Category Archives: Culture

Great Places to Eat in Arkansas

I saw a Facebook friend of mine post that he was at Taylor’s steakhouse. I’d never heard of it, so I figured he was in another state. Nope. He was in Dumas. Everybody in the comments was raving about the place. Ever since I got back from Charleston, Little Rock has seemed like a Wasteland at least in the eating department. Of course, nothing compares to Charleston, but it would help if I’d get outside the city limits every once in a while. This is a gorgeous state, but I probably know less about it and have seen less of it outside of Little Rock than someone living half way ’round the world.
Of course, when I clicked on Taylor’s facebook page, they don’t even list there address, much less have a website, and of course they’re closed this Saturday because their daughter is graduating from grad school. That’s par for the course when it comes to a real rural restaurant, but it’s also a pretty good sign that when they are open they really get into what they do. Also, the fact they didn’t have their own website was actually an upside surprise for me because what they did link to was a website of a “gal” as we like to say who specializes in discovering new great little gems of restaurants all around the natural state. Her name is Kat Robinson. The name alone has me closed as a fan. Expect me to do some traveling in the Natural state exploring her finds. Who knows, maybe I can bring my guitar and find a place that’ll let me sing my ditties as well.

A Generation X Woodstock View

As a teen I romanticized it. Now, I realize that’s the same as mythologizing something. Of course the reality of the experience was anything but. Unless you were having a good trip, as it were. As a young teen in the early eighties, maybe from my older sister’s record collection, I was into CSNY, Dylan, Clapton, Beatles, Stones, etc. This was odd for 1983 I suppose. Even though MTV fascinated me in and of itself, I always “hate-watched” the content thinking it was so superficial compared to my beloved 60’s.
But enough about my thoughts on this now. I’ll add to them later including a whole chapter from my novel “The Horizon’s Blue Chance” which is all about a re-enactment of Woodstock at a college party in 1988. (the Chapter that is, not the whole novel. It’s the next to last one in the book, so it serves a prominent purpose to the story as a whole, at least psychologically and spiritually, a sort of “belly of the whale” experience.”)
I saw an article in today’s New York Times entitled “Woodstock Was the Birthplace of Festival Fashion” and like so much of my blog I just wanted to create a repository for media concerning topics I’m interested in.

Fiction Writer’s Resources

I’m spending most of my time and focus on writing a novel right now. So, hence this.

“Words to Use instead of Said”

http://www.spwickstrom.com/said/
This was the top result when I googled: what are some words you can use to describe dialogue besides said


I created an “Alter-Ego” Twitter (@ottersransom) for solely for my artistic endeavors. My main personal account (@Pickering) which I’ve had since 2007 just seems to messed up and cluttered.
I got this next resource from googling: what’s a good hashtag on twitter for fiction writers and novelists

44 Essential Twitter Hashtags Every Author Should Know

The Symbolic Meaning of a Water Fountain

Water Fountain at Chenal Country Club

One can obviously see the phallic symbology of the water penetrating a yoni from beneath, but in a deeper sense, ironically a higher chakra sense, the form of a fountain represents each person and living being itself manifesting from a world of transcendence. And since each particle is of divine nature, so it your whole being.

The water represents the energy, the ambrosia of eternity pouring into the field of time. The endless flowing, the continuous flowing, represents the eternal nature of this mystical dimension and also the infinite nature of its source. Since you can’t see the water’s source, that represents that it’s coming from the ground of being and also that it’s coming from another dimension which is invisible to our senses. On a deeper level there’s the paradox and the archetypal sense of the infinite coming from nothingness, which ironically enough is being postulated as the literal truth in the latest scientific origin stories such as the Big Bang theory.

Most fountains that you see spring from a round bowl-shaped container or vase. The inside of the bowl or pool is sacred space, a “Holy Grail” you might say, which represents the transcendence of duality or on a psychological level, the gap between our thoughts.

Water has long been seen as symbolic of the ambrosia of eternity—and in mythology and psychology as symbolic of the subconscious. A fountain represents a sacred opening, gap or tunnel which is a connection to eternity itself—as well as to the depths of our own being.

In a way, a kind of mini temple, yet completely natural: a religious, mystical experience paradoxically combining both the mystical and the physical, representing a connection created by nature herself.

This is why it evokes an archetypal response of beauty in most people: The aesthetic being, at least on the symbolic level, the manifestation of a mystery.

02/09/16 Update: One element that struck me recently, especially looking at the still photograph, is the Lingam/Yoni symbolism. And there is a strong dichotomy of the Lingam, representing Shiva, coming out of the bowl/vase shaped Yoni, which is representative of the feminine aspect. But if you think about it from a Hindu perspective this makes total sense: The “Void” out of which everything comes and back into which everything goes is the Mother Goddess of the Universe. She is it. Symbolically speaking, the divine feminine represents life itself, and the Lingam, the male divine, represents the snake, who by piercing life, right through the middle, throws off death, just a snake throws off its skin.

The fact that the Lingam and Yoni are seen as together, like the Ying and Yang of Asia, as well as the water and bowl of a fountain, represents that the two are one, that the feminine and masculine are merely two different aspects of the same thing, just like the eternal and the imminent, the mysterious and the manifest, and indeed, life and death: this represents to the soul the transcendent nature of its own being.

Read this quote by Joseph Campbell

“Nevertheless-and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol-the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 217, The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Here, the “realm of the gods” is symbolized by the Yoni, the void, the bowl, the feminine. And the “world we know” is represented by the Lingam/Masculine aspect. The masculine is representative of manifestation, but that manifestation has the potentiality to come in contact with the divine, indeed become divine, if it has the energy, drive, and intent to summon itself into one direction, namely that of the spontaneity residing inside the bowl of its own heart.

Another dichotomy: Notice in the fountain and in Hindu temples, the Lingam aspect is coming out of the Yoni, not going in: That’s symbolic of a resurrection. New life (Nova Vita) in this case not coming from sexual intercourse, but from a birth of the heart.

The Basic Theme of All Mythology

Opening the world to the dimension of mystery. To realize the mystery that underlies all forms.

“That’s the message of the myth: you as you know yourself are not the final term of your being.”

Joseph Campbell: The indication is of a notion of a plane of being that’s behind the visible plane and which is somehow supportive of the visible one to which we have to relate. I would say that’s the basic theme of all mythology… That there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one. Now, whether it is thought of as a world or simply an energy, uh, that differs from time to time and place to place.

Bill Moyers: What we don’t know supports what we do know.
JC: That’s right.

*About the 11:30 mark in the Power of Myth, the First Storytellers.

Ritual is one way of relating to this invisible plane.

JC: “Through the ritual that dimension is struck which transcends temporality and out of which Life comes and back into which it goes.” – 24:16

“What all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness, that you’re thinking in this way and you have now to think in that way.” – JC – 16:10 Power of Myth, The Hero’s Journey.

The Essence of Zen

I just got through reading Alan Watts’ “The Way of Zen” which is just awesome, by the way. I didn’t really know who he was, other than, I heard Joseph Campbell mention him a couple times, and in the back of my mind I thought, “Oh, he was just some sort of 60’s new age guy who was sort of in Joseph’s ‘Entourage’.”

Wrong! This guy was the real deal. He was so “in it” so “grounded” that hearing him speak, which may be even better than his great books, you know you are listening to someone who was “transparent to transcendence.”

That’s what draws you to someone who is or has really followed their bliss, is that the ground is so speaking through them, that you can just feel there’s no Ego agenda that’s going to try to fool you, no editing out of anything, even competitive forces, because it’s like the ground of being speaking ‘through’ this person. That’s a paradox in itself, and as you get more into this world, you know you’re headed in the right direction as more of these paradoxes, oxymorons, anamorphuses, start popping up, and not only do you not mind, but they have a delicious quality to them.

Anyway, back to my main point. One thing that strikes me that may be the essence of Zen, especially when it comes to some sort of skill is that the practice isn’t what is making you better. The practice, which is of course required, is rather putting you in tune to receive the genius. The practice, the honest practice, sort of makes you worthy, like an initiation, to receive the message from the Gods. And then it becomes almost effortless, like the craft is working through you. You become a conduit for this genius. So the practice puts you “in tune” to be a conduit for manifesting the eternal.