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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What I Eat:

I have just decided that I really really REALLY love millet flakes.

The wholegrain millet I bought in the past took hours to cook and minutes to chew, and felt like it took seconds to pass through it was so full of fibre.

Thismorning I made millet porridge, and felt so good that in the evening I added it to my soup tonight, but it tasted so good that I ended up reducing the soup to a thin broth and using the millet on toast, it was so delicious and felt so healthy.

And it occured to me then, for a moment, just how surreal my diet would seem to most people. I eat about 50 percent carbs, and I reckon about 35 percent protein and 15 % fat. An enormous amount of the carbs are fibre, over 10% of my eating.

I drink a lot of coffee and water. I seldom have fruit juice or fruit. I have about two serves of vegetables per day on average. At the moment I have been having a glass of wine (Pinot) every night. I very seldom drink tea or herbal teas.

In terms of food, I eat a lot of unusual carb stuff: in this order of use, rice, noodles, wheat biscuits, pasta, buckwheat, millet, and brown bread form the base, and then high nutrient foods like spirulina and noni are daily or regular additions. I am lucky if I eat fruit once a week, often once a fortnight. I am just not that interested in it.

I also have at least half a multivitamin tablet every morning, and often I have the other half in the evening around my dinner. This supplies me with any nutrients I may be missing.

I do not eat: cheese, butter, margarine, vegetable oil, canned foods, or most fruits. I avoid salt, sugar, fried foods, biscuits, chocolate, cakes, fast foods (except for meat pizza once a week), but I'm not religious about it: I prefer to just moderate my use over time.

I do eat: avocado and hummous (as spread and sauce), extra virgin olive oil, herbs, dried beans, legumes, and grains, and an enormous variety of spices and herbs. I also eat milk in my coffee and with wheat biscuits, and I occasionally have yoghurt and a spoonful of fruit on the biscuits. I buy one slab of meat a week on Sunday which I usually don't want to eat and have to force myself to cook it before it goes off. And I love the taste of plain potato crisps beyond all reason.

It has been many months since I last ate: beetroot and celery, cake and ice cream, and it is about time I tried all four, though probably they are best in groups of two rather than altogether.

That is a brief survey of what I eat at the moment.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More and Better Still to Come

I'm having a bit of a rough day today... first my morning appointment was cancelled, then I quite simply forgot about my noon appointment and let someone down, and then I simply felt scattered and unwilling to focus, so I lay down with my purring puss for a moment and let the sense of anxiety and incompletion drain from my body and mind and now I feel like clay that too much water has passed over at once, etched with the vicissitudes of the moment and passive to whatever must next unfold.

Strangely enough, I then became quite busy in an unthinking way, and went about cleaning up and doing a few small things like getting water for the cat and clearing the kitchen table and putting on some legumes for dinner. That kind of stuff.

And yes I am feeling quite serene in point of fact for having accepted the state of things today for me... there's no harm in feeling fuzzy minded and still going about my business, and no dramas in having to do things a little slower than usual.

In any case, it is my intention to feel good about this whole process and in fact some good may come of it... I feel as if I am marshalling my energies for a leap forwards. So the one thing one can say that is really positive today is: more and better still to come!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Beethoven.

Two nights ago I was listening to Beethoven’s first symphony and the radio promoted the fourth, to be on last night.

So when I got home from the day’s meeting, I expectantly sat down to listen to Beethoven’s 4th. I heard a marvellous but as-yet-incomprehensible Simfonia di Requiem by Benjamin Britten; his musicial idiom is fresh and strange to my ear, but I believe I heard something wonderful from him.

Then came the symphony. I cooked and ate through the first three movements, then when the final movement came the cat and I sat completely still and listened.

It was astonishing. Whereas the previous three movements had been a fairly urbane exploration of conventional classical themes, the final movement exploded in a regular springtime of counterpoint. I marvelled, gasped at many points at the brilliance of the variations, then simply fell silent with awe, only to exclaim at the ending “That was marvellous!”

I compared the effects of the startling and exuberant first symphony with this fourth one as I listened. This was more sedate and conventional, doubtless. But the final movements systematic exploitation of the musical potentials of the main theme, extrapolating therefrom a universe of potential themes, was pure Beethoven. Or so I thought.

Then the annoucer said that we had just been listening to a live recording from Melbourne of the 39th symphony of Mozart. Couldn’t he write a tune, the announcer sighed, as moved as I was. But I had one thought in my head:

I can’t believe it’s not Beethoven!

First of all, the guest conductor displayed a Beethovenian vigor in his treatment of the Mozart 39. But more vitally to me my error indicates not an unfamiliarity with Mozart’s and Beethoven’s music, but rather that the great composers of the classical period share a commonality of spirit which is hard to avoid. Beethoven, who stands in my mind for an expansive potential of the human spirit through felt values, is a perfect complement for Mozart, for in my mind signifies a serene acceptance and trust of the Absolute or Providence as expressed in the form of the sublime and the beautiful.

I am now listening to my on-disk recording of Beethoven’s 4th, and it is as impetuous and romantic as I remember. I don’t know the backstory behind this symphony like one would with the 5th, 9th 3rd, 1st. But it is still lovely, and it makes up somewhat for my having confused the music of Beethoven and Mozarts.

Work Needs Oats.

About sex Doctor Freud at the conclusion of Interpretation of Dreams, the fifth lecture, sez:

Without a certain ration of oats, no work could be expected from any animal.

That’s as much levity as I’ve ever seen from the guy.


The components of the sexual instinct, in particular, have a capacity for sublimation into ones more socially valuable. The mental energy won in such a way has probably had the highest cultural consequences.

Oy! Nice one dude!

Australian Banks

The Commonwealth, and ANZ banks test weak using the kinesiology test. The National Bank and Bendigo Bank both test strong, at 250 on the Hawkins calibration scale, which is pretty cool. There are community financial societies that calibrate in the 300s, a few at least, which are due to their dedication to social benefits and a high ethical standard. Westpac, the last of the big 4 banks, tests at 202.

It is interesting that three of the big 4 test weak; only the National tests strong of the biggest banks. It would be nice to see some of the integrous American, Chinese and British banks begin to make inroads to Australia.

When a friend who worked for the National Bank had health problems, the bank went beyond the extra mile to help him; giving him several months support, personal banking at an extremely low interest rate, access to a credit card at low interest rate, counselling and other support options, and personal checkins after he decided not to return to work. It speaks volumes about the bank’s culture.

I reckon the National Bank would be pretty nice to work with for an investment loan. Just my two cents.

Reflections After Watching A Dissection and Anatomy Lesson on Television

I just watched Dr Hagen’s ‘Anatomy for beginners’, the first televised human dissection.

It was astounding as a spectacle: the nude man and artist painting muscles on his body, the presenter, Dr Hagen and his assistant doing the dissection, the interested multi-national audience, the detailed explanations and demonstrations of mechanisms.

But on another level I watched it as a mindfulness of decay exercise, as recommended by the Buddha. I even cooked some cream of chicken soup into a thin broth and ate it in the last few minutes, as a contrasting mindfulness of growth and life.

Basically there was a visceral disturbance when the skull, brain, and spinal chord was dissected, and I had to leave the room, so soup it was! I went outside too and watched the cat Shakti. I watched her body. I inventoried her spine, brain, heart, stomach, digestive tract, liver, pancreas, bones, muscles, tendons. Anything but focus on that dissected nervous system inside the house on the television!

And yet where is the self in all that meat? One cannot find it. No knife can cut it, and no fire can burn it.

Nor can one find the sense of self in the genome, nor will we find it in the proteome or epigenetic factors. We find and will find scientific command of nature to a limited degree, but where is the ‘I’? The brain does not hold it.

I see this clearly as I look at Shakti the cat and see that the I-ness of her to which I am befriended does not occur in physical space at all! Rather, the sense of meaning occurs in an entirely different sense or order of reality, not even a somewhere, although one may make metaphor of it by using ideas of physical space. The whole thing, my friend Shakti, my self, my friendship, and the factors of our love for one another, exists on a nonphysical and nonmanifest level. One cannot apply verb or noun to it even; it is a simple, unadorned unity of direct knowingness.

The horror I felt at seeing the brain and spinal column dissected shows me that I consider the I to inhere to these things. It shows the degree of attachment to those factors which these things (brain and spine) manifest: movement, motion, thought, and so on. I hear, learn, ponder, understand, and have faith that the I is free of any taint. But the experience is of attachment to this brain (and here the I seems to be stuck!) and this spinal cord (and here the sense of motion arises.

The ‘I’ these is brainless, motionless, one may presume. What is that which I am which has no concept or motion? What is silent and still and still self? A great mystery!

John Keats Versus Robert Mapplethorpe

The wonder of Keats’ poetry is not that he represented beautiful things beautifully, but that he represented unbearably terrible things beautifully.

No – not only did Keats represent the terrible beautifully, but that he did it with a matchless and intimate serenity. The goddess in the Fall of Hyperion met her match for impassive, nonreactive, nonattached demigodhood in Mister John Keats.

It is almost as if the refinement of aestheticism must be cruelty if it doesn’t also bring a corresponding moral refinement. It was that latter aspect, the moral refinement, which I miss most in Keat’s work. Lack of that makes it almost all juvenalia. One reads the Eve of Saint Agnes and knows that a boy is writing this.

Have you ever seen Robert Mapplethorpe’s picture of himself ravaged by AIDS with a walking stick with a death’s head held out to the camera? For me it is partly a traditional death mask designed as a self-portrait – in other words, a conscious revivification of the moral vigor of the ancient Romans, via an imitation of classical form; on the other hand it is Mapplethorpe’s giving the finger to the world, a kind of bitter “fuck you” in the face of a world he was not adequate to apprehend except through dead classical artistic forms. This latter aspect is the pornographic side of his work, always present to a degree.

The comparison of Mapplethorpe to Keats is fruitful.

In Keats his pornographic instinct is held in check by aggressive striving for poetic excellence – he is consciously striving to better Milton and Shakespeare so much that there is no room for the natural eroticism of the man. Sex and gender rears its head in La Belle Dame Sans Merci perhaps – personally I have always been inclined to read the poem as a metaphor of postcoital exhaustion, or perhaps simple misogyny dressed up as a ballad.

But I am getting off track. Just as Mapplethorpe’s picture was intended as a classical death mask, so Keats wrote a poem which represents himself the same way. Shelley might rant about the stained glass windows of eternity at Keats’ death, but Keat’s has the authoritative statement, in a rare mature poem, on his own death:

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calm'd--see here it is
I hold it towards you--

On The Future of Australian Culture: Republicanism versus Foreign Assimilation

In Australia, British social mores which sustained civil society since the middle ages meet an Aboriginal ecological awarenesses that are couched in tacit assumptions that have been encoded in gaps of speech and body language since the end of the last ice age.

The sense of disjunction between body and mind is palpable here, and evident in the public life where sportpeople, actors, and business people win recognition globally whilst thinkers remain provincial, narrow and impaired - in a word, Australian thinking is in one respect still too British, and in another respect not Aboriginal enough.

At present I cannot imagine what kind of event would trigger republicanism to the fore of the collective consciousness. Until the Australian Outback has been urbanized, which will not happen for another generation, there would seem to be no need to have the kind of centralizing influence a Republic would provide, and it would seem to me to be a positive disadvantage at present to overdefine what Australia stands for.

The traditional Aboriginal reluctance to speak to strangers about values in words can be seen at all levels of Australian society. At every level the older aboriginal culture has interpenetrated and supported the newer white culture, and Australia has benefited from the inherent stability of the aboriginal value system, implicit, tacit, embodied, and ritualized as it seems to be.

But the gap between the two cultures is belied by the internal distance. The collective psyche of Australians seems divided between (on the one hand) the ritualism of the everyday in the urban hive, which derives from deeply embodied and unspoken aboriginal consciousness, and (on the other hand) the deeply externalized and hyper-progressive western consciousness, which animates the overall prosperity and material culture to the degree of development it is at.

The key issue in Australian intellectual life is republicanism. Republicanism is the most important topic, and the one with the most emotional charge for and against within the Australian pschye. It is that issue which is the submerged social context to conversations about meaning and motive in the economic and political spheres. For many Australians, unfortunately, the rampant politicization of everyday life forces them to throw the baby out with the bath water, ignoring the essential issue of freedom and self-determination because it is labelled as political.

Australia thus exists in a kind of emotional limbo, unable to do more than mediate between British and American influences. The great influence of the United States has resolved in Australia taking more responsibility for the welfare of the Pacific region, which seems to be a wonderful move of working outwards through shared local interests in regional stability. My concern is that Australia is neither ready nor open for what China is becoming, because Australians have not been willing to pay the price required to become fully self-determining in a wise and balanced way. On the other extreme, however, I have often reflected that a Chinese Australia would most likely be a pretty decent place. So it could go towards either extreme: republicanism or foreign assimilation.

On Watching Michael Jackson's Thriller Music Video

I’m just watching the start of Thriller, where Michael Jackson says “I’m not like other guys… I’m different…” then turns into a werewolf. Funny funny stuff. And the pretty girl screams throughout so gratifyingly. My only gripe is that Jackson doesn’t tear her limb from limb there and then, but instead draws it out into a looong classic pop song. Oh well.

I am still surprised and love the way it suddenly converts into the movie, stepping playfully out of the scene in a shift out of the horror trance to the pop trance which perfectly conveys the complex nature of the pop sublime which Jackson hits so perfectly in this song.

How’s Thriller produce the sublime effect?

In Thriller, the tropes of horror movies are linked brilliantly to the natural dance lyricism of disco music. Both forms are transcended in the process, but the song itself suffers from being inseperable from the movie clip. That is to say, the use of the horror tropes are no longer effective when the visuals aren’t present.

A similar problem happens with Britney Spears, but for a different reason. Her songs lack substance so the clips are the only substantial fare she can offer – they are frankly better than the songs. Watch the video clip for “Stronger” with Spears dancing solo with chair, and you will see what I mean. I didn’t know a clothed girl could do that with a steel chair!

Anyway, where was I… ghouls, yes.

Ghoulish Michael Jackson is pure pop sublime. Forget the disco trope of living to dance – this guy is dying to dance. It’s freaken hilarious. And the dance moves are so damn funny, so serious and humorous and light and strange and toylike, I’m lost for words.

The pop sublime has no brighter star than Michael Jackson’s Thriller clip.. Just as Blondie consistently hits the dubious pinnacle of heroin chic with her clips, so Jackson hits the purer high of the camp pastiche aesthetic in both horror and disco. And in the sum of the clip, it can only be called sublime.

Why Money is Nothing.

“Ben has my job.”

That’s what my ego brings up as I talk with Ben tonight in the pub. Because whether through chance, chaos, or coincidence, he works every day, while I languish on zero hours for an entire week.

Ben’s eyes are bright and grounded looking, and he feels more substantial . When I say that to him he nods.

“It’s work that’s done it,” he says. “I can only be sad for so long.”

This is why I am friends with Ben: he is so sweet natured and tender hearted, even when he’s being mournful or neurotic, that I can’t help but like him. When I can meet him in that feeling place, we both speak rapidly and carefully about how it is now for us both.

Before I can reconsider, I have confessed my secret reflections to him: briefly, I have noticed that whether I have plenty or a little money, I always seem to be worried about it. What is his view of that, I ask.

“Well, money’s nothing,” Ben says.

“You mean money’s not everything?”

“No, I mean money is nothing .

“After the trouble I’d gone through I know now that as long as I’ve got food in my belly and petrol for my bike, and enough for one drink at the pub – then money is nothing because my needs are complete.”

“But there must be stuff you want?”

“There’s plenty of stuff I want, but I don’t need it. What I need now is very very little.”

“Let me see if I understand you,” I say. “After having lost everything material and in support, you are aware you could lose it all again in a second…”

“…In a millisecond,” he says.

“...So it’s not worth valuing over the stuff you need.”


“Isn’t that a frightening way to see things?”

“Yes, but what can I say? Life goes on,” he says. “I had everything I wanted whenever I wanted it for 42 years, and now I don’t, I’m just as happy even though I’ve gone through the roughest years of my life.”

Later on, in an effusive mood, I approach and thank Ben with a long hug for his insight and for his generosity. He has got “my” job, but I have got something precisely as precious: the blessing of his hard-earned wisdom.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How to Solve Problems by Writing a Note

1. Open up your email program, type in your own email address, then choose a brilliant subject line that perfectly encapsulates your particular problem.

2. In the body of the message, start by typing a 2-3 sentence paragraph summarizing the trouble you’re having, with a focus on coolly describing exactly what you want to accomplish as well as what happens when you try the approach that hasn’t been working for you.

3. Next, explain the ways you’ve already tried to solve this problem. Feel free to use Google as you go; fact-checking yourself, choosing precise language, and ensuring that you’ve framed the right problem.

4. Outline 3-5 possible causes for the problem, if you haven’t already stumbled upon 1 or 2 new solutions

5. Go back and read your email as if you’re the smartest, busiest person you know — like it’s not actually your problem. What’s missing? What would you suggest they try first?

Inspired by Merlin Mann's site,

On Food Values

Today I read the long and mostly brilliant article on calorie restriction by Julian Dibbell entitled 'The Fast Supper' at . One sign of its brilliance is the cognitive challenge to implicit food values I hold.

Let me track down the precise bit that troubles me: " the end, I made my way home that night with the growing sense that I had just come closer than I ever had to falling down the bottomless black hole of cult membership."

My comment: All food has an implicit moral or ethical value. All eating is a moral or ethical choice. The calorie restriction mob simply choose a purely rational value, in contrast to most of us. Most of us select food that reflects shared values, since connection and intimacy is so important to our development and well being. As a consequence, vegans tend to congregate with other vegans, and meat-eater tends to clump with meat-eaters. Over time shared belief systems become cliches then stereotypes of "how a meat-eat acts" or whatever, and a cultural aspect re-inforces the enjoyments of one's eating choices with social and emotionally payoffs.

As soon as I had the choice, I stopped eating along the lines of the Anglo-saxon diet I grew up with, and began to eat a lacto-ovo-vegitarian diet. I was inspired to become a lacto-ovo-vegitarian by Anthony Robbins wonderful final chapters on world problems in his book Awaken the Giant Within, and then later by John Robbins book Diet for a New America. In retrospect it gains the glamour of the A-ha experience, the awakening to the truth, though in reality it was probably just an youthful enthusiasm that stuck.

In the last four years I have chosen to eat meat (since 2002). I eat meat about four times a week now. Why?

It is a social decision as much as a nutrient-based one. When I started eating meat I had no other way to get the kinds of nutients I felt I needed, and so it stuck as an experience and a nourishment that, while seldom needed, is nevertheless habitual. Socially, however, I wanted to repent the extreme position I took against meat for a number of years, and really allow for an acceptance of either/or. It was about choice, for me. In a society where eating meat is normal, I wanted to fit in again. I had taken to vegitarianism as a rebellion, and the underlying persona was intense, and instead now I wanted to be more easygoing and accepting in my persona as an omnivore.

follow me on Twitter