St. Gallen, Switzerland

Here are 28 photographs taken in Switzerland between 31 October and 6 November, 2018; 25 were taken in the city of St. Gallen, 2 was taken in the city of Winterthur, and 1 was taken on the train between St. Gallen and Zürich.

Gretchen enjoying the views of “an economically stable and culturally mature country.” She likes the food, too!

This site started as the hermitage of the Irish monk Gallus in 612 AD, became an abbey in 720 AD, and evolved to this by the Baroque. The Swiss like to keep things in tip-top shape.

Lots of good chocolates at this Chocolaterie. I had hot coco every day (and chocolate candy on most). Good pastry in Switzerland, and lots of many kinds of bread.

The car we rented in Winterthur during our Swiss trip.

Mechanical loom, used into the early 1900’s.

Textile Machine! Such machines vastly expanded textile production, during the Industrial Revolution, from what had been done in earlier times with only hand embroidery. The hand embroidery and hand lace production industries were the domain of woman artisan-producers and innovators, both aristocrats and (many more) common folk (who earned wages for their work).

Hand-sown embroidery from ~1750. The colors were more vibrant than the photo conveys. The fine stitching is amazing.

Clothes from early 19th century (display at the Textile Museum).

Present-day Swiss textile (close-up).

Am Gallusplatz (At Gallus Plaza) restaurant: regional Swiss and Austrian-style cuisine. Very nice.

Sunny afternoon.

Humorous androgynous figures, painted wood carvings.

A street in Winterthur. My version of “modern” art photography. The whole country of Switzerland is like that hedge: trimmed to perfection.

Train ride on the neat, comfortable, clean, well-appointed, quiet and smooth-riding Swiss trains. They have many trains, and they run frequently. The Swiss countryside is green and, like everything else there, neat, clean and well-ordered.

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You Are That

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You Are That

If your happiness depends on others,
you will never be happy.

If your liberation depends on others
banding together to secure salvation
for you and your people,
you will never be free.

If you are waiting for humanity to awaken
to enlightened solidarity,
you will have wasted precious living.

Your happiness, your liberation, your salvation
will not converge on you
from the external world,
they can only emerge from you
if you choose them to unfurl.

The living body is the focus
of the universe reemerging,
the unclouded mind is the viewing
of that endless panorama.

You are that.

28 October 2018

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The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution

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The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution

The social revolution has to precede the political revolution. Personal self-realization has to precede the social revolution.

Achieving social change in America through political change – legislatively – as for example with the Civil Rights legislation of 1964 to 1968, is too slow a process today for overturning American capitalism to American socialism in time to effectively respond to climate change and global environmental degradation, by shifting American civilian energy production from fossil and nuclear fuels to solar, wind and geothermal sources, and ocean-wave-and-tidal and river hydroelectric sources, accompanied by a wide spectrum of energy conservation strategies and materials recycling and reprocessing methods, instead of indiscriminate and polluting waste disposal.

In fact, the political path to social change may be completely plugged shut today, with the fanatical obstructionism by capital interests who collectively own America’s two major political parties, and whose various outmoded environmentally catastrophic schemes of wealth generation are fossilized in place within an overarching 19th century paradigm of CO2-producing industrialization and labor exploitation, directed by frantic casino-style banking and financial speculation.

So, the timely development of a popular, scientific and effective national response to counteract the global geophysical crisis we call “climate change” must occur outside the arcane political machinery of our money-corrupted representative democracy. Basically, “the people” would have to independently develop a sense of national solidarity, overcoming all regionalisms and bigotries, and independently get organized to shift the ways they live and the ways they earn their keep, from a reliance on “black” versus “green” energy, and from a reliance on adversarial-capitalist economics versus cooperative-socialist economics. Given such a social revolution, it would then be possible to mount a massive campaign to counter climate change.

But, is such a social revolution possible? Can a majority of the national population actually free itself from the many shackles, control methods and seductions of corporate capitalism, by willfully bonding into one massive mutually tolerant and mutually helping cooperative, independent of the existing government: into a self-directed revolutionary socialism? This would require an incredible unanimity of vision and an amazing degree of commitment and discipline among hundreds of millions of people, to independently coalesce into a self-sustaining socialized mass able to overcome the opposition of the intransigent corporate capitalist establishment.

Any clear-thinking person will see that the idea of a spontaneous eruption of popular revolutionary socialism that independently counteracts climate change is impossible, and by chained logic such a clear-thinking person will also realize that we humans will never counteract climate change but instead will be plowed under by it, like the terrain downhill from an advancing glacier, because we are so inattentively self-absorbed and fatally wedded to the preservation of our inequitable and dysfunctional capitalism.

So, is the most intelligent tack then to stop agonizing over climate change and give up wasting time and energy in doomed attempts to put off the geophysical inevitable? Should we all just become Trumps and luxuriate carefree in capitalist mud-wallows for as long as they are available? Why bother trying to change the unchangeable?, sacrificing the good times of today for a restrictive future that will never occur anyway? Why not just keep grabbing for the money and enjoy doing that like we always have?

My answer is: half a loaf is better than none. Even if climate change is an implacable civilization-ending geophysical tsunami, I think we all would have a relatively better collective life for the duration of our species if we could develop even a scattering of minor uncoordinated popular socialist initiatives – anti-capitalist and anti-militarist – that directly confront specific aspects of the multi-faceted colossus of climate change and its social disruptions. These initiatives would include the election into public office of ecological-socialist candidates, like today’s young, enthusiastic Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), even if in small numbers. Why? Because any political efforts by eco-socialist officeholders that reach the public as actionable realities will benefit some fraction of the population, since such efforts would either ameliorate, blunt or end specific sociopathologies of our pure id capitalism.

Why give in to despair, dejection and acquiescence to a capitalist climapocalypse? Why not actualize through our own individual living presences the attitudes and one-to-one human connections that inject intelligent compassion and fulfilling artistry into the society around us, and in that way we become focal points of the socialist revolution we can imagine? How do you think a politically successful socialist revolution could be formed in the first place, if not by the weaving together of masses of one-to-one personal relationships of such self-realized individuals into a vast societal network?

Ultimately, it is not about “being saved” by external agents, like “good politicians” and “good laws” and “good governments,” from victimization by looming climate change disasters; it is about transcending who we are as merely passive fearfully insular consumers, and realizing that we are each, literally, individual expressions of the cosmos, and then operating out of that realization with a self-directed living-out of our socialist visions. Such living is the best that we humans can do, both individually and as socialized clusters, regardless of whether we are eventually plowed under by climapocalypse, or completely overcome it.

As an individual biological organism, you incorporate the formation of the cosmos within you as the subatomic particles, which first erupted out of the Big Bang, that are within the atoms of your materiality. Those atoms are almost entirely empty space, their nuclei (which are clusters of protons and neutrons) occupy only between 10^-14 to 10^-12 of the volume of the atom; that is to say 1 part in a hundred trillion, to 1 part in a trillion of the otherwise empty volume of the atom. The extent of that atomic space is defined by the electrical fields that transmit the forces connecting the nucleus to the point particle electrons flickering (“orbiting”) about it. These atoms are in turn clustered in simple molecules, like water (H2O), oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2) and glucose (C6H12O6), and in massive and complex molecules like DNA. But even so, our personal matter is made of pinpoints of atomic grit suspended in empty space and meshed together by forces communicated across electrical links called chemical bonds. When you press your palm on a tabletop and feel the firm resistance of that structure, you are actually experiencing a force of electrical repulsion between the electro-chemical integrity of the mostly empty space tabletop, and the electro-chemical integrity of the mostly empty space you! Imagine such an atomic-molecular “net of gems” – as the ancient Buddhists called “the interdependence of all things” – as a metaphor for the revolutionary socialist net-of-gems network we would like to weave ourselves into, and to have a transformative effect on our political economy.

The “chemical bonds” of our wished-for socialist revolution are the one-to-one personal connections we “atoms” of that network fling out like spider silk to weave our self-realized selves into that net of gems. What matters is the sympathy of vision, and the moral character and personal integrity of the people we seek connection with. What does not matter are superficial attributes like their ethnicity, their physical characteristics, their birth language, their “style,” their default and unthinking microscopically sectarian political alignments (please!, forget about these uselessly trivial distractions!).

A friend of mine is a Vietnam War veteran who survived over sixty-four artillery barrages while trapped on a hilltop during the First Battle of Khe Sanh. He crystalized the essential idea here this way: “There are some people you want in your foxhole, and some you don’t.” My goal is to be “foxhole worthy” for people like him, and I judge others by the same criterion. At that high metaphysical level of socialist vision, we are synchronized; at the mundane street level of routine personal interaction, we give each other spontaneous rides when our cars unexpectedly break down on the road and we call for help, and when either of our cars are in the shop and we need to make a doctor’s appointment. We also share lunch breaks and stories. If and when it comes to serious action – foxhole time – we know we can count on each other. There are other men and women I share a similar connection with, people who are aware of the realities of our times, and have a compassionate intelligence about the direction of their lives, which goes beyond the effort to physically and economically sustain themselves, to also inject some goodness and humane connection – socialism – into the public sphere they are immersed in. It is with such people that I am associated with – “socialized” – in voting for our “progressive candidates,” and advocating – each in our own way – for an anti-capitalist and anti-militarist social transformation; and it is with such people that I can imagine being next to during any sudden eruption of a volcanic socialist revolution.

The Trumpians and their ilk are empty people. They need all that money, glittery stuff and power, to encrust their lonely hollowness with, so as to give them the illusion of actually being somebody and having actually accomplished something with their profiteering, exploitation and hoarding. But, sadly, they are human failures: they either deny or have no realization of their fundamental reality as expressions of Nature, nor of their potential for experiencing true fulfillment as individuals consciously interconnected in a humane socialist net-of-gems.

Don’t get distracted from the fundamentals by trivial details. Everything you need to know about self-realization – the atomic cores of our socialist revolution – was set down in the Upanishads, 2800 years ago. Everything you need to know about self-directed living, whether for meshing amicably with society or slicing through it for just cause – the electro-chemical bonds of integrity, and the forces of material opposition for our socialist revolution – was set down in the Bhagavad Gita, 2300 years ago. Everything you need to know about politics at the street level of pure, hard materialism – the movement-wide actions of our desired socialist revolution in opposition to dictatorial and enslaving moneyed power – was set down by Thucydides 2400 years ago. Everything written since is at best a gloss on the fundamentals already given, encrusted with elaborations on details about the cultures and times those later writings came out of; or they are at worst a complete diversion into varieties of ignorance, whether presented as texts of religious revelation, or advances of political theory. Read the originals and see for yourself.

In summary: each human being is something Nature is doing; realize and celebrate this, and from such realization free your mind from passivating confinement by corporate capitalist infotainment, herding by fear, and want-inducing indoctrination; from that personal mental liberation, direct yourself toward perfecting your character and achieving your full human potential (an endless endeavor); from such self-focused mental independence and moral drive, exercise the bravery of tolerance by seeking to make connections with other people of similar vision and moral drive; and then from your network of such personal connections try to weave yourself into a grander socialist net-of-gems that may in time capture and transform the nation, and perhaps even someday the world.

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Transcending Climate Change

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Transcending Climate Change

CLIMATE CHANGE / ENERGY TRANSFORMATION is a great challenge for us all. Approached with gusto, solidarity and creativity, it could be an exhilarating rebirth of everything and everyone we know – we can create Paradise if we choose to. If, instead, we shrink from this challenge, in denial, fear, timidly, submissiveness, without any spirit or confidence, then, yes, this formidable Earth-changing realty could drift into a long, enveloping, tedious, glacially-paced catastrophe for us, leading – who knows when – to our unglamorous individually unnoticed and lonely demise.

You have to realize that whether or when we “go extinct” is really beyond our control at any time; that rests in the hands of the greater geophysical, cosmic and chaotic power of Nature (which on Earth is certainly being prodded annoyingly by our puny yet persistent and mindless thermodynamic wastefulness). But, how we live as a species, and how we collectively express our awareness – and appreciation – of being alive, of being conscious, of being a human society: that is something we have complete control over for however long our species is graced with life.

So, really, the challenge is far beyond just finding exclusive escape routes from our deteriorating here-and-now to some minimally bearable new climatic future, for classes of today’s people who are favored by luck and wealth, and are anxious to gain comfortable personal salvations without having to undergo personal change. The actual challenge is to achieve our full human potential – individually and as a species – to transcend who we are today so as to make the rest of our indeterminate collective existence worthy of our finest enduring aspirations.

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Dawn Will Come Again

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Dawn Will Come Again

As our globe rolls towards the Sun,
our horizon flames into dawn.

The old white men
dour, dreary and dull,
have again succeeded in holding back
the fresh, vibrant, resplendent visions
of our young;
and have kept their arid world —
their gray, turgid, moneyed world —
safe from their worst fears:

the fear of
the magical power of women,
those incomprehensible creatures
that enthrall them so,
and own the womb of creativity;

the fear of
the fast scintillating rainbow of alertness
rampant
among the young, dark, numinous people
whose intense unfathomable awareness
is so confusing and uncontrollable.

But, once again, they have prevailed
in holding back the outbreak of rebirth:

so relieved
to have slowed to a standstill
the efflorescence
of those perennial human aspirations
that give warmth to the soul;

so relieved
to have kept their world safe for:
productivity, gains, exemptions,
well-funded exclusivity,
civility from the service class,
deference
from intellectuals, scientists, artists;

so relieved
in their continuing placid drift
of supreme satisfaction,
without impudent, jarring interruptions
of scorching reality;

so relieved,
as oblivious as possible in existences
completely superfluous
to the life of the human spirit.

As always, we await a new dawn.

I want to drink ambrosia,
like Apollo.
I want my mind clear,
I want my spirit drunk,
so I can regale you
with my lyrical dreams
of impossible happiness.

The dry leaves of exhausted summer
must brown, shrivel and fall
from dead brittle limbs
to crinkle underfoot,
beneath winter snows,
before a moistening thaw can return
budding hopes new and green.

And so,
praise be to the glory of youth:
dawn will come again.

5 October 2018

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Richard Dedekind & Irrational Numbers

This post is entirely the work of Patrick Weidhaas, a mathematician and friend.

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Patrick Weidhaas: “I recently wrote a math article on the very successful definition of the real numbers by the German mathematician Richard Dedekind (1831-1916). He came up with the “Dedekind cuts.” I learned about this in college and never fully understood it — and wasn’t that interested in it. Only lately did I fully appreciate the significance of his attempt to define the real numbers purely through arithmetic — without any help from geometry.”

Patrick Weidhaas: “This is a photo I took in Berlin on September 11, 2010. It is one of my favorite shots. I still remember the late sunny afternoon as I encountered this blue bridge and the small lake (“Königssee”) below.”

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Imprisoned Souls

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Imprisoned Souls

We live in a world rich in its diversity of intolerance of independent thought and self-directed living.

Such expressions of personal independence and creativity are threats to the slavish conformity of the mass of fearful, repressed people hiding in their submissiveness to traditional ideologies that give them status in social hierarchies that limit the full human potential of the individual.

This maintains, without merit, the elevation of patriarchs and power-hungry mediocrities, who clip the wings of the human spirit, and direct the enforcement of their systems of mental and physical imprisonment of the masses serving them.

1 October 2018

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Ella García’s response to “Imprisoned Souls”:

I read it, and in my limited life experience I agree. But now, for my sake, I want you to write one last stanza with encouraging words. I’m noticing what you just said in everyday life and I want happy words.

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A Self-Directed Life

Even in the most restrictive of societies, it is always possible for a person to keep their independence of thought alive, at a minimum as an inner experience and unexpressed part of daily life. From that oasis of freedom, you can do two things:

— work out your artistry, even if it is only mentally, or if it is as simple as the perfection of the skills of awareness and deft action that you apply to your work and your routine actions; and

— be conscious to incorporate your accumulating observations and experiences into the strengthening and refinement of your own moral character.

Retaining control of who you are as an authentic human being — regardless of external circumstances — is the essence of leading a self-directed life.

If and when you are fortunate enough to live in better and freer social circumstances, then take advantage of your luck by using the opportunities open to you, to expand your artistic efforts and to reach for achieving your full human potential.

The joys of life do not hang from trees like ripe fruit ready to be picked, nor sweep into you as gifts like balmy breezes at the summer seashore. They are born out of you as a natural consequence of leading a self-directed life.

Live long and prosper.

2 October 2018

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