March 22nd, 2006


Addendum: Hawks in Candler Park

We get this neighbourhood newsletter thingy shoved in our mailbox once a month, The Messenger: News for Candler Park, and usually it goes straight to recycling. But this month something caught Spooky's eye, and she brought it to my attention, and I'm posting it here. Just a little more fuel for the endless, angry fire that's me:

Neighborhood Hawk Update

The Red-Tailed Hawks who sucessfully reared two young in 2005 are nesting in the same pine tree behind 614 Page Avenue. After months of building they have created a new, more compact nest. Unfortunately, their nesting efforts remain in jeopardy because a section of their small habitat was illegally destroyed during the first week of February, 2006. At that time, the builders/owners of 1585 and 1595 Cliffton Terrace decided, once again, to ignore the tree ordinance. Without obtaining permits, developers Mr. Mechlowitz & Mr. Meyer, and contractors Brunning and Stang cut six trees near the nest. Most of the trees were around thirty inches in diameter, and some were actually on an adjacent property. Kristin Loomis, arborist for the city of Atlanta, issued at least five citations for violations of the tree ordinance. Not deterred, the builders continued illegal grading on the adjoining property until the city cited them for jumping the property line.

As of this writing, the hawks have not abandoned their efforts at the nest even as their immediate habitat shrinks. In spite of encroaching machinery and construction noise, the prospective parents seem indefatigable: the nest grows one carefully beak-sawn twig at a time. — Paige Harvey

It's a little thing, I know. Two hawks, six trees.'s all just little things, isn't it? A dozen little things? A hundred little things? A thousand? A million? A billion? And on and on and on.

To quote Utah Phillips, "The earth is not dying. It is being killed. And those that are killing it have names and addresses."

And now it's time to try to sleep again. Maybe I'll dream me a Lorax...with a rocket launcher...
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    Moby, "Into the Blue"
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Now, with 45% more sleep!

I think I got a good eight hours last night. The dreams weren't even too bad. By yesterday evening, round about sixish, I was so ill from lack of sleep I lay down and drifted in a gentle sort of delirium for a time. Neither dreaming nor awake, too dizzy and achy to sit up, constantly on the verge of tears. Fortunately, I have Spooky, and she chased me off to bed at a halfway decent hour last night and gave me stuff to help me sleep. I feel much better this morning. I'm hydrated and my thoughts aren't crumpled.

Yesterday, I read the new vignette, "pas-en-arrière, " aloud to Spooky. It's the first time she'd heard the whole thing, and she loved it. I love it, too. Though Sirenia Digest was born in October on a lark, and was soon thereafter pressed into servitude as a means of staying solvent until the next book is sold, I think I see it now as a blessing in disguise. It's allowing me to stretch and flex and grow in ways that writing for editors and their needs has not. I'm very proud of some of these pieces: "Pony," "Untitled 17," "Untitled 20," and now ""pas-en-arrière." I love these pieces, and they would not have happened without the digest. There are new facets of voice I'm discovering, which will change future novels and short stories, and I'm grateful for that. Anyway, I did a few corrections to the vignette yesterday. There are still a few left to do. My head's clearer today, so I'll trust myself more. One should never, ever edit oneself when half-awake and ill.

Anything else about yesterday? We visited the two trees in Freedom Park, as planned. I wrote two Wikipedia entries, on the ankylosaurids Talarurus and Nodocephalosaurus. Likely, they are infested with typos, and I shall have to edit them today, unless someone beats me to it. Last night, Spooky and I watched Capote, which I genuinely adored. It may be the best new film I've seen since The Aviator. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is brilliant, and the cinematography is almost perfect, making it the sort of film I savor frame by frame.

Thanks to tagplazen for pointing out that the quote I attributed to Naomi Klein's No Logo was actually something that Utah Phillips said that she quoted. Which is what I get for trusting my addled memory.

Here's a Wicca question I've been grapping with: Is it not obvious to everyone the problematic nature of the "Rede"? And you harm none, do what you will. This line can't be traced back farther than Gerald Gardner and the 1950s and is likely an invention of his. Same for the "Threefold Law." They both suffer from the same flaw, which is a generally simplistic and short-sighted understanding of cause and effect and the domino perpetuation of reaction following from any action. That is, simply stated, it's impossible, in any case imaginable, to commit an act which one can be certain will cause no one harm. Personally, as I've said, I don't see magick as a means of tipping the scales in our favour and begging the universe into coughing up something we need. But if I did, and if I also believed that should my magick harm another that harm would be visited upon me threefold, I would certainly never cast a spell, as I could never insure someone would not suffer unintentional harm. Here's an example. Let's say I needed a job, and I prayed to Rosmerta, since she's supposedly good with prosperity, and made offerings to her that I might get the job. Now, let's assume the universe works that way, that there are sentient, autonomous superbeings like Rosmerta who are also willing to pull strings for mortal organisms. So, she's pleased and sees that I get the job. The magick works. But. What about the dozens, or even hundreds of other applicants? What if some of them needed the job much more than I did, but were not so clever as to say the right prayers and make the best offerings to Rosmerta (or whomever)? What if one of those people needed the work so desperately that my getting it leads to the loss of her home and the disintegration of her family? What if she's so distraught by not getting the job that she commits suicide or harms someone else? Is it not obvious that my actions have brought harm upon her, and if the threefold law is to be believed, that harm will be visited upon me threefold? And never mind the issues of freewill involved, that I've asked Rosmerta to intercede and influence the thoughts of the person/people doing the hiring. Is that not also a terrible sort of harm, depriving them of choice? In truth, I suspect the "threefold law" and the "rede" both arise from sloppy misinterpretations of the concept of "karma." My problem here is the same one that I have with any form of prayer which seeks to actually exceed veneration/celebration to become coercion and begging, the problem of magick as a sort of Cosmic art of persuasion. It's common to most religions, but it doesn't have to be. We need desperately to divest ourselves of this image of magick as some sort of super-technology or the ability to influence the course of history. Or so I believe.

I do think that the Rede is salvageable, so long as we view it merely as a rule of thumb or a reminder that we should always act with the best of intentions and not mean to do another harm. That is, we should act in the spirit of the Rede, when possible. I can't however, find any use whatsoever for the "threefold law," which I must discard as a modern superstition.

Okay. The day's getting old. I want to try to begin a new vignette today, and I've started to think very specific thoughts about the next novel, which I've given the working title Joey LaFay. Stay tuned...