Bill Joyners Rock n Rollin Log

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A Cryptic Review

What is at stake in considering this article

is the matter of recovery from habitual,

persistent bouts of existential terror,

depression, and despair, to which we

are all subject. Professor McDermott

is addressing his own experience as

a recovering alcoholic, as well as the

implications and applications of

William James insights for the wide

variety of addiction afflictions and

clinical depressions that plague the

human mind. Speaking of his own

descent into this virtual hell, he

speaks of times when My world is

stripped of contours, edges, rivulets

... and above all, horizons. I am locked

up inside my sick soul, my addiction

and I experience the utter hopelessness

as earlier expressed (in the article) by

Leo Tolstoy ...  One can live only so

long as one is intoxicated, drunk with

life; but when one grows sober one

cannot fail to see that it is all a stupid

cheat. William James understands

Tolstoy to mean that Life had been

enchanting, it was now flat sober, more

than sober, dead. My understanding of

this dire situation is that we no longer

care for and about the things we care

for and about.


Nor should we assume that hitting

the bottom in this sense of radical

despair is limited to addicts or sensitive

literati.  A child of but ten years, dearly

beloved by me from his earliest days,

declared in a time of great frustration,

I wish I had never been born! It chilled

me to the depth of my being to hear that,

but it was an honest revelation of his despair

at the time.  Professor McDermott recounts

from the chapter The Sick Soul in James

classic work THE VARIETIES OF


persons, from stations high and low, famous

and unsung ... each of which is riven with a

maddening, inner vapor that leaches into

every cranny of that person ... and James

gives us a startling text from Goethe,

 I will say nothing, he writes in 1824,

against the course of my existence. But

at bottom it has been nothing but pain and

burden, and I can affirm that during the

whole of my 75 years, I have not had four

weeks of genuine well-being. It is but the

perpetual rolling of a rock that must be

raised up again forever.


It brings up the biblical cry, Who shall

deliver us from the bondage of this death!

And for those who can be content with a

religious solution, of course, Christ is the

Answer, or Buddhism, Islam, et al. Others

mask the symptoms of despair and find

relief in anti-depressants, alcohol or

illegal substances. Some become obsessed

with video games and other forms of addictive

entertainment, or dependent relationships.


The essential dilemma remains: how to

maintain a wholesome, meaningful,

reasonably satisfying experience

as we proceed through life.

It seems to me that the insights

of William James, as highlighted

in this article, from his own troubled,

but ultimately successful life,

could only be helpful if

seriously considered.


By searching Google for the current

Summer/Fall issue of the


the entire article can be found and downloaded.











Rivers of life  


born of fire  


rooted in love.  




William James wrote

that philosophy

bakes no bread,

but it does

encourage the habit

of always seeking

an alternative.


John J. McDermott in the

Harvard Divinity Bulletin

Summer/Autumn 2011


... that is, to speak

to myself

in a different voice,

an alternative,

if you will.

With Heraclitus,

I searched out



James contention is

that there are

possibilities extant

not yet in

our present sight.


... In The Will to Believe (1897),

he tells us that the deepest thing

in our nature is

... this dumb region of the heart

in which we dwell alone

with our willingnesses

and our unwillingnesses,

our faiths and fears.


William James teaches us

(in works such as

On a Certain Blindness

in Human Beings)

that if the relationship 2

between knowing & action

is characterized by

a flaccid will,

be that due to

madness, despair

or addiction, then

we are cut off from

possibility, from chance

and from recovery.

... we are (James assumes)

interest-bearing organisms,

welcoming, rejecting and

choosing from the

interminable eventing

that cascades over us,

around us, under us,

and through us.


In his own words: ... we live

prospectively as well as



This tradition...

(of relational nourishment,

epitomized by

the first 3 chapters

of John Deweys Art

as Experience)

.. is one in which

all counts, everything

speaks ...

 ... perhaps we can say

that recovering is

taking a chance

on love.



... Still, in the

making of relations,

dangers lurk ...

namely, relation starvation,

relation saturation,

relation seduction,

relation repression,

and relation amputation.



John McDermott

closes his essay

by referring to

a time when he was

... locked up in an

addiction treatment center

because I was suicidal

and dying, imminently,

of alcohol poisoning ...

a time when ... I clung to         3

William James affirmation

of the possibility of possibility,

and that nothing has been



(pp 38 - 49, Summer/Autumn 2011,

of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin)





The emptiness is endless,

as Bob Dylan says

in his song, Mississippi.


A young military wife

explained to her husband

in an e-mail, shortly

before her death from

an oxycontin overdose,

that she was losing

the war against emptiness.


A 10 year old boy in Tampa

hanged himself in a closet

with a video game cord.


Casualties in the war

against emptiness.


To paraphrase FDR,

we have nothing to fear

but nothingness itself.

And I say to myself

constantly, Fear not.

Embrace the void.

Emptiness is the answer,

not the enemy.

Dont fight it,

expect it, accept it,

welcome it !

Make a medicine

of the illness,

the best, long-lasting

medicine of all --

emptiness itself !


More than

idealized realizations

are needed, though,

to overcome

the depression & despair

Kierkegaard called the sickness

unto death.


Whats required

for self-regeneration

is simply

the Zen of doing

-- breathing, moving

being engaged with

real people in

the real world --

thats what brings us

back to life again

and keeps us



We can be,

as Tolstoy said,

drunk on life

  and set free

in the process   

I believe --

through art.

Corita quoted Shaw as

having said that

art is the only

painless way of

learning. And,

for many artists,

musicians, et al,

the creative path

they have followed

has eventuated in

discovering vistas

unknown as they

have worked

their art into


& vice versa.


This may be

what John Dewey

meant by The Art

of Experience.


Bill Joyner


I was delighted to hear

in the Coen Brothers film,

A Serious Man

musical references

from Jefferson Airplanes

Surrealistic Pillow

album (circa 1969),

long a favorite

of mine.

You may recall

in the movie

the post Bar Mitzvah

meeting of the 

young initiate

with the ancient,

highly respected

and revered

Marshak (The Third Rabbi)

who quotes to him

these words from

Grace Slicks rendition of

Somebody to Love:


When the truth is found

to be a lie, and all the hope

within you dies ...

Then what?

he asks.


And as a parting

blessing, he says

with a smile,

Be a good boy.




at New College, Sarasota, Florida


Its a giant sheet show,

parallel carousels,

quintessential scenes,


Klaus Kinski in

Werner Herzogs



a multiform wonder storm

a tent show revival

of cinematic

epiphanies !





round Halloween (on Thursday                                                        


OCTOBER 27, 2011


7:30 10:30 pm )


at the 4 WINDS CAF.


New Colleges frontier caf


out toward the Bay --


in Charles Ringlings


very front yard !



damn everything


but the circus  e.e.

We can be,

as Tolstoy said,

drunk on life

  and set free

in the process   

I believe --

through art.

Corita quoted Shaw as

having said that

art is the only

painless way of

learning. And,

for many artists,

musicians, et al,

the creative path

they have followed

has eventuated in

discovering vistas

unknown as they

have worked

their art into


& vice versa.


This may be

what John Dewey

meant by The Art

of Experience.


Bill Joyner



From the Confessions of Jeremiah:


You have seduced me, Yahweh,

and I have let myself

be seduced;

You have

overpowered me ...


  Jeremiah 19:7

So then!  In a world of

insanely seductive distractions,

we are seduced

even by God.



Yes, seduced,

but in the best

possible way,

drawn away from

the infinite attractions

of this world

and redirected toward

our own reality.


Its show time, Yall!

Its Yo time!

And never again


is there going to be

anything quite like it!


So please, lets

give it our best

and get it right,

before consciousness

bids us all

good night,

before we forget

and ignore our own

greatest show

of worth.

Leonard Cohens music

is prophetic poetry

of the highest order.

His strong, ageless voice,

like a clear beam

of sure light,

immerses us

in a baptism of grace,

guiding the way at times

through some

very dark territory.


His song, The Future,

for instance; a bleak

either/or look at

tomorrow as it

may well be,

visions reminiscent

of the movie,

Children of Men,

for which, in fact,

it would be a

perfect overture.





The only pregnant woman


in a dying world,


aided just by


a handful of people


remaining human,


as they move through


hellish, unbearable


horrors to find


a boat called Tomorrow,


suspended like Noahs


ancient ark


above the chaos


of a world in


total, catastrophic





July 24, 2010

. Time to proceed with the Seed, time to bleed away the loss
of dreams,
later to be

and to begin everything all over again, thankfully.

My long announced, publication
(a rainbow of natural spirituality)

must be delayed even further:

THE SEED CATALOG, however, need
wait no longer --

dancing star '82 regularly $500 for this month of July costs only $300 -- a 40% discount honoring the 40th anniversary of the
Immaculate Heart Community

Bill Joyner

P.O. Box 3411

Sarasota, FL 34230

This is the tough part, the pitch for continuing seed back support. But, as Van Morrison says in his song, "I'm real real gone," and "I can't stand up alone." Just kindly let me know by checking the form below, whether and/or how you'd like to respond to the ongoing 3 times a year publication of THE SEED CATALOG:

___ Yes, bring it on, in whatever form!

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