A blog that used to be about things

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 League Week 9 12/20/2022


 "Do we in our time have an answer to the question of what we really mean by the word 'being'? Not at all." - Martin Heidegger, "Being And Time"


The Winter Solstice as a time for rebirth and renewal - a recognition that night is not eternal and it's defined by its phase into dawn - is the basis for cultural and religious ceremonies from all over the world. Although the details differ, reflections on and gratitudes for night's temporary nature are practiced in variety of cultures. Even the in christian ritual of Christmas, practitioners are celebrating their now-present capacity for salvation, which was unavailable to humanity before Jesus's birth. A day following a long night of a different sort. But praising the cyclical nature of our lives is a clinging - a renunciation of the true nature of things by extolling samsara, the reality that we need to escape from to find true happiness. 

We'll bowl again and win again and bowl again and lose again. This the all the universe knows.

We've bowled before and won before and bowled before and lost before. This is all the universe knows.

And someday, we'll attain enlightenment and escape this cycle of suffering. Or maybe bowl 300.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 8 - 12/13/22



In "Killing Commendatore" Haruki Murakami takes his standard storytelling world full of oddities and abstractions that his characters accept with limited protest, and this time uses it to explore the act of artistic creation. Much like the way characters in Murakami's novels have vastly different experiences with these oddities, though, different people seem to get very different results from this work. 

The protagonist of "Killing Commendatore" (unnamed, in typical Murakami fashion) is a recently divorced portrait painter. Murakami is in his comfort zone here, writing yet another male protagonist recently severed from the woman that seemed to keep his life grounded and now drifting through an increasingly dream-like world. These criticisms of Murakami (that he writes flat, male protagonists and the women in his stories are little more than plot devices to either spur the male character along or serve as a temporary object of desire) contain degrees of truth, but they tend to inject a goal into his writing that Murakami is never aiming for. He does write flat male characters, namely because he is writing for a flat, male audience from his flat, male perspective. Murakami's worlds have hidden undersides and fantastic, transformative abilities, but the point is that these are still somewhat mundane revelations. It's somewhat fantastic to find out that your backyard has been a mystical prison for an Idea that can become corporeal, but you still have to get up and work in the morning, you know?


So, in "Killing Commendatore" not only does Murakami tackle the criticism of the depth of his characters by leaning into that criticism even more so, he attacks the very idea of novels needing to be About Things in a hilariously literal way. The protagonist is dealing with his life being disrupted in a decently healthy way, only to have his life further upended by an Idea that has become physical and can visit him. What exactly causes this to happen is left deliberately vague - a choice that works well in a story where every details is meticulously documented - but it has some connection with the protagonist discovering a new piece of art and becoming entranced with it. Murakami's deadly serious tone telling us the dangers of looking for too much meaning in art, in a somewhat silly and playful way. This Idea isn't the only oddity the protagonist encounters, as he later has a hilarious conversation with a Metaphor, leading to the climax where he must avoid the deadly Double Metaphor(s). All of this is presented matter-of-factly, of course, and to the protagonist is an odd experience but perhaps no odder than other, "realistic" life events.

At about 700 pages, Murakami has plenty of space to muse on ideas (lower-case) about time, legacy, secrets and how these define our life and relationships. Oh, and also about a 13-year old girl concerned about her breast size, in another example of Murakami seemingly considering the criticisms of his work and leaning further in to them. In that regard, parts of "Killing Commendatore" are very combative. Murakami staking out an identity agreed upon by himself and his critics, and saying "your move." In another way, this is a quiet masterpiece by Murakami. 700 pages that drift by without the messiness of Idea or Metaphor to constrain it - to grab hold of the narrative and twist it into a direction it does not naturally want to follow. Ultimately, this is a very touching novel about how secrets and oddities define a life, and is worth reading to think about what we all leave unsaid.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Flamingo League Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 6 - 11/29/22





When you are bowling and the pins won't fall,

Do you think about the times they did, or

Curse any and all gods and then your ball?

Or, wait, maybe it is time to explore

An alternate universe where bowling

Is unknown. Is their really bliss in such

Ignorance? No spares, the only rolling

Is E, and never from a bowler's touch.

A world missing emotions and colors.

I'll stick with our world of strikes and gutters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 5 11/22/22




Game 1:

On January 5th, 2003, Ken Jones was caught in two avalanches, which broke his legs and pelvis, and was able to climb free and drag himself for 4 days to the nearest town.

On July 27th, 2006, Tom Boyle saw a driver hit a bicyclist, pinning the cyclist underneath the Camaro. Boyle was able to lift the car up so another person could pull the cyclist free.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th 1945, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing between 70,000 and 80,000 civilians and destroying 70% of the city. Yamaguchi survived and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki, where on August 9th, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb, killing 50,000 civilians. Yamaguchi lived until 2010.

On November 22, 2022, the Flamingo Bowl bowling league offered a bottle of tequila to whomever first bowled a turkey. Jonathon Hunt rolled a turkey in his first 3 frames, and was presented with a bottle of Hornito's.

Game 2: Free will is a myth, but not in the sense the deists think. Anaximander may have been the first to write down his ideas about "multiple worlds," which would contain every conceivable outcome of every decision, but the idea surely predates him. And survives him. And is contemporaneous with him, as time does not exist as we experience it but instead exists all at once. There is no "now" there is only now. So, given that everything and every time exists at once, our specific experience of any one event is the result of a multitude of chances and occurrences, selected from an assortment of possible occurrences so numerous as to be basically infinite. And we don't get to do the selecting. It's still tight to bowl 200, though.

Game 3: Daily samsara. We have bowled this game before and will bowl it again and are bowling it now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Flamingo Bowl Fall 2022 Bowling League Week 4 11/15/22


we lost all 3 games


And when our final hour comes, we shall meet it humbly, and there beyond the grave, we shall say that we have known suffering and tears, that our life was bitter.

- Sonya's monologue from Uncle Vanya

    Sonya is, of course, able to bear her suffering with the grace that unequivocal faith in a Christian god and heaven brings. But when that Christian salvation is exposed as a dream or a lie, where can we look for the strength to get through this suffering? The league will end and our record will be all we have. The record is our life and afterlife - what we know and how we are known.

    Should we then revel in this misery? Unable to attain the eternal bliss of the Christian heaven we instead praise our miseries and sufferings as divine manifestations of a universal truth? The Noble Truth of dukkha teaches that birth is suffering, death is suffering, bowling 180+ and losing is suffering and bowling 180+ and winning is also suffering, as suffering is a fundamental aspect of our universe. Joyous moments, such as bowling 180+ and winning the game, are impermanent and their absence, then, can cause suffering, so this suffering is part of their totality. So, as beautiful and improbable creations of this universe who are capable of exploring its truths and singing its glories, should we not celebrate suffering as the ubiquitous component of the only universe we know, which has directed itself to allowing us to be in this moment? No. Of course not. Attachment is attachment, no matter how unorthodox the object of attachment, and the Noble Truths teach us that this attachment is itself the mindset to be overcome to escape samsara. Suffering is there but we must not revel in it nor give in to desire and luxury and avoid all suffering but instead follow the Noble Eightfold Path and recognize the impermanence of even suffering as we will bowl the next game and if there is no next game we will bowl the next week and if there is no next week we will bowl the next league.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Flaming Bowl Bowling League Fall 2022 Week 2 - 10/25/22




Game 1: She came from the depths, like he said. Like he knew. Timeless rage purified by the ocean, free from the Sun's luminous knowledge. Righteous anger, harnessed and twisted to base aims. How did he know so much about those depths, and why did she respond?

Game 2: One day, Edshu was walking among the fields, noticing each farmer at work in their own field, when he decided that he would play a trick on them. He made himself a hat that was white on the front, red on the left side, green on the right and black on the back. When he walked between the fields different farmers only saw one side of the hat, depending on where they were working. That evening, after the work was done, the farmers were together eating and drinking when one asked "did you see the odd fellow walk by with the white hat today?" Another farmer responded "I saw an odd man, but his hat was definitely red." Another responded that the hat was clearly green. They began to argue over the hat and ultimately broke down to fighting and brought out knives. They were arrested and brought to trial, but the judge could not decide who was at fault. Edshu was in the crowd at the trial, and eventually revealed himself and his hat, saying "spreading strife is my greatest joy." - adapted from Joseph Campbell's telling in "The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Game 3: . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Bowling Notes - 4/12/22

 Week 8? Linear time has no meaning anymore, but we have not yet escaped the dogged grip of relational time. So we wait for a "finals" that has already occurred, is presently occurring. The pins know this truth, and will make sure they get to the destination they were always at.

In "Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything," Graham Harman says "there are just two ways of telling somebody what a thing is: . . . what it is made of or what it does."

Two ways. What does it leave behind? What is it's favorite record? Does it know how to keep a scorecard at a baseball game?

Two ways. Did it remember your birthday? Bring flowers? Look in to your eyes and recognize the emptiness not as a loss but as a path?

Two ways. Will it break a toe or scatter to the wind when errantly left on the floor and later kicked? Will it leave behind a jisei that helps you reflect on your pained attachments? Does it believe any of this matters?

Friday, March 11, 2022

Bowling Notes 3/8/22



 Bushido, I have found out, lies in dying. When confronted with two alternatives, life and death, one is to choose death without hesitation. There is nothing particularly difficult; one has only to be resolved and push forward.

While some say, "Death without gaining one's end is but a futile death," such a calculating way of thinking comes from conceited, citified bushido. Pressed between two alternatives, once can hardly be sure of choosing the righteous of the two. To be sure, everybody prefers life to death; he tends to reason himself into staying alive somehow. But if he comes out alive without gaining his righteous end, he is a coward. Therein lies the crucial point to consider.

Conversely, as long as one's choice is death, even if he dies without accomplishing his just aim, his death is free of disgrace, although others may term it as a vain or insane one. This is the essence of bushido. If one, through being prepared for death every morning and evening, expects death at any moment, bushido will become his own, whereby he shall be able to serve the lord all his life through and through with not a blunder.

- from Hagakure, by Yamamoto Tsunetomo 


Thursday, February 24, 2022

Bowling Notes 2/22/22

 After a brief delay . . .

Under new direction, the lanes are excitedly oiled and the league is eager to resume. We've all changed and been changed over the past 2 years. Is this even the same league? Are some things so constant as to deny time's dogged progression?

Game 1

Stallings. Hauntings. During practice, the pinsetter unexpectedly lowered right after I released a ball, and these hauntings continued in to the game itself. Where does tradition turn into haunting, and is there even a good distinction between the two? The accumulation of unique  disturbances is all we have to distinguish us from one another, and so we give thanks and/or memories to those disturbances for allowing us to fall into a delusion of self. Therefore, "we" can't even exist without these pains and traumas. But who asked for that in the first place?

Game 2

At some point, if you're going to be constrained by linear time, you should make a decision to leave "the past" in "the past." Experiences make you and may even better inform your present choices, but they are the past and if you're going to make any attempt to enjoy or learn in a present or future moment, then you must make a conscious and deliberate break with past events. Easier said than done, though. The past isn't gone, it's just past, and since it still exists it can still affect us and therefore render itself new again. And what better way to do that than to intentionally draw attention to the "past-ness" of it's present actions? And thus, the pinsetters break and break again. Splits and splits again. Frustrations lived before and lived again and lived.

Game 3

As with any endeavor involving time, endurance becomes an issue. Rhythms that had been turned into sick parodies of themselves were now allowed to regrow, as if one can recreate a "moment." Ample opportunity to "return to form," as if doing so were not a mockery of linear time itself. We have chosen this path "forward" because of the unknown and constant changes it brings. We'll return in death.