etc

So you’re walking down the …
One “.” at a time, wings, like scare quotes, folded…
The dots down a salt-flat superhighway
To the horizon line across, and inwards,
Where is the end of the world?
When does that line open up and we spill beyond, cupped in a question,
When do we say rest?

You with wisdom say that walking is a controlled fall,
Alas there is no falling without ground, no fear,
No control.
In that sudden “V” shape birds make with open wings, when
Out of the darkness cracks light in the distance,
When all that we know, held in our hearts, is put behind us,
Are you to be left behind too?

The Origin of Color

An outlandish red was once discovered, the vermillion knide, on the feather of a lady’s hat. Investigation suggests it may have come from a peacock fed a diet of microphospherous. For the most part, however, photons are not small enough for the total description of the human iris, let alone the mythical iris.

Color is not a leaf.
I wouldn’t put it in a jar
without refining into white powder,
but if you must know, colorful nanoplastics were once used in a mosaic
As big as all seven oceans put together.
(it is well known that such a synthesis is beyond imagination)
The fluid dynamics of watercolor can be caught even in motion.

It was the red ghost star
That showed us the primary primary color
Was more elusive than a silver space octopus.
Yet there are those exalted observers, observing science with science, who
Cloister themselves and meditate on the octopus
That the Venerable Full Professor Doctor Rodimus Vindicatus once caught.
He stood virtually alone in his insight into color,
virtual color though it may be,
Surpassing even a fledgling eagle.

The dance of the two elemental colors, proto-red and electro-blue,
Leave a wreath-vacuum for the neutro-green/neutro-yellow duality to occupy.
The general relative theory of minipigmypigments,
which are even more atomic than atoms,
but not quite as atomic as subminipigmypigments,
take as many tomes as there are rooms in Buckingham Palace.
The base foundation
Of the theory is thoroughly supported by ghost data,
and the death scribblings of Dr Vindicatus himself,
with a probability of one in one ten-thousand.
Nothing is beneath mentioning, but with a probability that small,
we might as well mention it.

The super-Walmart of ideas, by and large,
has seen the theory last the test of the consumer,
who knows such theories take a lifetime to even try to understand,
and longer to communicate. With introspection into four-colordimensional space,
The many happily educated imagine they can almost see red
for what it really is.

The Masters of Meaning

Who decides what words mean? In a way I believe it was somewhat organic. People used the word for server for a robot (robotiti) as a metaphor, and then that became the word for robot, the metaphor of robotiti “dies” a natural death. But then there is the case of USA politics and terms like “democrat.” (or people like Aristotle who gave new meaning to words like essence and substance in a very deliberate way). I believe words in the USA are kind of like commodities. (the term “organic” is certainly a commodity in the USA) The word democrat starts out appealing to people, and the alternative affiliations being repulsive, people get entrenched under the word democrat. Once the word democrat is “bought” it begins to change: kind of like how a new product uses extra flavoring to start, and once it gains name-recognition, the substance and essence of “democrat” put through the sausage-grinder of US media, gradually reduces in substance and essence the idea of “democrat,” as much as can be gotten away with. It is common knowledge that at one point “republican” was more similar to some current ideas of what a “democrat” is, and this will continue as fast as it needs to to maintain control over voters’ minds.

How do you resist?

We ought to know what meaning means first. “Pending a satisfactory explanation of the notion of meaning, linguists in semantic fields are in the situation of not knowing what they are talking about.” (Quine 1961 p 471) People say a word, what do they mean? They mean whatever it was that they wanted to mean. In other words, I don’t know. If you can figure out even a little of what they meant, success! That is communication. If you talk to someone who thinks meaning is decided from on high and they have to fit their lives into those meanings, then you have to talk to someone who is mind controlled. It is good practice in serious situations to use your mind first and then your mouth, not the other way around. And who decides what words mean? Usually editors and Elite People who are usually interested in consolidating the power of their class or profession, so they are “conservative,” at least as far as that word has any meaning.

Of course there is the problem that people might not know what they themselves mean. I would offer that this doesn’t matter, in a skeptical sense. What appears to person A when they utter a phrase B need not be analyzed by the listener until person A doesn’t know what they mean anymore. It is enough that it appears to person A that “phrase B”, and Aristotle’s eternal project of digging for a subject without a predicate (substance) need not be carried out.

The metaphors of “top down” and “bottom up”, are relevant, as is just about everything, since we are talking about what can be accomplished with language, and how to resist what has been accomplished. People, especially in the USA, are very used to words and their meanings being fixed, and think it is a sign of intelligence when they are used precisely. There is a great deal of anxiety in patients when words like their diagnoses are adjusted in official handbooks identifying (mental) illness. Playing with words is an important way to resist this top down understanding, but in the USA doing so will make you sound mad. As I have said before “English is not a language to play a language game with.” So English speakers in the USA and elsewhere are rather in a bind.

Sexual Identity and the Tao Te Ching

Female/Male is the Yin/Yang of the West. The Tao Te Ching includes a system of description that is basically the binary number system endowed with the meanings of Yin (0) Yang (1), mingling, so “100” is “Yang, Yin, Yin” and has certain intuitive meaning.

The Western Female/Male shows how reducing the world to binary fails: take the terms Manly Female (10), Womanly Female(00), Manly Man(11), Womanly Man (01). And then: Girlish Manly Female (010), Girlish Womanly Female, Girlish Manly Man, Girlish Womanly Man, etc.

What I want to show is how more and more people fall through the cracks as the system becomes more exhaustive. When you get to three digit precision, most people wont identify with any of the terms like “Girlish Manly Female,” etc.

So exhaustive language, precise language, cuts out more and more of reality as “off topic” and people who are too sensitive about what is or isn’t relevant become debilitated when trying to make connections or make sense of the senses (including the sensation of ideas by the mind).

The debilitation of the mind, and the way precision language makes people fall through the cracks of technical terminology (diagnoses, identities, etc) are precisely why they are uplifted by the powerful oligarchs of the USA. Precision language is in no way superior to everyday, or poetic language, except that if you show yourself as someone who follows the rules of mathematics (equivalent to “understanding” “accepting” the rules of mathematics) you’ll get funding, or get published, or pass whatever gate you are trying to pass. It doesn’t really matter what the term “micronutrients” means, what matters is that it is very precise, and by being hypnotized by it, you cut out the rest of the world from view.

Trash

Trash

I will be the one you throw away.
I will do that for you.
When I was thrown away, I used to become dirt,
But now trash is dirtier than dirt
Because it is preserved in landfills.
“Still-recognizable-25-year-old-grapes,”
Says a university-produced heavy-analyzed language-substance, saying,
That art is forever,
At least, recognizable,
As an image of a
—a single-serving
Building kept in its wrapper, keeping in a city, keeping
In the fake snow, and
“That dirt is organic!” says the mathematical salesman with the fake
Little book of poems,
Where he decries his daily consumption
of babies.

Godhood

Morty’s Microverse

This clip shows how Rick is effectively god of a universe, and how he uses the sentient life in his “microverse” to work to power his “car” that he built. In the end, we see Rick struggling with a scientist from his microverse who has made himself god of a “miniverse,” basically the same thing only it fits inside the microverse, in a much smaller space. They are struggling with each other to get to Rick’s machine that takes him back to the “regular” universe (which happens to be only a parallel universe to the one he “normally” lives in).

What we ambitiously call the “universe” is splintered and shattered into universes parallel and universes contained. The struggle between Rick and this scientist, if we are given a moment to stop and think, is pretty pointless. Its true that because Rick wins the struggle, the scientist he struggles with has to return to powering Rick’s car or Rick will destroy their universe. Even though the struggle was ultimate a struggle for who is “god” of microverse, what about the god that created Rick’s “normal” universe? How is Ricks position any different, whatever universe he ends up in?

This is why godhood, at least in a way, isn’t much different from personhood. Obviously the scientist has an elevated position, both intellectually and socially, in order to be in a position to vie with Rick for godhood over Microverse. However, the status of godhood, once you’ve already reached the level of this scientist, isn’t worth struggling for anymore. There will always be a god over your “home” universe. And that is the universe you want to be in.

So what now? Godhood isn’t worth striving for, and being a genius scientist like Rick isn’t all its cracked up to be either, as an alcoholic who has little sense of faith, love, friendship or any kind of meaning of any other ideal. This is a case where being a genius just isn’t enough; it isn’t the ideal that people need. Rick needs happiness, a sense of fulfillment or soul-nourishment. Not another amazing gadget that bends all sense of reality. We come away, from a scientists point of view, feeling as though reality isn’t real. The current state of modern physics is similar, where there is no consensus about what “physical” even is any more.

Well a genius is a master of thinking, but not of thought. Rick can’t control what he thinks, but he is a master of producing amazing thoughts that turn into amazing technologies. If he could control what he thought, he would make himself happy. Controlling what you think is the greater mastery. In other words, there is something better than godhood. Somehow people have to be aware of what thoughts are about to manifest, and be able to either pick the best one, or think nothing at all.

And what about faith? Faith in god doesn’t make much sense in this context. I think faith in impermanence is a better bet. It is slightly pessimistic compared to putting your faith in Rick, but what it means is no matter how bad things are, they will eventually change. Rick qua god will die, even if that is a long time to microverse. Morty knows Ricks secret about microverse now, maybe faith in him is better, but faith in impermanence is much more reasonable. Godhood? impermanent. not worth striving for. Sent to hell? Impermanent. Even if a lot of collective faith is built up around a permanent hell, or more appropriately a permanent abyss, that faith will change. Yes, faith in impermanence can change into faith in permanence, but because it can change, faith in permanence will eventually change back into faith in impermanence. So faith in impermanence appeals to reason, and has a powerful upside, even in this thought-world of Rick and Morty.

The Title of the Song

Americans love justice because the talking heads keep telling us to love justice; not forgiveness or mercy because you can’t kill people in the name of forgiveness or mercy. Even Bernie does this. But what I want to explore here is whether justice has become sense-making? I think Americans in their deep mind control bubble crave sense-making. They are confused, afraid and overworked. Their “education,” their language, their intellectual preoccupation with sex (including gender), are all reductionist. I generally try to approach this problem by looking at the logical positivist project to refine language and how that reduces larger things like houses, feelings, and communities into talk of a smaller, more atomized reality. So I focus on vagueness in my work because people in America badly need a way to synthesize information, houses, feelings, communities, etc. The effect of the English language is felt in everything else.

But vagueness is the linguistic approach; how to move to a political approach? I think people lean on Communication as the field where the neolibral “individual” can link hands with others to form a political community, the same way electrons link atoms, and the mind senses a great synthesis of atoms into a house. Even if that same mind doesn’t believe in things anymore, being told that everything is actually atoms, or subatomic particles, or quanta, etc. I originally approached the problem linguistically because it seems more fundamental. Some of us are not bilingual and HAVE to think in English. I remember the large shift of my mind out of English when I was immersed in Spanish as a teenager. Its not a shift between English and Spanish; it is a shift that allows thinking without language.

Communication is dominated by media. Elite People like Anand Giridharadas write things for the New York Times and try to make the argument that we shouldn’t listen to just anybody of the

114 percent of Americans now having their own podcast, it is not easy to choose the one with the best title. But I’d go with the journalist Chris Hayes’s “Why Is This Happening?”
(Why do Trump Supporters Support Trump?)
Were there a German word for emotion-question (and it turns out there is), that title may be our era’s Gefühlsfrage. As people reel from crisis to crisis, outrage to outrage, this Gefühlsfrage hangs in the air and creates space for writers.

The urgent desire to regroup the atomized communities and their podcasts to the tune of the New York Times is evident here. Not that the New York Times wants us to really regroup, just enough for us to keep coming to them for their information-framing. Actually, we need space for the common writer, and Mr. Giridharadas’ attempt to rhetorically close that space is unhealthy politically. We need synthesis but not to the tune of the elite bringing us more Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons, which are, unfortunately, the optimistic outcomes. So I offered vagueness because it is a recognized form of synthesis from the most rigorous mathematical logic, to scientific (as error) settings, all the way through to poetry, connecting disparate disciplines.

In terms of politics instead of academic disciplines, we need another concept for synthesis. Justice seems to be the general answer to the Gefühlsfrage, but what is justice? Not a question I am prepared to answer, but I will make a guess that it is what is best for the state, in the same way we have an idea what is best for ourselves, we extend that to the state, and that is justice.  One of the oldest senses of justice was “Eye for an eye” which involves taking action in a symmetrical way to how we have been wronged. The many senses of the over-worked concept of justice allows it to generally sound like a good idea to the atomized American. To some of us, justice means: if there is a problem, if we have been wronged, the “answer” is an action that hurts the wrong-doer in like kind. This kind of justice is obviously unachievable, there are many wrong doings that have no symmetrical punishment (unless you are completely taken in by capitalism), but I think this old, violent, barbaric definition of justice resonates with the beleaguered people of America. Americans feel wronged, and justice is how to act on the world so that it makes sense, a very material sense.

Justice is the proposed answer. Just look at the amount of work in a court case, to accomplish a minuscule amount of worldly justice. Its plainly not worth it. What is the goal of Justice? Any real-world event is too complex to set “right”, and there are too many injustices. Only the ones that get attention are addressed, so every thought on how we have been wronged is clamoring for a like or a share, etc. We get one thing right, after great outcry, what next? There are too many things wrong, and that is the way it will always be. How much is unjustly getting cancer worth? Being cured of cancer?

For politics, I would propose another concept, that does no cutting out people’s eyes: the concept is Rhetoric, and in this case, I direct you to Deirdre McCloskey‘s works. Western philosophy tries to block up rhetoric as something for the sophist who isn’t interested in the truth, as if the truth and its persuasiveness could be separated. Truth is not harsh, no matter how many times the news mechanically spits out “the harsh truth,” Truth is sweet, unless your mind is not prepared to receive it. And sweet words express the truth best. There is no separating Truth from its natural sweetness (and Dierdre agrees, read her wonderfully brief book on writing!). Rhetoric has a natural role in expressing the Truth.

Rhetoric also can be found in the foundations of classical logic as I explain here, and runs the gamut to poetry as well. Rhetoric is tied inextricably with expressing the truth, so it is like a space for writers to fill, a question that can’t ever quite be answered. “How do I properly express the truth?”

The pursuit of rhetoric is the truth. Technically a fool’s pursuit: to put Truth into language. However, that does not mean the direct experience of Truth is impossible.

The Fool’s Song

I tried to put a bird in a cage.
O fool that I am!
For the bird was Truth.
Sing merrily, Truth: I tried to put
Truth in a cage!

And when I had the bird in the cage,
O fool that I am!
Why, it broke my pretty cage.
Sing merrily, Truth: I tried to put
Truth in a cage!

And when the bird was flown from the cage,
O fool that I am!
Why, I had nor bird nor cage.
Sing merrily, Truth: I tried to put
Truth in a cage!
Heigh-ho! Truth in a cage.

by William Carlos Williams

Pursuing truth with language leads to other mental means of pursuing it. Language is like a ladder that is kicked away in order to have the Vision of Truth. I can attest that Truth is there to break through to. On the other hand, worldly justice is just never going to happen. Sense-making in terms of Justice means never-ending confusion. Seeking Truth earnestly will lead to real understanding.

 

Breath of the Body, Body of the Breath

In meditation I am experimenting with the two phrases “Breath of the Body” and “Body of the Breath”

I find that it is quite enough to absorb myself in the breath if when I inhale and say “body of the breath” I am feeling the touch of air as it fills my body, and then say “body of the breath” as I exhale and feel touch of air leave my body. Then, say “breath of the body” as I inhale and feel all the muscle tension and expansion and movement of the body that is involved opening the body for the in-breath. Finally, say “breath of the body” as I exhale and feel my lungs and chest fall to a resting, closed place. I have had some interesting experiences as I practice this meditation technique, but will post more if there is anything more I can share.

illustrious
the sky was wet, so that cloud and blue ran together
The tea pot boiled too long and filled the room
the ill— illuminates
the—
fire—
was was a blinding heat
and the sky poured,
the fog, it was water on leaves,
you couldn’t see but you could smell a heady brew,
stoking the light inside


I dream of cheerios

Its the end of the world again
And we have egg quiche with tea and coffee
made special with lots of bubbles
you need lots of bubbles and eggs because so many of them come to a bad end

If you find yourself at another edge of the world
and there is only one cheerio left in your bowl
one cheerio to rule them all
Ask yourself, friend, how would All behave, if they ruled but One?

The namelessness of everything

I have a few children’s books that are very precise about animals. Alina has learned to ask “what is that?” and expect an answer that is “real”: “thats a Northern Cardinal.” Some people feel really satisfied by knowing an animals “true” name. What I do when my daughter Alina demands something more than “thats a red bird” is “well people call it a Northern Cardinal, but this particular Northern Cardinal’s left leg is a little longer than his right, and there is no name for that.” Its like when Thich Nhat Hahn was asked by child “what color is that tree?” and his answer was “its the color that you see.” He explained that he didn’t want to replace the child’s experience of the tree with something else, a word, a concept. The Northern Cardinal visiting your yard is not a Northern Cardinal; it is the bird you see. The Buddha shrine is not an image of the Buddha. My Buddha statue in my house has a most unusual head, with a golden spike coming from the top and pointing up, and the rest of his head is black and knotted and bumpy, except for his face. If you forget it is an image of the Buddha, but an image of a human being not unlike yourself, you can learn a lot from this image. What can a bird or an ant teach you, about being a bird or an ant, if you forget what you think you know about them, like “what” they are by their name?

Look at a cockroach, for example. Imagine being a cockroach. Would you protect your life from a predator, and crawl below the surface of the sidewalk for shelter, even if it lead into the sewer? Of course you would, because you would think you’re life is good and worth protecting. This insight is not available to people who dismiss a cockroach with a technical name, or worse, try to kill them; both acts are ignorant. I invite you to pit yourself against the lives of cockroaches with all the conceptual knowledge necessary to kill as many as you can, and I hope after while you will see that the cockroach will find a shelter you cannot reach. It will survive all the names you give it, even “it”. For this, I am grateful to the cockroach.

Identity is important for logical reasoning. We have to have objects and identities for logical laws to be about something. Strangely, the laws themselves create the identities the laws are to be about, not the other way around. What I mean to say is, with the law of excluded middle (either it is p or it is not p): either a human is male or female, is a part of a human’s identity–  not because we went out and asked people what their identity was, but because logicians need us to be that simple, so they can depend on their logical laws, and publish what they think they know.

But the cost of the Law of excluded middle is a great cost. The knowledge we think we  gain is largely vapid and empty:

sumofknowledge

The law of excluded middle excludes every shade and color that can impress the soul. It is an about-face from any instructive experience that one could pay attention to. But the worst damage is the Law trivializes our thoughts into overly simple formulae.

The real number system has been painstakingly built and demonstrated logically because some people want to imagine that any point in space has a name. Maybe its name isn’t “one-third” or “0.2145…” exactly: you could make other sounds with your body’s inside noises. The point they want to make is that these points in space can be singled out with some name or other. If you would like to see how this attempt fails, I direct you to my essay Many Roads from the Axiom of Completeness (2013). The desire behind identity, regardless of what bodily inside noise you use to designate that identity, is extended here to other things besides numbers.

Also, it is good to be reminded that all the names we know are not any real kind of knowledge, even if one already knows that “in name”.

The woodpecker is a kind of borderline case because it is both a name and a description. Even for these types of names, seeing, hearing, smelling this woodpecker peck wood is real knowledge. The animals don’t need those names, they don’t need the name woodpecker to peck wood. People who like to watch or care for animals will already know a lot more about what its like to peck wood, and don’t need those names. Its the person who clings to this type of “knowledge” that needs them. People think they are doing a good thing, even an ethical thing, by calling each thing by their “proper name”. They can get rather righteous about it, but actually they are only clinging to an ill founded desire, or needing, to know names that that are of no consequence. The name Northern Cardinal is of no consequence. Recognizing this bird, its relationships to others you have seen, and understanding it, the way I tried to understand a cockroach above, this bird’s condition, way of behaving and expressing, regardless of what you decide to call it, that is real knowledge.


Shrine

I have something to say
And the old words show a way
But the way I am bound
There are no words to be found.

Gotta unthink the unthinkable
A hope, another lie
Its a different point of view
The liar said he would fly, and then he flew.

Hard bind like a railroad line
Face the race and step out of place, yeah
Hear the bell rhyme
In the middle of your mind

Our poem crows a broken joy
That’s changed all its lines
So I built this shrine with the help of Father Time