Oh San Francisco!

Oh San Francisco!

Sometimes I dream my afternoon away

Musing on your wonder

On your community

On your grooviness

 

I fall in love with you and my closest whenever we meet

Somehow you make a girl prettier

Your wired skies

And critical eyes

My new space, in your old space

The glinting bay waters against your illumined highrises

Your rolling streets into the diverse neighborhoods

 

Sometimes I dream of sitting at the table of thoughts with Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Ferlinghetti

I say the most poetic and groovy line, I blow Carlo’s mind,

Jack spits up his beer and falls back in his chair because my words are so mind expanding, he finds it comical; “Who is this guy? Where’d he come from? Minne-what? Oh that’s where Bob came from too,” Jack says…

 

All these thoughts strip my mind away from the present, I dream of you,

It pains me to be without you,

I am experiencing separation anxiety

 

 

Submitted by: Ckcasselman

Moments In Time

n507854070_1601787_6929128Per introduction of myself, considering this is my first post for this communal blog, I am an Master of Divinity Student at Fuller Theological Seminary who is graduating in about six weeks. I also have recently been married (3/21/09) to the beautiful Jennifer Lake. My life has been quite a rollercoaster in the past three or four years because I have experienced tragic death, the transformation of a friendship into love into marriage, and becoming a father of three wonderful, brilliant, and beautiful children. In anticipation of my wedding, the following thoughts began to percolate in my head. I had not planned on writing them down, but the day before my wedding I could resist no more, so I penned them. They are inchoate thoughts about the phenomenology of time or at least I think they are. I hope you enjoy.

 

Moments in time: the constitutive part of every part of day, which when looked at individually are mere blips in the large scheme of the time-continuum that provides us with the sense of the past, present, and future. Most of these moments mean little of anything to us most of the day. We go to the grocery and buy bread and peanut butter. Just another day. We drive our car to work. Just another day. Yet some of these moments take the shape and direction of our life and fundamentally change it so that it hardly resembles what it once did. The brakes of life are pushed to the floorboard and everything comes to a screeching halt before either slowly gaining speed once again or speeding off recklessly. Either way the direction always taken after such moments in time is different from the one previously traveled upon. Sometimes this change of direction from these instances, these moments, these blips is unwelcome. At other times this change of direction is anticipated, hoped for, awaited, prayed about, and joyfully received. In our existential journey from womb to tomb—this crazy thing called life—we experience these moments in birth and death, through a simple kiss, a word of encouragement, a letter of acceptance, a job opportunity, a wedding, graduation, etc.

 

Yet because these moments in time are the constitutive parts of past, present, and future we can hardly separate them apart and often time one reminds us of another. Two related moments may even be separated by the passing of much time, but when the second moment occurs the first is remembered, and through this remembering this once past occasion almost feels present rather than past. We experience this with Communion. The death of Jesus is remembered, yet not merely remembered, in our continuation of the practice of eating the bread and drinking the wine … or perhaps the Welch’s grape juice. Often times this occasion of the collision of two moments in time that have been long separated causes a mixture of emotions. We may be happy about the one while sad about the other. What happens in these moments is what we often call “happy tears.” These tears are healthy as we come to grips with the making of the present what has been past and the celebration of what is the present and will be the future.

 

Submitted by: Harris Bechtol

Zen, Ghosts, and Perception

j2835x1774-001511Have you ever read a book that brought you to tears? Okay, well I have so quit calling me a nancy for it or I’ll bust your chops.

In all seriousness, a good book can truly change your life, or at least give you a different outlook on it. So for my latest blog I have decided to put together a series discussing “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Minneapolis’ own Robert Pirsig. For those of you that would enjoy an enthralling read without having to purchase the book, I will be posting links to the book in four segments. Here is the 1st of those.

I honestly don’t think I have ever read a book that made me consider my everyday perceptions of what ‘is’ so much as this piece of work. It is at times wildly insightful, maniacal, strangely logical, and occasionally disturbing. However, there is no doubt that it is moving. I ask that you take a read and express your thoughts as we move through the book.

I will make this first installment brief. The book is titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but in all reality it isn’t so much about motorcycles at all (although the book takes place on a cross-country motorcycle trip). In this first part of the book, we learn a little about our main character (whose name we don’t know) and his son Chris, as well as their traveling partners John and Sylvia. Three main themes seem to pop up throughout this first chunk of the book that give us clues/a better understanding of what is to be discussed as the book moves on: Ghosts, Classical vs. Romantic understanding, and Technology.

Ghosts: As these characters stop to camp for the evening, young Chris begins talking about ghosts and asks, “Do you believe in ghosts?” Our main character says ‘no’ because they are unscientific. He then brings it to a different level when trying to define what a ‘ghost’ is:

They contain no matter and have no energy and therefore, according to the laws of science, do not exist except in people’s minds. Of course the laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people’s minds. It’s best to be completely scientific about the whole thing and refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of science. That way you’re safe. That doesn’t leave you very much to believe in, but that’s scientific too (being facetious)…Laws of nature are human inventions, like ghosts. Laws of logic, of mathematics are also human inventions, like ghosts. The whole blessed thing is a human invention, including the idea that it isn’t a human invention. The world has no existence whatsoever outside the human imagination. It’s all a ghost, and in antiquity was so recognized as a ghost, the whole blessed world we live in. It’s run by ghosts. We see what we see because these ghosts show it to us, ghosts of Moses and Christ and the Buddha, and Plato, and Descartes, and Rousseau and Jefferson and Lincoln, on and on and on. Isaac Newton is a very good ghost. One of the best. Your common sense is nothing more than the voices of thousands and thousands of these ghosts from the past. Ghosts and more ghosts. Ghosts trying to find their place among the living.

This logic seems convincingly true and in a way in which I have never considered. So, the question that must be asked is, do you believe in ghosts? This seems to be enough info for this installment. We’ll take a gander at Classical vs. Romantic understanding and the disenchanting effects of technology in the next part.

Read this book!!!!

Submitted by: Al-Dogg

British Ales… Steeped in Tradition

A quick note from the editor:

Hello friends and readers of leaveitotheprose.  I’d like to welcome P Corcs to our writing team.  This is his first article for us, which I read on his family blog yesterday.  It seemed fitting for our milieu, so he graciously contributed it to leaveittotheprose.  I encourage you to read and comment on P corcs’ Ale-musings.  Make him feel welcome!   Ladies and Gentlemen… I present P corcs:  

 As this is my first front page contribution I would like to give a quick intro. I, Patrick (P Corcs) Corcoran am a born and raised Minnesotan. Just last fall I had the opportunity to move to London with my wife for her job. We will be here for two years and hope to travel Europe during this time. My blog contributions may involve travel and experiences, as with this blog, but may also be general life stuff. Thanks to everyone who have contributed so far. I enjoy reading all the different viewpoints and additions… it is exciting when there is a new blog as you never know what it will be about! Anyway, without further ado, here is my first post. I hope you enjoy it.

“Frost Brewed, low carbs, light, filtered, carbonated” These phrases are pounded into the heads of the American public as the big beer companies battle for market share. They are associated with everything good and refreshing when choosing a beer. The ads play over and over in hopes that when we are standing in front of endless choices at the corner liquor store, we will somehow associate their beer with what they tell us we desire in a beer.

For many British, these are all the things they hate in a beer.

To understand this view we must understand the role Ale has played in the history of Britain. Ale has been brewed in Britain probably since established civilizations inhabited the island, or in numeric terms at least since 2,500 BC. For most of this time period, say until about 100-200 years ago, most people brewed their own ale. It was often the primary beverage, especially in major urban areas like London where the water supply was often less than appealing. It is safe to say that Ale has been as much a part of every day life of the British for the last 4500 years as say cell phones and the Internet are for us today. I mean… what would we possibly do without our daily blog fix?

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Building on the importance of Ale, let’s look at how and what has been brewed for 4500 years. Nobody can say exactly how or what was used, but it is pretty safe to assume from the archaeological record that not much changed during that entire time. Ale was brewed in casks, with water, some type of cereal, yeast, and spices. Hops wasn’t introduced in Britain until the middle ages as flavoring and as a preservative. The key part in this process has always been and remains the cask. Using all natural ingredients the ale develops full flavor and conditioning right up until it is served. In a sense, the yeast is alive and acts to condition and create the flavors and aromas until the cask is drained. This process of secondary fermentation sets all cask ales apart from the large processed beers.

To continue our education, lets look at the main differences in beer. We generally label everything as beer (before hops was introduced beer was called ale in Britain, since hops, beer became accepted as the general term). Beer has two main categories, ales and lagers. The common difference is the fermentation process. Lagers use bottom fermenting yeast, low temperatures, and then conditioning in tanks. Ales use top fermenting yeast which forms a thick froth, higher temperatures, and is a shorter process.

beer1

So why all the fuss about “real British ale” vs. that fake American lager crap when the processes seem similar? Well the difference is that British Ales, to add to and reiterate the earlier description, are alive and natural, they have a limited shelf life and must be kept at certain temperatures to achieve full flavor – cellar temperature (hence the American idea of “warm British beer”). Mass produced beer is filtered to remove all yeast and ingredients, then it is pasteurized to make it sterile… they kill the beer! The Brits see this as killing all the taste and aroma at the same time. They believe that beer is served cold in America to disguise the lack of taste and the carbonation is only a let down as they expect the froth to bring up the flavor and aroma but are left with fizzy nothingness.

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As some of you may know I’m an ale guy and I’ve bought into everything these Brits are preaching! Back home in Minnesota my favorite beer is Summit Extra Pale Ale. But even a beer with great flavor and bitterness like that isn’t like ordering a cask ale at a pub that is poured using a pump handle to draw it straight from the cask in the cellar. It only took me a couple pints to get used to cellar temperature, now I don’t even notice it anymore. It is true what they say about the flavor and aroma of a true cask ale, there is no replacement or imitation!

So while it is true today that the best selling beer in the UK is Carling, a massed produced lager, there still is a very large and strong population that will ever only drink “real ale” and will in fact look down on you for drinking “fake beer.” They even form large organizations, one being CAMRA (almost 100,000 strong) – The Campaign for Real Ale – whose motto is, “Campaigning for Real Ale, Pubs and Drinkers’ rights since 1971.”

beer4Whether you agree or not with the Brits perception of Beer you can’t fault them for their loyalty and dedication to their heritage and right to drink real ales from real pubs! Cheers!

PS. If you live in the Twin Cities area, go to Great Waters Brewing Co. (http://www.greatwatersbc.com/) in St Paul, they serve CAMRA approved cask conditioned ales, hand pulled at cellar temperature! If you don’t I challenge you to do a little research and find a bar near you that serves true cask conditioned ales to see what all the fuss is about! 

Submitted by: P Corcs

Musings…or When I Realized I Have Too Much Time on My Hands

This morning I woke up and thought to myself “what is it that our dear readers need more of in their lives?” You might imagine I would come upon some useful answer, something truly beneficial like more calcium, or a good dose of laughter, or a spoonful of sugar. But just as I was preparing to tackle the problem of how to disseminate essential vitamins and minerals over the internet, I said to myself “no, Zizzle-Zot (I talk to myself in the virtual third person), knowledge is power.”

So, in lieu of something you can actually use, I offer Zizzle-Zot’s Scientific Thoughts of the Day From a Blogger Who Knows Very Little About Science. (Disclaimer: none of the following should be interpreted as actual science).

Let’s Make Genius Babies: The human brain feeds pretty much exclusively off of glucose for energy. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that feeding babies excessive amounts of glucose while their brains were still developing would result in adults with oversized, highly functional brains and create, in essence, hyper-genius babies without requiring any gene manipulation or freaky mutant making? Of course, the babies would be morbidly obese as a nasty side effect to all that glucose. But wouldn’t it be worth it?

Where has all the matter gone?: The 1st Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can’t be created or destroyed. It can change forms, converting from work to heat to potential to kinetic, but we’re stuck with a constant energy level. My concern regards matter. If humans keep propagating the earth at unchecked levels (I’m looking at you, India), isn’t it conceivable that eventually we’ll run out of matter (energy) to create more people?

I realize this won’t be a popular theory, but maybe the destructive nature of humanity is a necessity. Maybe we need to raze the earth and kill off entire species so there is enough matter for more of us. It’s an instinctual, evolutionary survival trait.

I’m not a physicist by any means, so my science is probably way off. And I’m certainly not saying it’s likely, but still, something to think about the next time you have unprotected sex.

Call me Buddha Shakespeare Khan: I just finished a book by Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything) that introduced me to the probability that each of us shares up to a billion atoms with every historical personage that came before us (only up to a point, so sorry, ckcasselman, there’s no John Lennon in you. I’ll explain why in a minute).

Atoms are ridiculously long lived (around 1035  years according to some theories). When people die, the atoms don’t die with them. They are simply recycled to form other things. So, on it’s way to becoming wonderful you, each atom has most likely at some point been part of a star, a dinosaur (maybe even a T Rex), and a turd, among other things.

So the next time you’re looking to pick up a chick at the bar, tell her you’ve got a billion Casanova atoms in you. But don’t get too excited. One cubic centimeter of air contains 45 billion billion molecules (and a molecule is two or more atoms working together). So there’s a hell of a lot of atoms in us, and 1 billion doesn’t amount to much.

One Last Thing Before I Go: We all have bad days. You could be having one right now. Shit happens. But the next time you find yourself grumbling about annoyances like flat tires and taxes, take a minute to think about the seemingly insurmountable odds against you being here to complain in the first place.  Think of the trillions of atoms that for some inexplicable reason (apparently they don’t find it particularly gratifying) came together to become the one and only you. They’ll never assemble this way again, and it doesn’t happen anywhere else in the universe.

Now consider that the earth doesn’t seem to want us here all that much. In fact, with its ice ages and volcanic activity and bacteria and viruses, it can be downright hostile. But still the human race survived until now so you could bitch about the price of gas.

Now think about how many people had to meet and mate at precisely the right time to lead to you. You want a number? Go back only five generations, and no fewer than 33,554,432 people had to do the hippity-dippity to get you here. Now think about how difficult it can be to get even one to do it with you…sigh.

So whether you believe in a higher power and trust that somebody wanted you right here and right now for a damned good reason, or you don’t, and think you ought to take advantage of the incredible luck that’s given you the chance to be alive, I’d like us all to take this opportunity to be thankful.

It’s good to be here.

Thanks for reading.

 Submitted by: Zizzle-Zot

Who the Foucault?

foucaultI (Ckcasselman) have taken on a new area of study that I am hoping will be an ongoing investigation and perhaps, if I am lucky enough, will lead into my doctoral work.  I have begun reading the Michel Foucault Reader edited by Paul Rabinow.  As part of my study of postmodern thought this past quarter at Fuller, I surveyed a plethora of postmoderns and got to see the crux of their individual importance.  Michel Foucault stood out to me for his ability to critique, analyze, and postulate philosophical ideas that regard the overarching whole of society, seeing the societal fragments and how they construct the whole.  As part of my final project for this postmodern survey and as a way to persevere in my studies, I have decided to begin grappling and expounding on my Foucauldian studies in blog format. I would like to fuse my purposes of constructing a final project, my love and hopeful future career in education, and produce an interesting and hopefully provocative blog. Subsequently, I thought I’d start with a most basic biography of the late great Michel Foucault. 

Foucault was born in 1926 to a surgeon and his wife in Poitiers, France and received his education during the onset of WWII.  An intellectual giant, Foucault was admitted into the Parisian Exole Normale Superieure, an educational center for the world’s brightest where he gained his intellectual recognition.  During his education, Foucault’s life was wrought with depression for which he sought help from a psychiatrist.  As a psychiatric patient, Foucault gained a love for psychology, which subsequently led to dual degrees in both philosophy and psychology.   In 1960 Foucault returned to France for a teaching position at the University of Clermont-Ferrand where he met his partner of twenty years Daniel Defert.

          Michel taught both psychology and philosophy in his lifetime at universities such as the École Normale Université, Lille Nord de France, Warsaw University, the University of Hamburg, the University of Clermont-Ferrand, the University of Tunis, and at UC Berkeley just to name a few.  As an interdisciplinarian social scientist, it seems to me that a lot of Foucault’s writing stemmed from his personal insight and as one whose position in society has been pushed to the periphery.  As a homosexual suffering from depression, Foucault critiqued the institutions and reasoning that marginalized and oppressed his echelon as he wrote regarding psychiatric institutions in Madness and Civilization and social constructions of sexuality in The History of Sexuality. 

foucault-12It seems only fitting to me that a man who didn’t fit into socially accepted norms created a methodology for finding the historical roots of social norms.  Foucault’s passion for the marginalized fueled his philosophy in both his writing and activism.  Foucault died prematurely in 1984 at the age of 58 from AIDS.  His works have proven to be crucial to continental philosophy and the social sciences and are celebrated posthumously.  

Stay tuned for more on Foucault!  Questions?

For a deeper biographical study, see these sources:

Wikipedia page:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault

The European Graduate School page: http://www.egs.edu/resources/foucault.html

Stanford Philosophy page:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/

The Foucault Society page: http://www.foucaultsociety.org/resources/michel_foucault.asp

John Protevi, Professor of French Studies LSU gives a wonderful biography and further biographical resources here.  

Submitted by: Ckcasselman

Of Epistles and Violence

Tim Haydock and Will Frei to those on the margins of belief, to those who doubt like their faith depends on it, to those who have no epistle. We write to you who have one foot within a community of faith and one foot outside, and so, have nowhere to stand; we write to you as people who find themselves in the same nowhere.

Yet, we know that we are not without our prophets, our wise men and women, those who can give shape to the liminal spaces we inhabit. Whether they know it or not, they open up for us new possible futures.

We write to remind you of Zizek’s words on violence. Zizek exhorts us to remember the systemic violence within every structure. Violence is not just bloody murders, military brutality or clerical abuses of the powerless. We have been called to explore the ways that anonymous systems enact violence. We have been called to rupture this faceless violence. 

So, we offer you our response to this call in visual form, in the hope that it will spark further experiments in violence. Violence done to the violent systems of late capitalism, the very systems that have made us exiles instead of pilgrims.

Water, flowing from Northern California, bypassing farms in the Central Valley, to make its way into Southern Californian sinks, swimming pools and golf courses. Fire, that decimated a local community just blocks away. In both cases, capturing images was strictly prohibited by official mandate. Our film represents a violent breaking of this locally established order that asks us to forget. The music from Eternal Sunshine represents the double violence of (un)memory.

People, funneled from their cars into the trams that will deliver them to the gates of Disneyland. Christ, perpetually crucified in the midst of the world’s largest Evangelical Seminary, largely forgotten. What does it mean when people stop to take pictures with Mickey Mouse, but ignore a statue idolizing torture?

More than wanting to provide answers, we want to provoke furthers questions and creative responses. As Rollins would say, “let’s see God not as the bandage, but as the wound.”

Peace be with you.

 

Submitted by: Tim Haydock and willwindow