Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Monday, January 30, 2006

On Cancelling My Internet Service Provider.

I have decided to cancel my internet connection at home.

This is not as big a decision as it might seem. I can still function online in the rudimentary ways - blogging, emailing, and using social networking tools and discussion boards. I can still indulge in the occasional read of a blog. But I will be doing them outside my home, amongst others. There will be no downloading of podcasts or viewing of unseeming images in the state library rows of terminals, thank you very much!

So it is bizarre but still cool. And there is a quality of advancement to it. You know, let go of external stuff in order to best develop internal qualities. In the months coming up to Christmas my spending has been erratic and so any saving of money is best spent on necessities rather than luxuries like the internet.

In fact, my entries here may become more frequent! Working in the state library has a stimulating quality which one cannot quite get at home... at least not in its present condition.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

How to see the world with the insight of NYTimes' Thomas Friedman

Friedman's books and he himself calibrate using kinesiology at 470, the level of intellectual genius, so it is well worth while having a glance at his methodology of understanding the world.

He uses a number of lens he calls his "Ds", dimensions.

Dimensions One and Two are Politics and Culture. 3D is National Security. 4D is Financial Markets. 5D is Technology.

Becoming a multi-perspective writer for Friedman meant "adding Silicon Valley to the list of world capitals - Moscow, Beijing, London, Jerusalem - that I felt I had to visit once a year just to stay abreast of what was going on."

See if you can guess which world capital relates to which dimension of insight!

The sixth dimension is, of course, environmentalism.

Operationally speaking, Friedman defines his role as "information abritrage" - that is to say, he buys information cheap in one arena (say, envirenmentalism) and sells it expensive in another arena (say, national security).

He explains:

"It was said of the great Spanish writer Jose Ortega y Gasset that he 'bought information cheap in London and sold it expensive in Spain'. That is, he frequented all the great salons in London and then translated the insights he gained there into Spanish for Spanish readers back home."

A brilliant strategy for an aspiring globalist writer!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Appreciation of Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.

I just finished reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation. The first book of the Foundation Series is truly a masterpiece. It has become even more powerful a read.

I first read it as a bored teen, with no idea what it was about. But the fact of the matter is that Foundation is a book which demands to be read quickly, and thus the impression, amidst the brilliant storyline, is often shallow. I read it this time in a couple of hours; I would've read it quicker without trains and cafes and other impediments, but basically I devoured it. And because it read so fast, the impressions of the individual stories flickered past too.

The sense of history as pattern is stronger in this book than any single narrative. Having read the brilliant new Foundation trilogy, written by the three Bs (Brin, Benson, and Bear - all writer whom I test strong using the kinesiology test, a rarity among Sci-fi writers) which tells the personal life story of Hari Seldon, the very brief treatment of Seldon in the first trilogy is more notable for what is unsaid. Hari is just another name in history for Asimov; the hero is the idea, even the fast-flow of the narrative of itself might be called the Hero, because the whole notion of story here is webbed against historical patterns so closely.

Briefly, then, Foundation has the setup and three payoffs. The setup is Hari Seldon arranging exile to Terminus.

Salvor Hardin's politicization of Terminus is the first payoff, and is especially brilliantly written.

Smyrnian Trader Limmar Ponyet's chicanery on planet Askone's closed market demonstrates the limits of religion and is the second payoff.

Then Hober Mallow's power grab and abandonment of religion for trade as a means for influence in the third.

The story starts and ends with a court case, first against Hari Seldon and last against Hober Mallow. The ideology of the book is anti-violence and pro social and economic measures. In fact it may be the first really positive exploration of what has come to be called "soft power", of which the European Union is the present example.

The great touches of image serve to cast a deeper shadow on the role of public morality in sustaining a civilisation. For instance, the ambassador from Anacreon presents the hilt of his gun as a symbol of peaceful intentions when he visits Salvor Hardin on Terminus.

In the context of history the book is extraordinarily complex and sophisticated. Social and economic complexity is reduced and strained free of dense matter and difficulty, like consomme soup, made to be thin yet delicious and easily consumed. The very first thought I had at the end of reading Foundation was "how I wish there were a history of Rome so readable and fast and easy to consume!" and then "how I wish I wrote a history of such things myself, that was so readable and consumable!" and so on.

Normally I read Foundation in a great hurry (as I have this time) in combination with the other two books, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. But I only have a copy of the first book of the trilogy and must make do with it.

The first payoff is quite brilliant, because it is delayed and played out indirectly, thus deflecting the thrill of emotional rush into intellectual wonder. Specifically, Salvon Hardin delays the confrontation between Terminus and Anacreon for thirty years, years which Asimov summarizes in a bitter and brilliant battle of words between the old Hardin and young Sek Sermak. Thus the reader feels that the payoff is deferred. The reader senses an even bigger payoff at the far end of the section, "Mayors". And Asimov does not fail us. For Salvor Hardin travels to Anacreon to personally entrap the evil regent there and defeat him - again, inevitably, with soft power. Hardin defeats his enemy on the enemy's territory, at the precise moment when it seems all is lost for the Foundation.

One is left with the distinct impression that brains defeat brawn, skilled inaction and insight defeat busyness and boldness, and that the power of wisdom and foresight overcomes even a social collapse on the scale of the fall of the Roman Empire - as indeed they did. For the Fall of Rome resulted in the rise of Christendom, and with it a grand tradition - so Asimov's message, by locating a historical European lesson in the distant future - becomes a timeless affirmation of human excellence.

The book, incidentally, calibrates at 450, which makes it the highest calibrating science fiction book I have yet read. Foundation thus stands virtually alone in the field of science fiction novels in excellence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Blue Day Thoughts

My cat vanished a week ago. I am wondering, in the moments of clear enough consciousness to actually WONDER, how I can restore my heart to stable happiness and peace again. With her gone.

And when I am reminded of her my heart contracts with longing to cuddle her again. The thoughts of what might have happened to her were laid to rest four days ago, since they lead nowhere. But the thoughts of her presence linger, and there is no way to restore the feeling with her gone.

What grieves me most is not that she is gone, for I wish her well and happiness. What grieves me most is the attachment to loss itself. The aspect of awareness that grieves me most is one in which one grips sadness like a loved one, holds grief like I used to hold my beloved puss, with deep attachment and caring. Within the love for my cat Shakti was the attachment to pain itself, present all the time, and only revealed with her gone.

And nothing can heal this but the acceptance of the pain of the attachment. Acceptance lessens the hurt greatly.

And inquiry. A question which with her gone becomes focal to my life: what is love without attachment, generousity without expectation, uprightness without rigidity, truth without judgement, solitude without loneliness, serenity without resistance? And what am I without these things, I ask myself? This inquiry also lessens the hurt greatly, so I know in time it will pass.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Crisis In Zefra, by Karl Schroeder

I have recently come to admire Mr Schroeder's science fiction. Besides being among the invisible elite of science fiction writers and writings that test strong by the kinesiological test, his work also embraces the Singularity subgenre of science fiction, my favorite area of reading and writing.

A brief search reveals a plethora of stuff on him and his work. But most intriging for me is the scenario exploration Schroeder wrote, commissioned by the Canadian military, on near-future military operations. No author appears on this webpage, but nevertheless the work has the trademark interest of Schroeder's better known work.

You may find this in PDF format at or by clicking the title of this entry.


“Blocked? Plunge forth with ghastly ideas, dreadful songs, appalling paintings or unspeakable prose. Give yourself permission to suck. I’d be surprised if the great didn’t find its way out of that pitiful pile of poor.”

- Bruce DeBoer

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Grief and resistance

Rage yesterday, grief today. What is up with my unconsciousness?

Fortunately embedded in the grief was an enticing science fictional storyline. Nearing a Singularity one develops eigenselves or shadow selfs embedded in computational matter. The more bizarre the action the more likely an eigenself is to appear and begin living as you. So the grief of this comes in with the character, the focus of the I, splitting away from his old life and watching his old I and especially the person whom so many dreams are about falling away into death and forgetfulness.

Bizarre. And also today I wrestle with the fact that I am putting off cleaning my kitchen heroically well. Gently I wonder how I can edge my way around the wall of absolute resistance and get it done. But the effort of it is tiring and it is the first progress in several days. Anyone would feel frustrated by that, but I have learnt that forcing myself leads to a backlash of even worse proportions and longer degree of tediousness. So I endure it patiently.

The Best Tales of Finn Mac Cool

"He felt as though he had never been weary in all his life and could never be weary in all the rest of it."

This is from the tale of the Giolla Dacker and his nag mare. It has humor and high strangeness, irony and heroism. And it has the male lead Dairmund taking a magic bath after fighting the King of the Land Under the Sea for three days. The bath so refreshes him and mends all his wounds that "he felt as though he had never been weary in all his life and could never be weary in all the rest of it."

What would that feeling actually feel like? The imagination and the body work together to wonder, and the breath slows and the eyes relax and the body itself secretes a feeling of wonder in its organs to Know, viscerally, what that might feel like.

It is a marvellous story in Sutcliff's 'High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool' and probably the best literary narrative there, alongside the romance of 'Diarmund and Grianna', which I have not yet re-read. The Illiad-like military epic of the 'Hostel of the Quicken Trees', with treachery and a desperate stand against the men of Lachlan, I also fondly remember and am eager to re-read.

And of course the two episodes of Finn's first wife, where she is enchanted as a dappled fawn and stolen again so tragically, has all the main themes and magic of the daily life of the Fianna troops, and shows how Finn's heart is broken by a Faery woman early on in life, and experience which would turn any man to warfare.

These are the best of the lot, though, and one wonders if Sutcliff invented or simply stole from an older book this splendid phrase: "He felt as though he had never been weary in all his life and could never be weary in all the rest of it."

I should like perhaps to rewrite these tales one day, and make them as strong as their hero's character is, perhaps. But we will see.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A true confession: my shameful retro gaming addiction

I am addicted to SNES's Superbomberman and Superbomberman II.

Only a higher power can save me from my disease of addiction to retro gaming. I surrender to whole thing over.

This is not a joke. I am playing it inbetween writing these sentences. While listening to a Beethoven violin concerto.

I am so glad I cannot afford Worlds of Warfare or a Nintendo Gamecube. That would probably qualify the Super Nintendo as a "gateway substance".

Lunch O Clock on a resting day

My first coffee left me clearheadedly inert thismorning, like a beaker of inviible vapor which has been unstopped and mingled with the surrounding air.

I woke from a dream - a nightmare - where I let loose with insensate rage at a close real life figure whom I shall not mention. These kinds of dreams stopped for many years and I was unimpressed by their recurrence. Something needing to work itself out, no doubt. But the expression of rage just before I awoke left me shaken and adrenalized and a little fuzzy, as usual.

Every day I follow the same routine. Walk into the toilet to pee then make coffee. Sit outside and drink it and see if a caffeine-induced semblance of wakefulness emerges from the buzz. Sometimes clarity comes and sometimes not. This time however, flies settled on me as thick as Canaanites. I went into the bedroom and lay on the bed with the laptop. Four hours passed...

For lunch - or the sudden onset of ravenous hunger at two O clock in the afternoon, I lavishly cooked a stew of chickpeas and buckwheat and multiple vegies and herbs. Then, growing frustrated with the time it took to cook, I fixed three cakes of noodles, one after the one, to various recipes and ate them. Now the stew sits cooling for the fridge. I used the castoff water to soak brown rice which will be the complementary dish in the evening.

I had two helpings satay noodles and brighly spiced tumeric and ginger noodles with sliced tomato and cheese. The dog and the flies hungrily watched me eat.

Monday, January 02, 2006

On reading 'Finn Mac Cool' for the first time since 15 years old

I've been rereading Rosemary Sutcliff's 'High Deeds of Finn Mac Cool' for the first time in seventeen years. It has dated.

First of all, the opening story of how Finn takes the leadership of the Fianna from Goll Mac Morna is all about rigid notions of honor which are absolutist. The reliance of honor to protect people from falling into error is an indication of how fragile the social contract was in ancient Ireland. But the side effect of rigid honor was that often heroes make really dumb decisions.

I don't mind the whole weirdo patriarchal macho war thing - that's the place and time - but there is one particular thing I do mind in Sutcliff's rendition. Every time a story nears the ending, Finn does this "year and a day thing" which drives me nuts. Say he's slayed the dragon - well then he stays with the maiden for a year and a day. It's a figure of speech which seems to be the equivalent of the funky little dances people do in Worlds of Warfare - it's like a poncy way of saying, " and then there was great whoopee made!"

Anyway, it's a kid's book, yeah? So I have to tolerate it's condescending tone and childish repetitions of hurrahs. But I believe I might perhaps have outgrown Irish mythology already.

Blue Monday

Woke feeling groggy today and intending to clean my fridge and kitchen floor. But the sight of the crumbling chiller ice dripping across the dirty tiles was so repellent that I literally couldn't stand it.

So I went out of lunch and dinner, and skipped breakfast. Mid-afternoon I felt myself spiralling down into a really blue patch while I sat at a cafe. Seeking in vain to push away the dark mood, I stood and walked quickly, wondering if I should go see a movie.

I walked past the Christian Science Reading Room. It was closed for the New Year's Day public holiday but as always it had a stack of old magazines in a box outside. I took one and read as I walked, and in a few moments I felt the shell of the blue mood crack and I could pray and feel joy again. The dark mood dissipated into the background as the Presence came to the fore.

I thought, what a blessing it is to be alive...! and grateful that God can still reach through my selfish and preoccupied depression to remind me how wonderful it is to exist?

By the time I had got home I had managed to show myself and a few others a number of kindnesses and I felt much better about myself. Nevertheless, I felt groggy still and drained by the alterations in mood through the day. I can't pretend it hasn't been a rough day for me emotionally - nor can I say I have really achieved much at all either! But at least the day is done and there's always tomorrow.

ADDENDUM - I omitted to say that I arranged my loungeroom today. I moved the office desk to the commanding position (a suggestion of Steve Pavlina's); the bookcase to beside the doorway; and I unwrapped and put up three magnificent and beautiful framed pictures. This is no small achievement for a blue day and I find it interesting that I "forgot" it in the midst of my mood!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Watching a documentary on Warhol

I'm watching a documentary on Andy Warhol. Notions which interest me:

- The nature of desire depends on a gap between the image and the reality of the desired object. Therefore the only way to reproduce desire in art is to ABSENT the key element of emotion from it.

- The intellectual in society is merely the expression of the subjective essence of the personal. There is nothing deliberate about intellectualism; it spontaneously appears from the individual. The Campbells Soup cans are Warhol's childhood icons, the essential experience of nourishment in a poverty-ridden background.

- Dennis Hopper says that Warhol's first exhibition was "the return of the real" in modern art.

- What is exciting, and what is boring? In fact erotic items are both depending on the subjective degree of arousal in the observer.

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