inside the authors head

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan, The Persistence of Memory
2

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.“

[Cosmos, Part 11: The Persistence of Memory (1980)]”
Carl Sagan, Cosmos

“what an astonishing thing a book is. it’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. but one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. books break the shackles of time. a book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

Observation 96

July 6th, 2016

Green eyes. Big green eyes she had, with mascara darkening her raven-feather lashes. Thinking of her, reminiscing on this one pretty girl (reminiscing unreasonably, might I add) That walked up to the kiosk around 3:30. She embodied pretty much everything that I find attractive: big green eyes, dark lashes dark hair—silky black hanging down to mid-back. She was short, which made her rather thick. Fuck. She was gorgeous, and she kept looking straight into my eyes when I spoke to her. And I didn’t think much of it then, when she was right in front of me, but now all of the signs are making themselves apparent. She was a gorgeous little thing with green eyes, and she seemed awfully nice too—oh, the opportunities that I let pass me by.

The accident happened about two weeks ago—no no, I can’t escape the date: the accident happened on November 10th, exactly 10 days ago; this means little Jaylin would have had a birthday in July, maybe on a warm evening with birds singing in cedars while the sun bids to rest in the Southern sky on a bed of clouds. But he won’t be born.
The blood in the toilet was scarlet with pain and for a whole a day she refused to flush him, as though amniotic fluid weren’t dripped dry from the egg, as though our little Jaylin would be preserved in the waters where we piss and shit.
She felt no pain afterwards but when the paramedics arrived (I called) they said that they would have to take her away for a few tests. I took my car and followed them to the hospital. They did their tests while I sat in that cryogenic waiting room, and then I walked into the room where they were holding her.
My love seemed utterly exhausted, still when I walked over she summoned the strength to little her feeble arm, reaching for my hand. When I took hers into mine she said “no no,” And I felt an impulse to lean in closer, closer, until my cheek was next to her cheek and she turned her neck and kissed me—on the earlobe, at the neck. Red hotness (scarlet red maybe) came running up my spine—I felt her tongue, her soft breath becoming rough. What is going on in the aftermath of this chaos? Her tongue assaulted the rim of my lobe once more, pressed harder and harder, and then her hand (now lost) suddenly found itself leaning onto my cock. I jolted back. She wanted to make love right there. She wanted to try again. She pried and reached and cooed. When I successfully fought her off she broke down into tears. She was absolutely hysterical, what with the combination of drugs and drama.
I took a step back, unsure as to what to do. I felt a storm of thoughts circulating into a cyclone—lightning struck and it was self loathing. How could I be in the mood at a time like this? How could she…after Jaylin…?
Even now I will never come to understand the influence that the pain-killers had on her
troubled mind.
I find myself in a dirty part of town. It’s an infertile part of the state that has to rely on industry and cheap labor, and it shows.
But anyway there was a second accident just a week later (November 17th, I will never escape theese dates). I won’t go into much except to that she hurt herself (box cutter, warm bath) and since then she’s been on antidepressants. We are on this trip to help her break her from it. We feel that if we just break out the cycle we’re trapped in we’ll reveal the path to bigger and greater changes in our lives. So far it’s been fruitless.

Coming in high, we break through the fleecy clouds that lay frozen over the small tourist town of Saint Augustine. It is August 18th, 2016, and many many years have passed and faded.
To the south of this peninsula lies a tempestuous seaboard, with flaming white harbors stretching far into the water; on occasion letting go of a cigarette boat or an old wooden ship with equally white and tempestuous sails. At the end of the road heading West, there is, safely chained off, an immense boat house the color of a farm barn. The brown boardwalk leading to it immediately turn gray after a few feet, properly distinguishing itself from the old planks that once led (though one can suppose they still do) to the entrance. Legend has it that this is where Juan Ponce Deleon landed his ship, and in this town is where he found that fabled fountain of youth, but sufficient evidence to support this attractive claim has yet to arise
To the north lies the cleaner and clearer waters of the intracoastal. A stretching archipelago makes navigation difficult, leaving the waters less sailed. We begin at this northern end, at a particular square ground, at a particular plaza: Montesinos plaza near Montesinos beach, where the 12 years passed have stopped reflecting completely, like the dark atlantic waters to the south.
Sursum Corda! Lift those heavy hearts; or Hearts Lifted. The old man can’t get the title of that old book out of his head, so he brushes it off.

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time.
—  Carl Sagan

anonymous asked:

Have you ever thought about doing a smut piece for Wonder Woman and Kara? Maybe a threesome with Cat involved. It a fluffy piece between WW and Kara? I'm just curious to see if you ship Kara and Diana together 😅 hoping my favorite fanfic author has pieces planned

Hahahahah have you been inside my head since I finally saw it on Saturday. I ship Kara and Diana and Cat for sure. Now I just need to find the time…

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other…A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan 
I used to hate hearing voices in my head, but there’s something comforting about how constant they are. Sometimes I think they’re the only thing that keeps me sane.
—  KJS // Excerpt from a book I’ll never write #26
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan

I get frequent questions about personal power and free will. I’ve gotten several recently, so I’ll take the subject up again.

Rather than approaching this question theoretically or philosophically, I always recommend that people look directly and see for themselves how things happen. What I’m suggesting is an awareness-based inquiry in the midst of daily life. Watch closely as choices and decisions unfold—simple ones like whether to get up after you’ve been sitting down for awhile, and big ones like whether to take a job or buy a house. Watch closely—really pay attention. With the big decisions, listen to the back and forth thoughts arguing for and against. Notice the urge and the over-powering compulsion that may arise to consult friends or to flip coins, and notice whether you accept the coin-flipping results or whether you keep flipping, and see if that is a choice or more like a compulsory movement over which you feel powerless. Feel the urgency, the anxiety, the pressure, the pushes and pulls this way and that—feel all of this in the body as pure energy or sensation. Watch the whole process. See if you can find a thinker of the thoughts, or if you can locate (in your actual direct experience) the source of the various urges and impulses that arise, or if you can find a “chooser” who is in control of this process. See if you can catch how the decisive moment finally happens—the moment when your choice is clear and the decision is made—are you in control of this decisive moment or does it happen suddenly, by itself, out of the blue? By looking and listening and watching all of this in action, the understanding of how life works becomes your own discovery and not a belief system or a philosophy.

What I noticed by doing this kind of inquiry over many years is that everything happens by itself—including every urge, every impulse, every thought, every opinion, every action, every word I type or speak, every movement of this bodymind. At the same time, there is the undeniable experience of being able to “do” things—it would be absurd to deny the ability right here to initiate opening and closing my hand, or shifting my attention from the computer screen to my left foot, or “deciding” which movie to see tonight, or researching the health benefits of various foods and then making changes in what I eat. There is a power right here that acts. But what is that power? When I look closely, I find that I cannot explain how exactly I initiate or do any of these things, nor can I find anyone in control of the initial impulse or urge to do them. The sense of agency that we have turns out to be a kind of optical illusion or mirage—part of how the organism functions, but on close inspection, it doesn’t really hold up. The “me” who is supposedly choosing and doing everything doesn’t exist in the way we think it does. And when this is realized, it is an enormous relief.

We are immediately free from blame, guilt and shame—from the desire to punish and avenge—and from layers upon layers of self-hatred, disappointment and feelings of inadequacy, imperfection or failure. We realize that no one can just “decide” to stop an addiction or to “be a nicer person” in the way that we think one can. Life doesn’t actually work that way. Thought is not the operative power, and no thinker apart from the Totality can actually be found.

But at the same time, we have all experienced that there is an apparent ability (when there is) to learn and practice and develop a new skill, to train at a sport, to recover from an addiction, to make positive changes in the dynamics of a relationship, to fight for civil rights or an end to oppressive institutions such as slavery, and so on. If we just sat on the couch “doing nothing,” insisting that “there is no free will” and waiting for some greater power to do all this, we’d be waiting forever. The universe acts through all of us and through the illusion of agency. And yet, if we think we are actually authoring or initiating or doing any of this as an independent self, or that we can do whatever we want at will, or that we can choose what we want in any given moment, we will be disappointed and frustrated again and again—trying to control the uncontrollable.

Life itself is not confusing until we start thinking about it (and of course, “we” don’t start thinking—the thinker it another thought, a mental image, a conceptual idea). But without thought, life is not perplexing. Opening and closing my hand is not confusing until I begin to think about whether or not “I” am choosing to do it and whether or not “I” have free will. Then suddenly we get very confused. But what exactly is this “I” that we imagine to be in or out of control? Can we start by locating this apparent author-chooser-actor-observer that we think is inside the head somewhere, directing our lives and calling the shots? And can we begin to discern the difference between the ways we think about life and the living reality itself?

Choice and choicelessness are conceptual maps of a living reality that cannot really be boxed up in any dualistic, binary way. If you say you are in charge of your life, you ignore the observable fact that every urge, every thought, every interest, every reaction happens by itself and that no actual agent-author-self-in-charge can ever be located. If you say you are not in charge, you ignore the obvious fact that there is an ability Here / Now to open and close your hand, to direct your attention, to learn new skills, to think creatively, to reason, and perhaps even to compose symphonies or write novels. There is response-ability (the ability to respond) Here / Now….but it doesn’t belong to the false self, which is nothing more than a mental image, an idea. It belongs to something else. What is that? And don’t just slap down a word from the rolodex of authoritative answers, but look and see.

Either way of framing this question of free will (choice or no choice) is a conceptual abstraction, and in the living reality itself, you can’t really say choice or no choice. Are you breathing or being breathed? Is your hand opening by itself or are you opening it? You can’t really say. (Well, you can say, but anything you say is not the truth). It all hinges on who or what we think the chooser is. If we think there is a little soul-like entity called “me” inside our head sitting at a giant control panel calling the shots, and if we think that little homunculus is authoring our thoughts, and that our thoughts have the power to direct our actions, we are deluded. We have not investigated closely.

But if we land in the opposite position—if we assert that we have no control, who or what are we talking about exactly? Who has no control? What has no choice? And if you are not opening and closing your hand, then who or what is doing it? Is there a doer apart from the action? Maybe the whole thought and language construction of subject-verb-object is only a conceptual abstraction—maybe in reality, there is no actor apart from the action, and no cause apart from the effect. Maybe all the nouns are really more like verbs. Maybe no-thing actually exists (i.e., stands apart from everything else and persists over time). Maybe there is only seamless, boundless, indivisible flux—otherwise known as this-here-now.

Some teachers emphasize the power to choose, the response-ability that is Here / Now. If they are insightful nondual teachers, they know full well that this power is not the illusory separate self. Other teachers emphasize our complete powerlessness—the way everything is happening by itself. And yet, these radical nondual teachers who emphasize powerlessness live very functional lives—they are not sitting passively on the couch “doing nothing” and waiting for some greater force to move them around like pieces on a chessboard. So I would suggest that both teachings (choice and choicelessness) are pedagogical tools—neither is the Truth. Both can be effective. And misunderstood, both can have unintended pitfalls (guilt and blame on one side, and false disempowerment on the other). We will each go with the pedagogical tool, the teacher and the teaching that resonates most deeply with what we need to realize at this moment—there is no choice in the matter (only the appearance of a choice).

If you’re raising a child or training an Olympic athlete, you will probably (at least much of the time) utilize the pedagogical tool of choice. But if you understand that everything is a happening of the whole universe—that there is no individual chooser who can move in a direction other than the direction life itself is moving, then you will perhaps have more compassion when your child throws a tantrum in the supermarket for the umpteenth time, or your star athlete fails miserably during the Olympic trials, or when you lose your temper and scream at one of them. You will know that in that moment, life could not have been otherwise—that infinite causes and conditions bring forth the weather of each moment—and that everything is one whole happening from which nothing can ever be pulled apart.

Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoche Anam Thubten emphasizes the power that is Here / Now: “Nothing is holding us back from awakening,” he writes. “We are the one who imprisons and we are the one who liberates. When we accept that responsibility we have finally gained spiritual maturity.”

My good friend Darryl Bailey goes in a seemingly opposite direction, emphasizing the impossibility of influencing or controlling our lives or the world through individual choice or will-power: “Our appearance, direction, and actions simply happen. This realization is freedom,“ Darryl writes. But notice that he also says, “This would be a doctrine of determinism if we existed as something separate from the movement of the universe, something being pushed around by it. But we’re not separate from it; we are this movement.” By focusing on the choiceless nature of everything, and by refusing to offer any path or anything to do, Darryl brings the mind to a complete stop in its relentless search for self-improvement and attainment: “Spiritual liberation frees you from the misery-inducing fantasy of perfecting yourself,” he writes. “In this moment, I am what I am; you are what you are; we’re both the dance of the cosmos. Liberation isn’t the act of breaking free of this. Liberation is knowing it can’t be otherwise.” When that is really grokked, it is immensely liberating!

Advaita sage Wayne Liquorman does an excellent job of showing that ALL thoughts, impulses, interests, intentions, actions, successes and failures are impersonal happenings, and that whatever happens could not be otherwise than exactly how it is. He also notes that when the false sense of individual authorship dissolves, when we recognize our personal powerlessness, suddenly a new kind of power flows in, an impersonal power: “Once we know ourselves to be Ocean in the form of wave, we become free to be ourselves in a way we never dreamed possible. It is as if we had spent our life driving with the emergency brake on and suddenly it is off.”

Martial Arts Master and Zen Roshi Vernon Kitabu Turner says something very similar: “Enlightenment is first of all coming to understand that there is no self in the conventional sense…and it’s in the process of letting go of that notion that one experiences what one truly is in the universal sense. That’s when enlightenment comes—when you realize that you are not in control. And because of that, you are very much in control.”

The great Advaita sage Nisargadatta Maharaj said this: “The universe is not bound by its content, because its potentialities are infinite; besides it is a manifestation, or expression of a principle fundamentally and totally free.”

And here is Mumon’s Comment in the famous Zen koan “Hyakujo’s Fox” from The Gateless Gate:

“Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error.”

And finally, there is this beautiful statement from Eckhart Tolle: “Choice implies consciousness—a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present. Until you reach that point, you are unconscious, spiritually speaking. This means you are compelled to think, feel, and act in certain ways according to the conditioning of your mind….Presence is the key. The Now is the key.”

Can we choose to disidentify with the mind, to turn away from mental noise, to be fully present in the Now, to see through delusion, to shift our attention from the map-world of abstract thought to the living reality Here / Now? In my experience, if you say yes, you are overlooking the immense power of habit and conditioning, the force of nature, and the unreality of the individual self that we think we are. On the other hand, if you say no, you are overlooking the infinite potential, the freedom, the response-ability that is Here / Now—what the Advaita sage Robert Adams called “the power that knows the way.” And as Robert pointed out, Here / Now (what we truly are) IS that power. Yes or No – both are a grievous error. Nonduality points beyond fixation—not one, not two—just this, as it is. How is it? We can’t say!

So don’t get stuck in any fixed position or any conceptual map. Use the maps but don’t mistake them for the living reality. Don’t cling to one-sided views. Many different maps can be helpful at different moments in our lives. We don’t need to make one right and the other wrong. Choice or choicelessness? Free will or determinism? Empowerment or powerlessness? Which is the Truth? I won’t say!

Perhaps this pathless path of being liberated on the spot is about discovering firsthand both our total powerlessness (as the imaginary separate fragment) and the source of true power (in the wholeness of Here / Now). Perhaps liberation has nothing to do with some perfect formulation or some final conclusion. Perhaps waking up is a never-ending (always now) discovery. And perhaps no words can ever capture the living reality.

—  Joan Tollifson
A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.
—  Carl Sagan, via Reddit
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan, Cosmos
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
—  Carl Sagan