Sunday, July 31, 2022

Tonic of Wildness


"We need the tonic of wildness...
At the same time that we are earnest
to explore and learn all things,
we require that all things
be mysterious and unexplorable,
that land and sea be indefinitely wild,
unsurveyed and unfathomed
by us because unfathomable.
We can never have
enough of nature."

Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Shapes, Lines, Curves, and Solids


"The world of shapes, lines, curves, and solids is as varied as the world of numbers, and it is only our long-satisfied possession of Euclidean geometry that offers us the impression, or the illusion, that it has, that world, already been encompassed in a manageable intellectual structure. The lineaments of that structure are well known: as in the rest of life, something is given and something is gotten; but the logic behind those lineaments is apt to pass unnoticed, and it is the logic that controls the system."

- David Berlinski (1942 - ) 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Primordial Purity


"The master replied: Tsogyal, the
empty essence of your awareness
is not created by anyone.
Without causes and conditions,
it is originally present.
Don't try to change
or alter awareness.
Let it remain exactly as it is!
Thus you will be free
from straying and awaken
within the state of
primordial purity."

- Padmasambhava (c. 8th - 9th centuries)
Advice from the Lotus-Born
 

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Geometric Patterns

"Every place is given its
character by certain patterns of
events that keep on happening there.
These patterns of events
are locked in with certain
geometric patterns in the space.
...
"I believe that all centers
that appear in space -
whether they originate in biology,
in physical forces, in pure geometry,
in color - are alike simply in that
 they all animate space.
 It is this animated space that
has its functional effect
 upon the world, that determines
 the way things work, that governs
 the presence of harmony and life.
...
"All space and matter,
organic or inorganic,
has some degree of life in it,
and matter/space is more alive
or less alive according to
its structure and arrangement."

Christopher Alexander (1936 - 2022)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Beauty Everywhere


"A line is a dot that went for a walk."
- Paul Klee (1879 - 1940)

"Try to walk as much as you can,
and keep your love for nature,
for that is the true way to learn
to understand art more and more.
Painters understand nature and
love her and teach us to see her.
If one really loves nature,
one can find beauty everywhere."
- Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

"The whole world is an
art gallery when you're mindful.
There are beautiful things
everywhere and they're free."
- Charles Tart (1937 - )

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Form of Forms


"Thought is the thought of thought.
Tranquil brightness.
The soul is in a manner all that is:
the soul is the form of forms.
Tranquility sudden, vast,
candescent: form of forms."

- James Joyce (1882 - 1941) 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Electromagnetic Phenomena


"We shall never know what Faraday would have achieved had he mastered mathematics, but, paradoxically, his ignorance may have been an advantage. It led him to derive his theories entirely from experimental observation rather than to deduce them from mathematical models. Over time, this approach gave him a deep-seated intuition into electromagnetic phenomena. It enabled him to ask questions that had not occurred to others, to devise experiments that no one else had thought of, and to see possibilities that others had missed. He thought boldly but would never commit himself to an opinion until it had withstood the most rigorous experimental testing. As he explained in a letter to Ampère: I am unfortunate in a want to mathematical knowledge and the power of entering with facility any abstract reasoning. I am obliged to feel my way by facts placed closely together."

-  Nancy Forbes (1952 - 2021)
Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Like a Wave from the Ocean


We do not "come into" this world;
we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.
As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples."
Every individual is an expression
 of the whole realm of nature,
a unique action of the total universe.
...
The only way to make sense
out of change is to plunge into it,
move with it, and join the dance.
...
To have faith is to trust yourself to the water.
When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water,
because if you do you will sink and drown.
Instead you relax, and float.
...
You are a function of what
the whole universe is doing
in the same way that a wave
is a function of what the
whole ocean is doing."

Alan Watts (1915 - 1973)
 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Action Potential


"At this moment, in this place, the shifting action potential in my neurons cascade into certain arrangements, patterns, thoughts; they flow down my spine, branch into my arms, my fingers, until muscles twitch and thought is translated into motion; mechanical levers are pressed; electrons are rearranged; marks are made on paper.

At another time, in another place, light strikes the marks, reflects into a pair of high-precision optical instruments sculpted by nature after billions of years of random mutations; upside-down images are formed against two screens made up of millions of light-sensitive cells, which translate light into electrical pulses that go up the optic nerves, cross the chiasm, down the optic tracts, and into the visual cortex, where the pulses are reassembled into letters, punctuation marks, words, sentences, vehicles, tenors, thoughts.

The entire system seems fragile, preposterous, science fictional."

- Ken Liu (1976 - )
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

Friday, July 22, 2022

Diffusing Into the Air


"See yonder leafless tree against the sky,
How they diffuse themselves into the air,
And ever subdividing separate,
Limbs into branches, branches into twigs,
As if they loved the element, & hasted
To dissipate their being into it."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
Collected Poems and Translations

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Light All Around

"My first memory is of light,
the brightness of light,
light all around."

-  Georgia O'Keefe (1887 - 1986)

"No one lights a lamp in order
to hide it behind the door:
the purpose of light is to
create more light, to open
people's eyes, to reveal
the marvels around."

- Paulo Coelho (1947 - )

"Whether in the intellectual pursuits
of science or in the mystical pursuits
of the spirit, the light beckons ahead, and
the purpose surging in our nature responds."

-  Arthur Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Maximizing Play


"In terms of the game theory, we might say the universe is so constituted as to maximize play. The best games are not those in which all goes smoothly and steadily toward a certain conclusion, but those in which the outcome is always in doubt. Similarly, the geometry of life is designed to keep us at the point of maximum tension between certainty and uncertainty, order and chaos. Every important call is a close one. We survive and evolve by the skin of our teeth. We really wouldn't want it any other way."

George Leonard (1923 - 2010)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Higher Dialectic


"The efficient or motive principle, which is not merely the analysis but the production of the several elements of the universal, I call dialectic. Dialectic is not that process in which an object or proposition, presented, to feeling or the direct consciousness, is analysed, entangled, taken hither and thither, until at last its contrary is derived. Such a merely negative method appears frequently in Plato. It may fix the opposite of any notion, or reveal the contradiction contained in it, as did the ancient scepticism, or it may in a feeble way consider an approximation to truth, or modern half-and-half attainment of it, as its goal. But the higher dialectic of the conception does not merely apprehend any phase as a limit and opposite, but produces out of this negative a positive content and result. Only by such a course is there development and inherent progress. Hence this dialectic is not the external agency of subjective thinking, but the private soul of the content, which unfolds its branches and fruit organically. Thought regards this development of the idea and of the peculiar activity of the reason of the idea as only subjective, but is on its side unable to make any addition. To consider anything rationally is not to bring reason to it from the outside, and work it up in this way, but to count it as itself reasonable. Here it is spirit in its freedom, the summit of selfconscious reason, which gives itself actuality, and produces itself as the existing world. The business of science is simply to bring the specific work of the reason, which is in the thing, to consciousness."

- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831)
Science of Logic

Monday, July 18, 2022

Transient Beauty


"The wabi sabi aesthetic ideals which have been employed not just in the tea ceremony but in nearly every form of Japanese artistic expression, have come to represent a bridge between the trappings of the material world and the pull we all feel, to a greater or lesser extent, to a life of austerity and simplicity. If the spirit is ready and willing, then a three-line haiku poem set in the tokonoma (the traditional alcove), complemented by a simple yet perfectly balanced flower arrangement, should be sufficient to push the viewer's awareness to new heights and to help him or her find a serene balance between the joy of life and the inevitability of the waiting void.
...
Wabi sabi is an intuitive appreciation of a transient beauty in the physical world that reflects the irreversible flow of life in the spiritual world. It is an understated beauty that exists in the modest, rustic, imperfect, or even decayed, an aesthetic sensibility that finds a melancholic beauty on the impermanence of things."

- Andrew Juniper
Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Watcher Joins the River

 

"Eventually, all things merge into one,
and a river runs through it.
The river was cut by the world's great
flood and runs over rocks
from the basement of time.
On some of the rocks are
timeless raindrops. Under the
rocks are the words, and some
of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.
...
I sat there and forgot and forgot,
until what remained was the river
that went by and I who watched...
Eventually the watcher joined the river,
and there was only one of us.
I believe it was the river."

- Norman Maclean (1902 - 1990)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Inner Sound

“Form itself, even if completely abstract ...
has its own inner sound.”
- Wassily Kandinsky (1866 - 1944)

“This idea that there is generality in the
specific is of far-reaching importance.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter (1945 - )

“A map is not the territory it represents, but,
if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory,
which accounts for its usefulness.”

Friday, July 15, 2022

Secret of the Sea


"My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

"Time is more complex near
the sea than in any other place,
for in addition to the circling
of the sun and the turning
of the seasons, the waves
beat out the passage of time
on the rocks and the tides rise
and fall as a great clepsydra."

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Like Lichen on Rock


"Say you could view a time lapse film of our planet: what would you see? Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.

The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting, and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed in forests like felt. The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up- mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale- the ice rolls back.

A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash-frames.

Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and crumble, like paths of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any image but the hunched shadowless figures of ghosts.

Slow it down more, come closer still.
A dot appears, a flesh-flake.
It swells like a balloon; it moves,
circles, slows, and vanishes.

This is your life."

Monday, July 11, 2022

Spiritual Experience

"You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience.
You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience."

Teilhard De Chardin (1881- 1955)

 

Saturday, July 09, 2022

Knowing Nothing of Space


 "We do not know space.
We do not see it,
we do not hear it,
we do not feel it.
We are standing in the middle of it,
we ourselves are part of it,
but we know nothing about it."

- M.C. Escher (1898 - 1972)

Friday, July 08, 2022

Loosely Conjoined Cells of a Tissue


"A solitary ant, afield, cannot be considered to have much of anything on his mind; indeed, with only a few neurons strung together by fibers, he can’t be imagined to have a mind at all, much less a thought. He is more like a ganglion on legs. Four ants together, or ten, encircling a dead moth on a path, begin to look more like an idea. They fumble and shove, gradually moving the food toward the Hill, but as though by blind chance. It is only when you watch the dense mass of thousands of ants, crowded together around the Hill, blackening the ground, that you begin to see the whole beast, and now you observe it thinking, planning, calculating. It is an intelligence, a kind of live computer, with crawling bits for its wits.
...
Not all social animals are social with the same degree of commitment. In some species, the members are so tied to each other and interdependent as to seem the loosely conjoined cells of a tissue. The social insects are like this; they move, and live all their lives, in a mass; a beehive is a spherical animal. In other species, less compulsively social, the members make their homes together, pool resources, travel in packs or schools, and share the food, but any single one can survive solitary, detached from the rest. Others are social only in the sense of being more or less congenial, meeting from time to time in committees, using social gatherings as ad hoc occasions for feeding and breeding. Some animals simply nod at each other in passing, never reaching even a first-name relationship."

- Lewis Thomas (1913 - 1993)
The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Listen When the Mind is Quiet


"I hope that you will listen, but not with the memory of what you already know; and this is very difficult to do. You listen to something, and your mind immediately reacts with its knowledge, its conclusions, its opinions, its past memories. It listens, inquiring for a future understanding.

Just observe yourself, how you are listening, and you will see that this is what is taking place. Either you are listening with a conclusion, with knowledge, with certain memories, experiences, or you want an answer, and you are impatient. You want to know what it is all about, what life is all about, the extraordinary complexity of life. You are not actually listening at all.

You can only listen when the mind is quiet, when the mind doesn't react immediately, when there is an interval between your reaction and what is being said. Then, in that interval there is a quietness, there is a silence in which alone there is a comprehension which is not intellectual understanding.

If there is a gap between what is said and your own reaction to what is said, in that interval, whether you prolong it indefinitely, for a long period or for a few seconds - in that interval, if you observe, there comes clarity. It is the interval that is the new brain. The immediate reaction is the old brain, and the old brain functions in its own traditional, accepted, reactionary, animalistic sense.

When there is an abeyance of that, when the reaction is suspended, when there is an interval, then you will find that the new brain acts, and it is only the new brain that can understand, not the old brain"

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)