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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pramila Khadun writes

Call it by any name 

‘You called it obsession,
And I called it seduction.
You called it imaginary
And I called it Love’s Jaded City.’

Call it by any name,
Like the rose it will smell as sweet.
Dead leaves make soil
And dead loves make stars,
Always glittering and twinkling.

Still feeling jet-lagged,
After this long journeying,
Intoxicated with the wine of love,
She felt like a small keen wind
Strolling above the Indian Ocean
In all its moods and guises.

She saw the herons below, standing
Unfaltering while the gulls
And oyster-catchers screamed.
She looked at her reflection
In the water contentedly,
Her hair blowing in the wind,
While the columns of water
Rose like icons from the ocean.

She was excruciatingly honest with him,
Loved his artistic sensibilities
And drank water from his earthen pitcher.
He gave her beads
In the colors of sea green,
Quetzal blue, gold, grey and silver.
And she gave him ties in the colors of the rainbow.

Both were Bodhisattvas,
Awakened sentient beings
and spoke only in whispers, on dark Summer nights.

In the smoky voice of Marlene Dietrich,
She said, ‘I am the stagnant pool
And you are the blue sea.’
And he replied, ‘platonic love is a harmonizing force.’
Image result for odilon redon buddha paintings
Le Buddha -- Odilon Redon


  1. The 15th-century translator/philosopher Marsilio Ficino was largely responsible for the revival of Platon's works and ideas. In 1462 Cosino de'Medici commissioned him to make the 1st Latin translation of the 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher's complete works, which he read to his patron as he lay dying in 1464. This task led him to compose his own "Platonic Theology: On the Immortality of the Soul," which he finished in 1474 but did not publish until 1482. His translations were not in print until 1484; a 1494 edition also included his lengthy commentaries on Platon's dialogues, and his work on the "Symposium" introduced the term "Platonic love." In his analysis (which actually originated in a 1469 letter), love is the link between everything, it originates with God, and when an individual thing is loved properly one's soul ascends progressively from love of the particular to love of the the universal, and eventually to oneness with God, but if something is improperly loved the soul becomes fixated on beautiful objects. Ficino's concept was derived from Platon's dramatization of Socrates, who in this case attributed the notion to Diotima, a prophetess from the Peloponesus (though Ficino regarded her as a fictional creation). His notions on what became known as "Platonic love" became an important theme in the works of 16th-century writers including Baldassare Castiglione, Pietro Bembo, Joachim du Bellay, and Pierre de Ronsard, and Willaim Davenant coined the English phrase in his play "The Platonick Lovers" (1st performed in 1635). [Davenant, named poet laureate in 1638, was rumored to be the illegitimate son of his godfather William Shakespeare.]

  2. In early Buddhist texts "bodhisatta" referred to Siddhartha Gautama as a young man still in the process of becoming a Buddha (an "enlightened one") and in his previous lives. In the 4 decades after enlightenment, the Buddha recounted some 554 stories of his past lives. After resolving to achieve enlightenment it took him 3 or 4 asaṃkhyeyas ("incalculable eons") and 100,000 kalpas (shorter eons) to achieve the goal. He served 75,000 Buddhas during the 1st asaṃkhyeya and 76,000 in the 2nd,before he received his 1st niyatha vivarana (a definite prediction of future Buddahood by an existing Buddha): as prince Sumedha he gave away all his wealth and became a monk, and in an act of piety he used his long hair (or his entire body in some accounts) as a mat so that Dipankara ("Lamp Bearer") could cross a mud puddle without soiling his feet. Dipankara told him, "Freed from human existence, you will become an effective teacher, for the sake of the world. Born among the Shakyas, as the epitome of the Triple World, the Lamp of all Beings, you will be known as Gautama." This meant that he could no longer fall back from the path to Buddhahood, so Sumedha replied, "I am to become a Buddha, awakened to enlightenment; may you tread with your feet on my hair -- on my birth, old age, and death." Over time the term came to be applied to anyone who has generated "bodhicitta," a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings but not necessarily to become an actual Buddha. The "Aṣṭasahasrika Prajnaparamita Sūtra" delineated 3 stages: The 1st one is that of bodhisattvas who “first set out in the vehicle,” the 2nd is the “irreversible” stage, and the 3rd is “bound by one more birth” before Buddahood is attained. The sutra claimed that of the innumerable number who achieve stage 1, only 1 or 2 will reach stage 2. In the 8th century Haribhadra, a disciple of the Indian missionary who introduced Buddhism to Tibet, differentaited between an ordinary bodhisattva and a mahasattva (great being) bodhisattva; 300 years later the Bengali missionary Atisha Diaṃkara Shrijnana defined bodhicitta as the universal aspiration to end suffering for all sentient beings and declared that this is the central defining feature of a mahayana bodhisattva. By the 6th century
    Asaṅga received texts from Maitreya, the next Buddha, and wrote others himself, before converting his 1/2 brother Vasubandhu to the new doctrine which led to the Yogacāra school of Buddhism. Among its tenets is the notion that a superior form of nirvana (the ultimate state of nonbeing when one ceases to be reborn), called "apratiṣṭhita" (non-abiding) exists by which an enlightened bodhisattva can remain engaged in the world and postpone Buddhahood until all other sentient beings have achieved nirvana.

  3. Marlene Dietrich made her film debut at 22 with a small part in Georg Jacoby's silent "Der kleine Napoleon" (1923) and continued to work in movies and stage musicals, but her stardom was established in 1930 when she appeared in Josef von Sternberg's "Der blaue Engel" (The Blue Angel), the 1st German feature-length all-talkie. Its success led both director and actress to Hollywood, where they made another 6 films together by 1935. "Morocco" (1930), in which she sang in a man's white tie and kissed another woman, established her as a glamorous, mysterious femme fatale and earned both of them Academy Award nominations. Their final collaboration, "The Devil is a Woman," was suppressed by Paramount Pictures Corporation to protect the firm's film distribution in Spain after its government protested its depiction of the country's military and the character of the Spanish people, but the company went bankrupt anyway, effectively ending Sternberg's career as a top-tier director, though he worked sporadically on low-budget projects until 1953. (Late in life he taught film aesthetics at the University of California at Los Angeles; his students included Jim morrison and Ray Manzarek, who claimed him as "perhaps the greatest single influence on The Doors.") Dietrich, however, became one of the best-paid film stars for a time, and she used her influence with British producer Alex Korda to revive her former lover's career by letting him direct "I, Claudius," but the film was never completed, and he struggled to find work from then on. Meanwhile, Dietrich's own career deteriorated as well. At von Sternberg's ecouragement she changed her image and accepted less money to work in Westerns with James Stewart and John Wayne.

  4. But she refused to return to Germany despite lucrative contract offers, created a fund with Billy Wilder and other exiles to help Jews and dissidents escape from the Nazis and put her entire salary for "Knight Wihout Armor" (1937) into escrow to help the refugees and embarked on a love affair with German exile Erich Maria Remarque, the author of the 1928 antiwar novel "Im Westen nichts Neues" (In the West Nothing New), better known as Arthur Wheen's English translation "All Quiet on the Western Front." During World War II she became one of the 1st celebrity promoters of war bonds (selling more than any other star) and performed for American troops in Europe for the United Service Organizations in 1944 and 1945. In 1944, when the Morale Operations Branch of the US Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency) initiated the Muzak Project to broadcast musical programs designed to demoralize enemy soldiers, she was the only performer to be told her recordings would be for OSS use; her version of "Lili Marleen" (written as in 1915 by Hans Leip, a conscripted school teacher, and set to music by Norbert Schultze in 1938, and then translated into English in 1942 by Norman Baillie-Stewart, a turncoat former British army officer working for German propaganda) became the theme song for Soldatensender, the German-language OSS radio station; after the war it was often performed as "Lili Marlene," after her name. In 1946 she was among the awardees of the 1st Medal of Freedom, a decoration established by president Harry S Truman to honor civilians whose actions aided in the war efforts of the US and its allies. After the war she returned to the movies, appearing in Wilder's "A Foreign Affair" (1948) and "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957), and Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961), her last major role, in which she and Spencer Tracy approached a bar and heard German men singing "Lili Marleen," which she began to sing in English and telling Tracy the German lyrics were "much darker." But most if her postwar work was as a cabaret performer, beginning in Las Vegas in 1953 (which attracted much publicity due to her "nude dress," a heavily beaded evening gown of silk soufflé, which gave the illusion of transparency. In later iterations of her show Burt Bacharach refined her act into an ambitious theatrical one-woman show which featured her own recordings and current popular hits. In 1968 she won a special Tony Award (The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre). But she broke her thigh when she fell off the stage in Sydney, Australia, in 1975, and made her last film appearance in David Hemmings' "Just a Gigolo" (1979). In 1992 she died in Paris at 90 and was buried near the house where she was born in Berlin. Despite her early anti-German activism, the city made her an honorary citizen in 2002.