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Mint tea in the Sahara
Reflect, refract, illumine



November 24th, 2008

(no subject)

Mint tea in the Sahara
Once upon a time I got a livejournal. It seemed like all my friends had one, and I wanted to blather weird wisdom and observational observations too. This was in 2001 I believe, which was before youtube or lolcats but after all your base. After using that first one, sepiamind, until I got sick of the name, I made another one with my own name (since deleted), then later another one with my name coded for secret-y (ywns is the Arabic consonantal skeleton: add vowels and you get yuwnus which -> Yūnus). Long not having been one for sermonizing or detailing my opinions for an audience (not since various things knocked it out of my pontificating teenage brain), this never became one of those blog dealies, and I definitely gave up on any ghost of that when my wife & I became friends with (hushed silence please) an AWARD-WINNING BLOGGER...

I started using Facebook, first to spy on er um get to know my students better, which didn't work, then, after a hiatus, to goof off with other grads. Now all these people from high school whom I didn't know then & haven't thought of for years are on it and I see status updates about their kids getting sick. Weird. Plus my collection of fellow "wacky white Muslim converts I know online" has grown and grown. They're all wacky somehow, unlike most non-converts outside of Tariqah, which is an institution basically designed to serve and contain oddballs. Bless 'em.

Grad school is hard and rocks. I'll be able to do more (have more on my plate) insha'allah in the spring because I'll just pile on the material at the beginning instead of adding incrementally. Bakhtin study group. Working through my great-grand-shaykh's hagiography. We'll see what else. Next year I'm to be a teaching assistant after a blessed year off --seriously, I can't imagine doing what I do now AND grading-- and need to get my French reading butt in gear. Auwghrhgh. Okay, breathe.

October 31st, 2007

Translations taken/paraphrased from Böwering's truly tasty Mystical Vision of Existence in Classical Islam. Sahl al-Tustari's hermeneutic was not textual, though it was systematic: moment by moment repentance, understood as fundamental turning of one's being toward source, that had succeeded many years of arduous asceticism, particularly fasting. He stopped extremes of fasting and continued in continual remembrance. The Qur'an for Tustari calls to the sirr, the secret of the soul where man is in colloquy with Lord and, deeper, Lord alone speaks wordlessly. The tafsir is a notebook of jottings by disciples of their master's responses to Qur'an recitations, possibly ecstatic utterances.

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth
The likeness of His light is as a niche
wherein is a lamp
the lamp in a glass
the glass, as it were, a glittering star
kindled from a blessed tree,
an olive neither of the east or the west
whose oil wellnigh would shine,
even if no fire touched it
Light upon light
Allah guides to His light whom He will
and Allah strikes similitudes for humanity
and Allah has knowledge of everything
24:35 Ayat al-nur
likeness of His light: Light of Muhammad
the lamp and glass: his breast and heart
like a star: with faith and wisdom
shining of the oil: the prophecy of Muhammad would elucidate
humanity even without speech or expression
By the white forenoon
and the brooding night
93: Duha
The spiritual self, and the natural self when it relies calmly on continuous remembrance
...the last shall be better for thee than the first In the final world, the prais&egrav;d station and intercession is better than prophethood and apostleship in the lower world.
Did He not find thee an orphan and shelter thee? You were alone, o Prophet, and he sheltered you with your companions.
Did He not find thee erring and guide thee? He made you aware of the eminent value of your self. He found you erring --incomplete-- in your pure affection; He gave you drink of His affection with the cup of His love, and guided to intimate knowledge of Him.
Did He not find thee needy, and enrich thee? Your self was bewildered in intimacy with Us; We strengthened it with teh Qur'an and wisdom

October 17th, 2007

(no subject)

بسمه تعالى

anxieties and desires:

finding great employment, not settling for crap jobs, providing for my family, expanding the family to 3+, being able to work and do a phd program in less than 12 years, becoming a professional academic in the reasonable future.

actually, just finding a phd program, praying the UGA religion dept gets its act together & has a phd program for next year, looking at the handful of reasonable programs across the US & Canuckistan and feeling alternately elated, confident, terrified, and depressed. I know German, do I really need French, too?

without a community around me, a supportive community that is, I don't know what my spiritual practice is turning into. not writing my shaykh's teachings, not reading Arabic regularly, not learning more Qur'an, not not not. when can I just be. when can I just be real, alive, present, loved, loving, the love dissolves.

say 'allah' and leave them plunging in their playing

October 8th, 2007

PROVO, UTAH team of physicists from Brigham Young University announced yesterday that they have succeeded in converting a tiny particle of matter into the truth and sanctity of the Book of Mormon.

According to BYU physicists, the new Joseph Smith Particle Accelerator may someday enable Mormons to proselytize "cheaply, cleanly and efficiently."

"This opens up a new world of possibilities for the Church," said Zebulon Calhoun, a particle physicist and Priest of the Melchizedek Order. "We can now conceive of a time in the near future when we will be able to proselytize cheaply, cleanly and efficiently." Read more...Collapse )

October 6th, 2007

Curriculum - Literature

Literature Seminar
Homer: Iliad, Odyssey
Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides
Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
Euripides: Hippolytus, Bacchae, Electra
Aristophanes: Frogs

Literature Tutorial
Chaucer: Canterbury Tales in Middle English*
Shakespeare: King Lear
Aristotle: Poetics
Selected English lyric poetry

Literature Preceptorial (samples)
Cervantes: Don Quixote
Joyce: Ulysses
Virgil: Aeneid
Eliot: Middlemarch
Dostoevski: The Brothers Karamazov

Curriculum - Politics and Society


Politics and Society Seminar
Plutarch: Lives: Lycurgus and Solon
Plato: Republic
Aristotle: Politics*
Machiavelli: The Prince
Locke: Second Treatise of Civil Government
Rousseau: On the Origin and Foundations of Inequality
Marx: 1844 Manuscripts*
Tocqueville: Democracy in America*

Politics and Society Tutorial
Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics*
Thomas Aquinas: Treatise on Law
Hobbes: Leviathan*
Declaration of Independence
U.S. Constitution
Melville: Billy Budd
Federalist Papers*
Selected U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

Politics and Society Preceptorial (samples)
Montesquieu: The Spirit of the Laws
Shakespeare: The history plays
Smith: The Wealth of Nations
Rousseau: Emile
Hegel: The Philosophy of Right

Curriculum - Mathematics and Natural Science


Mathematics and Natural Science Seminar
Plato: Timaeus *
Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
Aristotle: Physics *
Ptolemy: Almagest *
Galileo: Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems *
Darwin: The Origin of Species *
Freud: Selected Works *

Mathematics and Natural Science Tutorial
Euclid: Elements *
Lobachevsky: The Theory of Parallels *

Mathematics and Natural Science Preceptorial (samples)
On Light: Aristotle, Descartes, Huygens, and Newton
Lavoisier: Elements of Chemistry
Maxwell: Theory of Heat
Bacon: The Principles of Natural Philosophy
Galileo: Two New Sciences

Curriculum - History


History Seminar
(First-semester students are not eligible to enroll in the history segment)
Herodotus: Histories *
Thucydides: Peloponnesian War *
Livy: Early History of Rome *
Polybius: Histories *
Plutarch: Lives *
Tacitus: Annals *
Tocqueville: The Old Regime and the French Revolution *

History Tutorial
Augustine: The City of God *
Vico: The New Science *
Kant: Idea of a Universal History
Herder: Ideas Toward the Philosophy of the History of Mankind *
Hegel: Philosophy of History *
Marx: The German Ideology
Nietzsche: Uses and Abuses of History for Life
Dilthey: Introduction to the Human Sciences *
Collingwood: The Idea of History *
Strauss: Political Philosophy and History *

History Preceptorial (samples)
Tolstoy: War and Peace
Machiavelli: The Florentine Histories
Weber: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Arendt: The Origin of Totalitarianism

October 2nd, 2007


Allah is everything; He is the single;
He is the many; He is the Royal We;
He is the We; He is the I;
He is the woman; He is the man.
He uses the language which is right
for each circumstance and for each
person. He does what we need.
Sidi went on to speak of Allah's
Greatness and His Qualities quite
extensively. Then Sidi said that
'Allah appeared for Musa one way, and
for Isa another, and to Ibrahim yet
another way.'

2) Then a chat with Amany (Sidi's
interpreter)...She added the following
'When Allah addresses His being in
singular form it is in intimate
conversation (as with his prophets
and messengers); when in the plural,
as in the 'Royal We' it is to the
people at large. When we find the
use of the word He, in Arabic Huwa
(pronounced Hu), it refers to the
most mystical dimensions of Allah,
those that we as mere mortals cannot
grasp. And the Name Allah includes and
encompasses them all.'

September 30th, 2007

Part Time PhD

Mint tea in the Sahara
Typically part-time doctorates are spread over five or more years, which can be a long time to balance all the demands on your life.

It is important to think through all your own potential challenges with a part-time doctorate before you embark on it; the following suggestions come from the experience of others who chose the part-time route:

* Make a commitment with yourself to set aside particular chunks of time for your research; Consider setting aside a couple of evenings each week, every other week-end, specific bank holidays etc, when you are ‘unavailable’ for other activities. Some people find it helpful to plan in 6 month blocks, so that they can see ahead to specific time slots
* It can also be helpful to have longer blocks of time – say 3 consecutive days, rather than 1 day every three weeks, as it means you won’t waste time catching up with where you left off
* If possible, choose a research topic that is related to your work. In this way, the transition between the two will feel more natural, and each can feed the other
* Maintain regular contact with your supervisor and research department. It will keep you in touch and be a constant reminder for you
* Ensure that family and work colleagues are aware of your programme, and supportive of it, before you start out

You can't beat perfect

Minh Nguyen earned his Ph.D. last fall after an experience that challenges many common assumptions. He completed his coursework and dissertation on communications traffic analysis and interference cancellation for avionic systems in just three years — as a part-time graduate student holding down a full-time engineering job.

...Nguyen tried to weigh the economic cost and the benefits of getting a Ph.D. “Was the degree only for personal satisfaction, or would it help me thrive in my career? I had no answer to that.” The option of keeping his job and going to school part time was intriguing. “I talked to 10 people, however, who all said the same thing: that doing a part-time Ph.D. is impossible.”

...His biggest challenge in pursuing both activities simultaneously was “heavy-duty multi-tasking. I had to balance my workloads between work, school, and family — and each one could be considered a full-time commitment.” His advice for others considering a similar path: “Eliminate the word ‘procrastination’ from your dictionary! If you have a research idea in the middle of the night, get up and work on it immediately. Give it further thought or you might lose important ideas forever. There are many things to distract a part-time Ph.D. student and you must maintain focus.”

September 28th, 2007

Will & Wonderment

Golden PathsCollapse )

A Rainbow Behind the LipsCollapse )

PharosCollapse )

NutterCollapse )

Milk & Honey All the Way Down (a tafsir of Ayat al-Kursi)Collapse )

You'd Never GuessCollapse )

Perfectly Clear at the TimeCollapse )

ContrastCollapse )

Re: usedtobeCollapse )

Oh them kidsCollapse )

ContrafirmazioneCollapse )

SubmissionCollapse )

Elevator repairCollapse )


Words for things I could never sayCollapse )

Who we areCollapse )

Selfping with breathCollapse )

Convergence of strataCollapse )

What we need here is a big dose of plotCollapse )

Strangest dreamsCollapse )

Similar whateverthisis (Hellbent on finding all my context)Collapse )

Theta understands itself as suchCollapse )

Preview to the 7-part epic "Why I like IRC"Collapse )

Re: sideview to the seven-part epic, "Why I Like IRC"Collapse )

Re: borderline-view of the seven-part epic, "Why I Like IRC"Collapse )

Rescued old writings from the oubliette of archive.org, the only place they still existed to my knowledge. These were written on the scrytch listserv, which theoretically was a forum for a kind of collaborative re-mix writing, where any writing could be used, chewed up, sampled, quoted, re-written, or riffed on by other writers.

Some of the following under 'Admixtures,' which are basically cut-ups à la William Burroughs, use those explicit quotative/remixative techniques. "Preview to the 7-part epic..." has two riffs by other writers, possibly the only times my posts got scrytched.

'Psychophanies' are from dreams, ones that seemed particularly coherent and initiatic.

'Will & Wonderment' are either fictive pieces or meditations. A couple of them are actual stories. This seemed like the main style scrytch went in for as practiced by the best writers on the list. I was particularly inspired by one man whose writings have not been available online for a while. Jorge Luis Borges was the patron saint of scrytch; my ideas were more influenced by Lovecraft, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, transhumanism, and what I was learning about Sufism.

All of this (some of it R-rated) was a way of processing what I was going through in moving from a basically materialist though occultic worldview to a theistic one. I didn't know where I was going, of course, and I was pretty surprised when I got to the point of believing "God is One; all is He; nothing is He."


Building on the beachCollapse )

al-Kimia summer campCollapse )

Poet watches too much tv, driven to absintheCollapse )

TreeCollapse )

2nd TreeCollapse )

C. S. Lewis needs his rockCollapse )

Acid miceCollapse )

Only the ends are rememberedCollapse )

Self-sharerCollapse )

Things unseenCollapse )

CaligawrCollapse )

WitnessesCollapse )

PeacenixCollapse )

Assorted Dream InsightsCollapse )
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