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Literary Zen XI

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer*

There is some wisdom in taking a gloomy view, in looking upon the world as a kind of Hell, and in confining one’s efforts to securing a little room that shall not be exposed to the fire.


*Perhaps a better caption would be, Willem Defoe as Arthur Schopenhauer, which is why I shan’t give up my day job.

Oh yeah, my books will be free from 00:01 (PDST) tonight until 23:59 PDST) Friday.

✌️

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Does it matter if our soul* is eternal?

Leaving religion with its heavens and hells and golden-paved avenues and abiding virgins and doting angels and disinterested saints and other high-ranking, hifalutin gods and demigods aside, is there an actual evolutionary and/or functioning purpose for an eternal soul?

In other words, does the fact that our souls are eternal matter to our day-to-day struggle to survive?

Or is this concept just a necessary illusion, one that provides us with a false sense of immortality to help us deal with our debilitating fear of death?

Anyway…

I guess we won’t know until we know, you know?

And in case you’re wondering, I just read a click-bate article about the ‘Orch-OR’ theory, so it got me to wondering…


*If the word soul is a bit too new-agey and metaphysical for you, replace it with consciousness

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A Life Not Lost In Time…

Very sorry to see that the great Rutger Hauer has passed. He was one badass mofo on the big screen and in life; and he killed it in Blade Runner, one of the most badassest films ever.

Actually one of the roles of his I liked almost as much as Roy Blatty was his portrayal of the quirky faerie Niall Brigant on HBO’s True Blood. The show itself was pretty goofy but Rutger was brilliant in it.

Dang, it seems like everyone is going to die eventually, doesn’t it…

Anyway, HEAVY.COM has a pretty good write-up about him if you’re looking for one.

#riprutger


Featured image courtesy of HEAVY.COMM
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Rutger Hauer, ‘Blade Runner’ Co-Star, Dies at 75 — Variety

Very sorry to see that Rutger has passed. He was one badass mofo in Blade Runner, one of the most badassest films ever. But actually one of my most favorite roles of his was as Niall Brigant on the True Blood series. The show itself was pretty goofy but Rutger was brilliant in his role.

Dang, seems like everyone is going to die eventually, doesn’t it…

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I Killed Scott Weiland?

Scott Weiland
 

I killed him?
You killed him?
We all killed him?
It’s what we do?
It’s what we think?
It’s our expectations?
It’s what you expect of me?
It’s what I expect of you?
Your expectations are killing me?
My expectations are killing you?

Continue reading I Killed Scott Weiland?

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HOW NOT TO DIE: In 13 Easy Steps

On this day five years ago, I received the news that a recent lung biopsy showed that my lungs were inflicted with a severe form of graft versus host disease (GVHD) called bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS). BOS, I came to find out, was a known but uncommon side-effect resulting from a bone marrow transplant (for leukemia) that I had had earlier in the year. And by severe I was told it meant the BOS was incurable, non-reversible, and, in most cases, aggressively fatal. I was also told — because I had asked and insisted on an answer — that, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of the time, BOS had only a 13%, five-year survival rate. In other words, there was an 87% chance that within five years I would be dead.

Well, it’s been five years and here I am – a newly minted Thirteen Percenter.

Can a brother get a “Hell yeah?”

Hell yeah!

Anyway… at my most recent appointment with my oncologist, in addition to his standard declaration whenever he sees me of, “So, I see you’re still alive,” he also declared that my present condition may just be a miracle of sorts because it appears that my incurable BOS may have actually been cured… somehow.

I don’t think I would be overstating if I said that, because of all my goings on these past five years – goings on such as leukemia, GVHD (and not just of the lungs, but also of the eyes, liver, and intestines), prednisone side-effects, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and heart failure to name a few – I think I’ve learned a thing or two about life in general and living it in particular.

Now, if you search around this site, I’m pretty sure you will find that much of my writing, mostly encapsulated in my haiku, reflects a lot of the insights and learning I’ve garnered from these goings on. However, just because I like you all so much and don’t want you to have try to sift through this site for days on end in an effort to discover these insights and learning, and because short, pithy lists are all the rage these days, I will identify for you the top thirteen things I learned about how to not only not die, but mostly about how to best live your life filled with happiness and meaning, regardless whether death is looking you directly in the face or not.

Cool?

Okay, so here we go…

Continue reading HOW NOT TO DIE: In 13 Easy Steps

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A World At War Just Like It Was Yesterday: HAWSER – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
HAWSER by J Hardy Carroll
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

To one who considers some of his favorite literary works to be those about World War II – SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and CATCH 22 being the obvious ones – the war seems to be very present for me, when in fact it is now eighty years in our past. With it now so far removed from us, and with the space filled in by so many countless other wars, it really is quite an accomplishment that author J Hardy Carroll was able to bring the period back to us in such a vivid and entertaining way.

HAWSER, our selection for Volume 3 of the Indie Author Book Selection & Review (IABS&R), is a finely weaved, fascinating tale of Hawser (don’t bother asking him his real name) as he recounts his time as a B-17 bombardier during the Allies’s bombing campaign against the Germans.

We meet Hawser in a prisoner of war camp and it is from there he recounts for us all that has happened to him in the war before that point. We learn how he washed out as a pilot to become a bombardier, how he had to abandon his unit because of a murder, how he was abandoned as a child, how he met his arch nemesis, how he became trained in subversive warfare, how he became an expert bombardier, how he became burnt out and disillusioned by the war, and finally, how he tragically became a Nazi prisoner. From there we pick things back up from the present time in the story and we go along with him until the book’s conclusion.

Within that very rough sketch that I just laid out of the novel, there are so many – too many some may argue – different plot twists and sub plots filled with suspense and murder and love and passion and discovery and deceit along the way that several times throughout the course of my reading the book I had to stop to marvel at Carroll’s ability to manage it all so seamlessly and with such intrigue, all the while bringing out some of the larger and more poignant lessons learned from the war: mainly of the incalculable death and psychological and material devastation that the war wrought across the entire globe, as well as teaching us – or reminding us – that war isn’t always honorable and that not all people go to war to be heroes…some go to war simply because they want to kill.

And I was equally impressed with all the military and war jargon with which Carroll was able to flavor the story. It it his description of the B-17s and all their guns and ammunition and flight formations, and his knowledge of England during the war and its pastoral settings and its pubs and its quirky dialects that truly bring the story to life. Now I don’t know how much research Carroll had to do – my guess is a lot – and I don’t know how much of the detail he writes in the story is accurate – my guess is all of it – but I don’t really care. I don’t care because it all seems so real and so accurate that it significantly enhanced the story’s ability to pull me into that zen-like space of blissful verisimilitude.

In the end, the only flaws to be found with the book are in its ambition and achievement. At times the sub plots pull back the tempo of the story and I never really felt that there was that one thing, that one element of the story that had enough heft to bring an immediacy, an urgency of discovery, from the beginning to the end of the tale. But I see that more as a good problem for an Indie Author to have, as it is always better to have too much material to work with than not enough.

So I say congratulations and thank you to J Hardy Carroll for writing such a powerful story that both entertains and reminds us just how much effort and expense throughout history we silly humans have invested in our seemingly never ending quest to kill and conquer each other.


Hawser

jhardycarroll.com

 

~~~~

RATING SYSTEM:
★ = UNREADABLE
★ ★ = POOR READ
★ ★ ★ = AVERAGE READ
★ ★ ★ ★ = OUTSTANDING READ
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = EXCEPTIONAL READ

 
 

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Seiko

In Japan, today is the forty-ninth day since the death of my mother-in-law, “Mother,” “Okaa-san,” “Obaa-chan,” Seiko. Today is a special day where, in Buddhist ceremony and belief that on the forty-ninth day after passing the soul is no longer bound by karma, Seiko’s ashes can now be permanently interred. Unlike her funeral ceremony where many of Seiko’s family and friends and admirers attended to show their love and respect for her, today’s ceremony is a smaller, family-focused occasion.

How I wish I could be there with the family today to also show my love and respect for her, and to be closely surrounded by them all during this time.

But I cannot. So I think fondly of her and I pray for her and I pray that the pain of her passing will quickly ease for those of us who love and miss her so.

Seiko embodied and lived the values and qualities in character and of action that I wish I possessed as an individual and that I wish I had been able to live throughout my life.

I would have liked to have drawn a picture of her to include here, however, no matter how hard I try, I find that my eyes are too bad now and my hands shake too much that my efforts to capture her beauty, not just her physical beauty, for that she certainly had, and for which her daughter, my wife, also possesses in a very close likeness of her mother, but mostly it is Seiko’s spiritual beauty, which was profound and deep, that, regardless how well my eyes can focus or how steady my hands can draw, I am unable to, nor would ever be able to, capture in one of my feeble drawings.

So I share my loving memory of Seiko in a poem, a poem that falls well short of capturing the good and positive life that she lived, a life which touched and comforted so many in so many different, known and unknown, ways, but a poem which, nonetheless, comes closet to expressing my feelings and my love for her.

Seiko, may God continue to, and forever bless you with Eternal Peace, Happiness, and Love.

Like Incense, You Burned

 
Like incense, you burned
true, steady, reliably,
patiently purifying the world around you
with a bright, burning intensity and passion
and unending purpose
that only the gods could comprehend.

Like incense, you burned,
not for yourself but for life,
all of it.
You burned with love for each of us,
for everyone.
You burned with a love that transcended all boundaries
and all languages,
a love that transcended space and time.

Like incense, you burned,
and as you did
your presence permeated its surroundings
and filled it with your sweet soothing sensitive balm,
a healing balm,
a mystical balm,
a beautifully fragrant balm that will last and linger deep within the senses
and the soul of the universe
for all eternity.