Friday, March 31, 2006

Every connection that is made anywhere changes everything everywhere.

Quality not size has power.

A boss of mine, Stewart Brand, ticked me off by saying that the bigger anything gets the more it gets like everything else. It made me made because it's true. The band with more fans is often less interesting than when it had fewer fans. The larger the organization gets, the more it gets rules like all the other organizations.

To help things be different and better, it's not enough to apply to some good goal theregular US ambition that bigger and more noticed is better. To really make things different, I have to give up the dream of the large impact--the large impact that is also flattening.

We're taught size is power to distract us from what we can do right here in our actual taller than a monkey, shorter than the sky selves. If I stay in the size of my actual self I am more likely to bring something different to the world, rather that one more variation on something we already have lots of.

The poet Philip Larkin never did any of that standard poet stuff to get lunch money like lecturing, being an artist in residence. He said, "I don't want to go around pretending to be myself." One time I thought for a while about the idea a doing a show on the radio--worthy public radio. It only took me fifteen minutes of thinking about it to be essentially thinking of imitating myself. I mean, I know what parts of me would sound good on public radio and what parts it would be prudent to edit out.

If I just hang out in daily life, being absent-mindedly who I am without a plan, I might actually bring something new to some tiny but real situation than needs it.
Living in the city with all the other city people, I can forget that I'm almost never in a hurry.

It isn't necessary for me to breathe in second hand impatience, absorb it into my system, and breathe it out again.
A different garden grows around us if we sit still.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

An odd thing about now is that people who people flock to listen to as wise or talented are frequently people who have no idea where they are.

They are jet-lagged; they just got here; they aren't here for long. People gather from miles around to hear what these nowhere people sing or lecture or lead the meeting.

This is somehow related to once I read a famous smart person who said everyone had done all there important reading by the time they were 25. I found that shocking and depressing. This would mean that by the time people have direct decisionmaking power they are living in a world of ideas that is decades old.

I mean, the world does look like that, I admit. Like it's run by people who haven't been shaken up by an idea in years and who don't know in any detail at all where they are.

Roy Strong writes books of basic history about the history of England. I like that. He's smart, a good writer, and his books have lots of great pictures.

He writes these books because he is conservative--tons more conservative than I am, for example. In his history of English art I just started reading a little and looking at a lot, he talks about how much of art and architecture in England is related to the Romans, who ruled England for several hundred years, and the Bible. People have ceased to be educated in these things so they don't know what is around them.

Yeah, I thought, and he doesn't know and refuses to know what is around him in terms of people who have moved to England, been born there, grown up there, with roots in the non-white parts of the British empire. He, I imagine but do not know, is as ignorant about their culture as young Brits are, he imagines, about Rome and the Bible.

Knowing it all would be a lot to know

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A good thing about going up Mount Tam, or any place high enough, is seeing the other side of the clouds.

It's sunny up there. The rain seeps through my socks and cools my toes more than I want, and not that far away, all's blue and sun.
"Teach us to care and not to care. Teach us to sit still," T.S. Eliot wrote in "Ash Wednesday."

The Financial Times is running a four part series on "Managing Uncertainty" which strikes me as being funny, but the care, not care, sit still plan might be part of a balancing plan of being with uncertainty.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I think what I think, and the weaving continues.

Connections thicken, and the warming blanket grows.
The man and the woman at the beginning of the book are close to each other in the countryside of India, but they don't know it.

They are both in a multidimensional state of not knowing because they each live in a different part of India than where they are now. They don't know what's up because they aren't at all used to there current place. They don't even know how to notice it.

She is young and is going, accompanied by a servant who hates her, to marry an old guy, a prince, she doesn't want to marry. She pitched many fits to avoid marrying him, but to no avail. Her last ploy is a delaying tactic--to not take the train to the prince's place some old-fashioned way that's as slow as walking. ( Elephant? She gets carried? I can't remember--gotta look at the book.) This makes the jouney take weeks instead of days and makes her and her servant equally clueless about their immediate surroundings.)

His name is Forester and he is a forester for the British government in India. He is also named (by the author, not inside the book) after E.M. Forster who visited India, was liberal about India, wrote a famous book about India, "Passage to India." The forester in the book is also liberal and symphathetic with Indian aspirations to have their own country and not be mistreated and demeaned on an hourly basis.

The book briefly implies this question--"What good does a well-meaning, clueless person do in the face of a vast unfair system if they are themselves part of the demeaning part of the system?"

The book quickly implies the answer--"No good at all. So Forster the real guy and Forester the made of guy were good guys. So what? So nothing."

If Forester and the prince's financee were from around where they are situated at the start of the book, they would have often heard people talk about how you had to stay out of dry riverbeds which were sometimes so dry they didn't even look like dry riverbeds because water might melt in the mountains up above and come down the riverbed fast with no warning.

They hadn't heard that one, and that's what happened. Flash flood. Servant dead. English guy knocked out and washed into a cave. Indian women finds the guy and the cave. She isn't injured.

**Last fling before marriage is a routine theme in old stories about and by guys--not common about women. She's off to marry someone she doesn't like; this guy is not old. not connected to anyone she knows, and present. Also compliant because unconscious.

When he comes to, she's making love to him. How feels this repressed English guy who is named after a repressed and gay English guy about this experience? We don't know.

It is worth noting that these folks had sex in a cave. The idea of sex in a cave is big in "A Passage to India." (Next paragraph gives away plot of same.)

The idea, not the actuality. A not brilliant Englishwomen visiting goes to this famous mysterious cave with other people including a Indian guy she's been friendly with in a liberal way. Something happens that confuses and upsets and she thinks the guy sexually assaulted her until the trial when she takes it all back. Forester in his writing makes this all kind of woo-woo and mysterious like the cave is supposed to be so one is pushed to not feel that this woman is a stupid maybe insane irresponsible creep. Rather it's all supposed to say something about the impossibility of communication between Brits and Indians. It might say something about Forester's attitude toward his own gayness and an old fashioned gay guy's attitude toward women who he was super-pressured to marry. Negative and snarky, was the old attitude.
The Indian woman and the Brit in this cave are not ambiguous in that they really for sure have sex. (Note that he isn't totally there for it and isn't responsible which, who knows, might have been Forester's dream of gay sex.)

The guy dies pretty soon. The woman is pregant, and the author has what he wants--a man, the child, who is half-English and doesn't know it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

" . . .and all the while, the coolest song in the world was playing."

--woman walking down the street telling her friend what happened
The generous impulse must be also smart.
Sometimes, the wall doesn't exist, but everyone acts like it does, so it's the same thing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sometimes, walls fall.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The morning sun is low in the sky, and its rays are skimming new along the ground. The beer bottle lying on its side on the exposed roots of the street tree is turned into green fire by those rays, is turned into the magic jewel of blessing finally found.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Say that health as defined in the society around me is this straight horizontal line across the page.

When the dot that is me is below that line I know I need healing.

So healing happens and the dot that is me moves up above the horizontal line that is local health.

The dot that is being healed can keep moving sometimes and go above what health is around here.

There is no reason for the profound, built-into-the-animal process that is healing to stop at a line defined locally in time and space. The healing process has evolved across millenia, and can bring smarts unknown, unseen in this here-and-now.

Healing can define its own health.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Someone drew on the sidewalk a heart around the word NOW, which could mean being in love with this moment we've got right here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Painting the Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000" is a wonderful book--very good interesting paintings of 20th century people, some famous, some generic and representitive of some historic happening.

The first painting is of Queen Victoria. The second painting in the book of an unnamed woman. It is very realistic, feels almost like photo-realism, but it's way too soon for that. A woman is standing in sharply focused pretty grass by a sharply focused pretty stream. She would be pretty if she didn't look so sad and worried. I want that she is looking more worried than sad. The painting, by Byam Shaw, is called "The Boer War."

I want her to be more worried than sad because I want him to be alive, the beloved of this non-specific woman who lived more than a century ago, who didn't live at all--I want her he to be alive.

All the things she's imagining--dead, no leg, shattered mind--are things not mentioned in the excited run-up to a war. They all happen in any war to more than one person. No matter how pretty and peaceful it is here, the not-peace we make elsewhere comes back, first in imagination, then in the flesh.

I like also in "Painting the Century" the portrait of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova by Kuz'ma Petrov-Vodkin. She's a phenomenally good poet and it was great to see her face, her twenties bob doesn't seem dated because the portrait is about her deep sad eyes.

She wrote a poem saying she never would know what her life would have been like it she was born in quiet times. She was born in horrible times and everything she was and had to be was about that.

Relative to her, I stand by the pretty stream in the pretty grass, and do what?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why are there ghost towns in the U.S. West? Because there was mining, says the Sunset book of ghost towns.

People who attended a gold rush or silver bonanza expected to get rich overnight, and some did. They then wanted to go to the nearest town and spend the money in enjoyable ways. They wanted a high level of service and luxury in a usually isolated location. They got it as long as the mining lasted.

When the metal ran out, there was usually no reason for a town to be there at all, much less a town that big and elaborate. Everybody left, and there is a ghost town.

Huey Johnson, environmentalist and head of the Resource Renewal Institute, points out that metal isn't the only thing we mine now.

Renewable resources are only renewable is we the humans let them renew themselves. Forests naturaly self-seed and go on being forests if we leave them alone or harvest wood in a way that leaves enough for the natural self-seeding to go on.

If we cut down the whole forest or enough of it that it can't renew itself, we have mined it.

The way we're living now is heading toward every city on earth becoming a ghost town--big and elaborate until the people who liived there mined everything out.

Remember. when you touch her, you're touching her heart.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lewis Thomas, in "Lives of a Cell," writes about humans as a social species.

It's usual to speak of humans as a social species like monkeys--naturally hanging out in groups and noticing in other.

Thomas thought we might be more social than that--social like ants or bees, where the group is so inter-related it is kind of like an organism itself.

This would explain the strong drive of some humans to do particular things--learn X, create Y, study Z with greater intensity than other humans understand. It is what those particular humans are created to do for the whole hive, whether individual members of the hive can understand it as it happens or not.
Unstructured silence is where plants quietly grow big.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

If good girl and bad girl are mentioned at the same time as categories, it's about sex. The bad girl is too available by someone's standard.

However, if a woman talks about being a good girl without bad girl being mentioned, she might not be talking about sex. She might be talking about any number of things.

Here's a situation where there are clear rules. If I follow the rules, I'm being a good girl.

I might be following the rules because I believe they are right, or a generally, on the whole, given how complex the world is, believe they are pretty good rules.

I might be following the rules because I figure it will make my life easier.

Sometimes women get tired of being a good girl in that sense. Just bored maybe. Or it didn't work the way it was supposed to as a road to the easier life.

The woman is not then a bad girl, which is about being too available by someone's standard sexually.

The woman is then in a position to be a very smart and helpful girl, having left someone else's rules behind.

The good girl may have been too available to someone else's rules.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

You can never predict what a little kid or a tourist will stare at. They have non-routinized eyes. I get that way for a while after walking out of an art museum.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Maybe all the city rhythms are saying, "Bless, bless, bless, bless, bless."

The beeps that warn the truck is backing up, the cars running over the loose metal cover in the street, the piledriver, the steps loud enough to be heard in inside halls and at quiet times and places outside, the steps outside not hearable by humans beneath the total city noise--maybe all these are saying, "If we knew what was good, if we we skilled enough to make it real--help it happen in spite of our limitations."

May the edge by on the good side today and other days.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I will keep looking at the sidewalk until I see it.
I don't think I can blow anything up, but I might melt something. And it re-forms into a nest.
In akido, you blend with the movement and energy of the person coming at you, and then you change the movement and energy that you now share.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Less. More focused.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Virginia Woolf biographies fill one whole shelf at the San Francisco Main Library.

One of these is by her niece, her sister's daughter, Vanessa Bell. Another is by Nigel Nicolson, the son of Vita Sackville-West, with whom Woolf had a two-year very intense friendship/affair. Both of Nigel Nicolson's parents openly had affairs with other people of their own gender, but still and all, Woolf has to seem on some level an intruder on the family to a child of the family.

All these people, the Bloomsbury group, wrote to each other and about each other a lot. We can easily know how they appeared to each other. To a certain extent hides who they were. Clever, rather catty Virginia Woolf the letter writer is the women who drowned herself. Although, of course, the cattiness might play in. The ability to have mercy on others and the ability to have mercy on oneself are probably related.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tell me a story. Tell me a moment. It doesn't have to have a plot.

You were there. You noticed X. You felt Y. Tell me.