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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Word List 2

"Existence is elsewhere."— André Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto.

When my wife and I are shopping, I will go off and get chips, beer, coffee, select a dinner wine and thumb magazines while she remains in the dreary grain aisle. I'll go back and try to help.

"I'm looking for brown (something-something) basmati," she'll say, and I look too, then give up after ten seconds.

"There's no such thing." I tell her, "It does not exist."

I do not say, "existence is elsewhere", because that means another grocery store, another search, one that somehow becomes even more futile because she's added "jasmine" to the name of what is not.

Pretending to know an unknown allows me to go home, read my new magazine, refresh myself with man-groceries in a way Andre Breton could not.

M. Breton was married three times.

CAVEPEOPLE: Definitely, predators were a factor in our ancestors' shorter lifespans, but more numerous than predators were ecological competitors. Recently in South America, remains were found of a rat the size of a modern cow. You get one of those in your attic and it will eventually fall thru the sheetrock and crush you.

With every new expedition it seems we learn of some new monster. Our ancestors couldn't even send their kids into a petting zoo with any certainty they'd survive, which brings us to recreation --essential to quality of life. We know there was a shortage of reading matter but what hobbies did they have?

Probably some excellent rock collections, but anyone collecting anything else was doomed to lifelong disappointment. I wouldn't rule out support groups, but there were no solutions. Even those, if they were conducted by psychiatric doctors, couldn't have been much help. So little was known about anything a doctorate seldom consumed more than 15 minutes of college.

I think people just stood around saying, "Gee this is a long time ago!"

RELIGIOUS RIGHT: If a tree modifies somebody's house or car during a storm the court usually rules it an act of God. If judges collectively accepted the proposition that the religious right represents the Almighty's will, and held them financially responsible for His legal offenses, the religious right would disappear in an instant. Is anybody working on this?

TIME WAVE: The teleological attractor, best explained by Terrence McKenna in reference to a final purpose for all that exists, is currently getting much use by advocates of the 2012 singularity. In physics, a singularity is an irreducible field in which the laws of nature break down. This event is foretold by the Mayan Calendar. What remains unclear is, if time ends it means ALL time is gone, not just the future but the past as well. Time is a dimension and simply cannot exist without itself. What puzzles me about time ending in 2012 is why it is now two years ago.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


When my kids were young I piled them into the bus --71 VW I still drive-- and went to a warehouse where we became volunteer assistants to our local community ballet company. We helped build and paint sets in return for comps, and we did good. Our work was acceptable --a great compliment-- and I drank nearly as much beer as the paid craftspersons. The kids loved the show and I was happy with our seats. Unfortunately, our effort and involvement failed to help me with a fundamental dysfunction where dance is involved. I appreciate dancers' grace and agility. I marvel at their beauty and skill. I have no idea what they are trying to express. Although fairly responsive to most art forms I have always had trouble interpreting ballet, then came Youtube.

I have repeatedly combed this medium for some clue, some inroad of understanding, usually without success. Then I found the attached clip. In this evening's endeavor to educate myself I think I've cracked this one. It's about an unwanted half-frisbee child, raised by pirates, who finally gets the right dress and nails the routine. At the end, we see the unsung hero in black trunks who threw her. I'd like to think he got his name on the program, but more likely he was a volunteer assistant.

Word List

This entry is devoted to those words that haunt conversation, correspondence and thought with clouds of virtual meanings. A cloud forms around denotations that can either enhance or impede communication. Indeed, many words and comments in the following list --which will be augmented via the editing function of this site-- are drawn from letters and discussions and will, for simplicity's sake, retain address form of "I" and "you". "You", where it appears, originally meant one or another specific person, but for our purposes now addresses anyone reading this blog. "I" remains a relatively unchanged quotient. In these textual divisions I is me. The idea is, meaning goes well beyond definition and I encourage you to pursue it too. In this sort of project, comments are especially useful and welcome.

ALIENS: Psychological events have estranged me from all siblings except my brother, who is peculiar and still sends me spinning from existential one-liners. Now, something similar has happened to the rest of the world. Society in general has got so bad I consider good people and aliens as one thing. Those whose psyches subscribe to the extragalactic belt are our true relatives and seldom, if ever, number among our immediate kin. We are scattered across the universe! How do we find each other? Where are the aliens?

One good guess is ESL classes. ETs would go there to reconnoiter, plan the takeover of Earth and learn useful English phrases. Random audit is advisable. Special interest goes to students who give answers like "each thought is a prediction of itself" and "it's never been this late before". Real aliens are studious but do poorly on formalized exams. Also, we doodle a lot.

ADVANCEMENT: On a subjective level, progress is a nebulous term. We may think we are advancing as a society but are sometimes proven wrong by a broader review of evidence. A case in point: political scientists have, since the late 1990s, been summarily replaced by primatologists.

DEATH: I think there is, in my original construction, a line of peel towers --like those in England when folks feared marauding Scots-- that marks the borders of what I can know. They are used for other things now, but could, I suppose --because it's miserable not knowing answers-- be quickly pressed back into service. What smolders in their iron baskets is a thought I had long ago and have accepted as axiomatic: we take from each moment the future that best includes us. Death is a moment, an exceptional moment, but no more exceptional than the life from which the axiom came. I have much to learn about quantum navigation, but if you see the fires brighten in my direction, it means the process doesn't end and I have seen the answer --or the Scots are marauding again.

INVISIBILITY: Invisibility is one of those things I won't believe until I see it. Consult illustration here:

LIFE: I am always relieved to hear a live-food enthusiast is a vegetarian. Aren't you?

NETWORKING: I've never understood networking, which seems to be an entrepreneurial term mainly. I mean, when I had jobs, I'd do favors and call them in --or not-- later, which was useful but not really networking because the exchange was neither immediate nor implicit. Favors were governed by a very loose, flexible social contract, with no need for further mediation. I do remember friends over the years asking me in on some "networking" enterprise or other --usually concerning investment or diapers in bulk. I'd say no and they'd disappear into manipulative churches with basements full of Dinty Moore. So what's the term for people outside the give-me-what-I-want-for-crap-you-don't-want continuum?

OBSERVATION: Most people would not think there is much to be learned from a hen's muddy tracks on a pile of sugar, but those who did developed the use of moistened clay for whitening sugar in refineries.

PARTICI GRIDS: They compare favorably with fundamentals of Yoga, Tai-Chi and Qigong --all of which have adapted to modern medical discourse and so survived the occasional totalitarian government. Tyrannies tend to shut off religion with other utilities in an ongoing mission to improve humanity by making life really miserable. However, I see some problems with Partici grids being described as smaller than photons. We receive no direct information about reality smaller than a photon. So, even the most impressive technical description of how these grids behave must be deputed to faith, not science. Lesser obstacle is peoples' difficulty learning new things and further difficulty seeing their beauty. Until an embarrassingly short time ago I thought Feng Shui was a martial art, a misconception reinforced by the way I keep house in the absence of stern supervision.

VON NEUMANN PROBES: An electric field is a cloud of virtual photons. Energy propagation depends on virtual photons passing between charges --chicken or egg. Photons become real when shaken or stirred. This creates an imbalance, a little violation of energy-conservation law, which is tolerated only briefly if the kick is strong or, if the kick is weak, quite a long time. This is why the energy level of info coming to us from distant sources is always very low. What we learn from it depends on our ability to perceive and reason in new ways.

So I have a big problem with von Neumann probes. Despite the wonderful idea of probes that can set up anywhere and reproduce, they still couldn't detect anything outside their original programming. This serves only to compound the unknown of unknown regions. Also, after they take their million years to explore our one little galaxy, it would consume at least that time to complete their reports --and again that long for us to receive them.

Our expansion into distance is unlikely to depend on a big gas-fired gadgets shouting imbecilities from deep space. We need to evolve, to do more with less and weaker, subtler, forms of information. When we see light, we detect massless particles, things that aren't actually things --particles that don't exist in the way we define our own existence. Ghosts. That's got to change before we can explore much beyond our solar system.