Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Feeding the Pigeons

Last week I was waiting at the bus stop. A couple pigeons were pecking around. Suddenly a tortilla chip appeared out of nowhere (honestly, I'm not sure where it came from) and the birds leapt on it.

One of them managed to stake a claim, and as more and more pigeons arrived, he spent more time fending them off (and making sure that nobody snuck in and grabbed the chip while he was busy dealing with another challenger) than actually eating the chip.

At last, the others gave up. But the victorious pigeon was not having very good luck with his prize after all. He pecked at it for a while, but it seemed to be too big for him. Finally he flew off as well.

I walked over to the chip and carefully stepped on it. It broke into four pieces, and I went back and sat down again. Soon the birds returned, and now the chip fragments were manageable. They ate all of it.

I enjoyed feeling that I had helped them out, although it was kind of unsettling to realize that they were willing to eat something I had stepped on. I suppose that all pigeons really do is consume garbage and transmute it into an even less acceptable form. But still, they were happy and I was happy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Still Life with Tomatoes and Red Pears

I don't know if people still do still lives. It seems rather old-fashioned. But here is one anyway.

(In French, a still life is called nature morte -- "dead nature" -- an interesting reversal.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Cat in Window

Here is the story to go with this picture:

This cat once had his leg injured, and although he's normally fine, I have noticed that he doesn't seem to do as much jumping as his brother. Specifically, one day he wanted to jump up on the windowsill but he couldn't quite go for it. He sat up and gazed at the window, he ran back and forth under the window, he mewed, but he didn't jump.

Meanwhile, his brother was sitting up in the window and decided to come down. He could jump, but he's too lazy. Instead he climbs down by way of the couch.

On this occasion he noticed that the other cat wanted to get on the windowsill. So he stopped with his front legs on the back of the couch and his hind legs on the windowsill, and stared at his brother. He waited until his brother saw him up there, and then he very slowly climbed down. He was obviously showing him how to do it. His brother observed this, came over and climbed past him up to the window.

Now they can both sit up there--as long as I have the window open.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Power of Silence

Recently I wrote about "the power of speech." Today I started thinking about the power of silence.

In the European occult tradition, there are said to be four "laws," or "powers." (Just to make them sound more impressive, they are sometimes referred to as the "Four Laws of the Magus" or "Four Powers of the Sphinx." But I digress.) They are: To Know, To Dare, To Will, and To Keep Silent.

In order to practice magic, or any other art, one must first acquire knowledge. The desire to practice magic, to dare, is in itself a power. The will to persevere is also necessary, to put some work into it, just like anything else. But what is silence?

Many practitioners of magic say that you should talk about your magical work as little as possible. There seems to be a belief that talking about a spell disperses the magical energy. I can also think of a practical objection, which is that up until comparatively recent times practicing magic could get you burned at the stake, and even today you can be ostracized and ridiculed. It was, perhaps still is, much safer not to let anybody know what you're up to.

But Silence, in the magical/creative sense, is also the equivalent of leaving the seeds you have planted to rest quietly in the ground. We all know that you can't keep poking at them and digging them up to see if they're doing okay. They need time to grow, time in the dark.

Silence has a power all its own. I suspect that if you want something to have power, it's better not to talk about it. I suspect that things which are hidden don't go away.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Love "goes too far."

Love is disruptive. Love is corrosive.
Love dissolves. Love transforms.

Love takes one outside oneself.
Love is not oneself: it is other.
Love is the presence of another in the universe.

Only love is strong enough to break through.
Only love endures.

Love is the end and the beginning.
Love is the end.
And the beginning.
Love changes everything.


Despite some of my recent posts, I have no intention of turning this into a political blog. However, I just have to say one thing:

Rats leaving a sinking ship
Rats leaving a sinking ship
Rats, rats,
long-tailed, smelly, garbage-eating, baby-chomping