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

January 2012
« Dec   Mar »
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:21 am

Just posted another p/p DIALOGUE PAGE at

The Dialogue Pages are intended to be hub or centers
or collections of web-based resources, mostly
streamed documentaries.

The one which went out last week is

Still working on concept and design.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:18 am

The more in tune a Culture is

w/ the world of Nature,

the fewer and fewer words it will need

to say ever more important things.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 3:01 pm

Once there is difference, there is complementarity.
Once there is complementarity, there is movement. Art
happens in the balance thereby created.

Sometimes we look for Art where there is intense
activity, either on the performance stage or in the
political arena. But how frequently we come away
disappointed because of the lack of any movement
of a significant kind. Despite the camouflage of all
the noise and commotion, as well as the allure of
the superficial sophistication which comes with
complicatedness and unnecessary difficulty of
every description, we feel somehow cheated
because what is happening makes no real,
that is, relevant—difference.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:59 am

Why will current western culture fail to manifest
the tremendous potential of computers and
parallel processing?

Because it has lost its once highly refined discipline
and sense of the art of polyphony and counterpoint.

With musical “multitasking,” musicians learn to play and conduct
4 in the time of 5, and read the New York Times, effortlessly,
all at the same time.

But even Bach could not handle more than six voices.

Learn to first program two processors like
a 2-part Invention! The rest will take care of itself.

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

We rehearse information,
but perform meaning.

Information is like the web of links in a wire fence;
Meaning is like the delicate ice crystals
that appear out of the blue on a January morning.

One we can stitch together endlessly,
capturing what we’re looking for,
and keeping out what we don’t want in.

The other, just by touching it,
vanishes before our eyes.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:30 pm

From a single trunk, a thousand branches;
From a thousand rivulets and rills, a single stream.
Simple to complex; Complex to simple.

Complexity is richness, is diversity, is always good.
Complicatedness, or the unnecessarily convoluted or
difficult, is always bad.

Complicatedness, because of the contradictory, meaningless
way it wastes energy, is never a feature of natural systems.

Complicatedness, as it leads to contradiction, necessarily
leads to collapse, not just of the crucial Nature/Culture
relationship, but also, in the Arts.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:48 pm

I do a quartet of websites. Taking all 4 down tomorrow,
& putting up black flags in 24 hours of solidarity w/ EFF
& WIKIPEDIA against proposed SOPA & PIPA US Internet
Censorship legislation.

LISTENING: @democracynow w/ @rmack Rebecca MacKinnon
on Internet Censorship & Global Struggle for Online
Freedom #OWS

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:59 am

A key assumption of the current cultural metaphysics is that
new is better.

This is easy to believe as long as we remain isolated from the
negative side-effects of, say, the digital technology revolution.
Given all the happy talk on the diversity of the long tail of digital
commerce, it is hard not to be swept up in one big glorious
wave of excitement and energy. Without wanting to pull the
plug on the party lights, I would only say that it is important to
regularly pause and consider things from a wider perspective.

Consider the above beautifully illuminated manuscript—from
the Latin manus, ‘that which can be held in the hand,’ or ‘is made
by hand.’ It’s about 500 years old. So in Bach’s time, it would
have already seemed quite old.
I think we need to remember that this was a time when Aristotle’s
idea from the POLITICS, that charging interest on loaned money
is unethical, was still considered true. “Money parenting money,”
as he put it. As I’ve written elsewhere, I agree.

SEE ALSO my essays,
OUT OF CONTROL—the runaway economies
of systemic imbalance

The Chigi Codex era of 500 years ago is also a time when Music—
literally, ‘that which is given to us by the Muses,’—still stood at the
very center of culture. Hamonia mundi. Harmony of the spheres.
For me, this is still the case, or how I experience music in the world.
So, if conservation is about dealing in a measured way with Nature
and Culture’s fundamental asymmetry—

that creation is slow, and
destruction fast—

then we might do well to be mindful of what is
being lost in creative traditions around the world. Like languages.
Like the traditional knowledge of the healing plants. Or like the
sense of real, living, acoustic sound, and not the mechanical
noise and merely 2nd-hand synthetic artifacts like synthesizers
or drum computers with which we in Western culture have
surrounded ourselves.
My view is very simple: Music, like peace, like religion,
is its own end, its own reward. Music is in this view not a
commodity, although. like eros, we can and do easily turn it
into one.

But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Learn to play
an instrument. Like learning to simply walk again in the wilds,
there’s no better way to protect than through discovering what
is best of both Culture and Nature


The one thing we humans do

that makes the rest of Nature jealous.”

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:13 am

Every pattern is like a story.
Every story, like a path.
And every path is like a stream,
not of water, but of relationship.
As one moves through the land,
each step reveals something

new about ourselves,
about the land,
and about the much larger spirit
which envelopes both.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:23 am

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to
include soils, waters, plants and animals,
or collectively: the land.”
Aldo Leopold

A key challenge of the current era, it seems to me, is the need to
awaken a new sense of ethical responsibility. And a key challenge of
this new ethics is to develop a sense of responsibility strong enough
to counterbalance our, in historical terms, newly-found and massive
destructive powers. The image that presents itself is simple. It is the
image of an expanding circle of awareness, one which grows to em-
brace the whole of the living Earth.

This image of the Earth as seen from the surface of the Moon—cer-
tainly one of the great leaps in creative awareness since the discovery
the Earth was not flat but round—has already deeply and irreversibly
transformed the consciousness of humanity. At the same time, few
of its implications have been realized. And many of the outmoded
straight-line, flat-earth habits of seeing, thinking and acting are still
fully active and dominant.

Chief among these old habits of thought are the concepts of war and
waste. They are old, because they are not in harmony with the new
reality of one world and one humanity; And they are habitual, because
they lead us to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Underlying these old habits of thought is the tacit metaphysics of
fragmentation, with its complementary illusions of separation and
independence. Separation assumes that the consequences of my actions,
or the actions of the group with which I identify, do not extend much
beyond the physical boundaries I can see with my own eyes. And, in a
related way, independence assumes that what happens beyond the very
limited circle of my, or my own group’s, visual circumspection is not
relevant, does not touch or affect me personally. It is easy to see from a
wider, perhaps what we might call, philosophical perspective, that both
assumptions are patently false. At the same time, it is crucial to real-
ize that this was not the case as recently as just two hundred years ago.
This, I think, is a remarkable fact. Two hundred years ago, a family’s
waste did not venture much beyond their own backyard, but now the
pollutants it generates everyday in amazing quantities routinely resur-
face in some of the most remote corners of the planet. And so it is also
with the consequences of war. Now that the atom has been split—argu-
ably the ultimate phase in self-destructive fragmentation—a handful
of bombs can take down the planet, and the waste of but a few reactors
comes full circle to remain a threat for more generations than we can
honestly think about.

Clearly, a concomitant great leap of ethical creativity is called for if we
are to effectively limit our new-found destructive potential. And equally
clear is that it would be naive to think we could solve problems of a
global scale like Climate Change by not at the same time addressing the
directly related and in my view more fundamental problems of war and
waste. Just the fact that about a third of the Earth’s resources are pres-
ently devoted to either preparing for war or actively waging it, should
demonstrate the necessity of this. Or the parallel fact that present styles
of consumption are so extraordinarily short-sighted that they would
require the resources of two or three Earths merely to sustain into the
near-term future.

So, Aldo Leopold’s expanding circle of awareness of the Land Ethic
must now of necessity be expanded very much further. Every child
can see the truth of the path of renewable energy. And every mother
can see that life on planet Earth is not the straight line to nowhere or
somewhere else of war and waste, but rather eternally and wholly here
and round.

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:10 am

Just as it is an important ritual for me to clean my camera
lenses carefully every day—removing smudges and dust,
but being careful not to scratch the glass, which I have to
confess I’m not very good at—so too it seems essential for
me to every day clear the lenses, so to speak, of my perception.
Philosophy is the cloth with which I do this.

All seeing is conceptual. That is, a concept is like a lens or
a filter which in a powerful way shapes or in-forms what we
see. So part of my daily practice as a kind of philosopher /
artist is both the cleaning up of old, and the learning of new
concepts. For instance, I learn and begin to study a new variety
of mountain plant, say a species like Alpine Fleeceflower, a
member of the Buckwheat family which I had not seen before
coming into the Wallowas. As Thoreau remarked long ago, it
is surprising that after one has learned to recognize a new
species one suddenly begins to see it everywhere. At a more
subtle level we can also begin to observe how a new concept
actually works, in this case a new plant species. What did I see
before I had the Fleeceflower concept? Just an undifferentiated
green background? It’s an interesting problem.

At the same time this cloth of philosophy clears away old or no
longer useful concepts. This might be necessary if a concept is
no longer relevant, or worse, misleading or false.

Take the concept of waste, for instance. Now waste might
admittedly seem at first glance to be an uninteresting, most
would say, banal thing. After all, in normal everyday life, waste
is that which we want to be rid of. But from the view of conceptual
philosophy—this mundane, ordinary concept of waste may be
seen to have extraordinary significance because of a deeply
hidden contradiction between how we think about waste, on the
one hand, and how waste actually works in the natural world, on
the other. (Notice that here, philosophy is a lot like intellectual play,
because we are allowed—indeed even encouraged—to make
sweepings statements like these, and then explore by means of
image, reason and logic where they might take us. It is rather like
trying out a new lens or filter and seeing what we can see, what
we can do with it.)

Now, a recurrent theme of mine is that waste as either a concept
or fact does not exist in Nature. One of the signature features of
Mother Earth’s web of life, in my view, is that what is discarded
by one organism—the excrement, body parts, gases, etc.—
becomes the essential food of another. So there are no one-way
streets, or dead-end roads where junk, especially toxic junk, just
piles up in the natural world. Instead, the movement of the cycles
just keeps turning and turning as the energies of life continuously
in a marvelous and wonderful way transform themselves.

From Nature’s perspective, what we call waste is simply a
failure of design. Take a new iPhone, for example. Sophisticated,
charming, information technology, yes. Perhaps in some ways
even revolutionary. But why is not closed-loop recycling and
easy repair designed into all the iPhone’s components right
from the very start? I would argue simply because the present
concept of waste necessitates that we turn a blind eye to the
destructive consequences of our all-pervasive throw-away lifestyle
and the metaphysics of design that supports it. Indeed, I would
go on to suggest that this really rather remarkable devil’s loop of
seeing waste as an unfortunate but necessary evil of technological
innovation has in a way become a central defining illusion of
present Western culture. In other words, we may well be
remembered when the large-scale strata of history come to be
explored in the distant future not by what we have created but
more by what we throw away.

Briefly, of crucial importance is the ethical dimension of this
culture of waste. For example, to stay with the iPhone for a
moment, is Apple behaving unethically by not designing technology
for zero waste? I would argue most definitely. And so am I if I
purchase their products, which I do. For what we are really doing
is passing on a whole ugly heap of exceedingly complicated and
expensive toxic cleanup crises to our children.

To conclude in this philosophical spirit, just let me say that an
important implication of this idea that waste is a contradiction,
is that it offers us the clearest and simplest way to approach
massively complex global problems like air or water pollution,
soil contamination, or climate change. It is simple because we
could not only clean up the problem at its physical, but also,
and in a way more importantly, at its conceptual, philosophical

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:13 am


A movement of resonance
perhaps, a rhyming not of sounds or words,
but of meaning.

Do you not know this light and quick
movement of energy as two separate
thoughts touch wings and fly off
into the distance together?

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Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 9:28 pm

(i) If it is ugly, it is not good. If it is not good, we have
made a mistake. It’s bad not to correct mistakes.

(ii) There’s not much science in ethics;
But then, there’s not much ethics in science,

(iii) The one thing you never want to take for granted
is the freedom which allows you to take freedom
for granted.


A movement of resonance
perhaps, a rhyming not of sounds or words,
but of meaning.

Do you not know this light and quick
movement of energy as two separate
thoughts touch wings and fly off
into the distance together?

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WORDS TO KNOW (before we lose them…)
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:43 am

posse = power + comitatus = country Posse Comitatus Act =

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#StrangeLoops = ironic twists of logic, rising (sometimes) to a new level (perhaps (logically) higher) of understanding
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:10 am

#StrangeLoops Religion now not only doesn’t help us lead a religious life—one free of conflict, in resonance w/ the divine; it prevents it.

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