours after seeing the painting and thinking of the legend of the clay sparrows, I read an allegorical interpretation of that same legend in a book I have been reading, Histoire de la magie by Éliphas Lévi.

Today, wanting to look up a Bible reference for another post, I opened the BibleGateway website. Guess what their "verse of the day" is.

The book I dreamed of having written was called Many Sparrows; Olsen's painting is called Even a Sparrow. Luke 12:7 is one of two verses in the Bible that include the phrase many sparrows (the other is the parallel passage in Matt. 10:31), and it is the only one that also includes the word even. I know this because I searched for even sparrow to see if Olsen's title was in the Bible. Besides Luke 12:7, the only other hit was this:

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God (Ps. 84:3).

This is synchronistically relevant because of my recent visit to Guashan Shaolin temple (related in "When that gorilla beats his chest"), in which I entered through a green door into a room that was supposed to be closed. (This same room also has a circular doorway.) Just outside this room, baskets had been hung from the eaves for swallows to nest in, and several of the birds were doing so. Note also the expression "my King, and my God," which ties into the the "God vs. King" movie poster referenced in "When that gorilla beats his chest."

On August 6, I posted "The Wizard at the green door," and Debbie left a comment in which she discussed the etymology of knock and particularly mentioned its figurative meaning of "deprecate, put down." This made me think of the common expression, "Don't knock it till you've tried it" and how it takes on a different meaning if "it" is assumed to be a door. Both at the temple and at the abandoned restaurant, I had entered a green door without permission -- just "trying" the door instead of knocking on it.

Yesterday, August 8, I posted "Now, O now, in this brown land," a train of thought initiated by listening to a version of "(Dont' Fear) The Reaper" set to an instrumental track by P!nk. It turns out that the instrumentals come from "Try" (a song I'd never heard). This is the chorus:

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned
But just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die
You've gotta get up and try, try, try

On one of my don't-knock-it-till-you've-tried-it visits to the abandoned restaurant, I found the wall covered with figs, and I picked one as a souvenir. I have no experience with fig trees, and thus I was caught by surprise when I broke the stem and a gout of sticky white latex spurted out onto my hand. I wiped it off as best I could and washed my hands later.

This morning, I had an English tutoring session with a businessman. He subscribes to a magazine for students of English and often asks me questions about it. Today he had some questions about an article on, of all things, figs. The fact that fig latex is a skin irritant was mentioned.

"A liquid that is found inside the fig tree can cause burning when it touches our skin." Well, so what? Just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die.

The fig article also mentioned that "Adam and Eve wore fig leaves in the Garden of Eden, and some believe Eve's forbidden fruit was a fig, not an apple." Adam has been part of the recent sync stream because of his connection with Hercules and Michael. The fig/apple connection is also reinforced by Fig Newtons (also featured in the magazine article), the name Newton being more commonly associated with the apple.

About a week ago, I had a dream about the businessman who showed me the fig article today. In the dream, he was at my house and I was hoping he would leave soon because I was expecting someone else. Finally, he did leave, and immediately the person I had been waiting for arrived. It was the man who had been my best friend's father and my Scoutmaster when I was young. He also happened to be an FBI agent, and in the dream I thought of him only in that latter capacity. He drove up to my house in a shiny purplish-silver sports car, and I though, "It's Mr. Graff from the FBI. I'd better go with him." I got in the backseat, which was very cramped, and asked the person sitting in front of me (one of my fellow Scouts from those days and a personal enemy) to move his seat forward and give me some leg-room. He said it was already as far forward as it would go, and that he didn't have any leg-room, either.

I mention this dream because I almost never think about Mr. Graff these days -- or Brother Graff as we called him as a fellow Mormon -- but I thought about him today because clay sparrows made me think of clay pigeons. Despite being an FBI agent, a colonel in the Marine Corps, and an excellent marksman in general, Brother Graff was just terrible at skeet shooting, and so that quickly became the Scouts' favorite activity because it was so entertaining to outshoot the master. One of Brother Graff's children (my friend's younger brother) was so little that if he held a shotgun properly, the kick would knock him flat, so he always shot "from the hip" -- holding the gun off to his side so that when it kicked it would swing back without hitting him. And he still nailed more pigeons than his father!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Playing with AI image generators again

This software is getting better very quickly. These are from MidJourney.

Melons from an alien land

Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.

Kolob, nigh unto the throne of God

The 400 divine rabbits of drunkenness

From the narrow desert, O man of pride, come into the house so high and wide

The enigmatic presence of the human mind winks back from the dark

We dare not go a-hunting for fear of little men

Now, O now, in this brown land

Last night I happened to listen to this haunting version of the Blue Öyster Cult classic "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," set to an instrumental track by P!nk.

The original version of this song is famously featured in the 2000 Christopher Walken "More Cowbell" sketch, but this mashup version has no cowbell at all. This, in the context of recent Wizard of Oz syncs, made me think, "Cowbell out of order. Please knock." But it's not like any "knocking" has been added to replace the cowbell, so I dismissed the thought.

The line "Seasons don't fear the Reaper" always makes me think of some lines from James Joyce, one of the poems from Chamber Music: "The leaves -- they do not sigh at all / When the year takes them in the fall." In fact, I guess I've always sort of assumed the song was inspired by that poem, directly or indirectly. Today, I looked up the whole poem and was surprised to find that it features knocking!

Now, O now, in this brown land
Where Love did so sweet music make
We two shall wander, hand in hand,
Forbearing for old friendship’ sake,
Nor grieve because our love was gay
Which now is ended in this way.

A rogue in red and yellow dress
Is knocking, knocking at the tree;
And all around our loneliness
The wind is whistling merrily.
The leaves -- they do not sigh at all
When the year takes them in the fall.

Now, O now, we hear no more
The villanelle and roundelay!
Yet will we kiss, sweetheart, before
We take sad leave at close of day.
Grieve not, sweetheart, for anything --
The year, the year is gathering.

A few days ago I had the thought that a tree could be the equivalent of the Green Door, but I can no longer retrace the train of thought that led me there. All that comes to mind now (though it was not my original thought) is Yggdrasil, the tree that is the "gate" between the worlds. Today I saw a roadkilled squirrel on the road and thought, "Ah, poor Ratatoskr!"

Another poem from Chamber Music also came to mind.

Gentle lady, do not sing
Sad songs about the end of love;
Lay aside sadness and sing
How love that passes is enough.

Sing about the long deep sleep
Of lovers that are dead, and how
In the grave all love shall sleep:
Love is aweary now.

The Reaper's sickle, and the end of love, then made me think of Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

Joyce's embrace of the Reaper comes from a deep intuition which he himself did not understand and thus explained wrongly. The reason for not fearing the Reaper is not that "Love that passes is enough" -- how could it be? -- but that death and resurrection are the gateway to the realm of that which does not pass, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. "Romeo and Juliet / Are together in eternity."

Human love, as experienced in mortality, is as mortal as every other human thing. It alters, it changes, it bends with the remover to remove. But resurrection is coming, and the restoration of all things. "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life," wrote the Prophet Joseph Smith, "it will rise with us in the resurrection" (D&C 130:18). He did not say that we will keep it, but that it will rise in resurrection -- for we forget so very much of what we learn, and many of us end mortality in a state of dementia. What the Prophet said of intelligence is true also of love. Whatever broken, imperfect, changeable principle of love we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. "For all things must fail -- but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever" (Moro. 7:46-47).

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44). 

And a little wink from the synchronicity fairies: I had known Blue Öyster Cult only for "The Reaper," but Wikipedia informs me that they are best known for three singles, the other two being "Burnin' for You" and -- "Godzilla."

They have a fight, Triangle wins, Triangle Man

A monster made of hundreds of tiny triangles