I had a few minutes between sessions today so I thought I’d meditate. I’ve been trying to master the “no mind state” over the past few weeks but have never managed to get beyond a minute.
The no mind state is when you consciously don’t think of anything at all- not easy at all. I decided I cut off any and all images, before I could tackle my ever descriptive inner monologue. I reasoned my inner eye and inner tongue might be easier than my inner ear My office has an absurdly high amount of eagles and other birds that sorround it, so without any thought deciding it, I sat still, eyes closed, only repeating what the birds said in my mind.
Suddenly it was not the call of eagles flying like little Joves that caught me, but love birds and other tiny birds. I don’t know the names of most of those birds, but I know from observation that a majority of them are tiny, small enough to be behind a few leaves.
Yet their calls, suddenly, were so loud, with interspecies duels and distant cries dominating my world which was now only just a wall clock and their tweeting. One after the other they would sing a tweet, waiting to hear back, and without exception they did recive a response from their own kind or from some other kind of bird. Could they even understand each other?
I imagined the evening, without seeing it, wondering about my village, then my hometown, recalling the distant dogs barking, the still silence of evenings which the sun always seemed to dominate. It felt like the birds were always louds but I never heard them.
I’m not one to engage with the tedious discourse of geopolitics often, but even among those of us curious enough to try and piece together both sides of the conflict I notice a few key take aways that don’t seem to be mentioned which I’ve written down here.
Despite the constant victories Ukraine seems to be winning on social media they are losing the actual war.
For all the exaggerated claims of killed Russian combatants that often suspiciously exceed the number of American killed in the Normandy landings, Ukraine has lost an astronomically higher amount of troops than the Russians. No reserves, mercenaries or militias can replace their legacy technology, bases and NATO drilled veterans.
If there is to be a post war insurgency, as many in the West callously imply- not accounting for how these insurgencies ruin nations- there won’t be many remants of the Ukrainian armed forces to fight it, unlike the disbanded and excluded Ba’ath party members in Iraq who made up the ranks and beuracracy of ISIS.
Considering how the war has progressed I think with hindsight we can say that the campaign wasn’t going to be shock and awe like the US in Iraq, rather it’s the deliberate advance like the Russian adopted in Syria. This time with even less bombing in the big cities. A fairly far sighted compramise since they don’t have the means or the delusions of grandeur that made the US think they could build a nation like Iraq or Afghanistan up from ruins.
This makes me think this will be a long war – probably one that extends beyond Ukraine if Poland & Belarus get involved.
This might also be Putin’s way of calling the economic bluff since there is no one who can replace Russian energy. All exaggerated claims of replacing Russian energy does not account for the fact that no one has the capacity or will to increase and supply production to that extent. Why would they do that and tank gas prices? OPEC has done so many times in the past and fairly see that they have not been rewarded. While Europe puts on a fig leaf with swap deals to hide purchase of Russian energy Putin is now going to force them to prop up the Ruble.
Many often dismiss Russia as a Gas Station mascarading as a country, quoting the plane crasher and war monger John McCain. The problem with this analogy is that gas stations are among the corner stones of modern civilization so it isn’t much of an insult. With the wheat fields that Russia now has access to, the gas station now has a farm attached -another cornerstone of civilization.
Secondly I think Putin was trying to break with the West before they were ready. This makes the many Western initiated talks before the war make a lot more sense, the attempts at deterrence meant that the West wasn’t ready yet – way to show your hand!
It also paints everything from Syria to Libya to Armenia to Georgia to Kazakhstan in a much different light- the plans to hemn in Russia were already underway. All of them have floundered so far, especially in Georgia and Armenia where Western aligned regimes have had to change their minds.
While Polish intervention might be a fantasy and Belorussian troops might only be massing on the border as a distraction – the real coup is how this imprisons all Russian Oligarchs & Europhiles within Russia to Putin’s nationalist vision. This fifth column has resisted for a long time, but now with a war their views have no currency and they can’t flee the country with their cash cows (stolen public assets) either. A true victory considering how much sway and influence these King Makers had in the 90’s – they were the ones who killed the Soviet Union and handed Putin the crown in the first place.
There were two Rijuls watching Haibane Renmei. One was nine years old, with little supervision, staring incompredingly at a TV screen during a late winter rain.
A young woman was at the end of the journey, as the sun set her friends gave her their last bits of advice before walking down by the shadows of a huge school building. The finality of her decision, her entire world weighing down on her and the sepia, grimy tone of the entire world was obvious to even an especially oblivious nine year old. Incidentally she had a tiny pair of wings and a halo but that was drowned out by the angst.
The other Rijul has spent a lifetime trying to put it all together. On that inconspicuous day I saw something that stayed with me forever, an ache that haunted me. Maybe it was the first time I understood art. I did the bravest thing I could, I told my mother I’d give up all my TV time, my playtime and anything else I had if I could wake up at 6 am every morning to watch the show which was rescheduled to that inconvenient time slot.
Of course it was given no thought and my proposal was rejected. In those pre-internet days I knew I had lost something immesurable. The clunky Japanese name didn’t remain either. Just an itch everything I though of the Animax channel. It drifted in and out of my dreams, in my memories. The optimistic Animax logo kept dropping in and out too.
I think seeing something like that at a young age changes you, maybe ages you- I’d recommend it. I saw many such sticky images on Animax. I wasn’t old enough but I’m certain that was a good thing.
I’m still watching Haibane Renmei, so I won’t say much else about it yet. However it has been interesting looking back at some old shows I never got to finish. Midori days was the first among these strange novelties I tracked down.
It’s about a teenager who wakes up to discover his right hand has turned into a woman. You might assume that the show is nothing but obvious jokes but besides two puns about masterbation it’s actually a deep, heartfelt, well developed story about strangers from different classes who come together to share a complicated relationship with each other.
It is a creative comedy that doesn’t get old fast, but the highlight really is how the many well rounded characters try and define themselves. In a novel feature for the genre, the pinning youngsters actually don’t get what they want and actually have to deal with failure and living with it. They actually end up changing who they are instead of just failing upwards. Did I mention it’s funny? It’s really funny in a way only something as absurd as a person living on your hand can be.
I’ll finish watching Haibane Renmei soon enough, so I’ll write a second part for this series by the end of this week.
I have a neighbor who loves drinking and can often be heard singing or beating his wife late into the night. He’s a short, broad policeman with a short temper who is mostly content talking loudly and playing with his boisterous but home-bound son.
Last night he launched into a rare tale that caught my ear. It was a warm night with mosquitoes circling in earshot. As is typical for such a night a power-cut that had me trying to swat at the pests while trying to protect myself with a blanket. It was a fools’ endeavor because they outnumbered me and outmaneuvered me. In the end it was too hot inside the blanket and too pest ridden outside it. Tired and sleepless though I was, I recognised his voice immediately. On this rare night I heard him speak English and not his familiar Tamil. He was sitting, as he often does, outside his door which is built in an unusual manner- near the end of his house and not near the front. He has a narrow path from his front gate to his door and he often puts a chair out so he can sit in the middle of the path.
He was lecturing with so much condescension, that I was amazed whosoever was on the other end didn’t slam the phone down every time he finished his sentences with a smug flourish and a stretching of words. He explained that most people don’t know their “generation”. They can count back to their parents generation, to their grandparents generation at best. Beyond that they knew nothing. He however could count further. He could count beyond his great-grandparents and said he knew “all his generations”. He proclaimed his family was from Sri-Lanka, shouting the lengthy name of his village. He would fill in details in a fast paced Tamil and switch back to a English slowed down to bring as much derision as possible.
He told long tales of his grandparents, his grandmother in particular who collected so much gold that she had nothing to do with it. He ranted about his grandfathers power and his wife yelped from inside the house. He finished by calling whoever he had been talking to an idiot for trying to argue with him regarding some woman. Only then did his companion hang up on him. He went running back inside to sing with his son which continued for a time. I wondered what happened between his family’s’ Sri-Lankan wealth and his family’s current state. I also wondered how his son could do with so little sleep while I struggled to find some for myself.
The memory is perfectly enclosed, like a scene trapped in a snow-globe. My school was empty under a gray overcast sky about to pull apart in a rainstorm. A strike had been called, or was it a riot? What I do recall is that it was midway through the despised Hindi class, the third hours of the school day.
Everyone else had been taken home and the playground was empty, only four shoes remained outside the sandpit. The two of us, strangers to each other pushed each other ahead, daring and testing how far we could go. After some leap from my playmate, envy pulled at the bottom of my stomach. I looked at the sky and my watch knowing I had to best him before the moment ended.
I kept my eyes up, hyped by shrieks and laughter, cold metal bars under my feet I start calculating where the deepest bit of sand could be and tried to remember if anyone I knew had ever broken a bone on the monkey-bars. I remember jumping. Wild and shrieking as my uniform fluttered like wings into a heap of pain and then giddy, glorious victory.
Neither from the East, nor from the West, or even from the South comes the nights messanger draped in darkness slipping in through the curtains and glowing in the darkness.
His white coat and blue eyes settle as he steadies and prods the quilt, making his own bed where my legs part beneath the heavy cloth. Sleep takes a hold of him and I notice the coldness on my flanks. I slip away from the warm bedding and pull at the door handle. Outside is a fresh kind of air that reminds me to breath, deeply and rapidly. I start to wonder if I was breathing at all.
I place glancing caresses over my plants and flowers too early yet for dew. Even the bats are asleep and night owls don’t seem to stir, unmoving behind bright windows. I turn back and see nothing, melting, pooling into my bed. I fall and fall till I wake up with a start, even more sleepless than before. My cat is gone and a feline sized gap is pushed into my window.
I see the underbellies of birds, dark and undistinguishable feathers below the bursting but blue clouds.
The sky is without sunlight, the colour wrapping it is like the old womb of industry, revolutionary but past, the iron furnaces are gone. The air is untainted and silent. There is no chill or heat, neither fire nor ash. Only unwavering pleasant swirls of gusty drafts, painting the motions of a storm but never reaching one.
Avid followers of this blog might remember my dream with Apollo, which left a tantalising if not inexplicable puzzle for me. Soon after I found myself reading and enjoying a great deal of Orphic poetry. There’s an unexpected depth and unknown wealth of mythos behind the Greco-Roman pantheon.
Athena might have once been an axe-wielding savage goddess before her rage was soothed. The God of wine was once a horned God of death and trance. The Createan Gods were ancient and mysterious even to the Greeks. Not much remains of these Thracian mysteries other than fragments of poetry. Interestingly well informed members of these cult for respective Gods or Goddesses would have been part of groups known as mysteries. There’s an inherent curiosity to it which I think makes faith a bit more soothing.
I don’t deny that an certain aversion to mass beliefs makes these traditions more appealing. The ambiguity makes faith more appealing. I moved on towards the Jewish Kabbalistic traditions, with it’s spells and invocations. There’s also a curious bit of later spell casting probably created by esoteric Europeans in the 18th century but attributed to Solomon. I added in a bit of Hermetic magic just for some flavour. As you might expect you find a lot of cultish thinking, cults and edgy try-hards. I can report with confidence, though, that nothing I’ve read up on actually works.
My recent perusal of recent Daoist rituals has been more rewarding however. The stuff actually has you feeling more relaxed faster than actually meditation. I’ve also began a bit of reading into the Phoenician pantheon recently. Let’s see if Tanit is more receptive.
There are bees occupying my walls, murmuring over the wooden planes and drifting in and out of earshot. I look for them but I only find transparent wings littering my balcony, the insects they carried are missing. Ants scurry to steal all the wings they can carry, perhaps they have designs we cannot know yet, hidden away in their caverns. A flying division might do them some good. They might fly up and take their own share of honey if they could ever find the bee homeland. Only flowers and humming will guide them.
Like my last dream with a statue of Apollo, which I wrote about, last nights’ dream has left me with a riddle.
This time with two Wiccan/Hermetic Godheads, which came after a day of research, just like last time. This dream however was a more bit esoteric than the last one.
The dream takes place in my room. I lay down on my bed with four things next to me, on the windowsill. The four things included my glasses, my phone, a snail and a mystery object I can’t recall. The snail took on the role of an alarm clock. Something like a ‘to do list’ for the day, except it literally controlled what I would do the next day.
The four objects were hidden once I drew down my curtain. When I woke up, I drew the curtain back, now marked with a single snail trail across it. I touch the snail on the windowsill and I see a single dark log of wood, upright and marked with a single faintly white circle. In the dream I reason that this is the sign of the Wiccan Horned God.
Immediately, the dream shifts to a colleague of mine in the same setting. Expect she gets a lecture from her sister before she goes to bed, and she relates this lecture to her husband before going to sleep herself. The same four objects are behind the curtain. In real life she has no glasses and no husband.
She draws the curtain back, touches the snail and sees one upright log resting on a horizontal log. The logs are covered in leather and something about this configuration resembles a scorpion. The upright log has three circles on it, naturally I think, a sign of the Wiccan Triple Goddess.
Now this dream, doesn’t have any Chechovian weapons or sheilds like the last one, but I have the same question- what, my dear readers, could this mean?