Art = suffering: Snicket

Author Lemony Snicket

[Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket] said people are attracted to dark and subversive stories this time of year, in part because of the dark and cold outside.

“In real life, I prefer miracles and goodness. In a work of art, I prefer the opposite. I think people often get confused over what they like in one versus the other,” he said.

“When you’re travelling on an ocean liner, you would prefer it to be iceberg-free. If you’re watching a movie about an ocean liner, you would prefer it to run into the iceberg as soon as possible, drowning whatever good-looking actors are aboard.”

… “I think holiday stories don’t necessarily need to provide lessons and stories and reassurances, but should be entertaining and engaging,” Handler said.

“If you set out to teach a moral lesson, you’ll probably make a tedious story. If you make a good story, it will probably end up to have a moral lesson.”

— From the story Lemony Snicket has lump of coal for holiday reading.

Exciting times

This from the Spiritual Cowgirl site of author Sera Beak. She wrote The Red Book, and is collaborating with B.C. filmmaker Velcrow Ripper, who just released the documentary FierceLight this fall.

This is taken from Beak’s blog post about an interview with Joanna Macy – eco-philosopher and scholar of Buddhism, deep ecology, and systems theory.

Joanna began by describing how our civilization, the industrial growth society, is beginning to unravel — financially, environmentally, politically, psychologically. She said that most people are reacting to this destruction out of fear and obedience or by going numb, but she believes the spiritual challenge is to be present, to truly take in and see what is happening to our world, allow ourselves to open up and feel the pain, mourn the dishonor and destruction and loss, so we are then better able to take action based on the natural compassion that arises in us when we tap into our humanity and connection to the earth. She calls this time period The Great Turning.

There are 3 Dimensions of The Great Turning:

  1. Actions to slow down the destruction being wrought by industrial growth society. These actions are what we generally think of as “activism”. This is a call to protect life and to save as much as you can, but this alone, is not enough.
  2. Planting the seeds for new structures after the old ones fall away, such as alternative fuel, alternative ways of growing and distributing food, alternative health, alternative currency. But, this is also not enough.
  3. A revolutionary shift in consciousness is needed. A sense of awe, gratitude, wonder and devotion to this planet, life, and each other needs to arise from the heart.

Joanna told us there were 3 revolutions in human history:

  1. Agricultural Revolution
  2. Industrial Revolution
  3. This one. While the first two did not require an immense amount of consciousness and had the luxury of time, this Third revolution must be conscious and is happening fast….

In this new consciousness, there is no room for fear or self-criticism. Joanna commented on how we’ve internalized the idea that we’re somehow lacking or not good enough, that we need to buy more, look better, work harder to compete with life. It’s a distraction and false. And yes, sometimes, when we do begin to wake up, we get so overwhelmed by the negative state of the world and how we’ve dishonored this planet and each other that we want to run back to Bloomingdales, our mac and cheese, and Desperate Housewives.

More about the interview, and one with author Tom Robbins, in this archive.

These are exciting times, folks, whether we want it like that or not.

I’m with this guy

‘Tis the season. The season to climb under your bed and not come out until the Boxing Day sales. I don’t want to come across as Grinchy, but puh-leez … the consumer orgy has reached such a pitch that even the consumers are not enjoying it anymore. Will we ever smarten up?

This item dates from 2001, but the sentiment is timeless. Why does this sort of thing only happen in British newspapers?

A CHEEKY Santa has been given the bum’s rush by Harrods’ bosses for baring his botto in their grotto. Managers have sacked him and his little helpers after the unnamed Father Christmas stripped off. They took an after-hours photo of Santa wearing nothing but his boots to boost the festive spirits of staff at the posh London store. But the prank was rumbled when frosty bosses discovered the snaps of the out-of-work actor. And instead of any more Ho Ho Ho, Santa was told to Go Go Go.

The girl student who took the snap was also axed and the staffer who printed the photo was ordered to resign. A Harrods’ spokesman said: “The photo was not obscene and we recognised it was a prank. Nevertheless it was unacceptable behaviour.”

Full article from the archives of The Sun — Britain’s answer to Vancouver’s The Province.

Good-guy survey

The folks at non-profit Ecotrust Canada (“building the conservation economy”) are conducting a survey of WestCoast residents.

At 30 minutes it’s not a toss-off, but i for one am a great believer in having reliable information to hand when people make decisions that affect us all. Too often it’s seat-of-the-pants or shoot-from-the-hip, and too often it goes wrong.

I just did the 50-question survey — here’s the link to the on-line version (only for “current residents of the Nuu-chah-nulth Central Region, including Tofino and Ucluelet”).


Stumbled across in At the End of the World (Economy), What Will I Need?, by Linda Solomon in The Vancouver Observer:

Shenpa, Chodron says on her audio book Getting Unstuck, is the “hooked quality,” the “attachment that is a fundamental part of the human condition.” She says that in order to transcend staying hooked to habits that have long ceased to serve us, one must first must recognize “the habitual thing” or “the scratching thing” that can also be understood as the low hum of uneasiness most of us live with throughout or lives. Use these techniques to unhook, she says:

  • Recognizing
  • Refraining
  • Relaxing into the underlying feeling
  • Resolve
  • Lighten up, be gentle, but continue. Meditate. Meditate so that you have the tools to face the present, to be where you really are, to stop avoiding, to navigate the mess in front of you well.

It isn’t the thoughts that are the problem; what we need to address is “the sticky quality” that unhinges us. We need to interrupt the momentum of shenpa, the habituation, the strong momentum to make that shenpa stronger. It doesn’t mean our thoughts are bad and we shouldn’t have them.

You listening, H—?