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Life in the Empire

Dan Folgelberg dies of prostrate cancer. 56 years old.

I loved this guy--sappy music and all.

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It's the chance of a lifetime in a lifetime of chance
And it's high time you joined in the dance
Luck Won for Six
(Christmas Story, 2007)

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. This could be like Russian Roulette. It could be... but it is not.

Drought was upon the land, and stinging wind scoured the tundra and eyes of all creatures trying to gimlet weak vision through soiled amber light, seeking reward or predicting peril. “Lukwun,” the pez would whisper and try to protect their eyes. “Lukwun,” another would answer, in hope their comrade would find sustenance or safety. It means, “luck to one,” or, “luck turns,” but there’s more to it than that (there usually is). You may hear the entire story now. This is how speech grows; of words and children.

Years ago, there was a speaker and a scholar who has long since gone to the reward or oblivion that awaits us all on the other side of this life. She told stories, she knew the Old Ways. She taught that a good story did not need to be true, yes she did! A good story only needed to tell the truth… and that is the difference between what is remembered or forgotten. Of course, nothing is forgotten… and nobody dies… but that is another story for another time. This is the story of Luke chapter one, verse forty six: The Magnificat.

She read the story (yes! She could read!) from the oldest of books. Luke One Four Six is where you can find The Magnificat in the old book when you can read! The Magnificat was the song of a woman who gave birth to a child who saved the whole world. Yes, all the world! And from what did the child save us? Why, from Luck! Some call it fortune… or fate… it is what happens to us. Some call it “good” or “bad,” but that is not so! What happens is what happens… fortune is fortune; luck is luck all the same!

The people would come to speaker-scholar woman and say, “my luck is so bad!”
She would answer, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” She would tell them of the mother’s song, and what does Luck do? “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” She would warn those proud of their good fortune or luck; finding the most acorns or catching a fat deer. What does Luck do? “…he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.” He is that he is.

The streams will return and the corn will grow. The rain will come and the wind will whisper gentle and warm. All things are a gift, even those turned (wun) by our own hand. Or a curse, who knows? Luck turns things that pass through our hands, and when we no longer hold them, does that mean they do not exist? Of course not! Some say Luck is Light because speaker-scholar woman would say, “light one for six.” Everyone knows to wun a good fire is much work, but then it can easily start six others.

One candle can wun another six, and that original candle will burn no more or less bright than before… and this is why children can be the greatest wun of all. Speaker-scholar woman’s mother and father passed on, as did the name they gave her. She became known by another. Can you guess the name? Why, “Lukwun,” of course! What of the four parents and their two children in the ancient story? Can a wise woman who lived long ago in the future stick a force in your memory to help you endure?

Luckwun force sticks!
Evelyn O. Jensen - singer, composer, accompanist, teacher, mentor, friend. In college I banged on drums as she played the piano for dance classes. Later we shared letters as I tried to figure it all out as a young dancer. I stopped writing about 6 years ago because I never had any good news. I started several letters that, after growing to several pages in length, I left unfinished. My parents once told me that she commented on the fact that I wasn't writing anymore. I have guilt over that. I should have not just stopped. She was very important to me and gave me so much.

We called her "Dr. J." as an acknowledgement that she as a "lowly staffer" was worth far more than most of the professors we had to suffer. I am lucky to have been her student and friend.
I found this interview interesting, honest and kind of a breath of fresh air (no pun intended, as I heard an old interview by terry gross on fresh air today) Hope you find it so, too.
Interview with Nuala O'Faolain who recently died of lung+ cancer:

NO'F: Yeah, I was just reading about some best-selling man who says 'Live your dream to the end' and so on and I don't despise anyone who does, but I don't see it that way. Even if I gained time through the chemotherapy it isn't time I want. Because as soon as I knew I was going to die soon, the goodness went out of life.

MF: I think that's a very interesting thing. Because, as I understood it, for you life was very sweet, you had sorted out your American life, you had your life in Ireland, you had your life in universities, then you were going to write. So life was very sweet for you at that point. Why does it not seem to you that if you went through treatment life could not be sweet again?

NO'F: It's the time that I would get at the end of the treatment. I'm not even thinking about the treatment itself. It amazed me, Marian, how quickly life turned black, immediately almost.

For example, I lived somewhere beautiful, but it means nothing to me anymore -- the beauty. For example, twice in my life I have read the whole of Proust. I know it sounds pretentious, but it's not a bit. It's like a huge soap opera. But I tried again the week before last and it was gone, all the magic was gone from it.

And I'm not nice or anything -- I'm not getting nicer. I'm sour and difficult you know. I don't know how my friends and family are putting up with me, but they are, heroically. And that is one of the things you learn.

But, in general, every year since I was 60 me and the sisters and brother and sister-in-law have gone to Italy and sat on a beach. And I thought: 'Well, I will keep that goal', but now I am wondering if I would sit on the beach thinking what? I would be thinking 'God, was I a bit breathless last night? Am I going to choke? Is my right leg swelling and is it hurting?' There's so much you can't know.

You see, the cancer is a very ingenious enemy and when you ask somebody how will I actually die? How do you actually die of cancer ?... I don't get an answer because It could be anything.

It can move from one organ to the other, it can do this that or the other. It's already in my liver, for example. So I don't know how it's going to be. And that overshadows everything. And I don't want six months or a year. It's not worth it .

MF: Do you believe in an afterlife.?

NO'F: No, I do not.

MF: Or a God.

NO'F: Well that's a different matter somehow. I actually don't know how we all get away with our unthikingness. Often last thing at night I walk the dog down the lane and you look up at the sky illuminated by the moon and behind the moon the Milky Way and, you know, you are nothing on the edge of one planet compared to this universe unimaginably vast up there and unimaginably mysterious.

And I have done that for years, looked up at it and given it a wink and thought 'I don't know what's going on' and I still don't know what's going on, but I can't be consoled by mention of God. I can't.

MF: Would you like it?

NO'F: No. Oh no I wouldn't. If I start doing that something really bad is happening to my brain, though I was baptised and I remember my First Communion and I went to Catholic schools and I was in the legion of Mary and I tried to stick to my pledge.

And though I respect and adore the art that arises from the love of God and though nearly everybody I love and respect themselves believe in God, it is meaningless to me, really meaningless.
Good interview... one feels initially sad for what can be perceived as bitterness... but maybe not. I wish departures could be handled with the same joy and wonder as arrivals. When witnessing a passing up close... got the feeling... this is exactly what birth would be like if you were inside the mother.

The late/great Robert Anton Wilson looked at departure as "...the next Great Adventure:" "...Please pardon my levity, I don't see how to take death seriously. It seems absurd."

i have no idea where they go (or any of us)... from Pan's great friend to the dum little kitties we get attached to... all we know is they don't appear to be here any more... and as little as we know about those things (perception and environment)... that doesn't seem like a big whoop, does it? It does seem absurd.

Guess ya gotta walk dat lonesome valley, bayou self.
so sorry for covering this up. Saw the news article today. Cannot quite follow his logic but I do recall having heard of it long ago. Artists are strange creatures. Many very talented artists paint only for themselves.....destroy their work once it is near completion. Stiving for perfection...something quite unachievable, as we all know. Perhaps that is the explanation.
I don't much like funerals. Skipped one today. Had better things to do, like drag my tired arse to work, disconnect the world (telecomms eng.) and journey up the Mainzerlandstrasse to meet a young lady who works for the Commerzbank. She had a Harley jack for me which her sister in Karlsruhe gave her which that friend of mine gave her to bring back to Mainhatten for me. Couldn't stay at home or go to the funeral and miss out on meating the young lady who works for the Bank. Wifey went alone, again. She was a mother, grandmother, great grandmother and widow. Lived through the war and all. Had a stroke the other day and was found a bit late. We saw each other a few weeks ago when I was there to show off my bike to her daughter, a very close friend of ours. We did almost everything together, way back when, when our first born were on their way. I smiled at my grandpa's funeral and people thought I was sick in the head. He had cancer. Told me to drink, sing and dance for him the day he died. Told me to smoke a cigar for him too, no matter how much it hurts. Don't you cry my son. When it's over, I'll be better off. Live your life to the fullest and be ready to die most any day. You don't get to choose the day or the way.

A guy at work had to leave early today. A friend of his, also a Kurd from northern Iraq was in hospital with terminal cancer. Hossein stopped by the hospital on friday to visit him but he was no longer there. He was 41. That's almost worth crying over but he too was in pain and is now, no longer in pain. I wonder if the Kurds dance and sing when people die. I'll have to ask Hossein.

Do I believe in God? I didn't use to. Took a pill one day, stayed up all night. Couldn't sleep at all, just rest. I was layin there thinking about nothing at all when this word came into my head. It came slowly and increased in intensity and speed. My eyes opened real wide and I suddenly realized I had believed in God all along, just not the same God people were trying to sell me. That's why I don't like churches or religious people. They kinda let it hang out for everyone to see. For me, it's a very private thing. Oh yes, I believe in God. Always have. Always will. The sound that caused me to hear the word "Gott"..........gott...........gott.........gott.........gott........gott...gott...gott..gott..gott..

....was a train.
"It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it"
I suppose we should also mourn the passing of the toilet and welcome Waldo's new avatar--Mr. Paladin--the thinking-man's cowboy.
I will lift a glass for Carlin, and Palladin, two of my heroes, and what the heck, another for Vonnegut.

We had to watch Lawrence a one and a two and a Welk with the babysitter, who was knitting bandages for the red cross, so that we could watch Have Gun, Will Travel.

Just loved that Carlin was an early influence on my children, they were allowed to watch Shiningtime Station.


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