wwsp albums on bandcamp!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"White Rabbit" - Grace Slick

Yes, well, the key to a well-done (or medium rare) life is to keep (feed) your head. Yesterday was all about phone calls. One call made me smaller (yes, things are bad, could be badder), and one call made me taller (yes, things are good, could be gooder). Everything was coming up roses by the middle of the afternoon (sunny jimmy: "wow, everything is great...I wonder how long it will last?").

Since change is built into our bones, our DNA, it's good to remember that nothing (is there such a thing as 'no' thing?) lasts forever (forever is a really, really long time). Whatever is happening may not be happening by lunch ("maybe I'll skip lunch"), whatever's happening at lunch may not be happening by dinner ( "if I skip lunch, I'm gonna be really hungry by dinner, wonder what I should make?").

It's important not to get too high (cloud nine) or too low (lower than a snake's dick). Then again, it's no fun just being in the middle, so maybe it's best to just ride it out (the peaks, the valleys) because there's something new on the horizon. Grab a wave, see where it takes me... what is it that the Door Mouse said...?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Twinkies

Is this progress or what? Yesterday morning, Carla was making breakfast, I took a whiff, thought “toast,” I went into the kitchen, looked over her shoulder and saw, “Pop Tarts,” waiting to be launched from the toaster. I asked, “Are those Pop Tarts?” She answered, “Yes, they’re organic.” I thought about that for a moment, frankly, I was slightly stunned (in my mind, I saw rows and rows of freshly-grown Pop Tarts in a field in Sonoma, California waiting to be harvested by happy, smiling migrant workers). I finally said, “You know, if they come up with organic ‘Twinkies,’ there might be hope for us after all.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"There Ain't No Why, It Just Is" - V. Morrison

Easy to be sunny today, it is sunny outside, and very spring-like. Little birdies chirping, a mild breeze, temperatures projected to get into the 60's. Sometimes we reflect what's relected at us, our moods reflect what the world gives us, kind of like the lake; the mornings I take my run on the lakefront, I always make sure to note how the lake and sky are in a unique collaboration. The lake reflects back what the sky projects, there is a dance of color: blue, purple, green, gray, orange, pink, etc. Depending on the moon, and the direction of the wind, the water can be calm, silent, glass-like, or violent, turbulent, a crashing mass of power, plus there are the almost infinite variations in between. We are in collaboration with the world around us, locked in a dance, we each bring our own uinque properties (microcosm - macrocosm) to the relationship and between us something is created. I hear on the radio that there's been another earthquake in Indonesia, many people have died. It's seems unreal, a dispatch from another world. The earth can be a Hard Mother, what she gives so easily, she can take away so artbitrarily. I'm grateful for the day, and realize it is a gift. It is given. It just is.

Monday, March 28, 2005

"I'm a Soul Man" - Sam and Dave

I'm in my 'lone wolf' mode, doing research for a new play. I've been reading all kinds of books; lately I've gone from Satre, to Debord, to Godel, to Cocteau, to Wittgenstein. A strange, motely crew. At the moment, surprisingly, of the bunch, Jean Cocteau seems the most intruiging to me. He was a poet, writer, filmmaker, a man who dedicated himself to the imagination, the fantastic; he strived to make the fanstastic 'real.' He was also a man 'out of time,' looking for the timeless, in poetry, in myth. He was intelligent, funny, hopeful. Not so easy to be. He was a prominent figure in difficult times, like when the Nazis were wreaking havoc in Europe. Some thought Cocteau was irrelevant, silly, elitist; in extreme times the Poet and poetry seem to be a luxury. You can't eat a poem!

I think, in a hard world, poetry, music, love, beauty, hope, imagination are absolutely essential. They are the invisible tools we use to transform our lives from the brute, material aspects of our existence. If we have a soul, we must feed it (in a sense earn it) cultivating an appreciation of music, art, humour, poetry, beauty. Cultivate your garden! Open your heart, your head. It is our duty to find our 'soul!' We don't all need to be geniuses (Wittgenstein lived with the absurd thought 'become a genius or die.') but we need to find the genius of our soul. See Ray Charles, see Jean Cocteau, see Bob Dylan, see Bob Marley, see Neil Young, see William Shakespeare, see Pablo Piccaso, see Andy Warhol, see Miles Davis, see Charles Bukowski, see Johnny Rotten, see John Lennon, etc.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Endless Night and Sweet Delight

Carla and I made the trek down to the Chopin theatre last night to see Collaboraction's play, "Guinea Pig Solo." It is a play about a soldier back from Iraq and how the senseless reality of war has completely brutalized him. It is a dark, bleak, hopeless vision. A powerful work; beautifully written, acted, and staged; a really superior production. But, ultimately, I must say, (reluctantly) I absolutely hated it because it left no door open to the light.

There's a saying that "the truth will set you free," I also think there are some truth's that can destroy us (see the story of Oedipus - see Darwin's Dangerous Idea). I do think we need to be able to look at the brutalizing violence, the dark "survival of the fittest," ethic taken from nature and applied to society. I think we can look at what looks to be the dark side of humanity and society with clear eyes, but we can't let the darkness, the brutality, the violence, the hard rain, blind us to beauty, poetry, the resiliance of life and love.

The play makes words like love and hope ring hollow. There's a refrain: "It's a Louis Armstrong world," which is used as a club to beat us over the head, making the point that it's not such a wonderful world after all. Maybe, sometimes (absolutely) it isn't,(and it's important to know/see this) but at the same time, impossibly, incredibly, it is!. I think the world encompasses the bleak and the wonderful. I think it's important to look into the abyss but not to be totally blinded by it.

We need to be able to see clearly: the violence, poverty, ignorance, injustice, inequality, prejudice, racism, sexism, and brutishness of man's inhumanity to man. (Man's greatest problem: man). We need to see clearly, that we as individuals have choices; as societies, we have choices. We can choose to live in a better world together. We can't banish the darkness, but we can choose to lean to the light. (Man's best solution: man). "Some are born to endless night, some are born to sweet delight." - Wm. Blake. We need to see with two eyes always.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"Playing in the Band" - B. Weir

I'm finally playing guitar in a band, 'the Telepaths,' and I must admit, it's something I've always wanted to do. I think there's more going on than just getting together, playing old rock standards. It seems to me to be essential, important work, eventhough, it's not hard, it does not feel like 'work,' it feels easy, natural and good. There's something about sublimating yourself to notes, scales, chords, timing and rhythm. What is amazing, and sort of mystical, is that these same notes and chords have been played millions of times before, by countless players, over many years, but each player, brings something new, something essentially different than any other player. How to explain it? It is not about virtuosity, not about technical facility, the beauty of rock and roll (like jazz, like the blues) is that ultimately what you are trying to capture is a unique moment of feeling, of soul, of pure rocking exhilaration. Put five people in a room (the essential ensemble: a singer, a bass player, a drummer, two guitarists) play these notes, sing these words, make these galloping, walloping sounds. Vibrations resonate, float into the atmosphere, then disappear. Amazing. I love the 'roughness' of the enterprise, containing moments of beauty, harmony, dissonance, and chaos. I guess ultimately it's another human activity that distills everything into wild, untamed moments where life and death reflect back at us. To capture a moment; this time, this place, and to see it fade away before our eyes, our hearts, our heads and our madly ringing ears!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Two Rivers

Yesterday, I walked into the large, black, boxy, montrosity of the IBM headquarters on the bank of the Chicago river in downtown Chicago. It was a spring day, but it seemed colder than ever, my hands and feet were frozen, I was shivering from a damp, bone-deep chill. What a perfect state to be in as I walked into the 'belly of the beast.' How many years have I been in oppostion to this company? It seems like forever. I have always been employed by little, upstart companies in competition with 'Big Blue.' I have usually been on the 'losing end.' I kind of felt like Luke Skywalker entering the halls of the Evil Empire. Okay, I know it's a little overly dramatic, I've actually been in the building before; when I was a bike messenger I often dropped packages at the front desk, but this was the first time I actually had an appointment.

It turns out, (what strange turns life takes!) the little technology company that employs me, is actually now an ally of IBM. We are involved with a major Homeland Security project in Cook County. I sat in a little conference room and learned all about the process, and the money flow (scads and scads of $$$s). This is 'the gravy train,' but it is a slow train coming! I left an hour later, my head spinning with procedures and dollar signs.

In the evening, I plugged in and played in a dusty garage with 'the Telepaths.' We made a joyful noise playing old rock and roll standards, making hash of chords and notes and time signatures. I must admit, I feel more at home jamming away with the band. There are no dollars attached to the enterprise, just pure joy bashing away at our instruments, letting the music and words flow through us. I got home late, couldn't sleep, the adrenaline kind of coursing through me. "How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home, a complete unknown, like a rolling stone?" - B. Dylan

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Darkness at the break of noon..." B. Dylan

This morning I'm the Cynic (one who believes that all are motivated by selfishness). I too, if I'm consistent, am trapped in this net. Politics & Business are two obvious examples where selfishness is positively rewarded. Isn't that why Communism failed so conclusively? Cooperation and compromise go only so far, ultimately, everyone asks the question that Mike Royko posited as the primary Chicago Aldermanic Credo: "WHERE'S MINE?"

The Wise Guy, if he's wise, makes sure to watch his wallet. When anything significant goes down, two questions should always be at the ready: Who's making money, and who's getting screwed?

Now, at the same time, it's great to visualize another way. Go where the money isn't. Gravitate to the realm where things don't pay off. Do things just for the fuck of it! All my favorite things: running on the lakefront, listening to and playing music, writing quirky plays, reading books, asking stupid questions, writing in this blog; these are all pretty much superfluous activities. I think that's why I'm attracted to them.

Love, poetry, enlightenment - all money-losers! I guess, I'm still basically stuck in that "Easy Rider," chinese puzzle, hippie conumdrum: "We made it, man." "No, Billy, we blew it!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Professor and the Poet

I'm just confused this morning. I just thought I'd like to note my confusion...

Balthasar Gracian: "We have nothing that is ours except time, which even those without a roof can enjoy." But our experience of time is illusory, and having a roof over our heads, can certainly enhance our enjoyment.

"Orpheus, I know you, welcome my comrade." Welcome to the stupid and stupefying spectacle we call society (flip on the tv, pick up the daily newspaper). I just finished Guy Debord's little missive, "The Society of the Spectacle," it is kind of a slog, dry, abstract, making assertions without concrete examples, talking about the economy, history, the revolution. Much of the language, heavily influenced by Marx seems to be rescued from the dustbin of history.

But of course, his concept of the Spectacle is oh so true. It's so true, it's almost meaningless, it's kind of a cliche. Yes, modern capitalism, (is there really any other system?) has taken us to a new level of economic abstraction. We (the consumers, the spectators) have also become the commodities. What we consume is the spectacle. It consumes us too. The spectacle is more real than reality (reality is just another show?!). Reality, truth, (can we find these things in the madness?) seem false, shallow, unreal, untrue. Makes me just want to go for a long run, clear my head. What can we really trust? What is not spectacle? How do you turn off the show, without turning away from the world?

Oh yes, I have also been reading a book about Jean Cocteau (the French are 'on the outs,' let me seek out everything French!). I'll let the old, (now long dead) Poet have the last words this morning: "...to move this great machine of dreams, to do battle with the angel of light, with the angel of machines, with the angels of space and time, this is work to my measure!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

"But in him, fiction and reality were one and the same." - J. Cocteau

Man, you have to be careful, not to judge, or at least, not to judge too harshly, our fellow travellers. I've been working 'behind the scenes,' to try to understand what really happened at the board meeting I attended last Friday. There is this thin veneer of friendly cooperation that kind of hovers over all the various players, but it appears to be only a veneer, one that covers a dark and complicated story. I've been reading up on Game Theory, because I believe I'm in the middle of a game with many players, all competing with each other, each looking for an advantage over the others. It's kind of a lonely way to look at things.

I had a conversation with one of the major players yesteday, and I must admit, after I hung up the phone, I was both amused and repulsed. There are major status changes taking place; one man up, one man down, and it's clear that some of the players are taking great joy in the pain of others. Everything is covert, the knife is plunged in the back and slowly twisted during a perfectly 'innocent,' conversation; smiles all around. The ugliness of the enterprise is concealed by friendly patter, sly asides, subtle jokes. But right beneath the surface, there are the claws, the fangs, the blood lust, revenge, the sweet satisfaction of one man falling from a position of power (a postion he abused to the detriment of others) to one of clear helplessness.

It's all quite ugly. I wanted to just shut down, listen to music, read my little book on Jean Cocteau, play my guitar, pretend that I'm not a player in this macabre masquerade; except I know I need to 'see,' all this, so I can navigate through this river of muck.

Monday, March 21, 2005

"Something Happened" - J. Heller

Rashomon, Evanston-style. I never saw the famous Kurosawa movie, one event, four perspectives, but the board meeting on Friday, had definite Rashomon-like resonances. A man walks into a room, there is a long table, men (this is an all-male story) sit in various postures in shiny leather chairs. There's a video monitor, a PowerPoint display (all thought has been shoe-horned into a PowerPoint slideshow - by slide number three, glazed eyes all around). Blue suits, white shirts and dark ties predominate (Sunny Jimmy enters - suited in light brown). The room is cold, every gesture is noted, catalogued, filed later for purposes unknown. The minutes of the meeting will highlight the outlines of the discussion, but will not describe the body language, the heavy silences, the dark and sunny judgements hanging over the room. There are seven players, plus, the guest invited in for inspection. There is a back and forth, questions are raised, answers are given, there is an exchange of energy, and then it's over.

Afterwards, and this is where Kurosawa's movie comes in, there are various interpretations of what actually transpired. Sunny Jimmy comes in like a blazing ball of light, and surprise, surprise, all is sunny. Another guest goes in and out of the room, in a fog; unsure, tentative, confused. One of the key participants (we'll dub him Fearless Leader) is all apocalyptic doom and Dark Ages gloom. Another (let's call him Cool Customer) is cool, calculatedly optimistic. The Big Guy, Mr. T (let's call him Mr. Money) keeps his own counsel. He is the one who can shut it all down or keep the game moving forward. He lets his money do the talking for him. So far, the checks keep cashing.

It's clear, each participant sees the world as he is, not necessarily as 'it' is; the Sunny one circles back, keeps the conversation going trying to suss out what really 'happened.' The players, their profiles are clear, the event (a consensus of the players?) is less so. Might as well turn up the light and blaze away.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Life is a Carnival" - The Band

The color of spring in Chicago: gray. Yesterday, I was floating on air, today, I'm like that fat, green frog, bumping his ass on the ground. It's amazing how easily energy ebbs and flows. I felt so good, I ran so hard yesterday, my head was spinning the rest of the day. This morning, I'm a little slow and creaky, no spinning, just a quiet clarity. I'm thinking that 'feelings,' which we experience so intimately, which we trust so implicitly, are actually liars, cheats, deceivers! Beware your feelings dear Pilgrim! Take a deep breath, let the world in, breathe the world. The feelings of one humble Pilgrim are not so important, they don't describe anything, they may not even correspond to anything real. It's hard to tell, don't you think? We get all puffed up with how we feel, but aren't our feelings just self-fulfilling prophecies? Maybe we don't need to fill ourselves with ourselves, but, empty ourselves so that we can let the world come barrelling in. Hey that's when the Carnival begins!

Friday, March 18, 2005

"A man or a mouse?"

This morning I read this in an article about high-powered Hollywood agents: A standard morning greeting from one agent to another, "So, are you a man or a mouse, today?" Of course, some days, it pays to be the mouse. There's also this description of a successful agent, and I think, 'that's me': 'you present yourself as the Maynard G. Krebs of the avant garde, the smart, high-integrity, I take care of you by not going out presentation.' In the world of business, this is the role I think I cultivate for myself.

There's a big board meeting today at the company where I work. I am on standby, in case they want to hear from the man on the 'front lines.' My question to my business collegues yesterday, 'should I describe the reality of the situation?' Man, you should have seen the uncomfortable looks, the back-pedalling, the hyper-spin. Reminds me of a line I read in Guy Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle": In a world that has been really turned on it's head, truth is the moment of falsehood.

This attitude was on display yesterday at the hearing in Washington on "Steroids in Baseball." Probably the only 'truth-teller,' of the bunch was the guy everyone considers a shill, a stooly, a scum-bucket, a man just hustling for a buck, Jose Canseco. Of course, Jose was probably the only one 'telling the truth.' But isn't it all much more convenient to want to hear the lie?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bananas

Watch out for the 'status changes!' So, yes, this life we are participating in, is like one long, long-form improvisation. There are so many players, (6 billion?) and we all have our own back-stories character tics, motivations, agendas, etc. There is no 'master narrative,' just billions of little narratives that accumulate (This one was beaten as a child. That one was a bed-wetter. This one had a shetland pony.) One day; one side is up, the other side is down. There are billions of sides. A lot of energy is expended, either to keep everything 'as it is,' or to totally upset the apple cart. It depends on whether or not you're happy with your allotment of apples!

We are creatures of status, all comedy and tragedy comes from a change of status. Whether you view events as comedy or tragedy sometimes depends on one's status within the hierarchy. Are you the First Clown, the Second, the Third, the Six Billionth? Once you discover the outlines of the game, you can see the effect of one's status changes; watch everyone adjust to the changes! It can be quite instructive, funny, silly, horrible, sad.

There's the almost biblical view expressed in Dylan's "The Times they Are a Changing," - 'the first ones now, will later be last.' Of course, things just aren't that simple or clean. One's status can change moment to moment. Everything is fluid, ever-changing, you can't get a foothold, and look out there's a sneaky bananna peel just waiting for you right around the corner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Whim

Is it better to create out of whim (a sudden or capricious idea, a passing fancy) or conviction (a strong opinion, or belief)? I think I lean to whim. I think that the best of my work comes off the top of my head, in the moment, without a lot of forethought. I'm still in the mode of 'accumulating' notes for my next play, not sure what it will become. I guess, it's a kind of game I play, I jot down thoughts, ideas, scenes, names, situations, monologues, idle musings, strange rants, odd facts, anything that grabs my attention. Later, I will sit down, and start pulling together the threads. I trust that if can find connections, if I see patterns in the madness, others will too.

I think this is a method trying to be no method. I recently read an article in the NY Times about the singer/songwriter Beck ("two turntables and a microphone") trying to be alive in the moment, and I thought he and I are kindred souls.

Beck: I could write something ahead of time, and once you get on the mike and hear it back, you think, that's terrible, try again.

"It's as if all the countless styles, songs, words and ideas swirling around in his head fall into place without his deliberately arranging them. That's what he's after, to let his preconceptions drop away so he can respond directly to what is happening at that instant in the room."

Beck: That's usually the time when you're not trying to say something anymore, you're just saying it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Del Close -- Closer Than You Think

So one idea of the universe: God is (for instance) Del Close, an obsessive, drug-dabbling, comic genius, who spends part of his existence wandering around in a fog, not quite knowing how to occupy himself, until, late in life, he hits upon the idea of Long-Form Improvisation, which he dubs, "The Harold." No one quite knows why it's called the Harold, it just is. So, Del (God) comes up with a loose set of rules (keep the game moving forward, listen to your co-collaborators, say yes, be open to where the action goes) and puts it into motion. Generations of creatures (microbes, ameobas, humans, planets, stars, galaxies, etc.) 'play the game,' and it evolves and morphs into strange, funny and creepy manifestations. Long-Form Improvisation (games and recurring scenes) evolves over years, decades, centuries -- billions and billions of centuries. Del (God) is long gone, but his skull resides in a rarefied realm (the Goodman Theater) and his hollow-eyed, teeth-baring, skeletal grin, kind of hovers over all creation. Humanity looks to Del for an explanation, but none is forthcoming. (He has created the form, we are responsible for the content). Acolytes come and look at the skull, they talk to it, they ask it questions, they curse, they cry, they pray, they laugh. The skull is silent. It says everything and nothing. "The Harold," (evolution) continues, no one knows where it's going, but it seems to be indomitable, insatiable, resiliant, (intelligble?). Plus, it's funny. Not in just a purely human sense, but in a much bigger, universal sense. There are those who begin to speculate that the Big Bang, was not some great explosion, no, it was one Big Belly Laugh (was it Del's belly laugh or was it a laugh without a belly or a laugher?)! Oh, the mystery of the Harold!

Monday, March 14, 2005

"War is Peace" - G. Orwell, '1984'

When is a paranoid fantasy (connecting the dots) just a description of reality? For instance, what if you lived in a country that happened to be the greatest military machine on the face of the planet? What if a small, deeply-entrenched oligarchy (democratically elected? Hmmm, which well-financed, corporately-endorsed millionaire will I vote for today?) that controlled all the levers of government, decided to use a terrorist attack as a pretext, to feed a new perpetual war, one that can never be won, one that will never end?

What if this military state punished the poor with regressive policies aimed at keeping them poor? What if all tax (abolish the estate tax!) and social policies rewarded those at the top of the pyramid and were engineered to keep the rich, rich? What if foreign policy was based on strategies to plunder the wealth and resources of smaller countries unable to defend themselves against an agressive, pre-emptive military doctrine? What if abortion was made illegal to assure that poor women would produce offspring that could feed the military ranks? What if all social/econonmic policies were made to assure that young men and women were poorly educated, and had few choices for advancement in this entrenched society (Join the few, the proud, THE MARINES!)?

What if one of the key benefits of a perpetual war, was a drug-addled, tv-addicted, completely docile and fearful populace that gladly gave up all civil liberties and freedoms that they had inherited from a much different political heritage? What if all production/manufacturing (except for military technology) was sent overseas? What if the treasure of a country (economic, social, political) was deeply and inextricably invested in the success and perpetuation of the military monster? What if all of this was done out in public? What if none of this was really a surprise? Let's say for one minute that all of this were true? My questions: what could we do, how could we stop it, where would we go, would any of us even care?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"The Harold" -- Del Close

This is the way it goes: I get up early Sunday morning, flip on the radio, start making the coffee, and I hear a guy, who is both a Quantum Physicist and a Christian Theologian. He explains that his perspective 'transcends,' both science and religion. He (I didn't catch his name) conjures an image of a god who set up a universe that is in the process of becoming. It is a creation populated with creatures (from microbes, teutonic plates, to people) that creates itself. Cancer and concentratin camps can exist in this world, because the shadow side of freedom and free will, is suffering, horror, pain, etc.

Darwin's dangerous idea ("I've got nothing to hide, cept me and my monkey!") fits in this universe of becoming, it's a mechanism of improvisation. God is not lazy, incompetant, no, he is almighty, but hey, he just can't be bothered with the details (a baby dies in it's crib - boo hoo!). So it's all up to us. We are becoming too. We are improvisers without a script, we're in a comedy with tragic overtones, or maybe a tragedy with comedic episodes. Well, if it's all improvisation, one of the key rules as an improviser is to always say yes. 'No,' stops the action, 'yes,' furthers it. It is our job to keep the action moving forward.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

"Why do we have a mind, if not to get our own way?" - Dostoyevsky

It seems clear to me that the best of our thought, (art and science) is founded on 'descriptions,' of the world. To try to precisely describe anything, from a face to a universe, opens the door to strange and wonderful discoveries. This is inevitable, because of course, the world is strange and wonderful.

Now, is the sentence above a description or an opinion? It seems to me to be a little of both, but if it is an opinion, it is 'open-ended.' In contrast, much of the world seems to consist of those who have 'made up their minds,' especially via religion and politics. See also, the Endless Chattering Classes, who have an opinion on everything (no knowledge about anything is required to join). These are the people who have made up their minds (closed the door) on all issues great and small. Somehow it has become a virtue to spout opinions day and night on any and all subjects. Once an opinion has been rendered, no futher investigation is necessary!

So, today I'm looking at the world between these particular lenses: those able to look at the world, willing to attempt to accurately describe it (a difficult task), and those who look at the world and only see their opinions of it (much easier). I'm thinking the more difficult road, may be the more rewarding. Just my opinion!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Le Grand Illusion

This morning, I need to get a grip on the maze. So many thoughts and emotions swirling around. The Ridiculous -- Our new mattress arrived yesterday, last night was like sleeping on 'cloud nine.' Yes, I must admit, I am a side-sleeper (with occasional tosses and turns)! Sleep is a strange thing, it seems so odd and necessary, it's good to turn off the internal monologue for a few hours (just lay back and enjoy the show).

Also, I finally landed a big contract I've been working on (it's like bringing in the big fish, you have it on the hook, you just don't want to screw up and let it slip away) for quite some time. It's a substantial deal, over $200K, keeps the boat floating for a while longer. There was a brief moment of joy (no one really to share it with) then, mainly relief; it's a great weight lifted off my shoulders.

The Sublime -- Finally, I finished the Godel biography. The second to last chapter is all about time. Nothing new, except if you really take it in, it is totally mind-blowing (The Firesign Theater: "Everything you know is wrong!"). Einstein radically altered our perception/knowledge/thought on time forever. The real mind blower: Time is a dimension (Space-Time) and our subjective experience, our perception of time is false. Past, Present and Future all co-exist. Quoting from the book "Incompleteness," --- "In Einstein's physics, there is no passage of time, no uni-directional flow away from the fixed past and toward an uncertain future. The temporal component of space-time is as static as the spatial components." Weirdly bizzare, and totally contrary to how we experience time.

I'll leave the last words (speaking of a recently deceased collegue) to Uncle Albert: " In quitting this strange world he has once again preceded me by just a little. That doesn't mean anything. For us convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present and future is only an ILLUSION, albeit a persistant one."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"What is Your Original Face?"

Out of the blue this morning I hear someone on the radio quote Albert Einstein: "we can't count everything that counts, not everything that we can count, counts." Hmmm. Then there's this from Ludwig ( Heads up: anyone named Ludwig should always garner special attention) Wittgenstein: "All that can be said, can be said clearly, but we cannot say the most important things. We cannot speak the unspeakable truths, but they exist." Both statements are quite Godelesque! You start looking at something closely, and you see connections everywhere.

I love it when the great minds, in the great disciplines, start talking like Mystics and Madmen. I find it amazing that we can accurately predict and describe phenomena in the universe. This brain we have is so strange. It is amazing how easily we can forget how amazing it all really is. When we are children, we live in this state of wonder, as we get older we let it go, but there is no good reason to let it go!

I've also been mulling over the concept of the 'limits of logic.' It reminds me of one of my favorite books, "Impro," by Keith Johnstone. There is a chapter on Mask work, and a discussion of how 'rationality,' is just another mask we wear. Rationality is one way to interpret the universe, but of course that's just one of the masks available to us. There is also, Irrationality, and this mask is useful too. The universe, just like our minds, must encompass all masks!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Tommorrow Never Knows" - J. Lennon

I'm deep into the biography of Kurt Godel (I'm wading into waters that I clearly know very little about), considered by some to be the greatest mathematician of the 20th century. He was a quiet, strange, somewhat paranoid man. His incompleteness theorem seems to have implications far afield from mathematics. Godel's theorem suggests that no formal system is complete; and this simple premise has implications for our conception of the human brain/mind.

What is a brain? A complex physical object? A machine? A computer? Can a brain, using logic and reason, really understand (contain) itself? Godel seems to conclusively prove that there are some things that are not conclusively provable (although, they are true). In these cases, we rely on our intuition 'to know,' that they are true. What is intuition? How does it work? How is it possible that the universe adheres to rules formulated by our brains? If the brain is more than a rule-based system, what is it? How can we ever know whether we are seeing clearly, or living in a world of delusion?

This thought occurs to me: our conception of the brain, reflects our conception of the universe. If quantum mechanics applies to the universe, does it also, by necessity, apply to our brains? Once you step into the hall of mirrors, you discover more mirrors - the more you look, the more you see, the less you really know. "The farther one travels, the less one really knows." - George Harrison.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Birds of a Feather, Flock Together"

Trouble in the flock. We have two cockatiels and the four of us (two birds, two humans), make up the flock. If one of us is distressed, under the weather, molting, flighty, etc. we all feel it. We share space in this 3 bedroom, hermetcally-sealed, capsule in Evanston, Illinois. We are four, unique, characters, who have learned to co-exist, who have mapped out a secret territory, an oasis, a citadel, a tiny paradise, out of the rush and tumult of the world.

Last night, we had to take the girl cockatiel, Miles, (we call her Girl-Girl) to Animal 911. Girl-Girl has been in an egg-laying frenzy, and it turns out she was 'egg-bound,' (we saw the x-ray). Yep, there she was, inside out, in vivid black and white, with one big, whompping egg, stuck high up in her fragile, bony body.

They put her in an incubator, shot her up with fluids (calcium, glucose) and told us they'd keep her 'under observation.' We left her there, hoping she'd just rise to the occassion and expel that eggy monster. This morning has been a trial. Satchmo (Boy-Boy) is distressed, he keeps calling out for his partner. It's quite sad.

But, there is a happy ending dear reader: it turns out, Girl-Girl, knocked that egg out, last night, (one egg makes a meager omelet) and we are to pick her up this morning. I must say I'm ...egg...static!
It turns out my partner and I are bird people. We really feel aligned with these strange creatures (descendants of the dinosaurs). This fragile, little flock lives, long live the flock!

Monday, March 07, 2005

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" - Joy Division

This is John Lukacs: "It is hatred that unites people. People take satisfaction from the idea that we are good because our enemies are evil. This is a very American syndrome but it is also universally true of mankind."

Well, I think, love too must unite us, but for some reason it seems to be less tangible, less of a galvanizing force, more personal and diffuse. "Love is a rose, but you better not pick it..." (N. Young).

The 'haters,' seem to be more motivated, better at organizing, better at 'drawing the line,' between one club and another. Bertrand Russell pointed out that there is a club (a set) consisting of members, who are not members of any club (if they are members of the non-members club, then they are not members of a club of non-members - so, if they are, they aren't, and if they aren't, they are (is that perfectly clear?) - this is a paradox - not good for a logical system). His 'discovery,' of this special club, kind of blew set theory out of the water. I think that's the club I aspire to, the club that blows all clubs out of the water. Of course, there would be no malice in the 'blowing.' No, instead, all clubs would be zapped with riveluts of complete, all conquering, golden, shimmering LOVE.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

'We're Living Proof that Nothing Lasts' - Son Volt

What I find really facinating: Kurt Godel, a logician, a mathematician, a man considered one of the great minds of the 20th century, (along with Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg) turns out to be somewhat of a fringe-type mystic. Godel thought that there was some kind of 'sixth sense,' available to man. He also thought that a soul and a body made a contract at birth, to work together in partnership, and at the time of death, they severed this partnership to go on their seperate ways.

Godel's great friendship with Einstein, gave him a kind of 'stamp of approval,' by association. Both of these extreme minds were exiled by acclaim and misunderstanding. Godel's mysticism was grounded in his theory, his proof; it was grounded in mathematics and logic. The door to mysticism was kicked open by PARADOX.

Godel proved, using the most reliable scientific tool (mathematics), that there were limits to any logical system, that there were some things that were 'true,' but not provable, that there were paradoxes built into the fabric of the universe. At the same time, the universe, and our minds, are logical, we have the tools available to us to discover 'the truth,' of our existence. Godel was a leading exponent of the School of Clarity: 'we have a moral imperative to think clearly.'

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Life of Delight

Thanks to Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, I'm quoting Voltaire this morning: 'cultivate your garden.' And this: 'fight the horror.' In this case 'the horror,' was considered to be religious fanatacism and state power. Not so different today, eh? Is it odd that Christian fanatics have risen to the top of the American Pyramid, to do battle with Muslim fanatics worlds away?

Voltaire was a famous dissident and cosmopolitan who lived at a country estate which he dubbed, 'the delights.' What is a good cosmopolitan to do, when faced with the raving, rabid fanatics who loathe cosmopolitinism? Stand your ground, cultivate your garden and live a life of delight!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hey, Let's Keep Men Stupid!

Little Carla, bless her heart, makes sure that I'm dressed stylishly. If it was up to me, I'd be wearing my 'Space Modulator,' t-shirt, and a pair of jeans every day. A while back, on one of her trips to the Big Apple, she scored a couple of beautiful shirts that have upgraded my profile. Yesterday, I discovered that the flowery, maroon one, (could it be considered 'foppish?') had some creative stitching at the bottom. I was pleased to find the following words spelled out in (that word again) stylish cursive: Knowledge, Wisdom, Truth.

Wow! That made my day! I thought, 'That's my credo!' Suddenly, I felt like a Secret Citizen Super-Hero. (Forgive me, dear reader - you must understand - it was a slow news day!). So I went to my dictionary for some clarity.

1. Knowledge - the state or fact of knowing.
2. Wisdom - understanding of what is true, right or lasting.
3. Truth - conformity to knowledge, fact or actuality.

I'm certainly dedicated to seeking these things. I do think we are subjects, in a universe of objects, and like Albert Einstein and Kurt Godel (I'm only putting myself in a club with these two because of the book I'm reading at the moment: Incompleteness, The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel) that we can, or at least we must try, to discover answers to the riddle that the universe continually presents to us.

Both Einstein and Godel thought that the universe was intelligible. That it could be understood, that there were ways (physics, mathematics) to objectively measure and draw conclusions. Both of these guys were revered and celebrated and also, misunderstood and co-opted to the PostModern view (which they did not hold) that everything was subjective (relative) and that logic and reason would fail us.

Instead, they seemed to think that logic and reason could lead to strange and unreasonable answers, but that we could understand how the universe works. So I'm chasing another rabbit (I know nothing of physics or mathematics, but I love mulling over ideas), down another rabbit hole. That's how I keep my brain humming. Godel thought that there was a reason to everything in the universe, that the universe might appear to be absurd, it might contain, chaos, incompleteness and paradox, but that these things were false appearances that in fact, adhered to a secret logic yet to be discovered. Godel also became paranoid towards the end of his life, thinking that there was a vast conspiracy afoot for the last few centuries to keep man stupid. Hmmmm. Sounds plausible to me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

How Does a Brain Talk to Itself?

I used to listen to The Smith's a band from Manchester, England in the 1980's. I just recently re-discovered them, and although, I think they're kind of an 'acquired taste,' once you get the taste, they can be a delightful obsession. The 'frontman,' is guy named Morrisey, who has a great, eccentric, cooly-dramatic, and foppish, voice. The band is led by another cool customer, a guitarist with a light, melodic touch, named Johnny Marr. Marr wrote all the music, Morrissey all the words.

If you've heard one of their songs, you've heard them all. This is a compliment. Their albums, and they made a bunch of them on Rough Trade records, are all variations on a theme. Part of the 'joy' of listening to these British eccentrics is to notice all the subtle variations on a theme.

"Does the body rule the brain, or does the brain rule the body? I dunno." - Morrissey

Anyway, this music brings me back to an earlier version of myself. "Somebody loan me a dime, I want to call up the Cat I used to be." - Sunny Jimmy.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Living is Easy with Eyes Closed." - J. Lennon

This quote comes from an article in the NY Times about how the U.N. has overstepped it's bounds, how it needs to re-configure itself and again become subservient to countries like the U.S. China, and India. "It's as if national interests are by definition base and narrow and mean-spirited. Somehow, if you are a global citizen, that is superior to being a patriot."

Well, pardon me, but isn't that exactly right - a global citizen, (at least in concept) is far superior to a patriot (remember patriotism - the last refuge of a scoundrel)? Maybe the U.N. has not done a great job as the champion of the global citizen, (see the Sudan, see Rwanda, see the Oil for Food Program) but yes, part of the march of 'globalism,' requires that citizens begin to look beyond the narrow concerns of 'national interests.'

Is it possible? Well, sure. There should be a few obvious global touchstones: no to torture, no to genocide, yes to basic human/worker rights, yes to environmental protection and sustainability. It's seems to me a simple act of imagination: to envision a new world. "I'll let you be in my dream, if I can be in yours." - B. Dylan

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