Aether Song

Our time is not in the grey falling rain nor in the boundless blue-green sea. Our time is in the river that lies between them, flowing smooth and quiet over the sand or angry and roiling over the unyielding stones. Joining and dividing. Choosing our own way for good or ill.

My Photo
Location: United States

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prancer Butterfly

Prancer Butterfly was born
Not goat, not pig, but unicorn,
But no one told his gut you see
And thereby hangs a tail

Most unicorns are known to feed
On no more than they really need
Never had one left a spoor
Among the leaves on forest floor
That orifice there at the back was mainly just for show

But Prancer's appetite was more
Than any that had come before
His mare-y mother he drank dry
Or nearly so, so lest she die
The famished foal and his mummy swift parted

Milkless then he sought to hunt
That which might his hunger blunt
With eager lips and teeth and tongue
He sampled what about him hung
And in disappointment spat them out unswallowed

Bitter were the stems and roots
Bitter were the bark and shoots
Bitter were the leaves and moss
Doubly bitter was his loss
Cursed by growing, growling emptiness and memories of milk

No unicorn was made to cry
And so he paced until his eye
fell square upon a thing quite new
A bed of roses laced with dew
At the first tender tentative taste he shamelessly squealed with unbridled delight

Roses first but far from last
Of the blossoms he amassed
Like leaves falling heavily in Autumn
In pinkish pit without bottom
Butterfly in name was he, but caterpillar appetite he bore

Fro and to the land he scoured
Glade, field and meadow he deflowered
Devouring in immortal haste
Those blooms that met his narrow taste
And where he passed no single stalk left standing.

To eat forever he'd intended
But with belly now distended
His stomach's delicate digestion
Resisted any new aggression
Saddled with a sudden, stubborn, unfamiliar, fullness he did pause

He puzzled and pondered in nauseous confusion
Just what to do with this gastric occlusion?
But his poor powers of equine deduction
Failed in the main to banish obstruction
And then per force nature intervened

His self-pitying sorrowful sense of revulsion
Was soon swept away by climactic convulsion
The ensuing emphatic ecstatic expulsion
Effected dramatic prismatic propulsion!

No common excreta, no, nothing so crass
The whole blinding spectrum sprayed forth from his ass
Prancer was lifted from green up to blue
By a colorful blast of every known hue
The circular valve had at last relented
Clouds now flew past as he joyously vented
The arc that he made as he flew 'cross the sky
Twinkled and sparkled in each awestruck eye

There he remains to this very day
By spectral thrusting carried away
From crest unto trough, from trough unto crest
Unable to sleep, unable to rest
Chasing down scattering storms to quench his parched throat in their rain

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Nature of Love

Love. Love. Love. We pay good money to singers to croon endlessly about it. Poets and authors spill a lot of ink and kill a lot of trees writing about it. Some people live for it. Some people die for it, and many many people say that that is precisely what they are looking for, but what is it really? Is it what you think it is? Are you sure? Well let's explore that question shall we?
Just to give you some background this line of thinking was inspired by something I ran across in Viktor E. Frankl's book 'Man's Search for Meaning' (which I recommend BTW). In it he talks about the deep love that he felt for his wife while incarcerated in a concentration camp. However, it turned out later that the woman that he was loving so deeply (his wife) was dead, and had in fact been dead for some time. That seemed odd to me so I thought about it and came to some conclusions.
Our relationships with others are based on three interactive (and completely internal elements).

The first element is the role that we construct to interact with others (father, brother, lover, friend, daughter, employee etc.). We each have these. They are like sets of clothes or masks that we wear for specific occasions. This role is continuously revised and updated by the other two elements.

The second element is the memories of, and mutual experiences we've had with these others (which can influence our assumed role and our mental image).

The third element (which again can be influenced by our memories, mutual experiences and assumed role) is the image that we have of these others in our minds. So our relationships are based on our roles for, memories/experiences of, and image/expectations of others, but as Mr. Frankl implies these relationships, this LOVE we feel is actually NOT a relationship between you and another person. Not at all. Love, quite simply, is a relationship between you and the image you have of the other person in your mind.
This is all well and good as long as the image of the other person and the reality of the other person are not too much in conflict. The trouble comes (and it seems to come all too frequently) when that carefully constructed mental image is disrupted or destroyed by a nullifying experience. If you find yourself saying something along the lines of "I never knew you were like\thought\did\didn't do\felt that." and then falling out of love with the person then it stands to reason that you never really loved THEM in the first place doesn't it? You only loved your image of them (which is inherently incomplete). Remember, THEY haven't changed, the only thing that has changed (or been revised) is your mental image of them.
This also neatly explains the infatuation phenomenon. You are infatuated NOT with the person, but rather with the image that you have of that person in your mind and when the weight of contravening experience and evidence becomes too great to sustain the image, the infatuation dies and you start again with someone else.
This also explains something which I have always found odd, i.e. the adoration and emotional attachment that people have with celebrities. How many of the people who wept for Princess Di actually knew her? How many had seen her in person? How many had spoken with her? Damn few I'd guess, but they had an internal image of her and they loved that image dearly.
So whose fault is it then that your heart has been broken? Yours. You loved an image and that image either changed or turned out to be wrong. You can blame someone for being deceitful, but no one can make you love.

So when someone says they are looking for "love", "true love" or a "soul mate" what they are really saying is: "I am looking for the person who best fits my internal image and fulfills my physical and emotional desires." (some even want this unconditionally).
Even taking these somewhat bleak facts into consideration you need not be mute on the subject of feelings. There are some things that you can say to people that you have relationships with and some might even be true).
"I love the way that you make me feel"
"I love who I am when I am with you."
"I love what you do for me."
"I love the times we spend together."
All of these are fair game, but 'I love you' isn't. Unless you are a telepath you don't know them, not really, so how can you possibly say you love THEM? How could they possibly believe it?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Truly Yours

‘Truly Yours’ is one of those phrases that has a distinct Hallmark quality to it. The sort of words one is expected to whisper to one’s lover in moments of particular intimacy. But what in the end is truly ours? We will examine each of the things generally thought to be truly ours in the revealing light of two questions – does/did/will the thing in question belong to someone else? and can someone/something take it from you?

Let’s begin with the large and move toward the small.

Land. Is your land truly yours? The land was created with the formation of the Earth 4.5 billions of years ago. Many living things have called it home and passed across it long before your birth. Before the rise of our species, the advent of paper, the laws written on it and the men with weapons who will theoretically defend your property rights. The land did not ‘belong’ to anyone. Even after the rise of these things the land has changed hands many times and will again after your death if not before. So, it has belonged to others and will again. It can also be taken from you at any time by the same government that you depend on to defend it against others. Is it then ‘truly yours’? No.

What about your possessions? Most of these have no doubt been manufactured and purchased. Some few you may have made yourself. If you bought something used then it has already had a previous owner. When you die. If the objects are claimed then they will have another owner if not then they will go into a landfill more than likely. Can they be taken? Here we must answer yes, for what thing do you hold so close that it could not be taken by theft, fire, flood, earthquake or financial ruin? Are our possessions truly ours? Since we have them only at the sufferance of thieves of proper skill and motivation and circumstances of sufficient severity I would say they fail the test.

What about our bodies themselves? Surely these might be said to be truly ours? A case might be made for this. The hands I use have not belonged to anyone else. However, the organs I have might well be used after my death since I have signed up for organ donation in the event of demise so perhaps not. Can they be taken from me? Indeed they can. Disease or accident could easily rob me of any of the organs of my body. (I view organ thievery as an unlikely possibility). In addition the molecules of my body certainly were not manufactured by me, but rather by some unnamed and ill-fated star gone to black long before my birth and these molecules, unlike the organs they compose, have indeed been used before. I cannot know how many of the molecules presently in my hands were in hands before mine but it seems likely that some were and some shall be again

Well then, how about my memories? If anything those could be said to be mine right? No other would have the same memories as I even of the same events. This is true however, time will rob you of your memories and death itself will surely take them all.

So what then is yours that is proof against thieves, proof against catastrophe and proof even against time itself? Have we eliminated everything? No we have not.

There is one thing and that one thing is your decisions. Thieves cannot take them back from time, nor can disasters remove them. This is not to say that all decisions you make will in the end have great importance, but they are the one thing that are truly yours. They should be made with care.

What I have said above is true however it is incomplete and I should add a small addendum here. It is true that our decisions are the one thing which are truly ours, but those decisions are not made in a vacuum. They are made to bring about the world we desire or to avert the world we fear and we do not choose our desires or our fears. Evolution, gestation, genes and environment determine those for us.

And here we come to one of my ‘beefs’ with religion. In religion I do not even have the small consolation of my decisions being truly mine. The all-powerful, anthropomorphic deity could negate any and all of them at whim. Likely it could erase me from the time stream itself if it chose to do so and this is true of all humans. Our bad decisions can be erased by this being if benevolent, and any good decisions would be a pale reflection of our infinitely superior creator. They count for nothing as the future was decided before we were created. In this view we are in a state of perpetual childhood. We will never ever grow up. Perhaps our species is a long way from maturity, but I for one would like to see us reach it (although of course I will be long dead before that ever happens if it does). Once that maturity was reached we could say with pride that it was truly ours.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Through a Glass Darkly

When I emerged from the womb at (9lbs, 6oz) there were already 3.14 billion human beings inhabiting our planet. Today there are 6.5 billion (give or take). Each of those six-and-a-half billion people needs to eat. Each of those six-and-a-half billion needs fresh water to drink. Each of those six-and-a-half billion needs air to breathe. Each of those six-and-a-half billion produce urine and feces, which must be treated so that they can be absorbed by the environment. Many of those six-and-a-half billion need fuel to warm their homes, many of those six-and-a-half billion need fuel to cook their food. Those are needs, we have not even begun to discuss wants.

Once upon a time I lived in a different, more rural town. One night while I was driving home I saw a young deer lying under a small spruce tree beside the road. It was dead. For the next several months I looked at it as I passed and watched the changes. First all of the soft internal organs went, then the hide went and last of all went the bones. There came a day when the deer was completely gone, as if it had never been there. If you think about it makes perfect sense. Otherwise the woods would be so chock full of deer bones you couldn’t walk.

Human beings are not like this although we once were. Only a small fraction of the waste we produce is recycled. This includes gaseous wastes like carbon dioxide which comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are used to run the machines which plant our food, harvest our food, transport our food, package and process our food. Fossil fuels are burned to make the electricity which runs the pumps which pump the water to grow the food, and which pump the fresh water to us (and to the plants where it is bottled as well as being the material the bottles themselves are made from). Like many of the bottles the carbon dioxide from the burning the fossil fuels accumulates. And accumulates. And accumulates. The more of it there is the more heat from the sun it traps in the atmosphere. The more heat it traps the more things will change. Things like rainfall patterns and the strength and frequency of storms. This will cause droughts and floods. This will cause a loss of crops. This will ultimately cause starvation. Today there are more hungry mouths than there were yesterday. Tomorrow there will be more hungry mouth than there are today. With each new person the problem grows, especially here in the developed countries.

Simon and Garfunkel said it well ‘a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest’. If we want to avoid starvation on a biblical scale then the discussions should begin now as to how many of us the earth can comfortable hold. If we want to avoid further disruption of the climate we need to drastically reduce our consumption of fossil fuels now (yesterday preferably). I do not believe that either of these things will happen. Most people don’t want to hear that there is a problem or that they will be expected to make any sacrifice whatsoever for the common good. They want to drive their hummers to the NASCAR races, have their pork bar-b-que’s afterwards and then go home to watch the latest ‘reality’ show on TV. I do not think that they will hear anything or do anything until their own children or grandchildren are screaming from hunger and thirst. At that point they will weep, wail, gnash their teeth and say that it’s too late and that nobody predicted it. They may indeed be right about the ‘too late’ part. It may already be too late. The books I read on this subject always end with that little hopeful upbeat message just like ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ did, but I think that’s just a sop to sell the works themselves, because a message saying ‘we are doomed and there is nothing you can do about it’ would likely not sell as well (I might be wrong about that, the ‘Left Behind’ series is doing okay I hear).

Perhaps I am overly pessimistic, but I do not believe the phrase used by the Easter Islanders - ‘The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth." - has been heard for the last time on our world.
This is what I see in my glass. Unnecessary death and unimaginable suffering until we learn to be like the deer. If we ever do.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Catastrophic Success

That's what a member of the Bush administration would have called it. Naturally anyone else would call it failure. On Monday night I hiked into the Pemigewasset Wilderness to set up camp with the intention the next day of hiking what I call the 'Great Ring' a horseshoe of mountain peaks some 25 miles in length. When I got to Lincoln NH I realized that I had neglected to bring my filter bottle (which filters spring and stream water so you don't get Giardia or one of the other malicious microbes which can hang out there). Unfortunately the outfitter in Lincoln did not have a filter bottle so I settled instead for buying some iodine tablets (which I had also left at home). I figured I'd just carry some extra Gatorade for the journey and everything would be okay. On the way out to the campsite I realized that I had forgotten another vital substance: deodorant. So I dropped my pack, jogged back to my car and snagged that. I can lay partial blame for my haste on the swarm of biting flies in the parking lot which hurried me along. I reached my usual camping site beside the stream, the one I stayed at in the previous year when I tried this same stunt (emphasis on 'try' there). I used the last of the remaining sunlight to pack my day pack for the next day. Food: bag o' gorp and two Clif bars. Drink: Four bottles of Gatorade. Clothes: A lot in case it suddenly became winter at the high elevations (which is possible). Then I tried to sleep (emphasis again on 'try'). I don't know exactly how many hours of sleep I managed to get, but it wasn't a lot and my dreams were of things like coyotes and bears. The owls serenading me didn't help. Except for bears nothing in the forest presented an overt danger to me, but that didn't keep me from noticing every little sound. In the pre-dawn darkness of 4:30 in the morning I gave up and started breaking camp. I had some gorp and a few combos and the remains of a diet coke (talk about the breakfast of champions). As I was packing up my tent the flashlight died and I cursed it with great cursings. It didn't actually 'die' per se. It decided that what it would do was work for about four seconds at a time and then fade out until I shut it off for a minute. Rinse and repeat. With that handicap I packed everything up and stowed my big pack in the bushes across the stream. By this time there was the dimmest hint of dawn which allowed me to see the path as a dark ribbon through the bushes. So off I went into the lightening grey. The beginning was not auspicious considering that even on the first of many mountains I had to pause and catch my breath. This was not a particularly difficult mountain either. It was a bad sign of things to come, and come they did. So up I went over Mt. Flume and then on to Mt. Liberty. After Liberty was Haystack where I began to seriously, as the phrase goes, 'drag ass' but up I went. Over Lincoln and Over Lafayette. I had drunk two of my Gatorades early on, but then I had pretty much stopped drinking. I rested longer than is typical for me on Mt. Lafayette in the hopes that my digestive system would take the opportunity to catch up and re-stock the precious bodily fluids. It didn't so on I went. After an interminable period of ups and downs (which I had barely remembered from the last time) I reached Mt. Garfield and there, after DEETing my clothing heavily (there were bugs) I laid down on the rock and after shivvering for a time I did something unusual for me. I fell asleep. Rocks as most everyone can attest are not the most comfortable of places so this was a bit surprising. By the time I reached the peak of Garfield I had lost all of my 'oomph' for ups. I could do level or down, but any up was a struggle and if I continued on with my plan there would have been a huge up in my future. By this time it was 3:00, and since I had left the useless flashlight behind there was no possibility of going on in the dark even had I the strength (which I didn't). So as I had done last time I took the 'turn of shame' which is a cut off you can do at about the halfway point of the 'horseshoe'. Down I went. I am not exactly sure when I stopped sweating, but I did. I have had heat exhaution before and am all too familiar with the symptoms which is why I either dunked or poured water over my head at each stream to cool me off. After seven long miles I came to one of the large bridges and paused for a moment. I was queasy, but I still had one full gatorade in my pack and I didn't want to keep carrying it. So I thought to myself: 'I can handle just a swallow or two.' I was wrong and I knew it almost immediately. I leaned over the bridge trying to settle the stomach, but to no avail which is why I was on my knees dry heaving into the grass only moments later (I had eaten nothing since breakfast about 12 hours previous so there was nothing to bring up). I felt a little better after that and after some more long miles I gathered my big pack from where I had left it and made it back to my car (which I was happy to see). I drove down to the Lincoln McDonalds and decided to test my stomach on some diet coke (I don't know why but fountain soft drinks seem to be the best thing when the stomach is upset). My stomach passed that test and when I got to the Town Near The Mountains I got two of those little meat roll thingies that you see at the Quik-e-Mart because for some reason I was really craving meat. I had food with me (uneaten from my journey) but I wanted meat dammit! They went down and did not, thankfully, make a return journey. When I got back to City By The Sea I had even more meat and it was good. So was the shower and the brushing of the teeth. Yeah, I had forgotten the toothbrush too.
Guess I'll have to be better prepared next year. Third time's a charm right? As for the 'success' part I didn't die on the slippery rocks and I burned a goodly number of calories. Yeah me.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign

Tomorrow will be a first for me. I am going to attend a protest of 'The Decider' who is here to pay homage to George the Greater and his mate Echidna. The infosite said to make a sign and 'be creative' so I gave it my best effort (despite running out of room sooner than I anticipated). One side of the sign says " SLITHER BACK TO THE CESSPOOL YOU CRAWLED FROM MONSTER" and the other side says "STOP POLLUTING OUR STATE WITH YOUR TOXIC PRESENCE! GO HOME!" So what do you think? Too subtle?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Mother's Choice Part II

According to some estimates there are tens of trillions of cells in the adult human body (of which I happen to be a possessor). In most (but not all) of these is a nucleus and in that nucleus is DNA. My blueprints. That double helix has determined a lot of things in my life and will continue to determine a goodly number of things right up to my death (which barring accident or environmental influence it will also determine, the seeds of creation and destruction both). Until the 1950's when Watson and Crick puzzled it out the shape of it was the subject of speculation. The secret code was locked away in an ivory tower, inaccessible. After that human beings began working on picking the lock to that tower.
I had meant the first thread to be a discussion of cloning rather than designer genes (which I think deserves it's own thread). So here we go.
If my own mother had had the choice I hope that she would have made them. If she could have chosen for me to have good, straight, cavity resistant teeth I hope that she would have made that choice. If she could have chosen for me to have good knees rather than ones that pop out in a rather agonizing fashion if I bend them the wrong way I hope that she would have made that choice. If she could have chosen for me to be able to see perfectly well without glasses I hope she would have made that choice. If she could have chosen for me to have a full head of hair for the entirety of my life I really really hope that she would have made that choice and lastly if she could have chosen to remove from my genes the predilection for the early onset of circulatory and heart disease which has marked me and the taint of which is there in the nuclei of those tens of trillions of cells I hope that she would have made that choice as well and left me with a better legacy than the one that I now bear.
I will state unabashedly that I am for unravelling The Code and for re-writing it better. What do I mean by better? Better as in eliminating all of the inheritable diseases. Better as in increasing our resistance to viruses. Better as in increasing our resistance to bacteria and parasites. Better as in increasing our resistance to toxins and radiation. If we could do that why would we not? If we could free every baby born on earth from these burdens why would we not? Imagine a world where no one needed braces or glasses. Imagine a world almost no one got sick. But that isn't the controversial part of course. After all who would stand up and fight for our right for cancer susceptibility? These things are in the Code of some people already. We just need to make sure that everyone gets them.
The Code dictates other things as well - my gender; my shape; the color of my hair, skin and eyes. So where is 'better' there? The answer of course is in the choices of the parents. I don't know what choices they would make, but I think they should have the ability to make them. And if you disagree (as I know some of you do) the question comes again: If it is not harming you then why would you deny those choices to others who would make them? If everyone wants tall, blue-eyed, white-skinned boy children then so be it. I personally suspect that they wouldn't. Isn't part of the fun of having children that they look like you (at least to some extent)?
Evolution tells us one thing very clearly: Change is inevitable. Until now evolution has determined those changes, but soon we will be able to give eyes to blind chance and be made better thereby.