Fixing it

Notwithstanding the [late] reckoning with our very own special coup, the one we think we dodged and the very one over which Our Media is fascinated by exactly all the wrong details; the battle between Chicago and lake Michigan; and the new Gilded Age space flights for plutocrat tourists, the economy seems to have magically withstood a pandemic (Narrator: It’s not magic):

Initial unemployment claims came in at 360,000 for the week ending July 10, below the previous week’s revised read of 386,000. That reading matched the consensus forecast among economists, according to Bloomberg.

The decline in the seasonally adjusted number resumes the overall downward trend of the volatile data series after an unexpected rise in initial claims last week. The Labor Department noted that this marks a new pandemic-era low.

While the number of Americans newly filing for unemployment benefits tends to bounce around from week to week, it’s been on a general downward trend after spiking to record-shattering numbers amid the early days of the pandemic last spring. The return to that downward trend matches other data suggesting a steadily recovering labor market.

360K is still a very many lot of people, and yet you ask: after years of making sure our billionaires had enough nest eggs to color-coordinate their space suits, how was it possible to get through a year of very limited economic activity and still be able browse and sniff at the want ads and generally avoid most of the fascist tendencies on offer? Give. People. Money.

CARES and PPP run themselves out by design, which is helping people stay afloat. This is why we’re longing for vacations instead of standing in breadlines. And the infrastructure bill will bring more of this – not gifts and not luxuries – but investments in people and how we live, with recommendations for new arrangements for different needs that WE have made absolutely necessary (see Chicago example above and read the history). Move the monuments. Buy the trains. Pay the carpenters, or become one. As legend has it, the profession has a storied past.

In the Night When He Slept

As promised, an excerpt from days gone by next week. Hermann Hesse takes up a decent amount of space in my early 20th century sweet spot, though I seldom revisit. Maybe I don’t have to – those who do so, long to create literature that stays with you. And here we are, the second part of chapter 5 of Siddhartha (1922).

As always, read the whole thing.


Siddhartha learned something new on every step of his path, for the
world was transformed, and his heart was enchanted. He saw the sun
rising over the mountains with their forests and setting over the
distant beach with its palm-trees. At night, he saw the stars in the
sky in their fixed positions and the crescent of the moon floating like
a boat in the blue. He saw trees, stars, animals, clouds, rainbows,
rocks, herbs, flowers, stream and river, the glistening dew in the
bushes in the morning, distant hight mountains which were blue and
pale, birds sang and bees, wind silverishly blew through the rice-field.
All of this, a thousand-fold and colorful, had always been there,
always the sun and the moon had shone, always rivers had roared and
bees had buzzed, but in former times all of this had been nothing more
to Siddhartha than a fleeting, deceptive veil before his eyes,
looked upon in distrust, destined to be penetrated and destroyed by
thought, since it was not the essential existence, since this essence
lay beyond, on the other side of, the visible. But now, his liberated
eyes stayed on this side, he saw and became aware of the visible, sought
to be at home in this world, did not search for the true essence, did
not aim at a world beyond. Beautiful was this world, looking at it thus,
without searching, thus simply, thus childlike. Beautiful were the moon
and the stars, beautiful was the stream and the banks, the forest and
the rocks, the goat and the gold-beetle, the flower and the butterfly.
Beautiful and lovely it was, thus to walk through the world, thus
childlike, thus awoken, thus open to what is near, thus without
distrust. Differently the sun burnt the head, differently the shade
of the forest cooled him down, differently the stream and the cistern,
the pumpkin and the banana tasted. Short were the days, short the
nights, every hour sped swiftly away like a sail on the sea, and under
the sail was a ship full of treasures, full of joy. Siddhartha saw a
group of apes moving through the high canopy of the forest, high in the
branches, and heard their savage, greedy song. Siddhartha saw a male
sheep following a female one and mating with her. In a lake of reeds,
he saw the pike hungrily hunting for its dinner; propelling themselves
away from it, in fear, wiggling and sparkling, the young fish jumped in
droves out of the water; the scent of strength and passion came
forcefully out of the hasty eddies of the water, which the pike stirred
up, impetuously hunting.

All of this had always existed, and he had not seen it; he had not been
with it. Now he was with it, he was part of it. Light and shadow
ran through his eyes, stars and moon ran through his heart.

On the way, Siddhartha also remembered everything he had experienced in
the Garden Jetavana, the teaching he had heard there, the divine Buddha,
the farewell from Govinda, the conversation with the exalted one. Again
he remembered his own words, he had spoken to the exalted one, every
word, and with astonishment he became aware of the fact that there he
had said things which he had not really known yet at this time. What he
had said to Gotama: his, the Buddha’s, treasure and secret was not the
teachings, but the unexpressable and not teachable, which he had
experienced in the hour of his enlightenment–it was nothing but this
very thing which he had now gone to experience, what he now began to
experience. Now, he had to experience his self. It is true that he had
already known for a long time that his self was Atman, in its essence
bearing the same eternal characteristics as Brahman. But never, he had
really found this self, because he had wanted to capture it in the net
of thought. With the body definitely not being the self, and not the
spectacle of the senses, so it also was not the thought, not the
rational mind, not the learned wisdom, not the learned ability to draw
conclusions and to develop previous thoughts in to new ones. No, this
world of thought was also still on this side, and nothing could be
achieved by killing the random self of the senses, if the random self of
thoughts and learned knowledge was fattened on the other hand. Both,
the thoughts as well as the senses, were pretty things, the ultimate
meaning was hidden behind both of them, both had to be listened to, both
had to be played with, both neither had to be scorned nor overestimated,
from both the secret voices of the innermost truth had to be attentively
perceived. He wanted to strive for nothing, except for what the voice
commanded him to strive for, dwell on nothing, except where the voice
would advise him to do so. Why had Gotama, at that time, in the hour
of all hours, sat down under the bo-tree, where the enlightenment hit
him? He had heard a voice, a voice in his own heart, which had
commanded him to seek rest under this tree, and he had neither preferred
self-castigation, offerings, ablutions, nor prayer, neither food nor
drink, neither sleep nor dream, he had obeyed the voice. To obey like
this, not to an external command, only to the voice, to be ready like
this, this was good, this was necessary, nothing else was necessary.

In the night when he slept in the straw hut of a ferryman by the river,
Siddhartha had a dream: Govinda was standing in front of him, dressed
in the yellow robe of an ascetic. Sad was how Govinda looked like,
sadly he asked: Why have you forsaken me? At this, he embraced
Govinda, wrapped his arms around him, and as he was pulling him close
to his chest and kissed him, it was not Govinda any more, but a woman,
and an full breast popped out of the woman’s dress, at which Siddhartha
lay and drank, sweetly and strongly tasted the milk from this breast.
It tasted of woman and man, of sun and forest, of animal and flower,
of every fruit, of every joyful desire. It intoxicated him and rendered
him unconscious.–When Siddhartha woke up, the pale river shimmered
through the door of the hut, and in the forest, a dark call of an owl
resounded deeply and and pleasantly.

When the day began, Siddhartha asked his host, the ferryman, to get him
across the river. The ferryman got him across the river on his
bamboo-raft, the wide water shimmered reddishly in the light of the

“This is a beautiful river,” he said to his companion.

“Yes,” said the ferryman, “a very beautiful river, I love it more than
anything. Often I have listened to it, often I have looked into its
eyes, and always I have learned from it. Much can be learned from a

“I than you, my benefactor,” spoke Siddhartha, disembarking on the other
side of the river. “I have no gift I could give you for your
hospitality, my dear, and also no payment for your work. I am a man
without a home, a son of a Brahman and a Samana.”

“I did see it,” spoke the ferryman, “and I haven’t expected any payment
from you and no gift which would be the custom for guests to bear. You
will give me the gift another time.”

“Do you think so?” asked Siddhartha amusedly.

“Surely. This too, I have learned from the river: everything is coming
back! You too, Samana, will come back. Now farewell! Let your
friendship be my reward. Commemorate me, when you’ll make offerings to
the gods.”

Smiling, they parted. Smiling, Siddhartha was happy about the
friendship and the kindness of the ferryman. “He is like Govinda,” he
thought with a smile, “all I meet on my path are like Govinda. All are
thankful, though they are the ones who would have a right to receive
thanks. All are submissive, all would like to be friends, like to
obey, think little. Like children are all people.”