Virtually Yours:   Carolyn  L  Burke

My Cognitive and Physical Landscape

Top 5% at the Point

Page 12

Be warned: This is my diary... clb

... Today
... From The Beginning
... inDex


Adherence and Tactics in a Modern World.

Tue Oct 31 1995

Mornings in the city. Sunrise and coffee, art crimes and cats.

Well, we finally did the tv thing. Richard gave an all morning chat that will amount to 4 minutes air time for @ yesterday about NetScape 2 and its environmental impact -- that is its impact on the politeness value of sharing standards in building the WWW further. I may try out writing a segment next. It looked kinda fun. The airing of the segment is today at noon or yesterday night at 7 - in competition with the Canada versus Quebec Referendum. Bad timing probably given all the publicity surrounding this event.

Recovering off-line thoughts.

Thu Nov 2 1995

I've been rather sick for the last two days. Some sort of food poisening I think. Tracey and I had dinner together Tuesday night before seeing a show. Although she got mildly sickened, I seem to have gotten the worst end of it. Hmmm. It's only this afternoon that I am able to eat anything at all. It's like being unable to use any muscles or even to breath or think easily.

I miss being around bouncing and doing things. Richard looked after me when in the middle of Tuesday night I decided I couldn't do it myself anymore. He slept on my floor and helped me. And yesterday he let me stay in his space while he did other things. I phoned Peter finally to let him know that I wasn't too well, but that he shouldn't worry about me. Seems he ended up doing so anyway, and left a message on Richard's line telling him to feed me well and keep me warm. :) He is silly when he thinks something is an emergency. The two of them haven't communicated directly for almost a year.

Today I am a little better, and thought I could type someting in here. No more hallucinations to filter through. Yesterday everything was just so funny, I laughed and meowed at the walls! Nowthings are more normal again, and I am just exhausted. I miss doing things, and although I think I could do a few things, instead I'll take the rest of the day off, and let the bit of food in me give me some more energy.

... just a sec ...

The fellow who comes once a month to scare away pests just dropped in. He chatted me up for quite awhile. I think he said his name is Milan. He gave me the feel ofthe city's demographic's from behind the scenes once he found out tht I had been sick from restautrant food... said he wasn't surprised that I got sick given what happens in the kitchens. Amusingly he recommended some of the fast food joints as having better policies about keeping food healthy. Heh. And here I've avoided McDonalds for years. Who better to know the hygiene practices of the kitchens in Toronto then the pest control folks.

Interestingly his knowledge of city demographics lead him to explain to me why Toronto is one of the most booming towns for high consumption such as Internet facilities. He notedthat Toronto is stacked full of people immgrated from countries all over the world and that most are highly educated. He suggested that Toronto collects brains the way communist countries collected productivity and the US collects profit. I certainly think that if he is right in this, that we'll have a huge benefit from this in years to come, even with the problematic baby boomers growing too old to fend for themselves.

Being from the middle of the Serbia / Croatia turmoil himself, he seemed sensitive to the possibility o freal civil war breaking out here inside Quebec. Fascinating. I am the only one who sees that in Canada last week we really had a civil war -- a real one, similar in all respects except one, our ability to vote instead of shoot? Hmmm. He suggested that I might be a little naive about my fellow country persons' inability to shoot.

Overall I conclude that it is fun to talk to someone new insofar as they are surprised at the collectionof ordinary beliefs that I hold. I think Milan is interesting to me because he is willing to talk of things that all of us know and none of my friends and I discuss after awhile. A refreshing look into the acts of the day surfed quickly over rather then delved deeply into one at a time.

Fragile Egos and other fairytales.

Fri Nov 3 1995

Getting to know me can be hazardous to your ego. I wonder if Oprah has this problem? It seems that people are not as easily tempted by openness on the Internet as am I. Funny. I sure am tempted by it. I'm thinking of digitizing some pictures of my friends and I and life in general -- oh and cats! I bet that will make some people jump!

A number of my friends have only recently connected up to the Internet. Tracey, Hella, and Rit are all fairly new to the web and to the diary here, even though they have known about it in principle all along. Each is discovering stuff about me and their opinions about me and how I think (about stuff and about each of them) seems to have changed somewhat as a consequence. Tracey sat down last Tuseday almost all night and read through the pages here. Her reaction was in part to say that she didn't realize what a small part of my life she was. Heh... but what she didn't notice, I think, was that I wrte here when I'm sad or hurting. I'd say that it's a compliment not to be written about here! Just my opinion of course. Rit sent some more poems I'd like to include.

[SECRET: This morning we're off to a major design studio here in TO to meet up with the original designers of a magazine for teenagers -- one that we are hoping to get fully online. We did up a demo a couple of months ago that is really incredibly cool stateoftheartWWW2monthsago. Not now of course. :) Here's a sneak. This was built for NetScape 1.2 and a fairly fast modem -- at least 14.4 and it works best on a windows platform. The real mag would be NetScape version independent but this one isn't.]

Trip to a doctor's office.

Sat Nov 4 1995

Well I passed out almost and collapsed to the floor yesterday a couple of times. I was off to see a movie with Carey and Richard, and I simply couldn't stay up long enough. The theatre persons were particularly helpful, although I suspect having me collapse in their lobby was quite a motivating factor. :) They offer me chocolates, an offic eot sit in and even a cab voucher. It helped a lot, as did Carey and Richard. I think I had better put the doctor to some serious questions. I've been very oddly sick all week, and now this. Peter is picking me up at 11 this morning to visit my doc's office. I wonder if I can book an appointment using the Internet yet?!

Tracey found negatives of pictures she took months and months ago, black and whites for a class she had. We're going to develop them now .. by hook or by crook, right Tracey?! And I'll digitize all the persons here for their own amusement. :) Funny but I bet Peter and Athena will look really cute. They both hammed it up for the camera. I think Richard was there, and Tracey and me.. and Olga! I also have lots of old pictures that I may just include too if I can find the right ones.

Soon soon soon. :)

I hope I am worrying without any consequence about how I am. That is often true of me, and in this case, it would be nice.

And on trips... I have a couple planned, one to an island of warmth and sun in early January, another to the pyramids and contiguous locals come early March, and a third on my own to England in mid December before the holiday rush.


On manipulating people.

Sat Nov 4 1995

I got tired of people referring to me as a bright person. I try to be either wise or astute depending on the situation. If anyone percieves me as bright then I am really coming across also as naive in some way. The brightness advertised keeps the intellectuals of our times, perhaps others, down. It keeps them attuned to the work ethic creating traffic jams in their blood and eternal pits in their self-esteem. The bright who demonstrate their brightness don't quite believe it themselves. Meet the downtrodden of our modern age (in the first world of course), the engineers, the doctors, the expert x's, the technical adepts. The new slave class .. keeping your television signal channeling Bob Hope specials to your living room comfort zones.

Now, several people I know and love are bright people. Many also fall for the truth-functional thing too. Perhaps these go hand in hand. I know many find the security of the institution necessary to feel safe enough to create the beautiful constructs their specialties allow for... So hard it is to be a creative mind with technical skills and no patron to view the wonders of your talents

Whether the birght person has to become a truth-functional person though is beside the point. Bright people are taught, trained, conditioned, tempted, manipulated, and tortured to become disciplined and working productive minds with little or no attention paid to what they could in fact achieve without the discipline or with further exploration entirely beyond the known bounds of what constitutes our collectively earned knowledge banks. [Boy, that's a sentence. I think a cat should have stopped that one in its tracks.]

Those who use their brightness to make note of this trend and reasonably decide to back away from becoming an expert or technician or highly paid specialist are not surprisingly in a better position in the longer run. Using one's mind to really design one's future expectations long before designing the method one will use to get there seems to be a key.

addendum to the surreal: RECREATION

design ... de - sign ... remove conventional interpretation ... add new meaning ... re - create ... recreate

How else are we to continue the modular progression of building Frankenstein's society from the molecules themselves? Blackboxes are the godsend of mass consumption. Without our experts building little perfectly predictable and yet mysteriously functioning little black input / output devices,

                   ^                    | 
                  /                     V
    <-tvstereorangejuiceco           ntaineracecaroastbee
      fertilizerabbitfoodr           ainpipexpressomachin
      energizerbatteriesal           espeopleraserableink
      rbladessertspoonever           endinggobstopperaiso
    =>ndetremailetterofint           entexmexrayahooliveo
      ilongdistancecalling- - - - - >ameboyesterdayspaper==>>
    ->educingagentravelbur           eaunderwearunningsho
      elasticbandoorchimer           chantofvenicelticraz
      ygluelephanthiderate           hikeskimobileliminat
            |                           ^ |
            V                           | V

We require the technicians to know the IO specs for the parts that make each of these up, and then to know the IO specs for the resulting new thing. And we require that the end user of the thing need be able to turn it on and predict its general function without doing or knowing much else. The point and click society. That's all ok except for one thing. As our building blocks become more complex internally, we will require more and more persons of brightness to enslave themselves to the good principles of engineering design. A high compliment .. modularity. Reusability. Efficient . productive . useful. The things and the people too. Really?

The consumers are all to want similar things. The experts are all to build similar things, to be similar things. Bell curves without a bell curve .. flat line dependence and inelastic demand needs. Still statistical. The flattening of the bell curve. Do you think you can insist on being a standard deviation any longer? Try it!

Not wise.

I heard of a study that showed [ :) yeah, I know. Where are the references.] that people are made easily happier when a source of chaos is present intheir environment. In particular the sound of wind in trees, the crackling of a fire, a river stream babble. The sight of flickering shadows, a cascade of birds circling the rooftop, snowflakes billowing slowly outside the window. Modular? Not yet included. Please don't expect to find it in the package. Yet. Once they figure this out, I think they'll have us all. They? :)

I am they.

This I think is the brightest move to make. Not so bright of course to write it out here perhaps. People .. they? .. might find out I think this. :)

Boy wasn't that scary?! [The word "scary"'s appearance in my vocabulary and this particulr manner of using it are soley courtesy of Craig who requests footnoting for all things he is responsible for.]

Frame People.

Sat Nov 4 1995

I've hidden a copy of the diary in a NetScape 2.0 space. Hope this one doesn't get lost. My old one on sometimes finds its way into other people's hands. seems pretty safe, and I think NetScape 2.0 will be similarly friendly. Careful not too look twice in a row though. Very fun and amusing Netscape loops lead to nasty scraped knees if you get too recursive. Can you tell what I've been doing these past few hours?! [html geeeeeking]

Contagion loose.

Mon Nov 6 1995

Well what do you know. The so called food poisening of last week turns out to be a virus. How do I know? Unfortunately Richard is now as miserable as one of those lsd toads (made famous to me by L.A. Law -- yeah I lived with two lawyers while that show was popular. sigh) which have been licked one too many times. Poor him. I have quite a lot of sympathy. As far as I know, noone else seems to have caught the dreaded bug. These things get more creative every year.

I feel almost annoyed that he isn't up to spec today. It's not that i'm annoyed at Richard at all. More that I don'tlike the feeling of being partnerless in business. I love the entrepreneur feel and all, but not the feel of being alone doing it. I think he is probably much theh same, and so it works nicely. But alone inthe universe means not taking it at all seriously. If I were alone, I'd forego mopst of what I do normally to readboks, wander the fields of the country and to simply be myself in my own head. It is the other people I knowand work with that make me at all interested in doing other things like running a company and writing a diary. :) Boy, am I insecure? A little. Sure.

I've been getting some really nice letters this past week. I should look into responding to them when I get a moment -- and I should get my car back from the mechanics after a week! Unlike most entities, mechanics don't seem to mind if I'm not prompt. Heh.

So I think its my turn to play business person while Richard is down. Gotta run.

I see things.

Tue Nov 7 1995

I see things and feel that I am losing my knowledge. Little tiny nooks that I am tempted into close in. Simple space without exits. My mood alters to remind me that more is there somewhere, not here. Strange things. Looking for a way to use a program that does not require a waste of my time. It would be eaiser to write it myself than to learn to use the prefabbed one. Layers of structure that appear unnecessary, and missing pieces that I want to use. That is how another's mind feels to me too. Simply missing details where I want to look.

How I wish that I loved someone. Simple again. I know I never will again. There is too much to be in another person that simply won't be there. The depth of Peter who lives such a life a part from me now and his warmth and not his rationalizations and need to fail. Me. I wonder what psychosis I am best described as having today? Sadness? An unfilled desire to have someone really want to get to know me. A further lack of knowing anyone I really want to know more about. A feeling that if I write it out I might say it out loud and those I do care about will not understand. Last year I started writing here to have a say without any concern for what their reactions would be. And now as their reactions slowly seep into my awareness, as everyone I know now learns who I am more and more, I look around and pretend I am still alone here. Where I need to be alone most. In me. Funny... childish. Alone. Just like when I was young imprisoned by law and age. Swept up in my mind alone and desolate. Here too now I look at the faces on the street and wish any one of them would say hello to me. And as long as they don't I can try to see what is not there. Depth. Awareness. A soul. But I see MTV and IBM and KFC and LSD. No cats to smile. Fear.

I hurts to start a new paragraph. As if I am leaving something behind as I type <P>. I wonder what it is.. I know what it is... the complexity that builds as one hovers around a single thought for longer than a phrasing of it aloud. I want the complexities though to mean something, not simple patterns of fractalation that I am so easily drawn too. I used to tap fractal patterns with my toes when I was a kid, knowing that they would never end. The triangle fractal was sketched on my notebooks in school along with attempts to grok 3D shading. And I've worn my two big teeth down with the 1221211221121221 fractal.

Where are my Faith Generators? I need some more.

SpaceAge Materials.

Thu Nov 9 1995

Nothing to write about. Just sleepy me.

I've recovered from being sick finally. Yesterday, I worked from 8 in the morning until my modem died eight hours later (the SLIP connection has a time limit on it which I appreciate as an overwork indicator). Then I felt really up and happy, almost satisfied at having accomplished so much. And indeed even including scheduling a tv segemnt to be shot next Wednesday. I'm finally making the Discovery Channel. :) Interestingly, although speaking under the FSC (check out our animated corp logo), I'll be discussing how even with the new hi-tech web facilities that us normal guys can't use on our web pages, and even with the commercialization of the web, the little guy who knows the basics of html can still create an exciting and interesting web site. I care about this a lot, and it seems t be an interesting enough topic to others. If all goes well, maybe I'll try to atttach the segment here. Maybe. Many ofthe tipw I'll use will be based on my experiences in keeping my own homepage here really popular. Suggestions? Examples of really successful and low-tech homepages? Send them along to me.

Materials ... not just the wave of the future ... the building blocks of the wave. I've been arguing for quite a while now about how the really cool and exciting tech advances - the revolution if you will - is happening inthe materials sciences, and not really so much in the information tech expansion. :) Aren't I cute. But I don't really feel like writing it out right now. Later perhaps. [coffee please]

More locally, I had a nice evening with Peter last night. We went to this cool bar on college called Ted's Collision.. it's an Internet cafe / cool place in other ways too, and used to be run by a woman I knew from the philosophy dept days at York. I didn't see her there though. Perhaps she is doing a Ph.D. now instead of bartending?

Peter and I discussed the Isreal thing, having planned to vacate there this Spring. We discussed the primitiveness of assasination. I found it an interesting topic, but nothing really to write about.

And he just felt good to me. A deep warmth lives in him in spite of his current efforts to run himself ragged. Hmm.

I've been thinking lot about how I don't seem to have any hobbies. When I was akid I took every courseyou canimagine, being a school worshipper and all. Mummy's idea of growing her daughters was to inflict a good British spine in them about such things. So I studied drama and pottery making, all sorts of arts and crafts, classical piano and music theory (which was unfortunately the only thing that I was actually good at), ballet, baton twirling (does it even have a dignified name) and many other things that lasted less long such as gymnastics, tap dancing, drawing, singing, and I don't even remember anymore... oh, horseback riding. Etc. Her philosophy was to educate her chidren not with literature (about which I am almost completely ignorant still) nor with world politics or history, nor with academic subjects such as mathematics or physics, but instead with the pasttimes ofthe rich and leisurely. I know I am being too harsh in saying that, but there was an underlying apttern to her choices, her suggestions. Never once amental activity. Perhaps she believed that the public schools would look after such. Or perhaps she was working on a "my daughter should be fit to have tea with the Queen" fantasy. Well she got her wish. I do not understand world politics, and I have great table manners (when I want to). Sigh. Funny that I would not have much to talk to the Queen about. :)

In any case, I'm more concerned in my complete repulsion of similar hobbies once I moved out, along time ago now. I have tried to revive my piano playing recently. I quite enjoy it sometimes, and I am still pretty bad. Sometimes I doodle pictures, abstracts of my feelings. Building websites seems to be a bit of a hobby, and the business sure takes up much of my creative and organizational energy. But what of the idea of taking a class. Will I ever want to do that again? I feel that if I am given the tools of any art, I could muddle through on my own as well as I could in a class. I sometimes watch the "HOw-To" shows on tv when they deal with painting. But what am I missing now? Is taking the class itself important? Well certainly it is a social outlet .. although where I am concerned, I'm really good at totally being left out of such emergence groupnesses. Tracey is the only person I know who got through my anti-group armour. And she is close to me to this day or having done so. I guess the idea that a class in x would be a social outlet for me is wrong.

But having a hobby... I have about a dozen plants living with me now .. the first I've ever had. They seem to like it, and I them. Although without Neko around, watering them is not the same. Tracey described my environment as very organic, plants, wind chimes,wood and glass furniture. I guess so. Is that a hobby? What an anal concept I'm analysing... hobby.

Lighten up! Enjoy what you do without the labels. Call everything you do a hobby. Destroy the concept. Call nothing a hobby. MAke it meaningless. Is that really an answer? No. Why am I concerned right now about this? Good question. Answer: I have lots of time with nothing assigned to it. I've creted my ife that way, and now I feel that there is nothing to do with that time. And really I am trying to encourage myself to get to doing harder things with that time. Things like creating a painting. As the things I've designed are growing in the world, I can take on smaller things too, and enjoy doing them. I used to build model cars in my spare time, and do airbrushing. I did these after I left home .. long after. I remember buying a remote controlled car kit, and building the whole thing from the screwsup. I airbrushed the car body to a light metallic blue shaded lighter in the front. And then Peter and I played with it a lot in parking lots. Years ago. But it wouldn't be fun or interesting to do the same thing again. Something different perhaps. Maybe an ultralight?! I could do that. But its not really what I'm seeking.

And blindly she fails to notice that much of the creative time that does occur gets channeled into writing more often than she ever has in her life previously. And that she enjoys it especially much when she simply holds her breath for a few hours and writes something more structured than a diary entyr. Heh. An article perhaps, or a story?

But I like the concrete results of painting. Poems certainly can hang on the wall, but they do not create a flashing experience the way at hanging on the wall does. AAhhhh such ambivalence. Relax and enjoy the snow falling. :)

Maybe I'll just go shopping with Tracey!


Fri Nov 10 1995

Aaron sent me a November Cat Update. I've been playing business project organizer this morning, and next it'll be accountant. Wwwwwweeeeey. It's a living.

Off to write a Discovery Channel segment now. And then a partner's meeting this afternoon.

Ironic twists of irony.

Sat Nov 11 1995

SO off I went to Kathleen's graduation arty last night. Tracey couldn't make it after working too late,a dn so Richard came with me. All the old standards were at the party, Kathleen's parents, her closer friends, and the people she met in all sorts of nooks and crannies (like me for instance) - the one's who not to say something too personal to the other guests to avoid offending sensibilities. There were a couple of very friendly self-promoting lesbians in tuxes, very nice and homey people. On my other side were a couple - swingers, who hotly but shortly pursued me after first meeting me, and from whom I simply ducked. A number of other philosophy studying types were present, including a prof from York who is now (after meeting Kathleen as a student) living with the TA he only slept with previously. :) Me... who met Kathleen after she got involved with Peter - who was her TA at the time. He was one of her two chosen sperm donors once upon a time. I think the day he came in the house all enthusiastic - almost two years ago now - and recommended that we move into her suburban home - as a couple - with she while she raised their kid, was the first day I decided to leave Peter. Missing was both of those potential sperm donors, Peter and another Prof from Kathleen's past. Curiously, Kathleen announced at the party, in a suburban manner suiting the party's theme, that she is accidently and happily now pregnant. She is on her way to single-parenthood. She seems to be winning her war with bio-clock mythology. And she seems very happy.

She was certainly a big help both as a catalyst for my decision to leave Peter, and in my actual leaving when she was very supportive. I wish her all the best in her pursuits of the unusual from suburbia. :)

My supply of black leather party invitations certainly dwindled when she stopped viewing Peter as a social kindred spirit. However, on opening my mailbox this morning, I found that while off playing housewife-alternative reveller last night, I had received a last minute invitation to another party. Irony sets in. How often hvae I simply wantd to have a party to go to?! And last night I had a 6 months in the planning party and a last minute (so I didn't find out about it in time) invitation to another house party, one thrown by the producer I'm working with. :) Now I feel like licking my whiskered in a warm and sunny corner for awhile. Perhaps there is a social circuit of amusement behind this invitation. I shall certainly follow it up.

And there Ia hd been practicing the telling of amusing and ironic stories to Kathleen's friends. Uncomfortable stories as it turned out as I used each to make fun of something someone else had been saying. Nasty me. I should get out more often -- I wouldn't be as tempted to swipe at people then.

I should go seek out a ticket to England today. I want to go in about a month for a week. Forthe firsttime, I wish I was still in contact with a relative or two. I would like to ask mummy where I should look for ancestral burial grounds and the like. She was from Yorkshire originally. Still, I haven't spoken with Niels for a few days now, and I guess I should warn him first as I hope to meet him for the first time by sleeping on his couch. :)

[coffffffeeeeeeeee] I have 3 passwords into my account here, two above and beyond the normal first one. Privacy and security are very important to me in principle. But I rememeber also being really annoyed at needing either when I first started using computers for other than games. [Suddeny I am hopig that Kathleen won't mind the review of her party I gave. I should say that all the persons she invited are each very good at maintainting the party conversation, although not at an interesting intellectual level, certainly in a reassuring and warm manner. I knid of like that. Of course, I too grew up in the burbs with an Angican mummy, and all the pretensions. I simply am not a breeder, and most of Kathleen's persons are (even her as it turns out).]

:) To quote Olga,

Yes, we also dig ditches too.

The owls are not what they seem.

Sun Nov 12 1995

I really loved Twin Peaks. The show unravelled like a chess game, a complete system revealed one premise at a time. At the end, they revealed to us that in fact the plot was modelled on a game of chess, and as each person took up his or her role in the drama, they chose which colour to be, and which piece, and then finally which moves they were willing to make. Intelligent tv. Unusual and enjoyable. Babylon Five also strikes me as entangled, thought provoking, politically intriguing, and intelligent. Nice.

But I should try to write things that are more important here. What... I'm ... gotta run

Back again. I had a collision here just then. Writing messgaes back and forth with Richard, while Peter was wandering around here in person, and then a knock at the door was Kathleen droping my purse off. Before I could notice, Peter had ducked out the back door onto the balcony to have a smoke -- and hide from Kathleen. Kathleen seemed hestitant about coming in for even a moment after I asked her if she minded seeing Peter. etc. What a lot of avoiders we've all become. I think we all got too much of a dose of Peter's "instant closeness makes for better friendships" rituals a couple of years ago. Well, I hope that somethng can be done about that over time. I know he has been working on letting others get to know him gradually instead of instantly -- and addictively.


Mon Nov 13 1995

Many people have noted to me that I caricature others here a lot. I'm surprised. Fascinated in fact. I think that I know others pretty well when I want to .. but I am not a writer. A good writer can make ech character in a novel feel to be an entirely different person from the other characters. When a line is uttered without the speaker's tag line, you can tell which cahracter said it anyway. I don't think I'm good enough to et outside my own head in writing. I don't know any of the tricks. I have never examined how to use writing tools to carry off certain effects. And although I read quite a lot (4 books a week or so), they are usually trashy scifi books. I don't suspect that I've picked up any finer points. But perhaps for the first time, I'd like to. I would like to create the feel of each person I know both as they are to the world and as they are to me. Each is so fascinating.

But it seems that I haven't done so. Perhaps It isn't my writing at all that does this in the first place.. perhaps it is my view of them that is narrowed down. I do feel that I have little slots tat each fits into .. labelled for when and why I'd like to see each person. I so enjoy it when they break out of the expected spaces, but I don't expect it. I know that is a personal defense.

This guy, another Steve, has written to me a number of times now. He has tried to explain (here comes another caricature?) how and why he turned from his time of wandering through the passions and worldly experiences to a time of spiritual satisfaction and warm contact with others. Religious conversion is involved in there somewhere, but I choose to interpret this a little metaphorically. I think Steve has a really good point. It hits me hard, and makes me think.

Much of my life is spent ascetically; that is withoutthe pursuit or indulgence in pleasure. I enjoy this actually, and start to feel very dirty if I don't spend most of my time doing something difficult or unpassionate. But I know this guy means to be saying more to me than that. (Am I simply reading his letter like a horoscope, without grasping his intention? He writes as if so, but I suspect he has a condescending streak.) He is right to point out that I do not share any spriitual experience with any others ever. In fact I merely take note of the possibility for myself, and radiate a little more of spirituality than then others I know. I don't speak about it much or try to convert people - which I regard as unethical, and which Steve doesn't it seems.

So what am I to do about this concern?

Snow and friends.

Wed Nov 15 1995

1: Steve's letter to me

2: My in-diary reply

3: Philip Banks' reply to us both

4: Steve's rebuttal to my reply

5: My turn again

6: Philip: comments and conundrums...

This is getting fun! I have my own angel and devil (I think Steve might appreciate this imagery more than Philip). I suppose though that I'd have to regard Philip as representing my own desires and beliefs - my mindset - well. Steve presents and I think gets accurately into the desire I have to live apart from daily hedonist even if unindulgent concerns.

To Philip and to Steve: I do indeed note that I shouldn't be easily swayed by metaphysical views that offer better greener grass. I have been inundated with Peter's world views to the point of drowning, and I know better - I hope. But I also know that one needs to have such a view... it is a logical necessity. Essentially, in order to reason at all, one needs to presuppose the use of the tools of reasoning themselves, let's say logic and rationality for instance. This opens the question of how to choose the method of reasoning - the type of reasoning - to adopt. Any argument in favour of a particular system presupposes itself or one of its competitors. Circular reasoning is not considered a good form of reasoning, and the above reasoning is circular.

So one needs a leap of faith simply to decide to use reason. [Slightly off topic: I used to call these leaps faith generators when they had a designed purpose. A leap of faith is required to get started and then a generator of action and confidence sets inplce and churns out stady energy. Together, these two ingredients account for the incredible worldly and spiritual things we humans can do individually. Faith that the future acan be shaped the way you want, and a generator reliably assisting you to shape each moment coherently together with the last and in keeping with the future imagery..] One can't reason to the conclusion without using reasoning - begging the question. Once a leap of faith is allowed, then we may as well adopt a faith of any sort barring the addition of other standards. I prefer flippng a coin to makethe choice. Steve seems to think he has found a better choice, and that my worldly choice leaves me "empty". Fair enough. I cannot deny that I feel empty a lot. Of course, I believe that any metaphysical choice - any faith I choose - will leave me similarly empty in some way. On this Steve and I part ways.

I suspect in fact that it is his worldly satisfactions that make him smug. [God told me that I should say that, and this too. I couldn't resist.] He sounds happily married and well respected and jobbed. Sounds to me like he has company, a sense of purpose, and that many of his genetic predispositions are satisfied. I of course found the rant on ethics at the end of his last note to have been an odd touch. [This is perhaps the best example of me in action I've had to date... the discussing of people to them about them here. I at least am having a good time.]

What touches me about Steve's letters, each time he sends them, is his feeling of religious commitment. I really enjoy this. I am not tempted by the actual belief structure here. The intenstiy of life according to Steve is amazing though. He strikes me as mentally agile, and willing to stick his metaphsical toes out, whether for conversion potential or for personal enjoyment I cannot tell. But he is commited to living fully, even if with some heavy duty ethics. I think that he will be a larger causal agent in the world as a consequence of his commitment and of his faith, even if I do not agree entirely on his choice of goals.

I believe it is important for a person to commit to things - even if they know that the commitment is arbitrary, as I believe the choice must be. The animal part of us likes to think that there is certainty, safety and limits on the edges of reality, no spiders under the covers, etc. It is the spiritual and educated / civilized parts of us that can comfortably ingest an infinite and yet bounded universe, statistical messiness at the subatomic level, the more than likely complete determinism of the brain/mind, etc. Together, these mix into Christian physicists, new age engineers, church and state distinctions. Puzzles of the human potential.

It is important to go as far through the abstracts to understanding as one can and then to turn back and glue the physical layers back onto to oneself to become fully human. Think of Plato's journey into the cave of the believer, and out into the blinding sunlight of philosophy and true knowledge (for the eyes of the philosopher king), a knower of the forms of the universe, and then finally to return again to the cave as teacher and leader, as king. This is the journey that Steve points to for me. I suspect that although I, and come to think of it, Carey too, require to travel back and forth between these places .. to ground the darkness in light, and the light in dark. The balance is difficult.

I speak Steve's language, though rarely out loud. Normally, I feel less drawn into the faith of living, and it is because of this, because of my unwillingness to jump drowning into the sea of commited blindness, my fear of simply believing the arbitrary beliefs I hold, that I write here. I lack something and to Steve's committed eyes, it is very clear. I lack true desire. I substitute a desire for parties, and friends. I don't have a tv, but I also don't meditate. I avoid hedonisms .. and I avoid truly looking into myself. And I know all of this all of the time, strongly and in suffering. Why. Because I am committed .. to a lack of belief. The animal part of me needs nourishment from the spiritual, and the spiritual parts have been on strike.

To Philip: Steve can help me simply by saying things that I don't hear anymore away from Peter. But I do intend to stay grounded in the late 20th century metaphysics of worldly trivia and financial cockfighting. As each of my friends has said to me on occasion, I want to have it both ways, and although it seems impossible, I'm going to do it anyway. I, at least, think I can do it! :)

Thanks to you both for letting me sit here and think about this so clearly. And apologies for all the misrepresentations I may have accidently engaged in. I never was much of a scholar .. re: references and quotations.



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