Sunday, March 31, 2013

The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature's inspiration

Cemetary on Bear Hill Road: 3/29/13    CC Jean Stimmell
"Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be the shadow of an attitude to Nature. A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a ritual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature's inspiration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world. Do no dishonour to the earth lest you dishonour the spirit of man." (page 218)

The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"The great rhythms of nature, today so dully disregarded, wounded even..."

Chatham beach on Cape Cod: Spring 2013
CC Jean Stimmell

"At the foot of the cliff a great ocean beach runs north and south unbroken, mile lengthening into mile. Solitary and elemental, unsullied and remote and possessed by the outer sea, these sands might be the end of the world.”

These words written by Henry Beston in the 1920s while spending “a year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod” strike a deep chord with me, evoking the same ethereal feelings  and  primal rapture  that I  experienced walking these very same beaches two weeks ago – along with a clammy feeling of impending doom about the price we are going to have to pay for ravaging this stunning Earth, our mother and only home.

“Age by age, the sea here gives battle to the land; age by age, the earth struggles for her own, calling to her defence her energies and her creations... The great rhythms of nature, today so dully disregarded, wounded even, have here the spacious and primeval liberty; clouds and shadow of cloud; wind and tide, tremor of night and day." *

Also, click here to to read a paradigm-shifting Sufi quote, brought to the surface of my mind by an earlier trip to the Cape.

* page 2  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Descartes' Dictum: The basic flaw in Western civilization?

A photoshop creation meaging a raven from Pt Reyes, CA
with sand dunes at sunset on Cape Cod   CC Jean Stimmell

We all grew up lauding Rene Descartes, the acknowledged father of modern philosophy, whose famous dictum, "I think therefore I am," has become the rallying cry and iconic mantra of Western Civilization since the Enlightenment.

We have somehow been oblivious to the fact that his privileging of mind over body has spawned a horrifying lack of empathy by those in power who have been able to position themselves as "the head of society" while the rest of us subsist as the body.

This lack of empathy for us human hoi polloi extends to animals who, in Descartes dismissive view, “eat without pleasure, cry without pain, grow without knowing it; they desire nothing, fear nothing, know nothing.”

Descartes lack of empathy or understanding of the emotional ties of compassion and love that connect us all is utterly amazing. Certainly, it is the root flaw in his philosophy and, by extension, perhaps the root flaw in Western civilization itself.

After all how can an animal, a human, or a social organism exist as a head without a heart?

[1] This quote on Descartes view on animals is taken from a superb article by John J. Sullivan in 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A messenger from another world

Adventures on Cape Cod last weekend

It happened walking backward into time, traversing rolling dunes and barren beaches devoid of human tracks, reveling in the boundless sky and shimmering sea, the ebb and flow of the murmuring tide, and the babble and flashing wings of water fowl hurrying north:

Suddenly, I am shaken from my reverie by an encounter with a messenger from another world, masquerading as a piece of driftwood carrying a mysterious blue stone on her back. I took her picture shown above, adding only the tongue of a serpent at the urging of a persistent inner primordial voice.

Whether one calls her daemon, nature spirit, ghost, or spirit guide, she is really real, emerging from the depths of a hibernation that spans the ages, crawling upward toward the light through expanding fissures in the bedrock of our taken-for-granted everyday reality, cracks caused by the earthquake tremors of catastrophic climate change shattering the regular rhythms of orderly evolution not seen since the giant meteor explosion rocked the earth, annihilating much of life on spaceship earth – including the dinosaurs.

This apparition: part bird, part reptile, part marsupial who incubates her egg unprotected on her back is a messenger from the depths, warning us that the evolutionary stew we are immersed in is about to be radically reshuffled to introduce a new product line.

No longer protected in the fluffy, warm nest of Mother Nature’s maternal care, this brazen blue, alien egg represents our new existential fate: we have been cast out of Eden for our dirty industrialization deeds. Cut off from Mother Nature’s umbilical cord, we are the new dinosaurs.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Metaphor for Modernity

"Slowly Sinking"
 CC Jean Stimmell: 3/2/13
"Trapped in the Ice"
CC Jean Stimmell: 1/6/13*

Watching it happen in slow motion.
the dissolution of a storied ship:
 a metaphor for modernity?

*Photographs of this boat taken 1/6/13 and 3/2/13
at Adam's Point, Durham, NH.