WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Friday, September 30, 2005

Consciousness - Wetness, Transparency, an Earthquake

I've always been fascinated by the brain, mind, consciousness. It's amazing a mind can surprise itself. I came across an article entitled "Why Great Minds Can't Grasp Consciousness." Check it out:

"...the mind is made up of the physical connections between neurons. These connections evolve slowly and are influenced by our past experiences and therefore, everyone's brain is unique.

But whereas the mind is rooted in the physical connections between neurons...consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, similar to the 'wetness' of water or the 'transparency' of glass, they emerge from -- the actions of individual molecules.

A conscious experience occurs when a stimulus -- either external, like a sensation, or internal, like a thought or a memory -- triggers a chain reaction within the brain. Like in an earthquake, each conscious experience has an epicenter, and ripples from that epicenter travels across the brain, recruiting neurons as they go."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" - Wm. Blake

It's the common, simple things that can make all the difference. A good night's sleep (actually - I fell asleep on the couch early in the evening, didn't wake up until 10 hours later), a freshly brewed cup of coffee (actually - heavy duty rocket fuel), a clear head (actually it's dancing with dream images and ideas), can make a new day seem really new (actually I've been doing this now for almost half a century).

The sun goes up, the sun goes down...that's the way it's always been. Or at least that's how it seems from my occluded perspective. There's this feeling of continuity, but at the same time, there's this sneaking suspicion that it's really only an illusion.

There are these discrete moments, which we kind of put together to make a picture, but is that picture just a facimile, a rude copy of a much richer, or at least more complex, configuration? There's freedom in what we don't know, don't see...back to Blake's "doors of perception," clear them, and we can glimpse the world as it really is...infinite.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One

Tired and groggy this morning. Sometimes the physicality (this bag of bones, this mortal coil) of our existence seems to take precedence. How to reconcile the needs of the spirit with the demands of the body? This is our baffling conundrum. We are stuck at the crossroads, trying to accomodate, or find a peaceful co-existence, between the two. Being human means contending with both horns of this dilemma/dichotomy. I think moments of transcendance, are the times where spirit and body are effortlessly one. This "oneness," is not beckoned, but instead, "descends."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conspiracy of Dunces

Whatever has conspired, has conspired to put me in a speculative frame of mind (see previous post). This is most welcome. I realize, when I'm speculating, imagining, building castles made of sand in my little noggin, I am in my element, the place where my creative impulses percolate. I feel like I'm in a new place, with a new face.

There's something cool about being able to "blow my own mind." I'm edging out into territory where I don't know what I don't know. To paraphrase/subvert Chico Marx: "How can I not find out, what I cannot find out, if I cannot find out, what I want to find out..."

...or something like that...

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Conversation

Disclaimer: This post was NOT written in a midnight haze of cannabis!

If you go with the idea of a "genetic code," the sequence of "letters" (the letters represent strings of chemical compounds) in our DNA which is manifested as "us," (our bodies, our beings), is it much of a leap to think of ourselves as an extended sentence, one that is written out in the course of our existence?

Now, we can read the sentence literally, but as life goes on, one begins to suspect that there is more than just a literal meaning to it all. The sentence may seem meaningless, but that's only if you read it literally. The sentence (our physical manifestation, our life) is actually a metaphor - "a figure of speech in which a term that ordinarily designates an object or idea is used to designate a dissimiliar object or idea." Meaning resides in the dissimiliar object or idea. We are searching FOR THAT...!?

Can a "figure of speech," comprehend the dissimiliar object or idea that it is, by analogy, pointing to? Is that what we mean when we talk about our "human condition?" If we are a figure of speech, is the universe the conversation, the converser? Does the conversation require a converser? Is the manifested universe just an inspired rant? Was that rant, fueled by some hallucingenic compound, that inspired the incredibly profound and overwhelming out-pouring of life we are and are immersed in? "In the beginning was the word..." Was that first word "WOW!"

UPDATE: The Lovely Carla just reminded me that "WOW," upside down is "MOM." Dig it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"What do you see when you turn out the light...?" - Lennon & McCartney

I knew something was different yesterday, when I walked into my local 7-11 to get a bottle of water, heard the Beatles on the radio, singing, "With a Little Help from My Friends," and I started singing along. "I get by with a little help from my friends." I remembered what Johnny Pilgrim had told me, "joy is like the rain," and for some reason, or maybe a sequence of reasons, all converging simultaneously, it was raining, and I could not help but smile.

It's so strange how it all works...

Later in the afternoon I came across this from Philip K. Dick (I'm not through with him yet), and for some reason the words lifted me up.

"This was what happened to all the things that came out of the wet earth, out of the filthy slime and mold. All things that lived, big and little. They appeared, struggling out of the sticky wetness. And then, after a time, they died."

Hmmm...another time that sequence of words might seem grim, but for some strange reason, yesterday they made me laugh out loud. I was thinking how strange and wonderful it all seemed. "Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

"The Lemon Song" - Led Zeppelin

I'm on the El, meditating, getting my space, trying to blow up all the bad juju and karma that has kind of accumulated around me. The Heavy Metal is rattling full throttle. The sun is burning brightly in the afternoon sky. I look up and this message (Is it from the Gods, or Satan himself?) slaps me in the kisser: "Squeeze Cash Out of Your Lemon!" And I think to myself: "If only it were that easy!"

Friday, September 23, 2005

"50 Million Flies can't be wrong." - Mad Magazine

I met with someone yesterday, to kind of review my "situation," whatever that means, and I thought, "I'm in a period of transition." Now, if you think about it, you have to conclude that we are all, always, in a period of transition...it's kind of our human condition. It's that old, "you can't step into the same river twice," conumdrum. Either you recognize it, or you don't. Either you go with it, or you don't. Life is kind of this "unfolding"; think of Jeff Goldblum in that movie, "The Fly." We are always "becoming" something...maybe we get sticky and spindly legs, maybe we get a dark, hairy exoskeleton, but we might get a pair of wings in the bargain too. Hmmm...let's not talk about the cuisine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

We must do what we must do

It was real hard getting up this morning...the alarm went off, and the first thought, "I have nothing to get up for..." Well, maybe in some grand existential sense it's true, but in the day to day living sense it's not true, (I have much to do, appointments to keep, etc.) but it sure felt true that first moment...

So, I had to break everything down into understandable increments to get moving...I must get up, so I can start the coffee, then I must brush my teeth, and fire up my computer, and check my e-mail, and survey the blogs, and post to my own, go for a run, and take a shower, and make my calls and meet the people I need to meet, etc...okay, so you get the idea, just one step after another until the sun goes down, and the day is done, and then I must go to sleep again...and do it all over again...just because...I must...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Was I born to fly and run away?" - C. Marlowe

"Of this I am assured, that death ends all, and I can die but once, Come death, and with thy fingers close my eyes, Or if I live let me forget myself." - Edward II - Christopher Marlowe - presented by Derek Jarman ("Find a dusty old play and violate it.") in "Queer Edward II."

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Moon Cult

The Lovely Carla and I walked down to South Ave. beach last night. We sat on the large rocks, and threw small rocks into the water, and watched them make a splash. It was around seven thirty and already nearly dark. A flock of geese, flying in formation, came in low, and joined a larger group floating like decoys in the dark-blue expanse. Airplanes, lights flashing, circled overhead. A motor boat slashed through the water on it's way home.

Unexpectedly, a big, fat, orange moon, peeked over the edge of the water. It rose up, moving with speed and purpose. An orange path of light extended from the moon directly to us, sitting on the rocks. We both had the same thought: "we could walk the moonbeams, a path of orange light, all the way to the moon." We both got up, walked towards the water. "He came dancing across the water..."

We turned back to the beach and noticed little groups of people huddled together, two here, three there, watching the moon making it's journey in the night sky. It looked like a ramshackle moon cult; I thought of Kubrick's Apes worshipping the black, mysterious, monolith in 2001. It's already 2005, the future is here. We know what the moon is, a large round rock, floating around the earth, a bigger, more verdant rock, astronauts have walked the moony surface...the "explanation," actually, explains nothing.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

P.K. Dick - Gnostic Prophet

P.K. Dick is Shiva, creator and destroyer of worlds...

Dick was an incredible Sci-Fi writer, but his personal life, became the main source of his fiction...his fiction was his reality, and his reality had many faces, so many faces in fact, that he couldn't keep track of them all; he didn't know if he had gone insane, been visited by a god or gods, was a victim of a Russian ESP thought project, was a guinea pig for the CIA, an enemy of the state, was conversing with a star, or some kind of Vast Intelligence System that was trying to impart secret knowledge to him: that world we see (the Black Iron Prison) is an illusion (Maya) that has been imposed on the "true world," a much better place (the Beautiful Garden Paradise).

He was a believer and a skeptic, some times from one paragraph to the next. He was constantly trying all these parallel universes on for size. It seems his imagination and empathy for his characters and their worlds was so finely developed that he couldn't help from plunging into other worlds and realities head first. All this is so intruiging and stimulating and evocative. It does seem clear that there is more than meets the eye to the world we live in, it does seem clear that we are hypnotized by a false world of materiality. Is it possible a brilliant, amphetimine-addled, "trashy" Sci-Fi writer, could be pointing us to a deeper truth?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

"Killed by Death" - (seen on a t-shirt on Belmont Ave.)

We truly are children of the atomic bomb. This is a club that will have you as a member whether you want to be or not. I read a little blurb that mentioned that scientists are now able to determine the age of humans by the amount of Carbon 14 in their teeth. Anyone born after 1955, has elevated amounts of Carbon 14 embedded in their pearly whites. It turns out that above ground atomic testing in the 1950's and 1960's increased the amount of Carbon 14 in the air and the food chain. Maybe Howard Hughes paranoia about atomic testing in Nevada (in this case underground) may not have been so crazy after all. So everyone on the planet (no corner is exempted), is forever, irrevocably, changed. Kind of reminds me of Wittgenstein's comment that we are not so much evolving, as, "mutating." So yes, we are all connected. One man's (or multiple nation's), blind stupidity has consequences for us all. Our nuclear weapons haven't really done that much for us, except vaporized two cities in Japan and contaminated us all. I guess we can take some comfort to know, that when we do keel over, science can positively determine how many years we walked around on this little planet!

A word of consolation from P.K. Dick: "If you think this universe is bad, you should see some of the others!"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Johnny Pilgrim tells it like it is...

A reader of this blog, a friend, a comrade, a fellow-traveller, (we'll call him Johnny Pilgrim), responds to yesterday's blog entry, "Dick's Questions (Kurt Godel's too)."

Johnny writes:

"I prefer the shared hallucination. Of course environment and perspective clouds the deeper nature, we are all animals. Yes we are trapped in subjective jackets, but open your head, fred. The very definition of "seeker" requires the questions. Answers are overrated, computers give answers and look how overrated they are.
A seeker, a thinking person, wrestles with happiness like Gorgeous
George. Savor the true moments of happy reflection, hide when the dread comes. Joy and doubt are both legitimate states of mind. Joy is like the rain."

Love, Johnny

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Some of Dick's Questions (Kurt Godel's too.)

Is what we call "reality" a shared hallucination? Is the true nature of our world obscured by our education, society, culture? Are we trapped in a subjective strait-jacket? Does the "seeker," ever tire of questions? Can you live a happy life from start to finish multiplying the questions, never finding or settling on answers? Can there be joy, when there's doubt? Can there be joy, when there's doubt? Can there be joy...?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Philip K. Dick says, "Wake Up!"

In the early nineties, I was on a Philip K. Dick kick, I devoured every novel of his I could get my hands on. He and Kurt Vonnegut are the only "Sci-Fi" writers I've ever really totally "absorbed." Dick is a great writer with an extraordinary imagination. His characters are usually "average" men and women confronted with strange, mind-bending worlds. The underlying questions always seem to be: What is reality? What is it to be a human being? - My kind of guy.

More than a decade ago, I became obsessed with Dick, thinking I had come across a kindred soul. I totally incorporated his worlds, made them part of my history, my internal territory, and then kind of lost touch with him. So, it's a pleasure to rediscover him, (I'm reading a biography about him called "Divine Invasions.") now. It's like finding an old friend, one that you for some inexplicable reason lost touch with. I realize many of his obsessions are also mine. Philip is gone, but his novels live on.

Here's Philip Dick looking back on his own fiction: "I am a fictionalizing philosopher...what I tell is the truth...I think I understand the common ingredient in those whom my writing helps, they cannot or will not blunt their own intimations about the irrational, mysterious nature of reality, and for them, my corpus of writing is one long rationcination regarding this inexplicable reality, an integration and presentation, analysis and response and personal history."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"Spider? What Spider?"

The Lovely Carla and I sat in the sky room last night. We watched all the little spiders come out and set themselves up on the window screens, building their webs, waiting for their victims to make their fateful move. The Web of Doom.

Beyond the screens was the night sky, the planets and stars, blazing away in a milky haze. We spoke of the passing scene, and wondered about the fate of our little planet. We wondered about the teeming billions.

We wondered if a person, one person, could make a difference. The Optimist in us, said, "yes, of course," it was our duty to lean to the light, to be like those stars above, to blaze away and light the way for others too. The Pessimist, said, "no, you've got to be kidding," darkness abides, we are like those little bugs slowly crawling to our "webby," deaths.

Although, we sat in darkness, the light from those stars, lit up our eyes too. After awhile, you couldn't even see the window, the screen, the spiders, or the webs...only a little pinpoint of light blazing from far, far, away.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Beam of Light

I travelled the city on a network of steel yesterday. I rode above the city streets, and then down below street level into the belly of the beast. I hopped from Purple, to Red, to Blue; each train with it's own distinctive character, it's own tempo. If you travel on a late summer afternoon, you notice the way the sun illuminates the train tracks, the train looks like it's travelling on a beam of light. Underground the roar of the train echoes in the tunnel and in your ears, the steel on steel roar so loud, conversation is impossible. I sat in silence, meditating, once in awhile opening my eyes, seeing new passengers enter and exit. It's amazing to be moving at a high rate of speed, and at the same time, to be sitting perfectly still. Amazing and perfectly routine. Rising from the depths, flying into the dazzling light once again, we skimmed along city blocks. I thought of "living lightly," being able to let it all come and go, "as it is," living as simply as riding the rails on a late summer afternoon.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Lose a Man, Lose a Universe

Yesterday the Lovely Carla and I found ourselves browsing the Occult Bookstore in the Flat Iron Building (we were in the building visiting my brother's art studio - part of the Coyote Arts Fest). There was some kind of low-level murmuring coming from behind a bookshelf, we both heard it, we looked at each other and simultaneously mouthed: Rosemary's Baby! We didn't buy a book, (later at Quimby's I scored a copy of "Divine Invasions," a biography of Philip K. Dick, written by Lawrence Sutin, who by the way, also wrote a book on the mystic, shyster, wild man, Aleister Crowley - later Jimmy Page of Led Zepplen bought Crowley's old castle haunt, rumour has it that Page, blew his mind, dabbling in Crowley's dark, occult secrets), but I was reminded of my in-depth fascination with the mystical/occult tradition.

Macrocosm/Microcosm. "As above, so below." We are carbon-based bipeds, brothers and sisters to the carbon-based, swirling balls of fire in the sky which we call "stars." What a strange, bizzare, unfathomable world we live in...

At the art studio, my brother displayed a selection of his dark, soulful paintings as well as a few key pieces painted by my father. My father had a fascination with color and space, his paintings are starkly colorful, boldly beautiful. It's a touching tribute to see his art out in the world, so vibrant and alive.

I was reminded of the phrase (did I coin it?): lose a man, lose a universe. The mystery: a man is a universe, and at the same time, he is contained by a universe. As we pass, (I'm beginning to understand the concept of "generations," - Kesey - gone, HST - gone, Ginsberg - gone, Harrison - gone) do we pass into a greater, higher, realm?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to..." - Lesley Gore

It's my blog, and I'll blog what I want to...

I don't know if you've noticed some of my "obsessions." Dylan, death, transcendance...lately I've discovered a new chord inside...a deep, blue, resonant chord of sadness. It's amazing. I didn't know it was there, waiting to be strummed...

I guess it's all part of the "human condition." This condition seems serious, precarious, and sort of ridiculous. None of it "makes sense," and really, maybe trying to make sense is a fool's occupation.

It's my (your) party - and when does it start, and who's coming over and what are we gonna play?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Notes to Black

I sat on the back porch (the Sky Room) last night, set up my little amp, played my Telecaster, watched the sun go down in the west. I turned the sound down low, picked the strings with my fingers, let the notes and chords gently shimmer out into the night and kind of lulled myself into a melodic haze. I added some delay to the sound, so my chords and notes multiplied, it almost sounded like two guitarists, noodling over simple patterns, kind of playing off each other. I did this until I was in total darkness, the night enveloping me like a dark and heavy coat. The notes reverberated, floated out into the night; invisible, insubstantial, fading to silence, and then into the expanding black...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Let's play a game: the water, the sky!

This "thought-train," left the station yesterday afternoon... Jim Morrison's Doors, who got their name from Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception," (a description of a Mescaline experience) which was cribbed from William Blake (cleanse the doors of perception and you will see the world as it is: infinite), sang a song called "Break on Through" (to the Other Side). "It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it, so I give it a 95!"

I was wondering about the "other side," thinking about the limits of language, and then, later, reading a screenplay about Wittgenstein, co-written by Derek Jarman, I came across a series of ideas: language as social construct (strait-jacket?!), the limits of our language defines the limits of our world, philosophy is just another "language game," all language games solve problems within the game, but the world (which is all there is) is more than our language, language is a social tool that allows us "see" the world. The lonely, brooding philosopher (think Wittgenstein), is no longer useful, there is no underlying "meaning," only the world which is all there is.

So I'm back at the lakefront, looking at water and sky. It's amazing how we can hypnotise ourselves out of being in a constant state of stupefying wonder..."where did I come from, where am I going, what is this world?" Maybe these questions are beside the point...maybe there is no underlying "point." Wittgenstein's last words: "tell them I had a happy life."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More than Gorgeous

Yesterday was exquisitely gorgeous. Late afternoon, I got out the old bike, pumped some air in the tires and rode the lakefront path. I sat down on a rock under a shady tree, and looked at the brilliant water and the sky. I sat in silence, no internal monologue, just kind of registering the moments as they passed me by. There were sailboats, windsurfers; the water an infinite, subtle mixture of colors: blue, green, brown. The water lapped the rocks on the shore, green moss rising and falling with the relentless tempo of the water. The sky was light blue, with a few wisps of white clouds floating overhead in slow motion. I'm sure Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, could write an ecstatic monologue of poetry or prose on the beauty and power of the scene...I sat in silence... maybe sometimes words are like containers trying to describe something that can't be contained...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Doorway

Labor day came and went. It was one of those days where you go through the motions, and by going through, you kind of find a tempo and a purpose. The tempo was kind of slow and meandering, and the purpose was to just get through the day without falling into the endless black abyss. It all worked out okay. The Lovely Carla and I visited with family and friends. We drove the city streets, ate well, chatted about politics, music, and the passing scene. I crashed out fairly early and had strange, violent and tumultuous dreams. Just a reminder that we live in at least two distinct realms - the waking day, the dark of night. We are the connection, the doorway between the two...

Monday, September 05, 2005

"May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung..." - B. Dylan

The Dumps/Sunny dichotomy...it's kind of like a yin/yang, dark/light, Jeckyl/Hyde opposition, that runs through my ancestral line... Supposedly my greatgrandfather Smooth (Jimmy) Connors used to say: "wake up jimmydumps, drink the first cup of coffee - sunnyjimmy!"

Sometimes the coffee doesn't work. I know there's a whole pharmacological industry dedicated to that proposition, concocting potent chemical cocktails in order to erase "dumps" and activate "sunny." I'm unwilling to escape via that particular avenue.

So, instead, I soldier on. Events both personal and universal have consipired to bring out "dumps," and I figure that just goes with the territory. Yesterday this thought struck me: the highs seem less high, the lows seem deeper and more resonant. I hope it's not a trend.

Sometimes life seems to be one damn disaster after another...somehow we are meant to endure...If you live with "eyes wide open," if you are alive and open to the moment, does this make you more vulnerable to all the "pricks and kicks?" If the choice is to harden our hearts, or to embrace the world with sympathy and tea, I'll go with the latter, and be on the lookout for a "ladder to the stars."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

"A Working Class Hero is something to be..." - J. Lennon

I'm in a self-induced fog this morning, too many Belgian Ales for one SunnyJimmy. We had a Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath get together last night, ate crabcakes and watched the DVD of the show...I believe a good time was had by all.

Not thinking clearly this morning, but I found this cruising the web, I think it sums up the state of the union quite nicely, so here's the "cut and paste": "Katrina the aftermath is payback time for decades of stupidity, greed, pillage, racism," writes Alexander Cockburn at Counterpunch. "My thought is that the tempo towards catastrophe really picked up in the Reagan era. That's when the notion of this society being in some deep sense a collective effort, pointed towards universal human betterment the core of the old Enlightenment went onto the trash heap."

"Once you stop believing in universal betterment, you stop investing in social defenses, like health care, or flood control. You build your shining condo on the hill, put a fence round it, and cancel the local bus service so the poor can't get at you..."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"Memories are traces of tears." Wong Kar Wai

I was in the middle of a conversation yesterday morning. It was a simple sentence (I'm unable to repeat it), that opened the door to the yawning pain, an ocean of sorrow...

Look at the events of the world, really take them in...the tears come like a rushing wave of water...

The Lovely Carla and I were supposed to go to a social event last night. It was an obligation, a good move, a politically savvy thing to do. Instead, we went to a movie...Wong Kar Wai's "2046." We were so happy when we got to the Music Box...we submerged ourselves in the sumptuous images...reminded again of the power of art.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Death in New Orleans

I'm sort of reeling this morning, from the pictures and commentary on the New Orleans disaster... Doesn't this event perfectly illustrate the absolute emptiness of our Hollow Empire? What is it that I read? "The only good is the common good." And this - "I must create a system of my own, or live as a slave in another man's." - W. Blake

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Watchman

August is over...when I was a kid, that meant the death knell for summer...vacation was over, school (that regimented nullity) was beckoning...it's amazing what we go through, and still keep our heads (at least some of us - not sure which club I'm in - kept head, or not?!).

I've been thinking of that strange, Russian mystic, Guardieff, and his formulation of (paraphrasing, as always) "being aware of being aware," the idea that most of us are asleep (bored to death by the mundane routines of the material world), and we must work at "seeking the miraculous." Guardieff developed diciplines and techniques in dance, movement, meditation, that supposedely helped to re-introduce the amazing, mystical nature of the "looniverse."

Many years later I came across Jasper John's concept of the "Watchman." He wrote cryptic notes about this character and incorporated them into some of his painting and prints...I've also heard there's a comic book series dedicated to the Watchman character.

The Watchman is aware of the world, aware that he is aware, he watches himself, without being "self-conscious," (paradoxical!?). Not a bad formulation...if we need models, a clue or key to our existence, the Watchman might fit the bill nicely..."the more we look, the more we see..." it might be a way to live...and then, well, what cha gonna do? Or is "being," enough?!

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