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Saturday, November 26, 2016


I dreamed of a North Pacific giant octopus. I was part of a science team whose aim was to crossbreed this colossus with humans. It occurred to me, only after insemination had taken place (wasn’t artificial, by the by. And yes, EWWWWWWWW!), that the baby octopodes would be WAY too fucking big for a human womb to carry. I was in for some exploding mothers-to-be in 7 to 53 (!!!) months. Oopsie.

Boyhowdy, that little chimera woke me right the fuck up. I wondered, could my nightmare have anything to do with the book I was buried inside until late?

I'm rereading Stranger in a Strange Land. So, no – the dream is strangeness all of its own.
Once upon a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith.
I recall, on first read at the tender-ish age of 16 or 17, being completely and totally wowed. This, THIS was what life was all about…more or less. Stranger is saturated with 70,031 kinds of yummy Zen goodness.

I went on to read all the Alan Watts I could get my hands on. Watts wrote a LOT about Zen Buddhism but was criticized by American Buddhists for not sitting regularly in zazen – Zen meditation. Watts replied with "A cat sits until it is done sitting, and then gets up, stretches, and walks away." Yeah brother – tell it! Zen spoke to me a whole fuckton more clearly and logically than the Catholicism I'd been raised in as well as any of the other religions I'd explored.

In reading  Stranger again, 40+ years later (gulp) I’m finding shit that doesn’t trip my trigger and stuff that’s just flat out dated. So far, that is. Still, I’m enjoying the ever livin' hell out of it and it’s providing a bit of guidance and comfort in this monster grief of mine.
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much . . . because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting.

But goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.

It would take centuries and he must grow and grow and grow, but he was in no hurry--he grokked that Eternity and the ever-beautifully-changing Now were identical.
When Jill, the nurse who'd rescued him from the baddies, insists that Valentine Michael Smith put on clothes, Harshaw, the man giving them sanctuary, responds with:
Customs, morals—is there a difference? Woman, do you realize what you are doing? Here, by the grace of God and an inside straight, we have a personality untouched by the psychotic taboos of our tribe—and you want to turn him into a carbon copy of every fourth-rate conformist in this frightened land! Why don’t you go whole hog? Get him a brief case and make him carry it wherever he goes—make him feel shame if he doesn’t have it.
YES! Fuck the fucking bullshit customs of our tribe. I gotta be me!
'Grok' means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the process being observed—to merge, to blend, to intermarry, to lose personal identity in group experience.
After my first Stranger study, I went on to Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Time Enough for Love and one other whose name escapes me. None of them thumpingly poleaxed me like Stranger. 

I found other brilliant gems. Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and I, Robot, Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, Frank Herbert's Dune and more. Sci fi had me solidly hooked but none left a mega-giant tattoo like Stranger.
There is no safety this side of the grave
People Are Strange – The Doors

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