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.
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,
We shape the world and the world shapes us.
FREEDOM always has TWO sides: Freedom FROM, &
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….]
(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
(1) Every dollar has two sides: one the GREED of getting more,
the other, the FEAR of not enough, the currency of slavery, f
(2) SHACKELTON AD 4 S. Pole NIMROD expedition
http://bit.ly/Arkjwf pdf http://bit.ly/U6LxNq
I place this in gas stations when on the road
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.
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
WHITEBARK PINE COLLAPSE–a resource page w/ 20
films, links, mp3s http://bit.ly/wG2PIh
READING: via @NYTimes Is Music the Key to Success? http://nyti.ms/16YAbXU
May the Muses forgive us…. Music is an END, not a MEANS.
And especially not a means to successful outward mechanical
power. If only the philosopher of hyper-narcissism Ayn Rand
acolyte Alan Greenspan, who rumor has it plays a mean clarinet,
would have given up not just JAZZ, but also ECONOMICS.
Now THERE’s a world in which all the cocktail party happy-talk
might make a quick and well-deserved diminuendo to NIENTE,
and along the way just perhaps find a bit of real harmony!
If we wish to understand a culture in its deepest sense,
follow the water. What water means. How water is used.
How we image it. Is water alive? Or is it merely H2O?
Is water sacred? Or is it merely a resource? And if it
is a resource, who owns it? Who controls it? I want to
find out, so I figure the best way to find out is to go
to the water itself and ask. I’ve done this now for 30
years, or more. To live with it. To drink it. Or to
understand why I CAN’T drink it. To run the rivers in
my new base area of the WALLOWA from head to toe,
over and over and over again. That’s why I refuse to
use cars. I want to hear the river. To smell it. Feel it
rushing in my feet. The picture that emerges is both
inspiring, magnificent, but also utterly sickening and
Here’s a set of 13 images and watershed map. It runs
a tiny part of the great Eagle Watershed, a stream
about 48 kilometers in length, dropping from 2,200
meters to 600 meters, a fall of 1,600 m. It is of
itself an amazing journey of purification, an entire
ribbon of life renewing itself rhythmically every day.
If we say the water is pulsing at 5 km an hour, it is
born anew 2.5 times a day. Now think of that for
a moment. Renewing itself 2.5 times a day. That’s
a miracle. Until, that is, it slams into a dam, and a
small rural community with a thousand more cows
than people, every mammal in sight pooping and
pissing and then dumping nitrogen fertilizers and
herbicides by the tonne directly or indirectly into
a now totally blocked movement of purification.
Again. Think of that. Totally blocked.
But the story doesn’t stop there, however, with
the pollution and a dam. What I find most striking
is the parallel between water and consciousness.
To my way of thinking, we are not aware of the
corruption of the water in exactly the same way
as we are not aware of the totally unnecessary
divisive and destructive nature of our thought
and thinking in general. I’ll leave it at that,
for the moment.
[Just one note to meditate upon: The difference
between the first photo of pure spring water —
I drink it straight from the source, unfiltered —
and the last with water in the reservoir behind the
dam just down the road from my picture-poems
Office with the ugly green-paint-like coating of
cyanobateria, is identical to difference to healing
natural sound and what our Music has become in
Western culture. When I hear Elliott Carter, or
Schoenberg, or Gubaidulina, or Glass, or Reich, or
Boulez, or Michael Jackson, or Tchaikovsky, or
(sorry, it’s along list) I hear that green gunk in
the picture. I, for one, don’t want myself, or my
students, drinking it.]
♫ COPLAND #Violin Son. (’68) w/ Isaac Stern
http://bit.ly/1gzNIXj A masterpiece of DIALOGUE,
performed w/ ugly Julliard ‘olive-oil’
[NOTE: I’m just being overly critical, but only kind of: Stern
was a master, and a great mensch. But that’s not the point.
It’s about defending natural living sound, like one defends
natural living water. So, what I call O2V aka ‘olive-oil’ vibrato
is an incessant mechanical wobbling of the pitch or frequency
of a sound, in which the performer puts the same sauce on
all dishes. Even great talents like Hilary Hahn for some
unknown reason let their sound be corrupted w/ o2v…
Personally, it drives me straight out of any room, especially
when they are playing OLD (Bach) or NEW MUSIC (Stravinsky).
Every thing in between, they are far as I’m concerned free
to wobble away — call the WOBBLERS as a species — to
their heart’s content, because I don’t listen to this
imbalanced musical disaster of a period from 1750-1910
anyway. (Oh may Muses of Minor forgive Mozart for all his
ballroom prancing white-horses excess….) For me, natural
vocal sound always begins w/o vibrato; all else is nuance,
is inflection. The Baroque people get this. But then, they
only play OLD music anyway, so they’ve opted ipso facto
to be not relevant at all in the contemporary sense. But
more on that kind of imbalance of natural sound perhaps
CROW said to RAVEN,
“Don’t say NSA & Intelligence in the same sentence!”
And Coyote barked, “Right! The plan for the next 9/11
will be written on the back of a postcard, US Mail.”
Crow, dumbstruck and deep in meditation, seeing suddenly
the difference between insight and mere machine intellect,
remarked thoughtfully, “What do you get with an acceleration
of an acceleration?” “Easy. A differential equation.” “No.”
flapped Crow. And Coyote laughed and guessed again, “You
mean that manic scientist who looks like Woody Allen
and invented the out-of-tune synthesizer, what’s his name?
“Yes, Kurzweil! Dr. Exponential!”
And Crow, shifting into his not-always-so charming
preaching mode, “No. No, you get an avalanche of lies
that cover up all the worthless stolen data people people
think is relevant. But it’s really so much more bearshit.”
“Bearshit. Yes, a big data dump that distracts attention,
that lets them plan the next terrorist event, giving
them the fear-excuse to keep the oil, and the machine, going.”
A depressing thought, they both thought to themselves.
It was getting late, and from their high ridge they both
saw a hunter’s quarter moon rising, never a good sign.
Coyote laid down, putting his head over his paws, saying,
And Crow, taking off for the night, echoed, “Bearshit!”
And Coyote thought to himself, ” I never liked the smell
“Information is a difference that makes a difference.”
Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity)
To keep your little lifeboat of meaning afloat in a turbulent
sea of misinformation, full of the riptides of false, irrelevant
data and treacherous whirlpools of consumer temptation
and potential debt, stay close to the coastlines of the broad,
historical, polycultural view.
Learn the languages of foreign ports of call. Seeing things
for oneself from many different perspectives naturally lifts
the best view up into awareness, like a single bright beacon
one suddenly sees clearly on a distant horizon.
And when the mist of night closes in, keep your moral
compass close to your heart, and let it point to the true
north of sound, ethical principle. Always:–First, do no harm.
A NOTE ON RELEVANCE: “relevance” comes to us from
the Latin, RELEVANT, or “raising up,” which suggests,
as David Bohm pointed out, “a raising up into awareness.”
In the current era of pushing DATA into the current non-stop
OVERLOAD of images and sounds, where everybody wants
to sell you something, is spying on you, and/or is promoting
him or herself, I find that is possible–Nay, absolutely necessary–
to take refuge in RELEVANCE. If you think of it, there is alway
a dearth, a severe shortage, of relevance. That is, like Bateson
so beautifully puts it, information that makes a difference. I
also find that it is evidently only possible to sense relevance
relative to a problem space.
Say I’m a conductor. I lead an orchestra for new music. Then
I must find new pieces to play, right?
That is my problem space.
But 99% of what’s written is trash.
That’s the NOISE, the flood of IR-relevant data. It’s
everywhere. And increasing exponentially, every day. But what
I’m looking for is the difference that makes a difference. The
challenge, then, is to filter out the BAD, while letting the GOOD
come through. This is especially important for the young, or
the young mind as it is learning to learn. It should be one of
the primary thing they study and work on, in my view, as a
kind of daily yoga-of-the-mind practice.
Below is a TWEET. Just a text message of maximum 140
characters, 137 in this case, you say. But notice that tweets,
very differently from how FACEBOOK moves DATA around,
are like seeds of meaning. Seeds of meaning that, given a
particular reader’s context, may unfold into relevance. Sometimes, tremendous relevance. And they have a certain wonderful quality
of independence of self, or autonomy of one’s physical
circumstance. It’s just the meaning that counts. It makes
no difference if I’m white or black, handsome or ugly, or
haven’t combed my hair today, or don’t have enough money
to pay my rent. It’s just about meaning. That’s brilliant.
Culturally, this really IS A difference that makes a difference.
READING: “Information is a difference that makes a difference.”
Gregory Bateson, from “Mind & Nature” pdf [4.5 Mb]
#foto (Muted) Snake River, Contrasts
& #Dutch Gerrit Achterberg, 3 poems . . .
THREE POEMS, by Gerrit Achterberg, translated
from the Dutch, some of the best poetry I know
from the Netherlands….”No death manifests in the number/
that connected the two of us./Nothing is in the apparatus/
other than the hissing of eternity.” All very beautiful,
all very moving miniature elegies to a lost beloved.
Here’s a shorter version of longer electroacoustic
soundpoem….mp3 [6.7 Mb] http://bit.ly/YHbmcz
Words going backwards
are on their way to you:
so that you may hear
your ears are gone.
Sentences inside out
because your knowing is gone.
Song to surround you
stone against stone.
Against the sounding board of the night
your words still move.
Everything that you have said
remains alive in the sound of chords
that I encounter only in darkness
when the silences hear
that have been put up between us.
No death manifests in the number
that connected the two of us.
Nothing is in the apparatus
other than the hissing of eternity.
Perhaps that the opening of an eye
will repeat itself, a trembling
of silk, that has not yet passed away,
and that still wishes to be audible,
o sign, that you have survived,
to have found a place in the ring
figures of my assurance.
Gerrit Achterberg (1905 - 1962)
(all tr. CLIFF CREGO)
♫ CARTER: Duo #Violin & #Piano (’74) w/ Arditti & Oppens http://bit.ly/GS5lEz Fun to play, but listening, for me, is
like chewing on rocks…
[NOTE: totally, t o t a l l y, lost in soundspace,
w/ total disregard of what the sounds MEAN, somatically,
how they FEEL, qualitatively, in the body….To think this
music is in anyway significant is only significant insofar
it’s an artifact of the culture of collusion that says it is
♫ GIOVANNA MARINI, rehearsing vocal quartet #mp3
http://bit.ly/1afVgs0 Show me a composer who can
sing her/his NEW MUSIC w/ this sostenuto energy
[NOTE: sostenuto = sustained, the breath
of life…w/o this energy, music falls
flat dead on the floor]
Control imposes order from without by projecting the prede-
termined thought, conditioned by the past, of what should hap-
pen. The need to control invariably increases as the disorderly,
unexpected, side-effects of past efforts accumulate, which
results in ever-greater unnecessary difficulties or complicated-
ness. In contrast, limit allows order to emerge from within by
determining only what at any given moment should not hap-
pen. Limit is therefore open to the future, and tends strongly
towards ever-greater simplicity and freedom.
[NOTE: Control is a key feature of mechanical systems;
Limit is a key feature of natural systems.]
WEALTH & POWER . . .
We shape the world and the world shapes us.
The tendency of both outward material wealth
and power is to become not so much means
to a better world or even a happier life, but
to become ends in themselves. Once this
happens, what wealth and power come to
fear more than anything else is the loss of
wealth and power.
Because of this all-powerful fear of loss, wealth
and power are only really interested in the arts and
sciences insofar as the arts and sciences can
make the increase of wealth and power possible,
and more secure. And because this fear of loss
corrupts all clear thinking, it leads us to deny in
the name of security everything we do not wish
to believe. This is why wealth and power are
notoriously bad at dealing with the disturbing
facts of any kind of serious existential crisis,
say like those posed by abrupt climate change,
or the collapse of democracy into military dictatorship.
That is the essential contradiction of outward
material wealth and power, in any era, in any age
and place. And it is why wealth and power rightly
fear their own downfall, which, because of the
contradiction itself, is with time, tragically
both necessary and
Wealth? When I have the things I need
to share the things I love.