On Futility and Surrender

We cannot strive our way out of alienation. I have always felt the need to look into that which we all would prefer to leave unexamined, unseen, and unsaid. This drive seems to stem from having spent the first fifty-odd years of my life caught in double-binds. From childhood on it always appeared that whatContinue reading “On Futility and Surrender”

Chefs and Sea Captains

Chefs and sea captains and drill sergeants and Zen masters have been born in and borne by a legacy of abuse passed down the generations. It would be easy to condemn them outright for their aggression, but only if we fail to look at their motivations…. There is something widespread and deeply similar behind whatContinue reading “Chefs and Sea Captains”

Insisting on Control

The trouble with blind-spots is that we don’t see them. Our eyes have blind-spots where the optic nerve meets the retina. Without them our eyes would not see anything at all. Our perception, outside of a few limited cases, heals over this wound in our visual field. Two wounds, one for each eye.

Self-Preservation, Musings on Imagination

We’ve been living through the dissolution of our instincts for self-preservation. Why is that? One explanation leans on our habit of looking for a polarity; that there is a good nature and an evil one and that we are caught in a perpetual struggle between them. The trouble with this way of looking at itContinue reading “Self-Preservation, Musings on Imagination”

The Edifice of Thought*

Originally posted on Antonio Dias:
Thought shapes thinking. We cannot think differently unless we become aware of how thought shapes our thinking. There is a shape implicit in thought, forming a trajectory for our thinking, that is there as we gather a thought. Right there in the act of thinking itself. Technological thinking, institutionalized, taught…

“What do we do when we stop pretending?”

This line from the Dark Mountain Manifesto stopped me in my tracks when I first read it and, in a sense, I’ve been hovering, listening, and looking for how to respond ever since. In fact, you might say, I’ve not gone any farther. Perhaps, I’ve even backed-up. The question that really holds me is oneContinue reading ““What do we do when we stop pretending?””

Meaningful work

We have confused a pseudo-existential threat, a threat only to Ego’s dominion over us, for an actual existential threat. This same mechanism leads a heroin addict to suicide and leads every self-proclaimed Master of the Universe to massing all the energy available to him, almost always a him…, to actively promote the destruction of the fabric of life.

Maybe this will help…

How may we see past our confusion I’m coming to realize there’s something that must puzzle anyone coming to these essays unable to decipher what’s being proposed. We expect a certain trajectory. An ideological position to be established and pieces written to support or further a position. An argument is made for or against. DisagreementContinue reading “Maybe this will help…”

A Catalytic Emergency

A call to action: Notes from an encounter in learning how to learn. Tomorrow we are inviting your fellow students to an event. Between now and then we will craft a performance. We will take certain beginnings we’ve gathered and we will prepare. We won’t be making a program. We won’t rehearse and then repeat what we’veContinue reading “A Catalytic Emergency”

Alternative Facts…

While we obsess over theirs, what about our own? Here’s a statement that might begin to seem less implausible this year than it was a little while back. The arc of the Twentieth Century was not a victory over totalitarianism. It was a battle between its various flavors. This post will fill you in on the arcContinue reading “Alternative Facts…”

You can’t awaken someone who’s pretending to be asleep.

The crisis underlying our political predicament. We all know the truth in this. If we’re honest with ourselves. We’ve all done it at some point. What does this have to do with politics? The stridency of attacks on everyone else’s hypocrisy being made by just about everyone. The blindness to our own past mistakes whileContinue reading “You can’t awaken someone who’s pretending to be asleep.”

Navigating the Tangible

What are we moving towards as we look to navigate uncertainty? Navigation is an attitude. Navigating a situation, we don’t analyze, strategize, negotiate agreement on some plan of action and then set about executing it. When we navigate we attend to our capacities of perception, working to keep them as clear as possible. We areContinue reading “Navigating the Tangible”


Why the Anthropocene is a Narcissist’s delusion. The stories we tell ourselves…. This tale began as a kind of warning. At least that’s how it seemed. We were entering a phase beyond nature where human activity dominated the destiny of the earth and its life-forms. We were bringing about a Sixth Great Extinction. It shouldContinue reading “Anthropopause”

Navigating Uncertainty

Ryder’s life and work have always held a place in my imagination. I can’t help but see him as a painter’s equivalent to Herman Melville…. Ryder’s “Moonlight” sticks with me. Let’s step back and look at it whole. When we ‘re confronted by a painting there’s a continual back and forth. We step close toContinue reading “Navigating Uncertainty”

Outside the fence

The nearest I’ve come to having a Tweet go viral came when I recently responded to a video showing deadly aggression among wolves as seen through a chain-link fence. My first volley was to state, “This isn’t nature.” This was answered by a claim that the fence was there to surround — and presumably protect — the people watchingContinue reading “Outside the fence”

Sailing On…

Recent events underscore our need to address the question, “How do we learn?” And, perhaps more importantly, “How do we help our young people learn how to learn?” There’s a monotony to collapse. The way at each step, instead of creating a new way of dealing with the foundations of our troubles we just double-downContinue reading “Sailing On…”

What we don’t know

The absence of information is information. Detecting a lie we discover something true. Every obstacle is a potential gift. If we put these together it’s possible to see how we can gain by coming to realize that not only do we not know what is going on. We cannot know. Not in the sense thatContinue reading “What we don’t know”

This is key

I just stumbled upon Donald D. Hoffman‘s work in The Atlantic Magazine. It was one of those exceedingly rare moments when a crucial new piece is added to the puzzle. He’s a cognitive scientist. He’s been studying the roots of perception and his research has led to his articulation of a key missing link ifContinue reading “This is key”

A Painting is not an Image.

We are swamped by images. Images of paintings are not paintings. I would say it’s also true that: Paintings are not images. An image is an illustrated idea. A sign for something we wish to hold onto. In this way an image is like a verbal concept. A simple analogy or metaphor, like any formContinue reading “A Painting is not an Image.”

Craft, Story, and Ritual

An introduction: This is where innovation fails: Undertaking Craft without respect for mystery one presumes to know what cannot be known. In this we falsify the power of doing. Our doing does not come from Being. This imposition blocks us from connecting with what-is. Story is how we perceive the flow, movement reflected back atContinue reading “Craft, Story, and Ritual”

The Word Craft Is Derived from Strength

It’s taken me long enough; but I’ve finally discovered that the word craft derives from Old English and German words for strength. Forehead slap! Of course. Kraft paper means strong paper. Knew that! So at this point this belated revelation reverberates in my skull. Thinking about the distinction between strength and power…. There’s already beenContinue reading “The Word Craft Is Derived from Strength”

A Man in a Boat

We rush towards some destination looking at where and how. Scheming after best course, best speed. Do we ever consider stillness anything but an impediment? Calling it the Doldrums? Thinking only of stagnation, frustrated desire. Desire with a target. Always running away from where we are. A man in a boat in stillness. Infinity surroundsContinue reading “A Man in a Boat”

“Faith, Hope and Impossibility” Philip Guston 1966

A cross-post from Fine Lines, To will a new form is unacceptable, because will builds distortions. Desire, too, is incomplete and arbitrary. These strategies, however intimate they become, must especially be removed to clear the way for something else — a situation somewhat unclear, but which in retrospect becomes a precise act…. …The closer I get… theContinue reading ““Faith, Hope and Impossibility” Philip Guston 1966”

A Shared Foundation of Experience

Launching Boats for difficult times It seems crazy to be thinking about boats at a time like this. Not just with winter closing in, but within this climate of growing uncertainty as the imminence of collapse emerges into our everyday lives. The old patterns don’t work, and whether we are upset by this, or inwardlyContinue reading “A Shared Foundation of Experience”

On Painting

notes to a fellow painter I’ve been thinking about your paintings and what you wrote about them. Part of the reason I’ve waited to respond has been wanting time for my thoughts to percolate. It’s so good that you’re painting. Carving the time and dealing with the logistics. That’s tremendous and shows the tenacity I alwaysContinue reading “On Painting”

A Chautauqua…

“What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua…” Robert M. Persig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has been a fixture in the lives of many of us raised in the sixties — and later — who have maintained an interest in traditional boats. It might not be much ofContinue reading “A Chautauqua…”

Further notes on Craft, a Point of Departure…

The trouble with talking about Craft is that everyone thinks they already know what it is. Let’s take a deep breath and set all those assumptions aside. Easier said than done. To begin, here’s some of what Craft is not: Backward Anachronistic, and therefore not a viable way to proceed. A niche activity, something workingContinue reading “Further notes on Craft, a Point of Departure…”

Driven by Fear

Coercion, hostility, anger, rejection; are all signs of fear. They cease to exist when there is no fear. These are paraphrases of points Krishnamurti made repeatedly. The dynamics surrounding fear cannot be ignored. They inflect not only how we react and respond ourselves, but hold some key to how we can find ways to speakContinue reading “Driven by Fear”

Notes on the Relationship of Technology to Craft

We are encouraged by the cheerleaders of consumer culture to see technology as a seamless whole that embraces everything we do and that is on a hockey-stick rate of accelerated change that will eventually meet every need and fulfill every desire. In this conception of our history and development from bowed Ape-Man to buff Super-ManContinue reading “Notes on the Relationship of Technology to Craft”

On Berger’s “the Moment of Cubism”

I’ve mentioned John Berger’s essay, The Moment of Cubism a number of times. While I recommend you read the original I felt it was time I describe why I find it such a vital document. Berger differentiates “The Moment of Cubism” from the “Movement” of Cubism. He writes about a handful of artists during theContinue reading “On Berger’s “the Moment of Cubism””

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