An Acting Imperative

I was recently reminded of a quote by Kurt Vonnegut: “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” Well, I don’t think I’m a monster, but I if I don’t write often enough I feel my soul will fly up and I wouldn’t want to be around what is left behind. I haven’t been writing and I find myself philosophizing to the point of losing sleep at night. Last night a question was running around in my mind – how accurate should an actor be reciting his or her lines for it to do justice to the intent of the playwright? I’m writing this essay to alleviate my anxiety so that I stand a chance of sleeping well tonight.

A brief note of why this is important to me is in order. I’ve been working on my magnum opus for nearly six years now and studying language has been an important adjunct. In particular, I’m in my fifth year of a Latin course, classes of which only occur once each week. And despite the fact that English has Germanic roots, the extensive focus on Latin grammar consistently over the years has revealed a lot of English grammar that I don’t recall learning in high school or college. The grammar rules may have been there, but applying those rules had not been. Now I find myself seeing the power and magic of words more than ever. And the subject of my concern is the potential (power) held in the voice and mood of language.

I am not a scholar of Tennessee Williams and his work and aside from watching “The Glass Menagerie” performed live once over twenty years ago, I have only read “A Streetcar Named Desire” once. So, I have to make the assumption that he was deliberate in his words and cognizant of how his words may be construed or misconstrued. And recalling the question at hand, I conclude that his words must stand alone in portraying, text and sub-text, implicit mood and explicit emotion. Thus, an actor should strive as always to recite the lines verbatim, with little variation.

The example that got me thinking of this is as follows. In Scene Three of “Streetcar”, Blanche asks Mitch if he has any cigarettes. The lines follow:

Mitch:  Sure.
Blanche:  What kind are they?
Mitch:  Luckies.
Blanche :  Oh, good. What a pretty case. Silver?
Mitch:  Yes. Yes; read the inscription.
Blanche:  Oh, is there an inscription? I can’t make it out.

Let’s suppose instead of Mitch saying “Yes. Yes; read the inscription,”
we hear “Yes. There’s an inscription.”

Two things happen here. First, Mitch’s mood has changed from the imperative to the indicative, a rather active command, becomes a passive statement. This can be (but may not be in every case) extremely important in conveying a character’s personality. For example, an overconfident macho pack leader such as Stanley Kowalski would come across more “in command” if he were to use the imperative mood. However, using the indicative mood as well as a passive voice would weaken his machismo.  But, in this example this is Mitch we are talking about so, there’s a decision to be made: how much of a boss should Mitch be? I won’t answer that question here. Only I wish to import that diction is very significant in a performance.

The second effect is more subtle. The exchange lacks virility. Notice in the case of the actual text:

Mitch: “Read the inscription.” (imperative and active)  Let’s call this voice/mood experience, A.

Blanche: “Oh, there’s an inscription?” (indicative and passive) Let’s call this voice/mood experience, B.

The dynamic of the dialog is lively going from A to B.

In the case of the following deviation:

Mitch: “Yes. There’s an inscription.” (indicative and passive)

Blanche “Oh, there’s an inscription?”  (indicative and passive)

The dynamic in this case is, well, static, B to B; there’s no change. The voice/mood is stagnant.

Of course, there’s no reason to consider that one is better than the other.  Sometimes an exchange should be static rather than dynamic. There is something subtle here.

Being true to the script is an homage to the playwright. Then again, plays are usually written for the zeitgeist of the period. Revivals are therefore anachronistic. This is what makes them potentially fascinating because there is an opportunity to play with the language, to explore a story and vary portrayals.

Enough said. I think I can sleep tonight.

RIP, Beau.

RIP, Beau. After 48 hours of vigilant attendance and hospice care, and after every attempt to save him including veterinary house calls in his final hours, our beloved canine family member passed away Sunday afternoon in the company of his three humans. No longer limited by the constraints of their material bodies, he and his caprine brother, Casper, are hanging out together again in a sacred and transcendent space in our hearts. ♥

Mid-September News

I’ve been on a writing hiatus since the beginning of August in order to facilitate moving my family into a new home.  Only this weekend are we finally moving things from storage to the house. Tomorrow will be the third and final day of loading and unloading a 20-ft truck and not enough room in our small house for all of it to stay. It’s time to simplify and rid ourselves of so much clutter. A yard sale will happen next weekend, and probably the following weekend or two as weather permits. We have way too many things to go through to do it all at once.

While I intend to write intensively in October, in the mean time I will publish some poems here over the next few days that were written earlier in the summer.

I’m officially back on duty as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Orcas Island Public Library (FOIL). After a leave, I can now attend the monthly board meetings and volunteer again during the week. Next month is our annual meeting for all  members and there’s a bit of work to do.

Remain resonant for some poems to follow!

m.

News update…

After one personal crisis after another, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My family finally has a home – albeit much smaller than ideal – on this paradise of an island where we live. So, among other things, we are moving this week.

My children’s story book is coming along and hope to publish in November.

I have two active short story series I’ve posted which I need to complete.

New poetry will be coming in September.

And I’m planning an article on imagination and manifesting reality with a book recommendation.

Stay tuned!

PS: Now, if I had written “Remain resonant!” – would you have picked up on that? I like the sound better. Although the imperative use of the verb is naturally demanding. Perhaps I could use the optative perspective in the subjunctive mood: “May you always remain resonant!” That works for now.

May you always remain resonant!

A Family Book or Book of Kin (or kinda sorta)

We live as we breathe, moment to moment, and our actions define us. To serve mankind, what we do now is all that matters and history is only important insofar as we have learned from it, from our mistakes in the past, and those of our ancestors. Any thoughts we have which may potentially serve mankind in the future may be instilled in our children. To that aim, we have two paths. The first is that we must lead by example and teach by our manner of living – by our manner of loving – during the formative years of their lives. The second is to leave them a documented history of their family, their culture, and the philosophies their parents have lived by in bringing them into this world. Consider this a documented legacy a reference for our descendants and anyone else if it has been made public.

Vladmir Megré, author of the Ringing Cedars book series, has made an effort to spread the idea of a ‘Book of Kin’ or “The Family Book” presented to him by his Siberian recluse, Anastasia. In the series the ‘book of kin’ in ancients days (referred to as Vedic times) implied a ‘living’ book exemplified by creating a space of love for a family where deeds can reveal as much as words. But, Anastasia (through Megré’s authorship) also inspires the idea of starting physical books now to preserve the future of our children. In my quoting a brief excerpt from Book 6, “The Book of Kin” and omitting a little from the dialog between ellipses , Anastasia says,

“The books read by Man today include many that are devised with a specific aim in mind — namely, the distortion of history and of the meaning of life. Many false dogmas are especially designed to disorient Man in space. This is not easily discernible all at once. But clarity comes directly a son reads a book of his forebears, which his father and mother have continued personally for him…

…the Book of Kin. In it a mother and father will write for their son and daughter about what is the most important thing that needs to be created for happiness in life. The children will continue to record the Book of Kin. There will be no wiser and truer books for families anywhere on the Earth. All the knowledge of their pristine origins will be poured into it.”

“But how, Anastasia, how can knowledge of one’s pristine origins turn up in a book which people are only beginning to write today? Where are they to find such knowledge? You said that the culture of our forebears, their books, were all destroyed.”

“Those that will begin to write already have this knowledge concealed within themselves. It is preserved within each one of us. When people think deeply and begin to write not just for anyone, but for their children, all the knowledge of their pristine origins will be revealed within them and come to light.”

I intend to create my own version of a ‘book of kin’ which as of now will most likely take on a three-volume format. The first volume will be a family history including the heritages of my mother’s and father’s families (their family trees), biographies of my mother and father, and their individual philosophies as presented by their ways of living during my lifetime. The second volume will be my autobiography, as extensive as I can make it with all that I can recall which I think is pertinent for future generations to consider. (I will, for example, not include the brands of toothpaste I used throughout my life.) The third volume will be about my philosophy starting with the nature of the universe from my perspective, and proceeding from that dance of physics and metaphysics, to the subjects of love, morality, religion, politics, education, and all of the complex conjugates that result from this interconnected web we have tried to dissect and classify.

The first volume of my “Book of Kin” will probably not take very long depending on how much other writing I am doing. The other volumes by their very nature will be evolving until my death. However, I do wish to establish a reasonable goal of completing the first edition within five years.

Galactic Centers: A New Perspective

On July 13th 2018, SKA Africa, the new radio telescope array in South Africa released this most detailed and exquisite image of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way to date.

Photo: SKA South Africa

The image width corresponds with a distance of approximately 1000 light-years.

See the SKA media release for how the image is made from the data.

The black hole with a mass of 4 million times our sun is roughly the bright spot located in the middle of the image and appears to be 200 light-years across. Looking at it in detail one cannot help being just awestruck by the smoke-like wisps of energy/matter which seem to be on the order of 1 or 2 light-years in diameter.  Just what these filament-like structures are is still a mystery to the scientists.  I find the spatial sense and dynamics of it all to be most humbling.

While studying these images a hypothesis occurred to me. It isn’t a new thought, but I had never before tried to formulate it insofar as publishing an article about it. So here goes.

I haven’t studied the physics of wormholes and never really doubted that they exist somewhere in the cosmos. Fundamentally, they are bridges between two points in the fabric of space-time. What if all of the galactic centers in the known universe are connected, not by other structure like wormholes which have some form and definition in themselves, but by some other intrinsic quality of space-time. Just as a klein bottle has only one surface (the inside and outside are all one surface), could it be such that the very center of every galaxy is one and the same point – one source of everything? The monad?

…food for thought and the subject of future exposition!

 

Blueberries & Rosemary and an unrelated spontaneous poem

Blueberries & Rosemary

Quite by accident, I discovered that I like the combination of blueberry and rosemary. When I popped a blueberry in my mouth this morning, my hand must have grazed some rosemary from Ian Lister’s memorial service. It was lying on the table next to me before I realized it was there. When I bit into the blueberry, the first sensation was a delicate rosemary note which lightly danced on my tongue as I masticated.  (I said, ‘masticate’! Geeze…grow up!  Anyway…) The two just blended smashingly. I think Remy would be proud. (Remy, from Ratatouille? The rat who was thinking that saffron would totally make his smoked Tomme de chèvre? Nevermind. Anyway…)

One day when I have a kitchen again, I’m going to try making some savory gluten-free griddle cakes with blueberries and rosemary – no added sweeteners. What seems most delicious would be to serve them up with a little cashew ‘cheese’ spread. If they turn out well, as I expect they will, I shall call them Ian’s bread in honor of him.

In Latin class, we often bring in potluck snacks. Sometimes, just cookies or chocolate. Occasionally there is a mix of things and Ian was no stranger to experimenting. I think he was the first person – if not the first, he did it anyway –  to dip a banana chip in Mexican salsa. Listen you mustn’t be too shy. After all, Remy’s mental mentor…(that sounds funny – ‘mental mentor – mental because he was a figment of Remy’s imagination – anyway) …his mentor Gusteaux once said (and I stand by it): “You must try things that may not work. And you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true. Anyone can cook. But only the fearless can be great.” Only the fearless can be great! That’s because truly fearless people are made of pure love, baby! And food must be always be prepared with gratitude and love. (Alan Watts has a nice little speech about the preparation of food and I wholeheartedly agree with him.)

Speaking of food…here’s a poem:

Saffron colored pre-dusk light
Scattered along a metal and glass skyline
Betrayed the hustle & bustle of a city
Making an abrupt pronouncement
At the edge of gorgeous plain.
A wall of confusion swirls
Between the fresh desert air
And the chemical odors
Of a modern city.
I teeter on the edge,
Born and raised on the artificial,
The cold and pointless,
The lies, and empty stereotypes,
A world more filled with vice than virtue.

Oyster of the sea,
Teach me how you pearl a grain of sand.
Where do you find the strength and perseverance?

Lotus of the pond,
Teach me how to find hope and life in the mud.
Where do you find the faith that one day
You will feed on light?


© 2018 Michael Armenia

What I’m reading this week…

Several years ago, a friend of mine asked if I had read the Ringing Cedars Book Series, suggesting that it would resonate with me regarding its spiritual qualities and back-to-nature theme. I had never heard of it let alone read it. Since among my library of reference books there were hundreds of books still awaiting a thorough read, I thought I would probably never get to them. However, when the nine-volume set (there are now ten) appeared before me in the flesh several weeks ago as fodder for an upcoming library book sale, I took it as a sign that I should read it now – and not just read it, contemplate and meditate on its substance. Despite setting aside a dozen non-fiction books which I should read over the summer of 2018 which would foster one my major writing projects, I committed to reading this series by Vladimir Megré first.

In brief, this is a book about nature and spirituality, a philosophy of living, loving and co-creating. It is portrayed by the author, a simple Russian entrepreneur, as his true and faithful experience of meeting a recluse in the Siberian forest. This most beautiful and goddess-like woman whose name is Anastasia is so fully actualized, she exhibits the wisdom of all the ages as well as apparent supernatural abilities, all of which she says is present in every human and actualized once we raise our awareness.

At the rate of reading one book every other day, I’ve just finished the fifth book out of the nine and I cannot wait to document the potentially life-altering material presented so far. I’m not going to review the series which has been published for nearly two decades now, first in its original Russian and then distributed worldwide in other languages including, of course, English. I will not write with respect to what I like about the books – which is most everything – or what I don’t like, only a few criticisms, mainly with regard to language, translation choices. What I mean to express here is why and to what extent this series is important to me.

Much of what she says resonates deeply within me, affirming my heartfelt intuition about so much. Regardless of what happened to the author, he was divinely inspired to share all of this information which I feel is of utmost importance for human beings to ascend spiritually before plundering themselves into material oblivion. Nature provides everything we need while our technocratic endeavors drive us further away from who we are – our true essence.

When I finished the fourth book, I was inspired. That volume had some remarkable revelations for me regarding my magnum opus, a work in progress. It  will be instrumental – inspiring to say the least – for dialog in the first few scenes of my epic historical drama which is under development.  My play which takes place in Renaissance Europe contains the most fascinating blend of historical characters.  The relationships between the characters has been fleshed out, and moreover the connection of their ideologies was firmly cemented in my mind after reading this book. There is amazing synchronicity at play!

Suffice it to say that the series has made such an impression on me that I intend to read this series next year in its original language, Russian. I studied Russian as a senior in high school. Because I’ve I pursued other languages since then, my reading comprehension in foreign tongues has spread quite thin. So, I intend to begin studying Russian online in the fall to establish reading fluency. I’ve the necessary textbooks at home as well. This will be fun to say the least.

It has been the most inspiring journey so far. Changes are afoot and welcomed. I am immersing myself in nature again and for all my family has been going through lately, I needed this spiritual grounding, a serendipitous and relevant follow-up to the last book I read, Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

So, if you are curious, pick up the first book titled Anastasia and absorb it cover to cover, for it is a very easy read. What you get out of it depends on how open your mind and heart are. Your potential is truly infinite!

Official Web Site for the Ringing Cedars Book Series

The Ferry Home: A Transformative Journey Begins

The ferry home carried with it not only passengers but revelation. With eyes free to scour the horizon I instead stared downward, entranced at the highly reflective crests of complex waves that covered the dark water’s surface.

I was almost convinced that I was looking at an oil painting which was moving with undulating, intermingling and conjugating colors when I suddenly understood through this visual realization that life and art are one. No, this gorgeous dynamic work is not a painting. It is the Salish Sea and it is dancing!

Science uses the term “interference pattern” to describe the results of interacting wave forms. In other words, any manifestation in reality is ultimately a resultant – a combination of wave forms that mutually “interfere” with each other. The word interference in English has such negative connotation – something getting in the way, preventing, hindering, etc . But, the negative connotation is not necessarily present in its derivative, Latin. Its component forms, “inter” meaning “among or between” and “ference”, a participial form, meaning “carrying” from “ferre”, meaning “to carry.”

This dance became apparent somehow as I grasped the constituent waveforms in their own form and rhythm as if they were the parts of a symphonic musical score. Each wave pattern with its amplitudes and modulations was a single instrument and other instruments followed as overlaying water flows varied direction, angled from the single melody line of propagation – some acute, some obtuse, together harmonious. And, in a second direction away from the melodic line, I saw a bass rhythm which appeared as a dark glass-like relief surface moving slowly away from me while water was flowing overtop, toward and behind me. The ‘glass’ had a motion and definition, an opacity, quite other than the water. Then I noticed yet another ‘instrument’, as if a second kind of liquid or vapor having a viscosity different from water, flowing in third direction. I could almost hear it; the sea was awash with harmony and counterpoint and it had lifelike character. It was more than a symphony; it was a ballet!

I must write a poem about this.