someday the epiphany of “soul”, young migrant worker, racing away from contemplation

An excerpt from a 1993 essay written by Tom Robbins called “You gotta have soul”

“If you need to visualize the soul, think of it as a cross between a wolf howl, a photon, and a dribble of dark molasses. But what it really is, as near as I can tell, is a packet of information. It’s a program, a piece of hyperspatial software designed explicitly to interface with the Mystery. Not a mystery, mind you, the Mystery. The one that can never be solved.

To one degree or another, everybody is connected to the Mystery, and everybody secretly yearns to expand the connection. That requires expanding the soul. These things can enlarge the soul: laughter, danger, imagination, meditation, wild nature, passion, compassion, psychedelics, beauty, iconoclasm, and driving around in the rain with the top down. These things can diminish it: fear, bitterness, blandness, trendiness, egotism, violence, corruption, ignorance, grasping, shining, and eating ketchup on cottage cheese.

Data in our psychic program is often nonlinear, nonhierarchical, archaic, alive, and teeming with paradox. Simply booting up is a challenge, if not for no other reason than that most of us find acknowledging the unknowable and monitoring its intrusions upon the familiar and mundane more than a little embarrassing.

But say you’ve inflated your soul to the size of a beach ball and it’s soaking into the Mystery like wine into a mattress. What have you accomplished? Well, long term, you may have prepared yourself for a successful metamorphosis, an almost inconceivable transformation to be precipitated by your death or by some great worldwide eschatological whoopjamboreehoo. You may have. No one can say for sure.

More immediately, by waxing soulful you will have granted yourself the possibility of ecstatic participation in what the ancients considered a divinely animated universe. And on a day to day basis, folks, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

To be clear, Robbins is not talking about something unearthly. He is talking about something more philosophical, more grounded in what one could call the paradox of the human spirit, something we perceive, what some would call consciousness and its connections with our moral well-being. Not the morality of dour overly judgmental mystics of whatever flavor, but the normative morality that has consequences in this life and perhaps for those one leaves behind. Earlier in the essay he writes, “And yet, because the soul is linked to the earth (as opposed to spirit, which is linked to the sky), it steadfastly contradicts those who imagine it a billow of sacred flatulence or a shimmer of personal swamp gas.” One could call it the soul of the non-religious or at least non-dogmatic.


Young migratory mother by Dorothea Lange. Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) took this photograph in April of 1940. The young woman, who had two young children, and her husband had migrated from Texas to Kern County, California looking for work. The best they could find was a job as farm laborers picking peas. After a round trip of 70 miles she and her husband brought home $2.25 for the day’s work.

The title to this is link bait, but otherwise is not awful, The Risks of ‘Racy’ Thinking

Why would this be? Well, one idea is that fast thinking signals a need for urgent action of some kind, and this in turn encourages boldness and discourages slow contemplation. In other words, there is no time for slowly weighing possible untoward consequences when what’s really needed is action. Or so the mind sees it.

These studies suggest that thought speed is a fundamental shaper of human feelings and actions, and that this may have important practical implications. If the pace of modern life is indeed is getting faster and faster—or even if we just perceive it that way—such rapid stimulation could lead to increased risk taking, for better or worse, everywhere from the military to the workplace to the family. For example, the scientists note, parents and policymakers worry about the erotic and violent content of movies and video games, when perhaps they should worry more about the pace and tempo—a new kind of “raciness” for the 21st century.

Some days I have a tendency to race through as many articles and essays as i can read. While i think as i read, I find that a lot of it gets digested or contemplated latter. Sometimes those are the things that race through my mind as i go to sleep. Is it important, what does it mean. If I like something, I still play critic and find holes in the argument. One aspect of trying to digest so much is that the river of information never ends. if it never ends that means there is some point at which one has to get used to some level of ambiguity, some people would say mystery, that remains. The combination of so much information and having some answers, but never all of them is part of what scares some people about a knowledge based life in which one is forever the learner compared to a belief based life. When it’s all beliefs, that is it. You can’t let new information in. Even one little bit can cause a crack in a carefully constructed house of beliefs.

boys in front of a toy store window – depression era. In modern news, CHART: How The 1934 Recovery Benefited The 99 Percent, While 2010’s Benefited The Rich

Parov Stelar – Jimmy´s Gang  – a modern take on Chicago and big band jazz.




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