Some say the scientific method
Is the ultimate algorithm and others
For symbolists, all intelligence can be reduced to manipulating symbols, in the same way that a mathematician solves equations by replacing expressions by other expressions. Symbolists understand that you can't learn from scratch: you need some initial knowledge to go with the data. They've figured out how to incorporate pre-existing knowledge into learning, and how to combine different pieces of knowledge on the fly in order to solve new problems. Their master algorithm is inverse deduction, which figures out what knowledge is missing in order to make a deduction go through, and then makes it as general as possible.
In its simplicity
Can sustain concentration
For connectionists, learning is what the brain does, and so what we need to do is reverse engineer it. The brain learns by adjusting the strengths of connections between neurons, and the crucial problem is figuring out which connections are to blame for which errors and changing them accordingly. The connectionists' master algorithm is back propagation, which compares a system's outputs with the desired one and then successively changes the connections in layer after layer of neurons so as to bring the output closer to what it should be.
Hungry and cold
A holy condition
A warrior's position in the world
Evolutionaries believe that the mother of all learning is natural selection. If it made us, it can make anything, and all we need to do is simulate it on the computer. The key problem that evolutionaries solve is learning structure: not just adjusting parameters, like back propagation does, but creating the brain that these adjustments can then fine-tune. The evolutionaries' master algorithm is genetic programming, which mates and evolves computer programs in the same way that nature mates and evolves organisms.
A good shit's the metric
Of a dying man
Bayesians are concerned above all with uncertainty. All learned knowledge is uncertain, and learning itself is a form of uncertain inference. The problem then becomes how to deal with noisy, incomplete, and even contradictory information without falling apart. The solution is probabilistic inference, and the master algorithm is Bayes' theorem and its derivatives. Bayes' theorem tell us how to incorporate new evidence into our beliefs, and probabilistic inference algorithms do that as efficiently as possible.
I can't believe
I won't live forever, therefore,
I made up an afterlife to go with reincarnation
For analogizers, the key to learning is recognizing similarities between situations and thereby inferring other similarities. If two patients have similar symptoms, perhaps they have the same disease. The key problem is judging how similar two things are. The analogizers' master algorithm is the support vector machine, which figures out which experiences to remember and how to combine them to make new predictions.
Prepare for a powerful anesthesia
Chemical processes irresistible
A good and perfect rest
Out of emptiness comes this:
Purposes as incomprehensible and wonderful as these purposes
Either you had no purpose or the purpose is beyond the end
Because the watch not only serves a purpose, it is adapted to that
Except it was a secret purpose
The world is a mental activity, a dream of souls, without foundation,
purpose, weight or shape
People in collective idleness are even more repellent than when
purpose motivates them
God, glass, my townspeople! For what purpose?
His purpose and mine is to catch photons and store them in our
Lately I have thought about our war and its purpose
To have a season for every purpose, Ecclesiastes was wrong about
Languages of mammals, purposes of insects, placement of rocks
They purpose nothing but their ease and die urgently beating east to
sunrise and the sea
Having died, as such, I find I do not mind quiet living with the
purpose of a cell
Stately purposes, valor in battle, glorious annals of army and fleet,
death for the right cause
My friend who is counselor to kings and presidents doesn't worry
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Not to say there is no purpose necessarily, just I don't immediately
The purpose of sitting is not to be satisfied or satiated
Use of violence by the local militia for a limited purpose, protect the
young from the janjaweed, the crop from the weed
The knight, the penitent misses last assessment of life's purpose,
babbling for God to appear
I mean your entire purpose should be living. You must take living
Sleep with a purpose
Lose all purpose beyond murder, child sex and food hording
Proof that there's a purpose set before the secret working mind
Having purposefully expunged from it every trace of emotion
What is relevant for our present purpose is counting is associated
with primitive forms of writing
Unable to assess the purpose of the battle
Desperate for new fetuses to teach purposeful workmanlike killing
He will live with the question What was our purpose?
Organize the unemployed, the welfare mothers and alcoholics into a
flying chevron of purposeful explorers
If we are not at home in the world, contributing purpose, we lose our
desire to stay here--and we die
Their corners sharp, their lines exact, as if their purpose was to show
the plane geometry of snow
That's when everything becomes clear. Purpose v. purposelessness
My strong heart I abandoned to its own purpose
Lonely physics, national purpose
This then is the purpose of purposelessness (and of eating less)!
A shape less recognizable each week, a purpose more obscure
That is the purpose of poetry. Gargoyle twice.
For the distant purposes of Henry Ford
The purpose of school is to introduce us to the world's innumerable
The men who left the machine have started their own business. A
new endeavor by which they will keep warm and purposeful.
The purpose of poetry is to remind us how difficult it is to remain just
Let Greece then know my purpose I retain, nor vex with new treaties
my peace in vain,
And shake the purpose of my soul no more
In last night's movie, a young writer
and an older, married with children French woman
fall in love. They did not meet during a village massacre
and money is no object, Manhattan
the place I was priced out of. But after everything has happened
she cannot leave her children, not even for love, because of love,
the love that brooks no serendipity.
Here, in my family, love is taken for granted
except when it's withdrawn and then even the trees lose all meaning,
familiarity. Now it is almost dawn:
this and that must get done in committee or alone.
Don't reach, go slow as the day will allow.
But that's not what I came to say.
Perfect rest v. having a destiny.
A complete breakdown in self-discipline.
It begins by saying nothing I do matters under the eye of eternity.
Hamlet x 5 centuries.
Add to that all the science--chemistry, physics--calculus and music
I don't know. I have sat next to, at weddings,
brain surgeons and robot engineers. I hit the street
choosing a church on Fifth Ave. or Trinity Cemetery, walking the
In the subsequent late night movie, a wealthy
altruistic doctor arranges for the murder
of his neurotic concubine. His guilt provides us
with an opportunity to consider
the concepts of faith and forgiveness, that all will be well in the end
after a period of meaningless suffering.
In this way the seasons have been circulating for eons via convexity.
I don't know what I'm doing but I'm doing it anyway.
You trust in genetics, God, prosthetics or prayer, whatever
gets you to the morning. That's when the sun,
a billion trillion nuclear detonations per second
warms yr bones.
You may remember an old lover who's gone before
or continues to exist on another plane, in another ecstasy.
Having installed a new toilet seat
and made a few philanthropic donations
I can kick back tonight and watch movies, right?
Not. I'm ridding myself of another addiction
like illegal drugs via caloric restrictions
getting enough sleep for two people or more
and reading none of the dry words in books from the library.
When there's nothing to do, when I'm bored or dreary
I'll sit still and watch from the window, I'll wait
for the weather to change, which it will.
Beautiful summer day. You know you're gonna die
that's why you know no joy.
Obsessed with self, there is no answer
unless religion, tv, stories, sports matter.
So what if nothing rhymes and I don't
bring my life into an expressible state
or fight purposelessness, anomie. No one writes.
Running the gauntlet alone. A good day to die, the Apaches say.
For men like us dying's easy, it's living that's hard.
And since dying's much like living, that's hard too.
There's some contentment in letting community decide
your place in it. We're not talking to you.
Really, it's a perfect day. Every leaf is out
that's coming out. The grass is high
and unidentified yet another year. Being knowledgeable
is the best defense against your insignificance.
Can't stop the quince from blossoming
or my sons from smoking, speeding.
The best that can be done or said's a blessing.
Less tv, less guessing
about the effects of your anger unless
you want to be an angry man forever.
Coming from the funeral with friends,
talking on the telephone. OK about being alone.
Alive, almost sure of it. Whether I'm a visitor
to my life or the actual owner.
Mature poets steal, most are masturbators.
This house could use a good cleaning
and emptying out. I should subscribe
to the local newspaper, do my job well,
do less until one thing's done well.
What would that be? Old, and yet so young.
There are a million poets, I'm poet #500K.
Plenty of mysteries, infinite philosophies,
prayers, laws and unwritten rules.
That's why we go to school, life's complicated.
All I do not know: ATP, probabilities,
the glorious revolution, meiosis and mitosis
and all I'll never see, the bottom of the ocean,
the palm at the end of the mind, a wolverine.
There are certain indicators, undeniable,
inexorable. Forget-me-not, is that all I want?
To get lucky, you gotta be careful first.
To be great, you gotta be willing to sound BAD.
Although we cannot make the sun stand still
yet will we make him run. Brave revelers.
Signed engagement letter attached.
Attachment to self and to things to do.
Spring is in its prime again
each leaf beautiful
much is edible
birds and peepers are musical at dawn.
The days walk slowly
toward Utah and Italy.
My left nut hurts.
Joy overwrites death.
Well, well. You're well
alone in your brain
only a negligible fraction
escaping as words and actions.
Every leaf that's coming out
is out. Including the self
to the west and south
a golem, mandragon, an elf.
Aaron was stacking
the last of last year's
firewood. He found
a spotted salamander--
under the final log
with a worm and centipede for a meal.
I exclaimed Rare species!
but it's common, fossorial
lives in moist woods
under cemetery stones and memorials.
and adult beetles.
One more season and one more after that.
Your last words will be reticent or reckless
as your earliest efforts
at divination and the scientific method.
Like a delusion.
A late night movie.
Expect to forget
and be forgotten. Information.
How soon after cryogenesis
can one cry or ejaculate?
In a strong marriage, a long marriage
much cannot be said, should not be said.
The spots on one's skin will be wisely ignored.
Differences of opinion are tolerated, not debated.
Your memories may disappoint your partner
as not those she has selected, refracted.
Over dinner for two at the Mill on the Floss
it could be dangerous to compare wills, losses.
Or it might result in belly laughs, Shakespearean
revelations, the night he got us lost in the woods
or she peed her pants at a party. The marriage was Faustian,
in a good way, like going to a job in the Garden of Eden.
Having survived 25 years, knowing 50's impossible,
what else do we know? Raised 2 boys, painted 3 houses.
Which is it: you can't get started unless
you're riding some current bigger than your reporting voice
or the best time to write is when you don't have much to say
and without plenty to say about everything you'll get better right
Form is very often a betrayal of reality.
Although we are initially drawn to poems by their passion and
we are convinced by the formal means invented
for their impelling motives. Every accidental crack or dent.
Not just mildly disquieted but actively repelled.
Running for the River Styx, the doors of Hell pell mell,
there must be a crack, deep and unmendable, in the poet
that the poet must forever try to mend. Or not.
While mortal poets imitate, immortal poets steal.
That's plagiarism. Fortunately the public feels
less strongly about poetry than television,
communism and aging gracefully through meditation.
Now I'm being silly. My silly indefatigable lusting,
silly sadness, silly arguing and silly trusting.
All I do not know about our nation's history, wars
and what showering the people you love with love does.
Ransacking apothegms, algorithms
and selling the loot as memes
and feelings. Bearing fardels
with the warrior's skull.
Working over Birk's Works and other tunes my saxophonist admires--
Cheesecake, Blackbird--for the theoretical, applied mathematics inside
or alternately an abstract audial harmonization of the Big Bang and
Would you rather have the fever break or something great happen
The young senator or never pissing glass again.
Look one way, from another come the heart's missed beats.
Can I call you back? We're trying to get my truck out of the mud.
Who does he think he is, Nelson Mandela?
"Lieutenant, this corpse will not stop burning!"
Writing cannot save you but can it ease the way?
What does Tagore say?
More movies about dying men.
Will my letter to the editor be in the funny pages?
Will I even be able to read it?
Did I send it to the wrong address? I've seen my death face and it's not
Maybe I can watch your varsity games from a viewfinder in the
If I don't finish The Iliad, maybe there's a library there.
Maybe. Maybe is a long, long time.
Read an epic to the bitter end.
Visit with friends? They'll not come in, so no need to hide out.
I never had anything wise or gentle to say to my parents.
About bladder function. They got the same treatment
as every other soldier. Which systems shut down first
and how. The mail keeps coming even after you've stopped barking.
Notwithstanding an impending tsunami
we must figure out why there's water in the basement.
Always nice to have a mystery to read on the plane.
Each poet, every essayist, has what's called a voice,
a personality or, more accurately, a deep crack
repellent and unmendable, that the writer must forever try to mend.
Homer tries several ways to explain the slaughter:
by describing how a spear pierces a warrior's jawbone or armor,
how Achilles' and Agamemnon's hissy fits contribute to the pain of being
and how the gods, esp. Zeus, are passionate, confused, obtuse.
A callow youth even as a man. He was afraid and therefore could not
comfort or help.
Perhaps he has a question he'd like to ask but isn't sure what it is or how
to ask it.
The hero loses urinary control.
The virtuoso loses interest in her bow.
The expert forgets to do the research.
How do cancer cells and bacteria cooperate to kill
the host (you). The way yr mum & pop
fuck you up. It's unavoidable and it's not your fault.
Start the day. In what way
was the cold spring, last wet summer a
global warning, indicator. Says
one commentator on the op-ed page, the
dislocations, wars, famines will tax humanity's
technology, philosophy, even religion's ability
to see past daily survival to
the music in the rock. I've doubted the taboos
one frog among many in the slow-heating beauty
of the world we knew. Aaron's coconut.
Peepers doing well in the heavy rains, wet
with joy. Hawks and crows thrive below the jet
stream, noise, perhaps our fears
are overdrawn, we'll get along, it'll all hold together 10,000 years more,
the Holocaust will never be repeated, lush mountain and sere
desert equally appreciated, baseball
lazily paced summer evenings, the harvest in the fall
a sure thing, and the dying back a blessing come to all.
Negligible morsel of biomass
my fat belly, formerly abs
insignificant yet it occupies me
hourly while bored or hungry.
Fat is what? a picture
of despair, giving up caring
or man out of balance, other
side of the world's starving
mass, case of the soul's malnutrition
industrial agriculture, television
supermarkets, vacations, hydrocarbons
and the grid. Electricity, urban
traffic jams, photons at final
rest. Sugars synthesized, abundant
plastics to carry them home in.
Into your house and into your mirror.
Memorizing the periodic table
and learning the calculus makes one
no thinner. Walking the mountain
in heat and cold and rain, alone
or in fire crews should do it. And a
healthy fear of death. A laugh
a day at sex and pain and fate
which renews the biomass I hate.
Problems many of which are not getting solved
not because I'm not resolved but because I delay
to savor the day, the moon and the season
which is why I'm a non-person under the eye of eternity.
Except for my unpaid bills. And iambic pentameter.
Aaron fails English. Is there summer school?
What an asshole! I want to slug him, but also
his teacher, Mr. Fisher, who's probably
a nice guy, just doing his job and raising a family.
Then there's the catheter from my last surgery
I was so sick I thought I was dying. The out of network
pathologist and radiologist have declined my insurance
and charged me to the hilt. Like I had a choice
face up in the emergency room. Facing doom, you don't ask questions.
Now that I've rejoined the living I've got to raise a million bucks
to save organic farms and endangered species I'll never see.
Perhaps none of this matters and chanting's the answer, Buddhist
or as Dad would say This too shall pass.
Life is a back and forth game but baseball is zen meditation,
you're in right field, nothing's happening, nothing's gonna happen,
but you can't let your attention wander for one second.
I should clean and oil my trumpet for Saturday's gig
or the valves will stick. And leave early enough
not to get stuck in traffic. Other lives, other problems.
A guy who takes the subway to a dead metal desk
and the boss who fires him with the cold hard eyes
of one who accepts the rules entirely. Actually
we're fortunate to have rules because otherwise
child soldiers armed with AK-47s would be shooting up
the village and setting fire to our thatched roofs.
Instead, under the rule of law, when snow falls
even old roofs look like problems with proofs.
Neftlix, Hulu, autumn elaeagnus
thorns, small hairy buds, twigs hyper-lenticelled
fruits supposedly edible, leaves elongated, oblong
xerophytic but found in wetland
introduced species, some say invasive
Xbox is invasive
Hulu is the best source of foreign films
and foreign films represent reality better than American
although reality is not always what we're after
silliness, silly sadness, and relentless laughter
letting my web site go to seed
writing badly is the best revenge
eventually yr doctors find something in you they can't cure
causes some fear, gives some certainty
you're required to tell yr sons and brothers about it so they can make
informed medical decisions going forward
let's posit the dead, like the dream-lover or -killer
is you in disguise, a facsimile or factotum
stand-in, an actor or actress remembering lines
which are your memories, or if you're not in movies
divinations of things to come, earthquakes and volcanoes
life goes on without a hiccup
you saddle up with the three gentlemen to the River Friday
where a new life begins without sleep as a soul, at least that's the story
in these scientific times we apply Joachim's Razor, i.e. most likely
the afterlife will be most like the life before life
when it gets too late to exercise
ignore time, learn slowly to go slowly
through life, rise
early, there is no time only change
an empty belly's holy
and a pussy willow's so alive its buds want to burst
in mid-February when the sun stays up in the sky more than January
this is what I write about, not Tolstoi, nor war
not one conversation or love scene between a man and woman
or illustration of what man has done to man
cars pass I never wave
so many guys are belly fat, women butt fat and they want to sit right
behind you in the bleachers eating fried foods and wearing
I like the motionless perfection of autumn elaeagnus
wind in white pines
crows do not annoy but dogs do
a porcupine or coyote is a lucky sight
barred owl or pileated woodpecker
and a black bear is quiet reality itself
I said to the doctors 54 or 84 you always seem to want more when they
said I'm too young to die
I said dying chooses you you don't choose dying, so it's not my fault
yesterday's walk, today's work
there's no percentage in searching for significance, wanting meaning
and no percentage in respecting death unless it's imminent
I admire the writer who writes 10,000 words per day no matter what
who's got plot
a plague or fire, a spider or a tiger in a boat
stolen Louisiana votes or endangered alligators
in my case common pipewort or pickerelweed floating in a northern
egrets, loons and hawks
on yr winter walk cedar waxwings foraging for soft rose hips
and talking like people talk
about this and that, work and child rearing, religion or politics
keeping it light and friendly
eating chili and chocolate chip cookies
passing time watching a football game, the superbowl or a movie
usually a romantic comedy
Sunrise, late winter
playful otter, too.
The white heron
a great blue,
in the abandoned beaver pond.
its long-awned achenes
in globose heads
spidery, fiery, extravagant fruit!
To identify or classify
the complexity or beauty
of their songs.
what is over that
ridge or hill
a sink-hole, a sand dune, a steep bluff.
What must I do. Organize
the heretofore unorganized. The rabble
of unemployed child abusers.
Molesters of their intimates.
Are there dysfunctional bird families?
Simply put, they do not survive.
We have hope
that everyone alive is essential,
consequential. We classify
The commonplace and everyday
What happens everyday?
Morning is quiet, everyone at work.
Home writing, watching birds.
Afternoon, kids come back from school.
Evening, watch tv.
Scotch and Star Trek.
Captain Picard's problems eclipse
ours who stayed behind.
Pray to Allah
and maybe he will spare you
when he sets the world
Where or with who
will I be on that day?
And how many people and adventures
will I find in the wind storm and rubble?
I may live, but will it matter
whether or not I help anyone else to live?
This is no Last Judgement.
Those who have learned or who still know how to live
Nobody will go to hell, they will just die.
There is no limbo either.
Anyone who didn't find a way to be immortal is just dead.
So, what am I trying to do.
Organize the unemployed, the welfare mothers
into a flying chevron of purposeful explorers?
The doctor's conscious, organized,
naive attempt to do good,
his legacy, versus the randomness
of the road and the war zone.
There his legacy is his rectitude and natural
rough compassion for the damaged people
he encounters. The difference
between planning a legacy
as if you knew enough to control events
and letting the legacy arise
from events themselves, controlling,
insofar as you are able, only
your own actions and reactions.
The doctor's leadership role such as it was
grew out of not his material possessions
like the car
but his mission, his personal quest
to find the young doctors he had naively trained
and sent into the war zone
where all died.
July-a cold city
not as great or as gritty
as I thought, summer theater left
the shoe shine bereft of customers
eyes cold as a bureaucrat's
except for our soles
and their leather. Sweat-soaked
girls, the beautiful ones left town.
Emotionless as a bus.
Sparrows, no chickadees.
All that's important happens indoors.
Exercise to philosophies.
You get what you see.
The panhandlers ask
just once, won't risk
No sale today
in the finite city
where, for the shoe shine,
pedestrians are infinite, times two shoes.
Faith = wait + trust.
But don't anticipate.
Popper prohibits prediction.
Niebuhr expects destruction.
I believe in God
doesn't mean there's a sketch
of a man in my head. It must mean
all will be well in the end.
Satisfied with snow
or summer. And now
with dying old or younger.
Gold or paper clips. Gulps or sips.
In the final resting place
in the city of the dead
are there all night card games
and sometimes open swims?
Each inch, square, or cube of Earth
brim with grasses and sedges, dragonflies and spiders, sparrows and
The tiger lily and the water lily and the lily of the valley, the calla lily.
When a girl on a bicycle smiles, that is a smile.
To read or watch movies, that is the question.
When tired at workday's end, depressed about death's
certainty and my recent surgery
unable to contribute purpose
i.e., figure out whether to bomb Iran
or worship Krshna
and other gods such as Homer gives us in the Iliad
I lack vision therefore I choose television.
Chemistry text, bifurcated plant key
esp. grasses, intro to calculus, physics
unopened time slides by inexorably.
That's the dilemma with no resolution,
drooping rachis, striations on the lemma.
Dying chooses you. You don't choose dying.
So go slow as the day will allow.
The cancer patient's real work is facing
harsh realities and making adjustments:
getting the most out of life, considering
what his children will need after he's gone,
preparing his wife, parents, colleagues and friends,
and completing important professional tasks.
Get the most out of life. That's all God asks.
In Life of Pi the tiger is tiresome, short-sighted
eating everything in sight today, no plan for tomorrow.
The boy, however, is beautiful, reading
the lifeboat manual, building a resting place on the ocean
from oars and life vests, writing about his emotions,
loneliness and observations. The tiger's obsession
with killing keeps our boy alive with fear,
an aphrodisiac, a distraction from any hint
of hopelessness. And then there is the ultimate unknown,
the boy's conversations with Krshna which explain
the innumerable stars and their gentle glow.
The debate between free will and fate has taken a hard right
turn to neuroscience, Brodmann area 4 the primary motor
cortex of the brain located in the posterior frontal lobe
(the one cut out of the one who once flew over the cuckoo's nest).
This area of the cortex has the pattern of a homunculus!
a little man, a troll, the all-wise, mandragon, the golem of Jewish
This little man has a penis that, when fully engorged, is
equal in size to his entire body. However, diseases
such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Lou Gehrig's and
are gunning for him. His basal ganglia are garbled
and he ends up giving poor advice and making bad decisions.
Who can say what happens to his soul or cells or if all will be given
I was listening to the famous astronomer on public radio
who expressed the certainty there is no death, your soul
is immortal, it exists outside of time (but not space?). That's because
time exists only in the human mind (as does the entire universe
including the professional baseball season which is canceled when
By Spring, my problems will be solved or ignored, either way is
"Imagine if we taught baseball the way we teach science. Until they
were twelve children would
read about baseball technique and occasionally hear inspirational
stories of the great baseball
players. They would answer quizzes about baseball rules. They
would practice fundamental
baseball skills, throwing the ball to second base twenty times in a
row. Undergraduates might
be allowed under strict supervision to reproduce historic baseball
plays. But only in graduate school
would they, at last, actually get to play a game." --Alison Gopnik
Groundhog holds the knowledge of death without dying
for man needs help from every creature born.
Will the holocaust wipe the smile off the face of our romantic comedy
or will laughter outlast the outburst?
About the dark times will there be singing?
Yes, there will be singing and some of the songs will be sidesplitting.
Solving the murder reveals the city. Nature of kinships and economic
who loves whom and why, when things happened and how they lost
and found themselves
in what happened. Because a meter-making argument cannot appear
from nothingness, purposelessness, just cold.
He does not go where he was supposed to go. He is in the desert,
Sonoran desert, counting cactus buds and ocotillo blooms.
This is the afterlife for which he has always longed.
Imperfect world, purposeless person.
I retired to pursue perfection
learn jazz tunes, woody and herbaceous plants,
read every inch of English literature,
Scientific American and Foreign Affairs,
have an affair with an American.
Oh, and by the way, before you ask, I'm from Mars.
Orbiting your planet, admiring the girls.
Selecting poems by George Herbert to share
with Jesus believers on poetry sites
where we try to bring our lives into expressible states
before it's too late and climate change inundates us.
If you're just making lists it doesn't matter if your cysts
are malignant or benign. One day you're feeling fine
and the next not. We're pretty matter of fact about
the fact of death. Once you're gone most of us forget
your face and previous accomplishments. The place
you lived is repopulated with the next generation (of aliens)
and that ought to be a comfort, a sort of restful
certainty all is well, nothing special need be done.
Bluebirds are back, crows are mating on the sky
and chasing hawks away from their nests. Juncos
and sparrows glean together. I hear pileated woodpeckers
jackhammering and barred owls hooting soothingly.
Herons smoothing feathers and spearing fish.
Everything is as one would wish.
Numberless are the world's wonders
but none more wonderful than aliens.
Science can't save you, neither can religion,
at least Popper and Niebuhr, philosophers and poets,
are entertainers, which is why actors and athletes
are paid so much. Thanks for the summaries.
I was teaching Shakespeare's 92nd ridiculous sonnet
to my student who lays blacktop in the off season
Shakespeare bellyaching about dying without her love
a feeling foreign to a modern adolescent sensibility
although many teens are pretty far gone searching
for their mothers or fathers in their dazed lovers' eyes.
Which is why we call it "the wound that never heals."
Or the lesion that's always lengthening. And bleeding.
Muslim fundamentalists and their Christian counterparts
are a mystery to me. Pews and prayer rugs, the airless
indoor environment of religious worship, reading
scriptures, hypnotized by hymns and fainting from staring
at candles through stained glass windows, almost certain
the preacher is faking his certainty about the afterlife.
It's not my problem. A more immediate concern:
receding gums and tooth extractions, swollen joints,
poor lubrication and circulation, wave after wave
of viral infection, the occasional antibiotic-resistant
bacterial attack, usually urinary, and who knows
what internal organs are dividing and conquering
without mercy or cease, i.e. the wound that never heals.
It is wise not to overvalue your continued existence,
good not to be innumerate, unable to compare
a mere 80 years with say 6.0 x 109 or all of time
(to date) times the multiverse. Conversely,
it is interesting all of space and most of history is contained
in your little mind (realizing of course it's just a map
of the cosmos not the cosmos itself, or is it?). I'm
unable to wrestle free, tongue in that cavity
and locked in my memories, so separate and disparate
from the biomass in the crosswalks, even my spouse.
Alone, so alone, even your doctor can only devote
limited thought to your situational mortality through
the redress of poetry - also a wound that never heals.
Snow for eternity, that's what this February's been.
All to the good, for someone it's the final February
so enjoy it to the extent you can. By that I mean joy.
Joy at birth. Joy at death. All joy. All times. Anyway.
That was Shakespeare's message: even tragedies are comedies.
May, a Buddhist, chants each morning.
Her husband, Marc, who's Jewish, plays league tennis.
Their son, Aaron, will soon make Eagle scout.
How does it relate to your wound that never heals?
Luck runs out. For D.H. Lawrence in New Mexico
or Ulysses S. Grant in Ohio or Yasujiro Ozu in
Tokyo or Satyajit Ray in Bombay or Rabindranath
Tagore in Bangalore or at the Battle of the Atlantic in the Azores.
The night is a poultice, winter or summer solstice.
My anonymity will not effect the anomie ghettoside
seeing for myself how season by season
vacations and accomplishments accumulate, late in life
and early on, sunrise over mountains or moonrise over Bronx.
Masturbator, prisoner of war. Hospice of the Holy Roman Empire.
Numerous blue notes: the 3 flat, 7 flat, 5 flat,
the 6 flat and the 2 flat too. I don't get
what Wallace Stevens means by imagination.
When groundhog shows up as a totem, there is opportunity
to explore the mystery of death without dying.
This then is the purpose of purposelessness (and of eating less)!
Now what about that wound that never heals.
The Skeptical Observer column in Scientific American
was somewhat alarming when he accepted a paranormal
explanation for how his wife's grandfather's inoperable
transistor radio played music from its hiding spot
in his sock drawer on, and only on, their wedding day.
Now I'll have to believe my father (or mother!) is watching me
perform private sexual acts with (or without) partners
or that they could even know my thoughts. Or aliens
are attending our committee meetings and making
perfectly reasonable decisions given the available information
and the world is rotating just fine without humans.
These possibilities - angels, ghosts, aliens - are better
than holocaust and genocide. In this way,
and only in this way, does doom become endurable.
The wound that never heals in the end is all you'll feel.
As air and leaf litter are substrate for the bird.
And what makes a human. Separation from the substrate.
Believing the substrate and the subject are separately defined.
Whatever gives the poem form - three lines - is the substrate.
Things will be said. The signer and the seer must supply the words
Which are the substrate of the mind. A beautiful week ahead.
No hundred year storms, normal summer warming.
Yr bones are white as lightning and strong as sticks and stones.
At Pat's 80th b'day party most of us are old and jolly.
250,000 port-o-potties. There's a way to wash one out
And a way not to. Arctic ice melt. Slushies. One can count
Past one or nine by inserting zero to keep the rows.
Implied is an order beyond the small order we impose.
Goes to greatness human and divine. The two white wines
Death brings to the garden are the love between good friends -
Abstract. Suppose there is no afterlife, to understand the end
Imagine the beginning - no brain, no mind, no name, no I. Zero
Had already been inflated and the rose was in the garden.
What do you think
of the man peeing, the ever-shitting mouse?
Finding meaning in killing
and cleaning house.
Sal quit school,
your lover stops writing.
a lazy-eyed tiger.
Or everything's cool
even the fighting.
The weather is perfect
for swimming or dying.
the best blood pressure medicine?
about my mortality
but also glad
to be leaving the party.
The noise was incessant,
The demands of my neighbors,
Belonging is longing
for complete solitude.
the loneliness of being spouse.
Rain of April, rain of August
writing of it dry as dust.
What's my reason, rhyme?
Pass the time, pass the season.
If you're alone as you get, why are you crying?
Hold steady until a tsunami.
Then swim if you can. Don't gulp.
Hit in the head by speeding debris. Couldn't be helped.
I'm thinking about rhyme and meter
but also my kidneys and my liver.
The nation-state and the failed state
and whether killers should be executed
or forgiven. Meditate on this: Thy
will be done. Do what has to be done
don't ask why. Clean the dishes and the house.
Will I be left to my own resources
or will all be given? Nevermind
what you can't imagine. Living's
life's priority. Friends are merely friendly,
they're in the majority. Loneliness
is the default position. Rain happens.
We supply the reasons.
How do people process their lives without art?
By caring not.
In olden days, if you couldn't stand to pee
the family buried you under the pecan tree.
Appointment to have organ removed by robot-assisted surgeon.
Air-conditioned, no mosquitoes in the OR. When you arrive
You'll remove all your clothes. Naked before the ladies, nurses
Who have seen it all before. Mainly remember you're not unique.
Think about the government while they're mixing up the medicine.
There's always governance even if there's little or no government.
Back to counting backwards. Inside out, if I die, will I know it?
At 70, Jack's running the gauntlet with some skill!
Benny Golson wonders aloud what might have been
Had Clifford Brown not been killed in that auto accident.
Jack's girlfriend once said he was the reincarnation of Clifford
But he doesn't believe in ghosts, karma or an afterlife.
Benny's old girlfriend Betty inspired the tune Along Came Betty
And that's the most afterlife Benny or Betty's gonna get.
I thought the discussion of Citizens United in Foreign Affairs
Was liberating. I had had my usual liberal Subaru reaction
To MSNBC reports whereas this article showed the Court's decision
Will diversify political action and break the duopoly of the stalemated
Major parties. Good for you, good for me, good for the family tree.
Those two gay geezers Yeats talks about, I think I like the serving man
Who stands and waits. As a boy, did he hunt? Alone or with his father?
The Trojan bench being not as deep as the Greek
Once Sarpedon and Hector go down even the lucky shot
To Achilles' feet is not enough to save the town.
Aeneas is no match for wily Odysseus
Although unbeknownst to all he has the last laugh when Rome
Conquers Athens, the Myrmidons, what's left of Ilion
And the whole known world from India to Britain.
It's not bad to acknowledge death's primacy
Although after a while you stop remembering
To fear. That's when everything becomes clear
Purpose v. purposelessness matters less,
Anomie v. rule of law, that's a preference
Love v. loneliness, worth about 25 cents
Or a million bucks in the light of the holocaust.
Nothing but light, love and the majesty of death in the room.
Machines stand ready like marines, their beauty is in the motion
That overcomes inertia. The food supply is deeply compromised
So eat whatever you want. Mourning the dead is part of the business
Of healing and staying alive. When you get to the afterlife, walk with
Ocotillo and cactus may be in flower. The robot does the work,
Its own small order, like a girl on a bicycle with disorder in her hair.
Just watching raindrops slapping leaves
is better than anything requiring electricity
including fame and posterity. Monday
morning I walk over to the art museum
stand before Homer. I'm imagining
life in ancient Greece, the land largely
deforested to build a navy, white as bone,
a tourist attraction. The sea too being
denuded of its fish, super-efficient fishery
fleets, and every human wanting a healthy
dose of omega 3. O my God, omega!
the 24th and last letter of his alphabet,
which means great and has a value of 800,
often used to denote the last, the end, the
ultimate limit of a set, as in I am the alpha
and the omega (which was omitted
from the oldest manuscripts). In physics,
ohm is a unit of electrical resistance,
in chemistry, oxygen-18, a stable isotope,
in statistical mechanics, it represents multiplicity
(the number of microstates) in a system.
In astronomy, the density of the universe
(density parameter) and the longitude
of the ascending node of an orbit.
Also the solid angle or rate of precession
in a gyroscope. In particle physics,
omega baryons. In complex analysis,
the Omega constant, a solution to Lambert's
W function. In calculus, a variable
for a 2-dimensional region, usually
corresponding to the domain of a double
integral. In topos theory, the codomain
of the subobject classifier of an elementary
space. In combinatory logic,
the looping combinator. In group theory,
the omega and agemo subgroups of a p-group.
In Big O notation, the asymptotic
behavior of functions. Chaitin's uncomputable constant.
Omega watches, badge of the Supreme Court,
last mission of the Space Shuttle program,
God of War, Heroes of Olympus,
Pokemon's Omega Ruby, Sonic the Hedgehog's E-123.
Symbol of resistance to the Vietnam War draft.
Year of date of death. Lowest-ranked wolf.
The end of everything.
In molecular biology, a two-point crossover.
The lower case omega denotes the carbon atom
furthest from the carboxyl group of a fatty acid.
One of the RNA polymerase subunits.
The dihedral angle associated with the peptide group.
A measure of evolution at the protein level.
In physics, angular velocity or angular frequency.
In computational fluid dynamics, the specific
turbulence dissipation rate. In meteorology,
the change of pressure in time of a parcel
of air. Natural frequency
in circuit analysis and signal processing.
A ranking of a star's brightness in a constellation.
A designation of the argument of periapsis
of an orbit. The omega meson.
In Big O notation
the asymptotically dominant nature of functions.
NULL, a missing or inappropriate value.
The first transfinite ordinal number.
The first uncountable ordinal number.
The complex cube roots of 1.
The Wright Omega function. A general differential form.
The number of distinct prime divisors of n.
An arithmetic function. The self-application combinator.
The elasticity of financial options.
The tracking error of an investment manager.
In linguistics, the phonological word.
The archetype of a manuscript tradition.
In eschatology, the symbol for the end of everything.
The beginning of my first week without tv.
No more movies. If I have nothing to do
or I'm too bored to do anything, I'll just sit still
see what happens. Be like weather.
Be under the weather, with the weather,
in weather. Watch weather from the window.
Wait for change, in me and the weather.
How will I change? This is life and not life.
In 15 years or so I'll be gone from the earth,
bones whitening on some mountain (if I'm lucky)
or rotting in the lowlands river or estuary I lived near (more likely)
flesh to sweat flesh with the population, dead.
This death consciousness of which should give this life's activities
perspective, except for the red sunset which remains untouched
by atomic IQ;
and dead, laying open to the blue sky and dry leaves one autumn like
last autumn, or the autumn I realized my insignificance.
Dad said I'd be good at marketing
since I like making lists. Classifying
the woods and herbs, jazz tunes, poets' poems and poems for people
and I've also considered sorting humans into novelistic categories:
Next there would be settings.
Deserts, moon colonies, submarines, George Herbert and his God.
Motives for acting
driven by personality, DNA (fucking DNA!), sinning,
necessity and whatever happens in the afterlife. Spinning
with the planet but sitting still and thinking deeply.
School bus, snow plow
train whistle, cello
alarm clock, traffic report
former adversaries, adolescent lovers
any day could be your last day, Hombre
superstition, cancer treatment
enhanced interrogation, blurry vision
jacket and tie, why am I waiting
quiet remembering, day by day goes by without poetry without grace
seedless watermelon, rabbit in my garden
too much to do, not much to do
hip hop rhythms, how white people like to shake hands
who can't do anything about his skin color, Nelson Mandela
pluck the gold key, touch me personally
breakfast salad, stay in school
mountains and rivers forever, never will I allow myself to live long
enough to end like that
that's for sure, sure in yr computer
the brain contains the universe, the universe has a brain
stream cutting gorge, last snow patch
photosynthesis, missing dad (or mom) in poem
whatever you want, the freedom of summer gone and only one fuck
paper sleeping bag, ear souvenir
how to make history interesting for Johnnie, washing yr pajamas
chain saw, no strip joints or strip malls in the Gaza Strip
frantic century, facial tissue
Jerusalem, reducing fractions
polytechnic institute, grandma's sauce
Financiers feel superior to farmers
and pundits have it over poets.
All to the good because if you think America's
doing just fine, don't skip to the poetry reviews.
Our enemies are barbarous, our allies duplicitous
but our smart bombs are smart - that's how they found you.
Dad said all wars are resource wars. Follow
the money. The world needs more order, nothing
less than Nazis, never may the anarchic man's thoughts
be my thoughts, each shove sends a ping,
shields urge on shields, helmets helmets, we can be
the reigning kings between the last empire and the next
or implement a vision of collective deliberation
and binding agreements. Can China's navy
be harnessed to ensure free passage through
the South China Sea? We'll see how
things work out in the next generation.
In the meantime should I read Henry Kissinger's meditations?
He who thinks poetry's effete
probably considers Darwin a geek and Einstein
a postal clerk. Containment means leaving space
for the passionate and zealous to face themselves
and giving them missiles that don't work.
Slowing everyone down until one thing's done well -
governance or sustenance or brotherhood.
When violence comes to the neighborhood
the hierarchy will hold or fold, it is then the peace work proves
Failing to achieve understanding, we're searching outer space
for an entity to unite us as humanity.
That person, or city, is consciousness.
By that what is meant. Sitting still and thinking deeply
on the relation of anger to coercion,
systems for correcting the decisions of earlier presidents.
We're required to report incidents of depression
to a doctor because you're a valued member of of our community,
or so insignificant no one notices or cares.
How necessary the interface of war and poetry!
Kissed his student.
Punched his friend.
Accused her lover.
What if China's navy asserts control where our navy also patrols?
Should we concede the South China Sea? Not on your life! Or maybe.
Lives may be lost but so what. There's so much biomass in the
Lord have mercy on my soul
Which means bring my confusion into an expressible state before it's
Sal went to jail. I belong to the loved ones. Never may the anarchic
man's thoughts be my thoughts. Not one.
It could be cancer or just a cyst
That killed Frost's considerable speck
Instead of considering its considerable intelligence.
Although bottomless ancient night stretches
From your short life forward, remember
It also stretches backward without measure.
There are few straight lines in nature and only one alternative to
ageing, so suck it up!
Suppose everything's fine and you've wasted your time wearing
sackcloth over your soul?
Start now knowing joy.
Should we invite the neighbors over for dinner?
Their politics so different from ours.
All the more reason. Combat anomie!
He's worried the town's losing population
but opposes immigration. I like immigrants
but hate passing people on my morning walk.
The whole mountainous western region of the state
is losing population at a rate of 1% per annum.
The young move out, the old stay put but
young artists priced out of big cities move in
looking for affordable studio space. How low
can the population go as long as rents stay low?
We did agree about the fire department expansion
being premature (him) or unnecessary (me).
He argued we should renovate the high school first
the roof is caving in and walls crumbling.
But you can teach under a spreading chestnut tree
or baobab and science needs the world more than a laboratory.
I teach at the old 2nd St. jail in Pittsfield
a town that doesn't know if it's coming up or going down.
A few shootings last month, no deaths.
They're holding their breath but also trying to attract life
science businesses to the industrial park. The local bank's
expanding, buying smaller banks in neighboring civilizations.
Eventually our fire department got the vote they wanted,
just called another meeting and packed the auditorium.
The final winning argument was we can do the school,
the fire house and the police station all at once.
Don't accept defeat, limitations. Defeat anomie!
Anomie means lawlessness and purposeless in Greek
so that's not exactly what we're trying to defeat.
It's the mismatch between our aspirations and resources,
no, the dissonance between our tribe and nation,
no, the individual as sexual animal and intellectual,
no, the farmer and the banker, the loved one and the litter,
no, whatever happens to you after you die and belief in reincarnation.
For me, it always boils down to mortality
every conversation, which is why no one comes to dinner.
Whether the fire department buys an exorbitant parcel
at the expense of a future school renovation
in a town slightly losing population but still viable
with a college, bank, artists and a few working farms
is everything and nothing, as Borges says.
Deutsch says death ought to be curable.
The new high school or fire station, conditions like anomie
v. democracy, new life forms, self-conscious species
from the laboratory or the biome. How de body?
Today ok. Tomorrow I don't know. Potential
energy, lover, killer, anomie. Karl Popper
had such faith in the rational whereas Niebuhr
acknowledged man's ego is uncontrollable except
by force. Conflict is inevitable. But at dinner
we agree it doesn't always have to be violent or terminal.
We can do the fire department, police station, the school and anomie.
These are Jack's commitments: to his body
exercise, stretch, heal if possible and prepare for death.
To his sons: love and respect and teach, learn
to be aware of the effects of his anger or forever be an angry man.
To his wife: in equal portions serenity and uncertainty,
the early years, the middle years, and the final years.
To the community: to treat it as distinct unknowable individuals
much like heavenly spirits but also dangerous animals.
To poetry, religious in its contemplation
of experience under the eye of eternity,
in the realm of the gift and the realm of the sacred:
his individual experiment gone well or wrong.
To his student: not to hurt for gain or inflict more pain
than stimulates growth. Both of them are students
of each other, the periodic table and the civil war.
Other than that, expect to forget and be forgotten.
To his friends who are merely friendly: lonely
inexorably, working hard and playing hard without self-pity
severe about the law and believing in the death penalty
they're the men you'll want in your foxhole warriors at the gate.
To himself by which I mean mind or something hidden, intestate:
a quiet place and time to think deeply or simply
but not too easily to quiet the questions, to know
his bones and the particles of sunlight they stilled and slowed.
blueberries gasoline and prostate gland
breast cancer Wonderbread and pacifier
controlled experiment space travel and honey
peanuts inductive reasoning and electricity
tornadoes torture chamber and biscuits
copyright car radio cantaloupe
golden eagle lunch break tomato
Romanian songbook rhubarb and barbed wire
always hungry nevermind meat loaf
goosefoot mango juice Ipad
mosquito bite city street and broccoli
Chinese cabbage female sex drive water sport
pure contralto goat yogurt new year
black death white light and green tea
The four fundamental forces:
Zeus, Aphrodite, Ares (or Mars), and Adam and Eve.
<<0>> >> 0 <<
Electric field induced by Electric field induced by
a positive electric charge a negative electric charge
"Deutsch thinks that such 'jumps to universality' must occur not only in the capacity to calculate things, but also in the capacity to understand things, and in the closely related capacity to make things happen. And he thinks that it was precisely such a threshold that was crossed with the invention of the scientific method. There were plenty of things we humans could do, of course, prior to the invention of that method: agriculture, or the domestication of animals, or the design of sundials, or the construction of pyramids. But all of a sudden, with the introduction of that particular method of concocting and evaluating new hypotheses, there was a sense in which we could do anything. The capacities of a community that has mastered that method to survive, to learn, and to remake the world according to its inclinations are (in the long run) literally, mathematically, infinite. And Deutsch is convinced that the tendency of the world to give rise to such communities, more than, say, the force of gravitation, or the second law of thermodynamics, or even the phenomenon of death, is what ultimately gives the world its shape, and what constitutes the genuine essence of nature. 'In all cases,' he writes, 'the class of transformations that could happen spontaneously--in the absence of knowledge--is negligibly small compared with the class that could be effected artificially by intelligent beings who wanted those transformations to happen. So the explanations of almost all physically possible phenomena are about how knowledge would be applied to bring those phenomena about.' And there is a beautiful and almost mystical irony in all this: that it was precisely by means of the Scientific Revolution, it was precisely by means of accepting that we are not the center of the universe, that we became the center of the universe."
Danger comes from the root bad brakes and bald tires. Chain saws
and wildfires. Poisonous
ideologies, housecleaning chemicals and toiletries. Powerful
industrialists, alcoholic fathers.
Invasive species, illegal immigrants. Concentration camps, attention
Performance phobia, identity enhancements. Pleasure, applause.
Quiet moments, walking and
talking war buddies. Electoral politics, marriage and divorce. Pest
exterminator, Yeats seminar.
Love affair, pencil sharpener. Whatever, matter. Ionic and covalent
bonds, republican hairstyle.
Events in their mere chronology.
"What is a typical place in the universe like? Let me assume that you are reading this on Earth. In your mind's eye travel straight upwards a few hundred kilometers. Now you are in the slightly more typical environment of space. But you are still being heated and illuminated by the sun, and half your field of view is still taken up by the solids, liquids and scum of the Earth. A typical location has none of those features. So, travel a few trillion kilometers further in the same direction. You are now so far away that the sun looks like other stars. You are at a much colder, darker and emptier place, with no scum in sight. But it is not yet typical: you are still inside the Milky Way galaxy, and most places in the universe are not in any galaxy. Continue until you are clear outside the galaxy--say, a hundred thousand light years from Earth. At this distance you could not glimpse the Earth even if you used the most powerful telescope that humans have yet built. But the Milky Way still fills much of your sky. To get to a typical place in the universe, you have to imagine yourself at least a thousand times as far out as that, deep in intergalactic space. What is it like there? Imagine the whole of space notionally divided into cubes the size of our solar system. If you were observing from a typical one of them, the sky would be pitch black. The nearest star would be so far away that if it were to explode as a supernova, and you were staring directly at it when its light reached you, you would not even see a glimmer. That is how big and dark the universe is. And it is cold: it is at that background temperature of 217 Kelvin, which is cold enough to freeze every known substance except helium. And it is empty: the density of atoms out there is below one per cubic meter. That is a million times sparser than atoms in the space between the stars, and those atoms are themselves sparser than in the best vacuum that human technology has yet achieved. Almost all the atoms in intergalactic space are hydrogen or helium, so there is no chemistry. No life could have evolved there, nor any intelligence. Nothing changes there. Nothing happens. The same is true of the next cube and the next, and if you were to examine a million consecutive cubes in any direction the story would be the same."
The 5 colors of sadness:
disappointed, didn't get what was wanted
confused, don't know what to do next, where to go
lonely, no one to love or be loved by
sorry, unable to help or change what happened
depressed, can't get out of bed, want to kill self
"Unless a society is expecting its own future choices to be better than its present ones, it will strive to make its present policies and institutions as immutable as possible. Therefore Popper's criterion can be met only by societies that expect their knowledge to grow -- and to grow unpredictably. And, further, they are expecting that if it did grow, that would help. This expectation is what I call optimism, and I can state it, in its most general form, thus: The Principle of Optimism -- All evils are caused by insufficient knowledge. Optimism is, in the first instance, a way of explaining failure, not prophesying success. It says that there is no fundamental barrier, no law of nature or supernatural decree, preventing progress. Whenever we try to improve things and fail, it is not because the spiteful (or unfathomably benevolent) gods are thwarting us or punishing us for trying, or because we have reached a limit on the capacity of reason to make improvements, or because it is best that we fail, but always because we did not know enough, in time. But optimism is also a stance towards the future, because nearly all failures, and nearly all successes, are yet to come.
As I think of things to do I do them.
Thing by thing I get things done.
That's how my father and his father did things.
I guess my mother and her mother did things that way too.
Sometimes I'm driving and I think how my father and his father drove
There was weather and they had problems. There is weather and I
Time exists only in the human mind. But if the mind exists, time exists.
Joy everywhere. Joy at birth. Joy at death. All joy, all times.
Dick Burton examining Liz Taylor's rectal sphincter for blood.
Sexual love. Pornographic, anthropological, primate love.
Newton wrote the Principia
So only serious mathematicians would comprehend.
"I've been faking my way through life," he lied.
They say the white pine whispers
What the wind can't say.
In the blowdown there's a slow ballet.
I am a citizen of the empire.
Moonlight & heartbeat.
Zach's feet stink.
Flying low, scaring crows.
Watres pipyng hoot.
First, entertain. Then expectorate (spit).
Avoid the I,
Avoid yourself, and enter the void?
I think not.
Summer morning, rabbit in my garden.
Let it be or send a warning.
Let the rabbit eat my peas.
To presume to write to someone about courage
and not complaining, don't importune or make dying people cry.
I've always said Leave me alone with autumn.
Don't stand around my bed, I won't be in it.
Over 7 years after he died, I finally looked
through my father's papers. Couple of unclaimed insurance policies,
savings bonds, our genealogy and on graph paper in an engineer's
block lettering quotations from The Seat of the Soul.
Reincarnation and karma are the chicken soup of the soul,
the after life is the reward for our colossal imperfections.
Along with banking instructions, he'd underlined
this: Your soul is immortal. It exists
outside of time. It has no beginning and no end.
Every time you ask for guidance you receive it.
If we are not at home in the world, contributing purpose,
we lose our desire to stay here -- and we die.
The physical world is an unaccountable given in which we
find ourselves and which we strive to dominate to survive
or it is a learning environment created jointly by the souls that share it
and everything that occurs within it serves our learning.
Sin is activity directed toward self rather than toward service
to others. Sickness is sin. Almost any condition can be corrected.
You are part of God, therefore, think in a godly manner.
If you cannot accept this, forget it all. Do not even begin.
The first act of free will: How do I wish to learn?
If we participate in the cause, it is impossible not to participate in the
We shall come to honor all of life sooner or later.
Until you become aware of the effects of your anger, you will
continue to be an angry person.
Walking is the most commonly suggested exercise. Also, breathing.
"Thy will be done." Concentrate on that!
These expressions of certainty, conjectures and guesses
were inscribed by him in block letters on graph paper.
You'll soon lose interest in walking
and talking and wearing the cap
of a fool. You'll.
Words: walk, talk, wear, cap, fool, you, soon, lose.
Four word poems, ten
syllables per line, six
lines per paragraph. Graph.
Words: word, poem, syllable, line, paragraph, per, graph.
The night I wrecked my father's car
necking with my date after the dance
inching forward into traffic
foot tapping the brake like an erection.
Words: night, car, father, wreck, date, dance, neck, traffic, inch,
foot, tap, brake.
The USFS issued paper sleeping bags
like tissues during forest fires and fed us
steak and pop. All you could eat.
Words: paper, bag, sleep, tissue, fire, steak, pop, eat, food,
Things hurt. Pain is a message
to shut up and slow down.
Breathe deep, take care. Wait and see.
Words: hurt, pain, shut, slow, breathe, care, wait, see, deep,
Just as the war
in the Iliad goes back
and forth according to Hector's
fortunes, so does marriage and a truck in mud.
Words: just, war, back, forth, fortune, marriage, truck, mud.
Fear destroys the last free assessment of life.
But what is there to fear. Death
is most of all like sleep. Death
is but a dream missed.
Words: fear, free, assess, destroy, life, death, sleep, dream, like,
If a poem or essay can end with a conclusion or its opposite, either one,
Can it be of any use to anyone?
Do the discrepancies and disparities, dualities and densities, reflect only
Of the bearer of the pencil?
First entertain, then enlighten if you can. One stretches truth in order
another leavens with levity one's inevitable end.
Most days it's not possible to bring your life into an expressible state.
arduous chores, word choices. And, of course, the state of the state.
Driven by ideas rather than rhymes, for it is not metres, but a
That makes a poem. Convenience store or university English
The day's arguments, down to the meaning of the weather, leave you
To share your heart of zero and your inner rose.
It is the strong force, the energy of the loved ones combined with
cooperation for good or war.
Dad's years in New Guinea fighting Japs, he said, were his best by far.
The best that can be said or done is Be where you are. Love the one
Not necessarily an adult of the opposite sex, perhaps just a kid who
And school, dresses goth, reads rarely but learns a lot from movies
Has the presence of mind to say I am who I am, deal with it. That's
who I want to be
And have always been. Today clean the house, again. Woke up this
morning to two thoughts:
How sweet to be alive! Life is tough.
that's us. It began
earnestly late 20th century.
The first organic computers
using polymerase and ADP
came later. Weaponry
via numbers, words
in which the last significant digit
is the Other. However
our resources were,
antibiotics were always at the ready.
Forgetting what we knew,
reverting to austerity
because in times of prosperity
we forgot to be austere.
It's the uncertainty principle
taken to the nth degree
where the bad god resides,
Zeus, passionate, confused, obtuse.
Yes, we are electron herders
matter gatherers and shapers
of our time. Cancerous
cysts, irrational exuberance,
collective experience, experiments
gone well or wrong,
we were trying all along
to last forever. Flood and fire
saw to that.
Prospero was our answer
to this. Who threw his book
into the sea and wanted to be
Find himself. We found
the world without the self
cornus to oxalis
orbitals and calculus
waves and particles
equally likely to be
within us as without us.
shoppers are cytoplasm searching
for cellulose, muscle, photosynthesis.
Oils, petrochemical and vegetable
love: faith and trust
for instance, the Food and Drug Administration.
In America, the custom is
to avoid meeting the other shoppers' eyes. We graze
like cows or wander as zombies to the oldies played over the aisles.
I've always liked it here.
Cornucopia, yes. Also
a place to be alone and depressed, or cool off.
Water and bone
and the known ingredients. Neurons
for remembering, calculating, touching stuff.
I have a favorite bagger
who has the smile of a lover,
wouldn't rather be elsewhere.
Like glamour stars in bikinis
(but unlike tomatoes and bananas)
cashiers and clerks are admired from afar.
Joe says What's not to like? Ice cream, yogurt,
To eat your fill is a blasphemy against God.
At dinner, Zach asks
about our nation's history, wars.
I say We're taking on everyone, one at a time.
First Britain, then Britain again: "He was the surly English pluck, and
there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be."
Next Mexico: "Death is indifferent to what hide he tans; life crushes
men like flies."
The War Between the States: "Well done, Mr. Cromartie. Time now
Most of Latin America: "Not only humans longed for liberation. All
ecology groaned for it too. The revolution is also one of lakes,
rivers, trees, animals."
Then Southeast Asia: "The slight bump the mortars make as they kiss
the tube goodbye. Then the furious rain, a fist driving home the
message: Boy, you don't belong here."
Now the Middle East: "A land to be admired like all lands. Harsh
mountains and deserts, indigenous plants and people, adapted
ungulates, carnivorous mammals."
Can't forget the Krauts & Nips: "Then I heard the bomber call me in:
Little Friend, Little Friend, I got two engines on fire. Can you see
me, Little Friend?"
Nor the Commies: "You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the
beginning of a new one. I put this book here for you, who once
lived, so that you should visit us no more."
The original indigenous people say: "In time we'll become prosperous,
or else we'll become martyrs. The force that placed us here cannot
Your past, your romantic past, is a shadow. Like all towns, Port Washington was a combination of rain and clouds, sun and mist, with a chamber of commerce, barrooms and boards of directors, the known and unknown. No one of course is completely unknown. I was known for my tragic love life. She had found another man, a backwoods man, living on the land but not above a night on the town, who according to her would wipe snot on his pants, a statement of poverty or thrift or anger against the niceties of society. All of us heated our hovels with wood but only the rich burned hardwoods, me and probably this guy were softwood gatherers.
There were few aspects to my life. First, I can remember a nook in the kitchen of the house I shared with a beautiful faceless woman who wore a ring in her nose where I wrote and watched flocks of unidentified birds comb a tree for seeds. This particular day the sky was blue with clean pillowy cumulus clouds floating toward Puget Sound. I believe all the poems written in that nook have been forgotten by their author.
Nights, for entertainment, I would wander the aisles of the supermarket, admiring everything and buying nothing. I had no money. The fluorescent lighting, clean straight neat shelving and floors, warmth and the fact I could identify nobody attracted me. I lived on cream cheese and honey sandwiches eating them leaning against the kitchen sink. Thinking go back to New York City which is what I ultimately did. Drove cross country nonstop three days and three nights seeing and feeling nothing.
This was during the Reagan recession inherited from Carter. I'm unclear how presidents affect your life but good or bad, democrat or whig, alive or dead you've got to get a job, which I did. I supervised the living arrangements of developmentally disabled adults in what I thought were humorous contexts that gave no offense. They were beautiful and incorrigible having regular sex without protection. Normally harmless they'd sometimes have altercations with their neighbors. I balanced the checkbooks, paid the bills. Supposedly teaching living skills, I had few of my own as evidenced by my sleeping on the floor, I had no bed. One mature woman colleague judged me a short-timer living a useless fantasy about big cities. Still lost in my own history, still didn't know the calculus.
I had a dog, Shade, black lab, leftover from my near-marriage until she realized I had no economic prospects, no interest in further sex or her logger boyfriend, and a complete inability to translate or imagine nesting and gestation. Like Aaron, my homework comes to me in daily disconnected increments. Shade lived in my gray van, a Dodge slant six, which I could never afford to fix. Once the driveshaft disconnected from the rear axle and I tied it on with rope. Drove 60 miles on a knot. Shade was hyper and sad, both. He smelled bad but was a good dog with a lonely heart. When my wife who wasn't a wife finally found a boyfriend who wouldn't wipe snot on his pant leg they took Shade to British Columbia where I believe he runs free on a vast estate by the sea. I once beat Shade like a slave because he attacked a small dog out of frustration and loneliness and until I had kids and started saying and doing things just as bad to humans it was the lowest meanest moment of my life. The farmer who saw it will never forget or forgive it.
Having confessed all this there's just one last fact to tell. The mountains were cold, the waters clear, deep snow and shadows.
Between conjecture and classification there is
observation, experiment, data (collection and analysis),
statistics, calculus, and a good guess
about God's intentions -- probabilities, fractals, chaos and complexity.
This is the thunderous city.
The form of the poem, the rhyme.
Form cannot be first if you want to reach high artistic levels, since
you are then bound by form, and that form is very often a
betrayal of reality.
Yet I find I am attracted all the time
to philosophies in short skirts, jewels and eyes lined with kohl.
I love where her legs lead, to her very soul.
Three women hike by under an umbrella in a winter rain. Two men
side by side run in rhythm.
An oil truck takes the hill in low steady gear.
My old Marine, 89, died last night without anxiety or fear.
May I overcome my pain enough to reach the place where the deer
lay down their bones
and, like them, die alone.
When making an axe handle, the pattern is not far off.
The purpose of school is to introduce us to the world's innumerable
The periodic table, World Wars I and II, Huckleberry Finn and Jim.
what light through yonder window breaks?
It is a billion trillion nuclear detonations per second without which
nothing can be done or faked.
The temple bell stops, but the sound still comes out of the
Forests and the composite species will be nameless. Genetic
receiving the sacrament, performing Lohengrin from the Great
the look of love in all the wrong places, facebook,
fakebooks, folios of old family photos on or in pianos.
How can I be both still and skilled?
When we took Pop-Pop off the ventilator, we put him in a refrigerator.
He stopped eating, he stopped breathing. Circle with a dot.
He had his dream, he'd rowed his boat.
No single line can completely explain -- or rhyme -- or untie this knot.
All conflicts are resolved via coercion, implied or applied,
of the dominant party over the denied (Niebuhr).
Not news at the 2nd St. jail. But the Constitution
provides for moderation, persuasion and elections
as way stations, stopgaps, safe havens before the decision's taken
to go to war. Civil war, daily low intensity warfare is unavoidable
chambers of commerce and large corporations wrestle naked
and who are the 1% controlling 25% of the wealth, name names,
hold a french revolution over it. This space I write from's
safe, comfortable but what about a Taco Bell cashier with 4 kids x 3
who came and went when they found how human her bleeding and
complaining was, how voluble, not faked.
This obtains when you consider Niebuhr: "That the limitations of the human imagination, the easy subservience of reason to prejudice and passion, and the consequent persistence of irrational egoism, particularly in group behavior, make social conflict an inevitability in human history, probably to its very end." (emphasis mine)
respiratory tract infection, hunger pains
Popper drops by: "Their story that democracy is not to last forever is as true, and as little to the point, as the assertion that human reason is not to last forever, since only democracy provides an institutional framework that permits reform without violence, and so the use of reason in political matters. It is clear that this attitude must lead to a rejection of the applicability of science or of reason to the problems of social life - and ultimately to a doctrine of power, of domination and submission."
split lip, fever blister
Cynical nihilist Niebuhr: "Educators who emphasize the pliability of human nature, social and psychological scientists who dream of 'socializing' man and religious idealists who strive to increase the sense of moral responsibility, can serve a very useful function in society in humanizing individuals within an established social system and in purging the relations of individuals of as much egoism as possible. In dealing with the problems and necessities of radical social change they are almost invariably confusing in their counsels because they are not conscious of the limitations in human nature which finally frustrate their efforts. So persistent are the moralistic illusions about politics in the middle-class world, that any emphasis upon the second point will probably impress the average reader as unduly cynical. In America our contemporary culture is still pretty firmly enmeshed in the illusions and sentimentalities of the Age of Reason."
terror, runny nose
An apoplectic Popper: "And being a typical historicist, he accepts the judgment of history as a moral one; for [Heraclitus] holds that the outcome of war is always just: 'War is the father and king of all things. It proves some to be gods and others to be mere men, turning these into slaves and the former into masters . . . One must know that war is universal, and that justice -- the lawsuit -- is strife, and that all things develop through strife and by necessity.'"
lonely physics, national purpose
Poppa Popper proceeds: "Sweeping historical prophecies are entirely beyond the scope of scientific method. The future depends on ourselves, and we do not depend on any historical necessity. This prophetic wisdom is harmful, the metaphysics of history impede the application of the piecemeal methods of science to the problems of social reform. We may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets."
fatal heart attack, fatty acids
Reinhold, while drinking orange juice: "Conflict is inevitable, and in this conflict power must be challenged by power. Since political conflict, at least in times when controversies have not reached the point of crisis, is carried on by the threat, rather than the actual use, of force, it is always easy for the casual or superficial observer to overestimate the moral and rational factors, and to remain oblivious to the covert types of coercion and force which are used in the conflict."
Doc Wheeler runs the 2nd St. jail keeping the High School Dropout
breathing. The Sheriff's Dept. provides guards, a metal detector, one
man with a gun (encased),
door buzzer (in out), sign in sheet, breakfast and lunch. None too
clean, not too tidy.
Niebuhr goes nuts: "All social cooperation on a larger scale than the most intimate social group requires a measure of coercion. While no state can maintain its unity purely by coercion neither can it preserve itself without coercion. The inability of human beings to transcend their own interests sufficiently to envisage the interests of their fellow men as clearly as they do their own makes force an inevitable part of the process of social cohesion."
3 hots and a cot, circle with a dot
Popper replies: "Instead of aiming and finding what a thing 'really' is, and defining its 'true nature,' science aims at describing how a thing behaves in various circumstances and especially whether there are any regularities in its behavior. It sees in our language, and especially in those of its rules which distinguish properly constructed sentences and inferences from a mere heap of words, the great instrument of scientific description, not as names of essences. To those philosophers who tell him that before having answered the 'what is' question he cannot hope to give an exact answer to any of the 'how' questions, the scientist will reply, if at all, by pointing out that he prefers that modest degree of exactness which he can achieve by his methods to the pretentious muddle which they have achieved by theirs."
"when making an axe handle, the pattern is not far off"
Niebuhr nods: "The problem which society faces is clearly one of reducing force by increasing the factors which make for a moral and rational adjustment of life to life; of bringing such force as is still necessary under responsibility of the whole of society; of destroying the kind of power which cannot be made socially responsible; and of bringing forces of moral self-restraint to bear upon types of power which can never be brought completely under social control."
Popper and Niebuhr were married yesterday at the 2nd St. jail
under the federal Freedom of Marriage Act
Jack just had a big fight with his son Zach about it. He said
I'm tired of hearing how you're too tired to do your homework.
not too tired to play basketball or Xbox. That was that after Zach said
Visiting the nursing home you think Never
will I allow myself to live long enough to end like that, that's
a fact. But promises are broken all the time, to others and the self,
and that one probably will be too unless your face is shattered
into shards of broken glass, by accident.
Then it will be quiet, too quiet.
Day by day goes by until the day you receive news of your disease,
personal, unique, irrevocable, musical and factual, withal.
That's that you think but in fact it's not. You discover (circle with a dot)
much like living. That that's true until the body just stops barking,
Salvation in the details (sub-atomic particles). Granite
or sandstone, ash or oak, Odysseus or King Lear. Get it? Not yet.
For someone who doesn't want to be anonymous, Jack's anonymity
His work sunk in a tar pit or peat. The worthwhile effort is to meditate
on that, accept and repeat.
Like a flat spun nickel, shiny sunny side up,
shadowy silvery moon down.
It's only a paper-mache
moon, they say, too cool,
too full of interstellar space
to sympathize or care about
lovers, kings and fools.
Or is it? According to Deutsch
the so-called final ignition
into outer space
is a product of man's meditations
moving, as if via gravitation
the magician to the other end
of the expanding universe. Sure,
in yr computer. Meanwhile, nursed
in a nursing home, mewling and peeing
as accurately predicted by Shakespeare
my old Marine, an ex-sailor, bitter
at life's ending, having waited
too long to dispatch with dignity
all alone, as in Corbiere's poem
where old soldiers are fated
to fight unnecessary wars
as we all are, except for the fact that
every helium and hydrogen atom
ever born or made (whatever you believe)
has taken positions, passionate
and predetermined as republicans and dobermans
over eons and epochs. Thus
I don't think it behooves us much to fear
if we're getting too little clean air or
bacteria are better adapted than us. This
obsession with identity, survival
a name and a leg of lamb is lame
even uninspired. The whole universe
including the professional basketball season
is canceled when yr dead. No blame.
Have some fun.
Presentation of self.
Afterlife functional illusion.
If yr memories don't heart attack or cancer out
or from traffic accident
who will effortlessly flush them out?
You must give yourself to man
be more selfless.
Do one thing well. Flute.
History final. F is for fiction.
Nature's philosophical partner
afraid, affectionate, forceful, confused!
Within a tradition, fine to know what you're doing.
Polka dots and moonbeams. I'm old fashioned.
Noh, opera, film.
File with business cards.
What's the offer?
Free marketing. Unusual reflections.
Why fight fires, floods?
Hurricanes and other acts of the Father. As for man's
fate, what has this to do with the temperamental, fragile self.
just as we were fixing dinner.
The white egret ate fish after fish, one then another then another,
forever . . . .
Watching Homer struggle
to explain how a god wounded by a mortal
cannot die but may thereafter live with minor pain
and the humor when that god
complains to Jove that His supervision of His daughter
is inadequate and His Love too unconditional
while Diomed (or Tydides)
wreaks havoc on the Trojans and Hector
gives it back (in kind)
anatomically correct descriptions
of spears piercing jawbones and groins
sons without fathers hunting and fishing thereafter
as a metaphor for Vietnam (our war)
as this generation slips lazily away
to Hades (on Huck Finn's raft)
where the lights are always blue, gentian actually,
supper's served at 4 and former adversaries
pass the heavy hanging time playing pinochle (and pool).
We're selling the house to pay the taxes.
Pallas Athena wars among the men
from the axle of her chariot
and Venus is injured by Diomed,
standing in the field of battle where she never should have been,
in her adorable hand.
What has this to do with Solomon in jail.
Not the Jewish king, a black American male,
Your children can be failed at school and marched to war.
You can be taxed and sent to gaol for the honor of it.
anyone lived in a pretty how town.
We have no obligation
to perform the Iliad or read poems and even Homer
considers Achilles effete (compared to Hector)
and Odysseus is wrong even when he's right.
Therefore, modern man explores
the mathematics of circles in coordinate planes and their tangents
(when) (once) (soon)
the secret of warp speed is discovered
expansion of the species will be limitless and permanent.
Pocket knives, tape measures.
An extensive collection of coins.
Nails, screws, numerous sizes, and sets
of nail clippers, files, polishes and brushes.
Shoes, always shoes. And dresses.
Shirts and ties. Loud and quiet.
The sick and the dead are forever quiet,
never quite quiet. Our solicitude's unnecessary.
Playing cards, backgammon games,
chess. Every move's a variation on the next.
And so it is with words, numbers,
shapes and sizes. Feet and hands,
knees and eyes. Why and where and how won't matter
once we've divided the bags of clothes
among the poor and destitute. It's not too hard
to laugh too hard. The son and daughter deliver them
and then go home. Clocks and watches, letters, wallets.
Photographs in which the name and face don't match.
This summer, as ever, there's much to do.
But only one or two things I want to do.
I told Alan that, like him, I'm never bored.
But today, like a teenager, I'm both tired and bored.
The long expanse of summer stretches forward. Alan plans
the next 2 years in advance, always moving forward. I can't plan
the next 2 hours, sitting on my arse, undecided whether
to clean the house, make a list of prospective donors, or check the
forecast. Fires out west, hurricanes south, drought here
in the east where the garden phlox withers and the corn's stunted. We
prophecies of armageddon, doom, but humans may go on another
thousand, million or billion years
undaunted. What is that to you. A day alone in your room and a year
are inexplicable. Now and then a vacation, baseball game, night of
A divorce, a death, a drouth. To survive and prosper we must love
all of it, insect infestations and world wars, cloud curlicues and square
and weekends off. Knowing the unknowable = never knowing how the
Last night's Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, not starring Adam
great in the great tradition of Metropolis, Fellini, Children of
Paradise, Ikiru, Open City.
This is not comedy though it can be funny overhearing people
the randomness of thought, data dots, circles with dots, sadness and
silly sadness, confusion, rarely a clear thought, not one logical
lucid progression. Deep art.
I'd like to do better than my best so far, write something with
that won't gather dust then become dust a neuron of
sweetness, an early morning bicyclist, a lost ghost or fallen angel
any form from which death might abstain or forego appetite.
Appearing to meander from subject to subject is my practice.
Looking for solutions to the equations. Learning the changes then
The expressions emanating from mortal minds are broken stamens,
Striving for immortality,
some Spanish philosopher (who looks like Don Quixote)
says he understands and it's alright.
I will read what he wrote and probably agree
but is he immortal? Not his body, but his thoughts.
True, I say, but this also: Not his mind, but his thoughts. Unchanging
and finite. Put them in a hatbox and pass them on as heirlooms.
To overhear the secret thoughts of others. Sharing and unsharing
and bathing. That is the purpose of poetry. Gargoyle twice. Did Wim
give each thought its own voice or use the same voice for all thoughts,
It's already hard enough to say anything accurately
without further obfuscating and camouflaging the soul.
The faces in the funeral pews are impassive, impatient
and the dead woman cares not what's said, isn't even present.
The poet gets innumerable do-overs, it's one of man's wonders,
revises his vision of his mother and plays her piano, posthumously.
Why not say it simply? Hers was a comity
and a tragedy, both. As are ours. And perform the history that
Are caskets boats? The ship of death rides Charon's waves
or perhaps on that solitary day you happily kayak to the
Is the deeper sadness incomplete achievement or never to have
Any attempt to decide this question for others is to badly behave.
The pablum of Christianity, esp. the Catholics, re the after life
must be rejected. It's necessary. To be replaced by community,
perfection of the human project, nature's intelligent partner.
Dusty, sadly habitable houses along the funeral route, shapeless
people crossing themselves when ambulances or hearses pass.
I wanted to describe the sweetness of her life, how she was part
of the problem and part of the solution. How love and evolution
are passed like loaves from person to person down the generations.
Find the humor in the cholera. When my father died
he waved like a surfer riding a wave or a clown riding
an elephant out the circus tent. Mom follows the same law.
The many ways a spear can pierce a warrior's jawbone or armor.
Next to my son's anger
plate tectonics are nothing
to me. His unhappiness
was caused by me.
His purpose and mine
is to catch photons and
store them in our bones.
Time measures change
which continues without self-doubt.
There is no self there.
Therefore, why care about
my son's anger
or my guilt?
Is it possible as Deutsch
suggests that the changes
a self-aware organism can
applying the scientific method
instantiate are innumerable
compared to those of the sun
or any big bang?
Therefore, one must care
about the harm you've done
or the good you'd do.
As Stevens proved
the essential activity's
to imagine the world
then test it against the breeze.
What good is philosophy
without a confession
I sometimes hit
and can kill given
opportunity and permission.
My knowledge of enduring
seeds and periodic
elements is limited
by my impatience.
If I could stop
circle with a dot
perhaps then I would
understand myself. But
what is there to know about the self?
Long ago, according to Borges,
a self-imposed silence
on himself. He knew
what, that perfect acts,
accurate and factual,
microscopes and telescopes
for growing small and going far
take you to the very space a
gentle breeze and ridiculous bird
occupy at the end of the mind
at the end of your life.
As Arpad Vass writes:
"Death initiates a complex process by which the human body
gradually reverts to dust
but minerals may fill the cracks and voids, bonding the
hydroxyapatite and allowing the bones to join . . ."
in the happy tectonics
of the earth's plates.