Monday, June 24, 2013

Tantra in the West

One of my good and treasured friends, Birrell Walsh, has become quite an author in the past few years. Besides a book of poetry and popularized version of his doctoral dissertation on prayer and healing, he has now produced four books in his series Tantra in the West. I want to recommend all or some of them to you.

Sister Clare's Lover was the first. This tale is set in San Francisco and follows the life and loves of a 'confused-by-life' priest.

"Father Matthew Shalgry, a priest who himself has been silenced for his writings, is asked by his archbishop to find Sister Clare, the mysterious author of *The Love of Christ.* It is a highly sexual poem and secretive devotional practice that is sweeping through the convents. He will find the practice, and lose his heart, in this encounter of Catholicism and ancient tantra." 

Next came Illuminating Four Cities: A Recipe for Catholic Tantra. If you have read The Years of Rice and Salt by another of my favorite authors Kim Stanley Robinson or if you enjoyed the film Cloud Atlas last year, I can strongly recommend the tale told in Four Cities.

"Father Shalgry has loved a woman honorably, and she is gone. Now he must find meaning for what has happened. His best friend, ex-Sister Marta Vasquez, owns a tavern. In one long night of storytelling at her bar, he recounts visions of other worlds and of his connections with his beloved there. Then, at a fire on the longest winter night, it is time to bring those visions into this world." 

The third book in the series takes an acute turn into Birrell's convex, concave, convoluted version of heaven and earth. In the weirdly titled Philanthropic Horse is Haunted by Gravity, we explore heaven, earth and other realms both far and near. 

"A visiting lama asks a young stallion if he wants to help. It means carrying the dead to the river of rebirth, climbing cloud mountains to a monastery of many species, raiding Hell itself, and joining a tantric circle headed by a tigress. On the last peaks, where the lightning strikes, he must face death to bring light to his lost love and the heavy, suffering earth." 

Last month the fourth book in the series appeared - Shepherd of Wolves. For the first time Birrell has taken on the motif of an international thriller. 

"Genocides who would destroy half the world with a GMO weapon plot in Scandinavia. Interpol thinks they put together the strange team to hunt them down - a Danish detective falling in love with an American doctor, a sad priest and a lesbian bar-owner from San Francisco, a Filipino cop from the mean streets of the Mission District, and an agent of Germany's shadowy watchdog agency. But the real team is stranger still, as ghosts and half-human guardians struggle to prevent the ghastly Cleanup Virus; and history itself shimmers and reshapes." 

When I read Shepherd the first time I had the same reaction I had when I picked up Sister Clare's Lover - I was shocked to find I had a friend who is an accomplished, professional writer. If you are a fan of intrigue or even if like me you aren't, I strongly recommend Shepherd of Wolves but I can't leave this suggestion without adding that reading Sister Clare's Lover first will make the experience even more enjoyable. Being introduced to the cast of characters in Sister Clare makes the story in Shepherd that much more satisfying. I mean who only sees only the fourth Harry Potter film?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Big Man Revisited

As regular readers know I have an affinity for this sculpture by Ron Mueck. "Big Man" either looks like me or I like him. In several alternative poses I believe he speaks to some essential emotions I experience in my life. Today, however, I have a slightly different take on this piece of art.

I have mentioned in the past that I read Discovery magazine several years in arrears when my friend Gary passes along his old subscription copies. So recently I was surprised to see the "Big Man" on the cover of the February 2007 issue. The accompanying article was about killer fat and visceral obesity. What interested me, however, was the reader response in the April issue's letters to the editor. Here are two samples:

#1 I find the cover of the February issue of Discover highly offensive. In fact, I was embarrassed to find it in my mailbox. While I know it may be someone's art, it is my pornography. If I want a fat, naked man in my mailbox, I will order him.

#2 The cover kinda scared me when I first saw it. I was like, whoa, there's a naked dude on the front. I showed to to my mom, and she said, "Is that your father?" The glare he is giving looks exactly like the one my father gives me when he is disappointed. Kudos for the man on the cover.

"One man's poison is another man's bread." A phrase my father, a druggist, identified strongly with. In that vein, I couldn't agree more with the responses to the Big Man in all of his large, naked glory.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mark Laita

Mark Laita makes his living as a "commercial photographer" taking photographs of products for print ads. But he also turns his crisp and colorful eye to objects other than an iPhone or a Crown Royal bottle.

He clearly likes food.

Laita has a new book out called Serpentine, which I recommend with fascination and a cold chill down my spine.

See a lot more photographs on his website.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hysterical Literature

The internet provides a diversity of words, sounds, images and everything in between. Thanks to several internet friends for pointing me to today's adventure.

"In his latest project, Hysterical Literature, photographer Clayton Cubitt takes a beautiful woman (five actually), places her at a table in front of a black backdrop and gets her to read from her favorite book while an unseen accomplice below the table attempts to bring the woman to orgasm with a vibrator. The results are an intimate, sexy experience that captures a beauty rarely found in most modern pornography."

I would add that the five videos run four to twelve minutes. I would recommend my favorite but each of them spoke to me in a way that escapes words. I will give you the following information and video hints.

Video #1: Stoya 6:53 (5:25)
Video #2: Alicia 11:43 (10:25)
Video #3: Danielle 5:51 (4:45)
Video #4: Stormy 4:08 (3:10)
Video #5: Teresa 9:20 (7:30)

The Orgasm as Art LINK

. . . and isn't this better than another political post.

Apparently he is not finished with this project:

Video #6: Stole 6:14
Video #7: Amanda 8:05

Friday, June 07, 2013

Powerhouse Fire (L.A.)

Awe and frightening beauty - photographs from the Powerhouse Fire in the Angeles National Forest. A truly amazing series of images from The Atlantic. Click on the hollow tree to see what I mean.

Monday, June 03, 2013

something else

In light of last week's revelation that political beliefs are in large part genetic. I have decided to make a change in the content of this blog.

I will still vote in every election, distaining both major parties. I will make my quadrennial third party plea once every four years. But other than that - no more political prostilizing in this blog or anywhere online. If we see each other in real life and there is enough good wine and someone just won't shut up about the blessings of the american political system, then I may, just for sport, verbally bitch slap them around but only for fun.

I make this change because of two observations I have made about individual beliefs:

BELIEFS - people hold their beliefs in the face of facts and often consider facts to be someone else's beliefs, which of course are not facts and they know that because their beliefs are either not fact based or so fact selective as to allow dinosaurs and humans to co-exist.

BELIEFS - are genetically encoded in brain development and not subject to modification, you will never convince anyone to change because at the genetic level they are not able to modify their basic view of life, the planet and other mysteries involving god, the universe and whether white chocolate is or is not actually chocolate.

Therefore, in this here blog I shall deal with other areas of non-politcal esoterica for the foreseeable future. No further mention of individuals or issues surrounding the fog of politics that in my mind are only a distractions to the real issues humanity faces.