Monday, December 28, 2009

My personal theory of autism...

Autism is a consequence of civilization. As the evolutionary course of our species is forced further and further down a materialistic path of our own making, more incidents of this condition will occur. As we continue to embrace the hyper-accelerated, economy-based, techno-riddled, market-driven, psychologically twisted alterations we've made to life on Earth, some souls will rebel. Some children born into this world we've worked so hard to civilize will reject our efforts on instinct and automatically divert their psyches to a more core, pre-logical, animal sense of our place in the universe. It is well known that autistic people and animals share strange affinities not available to non-autistic individuals.

I'm not a Luddite shaking a finger at civilization with this theory. No. I'm just acknowledging that there is an order that is deeper than the one we're manufacturing for ourselves. Of course we are free to alter this order. Free to play with it. But as we are learning, there are consequences to ignoring certain aspects of our makeup in favor of others as we go. For example, I believe in the soul and I believe that we are generally terrified of its mystery (or stymied as to how to fit it into our material world). I believe we have denied the soul an appropriate role in our collective evolution and so our balance teeters.

To be clear, this IS the world we've made. This IS our evolution. This might be as balanced as we'll ever be. Furthermore, you could argue that the intricate world we are building was born of a certain "autistic focus" in us and that the future will require much more of it. I would encourage us to pay attention to whatever it might be that autism-sufferers are protecting from the reality they perceive around them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boozy holiday guide...

1) "Jammy" wine is to be avoided.

2) The phrase "would you like some bubbly?" is to be deeply considered. All bubbles are not created alike.

3) The saucer shaped champagne glass, or coupe, may indeed have been modeled on the shape of Marie Antoinette's breasts. No word yet on who the champagne flute was modeled after.

4) If you crash a party, drink too much, and while dirty dancing with the host's sister you barrel into the band and destroy the sax player's instrument, consider yourself liable, even if you manage to sneak out unnoticed.

5) beer before wine, fine. Glögg before grog before nog before wassail before bisp, you're on your own.

6) Leave the hedgehog at home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How does it hang together?

Since we humans have a knack for mistaking psychic artifacts for reality... Since we rely on arbitrary and unfixed points of perception to stave off chaos... Since our consciousness is just a tiny monkey on the back of a charging tiger who believes she steers the course of the wild beast... Since we allow ourselves to live in fear of punishment from those who enforce laws borne of all this randomness... Since we deny this instinct to create reality a chance to flourish and intermingle with other created realities... Let's raise a glass to the amazing prison we've allowed ourselves to call home. Happy Holidays!

(illustration by Jonathon Rosen)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Siberian Blue Squirrel Quill Mop...

Can't count the time I've spent creating fantasy bubbles in my head. Can you? There's a curated self, a contained reality that we work on all day long, a filtered environment filled with the kinds of thoughts, moods, colors, soundtracks, and dreams that have passed muster with our fussy psychic interior decorator. This gatekeeper decides what gets in and what doesn't. Important to note - the stuff that doesn't get in often doesn't get processed.

This habit presents real problems when the appealing reality you craft for yourself lures you away from the less appealing reality that is bombarding you in er, reality. The very real things that are happening to you, the things you choose not to include in your curated self, these can be left unattended in a blank space of denial. Obvious danger... What to do?

Thing to remember is that the virtual reality you craft in your psyche is in many ways a model for the reality you want to actually live. The question is how do you deal with the 'perfection' of a carefully self-curated reality that has none of the pitfalls of a pricklier, non-filtered reality?

Two parallel paths:

1) You build a castle in your mind and it's too big. You can't have it. The impossibility of wanting it and never being able to have it paralyzes you. The fantasy separates you from reality. You hole up with your fantasy as life passes you by. I've tried this and it's no fun.

2) You build a castle in your mind. You commit to making it real. You dedicate yourself to getting there. And maybe you do get there. Maybe you get halfway there. Maybe you get one sixty-fifth of the way there. But you're on that path. The vision inspires and fuels your journey. You've cast a line into an imaginary future and you're reeling yourself towards it. This is how all great changes seem to take place in our human society.

It's worth thinking big. You see that big thing way off in the distance through the lens of your mind's eye. It has a way of organizing your thoughts, your actions, your priorities, your feelings. Look at you: implementing dreams! Well done.

In the course of your daily fantasying, ask yourself, "Am I paralyzing myself or am I putting myself on an active road towards something I love?" As you're reeling about the ecstasy of your curated consciousness take a moment to listen. Is there a tiny voice somewhere in the background that whispers, "Even I know this isn't real..."?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The procrastination of engagement...

How ready your dreams are does not equal how able your plans are...

Monday, December 14, 2009


How can I be working so hard and yet my belly is so soft? Winter has its ways...

(photo by Christian Schmidt)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

All I want for Xmas is a Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee...

The Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee was a unique direct lift rotor aircraft, using a counter-rotating ducted fan inside a platform that the single pilot stood upon for lift, and controlled by the pilot shifting his body weight around to tilt the platform. The platform was developed starting in 1953 under an Office of Naval Research R&D contract to Hiller Aircraft Corporation, and flew successfully starting in 1955.

General characteristics:

Crew: one
Length: 8 ft 4 in (diameter) (2.5 m)
Height: 7 ft (2.1 m)
Empty weight: 370 lb (167.8 kg)
Powerplant: 6× 2 x Nelson H-56 piston engines, 40 hp (30 kW) each
Maximum speed: 16 mph (26 km/h)
Service ceiling: 32.8 ft (10 m)
Armament - standard combat weapons for a US soldier

more hovering here...

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's that simple?

"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans." - Hemingway

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Meaning of Copenhagen...

by: Hervé Kempf | Le Monde

Whether the Copenhagen meeting concludes in "failure" or "success" is a rather secondary question. For this dramatic moment is no finale, but the moment when powerful forces move below the surface of the news, when the long pulsations of the human adventure emerge.

What is it all about, really? It's the dramatization of the contradiction forged throughout the entire industrial revolution between economic rationale and ecological limits. The development of productive forces led to a never-before-achieved level of collective material wealth and labor productivity, but at the cost of massive destruction to the natural environment. Imperceptible at first, it now begins to disturb the operation of the biosphere, threatening to shatter the fragile balance of tensions that characterize human societies.

What is the issue? To allow this contradiction to intensify at the risk of chaos. Or to reduce it and transform our productive forces - now destructive, in fact - so as to reestablish a perpetual balance between human activity and the biosphere. Actually, to express a new development: one that will no longer be material, but mental, cognitive, relational. Or, if I may use a provocative term: development that will be spiritual.

Translation: Truthout French Language Editor Leslie Thatcher.

(Ed Burtynsky, Oil Series)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The dreams of celebrities...

Who told you "that's life!" and what made you believe them?

(Elvis, Frank, and Fred set the record straight, Aug. '69, photographer unknnown.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Old school...

Masai warriors clash with members of the Kalenjin tribe using bows and arrows, in western Kenya. March 2009.

(Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Can't thank my Sarah enough for taking us to see Fela! on Broadway last week, and I strongly recommend that you get your yanch over to the Eugene O'Neil theatre to experience this masterpiece. As impresario Bill T. Jones puts it, Fela Kuti was "one of society's uncompromising sacred monsters. The type our human civilization depends on. An immoderate, misguided, genius who could speak truly to power and make a difference." Fela! conveys a nuanced and lasting impression of this bristling man, a role model for all who hate corruption, a man for whom music was a weapon.

Honestly, I had my reservations. Gazpachot is no fan of the gorgonzola tropes of Broadway. But Fela! avoids the cheese traps that big theater lays for itself. Sahr Ngaujah as Fela is one charismatic presence. He's a shade cuddlier than the actual Fela, but is as close as you could get without lapsing into cheap imitation. In a much lesser role, Saycon Sengbloh, as Fela's (#1) wife, Sandra, is molten. As important, Antibalas' music teases the threads of your ancient African heart and re-organizes the rhythmic patterns of your brainwaves forever.