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

March 2011
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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:59 am

The poetry of images
evokes the text
without the words;

The texture of images
evokes the feel
without the touch;

The music of images
evokes the sound
and rhythm
of the dance,
without the voice,
the drum.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 5:58 am

More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle (384 -
322 bce), in his classic NICHMACHEAN ETHICS, states
uncharacteristically as if it were self-evident and not
in need of logical demonstration, that we prepare for, and
wage war in order to achieve peace,
and for no other reason. I disagree. War and
Peace are not contraries, not opposites; they are in my
view utterly unrelated, in the same way that what we think
of as ‘evil’ and ‘good’ are also unrelated and not opposites.

The metaphysics behind these thoughts is important. For, if
we believe that war is inevitable, and that we therefore must
prepare for it, then the thought itself becomes a self-fulfilling
prophecy and hence one of the primary causes of all the future
wars that this way of thinking sees as inevitable, and so on.
And on, and on.

Projecting evil out into the world as an actual independent
force out to do us in, say as the Lucifer of Dante’s Inferno,
also leads, in my view, to equally imbalanced ways of thinking.

This might be easier to see if we think for a moment on music.
Now, we performers make mistakes. It happens all the time,
and to the best of us. Now imagine that if we, every time we
erred——that is, strayed from the good, the right, the beautiful
—simply said, “Lucifer made me do it!” That would not get
us very far, would it? Because we would be looking for the
source of our mistakes——in other words, the ‘evil’ that has
befallen us——somewhere outside of ourselves, which is, of
course, absurd.

Well, my contention is that with War and Peace it is no different.
In other words, war is not a means to peace; it is simply a mistake.
A very grave mistake, indeed, one which has become in a way the
world’s most serious fatal habit or illness. After all, it is clearly
irrational in the extreme to devote half of the world’s resources
to the slaughter of one another in greater and greater numbers
and by ever-more scientific and efficient means.

This, I think, is clearly an ethical problem. Not a religious one.
And not a political one. Why? Because it is a problem of the
heart, of compassion. And, in my view, as an ethical problem
it even trumps Climate Change because the waste generated
by the machinery of war is itself a primary cause of anthropogenic
climate change, AND, is at the same time totally unproductive!
[Somebody please do the numbers here because
I have no doubt that they are surely horrifying.]

And the economy? Unpayable mountains of debt? Well,
“it’s the war, stupid.” Preparations for war in even a healthy
economy will tend to drive that economy towards collapse,
because war preparations are by far the greatest destroyer
of wealth, even when your industries still produce more than
just weapons, and even when you have not borrowed
your way into a debt so deep in order to finance those
war preparations that it will take generations of hard work
to clean up the mess.

So, why is this not a theme of political debates? Because, as
the brilliant Marilyn Warring says in Terre Nash’s documentary,
Sex, Lies and Global Economies (1998), “The cost of a single
new nuclear submarine equals the annual education budget
of 23 developing countries with 160 million school-age
children. This is war. War is marketable. War pays, literally.”

That’s why.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:52 am

Money has become worthless.

People are flying planes into buildings.

Confusion is pandemic.

Freedom and ignorance do not rhyme.

Confusion is pandemic.

12,000 sq. k. of glacier ice and the man on the TV tells me

Tibet was always a part of China.

Even Inuit snow is laced with PCBs.

Who is running out of water?

Confusion, confusion, confusion is pandemic.

The ghost of black tulips haunts Wall Street,

And even the Dutch, land of Spinoza and Ockeghem,

no longer care about tolerance,

no longer care about the bright and happy light of lowland civility.

O my Amsterdam, filled with the now turbid waters

of an unsettled North Sea.

Confusion, confusion is pandemic.

Freedom and ignorance do not rhyme.

O my Amsterdam, city of tolerance,

city of enlightenment.

In the distance we hear the etherial sound

of Franklin’s harmonica of glass, the smile

of Mozart, the shimmer of alpine snow, it now is melting,

melting, before my eyes, my eyes.

Back stage, Jefferson tunes his violin. Don’t you hear?

But who would listen?

Things happen; With us or against us,

American trash floating down the Single…

Confusion, confusion, confusion is pandemic.

But who would hear my cry? my cry.

Go to hell, Mr. Minister, Mr. President.

Go to hell. Wearing full-metal jackets,

veils of self-righteous stupidity.

When even angels do not listen,

confusion is pandemic,

When even angels do not, do not:—


[written in dejection after another victory in Holland
of the anti-dutch Dutch party, the PVV]

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 5:45 pm

[The web is getting to be a such labyrinth, even for
streams and threads leading to and away from
my work. I ran into this text of mine (below) on a blog,
and I said, “Gee. That sounds pretty good. But
where did they get it?” There were mistakes, only
minor things, but I knew it wasn’t copy & paste.
So it had to be hand copied from one of hundreds
of jpeg POSTERS. BUT, which one? It took me
a while to find it. Weird. Beautiful, in a way.]

The problem is to bring thought into its proper
relationship with the natural world by surrounding
it with an abundance of space and quietude—
the song of the woodthrush is always followed by
silence. Who is to say which is more important,
the song or the quiet interval before and after?

The task is to find a language which is deeply
visceral in its movement of meaning, and speaks
with clear resonant images—when from a precipice
the chamois stamps its hooves, thrusts its chest into
the open air, and sounds its hoarse whistle, who would
not admire the seriousness of his message?

The goal is to refuse to seperate Art from Science
and Religion by confronting head on the contradictions
that have for centuries divided them—when three different
paths meet at the same mountain spring, who among
us would not share the epiphany of eagle’s eye that
there is really but one pilgrim, but one path?

pdf of original (lost) poster is at:

The blog where I (re)found it is at:

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:57 am

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

(i) Seeing well-meaning public figures fighting
Climate Change on MTV is like seeing MONSANTO
put in an organic garden at the White House.
The corporatizing of musical culture is part of
the problem, not part of the solution. May the
Muses take pity upon us.

(ii) Charity sees the need, but not the cause.
Billionaires giving their cash to philanthropy is
like the dukes of old buying blessings from the
Pope. The vain hope of whitewashing lives of
corruption with seeming good deeds does not
erase the sin of a financial system which is
inherently in the most insidious of ways
imbalanced and unfair.

(iii) Contradiction is the essence of unsustainability.
Why? Because when two movements ’speak against,’
or are in conflict with one another, it is like two
misfitting gears grinding in opposing self-destructive
directions. The waste of energy inherent in contradiction
CAN be the engine of creative change, but only when
the contradiction is resolved at a new, higher level
of harmony. All else is the mere noise of conflict.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:09 pm

Highways exist to move traffic,
As Internets exist to move bits,
And Economies to move goods.

All three are paths of movement,
of exchange, of communication.
And with all three, freedom flourishes
only when it is strictly limited by universal,
clear, unambiguous laws.

Without clear limits, the worst and most brutish
of our natural tendencies shall come to rule
the many roads that run between us.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:15 am

[please bear with me here. this is one of my
metaphysical sketches. i’m primarily concerned
with logic & necessity here. i’ll work this out
later in a visual essay, with examples, photos, etc.
but first, i tell myself: let’s get the logic right!]

We shape the world and the world shapes us.

A weed is a species of movement that roots
in imbalance and feeds on degenerative chaos.
Weeds introduce knots of unresolved contradiction
into the weave of context, both in time and space.
They propagate by a form of irre-resonance, a
kind of ‘false resonance,’ like a hopelessly
mistuned noise—not dissonance, but noise—into
an otherwise self-sustaining musical sound. This
disturbance may begin small, but then may
reverberate out into the wider context, or
interconnected web, or environment, very
quickly. The speed or tempo at which this
takes place may at first be insidiously slow
and go largely unnoticed. (Slow change is from
the human perspective notoriously hard to
detect.) But it may also quickly go into the
runaway of exponential explosion.

These are all properties of interconnected webs.
What is missing is a much more generalized
way of looking that sees weeds as not things,
or individual species, but rather as patterns
of movement, movements which have two
very special properties:

(1) they are contradictory
in an unnatural way;

(2) and because contradictions are opposing
movements which are essentially ‘at war with
one another,’ they are inherently unsustainable.

In this view, contradiction, if unresolved,
necessarily leads to collapse. In this view, it
follows that Nature is and must be
contradiction-free for the simple reason that
contradictions waste energy and are therefore
necessarily unsustainable.

Another key fact which follows from this idea
is that human beings are unique in this regard.
For one simple reason: we are the only species
that will holds onto contradiction to the point
of self-destruction. This is the very dark and
not very well understood characteristic of what
I’ve called the brutish brain. Our thought, when
unenlightened or unaware of itself, continuously
makes the mistake of identifying in an extremely
rigid way outward security with ideas, objects,
beliefs and an unlimited assortment of other
things which, when seen from a broader
perspective, are clearly self-defeating. What
all these ideas, objects and beliefs share is
that they are contradictory. Again, this means
they are therefore unsustainable. And it means
that the unenlightened brutish brain is getting
stuck over and over again in a pattern of
movement, which, again from the wider
perspective, creates not more security but less.

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