Reading a Chasuble

You may recall my recent post about an embroidered scene of the Last Supper, which I presented there with no context.  Sorry about that.  In a consignment store recently I bought a chasuble which I consider a masterpiece of ecclesiastical embroidery.  It’s labeled “Fraefel & Co., St. Gall., Switzerland established 1888.”  An over-vestment worn by priests in celebrating Mass, the chasuble has a treasure of fine embroidered details on the frontal columnar design and on the cruciform design on the back.

Oddly, on the narrower front are framed scenes from the Old Testament, at the top an angel, in the middle Abraham  preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, and at the bottom a ram waiting to take the boy’s place on the altar.  I personally think the ram is one of the most magnificent details on the piece.

Angel, Fraefel & Co.

Angel, Fraefel & Co.

 

Abraham Sacrificing Isaac, Fraefel & Co.

Abraham Sacrificing Isaac, Fraefel & Co.

Ram for Sacrifice, Fraefel & Co.

Ram for Sacrifice, Fraefel & Co.

I really wondered about this Old Testament thing on the front of a Catholic vestment.  Then, when I looked at the broader back again and managed to tear my eyes away from the riveting Last Supper scene, I found the two details on the lower part of the cross even more intriguing.

Melchisedech, Fraefel & Co.

Melchisedech, Fraefel & Co.

The imposing fellow is identified in his “halo” as Melchisedech.  When I checked him out, I discovered that he was basically the first priest of the Elohim back in Genesis times.  The name actually means the Righteous (or Rightful?) King, and it was the title of successive priest-kings of the Semitic peoples, including King David.  The iconic ritual of these priests of the order of Melchisedech was the sharing of bread and wine.

Incidentally, according to the Bible, it was a Melchisedech who blessed Abraham after the Battle of the Kings (which may have happened around 2000—1800 BC).  This is something I’ve long been intending to look into.  The late and oft disputed writer Sitchin offered an interpretation of Abraham’s Sumerian origins which begs serious consideration.

The depiction of this primordial priest of the Elohim just beneath the sacramental Last Supper scene I take to symbolize that Jesus (of the House of David) was a priest of the High God in direct line from the first Melchisedech appointed by the Elohim as Rightful King.  This message is an unusual twist on Christianity in that it weaves the Christ into the divine myths in the Old Testament.  Similarly, the Jesus story is another strand in the long tradition of dying gods.

Pelican Piercing Breast, Fraefel & Co.

Pelican Piercing Breast, Fraefel & Co.

The other little detail, the pelican piercing its breast to feed its young, has long been seen as a Christian emblem of self-sacrificing love.  So what if pelicans don’t really do that?  It’s the thought that counts.  However, I recently discovered that this altruistic pelican is also a powerful symbol in Masonic rites.  Only they show seven little chicks, having something to do with the planets or other mystical concordance.  Does the “hidden” symbol indicate a Masonic element in this deep historical perspective on the Christ?  Might this stunning chasuble be a secret and wondrous heresy?

Before I let this go, I’ve really got to exclaim some more about the exquisite needlework on this chasuble.  The embroidery’s delicate shadings and the almost spider-web threads used (by motivated nuns) for details like lips and the irises of eyes is in a word, phenomenal.  Can you imagine any human being sewing this amazingly 3-D floret in a two-inch square?

Embroidered Floret, Fraefel & Co.

Embroidered Floret, Fraefel & Co.

 

Setting It Free

Someone somewhere once advised us that if we love something, we should set it free.  Then there was something else about if it comes back, it’s yours—if not, it never was.   With what I have in mind, those conditions are meaningless.  As I most recently remarked in Potlatch, I’m setting my writings and artworks free to fly like birds whither they will across the ether of the Internet.  I certainly love them, they’re mine to do with what I will, and there’s not much way they’ll be coming back.

It was a great pleasure that in a mere day and a half I managed to convert all the items in the Public Library to pdf files and link them for free downloads.  Besides the two short stories, the plays and poetry are also linked.  Enjoy.

And there’s more, a true windfall.  Happily, when I looked in the right place, I found the original pdfs for two of my nonfiction books.  The first is the really old one on the Aztec calendar, CELEBRATE NATIVE AMERICA.  Using it and a wonderful site called azteccalendar.com, you can learn your ceremonial Aztec name and compute your own personal Aztec horoscope.

Also I found the old file for my language book GETTING GET, which is super news for all you ESL people out there.  For learners (or teachers) of English as a second or foreign language, this book is the key to the unconscious, secret code of American English speakers, a grammar never taught in schools or defined in dictionaries.  Now it’s yours for free.  Get it on!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the files on my two other books, the nonfiction REMEMBER NATIVE AMERICA  on Indian mounds or the novel DIVINE DEBAUCH.  Lord knows where they went.  Probably on floppies and therefore lost to posterity.  Oh, well.  I can probably scan the mound book to post it for you, but the novel is something I’d totally want to rewrite before setting it free.  And I’m not sure that’s something I can afford to spend my time on at this point.  Meanwhile, it’s what it is, a work of my youth.

And know what?  I’d truly love it if someone wanted to take some of this stuff and run with it.  Have fun!  The more the merrier.  I’d particularly love to hear about someone wanting to do one of my plays.  Or dare I dream, a movie?  Of course, I dare dream.  Just wait till you get a load of my upcoming novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND when I start posting its chapters soon.

Meanwhile, this is as good a place as any to mention a reasonable concern I’ve got about setting my works free out into the wide world of the web.  Is mine just another voice crying in the wilderness?  Or in a less scriptural way, is there anyone out there?  Anybody home?  In the year and some that this website has been up, I’ve gotten no real comments from anyone.

I see that usually there’s a valiant few who visit various Aztec deity illustrations, and some occasionally check another page or blog posting.  I’d love it if someone would start a conversation with me about this esoteric stuff, but I don’t know how the site’s comment thingie works.  So I’ve cryptically (to avoid spam contacts) given my email address in several places with my signature (for anyone who can read cursive anymore), like at the bottom of the home page (click on banner) or here below.

at msn.com

at msn.com

POTLATCH – Free Literature and Art

All I’ve ever wanted to do was to write and create art.  In my earlier life I had to hope that my writing might earn a little something toward my old age, but I could see no way for that to happen except by getting stuff published, which everyone knows isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  The bitter pill is that publishers, either conventional or online services, always earn the lion’s share of any income, and then some.  Of course, that’s why they do it.  That’s the matrix.

Unexpectedly I was recently blessed by my late mother with a degree of economic freedom, enough to do what I want without being concerned about income.  It has now given me a new perspective on the writer/reader relationship.  If I don’t need to be paid for my writings, why does anybody have to pay to read them?  If I don’t need to be paid for my art, why must anyone pay to see or to have it?   I suddenly feel a real kinship with those musical artists who are giving their music/songs away online.  Music for the people.  Open-access literature and art.

With this website, it turns out that I’ve already got a great way to give away my work.  So there it is.  I’ve decided to offer my writing and art free for the taking, right here via my digital avatar.  Think of it as a potlatch, a giant giveaway.  You also might say I want to pay my good fortune forward.

I started this website with that unconscious inspiration, posting my short prose, poetry, and plays in the Public Library.  Feel free to read or download any of it.  To help, I’ve now learned how to let you download those texts as pdf files for printing or reading at your leisure.  So far I’ve managed to set up the download links on the two short stories, TRAVELING MEN and HOMAGE.  I expect it to take a while and for there to be bugs as I work through the set-ups on the plays and poetry, so please bear with me.

The first new giveaway will be the serialized chapters of my novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, and on completion, I hope to have it available as a free e-book.  Let me get the conversions and download links for the Public Library done and try some menu rearrangement, and then I’ll start rolling out these serial chapters.

I’ll also post the individual pages as completed of YE GODS!  An Outrageous Coloring Book.  The 26 hallucinatory icons of Aztec deities will take a year or two to finish.  At the moment, four are about ready to post, and I’m closing in on the fifth.  It would be good to post one a month, but that’s no promise.

So my work is cut out for me.  Fortunately there are no deadlines but the real one.  Until then, I’ll just do what I can.

 

God help the galaxy!

Folks keep wondering why some of us are gay.  In the debate about nature or nurture, I’ll argue emphatically for nature.  Supposedly avoiding this issue, some say that being gay is a choice.  But of course.  So is being straight.  If you’re at all self-aware, at one time or another you’ve simply got to choose whether you like/love girls or boys.  Is the reason for your choice nature or nurture?  Who can say?  And to be frank, wtf difference does it make?

Granted, most people in the world aren’t gay, but I wonder how many just haven’t made a conscious choice and go through life wondering what in the heck their problem is, why their psychological panties are all in a bunch.  Those who choose but try to hide their choice simply give themselves major wedgies.  Being devoutly out, I prefer to go commando.

Again I will propose that Mother Nature is to blame, or better, thank, for making folks gay.  Maybe somewhere in the Byzantine beauty of DNA there’s a gene or switchie-thingie that toggles.  What do I know?  However, based on personal experience, I’m pretty sure that the gay trait, or at least its predisposition, is hereditary.

You may question the evolutionary advantage of a gay ‘gene’ as it essentially removes a good part of the population and/or sexual activity from the breeding pool.  While that’s not such a bad idea for several qualitative reasons, quite possibly the gay toggle is Mother Nature’s humane attempt to put a brake on our species’ explosive reproduction rate.  Save the world.  Go Gay!

Now there is indeed a recognized evolutionary benefit to homosexuality in that reducing breeding activity enables specialization of labor, the necessary element in the development of human civilization.  Non-parents can logically provide more support for the next generation and have time to engage in other productive activities.  Like having fun.

Thinking some more about Mother Nature’s other brakes on our explosive population, (which I consider the root cause of all human problems), let’s consider the absolutely primal instinct She has instilled in humanity to kill each other off.  But anymore, now that our wishy-washy wars don’t wipe out the hundreds of thousands or millions they used to, She’s got to use the emergency brakes of famine and natural catastrophe to hit the really huge numbers needed to slow our unsustainable population growth.  It may take another big honking asteroid.

Maybe, like in Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the ultimate solution actually would be to ship all the middle-management and advertising people off to other planets. Apparently there are plenty of exo-planets out there to take them.  But you know, that may not be such a good idea after all.  I’m afraid we homo sapiens are an awful lot like vermin.  Maybe we should be called homo prolificus?  We’ve already infested this planet.  After all, we’re in the Anthropocene Era.  And if we ever manage to break out of this solar system, God help the galaxy.

Classical Music

I recently carried on about my love for Latin and Greek music, but that was in connection with dancing.  In connection with life, I love classical music.  However, as a teenager I was hooked on the early 45 rpm rock and roll—because I didn’t know any better.  Indeed, my aunt had sent me a big 78 rpm classical record with pretty music called Anitra’s Dance by a Grieg and some Hungarian dances by a Brahms, but for my taste in dancing, they weren’t quite Elvis.

When I got to Tulane in 1960, I totally lucked out to get a roommate named Roger, who was in the band and thus knew a lot about music.  From Roger I first heard about someone named Bach, and the record he played blew my mind.  Then he introduced me to Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and the sound of my world was never the same again.  I immediately branched out on my own and discovered Vivaldi, Mozart, Saint Saens and a dozen other spectacular composers.

Many of the pieces I discovered way back then are still my favorites.  For example, Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto, the Emperor —I still prefer the performance I first heard over fifty years ago by Robert Casadesus.  Both that and the Saint Saens Symphony No. 3, the Organ have enormous emotional significance for me in connection with my first ever love.

All these many years I’ve kept on exploring classical music and composers and discovered so many treasures I couldn’t begin to list them in any priority order.  In general, if you name a composer I’ll have a favorite piece of his or her composition.  Or more than one.  My latest discovery several years ago was Luigi Boccherini.  His guitar quintets and cello concerti are sublime, for instance Quintet no. 9 in C Nightwatch in Madrid, or Quintet no. 1 in D minor , or hold on to your hats for no. 4 in D major Fandango.

I’ve always lamented not playing an instrument.  There was a false start in the fifth grade when I’d just been introduced to the piano keyboard and then we moved to the woods of Arkansas.  Ever since, I’ve had to make do with records, tapes, or cds and classical radio stations.  At home I live to classical music, and hundreds of compositions have become so familiar that often I can identify the piece from the first or second note.

Apropos radio stations, recently I’ve been so disgusted with the local classical station’s offensive commercials that I now listen online to all-music stations elsewhere—and to Pandora.  I enjoy it a lot because I’ve added stations for merengue and cumbia and can dance whenever I want to.

Speaking of familiarity with compositions, while driving, I’m known to sing along to favorites on the radio with la-la-la, dum-dum-de-doo, and such vocal antics (often with directorial gestures which may confuse or offend other drivers).  One evening last year I caught the tail end of the third Brandenburg Concerto and spontaneously whistled the last snatch of it right on key, like another instrument in the ensemble.  In my several earlier decades, whenever I’d tried to whistle, all I’d ever managed were vaguely obstreperous windy noises.  Imagine my surprise that I’d just made music with my mouth!

The next day on the same stretch of road, listening to a favorite Telemann trumpet voluntary, the Prince of Denmark’s March, the clarion notes of the trumpet made me give a little whistle.  The music grabbed something inside me, and I climbed right on that horn, the notes streaming from my lips without thought.   Part of me marveled at what my tongue was independently doing to change the notes.  The melody itself seemed to come without thought from somewhere in the back of my head.  I made it through most of it with short pauses for breath and at the end literally chortled in glee.

Meanwhile, it seems that without instrumental backup, I can’t whistle two notes of any tune together.  I guess my grandson’s right in calling me a karaoke whistler.  So what?  It’s how I can participate in my favorite music.  I just try not to do it when others can hear.