Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Head Spaces

First and foremost, I'd like to offer a tender, giggling R.I.P. to the late Syd Barrett, who died some undetermined number of days ago of yet undisclosed causes. Roger Waters may have led the Pink Floyd we best know, as we were more likely to have started with The Wall, or Dark Side of the Moon, than with Piper at the Gates of Dawn; their later epic psychedelia was more immediately canon-ready--at least on the terms dictated by "classic rock" radio--than Barrett's bent, whimsical, noisy drug-rock. But when punk and post-punk musicians were turning their backs on the would-be neo-classical noodling of '70s art-rockers, many still embraced those early, Barrett-led recordings, and the results can be heard throughout the post-punk scene (and its descendents and revivalists); spin any track by Robyn Hitchcock, Julian Cope (and his early band, the Teardrop Explodes), XTC, Animal Collective, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Residents, and on and on; post-punkers who sought psychedelic transcendence within punk's revolution against the virtuosic and masturbatory, Barrett's sparse, silly constructions allowed them to be minimalistic and primitive, but with a heady expansiveness and sense of play that provided a delicious antidote to the political stridency, wonkish theory and relentless anomie of compatriots like Gang of Four or the dour and ultimately self-immolating paranoia of Joy Division. Bolder (and funnier) than the Beatles, more sonically adventurous than the Stones, and less recklessly dystopian than the Velvet Underground, Syd's Pink Floyd remains rock's ultimate surrealist confection. Sorry to see you go, Syd; we hardly knew ye.

OK, so, if word hasn't gotten around, I've taken the plunge: I'm now, officially and for the record, a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism. My resistance was largely dialectical, but funny enough, it's through my own meanderings through various points of rhetoric that led me to a bright flash of revelation: binary thinking and facile dualities permeate our understanding of even the most relativistic and inclusive of our philosophies. I was struck, on the very evening on which I signed the card, by an assertion at one of the meetings. A passage by Nichiren suggested that "darkness" was an illusion, the tarnish on the mirror of our lives. I say we can go one step further than that, and accept that the illusion is that darkness is different from light; since darkness is the absence of light, and we are never without light, the notion that one cannot dwell in darkness and serve light is itself absurd. By that same token, chaos isn't different from order (indeed, any attempt to create order, even if successful, only proves that there's chaos that requires the imposition of order; the success of the various forms of hierarchy, in turn, prove that chaos is responsive to order, and therefore subject, in some measure, to acts of will). So the propositions that we all have the seeds of enlightenment, that our destiny goes (essentially) where we goad it, that our "Buddha natures" exist at multiple levels at any given moment, and that our compassion guides us to seek peace and happiness for all living things don't contradict the important premises (important for me, anyway) of nihilism, existentialism, pantheism, or the writings of Giordano Bruno, William Blake or the Marquis de Sade (I'm actually using passages from Bruno and Blake as part of my current study project, the text of which I may post once I've given my presentation). The one thing I'm having to turn my head around on a little is the "existence precedes essence" question, since my observation still leads me to believe that directive; the notion of an innate Buddha nature carries with it the implication that essence precedes existence. But this almost seems like a semantic quibble: if one imagines the Buddha nature to exist at a subatomic level, it would seem to suppose that existence IS essence, transmitted along in time through multiple organisms--again, a clear refutation of binary thinking.

In any case, I'm finding my study is focusing a lot of things with regards to my writing, my martial arts study, my way of BEING. My practice had already produced some benefit; now that my practice is an official reality, I hope to find more profound and interesting ways of sharing it, studying it, expressing it. Stay tuned . . .


Blogger Stine said...

binary thinking and facile dualities permeate our understanding of even the most relativistic and inclusive of our philosophies.

- I haven't even finished the post yet, and had to cut and paste this...and go....





4:22 PM  
Blogger Stine said...

ok, now I'm done.

You made smile, and cry.

In a good way.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


thank you for reading "Dark Side of the Wizard" on Fray obits. This tribute to Syd and Floyd in verse feeds the urban legend of synchonicity with the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz and the album: Dark Side of the Moon.

I wanted to perpetuate the mystery of transcendence to a pair of media we aren't accustomed to, by inviting others to experience or not experience the epiphany that is promised.

The Dark Side of the Wizard

View now as mimes Toto and Dorothy, as Pink Floyd cries out other-earthly –
Invisible from behind the glowing orb, Is our own consciousness worthy?

Caring unafraid with each and every breath, riding a surfboard toward certain death –
Excavating continuously without looking up… Seldom do we consider the aftermath.

The ticking rhythm continues unaltered, our truths must not ever be paltered –
Although the moments pass to the next, that desire to understand hasn’t faltered.

Sarcastically laughing at our own greed, we still lack this understanding indeed –
None is more worthy of this life than another; still we obsess on our own need.

It is so easy to give others over to sacrifice, not even caring to hear their advice –
As long as we get our own creature comforts, just pretending to care might suffice.

Welcome now to this invisible place, others here may well be held in disgrace –
It doesn’t matter, you’re welcome here; He allows us in to His state of grace.

On earth the seekers continue to experience, we stand together with independence –
Ever warmed by the light of truth, for nothing can block His overwhelming eminence.

So listen with your heart to the warning, as the storm approaches there’s a new beginning –
We shall lose ourselves within each other, as the sun arises on a brand new morning.

There’s no place like home!

Will Fillmore - 2 witnesses

4:52 PM  
Blogger Jacob Israel said...

got a nom de plume for further comments...


8:55 AM  
Blogger thelyamhound said...

Well, it's an unexpected and welcome pleasure to see a "Fray face" here in my blogosphere. Welcome, 2 witnesses.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Jacob Israel said...


thank you for the direction.


12:33 PM  
Blogger Missuz J said...

Damn dude.

Feeling dumber than usual after reading that one.

Congratulations and just, wow!

6:34 AM  

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