Friday, December 30, 2022

Winds of the Heavens


"Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931)

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Liminal State of Awareness


"There is another place that can be summoned through practice that is not the imagination, but more a secondary positioning of your mind with regard to spiritual matters… It is a kind of liminal state of awareness, before dreaming, before imagining, that is connected to the spirit itself. It is an “impossible realm” where glimpses of the preternatural essence of things find their voice. Arthur lives there. Inside that space, it feels a relief to trust in certain glimpses of something else, something other, something beyond."

- Nick Cave (1957 - )
Faith, Hope and Carnage

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Starstuff


 "The nitrogen in our DNA,
the calcium in our teeth,
the iron in our blood,
the carbon in our apple pies
were made in the interiors
of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.
...
Science is not only compatible with spirituality;
it is a profound source of spirituality."

Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Beyond Mere Doctrine


"All beings by nature are Buddha,
As ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for truth afar:
Like someone in the midst of water
Crying out in thirst,
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
...
Go far beyond mere doctrine.
Here effect and cause are the same,
The Way is neither two nor three.
With form that is no-form,
Going and coming, we are never astray,
With thought that is no-thought,
Singing and dancing are the voice of the Law.
Boundless and free is the sky of Samádhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha"

- Hakuin Ekaku (c.1686 - c.1769)
 The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin

Monday, December 26, 2022

I Am a Dreamer


 "I am a dreamer.
I know so little of real life
that I just can’t help re-living
such moments as these in my dreams,
for such moments are something
I have very rarely experienced.
I am going to dream about
you the whole night,
the whole week,
the whole year."

- Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Connecting Patterns


"We have been trained to think of patterns, with the exception of those of music, as fixed affairs. It is easier and lazier that way but, of course, all nonsense. In truth, the right way to begin to think about the pattern which connects is to think of it as primarily (whatever that means) a dance of interacting parts and only secondarily pegged down by various sorts of physical limits and by those limits which organisms characteristically impose. "

Gregory Bateson (1904 - 1980)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Beyond the Tangible


"Abstraction allows man to see
with his mind what he cannot
see physically with his eyes...
Abstract art enables the artist
to perceive beyond the tangible,
to extract the infinite out of the finite.
It is the emancipation of the mind.
It is an exploration into unknown areas."

- Arshile Gorky (1904 - 1948)

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Sound of the Sea

"There is, one knows not what
sweet mystery about this sea,
whose gently awful stirrings seem to
speak of some hidden soul beneath..."

Herman Melville (1819 - 1891)

"The immeasurable depth of
the sea beneath your feet;
the immeasurable depth of
heavens above your head.
A gust of wind hardly moved the sail.
The dark masses of water shifted
like a great slithering beast under
the boat, rocking it softly, gently."

- Witold Makowiecki (1902 - 1946)

"I felt once more how simple
and frugal a thing is happiness:
a glass of wine,
a roast chestnut,
a wretched little brazier,
the sound of the sea.
Nothing else."

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Reality of the Infinite


"... for as the reality of light cannot be proved or described in terms of visible shape, the reality of the infinite cannot be proved in terms of the finite. For this reason every attempt to prove the existence of God by logic is a foregone failure. Logic cannot reach God. It may travel backwards in time from effect to cause, effect to cause, but as long as it stays in time, as it must, it cannot touch the eternal. That which doesn't not begin with the infinite cannot end with it."

Alan Watts (1915 - 1973)

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Islands in the Sea


"We are like islands in the sea,
separate on the surface
but connected in the deep."

- William James (1842 - 1910)

Monday, December 19, 2022

Bewilderments of the Eyes


"To them, I said, the truth
would be literally nothing but
the shadows of the images.
...
Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he has a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den."

- Plato (c.424 - 348 BC)
Republic, "The Allegory of the Cave" 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Dimensionality of Time


"In this world, time has three dimensions, like space. Just as an object may move in three perpendicular directions, corresponding to horizontal, vertical, and longitudinal, so an object may participate in three perpendicular futures. Each future moves in a different direction of time. Each future is real. At every point of decision, the world splits into three worlds, each with the same people, but different fates for those people. In time, there are an infinity of worlds."

Alan Lightman (1948 - )
Einstein's Dreams

Friday, December 16, 2022

Illimitable Universe


"As our mother earth is a mere speck in the sunbeam in the illimitable universe, so man himself is but a tiny grain of protoplasm in the perishable framework of organic nature. Nothing seems to me better adapted than this magnificent cosmological perspective to give us the proper standard and the broad outlook which we need in the solution of the vast enigmas that surround us. It not only clearly indicates the true place of man in nature, but it dissipates the prevalent illusion of man's supreme importance, and the arrogance with which he sets himself apart from the illimitable universe, and exalts himself to the position of its most valuable element... Only when we have abandoned this untenable illusion, and taken up the correct cosmological perspective, can we hope to reach the solution of the 'riddles of the universe.'"

- Ernst Haeckel (1834 - 1919) 
The Riddle of the Universe

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Limited Piece of the Whole


"A human being is a spatially and
temporally limited piece of the whole,
what we call the 'Universe.'
He experiences himself and his
feelings as separate from the rest,
an optical illusion of his consciousness.
The quest for liberation from this bondage
[or illusion] is the only object of true religion.
Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming
it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace."

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Google's translation of Einstein’s original quotation 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Fragmentation


"Another problem of fragmentation is that thought divides itself from feeling and from the body. Thought is said to be the mind; we have the notion that it is something abstract or spiritual or immaterial. Then there is the body, which is very physical. And we have emotions, which are perhaps somewhere in between. The idea is that they are all different. That is, we think of them as different. And we experience them as different because we think of them as different."

 - David Bohm (1917 - 1992)
Thought as a System

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Ambiguous Dream


"Time weighs down on you
like an old, ambiguous dream.
You keep on moving,
trying to sleep through it.
But even if you go to
the ends of the earth,
you won't be able to escape it.
Still, you have to go there-
 to the edge of the world.
There's something you can't
do unless you get there."

- Haruki Murakami (1949 - )
Kafka on the Shore 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Transcendent Logic


"Universe, therefore, is only a mythological expression. The thoughts suggested by this word are perfectly irregular, entirely independent. As soon as we leave the bounds of the moment, as soon as we try to increase and extend our presence outside of itself, we exhaust ourselves in our liberty. We are surrounded by all the disorder of our knowledge, of our faculties. We are besieged by what is remembered, wh
at is possible, what is imaginable, calculable, all the combinations of our ideas in all degrees of probability, in every phase of precision. How can we form a concept of something that is opposed to nothing, rejects nothing, resembles nothing? If it resembled something, it would no longer be the whole. If it resembles nothing... And, if this totality is equivalent in power to one's mind, the mind has no hold over it. All the objections that rise against an active infinity, all the difficulties encountered when one attempts to draw order out of multiplicity, here assert themselves. No proposition can be advanced about this subject so disordered in its richness that all attributes apply to it. Just as the universe escapes intuition, in the same way it is transcendent to logic.

As for its origin—in the beginning was fable.
It will be there always."

Paul Valery (1871 - 1945)
"On Poe's Eureka" in Selected Writings of Paul Valéry

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Plenum Model of the Ground


"The proposal I am making here - that the I which lies behind or inside all matter is an underlying substance, or 'original substance' underlying all matter - partially reunites us, part of the way, not all the way, towards a world of spirit. It does not make a separation between spirit and matter. Rather it asserts and insists that matter is not a purely mechanical material, but rather a spirit-like, Self-like substance, a material grounded in I, hence a different kind of substance from the space-time of Descartes and Einstein which were both postulated in the mechanistic tradition.
...
The plenum model of the Ground - the idea that the I is actually real in the universe, not only in the mind - is harder to accept... In this view we see the same ground - but we now think of it as a great thing in the universe, far beyond ourselves, haunting, otherworldly, ultimate in its beauty and light. It is reached only when a great work breaks through it."

Christopher Alexander (1936 - 2022)
The Nature of Order: Luminous Ground

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

The concept of a World


"The concept of a world in the [Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics] MWI is based on the layman’s conception of a world; however, several features are different. Obviously, the definition of the world as everything that exists does not hold in the MWI. 'Everything that exists' is the Universe, and there is only one Universe. The Universe incorporates many worlds similar to the one the layman is familiar with. A layman believes that our present world has a unique past and future. According to the MWI, a world defined at some moment of time corresponds to a unique world at a time in the past, but to a multitude of worlds at a time in the future."

- Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics,
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Friday, December 02, 2022

Helping Preserve the "Bullock Family Photography Archive"


"Light to me is perhaps the most profound truth in the universe.
My thinking has been deeply affected by the belief that
everything is some form of radiant energy."
- Wynn Bullock (1905 - 1975)

As I have written many times on my blog throughout the years, Wynn Bullock holds a special place in my heart. Although (sadly) I never had a chance to meet him, everything that I have learned about him - whether through his own writings and images, what others have written about him, and/or memories that one of his daughters, Barbara Bullock-Wilson, has kindly shared with me - makes me want to step into some alternate reality where he is still alive. I see myself pulling up a chair beside him near a cozy fireplace, settling in with a hot cup of coffee and just reveling in his presence, chatting away into the night about art, photography, science, the magic of light, and whatever else moves our spirits. 

My correspondence with Barbara began shortly after I received an email from her about a blog entry I published in Jan 2012 discussing my "discovery" of her dad's magnificent color light abstractions. Barbara has recently informed me of a crowdsourcing effort she's organized to help preserve this masterful work (that continues to inspire me, and, I suspect, all others that come across it and/or just see the works - or their reproductions - for themselves!). The goal of the "Bullock Family Photography Archive" project (recently launched at UC Santa Cruz) is to raise at least $30,000 to help UCSC acquire the rest of the Wynn Bullock Color Light Abstraction traveling exhibit as well as add a few black-and-white vintage photographs to their Bullock holdings. IMHO, this is an important effort that doesn't just enhance the Bullock collection at the University, but helps preserve Bullock's legacy for future generations! The crowdsourcing homepage includes a formal description and includes a short promotional video you can watch. I gently urge all of my humble followers to take a peek, and consider donating to Barbara's effort.

Postscript. The image at the top of this blog entry was captured in (what, for me, is typically) "serendipitously synchronistic" fashion, given the topic of this blog entry and Bullock's own close association with light and pattern: as I was walking past my eldest son's room while going to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee to jump-start my brain prior to writing this blog entry, I was struck by the "Bullockian light patterns" dancing across my son's bed. Of course, I had to rush back to my study and get my camera (heck, it was so mesmerizing, I even forgot to get my coffee)! It is as if Bullock himself reached out from that alternate reality in which he and I are schmoozing about life and art to gift me a bit of "light" to accompany my text 😊