The Shadow of Lhasa: a tale of reincarnation

Copyright (c) 2014, Revised and Unabridged 2018. All Rights Reserved, Smashwords Edition.  Published in ebook formats at Smashwords.com and at Barnes & Noble as a NOOK Book. ISBN: 9781311408204  Price: $4.95

In a passionate affair with her doctor Sienna Tiefwald (a transgender therapist), Lhasa Cremieux seeks to discover whether her reincarnation is artificial or natural. Lhasa is a CEO of a small firm that specializes in artificial reincarnation by ingesting a lozenge that affects the DNA of an individual. Is her existence the result of her own experiments or something more profound? Her quest is birthed through a disturbing, recurring vision while living and working in the City of Chicago.  The search is textured with deceptive encounters and ultimately leads to the steps of a temple in Tibet where she experiences a disquieting revelation.

The Shadow of Lhasa explores and examines reincarnation both natural and artificial.  The heroine, Lhasa Cremieux, is the CEO of a company that provides artificial reincarnation to anyone who can pay for her services.  This intricately written story follows her in her sometimes precarious search for her own past and history as well as her current relationships.  She finds help along the way, especially from her transgender therapist, Dr. Sienna Tiefwald.


The Shadow of Lhasa explores and examines reincarnation both natural and artificial.  The heroine, Lhasa Cremieux, is the CEO of a company that provides artificial reincarnation to anyone who can pay for her services.  This intricately written story follows her in her sometimes precarious search for her own past and history as well as her current relationships.  She finds help along the way, especially from her transgender therapist, Dr. Sienna Tiefwald.  Frank has no fear of touching on various social issues including sexual orientation, religious morals,  and government  intrusion.  His writing begs the reader to be a participant in his story rather than just a voyeur.  The colors and hues and other visuals from Lhasa’s travels from Chicago to Tibet as she looks for her true identify are stunning.
If you haven’t  thought about reincarnation, this book will likely encourage  you to study it further. I look forward to reading more works by this insightful and thoughtful wordsmith.
Gayle Lamar

“Erotic. Multilevel cosmic soup with philosophical soul. Osmosis for the human spirit. Envision this on screen. glimpse of the not too distant future.”

Deborah Marie, Smashwords

Context is the ambience

the vocabulary of a framework

a structure for understanding

with tolerance waiting in the wings

speculated and studied

privacy is public

and public is private

events become armored

when a dialogue arrives as a soliloquy

and dogma closes

the sanctuary door.


A passageway reveals once it’s opened

but verisimilitude bewilders

the seeker with an opinion

for the authentic may matter not

if it complicates the believer’s thoughts

and find itself at odds

with the actual;

In the orbit of philosophy and physics

existential is simply to exist

and perception is an optic

out of focus when eyelashes


with the medicine of belief.


Wary of the threshold

the intuitive awaiting recognition

and knowing

anamnesis is not amnesia

for consciousness is awareness

and yet

is blind

when memory is selective.



From The Examiner

“The poets tell us, that after the giants were overthrown by the gods, the earth in revenge produced her last offspring which was Fame. And the fable is thus interpreted: that when tumults and seditions are quieted, rumours and false reports are plentifully spread through a nation. So that, by this account, lying is the last relief of a routed, earth-born, rebellious party in a state. But here the moderns have made great additions, applying this art to the gaining of power and preserving it, as well as revenging themselves after they have lost it; as the same instruments are made use of by animals to feed themselves when they are hungry, and to bite those that tread upon them…”

“But the same genealogy cannot always be admitted for political lying; I shall therefore desire to refine upon it…   There is one essential point wherein a political liar differs from others of the faculty, that he ought to have but a short memory, which is necessary, according to the various occasions he meets with every hour of differing from himself, and swearing to both sides of a contradiction, as he finds the persons disposed with whom he hath to deal…”

“Few lies carry the inventor’s mark, and the most prostitute enemy to truth may spread a thousand, without being known for the author: besides, as the vilest writer hath his readers, so the greatest liar hath his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work, and there is no further occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.”

As you guessed from my other column I like to drive. I’m an explorer of highways and roads with a notoriety mostly known to those living alongside them and serving as an artery drawn on a map showing a physical destination. Highway 96 is one those I’ve traveled. I traveled it because it exists. And I travel such highways and roads because I’m a romantic for an idyllic past while being conscious of a harsh manifest destiny threaded in the landscape.

Highway 96 originates in Wichita, Kansas and ends in Westcliffe, Colorado.  It conceptually follows the Arkansas River for a distance of about 500 miles.  It hasn’t been romanticized, like US 66 that goes from Chicago to Los Angeles, or heavily traveled like US 50 from Baltimore to Sacramento.  It’s just kind of out there in the Midwest – unknown, unloved, unused, unfranchised, unsanitized, unkept, unguarded, uncluttered, unhurried, unblemished, unadvertised, and unsung.

From Great Bend, Kansas (so named because of the bend in the Arkansas River) to Ordway, Colorado, Highway 96 cuts straight like a ribbon, but makes a gradual ascent across some of the most amazingly lonely farm land and wilderness that one could hope to see.

Going west, you first travel through a bit of the Kansas Flint Hills, where the early cattle drivers stopped to fatten their steers before taking them on to Kansas City for slaughter.  The landscape now is more dotted with oil wells than with cattle.  By the time you get to Ness City, about an hour later, the hills gradually flatten out and the oil fields are central.  The local motel/restaurant is called the Oil Rigger – one of the good eateries along the way and home to the early morning coffee drinkers.  Someone has put large metal silhouettes of Indians on horseback on a hilltop on the west end of town, gently introducing you to the plains to come.

Of course much of the plains are now irrigated and cultivated into wheat fields now and for the next hundred miles or so the road takes you through the golden waves of grain.  And after the wheat fields, there are feedlots, the modern-day more efficient Flint Hills where you can see next week’s hamburger on the hoof.

There are the occasional grain elevators and church steeples marking the few small towns along the way.  These are the small towns free from the invasion of McDonalds or Walmart. They are small towns that are home base to the family farmers who make their living working in the soil.  All have a farm implement dealer and a Ford dealer whose small lots are filled with large pick up trucks.  The small towns like Dighton that have local schools with playgrounds and football fields and drive-in restaurants that make cherry cokes and cones filled with sweet ice cream then dipped in chocolate. The small towns like Scott City where the gas is expensive but the service is friendly.  And where the cafes and bars serve real food and cold beer.  The small town of Marienthal whose Catholic Cemetery sits at the side of the road with all the small white crosses marking the graves and its large white crucifix on display.

Soon, the farmland gives way to a surreal grey and purple high plains wilderness as you approach the Colorado state line.  Throw caution to the wind and instead, enjoy it.  Open your windows, or better yet, stop the car and get out and feel its breath blowing through your hair and your clothes. Open your eyes and see the beauty of a part of this wonderful country in its natural state. Open your ears and hear nothing but the sound of the wind and the cry of a lone meadowlark. Open your imagination and see the plains Indians chasing the herds of buffalo as they thunder across the land. Open your heart to the agonizing pain and despair of the young pioneer woman who rode on a wagon through the last weeks of a pregnancy only to deliver a baby still-born.  A baby that she had to bury on the side of the trail in a grave.  A grave that she could never return to.  Open your conscience to the frustration of the farmer who worked his crops day and night for months, only to lose them to the drought.  One’s destiny is never certain.

Smell the honest and natural aromas of the dust and rain and wind and cut hay and wheat and skunk and cow shit. Watch the distant rainstorms gathering on the horizon and the dust devils jumping around in the fields.  Look for the prairie dogs trying to make their living without falling prey to the talons of the abundant hawks sitting on the telephone lines, just waiting for a bit of movement in the fields below.

Places like this touch my soul in a way I can’t truly express. There aren’t enough of them, enough less traveled roads, roads that have yet to be victimized, bastardized, or franchised, but are thankfully, unsung.

*A romantic traveler

Walter Semkiw, MD, MPH, IISIS Reincarnation Research President, Reincarnation Expert, Web Site Editor, Graphic Artist, Webmaster. Semkiw’s undergraduate years were spent at the University of Illinois, where he majored in biology and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with University Honors.

After obtaining his medical degree at the University of Illinois, Chicago, he trained in psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Semkiw is a Board Certified Occupational Medicine physician who practices in San Francisco, where he served as the Assistant Chief of Occupational Medicine.

Born Again

Origin of the Soul and the Purpose of Reincarnation-E Book & Printed Versions

E-Mail: walter@reincarnationresearch.com

NP:   Belief in reincarnation is ancient and can be found within nomadic tribes thousands of years ago with the concept of cycles of birth and rebirth.  Has our understanding of reincarnation evolved over the centuries within different cultures and religions? Do you think primitive tribes and communities are more in touch with the natural cycles of birth and death without all the diversions of modern cultures?

Semkiw: It is possible that individuals in communities that are not part of the developed world have greater access to clairvoyant abilities, which allow access to past life memories. Still, such experiences are subjective, which do not promote universal understanding of the fundamentals of reincarnation.

The major breakthrough occurring at this time is that evidence of reincarnation is not considered a subjective phenomenon. Rather, the truth of reincarnation is now considered objective. The primary source of evidence involves the work of the late Ian Stevenson, MD of the University of Virginia. For a period of 40 years, Dr. Stevenson traveled around the world studying young children who had spontaneous past life memories that could be objectively validated. These children would give enough detailed information regarding their past life identities, parents and relatives, as well as the geographic location of their past life homes, that past life families could be located. When the child was reunited with the past life family, family members would validate the child’s past life memories. Dr. Stevenson compiled approximately 1200 of such validated reincarnation cases. To learn more about Dr. Stevenson’s work, go to: Reincarnation Research of Ian Stevenson.

Further, this wealth of reincarnation evidence allows us to also understand the mechanics of how reincarnation works. I have used this data to formulate Principles of Reincarnation, which include the observation that facial features can remain the same from one lifetime to another and that people reincarnate in soul groups and that talents and passions can persist from lifetime to lifetime. To learn more about these tenets, go to Evidence and principles of Reincarnation-Understanding Past Lives

NP:  In what way(s) do you think the study of reincarnation is valuable to the individual and society? What do you see as the downstream effects of reincarnation studies in terms of war and peace and culture/human affairs?

Semkiw: One of the most important Principles of Reincarnation is that souls can change religion, nationality and ethnic affiliation from one lifetime to another. Most wars are based on differences in these cultural markers of identity. When people realize they can be Muslim in one lifetime and Christian or Jewish in another, Shiite in one incarnation and Sunni in another, etc., then, they will realize they are universal souls, not limited to an identity based on one particular culture. In this way, conflict will be mitigated. This, indeed, is the mission of ReincarnationResearch.com, to help create greater peace based on evidence of reincarnation.

One of the most dramatic cases with change of religion and nationality involves the reincarnation case of Anne Frank | Barbro Karlen. Anne was persecuted as a Jew during the Holocaust, while Barbro was born into a Christian family in Sweden. If the Nazi’s knew that one could be born Jewish in one lifetime and Christian in another, the Holocaust could not have happened. To review Anne Frank reincarnation case. 

There are multiple Ian Stevenson reincarnation cases that show change in religion, nationality and ethnic affiliation. To review these cases, go to: https://reincarnationresearch.com/case-categories/?cat=change-of-religion-nationality-race

To review our Mission Statement

 NP: In his speculative work Zen Physics, astronomer David Darling wrote, “No one has yet come near to circumscribing the bounds of physical reality, we cannot rule out the possibility that any specific collection of matter, however complex, will recur – and recur many times over – in the distant future” and the “same argument applies, with equal strength, to the past of an old universe, or collection of universes.”  To rephrase the German theologian and physician, Albert Schweitzer’s thoughts, does reincarnation offer a comforting explanation of reality?  What does the future hold for the study of reincarnation?

Semkiw: In my opinion, evidence of reincarnation will totally transform society. Currently, with one-lifetime religions, people look at existence in the short-term. Further, these religions espouse beliefs that if one follows the rules of the religion, then one will be granted entrance into heaven. This type of system allows Islamic Jihadists to kill scores of people with impunity, with the false belief that Allah will reward them for murdering infidels. Similarly, Christian soldiers pray to God for assistance in preserving their lives in their efforts to kill their enemies. Do not the enemies have the same God?

Evidence of reincarnation will hopefully cause people to think in the long run, across multiple lifetimes. Actions conducted in this lifetime will have repercussions in the next. Ancient enemies will lay down the sword as people realize they can reincarnate as their own enemy. People will make environmental concerns a person issue, as they realize they will be returning to this planet soon.

The repercussions of past life actions will be experienced in proximity, as the average time between incarnations in Dr. Stevenson’s 1200 validated childhood past life memory cases is only about 1.5 years.

Evidence of reincarnation will continue to grow due to the Information Age. In the past, it was much harder to try to validate past lives. In the past, only the very wealthy or accomplished could have portraits done and as such, only few people could assess for physical resemblance across lifetimes. With the advent of photography, the ability to look for similar facial features across incarnations has risen exponentially. With the ability to do research over the Internet, the investigation of past lives has become much easier.

I think reincarnation is in the transition of being a belief system to becoming a science, one that will help Earth become a “divine” planet.


Allegations collide

nonlinear words drone against a plaster ceiling

amiss is an adjective

amid the theory & content of chaos,

everyone is suspect

while no one is

Inspector Clouseau queries,

is anyone hiding there in the dark?


Surveillance, the ubiquitous voyeur

cameras blink in flashes

the overhead prism of dangling colors,

choice appears as an orifice

legs spread on direction

toes curled with penetration,

reflection in the mirror of a multiple reality

an evolving design of its predecessor

as uniforms with faces of greed


for living & dying are mere moments apart

debtor prisons lobbied for

unless one has a private jet.


The pews filled with the iniquitous

think on your sins is a cliché

and God is a word invented by men

inspired by natural & unnatural fears implanted

The albatross of the human spirit

wings flutter in the air to lighten the burden

as the human cells change every ninety days

seeking a rebirth and another chance.


Banks fill their coffers

the trades pass through their accounts

national & international finance beget

metaphors of obligation

as the cache of arms, drugs & transactions of paper

channeled into off shore accounts,

whomever manages the debt


the dogma of wealth ratified

simper is a coyly smiling verb

and ascendancy is a noun for domination.

Russians sorting raw hemp fibers in the Kurks region in the 1960s. Hemp has been used as building material for millennia in Europe and elsewhere, but it’s only just starting to get wider recognition as a green construction option. CreditOleg Sizov/TASS, via Getty Images

The Romans have been using it since the days of Julius Caesar, but not to get high. Both Washington and Jefferson grew it.

Now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana for some recreational and medical purposes, one of the biggest untapped markets for the cannabis plant itself — at least one variety — could be as a building tool.



Antoinette M. Watkins writes under the pen name Johanna Sparrow. She’s been writing for over 20 years and has published a variety of works that include children’s books, novellas, and self-help books on the topics of relationships, personal growth, and conflict resolution.




To get in touch with Ms. Sparrow

websites: https://www.johannasparrow.com, https://www.johannatellsit.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J.Sparrowselfhelpbooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SparrowJohanna

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johanna-sparrow-9929b897/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JohannaSparrow


NP:  Your birth name is elegant – Antoinette. What did you have in mind when you selected Johanna Sparrow as a pen name? Is there a relationship between our concept of self or the name we wish to project and the name we write under?

Sparrow: To be honest the name was given to me in a dream. Much depends on why the name is chosen in the first place. Yes, one’s name can be connected to unspeakable hurt; but for me the name allows for a deeper connection to a part of oneself that hasn’t been hurt or traumatized, while simultaneously understanding the nature of such balance.

NP: What were some of the experiences in your life that inspired you to help others?  How did you go about tackling the issues that confronted you? And, is writing about them helpful?

Sparrow: Some of the experiences in my life that inspired me to help others had much to do with how horrible I felt I was treated in my family. I vowed to help others who suffer hurt and pain in their everyday life.  I tackled tough issues in my life by not taking things out on others and by accepting that fact that I can only change myself. Writing can definitely be one form of self-help.

NP:  You write about HBCCR “Heart Bruised Conscious Connection Renewal.” How would you explain or describe it, and how the system works and affects our lives and relationships?

Sparrow: Our hearts and minds are greatly influenced by our experiences. Negative experiences can damage our psyche and leave us trapped in a cycle of pain, depression, self-loathing, and confusion. The ability to overcome those experiences depends on your level of spirituality more than anything else.

Knowing your purpose depends on how much you understand your part in the Universal Consciousness Connection (UCC) and the realization that you are an eternal soul having a human experience.

NP: When a person is suffering from an incurable disease, or finds her or his self in virtual isolation such as old age, or permanent unemployment with no money coming in, no family or close friends and when the seeming absurdity of the struggle resonates deep within why should that person stay? Is there any juncture in your mind in which suicide is an option?

Sparrow: I am not one to ever give up, so I would have to say, suicide should never be an option. Even when one feels as if they have nothing or no one in their life, you can say that you still have life…you’re breathing.  Moments in life where one sees no hope or nothing to live for or no one to love can only be felt if one is truly alive.  Being able to feel such emotion or hopelessness while living should make one question ending his or her life since they are passing through a form of death with their eyes open.

NP:  Within the scope of emerging technologies where the human and machine appear to overlap do you see issues evolving around what constitutes human and humane?

Sparrow: Yes, relationships are changing every day due to people not making intimate connections because of the distractions from emotionless gadgets. Issues are evolving around what we are and how we have begun to treat one another which is distant and unconcerned and that in small part is the focus of my writings and how we can interact with each other.

NP:  Your works cover a wide range of human issues and obstacles we face. Is there commonality you see in issues we face today and potentially tomorrow?

Sparrow: The need to intimately communicate with each other appears to increase proportionately to the amount of time we engage in various technologies rather than directly with other people. It would seem obvious that “texting your love” is fine on one level though it does not replace the face to face human connection. “Texting your love” is not the same as physical touch and looking in the other person’s eyes or holding their hands and embracing them as another human. The question is whether we are becoming more attached to technology than the human experience we once shared.


I’m a traveler. Always have been. Always will be. And I like to drive. Not cattle but a car. Highway 79 is an ambiguous, pleasant and thought-provoking drive through sun-baked soil and red neck country amid the wealthy situated along side hard-working farmers and the dispossessed where justice and fairness occasionally leaves a dry taste in one’s mouth.

You see this particular highway stretching from Shreveport, Louisiana to Austin, Texas is one of my very favorite drives. It’s a drive to be started in the early pre-dawn hours and taken alone. You should have an open sunroof, or a dropped convertible or at the very least open windows. The road meanders through places like Carthage, home of the Tex Ritter museum, Jefferson, tomato capital of the world, and Henderson. Henderson is a good place to stop for breakfast. By then, the sun has come up and the small towns are starting to awaken.

The only other vehicles on the road are pickup trucks. Not shiny new extended cab trucks whose loads are never heavier or more damaging than cotton balls, but honest hard-working farm trucks.  Pickup trucks with battered tail gates, pickup trucks with rusted wheel wells, pickup trucks loaded with tools, ropes, chains, and big orange water coolers, pickup trucks with 3 or 4 trailer hitches, pickup trucks driven by farmers wearing straw cowboy hats with sweat on the bands. They also wear faded jeans and dusty well-worn soft leather boots, and hand tooled leather belts tight under their bellies. Pick up trucks driven by raven haired young Hispanic beauties with several small children crawling around the cab with their bottles of “soda pop” and sticks of beef jerky in their tiny hands.

And more pickup trucks with loads of water melon or corn or nursery bedding plants, or even a cow or a pig in the back on their way to market or to the livestock auction barns. You can be pretty sure that you have eaten something at sometime that’s been carried around in these trucks. In Texas, pickup trucks have special license tags that read “Texas Truck” on them, and working farm trucks have even more special plates that say “Texas Farm Truck” on them. I understand they got a real break on registering these fine trucks.

It was on this drive I first heard Guy Clark sing his new song “Out in the Parking Lot” The chorus line of the song is “I love to see the neon dancing on the gravel, I love to hear the pickup trucks come unraveled.”  When I heard that, I played it over and over, thinking of my sweet son at home in his shiny new pick up truck with the dual exhaust system that will rattle you out of your bed in the morning, and in some ways wished he were with me on this journey.

When I got to Henderson, I looked for the local cafe with the most pickup trucks in the parking lot, knowing full well that was where the local “Think tank” would be drinking coffee and discussing world affairs. I was also certain that would be where the best breakfast would be served at the cheapest price with the largest servings. I was not disappointed when my platter of over easy eggs and home cooked potatoes and long crisp slices of bacon arrived.

Another wonderful thing about US Highway 79, a two-lane highway, is when you get behind one of these loaded down pick up trucks, they will always move over to the shoulder and smile and wave to let you by.  At least they did the last time I traveled the highway a few years ago. Not much has changed. And what fun it is when finally someone wants to pass you and you are the one to move over and smile and wave first!

I can’t think of a better way to start a new traveling adventure than to roll along a slice of friendly highway through the pine forests, to the produce farms to the cotton fields of East Texas to my family in Lockhart and where the history of the Chisholm Trail is a significant part of the local culture along with the hope for whatever the uncertain future may offer.

I’ve moved on now and have spent some time in Greece and Mexico among other places abroad and back home and know enough to smile, for my memory, though selective, still retains a fondness for Highway 79 and the possibilities ahead.

  • A romantic traveler.

The Atlantic

A Foreboding Similarity in Today’s Oceans and a 94-Million-Year-Old Catastrophe

The ocean is suffocating—but not for the first time.

Algae blooms off the coast of New York and
New Jersey in August 2015 NASA / AP

The ocean is losing its oxygen. Last week, in a sweeping analysis in the journal Science, scientists put it starkly: Over the past 50 years, the volume of the ocean with no oxygen at all has quadrupled, while oxygen-deprived swaths of the open seas have expanded by the size of the European Union. The culprits are familiar: global warming and pollution.


Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

My thoughts started out rather simple enough. I’m driving north on an interstate headed for Canada and I turn on Sirius radio and hear the word “primitive” mentioned in one sentence. I waited. No discussion follows.

As I look at the highway ahead I recall the word primitive, etymologically, as being related to primary or original causes of a disease and later evolved anthropologically into origins, crude, simple and so forth. There’s been a multitude of studies written about it’s meaning and how it evokes different ideas to different people.

On reflection primitive at times possesses a deeply sensual mystique. From the 18th century through the 20th century the word stirred the thoughts and emotions of seekers being both repulsed and drawn to its nature and applicability.

Perhaps as Professor Marianna Torgovnick wrote over two decade ago in her work, Primitive Passions, Men, Women and the Quest for Ecstasy, the search for the primitive is more about us than the primitive. In her brilliant work she leaves few stones unturned so to speak. She probes all the meanings of the term with the idea that “Primitivism is the utopian desire to go back and recover irreducible features of the psyche, body, land, and community – to re-inhabit core experiences.” This is work I highly recommend for the seeker as she literally casts a wide net in uncovering passions characterized as primitive.

Taking a break at a coffee shop, I sip my coffee and involuntarily catch a high pitched conversation at the next table and exhorting an opinion at the expense of another, as one called the other “primitive.” They talked around each other without coming to terms of what their experiences with primitive might entail.

Their conversation reminded me of what Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing wrote in his Politics of Experience when he said something to the effect, “I see you and you see me. I experience you and you experience me. I see your behavior and you see my behavior. But, I do not and never have and never will see your experience of me. Just as you cannot “see” my experience of you…your experience of me is invisible to me and my experience of you is invisible to you.”

Whether one agrees or disagrees, from a relational perspective, it’s difficult to speak of primitive unless we all agree on the same definition or meaning. It’s complex at best.

After experiencing Africa, the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung wrote in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections, of “the sight of a child or primitive will arouse certain longings in adult, civilized persons – longing which relate to the unfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality which have been blotted out of the total picture in favor of the adapted (socialized) persona.” He understood primitive to mean a certain archetype or perhaps primordial image.

I suppose experiencing the primitive also alludes to an inner fear in relation to the world in which we live…the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard suggested in his manuscript on Fear and Trembling, there is the quest for the human attempting to relate or at least regain a relation to himself and the world. His example of the ritual of sacrifice possesses a primitive quality.

Torgovnick quotes the philosopher Martin Buber from his work, Ecstatic Confessions, “We listen to our inmost selves – and do not know which sea we hear murmuring.”

Decades ago, when I ventured across a tiny portion of the Arabian Desert, I recall the Sufi poet, Mahmud Shabistari’s desert wandering – it was primitive and prescient and written in the thirteenth century…The Past Flies Away:

 The past flies away;

coming months and years do not exist:

Only the pinprick of this moment

belongs to us.


We decorate this speck of a moment-time-

by calling it a flowing river or a stream.


But often I find myself alone

in a desert wilderness,

straining to catch the faint echo of

unfamiliar sounds.


In his work on Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints, archaeologist Brian Hayden delves in to the prehistory of religion and the rituals, beliefs and thoughts of primitive man and “what it means to be human.”

As I get back into my car and head to the interstate, more questions dance in my mind. Within the origins of human conscience and consciousness we find the human seeds and roots of the sensual, erotic, spiritual and the intimate human and animal ties to their physical world that birthed them.

The interstate I drive on is a link – the road, the environment, the water, the earth, the air, the sky, my body and mind are all woven together. Perhaps to acknowledge the woven threads of our physical and mental world in all of its diversity and appreciate how we all affect each other – is the colorful and provocative tapestry of the primitive.

NPJ Book Review – The Housewife’s Handbook on Selective Promiscuity, Definitive Edition by Rey Anthony (2012)
The author, Lillian Maxine Serett wrote this in the late 1950’s and originally published it in 1960. The United States Supreme Court indicted the author for distributing obscene material through the mail under the Comstock Act of 1873. And the publisher Ralph Ginzburg went to prison for over a half a year on obscenity charges.

Why review this book? It’s relevant to today’s social and political, and cultural issues as they relate to women. The author is literate, articulate, graphic and open-minded. The definitive edition is organized and edited by Lillian’s daughter Toni Savant to bring attention to salient issues confronting women’s rights today. In some ways for some readers it retains a “Henry Miller style to it” in terms of the author’s flow of expression concerning erotic thoughts and experiences.

The author narrates her self-exploration as a child from masturbation, orgasm, sexual health, abortion and pregnancy that is purposefully written in plain enough language that her “neighbors could understand.”

Throughout her life she demonstrated she was in command of her own body and sought sexual pleasure on her own terms. For her there was no unnatural sexual act if both partners were responsible and enjoyed exploring the experience together. The author was pro-abortion, pro-sexual pleasure and pro-equal rights and this work displays her progressive, impartial and tolerant attitude.

The author is assertive in her position that women have a right to sexual pleasure and be in charge of their own pleasure. She was feminist from the 1940s and 50’s and her thoughts and expression were troubling to those men wishing to keep women in their place…wherever that was. She depicts form  of sexual harassment such as, a boss she refused to have sex with and men who felt she was over sexed and those men who thought only of their own orgasm and not the hers and those that understood better.

This is a woman’s sexual biography with significant relevance today.


Library Quarterly

Mobilization of Rural Libraries toward Political and Economic Change
in the Aftermath of the 2016 Presidential Election  by  Bharat Mehra


The 2016 presidential election in the United States was unprecedented in the extent of bitter divisiveness between the candidates’ campaigns, the complex factors attributed to the unexpected results, and the difficult years in which the nation will reel from the short and long-term effects. In its aftermath, an aggravated, broken nation extends rural libraries an extraordinary charge to help mend the splinters and move forward in their local environments. They have an opening to take ownership of a compelling responsibility as agents of democracy toward political, economic, and civic recovery. This think piece analyzes the implications of the 2016 presidential election for rural libraries primarily as information service providers that can aggressively further political information literacy, fluency, and advocacy and economic development as tools to nurture a more refined, responsive, respectful, and relevant form of democracy in the twenty-first century than what we have seen recently.

Article available through Library Quarterly

“This article was developed from the text interview “Rural Libraries: Political and Economic Change,” which I gave to the Narratives Paths Journal (Journal for Experimenting with Ideas), available at:  NP Journal- Rural Libraries


Image for Writings

Credit: Jean Philippe-Cypres, photographer

“Om,” is considered a primordial sound of the infinite and the pervasive vibration emanating at the beginning of the visible universe. The syllable enunciated in various ancient oral traditions was later written by scribes/monks in texts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It’s spiritually significant and found a home in Vedic (Sanskrit) texts, hymns and myths.

“OM” is complicated to say the least with numberless experts as to its possibilities affecting human existence. It signifies in one sense, creation and Supreme Being or Beingness itself as well as serving as a therapeutic mantra and a method of enhancing the depth of concentration “beyond time” in meditation and becomes a force within the context of prayer and chanting. And that’s just the tip of its influence. Chanted at various international ecclesiastical gatherings it served as a symbol of diverse human beliefs as one.


How can one know the unknowable – who was the first person(s) that uttered “Om” among the ancients? What did he or she know that led them to uttering the haunting sound? How did the myth evolve surrounding “OM” or did it occur suddenly? I knew the word was Sanskrit and found in written form first in the Vedas around 1500 BCE though it existed as noted in oral tradition previous to the Vedas for uncountable centuries.

My own interest has existed for decades. While visiting a bookshop several yards from a Vedanta Temple where I was meditating, on the side of mountain overlooking Santa Barbara and the Pacific and just below the Santa Ynez Mountains I came across a book that further opened a door.

The title of the book was The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. This scholarly academic study is about the various perspectives concerning the Indo-Aryan Migration Debate and what came first. It is a complicated read. Where and how did the Vedic language and culture originate? Professor Edwin Bryant who wrote the book offers an analysis to the various perspectives in an ongoing intense debate (archaeologically, the quest continues). The author with insight to the debate about origins states in his conclusion that care is needed to discern the actual data and the interpretations of that data. If anything his work inspired me to dig deeper which for me was the point of the text.

The more I pursued the more I thought Occam’s or Ockham’s razor or philosophical principle might be applicable. That is, the answer I sought was probably found in the fewest assumptions or perhaps the philosopher Bertrand Russell correctly observed, “whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities.”

In his work From Primitive to Zen, Mircea Eliade writes about beginnings, “OM” being the most sacred word of Hinduism and found in the Upanishads both at the beginning and end of prayers – it expresses the concept of Ishvara or Supreme Soul or God, among other labels and descriptions depending on the context. Eliade understood nature’s influence in the formation of religions, theologies and myths.

“In the beginning was a vibration consisting of the sound,” a Hindu friend of mine from Varanasi, India suggested, “It’s about the vibration a person feels within when he utters the syllable “OM” rather than the meanings ascribed to it.” It was how the ancients came to terms with existence and their roles in life. By saying it repeatedly one feels an inner force of energy. If I apply the simplest assumption could it be the sound of nature itself such as the rumbling of a distant thunder among other sounds of the natural world?

Were ancient nomadic tribes thousands of years ago in the Middle East in touch with their physical world to such a degree that they inherently (if not genetically) understood the sound vibrations attendant to the cycles of life and death? Did the ancient nomads gazing up at the stars at night in awe of nature’s splendor and power, understand it’s vibration of life and death – it’s suffering, sensuality and cycles to the degree they were able to utter, “OM?”

Who are you that first uttered or chanted “OM” and under what circumstances? Were you sitting around a fire at night or crossing a vast savannah contemplating the nature of ultimate reality and the syllable “OM” became the sound that expressed the ultimate reality of all existence? Was it a mystical experience based on nature’s sounds?

Centuries of oral tradition of the Absolute, the Relative and the Relationship between them are three parts of “One”- the whole. The syllable was representative of the whole and was eventually written down and “OM” found its way into texts later pronounced as sacred and inspired.

Whatever answer one arrives at, my experience suggests that one can find the impact of “OM” by chanting it over a period of time. Perhaps it’s an ancient genetic stirring deep within each of us, if we carefully listen.

*from The Edges is a biographical work in its early stages

from 2017


Art Censorship: How Social Media Edits Our World View

by Uriel Dana

With all the horror terrorizing the world, something wonderful happened recently for the arts, and we have the French to thank for it.

In a landmark censorship case against art, the French ruled that Facebook can be sued in France for censoring content. 



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