Thursday, September 21, 2017

In memory of Judy Heckert Woehr


Black scape
Occupies space
on my wall
In my head
a door which is
a doorless room
the mysterious whole
mysterious severed parts
come together
to hold nothing
but itself.
In my head - ideas
seethe around
it's black edges
compelling me
to turn away.
I think of structures
their particular
of destruction and renewal -
An apogee of atoms
tightly contained here
as a moment is held
solid it time
and at the last
totally grasped.

    Barbara Sturgell
    February, 1973, Austin, Texas

    In response to a piece of art I created, an assemblage named Apotheosis

Friday, July 14, 2017


     My excited ideas carry me away to a place where my presence in you is eternally presupposed, where we first met, where the simplest of seeds, just a transparent offering of your eyes into mine - moist fecund penetration of shameless desire and receptiveness, took root. And what grows now in this ground through our common experience is a yet young growth seen through rapidly evolving configurations tumbling cataclysmicly in turmoil about each other in a kind of spontaneity, like an ever changing yet never changing waterfall of thought and emotional textures, like light playing on light in the abyss, like colliding stars; ecstatic revelations of the silent blackness behind that common nothingness around which our gazing into each others eyes plays like solar flares, and which alone could support my perpetual falling, falling, falling, falling, and simultaneously reflect, reflect, reflect, reflect, our faces back and forth to each other in an infinite regress of images metamorphosing into worlds of subtlety in infinite regress.

     Finally, hovering on the abyss, I am just a benumbed butterfly in the winter wind, chasing you, a fallen leaf blown into a fluttering enticement.

     Potentiality is to actuality as meaning is to purpose as love is to joining. As you are to me as I am to you. We are the same, only the perspective is different. I confer individuality. You confer universality.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Midnight Contemplation

     The world is not what we perceive. (Through the five senses) These are devices to awaken us to the world. The world is what we know it to be through direct knowledge, noesis, intuition. So Merleau-Ponty was not quite right. Neither is the world a (17th century) machine. It is a mind, or, rather, a soul. Your atheist, but not so much your agnostic - he might be considered to be a sceptic - is stuck in the 17th century mind set of Newtonian physics of the mechanistic universe.

     The false dichotomies of the mechanistic world view are a product of the reasoning mind. We have learned that matter is to be contrasted with non matter. A more subtle view is that matter is that which is superimposed by form. Matter is a kind of universality - its more or less evenly distributed throughout space while form confers individuality on matter. The many confer individuality on the one while the one confers universality on the many. Universality is closely associated with intuition and through intuition to faith and understanding. Form is closely associated with reason and through reason to knowledge. We seek to define the universal in terms of the form, specifically, our own form. It was Heraclitus that said man is the measure of all things. This is a bug not a feature.

     The world is not what we perceive. Neither is the truth what we make of it. But this doesn't mean there is no objective truth. The world is grounded in reality. Its just that the truth, in itself, is unknowable. Only in its particulars is it continuously and endlessly revealed while never being exhausted. The proliferation of red roses never uses up all the red. This is why knowledge always fails. You can't own the truth. Red roses participate with redness but don't use it all up. This also serves to explain why every moment of mind is a reiteration of self, soul. And in turn it follows that it is not true there is no abiding soul as the Buddha is reported to have claimed. Redness is there for the next iteration of a red rose for infinity.

     Confusion about this makes it seem we are free to make our own truth, but really, that we seem to find the truth we look for is something of an illusion. There are boundaries. Moral truth is real. Its just that it can't be exhausted - like the red of the rose. Its not a thing in itself, and neither is God. We find God through faith. That is also how we find moral truth. You can say that reality is what we think it is but that is an error. It is measuring the universal in terms of the particular. And, another thing to consider about a moral compass is not so much that you can see where you are going but rather you know where you are coming from.

     God confers on man universality. Man confers on God, individuality. Put another way, God confers on man eternality, everlasting life. Man confers on God temporality. The sun, the planets follow this same scheme writ large.

     To summarize, its not about finding the one true answer to life's profoundest questions. They simply are not there. Rather focus on the search for the answer, the ultimate truth. As Kierkegaard put it, life is a mystery to live not to discover. You can't own it but, better yet, you are permitted to endlessly seek it out. Its much easier to drink from a pool with cupped rather than grasping hands. And, honor, duty, courage, devotion, love, truth, wisdom, understanding, faith, beauty, and liberty are to sentient life forms everywhere what red is to the rose.

     The moon is high in the night sky, almost full. But the silence of this night outshines her lovely face. Contemplate "nothing said can do more for enlightenment than what a finger pointing at the moon can do for seeing the moon." 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seed Extinguished

by virtue of regress
a certain freedom
who can deny complexity
which where is now
which time is there
on your beloved papers
packed in their particularity
above below, between beyond

what can i say
that will stop the world
reveal the lives
the man centered universe
you expect an answer
you tempt a man who has elephants

i do not make fun
but play
but loosing
my pen my pen my pen
the seed is extinguished

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Irwin Lieb, R. G. Collingwood, William Poteat, Soren Kierkegaard*

David Goldman

America’s journey is the Christian pilgrimage that cannot end with an earthly goal. Thus, Huckleberry Finn is an exemplar of Christian literature as much as is The Pilgrim’s Progress. The journey is motivated not by the destination but by the restlessness of the pilgrim. There is only one possible conclusion to Huck’s adventure: His journey must resume, as he announces in the book’s last line: “But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”

   My need is too great for anyone to satisfy.

Don Juan

     To the ancient Greek a person can come to know reality, meaning, the Real is finite. To the ancient Hebrew and Christian a person can never know reality because it is essentially unsearchable. Created beings can never fathom the divine will. This comports with the old Hebrew idea that Gods' name is unpronounceable - being vowels only - Yod He Vav He rendered in Latin as YHVH. It also is more a verb than a noun. The doctrines in the Qabala are precursors of Christian orthodoxy. So, even though unknowable in 'this' life, the fruit of ascending to heaven is full revelation of the Real in the after life. Here, below, we must live by grace. Put another way, for the Hebrew/Christian, the full truth about reality is in a separate realm accessible only when certain conditions are met in the death of the individual. Herein Christianity posits discarnate sensuousness as a principle, force of nature, with which they long to be joined. They crave that 'feeling' of being one with what is an anthropomorphic idea of God. Is this not prideful of man to think by the grace of god that what is in essence a man generated account of the ultimate workings of the cosmos have been revealed only to him?

     Hubris is to make the world over to one's own design, to shape the cosmos to one's own purpose. It is of impiety. It is tampering with the cosmos. Another essentially Greek idea.

     For the Greek the cosmos is finite and orderly; its meaning can be grasped for the real itself is finite, a thing in itself. For the Hebrew and Christian it is governed by divine will. But neither account for Don Juanism, that is, restlessness, tumult, infinity. So, how, then, does Christianity posit spiritually qualified sensuousness? It is an outgrowth of the idea that it will be fully available in the future, when one passes into the after life. So, it exists for us on the horizon, hovering there like a jewel, attractive, beautiful, infinitely fulfilling. We want that, live, race towards that fulfillment. It becomes an object of longing which keeps us from fully attending to our life in the flesh, and really, we come to despise our supposed limitations as embodied creatures. Remember, to the Hebrew reality is equivocally manifest in appearances, that is, it is not exhausted while the Greek view is that reality is wholly manifest in appearances; it is exhausted, there not being a supra-real.

     So, "As principle, power, is Christianity that first posited sensuousness into the world." (Kierkegaard) Western sensibility can best be understood if looked at in this light. As principle, arché (from or in the beginning), sensuousness was first posited by Christianity, and this is opposed by the Hebrew davar, meaning word, or speech. The Greeks thought the cosmos finite and equivalent and that logos and psyche inform reality throughout. The Hebraic universe is orderly because God would not deceive us; he is bona fide, as Descartes put it. For Christianity, God informs reality, creating it anew each moment. For Greeks, logos, psyche, cosmos inform reality by being, becoming, or keeping reality. The word of God is not reality, not divine, not any more than our words are us. Logos is the real, and it hides behind appearances. God is faithful, but unsearchable; his being is not exhausted in his deeds. Neither is ours. We are complete only in an ever disappearing event on an ever receding horizon. Gratification of the senses supplants having this future completion; we're deprived of being whole so the unfillable void in us becomes a daemonic urge - Don Juanism. Satiety ever escapes us remaining forever unachievable like that point of being fully real in an ever disappearing future event.

     The historical corollary is the Israelites being 'brought' out of Egyptian bondage. Likewise the world, in the biblical account, was 'brought' out of the void. This pattern repeats when, we will be, in the fullness of time - upon the perfect realization of creation - 'brought' out of this world, apocalyptically, and into heaven and into complete, whole eternal beings with perfect incorruptible bodies.

     Kierkegaard, through his "Author A" states that Christianity posits sensuousness as its own opposition in that the spirit sees the ego as separate and evil. "Beware of worldly things, the 'ways' of the flesh." So not only is man irrevocably incomplete, he is self loathing, which feeds the daemonic urge adding or enhancing his restless tumultuous race to infinity. Poteat thought, along with Kierkegaard that in the music of the opera Don Giovanni, Mozart actually expressed in sound this restless urge. In Christianity and Don Juanism the sensuous is not related to the "senses" so much as to a kind of spirit. It is a discarnate sensuousness. Coming to dwell in this feeling is an elevation or transfiguration of the sensuous out of the body to the level of a spirit. This is the birth of the daemonic. The daemonic prevents us from having proper reverence for the absolute other, if, indeed there is that - I don't think so - and leads us on a blind path searching a universal culmination of the restlessness, tumult, the erroneous sense of infinity that is its heritage. We literally and forever teeter on history's brink ever racing to a disappearing point on the horizon, the sense of being complete in ourselves, the sense of wholeness impossible to reach.

     The unadulterated spirit is will. Will is power. The urge to go beyond the self, the daemonic urge, or romanticism, the emotional embrace of an ideal as opposed to acceptance of things in themselves, as they really are, is a perversion of this power. Classicism, to the extent it elevates the intellect, or dwells on the distinction that can be made between the power of the mind - rationalism - and mere corporeality, sets up a tendency toward adulteration of the will. The next logical step from classicism is toward romanticism; one is respite for the other. We live in one world but have multiple personalities, to put it another way.

     This is a most abstract idea and has a minimum of bearing on me as I am in the world and which thus tends to take me out of the world. The most abstract medium is the medium which makes a minimum of reference to man as a spatial temporal creature and which thus tends to take him out of his being in the world. Put another way it is an escape from what is to what might be. Don Juanism, in one sense the erotic in nature gone wild, was sprouted from the seed of the insane drive to achieve salvation, personal completeness, only by union with an absolute other in a reality disconnected from life.

     There is no cure for this malady unless it might be complete annihilation, which seems to be where we are headed. Western man has morphed into a creature that is permanently estranged from himself and reality.

     *These were my teachers besides G.V. Desani who influenced me most. Lieb was Philosophy Department Chairman, Bill Poteat was a visiting professor. Lieb introduced me to Collingwood, Poteat to Kierkegaard

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Zen Moment

Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.
The Heart Sutra

When I say something is done in a void, I mean the doing constitutes the entire universe. I write; the whole world writes. I am the world, there is nothing else. The world is nothing but the writing at that moment.

     The Buddha is reported to have said there is no abiding reality. Thus "you drink from an empty cup and listen to the sound of one hand clapping."

     How best to cope with estrangement from reality.

     Alienation is a mode of experience in which the person is estranged from himself and/or reality. To the existentialist life is a project to end this estrangement. From the ancients to Hegel the philosophical task was to find the universal essence, the immutableness of being - key Buddha's statement. Hegel was the last of this trend. Kierkegaard rejected this classical notion that man should seek universal essence objectively (Heaven) asserting that it should be found subjectively, within man  himself.

     If there is no abiding Real then whatever fills the moment becomes realities' surrogate.

     Does this mean that everything is permitted? Perhaps. Is the boundary condition only that there is no boundary? If there is no abiding reality on what basis is there morality?

     Plato uses Beauty to describe a way out of this conundrum. We can come to understand what is really going on here by realizing that we actually "see right through beauty, past the object, to the real itself." The Buddha, of course, is right. Were there an abiding reality then it would take on the characteristics of a material object. We need to understand that though it is indefinable, unknowable, unfathomable, the abiding reality is there, just not in a way sentient life forms can grasp. One cannot grasp, hold, own, Beauty, Truth, Moral Justice. A kind of Ontological Undecidability (Kelly Ross) is the result.

     Though unknowable we yet participate in the Real. And, since Faith is, at least I think so, a facet of the same Divinity as Beauty, the we might see right through Faith to to God 'himself'.

     And, finally, the Buddha's saying there is not an abiding reality is tantamount to saying there is no God which is what Soren Kierkegaard said, though he added salient context. God Does not Exist. He is Eternal. To me that is beautiful beyond words - we see right through the thought to Reality itself. God is not - because material existence doesn't pertain.

     An abiding Real is not, because material existence does not pertain.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


We are not the subject of the Real.  We are the object.  Its not what.  It's who.  The subject is material, the object, spiritual.  Also, the Real is what we perceive. (Merleau-Ponty)  That's good enough.  Question not whether It is Real.  Whether it is an ephemera, a dream, matters not.  It's the hand we've been dealt.

Neither must one go through guilt to reach salvation. Heaven is within; its not a destination. This place we find ourselves actually is the promised land of the Bible. To become self-centered is the essence of the Christian fall from grace. Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit is a metaphor for this. It represents the move from living in the spirit to living in the material, to identify with the body instead of the spirit. From there we tend to project our being as an object onto the whole of reality. So reason pertains only to the material aspect, principle. When Pascal said "The heart has its reasons which reason can never understand." he is saying the heart is the faculty of spirit. Clearly he places the heart above. Spirit over matter.

The subject of the Real is the soul, the person as a self-realizing spirit, and the role of the material in this play is as a mere facilitator -  it is the mechanism whereby the soul grows its self knowledge and more importantly, understanding. The emergence of Religion and Science in the forms they have taken are based on the person identifying not with the spirit but with his material side. Religion posits the source of Truth in an absolute other, material other - God as a thing (among things). It then places that material object on an ever receding horizon and sets man up to eternally chase after it, forever to end his longing in frustration. Science, similarly, posits the source of Truth in mere measurement - which is always measurement of 'something', a material object, again, on an ever receding horizon. It eternally reformulates its measurements to ostensibly close in on a final grand unifying theory.

Ultimately, these are infinite regresses of effort by man to define his material self in a spiritual world, doomed to failure. The more you cling to the Real, the more it slips from your grasp. How can one own Beauty? Truth? Its easier to own something like the color Red. Meaning, we chase after qualities of the Real hoping that we can fill the void at our center that is best filled with understanding that discovery is the action of the unknown, the unknowable.

Soren Kierkegaard: "Life is a mystery to live, not a mystery to solve."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Night Baseball (redux)


Halo of light.
Small figures,
Moving mundane ritual.
Crickets chirrup.
Bats c r r a c k!

Gene pools encounter
In self predatory embrace
Of pedagogue time's
Choreographed cascade
Of tumult tormented evolutes
In perpetual awakening
To combat and

    April 27, 1991


    The voice of the void:  "Alive, I can't die; Dead, I can't be born."


Saturday, June 10, 2017

China Hegemon

"The People’s Republic of China thus holds the key. Beijing realizes that the DPRK’s rogue regime is highly destabilizing regionally and bad for business throughout East Asia. Combine that with internal instability which could send refugees streaming north into Kirin and Liaoning provinces, is something PRC policy planners fear. If Beijing wanted to make the difference they could; China supplies half of DPRK’s food and 90 percent of oil supplies. The PRC could pull the plug on Pyongyang. But it won’t likely do so."

This is a good article. I think the answer is obvious. China needs North Korea to keep the United States unbalanced, to sow confusion and discord so THEY can play the insectoid games of the great human hive that they are. Raw survival of the clan. Monetized. Militarized.

For some excellent background see here.  Exerpt:

"...there are radical differences among the three cultures. America is apocalyptic; Russia is messianic; and China is pragmatic. By apocalyptic, I mean that Americans define themselves with respect to an unattainable point in the future, the goal of a Christian pilgrimage whose endpoint always hovers beyond the horizon. In a recent essay for Tablet Magazine I tried to identify what was unique in American culture...

"China’s attitude towards the world is paranoid, but even paranoids have enemies: China fears Western attempts to promote independence in Tibet, or to radicalize the Uyghur Muslims in its extreme west, or to build up Taiwan as an alternative state....

"What appears in the West to be a courteous gesture to religious freedom (visits by the Dalai Lama) or hospitality to political refugees (official US funding of the World Uyghur Congress) are viewed in Beijing as evidence that the West is keeping open its options to attempt to destabilize and dismember China."

Friday, June 09, 2017

I Heed This

     I heed this; I have all my things around me and I am at ease.

    With a cool hand on extreme urgency I stand waiting for something to happen to generate growth out of the plane of my faculties as I extend them into the world. I imagine tendril like growth, quickly along some avenues, slowly along others. An omnipresent consciousness monitors the growth, shifting emphasis here and there to accommodate the obstacles to growth and the places of peace and piety as well. There are places of aggression and places of vulnerability. The art of life consists in part on deft manipulation by the person, of these elements. How does one learn this art? Recognize that patterns arising out of the alternating currents of aggression and vulnerability are pulses in an ever generating play of self. We must live under the weight of our doing. If the body is our agency of primary activity, we will live by what the body learns to need. If the mind, or, say, the aesthetic sense of mind, dominates, the world will come to us in that guise. If we read and hear of opening spiritual doors and persistently travel the inward path, that too is a cloud around the self which, itself, is clean...

My mentor, G.V. Desani, taught that the mind was like a flawless white diamond on a colored surface. While it was perfectly clear in itself it reflects, takes up the color of the surface.