The name is temporary (though nothing is more permanent than the temporary) but the project is long-simmering: to take down the most important-to-me quotes and links to essays, poems, plays, articles, research and stories, and place them all in some kind of emergent order; then, to allow my own original writing to flesh out and shape that order into some kind of narrative; a narrative that follows, in roughest bones, the genesis and exodus and gospels of the bible and other holy books; an evolving blueprint of my soul and, hopefully, a useful road map for those trying to make their own sense of things and way in the world.
The Hyperlink Bible (or whatever this project will one day be called) holds certain assumptions as bedrock truths:
- That our digital culture is one that finds truth from linking connections, from juxtapositions, from remixing and crowdsourcing, and that any contemporary sacred text should therefore be linked, juxtaposed, remixed and crowdsourced;
- That truth is a journey, not a destination;
- That truth emerges from facts but includes an ethical interpretation;
- That ethics are an evolving set of principles and practices that address the challenges of balancing the desires of the individual with the needs of the community;
- That a successful ethics has as its goal the greatest happiness, love, and sense of purpose for both individual and community;
- That aesthetics are the means by which ethics evolves;
- That all religions and faiths are valuable sources of ethics and aesthetics, just like poetry, music, theatre and the arts;
- That while I will draw on religious texts as a source of wisdom, I do not believe in a God, nor do I believe a God is necessary for a truly ethical life;
- That the scientific method is the most ethical faith we have, because it requires a proof outside of personal perspective, and so as a source of values I will treat as a first among equals;
- That whatever truth there is to be found in consciousness will not be found solely in a single creed, religion, art or method, but must be an emergent property of all cultures and perspectives;
- That life and consciousness extends beyond our species, and therefore our ethics must, as well;
- That while we have inherited many sacred texts, works of art and equations, the greatest work is yet to come; and
- That any truth that is fixed is dead.
My goal for 2014 is to add at least one quote or link per week, so that by the end of the year, I’ll have assembled 52 pieces of text/images/music. At that time, I’ll take a look at what I have, and begin shaping those fragments into a more cohesive whole, so that by the end of 2015, a narrative will begin to emerge. In 2016, I’ll begin to flesh out that narrative with my own writing, so that by the beginning of 2017, I’ll have something that’s worth sharing.
Of course, I’m sharing this starting now, in January of 2014, out of the assumption that a contemporary search for the sacred must be a transparent and inclusive process. Please feel free to share links to wisdom that you think should live in this Hyperlink Bible (and feel free to suggest a better name).
I’ll begin, in honor of the day that recently past, with these quotes:
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
-Theodore Parker, Ten Sermons of Religion, 1853
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr., Out of the Long Night, 1958
This juxtaposition speaks perfectly to the aims of this bible. This quote, long attributed to King, came from Parker, but in a deeper sense it is King’s, as he added it to the fabric of his own evolving sacred text, using it again and again, not to make it his own, but to make it ours–to make that difficult, essential truth belong to all of us.
The Master’s Tools Can Never Dismantle The Master’s House
“Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of difference strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters.”
“Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.”
“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”
“Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices.”
-Audre Lorde, address at the Second Sex Conference in New York in 1979
“100. I would like to act in resistance to the classist assumptions of post-feminism. I would like to write about gender folded into race and class folded into gender too.
101. This coup will bring back the little bit didactic, the little bit ham-fisted because it’ll be good for us.
102. This coup will be a collaboration of squabbling and seeing into the shared past to construct our shared future. I aestheticize all my struggles: complicated and as close to art, capital A, as I can do.”
–Carmen Giménez Smith, Parts of an Autobiography
“…and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason – Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.”
-John Keats, letter to George and Thomas Keats
turns out words are no help.
But here I am with my shovel
digging like a fool
beside the spilth and splosh
of the ungirdled sea. I can’t stop.”
-Kim Addonizio, Lives of the Poets
“Poetry should be in the service of nothing–and not even that.”
-Charles Bernstein, Me and My Pharaoh
“Poetry of regimented epiphany smelled like fabric softener when I was young.
21. I liked my poetry to smell like I had forgotten my deodorant. You could smell me from across the table. I liked my work to smell of work and fuck.”
–Carmen Giménez Smith, Parts of an Autobiography
Being a Child
to music for hours and dance around
the house like crazy skeletons: loose
with all our bones knocking, we go,
“click click click” and wave our arms
and shake until we rattle the china
in mom’s cabinet. He turns the volume
up and we spin like planets round the sun.”
-Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Captian Lovell,
“At night birds hammered my unborn
child’s heart to strength, each strike bringing
bones and spine to glow, her lungs pestled
loud as the sea…”
“My little earthshaker, visored in placenta,
wonders of wonders, tremulous in amniotic
shield, ensouled already…”
“we fell through streams of creatures
whose lives were their purpose.”
–Sarah Lindsay, Rain of Statues
“Cola spilled on hands, so sticky fingered,
I’m far from poems. I’d write of politicians,
refineries, and a border’s barbed wire,
but I am unlearning America’s languages
with a mop. In a summer-hot red
polyester top, I sell lotto tickets. Cars wait
billowing black. Killing time has new meaning.”
–Sheryl Luna, Lowering Your Standards For Food Stamps
“We can say we kept things running
by distracting ourselves
from the hideous truth
or how things run.”
-Mark Bibbins, Factory
“…you always want to hear someone’s voice again immediately after they die to be certain the world didn’t end what they sounded like…”
–Michael Klein, Risk Delight: Happiness and “I” at the End of the World
Suffering and Delight
“Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well…
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil…
We must admit that there will be music, despite everything.”
-Jack Gilbert, A Brief for the Defense
“Of all the things I don’t believe, I believe this the most.”
–Emilia Phillips, The Study Heads