Monday, February 28, 2005

Interesting note

I've not gotten any response from my "Zen" postings, so I'll curtail them for a few. Perhaps no one cares anymore. After all who really wants to think about anything? I guess I'm one of the last and final few that do. I may tend to over analyze, over scrutinize, and over observe things in general and in specific. I don't forget much. I think it's a curse more than a blessing. My memory only serves to show me my shortcomings and my pitfalls.

I have noticed patterns in my life that indicate a strong desire for failure. Whether desire is the correct word or if desire brings with it the connotation that I actually want to fail in my attempts, I do not know. What I do know is that my life has been a long string of buildups and catastophes. Perhaps I would be better off lying in the bottom of a grave. I don't know how I survived this long as it is. I know that I am a constant source of disappointment for those around me. I have no innate social skills and I'm not friendly, well I don't appear to be at first. I am a strange animal. I have separated myself into purely business Ed and purely banal Ed. The twain do not meet. I don't like to hang out with the people that I work with, and I don't like to work with the people that I hang out with. My sense of family is such that I don't really care as much about them as I should, and I rarely talk to them.

I play my guitar alot as a way of letting out my emotions. Funny though, there are times when I can't play, when I cannot feel. At those times nothing appeals to me whatsoever. Music is a release for me, yet I cannot help but think that it is a waste of time. That is what I was taught. Unless I am going to make a career of it, I shouldn't spend too much time in extracurricular activities. But I am good at it.

When I was in the Marine Corps, a group of my fellow Marines and I would play our guitars and sing, mostly folk music; Neil Young, America, Bob Dylan-that sort of stuff. When we were deployed to the Philippines, we used to frequent bars that hosted "open mike" stages. Scott, Steve and I would get up and play our guitars and sing our hearts out. The regular players there, Andy and Bong, would let us do our three songs and then throw us off the stage. Andy and Bong could play and sing like nobody's business. One night Bong was out doing whatever it was he did on his night off and Andy's throat was utterly destroyed by a cold. Steve and Scott were on base so Andy asked me up. I went up and played my three songs and started to get off the stage. Andy motioned for me to stay up there and continue playing and singing. I played for about an hour. I did some of my originals, "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley, some Neil Young and a bunch of other stuff I don't even remember. When I finally finished Andy bought me a beer and said something to me that I'll always remember. He said "Your friends are good but you, you've got it." Those were the sweetest words that have ever been said to me. I wish I could feel today that same music in my heart. I wish , I wish, I wish. That beer, a Red Horse, still ranks as the best tasting beer and most satisfying beer I've ever drank.

Since then my life has become a tragic comedy scattermarked with the stains of my failures, my lack of respect for myself and others and my utter contempt for life. I know you can't understand the gordion knot that is Edster, for that matter I cannot understand it either. I've never thought a problem through, I've always looked at it from every angle and tried to solve it backwards or forwards or sideways. Usually I just try to deny that problem's existence. I bury it and say "it doesn't matter." But it always does. It always comes back to haunt me. I'm a murderer, a thief and a liar. I'm cold blooded, conniving and sociopathic. I'm scared and I'm lonely. I'm scared of dying alone yet I don't want to take a chance on reaching out to someone. I don't like to be vulnerable. I want to control every situation, I want to understand and I want to know. I question authority. I thumb my nose at religion. I defy god. My defiance comes from the belief that if we are all "God's children" then he really fucked up when he made me. Sometimes I think that a slow thorazine drip would complete me. I could then enjoy the catatonic existence that I crave, my mind wouldn't always be thinking. I've tried to smell the roses and when I do I always think that there is something else to do, something more important. I hate myself for who I am, for who I was made to be. There are things in this world that should not be and I am one of them. Everything I touch turns to shit, everyone I know ends up hating me or at the very least being disappointed in me.

Don't get me wrong, suicide is not an answer. First of all I'm too much of a chicken shit to do that. Secondly my father suicided when I was a child. You want to talk about fucking someone's mind up, that's a good way to do it parents. Kill yourself when you child needs you the most. Even better, divorce your spouse and move away. Then your child can have a living "dead" parent. This world is going to shit and it appears that I'm leading the way. I've been depressed for who knows how many years and even now when March 15 (yeah that's right, the Ides of March) come around all I can think of is my father sucking the barrel of a revolver and pulling the fucking trigger. Oh he was a literati. He should have killed me first and saved me from this existence.

Silence is golden.

Hello darkness my old friend.
I've come to talk to you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
Left it's seeds while I was sleeping.
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone
Down narrow streets of cobblestone.
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp.
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night.
And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more.
People talking without speaking.
People listening without hearing.
People writing songs that voices never shared.
No one dared.
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said I you do not know.
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I may teach you.
Take my arms that I may reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell.
And echoed within the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out it's warning.
In the words that it was forming.
The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls,
Tenement halls,
And whispered in the sound
Of silence.
-Paul Simon

Sunday, February 27, 2005


What is it about mankind that makes them long for freedom? Why do we seek to cast off the oppressive rule of tyranny? Is it for the betterment of our own lives? Is it for the realization of self? What is it?

Would you risk your life, your liberty and that of your family to topple an evil regime? If you survived this would you then remain to help put into place a government that might be more fair and decent? There are many individuals that history shows did just that. Most of them died for their effort, but their death, in martyrdom, stands before us as the realization of their dream; the ultimate sacrifice. It must be worthwhile to endure and strive towards a goal, if that goal is altruistic and just.

Freedom is that altruistic goal in too many cases. Though the Magna Carta was written almost an eon ago freedom still is not realized across the world. Oppression still dominates the landscapes of the third world, and though the struggles are heartfelt, they are ultimately doomed to failure because of the lack of unity. If men like John Hancock, James Madison, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin and so many others had not drafted a constitution and another document called the "Declaration of Independence" our homes and our lives would be drastically different. Think of the name of that document: The Declaration of Independence. Wow! I declare that I am free. I declare that we are free. I stand in front of you and shout "I am free from your oppressive rule and I will fight to remain so." Those men crafted seperate states, a united country and they were able to obtain support from the common farmers, woodsmen and merchants throughout the countryside. The Revolutionary War was fought as a struggle against oppression and the tyrannical government that reaped the rewards of the North American resources yet had none of the responsibilities associated with the production of such.

Freedom. Such a small almost insignificant word, but behind that word is a concept that millions of persons have deemed worth fighting and dying for. The leaders of the revolution also wrote a wonderful document called "The Bill of Rights." Are those concepts and ideas worth a man's life? Ask every person who has had an original idea. Ask every wife of a fallen soldier, airman, sailor or Marine. These are the reasons that they fight. Say a silent thanks everytime you walk into your church, read a newspaper, or voice your opinion. For without your "inalienable rights" there is no reason to have originality, intelligence, greed, ambition and there is no freedom.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Zen and the continuation...

The first two bricks in chapter one were self-realization and "being trained not to see." As we continue onward in our journey Pirsig introduces us to technology. At first we are riding the motorcycle along with him. Then as we discuss John and Sylvia, the riding companions, we are introduced to maintenance of the motorcycle, which Pirsig himself enjoys. Yet John is frustrated by it all. John doesn't want to know what goes on inside of the engine. John enjoys the benefits of the technology, yet not the technology itself.

Is John a symbol of the world in general, or just that part of the world that doesn't investigate the concepts or technologies that drive it?

Another important metaphor is the landscape. The landscape in the country is empty of technology yet full of life. Is Pirsig saying that rural life is real and urban life is cold and lifeless? By introducing us to technology and showing the basic routine of maintaining a motorcycle Pirsig is really showing us his love of "that which makes things work."

Our third brick is, of course technology. When combined with self-realization and being "trained not to see" we see that Pirsig is showing that people, in general, have been trained not to care about these technologies, not to marvel at the beauty that lies within the engineering of technologies.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Zen and the Art of Critical Reading

Robert Pirsig wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in order to communicate with the reader that each of us has a duality about ourselves, each of us has choices to make, and each of us have a need to determine our own definitions of our own values. In order to do this, Mr. Pirsig discusses his own battle with his past using the framework of a cross country motorcycle trek to do so. In each section of the book he introduces new ideas which, in order to be fully understood, must be contemplated with previous ideas and ideas that he introduces later. In this respect he builds the book as if it were the foundation of a house. Each idea is a brick and links to another and another.

Chapter 1

We find ourselves upon a motorcycle riding in the hot morning sharing in the ride smelling the smells and feeling the wind rush by us, we feel the rush of seeing wildlife, hearing the motor roar and trying to yell over the clamor to our passenger or fellow riders. This is a clever literary trick, Mr. Pirsig has shown us that our journey actually began before the book started, perhaps on our way home from purchasing the book, perhaps at the bookstore, perhaps our journey actually began when we discovered that we had self-realization. Perhaps Pirsig's journey began at that same time, an hour ago, yesterday, last week. Pirsig has shown us that the "I" in this book could be the "I" that is reading it. We are the same, yet as we read on we can see that we are different. Here Pirsig makes his first reference to the past as well, tying in this stretch of open road to "memories" that his fellow rider "doesn't have." The fellow rider is Chris, his son.

Pirsig also comments upon how traveling by motorcycle is different than traveling by car or bus or train or plane, in those vehicles one is relegated to being "a passive observer" instead of a part of it all. His comments also regard his anti-establishment views to a certain extent. He mentions that the rural routes and country highways are things that we, the interstate driven people, are "trained not to see."

Those are bricks numbered one and two. Self-realization and being "trained not to see." Though they sound different in aspect, they are related to the modern man in ways that we'll make apparent over the next few weeks. Eventually I will edit these blog entries and create a more cohesive structure which should shed the light on why this book is such an important work that it should be required reading.

Ok, it's been a month

Ok, it's been a month and I've not written anything. It's not just that I've not written anything substantial, it's that I've written nothing. My new position at work is very time demanding and drains my energy to a large extent. I suppose that is my way of posturing and avoiding the reality that I am a lazy bastard. I have written several songs in the interim, but no writing and barely any reading.

So I have decided to undertake a journey of sorts. I am going to follow Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and reflect upon it chapter by chapter. Hopefully piecing together a journey of my own and resolving some of my own personal challenges. Before I undertake this journey I need to share a bit more of my life and the circumstances that surround it.

First of all I am in the process of getting a dog. This isn't just a dog to me however; it will be like a child. I have a cat, but a cat isn't a constant companion that can go anywhere, do anything and readily accept changing circumstances with little or no ill effect. I have been in contact with a breeder of Pharaoh Hounds, and am on the waiting list for one of these magnificent canines. I chose a Pharaoh for a few distinctive reasons: they are somewhat feline in personality, they are the most statuesque dog I've seen in a very long time, and they have short hair with no oil glands so their smell is negligible.

In my work life, my department and I are the subject of a custody battle between the body shop and the parts/service department. I have done a good job of turning over rocks and discovering the issues that have not been resolved, and of course illuminating them in order for them to be solved by those with the power to do so. My department's efficiency has increased, the teamwork and environment has improved, and my vendors have realized less return percentages. What this means to me is that there is less work being done twice thus eliminating, to a certain extent, the hassle of harboring return parts. I do not know how the custody battle will end, but I can't help but hope that I become part of the Body Shop both in name and on paper.

My next entry will be the opening of my journey towards the enlightenment of my readers and myself as we begin our journey along with Mr. Robert Pirsig.