Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gall to Gutenberg Through the Looking Glass

I'm never quite sure what to think about articles like this 

"The difficulty is the point": teaching spoon-fed students how to really read. Reclaiming literature is crucial to understanding the times we live in -- by Tegan Bennett Daylight 
and similar discourses and even rants on the subject I've heard from college teacher friends many times.
Yes, they are right about the general level of one type of literacy and general knowledge perhaps diminishing  (e.g., I was surprised  when a 30something Ontario-born person said some years ago, when I mentioned Farley Mowat, that she'd never heard of him. But she was a software company employee and had a computer literacy I could only dream of).
When I read articles like this -- and they are legion --  I begin to wonder if there's a new type of 'literacy' unfolding that is our 21st century version of how things went when the Guttenburg age was coming into being,  and people began to read.

In fairly short order, it became books instead of bards and ballads. Silent reading alone instead of group announcements or news-giving events. A lesser need to remember & memorize news, info, and learning to be able to disseminate it.  Now you could reference info later--in a book. Didn't need any longer to keep it all in your head.

And so peoples' neuropathways changed radically from the former Oral learning age to the Visual learning age. Huge change or evolvement in human brains. Some pathways, unused, dried up. Maybe that's why Memorization remained such a big thing in schools even into the mid-last century. But meanwhile, different brain areas came on-stream, became dominant; different abilities evolving, different kinds of knowledge transfer underway for what  people would need for their survial or work, their living or their learning in their era. 
I'm sure monks, when the Guttenburg press became widely-used, were horrified that young people were setting books in type rather than copying them in callgraphy. The result then was a much wider access to knowledge and therefore presumably new or other forms of literacy.
So when I read pieces like Daylight's  or hear college and university profs lament about the undergrads and their lacks in literacy, their inability to spell or write -- while those are admirable abilities -- I wonder if those students are going to need the professorial-approved form of 'literacy' to get on, to thrive and survive as the 21st century unfolds.  

And I'm a calligrapher. But calligraphy was not much use to me in the workplace and career, as a lifeskill for survival. And yes, it's great to have the professors' form of literacy, but it's just possible that not having it may not render the students imbeciles. 
I love the olde skills of the medieval calligrapher -- writing with ox gall ink, sometimes even with feather nib dip-pens. Yet as lovely and cherished as all the micro-abilities involved in calligraphy are, the skills of writing in Uncial would not get a person very far in thriving in this era.


(c)2017 Margo Lamont

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Do Angels Have Wings?

I was curious a while ago why angels are always depicted with wings. Because in the angels-saved-me accounts, you generally hear about angels *appearing* on the scene to help someone, not flapping in like great big ol’ condors.  
Even in the bible it says the angel who was dispatched to tell Mary that her baby was going to be Jesus ‘came to her’ (nothing about wings). “[He] said ‘Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.’ Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.”
A thing as big as a man flapping in would be noteworthy, yet it says she was afraid of his greeting, what he said. Nothing about winged beings.

Doreen Virtue, who has done a lot of work around describing angels says the wing thing is all a misunderstanding.
“Interestingly, angels never used their wings for transportation. The angels explained that they only appeared with wings so that we would recognize them. Apparently the early Renaissance painters mistook the angels’ aura glow for wings, so they painted them that way. Ever since the angels have shape-shifted to meet our expectations. Angels transport themselves—not through wing-propelled flight, but through mental manifestation. In other words, they imagine where they want to be, and they’re instantly there.”
A site called  “A Witness to the Truth of the Bible” more or less agrees with this but blames the pagans:
“The idea of wings probably entered 'Christianity' through the ideas of Paganism. Many of the pagan 'Gods' had wing.[sic]

These inventions of man would have been given wings because in ancient times this was the only known way of flying and traveling swiftly.”
-- and gives many examples of how angels appeared to everyone to look like ordinary men:
“We can see that angels were in the form of men because often they are described and mistaken for 'men'. Consider these verses:
“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son… And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?”  [Judges 13:3+11]

Angels may spake, but apparently they don't fly.

The reason the wings thing might make even a fig of a difference is this: people who believe in angels say that angels help us a lot and that we all have one or some guardian angels who constantly help us. And that we can ask for their assistance. 
So if we can only see angels in terms of winged beings flapping into our lives, then we could be missing the rather ordinary-looking entities who may appear at our sides trying to offer us guidance or assistance.  We may be missing something important. 

It's a bit like those people who envision Jesus arriving for the Second Coming on a cloud vs. those, like the Christian painter Stephen Sawyer, who can imagine Jesus arriving next time in blue jeans . . . or  that Jesus might manifest as a homeless person asking for some cash and see how his followers behave.

P.S.   Doreen Virtue adds that faeries are a bit different in the wings dept.: “Fairies, in contrast, do use their wings to get round. Even though they’re much smaller than angels, fairies have denser bodies—similar to the difference between the weight of a large cloud versus a wooden pencil. So, while the fairies are brilliant manifesters, they still rely upon the physics of wings to transport themselves.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

54th Anniversry of the Tibetan Uprising 1959: rally/march/rally

The rally downtown at the art gallery.
Much of the talk was of the 108 Buddhist monks who have self-immolated since 2009, trying to bring
attention to the atrocities that continue in Tibet -- monks as young as fifteen.

Sad, so very sad.

From downtown those concerned marched over to Granville, over the Granville Bridge doing call & response chants: "What do we want?" -- "Free Tibet!" || "China lying!" -- "People dying!" etc. and rather wistfully: "Where is..? -- "The Panchen Lama!"

A fairly large police motorcycle escort all the way.  Up Granville to the Chinese Consulate at 16th and Granville and more chanting.

And then some magic. A Tibetan man took the microphone and started singing the Om Mani Padme Hung.  It was beautiful. And the sound transformed the moment as everyone joined in and for a long time serenaded whoever was in the Consulate (and the rather bemused police constables). The whole mood changed from frustration and despair--to love.

Mao's armies invaded Tibet in the
1949-1959 "Dragon Attacks" and
continues to claim Tibet as part of China.

Tibetans say Tibet is Tibet, not China.
Tibetans have lived there for millennia.
They should know, shouldn't they?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Listen to Louis: Accentuate the Positive

Here's an idea for the new year: Let's try thinking about how healthy & thriving we are. 
 Let’s stop absorbing this message that we are perpetually “sick” and we need constant "healing." 
Actually, for the most part we're not doing so badly. Are you personally sick? Are you personally lacking in food? shelter? Didn’t you just spend a small fortune on Christmas?

Can we acknowledge that humans are living now to 80-90 years old routinely. In the wonderful good old “organic” days the average life span was about 50-60.
Average Canadian income (2 earners) $79,000. Oct 2012, Canada’s unemployment rate was 7.4% = 92.6% of people were employed). Nowadays most women survive childbirth, even high-risk births. Many cancers are no longer an automatic death sentence. Our literacy rate in Canada is 99% (male; female; combined).

So why have we been hearing for 40 years how “sick” we are and how much we need healing all the time. You’re sick, take yoga. You’re sick, meditate. You’re sick, you need a trip. You’re sick, take this supplement. You’re sick, go to a spa.

What about if we start thinking about our incredible *wellness* for a change? And focus on that. It doesn’t mean we can’t act to right wrongs, help less fortunate others. But maybe we could shed that yoke that we’re “sick” for a while and see what happens.

Latch onto the affirmative.
Listen to Louis Armstrongaying it out from the Club Zanzibar, New Year’s Eve 1945. 
( l
Happy new year! Zap—You’re healed!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Do you rake or do you blow?

Stone for Mindful Writing Day - November 1, 2012

Do you rake or do you blow:
Humpbacked shoulderweight, nozzle and noise,
Droning and burning and fumes;

Bamboo on grass: stroking, bending,
Heart/breathing rhythm and air;
Piles of leaves, children jumping (maybe you?)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Size Matters

Sometimes I look at my cat who's striped like a tiger in a black-and-white movie.

I wonder about how the dynamics of our relationship would change if there was even the slightest change in the genome and he was a Tiger instead of a Tabby.

Suppose, for instance, he was a Siberian Tiger. Tabbies and Siberian Tigers are actually in the same family.

A few genetic tweaks and he could be. Siberian Tigers weigh 300-600 pounds; one even grew to 845 lbs.

First change in relationship dynamic: I'd be terrified of him.

Well, at very least, I wouldn't do half of the things I do now. I sure wouldn't be lying there with him up above me on the couch-back, and spider-walking my fingers up to his paw, then snatching them away suddenly -- over and over -- while he bats away at my hand, a game my 15 yr. old cat has enjoyed since he was a kitten.

If he was a tiger, I doubt I'd shove my face into his and coo and tell him what a little sweetie he is, either. Not if I wanted to keep my face. And I'm not sure I'd want a 500 lb. Siberian Tiger leaping onto my bed in the middle of the night.
Stripey, a chromosome or two away from Tiger

If he was a tiger, I'd have a lot more respect for his "person."  I'd not be sweeping him up off the floor into a hug when I come in the door, would I?

I'd have to ask first.

Quite respectfully.

Size does matter.

Size determines the power balance. It's why big countries can bully smaller countries. It's why you see older adults do things to little kids -- like pat them on the head, or touch their toys without asking first -- that they'd never do to someone their own size.

Because size changes everything.

Baby Siberian Tiger about as big as a
Tabby cat but not for long

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bigsby The Bakehouse: Be afraid, be very afraid

Be afraid, be very afraid.

It’s the bread. That alluring carbohydrate sparking call of the siren loaf........

I happened into a place today on MacKenzie Street in Vancouver,  a few doors north of 33rd Avenue, that has the most incredible bread.  BIGSBY: THE BAKEHOUSE.
Teen-Boy Bread

Take their big homemade Country Loaf aka “Teen Boy Bread” -- so called because MacKenzie Heights moms have been known to go home with a loaf in the morning and then come back for another loaf in the afternoon, the whole loaf having been devoured by one of those 6 ft. food-vacuuming aardvarks known as the teenage son. 

It’s a $6 yin and yang of good (whole wheat flour) and slightly less good (unbleached white flour). Bigsby tries to get organic and local whenever possible. 

I heard another customer tell co-owner Earl that the egg sandwich he made her (free-range organic eggs; mayo made onsite with organic ingreds) was "the best egg sandwich I've ever had in my entire life." Now that's one delish egg sandwich.

Posters on the Bigsby Bakehouse Facebook page concur. Jeanna: “
I just had the best sandwhich [sic] I have ever had in my life at Bigsby's. It was a beef brisket sandwhich [sic]. Amazing..........” 

An idea of prices?  A grilled cheese sandwich made with the Teen Boy Bread is $5.50 and comes with an intriguingly tangy pickled carrot and a small sprinkling of very fine crisps.
Co-owners, Earl and his sister Ellen are the former owners of the Red Onion Café, a famously Kerrisdale icon, very popular with teens, kids, and their parents, which they started 1985. With your bill, you always get a red onion.

This is Bigsby's dish,  "Food Porn:" avocado, olives, blood orange, pineapple, red onion, arugula, butter lettuce, with a blueberry- honey mustard dressing. 

"It's fun to play with extreme flavours and balance them out with something so mellow as blueberry-honey.”  (Notice the subtle homage paid to red onions).
Good coffees – and brewed decaf which I appreciated ($1.75) -- They even had Agave Nectar (lower on the glycemic index) for sweetening along with the organic sugars.

And free wifi.

What more could you ask? Oh, okay – homemade soups that sound delicious. Carrot-lentil, that sort of thing. Other sandwiches. And breakfast things involving “THE BREAD” and organic eggs.

It's a really nice, simple place, with good food, and a happy welcome. Open until about 5 most nights. Closed Mondays.

Located near the sleepy little crossroads of 33rd and MacKenzie, Bigsby's is a door or two down from the 
WindsorMeat Shop. A few doors the other way is that MacKenzie Heights 80s icon, McGuillicuddy’s (pre-owned children’s wear and kiddy paraphernalia) - and things like the SpiRe yoga studio; funky pet food store, Barktholomews Pet Edibles, whose owner Nancy loves creatures (“Our vision is to live in a world where all animals are loved as unconditionally by us as we are loved unconditionally by them”).

So if you want to throw down a quick Downward Facing Dog ... then grab a steak to toss on the barby tonight ... and bribe your dog with gourmet baked treat while you flop into Bigsby’s for coffee, a cinnamon bun and check the email, you know where to go. Lots of free easy street parking, which is an incentive of its own in this town.