Dharma Beatdown

Chillin' by the Hell-realm water cooler.

Why I need to read "Gulag Archipelago" again

The song I’ve been working on and mentioned in my last post, was called “The Captivity.” This is important and either a wonderful coincidence or evidence of synchronicity. As sinister as the song is, it is elegaic… much like for as much of a death sentence as it was, “Closer” could have been “Closure.”

So why coincidence or synchronicity? Well, on the same day I hit “Save Live project as…”, Nobel Prize winner Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn died at the age of 89. Now, I’ve been noncommital about it before, and I will be again:

When circumstances begins coming together in a meaningful pattern without any obvious reason why, right? C’mon now, it’s as plain as noses on faces that that happens, right? Right?
I’ll agree to that. It’s easy to notice that things come together like that, and if you’re a believer in a higher power, it’s even easier to fit things together with that meme working on the ol’ melon. So be careful.
But what about the other side? I once stated that “Synchronicity is just apophenia,” and while I do reserve the right to keep the file open, it’s the stronger of the philosophical positions. It’s easier, and simpler, according to the Principle of Parsimony (also known as Occam’s Razor, if you really didn’t know) that the entire phenomenon is just selecting hits over misses. Besides, and I quote a brilliant philosopher from Peacetrain, who said that “human cognition, honed by millions of years of evolution, is one bad-assed pattern recognition engine.” Hard to argue with.
Yet… there’s something there.
A mystery. Why does the idea carry so much weight? Are we just fooling ourselves, with ideas about destiny, masking untestable artifacts of consciousness with more romantic, emotional artifacts of consciousness?
All I know, is that for an acausal connective principle, it’s some strong stuff- and you have to admire anyone who is willing to wrestle with it. I mean that.


Why is this song title connective? When I have a chance to sing the praises on the passing of a great man, such as I have with Thompson or Wray, I refuse to trivialize them by listing their accomplishments as other people will who are more qualified. Instead I share something of myself. I stumbled on Solzhenitszyn’s great work “The Gulag Archipelago” in high school and was fascinated by him. There was something about the idea of the mild-mannered physics professor not only going off to command an artillery company on the front in WWII, but also having the huge sack to make fun of Stalin’s mustache. AND SURVIVE. I was also in love with the idea of the writer enduring through adversity, and somehow I thought my adolescent/teenage struggles (while pretty horrible) were cognates with imprisonment, cancer, and exile.

I read it again after I was married, and this time was fascinated with the satanic machinery of the prison system, Prosecutor Krylenko and all his dark brethren. Pretty obvious stuff here- I was imprisoned cruelly for my own ill-thought words (“I do..”) and abused arbitrarily at the hands of an illogical captor. Ugh.

Somewhere in that mess, I had a dream that Solzhenitsyn’s ghost came to me and told me to get off my ass and that I knew what I needed to do. I thought at the time he meant to write… I know in retrospect he meant to get the hell out of the Dacha. He wasn’t dead at the time either, so I wrote him a letter once I found that out. Don’t know if Farrar, Straus, and Giroux ever passed it on, but I can hope.

So now Soli, as his friends called him, has passed. According to some Farkers who knew him in Vermont, he was a cool dude to drink and play chess with. According to Wikipedia, he was a dick who thought atheists and rock music were to blame for the downfall of the west. Regardless, he can be named as an inseperable part of the modern world’s concience, and I think that it’s time for me- as a man- to reexamine what that means.

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