Workout Log 16 September 2012: “He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold”

Morning, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, 16 September 2012


Ten minutes walk with weights to and from Power Station beach, ten minutes free dance, ten minutes water dancing to stretch my bones.

Perhaps if I do this “bone stretcher” (100 arm motions otherwise still, 100 arm and leg motions) after a run, I can survive the run without pain, but it would be a risky business; I will try the Billy Blanks followed by the bone stretcher this week.

First thing as always. Brilliant morning clear water. Combined aloe and oil because paradoxically, this nice oil I found at the Provence shop in IFC seems to dry the skin. You have to combine it with “aloe vera skin lotion”.

Oil after the bath is a marker of civilization. When Merlin, who was basically a civilized Roman Briton, is brought back to life in CS Lewis’s book That Hideous Strength, he demands oil after his bath but the British of 1948 know nothing of this custom…CS Lewis as is often the case is making a quite sophisticated point, similar to that of Foucault, that we often forget as much as we learn. The Director’s helpmates rush into town to get Merlin a tube of Brilliantine, a hair tonic of the 1940s which was the only source of oil other than petroleum.

Damned if my one and only apparent Tumor doesn’t get big under stress and small when I’m happy, stun me with a marlinspike else. Thing’s got a mind of its own. I should give it a name, like Flibbertigibbet:

This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet: he begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock; he gives the web and the pin, squints the eye, and makes the
hare-lip; mildews the white wheat, and hurts the poor creature of earth.

[Sings] Withold footed thrice the old;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!

Edgar/Tom o’ Bedlam, King Lear, Shakespeare

But the sea, the workout, and even the aroma of aloe and oil seem to reduce pain and stress.

A Poem for Mister Paradoxicus

While the world is tearing itself to pieces over an odious and unwatchable YouTube video, we find that the problem isn’t Youtube for the unknown just continue to exchange their messages, and the unknown just are ignored by the gentlemen of the press. Trust me…you don’t want the attention of the gentlemen of the press, any more than King Kong. Most people are so debased today that their attention and applause mean you’re debased too:

Then fools’ approval stings, and honour stains – TS Eliot

So I wrote this poem for Mister Paradoxicus, here.:

The silence in the room where the flowers they did bloom
Like the pause in Handel after the slow part and before the fast part
Where the horses of the sun do start.
There was nothing we needed to say to the Other
We were become fraternal like a sister and her brother,
And the sun in pain did make the dappled stain
Upon the table, with the Fish
It was all as perfect as one could wish, less a vision than a sound
For Schopenhauer knew that as the world is round
Music is the high road to the heart.

Edward G. Nilges 15 September 2012. Copyright 2012 by Edward G. Nilges: moral rights asserted.

A Note on YouTube

Let others get their pantyhose in a tangle about that hideous and evil video “Innocence of Muslims”. I cannot even watch it. I prefer instead to read this lovely bit of encouragement in Spanish from Mr Paradoxicus:

Porque así como Schopenhauer,supo
que nuestro mundo es redondo.
Tú,buen amigo Spinoza,conoces
que la música es el camino mas alto al corazón.

Ordinarily good people just want to be ignored by the satanic gaze of the mob.

A Note on a Poem by John Donne

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

That is (das ist): Donne is channeling an inversion of the Ontological Proof of the existence of God: God is a perfect being: a perfect being must exist (a being that doesn’t exist but is otherwise perfect is “less” perfect than an existing perfect being), therefore God exists.

In Charles Hartshorne’s modern formulation using modal logic:

If God exists, God must exist necessarily and not contingently. If God does not exist, God must not-exist and be an impossibility. But it’s absurd to say that God must not exist and be impossible, therefore God exists necessarily, therefore God exists QED.

Let e be “God exists”:

e->necessarily(e): ~e->impossibly(e). ~impossibly(e), therefore necessarily(e)|contingently(e). ~contingently(e). Therefore necessarily(e) therefore e QED.

Note Charles Hartshorne, who formulated this “modal logic form” of St Anselm’s “ontological” proof circa 1970 later abandoned this “logic of perfection” for “process theology” and its imperfect learning God. This is the radical message of the 2009 Guth dramatization of Handel’s Messiah, and that popular song by Joan Osborne, “What if God is One of Us?“.

In the Guth Messiah, God is not only man. God is, specifically and radically, a failed businessman in a dull hotel whose wife has abandoned him. It’s all too easy, especially to some of these very thorough German Christians, to make God a special Man, a real good guy, but was that the meaning of the Gospels? In Joan Osborne’s song, God might be on the bus, probably is. An imperfect and suffering Being.

In Donne, death is the most imperfect being, dwelling in the unhappiest of places and consorting with brigands, a thing of drugs and sickness, and these things are nothing whereas the things of life are something: the sea, babies, growing things. The baby logically prior to the skull. Eden logically prior to Golgotha in the strict sense that you coulda had Eden without Golgotha but a Golgotha, or place of the skull, would make no sense absent Eden and the fall of man.

I’m not saying Donne makes a lot of sense. I am trying to reproduce what he thought in a world lit only by fire, being pro life not in the stupid modern sense but in the sense that Donne could see, in the middle of a small ice age, that day is prior to night. Or more precisely Donne believed this.

It’s best phrased as a question and not an answer. What came first, night or day? “And God said, let there be light”. Was there anything before the Big Bang? Well all I know is now what I feel. I look out the window at night and


(Jenny Holzer, Laments, 1991), as space surrounds a dancer.

7th Avenue Restaurant, Lamma Island

Be sure to check this place out, it’s the first restaurant after the Island Bar and the public loo after you get off the ferry. Last night was Gypsy/Siegourner/Roma/Gitane music.

I could not but dance old man Zorba style. Several people complimented me as happened last January at Dickstock (an annual party hosted by a Chicagoan) but I think the Ukelele player liked me better than the clarinet player.

My Dad took Mom to a Gypsy/Siegourner/Gitane/Roma restaurant in the 1950s, one of the old-fashioned kind where the violinist bugs the couple at the table, playing weepy tunes. My Mom loved the music, tied a scarf ’round her head, and listened to it on an LP all day, dancing.

Years later, “Tanya” worked in the stockroom where I was helping to pay for college (that was a big deal back then, ruining your grades at some stupid job out of guilt for chump change, whereas today, Chinese parents just start saving for real).

Tanya also wore a headscarf but unfortunately the stockroom supervisor didn’t like Tanya. The stockroom supervisor looked like Lt. Calley and had done a tour of duty in Vietnam, and referred to Tanya as “a fuckin’ Gypsy” which for me was a good thing. But I was way too shy and younger than Tanya, who waltzed out of my life, headscarf, ankle bangles and all, without ever even knowing I had a Thing for her.

Fortunately, this was the early 1970s, and Hair, bangles and headscarves all became standards and the lucky lady who became my ex-wife had all these things. I should have given her one clear shot at me running instead of waltzing out of her life in turn, but I digress.

The Ukelele player was and is both Mongolian and Welsh, which is a very interesting combination: to be, Mongolian, Welsh and a player of the Ukelele. She’s probably unique in all the world.

A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw
Singing, of Mount Aborah

(Coleridge, Xanadu)

But then again given enough predicates we’re all unique. Kanthan Pillay, for example, is probably the only CEO who has written bootstrap loaders (a form of arcane computer programming) and lived to tell the tale; I’ve written loaders but I am not a CEO. I’m probably unique, however since I’ve pulled so many stunts in my day. My guy Spinoza writes that the body capable of the most actions approaches God.

But that can’t be totally right. For the person who sits still is also unique, isn’t she, like Emily Dickinson. One doesn’t have to be a chap like me, roaring about the former British Empire and coming a Cropper in so many ways. In fact, I would not recommend it for the faint of heart or weak of stomach as these notes should make abundantly clear.

In a still pool there can be so many things. Or as here a calm sea, with only a little sudsiness, sudsiness that I usually think is a sign of water pollution. I have seen it not only on Lamma but also off Ko Samhui. Other than the “sudsiness” the water today very clear relatively speaking. Our oceans are changing rapidly and may be dying thanks to global warming but I prefer to risk a swim in them to staying on land. My bones are weary.

The Sea at Power Station Beach, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, 16 September 2012


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