31 December 2010

Everyone's suddenly a linguist

I there is the odd coincidence of the mind and consciousness that is causing me a potential sea change of perception. I have been thumbing through this book, Maps of the Mind, which in itself is pretty interesting. "Maps of the Mind is an excellent review volume that integrates and condenses many different perspectives concerning the nature of the human mind. Using the metaphor of a map, the author organizes the work of several prestigious authors and theorists into nine different levels, from the mechanistic and physiological to the paradigmatic and mythological." The pages are laid out in what could be an interpretation of conflict, but in fact each perspective is presented as building on the next.
Well, I was on a job and my friend was reading Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness by Julian Jaynes. I inquires about it and skimmed it a bit because it looked interesting. Later that evening I came to the page in my book on the theories of Jaynes. What is more is that another friend at the same time, came to a reference to Jaynes in a book he was reading. Weird.
If not familiar with his theory, reduced to the point of near meaninglessness is that human consciousness is a recent development (appx 3000 years old), and before that, the two hemispheres of the brain did not communicate so well so that one side (left)could be said to be developing man's thoughts and the other side (right) was interpreted as audio hallucination, i.e. god, spirit, daemon etc. and was a thing that, though it did in fact have individual agency within a person, was to that person, a different voice.
Now, here's where I am amazed. immediately after the above experience, I was listening to a radiolab podcast on words. There was a segment on the fact that thought follows language that holds some water but I didn't entirely buy, and then there was this segment. A woman, a neurologist no less, has a stroke that shuts down half her brain. Her resulting experience is oneness, lack of self - she is having a stroke and does not act, because of the whole immersion. Yet she is not mindless, she is there in the experience and can recall it. Only the coming back in momentarily of her other hemisphere prompts her to act and saves her, yet she says that given a choice - she would return to that state.
I also just read an interesting article on the philosophy of David Foster Wallace, as he riffs throughout his career - mostly on Wittgenstein, but there are others. I opened many tabs to examine things mentioned (fitting, given DFW's footnotes upon footnotes). He was primarily a philosopher.
And of course a primary function of Wittgenstein - and much modern linguistical philosophy - is that there cannot be thought without language. two things strike me as odd about this, aside from experience:
Wittgenstein goes on to say that language is a social construct, which seems obvious. Thought, however, is a more solipsistic process. How can that be reconciled?
The other things, and I don't know the name for this specific logical fallacy, is that we can easily identify thoughts had that are not lingual. I have seen the argument that we could not identify those non lingual thoughts without language, but that is an opaque discussion, much the same as Wittgenstein's claim that all metaphysical (and emotional) language is nonsense.
Feel free to correct me, I am less than even a layman and tend to avoid straight philosophy.

30 December 2010


I have been experiencing some notable synchronicity involving trees. I am reading Ovid's Metamorphosis which contains a few tree stories so far:
Myrrha is transformed to a myrrh tree after her incestuous relationship with her father.
Cyparissus who loved a deer and would walk with it in the woods. Hunting, he accidentally killed it and felt intense guilt and sorrow; he begged Apollo to let him mourn his dearest friend. Apollo granted his wish and turned into a cypress tree - today a sign of mourning and also one of my favorite trees.
Pyramus and Thisbe planned to meet under the mulberry tree, and that is where they died. Their blood stained the white berries burgundy. This story is the inspiration for Romeo & Juliet.
There is another that I cannot recall, but that really moved me. Anyway, I am enjoying Ovid.
I have encountered the story of the man who kills the oldest tree in the world, apotentially the oldest living being in the world - a 5000 year old bristlecone pine. He is an geologist studying climate change and he ends up studying salt basins (because of his deed?). It is amazing to think of accidentally destroying something that has witnessed time since known civilization.
So, this led to other research and baobab trees, as featured in the little prince and the African savanna, are potentially a thousand years older.
More amazing are clonal trees, which clone from pre-existing root systems. These are not so impressive on a mythical scale because they are not individual, but some aspen (as featured in John Denver songs) 'colonies' are estimated at at least 80,000 (& possibly as much as 1 million) years old. What is the consciousness of a tree? What is the consciousness of a tree colony?

I have also happened upon a few poems and songs, but for some reason, failed to annotate them so they are lost somewhere in my mind.
..and from Moby Dick there was something...

So this is an old (rather unfinished) poem from when I wrote poems. It needs a LOT of work, but here it is.

Night –
Night’s single talon wraps low around reaching tree branches-
A stretching Adam across black ceiling: forearm torn, knotted stiff.

Night’s thousand eyes strain to glimpse earth, penned angles -
clambering and falling wingless to ash and dust.

Night’s hemorrhage labors and conceives light –
Supersonic afterbirth of the sun:
Savant offspring, mayfly lifespan.

Night’s death falls staining the sky:
Neck coiled back in rigor mortis,
Red excrement left in the west

The Sun
He is born an orphan – inheritor to murder He
Burns with guilt and indiscretion

The Sun speeds unseen toward one thing,
Pursuing the western star – His own aborted brother

The sun sheds uncounted skins each day
Living off self, possessed by ends

The Sun shows His age in His eyes –
And like a feral dog, climbs
Mountains alone to Death

Trees –
Trees go naked in mourning – pulling hair in agony.

Trees gather bouquets for the dead, but stand
unmoved, unbowed. Only sighing new breath silently

Trees think always slowly
Deliberate and full
Of many questions

Tree reaches to the sky in agony of straight locked arms
Just one longer day and night?

So you've read it. (warning: poem spoiler) It is pretty much a consideration of what the mythology of trees might be, experiencing the rush of days and nights upon each other and the worship of the sun. For some reason, overlaid with analogies from Judeo/Christian mythologies. Don't ask me why. Well you can ask if you want


Finally, there is a smog song, Rock Bottom Riser. At the time, Bill Callahan was dating Joanna Newsom, who lives/ed in Nevada City.I think perhaps that he is singing of or at least metaphorically referring to swimming in the Yuba River. When I see him, I will ask him.

I saw a gold ring
At the bottom of the river
Glinting at my foolish heart
So my foolish heart
Had to go diving
Diving, diving, diving
Into the murk

And from the bottom of the river
I looked up for the sun
Which had shattered in the water
And pieces were rained down
Like gold rings
That passed through my hands
As I thrashed and I grabbed
I started rising, rising, rising

I am a rock bottom riser...

11 July 2010

On the Cusp of a Life

My wife is a week past the Doctors' estimation of due date. This would be the perfect time to contemplate the reverberations of loss and gain that accompany this event. I will skip that for the time being and just mark this moment in time.

10 albums to take on my sailboat to nowhere as of this one moment

10 all things must pass - George Harrison
9 honeycomb - Frank Black
8 double gold - Neil Diamond
7 a river ain't too much to love - Smog
6 station to station - David Bowie
5 wild gift - X
4 gp/grievous angel - Gram Parsons
3 surf's up - Beach Boys
2 daisies of the galaxy - Eels
1 its a wonderful life - Sparklehorse

18 January 2010

Where does this trail lead?

At what stage does compost traverse the cell wall an become new verdant life?
There is no point - points do not exist. There is continuum.