Welcome to intuition month.
Ruthless intuition against mental masturbation. Situational textures. Crazy wisdom. Chögyam Trungpa advocates compassion for our negativity -- the basic agression of wanting things to be different than they are -- but ruthlessness when it comes to the legitimation of our negativity (negative negativity). Negativity is "very accurate, deliberate and profound," while negative negativity are "the philosophies and rationales that we use to justify avoiding our own pain..."
Death to all (soothing) agents?
"The conceptualized negativity, the negative negativity, must be cut through. It deserves to be murdered on the spot with the sharp blow of basic intelligence -- 'prajnaparamita.' This is what 'prajna' is for: to cut through the intelligence when it changes into intellectual speculation or is based upon a belief of some kind.
"Beliefs are reinforced endlessly by other beliefs and dogmas, theological or moral or practical or business-like. That kind of intelligence should be killed on the spot, 'uncompassionately.' This is when compassion should not be be idiot compassion. This intellectual energy shoud be shot, killed, squashed, razed to dust on the spot with one blow.
"That one blow of basic intelligence is direct compassion. The way to do this does not evolve out of intellectualizing or trying to find a way to justify yourself; but it just comes as the conclusion of basic intelligence and from a feeling of the texture of the situation.
"For instance, if you walk on the snow or ice, you feel the texture of it the minute you put your foot down. You feel whether or not your shoe is going to grip. It is the feeling of texture, the richness of texture that we are talking about.
"If it is negative negativity, then there will be certain ways to squash or murder it. Somehow the energy to do this comes from the basic negativity itself, rather than some special technique or ability for assassination. There is a time to be philosophical and a time to be soft. There is also a time to be 'uncompassionate' and ruthless in dealing with frivolous situations."
Yes I know Alamut is becoming increasingly disjointed and hermetic. Hopefully it's just a phase it's going through. (The terrible two's.)
A line from Percy Shelley: "Nothing besides remains."
Could a complete profile or history of our experiences, our consumption, our television watching, our reading, our web-browsing, our decision making, our trust-worthiness, etc. ever replace us?
Probably not. But surely such a profile (think: 'The Hollow Men' or 'Nothing besides remains') would make a damn fine agent-servant-ghost.
Or ten of them?
So why worry about about their making? Why not kick back and relax and let our ghosts fulfill our 'noblesse oblige' towards boss, taxman, client-art-world, family and friends? Allow each of our servants to do their own little bit towards helping make the world go round?
Then we could begin (FIN-A-LLY) to have fun and enjoy life.
"Design a handful of Jouke Kleerebezems who do some of my lives. Some have specific tasks, like updating NQPAOFU, or replying to my mail, or raising R+r. Others hang around to irritate these prime doers. Then I need some JK's to do some art and write. One to write my will. One to be gay. One to be a cook. One to buy books. One to do all the meta reflection on why and when these characters collaborate or sabotage..."
Intuition (Prajna is your knife)
"Yab-yum: literally 'father-mother' in Tibetan. In the Buddhist art of India, Nepal, and Tibet, the representation of the male deity in sexual embrace with his female consort. The pose is generally understood to represent the mystical union of the active force, or method (upaya, conceived of as masculine), with wisdom or intution (prajna, conceived of as feminine) -- a fusion necessary to overcome the duality of the world of appearances."
On Graceful Exits
Following my admission yesterday of increased disjointedness here in Alamut Land, I was reminded of an idea that a colleague of mine once had: -- an insurance policy for artists against 'making fools of themselves.' The idea was that you would faithfully pay your premiums while you are still young and 'hot' and wait patiently for the day when an anonymous letter arrived informing you that it was time to quit. I suppose therein lies an excellent business opportunity EXCEPTING the assumption that an artist does not improve with age (most modern artists tend not to improve -- though I know that I am...)
Knotted umbilical cord (human)
[This is the umbilical cord that connects me to the rest of the world. Note that while it has been badly abused lately, it still hasn't been cut.]
And Small Reprieves
Part of the kind message I received last night from Ray Davis (Hotsy Totsy Club):
"Actually, I think 'disjointed and hermetic' is the point of the form. Otherwise, we might as well write books on the one hand or work for Ziff-Davis on the other."
Excursiveness and its enemies.
"Citing the personal testimony of poet W.S. Merwin as provided in B. Miles' Ginsberg: A Biography, Feuerstein relates the experience of this poet and his wife when, in l975, they arrived at Naropa to study Vajrayana Buddhism with Trungpa.
"A 'Halloween party' was being held with masked guests who were invited to disrobe and become as naked as Trungpa was. Those who declined to remove their clothes were "assisted" to disrobe by Trungpa's guards.
"Merwin and his wife, appalled by this conduct, returned to their room intending to pack and leave. Trungpa summoned them to return and when they refused, he imperiously ordered his disciples to fetch them. A group, drunk and violent, went to their room, broke down the door, smashed a window; and, after some hand-to-hand combat, dragged the poet and his wife "none too gently, before the Tantric master." Trungpa insulted Merwin's oriental wife with racist remarks and threw a glass of sake in the poet's face. He demanded that they disrobe and when they refused, he had them forcibly stripped. When one of his disciples protested this treatment, Trungpa punched him in the face."
Ming Zhen Shakya: Sex, Semantics, and Chauvinism
Reference: Georg Feuerstein, 'Holy Madness: the Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy Wise Adepts, Holy Fools and Rascal Gurus' (out of print).
Reference: Peter Lamborn Wilson, 'Scandal: Essays in Islamic Heresy' (especially his essay on the Qiyamat at Alamut, the moment in historical space-time when Hasan II proclaimed that "the chains of the law have been broken").
Negative reputation. Crash of reputation capital.
Google: 'No hits on "disreputation" (term was not used in search).' 'Your search - disreputation - did not match any documents in this database.'
FastSearch: '54 documents found - 0.0647 seconds search time.'
Nr. 4 -- Francis Bacon's essay, Of Followers and Friends (1601):
"To be governed (as we call it) by one is not safe; for it shows softness, and gives a freedom, to scandal and disreputation; for those, that would not censure or speak in of a man immediately, will talk more boldly of those that are so great with them, and thereby wound their honor. Yet to be distracted with many is worse; for it makes men to be of the last impression, and fun of change. To take advice of some few friends, is ever honorable; for lookers-on many times see more than gamesters; and the vale best discovereth the hill."
One of the coolest things about Rotterdam is the Centrale Discotheek (music library) with its huge lending collection of more than half a million CD's and LP's. Since they are into buying the music for you -- and they buy everything -- all that is left for you, as pampered borrower, to do is to get hold of a minidisc system and lots of blank discs. And of course be tempted to take the occasional walk-on-the-wild-side with your 'itchy' hand and (sense of) good taste...
Last week, for example, I concocted a 'travel mix' for Vancouver using:
And this weekend I'm going to do it again with:
W. S. Merwin: For the Anniversary of My Death
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
Then I will no longer
...slowly lost heart -- and then heard that all the flights were booked...
Neither Everything nor Nothing
Late in the night I found a reference in my book to a 1916 paper by Freud entitled, 'On Transience' (abstract here). Describing a summer walk with two friends, Freud considers the reasons that his friends could not 'feel' the beauty surrounding them:
"The proneness to decay of all that is beautiful and perfect can, as we know, give rise to two different impulses in the mind. The one leads to the aching despondency felt by the young poet, while the other leads to the rebellion against the fact asserted."
Both Freud and Buddha argue that only by cultivating a mind that responds to transience neither by 'aching despondency' (attachment - grasping) nor by 'rebellion against the fact' (aversion - rejecting) can transience be accepted and appreciated (and become enlightening).
But Between the Two
Simultaneously elsewhere Mitsu concludes his own entry for the 6th of March (on solving physics problems):
"I neither gave up nor blundered forward, but rather I softly eased ahead, persistent yet respectful."
And following up (and elaborating) on the path between 'everything or nothing,' Jouke suggests (7 March):
"Learning to appreciate your swings into extreme uncertainties/certainties means that you have reached some detachment from 'everything and nothing', which allows you to orient and balance your directions.
"Learning takes time. Swings are sensational. The spin comes before heads or tails."
Was able to book a British Airways ticket to Vancouver leaving Thursday. Going to be busy the next couple of days -- not sure when (or where) I'll be updating next (but will try tonight). Stay tuned.
Drinking coffee, talking on the telephone, backing up and packing up.
Cultivation, Territory and Change
This morning's book, if I were to write it, would probably be called, Pissing in the Garden: Thoughts on Territory and Change. Either that or: Pissing in the Garden: Reflections on Pattern and Voice. The issue: To further elaborate -- for myself -- the difference between these two aspects of production. The hidden question: Is it possible to cultivate flow-voice-change as easily as pattern-garden-territory?
What do you want to do now? Dig or die?
Dead vehicle, honored and abandoned.
I loved this image the moment I saw it, years ago (in a borrowed copy of Lucy Lippard's Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America). Anyone know the name of the artist? Or the exact details of the picture? From what I remember, the car was for many years home to a (native american) artist and his family -- even his daughter had been born in it. It was old, and the insurance company didn't want to pay up after it was hit by another car and turned into a total loss. So the artist decided to wrap the car in a blanket and give it a traditional (Cheyenne?) burial.
It's getting light. I have to leave in a bit. Eating fruit and listening to music. Feel like singing. Remembering the interview with Gilles Deleuze (O as in Opera):
"... he sings this tune when he is moving about in his territory, wiping off his furniture, radio playing in the background. So, he sings when he's at home. Then, he sings to himself when not at home at nightfall, at the hour of agony, when he's seeking his way, and needs to give himself courage by singing, tra-la-la. He's heading home. And he sings to himself when he says 'farewell, I am leaving, and I will carry you with me in my heart'..."
I fly without a will. This must change.
Cycles and seasons and singularities.
Oh Canada! From the window of Norman's gardening library I gaze at a familiar landscape of wood frame houses, a snowy Grouse Mountain and a maple leaf waving lazily from a tall white flag pole. Outside a steady stream of 'sports utility vehicles' passes the intersection of 13th Street, busy and with sidewalks, and Ridgeway Avenue, quiet and with none. My host Norman is in the garden building a stone wall. I'm online but I going to go out soon. I promise.
Oh Vancouver! I don't know yet how I feel about being back in this, my 'home town.' My thoughts are all over the place and until they quiet down a bit, 'here's no here, here' (to paraphrase Gertrude Stein). I probably need some more sleep.
I wonder whether a singularity can appear behind you? If so, it would mean that going back could be as 'transformative' as going forward.
BTW: Today Alamut has reached two. She now enters her third year.
This morning the mountains obscured by clouds.
Jetlag. During the hours when everyone else is asleep I continue to be engaged by Vernor Vinge's latest SF novel, 'A Deepness in the Sky,' picked up at Schiphol airport for the trip here. I can't remember having a better book for bearing the indignities of a long flight, this particular 774-page-turner conveying me tenderly and easily through the British Airways 10-hours-at-around-six-o'clock 'bardo' plane.
'A Deepness in the Sky' is a space opera of large dimensions and a form reminiscent of -- but to my mind not as epic as -- Vinge's 'A Fire Upon the Deep.' It's a tale of space capitalism (replete with a ship called, 'The Invisible Hand' and characters who say things like, "Politics may come and go, but trade goes on forever.") vs. despotic slavery through viral vectored 'mind control.' Like the rest of Vinge's writing it also contains many interesting ideas.
Consider the work of a 'Programmer-Archeologist' delving thousands of years of software history looking for objects and structures to apply in a given situation:
"There were programs here that had been written five thousand years ago, before Humankind ever left the Earth. The wonder of it -- the horror of it, Sura said -- was that unlike the useless wrecks of Canaberra's past, these programs still worked! And via a million million circuitous threads of inheritance, many of the oldest programs still ran in the bowels of the Queng Ho system."
If preservation and reuse is the difference between mining and archeology then 'data mining' is a misnomer. Our artifacts need never expire (or be exhausted) as our deep inventory turns deeper and deeper.
(The maple leaf is flying this morning at half mast. What's up?)
Nature is our Culture.
The Artist's Studio
Vancouver is beautiful. Vancouver will always be beautiful. How could it be otherwise when contemplated as a (Korzybski-esque) city-as-a-whole-in-its-environment, with its built part nestled between its stony coniferous peaks and a clear cold sea? For no matter how degraded any of its physical neighborhoods or zones, or how narrow any of its occupant's mental considerations or thoughts, it is the city's total environment which rules the senses. In Holland we say that culture is our nature. Here the opposite is true: nature is the culture. In Vancouver culture emerges from the rain and gull's cry as much as it arises in the alcoholic temper of its many tribes.
Yesterday I walked through Strathcona to visit friends and everywhere I turned I saw the work of Jeff Wall.
The aforementioned artist's studio.
The Huntsman and the Deer
The snow, the rocks, and the clay mountains --
The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa
Weather = Change.
Jane Taylor, Weather in the Garden:
"Local weather and its effects are modified by many small forces to create microclimates. Gardeners quickly learn that this corner of the garden is hotter and drier than the rest, that one cold and draughty, while just here is a corner in which everything seems to thrive -- though hardly a few yards away even the toughest plants struggle for life. Every garden, in short, has not just one but a whole series of microclimates, affected by exposure, aspect, air drainage and soil."
While discussing microclimates on the way out to Horseshoe Bay yesterday, Norman told me about the exploits of a retired race car driver turned gardner on Saltspring Island. Too old to push high powered vehicles to the limit while he negotiated the curves and twists of the track, now-a-days the gentleman got his kicks by 'putting plants at risk' -- pushing the limits of their hardiness within the confines of his garden; the weather of which he monitored and tuned as fastidiously as he once did his cars.
The central concept of autopoiesis defines living systems as self-producing units which accordingly (self-) maintain their essential form.
There is no blame in striving to make oneself more comfortable, in the maintenance and modification of one's territory to better suit one's needs and conditions for survival. It is the way of nature and culture. It is the way of all living things, thought virus, bird, bee, even 'Gaia.' (OTOH as the first noble truth, this 'life striving' may be the root of all suffering.)
"Plants themselves affect their habitat. They cast shade, drop leaves and other litter, modify temperature fluctuations, increase humidity, and by their root action alter the soil structure and chemistry. In the wild, during the succession from pioneer plant communities to forest climax, the environment becomes moister, and the effect of the prevailing climate is modified. As the forest canopy closes overhead, daily fluctuations in temperature and humidity moderate; gradually increased humus, greater soil depth, and finer soil texture enable the soil to hold more moisture, to act as a buffer against seasonal variations in precipitation."
Everything you always wanted to know about autopoesis but were afraid to ask.
Tranquility base (12.03.00). March ferry to Langdale.
Joy and TEOTWAWKI
35 Xenon atoms spell IBM.
More power. More risk. More pessimism. Apropos the publishing this morning of Bill Joy's essay, 'Why the Future Doesn't Need Us' I've compiled a short list of the imagined nanotechnological 'replicator threats' otherwise known as 'goos':
Acronyms and Sources
TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It.
UCOG = United Colors of Goo.
Anders Sandberg's Transhumanist Lexicon.
Foresight Institute Update: Accidents, Malice and Gray Goo.
Information and experience.
Yesterday evening, together with my brother Mark, I visited my mother in her care facility; this morning I woke up at 3 A.M. thinking about mountains and old age; about life's promising beginnings and crumpled, final fugue; about the order of growth and decay (whereby step follows step); the whole time with the word, 'sentinel' bouncing about in my head. I was feeling guilty. My mother, you see, has Alzheimer's disease. The last time she saw me was three and a half years ago (on my last visit to Vancouver). Yesterday evening -- when I saw her again -- she no longer (seemed to) recognize me.
I've been told that 'disease is the future state of health.' Like so many commonplaces, I suspect this information to be true but I barely have the experience. The information is abundant, but the experience rare. Even when the experience is imminent and available it is easier to avoid it or isolate it in favor of the information. Why? Because the information in this case is 'less painful.'
No blame. But who benefits from such an attitude? (Cui bono?)
(Omega and alpha. On my first visit to Chapters bookstore I held a copy of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men for a long time in my hand without buying it. I'm attracted to its epic span and the teleological order of its title but after reading a few short passages I'm not sure that it is worth the time it would take to read it entirely. So many books. So little time.)
It's raining ("completely socked in") this morning.
1. Vancouver is an *incredibly beautiful* city. I've been using the commuter ferry (seabus) to get back and forth between North Vancouver and downtown each day and the views from the crossing are simply amazing. Really, I can't say enough about the setting of this city or how gorgeous it is.
2. Everyone drinks lots of gourmet coffee (Starbucks, Blenz). Ordering capuccinos for Ewan and myself yesterday at Urban Fare, I was asked whether I wanted them, "with skim, 2%, homogenized or soy milk?"
3. Many people drink their coffee while moving, (on the street, on the bus, in their cars, shopping in supermarkets and stores etc.), out of special purpose thermos mugs fitted with 'drinking nipples.'
4. I'm allergic to the apples here. Even the organic ones. Good olives are hard to find. However there are plenty of other "comfort foods" available.
5. While any sort of comparison (with NL) is odious and must be avoided, merchants, bus drivers, government clerks etc. definitely seem friendlier and more relaxed here than in NL.
6. Wildlife outnumbers domestic dogs. Within the city limits gray squirrels, black squirrels, racoons, eagles, red tailed hawks and seals are de rigueur. Deer and even bear are known to make guest appearances. ("Nature is the culture.")
7. Excellent public library. (See it here via a server in Rotterdam!) Excellent new book store. Excellent health facilities.
8. People read magazines like 'The Wealthy Boomer,' (with a saucy,"Deduct This!" printed under the $4.95 price tag).
9. Bad public art. (Feed: Public Art Redux. Note: not specifically about public art in Vancouver.)
10. Poor newspapers. IMHO there is too much 'thinking local.' On the other hand, there are many 'cool and empowered tribes.'
Socked in and raining.
This month's Westworld Magazine cover story: 'B.C.'s 50 Best Rainy Day Adventures.'
The Chinook Trade Jargon
Deep inventory. The Chinook Jargon was the lingua franca of the Pacific Northwest during much of the 19th century and was used in its hey-day by an estimated 1 million native peoples and european settlers. Apparently it was (or still is) very easy to learn with a vocabulary of about 800 words and very little grammar.
The Chinook Jargon: Trading pidgin of Northwest Indians and pioneers; inside slang of contemporary Seattle.
"There was likely some method of exchange between several or many of the dozens of tribes of Indians across the Northwest, of whom only a few had closely similar tongues, but its nature and extent remains obscure. The mixture of Northwest native languages with English and French words which came to be widely known as the "Chinook Jargon" emerged in the 1700s, when sailing explorers learned some native language in Nootka Sound and attempted to communicate with the population of various tribes in it. The Indians, also curious and eager to trade, in turn adopted this vocabulary to talk with the explorers. Many words from Chinook, other Indian languages, English, and French were soon added, and the Jargon we know came to be."
A Glossary of the Chinook Jargon and other regional words and usages of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
"My own Chinook site is less purist than Jeff's, as I am interested in the adaption of the jargon for modern use, and am ready to try and coin terms and usages, rather than regarding it as fixed in the past...
"In its later years, and among non-natives, it took the form of a patois mixed in with English ideom, although this mixture contained the syntax of jargon usage as well as vocabulary. In terms of its modern revival - one of the nominal goals of this site - I see no reason to adhere strictly to how the historical jargon proper was spoken in its core areas."
Out of print: 'The Chinook Jargon and How to Use It: A Trade Language of the American Continent,' by George C. Shaw (1909).
Yesterday Norman and I made the pilgrimage up Burnaby Mountain to my old alma mater SFU. It was great to visit this place again. We walked around breathing in the air, examining Erickson's architecture and admiring the oyster gray clouds drifting over the upper reaches of Burrard Inlet. I've always believed that universities belong on mountain tops -- high retreats afford better thinking. Although SFU isn't that high, on the drive up our ears popped!
While we were there I picked up a sessional list from the Visual Arts Department. At the bookstore I couldn't resist buying a book, ('The Potlatch Papers: A Colonial Case History'), and a sweatshirt.
A corner of Vancouver's academic Katmandu.
Last night I got a mail from one Stewart Butterfield, who, besides being the proprietor of the Sylloge weblog, turns out to be the organizor of The 5K Award. Stewart read on Alamut that I was visiting Vancouver and has invited me to meet him today for coffee.
The 5K Rules
"All HTML, script, image, style, and any other associated files must collectively total less than 5 kilobytes in size and be entirely self-contained (employing no server-side processing)."
Lying in the dark listening to the sound of the rain.
17.03.00. Seabus approach southbound.
Forgotten: wood fired ovens in bagel bakeries, unlimited coffee refills in diners and restaurants, free toilets in department stores.
Why do we pay so much attention to the way our stories end?
While I've been visiting I've been hearing a lot of this: "He hooked up with someone, they moved to Kamloops and had a kid, he worked up there for a couple of years, and then they split up."
End of story. True, disease may very well be the future state of our health. But why do we put so much emphasis on the outcome of our experiences? What about the hours, days, and weeks of pregnancy existing between the beginning and the end? What happened in the middle?
Examples of splendid in-between-ess: the Bardo(s), Abramovic and Ulay's Night-Sea Crossing performances of 1982, the micronation of KREV (which occupies the no-man's-land between the world's borders).
From Alamut's book of the dead:
Storm clouds over the mountains. Salty and sweet breakfast.
Valerie prepared kasha cooked with figs and pears for breakfast. This is traditional Sunday morning fare in the Ish-Olsen household and is eaten with chopsticks and tamari. The idea reminds me of congee, but the flavor is more subtle and tasty.
Paul Perry Artist
Stewart Butterfield (who I shared coffee and excellent conversation with the other day at the Templeton Diner on Granville) mailed me the link to The Wildlife Artistry of Paul Perry which he found while searching the web for the terms, 'Paul Perry' + 'artist.'
From the artist's 'homepage':
"Perry is also well known for the amusing titles on many of his paintings, such as six wolves in a snow scene called 'Cold Six Pack,' a male and female cardinal on a limb looking at each other titled 'Your Place or Mine?,' two bluebirds and a titmouse on a branch titled, 'She Says She Knows You!,' etc."
I have been aware of the web presence of this 'Paul Perry' for quite a while. Apart from the fact that we are both engaged in a creative activity and show an appreciation for both nature and culture (coincidently I once called one of my sculptures not 'Cold Six Pack' but 'Cold Beer'), I see us as inhabitating very different artistic territories. I'm also convinced that parties familiar with the context in which we each work would not be fooled by each other's websites. However, it is possible that strangers with nothing more to go on than our name and occupation (Paul Perry + artist), might end up believing the wrong URL.
Should I be concerned about this? How important to my reputation are the opinions of poorly informed strangers?
3 words that begin with 'D.' Differentiation. Distinction. Discernment. The population of today's global namespace is 6 billion. One wonders what subset of this 6 billion currently possesses a unique name and how many of these folk are simply, name and reputation-wise, (as Orwell put it) 'undifferentiated brown stuff?'
As the scope of our searches through the universal namespace widens and deepens (with the help of complete historical records), how important will unique identifiers be in the future?
As it happens, I'm not this Paul Perry either.
19.03.00. Outside the library window.
Memory as pattern, voice as path: JK's 'Ordering Basics'.
Temporary accomodation. I'm up at Guy and Jane's house for a few days. They recently moved back to the Sunshine Coast after a stint in Prince George and are planning to build here again. In the meantime they've rented a brand new house on the hill above Hopkins Landing complete with a waterfall-fed pond and spectacular views.
Last night after dinner we stepped outside to listen to the frog chorus. This morning I sit in front of the window at the pine desk that I made for myself more than 20 years ago, watching the boat traffic and editing this page.
Part of the panorama. The view from my old desk.
Raining again. The clouds are climbing the trees; in the distance the wake of passing boats leaves streaks in the gray, foamy milk.
On Our Way to Sechelt Marsh
Austen (my nephew, age 3) from the back seat of the Jeep, 'Do ducks have tongues?'
Us (floundering): 'Have you ever seen one?' 'I don't think so.' 'Wait. Parrots have tongues!' 'And if parrots have tongues then other birds should have tongues too, don't you think?'
Google's answer: 36 references, reviews, or recipes for duck tongues.
I turn 44 today. NQPAOFU turns 2.
Agency B. C.
Are (personal digital) agents and conditions of agency as desirable as we think? Do we not already have enough (internalized) agents to contend with without adding to the legion?
Imagine somewhere, called 'there,'solely occupied by agents: fact finding agents, conversational agents, experience recording agents, busy-as-a-beaver agents, head-in-one place and heart in another agents, learning agents, lazy agents etc. It was over 'there,' that Gertrude Stein once said, "There is no there, there," that Marvin Minsky wrote 'The Society of Mind,' and that mystics, such as G. I. Gurdjieff, author of 'Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson,' were thinking when they described the mind as an estate without a master, controlled at any particular moment by one of a legion of quarreling, amnesia suffering servants.
So what would the anti-agent (of 'there') look like? What would it do?
Our Days Alive
Hailey Perry (5), Paul Perry (44), Austen Perry (3).
Glorious, bright and warm.
Sunrise with a single peak poking above the band of cloud.
The days here at Hopkin's Landing have been spent alternately talking with Jane and Guy, photographing the kids, eating scrumptious food, or staring out the window at the changing view (in a vain attempt to 'grasp the reality' of this beautiful place). Tomorrow this all comes to an end when I catch the ferry back to Vancouver.
One apple, one URL.
Looking at the URL on this apple (printed under the #4173) I had to think this morning of the Lawrence Weiner piece, "An apple is an apple because inside the apple the word 'apple' is written," as well as Jouke's Enclave Exquise project, which gave the people of Arnhem the chance to create a webpage for any object in that city's built environment and to attach to the object a sticker printed with its unique URL.
(B.C. apples don't have unique URL's yet but they will one day...)
The birthday supper that Jane and Guy prepared for me yesterday evening included the best salmon that I have ever tasted. Guy barbecued it with loads of garlic and sun-dried tomatoes -- this would be total anathema to north atlantic purists, who believe salmon is best poached with a little lemon in the water, but is perfectly acceptable here on the west coast. And oh man was it good!
Garlic and Tomato Barbecued Salmon (recipe from the Vancouver Sun):
In a jar, combine 8 cloves garlic chopped fine, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley, 5 sundried tomatoes (packed in oil) chopped fine, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
Place 2 to 3 pound salmon fillet, skin side down, on a large piece of greased foil; place over low heat on a gas barbecue. Close top of barbecue and cook for 10 minutes.
With a very sharp knife, cut a number of lengthwise slits in fillet, dividing the surface of the fish in pieces. Cut to the skin, but not through it.
Spread the garlic mixture over the fillet and into the slits. Close top and raise temperature to medium. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until done.
I'll be leaving here with Jane's recipe for chocholate chip cookies:
Combine 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.
Cream together 1 cup of softened butter, 3/4 of a cup of sugar, and 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar until creamy. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and continue beating, adding 2 eggs, one at a time until smooth. Gradually add flour, mixing well.
Stir 24 ounces of chocolate chips and 1 cup of chopped pecans into batter. Drop by the tablespoonful onto a cool cookie sheet (about 6 per sheet) and bake in a 375 degree oven for 6-7 minutes. Do not overbake.
When cool. Freeze. Serve cookies directly from the freezer like ice cream.
Sneezing with allergies.
Zone denial. There are people out there wearing t-shirts and shorts. Although spring is official and the ornamental cherries are beginning to blossom all over the city, the temperature is only about 10 degrees (C).
Met with Hanif and his girlfriend Lynne for drinks and dinner. Over the course of the evening our discussion included, but was not limited to:
Weblogs, reinvention, coffee withdrawal, web presence and absence, faux paradigm shifts, the reconciliation of transhumanism with buddhism, Proust's memory, ECHELON, desktop gardens, ontogroups, striving (either to stay in the same place or to get ahead), India's wild west, smoking, progress and its enemies, the final stages of learning and empty mind.
Sometimes I worry that I'm turning into a poor approximation of my weblog.
Let's Start a School
I didn't know that home schooling (or 'home based learning') was legal in British Columbia.
The School Act, passed in 1989, gave parents the statutory right to educate their children at home.
School Act Provisions
Thoughts come and go in the blink of an eye. Emotions, on the other hand, are often quick to appear but slow to leave, their effects lingering on in the body for a long time.
I visit my mother and hold her hand and speak to her, while I feel my eyes roaming and focusing on the details of her face and hands and ears and neck, paying attention to the parts, trying to make sense of them individually, my sense organs seemingly incapable of grasping the totality of what they are seeing. Or incapable of summing it all up.
Her condition. It's finality. My own guilt.
In the middle of the view, affixed to the wire frame of her glasses, between the lens and her ear, is a label printed with the surname of her last husband, 'Small.' As it happens, I never liked the man and never liked the name, and now, fixed there like that, it seems extremely insulting to me. Was it her name or a prescription? It wasn't, in any event, right. But which of the names that she had borne in her life -- Smith, Perry, Small -- had ever been right?
Thinking about this, I say to her, "You've had quite a life, haven't you?"
She is confused. She can not think. She can not speak. Her mouth moves -- searching, searching -- but no words come out. Perhaps this is a mercy. Or perhaps it is an accomplishment. I listen to the voice nearby crying hysterically, "I can't find the door, I can't find the door, I can't find the door, Dad-dy, I can't find the d-o-o-or.rrr..." caught forever in some old infinite loop. Dementia. The body can reverberate for a long time, regurgitating its flotsam and jetsam. Spewing up bits of childhood that bob in the wave's final wash. Oscillating its mantras into old age.
Mind. Perhaps no mind is better than some mind.
She looks at me with my face all wet. She sighs. A big deep sigh. Her mouth moves but there is no more mantra. Her thoughts are long gone. Her body sighs and I sigh too. This alone seems significant.
But when I leave she speaks, "Bye, bye."
Sigh, Draw deep audible breath expressive of sadness, weariness, aspiration, relief from tension, cessation of effort, etc.; yearn for (person or thing desired or lost); utter or express with sighs (usually out); (of wind etc.) make sound like sighing; hence sighingly.
Another forgotten thing remembered: the piping of the train whistle. Harmonic, lonely, resonant (imagine the sound of a wet finger on a glass rim, but lower and metal edged, as if it were actually produced by the rubbing of the wheels on the damp rails), it is a note that fits the inherent nature of this place. The end of the line. The beginning and end of freight. The sounds heard at the start and the end of the day. Like Burrough's drawled lines over the moan of the St. Louis whistle (I've never heard it. Anyone out there who has? Is it different?) the moan of the Canadian Pacific evokes the terminus. The place where culture stops and nature begins.
Reinvention. When I was a kid a bumper sticker educated us to the fact that, "Mining is B. C.'s second industry." Today it appears that metals and ores are out and 'human resources' and data are in. According to my friend Hanif, B.C.'s mining money is pouring into the 'new gold rush.' Well, if Nokia can go from making rubber boots to wireless telephones -- why not? Here at least the basic principle remains the same. And you can argue that the industry's reinvention is a step up the civilization ladder; valuable humans have to be coaxed (tempted) from their current workplaces with infinitely more subtlety and care than raw ore.
(Valerie and I had a talk about the subtleties of human recruiting where not money, but the recruiter's receptivity to clues thrown out during the interviews and the company's willingness to cater to the prospective employee's special needs is the chief issue. From her I learned that stock options are also known as 'golden handcuffs.' This sort of mining is definitely sexy.)
Raw ore: Gradfinder.com
26.03.00. My mother's hands.
The end of my visit. A big thank you to all the people who have helped me and made this trip so wonderful; I'll miss you all. I'm heading back to Holland with a lot of energy and a fresh perspective. Next update will be from Rotterdam. BBFN.
Home again. I arrived at the door of my studio yesterday evening at about 8:30, making the trip from North Vancouver to the 'Kop van Zuid' in 18.5 hours door to door. Ridiculously long due to delays and the stopover in London. Ridiculously short in respect to the tremendous psychological distance that I feel exists between here and there. Travelling from that world to this one should take longer.
[Thinking about differences in space and time: will technological advances in memory access, 'deep inventory' and cryo-preservation ever collapse our experience of time the same way as the technology of communication and transportation has collapsed our experience of space? Why has the human assault on time been less successful than the human assault on space? Could it be due to the fact that we favor or prioritize time -- the feeling that 'later time' is better than 'earlier time' -- in a way that we don't do with space? Or is it because we see space as being more 'physical' than time?]
Noteworthy yesterday was my mid-atlantic failure. After dinner I fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later dizzy and covered in sweat and then proceeded to vomit and faint til I was ushered from economy to a bed in first class. I suspect fish poisoning (I had eaten a special sea food meal...) but it could have been simply exhaustion and stress (the cabin personnel's opinion). In any case it has never happened to me before and apart from the obvious discomfort and confusion it was quite embarrassing.
End of travelogue. 'Normal' Alamut reports (and links) to resume tomorrow.
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