Categories
Philosophy Spiritual

The Symbolic Meaning of the Belly of the Whale

The Beatles are metaphorical for the “belly of the whale” motif in mythology. I never realized it myself until I read “Anthology” and realized that they had spent almost 2.5 years in Hamburg playing 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now this isn’t literally true. They did have breaks. They definitely went home many times for breaks, but the most important aspect is that it is psychologically true. Apparently the clubs were physically below the street level, like walking down into a subway, and I do remember a compadre of theirs saying, “We’d go down their and wouldn’t come for air for a week.” Now this obviously is not literally true. But one understands the psychological, metaphorical implication: giving yourself over to something completely. That’s the idea of the belly of the whale motif in mythology. Even the the locals of the Cavern Club in Liverpool seemed to be stunned by the transformation of the post Hamburg Beatles. That’s the central idea of the “Belly of the Whale” motif. It’s exactly analogous to the idea of the male initiatory experience: You go in one person and come out the other side with a completely transformed consciousness. All mythology, as Joseph Campbell said, is about the transformation of consciousness.

I’d say there are two main aspects to the Belly of the Whale symbolism and they are psychologically connected although in the world express themselves in two different ways: 1) As noted above with the Beatles is the aspect of a career. The way to get to the top is complete emersion, giving yourself over to it completely, allowing yourself to be “swallowed up.” This is the appropriate attitude for a young person, say 20-30, deciding on their career. They have to know the irony that this immersion, once a decision has been made, will free them, not confine them, as long as it’s their true calling, not someone else’s.

2) Is more metaphysical in the sense primarily of acceptance. The trash compactor scene from Star Wars comes to mind. If you just take the literal, mechanical view of nature, then its all about a group of adventurers who are most certainly going to die in a horrible way. At best their chances are 50/50. But what in the deepest sense does this scene really mean?

Update 6/13/20: I realized as I was watching a lot of music production videos on Youtube, and as their algorithm keeps bringing you more, I realized that the amount of content I could watch on this subject is nearly endless. And then I realized, that’s it! You keep at something non-stop until you break through to another level. The irony is its your laser-like focus on one subject that opens up the entire world to you.

Now, I would say there is at least one caveat: whatever that subject is, I think it needs to be your true soul’s calling. In other words, if your only reason for doing it is to get rich and famous, it still might work, but there’s something lost in translation. And the whole process will not be fun. If it is your true soul’s calling, then it will be feeding you the whole way in terms of inspiration, joy, and fulfillment, even in this so-called “Belly of the Whale” period in which you are not getting outside attention or rewards. I’d say that’s the test for your true calling: If you feel emotional reward from the act itself, then that’s it. Stephen King and writing is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this analogy. Especially if you want to be a writer, go watch some of his speeches and interviews on Youtube. He mentions this aspect as being primary.

Categories
Mythology Philosophy Pyschology Spiritual

The Essential Function of Mythology and Religion

It’s to put the psyche in accord with nature. Once a hero begins an adventure he quickly learns he has to let go of his ego thinking and let the quest itself be his guide. In some adventures the hero is humbled (Odysseus, Parsifal, Job, Indra). In others he is completely eaten up or otherwise destroyed (Jonah, Jason). In all of these cases some kind of submission is required to an unintelligible, invisible force. That submission has to be utter (Actual death in the Christ story, and a complete willingness to die in the Buddha—at which moment his fulfillment is activated, and he achieves Nirvana). Yet all the while he is still striving for his goal. Though chaos may blow him all over the place for reasons that don’t seem fair, he somehow maintains his inner acceptance even in the face of the ultimate. And continues to try to move forward. The schizophrenic is the person who does the opposite: He won’t let fate wash over him, won’t let his consciousness transform, and keeps insisting on his ego’s program of control. He can’t accept the cards he is dealt and when the world around him won’t conform to his ego’s desire (which in truth like Jay Gatsby’s can never be fulfilled) he finally refuses to play the game. But that leaves him in a frozen state in which the intensity of suffering only increases until he feels he utterly cannot escape it and finally is left wailing on the ground.
So the hero is representative of a psyche that has learned to accept, submit to, and otherwise come into accord with nature, which is also analogous to his subconscious and as Jung put it, his “undiscovered self.”
Some heroes start out too proud and have to be humbled. Others start out too humble (Al-addin, many peasant types in the Grimm tales, Jack, etc.) And their adventure consists of realizing the diamond glowing inside. The lowly peasant boy, usually the third and youngest child, whom no one else respects either, turns out to be the only one in the kingdom with the courage to defeat the dragon and win the princess. Somehow his willingness to get in the game with the same type of straightforward intent, yet without expectation, and even more crucially without desperation, just like the Buddha’s acceptance under the Bo tree, and the Christ’s acceptance hanging ostensibly, metaphorically from that same tree, activated his superpowers, transformed his consciousness and that of the whole world around him.
Religion is simply when the act of being with these stories, symbols, and rituals, has the same effect on your psyche. The labyrinth is your socially conditioned mind and body. What’s trapped inside is your undiscovered self, your soul. Adriane’s flax thread is symbolic of religion and mythology itself, the song of the soul’s calling. One only has to follow it. The Great Way, as the koan says, has no gate.

Refusal of the call converts the adventure into its negative.

Joseph Campbell

Categories
Philosophy

The Secret of Success: Having Fun

I’m having a blast. It’s really fun. I don’t know why… But it’s just been a joy.

Conan O’Brien Jan. 12, 2020, “Nikki Glaser” 1:12

Why were you trying to find my extension?
I have a friend who’s opening up a new restaurant in Soho and I was hoping you’d go with me.
What?
Do you want to go out with me tonight?
Why?
Because it would be fun, and you seem cool.

30 Rock S1 E11 4:39
“Did you ever imagine that your podcast would be…like where its at right now is crazy, man.”
Joe Rogan: “No, there’s no way I could have imagined it. I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Tom Segura: “It’s so nuts.”
Joe Rogan: “It’s just…yeah, I just thought it was fun to do.”

Let me ask you something, why do you do what you do?
I don’t know. The only time I really feel alive is when I’m singing

Jennifer Hudson’s character in ‘Sandy Wexler’ [-1:55:54].

Johnny Cash is not cast in amber, this is the guy before he was canonized, when he was just a musician, when he had runway in front of him and was less worried about getting it right than just doing it. Yup, when done right music is here and then gone, you had to be there, that’s one of the reasons live is such a big deal these days.

— Bob Lefsetz https://lefsetz.com/wordpress/2019/12/04/matchbox/

“And one does it not to be good for you, but just because you dig it. Because at last you find yourself in the center, the eternal now, in which past and future drop away, in which divisions created by words drop away.” — [YouTube Link]

Alan Watts

Something I do for like no reason besides the fact that it was just like for fun………Mmmm mmmm, I mean because making music is messing around. [Youtube Interview Link]

Billie Eilish

You’ve got to find something that you love to do in an of itself that could also become a career. I would even go a step further: the actual doing of it and navigating all of its challenges (like an adventure) actually gives you more pleasure, feeds your soul even more, or if you want to get unromantically scientific about it, releases even more dopamine, than all the other possible accoutrements it could give you (money, fame, sex, adoration).
That’s a big ask. But I think it’s the key to not only giving yourself the best shot at not only the accoutrements, but producing work that is worthy of them. In another words, work that gives more value to the audience (and keep in mind, especially in today’s world this could literally be anything: arts, business, science, etc.) than the money and attention they are giving to it. This is the key fundamental law of business: B = V + D. Business equals Value plus Distribution. But it’s an equation that can be applied to any career. And thanks to the internet, or more robustly “technology” the definition of what a career can be (“Youtube Star”) has grown at least by an order of magnitude over what it was when I graduated from college in 1989, maybe two.

Categories
Philosophy Poems

Attempting an Explication of the Second Coming by W.B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.



Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   

The darkness drops again; but now I know   

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Some rough beast, a gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun is slouching towards Bethlehem to be born. Maybe the biggest question of this poem is why is the thing slouching? It’s a huge monster with a lion body. We think of lion bodies as being fierce, muscular, solar king-like, even devine in their beautiful symmetry (“What immortal hand or eye/ dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”) not slouchy! Lions are proud. People who slouch are ashamed and or dejected with being. For someone about to become Jesus 2.0, the next savior of the world, he’s not too excited about taking the job, that’s for sure!

And why go back to the original place? London, Paris, or New York would seem a more appropriate place for a new savior of this day and age to be born. With going back to the Levant, I sense its a metaphor that the ideals of the pagan West, namely that of the ideal of the individual, which is what the sense of the Grail romances, the pagan myths and fairy-tales, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment are all about, have now been thoroughly overthrown, for the ideals of the Levant which are that of the group. If you’ve ever experienced a mob mentality break out, you definitely have seen gazes that are blank, pitiless, and soulless. That’s the equivalent of falling to all three temptations of the Buddha (Lust, Fear, Social Duty) in one fell swoop.

But why use “the Sun” as a simile? That definitely catches your attention. The sun is usually a metaphor and simile used for bright and hopeful sentiments. But not if your walking across the desert, right? Also, if you think of the sun only in its scientific definition, if you leave out the romance, mythological dimension of life, and only understand it as a function of physics, groveling as it were before shear fact, then the sun is indeed dead, a ruthless fireball fusing hydrogen into helium, that cares not a wit about life.

Some part of us knows something is wrong, but….

We are vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle.

Say what? Here’s my shot: A “rocking” cradle suggests instability, an unknowingness in an instinctual way, of whose side the MOTHER is on. Is she Athena or Circe? Does she want to kill us or for us to be the savior of the universe? Or in a way, as only Greek Mythology can intimate, be both? Or in another sense, the ground of our own being, of life’s being. Is it an inherently good thing, evil thing, or indifferent? I.e. “Something that should not have been,” as Schopenhauer suggests. Is nature, this thing that our consciousness rests on, inherently nasty, disgusting, and evil? If one has that sense, you will certainly be vexed to nightmare all the way back to birth.

This is when it gets exciting, the adventure. Because this is the entire sense of the burning point what is uniquely you that wants, that must be expressed, that has never been expressed before. Becoming imminent, and yet in a gesture to the East, most likely spontaneously, as the eminence of transcendence, completely without ego.

Categories
Blogging My Poetry Philosophy Poems Tech

Changing My Mind About Publishing in Today’s Media Landscape

I pulled into Kroger’s tonight, and what I felt was a good poetic line seemed to flash into me —like so many do that don’t necessarily have a direct meaning consciously, but feel like they came from another place and I am just the receiver and feel like they are pointing towards something that is deep and true.

Normally I’d put the line in Notes like I’ve done hundreds if not thousands of times before and that’d be the last I’d see of it. Today I said, “Screw it, let’s post it.” And there from my car, from my Chrome browser on my iPhone 7+ I opened up my WordPress, created a new post and typed in the line. After I hit save, another line came to me that I added, and while I was in the store a third.

We’ll see how this experiment goes, but my point is, something keeps calling me toward this way of doing things in “real time” as the phrase goes.

Here’s another example with music. A few months ago, I had a somber tune (sweet sad) come to my head on a Saturday night about like this one, and right here in front of this iMac I propped my iPhone, opened up Garageband and recorded it, knowing it would be my next single.

But then a case of the “perfections” came in, and I still haven’t published it. I feel now like I should have gotten it out there, if not that night, for sure within the next week, even if it had a bracket of (Demo) beside it on Spotify. Now so many months later, the tune has sort of lost its “spark” inside of me, and even if I could lay down a technically better performance from taking my time, it would have lost its emotional spark that getting it at the moment or close to the moment would give.

Of course ten years ago, much less twenty or thirty, this would have been a ludicrous approach, but as an example, I was just listening to Rick Beato talking about the B-Side Police single “Murder by Numbers” and as much as I love Synchronicity. I would just absolutely love as much a sort of “B-Side” album of the band recording the whole album live in the same mode of “Murder by Numbers” — mistakes and all.

The great Carver Mead said “Listen to the Technology.” My gut is telling me that the technology, offering itself like this with its focus on immediacy, is telling us to publish, even in the formal arts of poetry and music, with the same immediacy that social media does.

Categories
Culture Music Spiritual

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.