Monday, February 16, 2009

A Higher Education of the Mind Beyond the Confines of Mere Rationalism

Everett Martin Sims, June 27, 1920---February 18, 2002

How gorgeous and serene this all looks to me now, seven years later, after the stress of the long siege has given way to a new reality and a new view. This was President's day, 2002, and today feels like the anniversary---I doubt if waiting until Wednesday to be astrologically accurate will matter.

I never knew I could be an artist with a camera until these results came in. Master of light, and master of the level of perspective, I didn't have to become the master of the moment of maximum emotive expression, because all the moments from now on would express the same.

I was deeply influenced by the work of Andreas Serrano obviously. Most famous for his "Piss Christ" moment---which was also a big Rudy Giuliani moment come to think about it, just not as big as 9/11---Serrano took a famous series of photographs of corpses. One of those, a close-up of an eye of a male Mexican cadaver, was brilliantly used in illustration on the dust jacket of Richmond Lattimore's translation of The New Testament, published posthumously in 1996. I'd scan in the picture but I gave my copy away to a special friend, and I haven't replaced it yet, so I'll use something else.

How I was fascinated by that eye! It's so strongly in my "mind's eye" right now, it must be the symbol for the gratitude I feel for the Lattimore translation itself. That was the first time I had ever read the Bible without fear. Lattimore's reputation as a secular scholar of ancient Greek had allowed me to relax and trust that no special biases would be introduced into the text beyond those incorporated in constructing the Greek originals in the first millennium AD. His highly regarded poetic translations of classics like the Iliad and the Odyssey, allowed for myriad biases of course, given the possible variations in subtle precision within the English language, but they would stem from the natural poetry of his mind, and that wasn't what I was afraid of.

I have sat and worked at my desk now, in the same spot approximate to Everett's chakra system, for the past seven years, and not to put too fine a point on it, but I feel a connection. Since I first started living with him in 1979 when I was 21 and he was 58, our age differences established us in a comfortable pedagogic dynamic that still is dominant in my memory. He corrected my pronunciation for what seemed like a dozen times a day for nearly a quarter-century, making no distinction between public and private moments. I still confound the irregular verbs lie and lay, so I guess I am a slow study. I know I am a failure at the politics posed by the public and the private.

In Carl Jung's famous 1961 letter to Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Jung wrote,
"His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.

How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?

The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism."

I can't pick between the three choices Jung offers in determining what it is I am feeling these days, so I'll change Jung's or, to an and, claiming all three explanations as operative. In hindsight, it's clear a pre-determining grace infected my whole life. "A Personal and Honest Contact with Friends" should be the name of a dating service, or a supper club, or a sacred encounter site.

It describes my relationship with Everett as well---especially if you put the small stress on the word friend that was the gay marriage of my generation. On the surface, we bickered a great deal, but our unspoken soul contract stated that he would commit to the drastic effort at reparenting me, while I would hold back, staying small until needed, to assist him at the necessary time through the thing he feared most---his experience of dying. Along the way, I picked up a few things, and I turned out to be the best investment he ever made.

Anybody who changes a baby's diapers for its term earns special rights ever after, and the same is true after an old person is cared for. Walt Whitman wrote that "love builds its mansions in the place of excrement," and I'd modify that to say, "in the excrement itself." The power of "the unspeakable vice of the Greeks," is the power of art, at least that was the effect it had on me when I visited the Andres Serrano website.

Everybody should go to to see Aaron Bruns' arrest warrant. He is the FOX News producer who covered Hillery Clinton's last election campaign, who was busted for "kiddie porn" on February 10, and read the affidavit, with some of the "samplings"
An image titled, "Qqaazz pthc pedo 3yo girl tied and butt fucked 1". This image depicts a female child under the age of five with her arms behind her back and bound by duct tape being anally penetrated by an adult male.
I think that photograph should be used to illustrate the dust jacket of The New Testament Bible, American Standard Edition. Maybe then we wouldn't confuse the truth with the lie.

I woke up this morning with a sudden snap, lying on my back, and almost instantaneously my arms raised themselves as if to stretch, but then my hands came together in the attitude of prayer. For someone who rarely uses the postures of prayer, the disembodied motor control stunned me. I thought to myself, "this is probably going to be a good day," and it has been.

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