On Friday, the next day, Flavia flew to California too. I met up with her, her son, Venus, and his girlfriend, Chiara, at La Pena in Berkeley for dinner and to hear our friend Rafael Manriquez perform. He literally sings like an angel, not to mention his superb song writing. Flavia and I have been fortunate to have performed with him at La Pena in the past and we appear on a recent recording too. After the concert we stayed late at La Pena hanging out with many of Flavia's Chileno friends. She was in her element.
We stayed with Venus and Chiara in their apartment for the weekend. We met Rafael and his partner Paz for breakfast on Saturday. Then Flavia treated Venus and Chiara to a trip to the grocery store (as all good parents do when they visit) while I walked to Telegraph Avenue and browsed the bookstores - Cody's, Moe's, Shakespeare and Co. Shambala has closed down after 35 years. I purchased a number of books at Moe's, including Nietzsche's Ecce Homo which I read during the week.
On Sunday Flavia and I left Venus and Chiara to study (they are attending UC Berkeley) and went to Marin to hear another Chileno musician friend play: Andres Condon. He has had success at building a touring career and offered us many good suggestions and contacts.
Flavia and I then continued on to Green Gulch Zen Center where we got married. We parked in the dirt lot above the yurt where we had our ceremony and walked through the residences, past the garden, to Muir beach. I spent my time communing with Lew Welch's Wobbly Rock while Flavia sat on the sand and gazed at the sea. Again, she was in her element.
Flavia returned to Utah on Monday while I stayed at California, working on-site at Sun. On Monday night I met up with Jed Krohnfeldt and Arun Ramachandran of Hitachi Storage Software, old friends from Patil Systems and Cirrus Logic days. We had a wonderful evening reminiscing.
On Tuesday morning I had breakfast with Chung Le, VP of Product Development at Filemaker. Chung was my manager at Sun when I first joined in 1994. He was my first manager there and still, by far, the best.
Wednesday evening I spent alone browsing Digital Guru technical bookstore. They seem to have taken the place of the defunct Computer Literacy and Stacey's bookstores.
On Thursday I met my long-time and best friend, musician Andrew Voigt at Yoshi's in Oakland. We heard Mark Levine's Latin Tinge. I took a few 1-1 theory classes with Mark Levine around the time his book, The Jazz Theory Book came out. Some of Flavia's bandmates from her Sol y Luna days were on the bandstand: Michael Spiro (with whom I was lucky to have played a couple of gigs with when David Belove asked me to sub for him) and Melecio Magdaluyo, who only played the last few tunes. Andrew is at the beginning of a new relationship with Lori B. He showed me her new CD which is about to be released.
On Thursday I spent the night alone at more bookstores. I picked up copies of Daniel J. Boorstin's The Seekers and Bataille's Collected Poetry at Wessex Books in Menlo Park. After dinner I spent the rest of the evening browsing at Kepler's.
I returned home to Flavia on Friday night. I've spent the weekend shoveling snow and reading The Seekers. We also watched De Niro's A Bronx Tale, which we checked out from the library last night.
And I haven't even mentioned all the good people I met with during the day at Sun, but that would not be appropriate.Tue, 17 Feb 2004
Bataille demonstrates how it is possible to be alive in the midst of ruin. It may even be necessary to be ruined to be truly alive. And to stay awake right up to the last instant - participating without complaint - no attempt to escape.
He combines the patience of a saint with the eagerness of a lover. Patience to the details of the movements of life combined with the need to communicate with another - to be lost to the point of death.
His words, much of it written in a seemingly haphazard diary style or an occasional journal article, build a consistent structure of being which paradoxically exposes the entire edifice as non-sense - a joke - a trowel left behind in a corner after the palace is finished.
We have a fundamental need to reach beyond ourselves. Bataille explores that need - lives it - without recourse to salvation. Without simple formulas or hope. He shines a cold light on darkness - offering no reassurances.
In Southern California walking south along the shore towards the border. A jade mountain stands at the border blocking further travel. Massive and jagged.
A few rocks break loose and tumble down the mountain. Then the ground shakes violently for a few seconds followed by a large landslide of jade. I turn and walk - then run - north in case the landslide gets bigger.
Quiet now, but the sea sounds angry. I'm concerned about a possible tidal wave. Walking north, below arches while the ground slowly oscillates, I'm concerned about the walls collapsing on my head.
Then calm. I turn and head south again. I don't want to miss the action. Back near the jade mountain everyone is gone except a group of surfers lounging on cots. I share a cot with another guy, back-to-back. Just being there. Waiting. Occasional smalltalk. Just there with the sand, the sea and the mountain. And the possibility of ...Sun, 15 Feb 2004
In an interview, Marchel Duchamp made an insightful comment: "you can see seeing but you can't hear hearing." On first reading it seems profound. But, thinking it over from the perspective of a musician you realize that the phrase is inaccurate. In music, particularly improvised music, you can definitely hear when another musician hears what you are doing and vice versa - literally.
Even though the temperature is 25 degrees and the ground is covered with frozen crunchy snow, today felt like the first spring day. Something about the sound of the birds, the angle of the sun, the sensation of the air on my skin.
"The secular power of the basses sustained, without interruption, and brought to the burning point (to the point of crying out, to the incandescence which blinds) the high flames of the children's voices (just as, in a hearth, abundant coals, emitting an intense heat, increase tenfold the delirious strength of flames, trifle with their fragility, render the strength of these flames more insane)."
Inner Experience p. 75Fri, 13 Feb 2004
I gained authority for myself by laughing at the tender fragility of skin. The passing edges of friends lost in the immensity of the sky or the depths of the earth. If not now, when? If not me, who? And yet I listen with admiration, curiosity and astonishment to the sounds of others. I'm open, as Craig like me to remember Lew, so that all of it may flow through.
I started with authority and ended up in a river flowing to the sea - in the death of a friend. That's what give me my authority - in passing. Passing to three words in one: GRACE - GRACEFUL - GRACIOUS. Graceful and light in the midst of a violent and tender universe.Sat, 07 Feb 2004
"What knowledge is hiding" has the double meaning, the multiple perspectives loved by poetry. Knowledge is a pillar supporting our world. But the pillar blocks our sight of what lies beyond. Stepping around it we encounter new knowledge, new pillars. We come upon what knowledge doesn't know. Our knowledge supports while it obstructs.
The cyclic art of forgetting what we know. Paradoxically, we then know more. Or perhaps, rather than knowing, we are more. But, being the beings trapped in words, we talk about knowing and the need to forget again.
Or we think of non-knowledge as the place of our dead friends. A comforting escape. It seems impossible to be non-knowledge. To be being. Contradicting myself as I speak.
Imagine something or someone missing. We search, perhaps in vain, from our limited perspective. Then imagine ourselves able to take in a larger view. Right away we see the location of the missing one.
We sometimes think of a writer as someone who has the whole in mind. It is then only a matter of taking the time to write it down. Nothing is missing because all is seen.
But, in truth, if there is a whole, it is a felt whole. As the whole is turned into words it gets lost or changed. Words have their own gravity - pulling the author in unknown unintended directions. And the time it takes to write transforms the writer. Whatever the starting point, gravity and time have their way such that, when done, the writer is as astonished as any reader.Sun, 01 Feb 2004
Five Cosmologies - How/Why - Knowing/Being - Poetry
Cosmogony and Cosmology Defined
The universe exists so we talk about it as a totality using the word `cosmology'.
Cosmology: The study of the physical universe considered as a totality of phenomena in time and space.
Likening the universe to ourselves we posit the universe was born and grows using the word `cosmogony'.
Cosmogony: The astrophysical study (or theory) of the origin and evolution of the universe.
We will use the word `cosmology' to mean both the origin and evolution of the universe and as a totality of phenomena.Cosmology 1 - Gods and Goddesses
Ovid, in Metamorphoses, gives us a beginning, a tale of strange shapes from the beginning until now, "First Kaos, a tightly packed ball of mud and seeds. No land nor sea nor sun nor moon with its borrowed light".
The Popul Voh gives us multiple beginnings and endings.Cosmology 2 - Ptolemy's Perfect Circles and Aristotle's Earth, Water, Air and Fire
Eternal finite perfection set in motion by a prime unmoved mover. The earth must be in the center because it weights the most. Water floats on the earth, air above earth and water, fire - the lightest - above it all. A simple (albeit with epicycles) dome enclosing us in the center - eternal and unchanging.Cosmology 3 - Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo : The Center Shifts
Doctor Copernicus, while preparing astrological charts in order to rebalance his patient's humors, felt the mathematics for Ptolemy's cosmos was too complicated. By moving the sun to the center, but retaining perfect circles, he reduced the number of epicycles from eighty to thirty (but the Ptolemaic math was still more accurate at predications).
But chapter 10 of the Book of Joshua say, "... and the sun stood still, and the moon stayed ...". How can the sun stand still if it is at the center? How can the sun be at the center since the earth is heaviest? Anything heavy would crash down on earth to assume its natural place at the center of the universe. You can't contradict revealed scripture (even though scripture contradicts Aristotle in Psalm 148: "praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens".)
Kepler, using Ptolemaic Brahe's observations, changed the motion of the planets around the sun from perfect circles to ellipses. The epicycles disappeared and mathematical predications were more accurate.
Galileo, using his telescope, saw the moon's mountains and craters - a lighter heavenly body, but like the earth, floating in the sky. Aristotelian universe destroyed. He saw moons orbiting Jupiter, proof that not everything goes around the earth. Ptolemaic cosmological proven wrong. For this he is imprisoned although he argued, "the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go".
Over time, using parallax, the universe changed from a dome with the earth at its center to the Milky Way. Everything is contained in our flattened disk of stars including our sun which we circle. Our galaxy is the eternal universe.Cosmology 4 - Hubble, Standard Candle, Red-Shift - the Universe Grows - and is Born, Cosmic Background Radiation)
Parallax can not figure the distance to nebulae, fuzzy objects in the heavens. Nebulae were viewed by some as nearby gas clouds. But Hubble, using a Cepheid variable star as a standard candle determined the Andromeda nebula was far beyond the edge of our galaxy. Our universe instantly expanded. Finding more Cepheids in Andromeda, Hubble determined the nature of the nebula and changed its name to Andromeda galaxy. And there are countless other galaxies. Our place in the universe is inconceivable small (but still stable).
Hubble, examining the spectrographic fingerprints of the stars, saw a shift of colors toward red like a siren rushing away. All galaxies are flying away - the farther away the galaxy the faster it moves. Running this rushing away in reverse we come to a beginning, the big bang. The universe is born (not eternal nor unchanging). The cosmic background radiation testifies to that moment. Although born, perhaps it will last forever.Cosmology 5 - The Universe Dies
Knowledge of death. This is where we are today, as explained by Charles Seife in his book Alpha & Omega, The Search for the Beginning and End of the Universe.Cosmology, Social Beings and Poetry
What is the difference between "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep", and the big bang? Knowing the difference would be an answer to Heidegger's metaphysical question, "why is there something rather than nothing?".
The difference is profound. Do we live in a universe created by a god who promises us an eternal place in Christian heaven? Do we live in a universe created over and over again by gods who tire of us and destroy us to try again (Mayan)? Do we live in a mysterious universe which surpasses reason? We know much of how the universe works but we don't know why.
The "why" of the universe is the province of Bataille's nonknowledge. Of a Zen finger pointing to the moon.
It is ours to live in a state of nonknowledge. We can never know the ultimate "why" but we can be it.
Being, rather than knowing, enables us to deal with morality and ethics. Why be ethical if we can't know why? Words can't answer. Being can.
That's where poetry comes in. Poetry uses words to to exceed them. A poem does not mean, it is.