We all have our allegiances: to the approval pyramids we seek attention-status in, and to the idea-bubble herds (choirs, churches, clubs) we seek safety in, and are terrified to wander from as loners no longer shielded by anonymity.
The borders between these pyramids and herds form the fracture lines of human society, and exert repulsive forces between them that are steadily destroying all-life.
To be a true loner is to have dropped all wants and hopes and so be unhindered in setting a personal direction of drift through the chaos, and thus capable of gainless clarity of thought and indiscriminate compassion.
The best hope for the continuation of humanity into the deep future is that it find a unity of purpose, and the best ground from which that unifying impulse can germinate to then send out its unifying roots, is our constellation of liberated wanderers.
Moments of Eternity
Sometimes now I think back to moments when I lived in eternity, and that seems to put a meaning into the arc of my ordinary and unremarkable life.
I look across the valley of my wooded canyon to the ridge beyond. The morning sun sprinkles bright highlights on the green leaves of eucalyptus quavering in the breezes sloshing up and down the canyon, as the thinnest vapor of moisture glides up the corridor of light between the ridges, veiling the far side in a gauze of renewal. The massed fronds of the far side forest sway in small gentle random palpitations as if polyps in a coral reef feeding in the tidal surges of sky that sweep through our living space.
I see a sunburst sparkle a pine-top against an azure sky on a chill January morning.
I see my little girl splash in a muddy puddle on a frigid February day in a park abandoned by all but two ducks standing one-legged on the island in the little pond, and then again that night when she fell asleep on my warm chest against my heartbeat on the couch.
I see a hummingbird eye-to-eye a beak-length away from my nose on a languid August afternoon lounging with wine and the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch.
I see gleeful tussles with my children on the couch and pillows and carpet, their joyful splashing in their bath, their dinner made while the bathroom floods, their drift into innocent sleep, city lights on the distant horizon of a clear evening, and watching the cactus flower bloom all through night with the cats electrified to live that outside darkness with me as I stretched to reach into it to the stars.
I see me writing out with pen the Greek symbols of mathematical equations realizing I’d solved a problem no one else had ever seen, while outside birds get drunk on fermented pyracantha berries in the ripening afternoon sun of late summer, and watching that light rest still, knowing.
I see me walking across campus into the first Earth Day celebration in 1970 to the realization that I now knew my life’s mission, and catching the sight of my sweetest lover walking with a smile toward me, both knowing we would share the music of the day and the poetry of the night, vindicating the gifts of our youth.
I see me canoeing out across the summertime lake to the far island near the girl’s camp, to slip out of sight behind it, beach my canoe, and swing from the rope tied to the overhanging tree limb to plunge into the fresh water, before waving to the girls on the beach across the narrow channel, who waved in their own delight, and paddling back to the boys’s camp so fulfilled in my solitary reverie.
Seeing Through The Fake Smiles
Sometimes it is charitable to interrupt a person’s illusions with the truth, and sometimes it is charitable to refrain from interrupting and let people drift to their consequences. Which is better depends on how much harm to all others can be prevented. You gain merit by making that choice wisely, and by containing the inevitable pain of your awareness within your necessary silences.
How do you succeed in life?: Luck.
How do you succeed in business?: Crime.
How do you find fulfillment?: By not letting a need for success rule you.
I try not to hate but it’s not easy. When I do, I remind myself that cruel and heartless people have too much fear to be kind. And I tell myself: don’t be like them.
Truth be told: nobody cares what struggles you had to go through to arrive at this point in your survival, but I in my endless and selfish imperfection am glad that you have arrived — if done without malice. I remain a dreamer wanting a better world.
Youth must always rediscover reality on its own. Wise parents accept their own eclipsing with equanimity.
It is so satisfying to stand next to the heater and ward off the December chill; to look out at the glorious morning light streaming westward into my green-glowing canyon freshly drenched by a week of rain; to see my night-cloud of a cat coiled up in a sleeping spiral on my bed.
On this bright warm spring day in early February I watch my unseen world passing to the sound of birdsong.
8 February 2022
Warmth of Light Beyond Words
Today, I saw the early dawn sky over the ridge on the far side of my canyon lighten from deep dark to softening grey, through the freshly rained-on forest standing on my downslope. Then the sky diffused into soft blue. A burst of brilliance on the east point of the ridge-cusp signaled the emergence of the Sun. That sharp white light streamed out to me skimming the glistening green of the forest floor below me making the new sprouts carpeting the ground radiate their green glow and igniting the uncountable number of droplets in the forest to sparkle. The clarity of the cool air made every surface that light fell on crystalline sharp down to vanishing detail, and the warmth of that light penetrated into me and everything as I watched it pass the coiling swirls of my breath’s evaporating condensation rising slowly into the advancing day.
The sound of dawn was a scattered chorus of birdsong, some distant and some quite close, like the hummingbirds twizzling and twittering as they buzzed boring through the air and sending me their acknowledgments for the sugarwater I hang from the eave of the house in glass feeders. My cat, who is a fluffy splotch of night, fixed his knowing yellow searchlight eyes on me as a brother of the dawn outside the house then looked up to a hummingbird he knew he could never reach and with a flick of his tail walked off into his jungle. To have a true knowing connection with an animal it is necessary to always show them a consistency of kindness that gives them complete freedom. The same is true of making a true knowing connection with another human, but humans are less reliable in their behavior than are other animals.
If someone asked me for an understanding of the human world by dividing it into just two categories, I would have to give them as: those who are suffering, and those who relieve suffering. We each spend parts of our lives in each category, and sometimes in both at once. If I were then tasked to state just one rule that each person was supposed to follow, as the purpose of individual life, it would be: spend as little time as possible causing suffering.
Our human world is steadily and unevenly dying because we resist allowing ourselves to fashion societies and their governments that are designed entirely to relieve suffering. Were that so, I cannot see how Nature would not favor us with environments that were paradises despite their majestic ferocity.
I came back into the house to spend some hours writing this while looking out my large window at the expanding morning, and just as I was finishing my cat nosed his way past the door of my room, jumped up on the bed next to me, and I stopped writing to very slowly and gently stroke his lush black sheen just as he likes for quite a while, as he arched his back into my hand and then gradually coiled up laying down. He moves as smoothly as an eddy of smoke in still air. He would look into my eyes and bob his head, and I knew he wanted me to run my dull claws across the back of his neck and back along the line of his lips, as he began the deep internal vibration we call purring. His inner eyelids closed as his eyes rolled back while his outer lids closed, and he smoothed down his shiny fur with his rasping tongue before resting into an elegant quiet stillness.
It is all here wherever you are: to see, to know, to feel, and to be. That is my one wish for everybody.
17 December 2021
The striving to inject beauty, truth and peace into the world is the noblest of ambitions, and deserving of our appreciation even of those who despite their best efforts in this regard fail miserably to achieve their lofty aims.
On the other hand, success in the ambition of gaining money wealth is no more worthy of admiration and praise than is the abject failure to do so worthy of condemnation. In general, you can make more money in screwing people over than in helping them. This does not speak well for the economics of our society, nor its politics, which both come out of our collective moral character.
We cheat ourselves of experiencing the fullness of life if during the brief spans allotted to each of us we make an idol of material advantages, and our fear of being inadequate for lack of them, and call it God.
Success at being a life is an internal experience unseeable by the external world and thus despite the judgments it paints on you, and despite the disregard it dismisses you with. Thinking this way is how I see continuing with confidence and without apprehension about understanding some ultimate purpose. It is also a sense of solidarity with billions of anonymous souls, here and gone. For me, that is the actual experience of eternal life, and I would wish it for everyone.
I saw a world dawn today
That will never see another day
As sunlight streams through evaporating mist
Quivering pinpoint rainbow lights
Bejeweled spidersilk enmeshing forest green
Deep out to vanishing sight of glowing sky
Earth’s heaving bosom steaming rising light
To crystallize air fractured by bird calls
Overturning the ceaseless awakening
Pristine indifference to our thoughts
Of self-regarding nothingness grasping void
That disappears all wanting
And can never be all love
The solidity nothingness imagines
Even memories descendants are destined to forget
What never was learned and never remembered
Like the dawning of this world today
A world that will never see another day
Like this blazing taste of freedom in
The glistening rainwater halo on these twining twigs.
From rain to rain,
From rain to light.
Of what use is our warmth
If not to pass on as love to others?
To fear the world’s end
Is to imagine obligating immortality.
Absorb the dawning light
Exhale the breath of night
There is no loss no mystery
Only blissful sleep bathed in light.
Will my bones parch in desert sun?
My legacy a dusty swirl that fades from eyeless sight?
Our lost world ever sinking stern first
Into the cold icy ocean of indifference
While I, a misanthrope write poems of love
To a world made miserable with visions from above
The mindless matter of matterless minds
The perennial pinings of humankind.
19 December 2019 — 19 September 2021
Here the ways of men divide.
If you wish to strive for peace of soul and happiness, then believe;
if you wish to be a disciple of truth, then search.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
There have been a few times in my life when I could see the total reality of our human world, and where it was going, with complete clarity. 2011 was such a time. This is not to say that I am some kind of genius or seer, but simply that by 2011 I had lived long enough, had learned enough and experienced enough to have my sense of awareness fully opened and finely sharpened to understand the full spectacle on display. It was a fortuitous combination of the flow of life and the pure luck of being. But it was nevertheless true: I saw, I knew, and I wrote some of it all down.
But what I also knew by then was that such moments of insight come with the realization that one is existentially alone: nobody else, however conventionally close and loved, can truly know your experience or feel your truths. And this is always true though one is usually oblivious to it because one is bedazzled by the moment-to-moment immediacy of their enthrallment with their desires and fears and emotions in the ever-changing ever-flowing kaleidoscope of personally experienced life.
So to be fully aware is to realize that one is a perpetual outsider, like Meursault in Albert Camus’s brilliant novel L’étranger. It’s not that I wish to be apart from people I conventionally love — children, spouse, family, even friends — or from the clubs I wish to be a part of, like that of the political Ezekiels ardent to bring about the socialist utopia of brotherhood and sisterhood they can so easily imagine and which few if any are prepared to actually bring about; no, it is simply that the conscious experience of being alive — and knowing — is completely unitary even as we are myriadly interconnected as social beings, as a species, and as organic forms of life.
So my instances of being prescient can only illuminate reality for me, they can never affect the perceptions of others, nor alter the course of human events. In that sense I am Sisyphus, and Meursault, alone in a world of implacable absurdity despite its many miraculous beauties flung across space and time like a spiderweb bejeweled with droplets from the first rainfall of the year now glinting and sparkling in the sun of a fresh new dawn.
On Wings of Light over Canyons of Blight
Beam me up, Scotty!
I’ve got to get off this doomed planet dominated by Archie Bunkers, Gomer Pyles, Karen Dingbats, and their Toxic Bratspawn!
Power up the Phasers and load in the Photon Torpedoes when I get there!
We’ve got to blow all this wasted cytoplasm and ectoplasm back into the Gravitational Recycler of the Galaxy!
What I’ve learned from 9/11 ‘truthers’, anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers is that there is comfort in stupidity because it offers certainty in a world of doubts!
What can I teach? Nothing! Everybody already knows how they want to be ignorant!
Isn’t it amazing how something as brainless as a virus can outwit multitudes of the most pampered technologically-enriched populations of humanity: an emotional commitment to suicide by anti-thinking!
I am living out the opposite polarity of The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari!
And so I cry out today… But…, a century earlier:
Nikola Tesla is sitting on his park bench on a crystalline crisp February morning tossing seeds and crumbs to New York City’s flocks of Rock Doves, who know him well for the regularity of his largesse. They wheel about him gracefully and wing down so elegantly to scuttle about his feet, pecking at the bounty of nourishing granules offered to them.
I have no doubt he would long watch them approvingly, delighting in their cooing and motions, while thinking to himself:
How different they are from the race of men: reliable in their behaviors, in expressing their wants honestly and without shame, and never pretending to be unselfish or — despicably — to be betrayers. How admirable they are as pure, unpolluted works of Nature. If only men could be like this instead of the myopically petty self-absorbed self-limiting disappointments they insist on condemning themselves into being.
It is so refreshing and enlivening to just sit in this cathedral of bright chill sunlight, sliced by long fingers of canyon-wall shade, immersed in the expansive subaural hum of Nature’s breath, and just watch the infinite cascade of Life’s eddies surrounding and enveloping me.
How sad that all the midget blind cyclopses of my species will never know they can live — transformed — in a Paradise they could extend forever. But here on this bench, at least, I have the comfort of experiencing that infinitude of joy for myself, alone.
“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
I sat out under the high sun in front of my tall trees this morning, looking out across my modest wooded creek canyon as the gliding shadows of two hawks — their trailing edges emblazoned by the warm cascading radiance — passed over me in waves. What fools these mortals be that blind themselves to wonders such as these.
ON BEING A SUCCESS:
My great discovery — and rueful awakening — about “being successful” occurred when I was at ‘peak career’, and had gained enough experience and produced enough technical successes to apply for and deserve a promotion into “management.” Then it was all made very clear to me, not just by rejection, but by seeing who got promoted and why. The essential quality sought by higher-ups for moving ‘you’ up — below them — is a proficiency at lying to bring money into the organization and making the boss look good, and a demonstrated bullet-proof reliable loyalty at servicing the career advancement schemes of your boss and the boss class above you.
YOUR advancement comes when a bigger boss poaches you from your smaller boss, and your success is assured by applying the same technique for acquiring your own growing troop of faithful vassals below you. The organizational hierarchy looks like a troop of monkeys in a tree. The leader sits at the top, and the other monkeys are arrayed in the branches below him in descending rank order. The leader looks down to see a sea of smiling faces. The bottom ranked monkey looks up to see a sea of assholes. And the shit always rains down.
What I also learned from this awakening was that the merit and value, or venality and worthlessness, of any organization is entirely expressed by the actual (not public relations crafted) personal merit and (always cloaked) venality of the management leading and controlling the organization. Successful liars being in charge indicate a lying and exploitative organization — by design.
This may all seem obvious when stated as I have here, but it is not lived and felt as obvious by most people in the real ‘working’ and ‘political’ worlds. And this is why the rueful awakening — if it occurs — leads its no longer naïve sleepers startled out of their dreams, to the sinking realization: everything is a lie.
The one consolation (needed after the loss of income, perhaps precipitous) that can be gained after this point is the thought: do I really want to be the kind of person that becomes a careerist success by being a completely servile lying sycophant and back-stabbing betrayer? If your answer is “no,” you have discovered your self-respect as your central treasure and source of freedom, and you will have saved your soul. I can’t say this will fill your belly, but I can say this will let you die at peace with yourself and without shame.
Acknowledging the achievements of others — especially in your own field, and especially if superior to yours — is a mark of superior character, which too few have.
In the vastness of their popular cranial vacuity, Americans are enthralled with a celebrity culture to which they abjectly submit with expressions of envy over their own insignificance, and for the most deluded with pathetic expressions of self-inflationary grandiosity. Thus, American popular culture is an ocean of bullshit acidified with envy.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
The Melting of the Fortress of Solitude
The American dream is the eternal one: wealth by luck, power by wealth, and freedom from responsibility by power. The American nightmare is our most democratized experience: impoverishment by design, powerlessness by impoverishment, and the shackling of the powerless to responsibility for the crimes of wealth.
We live in a mediocracy, the mark of failure is success. To be fully human is to fail at being a successfully commodified robot.
The orgy of gun violence we live with daily is the product of a complete failure to craft and make universally available systems of genuine education. It is because minds are depreciated and discarded en masse to facilitate the obsession for accumulation that our mass consumption and massive violence are so pervasively mindless. We are drowning in the blood of our own unacknowledged denial, our own decapitated awareness of responsibility.
Genius for social uplift and human enlightenment are quarantined as diseased, as deadly infectious threats to the barbaric insanity of our approved nationalist ideology — as they rightly are. Ours is a society of blithe mad mediocrity, which is only confused by the continuing urge of the excluded to resist their impoverishment and disappearance. The ploughing under from public visibility of the exploited disfavored and the powerless meritorious is our greatest and most assiduously censored tragedy; but the coincident creeping destruction of a species that lusts for its viral affliction to sociopathic degeneracy, and its own ultimate extinction, is not. Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad. Character is fate.
Some would say it has always been so throughout human history, and others would say that today’s American societal rot is of recent origin: since Trump?, since Bush?, since Reagan?, since Nixon?, since the defeat of Henry Wallace?, since the end of World War I and the death of Eugene V. Debs?, since the betrayal of Lincoln’s last hopes by the tawdry Grant administration and in the fatal corruption of Reconstruction after the Civil War? Regardless, it is our tolerance for that rot today and our obliviousness to history before yesterday that is our fundamental civic sin. The scrawny weed poking through the cracks in that blanketing obliviousness is hope.
Hope is a delusion that makes it possible to get through life day by day, and so it is immensely valuable. Perhaps by the unpredictable quantum fluctuations of the physical universe, and the unknowable future emergent variants of genetic succession, hope will percolate through the obstacles of our times to decisively kill off the obdurate fearful bigotries that collectively imprison us, and to miraculously deliver us — more likely our descendants, should we have any — into a humane form of advanced civilization.
And while the despairingly idealistic and fearfully materialistic will mock the popular yearnings for liberation as stupid millennialist naïveté, those yearnings will persist as long as they are denied realization, whether that end-of-history is the improbable and transcendent enlightenment of our species, or the implacable iron socialism of extinction brought about by Nature’s indifferent abandonment of us all.
Our compulsions are willed, not pre-ordained. Our particular isolations are the triumph of mediocrity over the potential of humanity. It is our coldness of heart that is melting our finest dreams.