What is METANOIA, and why haven’t you asked me to send you a copy?

The picture above, as they used to say at print newspapers, is my “morgue”: all back issues of my print only ‘zine METANOIA.

I’ve had contact with a couple people who, when I asked if they wanted me to send it to them every couple weeks, seemed to balk, for whatever reason. These aren’t strangers; they’re people whom I consider friends, and yet they seemed hesitant– scared?– to just say “Yeah, send me a copy,” as if NEXT I’d be pestering them for payment, or expecting FEEDBACK of some kind, or they wanted me to send them a link (read again: PRINT ONLY. NO ONLINE!!) or who knows what else… 

No.

This is usually a single page or two pages, two columns, front and back.

So what is it?

The title of this is METANOIA; it means “a radical transformation.” I like the word and I try to embody it in my life and as a writer, so that’s the title I gave it.

I do it for these reasons:

* I am a writer, and writers write.

* Writing, though, is not just putting words on paper or screen. It’s honing a piece, editing it, getting it published, and connecting with readers.

* I’d reached a point, a few years back, where I was writing in my journal and online (mainly through my characters) but not PUBLISHING. 

* I also didn’t like that online writing was ephemeral, too easily ignored.

* I also love getting physical mail: letters, magazines, packages, cards, postcards. I like to hold a piece of paper in my hand that someone thought enough of to send me.

* I also know and have “met” via social media a lot of like-minded people who have given me of themselves in every way imaginable, and I wanted to give them something back. And “gold or silver I cannot offer thee, but that which I have, I will give you freely.” (Or something like that. 😉 ) And as a writer, what I have to give is my writing.

* With all this in mind, two years ago this week, as the first wave of the pandemic hit, I decided to publish this ‘zine.

It would be a writing discipline– I would write, finish, edit, and publish new writing every couple weeks and PUT IT OUT THERE for readers.

It would be print only– that way it wouldn’t get lost in the online weeds of links and blogs and websites– and I would mail those physical copies to people who expressed an interest in me or my writing, or vice versa. 

I didn’t stick strictly to the “every two weeks” schedule the past year or so, as health issues overtook me, but I’m back on that schedule. Issue 31 came out last week; issue 32 will come out NEXT week.

People have paid for it and that is appreciated and it helps me cover the necessary expenses of postage, paper, envelopes, toner, and stuff like this website, but if you want to read it and can’t pay or don’t want to, you’re under NO OBLIGATION to pay.

It’s not a burden on me. It is MY PLEASURE to create this and share it with you.

If you like ME and what I post on social media and on this website, or liked my books, or like my radio show, you will like METANOIA. Each issue contains, generally, an article on something that interests me, a metaphysical article of some kind, fiction pieces from my ongoing character fiction project on social media, a cartoon (yes, I draw that, too; see my posts on The Twins for samples), and whatever quotes I can fit in to fill space.

The topics these past two years have ranged from… let’s see… my uncle Ed, metaphysical lessons in STAR TREK, online shopping, Thoreau’s journal as his TRUE literary magnum opus, John Burns (the “hero of Gettysburg”), the Beatles’ LET IT BE remaster, 60s misogyny in the “good old days,” character development in M*A*S*H, dealing with “Writer’s block,” Penn State football, the silliness of record collecting, how online interactions can sometimes destroy friendships, parenting, French and American cultural norms and faux pas, my process of learning to play a seeming impossible song on the piano, PEANUTS and Charles Schulz and “canon” in story, the lives of blue jays, why I hate the phone, along with the writers and thinkers who stoke me: Neville Goddard, Krishnamurti, Thomas Merton, Henry Miller, Jacques Tati, Orson Welles, and Thoreau (did I mention Thoreau? He is my favorite and appears frequently, even if it’s just a quote).

The metaphysical stuff simply reflects my ongoing life work of reconciling the spiritual with the world. Isn’t that what most of us are trying to do?

Anything in that incomplete topic list that interests you?

Again:

It’s print only.

If you’d like to read a copy, here’s the complicated, convoluted process:

Send me your snail mail address and I will send you the latest issue.

That’s all.

If you want a back issue and saw a topic in the list above that interests you, mention that and I’ll send it along. If you want to go random, pick a number between 1 and 31 and I’ll send that back issue.

You are under no obligation to PAY or BUY anything. If you want to subscribe formally (several people have), it’s a buck an issue in the USA. If you want to donate via my ko-fi page, great. If you want to send stamps (as a couple people have), great.

If not any of the above, great.

You’re not even required to READ IT. One of the most bizarre exchanges I’ve had was with someone whom I’d quoted liberally in an issue, and I messaged him telling him and asking if he’d like a copy, since he was quoted in it, and if so just send me his snail mail address and I’d pop it in the mailbox for him. After five or six messages, he didn’t seem to get that I just wanted to give him this. Further, the tone of his replies made me feel like he saw this as ONE MORE ADDED OBLIGATION IN HIS ALREADY BUSY LIFE.

No. This is a gift, from me to you.

If you’re interested, email me (maxshenkwrites@gmail.com) or use the submit comment feature on this website, or, if you want to pay, you can either get a subscription by becoming a monthy donor or buy back issues.

That’s all there is to it. Honestly.

As my buddy Skip Heller said once about giving away his music on MP3s, a musician’s job is to make music, and a listener’s job is to listen.

As a writer, my job is to write. The reader’s job is to read.

Become a reader of METANOIA!

Job: Your Biography

An email to a friend:

Howdy! Hope all is well! I’m sorry I haven’t seen you… I’ve been STRICTLY adhering to my overnight schedule even during a week when we don’t have groups, like this one. It just makes it so much easier. The downside is, I get up between noon and 2 and it’s too late to catch you, darn it. But I can usually make it to PK Coffee by 2:30, which is where I am right now. It’s PACKED.


Subject line = not “Job” as in work, but “Job” as in “the book of the bible.” I’ve been delving into it recently: over the fall, I discovered a Neville Goddard lecture called JOB: YOUR BIOGRAPHY which really hit home and has become my favorite, and that spurred me to delve into it and read it, which blew me away so much that I bought a used copy of this EXHAUSTIVE study bible called THE INTERPRETER’S BIBLE, which is absolutely thick with commentary and expository/explanatory material. (See the photo of a typical page.)  

I think that right now, if I was teaching a writing class, I would do a unit on the Book of Job. By all accounts, it’s one of the great pieces of literature ever written, first of all. (Having not read all of them, and being someone who considers many episodes of STAR TREK to be “great literature,” I feel ill-suited to comment on that assertion.) Second of all, it has been parsed and misinterpreted and mistranslated and misunderstood almost since the day it was set to paper, so that would be fodder for research and discussion. (example: Neville talks about how “the patience of Job” is a complete misrepresentation of the work, “because Job was the most IMPATIENT person on the planet.”) Third, its provenance and history as a manuscript (two manuscripts, apparently written by two or more different authors: the prose prologue and epilogue, and the middle verse “dialogue”) is fascinating. Fourth, the use of language and symbols, and how so much in the manuscript is deliberate in ways that aren’t immediately evident on the surface. Numbers, for instance: all numbers in scripture had significance of some kind, so when, for instance, we’re told that something numbers seven, it may have a surface meaning, but the deeper spiritual meaning was one of “completion.” 

Those just for starters. Just delving into this work on my own has shown me how woefully inadequate a lot of my education has been. Or maybe not… if I hadn’t done what I’d done, I wouldn’t KNOW TO look at this work in the way that I am.

It’s stoking me in a lot of ways, but mainly, unexpectedly, as a writer, and that’s why I’d present it to writers. Right now I’m trying to figure out what direction I’m going to take with a lot of disparate works that are in embryonic stages. I can see at least three books coming out of a nebulous mass of very rough drafts and ideas that I’ve been toying with, and with one of them, anyway, JOB has given me the idea that I should try to write the book in blank verse, and be very deliberate, dreamlike, mystical, with the structure of the book. Without, you know, being full of shit.

All this is what I’d toss at you if I saw you in person, but since I’m sitting here at the cafe, I’m typing it.

Hope to see you and catch up soon! 🙂 m

Journal: On reason, recurrence, and revision


Here is what I wrote in my journal, Monday morning, 24 October 2016. with a few interjected notes inserted in bold italicized type.

Reason steps in, and reason is the lying son (in the Bible) who refused to hear the instruction of the Lord, who said to the seers ‘See not’… and said to the prophets ‘Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things.’ Speak to us and tell us the prophesies of illusion. (Neville Goddard, from his lecture “Where Are You From?”)

100b0250I had about three cups of coffee this morning– big 16 oz mugs– and I feel like my mind wants to go “all over the place.” I see tasks that I could undertake and I start in on them and then get impatient. All this head stuff… meanwhile, the work of imagination and spirit and knowing is there, for me to delve into or neglect.

That Neville lecture I quote from above is really fantastic. It’s about how we cycle and recycle until we discover who and what we are.

Recycle = we keep reliving this life until we wake up to the fact that we are God, and in that awakening, we choose differently. This recurrence is what Neville refers to in this lecture as “the wheel.”

I hear all of this teaching, and I even parrot some of it back, but my EXPERIENCE has not yet reflected my knowing of the truth. Because, I suppose, I haven’t fully put it into practice. And so a lot of the time, I honestly feel like I’m kind of sleepwalking, or maybe going between a state of sleep and one where I’m waking up… but never really fully awake… I have chosen time and again to go back to the dream and sleep, walking around life kind of drowsy… meanwhile… I’m delving into these teaching, which really do scream WAKE UP!!!

In that lecture I read, Neville quote Ecclesiastes 1:9-11…

What had been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already, in the ages past. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to happen among those who will come after.

…and then he says…

That I am moving toward that same thing on a wheel of recurrence, that same thing in this world of Caesar, and only Divine Mercy can redeem me from the wheel.

And then he quotes William Blake, from Blake’s epic work Jerusalem

What seems to be, Is, to those to whom it seems to be, and is productive of the most dreadful consequences to those to Whom it seems to Be, even of torments, despair, and Eternal Death; but then Divine Mercy steps beyond and redeems Man in the body of Jesus.

“So here,” Neville says, “the wheel returns.”

So we’re cycling through…

Or let me start again…

As long –I am told– as long as I believe that “what seems to be, is,” I’m going to continue to cycle. So what’s the solution? Neville says “Revision.” He said that he believed the concept and practice of revision would be his greatest contribution (to metaphysics), and I’ve only started to actively explore and employ it.

Revision is imaginally recreating an incident or experience so that it conforms to our desired reality. This is how patterns get changed.

If I have an experience that I find unsuitable in some way, and I react to it as if “what seems to be is,” then I’m recreating that experience. I see this repeatedly. My tendency a lot of times, when I’ve had a bad experience, is to try to analyze and look for a specific imaginal act that may have been its cause. But perhaps the cause is not a specific imaginal act, but the feeling of “here we go again,” which in effect sends FORWARD the prayer request” of “more of the same, please.”

And (now) I open at random to a page in Neville’s book Seedtime and Harvest, and I read this:

“Luck! Coincidence!” shouts Cain. No. Abel knows that these are names given by those who have no faith, to the works of faith.

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” – II Corinthians 5:7

When reason and the facts of life oppose the idea you desire to realize and you accept the evidence of your senses and the dictates of reason as the truth, you have brought the Lord– your consciousness– the gift of Cain. It is obvious that such offerings do not please Him.

Life on earth is a training ground for image making. If you see only the molds which your senses dictate, there will be no changes in your life.

That’s the cycle right there. I see “what is,” which is actually just “what seems to be,” and when I choose to believe that “what seems to be, is,” the cycle recreates.

From that lecture (“Where Are You From?”) again, where Neville quoted another work of Blake:

So Los beheld the vision, and he was faithful to the vision in times of trouble. So when you go through (trouble), know it has happened and happened and happened, but you have no memory… We aren’t going to change His dream for us, but we can modify and change within the framework of His dream the things we will encounter. And if I use the Law wisely I will avoid repetition tomorrow when the wheel turns again…

So I say: if there is one thing I have been brought into this world to tell you, it is the secret of revision: that if something today is unpleasant, you don’t like it, don’t let it slip by.

The Bible speaks of “redeeming the time.” Every moment, if it is unpleasant, it should be redeemed, because you are going to meet it tomorrow as the wheel turns. So don’t let the night descend and catch you with the unredeemed day. Take the day and redeem it… If the shell isn’t yet broken by the series of events which detaches you from this wheel of recurrence, then revise the day. So that next time when the wheel comes around you aren’t going to relive the unpleasant thing of this moment in time.

This isn’t license for bad behavior (“I can do this because I’ll just revise it”) but the way to change PATTERNS. I see a pattern of behavior that needs changed. So I revise. I don’t want to keep repeating that pattern, and if I feel compelled to make certain choices, then there’s a cycle that needs broken, and an opportunity for redemption.

I imagined– felt– her holding me… and me telling her how lost I felt during this time. I can sense her and feel that in my mind’s eye.

And so — I’m told– it’s done.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this… this journal entry wasn’t meant to be conclusive or definitive. I hope it gave you a little insight.


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