The art of miniature is for me where poetry, aphorism
and metaphysics meet.
One gives attention to the sound and rhythm of language;
to the urgency and relevance of ideas as new ways of seeing
oneself and the world; and to logic and consistency.
For me, the art of miniature seems a natural fit, especially
in Winter. All day yesterday, I was climbing up through
a supremely beautiful landscape of deep, cold, wind-driven
snow. This is my meditation practice. The forms. Color
attenuated to slivers and blues. Crystals and waves, flowforms
of every description, but demonstrating unity of the most
elegant, and organic nature. The wind. From Northwest.
Leeside, wind-shadow flowforms running out from every
object, large & small — tree, stone, entire ridgeline –
for more than three or four meters. Amazingly beautiful.
The art of miniature is for me a kind of inner landscape,
where I go to get rid of unnecessary cultural noise & baggage,
the stuff we pick up everyday that weighs us down spiritually.
The harsh remark. The little failures that happen as we
try out new things. Disappointment. The noise and incessant
violence of Car Culture. Up in the land of snow, and the world
of miniature, there’s none of that.
Tell me, do understand why we do not see
the difference between true & natural complexity,
and mere complicatedness?
Complicatedness is just unnecessary difficulty.
And like mere intellect, we worship it. The Wall Street hit-
man who takes an almost sexual delight in his derivatives.
A perfect-pitch performance world that makes making
music look like barbed- wire and war instead of love.
Scientists telling us we irradiate ourselves to save the
Snow will have none of that. I bless Boreas and the
great winds of the North for blowing these thoughts
out of mind, and revealing a wholly different world
Friendship is a mirror which reflects spiritual essence, even
when this essence is not yet fully physically manifest. Because
such friendship is rooted in essence, it is timeless.
If you find yourself censoring your own thoughts, cutting short
new ideas simply for fear of being attacked or ridiculed by
government or family or friends, then you are most likely no
longer living in a free and open society. That’s bad.
THE GROUND OF SILENCE
Silence is the ground of musical sound; It is the motionless
interval or source of the new breath, the new musical phrase.
MONEY SPEAKS TO POVERTY
The Crow said to the Squirrel, “When Money speaks to Poverty,
have you noticed its tone of voice, the sort of questions it asks?”
The Squirrel scratched at the dry dirt and exclaimed, “Money never
listens; it doesn’t have to. Poverty always does.”
We shape the world and the world shapes us.
The Minotaur terrorizing the labyrinth of the Internet is not just the
commercialization of Eros into mere pornography, or the corruption
of news into more entertainment. Nor is it the horror of the potential
theft of one’s identity, or even the threat of all-out cyberwar. No.
The beast at the heart of the Web—devouring whole the minds
of countless youths and maids—is the endless chain of clicked
Clearly, the thread which leads out of this maze is not more
technology, or the imposition of more blocks and controls. Certainly,
it is something more like awareness, or the timeless practice of meditation.
Here, there is observation of the fact of distraction. One simply looks
both ways, both outwardly (what) and inwardly (why), all at once,
and one click at a time.
FOR WANT OF A SINGLE VOTE
For want of a single vote, the election was lost.
For want of an election, the democracy was lost.
For want of a democracy, freedom was lost.
For want of freedom, the republic was lost.
For want of a republic, the idea of a constitution was lost.
And all for the want of a single vote.
[this is a trope on a traditional ‘nail & horseshoe’
verse, a little poem that means much more to me
nowadays that I’m close to many expert horsemen . . .]
In the new Philosophy, ideas are triangulated in a composite
view of argument, logic and demonstration:
Argument scans the field of a problem, looking at the best
of different, alternative points of view;
Logic looks for inconsistencies and contradictions, both within
and between them;
Demonstration goes beyond mere discourse and actually
physically builds the house, performs the string quartet, sends
the ship to the Moon and back.
Essential, is that we must insist on having all three,
argument, logic and demonstration. Everything else is
As in informal footnote to this more formal miniature, I would
add only that this demonstration aspect of philosophy
is especially important in aethetics and ethics. In New Classical
Music, to use a cumbersome turn of phrase, Luciano Berio
used to say that the best way to comment on other music
is to compose a piece yourself. I couldn’t agree more. And Gandhi
hit the ETHICAL target dead center with his, “Be the change you
want to see in the world!”
I’m back working on the Rilke website. More
or less full-time. Have pulled back into my
little office as a strong coldfront moves into
the Wallowas. Came upon a page I did more
than a decade ago, and had forgotten about
THE PANTHER: Six Ways of seeing a German Poem
I don’t even have a link to it that I know of.
Found it on Google . . . Has everything a
poem should have: vision, powerful rhythm
and sound and meaning flowing as one. And
energy, to my way of sensing things, a very
strong masculine — yang — energy.
Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris
Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.
Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.
Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.
In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris
His gaze is from the passing of bars
so exhausted, that it doesn’t hold a thing anymore.
For him, it’s as if there were thousands of bars
and behind the thousands of bars no world.
The sure stride of lithe, powerful steps,
that around the smallest of circles turns,
is like a dance of pure energy about a center,
in which a great will stands numbed.
Only occasionally, without a sound, do the covers
of the eyes slide open—. An image rushes in,
goes through the tensed silence of the frame—
only to vanish, forever, in the heart.
(tr. Cliff Crego)
Technique asks, “How did they do it?”
Meaning asks, “Why didn’t I see that before?”
Love says, “Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.”
THE FLOW OF COMPASSION
Pondering the photograph above, one thing which
might be said about water in flowing movement is
that, like the air we breathe, it belongs to no one.
Water is truly in some sense of the whole, and not
of any isolated fragment thereof. We may build dams
in the course of its flow, we may pollute it, waste it,
but we can not in a fundamental way impede its
timeless journey throughout the lifebody
of the Earth.
So, in a way, pondering water prepares the mind
to consider the nature of natural borders generally,
and in this particular context, the borders—real or
imagined—which we sense or perceive between each
other. Our theme is compassion. Compassion
in the sense that I see myself in the other, that
the other’s suffering is also in some, inescapably
profound sense, my own. This means that the borders
between myself and, say, the homeless man on the
street, or a people ravaged by poverty and disease,
or yes, also the destruction of a watershed, are not
as sharply drawn and as rigid as we as a culture have
come to assume.
The two poems I’ve brought together here from Rilke’s
The Book of Images (circa 1905) are both exceptional in
this sense because they imply a new way of see-
ing the world in which these divisions are questioned.
They point to something like an incipient compassion in
the sense I am using the word here. Without going into
the biographical considerations which Rilke scholars
frequently cite in reference to these works, especially
the famous collection called The Voices: Nine Poems
with a Title Page, from which I’ve included the signature
piece, the point I would like to bring out here is that the
poet himself has become a kind of sounding board for the
voices of others. How different this is from the generally
exceedingly narrow scope of much English poetry of the
current era. And this, despite the fact that these pieces
are now almost 100 years old, makes them in my view
as challenging and as relevant today as the moment
they were first composed:
Wer jetzt weint irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund weint in der Welt,
weint über mich.
Wer jetzt lacht irgendwo in der Nacht,
ohne Grund lacht in der Nacht,
lacht mich aus.
Wer jetzt geht irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund geht in de Welt,
geht zu mir.
Wer jetzt stirbt irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund stirbt in der Welt:
sieht mich an.
And here’s my English translation:
Whoever cries now somewhere in the world,
without reason cries in the world,
cries about me.
Whoever laughs now somewhere in the night,
without reason laughs in the night,
laughs at me.
Whoever goes now somewhere in the world,
without reason goes in the world,
comes to me.
Whoever dies now somewhere in the world,
without reason dies in the world:
looks at me.
RAINER MARIA RILKE (TR. CLIFF CREGO)
Why have we lost our sense of movement
from simple to complex and back again
as a primary cycle of Nature?
O Muse of sound, of the balance of the one
and the many. Listen to great Bach Choral Cantata,
to the fugue of many voices unfolding in an intricate
weave in Time and Space about a recurrent,
simple melody, to the finale hymn, as all move
together as one.
Simple. To Complex. To Simple.
A necessary unity.
It is a terrible thing when Culture
no longer sustains and nourishes,
but, like air or water too polluted
to breathe or drink, becomes
a dark force from which we must
seek refuge, and most especially,
protect the young.
[ROOTS: refugium >>> refuge >>>
re = back + fugare = flee;
same root as fugue >>> fuga = fight,
in the sense of two or more voices ‘fleeing’
from one another, as in the flight of some
birds, say, like swallows]
On the occasion of a new edition . . .
In The Circle in the Square performance project, one of
the primary problems addressed is the fragmentation of
poetry and music. In the view explored here, poetry and
music form a kind of necessary unity—that is to say that
they cannot survive let alone flourish without one another.
Yet only a cursory look at contemporary practice reveals
that poetry and music exist in largely separate worlds,
rarely crossing borders or showing any kind of what I
suppose academics might call interdisciplinary interest.
Poets in the English speaking world publish their work in
written form, largely for other poets. And New Music
composers in both Europe and America publish their work
by means of recordings, and, in a remarkably parallel way,
largely for other composers or new music specialists.
Given the tremendous difficulty of understanding the
origins of this kind of cultural fragmentation, which is so
characteristic of Western culture at present, I think it is
best to be simple and direct in one’s approach. By this I
mean: Place both poetry and music under one roof, so to
speak, like two parties of a loving relationship who have
somehow become estranged from one another, and simply
make sure they stay there. In other words: Do poetry; Do
music—and then—do them always together. In concerts;
in presentations of every description; and in one’s own
work as an artist. The key thing is that they remain
together, and that along the way, we become aware of I
would argue not so much new ways of unifying them, but
rather new ways of looking at their shared, common
It is in this spirit that I’ve undertaken the composition of a
number of new song cycles. The Winter Songs for
mezzo-soprano and solo violin is the first of these.
I’ve selected five very contrasting texts for the cycle. They
are all pieces I’ve lived together with for many years,
either having performed them myself or, in the case of Rilke,
have translated, or used with student performers.
The theme of winter has not so much to do with any
particular content, although that is there, too, but more
with a certain quality of space. As someone who has lived
almost at treeline in the mountains for so many years, I
have developed a certain love of “the nothingness” that
comes with the cold and snow in the northern latitudes.
One becomes somehow more intensely aware of things,
both good and bad, by their absence. Color attenuated to
almost an entirely white and granite gray world; smooth
white slopes where once their was a noisy road. But in the
depth of this winter silence, one also remembers, re—
collects as it were the world about oneself, as well as the
world one has experienced. And some- times, that, of
course, has to do with grief and suffering. That is why it
seemed natural to me to begin the cycle with a brooding
and magnificent poem from the German poet Rainer
Maria Rilke’s uncollected work, Exposed on the
mountains of the heart. Composed during some of the
darkest days of World War I, when Rilke saw the Europe
around him that he knew so well utterly destroying itself,
the voice of this poem calls out to the world about loss
with tremendous passion. It is a voice which, I hope, will
also take flight in the present era with song.
I: [Exposed on the mountains of the heart ]
Exposed on the mountains of the heart.
See, how small there,
see: the last hamlet of words, and higher, and yet so small,
a last homestead of feeling. Do you recognize it?
Exposed on the mountains of the heart. Rocky earth
under the hands. But something will flower here;
out of the mute abyss
flowers an unknowing herb in song.
But the knowing? Ah, that you began
to understand and are silent now,
exposed on the mountains of the heart.
Yet many an awareness still whole wanders there,
many a self-confident mountain animal
passes through and remains. And that great protected bird
circles about the peaks of pure denial. But
unprotected, here on the mountains of the heart.
Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. from the German by Cliff Crego)
Purchase student edition of the score at:
View intro and online version of score at
Downlaod free pdf of larger performance edition of score at:
Living Art is never 2nd-hand
Contradiction is the primary factor of fragmentation, corruption and, ultimately, collapse.
This is true of any system, of any network, of any ecology, of any cultural tradition.
The Western Classical music tradition is now characterized by a deep and profound fragmentation between creation and performance. One learns how to compose; or one learns how to conduct, or play the piano or violin. Almost universally, one does not learn to do both. This is not division, say in a natural division of labor, where one specializes for the sake of perfection, as one craftsperson makes horseshoes, and another saddles. In music, there is a necessary unity, because only in composing does one learn how to listen and therefore learn how to hear and bring out crucial and relevant features of both large and small-scale musical architecture. And in a profoundly complementary manner, only in performance does one learn to sense the mutually shared spiritual resonance of musical meaning which is really the why and how and wherefore of one’s art.
This difference between wholeness and fragmentation is crucial. If you take a violin and smash it, you do not get a collection of smaller violins. You get shards, bits, fragments of wood. Creative musical tradition has been, in the view being explored here, in a similar way broken apart. The driving force behind this, the seed of the primary contradiction, as it were, is that it has become the norm in Western musical practice to use the Muse, or the spirit of music—perhaps stronger terms could be used here, such as exploit or misuse—merely for one’s own personal self-expression, for one’s own demonstration of virtuosity. And in the now universal corporate commercialization of cultural life, this has degenerated to the nadir of pure and simple vulgar self-promotion. In other words, to use the vernacular, it’s about me. The contradiction is that the Muse, to use again an ancient term here and, of course, the root meaning of our word, music—demands relational resonance in three different directions at once, always with oneself, the ‘me,’ the other, you, and the world or universe, or All. (I would argue strongly here that this resonance with very subtle webs of meaning outside of oneself is the source of musical energy and intelligence.)
Fragmentation results in isolation. Isolation without philosophy becomes not just a state, but a survival strategy. This is what has happened in Western Classical music. One sidesteps the facts of contradiction and the collapse of a great creative musical culture of world significance by focusing not on the whole, but, well, mere fragments. So around the world now, we teach fragmentation, and call great the pianist or violinist or conductor that merely has made a career of mining the past precious metals of a once glorious creativity, while totally ignoring the vitally important matrix of problems—not contradictions—which concerns new music.
“What is ‘new music?’” you might ask. I would say it is music which arises out of and contributes to the exigencies of the current moment. It is not just digging up the last reserves of lost scores to keep your own little petty career solvent, as people say nowadays, but rather one begins with an ethical responsibility to ‘tend to the soil,’ to make the tradition richer than when you first found it. This happens naturally when composers perform, and performers compose. But now, sadly, mining the past has become ersatz creativity, just as the ubiquitous Baroque Ensemble has become an ersatz for a truly vitally alive contemporary musical practice.
Contradictions are like the pesky wolf-tones which plague every string instrument. They are literally two movements, or resonances, or voices, which, instead of working with and giving each other energy, take energy away and merely fight. Such contradictions cannot be sustained. At least not for long.
One never knows what will show up in one’s inbox. I came back Thursday evening from a trip up on skis getting my lowest winter camp ready for fieldwork. I was tired. The snow had been like one would expect in April. It had rained past 2200 m., and then froze, so there was 2 cm. solid ice layer, and sun-cupped and highly irregular to boot. But it would easily support my weight, so the was fast and easy skinning up. And after checking things out, coming down was fast, which I like. And loud. Solid ice against metal edges of the skis. So as I would stop to make photos, I was more than once amazed at the sudden stop of white noise of ski + icy snow.
In my inbox I had a curious message headed “content review.” Without going into detail, a printing service I use only for my picture-poems.com postcards and CliffCards had pulled a new postcard I had just offered and was particularly pleased with. It’s measures 4″ x 5 1/2″, is printed on 120 cardstock, shiny true black & white, with a text on the back:
WHISKEY—a long-line sonnet
He could see everything he ever dreamed of
Inside a fresh, new bottle: The young, handsome
Rodeo cowboy, or shooting Geronimo on a Hollywood
Set, or taking care of the last ferocious bear above town.
He always set out two glasses before breaking
Open a new bottle. One for solitude; Two to spit at.
You can’t steal inside heaven in hell; One must buy it,
One bottle, at a time. The fate of clear crystal.
Inside the bottle he sees a world more real than
The squalor around him. He pours two more glasses,
Puts his boots up on the table, and spins the chamber
One last time. He likes the sound. Well-oiled. He stands,
Kicks the door open, and throws the last bottle into the air,
Shooting it before it smashes to the ground. He always misses.
On the front of the card is a macro photo of Jack Daniels whiskey bottles, one with light coming through, another quite dark. The service provider was evidently concerned with Jack Daneils trademark violation. “How is this possible/” I asked myself. (If you happen to be a lawyer with knowledge of such things, I’d love to hear from you.)
So my beautiful new card is no more, vaporized into the ether. We live in exciting times. And also more than a bit strange times. Web 3.0 and social media notwithstanding, the internet retains at moments like these its more sinister aspect. The plug is pulled on a page. One knows not, nor CAN one know, by whom. And one is essentially powerless to do anything about it. Certainly, the means of production — books, photographs, CD’s, video, etc. — have been radically democratized, it is true. But yet the means of distribution remain firmly under corporate dominion.
The above mentioned photo is still very much alive and well and on public display on the picture-poems.com website. Tell your friends, while the good times last! Cheers!
And as a part of the Photoweek Northwest e-zine at:
My good friend, Ron Robinson, born and raised in Eagle Valley,
and now living in Springfield Oregon, sent me a package
this week. He’s an antiquarian bookseller on eBay, and the package
contained nine very small sepia-tone postcards. He acquired them
as part of a much larger estate. We both guessed the photos would be
about 100 years old. Another Eagle Valley old-timer, Frank Randall,
guessed they were all by the same photographer, and that
he had seen others years ago that were very similar.
If any one happens to know the name, or any other details, of
the photographer behind the work, I’d love to hear from you.
I immediately worked the photos over pretty good in
the digital darkroom, changing them to b & w, and
bringing out as much contrast and detail as I could,
besides just generally cleaning them up a bit.
The two of the set which I find by far the most striking
are of Glacier Lake, and Glacier Peak. This is long story
that I can’t go into now, but look for yourself. Keep your
eye on the center of the granite wall, and watch a fall of
100 meters as a contemporary photo I made last August
comes into view for contrast.
After taking a good, hard look at these photos, it will be
hard to deny that the Wallowas, very much
like Glacier National Park, have not been profoundly
affected by climate change. The amount of ice lost
is simply staggering.
For a clickable slideshow go to:
For a QuickTime movie, go to:
Thanks again to Ron Robinson for sending these,
I think in more ways than one, historic photos
The root cause of all collapse is contradiction.
A contradiction is a fact, not a theory.
If I put 100 cows on a pasture, but the nature of the pasture itself—
the weave of grasses and forbs, the depth and texture of soil,
the available sunlight and water—says it will support only 10,
we have a contradiction.
When confronted with the fact of contradiction which is the cause
of collapse, first there is ignorance of the fact, then denial, then
I may at first not know the nature of the pasture very well, so I make
the essentially innocent mistake of turning out too many cows. But
if I am for whatever reason attached or committed to my idea of
100 cows—say, I need the cash they will bring me, or I desire to
have more cattle than my neighbor—I will tend strongly to deny
that I am mistaken. This denial will harden into resistance once
others begin calling attention—bringing into the public commons—
the fact of my mistake. Then this stage of resistance will tend strongly
to do the wrong thing twice over, so instead of 100 cows I now will
show that I am right with 200.
Contradiction literally means ‘contra-diction,’ to ’speak against,’
as when two realities speak against each other, or when two
theories speak against each other, or when two facts speak
against each other.
Harmony is the opposite of contradiction. Its root meaning is
‘fitting together.’ Harmony is the essence of adaptation. Obviously,
adaptation is the opposite of collapse. Nature as a whole, when
seen and experienced as a symphony of dynamic, flowing
movement, is always necessarily harmonious, because these
movements will tend strongly either to fit or adapt together, or
Because contradiction is the very essence of waste—waste of energy,
essentially—the economy of Nature’s watercourse way necessarily
will move to resolve contradiction.
The only single exception to this in the whole of Nature is humankind.
And for one simple reason. Because we are tragically unaware of
the confused formative movement of consciousness itself which leads,
when faced with simple facts, to stubborn denial, and to rigid, self-
The greatest of ethical imperatives, therefore, is to by means of
becoming in an enlightened way aware of awareness itself, heal or
resolve the confusion of consciousness. And the contrary also follows,
that the greatest sin is to knowingly exacerbate, or manipulate, or
conceal the confusion—and the resulting denial and resistance—
for reasons of power and self-interest.
(i) monthly fees
The Devil asked God: “How are we going to get people to sell their souls?” And God said, “Easy. Get them to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have, and then charge them monthly fees. With interest!” And the Devil said, “A double-bind?” And God replied, “Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” “Credit?” And God said in his deep, hushed tone, balm to angels and lost spirits alike, “Interest.” And the Devil said, “I see. I see.”
The Devil asked God, “What is the keyword that holds the whole?” And God said, “No keyword, no tag.” And the Devil became anxious and asked, “But how shall we find what we desire on the search engines of hell?” And God said, “Stop searching, and you shall find.”
OTHER — B is for brother; R for reality
Recipe for compassion: Add but two letters
to bring thought into resonance with the world.
See that president over there?
He talks peace but has us eat hate, clever
leveraging of fear, and we believe him.
You, there — other, from someplace
far beyond the frame we put around the known,
not brother, not kindred thing or being or presence,
but foreign, alien artifact, hardly human.
O president-kings rising on steps of polished gold,
as we, the servile ones, take the seats reserved
for us in the inner rings of hell,
compulsory feast of distraction, sad spectacle
of one sole channel projecting its glare into eternity.
Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
(Dr. James Hanson, Bloomsbury USA, 2010)
This is not a book review. It is also not an attack
on the work of Dr. James Hanson, perhaps, as
many before have said before me, the greatest living
climatologist. I certainly think so.
Rather, this is a first attempt to get a problem
I didn’t read Hanson’s book. I listened to it.
And under somewhat unusual circumstances.
It was as I recall last February, and I was at one
of my high winter camps, about two or three days
from the nearest road to anywhere, and sitting out
I wasn’t in one of my snow wikis (a quickly made
igloo). I was in a tent. It was about minus 10 c.
This sounds cold, but it really isn’t. I had more than
enough food & fuel, and I wasn’t about to go
anywhere. Just sit out the storm, maybe two or
three days, and then decide whether to climb
higher with my sled an gear, or ski out. I do this all the
time, and look forward to getting camp work
done. Writing. Sleeping a lot. A kind of meditation.
And I like to listen to books, radio programs from
Europe mostly, other stuff I’m working on, music.
So I packed STORMS OF MY GRANDCHILDREN
You might be able to imagine the setting. Distraction
of any kind does not exist. The world is cold & totally,
I mean, totally white. There’s about 2 meters of
solid snowpack. And mist. There’s not even the sound
of water about. Streams, and all other surface water
are completely snow-covered. You have to melt snow
for all your water.
And it is quiet. Especially at night, especially when there
is no wind. There are no electronic lights anywhere.
Not even on the distant horizon, maybe 50
k, to the south, and west, and north, and east.
At night I hear perhaps owls. And most
amazing of all, coyotes, calling back and forth
at great distances. Coming in close to my camp.
Then moving on. I see their tracks in the morning.
So you can imagine. I’m listening to Hanson. Taking
it in. Repeating sections. Learning, liking most of
what I hear, disliking the somewhat forced tone
of a great scientist trying to speak clearly to us
non-scientists. Perhaps a bit too much about the
corruption in Washington he has to deal with.
Tragic, but, well, yes, from a distance, obvious.
But then, after a few days of this, I hit the section
on what Hanson sees as the necessary development
of both 3rd and 4th generation nuclear power
plants as the only possible way to stop
dirty coal dead in its tracks.
I nearly melted through six feet of snow.
“What complete and utter non-sense,” I cried
out loud, ready to run with coyotes!
I’m not a scientist, but I do know something about
the poetry of power. The great risk of a leader
of the alternative energy movement coming out
so dogmatically, in my view, in favor of a throughly
discredited means of making energy. Just the
health effects! of living where this is being written,
120 k as the crow flies from the largest site of nuclear
contamination on the planet, HANFORD REACH, a
black vortex of death & destruction if ever there
was one. Hanford will take centuries to heal, if ever.
A change from the current fossil fuel path requires
intense focus of intention and purpose.
The paradigm of change I see before
is the Moon. One bright clear light in
the night sky. It is the clarity of the challenge.
Go to the Moon. Not because it easy, but
because it is difficult. And absolutely clear.
Remarkably, it is the clarity of image that
inspires, that brings the energy of creativity
together of an entire culture, as indeed
happened with the NASA Moon program.
Nothing less will do, will instantly change
the trajectory of our thought and action,
a change which follows resolutely the Sun,
not simply because it is technologically possible,
but because, as Dr. Hermann Scheer has
demonstrated with the Energy Autonomy revolution
he helped initiate before his untimely death
in November. In Germany, from individual
households, to small villages, to the federal
government, a radical transformation first
and foremost of thought and thinking about
right relationship with the Earth is underway. And
as Scheer frequently pointed out, it has the energy
of ethical imperative behind it.
And that will make all the difference.
These are the thoughts that I wrote down
in my camp journal up in the beautiful & austere
High Wallowas, listening to the beautiful &
heroic work of a great scientist who has perhaps
made an historic, and tragic mistake.
BACKGROUND LINKS . . .
MARIA GILARDIN’S wonderful resource
TIME OF USEFUL CONSCIOUSNESS tucradio.org:
STOP NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Helen Caldicott’s Appeal to President Obama
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
interviews Hermann Scheer . . .
„Der energethische Imperativ” - 100 Prozent jetzt - von Hermann Scheer
“Hermann Scheer, one of the world’s leading advocates for solar power, has died at the age of sixty-six. The German economist and politician helped make Germany a renewable energy powerhouse and inspired many across the world to expand the use of solar power. Scheer had been member of the German Parliament for three decades and was the president of EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy.”
“At the root of these developments is the German Renewable Energy Act, the EEG. It started as a one page act passed by the German parliament in 1990. It was simple and based on three concepts:
(1) Free access to the grid to all producers,
(2) the obligation for utilities to purchase,
(3) and guaranteed fixed prices for each producer in
accordance with their cost of production and state of technology.
The lead author of the Renewable Energy Act is Dr. Hermann Scheer, chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, now serving his 6th term as elected member of the German Parliament.”
LIMITS OF SELF-PROMOTION?
Once every one & every thing is branded,
the nodes of a web become but tangled barbs
in mountains of useless wire.
As I was working on the third revision of my little book for the
picture-poems.com project, THE THEATER OF THE NEW,
I had a chance to watch, The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s
Struggle for Freedom. (Ritu Sarin / Tenzing Sonam 2010)
The central fact of the film, it seems to me, is the
brutal two-step, clearly illegal, occupation of Tibet
in 1951 and 1959 by the then old-style communist regime
There are many possible responses to this central fact.
There is the path of violent resistance to the Chinese occupiers, an
approach being increasingly favored by young Tibetans,
both in- and outside the country. (This is understandable.
Since 1959, the situation has only gotten very much worse.)
And then there is the path of non-violence, which comes
naturally out of Buddhist culture generally, and in a
remarkably gentle yet steadfast way has been
embodied powerfully by the Dalai Lama.
The latter is called by His Holiness himself, “the middle
way.” Because, politically, it takes bitter compromise
as its point of departure. It is bitter because it is, in
my view, self-evidently unjust. Ethically, without a
doubt, the Chinese regime’s (not the Chinese people,
but the current regime) use of force in Tibet cannot
be justified. If their were truly worldwide rule of law,
it would not be tolerated. But this is not so. So the
Dalai Lama has no alternative but to “bargain with
the devil,” so to speak. This is because the conscience
of the world has failed him. At least up to now.
The question which instantly comes to mind is, why
did satyagraha, the way of ‘obstinate truth,’ of
Gandhi NOT fail? Or twenty years later on a different
continent, why did the militant non-violence of
Dr. King not fail?
This is the question that makes this documentary
so relevant given the current world situation.
In my view, the path of the Dalai Lama is in the
most fundamental sense NOT a middle way; it
does not — and this is crucially important — it
does not compromise on its commitment to
The Dalai Lama has not failed. It is we, as a world
community, who have failed.
Gandhi, embodying truth, took his stance squarely
on the ruthless tracks of British Empire, and the
whole world said, “Stop!” King, embodying truth
in his own way, and facing a similar divisive urge
to violent protest in his own racial justice movement,
stood his ground, and the whole world said, “This
The Dalai Lama has not failed. It is we, as a world
community, have failed. Both him, and ourselves.
So The Sun Behind the Clouds is a film to
In metaphysical terms, I feel that there is a great and
tragic lack of clarity when it comes to the idea of using
what is seen as justifiable violence to come
to order and peace. This is unfortunate. And
especially true in North America, where in contrast
to Japan and Europe and increasingly in South
America, war & the use of force is, in diplomatic
terms, not seen as an option.
The key question of philosophy is necessity,
the things of the world that ‘cannot be otherwise.’
Is non-violence absolute necessity? I think it is.
That means there is no other way, middle or other-
This is was the key insight of Dr. King, uttered
in a remarkable address to the world just hours
before he was to be assassinated:
“Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars …
Men for years now have been talking about War and Peace,
but now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer
the choice between violence and non-violence in this world;
it’s non-violence or non-existence.”
This has become, I think, the central and most profound
truth of our time.
from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last major address,
April 3rd, 1968, “I Have Been to the Mountain Top.”
THEATER OF THE NEW
a collection of 100 progressive DVD
theme projects, grouped in 10 sets of 10.
Change is the second most difficult thing;
Understanding, the first.
Paperback version will be coming out this week.
We’ve added quite a few new films, removed others.
The ideal is a cluster of three complementary
documentaries, one of which might be watched /
studied collectively, the other two individually.
I’ve also added some new essays at the back,
mostly concerning ethics, war & waste.
This is a true work-in-progress, a product
of the collective progressive cloud, so if you
have ideas, suggestions, recommendations, etc.
let me know.
[FROM THE INTRO]
ON THE THEATER OF THE NEW—Changing
our perception of the world, one new idea, one new
documentary, at a time
This is a collection of some 400 films and documentary
DVDs clustered around 100 progressive and topical theme
projects. The theme projects are grouped in 10 sets of 10.
Working together with many friends, I’ve brought these
films together over the past four years. Still very much
a work-in-progress, it is designed both for individuals—
young and old—to start their own viewing and discussion
groups, or for self-study, or weekend theme workshops.
This might happen at schools or universities, or in communities,
both large and small. These film-viewing / discussion
gatherings might be entirely casual, simply watching
films now and then that for whatever reason strike
one’s fancy; Or they might constitute a more sustained
and serious kind of enquiry, adding additional materials to
selected films, discussing themes intensively in dialogue
groups, and going through the list from beginning to end.
Indeed, the basic intention is to scatter the themes and
films like seeds in the wind. How and where and why they
take root and perhaps flower will very much depend on
the situation, and the needs, skills and experience of those
involved. I can easily imagine a gifted yet isolated young
artist with nothing but access to a laptop and the internet
devoting his- or herself—entirely alone perhaps—to a
kind of solo journey through the whole of the project. At
the other extreme, I can also see before me a dialogue
group—either virtual or working physically together—using
the content of each film as a means to focus discussion
and dialogue in a very much more general way.
Most of the films brought together, as a kind of Umberto
Eco-styled infinite list, are happily now readily available,
sometimes streamed on-line for free or for a reasonable
price, or at your Public Library, or as old-fashioned neighborhood
The why of the THEATER OF THE NEW is very simple.
Despite all the advances of communications technology, in
my view, citizens of Western democracies, even though they
enjoy the tremendous privilege of freedom of speech and
expression—not one of the project’s films would be possible
without it—are tragically asleep at the wheel. It is as if all
the violence and all the injustice of the world is taking place,
so to speak, off stage, out of view. There are many reasons
for this, some of which are explored in the featured films.
The basic idea is to shift our focus to these “dark areas”
which are to my way of thinking of great relevance for the
future of humanity and the planet. My guiding principle is
this: if the most basic crisis of our time is the crisis of perception,
which I think it is, then what I demand of a film—
regardless of when or where or by whom it was made—that
it should make a difference in this regard.
I would say to one and all: Have at it! Clean out your garage,
borrow a beamer and hang up an old bed sheet! And
get going! Like Bertolt Brecht said: “Change the world; it
Start your own THEATER OF THE NEW, today!
View as webpage at: http://picture-poems.com/dvds
Or download this booklet for free at:
If you need help setting up a group, or would like me to help conduct a
dialogue group or workshop, or have suggestions for new films, email to
Just finished the 4th in the popular series of cs-music.com
SQUARE editions . . .
This is the notoriously difficult piece the otherwise exemplary
ASKO ENSEMBLE managed to mangle beyond recognition
at its premier on February of 2005 in Amsterdam.
Since then, unfortunately, it has not
been played again.
Too bad, I say to myself, every time
I look at the score!
Is a set of 12 piecesfor flute, oboe,
clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet,
trombone, and bass.
4 new pieces & 8 arrangements
of music from Machaut, Purcell,
J.S. Bach, Mozart and Stravinsky.
Intended as jump-start for a new idealistic
and committed ensemble of young professional virtuosi . . .
At my website for New Music performance
NOTE: In the performance scores, each OCTET is prefaced with the
remark that in an ideal situation the group should play without
conductor. This is meant to be a challenge. Once one has
mastered the technical and rhythmical difficulties of each
part, then playing without a central organizing figure should
not prove too difficult. Much more demanding, in my view,
is achieving a unity of vision with regard to sound,
articulation, dynamics, and most especially, the quality and
direction of the music’s movement as a whole.
At present, because time is short and standards are low,
even well-known new music ensembles do not perform
with what seems to me a truly unified vision, let alone
passion of conviction. These pieces are composed then
in an entirely different spirit. Nothing could make me happier
than to see the young ‘have at them’, and work until
they get things right, really right.
That’s why these scores and sets of parts are freely available
via the Internet. (In this regard, I suppose one could say
that they are like ‘open source’ software.) Again, this is meant
as a challenge. In this sense, they are not so much free
as simply there, standing before one like an as yet
untried mountain pass over uncharted terrain. And as
even an experience guide will tell you, when striking out
on a new route, one never knows if one will make it,
or if the journey will be worth all the effort, or what one will
find on the other side. What is certain, however, is that
it is the movement of the search itself—and not simply
repeating the well-known paths of the past—that awakens
our deepest musical instincts and awareness, and brings
us together in the most exciting and creative of ways.
Looked at from the contemplative distance of
the High Wallowas, one salient feature of the recent
descent of Dutch political life into the rightwing
populist world of Geert Wilders has been missed.
Over the past decade, the program of shifting
all things public into the hands of corporate power
& the private sector (Neo-lib, or Neo-con: both
unfortunate names. . .) has been aggressively
pushed by North American PR firms.
From a distance, Pim Fortuyn was the first to
project very knowingly this new in-your-face
and highly uncivil style. He was followed by Rita
Verdonk, and now, Geert Wilders.
If my readers would like some background on
how these NA PR firms works, I recommend
the documentary by Rachel Boynton, OUR BRAND
IS CRISIS (2005):
“Following members of a political consulting firm
to Bolivia, where they’ve been hired to help
controversial candidate Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez
de Lozada reclaim the presidency, filmmaker
Rachel Boynton reveals the manipulation and
orchestration involved in big-time political
campaigning. With only a few weeks before
the election, consultants […] work their magic,
shaping Goni into the ideal candidate.”
[This doc is part of my project,
THEATER OF THE NEW.]
Indeed, an “ideal candidate.”
The high price of this Americanization of
Dutch political life will be — if not quickly
reversed — the clear cutting of 50 years
of culture building that has brought forth
one of the most vibrantly alive arts
communities in the world.
According to my close friend, trombonist of
the ASKO/SCHOENBERG ENSEMBLE, Toon van Ulsen,
budgets like his own performance group’s will
be slashed by as much as 50% over the next
This has become the short-sighted
hobby of the populist right. What Wilders and others
like him fail to see is that, much like an old-growth
Doug-fir forest, the creation of high culture is a
very slow and arduous process, whereas razing
it to the ground is the work of a few days.
[Added V.23.2011 Ik heb jaren lang als een jonge wilde
aan een orkest tot stand te brengen in Amsterdam gewerkt.
En nu, zie ik vanuit de bergen in Amerika in m’n lieve
holland alleen maar kaalslag. Wilders Inc. en de politiek
van haat en angst moet gezien worden voor wat ‘t is.
A cheap populist American imitation.
[lees meer bij: http://whitebark.picture-poems.com/?p=8
OUR BRAND IS FEAR: Geert Wilders & the vulgar
americanization of Dutch political life ]
NATUUR/CULTUUR wet #1:
Creativiteit gaat langzaam, is moelijk;
Vernietigen gaat snel, is dood eenvoudig.
Laat het maar niet gebeuren!