January 23, 2019

Interview with Steven Maimes

Interview with New Hampshire author Steven Maimes on the publication of his new book Fragments Within Time

Are you from New Hampshire?
The past 32 years I have lived in New Hampshire. I am previously from the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. I have deep California roots, especially from the 1960s and 1970s. I think I have finally adapted to the New Hampshire culture.

Your bio says that you are a philosopher. What does that mean?
Philosophers question reality. My quest throughout life has been mostly through the lens of religion. I began at age 10 with Zen, Christianity, and Judaism. I studied philosophy and religion in college. I deeply explored Hasidic Judaism, Sufism, and spent time with various eastern gurus. I had the opportunity to learn in-depth comparative religion and metaphysics working at Shambhala Booksellers in Berkeley. Later, I explored contemporary Christianity, theology, and sacred philosophy. All these studies had one thing in common: the philosophical quest for the depth of reality. My philosophical approach now allows me to step outside of religion and speak with words more familiar to the general public.

You just published a new book - Fragments Within Time. What is this book about?
This small book contains 240 short and concise writings on such topics as meaning, reality, imagination, and time. It presents ideas and insights to be mulled over and thought upon. Over many years, I have written essays and poems, but in my personal writings, it was the shorter writings that were most meaningful. That was the birth of these fragments. I took my longer ideas and extracted short concise nuggets to express what I wanted to say. I needed to get to the point and shorter writings were more useful.

Is this book philosophical?
I do not speak in the language of academic philosophy but rather present short concise ideas and insights. As philosophy is ongoing, ideas are also ongoing. I see philosophy as a dialog. One person presents an idea and then allows the reader to continue the idea, pause and contemplate the idea, let the idea sit in silence, or reject the idea. The process is a movement in time.

Are these short fragments aphorisms?
These fragments are not aphorisms. While an aphorism is often only one sentence, these fragments are two or more sentences. Fragments as a literary style can be considered complete as a highly constructed aesthetic form – like poetry. The ideas exist to be experienced like poetry.

Have you written any other books?
I wrote a book on tonic herbs called ADAPTOGENS. It has become a best-seller among herbalists and is the definitive popular book on adaptogens.

Thank you.

January 22, 2019

Selections from Fragments Within Time  – By Chapter

1. Meaning

We seek meaning. We make, use and misuse symbols. We seek a sense of order. We seek relationships and sensual experience. We seek transcendence and a relationship with that encounter.

2. Reality

Reality is a doorway to the present and may be too complex for us to grasp all at one time. Reality includes everything that is and has been. Reality changes. Our knowledge of reality is unique to us.   

3. God

Most true believers in God accept that there is a God, both transcendent and immanent, the Creator who brought the universe into existence and who has control over it. This position is affirmed by faith and can neither be verified nor falsified. The mystics speak of direct experience of God and note that God is beyond all human comprehension.

4. Religion

Religion offers a path to God through awareness and revelation. Religion provides structure and encourages relationship with Divinity. Each religion has its own themes, structure, and movement. Religion is social and personal.

5. History and Time

History relates to memory, time, and perception. History is a work in progress. History is not what happened, it is a story about what happened. History gives meaning and opens us to hope. History is a series of images, tales, geographies, figures, lessons. It is not only facts.

6. Imagination and Memory

The faculty of imagining is imagination. It is the ability to form mental images, sensations or concepts that are not perceived directly through the senses. Imagination is the creative faculty of the mind that allows us to change perception and transform consciousness.

7. Words

Words shape the reality they describe. It is difficult to describe the way things are without first making a choice of what vocabulary to use and to define the words we use.

8. Action and Experience

From our perspective, it seems we have free will to act. God acts both in reaction to our action, and at the same time as we act. We do not know how much God is acting in temporal time. God is always acting in eternal time.

9. Philosophy and Wisdom

Philosophy literally means "love of wisdom." It is the rational investigation of the fundamental nature of reality and meaning. Philosophy is also the study of truth in time.

10. Culture

Culture is a form of expression and includes patterns of human activity. Culture is a way of acting socially, symbolically, and selectively, through beliefs, values, and traditions. Culture includes the capacity to communicate and classify human experiences symbolically.

January 21, 2019

Recognizing Fragments Essay by Steven Maimes

Recognizing Fragments

Essay by Steven Maimes                                                                                   

Surely, we know that our moment-to-moment living is but a fragment of our entire life. Whatever we do is fragmented and constantly changes. We may repeat the same actions, but our self is always a bit different and older in time.

Our thoughts are fragments and constantly change. They are part of our ongoing mental activity, part of an inner dialog. They are temporary with no conclusion; they vanish over time. They are like breath, we take them in, observe them, and let them go. Some thoughts morph into other thoughts or exist as stimulus. Thoughts like people have a life, they are created, they live and die.

When we form our thoughts into words, we freeze them for a moment, we articulate the thinking process. As our thinking is fragmented, so are the raw words that we initially use. They do not exist in a final version, they are fragments. In one sense, fragments stand alone for a moment in time.

Fragments are a major part of writing today. We write in fragments with text messages and tweets, Instagram updates and Facebook postings. Reports contain fragmented bullet points. Poems are often composed of fragments and authors compose stories and narratives using fragments.

By fragment, we mean short and concise. For a fragment to have an aesthetic literary form, it needs to be longer than one sentence and no longer than one paragraph. It needs to be polished by the writer. It needs editing and revising. Sometimes it needs to survive a waiting period with time for contemplation and silence.

Fragments point to a slower way of communication. Before the Internet, people wrote letters and waited for a response, people read newspapers and slowly absorbed information from the environment. People did less multi-tasking, stayed more focused, and had longer attention spans. Because our attention is often disrupted, we might find fragments easier to read.

When reading fragments, we are more likely to remember what we read. Fragments are tools to remember. Our brains are often bad at remembering details – they get the gist of things. We try to remember details of the past, and often remember only fragments.

Reading fragments can open the door for discovery and exploration. A fragment is not an end, but a means to exploration. If we recognize fragments as fragments, we can accept them as poetry, not requiring more. The absence of more words allows the reader to continue the fragment by thinking, questioning, and imagining. Sometimes this additional activity is more powerful than anything the fragment could say.

– Steven Maimes is a writer, philosopher, and author of the new book Fragments Within Time, available on Amazon.

Note: This essay in not part of the book Fragments Within Time.