William James On Mystical States

   William James   (January 11, 1842–August 26, 1910)

William James (January 11, 1842–August 26, 1910)

Mystical states cannot be sustained for long. Except in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to be the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day. Often, when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced in memory; but when they recur it is recognized; and from one recurrence to another it is susceptible of continuous development in what is felt as inner richness and importance.

Joan Didion On Living

   Joan Didion   (December 5, 1934 -)

Joan Didion (December 5, 1934 -)

I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.

Genevieve Dewar on Human Nature

It’s very rare that humans like to sit still and do nothing and maintain stasis. While we love what we know and we do want to maintain it, I think all of us would love to make the world a more interesting place and a more useful place, and be able to do more things and climb higher and move faster. This is also part of our nature — the desire to create and to grow and to change.

Donald Andrew Hall On Writing

   Donald Andrew Hall   (September 20, 1928 – June 23, 2018)

Donald Andrew Hall (September 20, 1928 – June 23, 2018)

The great pleasure of being a writer is in the act of writing, and surely there is some pleasure in being published and being praised. I don’t mean to be complacent about what I have some of. But the greater pleasure is in the act. When you lose yourself in your work, and you feel at one with it, it is like love.


🎂Happy Birthday Donald Andrew Hall. In Memoriam🌹 

Roger Angell On Aging

  Roger Angell  (September 19, 1920 -) 

Roger Angell (September 19, 1920 -) 

I’ve endured a few knocks but missed worse. I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds. The pains and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.

🎂Happy Birthday Roger Angell, (September 19, 1920 -) 98 Years of Life🎂 

CS Lewis On Self Consciousness

   Clive Staples   Lewis   (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963)

Clive Staples Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963)

There is no reason to suppose that self-consciousness, the recognition of a creature by itself as a "self," can exist except in contrast with an "other," a something which is not the self. . . . The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: and choice implies the existence of things to choose between. A creature with no environment would have no choices to make: so that freedom, like self-consciousness (if they are not, indeed, the same thing), again demands the presence to the self of something other than the self.

The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration — A Bi-Weekly Sunday Series by Socrates Black


The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Chapter Seven — Stanley Kunitz 


I see a note on top of the front desk from Stanley Kunitz asking me to visit him in his suite when the opportunity permits itself. I love my visits to the guest’s suites. Each is the inspirational creation of the owner. Most contain furniture and artifacts from the guest’s own era, but some like Picasso’s suite are decorated and adorned with objects de art from more modern periods. Because Stanley is a gardener as well as a renowned poet, his suite is surrounded by gardens, ponds, and forests. “Nature is a great inspiration,” he always says.

I walk up the brass and marble stairway, through the library, and down the long hallway to reach Stanley’s suite. A note on the front door says, “Please come in. I am either in the garden or the study. Make yourself at home.” I pass through the vailed doorway and enter the suite. I head for his study as he always has a warm fire and a decanter of brandy awaiting his guests. I love the smell of his books, some neatly lining the many shelves, others scattered around the room, others in small stacks haphazardly organized around the sun lit study. His desk is filled with notes and papers, a half glass of brandy, and a few books by other poets.

I look out the garden door and wave to Stanley to notify him of my arrival. He waves back. I walk across the room to his roll top desk where he keeps the brandy and pour a decent amount into a snifter. Then I walk over near the fireplace and sit down to relax in his green chair while he completes his work in the garden. It was most likely a combination of the late night with Simone, the warmth of the fire, and the sips of brandy that caused me to drift off until I heard Stanley’s voice.

“I used to sit in that green Morris chair and open the heavy dictionary on my lap, and find a new word every day. It was a big word, a word like eleemosynary or phantasmagoria - some word that, on the tongue, sounded great to me, and I would go out into the fields and I would shout those words, because it was so important that they sounded so great to me. And then eventually I began incorporating them into verses, into poems. But certainly my thought in the beginning was that there was so much joy playing with language that I couldn't consider living without it.”

“Language is important to both of us Stanley. We need to communicate. Words allow us to do that so we have a common image to go along with the word.”

“The problem with many words Socrates is they present different images depending upon the culture of the people where they are used. The images of poetry are almost all universal. The images of my childhood. The deaths of my father and stepfather are events I thought could only happen to me, but we all experience loss. Poetry speaks to the common everyday experiences we all share. The losses, the joys, and the frustrations of life. Poetry incorporates and transcends words. That is why I am a poet.”

I respond. “The poet says, ‘Unless you have felt it, you cannot truly understand it,’ and the philosopher says, ‘Unless you understand it, you cannot truly feel it.’ Do you agree with this statement Stanley?”

“I do not know Socrates. I could imagine an emotion, like fear, occurring so suddenly in life that the mind may not have time to identify it first. Fear, however, in the hands of a poet stimulates both the heart and the mind simultaneously. Think of Poe’s poem The Raven. My heart beats fast each time I read it when there is nothing to personally fear. Do the words generate the emotion of fear in this case or do the words aid in the understanding of the fear? Does the mind just go along? 

“I studied psychology, philosophy and poetry so that I might better understand some of these connections between words, feelings, and thoughts but I do not know if I am any closer to that understanding. Perhaps we might raise this question with Carl and Sigmund one evening over dinner.”

“That should prove to be a lively discussion,” laughs Stanley. “You, Socrates, have the mind of the philosopher and the heart and patience of the poet.

“That is true my friend. My discipline is philosophy but I think of myself as more of a poet. I think all poets are philosophers but not all philosophers are poets.”

“I,” replies Stanley, “have the mind of the poet and the heart of the philosopher. We each go about in the performance of our daily activities with these two angels guiding us from different perspectives. The philosophers in us wonder endlessly in the garden, thinking, contemplating, rationalizing the thoughts in our heads while our poets take notice of the scent of the wisteria blooming on the trellis above us, the buzzing of the honey bees, and the heavy burden of the sunflower trying to hold its head erect.”

“Yes, we are both or should I say all three, poet, philosopher and psychologist.”

“That would explain some of my life’s complications,” says Stanley. “Maybe I enjoy not-being as much as being who I am. Maybe it's time for me to practice growing old. The way I look at it, I'm passing through a phase Socrates: gradually I'm changing into a word. Whatever you choose to claim of me is always yours; nothing is truly mine except my name. I only borrowed this dust.”

“Yes Stanley,” I reply. “Stardust.”


The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Chapter Eight — James Baldwin will be published on Sunday, September 30, 2018.

CopyRight©️2018 by Transformation Publications. Cover image “Aries” by  Emilee Petersmark for The Accidentals.

Maria Popova On Love

   Maria Popova   (July 28, 1984 -)

Maria Popova (July 28, 1984 -)

To love every fiber of another’s being with every fiber of your own is a rare, beautiful, and thoroughly disorienting experience — one which the term in love feels too small to hold. Its fact becomes a gravitational center of your emotional universe so powerful that the curvature of language and reality bends beyond recognition…The consummate reality of such a love is the native poetry of existence, known not in language but by heart.

Pythagoras On Philosophers

   Pythagoras   (c. 570–c. 495 BC)

Pythagoras (c. 570–c. 495 BC)

Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature’s secrets.

Mary Oliver On One Or Two Things

    Mary Oliver   (September 10, 1935 -)

 Mary Oliver (September 10, 1935 -)


Don’t bother me.
I’ve just
been born.


The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves
delicately, and well enough to get it
where it wants to go, wherever that is, stopping
here and there to fuzzle the damp throats
of flowers and the black mud; up
and down it swings, frenzied and aimless; and sometimes
for long delicious moments it is perfectly
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower.


The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now,
and never once mentioned forever,


which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.


One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond, over the deep
roughage of the trees and through the stiff
flowers of lightning—some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain.


But to lift the hoof!
For that you need
an idea.


For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,
and vanished
into the world.


🎂Happy Birthday Mary Oliver  (September 10, 1935 -)🎂

Audre Lorde On Acceptable Women

   Audre Lorde   (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)

Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)

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. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support.

Terry Tempest Williams On Aggression

    Terry Tempest Williams   (September 08, 1955 -)

 Terry Tempest Williams (September 08, 1955 -)

The irony of our existence is this: We are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of evolution, a tiny organism on Earth. And yet, personally, collectively, we are changing the planet through our voracity, the velocity of our reach, our desires, our ambitions, and our appetites. We multiply, our hunger multiplies, and our insatiable craving accelerates.

Consumption is a progressive disease.

We believe in more, more possessions, more power, more war. Anywhere, everywhere our advance of aggression continues.


🎂Happy Birthday Terry Tempest Williams (September 08, 1955 -)🎂