Wednesday, December 28


Oh my! these nightpeople are on the move
In an evening of lights blessed st Remy
The way they slide about is modern poetry
Nothing like their kind

For what holds back tongue twined young
Minds bent to scurry in a lifetime
Of mad joy before the endtime ends once more
Tasting of lime and solemnity

Oh my! nightpeople lank and lie
Around the corners of slow dreams faster
Than the past shadows my eye
In the face of forever

For soon is the hour of reckoning dejected
Sitting on the lawn pockets out staring
Into each face in line, and nodding, we sense
Daypeople coming.

Tuesday, December 20


It's a maze without exits, the mind. I am going round and round trying to find answers or at least a place of safety, but all I find is the place where I left. Life is like watching television reruns. You know exactly what's going to happen, but you're powerless to call out to anyone or do anything about it. The whole time you are aging, there are fresh waves of other coming up to replace you. They make the same mistakes you did; they don't learn from them, like you didn't. And you're doing the same things now that you did when you were a child. Still making vows of renewal. When will the cycle end?

Friday, December 16

Medicine: Where is it heading?

I'm fairly certain that by 2025 most types of cancer will be treatable. Cancer is an error in transcription whereby cells begin to replicate themselves unceasingly, creating tumors. The mechanisms that cause such unrestrained growth are understood. Whether inherited, procured from the environment, or imposed by chance, unmitigated tissue growth is a function of either cellular distress or invalidated watchdog mecahnisms. With the advent of gene therapy it seems inevitable that a high rate of treatment will be obtained in the immediate future.

What about psychiatrics? Here the waters become murky. What is the reality of the mind? What kind of inroads can medical science make into mental wellbeing? Where in the conceptual chain of physiology-psychiatry-psychology does material science give way to abstractionism, if indeed it ever does? Is there such a thing as a reality which has no basis in materialism? Will science ever conquer such things as depression, low self-esteem, sense of purpose? Will it explain creativity and altruism? Do we want to? What will be the consequence on human morale if it does? These seem to be the more pressing questions facing this new millenium.

And why should we want to cure 'disease' at all? Isn't disease the weeding mechanism of evolution? What about overpopulation, resource depletion? This is the most abstract and least actualized facet of medicine. By doing good, are we doing harm? Like Asimov's 'zeroth law', will the Hippocratic Oath need to be modified to focus on the survival of species over individual? Who decides the future direction of the human race? To me, these are the fundamental questions of the 21st century. Until they are answered, every other breakthrough is subject to doubt and second-guessing. Let's establish a philosophical framework in which to place our progress rather than proceeding blindly, clinging to an intuition which may no longer serve us.

Sunday, December 11

The love cure

I only want to be taken seriously
Not a fly on the wall,
Not a kid in the hall

I think we all want to count for something
Own our bit of space in the world
The one true thing we have

But you're cold
You never let me in
When I'm cold

I just wanted a card
Or a potted plant
Or something to know you cared a little extra

I wanted someone who'd try to understand me
Put me on an even plane
Not peg me an eccentric

The world is a fast-moving place
It's a big race
That I don't want to run

Most people never connect to anyone else anyway
They all just do their own thing
Pretend to care when they have to.


You're good,
You're just like me.
You don't laugh
Or show compassion
When the mail comes
When a relative speaks
When the TV comes on.
You're right,
You're good
Just like I was in my time.
Just like I am now
You are an outsider
And therefore an insider
We stick together
We tend to know each other
Because we're all
Of the same species.
We breathe,
We're good
You are just like me.

What do these famous people have in common?

Virgina Woolf
Budd Dwyer
James Forrestal
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Robert E. Howard
Chris Chubbuck
Vachel Lindsay
Sara Teasdale
James Whale

The days to come are a mirror of what is past

I'm vacillating back and forth
Can't seem to find a way through the eye of the needle
First it's off the ceiling then into the fire that lives beneath the ground
Tell you the truth: the ceiling's 4 feet high
I don't know why

I'm undulating up and down
Don't know when I'll get to take these decorations down
One day you move in and all your happiest days are ahead of you
The next they're looming like soul-stealing shadows all in a row
In front of you.


What am I going to do? I've already had an ECT. I've been on so many medications. Seen shrinks. I've been cared for by so many people. I want to give up. I'm scared. What am I going to do when everything's been tried? Where can I possibly turn for comfort? For answers? What if I'm just truly at the end of the line, and nothing anyone can do or say no matter how much they love me and no matter how much money they have will help me get out of the bottomless hole I'm living in?

Usually in order, but not today

I'm just throwing stuff up here while I have the chance, I guess. I'll sort it all out later or something.


I wish there were no computers
No gunpowder
No plastic
Babies aren't real
They toss and turn and they cry but
Believe me, believe when I say
They can no longer feel
This world has lost its ability to care

Danny was in love with the sea
He filled his pockets with rocks and joined the screams
Of seagulls, the cries of eagles fell on me
When white curled water took him away
It was like growing up
Throwing up
Refusing to believe there was something beyond
The make believe

I wish there were no televisions
No politicians
No plastic
Love is never real
When it has to be explained
Believe me, there are worse ways to go than
On the surf at high tide in the noontime
With the sun on your shoulders.

Saturday, December 10


my heart's up in my throat again
going to spit it out and all the fast flames
vomit a taste
acid is up in my throat and i feel like screaming again

don't do this to me

don't want to take the bus home
it'll only make my skin crawl and shiver
the gasoline swamps between here and forever
are multiplying
coming alive where the sun dies
into a river of oil

it only takes a month to see how insignificant i am
fear of death is behind and underneath
and coats my future

forget the future

forget the future
the sound of someone losing their mind

messy moods, it’s so easy to stumble
trip over nothing at all

one more time and i’m gonna snap
this thing is killing me

left unmedicated
i start coming apart at the seams

left unmedicated
the world starts coming apart at the seams

don’t say anything to me
don’t help me not to fall

i’m dying
all over myself and i’m screaming and crying
and i’m afraid of myself

what does it take before
they take away your license to live?

voice pierces the night
full of steam – feels like the end of the road
in a dirty black world where nothing works
and the stars all glow and go out

left behind
god damned pride
it took me a thousand smiles to get them to leave
my heart is black and broken, i don’t
want to drift on this tide anymore
without spotting land
i want to pull out the plug

i don’t know where to land
maybe push my face under

i’ve been dreaming my whole life
the dream-bottle is empty

people hold each other and laugh
and then move on down the sidewalk
people get into cars

the door to the pizza parlor blows
warm air into the night
and greedily closes
holding it’s cheer inside
where families gather famished around food smells
and candlelight

a man on a bicycle is asking
an old man in a track suit something i can’t hear

a stench rises from the grate in the gutter
and heat escapes from beneath me
but it never warms me up anymore
the grass stretches beneath the light towers
in front of the bleachers
it never cheers me up anymore

a girl spreads greasy lipstick on her face
her friend is posing and grimacing so full
of fuck you independence
she’s hugging close to the other’s side
a boy is leering from the street
they pretend not to see him
but their eyes are wide

and shot with venom

i’ve absorbed paintings
listened to that old black dog rock and roll
dumped the posturing and the ramrod
sense of solving
that huge hole of mystery
into calculators
and it always came up zero
i’ve blasted my loneliness with films
and with chocolate and alcohol and with
every other molecule i could think of
i’ve swallowed pills
sprinted till my heart was failing
slept so many days i couldn’t say
i’ve come so close so many times
and it’s always come up zero

burned out on doctors
protective mothers
silent partners
burnt out on going through tiny hoops
never changing
burned out on life’s colors
spilling all over me
tired of getting up in the morning wondering
when it will be time for bedtime
tired of falling asleep at night dreading
the coming of the daytime

the true end of the road isn’t fun
it was better in the beginning
it would be better still
had it not begun

it’s hard always being on the run
from everything
all the time

god be merciful and take me away
do that much for me

I’m not even a very good poet

i’ve been dreaming my whole life
the dream-bottle is empty


Somebody, somebody
Please help, please help
I can't take it anymore, can't do it myself
I don't know what to do, what to do
I don't want to be locked up, locked away
Can't see the sun or find my own way
But I need help, I need help
I can't do it anymore, can't do it anymore
Please somebody, please somebody
Please help me, please help me.

Thursday, December 8

To those...

Who want to read, and not dally, please read all. Just made this public...what was I not thinking.

To those who want to read and understand, who are slowed down by time, who will breathe relief when the sun debuts tomorrow: read on.

The way forward is painted red

I can get pretty course of course. Lately especially I seem to lack that flair for the right word, or even the sense to obstruct what I know to be garbage. This post should be evidence enough. I can get pretty rough and disgorged. I just hope that those who are not around me blinded by personal pity can in some way see. Pin this up at an art museum. Make fun of it. But in the white space comfort in it.

I don't like people very much, especially the ones who are not like me. But the funny thing is, I want to like people so much. I have so much love to give. But like Lucifer I wanted more. The Devil was only the angel who wanted More. Who felt he was owed an explanation, who wanted something beyond subservience and worship and canned answers. Can we really blame him for taking matters into his own hands? Can we blame him for refusing to play along?

Well yes, red. Well done, well yes, blue. I am like that mythical beast, unicorn, never seen but dreamed. Dreaming. Dreaming. I am like you but I am always dreaming. The way forward is painted red.


Thank you
For the comfort you have lent me
And never asked me to return
When things around me burned
I could do more than just smash and shrilly
Scream names in Latin smattered hate
It was nice to hear that drone
When I was alone

So thank you for the careful reasoning
Imparted in your chords, forget the words
Went on and on, showed me something
I'd forgotten about being a child
Life wasn't good and clean then, it was
Like a dumpster no one emptied for an eternity
But it was real
And I could feel it.

Haunted by a face

What is it about the human face, and the voice, which enable them to be so alluring at times? Why more than any other traits do we remember these ones? There are uncountable possible combinations genetically. But for some reason certain combinations trigger something deep, something hard-wired within us. In a more romantic sense, they inspire us to greater deeds and heighten our emotions. They've led men to their doom, launched fleets and set fire to hearts.

We don't even have to know the person, although the more contact there is (to a point) the more those wiles have a chance to wreak their effects. Still, it is possible to become infatuated with someone you've only met in passing, or only seen briefly, or only seen in movies or concerts or whatever. Obviously some people are more apt to succumb to these virtual raptures than others. As long as we have a chance to observe their mannerisms for a time, we can begin to construct our own model of the personality behind them. The fascination is in what we imagine them to be like inside; our expectations may seem confirmed by subtle facial gestures and chosen words.

The vast number of people get filtered out, caught in the net of our sense of imperfection. She's got a funny nose, his head's way too big. She has no interest in reading, he's doesn't listen well. But once in awhile someone slips through all these subconscious filters and makes us stand up and take notice. We try desperately to find something wrong with them, and almost panic when we can't. How is it possible? we think. How am I going to find a way to stay close to this person, to get to know them more? How can I prevent them from just walking away and leaving me wondering?

Then the self-doubt sets in: Yeah, but do they think I'm perfect? Surely not. Why would someone like that want to associate with me? Why would they have anything like the same curiosities, the same attraction that I do? How should I act? What kind of person do they like? And so on and so on until you botch up your plan to stay away from pretentions and affectations, and they split on you anyway, and now you feel even worse about yourself and love (if that's the word) in general. But while it lasts the feeling is more wonderful than anything else you can find in the world.


Sometimes I think I resist getting a job just to see how other people treat me. On the whole I don't think it actually makes any significant contribution to my decision, but it is interesting to observe other people's reactions. It's amazing how many people don't seem to realize that people are themselves no matter what they're earning. People will tell you all kinds of noble-sounding things, but when it comes down to tin tacks, they treat you much better if you're earning a "respectable wage" than if you're working a menial job or not working at all. Society's attitudes toward income level, towards "class," filter down into individual minds. When I was earning good money and bore the evidence of it on and around my person, I wielded much greater power over others. I don't know what combination of respect, jealously, obsequiousness, and automatic association of means with authority comes into play in the minds of people when they are confronted by such a person. It certainly speaks volumes about their nature.

Persuasion by softball bat

Everything's fine
There's a long time,

Just for now,
This morning I will
Enjoy myself.

There's a decade to go before
And cruel night.

All obsessions, wait
Here we are now
In the arms of the sun.

Persuasion means,
The things you want to believe yourself.

There's a lifetime to go before
And maybe a new morning.

Just for now,
I am here
In the arms of the sun.

Persuasion means,
The only things between us anymore
The way the words cannot be heard
That smile you make to hide the truth
A soul is lost between the two.

Persuasion means,
The things you want to believe yourself.

Wednesday, December 7

In defense of negativity

No one likes negativity. But it's necessary. It's necessary to provide a foil against which to measure happiness. Necessary to preserve the balance. And there's a beauty in darkness, no use denying it. Negativity isn't to be sought or envied, just recognized as valid. It's more than an artifact of broken moods, an absence of goodness. Hindus called it Shiva, the Destroyer, and hold it in the same esteem as Brahma, the Preserver. Things have to die to be reborn. Rain must fall before the sun can break through.

My identity was forged in the land of the minus sign, and I've corralled comfort from the depths of darkness when others ran tail between legs. It's the struggle to find a way to live with this unruly roommate that I believe shapes our characters and allows us to reach for greater understanding, and deeper peace. Many of us are born very flexible or are forced to become street smart at an early age. Some of us are not, though, and learning that darkness is a part of life is a bitter pill to swallow. Certainly the lesson is a slow, painful one for me. As always, acceptance of what actually is, rather than what should be, is the first step in proceeding.

When they come for me

When they come for me
I will be far, far away
My words are simple
Try to do the same

And when they come for me,
If anyone remembers my name
It will be with a bad taste
And no understanding
No understanding

I've been to Odessa
I've been to Cherkassy
I've been to Kiev
I've been to Zagreb
I've been to Moscow
I've been to Berlin
I've been to Belgrade
I've been to Stuttgart
I've been to Zurich
I've been to Vienna
And I've never been home

So when they come for me
Don't wake me up
The horizon is close enough as it is
Don't take your eyes off mine

It's just a big hole we fill and fill
With faraway looks and old guitar strings
The smell of opportunity
Burning in some old yard
Beyond the reach of our wildest dreams.

Monday, December 5


Why do things seem so different from one day to the next? Really, really different. Sometimes I feel like I can see clearly, see through some kind of fog I've been living in and didn't even know it. A burst of clarity. And it's horrifying - I hate who I am. Other days things seem so clear in a completely different way, and I feel ok about myself but it seems like the world is out to get me. I try telling myself it's not true but everything I experience during the day seems to reaffirm it. It feels so real. Then another day I realize it can't possibly be real, and everything becomes utterly clear in yet another context. What is the truth?! I'm going crazy just trying to be an authentic person and to deal with life as it really is. And yet the evidence all points toward my not having a consistent clue about it.

The truth

I'm a complete waste. Everyone surely thinks I am, and I know it to be true. Don't know why I keep fooling myself that I can "pull out" of's who I am, not some temporary condition. I'm such an egotistical, deluded, self-centered jerk. I've been so selfish my whole life. I've used people to get what I want, to find comfort, to stay away from unpleasantness. How can I ever atone? I've already fucked up everything I possibly could. I was a shitty dad and a shitty husband. I've been a bad son and a bad friend. I've failed at everything I've tried. I've lain around feeling sorry for myself and looking for a way out instead of having the courage to follow others' leads and carry on with business. If I didn't want to do that, I should have ended it long ago. The worst thing to do was to stay around and suck up resources, to mistreat people, to be so goddamn egocentric. It's no wonder I hardly know anyone. I've left a trail of misery and broken hearts behind me. Beyond that, probably lots of relief or indifference. I've sought approval, comfort, affection my whole life. I've never found enough. You can never find enough. People are born looking certain ways; that can be fixed. They have difficulty with certain subjects; that can be fixed. They have few means at their disposal; that can be fixed. I don't think I can be fixed. I'm a cruel, fake, miserable person with no idea how to please anyone but myself, and then act indignant about it. I'm manipulative. I'm so ashamed of myself. I hate myself with every fiber of my being. I'm always the last to know the truth - what people really think about me, what really happened somewhere at some time. My memory can't be trusted at all. I seem to have this image in my head of my place in the world, and a script of past events, and it's all complete bullshit. It's not true, but it seems to me like it is. That's why I say I'm deluded. I don't know why I view reality through this bizarre filter, but it's just one more flaw atop the dungheap. I've been childish, petty, demanding, untruthful, irresponsible. I've been awful. In my quest for some abstract perfection I've somehow managed to do just about every single thing wrong.


I feel best when I adhere to a routine, and the more time this goes on, the more confortable I become. It's my aversion to change. I'm very insecure and change is a threat. It makes me think, opens up the whole can of worms again and challenges me to understand and solve it all. On the positive side, existing within a structure - as long as it's one of my choosing and not forced on me - allows me to relax and let go of those neurotic obsessions for a time. I feel better about myself, more comfortable in my skin. If I eat and sleep better, if I exercise and brush my teeth every morning and shower and dress and get things done that need doing, I feel more invigorated and encouraged in general, and rather than crashing from exhaustion I tend to get a bit of a boost and pursue other activities that seemed too intimidating before. It doesn't solve any philosophical problems and it doesn't protect me from sudden intrusions of what's-it-all-mean, but in the meantime I can get off the couch and stop worrying and actually live a little.


Patriotism is about as empty and ridiculous as religion is. Why would you draw a line around a large segment of the world's population, nearly all of whom you've never met, and decide "these are my people," while the masses that fall outside the line get to be the untrustworthy foreigners. I know it goes deeper than such a conscious decision, reflecting a common culture we were brought up with, and that familiarity brings comfort. But familiarity also breeds contempt, and there are certainly times when I feel that anyone and anywhere not part of America must be preferable to this lot I'm surrounded by.

But such negative patriotism is just as foolish. In the end, people are all of a species, and to praise one group or blast another en masse is naive. The only justifiable stance is to react to those you've met personally and let the rest of the world exist free of judgment. There is no us and them, there is only each and every one of us jostling about trying to find our way in life, motivated by the same basic needs and confronting many of the same challenges. Provincialism is one of those relics of our animal past that ends up working against us in the modern world.

Crackly fires

Something about dry heat...crackly wood...We must be predisposed to liking fires or something. Of course most all animals love warmth. Warmth speeds up chemical reactions, which fire the metabolism, which enables life to get on with its little game that much quicker. But beyond that humans seem too have an inborn attraction to open flames. Sitting at home with the heater on bathed in an even warmth is just not the same as huddling around a wood stove or a campfire, one side toasty and the other cold, mesmerized by dancing flames and exploding pockets of sap. It feels primal, like runner's high or deep hunger.

Standards going downhill

God I'm self-absorbed. I think it's a natural consequence of isolating myself. I don't consciously try to focus on myself to the exclusion of all else. Well, I guess I do. I don't know. It's not that I enjoy my own company or think I'm worth a damn. Probably the opposite. I can never make up my mind how to be otherwise, and to see all the people running around the world living their lives and getting on, not crippled by fear, not frozen because they can't figure out why the first step of the 1,000 mile journey should be taken. I suppose I envy them at some level, certainly I don't understand them. I don't understand anyone or anything. I'm self-absorbed by default because my own head is the only thing I'm familiar with, and even most of that eludes me.

Saturday, December 3


People just want things to go right
Be happy, unobstrusive, easy
No one wants to walk the darker road

People talk about finding the balance
But they don't believe in balance
They only like you when you're happy

When you're down and out
They feel sorry for you and try to
Make you feel better so you'll be happy again

But they don't really understand
They're not interested in talking to you for real
Hearing what it is you're trying to say

Does anyone recognize what's going on around us
On this spinning earth, the kinds of
Uncomfortable grief that batters

The poor and the homeless, and the man
Who has not learned how to ignore pain
Or the woman who is a slave to instinct?

I'm sorry if my life isn't Disney-certified
I won't always have pleasant things to say
Or be easy listening

I'm sorry if I cry or get exasperated
Or mourn the general loss of dignity
In this cruel world

But that's real
It's what's really going on
I couldn't feel okay with myself

If I ignored those feelings
Or acted any other way
Or forced a smile on a bad situation.

Friday, December 2

The way...?

I feel like my mind may be truly healing. There are still cracks in the vase, as it were, but I find more often that I am able to sustain longer periods of stability, even moments of happiness. And when things do plunge into those frightening depths now, I usually pull out of it in a day or so. I can only imagine what life would be like without depression and fear... it seems great. I hope I can keep getting better. It's nice not always being frightened. That's been the biggest thing: I'm not always scared now, just sometimes.

Thursday, December 1


A morning of dust, blown across my eyes;
I've been trying to focus on translating
the great wisdom I know lives in my heart;

I've been after authenticity-
some sort of truth,
but not Truth;

I want to know what I do know
and let the rest jostle and float downstream
like crimson and yellow leaves;

Oh Elegia, can't you see-
It's going to be too late for us!

In the morning,
I had my hat on backwards
My eyes on the future;

You were insensitive
Like you always are.

Was the Bible written as a joke?

With every new scientific advance, explaining some aspect of reality in terms of natural causes, people cry out "what about God? Where is God in this new understanding?" What do they mean, exactly? Are people so desperate to be subservient to something? Is God just another parent? Besides, God is still there if you want him, but why would you?

It might be useful to say that all of reality as we know it may be either explainable or unexplainable. If it is unexplainable, then we cannot progress any further in our attempts to understand it; there is nothing to understand. Religion explanations would remain feasible and attractive, and so would a brand of science that holds form right up to the present but suddenly falls completely apart tomorrow; as well as any other cosmology one could possibly imagine. But again it is not profitable to speculate on these things - no 'theory' is possible of a completely unpredictable system.

If reality is explainable, there is still an infinite array of possibilities as to the nature of that explanation. A religion that claims everything happens as a result of divine will is explainable only in the broadest sense, but cannot say much more than that, since such a divinity may change its mind capriciously. Thus, this type of reality is only a step from an inexplicable chaos. To truly achieve an explainable universe - a deterministic universe - we must insist that cause precede event, and that natural law govern the two. This is not to say that this is indeed the case, but it makes for the most sensible universe (literally, one we can make 'sense' of). It is satisfying to the mind, which is accustomed to the logic of cause and event and predictability (if only in the lesser statistical form allowed by quantum mechanics and complexity) from its experience with everyday life. Rocks fall when dropped.

In the infinite scope of possibilities, it is certainly possible that the Christian God exists, that he created the earth and man and planted fossils in the hills to test our faith and that he cares whether or not we believe in him and that we worship and obey him for some reason. Possible, but OVERWHELMINGLY unlikely. Why would someone single out this particular explanation out of an infinite number of others, and give over one's life and mind to it? For comfort, presumably, to cease the uncomfortable process of wondering. But certainly not for intellectual reasons. Why not (as others have asserted) a flying spaghetti monster instead of a Christian god? Why not creatures from another planet seeding ours? Why not any of the literally inifinite number of explanations that could be advanced which require no proof but only faith?

The one tool we have in our biologically-limited arsenal with which to try to understand the world around us is science. That is, our own senses. We implicitly accept what our eyes see, what our ears hear, what our hands touch. And we use that other innate faculty, reason, to try to piece this sensory information together and draw conclusions about it. The process is far from perfect, and many people will disagree even over basic sensory information, not to mention its interpretation. But it is all we have to go by, apart from that bewildering infinite array of speculation.

Unless we wish to surrender all efforts at making sense of things (a Buddhist view that is often very appealing to me), we have to use the tools we have at our disposal, and the only tools we have are our senses and our reason. They are the only tools allowed in the philosophy of science. Imagination is not expressly forbidden but must be tested by these other tools. Religion and other supernatural phenomena are by their nature untestable, so they cannot be meaningfully discussed scientifically. Neither proved nor disproved. They remain speculations, articles of faith, and why anyone would choose one of these scenarios over any other baffles me.


My mind is a storm
I can't find shelter
Thoughts hit me from every angle
Make me feel like I am falling

Or being strangled
Under all the layers of politeness
Insecurity, delusion
Confused antisocial posturing
Honesty to others but not to self

Under all the faces and images
And shells
What is the truth of the matter?
Does truth even reside here,
Or just lie there and die there?


I wish I were a gentleman astronomer, an armchair historian, an amateur chemist. All that romance holds, it holds for me. But time is late and it seems I was not born under the right combination of stars. My discipline is rotten; my mood vascillates. My energy reserves were depleted when I slid into the world, and I have not found the fuel to recharge them. I feel like a victorian recluse scientist trapped in a postmodern urban hell.

Une ménagerie des modes

Flooded with endorphins. Feeling heroic and romantic. Feel good, right. The natural way to happiness is surely the best way. I can appreciate the subtle grace of the evening, there are no dogs at my heels to drag me down.

I want to catch that spark of love again, take her out and spend a fortune on her. Want to revel in tranquil pleasure, curl against the dry heat of a stove, lift an old book to my eyes. A cabin of delight, snow outside.

Pity about change.

Wednesday, November 30


We're just skeletons
melting in the grand face of being
reason, candies given to the diseased
taste sweet and rot your teeth
sounds around me hiss and whoosh
I'm in bedsheets wrapped and reaching
just a skeleton
now there are no more exits for me.

Sunday, November 27

Tuesday, November 15

Power and freedom

Many people desire power and freedom, and think that the one can bring about the other. But amassing power usually means giving up most of your freedom. I am relatively powerless, for example, but my time is my own. I cannot bend others to my will, but I am not bound to theirs.

People who seek power can only acquire it by gathering around themselves a group upon which they can exert their will. A gang, a cult following, an electorate. Power is not a thing in itself (except perhaps for a godlike omnipotence) but is embodied as influence over others.

The problem with such an arrangement is power is never absolute, and you end up with the top-dog syndrome. The person in power must constantly defend that post or someone else will snatch it from him. Most sycophants don't really love you; they just recognize that an association with you is the best way to achieve their own goals, at least for the moment.

Hence your actions end up being those that keep you in power, rather than what you would want to do otherwise. And such actions inevitbly serve to please your followers more than yourself. A person in "power" is really a slave to their servants.

Wishing for omnipotence, such as the magical ability to make everyone think something, or leave you alone, or bring you gifts without you having to do anything to earn it, is another matter entirely, and falls outside of the present discussion.


I don't know why sadness and beauty seem bound together for me, and for many others. I know this perception isn't universal, but it's not uncommon either. Why is it we love to hear haunting, mournful music or feel transported to some elysian land when we lay eyes on a masterful painting in blues and greys?

In an unpublished manuscript of Return of the King, Tolkien had Sam explaining the fates of certain characters to his daughter Elanorellë. On the subject of the remaining elves in Middle Earth, she inquired whether they were still sad. "I expect so, dear," he answered. "Elves are sad; and that's what makes them so beautiful, and why we can't see much of them."

My fortune cookie said I would die horribly

No, not really. Actually it said I would "step on the soil of many countries." It's talking about the future, so I don't think it matters that I've already traveled a bit. Looks like I'll be doing some more!

Allow me to reproduce here a few of my favorite quotes.

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. But let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.
-JRR Tolkien

The prison of time is spherical and without exits.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair.
-William Blake

Sunday, November 13

The kitten and the tiger

When I was younger all I wanted was to be world class at something (well, everything) - be recognized for breaking new ground, outstanding on every level. To not be seen as an amateur, a poser, a wannabe. I wanted to know I wasn't deluding myself about writing, ping pong, logical thinking.

But now I'm older and it's all broken; this isn't the way it should be, life is a trick. You're only alive when you're an adolescent, when you're changing and in pain. After that you settle down and accept all the flaws you used to hate, make peace with your limitations, give up your dreams. Now I just "want to be me," another way of saying I want to accept what I am right now, warts and all, and not soar into those impossible clouds.

Maybe this is the right way, but it doesn't feel right. Why do people always reminisce fondly on their teenage or college years? I'm sure they miss the freedom, the vast expanses of possibility in front of them, the feeling that they could do anything they wanted if only they put their mind to it.

Now my mind is ravaged by years of doubt and fear, my claws are retracted, and I'm looking for a fire to curl up by. I'm tired of the night. It doesn't matter how many brilliant things I could do if I just wanted it enough; I don't want it enough.

Friday, November 11


Sometimes it rains. The sky is dark when it shouldn't be, colors are washed away. I saw a cat under a bush trying to stay dry and looking sad, and the water trickled through the branches and found its back anyway. There was water on the path to the pool, because the drains had backed up.

Even the best of us don't believe that stuff about fairy tales anymore. People hold paper bags behind concrete buildings. Cars push their way through the crowds and everyone seems to be on their way to somewhere they'll never reach. Trees stand like skeletons, leafless, chattering in the icy wind. Everywhere, something is dying.

Even the best of us don't really believe in fairy tales.

Tuesday, November 8


The moon is a sickle in the sky
Crying star-tears, she follows me home
Around the hushed sounds of leaves
And trees and things
A verdure I have never known

For I am in my ivory white tower of mind
Always alone
She hears my thoughts and bows her head
As the four walls of night press in on me
And pull my heart to parts unknown.

v. Existing outside of time; eternal

There's something timeless about the music of Nick Drake and Syd Barrett. That "timeless" appellation, along with words like "otherworldly" and "haunting," sadly have become cliches in our mundane world, and yet they utterly apply to these artists. Drake especially was the poet I've always felt extant inside myself but have struggled to give true form to. Although I remained ignorant of his music until recent years, his was that vanishingly rare soul I feel completely connected to, from the simple, unpretentious and unspoilt beauty of his guitar to the strange detachedness of his voice. His words are small jewels, chipped and fading, but still burning with inner life on the page and in the air.

Barrett was every bit as unearthly in his own way, in a tragic way. Like Roger Waters said, he reached for the secret too soon. So now we have the myth, and every self-styled mad genius in black army boots and frilly collared shirt takes long drags from a cigarette and imagines that he's Syd, misunderstood by the world. But I don't think anyone knows who he was inside at all. What he saw, the twists and turns he took. Best to leave that long lonely path to those now gone; steer your own course through the howling absurdity and don't look back. The face of the unknown cannot be changed by learning from the past.

Saturday, November 5


Truth and beauty are both fleeting
pleasure is fleeting
you can only grasp them for an instant before they are gone
crush them like a moth if you hold on too long
time upon this turning world is fleeting
it seems like it goes on and on
but oneday you wake up stooped and tired
and it hits you, the brevity of it all
the impermanence of any state of being
the fragility of desire.

What happened to big science?

Big science seems like it's in a real funk. The world wars generated loads of big science, including such magnificent (and terrible) spectacles as the splitting of the atom. A brand new type of weapon was born and a phenomenon the world had never seen was demonstrated in a spectacular way. Earlier in the century, people flew through the air in powered craft for the first time, and in the same century, they left the earth altogether and landed on another world. Those are big, noticeable things. Also in the 20th century, relativity, quantum physics, the big bang, and genetics were described, the very foundations of our modern understanding of life and the universe.

So what have we done lately? Computer advances have been remarkable, but so what? They're just technology, not science. Tools for our use like the combustion engine. If true AI had been devloped by now, along with a theory of mind, that would be something to add to the list, but it hasn't. And we don't seem to be making much headway, despite the precipitous increase in computational power. The big idea is not there. The Internet is amazing, but it's not science either, it's an application of technology and a sociological phenonmenon. It's still probably the most life-changing thing to come along in the second half of the 20th century. We haven't done anything else remarkable in space since landing on the moon 36 years ago. There have been refinements but no revolutions in physics, certainly nothing even close to the twin explosions of the early 20th century. Chemistry has been dead for a century.

Geology and biology are where all the action are, especially biology. Cloning/genetic engineering, disease theory, and aging are all active areas of research. But even these exciting developments pale in comparison to Darwin's theory of natural selection, Mendel's working out of the laws of inheritance, and Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA. Those were all fundamental discoveries that defined the field, and they all occured within a 100 year span, which ended, as most all big science did, in the middle of the 20th century. Today's biotechnology is just that, technology. It's largely derivative and only contributes to greater understanding of specialized areas, rather than overturning the entire field. It remains to be seen of course where these studies will lead us.

Maybe all the big science has been done. Maybe it's all just filling in the details now. I don't really believe this though; I tend to feel that somehow we've still got most things wrong. Every era is convinced it has done away with the folly of the past and secured a basic understanding of truth, and so every era has been wrong. I see no reason why the trend won't continue. For example, I don't believe the conventional explanation for the rise of life from nonlife is adequate, nor that our definitions of such things really make sense. I believe systems are fluid and cannot be divided into discrete areas of study and reduced to fundamentals without losing much of the essence of the larger structure. I believe the sciences will converge and that therefore laws of synnergy and emergence will need to be discovered. These call for statistical breakthroughs and more sophisticated mathematics in general. Philosophy is ripe for a shakeup - perhaps as the mind-from-matter issue becomes more empirical. Psychology is just now making the transition to a hard science.

Surely some of these fields, as well as others, will provide fertile grounds for more big science and more breakthroughs that will make the public sit up and take notice. But it may be that the days of remarkable individual achievement, of Newton and Darwin and Einstein, are largely over, and that teams of scientists and huge corporations will author the advances of the future. My generation may be one of the first to miss out on the days of maverick science, and that is a shame. It's a pity I couldn't have lived a bit earlier.

Friday, November 4

Catonephele numilia

It tastes like beef but it's not beef
Looks like the ocean but it's just waves of heat
Feels like a friendship but it's just something to do
Creates a state of emptiness and then jumps in
It rains like love but the red is colored wrong
Designed for lonely nights that are actually days
You've got the blinds pulled down but you're far away
In a tunnel of imagination that feels real.


No need to make the thing sad, or uncomfortable
Give it hypnotic-eyed background music
Make it exotic and effervescent, a feather
Feel out of your head in a cool drift of air

Take the thing which most makes you inwardly smile
Count it out on all your fingers
When the phone rings, stay your ground - look inside
Take it out on all your fingers

I get inspired, want to live and contribute
A burst of energy but no racing heart
I go in many different directions, but I'm focused
I get one thing done and I can't wait to start another

Contrast this to the grey stone overcast thing
I feel when my legs weigh a million pounds
And I can't summon up the jinn of art anymore
Than I can part the red sea or walk on water.


Why do so many people have the ability/desire to forecast the future of things to a certain point, like convergence of communications technologies, and then fail to take it all the way, to really ask the pertinent question, which is where it is ALL going? It's like they see an always connected future as a place where people are still individuals but can message each other, talk, and get information instantly. They stop there. They don't start thinking that the concept of individualism might fade altogether, as human intelligences become the neurons in a larger consciousness a level up the chain. Maybe they do think this way and just don't find it profitable to talk about, being such a foreign concept or something that is still a ways off. I don't know. Certainly there are people who extrapolate a given topic of discourse to its logical conclusion, but the vast majority, even those supposedly expert at predicting the future, at conjuring up speculative fiction, at developing innovation, don't think this way or don't meaningfully dwell on it. Why not? How can otherwise intelligent people who work so hard to think outside our current situations and visualize where we might be headed then stop at some finite point in that future and be unable or unwilling to go further? It boggles my mind. I can't help but take everything to the bitter end. Like James Dean said, "It's all I ever do."


There is no such thing to me anymore as intelligence, as it relates to something desirable to attain. All philosophical possibilities have been probed or at least sensed, in an endless cyclical pattern for the better part of my life, and nothing that anyone could do or say at this point could impress me. All I can do for now is to shut off that faculty for introspection and analysis that so many people find glamorous, and to survive my time on this planet in a way that maximizes tranquility and minimizes anxiety. The point of doing that, I don't know, but it's a whole lot more attractive than the alternative.

Thursday, November 3


It's crazy how things can seem so real and so horrible, then the entire universe changes and now they seem so real and not so horrible. I can be two completely different people within the space of hours. Reality is a strange, unknowable thing. Those of us who obsess over it have it the worst. I know anxiety and panic is a widespread phenomenon, but I can't help thinking the majority of those who suffer from it don't have it the same as I do. Most people tend to talk about fear of dying, of illness, specific phobias, etc. I think about the meaning of life and about eternity, about being a god alone in a vacuum without beginning or end, without the possibility of ever escaping or ever meeting another discrete intelligence. My hell must be worse than theirs, or at least less common. I believe my panic disorder manifests itself in this way because I puzzle over all these things anyway; it's the makeup of my mind. Anxiety disorders likely just exaggerate one's existing fears and insecurities, the way psychedelic drugs do. They don't create the monster, but they do give him a big ass injection of steroids and let him out of the closet.

Tuesday, November 1

The opposite of poverty is poverty

I wish the world could find equilibirum in a state of wholesome family values. Wholesome because it nourishes our souls, provides the sustenance we crave, and doesn't leave us emotionally bankrupt. A state which didn't exactly exist in the past, burdened as that time was with other inequalities, and which certainly doesn't exist now. I wish women still felt they could wear dresses and be taken seriously. I wish no one had tattoos or belly rings. I wish teenagers could respect their parents and recognize the value of belonging to a family structure while they're establishing their independence. I wish adults were actually wise, got along with each other, and did what was best for their kids. I wish people worked less and spent more time together. I wish they were more earnest and sincere. I wish the pace of living were slower and costs were lower and giant commercial interests didn't create fictitious needs and bombard us with them at every single instant of our lives, night and day. I wish life was healthy and pastoral. I wish we all got exercise and fresh air as much as we sat indoors in our machinations. I wish people took the time to read books, to listen to people, to understand what they read and hear, to question things that don't make sense, and to value reason over sensationalism. I wish religion were a quaint idea that people grew out of along with Santa Claus, at the appropriate time stepping wholly into the enlightened realm of the intellect, of the senses. I wish superstition, rumor, and pettiness were not a part of the human character. I wish people cherished rather than feared their differences. I wish people told each other the truth. I wish it never occurred to them to lie, or to put on masks. I wish people were noble and professional, courteous and clean. That the world were full of mystery and excitement, pirates and adventure, good food and good cheer. I wish there were love and laughter in our hearts, sympathy and simplicity in our eyes. I wish everything happened in moderation. That people slept for eight hours every night and awoke feeling refreshed and cheerful. That no one died in pain, or lived alone. I wish life truly meant something - that the Universe wasn't a cold, indifferent place but a comforting abode of warmth and certainty, and all of humanity united under its auspices could feel a part of something greater than itself, loved and giving love in return.

Ours goes to infinity

My tooth hurts. It's the one I had a root canal on - how can that one hurt? But it does, though my stomach's doing better.

Spent most of the night drenched in sweat. Dreams of the Cold War, nuclear war, trying to end my life peacefully, the end of the world, omnipotence, running from things, creating the ultimate art (achievement) and having it lost, falling in love and having it denied. It stretched on for weeks as my mind dilated time to fit its own agenda, but when I woke up and barely six hours had passed, I rose from bed not rested and ready for the day, but psychically aged and covered with the crumbs of a mind's unraveling.

Funny how reluctance to write creeps in. I suppose it's because of the overwhelming nature (and volume) of what's to be said. I can only capture a tiny fraction here of all that has passed this night, but perhaps it will make me less anxious to have done so. Before I take the pills that will line my brain chemistry up in just such a way, before I retreat to that narrow condition of 'normality' that exists like an imprinted wafer in the turbulent three-dimensionality of existence/madness, I will try to write what I can. But it feels thirdhand now, passed from experience to a waking cache mind to a person distanced from the dreamstate.

Does God get sad and bored? What is the nature of omnipotence? Can he create constant renewal, constant happiness, constant discovery, constant purpose all around him - even in his own mind? Can omnipotence nullify itself too, take omnipotence away, or does it lie outside its range of effects in some metaplane? This is important. Can God (we) exist in an ecstatic state all the time and never readjust? Can he fly around, make people do what he wants them to, wave his hand, dive into refreshing water, do naughty things, find subtle peace...and not get sick of it all, not get burnt out and feel it's all hollow? Like playing a game on invincible mode, does it get old really quick, become just another mystery-free mechanical system, or can he control that too? Does he get lonely with all this power, can he create other equal minds that satisfy his need for companionship, or is that impossible in an act of subcreation? Would he have to create other omnipotences, and is that possible? Does the fact that he can do so at will invalidate the comfort they bring? Can he will himself to die?

Nature seems to show us what we want to see, this malleable dreamscape that exists around us like some kind of embryonic membrane. It's all just a dream. They talk about the nature of matter at the lowest levels being some kind of duality of particle and wave; I believe it's much more than a duality, it's an infinite array of possibilities, it's anything you want it to be, it metamorphosizes freely based on your expectations, your desires. Everything is like that. Reality is tiny, we don't go anywhere. We don't even move.

We sit in our egg. The cosmic egg. Funny it's the symbol of the big bang, the start of the universe. The start and end of all we know. It's no different than our own birth and death, curled fetal position inside our own egg, self-contained, finite but boundless. We can't crack out because there's nowhere to go. There is no outside. And we can't crack up because there's nowhere else in our minds to go either, and Mind must be present. We can freak out, run from point A to point Z, but at any given instant we have to be at some letter of the mental alphabet, some discrete state. There is no escape, no release.

I don't even think it's WE, it's me, or it's you, whatever you want to call it. We're all one, all different facets of the same being. Even that which we call the outside, the nonliving, is a part of us. It's a dream in our heads. We are alone - I am alone. It's all here, an infinite regression of dream-realities inside my head inside my dreams inside my soul. Physicality is an illusion that can never be disproved but is wrong nevertheless.

Everything scales infinitely both ways, readjusts to norms constantly. There's no use in trying to get happier, more powerful, to be ecstatic, to be omnipotent, because you end up right back where you were. There's an infinite sky of possibilities above you, an infinite hell of limitations below. Net result is the same. Look at career promotions, material acquisitions, carnal pleasures. They give you the first indication that this is the way it is. No net gain. No movement.

And here it all comes spilling out. Funny what happens when you just miss a day (it used to be two or three) of your antidepressants. Those go-go-go, don't question anything, keep your eyes on the road ahead and don't look sideways, you might see something you don't understand or, worse, something you do. You may start to wonder where you're going in the first place. Eventually you'll realize the car's not actually moving, it's just scenery parading around, sounds of black-clothed children in the background and a heavy velvet curtain waiting to ascend. And for god sakes, don't look behind you.

It's just a thin veneer over this overwhelming, de-ranged reality, which comes right back when you stop taking the pink pill, the blue pill, the red pill, and it's progressed in the meantime, like a disease, like the disease of truth. A pickled brain in a jar thinking thoughts, wondering why it's hard to run in its dreams. A shadow on a wall. Pride of craftsmanship, dissolving cruelly, going up in smoke with the rising of the sun, so you do it again, for real this time, and another sun rises. Pride of something that never happened at all. Hell's just a few inches a way at all times, in a direction we can't normally go. When the brain chemistry is right, sails are up, and all bets are off. My teeth hurt. They feel like they're falling out.

When you're dreaming and you're asleep, everything makes sense, you make such profound revelations, clear the webs away and see things as they are, you're at the height of your powers, you have so many things you want to say so eloquently, an understanding so complete, a richness so deep you could fill novels. When you wake up, though you clutch frantically, it all wafts away like a breeze; and in the shadow of dimly but profoundly remembered greatness, you're supposed to get up, take a shower, and carry on with trivial, animal specifics.

I can't create anymore. Things fall to pieces. My heart is pounding in my chest and it feels like I am going to die. This is the least of my concerns, for I'm more worried about what it will be like if I live, how I can go on with what I've seen, the logical conclusions I've come to. You can fancy it up with words any way you like, a hole is still a hole. Are we all just mindless sex-crazed depressives going out of our heads trying to find some meaning to what seems like a hollow search for pleasures and peace, who can only stumble on without exploding if we're under the sedating effects of a medication that makes us forget our nature? Yet I want that sedation back. I don't want to think anymore, not about this. I can't.

Something from the sea

I catch the flames with my face
Stand holding the blame and the door
When it all goes to crap
Don't lie to me anymore, I know
There's no such thing as heaven or hell
It's all just human desire
To escape where we are right now
And I run from the church holding my eye
Spilling blood from my nose
Nothing noble about those
Who would kill others with a prayer
Damn them to a life of insignificance

Now emotions come roaring back
Words are tinged with 200 meanings
I feel like flinging tears from a mountaintop
Screaming as loud as I can
I feel like something dragged from the water
Dried out but still thrashing about
Stomped on and kicked and burned and
Torn limb from limb and frozen
Left for dead in the driest place on earth
And I'm just struggling for another breath
On my way back to the water.

Thursday, October 27


The world is supposedly so big
But he can't really see it
It fits in the telly
And the outside seems grim
Not that he's ever really
Walked out to it with open arms
Nor would he let anyone in
This fellow

He's a secondfloor autocrat
Still in his bathrobe
Lives alone
Thinks alone
I'm guessing he'll die alone
Or be discovered all too belatedly
Jaded by the greys
Of life disowned.

Head vs wall, part XXIV

So here I am coming back to life, clearing the fog away and all that. Slowly starting to reestablish a link with the past, get some perspective...and it's depressing. Real life is depressing.

Can life ever be more than fleeting pleasures? It certainly seems that it can be for many people. You meet people who seem deeply satisfied, fulfilled. Can it ever be that way for me? Why do I lack the discipline to make it happen? I seem to know many ways to make life richer, but I don't stick to doing them. Why is this so friggin' hard? Why are we set up as a species so that we enjoy ourselves most when we deny ourselves everything?

Tuesday, October 25

Mornings are free

It's another day. It's easy not to notice. One day seems much like the next when you're on the treadmill. Sliding through time with blinders on. But outside a grey fog has settled in, and there's a mist about, and the sounds of civilization are beginning to swell. It seems there is some life in these hills if you know where to look. Did I say hills? I meant in my body. I wandered the trails before the sun came up. The air was fresh and birds were everywhere. The skin of the lake was unblemished. And when I stood upon the dry dam and looked out at the waking city below, a strange thing happened. Dawn broke over the horizon. It's hard not to notice something like that.

Monday, October 24


The biggest problem in this world is that people don't think for themselves. They let other people do the thinking for them, because they think it's easier. Other people take advantage of this and enlist them to do their bidding. That's why we have leaders, and that's why they lead us into war for things that we couldn't care less about. Churches lead their congregations to see religious-themed movies. Managers implement cultures of productivity. Brands demand loyalty. Ninety-nine percent of the people on this earth are followers.

Raining inside

It's hard not to get sad. It's hard not to collapse under the weight of a million feelings. I feel so much. Every moment is pregnant with nostalgia, loss. Why is it the past haunts us the way it does? I can hardly bear to listen to an old song anymore. I can hardly watch an old movie. Everything I touch reminds me of a time that is gone, and I want to bury my head in my hands and cry, and I want it to stop. It's hard not to feel everything. I take my pills and follow sound advice and occupy my mind with the torrent of now, and it is all I can do to carry on. I'm afraid that if I ever stop I will drown in the sorrow of my memories.

Saturday, October 22

I'm not "happy," so much as I'm totally depressed

Psychiatrists, support groups and web forums, even mass media talk about finding happiness. It's the holy grail of the new millennium... now that we've defeated poverty, violence, stupidity, and frivolous lawsuits of course. I'm not sure the goal should be happiness though. What exactly is happiness? Euphoria? Giddiness? Contentment? Reprieve from horrible depression? That's quite a range. It's a concept that hard to pin down anyway, like beauty. You just know it when you feel it. Is constant happiness even possible or is it always a contrast against a lesser mood, and quickly adjusted for, so that happiness can only be felt for moments at a time?

I think a more specific emotion like contentedness should be aimed for, something that's real and attainable, not an ambiguous concept that people have tried for eons to come to grips with. The risk is that someone feeling their way out of a dark hole might not know what is "normal," where they should expect to stop in their quest to feel better. That antidepressant use might lead right into opiate use. No, I think contentedness is much more realistic (not that it doesn't have its own ambiguities). It's what I'm shooting for at any rate. Am I content? Sometimes I feel like I'm reasonably content for someone who has no friends and spends his long, suffocating days doing nothing meaningful, unable to sleep. No, I guess I'm not content. Certainly not happy.

Friday, October 21


the night is a black day
shadows fill up corners
pick up stones on a moonlit beach
hear the waves screech
night is a fugitive from everything
that feels good
makes you question your head
god don't let me go back there again
it was just makeshift walls
and monkey cages
icecream saturdays and vast
impassive miles of time
can you make a child cry?
I'm cold and lost inside
night is tomorrow already here
a place angels fear
I want you with me
take me as close to the clouds as you can
I have the dreams of gods but the
frailties of man
and lord how I miss the kiss of sunlight.

Wednesday, October 19

Condensed movies

I'm getting really sick of movie previews showing the entire movie, twists included. Of course, there might be the oh-so-original second twist thrown into the actual movie to throw us off. Hopefully not. But still, these trailers are so dumbed down and insulting. Like girls today, they leave nothing to the imagination. The marketing droids are so intent on showing even the stupidest person in the audience exactly what their film's about and spilling out most of its eye candy as part of the sales pitch that it ruins the movie for those who actually go see it.

This happens because of the business model of movies. They get your money after you've decided to see the film but before you've actually watched it. So increasingly the juicy bits are being frontloaded into the sales pitch in an all-out bid for your dollar. This strategy may work well for bad movies, since by careful editing they can be made to look better than they are. But it's a bad long-term strategy for good movies, because by killing the surprise and the fun you are basically guaranteeing many people won't be back for a second or third viewing. Seeing the film feels almost like an afterthought.

I try not to even watch trailers. Unfortunately it's hard to avoid when you're sitting in the theater and they hit you with seven of them before the movie starts.

Double-entendre titles and moral-of-the-story taglines are another way the machine clues you in to what to expect and what you'll learn from the flick. Two films I just saw advertised illustrate this nicely. Enduring Love: The word 'enduring' could be an adjective (eternal) or a verb (putting up with). The tagline: "Obsession is forever." Hmm, wonder what the movie's about? Paradise Now: Once you've seen the trailer and know the movie is about a Palestinian man deciding whether or not to blow a bus up, this becomes obvious. Paradise now as opposed to when you die and get all those virgins. And if you somehow missed that one, the studio hits you with the tagline: "Sometimes the bravest thing is what you don't do." So there, now we know how it ends, or at least what the film's message is. Gee, a movie released in the West condemning terrorism? How daring!

Tuesday, October 18

Dreaming of everything but you

I've just had one of those miserable dream-a-thons where I was systematically bombarded by the realization there is no afterlife, showing up at school with no clothes, taking a critical test without knowing anything whatsoever about the subject, running for my life in a city ravaged by war, and of course joining a league of boxing gorillas disguised as leaders of the world, as interpreted by housewives.

I wish I could, for a change, truly sleep. To have a long, quiet night spent in peaceful relaxation. To have no epic yarns spun fitfully by a bored brain. To keep my eyes shut, my body still, my breathing steady. It's like an itch I haven't scratched for years. I see children carrying no cares with them to the next day, who pass their nights as though momentarily liberated from existence. To sleep, to be really dead to the world, must be glorious.

Drive reduction

I know the theory of "drive reduction" has fallen out of favor with psychologists since its hayday in the 70s, but I often feel that it's a useful metaphor for our behavior, if not necessarily an accurate depiction of what actually happens at some deeper level. For example, my obsessive need to organize. Ignoring for the moment the question of trying to change this behavior, it does seem as though when I resist the impulse to organize my stress level begins to rise, and when I "give in" and tackle some big renaming or reskinning project (on the computer), my feeling of well-being immediately increases in the same way that you feel better during and after you urinate. If that's not some sort of drive reduction I don't know what is.

Sogno dell'oppio

If you want to simulate what it probably feels like to be on opium, queue up a bunch of songs from Air, Mogwai, Cat Power, and Red House Painters, put it on shuffle, turn out the lights, turn on the air conditioning or a fan, and lie back on your couch. There - no drugs needed.

Empirical confirmation

I've been taking a supplement called 5-HTP to help alleviate depression. My mood picked up a few days after I began taking it, and for the most part stayed up over the next month. Then, about three or four days ago, I ran out. I ordered some from an online store to save money, and reasoned that the interruption in routine as I waited for it to arrive would be another test of its effectiveness. Sure enough, within a day or two my mood dropped, and I began to feel the familiar nauseating tug of negativity just beneath the surface of every moment. I haven't written much. It's been hard to find motivation to post here, to keep my place straightened up, to watch a movie - really, to do anything. Even eating seems a bit more lifeless than usual.

So I guess that's enough evidence for me that the stuff works. It may not work for everyone, and some of it could even be a placebo effect, but whatever the case, I'm going to continue to take it. During that month I was outside getting fresh air and exercise much more often; I took an interest in birds and photography and travel; when the night rolled around I didn't wonder whether sleep would come quickly, and, if not, what I would do to occupy my mind until it did. Things were just a little more pleasant and less worrisome all the way around.

Sunday, October 16

The return of religion

It has seemed to me intuitively for quite some time that irrationality is on the rise. It seems harder and harder to find a person on the streets or a television program or a website exhibiting anything like logic, while it is a trivial task to find someone who believes in gods and other supernatural phenomena. Lately though I have been reading reports of studies actually confirming this to be true. The fall of Communism has sparked a comeback of traditional religions in Eastern Europe. Orthodox Judaism and Fundamental Islam are fluorishing. And Evangelical Christianity wields more power in the USA today than it has enjoyed in a century.

My theory is that religion is back on the rise after several centuries of decline (and the concurrent rise of reason) in part because science itself no longer offers a reassuringly rational view of the universe. In the classical, clockwork model that carried science from the dawn of Enlightenment to the early part of 20th century, many people no doubt found a suitable replacement for their old world view, provided by religion. But quantum theory changed all that. Uncertainty and unpredictability seem to be the rule at the smallest scales of reality, and thus all the seeming order at the scale we live our lives is built upon a ghostly foundation where anything's possible.

Of course, that's not really the truth either, and the flow of cause and event can still be considered deterministic if we loosen up our definition a bit. A bit like "vector" graphics versus "bitmaps," the paradigm of infinitely small scalability of physical law has been replaced by a new model of concretism and irreducibility. But if the laws defining such a system are quantized and fuzzy, they still yield predictable results higher up the scale. That is, we can still use the classical mathematical models of Newton today in all but the most extreme environments (small, hot, cold, fast), because the statistical nature of the underpinnings is too inconseqential at everyday scales to have to be accounted for.

Obviously, none of this discussion reaches the ears of the vast majority. Most don't even know what quantum physics is. But my guess is they sense the shift in the wind. It's enough that the face that science presents to the world has gotten stranger and stranger. People read newspaper articles (grossly simplified and distorted by a scientifically-illiterate media, but that is meat for another post) about how the universe was created and will someday die out, about matter being in two places at once or no place at all, about creation from nothing, about parallel universes. It's gotten so that even specialists don't pretend to conceptually understand or accept everything, but still have faith in the mathematics underpinning their ideas. How is this different from religion? Has science met its end not by running into a brick wall but by riding off into a sunset of increasing complexity? Is the universe just too hard to understand?

I don't know why anyone would imagine we could understand it. If our understanding of evolution is correct, our intelligence developed along with bipedlaism and opposable thumbs as a tool for survival. At the time, survival meant gathering berries and chipping away at rocks, not constructing rockets and skyscrapers and certainly not mastering our own genetic blueprints and speculating on the nature of reality itself. Why should our minds be capable of these tasks? Why should we believe that reality is something that can be grasped? Maybe it's just smoothly sliding scales of complexity without end. Maybe, indeed, it's turtles all the way down.

I believe this shift in science is one reason that religion is on the rise. There are surely others: multinationalism sweeping quickly into traditional areas has caused great social upheaval. People cannot resist cell phones, but with such technology comes an erosion of their old values. They see their children growing up in a way that is alien to them. Gender roles are questioned. Taboos are breached. It's no surprise that many of these cultures are rejecting the change in as vehement a way as they can muster, by hurling themselves back into the comforts of their traditional belief system. In the case of missionary religions like Mormonism, for example, cultures whose own beliefs have been made to seem irrelevant may even adopt those of another, as long as it provides a comforting world view and a way of life that is closer to what they have been raised to know. Even those of use who have cast off the mantle of faith and thrown in our lot with empiricism have a love/hate relationship with it. At least I do. How much more comfortable to have things mapped out, revealed to you rather than waiting to be found. And to be free of all the uncertainty and ambiguity that a scientific mentality necessitates.

In the end I think I understand many of the reasons people are drawn to religion. I still reject them for myself because apparently I was born with a mind that is incapable of accepting something without proof. It's my belief that the more you see, the more different systems of thought you are exposed to, the less likely that you'll then latch on to any particular one of them as "truth." But for most of the planet, who have not traveled and not been exposed to that diversity of opinion, it is still all too easy to fall back on the comforts of tradition.

Saturday, October 15

Thoughts in the key of brie

I was listening to myself talking today, and it struck me that I'm not always a very likeable person. I can be pretty negative and self-righteous. This falls under the heading of "not news" for people who know me, but it's not always so easy to see yourself the way others see you.

The world can be pretty depressing if you let it. Human nature undoubtedly hasn't changed much over the millennia, but that thin veneer of culture that is our outward impression to the rest of the world and to ourselves, that cultured, articulate, erudite voice of Ed Murrow (yes, I just saw the movie) or Franklin Roosevelt, has worn a bit thin and today's generation gets Larry King and George Bush. Instead of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald we have Britney Spears and Kenny Chesney. Instead of glass and brass we have plastic.

But in the end the world goes on unabated and spares no thought for me. The times I feel better are when I'm able to release my talon grip, when I can stop stressing and obsessing. This seems to happen when I come into some money, exercise, or eat and take meds/vitamins consistently. In other words, when I'm feeling better about myself. It would be easy at this point to say it's all insecurity and self-hatred on my part, and how I secretly envy others and despise them because I can't be like them, and so on. To a certain extent that is probably true, but if I could press a button right now to trade places with most people, I wouldn't. I feel like I have something to offer that many people don't, and I do value that in myself. It's just that I wish I could be who I am but also be happier and less concerned with the totality of existence around me. That is what I'm working on now.

Thursday, October 13

Walking down to the mailbox, I suddenly realize more vividly than usual why people paint, sketch, take pictures, make movies. In the deep light of late afternoon, walking across a wooden bridge amidst the leaves of trees of a dozen kinds, the visual lure of the world is visceral. My mind becomes a camera adding serene landscape upon sagacious wrought iron handrail to its portfolio of witnessed delights. Even the people I nod to in passing seem subdued by the majesty that has settled into our humble corner of life. In a few hours it will be dark, the exquisite sights gone. And tomorrow is so far in the future it doesn't bear thinking about. But here and now it all feels real and beautiful.

Wednesday, October 12


I want useful space. I want countertops I can prepare food on and a bed that looks inviting when I retire to it. I want a floor I can walk around on, a couch I can stretch out on, an uncluttered desk where I can clear my head, and drawers in which I can store things and actually find them again. I want shelves and bookcases and nightstands to serve their intended purpose, not hold up mounds of depressing, undifferentiated junk. I don't want to be cluttered and stressed out anymore. I want to come home, put my jacket on a peg, store my shoes on a rack, and put my binoculars in their drawer. Put my clothes in the hamper, take my PJs out of the dresser. Fix some food and have the dishes done afterward. Sit back, relax, and watch a movie and sip a cup of tea feeling good about the day gone by and unafraid of the day to come.

Monday, October 10

What time is it REALLY?

Everyone knows there's no such thing as a "true" time. We agree that it's a certain time where we live, and that the hour part changes by one as we move around the earth, 24 times by the time we get back to where we started. If we didn't make this adjustment, 12:00pm would occur at the same point in time everywhere in the world but it would fall on a different point in the day/night cycle. Not much use since people wake up and go to bed based more on the rise and fall of the sun than some arbitrary number. As it is, dawn doesn't take place at the same time everywhere anyway, because it changes as you move north/south. And it changes (in a smaller way) as you move east/west within a given time zone. Nothing in space or time (above the Planck length and time, of course - see quantum theory) is discrete, it's a smooth continuum all over the surface of this sphere and all over the universe.

What many people don't seem to understand is that it's this way with our position in space, too. We're not in some particular, objective location in the universe. If you imagine the universe as a three dimensional volume of space, then we'd have to be located somewhere within that space, and that would fix us with a specific location. But general relativity insists we are not at any specific location, that we can only meaningfully talk about our location relative to other objects and not in any sort of universal way. The reason that this is so is that the universe has no edges - no boundaries. That's not to say it's necessarily infinite. If this is hard to grasp, think of it like this: A sheet of paper is finite (has a surface areas less than infinity) and bounded (an ant can fall off the edges). A globe is finite (has a surface area that is less than infinity) and UNbounded (and ant can walk around on it all day and not fall off). If you proceed in a straight line in any direction on a sphere, you end up back where you started. This may be how the universe works as well, though you have to imagine that rather than a two-dimensional surface wrapping around and connecting to itself in three dimensions (the globe), space is a three dimensional volume that wraps around and connects to itself in a fourth dimension.

Of course, nothing's been proven yet. It's difficult to see how it even could be proven, but people called topologists have some pretty clever ideas they're going to try as telescopic and computational power increase. Nevertheless, whether the universe is finite or infinite in volume, it almost certainly is unbounded. What is "the universe," after all? Everything, right? Well if you had a boundary somewhere, you could ask what lay beyond that boundary, and even if the answer was "a void," that void should still be considered part of "everything." So almost by definition the universe has to be unbounded. The only remaining question is whether you'd go forever in the same direction or you'd eventually return to earth.

This unbounded condition means that we have no fixed location in space, because there is no "frame" against which to measure it. All absolute measurements require a frame of reference, some fixed outside coordinate system. The earth has logitude and latitude. But the universe contains everything, and therefore there is nothing outside the system to define where the edges are or where to start counting. So wondering where we are in the universe is pointless. We're not at the center, or near one edge, or anything else, because there IS no center, there ARE no edges.

This has some pretty interesting consequences. For example, most people think of the Big Bang as an actual explosion, something that happened at a certain point in space and at a certain point in time. But the truth is that space and time themselves were created in the Big Bang. There was no pre-existing volume for it to occur in; it occured everywhere and created the space that now exists. And, although this is much more speculative, there probably was no such thing as "a time before the Big Bang" either. If time was created when space was, then there never was a "before." There wasn't an infinitely long empty epoch prior to Creation anymore than there was an infinite empty volume of space for Creation to occur in.

The shape of the universe also makes for fun thinking. If light itself it curved by the geometry of space (and it is), then a phenomenon called "gravitational lensing" takes place. That is, if large objects distort space around them (the reason why the planets orbit the sun) then light traveling through such an area is also bent accordingly. So the stars we see in the distance may not in reality be in the exact direction we see them in. Heavy objects between them and us may deflect their light so we see them in a slightly different place. Not only may that star you're wishing on not be there anymore (it could have exploded 1,000 years ago but you're still seeing light that left it 2,000 years ago), but it may have never been THERE at all, it might have been an inch to the right, maybe even part of a double star system with an apparently unconnected companion. Not very likely, but possible.

The stranger part comes when we think that the entire volume of space might be curved in on itself. Then the entire universe acts as a gravitational lens and light, like our intrepid astronaut, can travel around in "circles" and end up where it started. If you could see far enough (a function of time and light-gathering capacity) you could see the Earth from the opposite side! You couldn't actually see the back of your head, because since light travels at a finite speed, you'd see the light that left that side of the Earth millions or billions of years ago. The exact number of years depends on the size of the universe. If it were 5 million light-years wide, you could observe the Earth as it was 5 million years ago, when hominids still looked much like other apes. 500 million light-years wide, and you could watch the first land animals crawl out of the sea. 4,550 million light-years wide, and you could watch the formation of the Earth itself. For a variety of reasons (one being that telescopes actually have looked "back" that far) it seems our universe, if it is finite in volume, must be at least 14 billion light-years in diameter. It could be much, much larger though, or it could indeed be infinite. Will we ever find out? It's possible, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Searching for the 21st century

I want to be able to search everything (the Internet, my songs, pictures, documents, books, conversations, etc.) with the same interface and the same options. There should be some kind of standards body organized for this. That way all systems (OSs, apps, whatever) could support something like the following syntax and work in a consistent, predictable way.

  • AND - Both of the terms surrounding the AND must be found.
  • OR - One or both of the terms surrounding the OR must be found.
  • XOR - Exlusive OR. One or the other term must be found, but not both.
  • NOT - The term following the NOT cannot be present in the results.
  • "" - Text between the quotes must be found exactly, altogether and in that order. No wildcards allowed.
  • () - used to sort out order of operations when multiple AND/OR terms are used in the same search.
  • * - Wildcard character that holds the place of any number of characters (greater than zero). Examples: J* could return JOHN or JUFFALO, but not J by itself. *J* could return MOJO or INJUN, but not JILT.
  • # - Wildcard character that holds the place of a single character. More than one can be used to define the precise structure of the word sought. Example: W###CA## could return WILDCARD, but not WICCAN.
Terms can be combined freely, as long as the resulting syntax is logically valid. Example: ("adam's apple" AND woman NOT eve NOT genesis) OR (abnormal female throat anatomy).

The writing fairy

Weird how the mood to write comes and goes. People call it inspiration. I find it's mostly energy. Willingness. I probably always have something to say, something I'm thinking about, turning around inside my head. But do I have the patience and the drive to sit down and type it all out in some kind of organized fashion? Not always. That's why I'll go for days without really writing anything down, then all of a sudden I'll write five pages. I imagine the hardest part of being a professional writer would be the discipline involved in making yourself write every day, regardless of how you feel. Like with anything else, discipline converts potential into actual and separates the dreamers from the doers.

Monday, October 3

Wake up birdwatcher

With the dawn, the promise of renewal. Light seems to embody hope - the same hope that the night so ruthlessly chases down and snuffs. I can see the sun's glow precede it in the east, I am awake and rubbing the dreams out of my eyes with bincoulars in hand. I know soon even the silence will give way to a chorus of bird calls.

Everything dies, but death is only the final signature stroke of life. More than that, it is the semicolon pause that awaits life's return. We needn't fear the dark. For what is the dark but chaos, and through our art, through our music, through stories, through science, through prayer, through simple awareness, through hope, through procreation, through our laughter at its absurdity and our cheerful walk back down the hill, we prove over and over that chaos is simply the nutrient soup feeding an emergent order. Order, life, consciousness - arisen from unpredictable chaos. Darkness is pushed back and defeated.

Sunday, October 2

Loverly pics

Hopefully this space won't be devoid of visual entertainment too much longer. I'm deciding on the best place to host photos and graphics (for free). I think I'll just use Google's Picasa/Hello programs, since they tie right in with Blogger. Gee, it sure seems like Google is starting to become the new Microsoft...


Traveling is an interesting thing. When you consider that the phenomenon of leaving your home base and your habitual living patterns then means you have the other 99.999% of the world to contend with, it's not exactly as though "traveling" constitutes a single agreed-upon activity. Indeed you can see by the travel literature that this is so.

When I think of traveling, I envision mostly an escape from a world that has grown too industrialized, too technological, too fast-paced, too anonymous. I want to find a village where I can get a slice of an older way of life. I want to call the barkeep by his name, listen to spontaneous music played by enthusiastic locals, kick my boots off in quaint half-timbered rooms and bicycle down to the bakery in the morning. I want to wander along rocky cliffs, journal in hand. I could make an entire vacation out of one small town.

That's probably why I never think of it as a "vacation." That word tends to conjure up whirlwind sightseeing itineraries, scenic and historic hotels, restaurant guides and evenings finished off with wine and tripping out on the fact that "we're in Athens!" Of course I have an interest in history and culture, and if my travels allow me to brush against well-known bastions of tourism, I'm not averse to adding a postcard and a photo to my collection. But that is not the reason for travel, it's a side benefit. I've seen quite a few monuments in my life, and in the end, they're just monuments.

It's the people, the living culture, that make the most lasting impression. I'm surprised to hear myself saying this actually. As much as I love the sweeping nostalgia of history, when I look back on trips I've taken to other countries, it's the people I remember most vividly. The contrast of their experiences and opinions, the comforting familiarity of their smiles and laughter. It's always instructive to witness human beings in alternate settings; you can begin to glean which aspects of our behavior are instinctual, truly "human," and which belong to the learned culture foisted upon us. The universal aspects of human nature are what comfort and edify us, while the unfamiliar local bits are delightful and intriguing.

I've noticed the vast majority of guidebooks, websites, and so forth cater to the sightseeing paradigm. It's that American idea of getting the most bang for your buck, but in my view this thinking is flawed. Yes I can see three countries and 17 cities in three weeks, but what will I take back? A lot of impressive photos and a nice feeling for having seen so many famous sights. Maybe I'll have met a score of friendly waiters, taxi drivers, and street musicians. Beneath this superficial taste of exotica, however, my person is likely to remain unscathed. To really let another culture sink in and challenge some of that provincialism that infects us, to change us in some small but profound way, requires much more depth even at the expense of breadth. I'll take my pub grub and recognition-laced 'ello over your Colisseum-and-Vatican sojourn any day.

Saturday, October 1


When things fall into place again
It will be because I shape them
Things don't really fall into place,
We make or unmake them

When I am old and look back on life
I don't want to be left crying
I want to have lived an imperfect life
Content that it is so and still surviving

When things come round my way again
I will keep my ears open longer
Everything that kills and rebuilds you
Makes you stronger.

Why be a Buddhist?

It's interesting that many people find Buddhism fascinating but reasons for studying/practicing it seem to be vary. My daughter finds it comforting but her interest in it revolves around the humanistic aspects like giving Metta (similar to praying for someone in need) and so forth. For me, the attractiveness lies in its answer to rationalism; it provides a means for optimism and thus comfort where strict rationalism can be translated by the human spirit rather easily into pessimism and discomfort. Her salvation in this case is from worry about the wellbeing of others; mine is from the worry inherent in meaninglessness. I suppose when shopping for philosophies people are attracted to that which promises to bail them out of their specific hardship.

Humanity will be the death of logic

People generally have very poor reasoning skills and a lack of education about logic. They commit egregious logical errors all the time. For example, people arguing for the existence of UFOs often get exasperated with skeptics and offer either, "why is it so hard to believe we are not alone?" or "prove to me that they DON'T exist!" Both of these are logical fallacies, of course. I can have an open mind regarding the possibility (even probability) of life existing elsewhere in the universe, and even that extraterrestrials have visited earth (a much unliklier scenario, but not impossible), without having to believe accounts that have little in the way of persuasive evidence. True skeptics aren't people who go around debunking speculations for the fun of it. They are people without an agenda of any kind, who have an open mind to all possibilities but who require conclusive evidence to adopt new beliefs. In other words, they practice the scientific method. The rebuttal to the second comment challenging the skeptic to prove that a speculation is false shows a lack of understanding about how science works. Logically, just because I can't prove something false doesn't mean it's true. The burden of proof always lies on the agent interested in garnering acceptance for a speculation. The speculation can be thought of as a hypothesis, and for the hypothesis to be accepted as a theory, it must be rigorously tested and found that the hypothesis in question offers the best (most consistent) explanation of the test results. I could make up anything, like say "space turns white and stars are black beyond the range of our telescopes" and then challenge you to prove me wrong. When you couldn't, I could say, "See! I'm right!" Obviously this sort of argument holds no water.

A hypothetical personal ad in a nonexistent paper

I'm a very strange person. I'm not evil; I don't even have enough sense of self, or of reality, to put together sequences of actions that you could call good or evil. My mind is very childlike, my coordination is poor, and my memory has more holes than inverse swiss cheese. I'm just warning you, because I consider myself to be very friendly, but scatterbrained; intelligent in a very narrow, probing and philosophical sense, but extremely naïve when it comes to basic survival skills and socialization. My attention wanders. I have broad directions that define my life, but where a given fascination will lead me is anybody's guess. I am emotionally damaged and unpredictable. I'm not a violent person, but I really don't know who I am or what I'll think, say, or do next. I'm very unstable. I just want to warn anyone who thinks they know me that they are operating under an assumption, not a true understanding of what is real. I myself don't know what will happen from one moment to the next. How can anyone else possibly claim to do so?


Moving your legs in the mud takes a toll
Brandishing a desire for more
When the world pushes and pulls you apart
Makes you question your own heart
But whatever the price
I am alive
And those who never deny themselves
Will never supply themselves with courage
To keep greed and desire at bay
Function where others may falter and fade
Strength comes in many forms
One is my absolute reverence of you
A genuine sense of excitement is two
And we can drift through this place hand in hand
If we want it
Photos trap our souls on paper
Mirrors turn us around
But the sun makes us grow and love
Well, love just keeps coming back doesn't it.

Friday, September 30


I've made a lot of mistakes
Felt defensive and persecuted
When I was as guilty as anyone
When I was the weak one
The only way out is through restraint
No king's ransom is ever enough
No drugs nor food nor bodily harm
Ever reaches that deepest part
I want to go on my way now
Out of one door or another
I don't want to hide from myself
Or be afraid any more.

I love writing too much to be a writer

The main reason I haven't written anything for publication or developed software or really done much of anything is that I have too hard a time deciding what specifically to do. I have so many choices, an infinite number really. Why commit myself to pursuing just one, to the exclusion of all others? Why would I want to become known as a fantasy writer, for example? I would feel that just a tiny sliver of what was possible is now representing me. That doesn't appeal to me.

I don't want to be a "working writer" ... to write with the market in mind and judge success on whether I make a sale or not. This all seems extremely vulgar to me. It would spoil the joy of creation and the thrill of the written word to see it commoditized like that.

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