HP Lovecraft’s Birthday

20 August 2012

and how his Horror wove Time into the mix.

Say what you will about HP Lovecraft’s  racism, nazism, and sometimes unmanageable prose, his work influenced a great many modern horror writers, and may even be the catalyst for 20th Century horror in general. HR Giger‘s design of the first Alien film are the most evident example. I have read most of his short stories, his novella the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and his long poem the Fungi from Yuggoth, but not his longest work, a walking guide to Quebec City, and having waded through the quagmire of his work, I was greatly impressed by his perspective on time. In no small part it has influenced my development of the Abyss in theAbysmal Calendar project.

the Cosmic Horror, the Cosmic Horror

On occasion, Lovecraft seemed to pick up on something that was far more prescient than one expects (see American Plutocracy), as if he were tapping into the darker aspects of the collective unconscious of the United States. His work combined themes of racial and genetic degeneration, ancient alien civilization, the dead, occult knowledge, and an inverse of enlightenment, which is best summarized in the opening lines of the Call of Cthulhu:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

He wrote this in 1926, in the time between the two world wars, when he wrote the majority of his work. Despite attempts to enlist, he never served in the military. He only sets one story in the first world war, Herbert West – Reanimator, and then only one episode, part V. As isolated as he was, he nevertheless picked up on a deep undercurrent.

Azathoth

Lovecraft wrote about a number of alien-god beings, including Azathoth, which appears in a number of his tales. In the Dreams in the Witch-House, the protagonist, Gilman, remembers the entity in his dream as:

…the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos…

Here, Lovecraft is describing the lord of matter, the centre of chaos, ruling all time and space (or dare I say spacetime). There is no doubt that Lovecraft had interest in the sciences, and was aware of Einstein’s remodeling of the universe. Mind you, the idea of chaos theory wouldn’t come along for some decades. Entropy would have to suffice as a working model based in thermodynamics.

Yog-Sothoth

Yog-Sothoth likewise shows up in a number of stories, including Through the Gates of the Silver Key where it is referred to as:

…an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self — not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweep — the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names…

and here from the Dunwich Horror:

Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.

Here, Yog-Sothoth seems more to be an atemporal entity, representing a simultaneous model of time.

Although Lovecraft personified spacetime and time as divine entities, he gave them a dark character, a horrific one, which is in keeping with the classical deities with which he was familiar: Kronos and Saturn.

Furthermore, Lovecraft has written his mythology into history, or at least blended historical fact with mythological fiction. When the Stars are Right provides a timeline of dates from Lovecraft’s fiction and historical dates to which he refers.

Aliens among Us

This is one of the first instances I’ve encountered of the mythology of science which grew to prominence in 20th Century USAmerica. Superman, another divine alien in the pantheon of science, wouldn’t be born until 1932. Where other culture created mythologies using archetypal gods, spirits and deities, the sciences used speculation based in fact to create their mythology. We didn’t have angels and demons, but aliens and mad scientists. Our heroes and villains are mutants, either from radiation or more recently, genetic manipulation, the latter of which Lovecraft had already written about in works such as the Lurking Fear, and the Shadow over Innsmouth among others.

Although his prose is leaden enough to line a vault, the ideas contained therein are more valuable than often credited. His work was greatly influential, and if nothing else, coalesced the horror genre into the spawning narratives that continue to ask us to look deeper into the abyss. And as we do, it looks back into us.

123 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Anniversary of the Apocalypse

6 August 2012

Hiroshima, and how we learned to love the bomb.

see also: theAbysmal May Day & Groundhog’s Day, Imbolc, Candalmas

Once again, we have come upon a Midway Day, halfway between the Solstice & Equinox (more or less), and midway through Quarter 2 of theAbysmal Year. Although it isn’t a traditional observance in North America as with Groundhog’s Day, May Day, and Halloween, it is nevertheless a pagan European holiday, known today as Lammas or Lughnasadh. It was traditionally the first of three harvest festivals (the others falling on the Autumnal Equinox and Samhain – November 1st). We still have Thanksgiving and the Harvest Moon, so it’s not like we don’t have festivals for the idea of the harvest (seeing as how far removed most of us are from our food).

After Christians brought the Gregorian Calendar, these holidays fell at the beginning of Gregorian months, so November 1st, February 2nd, May 1st, and August 1st. theAbysmal Calendar’s equivalents fall shortly thereafter, such that they are exactly midway through each quarter. Each quarter is 91 days, so the midway days are 45 days after the start and 45 days before the end.

The dates are equivalent to: August 6th, November 5th, February 5th, and May 7th.

Time stood still in Hiroshima on August 6th 1945.

Two important observations fall on this date: the Christian Feast of Christ’s Transfiguration, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. There is an interesting overlap between the two, in terms of their symbolic importance, particularly if we consider the US acting as a Christian nation, instead of a secular political-military one.

Transfiguration by Alexandr Ivanov, 1824

Some very general, cursory background from the Great Internet Oracle.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is an episode in the New Testament narrative in which Jesus is transfigured (or metamorphosed) and becomes radiant upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36) describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16–18 refers to it.

In these accounts, Jesus and three of his apostles go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration). On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called “Son” by a voice in the sky, assumed to be God the Father, as in the Baptism of Jesus.

The Transfiguration is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. This miracle is unique among others that appear in the Canonical gospels, in that the miracle happens to Jesus himself.Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven. The Transfiguration is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.

In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth

Christian theology assigns a great deal of significance to the Transfiguration, based on multiple elements of the narrative. In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.

I often think of the Son of God as the Sun of God, and that our Sun shares many of the characteristics of the Christian God: it is the source of light and life, you must avert your gaze or be blinded, it burns eternally (as far as we are concerned), it holds us in its sway (gravity), is everywhere (light, heat, gravity), is omnipotent. Like that. It is of unimaginable immensity.

I’m certainly not the first to make such a connection, there are plenty of knowledgeable pages on the subject.

So let’s take as given that the Sun is to astrophysics as God is to Christianity.

The unholy trinity of Fat Man (bomb dropped on Nagasaki), Little Boy (dropped on Hiroshima), and the Gadget (Trinity test detonation in the US), are a new breed of the divine. The Little Boy could be the antichrist (or ante-Christ) that raised the US to the status of superpower. It represents the meeting of the divine with the human on earth, the point of impact where the end of the world occurred. There is no doubting its radiance and radiation. It was truly the apocalypse for the Japanese (as there have been other such Apocalypses for other peoples in other places at other times).

People in Hiroshima were vaporised, leaving their shadows behind. It was a victory for the forces of the radiant God of Light.

Somewhere between the story of Christ confirming his divinity through the power of God, and the USA confirming its superpower through the power of nuclear physics, an equivalence lurks in the shadows.

since World War II the number of Japanese Christians has been slowly increasing again.

although this fact is noted on japan-guide.com, I can’t verify its source.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, where this signifies a shift from the lazy, longer days of Summer to the increasingly shortening days of Autumn, it also suggests a descent (at least in terms of theAbysmal). The dropping of the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima signified a descent for us in global terms, into the cold of a stagnant war, under the threat of global annihilation.

Also, it astounds me that we continue to use the equivalent of these bombs to boil water to power our cities, and the Internet. In all the talk about finding new energy sources, I never hear any talk of reducing our energy consumption, or making it smarter. Sad to say. However, the transfiguration of Christ was an event celebrated for the hope it promised.

The Biolite Stove was designed for the majority of the world that still cooks over open fires. Not only does it use almost any biomass as fuel, excess heat is transformed into electricity. This is an ingenious device that allows people living off the grid to not suffer a lack of electricity for it. It is part of the solution to wean us from our dependence on too much by using what we’re already doing to make things more efficient.

I think that in reviving this as a holiday, that it may work in combining a number of elements. The end of summer, the beginning of the harvest (particularly for those of us in higher northern latitudes). In the southern latitudes, this would take place on Feb 5th, I’m guessing, and August 6th would be the end of Winter, and the celebration of the lengthening days.

I see this summer festival thing as acknowledging the power of the sun (even in times of drought, as we’ve had this year), and to shift to preparing for the long, dark days ahead. Harvest, canning, drying, freezing, and so on. We truly can’t continue to rely on produce to be sent to Canada throughout the Winter from Argentina and South Africa. That’s just ludicrous, and a tremendous waste of energy (see above).

Also, it is essential that we help out those around us in direst need. As with the survivors of Hiroshima (and war in general), who have lived through the most horrific that we’ve yet concocted, it bodes well to remember, and to do better. Having this occur during Ramadan this year reminds me of it all the more. Sharing is much more efficient and effective than everyone for themself (as if that were even possible).

What’s the alternative?

137 Days to Dec 21st 2012


theAbysmal May Day

7 May 2012

Halfway through another quarter – how’s the view?

Here we are, midway through Quarter 1 already. This means that 45 days are behind us, (or 45+91 all the way back to the last New Year), and 45 are left (or 45 + 91 +91 to the next New Year). This day falls midway (give or take a day or so) between the Equinox and the Solstice. It is typically celebrated on May 1st, heralded as the International Day of the Worker, or going further back to Gaelic Ireland, Beltane. It was a fertility festival, no doubt associated with the spring (and spring fever), the preparation of the fields,  and the hardier flowers. (there are a number of festivals of spring that use the flower as their primary motif, as with Hanamatsuri and Wesak to celebrate Buddha’s birthday).

The dates in the pagan/gaelic calendar are not fixed in stone, and vary. As such, theAbysmal dates are within the acceptable range of common dates, which is reassuring. You don’t want to piss off pagans. They know the magicks.

see previous posts:

Midway Holidays

As it happens, the midway days all fall on the middle day of theAbysmal week (a Tuesday – note: this year theAbysmal is following Gregorian weekdays, and starting December 22nd 2012, they will be the same – so in future, every midway day will fall on Tuesday), and it also falls on the middle day of theAbysmal fortnight.

I think these are perfectly set up for a week, or a fortnight of celebrations, to include traditions from all over the world (although to be honest, I’ve done more research with respect to the final midway day on November 5th, which we’ll have to wait to get around to). theAbysal Calendar is nothing if not a means to celebrate more, and to have more holidays. If the French can take the entire month of August off, what’s up with the rest of us?

And the season of Spring (or the beginning of the construction season locally) deserves at least a week or two of celebrations – to acknowledge that once again we’ve survived the long winter, we are undefeated, and ready to face another sweltering, hot, humid, volatile summer (we do get some pretty hairy lightning storms, with hail and everything).

Midway Days and Market Weeks

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the 364-day year lends itself to market weeks of 4 days, 7 days and 13 days. Other annual calendars divide the year into 361 days (the Baha’i, 19×19 = 361 + 4) and 360 (Haab, Persian CalendarCoptic, and others). The 360-day calendars divide their years up differently, but they all add 5 days (or 6 in a leap year) in a chunk at the end. 360 is a great number, as it has so many factors, it can be divided into all sorts of smaller units. I’ve been trying to devise how to fit theAbysmal into a 360-day cycle, and there are two options: skip the 5 days at New Year’s (December 19th-23rd), or skip the New Year’s Day (December 21st) and the four Midway Days (Feb 5th, May 7th, Aug 6th, Nov 5th).

This is what I’d like to take a closer look at. It may be viable, it may not. Either way, it bears exploring.

360-Day Market Weeks

360 days divide evenly into periods of  3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20. I’d prefer to skip anything over 9, as they are multiples of the other numbers, and 13 is already present as a longer period. 4 is already part of the 364-day part of theAbysmal Calendar, so this leaves us with: 3, 5, 6, 8, 9.

Symbolically speaking, 5 and 8 lend themselves well to two Chinese systems: the five elements and the eight trigrams of the I Ching.

The only question is the sequence in which to arrange these elements. I was thinking that for the elements, the first half of the year, from Winter to Summer Solstice should follow the generating cycle, and from Summer to Winter the overcoming. As for the trigrams, starting with the three broken lines at the bottom, and moving clockwise around the yin-Yang circle would be suitable. The trigrams represent a number of different things, and are symbolically rich, however, they are linked to the following elements: earth, thunder, fire, swamp, heaven, wind, water (theAbysmal), mountain.

This leaves us with 3, 6, and 9. I think that 3 and 9 are sufficient, as 6 is a measure of two 3-day periods. 9 is special (at least for me), and I refuse to dismiss it out of hand.

3 can be any number of things, and I’m undecided what to use to represent the three days. Father-Mother-Child will do for now. For the 9-day period, we can borrow the system the Mesoamericans used, where one of the Nine Lords of Night were assigned to each day. Each is a divine force governing: fire, flint, flowers, maize, death, water, love, mountains, rain. We already have deities tied to our weekdays, so why not add a few more to the mix?

Organizing the Year

So the 360-day year has the following periods, which skip over the five dates mentioned above (equivalent to Dec 21st, Feb 5th, May 7th, Aug 6th & Nov 5th). This breaks the year into eight periods of 45 days each, or three periods of 90 days and two periods of 45 days.

  • 120 x 3-day periods
  • 72 x 5-day periods
  • 45 x 8-day periods
  • 40 x 9-day periods

the 3-, 5-, and 9-day periods fit into each 45-day chunk (or 90-day) chunk, so that the midway days don’t interrupt the cycles. This isn’t the case with the 8-day period, which may be a reason to discount it.

I’ll try to illustrate this more clearly (or more confusingly, depending on how it works out). However, this allows theAbysmal Calendar to potentially account for market weeks of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20 days and beyond. This could even work in harmonizing itself with a form of the pawukon, the market week calendar extraordinaire.

228 Days to Dec 21st 2012


the Myth of the Year – return to the Abyss

1 May 2012

the Cycle is done, back for another run.

see previous posts

 

the Myth of the Year and the Calendar

This is my attempt at developing a story to attach to the months of the year (or measures of 13 days, weeks, etc. if you like).

Part of my background is in English literature. I’ve read a lot of stories, and so a lot of this is bricolage of certain cultural traditions (four directions for example). I don’t have a particularly deep knowledge of the stories of other cultures. I have a sense of narrative, and prefer to draw on archetypes for the months.

As this is a work in progress, we’ll see how it evolves. If’n you’ve gone ahead and done the same, and made your own thingy, by all means share it with the rest of us.

234 Days to Dec 21st 2012


the Myth of the Year ~ Flood

30 April 2012

Month 12 – It’s the end. Hope you brought your water wings.

see previous posts

Inspiration

My inspiration comes from a number of deluge myths, including Noah’s Ark (told brilliantly in Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley), the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (although the flood was more a pandemic), and the various North American native creation stories that all seem to start with the water.

Also, the melting ice at the end of the last glaciation (about 13,000 years ago) caused the waters to rise, and North America to be covered in lakes and rivers. The current climate change points to melting polar ice and the rising of the oceans, which may not be trouble for anyone in Urumqi (furthest city from the sea), but Amsterdam and Venice are in trouble, not to mention many Pacific Isles.

the Deluge

the Fifth Sun

Mesoamerican Suns: the previous ends were caused by: jaguars devouring everyone; people transformed into monkeys and blown off the earth by a hurricane; a rain of fire; rain of blood that flooded the earth. Although this world is slated to be destroyed by Earthquakes (get ready Vancouver), the Flood signifies the cataclysmic ending, regardless of the elemental means (flood of fire, of earth, of wind, for example).

the Flood and the Calendar

After our errant (or erroneous) knight is defeated by the mercenary, he is further humiliated by being hung on the blade of the windmill. His added weight puts undue stress on the water pump, which breaks, leaving the errant perched high above. It also causes water to gush out of the mill, pouring out of doors, windows, any crack or crevice.

As you can imagine, the water rises slowly but surely, as the last of humanity run around like the proverbial chickens with their heads cut off, realizing far too late that the errant knight had been right all along, and that the mill would be the cause of the end for them.

And so the water rises, lastly up to the errant, who sighs, and accepts his fate.

The setting sun is extinguished in the deluge, and the world freezes with the return of the cold.

235 Days to Dec 21st 2012


the Myth of the Year – the Mill

29 April 2012

Month 11 – the spin is spun, unless it’s the other way around

see previous posts

Inspiration

As noted earlier, each of the months in black in the image above (Months 1, 4, 6, 8, 11) represents a form of technology: plough, forge, well, cauldron and finally the mill. Each is associated with an element and a blade of sorts: the plough is a blade that cuts the earth, the forge transforms earth to blades by fire, the well is the exceptional centre, the cauldron is bubbling water cut with the blade of a stir-stick, and finally the windmill’s blades cut the air.

The mill has two principal functions: to mill grain into flour and pumping water up out of the ground. The energy generated by the wind was also applied to a number of different industrial functions (as with the modern wind turbine that generates electrical energy), however, for our purposes, flour and water make a fine paste.

Tilting at Windmills

The windmill is hard to dissociate from our friend Don Quixote. I’m sorry to say I have yet to read this classic, but intend to get to it. The idea of the delusional knight tilting at windmills is suitable enough for a farce, however, at the same time, the mill is well chosen. It represents a new technology that would replace human effort (and thus jobs) with mechanized work. People must learn to become technicians or face becoming obsolete in the new economy.

In part, his role is a throwback (as to the period of the Forge, when the knight was a vital part of the social order), however, instead of serving as a romantic knight, he is a delusional buffoon. Not because he is any less noble, but simply because his nobility is out of place in a world that does not value it.

the Mill and the Calendar

Our errant knight tilts at windmills, which he sees as the equivalent of the big bad wolf in the Forge episode with the knight. The local townfolks (or his squire, who is unfortunately less delusional), persuades him to give up his assaults. The Millers are upset, and as the rulership is under dispute (with several usurpers, pretenders, bastards, a coup d’etat, a pope, and anti-pope, and many obsequious courtiers waiting for the dust to settle to pledge their allegiance), their petitions for protection go unheeded.

The Millers take matters into their own hands, and hire a mercenary to battle the errant knight when next he tries to tilt at a windmill.

The two cavaliers face off outside a water windmill, and the squire begs to his (or her) last to no avail.

The knights clash, as they must. The mercenary is victorious, but does not slay the errant knight. He simply hangs him by his gitch from one of the mill’s blades to humiliate him. The Millers cheer as they jeer.

But not for long.

236 Days to Dec 21st 2012


the Myth of the Year ~ Spider

28 April 2012

Month 10 – the tricky weaver snares a farcical fly on the wall

see previous posts

Inspiration

the Spider begins the end for the myth and the year, as the dissolution of the social order descends into farce.

Spider Anansi

Anansi, originally a trickster from West Africa was brought through the Caribbean to the Southern US States as ‘Aunt Nancy’. The tales are thought to have originated from the Ashanti in Ghana, and have take root elsewhere, such as in Anansi and the Tar Baby from Jamaica.I was introduced to him through Joseph Campbell.

Although I can’t find the original quote, Campbell tells of Anansi wearing a four-coloured hat: red on the left, yellow in front, blue on the right and white at the back. He wanders along a road and calls hello to two farmers, one on each side. After he walks out of their sight, he turns his hat around, and walks back, so that the same colours are showing to the farmers. The farmers get to discussing this unusual visitor, and one describes his hat as red, the other as blue. The two farmers argue and it escalates into fisticuffs. The two are hauled in before a judge to explain themselves.

Anansi is in the courtroom, and reveals the trick he’s played, explaining simply that he enjoys sowing strife.

Now that’s the spirit for a proper farce.

Weaver

In China Mieville’s outstanding Perdido Street Station, he introduces us to the Weaver. The characters are reluctant to ask for its assistance, as it is multidimensional giant spider that can’t be understood by human logic. It seeks to beautify the world web (which only it can see), and what it decides is beautiful is anybody’s guess. Occasionally, it means dismemberment (it had a fascination with scissors for a while). It represents the incomprehensible nature of the subconscious in many ways.

Old stories would tell how Weavers would kill each other over aesthetic disagreements, such as whether it was prettier to destroy an army of a thousand men or to leave it be, or whether a particular dandelion should or should not be plucked. For a Weaver, to think was to think aesthetically. To act–to Weave–was to bring about more pleasing patterns. They did not eat physical food: they seemed to subsist on the appreciation of beauty.

It recites what sounds like stream-of-consciousness poetry, and as such, it may be this aspect that works most effectively in a farce setting.

the Black Widow

No spider has received more attention than the black widow. Its hour-glass design suggests the end of time (at least for those poisoned to death). Its name suggests a femme fatale, and in our little myth of the year, this may well be a role she once again assumes. The northern black widow is found in Canada (and well south of course), and weaves a web, both qualities important for the Myth of the Year.

Although the black widow’s bite is not necessarily lethal, it certainly is uncomfortable to say the least (especially since they like to hide under outhouse seats). The neurotoxin travels through the lymph into the blood where it makes its way to the nerve endings in the muscle tissues, causing forcible cramps and contractions.

In no small way, this action is similar to the end phase of a civilization, as the forces that refuse to let go (the cramping & seizing) are at odds with the forces that accept the end and look forward to the renaissance (the relaxation).

the Web

The spider is inseperable from its web (sorry wolf spiders, we’re not talking about you). In the case of the farcical decline of a culture, (such as the state of the ‘West’), there is a period of writing everything down. I suspect in no small part this is what the Internet is for (remind me to print hard copies before the end of modern technology). As a spider can sense what occurs within it based on vibrations, so we can sense what occurs in the world through ripples in the Internet (call it viral videos, or repost (riposte?)). Nevetheless, this sense of weaving stories for later is in no small part tied in with the image of the spider web.

At least as far as I’m concerned. But there’s an even larger web to consider.

the Vedic god, Indra‘s net is a metaphor used in Buddhism. It is an infinite net (or web, for our purposes), in which there are gems at every junction of thread. Each gem reflects every other gem.

Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image. —Alan Watts

Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars in the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring. –Francis Harold Cook

Buddhism uses a similar image to describe the interconnectedness of all phenomena. It is called Indra’s Net. When Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a web, and at every knot in the web is tied a pearl. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true—every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy—is a pearl in Indra’s net. Not only is every pearl tied to every other pearl by virtue of the web on which they hang, but on the surface of every pearl is reflected every other jewel on the net. Everything that exists in Indra’s web implies all else that exists. –Timothy Brook

the Spider and the Calendar

As with any good farce, the social order descends into the ridiculous. The spider, as the irrational weaver sets the tone, and the droplets caught in the web reflect the players back upon themselves and one another. The end is nigh, so there’s a good dose of chicken little, Noah’s arc, conspiracy theory & dismissal, pleas for sanity, and cries of dispair.

The spider has chosen a cosy corner of the abode of the rulers, who have degenerated into orgies of self-indulgence at the expense of everything, including themselves. There is a distinct undercurrent of self-devouring. The spider bites the ruler, the poison renders him delirious, and he dies, leaving his wive a widow. The scrambling for the vacant seat of power (throne, or what have you) ensures. The spider feasts on the flies that accumulate over the dead body of the ruler, which everyone seems to have neglected.

All in all, it’s like a Thomas Pynchon scene played out by the Marx Brothers.

237 Days to Dec 21st 2012