Archive for the ‘Art’ Category






Don’t lay a flower on this poet’s grave
or look within these words to know my face:
to who is gone, such kindness is a sieve
that cannot leave your hands the finer trace.


Don’t meditate upon this day alone
with remnants gathered from the Internet,
pretending you had cheered the way, or shown,
before it led to grass beneath your feet.


Closer to you is one who needs your care
far more than any revenant of verse,
who lacks your touch and thus the strength to bear
the mighty length of art in life so terse.


With tears like mine, be certain he shall wait
for love like yours, not fame beyond the gate.

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"SANKHARA-DUKKHA"–a poem by Matt Rouge





Among the things you know about my soul
is that I’d always sought its qualities,
and when at last I won, our ecstasies
were only matched in depth by losing all.


Searching again, I gained each part in full,
but not within one entity to choose:
one had our tones, another one our hues,
and one the scents that breach the trembling wall.


The patience that you share has earned its mate,
and everything we are has well combined
with love, the thing for which I couldn’t wait.


Yet, through this very process, I have found
not you, not me, not us, but only thought
partitioned by the fragrance, light, and sound.

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My response to Iain Scott's "Top 50 Greatest Films" post

Here is Scott’s original post. Here is Andrew O’Hehir’s post on Salon, where I originally learned about Scott’s post. Regarding Scott’s methodology, O’Hehir says,

Iain Stott of the One-Line Review just completed his 2009 poll of 187 critics, filmmakers, bloggers and other cinephiles, and the results make fascinating reading.

O’Hehir goes on to speculate that critical opinion has ossified: few new movies are getting added to best/top lists. I was just talking about this topic with my best friend recently. O’Hehir cites The Shawshank Redemption (which I despise) as a movie that’s quite beloved yet never makes critics’ lists, and my friend wondered whether The Princess Bride would ever get the cred it deserves.

My opinion as to what films are great doesn’t match up with these critics opinions very well at all. Here I have divided up the movies based on whether I’ve seen them and what I think of them, adding comments here and there as the spirit moves me.

Would make my own top 50

7. Taxi Driver (1976) Martin Scorsese
22. 8½ (1963) Federico Fellini
42. The Apartment (1960) Billy Wilder
44. Ikiru (1952) Akira Kurosawa
45. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra
47. The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming

Like to some degree

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick
5. Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz
6. The Third Man (1949) Carol Reed
23. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean
25. Apocalypse Now (1979) Francis Ford Coppola
39. Raging Bull (1980) Martin Scorsese

Dislike to some degree

1. Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles

This is not a movie I find good in any dimension, and I’ve never understood its critical appeal.

2. Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock

The above-mentioned best friend and I have always held that Hitchcock is a horrible director. No, not just overrated–horrible. If film historians insist that he was an innovator, I see no reason to dispute that opinion, but as a viewer I feel that there is not a single movie of his that holds up today. The pacing is leaden, the scripts are boring, the performances he elicits from actors I usually enjoy are lifeless. In truth, what movies by Hitchcock do critics really find enjoyable, exciting, thrilling? If ossified critical opinion is anywhere to be found, it is in regard to Hitchcock’s oeuvre.

4. The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola
16. Chinatown (1974) Roman Polanski

8. Seven Samurai (1954) Akira Kurosawa

If you can understand Japanese, a lot of the mystique of Kurosawa’s movies disappears. A lot of the dialog is really exaggerated and hackneyed. Seven Samurai is extremely long and boring. Kurosawa did make some great movies, however: Yojimbo would be in my Top 10, and Ikiru is in my top 50, which would probably include about 6 or 7 Japanese movies in toto.

9. Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock

10. Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick

Tried to watch this not recently. It has some good stuff in it, but the pacing is truly awful, and, overall, it just doesn’t work.

13. Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
14. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
17. Sunset Boulevard (1950) Billy Wilder

20. Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino

I think Tarantino is better than any director in history at creating a feeling of menace, of absolute terror, and he does so in this movie–several times. That said, his movies are ugly, violent, vulgar, and–what I can’t forgive–ignorant. He never seems to be presenting things he knows from experience but instead a bunch of junk he’s learned second-hand. I always feel that I am being lectured by a child.

26. City Lights (1931) Charles Chaplin
28. Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen
29. Touch of Evil (1958) Orson Welles
31. Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott
32. M (1931) Fritz Lang

33. The General (1927) Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton

One thing about these critics lists–they often include stuff by my favorite directors but just not their best work. I love Keaton, but this movie is boring beyond belief.

34. Some Like It Hot (1959) Billy Wilder
37. Duck Soup (1933) Leo McCarey
38. Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder
41. A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick
46. Rashomon (1950) Akira Kurosawa
48. Do the Right Thing (1989) Spike Lee

Have not seen

11. The Godfather: Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola
12. The Searchers (1956) John Ford
15. Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman
18. Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau
19. Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu
21. La Règle du Jeu (1939) Jean Renoir
24. The Night of the Hunter (1955) Charles Laughton
27. Bicycle Thieves (1948) Vittorio De Sica
30. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Carl Theodor Dreyer
35. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) Sergio Leone
36. The Four Hundred Blows (1959) François Truffaut
40. All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
43. La Grande Illusion (1937) Jean Renoir
49. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) Sergio Leone
50. L’Avventura (1960) Michelangelo Antonioni

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Movie review: "Observe and Report" shows us how hard it is to love ourselves


Observe and Report on IMDb
Observe and Report on Metacritic
Observe and Report on Rotten Tomatoes

Matt Rouge’s score: 4.5/5.0

Pros. Very strong performances by all. Engaging story. Dead-on satire of many familiar things. Interesting characters.

Cons. At 88 minutes, the movie feels a little short. The characters are interesting enough to support several more scenes adding to the story and laugh count. Some of the dialog and character behaviors are over the top even for the movie’s wild, farcical style.

Observe and Report is the story of Ronnie Barnhardt, a bipolar mall cop who is trying to catch a flasher and creating a considerable mess in the process. It’s a dark comedy full of expletives, nudity, and material that may shock and offend. The reviews among both pro and amateur critics are definitely mixed, but I found it to be a hilarious movie with an important message for our times. I highly recommend it.

I think this message is striking a deep chord in people, whether their view of the film is positive or negative, but I have yet to see it articulated in any review. It may be possible that even the film’s creators were not cognizant of it but instead worked with it on a gut level. Once one sees the message, however, it is striking and obvious. Here it is:

In today’s society, we feel miserable and invalidated until one of our dreams comes true in a way that everyone must recognize.

Ronnie craves validation; one of his chief characteristics is insecurity. He wants to become a real cop and dreams, most nights, of saving the world from a black cloud of evil and earning the approbation of the masses.

In some dimensions, Ronnie is hyper-competent. He defeats six crackheads single-handedly. He takes on a troop of cops, losing but doing palpable damage. Ronnie passes every test to get into the police academy save one: the psych evaluation. At the same time, Ronnie is a complete, unhinged idiot. He fails to detect who has been burglarizing the mall at night, instead suggesting suspects on the basis of race. When it comes to relationships of any type, Ronnie is completely clueless.

Ronnie is a complex character, combining both admirable traits and despicable. Persons’ reactions to him are likewise complex: his boss, despite misgivings, supports him, and the cute girl working at the cinnamon bun shop finds him admirable and attractive.

Now we come to our own discomfort in watching Ronnie. We are in the same boat. We don’t know what to think of ourselves.

In our own minds, we are fighting the good fight, but we see others on the opposite side who are equally confident. Or perhaps equally in doubt. We waver. We worry that we are like Ronnie, clueless and not aware of our own cluelessness. We consider how other people think about us, hoping to find validation in their opinions, but we sense–we know–that opinions are divided. Some people love us; others hate us. Some people at work admire us; others mock us. Some praise; others trash. Our friends and family love us, mostly, but we are aware of their bias. (In Observe and Report there is a wonderful scene in which Ronnie’s mom deconstructs the very notion of a parent’s validation, observing that her affirmation of her son’s dreams is merely what a parent is expected to say.)

We long to accomplish one great thing (e.g., becoming a police officer, nabbing a sex offender) that once and for all will prove that we deserve the respect of others and ourselves, but satisfaction is elusive.

I remember job hunting in Chicago in 1994, and I sat next to a guy on the South Shore, and we had a very good conversation. “The thing about Americans,” he said, “is that no one’s satisfied until they become a doctor or a lawyer–something like that.” He was right then, and he’s even more right now. In 2009, as in 1994, it’s hard to love ourselves as we are, and Observe and Report invites us to face that difficulty as few movies ever have.

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Movie review: Star Trek–bad science makes for a stupid watch


Star Trek on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.

Matt Rouge’s score: 2.0/5.0

I get the appeal of this movie yet don’t get it at the same time. Old characters come to life anew with a few decent performances (Bones was funny, Scottie less so). Some sweet eye candy. But, dammit Jim! this movie is full of bad science and other really stupid stuff. I am a skilled disbelief suspender, I really am, but this movie had too much for me to suspend. To wit:

“Red matter”
The Romulans have a big ol’ glob of “red matter” in a small space ship. A drop of red matter is enough to turn the plant Vulcan into a black hole (like Brylcreem, I guess “A Little Dab’ll Do Ya”). It is hard to understand how this matter can be prevented from destroying its container, the ship, etc.

Although a little dab destroys Vulcan, later on the whole big glob fails to destroy the Romulan ship, which requires some extra phaser pumelling from the Enterprise to be deep-sixed.

Why is it necessary to drill down into Vulcan’s core to use the red matter against it? Wouldn’t just dropping it on the surface have the same effect?

Space drill
How is the big bad drill able to jam transporter signals and cause other plot-friendly mischief? Later on, the characters are able to “beam up” from a planet to a distant starship traveling at warp speed, but the fire-spitting drill prevents them from beaming up to a nearby spaceship?

It’s hard to see how the fire-breathing drill is a good way to drill down into the planet’s core. If Vulcan is like Earth, there will be some magma ‘n’ hot stuff down there. How is the fire going to drill through that? If there is no magma, then wouldn’t it just be melting rock and creating magma?

Don’t the Vulcans (and later the humans) have any air defenses? The drilling platform has no shields and minimal defenses. Spock is able to destroy it with fire from his spaceship. Why are the Vulcans waiting for the Federation to come and knock this rather wimpy piece of equipment out of the sky? Why doesn’t the Enterprise just fire on the drill?

When the team “space jumps” toward Vulcan to take out the drill, they apparently don’t have a problem with the heat that would result from entering the atmosphere.

Spock is going to use the red matter to destroy a supernova and thereby save the planet Romulus. But, during his mission, “the unthinkable happens”: the Supernova gets Romulus anyway! Huh? Either Spock is going to eliminate the star (black-hole it!) before it goes nova, or he isn’t. After the explosion, its energy would travel outward at the speed of light and would presumably be unstoppable. There really is no “Whoops! Our plan didn’t quite work” that makes sense here.

The gravitational pull of the destroyed-Romulan-ship black hole causes the “windshield” of the Enterprise to crack–but they are able to pull away! This struck me as a small child’s interpretation of how such forces might affect a huge spaceship. A crack in the window? A crack in the ceiling? In order for that to happen, the gravity would have to be accelerating the different parts of the ship at different rates; and, if that were the case, there would no escape by dropping bombs behind the ship to push it away from the big bad black hole!

The Romulans and Spock travel through time because of destroyed-Vulcan black hole. Didn’t the Romulans have a plan that included not getting sucked into the black hole they knew would result? Also, why was Spock so near them, anyway? He was supposed to be taking care of the supernova, which, one may presume, was several light years distant. I will also add that plots involving time travel are really lame.

Even though Spock’s mother is in the process of being transported–we see the swirly lines swirling around her–Chekov says, “I’m losing her!” and she dies. What is this, some type of video game? The technology is indeed visually portrayed as requiring a person to match up one jittery icon with another jittery icon. Couldn’t a computer just match up those two jittery icons and complete the process?

The good guys gain the ability to beam onto a spacewhip traveling at warp speed by simply putting a new “equation” into the transporter. No new hardware is required–just changing the computer program does it?

That’s the major stuff I saw. There is plenty else I didn’t like about the movie, however, that doesn’t fall into the “bad science” category:

I was not a fan of the new Kirk or Chris Pine’s performance. Yeah, young and rebellious, I get it, but he simply didn’t have gravitas. I don’t think Pine is a bad actor, but this was not the right part for him. Regardless of the strength of Pine’s performance, Kirk simply did not feel like enough of a hero by the end of the movie; the plot did not produce that emotional payoff, and the medal ceremony rang false (whereas the ceremony at the end of Star Wars rings true). Indeed, the movie seems much more about Spock than Kirk (Spock even has the movie’s main romance!).

The actions of the Romulans and their motivations also did not ring true. The movie did not bring out what was interesting about the Romulans in the orignal series. These guys are just angry monsters looking and acting not much different than Pinhead and his crew in the Hellraiser series.

General dumbth
I’m no Trekkie, but I like the original series well enough. One thing that bugged me, however, about the original series and now this new movie is that, in a spaceship that looks as big as a city, all the action happens on the bridge.

Fighting with swords and axes?

Kirk is able to assume command after causing the acting captain to freak out?

The old complaint about ray guns shooting visible “bullets” of light.

And so on.

This was a movie that seemed dumb as I was watching it and really dumb right after it was over. I’m surprised that its reviews have been so positive.

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Photograph by Matt Rouge: Tree in the water


Click on the photo for a larger image.

I took this last month while walking the paths off the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple. The tree was reaching into spring with green leaves, but, having fallen into the creek, its journey was over.

Walking through the woods is one of my favorite things, and Indiana indulges me with parks large and small of great beauty. When I walk through the trees, I find it interesting how many of them are fallen and falling, not necessarily of great age.

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Vegan Punjab choley with ultimate grain mixture!

img_0237Last year, I posted my recipe for vegan Punjab choley, and this delivers more visitors to my blog than any other post! I must confess, it’s a great recipe, as it gives you choley that is:

  1. Tender
  2. Flavorful
  3. Satisfying
  4. Virtually fat free (you use no oil, so only the fat that is in the ingredients is in there)
  5. Low-sodium
  6. Easy to freeze and reheat
  7. Vegan
  8. Delicious!

Today the photograph includes my “ultimate grain mixture.” Did you know that you can cook any grain (wheat, rye, oats, buckwheat/kasha, millet, amaranth, quinoa, etc.) in the rice cooker using the same measure as you use for rice? It’s true! Hence, this receipt:

Matt Rouge’s Ultimate Grain Mixture (Gluten-Free)

1 measure brown rice

1 measure yellow millet

1 measure quinoa

Cook in rice cooker or on stove as you would brown rice.

This sounds like a very simple recipe, and it is, but I actually came across it through years of experimenting with differnt proportions of grains. The texture and fragrance and flavor is simply to die for! It’s rich, nutty, moist–yet with a wonderful crumbly feel to it at the same time. Give it a try–I think you will be most pleased.

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Coffee vs. tea

My belief is that, for a wide variety of reasons, tea (Camellia sinensis, not herbal tisanes, etc.) is a better drink than coffee.

Some of tea’s greatest advantages have nothing to do with flavor. Tea just happens to be a very practical beverage in every way.

Tea is easier to make.
All you need is the leaves, a pot to boil water, and a cup. A teapot helps, but millions around the world simply put the leaves in a cup and pour boiling water on them. Disposal is also simple and fairly mess-free: you just dump the leaves. The tools of tea-making clean easily.

Coffee, on the other hand, is a pain to make. You must grind it yourself or take a quality hit. It is slightly harder to measure than tea. Special equipment is needed to make it. Dumping the filter is theoretically simple but often involves a cleanup of grounds that overflowed, etc. The coffee apparatus itself requires cleanup and gets yucky after awhile.

Such are the comparative mechanics of tea- and coffee-making, but there is also the matter of success and failure. It is hard to screw up tea. If you steep it and it’s bitter, simply dilute with hot water. If it’s not flavorful enough, simply pour your tea back into the teapot and steep some more. If you didn’t use enough tea to begin with, add some more and resteep.

Coffee, on the other hand, is more easily flubbed and harder to correct afterward. If you use too little coffee or too much water, resulting in weak brew, there is nothing to do but dump it and start over fresh. If you make it too strong, it can be diluted with hot water but not so successfully as with tea. I will not even get into espresso-based drinks; making them well is an art requiring considerable skill in working with the coffee, milk, and machinery.

It is also easier to make just as much tea as you want. A small cup or a large pot. Tea is also faster to make than coffee.

Tea is stored much more easily, longer, and more successfully.
According to Wikipedia on coffee, “Once roasted, coffee loses its flavor quickly, although being kept in the absence of oxygen can greatly delay the process. Although some prefer to wait 24 hours after roasting to brew the first cup, all agree that it begins to get off-flavors and bitterness about a week after roasting, even under ideal conditions.”

In contrast, you put tea in a metal can and stick it in a cabinet. In general, you can store tea for up to a year without it losing much or any flavor, and some varieties may be stored quite a bit longer. Further, tea doesn’t taste rotten if it’s a little past its sell-by date; it merely loses some flavor. The upshot is that anyone can buy tea, make it him/herself, and drink it at its best.

Tea is less expensive.
A full analysis of the relative expense of tea and coffee is complicated by the fact that there are some very expensive teas (thousands of dollars a pound), whereas there are no coffees that cost that much. Further, the quality of the leaves and beans available varies at each price point.

But let’s put it this way: very cheap tea is of better quality and cheaper than very cheap coffee, and very good tea costs about the same as very good coffee.

The first is easy to demonstrate. Huge bags of Chinese Oolong or mammoth cans of generic grind are both cheap. The difference is that the tea will be quite drinkable whereas the coffee at that price point will be nasty. Ergo, better tea is available cheaper.

Further, very good tea and coffee are roughly equivalent in price. A 1 lb. bag of Keemum Concerto (a great black tea from is just $29.00. They say it costs $0.17 a cup. According to Taste of the World, gourmet coffee tends to cost about $0.12 to $0.25 a cup. Hence, good tea and coffee are roughly similar in price.

Tea is more healthful.
Tea is chock full of vitamins and healthful compounds. Green tea and black tea have different, healthful compounds. Tea is said to reduce cancer risk, etc. There are studies that show benefits to coffee, too, but these benefits are not as large. Coffee has more health risks, too. Here are the two Wikipedia articles on tea and health and coffee and health, so you can judge for yourself.

Billions can’t be wrong: tea is a more enjoyable beverage than coffee.

On average, tea tastes better than coffee.
The reason for this is simple: the manipulation of the tea plant to produce the final product is not very complicated. There is (for most varieties) no complicated roasting or processing involved, and the product keeps well. The result is that a cheap, thin Oolong served in a plastic glass in a dive Chinatown restaurant is an unimpressive but drinkable thing.

For opposite reasons, cheap coffee made without care is nasty, nasty stuff. The coffee sitting out for hours at your local oil change place is a liquid nightmare. Bad beans, bad roasting, lengthy storage at room temperature, bad drip maker, and time sitting out all combine to create an unpotable, thick, black bullion.

Tea tastes better under a wider range of circumstances.
Tea tastes good hot and cold. It tastes fine at room temperature. It tastes fine after it’s been sitting out overnight. It tastes fine after being steeped twice or three times. It tastes fine thin and diluted.

Coffee is a more particular beverage. It too tastes fine hot or on ice, of course, but it tastes bad at room temperature. It is undrinkable if it is too thin or boiled down.

Tea offers a much wider variety of tastes.
There is a variety of coffees, but I would not consider it wide. I’ve tried a bunch, but they all seem like variations on a theme. I’ve even tried a 100% robusta coffee, but the difference between that and an Arabica (a different species) is not so great as the difference between two fairly different Chinese greens (same species).

Tea, on the other hand, offers a stupendous variety. First, you have many different regions: China, Japan, India, Ceylon, Africa, not to mention several other Asian countries. Second, you have the different types: green, Oolong, black, white, pu er, etc. A cup of first flush Darjeeling tastes absolutely nothing like a Chinese pu er. Even among just the Formosa Oolongs, one can find incredible variety. The world of tea invites years of exploration at a reasonable price. It’s a great hobby.

Tea offers a better caffeine buzz.
It may be true that, based on the amounts and concentrations that people generally drink, tea has less caffeine in it than coffee. But for the tea connoisseur, this is unlikely to be true on a practical level. Certain tea plant varieties just have ton of caffeine in them. Nor do green teas have less caffeine than black: it’s the same amount of caffeine per same leaf of tea, so the tea variety and the concentration at which the tea is drunk will determine the level of caffeine.

I have been much more buzzed out on tea than I ever have on coffee. Drink the right variety of tea at a high concentration, and you will absolutely be flying. I have had tunnel vision, giddiness, and an overall feeling that I can only imagine is what speed is like. Not that I endorse such an experience or seek it out myself on a regular basis.

I haven’t seen any research, but I do think tea offers a different type of caffeine buzz. If I drink a lot of tea, the buzz seems to go mostly to my head. When I drink coffee, I seem to get less of a head rush and much more crankiness in my body.


Tea is the “real thing,” not friggin’ Coke.
The fact that Americans drink so much Diet Coke and other chemical soups is a real shame on our culture. We just don’t know better, I guess. Tea is a cheaper, easier, and more environmentally sound beverage, but still we stick with the fake-o concoctions in aluminum cans. What a joke. (And I’m guilty of it myself. Nor are other countries necessarily better: Japan drinks awful canned coffee in copious amounts.)

Tea is a real, organic beverage; its flavor is naturally complex. Even cheap tea is suitable for the sophisticated palate.

America has become somewhat coffee-smart but is still tea-stupid.
With the advent of Starbucks indie coffee joints and palates that can appreciate better coffee, America has become somewhat coffee-smart.But America is still incredibly tea-stupid. The same Starbucks that has educated the masses about good (or at least mediocre) coffee serves tea at a high price in cheap little bags (Tazo, what a joke).

A variety of other influences is preventing Americans from seeing tea for what it really is. Green tea is promoted by health food stores, which is fine, but almost no understanding of green tea connoisseurship is conveyed. In effect, people get the idea that green tea is a generic type of medicine, when in fact the variety of green teas from various regions is astounding, and green tea is one of the most exciting types of tea.

The bottled teas available in the US are atrocities that give Americans a false impression about tea’s nature. There are a lot of faux brands like Republic of Tea that try to make you think their sweetened concoctions are organic, good for the environment, healthful, whatever; but they can barely be labeled tea; they are more like Gatorade.

Drink more tea.

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BS and meta-BS

I’ve written more about a particular relationship on this blog than about anything else. It’s the relationship about which I wrote the poem “DRY” and numerous posts.

The interaction has finally ended, as it should have more than a year ago, with a lack of ending: there is no bold statement or move to make; there is only the acceptance of what was and wasn’t, what continues to be not, and what will never be–acceptance that came with my recent “Acceptance Revolution,” about which I plan to write soon on this blog. Stay tuned.

My message today is a small one dealing with a lesson I learned from this relationship: don’t tolerate BS, and be wary of meta-BS.

BS refers simply to the modes by which one permits oneself to be mistreated in a realtionship. It’s just a truism that, in general, we human beings are willing to put up with quite a bit when we love and care about someone. It’s an understatement to say that I loved this person a lot, and thus I put up with a lot over a long period of time. I had a romance with her that failed. I tried to rekindle the romance, and that effort also ended in heartbreak. I tried to be “just friends” with her several times, putting a lot of time and effort into even that diminished relationship, but ended up her spiritual whipping boy each time.

Meta-BS refers to a person’s “going meta” on his or her BS, apologizing for it, explicating reasons for it (i.e., making excuses), and promising and perhaps even demonstrating efforts to reform it. Meta-BS differs from genuine apologies, reasons, and reform in that the person, either consciously or unconsciously, lacks the intention or the ability to do right by the target of the BS.

Meta-BS can keep you on the hook a long time. Think about the addict who cleans up and falls off the wagon in a never-ending cycle, while his or her family members in turn celebrate the reforms and suffer through the rock-bottoms. So it was in this unhealthy relationship, in which the person in question continually served up the BS and then apologized for it. Meanwhile, I was myself like an addict, unable to kick the habit as the aforementioned poem describes.

My Acceptance Revolution provided me the means of final (I believe) extrication. Contrary to past practice, in which I would try to push away the pain the relationship had caused me and the feelings for her that lingered, I simply accepted all of my internal content, committing myself only to the management of what I am able to manage: my words and actions.

The remarkable thing is that the pain and the feelings immediately subsided to the point where now I am truly beginning to forget her. Or, to paraphrase the country tune, “More and more I think about her less and less.”

Now that I have (I feel) extricated myself from one of the most painful situations of my life, I have little doubt that she will contact me again, show me her baby pictures, and try to do the little things that, in the past, pushed my buttons and roped me in. Come what may; that’s just how these things work. There is little more for me to say to her than, “Congratulations. Blessings.” I will continue to accept my internal content while managing my words and actions as well as I am able.

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"DAYS"–a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson



Daughters of Time, the hypocrite Days,
Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes,
And marching single in an endless file,
Bring diadems and fagots in their hands.
To each they offer gifts after his will,
Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all.
I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp,
Forgot my morning wishes, hastily
Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day
Turned and departed silent. I, too late,
Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.

§           §           §

Wow, what a great poem, and an unusual one for Emerson. He rarely wrote unrhymed verse, and the meditative tone of regret here is not to be found in many of his other works.

The feeling of slow movement, the Days walking in single file, is exquisite and immediately makes a deep impression on the imagination, as does the selection of offerings large and small.

Emerson’s poems are often difficult to interpret. Why are the Days hypocrites? Does the narrator regret his choice (simple things instead of the world itself), feeling that his will was insufficient; or does he contemn the Day for scorning his simplicity? Or is it a little bit of both?

My impression is that Emerson is commenting with some measure of regret on the way of time (“muffled and dumb”: time cannot speak for or explain itself) and the way of the world (“the pomp”). Our days promise to bring us anything we want, so long as we are willing to fight for it (“after his will”), but if we forget our “morning wishes” (perhaps our big dreams when we are young) and opt for the simple things, the world looks down upon our choice (“the scorn”).

A deep, beautiful poem that gives one much for pondering, both in image and in thought.

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