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#2444 - Tuesday, April 11, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Three articles in this issue.

One by Mazie Lane on the nonduality of the tv show The Sopranos.  

Then an article on how to talk Advaita. "The statement,  'I am horny"  becomes, 'It is perceived that there is a sensation of horniness presently manifesting in this body-mind.'"  

Finally, an article from the Chicago Tribune on Jack Kerouac's Book of Sketches.    


Mazie Lane sent the following to Nonduality Salon on April 3, 2006:


Nonduality and Tony Soprano
"Who am? Where am I going?"
~ Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss on the HBO program "The Sopranos" 


Carmela Soprano comforts her husband, Tony Soprano after he awakened from a coma inflicted by his being shot (by his Uncle who has Alzheimers).


Hal Holbrook's performance on last night's show, as a cancer patient (newly found out terminal laryngael cancer), was marvelous. Hal's character shares a wealth of clear nondual maxims and concepts. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Like this:


"The things we see exist only in our own consciousness."


 And from a rapper who was hospitalized because of a gunshot wound, after listening to Holbrook speak of these things:


"Everything is everything."


Tony's right-hand hit man, Pauley, after hearing that his aunt the nun was actually his mother, and his mother was actually his aunt, shouted out after looking at his life:


"Then who the hell am I?!"


When Pauley raged against his aunt who had raised him as her own, Tony said to Pauley:


"You gotta get past this petty bullshit. When you gonna learn you're part of something bigger?"


In Tony's hospital room, when he awoke from the coma was a written saying (which no one will claim to having placed there) -


"Sometimes I go about in pity for myself,
and all the while
a great wind is bearing me
across the sky."


~ Ojibwa


Directed by: David Nutter
Written by: David Chase


I'm 46 years old. I mean who am I? Where am I going?


Tony wakes up in an anonymous business hotel room and heads to the bar for a drink. He calls home and gets the answering machine with...a young boy and girl: "Hi, you've reached the Sopranos." He smiles and leaves a message.


The next morning signing in for a conference, Tony realizes he has the wrong wallet and briefcase when the picture ID he presents belongs to "Kevin Finnerty", a solar heating systems salesman from Arizona. Tony calls home-but the woman offering consolation is not Carmela.


He heads back to the bar to see if he can find his belongings-or Finnerty, since he can't get on a plane or check back into his room without his own ID. A group of business travelers overhear his dilemma and invite him to join them for dinner. After dinner, outside the hotel, Tony makes a pass at a woman from the group-she reciprocates briefly but cuts him off. "This isn't going to happen...I saw your face when you got off the phone with your wife."


A helicopter hovers overhead. Tony looks up into its searchlight...and suddenly he is in a hospital intensive care unit, with doctors working on him. Carmela and Meadow are at his side.


Christopher, Silvio, Vito and Paulie wait for news, camped out in the hospital waiting room. It's not good. Tony's on a ventilator; Junior's gun shot damaged his internal organs. "Does he know he's dying?" asks Carmela. "We don't know," the doctor replies.


Meanwhile, business traveler Tony checks into another hotel using Kevin Finnerty's credit card. A couple of Buddhist monks overhear him checking in and thinking he is Finnerty, accost him: "We had a horrible winter at the monastery because of your heating system." They scuffle but flee before Tony can find out more about Finnerty.


After another restless night, Tony takes the stairs when the hotel elevator is out of order. When he trips and falls down a flight, we flash back to the hospital room where his family is camped out. Dr. Plepler warns Carmela about possible brain damage and urges them to talk to Tony, maybe play him some favorite music. Janice breaks down when she visits.


In custody, Junior is being questioned by a psychologist to determine if he shot Tony intentionally. But Junior is confused. "If somebody shot my nephew it was him himself. He's a depression case."


At Eugene's funeral, Silvio briefs the crew on how he'll run things in Tony's absence. Vito stirs things up asking for Eugene's "sports book in Roseville," bringing up Junior and asking why Bobby wasn't babysitting instead of Tony. "He's gotta make an issue out of everything," Christopher complains to Silvio.


Carmela plays CDs for Tony and reminisces, urging him to keep fighting. "I know that you're really strong, as strong as a bull."


Christopher stops by the Pork Store and sees Agents Harris and Goddard, who test the waters with him as an informant on Harris's new terrorism beat. "If you ever heard of anything going down-Middle-Easterners, Pakistanis-you'd be helping a lot if you picked up the phone."


Anthony Jr., who has been avoiding taking his turn at the hospital, finally sits with his father into the night. He promises to get Uncle Junior for this. "I'm gonna put a bullet in his f&%$in' mummy head. I promise."


Carmela praises Anthony for helping his family and he takes the opportunity to confide that he flunked out of school. Her mood changes: "My God. With your father in a coma."


At a hospital, business traveler Tony is diagnosed with Alzheimer's after falling down the stairs. When he returns to his hotel room, he stares at the phone, but can't bring himself to call home.


Directed by: Jack Bender
Written by: Matthew Weiner


Like they say, 'With great power comes great responsibility.


Vito pulls alongside Paulie's car on a deserted street and hands off a tip "Colombian's knock off at noon." But when Paulie and Cary De Bartolo show up, the place isn't empty. After a fight and a bloodbath, Paulie and Cary ransack the place and find a dishwasher full of cash.


At the hospital where the family is still sitting vigil while Tony fights for his life, Chris and Bobby confront AJ about trying to buy a gun. They are sympathetic to his anger but warn: "you can't go there," and tell him to channel his anger elsewhere.


Back in Costa Mesa, Tony finds a summons for Kevin Finnerty from the Crystal Monastery. He goes to the Monastery looking for help finding Finnerty but they don't believe he's not their man. Tony returns to the hotel bar and confides to the bartender he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and asks if it's possible he is Kevin Finnerty.


Carmela runs into Dr. Melfi in the grocery store. The shrink offers her help but Carmela puts her off: "I have plenty of people around to talk to."


Silvio confides to his wife Gabrielle that he's a reluctant acting boss-he was quasi-offered the job before T but has never seen himself that way. "I'm more behind the scenes-advice, strategy."


But Silvio has to step up. Bobby and Vito are still fighting over who's taking over the Roseville .Silvio gives it to Bobby-kicking up 20 percent to Vito for "the time being." Next, Silvio rules from the throne as Paulie and Vito argue in the men's room over how to split the million dollars from the Colombian take down. "It breaks half and half and you both kick Carmela's share to me to deal with."


As the recovering addict and degenerate gambler/screenwriter JT gives a talk at the Writer's Guild, Benny and Murmur walk in, slam him in the head and whisk him off to a back-seat meeting with Christopher. A deal if offered: If JT pens Christopher's movie idea - "it's Saw meets Godfather 2" - he'll wipe his debt. Christopher gives him until the next day to develop a pitch to present to an investor's group. At the meeting, hosted by Little Carmine, Chris introduces the set up: "It's about a wise guy with a big mouth and bigger dreams." As JT tries to tell the story the skeptical investors interrupt with commentary and critiques.


After dinner with their wives, Vito feels out his cousin Phil Leotardo about shorting Carmela-it's "money down the drain" if Tony dies. "It's temping but you can't think that way," warns Phil. Paulie is equally uninterested in handing over his piece of pie to Carmela, but as Little Paulie says, "the boss's wife, what can you do?"


In Costa Mesa Tony's calls home but can't bring himself to reveal his Alzheimer's diagnosis. He's found a flyer for the Finnerty family reunion in his briefcase and decides to go and confront his doppelganger.


Carmela blows up at AJ when she sees a news story where AJ's quoted saying "Growing up Soprano? It's just plain weird." After her meltdown, Carmela goes to see Dr. Melfi for help dealing with AJ. But Melfi pushes Carmela to talk about how she's doing, and Carm talks about her guilt over making her kids complicit in how Tony makes his money. Plus -- there's the issue of whether she really loves Tony.


Silvio's feeling the pressure, and Gabrielle pushes him to be getting more compensation. And when Bobby comes by to complain again about having to give 20 percent of Roseville to Vito, the combined stress makes Silvio's asthma kick up and he's rushed to the hospital. With Silvio and Tony both "on the canvas" Vito has his eyes on the boss's job.


At the hospital Finn arrives to be with Meadow just as Paulie's talking makes Tony's blood pressure drop and he goes into cardiac arrest. The doctors rush in with the paddles.


Back in Costa Mesa, Tony arrives at the Finnery reunion. They've been expecting him. Confused, he hears a little girl calling "Don't go Daddy."


In the ICU Meadow calls out to her father. Tony surprises everyone by not only coming back to life, but waking up. He's back.


Paulie hands over the cash to Vito and tells him they have to get their cuts to Carmela now. "Tony's conscious, do you capice?" When they hand it over, Carmela sees through the timing of their generosity.




Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: Diane Frolov & Andrew Schneider


Sometimes I go about in pity for myself and all the while a great wind carries me across the sky.


Tony's on the mend, due for his final surgery to close up his wound. He complains to his nurse that he's not feeling like himself. "My thoughts keep running away from me." She assures him that's normal for patients in his condition.


Religious evangelicals Aaron Aarkaway and Bob Brewster barge in on Tony the night before his surgery to pray with him. Tony accepts their prayer, but questions whether their stance on birth control could be a slippery slope to banning Viagra-which he imagines he'll be needing in his post-operative state. "What are you, a wiseass," asks Carmela after shooing them away.


When Jason Barone's father dies, Jason suddenly has to decide what to do with Barone Sanitation, but he's been kept in the dark about the true nature of the family business. He doesn't understand why Tony is the second highest paid employee on the books, and Paulie brings him in for a hospital visit. Jason is planning to sell Barone to Chucky Cinelli, but Tony insists he let him take care of it. "This carting business," he says, "It's a different corporate culture."


Paulie is summoned to his Aunt Dottie's death bed at the convent, and she's got a bombshell: Dottie, a nun, is Paulie's real mother. "I was a bad girl." The news sends Paulie into a tailspin. He boycotts Dottie's funeral and disowns Nucci, the mother/aunt who raised him.


At the hospital, it turns out the rap artist Da Lux is on Tony's floor. Apparently his own shooting is helping his CD sales. "Yeah but it really hurts," moans Da Lux. Bobby overhears one of Da Lux's posse, Marvin, writing a rap. Marvin complains that Da Lux is now too busy to produce his album this year. Bobby suggests it might make Marvin more popular if he got shot too and offers to help him out. Marvin eventually agrees, paying Bobby to make a surprise hit.


Tony meets with Phil outside the hospital, his IV pole in one hand, a cigar in the other. "You go around me...and try and poach my company," he accuses Phil, suggesting that he and Johnny Sack tried to take over Barone Sanitation. Tony needs the W-2, not to mention the health insurance, and insists he stay on payroll and get 25 percent of the sale price. Phil says he'll take the message to Johnny.


Da Lux invites Tony and Schwinn (a fellow patient) to watch a boxing match on the flat screen in his hospital room. When Paulie moans about how alone we all are, Schwinn counters that we‚€™re all connected. "Everythang is Everthang," says Da Lux. "I'm down with that."


Johnny Sack offers Tony two years on payroll and five percent of the sale price and a new car. Tony vomits at the news, ordering Paulie to intervene. Paulie and Patsy make a threatening visit to Jason, warning him that Tony's take will come out of Jason's profits. But when Jason tries to back out of the Cinelli sale, he finds he can't. Tony calls Jason to his bedside and lets him have it. When Jason's mother comes to beg for mercy for her son, Paulie is overwhelmed, seeing the mother's love he felt never had.


Bob Brewster makes one last visit to try and save Tony, but the boss resists his message. Still, Tony confides to Schwinn he's starting to believe we're all part of something bigger.


Back home, Phil comes to Tony with Johnny Sack's final offer: T keeps his paycheck and W-2 for 10 years and 12 percent of the sale price-but no skim. Tony agrees. "Truth be told, there's enough garbage for everybody." But Paulie can't let it go of his problem. He takes a pipe to Jason's kneecap, insisting Jason kick up $4000 a month to him-and not a word to Tony.


Mazie's commentary:


((( When Tony recovers from the gunshot wound and the coma, he shows that he's changed, really changed. He begins forgiving others, showing a greater compassion for others, and he starts seeing the world in a new, beautiful way. Tony Soprano has been changed by dying and what he experienced when he was in a coma. What he was shown blew apart the world that he had seen before his nde's and his death. Where HBO is going to go with this ongoing exploration into Tony's inquiry into "Who Am I?" I can hardly wait to see what's next! 

Lessons in fake advaita, also known as Simuladvaita'                                                                                                                                                               

*tm    (spiritual neologism from simulate + advaita)

 Let's face it, the chances of the "Big E" (enlightenment) ever happening to (or more correctly: 'through') you or me are pretty slim. This could be seen as grim news indeed to earnest seekers. But worry not, with a little practise you can soon learn to SIMULATE enlightenment and fool many a newcomer to the advaita scene, and quite possibly in time, even yourself!

 Part A: Speech.

1) Of prime importance is conveying the notion of an absence of  'self,' so the most important first step in learning fake advaita-speak is to practise avoiding the use of personal pronouns...'I', 'me', 'mine'. A little care in sentence construction makes this possible. Throw in some genuine advaita buzz words like, 'noumenon', 'phenomenon' 'manifests' and 'apparent' and you're away!

 Some examples:

 a)The statement,  'I am horny"  becomes, 'It is perceived that there is a sensation of horniness presently manifesting in this body-mind.'

        Unfortunately for the aspirant, not all members of the opposite sex (especially the spiritually ignorant) will react favourably to such correctness of expression, but the serious pseudo-jnani will surely value projecting and developing a firm image of Guruhood above an all too temporary roll in the hay. In time, once his or her reputation is solid and (s)he has a following (s)he can easily make up for lost time.

 b) "This car is mine" is improved to The apparent body out of which these words seem to be emanating is, in the illusory phenomenal manifestation, simultaneously the owner of this car."    Note: Care should be exercised if this phrasing is used to answer traffic police or other authority figures lest more than an illusory traffic ticket manifests as a result.

 2) Another good habit to acquire is of referring to yourself in the third person. Like the above rule, this gambit cues your listener that you are disidentified from the body.


 "I'm in a bad mood today" is correctly conveyed by, "A bad mood, which (being temporal) noumenally has no valid existence, seems to have descended upon John today."    Mind you, more than merely a bad mood might well descend upon John if in his eagerness he fails to introduce such verbal pretzels gradually to close associates.

  3) It is of vital importance that at no time do you betray a tendency to claim decision making or any forms of doership as your own. Naturally you DO in fact feel yourself to be the doer or author of your actions, but appearance is what counts. It must look  not only as though YOU do not decide, but even a seeming decision-making doesn't ever occur.... things 'just happen'. The word 'happen'  should become one of your linguistic staples.

Note of caution: Once again, the introduction of the new non-doing you to your family and friends should be done with tact. When your partner discovers you in a compromising position with a member of the opposite sex, "I wasn't DOING anything, screwing just happened" is at least as likely to result in the happening of a kick in the butt of said body-mind as anything else you might say.

 Part B: Behaviour.

1) One of the great spinoffs of following the simuladvaita path is that unlike in the rest of society where goallessness, a  lack of planning and sloth are seen as irresponsible vices, here they are viewed as positive virtues. The less driven, passionate or motivated you are the better, as this indicates 'dispassion.' If you can manage not to work at all, this is highly praiseworthy, but if you must, then at least affect a pose of  boredom with your job and certainly don't harbour any enthusiasm for such frivolities as hobbies or worse still political or social activism. You should be totally uninterested in anything that smacks of worldiness.

 2) It is necessary to cultivate an attitude of having finished with seeking, either because enlightenment has already happened or is just about to. For this reason it is important never to be seen reading books that could be considered 'spiritual'.  If visitors happen to discover that in fact you have quite a library of such books, worthy of a small bookstore (and lets be honest, most of us do) the correct resonse is that you only still keep them around in case someone else wants to borrow them. Thus you add altruism to your list of perceived virtues. Your frequent presence at Satsangs is likewise not because you  have any craving for spiritual attainment, that 'dropped away' some time ago, but just that you like to keep in touch with 'Ol Pete (as you call your Guru now) who is no longer really your Guru but just your good buddy whom you play cards or watch football with and have a lot of laughs. If you can get away with a fond slap on his back in front of your neophyte spiritual friends (soon to be followers) you'll impress them immensely.

 Good luck!



Article at

The book on Amazon:

The long wait finally pays off for fans of Jack Kerouac's

By Gerald Nicosia, the author of "Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac." He taught a course in Beat writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the 1980's
Published April 2, 2006

Book of Sketches

By Jack Kerouac

Penguin Poets, 413 pages, $18 paper

By and large, after the appearance of "Visions of Cody" in 1972, the posthumous publications of Jack Kerouac--pulled from the voluminous drawers of manuscripts he left upon his death at 47--were disappointments. In the last decade we have seen a spate of these, often juvenilia or pieces he dashed off in a night or two--like the play "The Beat Generation"--in order to catch one of the few brief waves of fame and success he saw in his lifetime.

With "Book of Sketches," we at last have the big, juicy new work that Kerouac fans have long waited for. Written with a new technique suggested to him by his architect friend Ed White of creating in a breast-pocket notebook word pictures of what was directly in front of him, "Book of Sketches" records Kerouac's evolution as man and writer during the years 1952-1954. Not only is this one of the few periods in Kerouac's life we have known little about, but "Book of Sketches" is easily the most personally revealing of any book he wrote, perhaps because when he wrote it, he was convinced he would remain a complete unknown while alive.

Kerouac had only recently finished the famous 120-foot-roll manuscript of "On the Road," making his break-through into "spontaneous prose" and, by his own conscious design, initiating "a new trend in American literature." But so far "On the Road" had been rejected by every editor who saw it, including Kerouac's close friend Robert Giroux, and it would be steadily rejected by publishers for several more years.

"Book of Sketches" records the life of an outward failure, a man with no income and nothing to his name, forced to live on the charity of family like his sister, Nin, in North Carolina and friends like Neal Cassady in San Jose, Calif. It tells, among other astonishing feats, of a successful hitching trip from coast to coast with only $5 in his pocket.

But the really amazing thing about this outward failure is not only Kerouac's absolute determination to become a great writer but also his absolute faith that he will become one. In one place, his sense of his eventual fame as great as that of the dying Keats, he writes, "Last night, under the stars, I saw I belonged among the big poets." In another, still stung by his sister's charge that he was a bum and had let down their widowed mother, he writes, "I am not a dead duck, not a criminal, a bum, an idiot, a fool--but a great poet & a good man--& now that's settled I will stop worrying about my position--&--concentrate on working for stakes on Sp. [Southern Pacific] RR so I can go write in peace, get my innerworld lifework underway."

"Book of Sketches" is thus the tale of a kind of literary Cinderella Man. Here he is, only four years away from a New York Times best seller--a book that would eventually be regarded as one of the classic American novels of the 20th Century--and he's talking about going to live with the Indians in Mexico or the hobos in the Pajaro River bottom, imagining he will remain a dirt-poor outcast the rest of his life.

As gripping and pathos-filled as the autobiography is, however, the heart of the book is the hundreds of simply marvelous descriptions--in spontaneous prose, not poetry, as Penguin strangely misclassifies it--of people and places he encounters across America as he journeys endlessly in search of the home he'll never have. No one has ever been able to paint Skid Rows, waterfronts and rail yards as realistically--with such fully empathetic, emotional resonance, and such incredible mouthfuls of words--as Kerouac.

Back East, working briefly on the Jersey Central rail line, he writes:

"Along the rusty track in throbbing pink twilight that casts a faint veil glow on the iron blackbound soot & coal, 2 tank cars & 4 coal hoppers tied in one unmoving drag, waiting mute under the soft November moon of New York . . .--those same rust bottomed wheels will roll & clack over switchpoint ticks of other rails, drive hard rust mass to new Idalias somewhere & where you'll see the rose jawed freezing brakeman standing by a North Dakota spur in a blizzard with his gloved hand momentarily at rest on the old hopper handrail, spitting, cursing 'When the hell they coming back anyways! I got to put a meal of pork chops inside my belly . . .'--he wants to eat, be warm, drink coffee."

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