Mindful Corruption

If strict adherence to set instructions doesn’t sit right with you, then don’t adhere to them. Twist it to be used in whatever way you feel is best. The end result may not be what any instructors might have wanted you to get out of it, but the point is ultimately to get something out of it. I’ve always approached lectures, exercises, and means of training with the idea that they are meant to serve me. Whether it’s as their creators intended or not.

On the other side of that, I’ve long since learned the benefits of mastering something – skills, techniques, etc. – ‘properly’, but basterdizing these things into something I feel more in tune with or that I like better is always a possiblilty. It’s part of what has often made the teachings from one Sith to another so diverse. No one feels bound to honor the intent of the teachings from Sith that have more experience, or that were around long before they themselves were.

That is, of course, different from when you’re involved in a one-on-one training arrangement. If you aren’t looking to learn something via the manner a more experienced practitioner wishes to teach it (more or less), then there’s very little point to it. But in terms of independent and solitary study… I say be mindful of the possibilities. If you come across material that seems like it’s to much to handle as is, or that resonates in spirit but not quite in the details… play with it.

The Star Wars Canon

I’ve come across a link to an article (Lucasfilm Have Convened A Star Wars Story Group And They’re Working On Defining A Single, Coherent Canon) basically explaining just what the mouthful of a title implies: an effort to synthesize the “core” mythos of the six movies and the expanded universe. It’s for continuity, for a ‘coherent canon’. But I guess what I’m failing to understand is… what, exactly, makes it so incoherent right now?

As far as I know most of the expanded universe lines up pretty damn well with the films; what doesn’t, well, doesn’t even line up with the rest of the expanded universe and is already deemed “non-canon”.

Back when there was talk of abandoning the expanded universe when putting together the story for the new Disney created movies set to come out, I didn’t get it. You’ve got a whole galactic history spanning thousands and thousands of years, and pretty much all of it ties in together neatly. Who in their right mind would disregard that?

The talk about reworking the hierarchy system of Lucas’s “core” works as he primary, and the “expanded universe” as the secondary, seems somewhat reassuring. It still leaves me wondering though, what exactly does the work of this “story group” consist of? The currently designated “canon” is, as far as I can tell, almost entirely coherent already.

Take a look at wookiepedia sometime: there’s an existing distinction between non-canon that doesn’t match up with everything else, and canon that does. They’ve done a pretty good job of that over the years. I guess what I’m saying is, they don’t exactly have a lot of work cut out for them, because it’s already been done gradually and (imo) pretty effectively over the years. A quote from the article…

“Anyway, it’s clear that Lucasfilm and Disney want to tie all new Star Wars anythings into the same continuity, and I can’t say I blame them.” ~Brendon Connelly

Well hell man, neither can I.

It just kind of puzzles me that they could think there’s all that much to do in the way of tieing things together for continuity. Unless there’s a lot I’m just totally unaware of; which, I suppose, is a (remote) possibility. After all, all except for one of the book stores in my town are gone, and I almost don’t count that one because it’s mainly a used book store.

They’ve only recently branched out into carrying new books, and acting as a middle-man for people that want to order one through a store instead of through a computer. It’s still slowed me down a bit though, in staying up to date on every detail of the newer developments. So who knows, maybe the canon designations for all the difference stories need re-examined with a magnifying glass… I just kind of doubt it.

Whatever happens though, I’m looking forward to the new movies. Hopefully they have enough sense to build on – or at least refrain from contradicting – the expanded universe. If they can do that, then they won’t have to worry about killing my interest in the new movies they’re planning to put out.

Notables of 2013

Oh what to say – or even think – about the past year, for this blog. I usually don’t reflect on it that much, and I definately haven’t done so in “proper” blogging fashion. There was one post, probably the first year Maleficus Amor existed, where I listed a few things I was looking forward to – (which, by the way, I very much enjoyed, with one exception). But I rarely do well timed holiday posts to say Merry Christmas (for instance). So I guess this year must be a fluke, because I did a holiday post on the 25th and here you are, reading this.

So, how was 2013? In terms of this blog, it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great. Writing posts here is a secondary priority at best, and often times it doesn’t even make it that high up, proving to be a distant question mark on the list. With how much this place has been neglected though, ultimately… it hasn’t been half bad. Hell, so far the tally now is up to over 20,000 views. No, all things considered that’s not bad at all. Given that, I guess I’ll furnish some highlights in ‘celebration’ (or whatever) of the past year here…

Notables of 2013

Feeling Darkness
A Monster
Chains of Shimmersilk
Apprenticeship
The Critics’ Trap
Arrogance & Modesty
Where’s Your Focus?
Sojourn

As far as other websites go… there’s plenty to tell, I suppose, but overall things have worked out pretty well thus far. That’s the long and short of it, for the moment. If you want to find out more about them you can always sign up at one of them (Order of the Sith), but I’m sure I’ll end up touching on that stuff here before to long into the new year, so if it’s of any interest you can also just wait for that to happen. In fact, you can probably expect something by tomorrow, if not within the next few hours. In any case, that about does it for this post.

Ladies & Gentleman…
Happy New Year.

Helper Monkeys…?

Yep, helper monkeys.
The wordress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,800 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s not something I was sure about posting here, but then I figured… fuck it, why not. Maybe someone will find it to be of interest. If it’s not, you can always skip over this post. I’ll probably put out one more “end of the year” post after this, maybe list a few ‘notable’ posts from 2013. Then, if you’re like me and only mildly interested (or not interested at all) in posts like these, it’ll be over. I might post something about the reader’s choice thing at OotS, which (sort of) has to do with “looking back” at 2013, in a sense, but it’s a little different, and as it’s almost midnight right now it probably won’t be posted before the new year begins.

The Honesty of Darkness

The death of a star – falling in upon itself – takes place in those of strength; those to weak are consumed. This is the beginning of insatiable hunger, ambitions, wants, passion; and it is the end of contentment, rest, peace. The individual becomes a black hole, and has lost all convention, all comfort, for having dispelled the light that had once constituted his being.

You look into it, and it returns your gaze. The darkness that defines it – that creates an abyss – will begin to speak. Understanding will emerge, and you will come to realize that this abyss is within yourself. Eventually, it will dawn on you: the abyss isn’t merely a part of you, it is who you truly are. Formerly distorted by the surrounding light, it will become clear to you, ready to be embraced.

∞ ◊ ∞

I am the Heart of Darkness.
I know no fear; but rather I instill it in my enemies.
I know the power of the Dark Side.
I am the fire of hate; the universe bows before me.
I pledge myself to the Darkness.
For I have found true life, in the Death of the Light.
~Author Unknown

I read this code a long, long time ago. Vallen – the darksider, not Spark – had used it in a lecture. Then, I had passed it over years ago, having decided it was poorly contructed and didn’t represent darkness or the way of the Sith accurately. Later, I had a change of heart and used it in a lecture of my own. Here, now, I seek to present the treasures to be found in the ways of our archetypes yet again.

I am the Heart of Darkness.

There is Darkness within everyone; it is the home of painful truths, of secret wants and desires. It is the hiding place of those things we willfully ignore, and it is more. Above all, it is the cradle of the heart. Sith taste, feel, and accept that this is where their heart really is, that this is even what the heart itself is; and that alone is an acknowledgment that takes strength.

But one does not become the Heart of Darkness suddenly or effortlessly, even after having found it. Pain, sweat, and struggle ensue, for it remains an elusive creature, always prancing here and there. When the individual begins to look outward, he becomes acquainted with the nature of this playful, mischievous, slippery fish of a heart. Only with an inward gaze can an adept begin to fathom it, feel it, and let it guide his hand.

I know no fear; but rather I instill it in my enemies.

It is, at first glance, a poor choice of words to say that a Sith knows no fear. Nevertheless, a message of value can still be discerned, especially by those well versed in our ways. To paraphrase an old friend, “to be feared by a Sith is no benefit, for the object of his fear becomes a target”. While it is not always the case that it becomes targeted as a result, to be feared by a Sith is no advantage. Speaking for myself, I know fear well. But the difference evident to me, a line seperating a common man from a true Sith, is that we do not become crippled; it is passed through, and we draw strength from the experience.

I imagine this could scare other people when enountered in someone like myself, and it is also a given that instilling fear in others can have a desirable effect on the outcome of certain situations; but unless the outcome being aimed for is close to the individuals heart, unless the purpose of this kind of manipulation is sincere, it’s a hollow tactic.

I know the power of the Dark Side.

Darkness, the Dark Side, is something different to each and every practitioner; it is about the individual. For myself, it is the individual. The Dark demands strength, through which there is the potential to gain greater power.

Power, when bolstered by strength, can become self-perpetuating. To know power, revelation and understanding has a greater oppurtunity to flourish. And though power is not the “be all, end all” of our way, possessing it and expanding it is a defining characteristic of the Dark practitioner. The strong and mindful will always find ways grow their influence, both in range and intensity.

I am the fire of hate; the universe bows before me.

Another picture is painted in proclaiming one’s self to be “the fire of hate”, not unlike the earlier line on fear. For the discerning eye, this to is an attempt to put on diplay an adepts willingness to attune himself to his feelings; to not only stand at the edge of the chasm, but to leap into the dark abyss beyond. To jump into the black hole… into yourself. To embrace your true nature.

As to the ‘universe’, that too is simply the individual bowing before himself. Not in submission, but in enthusiastic service to his own life. For the dead star recognizes that it is an entire universe in and of itself.

I pledge myself to the Darkness.

I must reiterate that the nature of darkness is left for the individual to experience and describe. No one can do that for you, and few will respect the sacrifices and strife demanded of those that come to know the Dark intimately, viscerally. To stand by what you’ve discovered within and what you’ve grown to become, to commit one’s self so absolutely is something many will not or cannot do.

But there are those that have, and those that will. Most of these few will eventually comprehend that conviction is indicative of strength. Taking the risks of their conviction in stride, they pledge themselves unflichingly to darkness.

For I have found true life, in the Death of the Light.

The definition of Light: a force of distortion, a Lie. The light of an individual is who he thinks he is, who and how he thinks others percieve him, the very opinions of other people on who he is, it is the ideals that would sublimate his heart, his nature. It comes from looking outward for definition and direction. The death of the Lie – the Light – gives birth to true life.

“A monster is a person who has stopped pretending…”
~Colson Whitehead

∞ ◊ ∞

The death of a stars light can be the birth of a monstrous soul, a dark abyss. You need only dispell the light, to be shamelessly honest with yourself, to be reborn as an infantile monster, and to grow into something you’re proud to be.

(5-7-10)

Merry Christmas

Christmas… A time to celebrate and revel in the connections we have with one another. Perhaps to reflect on the influence I’ve had on those around me, and the affect they’ve had on me. It’s not that different from how I saw it when I was a kid, actually; I use different words, but in many ways it’s still the same.

It’s fascinating, really, in the sense that gift giving, family gatherings, and parties are all customs that we engage in which demonstrate the connections we have to others, and the ties they have to us.

Cut out all the religous and anti-religious crap, all the commercialism and the griping about said commercialism, and that is what you’re left with. Demonstrations of the webwork of power we all exist within. It’s not about spreading love, being jolly, or giving and recieving; it’s not even about family or friends. Not exactly. All of these things come into it, but underlying everything…

…Christmas is about power.
How much we have, and how much we allow others to have over us.
The ways we all exercise it with one another, and the intensity of those influences.
The place (within) that it springs from.
The tapestry our connections make between us.

So fellow practitioners, and casual roamers of the internet…
Merry Christmas. Have a good one.

Blog Updates

A few new pages here have been up for awhile. They’re still kind of works in progress, but the indexing has come together rather nicely. I organized it by year, so the list isn’t ridiculously long per each section. Each sub-page is titled for the year of its listed posts (e.g. 2011, 2012, etc.), with it’s parent page being Lest We Forget.

The lectures I’ve written (and favor enough to have posted here and, in some cases, touched up), are listed, as is some of the poetry… however, the whole Vanitas section is still a work in progress. (By the way: “vanitas” is latin; feel free to look it up if it’s of any interest).

I’ve also been posting aphorisms. Started doing that on twitter, actually, but with the “aside” feature for posts I had been mostly using for quotes, I decided to post them here to, in a similar way. Who knew twitter would actually have any uses beyond the obvious ones.

I’d have included some of the quotes from others, but, well, it didn’t quite click with the way I wanted to use them for this site, so I’ve been using some of my own cute, concise one liners. That might change, but we’ll just have to see.

The Critics’ Trap

I’ve had my fair share of being burnt out on the force realist communities, but in all honesty, the source of all that dissatisfaction is almost always myself. There are and probably always will be plenty to criticize, but what matters is where you place your focus. If you look at the vast majority of students, for instance, you might see a disheartening lack of passion, dedication, or commitment. Or if you come to rely on direct opposition and challenges as the only form of interaction (i.e. conflict) that you find viable, it might be hard to see or use other forms.

I could go on, because in addition to the list of critiques someone else has recently been putting together, you can be sure I have a list of my own. But if I were to focus on the shortcomings or failings to much, or get caught up in them… well, it’s comparable to the differences I’ve pointed out between being ‘self absorbed’ and ‘self centered’ or ‘thinking’ and ‘overthinking’. You can compare it – to a certain degree – to the “traps” along our path, as Miles has described in the past, the traps of passion, strength, power, and even victory.

To do that is basically the same as looking at a quality and deciding it is entirely, irrevocably a weakness. But that’s bullshit; patience can be one or the other; stubborness can be one or the other. Name a trait, a quality, and whether it’s a strength or a weakness is mainly a matter of awareness, and choice. Being aware of them, even having to deal with them, is one thing; being tripped up by them is another. Getting hung up on any of these things is a choice though, whether consciously made or not, and I’m the one responsible for making it. Even the difference between a quality being a strength or a weakness is comparable.

None of these things, in and of themselves, are irreconcilable problems, they’re just challenges to deal with. Even opportunities to learn, adapt, and grow. Pretty much any and all problems one can point to in the communities are the same in that regard. They are the bitter that someone who’s been around the block a few times has to take with the sweet. And there’s really no denying that there’s a sweet side to all of it, because there have been a number of passionate, dedicated, and outright inspiring people exemplify (and share) the ways of the Sith.

All I can say, to anyone that believes the former eclipses the latter, is that you determine where your focus is at. Positives or negatives, useful or useless, immersion or escape, strength or weakness. Make your choice, and be honest with yourself about it. It’s no different from the practices some find worthwhile while others deem them to be escapist practices, nor any different from the exercising power, influence, while others obsess over how to control things, and fail.

The critics trap is defined by tunnel vision, by focus on the negatives, the shortcomings and failings of a thing, or of people, to the point that they overshadow and eclipse all of the victories, accomplishments, and overall value that a community can have. It can be climbed out of though, simply by focusing on the things that matter to you, the things you resonate with and feel are important, the things you care about.

Related Posts (by Me)

Ran Its Course
Escapist Practices
Due Consideration
Where’s Your Focus?
Degrees of Control

Related Posts (by Khaos)

Filters
Be Consumed By Your Passion
Passion & Reason
The Relationship Between Master & Apprentice

Arrogance & Modesty

There’s something to be said for demureness. Brazen, unapologetic arrogance has been all the rage at times, but it doesn’t suit me. Of course that’s far from saying I’m humble (lower, or less than), or that I’m lacking in arrogance, but pride, confidence and modesty aren’t mutually exclusive.

For me, their co-mingling has always been the most to my liking, the most honest demeanor I’ve been seen to embrace and express. It’s an interesting shift in perspective on this, for me, if I look at how it’s changed over time, because years and years ago I wrote what was probably my first ‘lecture‘ (entitled Power, Arrogance, and Corruption) and the essence of it was a warning about the danger to oneself and ones progress posed by becoming arrogant (the tell-tale sign that power had corrupted).

Somewhere along the lines though, I ended up on the other side of the spectrum. It started to look to me as though humility was a cop out, a nifty device to fall back on; in other words, a person being humble only acted that way because they couldn’t handle the baggage that comes with arrogance, and they didn’t want to admit that their weakness – their inability to act or feel secure in their sense of importance – was the reason.

On some level, I still think that’s right on the mark, but what I’ve since realized is that the two (arrogance and modesty) aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s one of those things that seems like it should have been obvious, but it took a while to fully dawn on me. Not to long ago, I was of a like mind to something David Edge said…

Pride and arrogance are so easy a child can do them, seemingly. The problems people have with pride and arrogance is that it is NOT easy to do, at least not well. So, in an effort to mask inadequacywe have conceptualized humbleness. People think its better to claim theyre not playing than to admit they play poorly.”
~David Edge

At first glance the statement he made didn’t seem to me to leave any room for humility or modesty; that is, if you were someone that could ‘play well’. If that is really what’s meant by it, then from that perspective any sign of humbleness or tendencies to be unassuming becomes anathema, signs that you play poorly and don’t want to admit it. At least that’s the way I took it for a while, kind of on the other end of the spectrum from my earlier views, and I came to agree with it. But my view of all this has changed as I’ve reflected on it lately.

The way I see it, arrogance tempered by modesty is playing par excellence, because I still have an underlying belief that I’m better than others, but I don’t usually assume that about any specific ‘somebody’ I meet or talk to or don’t know. I’m very unassuming in that sense, in that I take people as they are. It just doesn’t take away from the underlying belief I have that I’m better than other people, generally speaking.

As far as the cost of such a stance… if I interact with you, whether it’s the first time we’ve had an exchange or it’s the thousandth, my view and attitude towards you specifically isn’t going to be affected in a ‘bad’ way by my ego. If I don’t know you, then I don’t know you, so there’s no reason to say “I’m better than you” or, really, even think it, because I wouldn’t know (yet). And if we’re talking about someone I know, then what I think about who’s better than who is going to depend on context and on what I know about that person.

(Written awhile ago, still more or less applies…)

Talking Dead

I finally watched the latest episode of the Talking Dead (the one that followed last Sundays episode of The Walking DeadIsolation) and given the amount of talk surrounding it I took a few different things into consideration before even watching it. One was that Manson can wander around his point before getting to it, which would’ve explained some of the things I read about in the last day or so. Another was that the host of the show can be kind of a dick, just in general, and overall the show is pretty shallow and fast-paced.

Honestly, I went into it about as undecided and unbiased as I ever get and I was predicting that some valid points were probably being made on both sides  of the chatter. Meaning, of course, that I wasn’t expecting to find myself on one side or the other. Sympathy for both sides was a possibility I saw, and so was indifference. But after watching the show myself from start to finish, it’s ended up completely defying any of my expectations.

Halfway through I started to wonder what everyone on the net was talking about because as far as I could tell it was moving along pretty smoothly. There was the occasional minor tangent (and I do stress, minor) from Manson, and here and there the host was condescending, but nothing that lived up to all the virtual yapping people have been doing. So when I hit thirty minutes I was beginning to wonder, ” well, just what the hell are people talking about?”

Then five minutes after that I started to see exactly what people were talking about, and found I was completely wrong about boths sides having a point. I wasn’t torn between the two at all: the host was being a dick. Even the people that say (in M.M.’s defense) it was the wrong type of show for Manson to be on have me rolling my eyes. Manson’s tendency to meander around a subject notwithstanding, I didn’t see much of that going on at all. And what little I did see didn’t cause any “second-hand emberassment” for me, because every time he said something he made a point, or was cut off right as he was making it.

Not just cut off either, but cut off with snide, outright rude comments about being off topic. For mentioning World War Z, for instance, and how the “mega-herd” of walkers in The Walking Dead are better than the herds in Z, which I thought was a fair point. If you’ve seen so much as a fucking preview of that movie then you probably got what Manson was saying. In fact, it’s actually because of those previews, and the way the zombies look like an abstract swarm of insects instead of like zombies, that killed any interest I might have had in it before then (i.e. because of the zombie hoards in a preview of it, I doubt I’ll ever watch WWZ).

Anyways, about thirty-five minutes in I go from questioning what all the internet chatter is about to wondering why there’s any debate whatsoever about the host being a dick. I mean, there are only about two times I can recall, after having just watched it, where you could say Manson went off-topic.

Pretty much the only one that’s fair to point out though, is pretty minor and happened towards the beginning, which is: his comparison of Carrie to Jamee Lee Curtis in those Activia commercials. (lol, and for christs sake, there’s no denying the resemblance.) But I don’t consider a comparison to World War Z zombie hoardes to be anywhere near off-topic; seemed like a pretty straightforward compliment to the special effects of The Walking Dead to me, which just so happened to be what they were talking about at the time.

Other than that, they were almost all theories and comparisons the host didn’t agree with, but that weren’t hard to grasp. Nor did I find it difficult to follow as they were explained. The rest, the few offhand comments and the sillier theories were put out there for the sake of humor. Case in point was when Manson was talking about Rick getting a tractor and “de-legging” zombies. I was amused, and the host, instead of letting it pass as a casual comment, decided to essentially say, “ha, that’s stupid”. Funny thing is, if it hadn’t been for the tone and the look on his face, I would’ve just figured the host was joining in for all of five seconds. It looked like mocking to me though.

Now, all that being said… how this had people arguing or talking about it as much as it has, really baffles me. Yeah, the host was a bit of a dick, but was this whole fan base bickering really about anything? Not really. There’s not really a whole lot worth saying about the episode beyond that it was an episode of the Talking Dead, and that one of the guests that night was Marilyn Manson. Honestly. When I say there’s not really much beyond that worth saying, I’m also refering to most of this post.

(I think I wrote this on October 29th. Meant to post it then, and apparently I must have forgotten about it. So I’m posting it now.)