Author Archive for Bishop

Pausing for Beauty

PAUSE FOR Beauty                           

  Anyone who uses their ability to see beauty never grows old

—Franz Kafka

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

                                            —John Keats

Beauty is a rich word to toss around thanks to some spicy synonyms therein: loveliness, pleasure, acquisitiveness, splendor, and magnificence. Noticeably, each in their own way arouse the senses—taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing. In no time, these lead to kalescopic moments—a sip of California Pinot Noir, the aroma of Jasmine, or the stunning multicolored sunsets over Mingus, or the touch of fresh peach on the lips, the sound of birdsong or the loveliness of a radiant smile—not forgetting the sound of mountain water roaring down Oak Creek.

Leave it to the Greeks in ancient times for they believed that beauty was sacred because of its transforming qualities that pleasurably exalt the mind or spirit.

In modern times, many honored the Greek’s belief that when we experience the beautiful there is a sense of homecoming. Years ago, on the old family farm, when the pond ice melted and rushed over the hand-made dam into the swamp, scattering the lovely birds, I felt at home with the lions and wild horses that once were there.


Nowadays, by contrast, if one types the word “beauty” on Google, the first page shows photos of young and lovely women sampling new cosmetics, skin care products, and modelling sexy skimpy outfits. In many ways this adds ugliness, rudeness, mediocrity to the culture.   For many citizens increasing ugliness has caused them to lose their trust in the future and their innocence. More and more people live one minute to the next, fearing that anything can happen from one day to the next.


Cautions poet Mary Oliver, “We must never be afraid to use the word beautiful”. Good idea, more people should try it.


Meanwhile, is the word itself becoming obsolete?


For sure, the custom of our times is to mistake glamour for beauty, so fickle and slick and commercial that may be. On another front, scholars and researchers tell me that the topic of beauty is neglected in the cultural mainstream. Outside a museum or gallery people rarely talk about beauty, and along with art, such topics are seen as superfluous to daily life. Like the saying that beauty is only skin deep, any talk about it rarely goes deeper.

            With all the tragedies and scary developments erupting around the world, serious focusing on beauty might be a salve. Truth be told, however, too many people agree with the tourist man sipping drinks at Sedona’s Judi’s, one summer afternoon. Asked if he found the red rocks to be beautiful, he replied, “They are just rocks to me. I do not do that mushy stuff. It’s for the elites.”

        A dangerous change is in the wind due to the Internet. More and more people, young, and old have become fixated on their devices to the point of no longer having interest in the world around them. Observe people on hiking trails and near the creeks, butterflies all around, wild flowers thriving, in their hands are not bird books but devices—and little conversation ensues.

            Time was not so long ago, in the days of more humanist worldviews, that beauty was the proper goal of art and maybe civilization itself. So declares David Brooks, top New York author “beauty conquers the deadening aspects of routine, it educates the emotions and connects us to the eternal”. Agrees Professor Donohue, drawing on early Greek thinking, “without beauty the search for truth, the desire for goodness, and the love of order, and unity, would be sterile exploits. Beauty brings warmth, elegance, and grandeur.”   

Somehow, it says here on Wilson Street, in far too many places, the links between the true, the beautiful, and the good have been broken—leaving the world, beauty poor.

As more and more people have stopped looking for beauty, then they wonder why their lives are ugly.  All they have to do is look for beauty in everything and they will find it The Greeks did.

          Just ask Laurie Mather, from Rimrock who said, “The grace of the hummingbird reminds us that life is rich and beauty is everywhere”.                     







Truth or Myth

By Bishop, Summer Trainee

Why beauty? It breaks us free of the domination of economics; it is the path for living well.
— Dandy Randy

Huge snails were seized at LA Airport, a delicacy in Hollywood salons, also when not being eaten they are able to eat paint and stucco off the side of brick houses if veggies are not available.  Not far away, a famous movie star is building a nine-foot fence to protect her family from noise and neighbors (and no, she is not going to build near the Posse Grounds.) Meanwhile In a hotel nearby a peevish, angry rage has been unfolding in a massive ballroom. Men’s faults, failings, and foibles are the target of third-wave feminism. Brochure for the jamboree of women was headlined, “The Year Men Became Obsolete”. On another floor, another drama was unfolding, a book signing for the best-seller, Women and Other Aliens.

Myths? Some of it is true. Nevertheless, there is more to the story. Read More→

Nest For Ravens

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
—-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

Ravens take holiday vacations, too, leading the list according to King raven is Stoneman Lake, a spring-fed mountain lake on the Mogollon Plateau not far from Sedona’s madding crowds- and its waters are rising. Lures range from Arizona white oak to Utah juniper, occasional scrappy yellow perch, and battling northern pike when the waters not created by Man are higher. Indeed, ravens have flourished there for no one knows how long for the Hopi and for the first Europeans in 1583—or so the legendary Parson says.
“Truth is told here to this day,” croaks Raven historian, Lulu Jane. “We don’t allow what the two-legged visitors call politicians. Nature is in charge and she will bat last. There is no denying that.”
In a workshop during their most recent vacation, Lulu celebrated the visiting congregates resting on the lake bank for avoiding the flood of lies from “them” gradually flowing like lava. “We can’t be like them. Life is too short. We can’t afford denial as they do day in and day out.”
As snacks were served rescued from Harry’s in Cornville, King raven’s policy advisor, Jake, tossed out a list of myths perpetuated by some peculiar and ambitious politicians that are filling the air from Maine to Walla Walla with something called the Internet—and some claims go beyond to outright lies.
American manufacturing has disappeared; their economy is rigged; tax cuts will unleash tremendous growth; the rich do not pay much in taxes; bad trade trade deals are what ail their economy; all environmental laws are unnecessary and there is no such thing as climate change.
“You talk of myths”, questioned Bill, a visitor from the High Sierras, “What is a myth? Is it the same thing as a lie?”
“Yes and no my mountain relative; myth can mean invention, fiction, fantasy. It can mean delusion, tall story, and fable.”
“So what does that mean for us,” asked Maddy, visiting from California to check out local grape-and some relatives in Sycamore canyon.
Replied King raven “Fallacies being spread by the current crop of their candidates are particularly harmful even as waters are rising, weather becoming scarier, food less reliable and so on. What is not good for them, as sure as the devil will not be good for us…In time, we could end up in cook books.”

The Red Earth Theatre presents Pink Nectar Café

Bombarded by Junk

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves
— Goethe

All sorts of records are being set these days in sports, in finance and for endless flatulent political bum fog. However, one record being set this year, as Christmas fades into memories’ is nothing to be amused at. Each of us will have received almost 560 pieces of junk mail out of 38 billion sent, and an average of 54 catalogues out of 14 billion mailed (an of 54 per American) and 38 billion pieces of junk mail, and I bet you even receive more! Altogether, that’s 4.5 million tons of junk mail produced last year!

Hold on to your hats, patient reader. Think of 100 million trees ground up each year to create these outputs, the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain Park every four months. Imagine nearly six million tons of paper waste which, in fact, end up in the U.S. municipal solid- waste stream, enough to fill 420,000 garbage trucks. If those trucks were to be parked bumper-to-bumper, they would extend from Santa Fe to Atlanta. Read More→

Heading for The Last Round-Up

This ain’t the same old range.
Everything seems to change
Where are the pals I used to ride with?
Gone to a land so strange
–Sons of the Pioneers

Remembering the Hopi prophesy, when we dig precious things from the earth, it we will invite disaster. Indeed, near the day of purification cobwebs will spun back and forth across while a container of ashes will one day be thrown from the sky that could burn the land and boil the oceans.

To the Ancient ones, that situation was dubbed Koyaanisqatsi, meaning life out of balance “life in turmoil, life disintegrating.” No sign of purification cobwebs yet in the skies above Phoenix, Sedona and across the Nation. Yet enough is out of balance to keep historians and archeologists busy for years—assuming there will be some still around by then, and have not become ghosts, or gone to Shady Grove, Stoneman Lake, or Mars, and assuming that the Yavapai have not retaken all the land in uptown Sedona that once was theirs. Read More→

Endtime for a Singular Arizona Author

“The future isn’t what it used to be”
–Charles Bowden (7/20/1945-8/30/2014)

He savored hikes deep into the Sycamore Wilderness. He treasured the Cottonwoods along the Verde and the elk antler he once spied under some leaves off the trail in West Beaver Creek. All the while, he wrote dozens of books- from Killing the Hidden Waters to Sicario The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassins. They are powerful tomes brimming with a fierce love for Arizona and the people who have left their mark on the land, the missions, developers, sacred rock art, as well as the wild borderlands and the drug lords he wrote to expose.

“For a hundred years,” he penned in 2001”, life in this state has been a steady, humming war with the land itself. The rivers and aquifers have been quietly murdered; the desert floor scrubbed by bovines and destroying Arizona has always required stronger sons and daughters, since the work here is harder.” Some his images stay with one forever. “We live with bones and this is not an easy way to live. Up on the Colorado Plateau, big cliff dwellings wink at us and say, with a smile, you’re next.'” He will be remembered especially for his writing about the drug wars and the culture of violence it created. He once told a friend that he was so very proud of the voices he gave to people “who didn’t have a voice”. Rumors persist that he had a price on his head and that he had to have a bodyguard and always faced back to the wall in the saloons he favored. Read More→

Artists of Sedona, 1930-1999

A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists.
— Ron Hubbard (1911 – 1986)

Once upon a time not so long ago  Sedona was a dusty little community of folk encircled by awe-inspiring  expanses of national and state lands and blessed with sunsets that often dissolve the hardest of hearts. No wonder that artists beginning in the 1930’s arrived from far and wide to create their dreams whether in paint, bronze, wood, music or dance. By 1980 it was widely regarded as a cultural mecca.

Today, the land still thrills and while it is no longer a little town, and tourist buses crowd the streets many of those artists are here:  Joella Jean Mahoney, Susan Kliewer and many others remain to dream dreams that enrich the culture—now featuring its very own book festival set for Saturday October 4th  at the Sedona Elks Lodge. There, books of all sorts will be on display including Gene K. Garrison’s Artists of Sedona 1930-1999, a long-awaited comprehensive compendium of interesting artists, many still alive, others such as Bob and Mary Kittredge and Nassan Gobran, departed for good. Read More→

BEYOND BELIEF: Fact or Fiction

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth
— H.D. Thoreau

While they were drinking shots of primordial vodka, gorging on caviar and sharing philosophies, the then- jolly Soviet leader gave the then- President Nixon a slice of advice: Alleged Khrushchev: “The trick is tell the people there is a river over there. And if they say they don’t see it, if they say there is no river over there tells them to look harder, there is a river over there.”

Of course, the Soviet was nurturing Nixon’s imaginings, perhaps thinking such a tip would help Tricky Dick get some votes. However, that leads to another sage, this time an American named Will Rogers who wrote, “It isn’t what people don’t know that worries me, it is what they know that is wrong”. Read More→

Is The Lone Ranger Returning?

Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes

As buzzards circled through the smoke above City Hall, a tourist from Maine mumbled to a lady of the night, “so this is what the end of the world looks like!” “Not so,” reported Josh, an expert member of the legendary, mythical Monkey Wrench Gang, “It’s just Ed. He said he come back, someday. He said he would settle for the sedate career, serene and soaring, of the humble turkey buzzard, the only known philosophizing bird.”

And what a world he’d come back too, not forgetting Sedona and Oak Creek in which he often swam along with lovely ladies. Were he return for a while, he’d learn that nuclear nut cases are still trying to mine uranium in and around Grand Canyon; robots are arising in many commercial outfits since so many people refuse to work in restaurants, saloons or most anywhere else. Read More→