The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Morning

Purchased the complete 1st season of "I, Spy", the 1965 television series that played as a more realistic answer to Bond and U.N.C.L.E...and was my first glimpse of a respectable, powerful, intelligent man who looked like me anywhere in the media. There had never been anything remotely like Alexander Scott on television, and the camaraderie between Culp and Cosby was just sublime. Filming on actual locations made it even better. No, I haven' t the slightest complaint that Culp got most of the girls. The Scott role was originally an older Spiritual Guide, and they changed it to a pair of equals because they liked Cosby. And America made another little change. Tiny in isolation, but it was part of an overall pattern...and it wasn't accidental, either.

Sheldon Leonard was just another of the Hollywood producers who made a deliberate decision to make a contribution to civil rights. Jews in Hollywood did this, and they did it at risk to careers and bank books. I have friends and acquaintances who were there at the time, and this was social engineering, no doubt about it. Yeah, there's a "Canary in the Coal Mine" aspect of this: having just experienced the Holocaust, Jews in America knew that the forces of intolerance would strike at blacks, who were more visually identifiable, before they came after Jews. Protecting our rights was protecting their own: an early warning system. Brilliant, wonderful, and enlightened self-interest at its best. An entire series of Sidney Poitier movies were specifically created with the idea of promoting race relations. The results were everything from "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" all the way to "Shaft" (no, I'm not saying they were all consciously political--but many were, and they created the opening for others).

I wonder who I would have been, had I grown up with such images. I was 13 years old before "I, Spy"--with many of my basic self-image and world concept patterns set. I've spent decades working to repair the damage, and probably won't do it until I actually dissolve those layers of my ego shell. The cracks, I suspect, go too deep.


Watching the episodes, I realize I'd forgotten how much martial arts was in them. Culp studied Kenpo with Ed Parker ( the early episodes contain some absurdly mis-cued kicks and chops. Fun.) But as the series progressed there was some pretty decent judo, and both Culp and Cosby were a LOT more athletic than, say, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum on U.N.C.L.E.

And more importantly, every episode takes me back to that 13-year old I was when it first started running. Wow. That kid was starving. He's still there inside me. And right now, he's smiling.


Came across a list of actors who are also martial artists. Fact is, most of the list is actually martial artists who acted in movies (like, Chuck Norris, for instance). Elvis was mentioned, as he had a 5th degree black belt in Kenpo (hmm...are we sensing a pattern here?) and maybe an honorary 7th. But I've heard that it was all mostly honorary, and am hard-put to remember a scene in an Elvis movie that a reasonably coordinated actor couldn't fake with a few hours' practice. Can anyone out there remember an Elvis movie with a karate sequence worth a damn? Love to check it out.


Tananarive's been gone for a week. She took off the Monday after that butt-whipping all-weekend workout, leaving me with the Li'l Monster. Then, I had a copyedited manuscript dumped on me, and then it turned out they'd copyedited the wrong draft, so I had to go over it line by line, comparing drafts until my eyes bled. Was so overtrained that I had trouble know the drill. Finally my groggy brain remembered that a light whole-body workout can actually flush some of the toxins and speed recovery, so that helped. But MAN will I be happy to see her tomorrow.


We'll have 36 hours to finish our edit, and get it back to New York. Then, we have to finish our rewrite on The Good House. Lucky for me, T is taking lead on that now. I'll maybe do an NPR piece, and hopefully put some good hard hours in the Dream Park novel. At some point Betsy Mitchell will have a manuscript for me to rewrite. And we have to put together a proposal for the next Tennyson novel. Maybe two. I want to start integrating a bit of espionage into his world. Considering some of the resources I have, it would be stupid not to.


Wow. Miserable meditation this morning. Nothing but junk and clouds in there. The last week has definitely been taxing. The fact that I haven't done enough yoga of late probably factors in. Fitness isn't the same as connection. I think I've been doing the rough equivilent of putting my body on a hamster wheel while my mind and emotions floated away elsewhere, concerned with "stuff." That's better than not exercising, but vastly inferior to actually diving into the meat to see who's home. That ends today. Bikram at 9am. Won't be fun, but it will be instructive.


I think that we have a Life drive and a Death drive (being dualistic for a moment) and that we have to balance them. The Death drive allows us to burn away our ego, try risky things...but when it is in control, it can destroy our health and relationships. The Life drive connects us to love and growth, whispers caution. Out of control, it makes us too afraid, too cautious...and ultimately destroys our potential. We act as if, if we tip-toe through life or are vewwy vewwy quiet, Death won't notice us. Guess again.

In other words, Death can protect life (the true function of the Warrior) and Life can become Death. Just like Yin becomes Yang and Yang turns into Yin. One must remain conscious, and aware. Our urge to protect ourselves turns into a preservation of our ego-walls. Which allows them to make the mistake of thinking that they are "us." Dangerous.


Those of you who have been trying the Tibetans and/or Intermittent Fasting, I would expect that you've run into some really odd internal monologues and negative tapes, doing everything in their power to distract, delay, excuse and discourage. I'd love to hear about it. I'm still working on the project currently titled "The Hero's Journey: the 100 day body-mind challenge." The more clearly I understand the demons arising from working these patterns, the more fully I can serve the world. Five years ago, I created the "Five Minute Miracle", an attempt to put in condensed form, all the basic pieces that created my current perceptions of the world. The "Hero's Journey" (unless I change the title once again. I'd bet that I will) is the same thing, but deeper. The attempt to create a framework within which people can discover for themselves the truth or falsehood of what I've been saying.

1) Intermitten Fasting forces you to deal with your hungers, and differentiate between wants and needs. The internal voices (and their kinesthetic equivilents) bark loud and clear.

2) The Five Tibetans are the simplest practice I know that will create a body-mind link. Especially if you commit to doing them first thing in the morning. MAN, if you don't have that link already, are you ever going to hear every conceivable excuse jumping up! What a show!

3) Triangle Goals. You can hallucinate about your emotional/spiritual development, unless you couple it to some external measurement. For instance, in the last week, I lost my temper with Jason a few times. Clear evidence that I was off my game spiritually. But our intimate relationships with adults are vastly greater tests. You simply can't have a co-equal relationship with an adult without becoming an adult. You can, however, have children and remain a child. Your ability to create legal goods and services, and negotiate their value with the community demands both compassion, understanding, and self-love, as well as creativity, time management, emotional resiliency...all aspects of the adult personality. And your ability to balance your metabolic checkbook, to create a body that supports you energetically and is both a visual and tactile gift to your lover, as well as expressing both your aesthetic sense and animal simply cannot be childish. Children want to sleep late, play when they want, eat what they want. The adult personality must discipline this--until, ultimately, the child nature considers the healthy behaviors to be "play." THAT is bliss. To spontaneously do those things that are actually good for you? Yowsa! But it takes time, and care, and nurturance of your inner selves, in the same way that you would condition a child to be honest, hard-working, and compassionate, and to have those qualities emerge from WITHIN the child, to arise from the natural expression of their encoded values.

(In a deeper way, this is exactly what spiritual disciplines try to do to those walking the path of enlightenment. By the time you actually de-construct the ego shells, brothers and sisters, it is way past too late. You could just as easily be an enlightened serial killer. You've GOT to balance the basic aspects).

In other words, while you CAN become an adult without being "balanced", I don't think you can be balanced without walking the path to adulthood. So...ONE (and not the only or exclusive) path to genuine Self-realization would be:

1) awareness

2) balance

3) Adulthood

That's probably as far as most people should want to go. Any further, and you break the bonds of socialization and enter the danger zone. The next step

4) Awakening

Makes it very, very difficult to be lied to, or misled--which makes you a danger to society. The last step that can be described would be

5) Enlightenment

At which point language breaks down. You're off the map. ARE the map. Oh, crap, there's no point in trying to talk about it, really--all I can do is suggest that these steps, or things quite comparable to them, I have found in every spiritual tradition, and the esoteric aspects of every religion I've ever heard of. "Awakening" is useful. Enlightenment isn't. Unless it is.

Damn it, there I go again.


Frank said...

I remember I Spy very well. It was one of my favorite shows.

I don't remember thinking there was anything special about there being a White Guy paired with a Black Guy. I had no idea. And I had no external ques that this was special either. I watched it because my father did.

It was, however, when I began to like Bill Cosby. I thought he was the coolest part of the show.

I was eleven when the show started.

And later, my father bought his records. "Why is there air" and "Wonderfulness" and we played them over and over. I thought, and still think, he is the funniest man alive.

And then there was the "Original" Cosby show, where he played the gym teacher which I loved and at a time in my life when I watched little TV, I always made room for the Huxtables.

And when he's not being funny, he just seems a rational reasonable individual who has my respect.

And I Spy started it all for me.

Mike R said...

> Tibetans and/or Intermittent Fasting, I would expect that you've run into some really odd internal monologues and negative tapes, doing everything in their power to distract, delay, excuse and discourage. I'd love to hear about it.<

I've been doing both IF and the Tibetans and my internal monologues throw tons of stuff to get me to skip it, but I wouldn't call what they say really odd. It's pretty common stuff.

IF is usually something like,

"You don't have to do the full 36 hours, 24 is fine!"

"It's a special occasion; You shouldn't fast today! It'll screw up your socializing!"

"You can eat just a little something to tide you over, it's just a little, you'll stop after you have just a little bit!"

"You've already had two or three "little bites" have a few more little bites!"

Tibetans are usually,

"Your too rushed this morning! You gotta get to work. You can do them later in the day."

And then later on that day, "You're tired! Just go to sleep. It's OK to not do the exercises just for today."

If you've ever seen the play, "Avenue Q" it's pretty much a case of the Bad Idea Bears, ("You should do something for yourself for a change--buy some beer!" "Buy a case! It's cheaper that way in the long run!" "Yay-yeee!") Annoying and I'm getting better at recognizing, "Oh, that's what I'm doing to myself," but there is not much of it that I would call really odd.

I don't think I have as many body issues keeping me from my full body potential as I do career issues keeping me from doing what I think I want to do though. If I start making significant progress on that it's possible more weird stuff would get thrown my way.