Some Notes On Health: dogs & snakes & hands & dreams, etc. by Richard Lance Williams published in Mythopoetry Scholar 2010, an annual ezine for
myth and poetry

Annual Reflections In Depth Perspectives
Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine Volume One January 2010

scanner Art by Richard Lance Williams
This Issue: Health & Well-Being


some notes on health: dogs & snakes & hands and dreams, etc.
Richard Lance Williams
© 2009 Richard Lance Williams August 25-November 12 Some Notes on Health: Scattershots in the Dark

Hale & well met1
The fire that burns the field2
The sting that cures;3 the spoonful of sugar4
Fire with fire; starve a cold, feed a beaver;5 pity no one
Bob “Jeremiah” Dylan keens: He not busy being born is busy dying6
Ancient world animals that caused the most deaths: bees snakes scorpions7
Paint the apotropaic eye on a boat,8 sail to the edge of the world:9 abandon all hope10
Cancer (too fast), atrophy (too slow); a thinning of a wall, a blockage of a path
In the modern world the animal that causes the most deaths: homo sapiens
What doesn’t kill me, inevitably makes me stronger—F. Nietzsche11
Moral, mental, physical, economic, educational, social, political
Karmic health: as if genes knew morality, as if they didn’t12
Timing13; it is all about timing: comedy & tragedy
The laying on of hands;14 the power of prayer15
Let us pray over this broken arm
Willpower versus chemicals16
The brain is an organ
Mental illness &
My bad kidney
Psychology & physiology
AIDS & allergies: a body attacks itself
Say fear is a man’s best friend18—John Cale
Does a healthy country quarantine the violent
Does a sick country refuse to help the ill
Euthanasia: is good death illegal19
Is it healthy to execute anyone
Who judges the cost of life
Cut the child in half20
Cast the first21
Will be last22
Ever after
Till death do
We have Hobson’s
Choice Health Select
A pre-existing condition:
Mortality; Suffering; Illusion23
The best laid plans of mice and men24
Your money or your life:25 why don’t you
Ask your insurance agent: Enter the EXIT door26

Hold, o death; let me but taste life’s golden juice just one moment more


1 Shakespearean greeting. Is it hail or hale? Etymological fantasy asks: h’ail or h’ale? Are you ailing or will you have a drink? See note seven on alcohol. “How are you?” The first thing we ask of another is of their health. Fine is a common response. (Free from impurity; or as in fin, the end, done, finished? Or will I have to pay for an infraction?) Regardless of the circumstance or pun, rarely does one indicate any condition other than wellness. Perhaps, this instant response of denial testifies to why America, arguably the most optimistic of nations, continues to offer the worst health care coverage of wealthy nations (ranking 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization). Perhaps not. It is also common for people to attend to their own business, to keep silent as to their true condition. Early Hebrews did not reveal their true names to strangers for fear the stranger might be a djinn (out of the whirlwind came demons as well as gods) who would steal their souls (not to mention other more material things; identity theft still a burning issue even today, not to mention the tags associated with a name that might cause one to be identified with what a dominant group might consider a cultural contagion). There were good djinns and bad. Writing the name of a djinn could engender help or harm dependent on the scribbler’s intention (conscious or unconscious?). See note 12. The possibility of quarantine, of being cast out, of being ostracized for potential contagion, is still very real. An NPR story broadcast on August 28, 2009 (“Vietnam's HIV-Positive Orphans Face Discrimination” by Michael Sullivan), spoke of parents in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon) taking their children out of school for fear of HIV-positive students who were finally being allowed to attend school based on a court order. (Shades of American segregation. How does one identify a rotten apple, separate wheat from chaff, the order of taboo foods, ones and zeroes? Is racial, religious, economic segregation based on ideas of contagion? See Priscilla Wald’s Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (2008).) These children were greeted by fear. Is admitting to the need for care tantamount to negativism? (Illness is such a buzz kill. In the age of instant gratification (Hermes on fire—I want it NOW!), illness is a drag. I mean, die or recover. Hurry it up!) One is reminded of Job. Again pursuing a punning fantasy, I read Job as J’ob, as in the ob of obverse, turning toward an opponent. Facing the opposite of what is expected. Job’s physical health is untouched. Only those around him suffer physical extinction. Instead of being considered a lucky survivor, he is presumed cursed (as are the Vietnamese children). The common aphorism of, “Well, at least you have your health,” falls short. (Job’s adamantine attitude towards the righteousness of his god might today be considered dissociative or at least deep denial.) Yet, Job’s faith made him whole in the end. A legalism. Also, note that this health crisis suffered by Job is the result of a bet, a gamble. See note 25 on the origins of modern insurance. Do modern for-profit insurance companies abhor such principles as wholeness? Is fungibility a sign of wholeness? (Our cells are replaced, repaired quite often. Note that the Argos had every part replaced by the end of Jason’s voyage. Is it still the Argos?) Note the jokey or appalling (depending upon your sense of humor) ending of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930), where after the arduous task of burying his wife, Anse Bundren immediately finds another. See note 26.

2 Grass fires are considered healthy for prairie maintenance and restoration. Earth First is an ecological group of which some members in the 1990s were said to have burned down homes located on or near ecologically sensitive areas. They considered such fires a healthy attempt to prevent infestation of suburban sprawl.

3 Having bees sting you is purported to build up immunity. Ritual cannibalism purportedly gives the cannibal the power of the slain. A skeptic would wonder why you would want the power of a person who couldn’t keep from getting killed. See note five.

4 “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down” by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman for the film Mary Poppins (1964). Sugar is a poison. On Fresh Cream (1966), Cream rewrote Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” with “Gimme a spoonful of acid [LSD], gimme a spoonful of speed [amphetamine], gimme a spoonful of your precious love [coitus], it’s all I’ll ever need [vision, fire, orgasm].” Love doled out. “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons [boredom].” T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in his Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). (Remind you of services approved or withheld by insurance companies?) For a lesson in how a carcinogen becomes not a carcinogen see the story of Donald Rumsfeld (executive of Searle prior to his political notoriety as a mangler of syntax), Ronald Reagan, and the fall and rise of artificial sweetener aspartame. Start here:

5 The world will end in fire. Homeopathic medicine is like for like; allopathic is oppositional. Fire is elemental as a healing agent and as a destructive force. Radiation (fire) is used to combat cancer. Wounds burn. Even extreme cold burns. Burning tells you to retreat if you can and reconsider your move. Recall Marie Louise Von Franz’s discussion of cold and hot evil in her Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (1974). In Dante’s Inferno (The Divine Comedy, circa 1310), Lucifer’s residence is absolutely cold in the center of all that fire. Cold fire. No fire, no life. One has to start a fire to burn the dead animal to signal the gods with smoke that proper sacrifices have been made to continue the game. Note the Catholic Church’s use of smoke to signal decisions regarding the election of a pope. One wonders why incense (a vegetable product) is burned in Christian churches, given the Cain and Abel story; Jehovah prefers the smoke of meat. (Am I my brother’s keeper?” asks the archetypal murderer in Genesis 4:9. The words of the first Libertarian?) Note also the appearance of Jehovah as a burning bush. The eternal flame is also a signal of the moral health of a people in their recognition of those who have sacrificed for the life of that people. The Vikings sent their dead warriors into the sea aboard a flaming boat. Hindus burn the dead. Christians and Muslims bury their dead, a custom that is allopathic in that earth is not heaven. Northern Plains Native Americans placed their dead on biers set high, a homeopathic gesture. For the Greeks, heaven, hell, and purgatory were all inside the earth. (See David Miller’s Hells & Holy Ghosts (1989) for proper burial of the dead. Note also that the dead keep death away. Most vaccines are dead versions of the disease causing agent.) Dancing around a fire (analogous perhaps to dancing around the sun) is performed for salutary effects. Over five million people a year die from smoking cigarettes. Fire-eaters are entertaining. Le Petomane entertained the elite of Paris at the turn of the 20th century by shooting fire from his ass. He was known as the Fin de Siècle Fartiste (Roger Shattuck in The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France—1885 to World War I). Recall the banning of deadly gas after WWI. Methane production is adding to the depletion of the ozone. Spontaneous combustion is an interesting folk belief—too much fire for our Goldilocks. Humor heals and you can die laughing. In Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions (a healthy way to start the day), Vonnegut draws two versions of a beaver. Anything worth crying about is worth laughing about. Remember that Baubo distracted Demeter from her grief—perpetual winter (cold) brought on by Hades’ kidnapping of Persephone—by a display of her genitals (beaver). Demeter laughed. The world was saved from starvation. Also, refer to note eight below.

6 Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” on Bringing It All Back Home (1965). That same year, Dylan also sang on Highway 61 Revisited in the eponymous title song, “God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’/Abraham said, ‘You must be putting me on . . .” One wonders if Abraham might have been given permission to kill Isaac had he chosen fire as the method instead of a knife (foreshadowing of Judas Iscariot, the “knife”; god not liking repetitious forms of terror/salvation—note the flood and the rainbow sign—wanted to save the knife for his own son, being a jealous god and all; note, too, the spear to the side of Jesus for the coup de grâce).

7 To this day, these animals kill more humans than any non-parasitic animal (the parasitic uber-killers being invisible—not seeing is dangerous—water borne diseases were known though perhaps only because of the stench of bad water; it did not occur to humans to boil water; fermentation did occur to at least most humans; alcoholism possibly developed from the lack of recognition that shit runs downhill; Native Americans had clean water, but the Pilgrims were so accustomed to the bad water of Europe that they established breweries immediately, serving light beer to their kids; in an unpublished interview with Larry McMurtry for Conversations with Texas Writers (2005), when asked about a book he was working on about massacres in the American West of the 19th century, McMurtry stated emphatically that alcohol played no part in the cruelty of the perpetrators of massacre; the interviewer did not buy his assertion remembering a biography of Walt Whitman describing the rampant alcoholism of the era and the urgency of the prohibition movement appalled at the quotidian violence the prohibitionists attributed to alcohol—see the women with missing teeth on the plains of Mongolia; note the commonplace notion that American Indians call whiskey firewater; in a rebuttal of the charge of exorbitant profits by insurance companies, a blogger noted that the industry with the largest profit margin, at a little over 25 percent is, wait for it, beer brewing; American history may have taken a different turn had the Hessians not suffered from alcoholic hangovers at the battle of Trenton; The Whiskey Rebellion was the first challenge to U.S. power after the adopting of the constitution; a tax on the water of life—whiskey or usquebaugh comes from the Irish uisce beatha, which translates as water of life—was not greeted with joy by the distillers of said water; Rome was saved by the untimely death of Attila, presumably due to alcohol poisoning). Bees and snakes are also symbols of healing, following the homeopathic psychology. Bees’ provisionary quality of honey production being perhaps only a secondary consideration for their two-fold effect on health, the two snakes on the caduceus are the most obvious symbol of death-dealers as healers and save for the milking of venom begun in the 20th century, poisonous snakes had no salutary uses save for armies of the ancient world who employed them as weapons. See Adrienne Mayor’s Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, Scorpion Bombs (2003). Komodo dragons (wyrms, snakes with legs) are immune to their own deadly bites (a nasty bacteria does in their prey). Research continues on use of the antibacterial properties of their blood for use in humans. Fire in the blood. Note also the snake handlers of the Christian American South and the snake charmers of India. Few handlers die. According to Laurence Hammack of in an article posted on April 18, 2004, only about one snake handler a year has died since the practice began in the early 1900s. Note, again, that dreams of snakes licking wounds while in the abaton of an Asklepian temple of ancient Greece led to healing. Asklepios came to the dreamer in the form of a snake. It was thought that the god gives the disease and therefore the god is the one who removes it, either through the touch of a hand (see note eight.) or the lick of the snake. See Cobb, Noel. “Dreams of God: R.D. Laing and Asklepios” in Spring 77 Philosophy & Psychology, edited by Edward S. Casey and David L Miller, Spring Journal (2007), p. 231.

8 The Eye of Horus (Eye of God) was painted on boats to ward off evil. One could not look directly at royalty, either to avoid the wrath of the god which the royal person contained or for fear by the royal person that the eye contact was an attempt to usurp the royal power by use of the evil eye. England’s Richard II was noted for requiring anyone he gazed upon to drop to their knees. One notes the similar shapes of the anus and the eye when one considers that Jehovah would let Moses only glimpse his humanoid form from the backside. Ra, the sun god (see Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, published in the year 1939, for a controversial speculation on the Egyptian source of Judaism’s monotheistic origins), certainly blinds if one stares at his star too long. Furtive glances are best. Also, note Medusa’s impact on an observer foolish enough to attempt a direct glance. (Commentators have suggested Medusa’s head of snakes is a veiled reference to a mature woman’s pubic sexuality. Seeing it in public can certainly be disconcerting, but see note five above. The connotations can go on and on about the birth and death experience—the sex cure; sex as death, o bride of Christ, o Freudian trauma—associated with sexual organs and the sex act: a cave, a tomb, the little death of entering erect and leaving flaccid; the sideways eye is the physical aspect we suggest here regarding both the male and female sexual openings—holes: wounds: think of the spear wound mentioned in note six—can you see its shape?—and the wound to the thigh of the Grail King. Looking is dangerous to your health.) Wounded kings must die to save the world. One must wound the king to save the world? In Shakespeare’s Richard III (1591), the crippled king was a poor gardener (shades of the Grail King). The 1995 film portrayal by Ian McKellen in Richard III gives the king an impaired eye. Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes drop tears,” says Gloucester in Act 1, Scene 3.  Tears are no substitute for rain. For the health of the country Richard had to be taken out. “Pluck out his eyes, apologize.” James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out . . . .” Matthew 5:29 “Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him/Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves . . .” John Milton in “Samson Agonistes.” Is Samson’s masculine head of hair analogous to Medusa’s? He had to be blinded and killed, though he destroyed a city in his suicide. Apocalypse now! In Hamlet’s Mill (1969), Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend suggest Samson is the constellation Orion. Orion is blind. See also Gilgamesh and other male saviors.

9 Tarsus was considered the edge of the world. Jonah decided to go to the ends of the earth rather than attend to a god’s command. He had to incubate in a whale for a few days before he found it behooved him (O Pegasus, see notes 19 and 21) to preach and heal the souls of the heathen. Even after they readily converted (were healed), he wanted them punished. Healing is a hard job and often even the healer may want the patient to die or at least remain ambiguously in need so the doctor can get back to a life without the dread of a too certain future (“No future in England’s Dreaming,” sang Johnny Rotten on the song “No Future” on the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)). Nobody likes to fail and some do not want to succeed! With total success (Victory over death!) how then could they make a living? Where would we put everybody? What would we eat? O, Wyrm Ouroboros! (The future is always the edge of the world.) Ill health is good for business. Ill health is bad for business. Ask a general. See note seven.

10 Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, circa 1310. Hope is the four-letter word left in Pandora’s jar.

a star
a boy
bugs in a jar
hope she laughs
what Pandora knew
all curses turning like
constellations come round
will you be here the child asks
or if remembering is the mountain
caught in the clouds will heaven still burn”
- © 2009 Richard Lance Williams August 30 étoile: the toiling of the stars: the wanting light

11 Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1888). Or paralyzes you for life or makes you brain dead or bitter or a syphilitic madman . . . .  You want healthy skepticism or blind faith?

12 The Moral Animal: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychologyby Robert Wright (1994). A recent study of dogs (April 2, 2008, as reported online in Current Biology) indicated they have an innate sense of fairness. When it became plain they weren’t being rewarded for performance while another dog was, the unrewarded dog eventually stopped performing. When the affronting dog left, the dog began to perform again even when not rewarded. The hair of the dog. Be fair; it’s healthy. (On August 27, 2009, the NPR program All Things Considered aired “Dog Hair May Shed Light On Cancer” by Christopher Joyce, a story on the genetics involved with dog hair. Seems only three genes are responsible for all the variations in dog hair. Such a narrow gene range has researchers excited regarding the potential to unravel the knot of human disease. And then there are seeing-eye dogs. O faithful, indeed. As reported on Fresh Air on September 2, 2009, Puppies Behind Bars is a program that teaches convicts how to train dogs to help veterans who are suffering from PTSD and other war-related ailments, thereby helping both the convicts and the vets. (Cave canem.) Dogs, like fire, cut both ways. Rabid dog! O water boiling in the blood. O blind dog! Sniff it out, Argos! Is it the same Odysseus he sniffed all those years before? Is it the same dog welcoming the master back to the same home? See note four. Dogs have been trained to sniff out cancer (initially reported in 2003)). Note that the classic communist aphorism of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” while seemingly morally fair and sound,  may be the victim of this dog-like sense of entitlement, especially by those with great needs for accumulated cash. The quality of performance is not weighed, nor the benefit to the greater number. (Malpractice suits.) The overweight body hoards its fat and does not want to let it go, though clearly the body suffers from such retention of excess. Is this a paranoid conservatism? Certain chemicals hijack the reward system of the human brain and addiction begins. Are they pirates of selfishness. Does each chemical and chemical combination have its analogous archetypal behavior and attendant moral prerogative? (The fat wrapped bones Prometheus tricked Zeus into accepting resulted in the curse of Pandora and the release of diseases upon mankind. Lines 90-105. Hesiod Works and Days. Translated by H. G. Evelyn-White. See It was known by the 1970s that adrenaline levels caused the fight or flight response. What was not determined was why the same amount of adrenaline caused one man to run and another to fight. What rub of attendant chemical existed or was absent? Is quality determined on the subatomic level? It was reported in 2002 that Republicans have more nightmares than Democrats. Republicans have more issues with fear (fat cats?). The seeming fear-mongering of the Republican opposition to health care in 2009 may not be mongering, but actual fear inherent in their chemical makeup. Does fear impair judgment? Does beauty? A recent report indicated intelligence in men was impaired when the men were in the presence of a beautiful woman, throughout the ages, ideas of what is beautiful have changed. Civilization in all its permutations is based on ideas of what is healthy and what unhealthy. Conflict arises based on ideas of what constitutes and how to achieve health. See notes 13 and 18. Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, had his temples destroyed by early Christians at a greater pace than other gods because his competed with the healing powers of Jesus (See Cobb, p. 222). Ah, the joys of competitive medicine.

13 Anonymous. In the nick (a wound) of time, one either sees the truth (comedy) or does not (tragedy). One woman’s comedy is another’s tragedy. Good health is predicated on the death of something. Tarot readers will tell you the Death card is only a sign of transformation. Insurance companies have their actuarial charts. A purported practice by adherents of animism is to ask permission of an animal before the animal is killed. Intentionality is purported to have good or ill effects upon food preparation (as well as on all actions). The famous experiment of Schrödinger’s cat is a case of timing. Placed in a box with a poisonous gas set to be released upon the opening of the box, the question is whether the cat is alive or dead? How can one observe? Does observation of the cat’s state change by observing? Open the box and see. Maybe the mechanism will fail. Heisenberg touched on intentionality in the uncertainty principle. Seeing is uncertain. See note 23. “Hurry up, please, it’s time.” T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922). “Who are you an(d) agent for?” Postcard sent by Allen Ginsberg to William Burroughs (1961). Burroughs famously debunked the Scientologist “clear” methodology in his book Ali’s Smile/Naked Scientology (1978). He wanted to debunk all control systems. His writing methodology even attempted to destroy the notion of time. The word as virus was a favorite target in his later writings, especially in his trilogy of Cities of the Red Night (1981), The Place of Dead Roads (1983), and The Western Lands (1987).

14 Ayurvedic medicine uses laying on of hands oiled with herbs massaged on the body for days or weeks. T.R. Reid attests in his book The Healing of America (2009) that the Ayurvedic hand cure was efficacious in relieving his chronic shoulder pain. Pentecostal preachers lay on hands in a fashion akin to the royal healing touch (a fast food approach common to the modern West—instant gratification seems to press all concerns of the West) with a quick slap of the right palm to the forehead of the sufferer or sometimes a hard clasping of the head between the hands of the healer and a quick and violent release with a shout of, “Heal, Jesus!” Hug daily.

15 Empirical evidence suggests that prayer is no more helpful than a placebo
see; no less either.

A study on children with cancer showed that those who played video games that allowed them to “zap” tumor cells had better outcomes than those who did not play games.

Silence is golden; silent, but deadly. Ask the right question at the right time. Parsifal failed to ask the right question of the Grail King. “Do you serve quail?” “Enforced humour annoys patients.”

16 Tom Cruise interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, June 23, 2005. Cruise, a Scientologist, implied there is no such thing as mental illness. As if one could buck up with kidney failure, leukemia, arthritis, juvenile diabetes, or any number of afflictions beyond even the purported power of meditative control over autonomic bodily processes. The imitation of Christ model yields a hard and clearly unreasonable expectation of human willpower over disease and death. Christ was a god. Are you a god? Would a Doubting Thomas say, “Thou art God”?

17 The Catholic Church still conducts exorcisms for those purportedly possessed by demons. Perhaps certain guests do not want to be entertained nor hosts to entertain. Odysseus certainly understood how to give unwanted guests a parting gift. Why even as an unwanted guest himself in the land of Troy he left a parting gift. The trickery of what is inside. Remember how Prometheus fooled Zeus. How deadly microbes hide on the food we eat. See note seven.

18 John Cale, “Fear Is a Man’s Best Friend” on the album Fear (1974). Falstaff would approve. “I am as vigilant as a cat to steal cream. . . . Well, To the latter end of a fray and the beginning of a feast Fits a dull fighter and a keen guest.” Henry IV, Part On, Act 4, Scene 2, by Billy Shakespeare (1597). According to Julian Jaynes in The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), those who kept their mouths shut when confronted by invading armies lived, while those who spoke of the gods they saw (Jaynes believed unified mind folk actually saw or believed they saw gods, quite literally saw them clear as day) and refused to say they did not see them, were killed (see note 23). It was a hard Darwinism practiced by the likes of the French abbot Arnold Amaury at the massacre of the Albigensians in Beziers who cried, “Kill them all; let God sort them out.” One thinks of those risk-taking humans who died figuring out how to prepare herbs for healing and which herbs to avoid. Recall the familiar Life cereal commercial of the 1970s: “Here, Mikey. Try this.”

19 The Hemlock Society. Death panels. Hospice. The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Out of sight; out of your mind. Hospitals and hospices are places set apart. Grave places. Levity? You have to die before you can rise. See note 15. There are advocates for making such places more open. “True Compassion Advocates are individuals in communities all across Washington state. We advocate for true compassion, life-affirming choices, comprehensive community support, and excellence in end-of-life care. We believe that persons with life-limiting illnesses and disabilities have the right to compassionate care, loving support and comfort through the natural dying process. Our goal is to provide such vulnerable patients with all the help they need to live their lives well, in dignity and painlessly, until natural death occurs.” See In Chaos and Cyber Culture (1994), Timothy Leary wrote, “The time has come to talk cheerfully and joke sassily about personal responsibility for managing the dying process.” He wanted “creative alternatives to . . . clutching the company logo of the Christian Cross, Blue Cross or Crescent Cross, or the eligibility cards of the Veterans Administration.” See Some of Leary’s ashes were placed aboard a Pegasus rocket (see note 21) and sent into space. New York Times, April 22, 1997.

20 Attributed to Solomon in 1 Kings 3:25. Who would not see this as a Hobson’s Choice?

21 Attributed to Jesus in the Book of John 8:7. Heated stones are used in saunas to achieve a salutary heat. In massage, heated stones are sometimes placed on the body to relieve pain. Alchemists sought the philosopher’s stone. A stone and a mountain are symbols of the big “s” Self, according to Jung. (It’s in one of his alchemical books. Read them all if you haven’t already.) Which begs the question: What is the Self a symbol of, thinking along the lines of what is the penis a symbol of when you dream of a penis instead of a tower? What is the sword in the stone? Is it the proper little “s” self waiting to be given the correct mission (right man with the right tool at the right time)? And pulled from the stone? Ego separation? And what is the sword in the lake? And who is the lady? Pegasus could strike a stone and produce water. A poet’s animal. Swimming in water is great exercise—in rocks, not so much. The Native American trickster Coyote died when his penis was caught in the crack of a stone. Recall the fate of Camelot and how it came to be. “Don’t put your pistol in another man’s holster.”

22 Attributed to Jesus in the Book of Matthew 20:16. An allopathic suggestion for achievement of social health; few approve in practice.

23 Attributed to Buddha, First Noble Truth. Suffering can heal. So can fiction. See James Hillman’s Healing Fiction (1974). St. Theresa famously loved her suffering. (Making lemonade from lemons.) The wounds of Christ heal. Cauterize wounds. Robert Bly, in a question left out of the 1989 PBS film A Gathering of Men, was asked why in the fairy tale “Iron John” would all the invading army have to be killed to the last one. He answered by asking the questioner if out of compassion would he kill all but one cancer cell? Death is necessary in healing. (Are fairies real? According to Jim Maynard, an astrologer who worked in Findhorn, Scotland, Dorothy Maclean, a co-founder of the spiritual community, claimed she spoke with fairies and animals (personal conversation, 1981). Is this illusion, delusion, or reality? The crops certainly grow in land that was considered unfit to grow anything. Experiments with Transcendental Meditation proved that purported autonomic bodily processes can be controlled by concentration of the subject upon the organ. One can talk to organs by thinking about them. One can apparently change the signal, slow or speed up chemical exchange, by a thought. It is reported that humans with multiple personalities are allergic to certain things depending on “who” they are at the time.) Nanotechnology promises to send an army of nano-robots into the body to target and slay diseased cells down to the last one. Then the robot army will be flushed out. No one likes an occupying army to overstay their welcome.

24 Robert Burns, “To a Mouse” (1786). A joke: Want to make god laugh? Make plans.

25 Attributed to highwaymen of the 17th century. Insurance evolved from noblemen betting their inherited extortion money on whether ships would make it from the Mediterranean to England without being lost in a storm or taken by pirates. They were gambling middlemen who neither sailed the ship, nor produced goods, nor provided labor. Depending on their predilection, they either wanted the ship to sink or to make it to safe harbor. Insurance companies are for profit gamblers. They will sell short.

26 Groucho Marx, “Hello, I Must Be Going” in the film Animal Crackers (1930). One is reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit (1944), and the idea of a closed universe inside a quantum universe where in a timeless realm we are dead before we are born or rather there is no cure for life and no escaping existence (consciousness or no). Research continues on the genetic basis of consciousness. Empiricism has its limits. Limits have their limits. “Dreamers often lie,” said Mercutio in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 4 (1597). Witty interveners often die. “My cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:5.

Asked, “What will you most miss when you die?”
he said, “Everything; especially my suffering.”

© 2009 Richard Lance Williams September 23 Buddha’s last words

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****************************** Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine 2010 ****************************

Richard Lance Williams

Author Bio:

Richard Lance Williams received his master’s degree in mythology with an emphasis in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in 1998. Ric has edited the Litera listings of The Austin Chronicle since 1988. He wrote the “Poet’s Beat” column (interviews with local poets) for The Austin Light from 1987-1991. He edited for Ed Buffalo’s poetry anthologies Aileron and Vowel Movement in the late 80’s and early 90’s and was the associate editor from 1997-1999 for Alchemy on Sunday, the literary journal of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has written and/or edited for the Austin Chronicle, Man! Magazine, and the Salt Journal. His interview with Larry McMurtry is included in Conversations with Texas Writers, published in March 2005 by UT Press.


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