… i have been carefully making my way through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, taking notes, saving quotes as i go… it is a book i have read several times and it inspires me in all kinds of ways… it is part of a list of texts that i have read and been inspired by that i have decided to re-read and really pay attention to… my quest is to see what they might have in common and weather they together have a message on how one should embrace their life, find meaning in it… a big spiritual mountain to climb, but i have been all around the base and part way up the sides in numerous places numerous times… it is time, i am thinking, for an all out assault on the summit… my 4K weeks are well beyond half done…

First notes…

228.8 lbs

… the weight loss trend comes to a halt… most likely water weight gain which is cyclical…

… Chas got me up extra early this AM… i think he had to go to the bathroom… i feel certain a nap will be necessary today… i can’t keep running on six hours of sleep every night… i feel a bit numbed, drained, not my usual ready to read and pay attention self… i did just rough out a number of Haiku…

… Heather Cox Richardson writing about January 6… it disturbs me that main stream media is openly discussing the possibility that Democracy won’t survive… 45 has grown stronger, not weaker… a sizable portion of the population is fine with autocracy… is maneuvering to impose minority will on the majority, a patriarchal, mostly white minority… the civil war all over again… the thought occurs to me… if the multiarchy ascends and runs the show, won’t the exploitation of minorities and people in general be challenged?… is this a sign that market capitalism can’t survive without slavery of one kind or another?… why, as E. F. Schumacher speculated, shouldn’t an economy be constructed around the principle of making every life better, allowing every individual to grow to their full and natural potential… why should people be forced into work that does not fulfill them or make them better human beings?…

… i have had the idea to do a piece on texts that give me the hint of a different way to do things… i want to post it… just, these writings point to a different way of looking at things, a different way of living… i am not clear yet on what they add up to, but they certainly point to something… i will share it and keep updating it… my great conundrum is this… how can a new way of looking at and doing things come about when the dominant world order is so… dominating… i imagine one needs to construct a hybrid that is able to operate on its own core principles but which plugs into the bigger system as required for it not to become an isolated utopia destined to collapse under the weight of its ideals… a pragmatic way of being based on some core principles… an alternative way of living that seeks to mitigate market capitalist exploitation… Braiding Sweetgrass, Buddhist Economics, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are three texts that come to mind as offering an alternative path… my plan is to re-read these texts and see how my ideas might solidify…

Texts that point towards a different way of being on this planet.

I believe the market-capitalist system I live within is fundamentally flawed and is leading to planetary destruction and a great deal of human, plant and animal misery.1 I wonder if there is a better way. I want to imagine it can be replaced with something, it just isn’t clear what that something might be or whether replacement is even possible, given that a great deal of wealth and power has been accumulated through it. I have come across a number of texts that point to a different way. I don’t know if this different is viable or even interconnectable across the texts, but I would like to explore it and see what comes of it.

The texts I have found informative and inspiring to date are:

  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
  • Buddhist Economics, E. F. Schumacher
  • Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville (?)

I will add more texts as I go.

My next step, when I am finished with current reading, will be to re-read these texts… where this inquiry goes from there will be determined by what I find/rediscover in the Texts.



  1. I am aware that many people claim that overall, the world is a less violent and easier place to make ones way in. That the overall condition of humanity has improved markedly during the unfolding of this market-capitalist system. I am aware that I lack, at present, sufficient knowledge and understanding of how this might or might not be true and that I will need to investigate more to determine whether this premise is true or false. Intuitively I believe it is true, but evidence for or against it must be gathered and weighed. [return]

First Thoughts…

229.4

… when i weighed myself this morning i thought, we had soup for dinner last night… left over turkey soup… i thought, hmmm, soup, a good way to eat lightly for dinner, maybe i will develop my soup chops this winter… there is lots of variety and one can make lovely stocks to be the base of them…

… our new suitcases arrived yesterday… they seem like the perfect things… now we just need to be able to distinguish them… color coded luggage tags?…

… i listened to podcasts on the way up and back from Woodstock yesterday… one from Believer magazine and one from OnBeing, Krista Tippet’s production which used to be, Speaking of Faith… i have begun to dislike KT… i used to love her, but there is a kind of arrogance that has crept into her work… she has developed herself as a nexus of human wisdom and seems more caught up in that exalted position than in delivering meaningful understandings to people…

… the podcast i was listening to was positing that the key to wellness, planetary and otherwise, was to transform our hatred into love… i thought to myself, John Lennon had that astute observation decades ago, and of course, the New Testament teaches one to love their neighbors as themselves… the two guests on the program, one the Surgeon General of the United States, the other a neurologist and psychologist/psychiatrist… the program came across as a sort of new age babble that appeals to a well off and elitist sort of crowd but is a bunch of meaningless platitudes and politeness being offered up… all this new agey thinking and what does the world have to show for it?… right now, everything looks to be going to “hell in a hand basket” if i may appropriate a cliche… there is so much anger, resentment and outright hatred in the US alone… no wellness guru/program is remotely making a dent in it…

… the question is, how do you make a dent in it?… the people that presently matter… the people with power… don’t seem to give a damn so long as their wealth and power continues to accumulate…

… i have the impression of a volcano getting ready to blow… is it really that it must blow?… that thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people must perish before there is any kind of coming to the senses?… is this the only way to break the white euro-patriarchy (or establish it hegemony once and for all)?… how do we kill the euro-patriarchal beast once and for all?… i am afraid we will find out in the coming three years… why are we unable to stop raping and pillaging the planet and its peoples?… is it really as bad as it looks?…

… just now, the thought comes to me… we are looking at a world built on the mythology of mountain climbing… the mythic ideal of human success built around conquering mountains (literal and figurative) and then dismantling them for their raw materials and starting the next higher climb… i have written before that this is one mythic model that humanity follows… is is the one western civilization is built on… it operates on the principle of unending growth, the greedy and often violent appropriation of resources and the literal or virtual enslavement of people to extract, move and process those raw materials…

… another mythic principle we could operate on is the tail devouring snake… the ouroboros… the tail devouring snake… the ouroboros model is one of the continuous replenishing cycle of, birth, life, death, birth, life, death… a continuous cycle of consumption and replenishment… the ouroboric system is one of local economies, living in mutually beneficial relationship to the land and to other people…

… the odd thing is, we know we have lost our way, but we can’t help ourselves… something there is about a human being that doesn’t love regenerative cycles… we wish, above all other wishes, to escape them… prefers… prefers baubles, bangles, and power…

… and yet… and yet…

… i have the nagging feeling that humanity is inconsequential to the plans the cosmos has for intelligence… that we are a way station on the journey to some higher form of being… fodder really… some alternative and superseding intelligence… is that possible?… is my despair one that is trapped in the limitations of my species?… is it possible for me to understand what comes next as it may well be a level of intelligence that i can’t know, being composed of the billions of minds slinking around the planet?… is it that the choice is between annihilation and subsumption which is itself a kind of annihilation?… whither humanity?…

 Amia Srinivasan, The Right to Sex

… a book about the politics of sex?… from a philosopher no less… sounds interesting… might want to get…

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

… the title of Halsey’s new album… what an interesting dynamic in that statement… i have been known to say i don’t want power… i would perhaps amend that statement to: i don’t want power, but i want to be powerful… that is, i want to be a powerful presence because of the wisdom with which i move through the world, not because i can make the world conform to the way i want to move… now, the idea that it is love or power… hmmm…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Chapter 1, The Nature of the Problem

… Russell describes and illustrates the idea that:

The logical analysis of a deductive system is not such a definite and limited undertaking as it appears at first sight. This is due to the circumstances just mentioned—namely, that what we took at first as primitive entities may be replaced by complicated logical structures. As this circumstance has an important bearing on the philosophy of physics, it will be worthwhile to illustrate its effect by examples from other fields.1

… that a philosophy of physics would depend on a mathematical system of logic is intriguing to me… one reasons their way to an understanding of the nature of physical structures through a series of logical operations…

… the process of connecting arithmetic to logic, that is, of replacing constants in a progression with variables that represent the terms of the progression, is held to be similar in some ways, but different in others, to the process of connecting physics with perception…

… interpretation is held to be the determination of a set of objects to substitute for hypothetical undefined objects which is much more important than any of the other sets of objects that might be available… Russell claims this process is essential in discovering the philosophical import of physics.2

… he continues to illustrate with the case of geometry which may be interpreted through a set of real number coordinates, but that the important interpretation is that Geometry is part of applied mathematics and consequently, part of physics. Said another way, geometry can be directly applied to the description of the disposition of objects in space time (?)…

… the vital problem:

the application of Physics to the empirical world. … although physics can be pursued as pure mathematics, it is not as pure mathematics that physics is important.3

… the laws of physics are held to be true if they correspond with empirical evidence… that is, the laws of physics are tied to perception of one kind or another… the world of physics must be, in some sense, continuous with the world of our perceptions, since it is the latter which supplies the evidence for the laws of physics.4

… the modern problem of physics is that the world of physics is very different from the world of perception and it becomes difficult to accept the evidence acquired through perception as supportive of its laws… the accuracy of perception itself gives cause for concern about a system built upon its supply of evidence… Descarte and Berkley are mentioned as illuminating and making explicit this problem… Whitehead is mentioned as leading the way in a new interpretation of physics which brings matter into closer communion with perception…

The evidence for the truth of physics is that perceptions occur as the laws of physics would lead us to expect—e.g. we see an eclipse when the astronomers say there will be an eclipse. But physics itself never says anything about perceptions; it does not say that we shall see an eclipse, but says something about the sun and the moon. The passage from what physics asserts to the expected perception is left vague and casual; it has none of the mathematical precision belonging to physics itself. We must therefore find an interpretation of physics which gives a due place to perception; if not, we have no right to appeal to the empirical evidence.5

… this already appears to establish the direction that perception (consciousness) is a fundamental quality of the universe… or, at the very least, that the physical universe is intimately entwined with perception…

I believe that matter is less material, and mind less mental, than is commonly supposed…6

… and ultimately, that the two are not distinctly separate entities…

… it is noted that Hume questions the validity of scientific method but that his questions will not be addressed in the book, and scientific method properly pursued will be accepted as valid…

… the grounds for the truth of physics is addressed from the point of view of the solipsist (nothing can be held to exist beyond the self) and the non-solipsist who, none the less, believes that all that is real is mental… the latter point of view is favored over the former for the breadth of sense in which physics can be held to be true.

Given physics as a deductive system, derived from certain hypotheses as to undefined terms, do there exist particulars, or logical structures composed of particulars, which satisfy these hypotheses? If the answer is in the affirmative, then physics is completely true.7

… Russell proposes to bring physics and psychology (perception) together… the demonstration that mind matter separation metaphysically indefensible is a significant purpose of the book…

… end of chapter 1…


  1. Russell, The Analysis of Matter, p 4 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 5 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  5. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  6. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  7. Ibid, p 8-9 [return]