Cliff Crego's blog, whitebark—
Notes scratched into a stonepine snag, open to the light, clear air . . .

May 2024
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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:14 am


Our attempts to control Nature—to build a dam, spray a meadow,
manage a forest—are as futile as trying to control a young child
riding a bike for the first time by shouting, “Stay upright!” In a
landscape littered with the detritus of our failings, why do we
not learn the intelligence of Nature’s way of going with the
flow of our falls?


The Eagle of Freedom always has two wings: freedom to, and
freedom from. My right to own a gun must always be balanced
by your right to be free of my gun violence. The eagle only soars
above the austere, demanding peaks of democracy, when both
its wings are free to find this living balance.


If life is a movement of energy, then habit is energy tied into a
knot. A mind caught in habit is like a horse in hobbles. The horse
can still rock from side to side, to be sure; but take the hobbles
off, and we’ll see its true spirit run free.


The one-eyed pyramid. The cross. The straight-line grid.

All images of subjugation. Of control. Of violent force.

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BATTERIES—a quartet
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 3:32 pm


Consider this: Does an empty battery weigh less than
a battery fully charged? Or is there a difference in weight
between the living human body, and the body’s weight
at death? Or consider that if we break apart a triangle
of sticks, or smash a computer, and then weigh the
resulting pile of parts, before seems to equal after in
each case. But what is lost then, if ‘it’ is evidently weight-
less? A pattern? A working together or harmony of parts?

A child might ask, “Where does the triangle go?” Does
it at the moment of break-up just cease to exist, like after
switching off the lights, colors cease to exist in a darkened
room? Or is it more like a handful of brightly colored sand
thrown at random on the skin of a large bass drum turned
on its side, brought into resonant movement by a singing
voice, or trumpet, or trombone? After all, instantly, there
is here pattern. Instantly, new figures of extraordinary
complexity emerge with each new change of pitch. (If you
actually see this first-hand, you’ll never forget it.) But once
the sound stops, the structure quickly loses its integrity.
You can weigh the sand, before and after, but again it will
show no difference. So again, to our current way of seeing
and measuring and thinking, before equals after. That is,
except for a loss of resonance. A loss of resonance, a mere
weightless nothing? Or just perhaps, very much closer to,


Imagine that we decide on a whim that we shall from
this day forward collect all the dead batteries of the world
and dump them at one convenient central location, say,
for instance, your house. You do use batteries, don’t you?
I don’t mean the big car-battery kind; Just the small ones,
like the ones used in flashlights. Think of it. Before the end
of the day, there would be a veritable Matterhorn in your
front yard, a toxic mountain of the used-up and unwanted.
As the pile grows, however, you might cleverly initiate an
action via the world-wide web. You decide, and encourage
others to follow your lead, that instead of sending the dead
batteries to your house, we’ll all join in together and send
them to his house, the White House. This would not only
be saying Yes We Can both to Civil Disobedience in the
spirit of Amos Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau,
but also to an utterly deadbeat—when it comes to doing
anything fundamental about eliminating not just waste,
but the very idea of waste itself—Washington. Keep the
packages coming. From around the Nation. Now that
would be change!


Behind the light that every flashlight gives is a dark story.
We want to know nothing about it. It is a story of suffering,
of children forced to work in the mines of Africa and South
America. It is the story of Cadmium. Of Zinc, Of Lead. All
leaching unchecked as we speak at our leisure, you and I,
into the great and vast surface waters of the living Earth,
and into the mother’s milk of the still unborn. The story says:
You there, brother; You there, sister. What a sad way to
discover that the world is round!


Some things we can evidently know only by demonstration.
Visual inspection will not reveal to us which batteries are
‘alive,’ and which batteries are ‘dead.’ Just as mere cursory
auditory inspection will not reveal to us which performer of
a Bach solo sonata brings the music truly to life. They may
play exactly the same notes, in the same order, in the same
approximate measure and tempo. Yet, when magically the
inner energy or spirit of the music comes alive, begins to
breathe like a natural singing voice, we too begin to move
or resonate with it sympathetically. Like Aristotle said of the
gift of metaphor in poetry, this is perhaps the one thing in
music that cannot be taught. But how do you know when
this very subtle inner something is there? Be simple.
When the ‘lights’ come on!

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:00 pm

“In our tribe we have a saying, That a tribe flies
like a Condor. And the tribe will only fly true when
the wings of the Condor are in balance;—when one
wing is male, and one wing is female.” from Ecuador

[quoted by Jane Goodall on DemocracyNow!]

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 10:39 am

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

Just as a whore replaces love, and money replaces meaning,
competition in the Arts replaces the real creative currency of
mutual benefit and shared excellence. The illusion has been
turned off. The jury is out for good. The judges in shame
have all gone home. It’s time to be simple, playful, and
serious, again.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:58 am

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

In the West, we are all born into a contradictory worldview
that tacitly explains suffering with a bible-black four-square
prison of sin, debt, guilt and fear. Outside the four walls
of the prison, there’s the free-flowing energy of natural
abundance. But inside the darkness of the prison, the
world is lit by the harsh, cold light of false scarcity. And so,
we are possessed by greed and jealousy. And so, we are
full of conflict. Inside the prison, who can blame us for
being confused? We amass money and things as if the
outward security they offer us were a divine right that goes
on forever. But look around you. Everything there comes
ultimately from the Earth, and to the Earth with time shall
return. What we think is Time’s straight arrow of eternal
possession, is really a circle—nay—a circle turning, a cycle,
the rise and fall of the fountain’s water, the in- and out-breathing
of a goddess, outside of Time and Space. Truly:—the Earth
does not give. She but lends, and that, but for the briefest
of whiles. What could be more beautiful than this?

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:24 am

Some extinctions are sweet!

See the Poetry Journal, these mute and dumb
bundles of dead trees and toxic lead;

Or the obese Symphony Orchestra, the me’s
much-will-have-more, limited only
by the slow speed of living sound;

And ah yes, the Church and the Pope, this hocus
pocus of a thousand years of damnation and sin
that even a Swiss Guard and gowns of
Disney white cannot hide.

I say, good riddance to them all. This is how the Earth
heals, as the mistakes we make in good faith become
the happy food of worms.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:42 pm

The whole of a language is like a bell. All words somehow
touch, contain, or mirror one another, so that just one “tap”
or “sounding,” and we know instantly, without time, that
a word in English like “inclinate” does not play a part
in the repertoire of the whole.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:08 am

(0) The way of thinking which is the most inappropriate
of all is the one which does not see, or worse, simply tolerates,
unnecessary difficulty.

From there, it is only a small step to the degeneration
of cults of collusion which not only condone, but actually
cultivate complicatedness.

(1) Where the climax of complexity comes we can never
for sure, but natural movement always begins and ends
with simplicity.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:44 am

With the perverse inversion of the sheer brilliance
of the digital communications revolution into the dark
and sinister world of firewalls, censorship and systems
of surveillance, at a single stroke, the meaning of the
word “web” flips from “one world connected”
into “gotcha!”

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:00 pm

The world’s worst bad ideas have two key features which refer both
to truth of function, and to truth of content, in equal measure:
First, they not only prevent us from clearly seeing some important,
relevant aspect of the world, but actually distort it beyond all
recognition; Second, they strengthen their hold on thought and
perception with self-reinforcing, equally false “evidence.”

Thus, this essentially closed devil’s loop easily hardens into the mo-
tionless, self-destructive, rigidity of fundamentalism and absolute
belief. Why would we allow this to happen? One word: security. We
take refuge in delusional, bad ideas, because they offer us a kind of
comforting—albeit false—sense of security.

Education, in the view being outlined here, has a vital role to play in
an open society. In a democratic republic where the freedom of ideas
and their expression is guaranteed, centers of learning ought to be
places where these intellectual freedoms are both exercised and dem-
onstrated at the very highest possible standard of excellence. To fail
at this task is to risk the failure and loss of these hard-won privileges
of democracy itself.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:29 am

First, a Swiss clock was pasted on the facade
of the great Gothic Cathedral.

Then, a Swiss bank rose far above the church
in the great skyline of snow-covered mountains.

And finally, a Swiss poet said that the clock and
the bank were but bars of prison, and no one
except the company of jackdaws,
believed him.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:24 am

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

FREEDOM always has TWO sides: Freedom FROM, &
freedom TO.

BALANCE between the two is crucial. If we weren’t banking
to either side, left or right, while biking or skiing, we’d simply
go round in meaningless circles, like a dog chasing its own tail.
Without first taking the two sides of freedom as our point of
departure as we debate the more specific freedoms of, say,
expression, religion, the right to own guns, etc., clearly, that
is all we do:—go round in meaningless circles.

This is not a matter of opinion. It’s a matter of logic. Rule of
law depends of sound logic, sound reasoning, and sound argument.
And, of course, it’s a matter of the civility that begins with, as
Aristotle had it, the educated mind’s ability to hold two opposing
views at the same time, like opposite weights on Justice’s scale.
In this view, these matters of democratic discourse and dialogue
transcend any particular interpretation of specific rights,
constitutional or otherwise. You may have a right TO own a gun.
But I also have a right to be free FROM your gun violence.
The common ground of democratic community depends on
this natural give and take of debate, and not merely the throwing
of stones at each other characteristic of ‘hate radio’ and
conclusionary rhetoric, or the current (pandemic) mistake
of reasoning backwards from arbitrary conclusions.

Transcending problems of outward freedom, however, is the far
more crucial and revolutionary question of inner freedom. It asks
if I can be radically and wholly be free of thought’s divisive and
destructive tendency to identify with my ideas, opinions and
beliefs. It makes no sense to shout from the rooftops about
my outward freedom—right or wrong— ‘to bears arms,’ while
at the same time I’m inwardly but a blind slave to my violent
attachment to this thought. It may well be that the future
of Democracy depends on this form of enlightened freedom
or non-attachment. I think it does.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:44 pm

Footprint? We already use 1.4 EARTHs worth of resources,
this much-will-have-more of the Banker’s ever-expanding
greed slamming into the crystal clear finite sphere of
Wisdom’s natural limit, and the less-is-more of
Sacred Space. The eye of an angel is not needed
to see that our planet provides enough for all our 
wants and needs, but not for the false scarcity
of perpetual war and waste.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:42 am

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

The way of non-violence is not merely the deeply held
intention to live a life without conflict and the use of force;

it of necessity actively seeks to make explicit the contradictions
of thought, culture and convention that lead to violence
(and waste) of any kind, against oneself, against one’s
fellow human beings, or against the Earth.

The voice of frustration of the current era, amplified
a thousand fold by the populist rhetoric of ad hominem
Attack Radio and TV, flirts with violence of the most insidious
kind as a misleading means of releasing equally misguided rage.
This is a profound mistake.

The way of non-violence, as an alternative, takes the
rule of law and civil stability as its point of departure,
and seeks by means of argument, dialogue, or, when
necessary, civil disobedience, to widen the circle of
ethical awareness and discourse to include in a radical
and uncompromising way the whole of the human
community and the living Earth.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:39 am

The first mistake in education is to separate learning from
the body of the Earth;

The second mistake in education is to separate learning from
the body of the student;

The third and most serious mistake in education is to separate
learning from the nature of the mind which learns.

To learn is to learn the numbers, the flowers, to sing and
dance, and most importantly, to learn— by life-long
observation— the nature and the formative workings of
the mind itself as it LEARNS to LEARN.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:04 am

Of all the extinctions currently underway—we are told we
are at the dawn of planet Earth’s sixth great extinction,
with, for example, a quarter of all mammals under threat, as
well as a third of all frogs, to mention but a few—the one that
saddens and frightens me most receives little if any attention.
It is the extinction of the free spirit. By “free spirit,” I mean
exactly that: an intelligence that is not tied to anything, and
which can therefore find out the truth of a matter with integrity, independence, and, most especially, without fear of loss. This
is the man or woman, young or old—age here makes no
difference—who is capable of examining a thought or idea
and following it like a thread through a labyrinth of possible
dead-ends, missed implications and inconsistencies, to its
logical ground and source.

My contention is that the man or woman of free spirit
is becoming exceedingly rare. I hope that I’m wrong.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:03 pm

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

The doctor, the pornographer, the artist…all three make
images of the same human form. Three different points
of view; Three different photos or sketches or paintings.
So what then makes a good image? I would say, not just
one which demonstrates perfect technique and composition,
i.e., one that is in harmony with both medium and subject
the as well as context in which it is seen. What I want is
something more. What I want is the lens that looks both
ways, that is:—enlightens both subject AND the eye that

[NOTE: At present, we have no word for a designed artifact
that synergistically makes life better both outwardly AND
inwardly, say, by simply following the sun and eschewing
dimentia fossilis, while at the same time making consciousness,
simply by using it, a little bit less disorderly, a little bit less
violent. (A bicycle, a violin, or a Bucky Fuller-style dome tent,
are good examples of this.) Similarly, we have no word for an
image, as I’m suggesting here, that looks both ways. The former
I think we might call, honoring Fuller, a synerfact, as a composite
of synergy and artifact. Its opposite might be called an antifact.
(Say, like a gun, or dollar bill, or car.) I haven’t come up with
anything for the latter, yet….]

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:46 pm

(0) CULTURE OF COLLUSION? Part Disneyland of make-believe,
part Church blessing every form of excess, so long the Devil’s
ambrosia flows in our veins, we’ll gladly assume any assigned
role in this game of playing false, sanctioning happily even the
most obvious of lies. For to play true, to ask questions, is to
turn off the eye at the top of the pyramid’s mesmerizing display.
Suddenly, you’re out of the game, alone in the cold, and for
one terrifyingly long moment, DEAFENED by the sound of
whirling stars.

(1) Every dollar has two sides: one the GREED of getting more,
the other, the FEAR of not enough, the currency of slavery, f
reely circulated.

(2) SHACKELTON AD 4 S. Pole NIMROD expedition pdf
I place this in gas stations when on the road

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:45 pm

You can’t depend on your ears,
if your imagination’s out of tune.

#Dutch Je kunt niet op je oren vertrouwen,
als verbeelding onstemd is.

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WALLOWA WHITEBARKS (Pinis albicaulis), Polar Bear of Trees . . .
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 2:23 pm

Whitebark Pines are in trouble around the mountains
of the Northwest. For me, they have become a sentinel species.
This is because they are not only the grandest and most
long-lived of pines to reach the upper limits of treeline—even
in death the sun-bleached white snags stand tall for centuries—
but also, like wounded watchful elders, these Nestors of the
high-country are sounding a dire warning.

The past two years have seen a marked decline of
mountain pine beetle caused dieback (rusty-red needles
below). But the signature tree of a secret pocket of healthy
stands of Pine & their associated Clarks Nutcracker was
blow over in a storm last fall (at 2500 m, and about 250
years old.) The branch you see emerging out of solid rock
in the 2nd image isn’t really a branch, but rather a root,
as thick as man’s torso. They are very powerful trees.
But, like polar bears, they are being pushed off the planet
by rising temperatures. Heart break, indeed….

Below is a DIALOGUE RESOURCE PAGE I try to keep up-to-date
with the latest Docs & Info. Please go there and offer
a prayer, and better, climb up to the lighter air of
the highcountry and linger in the presence of this
magnificent species.

WHITEBARK PINE COLLAPSE–a resource page w/ 20
films, links, mp3s

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