More on Blake and Default Mode Networks

William Blake, by Thomas Phillips. Oil on canvas, 1807. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Yes. I know. Tis a strange pairing in the title. But it fits so far with my reading of the Higgs bio. I’m struck by the idea of the development of the Self, which parallels the development of those Default Mode Networks, and the virtual impossibility of Being One with the All when the DMN/Self is ascendant.

And this is logical to me. More inferences from the early part of the book (and other readings and experiences) take me here and there. Such as, as we age, our Self tends to become more defined, and in doing so, brings us great benefits — with serious tradeoffs.…

Fall Poetics III

Something missing from the previous two posts on this topic, this vagueness I’m calling Poetics. A heart-place, of sorts, for lack of a better term. And that term is woefully inadequate. So I’ll work on that . . .

Everyone has one (or myriads), even if it’s the absence of that home, that heart-place, that sometimes warm, welcoming, well-lit cave inside one’s unknown core. Absences are presences, at least to a point in our lives, especially when we’re on the younger side of the journey. I suspect that one day, however, if we live long enough, the absence fails to complete the circle into a presence, and remains a null, and then it’s truly time to bid adieu.…

Nietzsche was right. Sort of.

Panoply7, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

I’ve often heard it said that “human nature” makes true system-change impossible, that we’re too greedy, selfish, or just plain rotten to ever live in a more cooperative, harmonious way with one another, which apparently means any system-change is bound to fail.

I find that to be blinkered thinking on several levels, and ultimately destructive. First off, there is no such thing as “human nature,” as anthropologists, biologists, bio-geneticists, and psychologists of various stripes have been telling us for more than a century. More than a few philosophers have as well, including the fellow mentioned in the title.…

The Shaman and Time’s Arrow

Night Moves, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I played Daniel-san to the Shaman’s Mr. Miyagi. He had me wash his car, weed and seed his lawn, and take his clothes to the dry-cleaner’s, among other chores. All of this struck me as a waste of time, of course, which was likely the point. Either that, or a lesson in Entropy, a word the Shaman had left out of his lessons so far.

But things changed dramatically soon enough. Archery lessons! This was something I knew I could use, especially given my youthful admiration of Robin Hood, and my hatred toward Paris, the coward of The Iliad.…

The Shaman and the Coffee Shop

The Falls8, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

The Second Lesson Percolates

Cat Stevens sang “Morning has Broken” above us, as we sat in the corner café, with its old stone walls, its monstrous fireplace, and its unbreakable wood tables and chairs. I suddenly felt relaxed in a way that had escaped me for weeks.

The Shaman looked at me quickly, saw my newfound comfort, and pushed me violently to the floor. Luckily, there was no coffee to spill yet, no cakes to fly upward into the vaulted ceiling, though the Shaman likely would have preferred the added derangements.

“Why did you do that?”…

The Shaman’s Secret

Canopy77, by Douglas Pinson. Digital painting, 2021.

First Lessons Abide

Moderation in all things is terrible advice,” said the Shaman as we walked, then ran, then stood still. “All is contrast within context. If you wish to live sweet lives, take the highs and lows, embrace the deepest darkness and the most luminous visions, as if your life depended on it, because it does.”
         
So I asked him, as we ran, then walked, then stopped: “But moderation and mindfulness lead to balance and wisdom, so say all the prophets, didn’t they?”

“No, young sir, they didn’t. Their editors said so through the ages, more or less, once the words of the prophets were stripped of complexity, censored, abridged, and frozen for easier consumption.”…

Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times

Philosophy in Turbulent Times

There is something about the French, a certain . . . No, I won’t say it. But their best writers can abstract and poeticize deep, dark thought in a way that somehow “lightens” it (paradoxically), connects it with other worlds, and sends it to the stars. Thoughts dance in windy minds. They run off in their own directions, joyous (in a sense), even when the darkness of the topic engulfs you. No one seems to be able to make death dance like the French, though this can sometimes grate on certain Anglo nerves. Perhaps those who have less/no Celt in them are more susceptible to anger due to this, tempted as they may be to see it as frivolous and disrespectful.…

The Alien Suggests

The Alien Suggests

Go camping. Go together. Share a tent, a fire. Build the campsite with one another, for one another.

Wake up to the sounds of brooks and rivers nearby. Pause and listen. Walk in the forest together, or by yourself when the dawn appears. Climb the mountainside for kindling and a peak at the sunrise over the distant hills. When you face forward, spin, take in your 360s, your panoramas.

The old metal coffee pot is on the grill. Share it with friends. Leave your phones at home. No TV. No news. Swap the virtual for the real. Swap bad fictions for the real.

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