Category Archives: Feature

A Message to My Friends

Random FountainToday as I was driving home, I stopped at a light near a building. The building’s side nearest the road has a little park in which a giant round area exists which contains random shoots of water that spray in a great steady stream high into the air. It’s impossible to predict when a given shoot of water will erupt – and the little park makes no distinction between the safe cement and the uncertain eruptions of water, other than the giant round circle on the ground, which is completely flat and flush with the normal pavement.

Two boys were running about in it today – one much taller than the other – in his early to mid teens, and the other boy just nearing his teens. Their shirts were fairly well drenched from the play. They would walk out into the circle, waiting – then dodge and run as eruptions occurred, laughing and yelling. They were of the same mind in this – pure enjoyment of the uncertainty, of the exhilirating feel of sudden cold water, and of the novelty.

I remembered a dear friend’s children whom I had begun to know. The oldest was two. I remembered the shape of what she knew, and could perceive, and the grand journey of her explorations. I would allow myself to enter into her sphere, allowing to dissolve all the many periphery things we grow accustomed to, and take for granted – and I would listen to her, and speak with her. It truly is incredible all the things you can learn, from anyone, when you truly allow yourself to listen, and when you truly listen to what you say. And in this time before Rules or Law, before right and wrong, before knowing the greater challenges of existence, before we are handed our eyes upon the world, in large part by the people who raise us – all possibilities exist.

A couple days ago I received a mail from Ian, commenting on the technical nature of a letter I sent to my friends – how it reminded him of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. Then I remembered something I had forgotten, yet have almost always known.

The people whom I have called friends, and who have allowed me to call them so, are not easily grouped together. It has historically been a very rare thing for any of my friends to get along well with each other. Each is so vastly different. It leaves me wondering, what is it that somehow draws us together?

Upon entering each person’s sphere, it is so simple to see the amazing circumstances that have led them to become the being they are – when each of you listen, and each of you come forth with honesty and trust. And what can possibly be more incredible?

Yet why is something like this so rare? What is it that causes these individual spheres to so often react badly with one another, when the beauty in each is so apparent?

I told Ian about a party I once had where I had invited many of my friends. I’ve learned this is not always a wise thing. They clustered into similar groupings, and the interactions between the members of the groups were not always good – yet there was a good deal of curiosity, which often led to some humorous events – and a couple disturbing ones.

I realize now that even in high school and college I “moved between worlds”, and these “worlds” rarely overlapped. Yet somehow I remained the same. Somehow, I fit into each, yet was simultaneously completely apart.

And I have to ask myself, have I worn masks as I travelled, altering my image to conform to any sphere encountered? Have I lied to people, to friends, about who or what I am, so that I might be accepted. Have I sacrificed parts of myself to gain the love or understanding of you, or another?

But I can’t imagine I have. I know that interacting with some of you can be challenging, and others of you it’s just pure comfort. So I wonder, is it the dynamic between us, or is it simply each other? I imagine it’s both.

So I think of this little girl, so distant in her awareness, yet the same, and I can see myself. I speak with you, about many one things or anothers, and we always find ourselves silent, somehow, in the end. Understanding, and feeling – knowing. But silent, in the end. In each of our spheres.

And I cannot help be wonder, this place, where all things come to, for each of us, eventually – how is it that my friends cannot find this with each other?

On the surfaces, we all make decisions. Decisions that will empower us, isolate us, confuse us, protect us, hide us, exhault us, liberate us – decisions that perpetuate us.

Louise Gluck in her poem Midsummer says:

You were not intended
to be unique. You were
my embodiment, all diversity

not what you think you see
searching the bright sky over the field,
your incidental souls
fixed like telescopes on some
enlargement of yourselves —

Why would I make you if I meant
to limit myself
to the ascendant sign,
the star, the fire, the fury?

Which makes me remember, I know that each you are very strong people. And in some ways, very weak. Just like me. I think that humility is certainly a characteristic that each of you has in abundance – though I wonder still, why the problems getting along. Challenging, yes, each of you. And perceptive.

I wonder if judgemental erodes humility, or clouds perception?

If so, I have to thank you very much for being less judgemental with me!

Heh. Maybe I’m being challenging right now. But I’m isolated away out here in Kent just now, and there’s nobody around to say this to, as might normally ramble on about. But, for me, it’s a nice alternative to coding for a while… 🙂

Cya soon…

Graffiti in Space – Kilroy Was Here

Kilroy was hereWhen I was a very young child, I remember getting in trouble once when I took an ice pick and carved my name into the steering wheel of a new van my parents had just purchased. It wasn’t an easy task – especially the rounded letters, like an ‘a’. But I persevered, and was successful.

When I think back to it, I’m not really certain why I did it. The van was quite a new addition to our family – it was large, and well, just nifty. And it was ours now. I was never prone to carving my name on things, or doing any of those “i am here” things. Perhaps I just needed to claim the loved machine – to somehow link us together by inscribing my name on it, like tattooing the name of your loved one on your flesh.

As we begin venturing further into space, not only through our large governmental missions and even the occational well-funded private sector endeavor, we must not forget what has lifted us to such pursuits – what has propelled us beyond the gravitational forces that bind us here together in state.

And that is our imaginations. The wanderings and longings within the poetry of the mind and heart that cause us to dream beyond what we encounter in our daily lives – the uncertain yet powerful forces within that compel us to invision and move toward better landscapes, unexplored territories and limitless possibilities.

The Cassini Probe, its bizarre path through our solar system, and its arrival at one of our most exotic local planets, represents to many the continued and measurable manifestation of our collective dreams and curiosities that extends beyond our incidental lives, moving out into the far greater vastness of all possibilities – the unknown – where what we hold as true may be challenged, and what we feel must be impossible, is instead discovered to be utterly commonplace.

For millennia, all humanity has known and lived beneath the sun and moon and stars. And when we did not know, we imagined and invented. How is it that we have lifted ourselves up from the earth, travelling through a still and lifeless void, to touch down upon and set foot upon that great, silvery globe of the evening light – that icon of the mystic power in the unknown?

The race to the moon was much more than political maneouverings. Just as the understanding and ability to unleash the energies of the atom were much more than desperate races to achieve dominance. In our selfish undertakings, compelled out of necessity or control, sometimes we stumble upon things that are so much larger, or reveal such immense depths beyond our current understanding, that we become transformed, both individually and collectively, in ways we cannot predict or even hope to control.

It is an irony, don’t you think, that we creatures who affix such importance to order and control continually seek out that which oftentimes shatters this order at its very foundations, and sends us reeling out of control. Is this simply the love of roller coasters? Or is it more like a plant, growing toward the sun, bending and twining itself around and through the obstacles along its path to achieve closeness to the source – though the source is millions of miles away?

The Cassini probe contains a small disk within it, contained in a small aluminum box, mounted on a pedestal. This disk contains the written signatures of over 600,000 people on earth. These people have etched their name onto this craft which now circles around our great ringed planet. I couldn’t really say why these people want their names etched into this machine we’ve hurled out into the universe, but I think that I may well understand.

Giovanni CassiniGiovanni Cassini looked out to Saturn about 300 years ago and discovered a gap within the rings. He also discovered a few moons. But Giovanni never could bring himself to believe that Earth was not the center of the universe, rejecting the maddening Copernican model that said the Earth revolved around the sun.

Nor could he bring himself to believe Newton’s theories of universal gravitation, in which all objects in the universe exhibit gravitational forces upon each other.

But that’s ok. I still think he would be quite thrilled, and more than a little overwhelmed, to learn that his name is on the exploritory vessel we’ve sent to visit, and fly amongst his rings and moons.

Normality and Expansion

Maya - illusionWhen one looks at something – an object, an idea, a shared concept, or perhaps a Truth – so much of ourselves comes along with it.

When one looks at another person, listening to them speak or watching their motions – sensing their feelings and intentions – so much of ourselves comes along with it.

It is so easy to generalize in the interest of expediency or the self-preservation of what we hold true. It is so simple to laugh about or dismiss something that challenges something within ourselves, something that we claim as a Given – a prima facie definition that lends us comfort or security.

Yet we all experience those unsettling periods – sometimes lasting only moments – sometimes for hours or days – where all the world around us shifts into the Unreal, leaving us exposed to the terrifying vastness of all possibilities that exist beyond the small little shells we have constructed to contain ourselves within.

In our days of perfect order, where the mechanical certainty of well-ordered events and schedules are disrupted only to small degrees, we take comfort in the mundane. We improve ourselves, or gather more for ourselves by means of the tools and processes given us by the histories of our progenitors. Our long history of agreements, or rather, prevailing doctrines, guide us and help insure our prosperity by the adoption of normalized behaviour, and even moreso, by the adoption of normalized attitudes.

Religious people throughout history, bound together by common beliefs, have established institutions, both great and small, that revolve around canonical self-reference, if not, canonical solipsism. Depending upon how powerful any group was, the people not within that group must either fear or desmonstrate a “healthy respect”.

More recently, as priests are replaced with professors, a new canon has emerged. This canon, though in most ways a marvelous, powerful, and potent force toward the benefit of all, easily becomes twisted and exploited by those coming in contact with it just long enough to extract what information and resources they require to achieve their hedonistic objectives, and to promote doing the same to others in justification of their exploitations.

It’s an odd thing, this “modern” cannon – rife in detailed empiricism, rich in the artistic accomplisments of the spirit, seething in the techniques of human control – both individually and collectively, deluged with both contradiction and resonance, and framed immaculately in hope and despair – desire and self-sacrifice.

In such a glorious place, how do we so rigidly cling to the illusory safety of what we feel we want or need – when what we want or need changes, as quickly as a commercial? How is the ideal we maintain for ourselves, which most people cannot even fully grasp, yet knows, limits them to a role of unfulfilling minor achievements while, with certainty, so much more could be achieved.

From where does this fear originate – this self-doubt?

We tell ourselves that as we grow older, certain realities become apparent. We tell ourselves that we must make compromises – and begin making them – then the best of us wonder when we should stop compromising – but the majority never do.

Some rebel after hitting a breaking point, and nearly anything involving others becomes a compromise of themselves – regardless of whether that other is beneficial or detrimental. They will dominate, or perish.

Some learn that compromising is no big deal at all – it leaves them with what they really want, and they never have to put themselves on the line. They become the fertile ground for the powerful to root themselves within.

Some never compromise – not out of anger or rebellion – but because they know what is important. And these people move Outside, often in obscurity, simultaneously admired and disliked by others.

Considering the great mechanics of our many interconnected systems – the great collaboration of agreement, bound together by greed, that keeps our very lives functioning – the notion of Compromise is a key issue, as long as our souls survive.

Shiva - the danceAt universities, Philosophy departments dwindle, often relegated to the smallest corners and basements. Literature and arts, studied by only by the lazy and freaky people, is held in disdain by the majority – a simple requirement they must fulfill. The jocks, swarming to the schools of business and commerce to achieve the greatness they never could within their sport. And finally, the monsterous quantities of money flowing into the technical sciences where the lure of financial stability and the hypnosis of many little things can occupy most of our greatest minds.

And then the greater hordes that never even enter a univerisity — utterly untouched by the higher forces, who will work in regularity toward whatever ends are provided to them — live out their days in whatever entertainment or momentary undertaking catches their fancy. Ironically, these people often become the most judgemental and self-righteous of all, finding pureness and absolution in their simple choices just made to survive.

While each, no matter where, as they wake in the morning, can feel the humanity within their hearts – have felt the same pains and longings, to varying degrees, and have known great lonliness.

And so I look at this person I see in front of me, knowing so much about them, and so very little. All of us, just standing, or sitting, or laying, or fucking, or staring off into some place that is just our very own, where nobody else can go – all of us, just right here.

And I remember a commercial I saw a few nights ago, asking if I had ever felt detached, anxious or uneasy around others – if I found it difficult to focus on the tasks I needed to complete. If I felt tired, or withdrawn. And they offered me a pill.

Kali - death and awakeningThe cannons of Science, Psychology and Sociology, intermingling in this tiny capsule. Strange how they all grew out of Philosophy – and how Philosophy is dwindling. Perhaps this is the result of the marketplace – the Laws of supply and demand. Perhaps the canon of Philosophy has swallowed wholly its own tail.

I imagine a feeling – and confusion – of knowing something, and being uncertain in that knowledge. I see my friends and family, and I speak with strangers. I notice the common threads. I watch explore the strenghts and weaknesses, the certainties and the doubts.

A Philosopher visits a Psychologist, in weakness and despair, knowing full well the foundations of their disciplines, and asks a question – what is wrong with me? The psychologist answers with a question – forcing the philosopher to examine himself. Then the philosopher looks outside, back to the psychologist, asking if the answer is within him. The psychologist answers with a question, leading the philosopher back within. The philosopher grows angry, saying, is this all you have learned from us? This circular solipsism? Why should I not just see an Psychiatrist and get a pill? The psychologist says, this anger is good – now carry on.

In the functional sterility of interactions, no true risk is assumed. The egoism of knowing that you do not know, and the paralysis of fearing that you do not. And worst of all, the foolishness of believing that you do, or that it does not matter.

So I imagine Normality and Expansion – a pill and a sacrifice – a death and a rebirth. And I imagine a poem – a combination of words – words that each of us knows, words brought together and arranged in a way that we cannot understand — yet, somehow, we know and feel to be true.

Then I look at this person here, once again, seeing so many things. And he is looking at me, with all his histories, decisions, accomplishments and disappointments – all the joys he has discovered, all the fears – and all the tendernesses and strengths – his loyalties, and his betrayals. And then I compromise: I do not hug him, and cry – I smile, and shake his hand.

Krisha - wisdom, joy and love

Freedom vs. Security – Where Do We Draw the Line?

I must admit, I have not been following this issue closely. I think that is true for most people. But I’ve come to realize more and more that this issue is a fundamental one of our time – a determining factor on how we will continue to evolve together.

I have heard debates, mostly on talk radio, and a very few on the net, about the recent powers the US Government has granted itself after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. What I have heard should in no way be construed as what is actually out there – I have not researched the visibility of the issue at all.

It is very easy for us to make excuses and concessions related to the sacrifice of fundamental personal freedoms and rights in the interest of helping to avert any such similar, or even worse catastrophies in the future. To encourage, or allow to foster a more powerful police state that has the authority, if not the legal authority, to not only usurp our individual and collective Rights, but to commit acts of inhumanity in the purported interest of our larger well-being, is something to strongly consider – in the public eye and with the public’s voice.

Right now, people can be taken away, held indefinitely, given no legal counsel, interrogated in any number of ways, and even have evidence withheld that would exonerate them – all upon a whim, requiring no process whatsoever.

Is this happening? Yes.

We look back in history to our “McCarthy Era” and feel shame – how could we as a nation, and collectively as individuals, allowed such horrific things to occur? Well, it might be a good idea to start asking that question now, instead of waiting for historians to ask it decades from now – assuming they can (in a worst case scenario).

It’s strange – I’ve had friends say things jokingly on their cell phones about possible terrorist occurances, and how it might ruin their trip to the theater, or their dinner plans, then quickly qualify what they just said as a joke to appease the perfunctory judgements and actions of any listening, covert parties.

When considering what we’ve been told about airport security – how even joking can mean getting detained and questioned, even this speech on a cell phone may be cause for grave concern.

Today, while reading articles on security issues related to Linux, I ran across an article posted on the Free Internet Press:

Supreme Court Takes Up Guantanamo Case

It was the first I had learned that the issue was coming before the Supreme Court. This astonished me. I visited the article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and became even more astonished:

Democracy’s chance

Thinking I may be further out of touch with media buzz than I previously imagined, I checked CNN to see what was being said about this monumental occurance. I could find next to nothing. I searched elsewhere, though superficially, and found so very little.

I did happen to find an article in CNN that came out today, most likely in response to the Guardian article cited above:

UK slams U.S. Guantanamo trials

But the only article I could find in CNN’s archives, was a passing reference in late April:

Supreme Court to hear Gitmo appeals

How is it that we do no feel compelled to voice our concerns about a State that can do whatever it wants to its own citizens? How is it that we can claim to go to war in the name of Freedom, while at the same time eroding its very core?

Do we really, all of us, feel so trapped?

Yes, we must do our very best to make certain attacks never occur within our country again. And yes, it would be so nice if no attacks occurred all around the world!

But times like these are very trecherous – in more than one way. We must be mindful of ourselves, our leaders, and particularly mindful of our own hearts and minds.

Time, Occurances and Probabilities

No Time!I’ve been spending a little time imagining events, when they happen, and their relation to time. It seems to occupy me when I play solitaire on my cell phone whilst sitting on the toilet.

I deal the cards. In doing so, the event of the card distributions occurs. Barring a few choices I then have on moving the cards around – the outcome of the game is determined at the initial card distribution.

I finish my game, and I’ve either won or lost.

Now, I decide to begin a new game, and I am readying to hit the Deal Cards button. My question is, were I to wait to hit the button until after I’ve wiped my ass, would the distribution of cards be the same as if I were to hit the Deal Cards button before doing so? (assuming truly “random” programmatics built into the mechanical game)

I thought the answer might be a simple one, relying on mere esoteric equations in probability mathematics. But on my cursory examination of such things, it is not so apparent. In fact, it led me back to philosophy, and the arcane notions of destiny and pre-determination – or chaos. And if mathematics were to meet the physics of practical observation, does my role of choosing or not choosing to hit the button at any given time even effect an outcome?

If not, there seems to be a bit of hopelessness. If so, then what forces influence such tides?

Mathematics alone does not seem sufficient. It can just reveal the liklihood of a particular event occuring, and can even go so far as to determine the liklihood distributed over time. But it doesn’t much deal with the actuality of the event occuring.

To resolve this with physics would require observing not only an event in the future (or the past, from which no information has been transmitted), but also would require observing two or more events simultaneously – i.e., you would have to know the state of the cards both now and the state of the cards in the future – and know them both simultaneously in order to make the determination.

I know that lots of physicists don’t like this sort of thing, and one good explanation they have is to say that the “wave” representing how the cards exist (in a compound sense, which is even murkier), exists throughout all space-time, and will collapse into a specific state when an interaction occurs. That our notion of past and future and now just don’t really exist.

But then, is it all predetermined – our consciousness moving along it’s tiny and pinpoint little “peephole” along the compound waves comprised of particle waves, like a rollercoaster locked tightly to rigid tracks of a multitude of causalities that exist, statically, throughout all space-time, and rooted to the Big Bang?

Or is it perhaps our little negentropic selves, realizing more and more the growing entropy, who need so desperately to encase ourselves in a safe, hardened and immutable shelter?

I’ll have to consider it some more, and hope that my leg doesn’t fall asleep while doing so.

But, given the choice… between superluminal communication and eternally static waves, I think I would choose superluminal communication. That might explain a good many of my problems, actually.

Superluminal Communication