Friday, February 01, 2019

Move to Word Press

To be found at Can also be found here, in web archive (way back machine)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Note on Epistemology

We're not supposed to know. Its a blessing that we don't. By Grace we are protected from knowing. Bliss depends on this. Such knowing that we would live our lives in its discovery vanishes the moment it is grasped. Because. Knowledge presumes object(s). What if there are no objects? Is knowledge always knowledge of? Grasping and knowing are similar. The desire to own. My knowledge! Certainty. Attraction. Who is the knower? The known? Are they the same? How to dissolve this clinging...

Discovery is the action of the unknown. The less you know the more you create.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Recent untitled poem

The rite of spring
riot of blooms
rout of cold winds, winter's bane
shivering bones
clattering in dismal dungeons dark

Violets are gone now
and iris and lily
bluebonnets take the stage
peerless blue to shame a cloudless sky

Pretty pink primrose too
takes the eye and
pink petal's secret promise folds
virgin thighs' blissful path

See me touch me
feel me smell me
please don't pick me
let me cast seed and wither and die

I'll be here every spring
past winter's baleful fling
and if you fail to come again
my bloom our last visit will ever contain

Of all I am the flowering sum
Pinnacle of the past
nadir of the future
purpose centered everywhere bounded nowhere

John Hinds

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


The Jewish sages of antiquity maintained that God deliberately left creation incomplete so that humanity could become God's partner in finishing the work of creation. (.pdf)

David Goldman

History, Culture, Language, and Ethos

The Real takes shape in memory alone.
Marcel Proust

We are only individuals at present and the only real individual is the One, all that is. Our actions are only apparently real. Nothing really happens. Our actions are caused by the whole of things, not really by our will. Therefore, only the One is an individual.
Irwin Lieb

“Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?”And God said unto Moses, “I AM That I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” 
Exodus 3

Proust wrote that in his monumental Remembrance of Things Past. It has always struck me as a profound observation and when I recently ran across a note from years ago it immediately came back into focus.

The note was that in getting a culture - language, ethos, that is - we get a past, we make it explicit. This is the common cultural, historical past.

That was from Irwin Lieb. We were studying R.G. Collingwood's Speculum Mentis (Map of Knowledge). I've written here before about Collingwood and return often to contemplate his contribution to my contemplative life.

Plato observed that in thought we are always going "up" to principles, or "down" from them. Thought somehow puts one in touch with a higher order of things, a height from which we can enjoy a broader perspective. Socrates, Plato's teacher, said the unexamined life is not worth living, it stunts one's growth. But a life of thought is a life of reasoning writ large. The "Good" of Plato is the principle to be found in an examined life - the life of reason or thought. It is the bringing together of ideas and forming a synthesis of them.

We are considering history - memory, in Proust's language, and its contribution to man's place in the world, to his finding meaning and purpose. Language and culture exist because we have a past and the past exists because we have ideas or thought or reasons that give it shape. Without language we have no thought and no past or history. You see the synergy?

Collingwood postulated that history was one stage of being in the world. He taught us that art, religion, science, and history were part of a dialectic process, one being the foundation of the next in an emergence from primitive to refined modes of being of sentient life. It is said that because ignorance is bliss the artist can lead a full life. That is because art asks questions about the real for which it expects no answer. It lacks even the self awareness, consciousness, to understand its efforts to be questions about reality. Religion at least attains a level of self awareness where wonder about the nature of the world is seen as questions about existence itself. And science takes the next step but instead of positing answers in an absolute other as in the religious mode, it abstracts meaning and purpose as insubstantial, not concrete. It denies historicity by its very nature. Its abstraction leaves it without a basis in concrete reality to which we can relate. It thereby becomes uninteresting, unrevealing, and looses its relevance when it comes to the task of finding meaning and purpose.

In the particular there is buried generality (universality) we want to bring out. When it is extracted science is speaking of hypothetical if universal judgments. The language of science is mathematics which is closely akin to music. Is there a more abstract medium than music? Now, the medium of architecture, for instance, is existential mass. Language, the word, is closer to that substantiality. We can live by words. They can be grasped. They're concrete, to make a pun. Mathematics, science, art, and religion, inform that life, enrich it, but without language the whole edifice crumbles into oblivion.

Having a memory of the past engages man in real existence. Whether that is something that persists is debatable. Likely it is as ephemeral - and maybe entirely an illusion - as the fleeting moment. But we can talk about the past, our history, and at least we seem to have the capacity to hold onto memories even if we can't hold onto the instance out of which those memories forever flow into the reservoir of history. We desire a complete synthesis, a safe haven from tumult and its turmoil and trouble. But that ever escapes our grasp. We, while born astride our own graves, are given a glimpse of light during our plunge back into darkness. This brief yet precious beyond understanding moment is an instance of the Cosmos seeing into its very own nature. Take heart that we humans, all sentient life everywhere in the Universe, are the agency by which Reality, Existence itself - God, if you like - has self awareness. The world realizes itself through you and me and all like us. So, of course it is never ending, never complete, always escaping us on a distant horizon. Its somehow comforting, therefore, that the only real individual is the One.

Biblically speaking, God becomes an individual when the Word is made flesh, taking the form of Jesus the Christ. Accordingly, the thoughts expressed here bestow that same status on every sentient life form anywhere. "I am" sent Moses. "I am" sends All.

"G_d" is not a noun. Rather, "he's" a verb. I am, you are, he, she, it IS. When he says I am sends you he is also saying, without being rude, don't ask foolish questions. It's obvious who I am and if you have to ask, well, I'm sorry, but you wouldn't understand.

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." 

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Christian Superstition

     Fundamentalist Christians are not grounded in reality, or the real they are grounded in is based on a falsehood, a false dichotomy. Their sense of self, self identification is dissipated in passion, perpetual vanishing. The ritual entering of sensuous based, delimited, defined trance, is going repeatedly to a feeling characterized by guilt, dread, fear, awe, selflessness. They claim faith abut they have its opposite, dread.

     Feeling is material based. The daemonic is material based. They intend to love "God" but do they? Is the trance a surrogate for the divine and thus is it not true that they in reality unknowingly worship evil? 

     Music, likewise, is a perpetual vanishing. So one could say their worship is somewhat musical.

     Music has no meaning. Rather it is an escape from meaning. The meaning is lost to feeling; feeling comes to constitute the whole of the Real as forever discarnate, disappearing on its appearance, ephemeral and a perpetual vanishing. It can't be held and therefore is impossible to truly affirm. It is essentially empty, a void, a surd. Evil is that. Void of meaning, purpose is that. Mere material is that.

     So, for the simple person, is there a true path to the divine? Yes, and it is essentially characterized by humility. For Christians of the kind I am thinking egotistically claim they have the secret to truth. Doubt is alien to them but doubt is a secret of the truth, in a sense, because one can never hold the truth, hold God as his very own.  Longing for rapture, union with the divine in a separate heaven to be carried away from this life to permanent bliss, joy, relief from the bonds of the flesh and joining with an eternal spirit are characteristics of their false dichotomy of spirit and matter.

     If one would take a drink from the fountain he doesn't reach in and grasp the water. He cups his hands to receive it.

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.”

     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. 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.

     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.