Shaping Spirit
by David Eide .

A shaping spirit devoted to politics or narcissism deflates quickly. One that meditates on the whole of life is filled with nutrient. That appears to be a true observation of a self complicated enough to know both.

Politics and narcissism are too easy, too pat, too predictable, too filled up with mediocrity, driven by the will-to-power, money, and fame. It is the shape we try to escape!

A writer is suspended above a trap set by his own vanity. He is like the beautiful woman who falls in love with her own face. But rather than a face he sees his own words. "Oh pretty little things you're so huge with meaning." Yet how unappreciated, how easily dismissed by those who, even the ugliest of them, believe they are more beautiful.

The lesser of them says, "write to your age, your own age with all its vanities and stupidities!" This is the wrong approach. The writer is embedded in his time and can't escape it. His attempts to escape it follows right along with the age's own attempt to escape itself. Whatever the "age" is, is in the writer. There doesn't need to be fakery going on. Of course, those who say, "write to your age," usually mean pop culture, the Republican Party, or corporatism of one sort of another. And a decent writer will write out these entities without mentioning them once by name.

Another observation: A culture, such as America, will produce plenty of tourists who admire the things of other ages without touching once on that which will produce a new thing or a not-yet- made thing that tourists in the future will admire.

I do love the variety I see in people.

The writer views the media as raw material and is humbled that the gross and vulgar can make more money and fame than the mere writer. It is raw material and for that he is grateful. The real world of dimensions, of smell and taste, of objects, and things people do are a greater component for the writer.

Even after 21, 170 rotations to face and turn-about the sun, the poet's mind see's the sun as brand new. An object that a science in the future has not yet discovered.

The state of no-objects is a difficult one.

One gets to the point where he has heard everything and seen quite a bit. The great defense against it is laughter and insight.

* * * * * * * *

I'm not sure I want to be conscious of what has shaped me or how things have gotten to this point.

What matter? It is, it is, it is.

"To know"; this is the ancient wisdom. The people hardly know their own face. Yet, they know many things.

"The writer is not the thing; the thing is the thing", said the joker to the thief.

So the people and all the objects, and all the things and ideas are released. Go!

They belong to themselves, as does the writer who often is a foolish old fool.

"Leave the things alone and simply write from the heart."

Oh but the people and things will not leave you alone! But then, what is the true value of all those pains and years but this very fact and how you deal with it?

* * * * * * * *

A culture that rewards the celebrity and gives him or her enormous sums of money and has enormous curiosity about the celebrity but that ignores the man or woman who is trying to cure cancer in the lab and rewards him or her with mere scraps is not a culture long for this world. It's a cranky opinion but rings true.

A culture of such vanity will slop itself up with an angry tongue, fall over, and die.

It is obsessed with identity. I have three basic identities, if one could call them that. One is at the "Constitutional" level since the U.S. has attained this position of power and the stakes are so high. Its an area I identify with because I have discovered if you don't think at that level you sink down into superstition and/or cut-out and so have less substance as a citizen. I identify there because the U.S. will either maintain, improve, and/or decline and I don't want decline. I identify there because it creates a central conflict between the growth of America as an anti-empire, even anti-power entity and its position now that emerges from the victory in WWII and the victory in the Cold War. I have very ambiguous feelings about it and consult those who are able to objectify this area; the policy experts and scholars. Most everything I know about this area I have derived from those sources and history. It does fit in with my interest and study of history over the years.

Another identity is that of a person who has lived and worked in the northern half of California, on the West Coast. I identify with much of the ethos of this area which includes individaul freedom, entreprenuerism, self-reliance, knowledge, spiritual, nature, tolerance, some semblance of family, innovation, "don't work for the man, be the man," and a few others.

The last identity is that of writer. And a writer is a builder so all who build well I identify with.

There are problems with these identities and maintaining them or having them jostle each other for attention.

Many aspects of this culture I do love, I do appreciate. We are peasants with discretionary income and have decided to re-write the rules from the past. I love that. The problem is that the people don't understand how manipulated they are, how conned they are, how stripped they are of themselves by that which they embrace. That is one dark spot.

I don't have the desire to "depict" society. I have a desire to meditate on what I know and have experienced of society and developing what emerges.

I try to understand some of the things that have happened from the Civil War onward; I try to trace out those paths. It was only a few generations in the past and started something that rolls through us, including America becoming the world power it has become.

And I most certainly reflect on and try to get a grasp on the last 40 years which marks my knowing and experience of the culture. I don't want to live in the past. I don't want to make the past a fetish. But I want to know it as explicitly and as fully as I possibly can.

Ah, the lilt and song of shifts!

After WWII I see these things and their history that flows through us in no particular order:

  • Cold War from 45 to early 90's
  • Space from mid 50's to present
  • Middle East from late 40's to present
  • Rise of 3rd world from independence to present
  • New Technologies: jet, computer, TV, medicines and so on
  • Civil Rights: from 50's to the present
  • Women's Rights from 70's to present
  • Environmental concern from 70's to present
  • Flow of Economy from 40's onward
  • Growth of population and urbanization
  • Counter-culture- at least for some

These have had the ability to shift both mind and emotions in a direction the mind and emotions would not have taken on their own.


Back to Essay Page

Back to

© 2016 David Eide. All rights reserved.