Friday, February 15, 2019


Mythic.  Misty.  Ubiquitous but vaguely seen.  Smaller than a wolf.  More clever than a cat.  Not various like a dog.  Not solitary like a tiger.  Not indolent like a lion.  North American.  (First sighting of a coyote on the other side of the Panama Canal in 2013.)  Every continent has its signature canid.  Coyotes are ours.  We feel them.

The distance between a coyote and a religion is much greater than the distance between a coyote and the Sacred.  It is this latter difference that interests me but it is less studied.  Most people don't even understand the distance between a church and the Sacred.  More likely to feel the Sacred when NOT in church.  Church is the business of the community.  Religion is incorporation and the door to scholarship.  They have quickly monetized the coyote.

Shape shifter, biological coyote has survived by staying the same always, but changing his behavior -- learning from experience.  Like humans, they fit themselves into the ecology.  They are random, but relevant.  This irony fits humans and is the source of the Sacred , for the animal on the great parched spaces of the West, filling the moonlight with song, is nothing like the predator trotting down the elegant avenues of LA suburbs with the limp corpse of someone's pet in its jaws.  But it is.

Predator coyotes frame as death and danger, but not confrontation.  So many attempts to wipe them out -- guns, poison, traps, fire -- and yet they persist, seemingly the same coyote we exterminated yesterday, ineradicable because they are a phenomenon of the land, close to the ground.  Those humans always at war with them, escalating into violence, become callous and cruel, beginning to enjoy suffering.  Hanging the stiff and bloody bodies on the nearest fence -- upside down.  Believing this shows power.  For the coyote has shifted their shape -- I mean the human killer shape -- and now they will look for more chances to kill.  I mean the human killers beginning to kill other humans.

But the coyote also tells stories, wordlessly, about survival which is the key to survival.  If something does not offer survival, it is Sacred in an evil way, which some call Devilish, always wanting forces to be anthropomorphic.

The topaz gaze of the coyote, level and sometimes blinking, follows us in town and across land.  Only when the sun showers wealth and passion on them and they roll over to sleep, only then do they close their eyes.  They have no special concern for us, except as they must accommodate us.  But in our deep metaphor lives, we seize this canid and make it ours, all about what is hidden and powerful, Sacred -- even though there are no coyotes in the European, African, Asian incorporated religions.  No church controls the coyote.  They are deeper and more autochthonous than that, at the root of the North American Sacred.   Running together, howling to each other, laughing -- when we sight them, we are them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


Animal Control had a case to prove about a guy who shot a pesky dog.  We had the dog's corpse and the shelter supervisor, a young woman, was trying to find the bullet but not succeeding.  Mike Burgwin, the supervisor, asked me to go out back to the concrete slab to give the task a try.  He knew I had been married to a taxidermist sculptor in Montana.  I had skinned coyotes.  They often have wonderful fur.  I admire them.

I had never read a book about how to skin a coyote or about coyote anatomy, but the shape and arrangement of their sheets and ties of flesh had been seen and felt.  After a minute of groping around in this dead dog's wound, I found the problem.  Once touching the first little bb of shot, it was easy to detect other pellets and carry a palmful of them to Mike's desk, proof that the killer used a shotgun.  I put them, still bloody, on a clean sheet of typing paper so he could see their size and count their number because those things tell you about the gun, which tells you something about the shooter.

This was literally embodiment thinking.  To academics used to working with printed thought-about-thought, no matter how clever the virtual version, it's hard for them to even locate their own embodied information, their own feelings.  One can't learn how to ride a bike by reading, though there are many rational reasons to do it and to believe you can. is a website trying  to make a profit from connecting and transmitting academic papers.  One posts a paper.  If others read it, Academia tries to feed one other related papers.  At best it can create a community.  Mostly I suspect it doesn't.  At least for me, because the ideas are literally unthinkable -- based on feeling.  Feeling around in the animal.

So far they have offered these:

"The Biology of Religious Behavior: the Evolutionary Origins of Faith and Religion." edited by Daniel Lietchy.

"Why Our Brains Love Arts and Crafts" by 7 women.

"Brain, Body and Culture: a Biocultural Theory of Religion"

"The Cultural Evolution of Religion"

"Cognitive Machinery and Explanatory Ambitions: the New Naturalism" by Barbara Herrnstein Smith.

None of them are remotely relevant to what I'm doing because all of them are "apologetics" in the Christian sense of rationalizing old pre-existing theologies.  They all define "religion" as a cultural phenomenon with social power.  I'm talking about the basic neurology that makes a physical body live, sentient embodiment.  They start with what is.  I'm starting with zero sum existence. 

And, lo . . . Academia put me in touch with Armin Geertz and his whole community.  Now to think and feel.  I'm a little distracted by the torn and bruised sheets and ties of muscle in my smashed shoulder which is why this is short,

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


The 1961 entering "class" of teachers at the Browning rez school was young, maybe a half-dozen beginners.  There were almost no Native American teachers.  The group hung out together which was easy since most of them lived at Moyer Motel when the tourists were over.  One handsome, intelligent, easy-going English teacher was teased a lot because he never had a girl-friend.  He and I worked together happily.

Finally a student complained to the school board that the teacher made unwanted advances.  The student was white, blonde and blue-eyed, but not from the bridge-playing, shop-owning class.  Many years later the superintendent described what happened.

He had known what homosexuality was, of course, but not so much pedophilia, which he chose to ignore.  He called the school lawyer and asked for advice.  That fellow said, "Call the teacher in, tell him what evidence you have, and suggest he is gay.  If he is not, he will punch you out.  If he is, he will resign."  He did resign and moved to Australia.  

The most recent scandal was the white female drama teacher who was sleeping with a cast member who was male.  She left also but I never heard the terms.

Last night I watched Frontline on tv, another version of an old story.  This time it was about Dr. Webber, a slight-built pediatrician who specialized in boys.   Suspicion of the Indian Health Service is always high and you can form your own opinion of the management interviewed except for one person: Mary Ellen LaFromboise who was managing the Browning hospital when Dr. Weber was found out and moved on.  Now she is the head of Child and Family Services.  I've always admired her.

There was a loose cohort of good students not much younger than the teachers.  You might recognize the names of Elouise Cobell, Darrell Robes Kipp, Curleybear.  There were more than that.  They were at the heart of the Blackfeet Community College, unimaginable in 1961.  They linked with Canada and national indigenous movements.  They struggled hard with how to renew the old ways.  They kept getting smarter.

The BIA tries to manage by assigning respected tribal people but then undercutting them, giving them no power, using them as fronts.  Now the tribal people have been out in the world, building networks and figuring out power structures.  They are taking their sovereignty back, but we are all old now.  I've been watching for more than sixty years.  Some of us have died.  I was only able to stay because I tucked myself under the wing of an old prestigious sculptor born there who pulled both of us into a tiny circle of old people born in the 1880's.

No one wants trouble but often the only way to force change is violence.  All is image.  The additional problem is whose image?  Missionary respectability, romantic liason, D.C. suit warrior, never-never land, or simple survival?

Journalists come if the weather is good, often through help from academics.  They're Progressives --they think -- trying to see into the heart of the matter, but they're a little scared.  Yet they don't know what it is to "perform" toughness for the sake of simple preservation.  Too nice to "get it."

I write a lot about this stuff but think about it a lot more, even though I'm white.  During the years Dr Webber was in Browning, I was at the Heart Butte High School.  By then we had a lot of tribal teachers. HB was considered rougher than Browning, but that was fantasy.  I never heard rumours about Webber, but there were rumours about the HB priest. Sex seeped into everything.  Several tribal women very quietly confided childhood abuse.  Murder stories passed through our days.

And yet the transcendence of the land endured.  The reporters called it "beautiful."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


People who haven't done the background reading, esp the scientific research, keep jumping to conclusions about what I'm saying and running off with parts for their own purposes, like dogs finding an open-doored butcher's delivery van.  Mostly they want to force some part into the familiar war between science and humanities.  If I talk about the underlying atoms and molecules of objects, they say it's all a dream.  If I talk about attachment through the senses, they say only what we feel actually exists.  No one will say "we don't really know -- we're only guessing."  OR everything counts.

The thinkers who first figured out that language is code that carries a deeper and contradictory point of view followed the same oppositions between men and women, the same privileging of logic.  Elite society sends their children to schools that explore this and people fighting stigma go "up" through tech.  

My thought is radicalized more than what's above.  I'm finding it hard to explain.  Old friends think I'm just baffling.  An old roommate now retiring can't see why I wouldn't be pleased to know the best thing about college was that she was being fucked by a famous old man on his office floor.  (She claims to be a feminist.)  A wife doesn't understand why I want no contact with her because she so valued her dead husband's money and status that even he was impressed.  Followers and enablers of the Western Art cartel can't see that it is a justification of empire and white supremacy.  They know nothing about the many other histories of the West because that stuff doesn't sell.  Anthro fans who read too many books can't see anything outside libraries and think that boiling out their captured "friends" bones to mount behind glass is Science.  Others are hooked on battles and massacres though they weren't ever there, they weep and mark the date, because they crave the thrill.

Margaret Mead used to say that children born after the atomic bomb would be standing across an abyss from everyone earlier.  She was attacked for being too emotional.  The change introduced by neurological discovery, long time, and deep genomic relationship will be a deeper abyss.

Monday, February 11, 2019


Right now what is most pure and interesting intellectually, logically, scientifically is thought about people thinking -- the architectures and patterns in, outside, beyond people.  There is so much!  I discovered that the "reality tunnel" belongs to a whole point of view and system that I never knew about before.  It never occurred to me that RAW might be someone's initials!  Let alone a whole system of thought.  Interesting but irrelevant.

We are hard at work eliminating much that was "first guess" categories and labels developed in the 19th century.  Or earlier, like Indians.  The use of the genome has changed everything.  Did you know that when scientists analyzed parrot genes, they turned out to be evolved from hawks?  

Whole disciplines, made up centuries ago, are disappearing.  Look at this description of change in thought about "therapy":   It starts at about 20 minutes and compares physics (pretty much Sam's home ground) to the "helping professions," a much softer and more slippery enterprise, easily distorted by money and the internet.  (Grannon DOES therapy and works with schematics -- not so much fancy stuff.)

Sam Vaknin describes how today's therapies will keep writhing.  (I think he is wrong about some of this,  Oppositional Defiance Disorder for instance, which is now considered a child's behavior and not respected.)  He still misunderstands embodied thought.  He would sort the problems as 1) biochemical neurological problems that are properly medical, 2) social disorders requiring negotiation between the person and the community.  But he says outright that often the problem is in the society -- not the person.  Think about the present American stigmas like racism, when race is an invented category in the first place.  The madness is in the community.

But anyway I'm "over" systems -- of doctrines.  As well as disciplines, siloes, and lanes.  I see us as being in the midst of a great and productive chaos.  I've never liked the idea of tunnel vision.  The idea of boxes with boundaries became even more transparently game material when universities realized that by re-labelling, conflating, and redefining they could drop those troublesome departments like women, indigenous or LGBT.  It had been too troublesome to dismiss individuals.  But my old BS degree from 1961 was in the NUSchool of Speech, which evolved from "elocution"and went on changing into cutting edge categories I barely understand.  They were careful to include science because arts and humanities don't get no respect.

One thing that has never lost its value was an NU 1957 class taught by Dean Barnlund in which the binaries of debate were replaced by the open and process-based practise of discussion. I remember the student who was stunned and offended by the loss of right v wrong, in v. out, male v. female as mutually exclusive.  His reaction was so totally physical that he turned red and shook.  He could have killed -- well, raped anyway.

I spend so much time turning this over and over  because the biggest change in "English" white thought is invisible to most people.  The deeper issues were bigger than the modernity creeping around the edges, barely kept at bay by corporate money.  One of the biggest went back to the Greeks and their love of binaries which they engaged in logical duels.  They assigned this to the brain and only the brain.  But the scientific methods of today show us "embodied cognition" and brain plasticity,

"Embodiment is the surprisingly radical hypothesis that the brain is not the sole cognitive resource we have available to us to solve problems. Our bodies and their perceptually guided motions through the world do much of the work required to achieve our goals, replacing the need for complex internal mental representations. This simple fact utterly changes our idea of what “cognition” involves, and thus embodiment is not simply another factor acting on an otherwise disembodied cognitive processes."

Here where I am it has been double-digits below zero for two weeks with enough snow to close the roads now and then.  I'm not safe to drive yet anyway. The nearest hospital is thirty miles away.  My shoulder was dislocated by a fall, tearing and bruising a lot of tissue.  I'm taking handfuls of Advil.  And the cat had kittens.  

Screw your algorithms.  This is a reality I made for myself and inhabit alone.  In a few months it will be only a story.  Sometimes even funny.  It's neither architecture nor schematics -- just anecdote.

Sunday, February 10, 2019


The ability to perceive the feeling of the sacred is a survival plus.  We are unsure whether it can be learned.  Some people never feel it -- maybe don't believe there is such a thing.  It is not the same as supernatural because it is perceived in the natural human.  One might reason that secure attachment, welcoming the future, and happy experiences would predict awareness of the sacred, but maybe not.  Some argue that these qualities, including empathy-enabled communication, are the source of our humanness and likely the best predictor of our evolution in the future. 

There is always a tension between the individual and his cohort, which makes a tradeoff, a sacrifice between one or the other, but this risks a crash of all survival.  Now we enter into discussion of one's cohort: family and friends, neighbors, genome category, nation, or ecosystem.  Would you die for a honeybee?  All honeybees?  Let your ag profit in your canola crop shrink by not using herbicides that kill bees?  But there is not much question about giving to one's children.

Everyone who exists has survived all those who came before.  Many of those who will follow are in your hands.  Your understanding of how to survive -- which derives mostly from the ecosystem and what it offers for shelter, food, water, and reproduction -- develops a pattern and opinion of how to survive.  Eventually this may be widespread and long-standing enough to become a pre-religion.  If there is enough wealth and stability to support writing, buildings and experts, then what we call religion appears, but religions keep the flavor of their birth, so the three warring brothers  (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) came to being in a time of ecostress which gave them deep awareness of competition. To them it means survival, access to the only oasis -- which is the monotheism.

When the ecosystem, either natural or fabricated, is hostile, we can sacrifice whole categories of people, and invent reasons.  Both nature and culture conspire to be hostile.  People too poor to live anywhere but on the street die when the temp goes to forty below and stays there.  People rich enough to build fine houses near the river are washed away because of Chinese coal power.  Cause and effect are not always obvious.  Industrial revolution gases are submerging entire nations.  Money replaces other people.  This is a recurring mistake of people who cannot feel the sacred.

Eliade and others have said that the sacred is best felt at doorways, transitions, transformations.  To resist change is to shut out the sacred.  And to endanger survival.  But change is also risky.  Ask the remnants of the neanderthal that is in some of us,

Most people find the sacred through harmony, love, arts and other aspects of life -- including time -- that we neglect.  Some people feel that the sacred must be lovely and happy, but sometimes it is overwhelmingly ghastly and destructive -- satanic.  Can the sacred be evil?  Can evil be sacred?  Certainly evil can be splendidly gorgeous, a sinuous bejeweled seduction.  But is it a biological snake from the local ecosystem, connected to other lives in a thousand small ways?  Or is it a version of your reality tunnel?  Roll the damned dice.

Saturday, February 09, 2019


"Reality tunnel" is a counselling phrase used by Richard Gannon that is also a model for physiological organic neurology.  It's even a pretty good concept for understanding religious commitment.  But is NOT religion.  In our time religion is an institution with a bureaucracy and a name.  This phrase is just a suggestive idea.  The concept really was developed by Robert Anton Wilson.  It's a pretty good example of using metaphors as extended at length by Lakoff and Johnson.  It is embodied thought.

"Through his writings and lectures, Wilson became—alongside the likes of Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Terence McKenna—a giant of American counterculture. He described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

Before Wilson, Timothy Leary used the phrase.  He suggested that LSD had the power to break open "reality tunnels" and that is what users describe.  If a person were not a drug user, two phenomena could open up the tunnel width.  One is experience and the other is story.  Both are powered by curiosity and empathy.  

Time and the close metaphors of path or way are what can be construed as the tunnel, pushing us through the darkness along whatever the track our families or schools or jobs have laid out under our wheels.  We cannot explode the tunnel entirely without risking madness but we can make it wide -- or "put in windows".  Humans can only take in and manage a limited amount of information and does it by filtering, suppressing and ignoring a great deal,  What remains is our "reality,"

Humans hate change.  Since time brings change, people resist both, even as their own bodies morph.  One of the other deep primal metaphors is that of the axis mundi of ourselves and our consciousness as the center of all consciousness.  Around us is a kind of circular area, mapping what we know.  Everyone has a boundary, the same as everyone has a tunnel.  They are our reality.  Outside that boundary are the dragons.  Some of us would like to interview them.

Mircea Eliade discussed the idea of a center (nucleus) in a circle as a more natural schematic than a cross on a hill, the Christian schematic.  If one adds attachment to the center, one has the three primal elements of story.  Imagine a girl so attached to a life in a small circle that she would die rather leave, so she remains a child.  Imagine a boy whose unreliable mother taught him to always move on, so that his only satisfaction is in war.

Now try to imagine what might break through the wall of the tunnel and give them a new reality.  Such an event might be considered sacred.

Friday, February 08, 2019


Intelligence Quotient or IQ has become something it is not: a measure of "pure" intelligence.  Such a thing would have to be organically based: how many neurons are present, how they interact, which loops have developed in the connectome, the volume of blood oxygen supply in the head, and so on.  An IQ test, as developed and used, is a convenient paper-and-pencil test to see whether a person knows what the authorities think you should know, much of it cultural -- learned rather than "figured out."  It was especially helpful in the days when soldiers were drawn from ag backgrounds where they mostly learned to be obedient.  A few read books.

When Sam Vaknin was born and grew up in Israel, he was quick to learn and esp. good at seeing the architecture of subjects, the structures that made them effective.  His IQ was remarkably high.  The culture praised and rewarded this, pushing him through school ever more quickly until he was totally out of step.  That was damaging enough.  The even more dark side of this was that his family resented his gifts and punished him violently.  He split.  Not ran away -- split in half inside.

Famously he studied narcissism because everyone said that's what he was: concerned only for himself in a repulsive way, diagnosed with punishing finality.  He accepted this.  He analyzed it.  He concludes recently that narcissisism is not at all the result of being indulged and spoiled, but rather feeling it is an identity preserving defensive tactic.  It is the result of trauma.  I agree with him.  It both triggers and defends a person.

I've been fascinated by Sam since I was reading him while struggling to understand Bob Scriver so I could write his biography.  Now his ability and reputation have expanded, partly into the Russian world, but he's the same cranky, opinionated guy in his severe, accented way.  He still takes pride in being cold and brainy and some still feel that this is due to a high IQ.

Now take a look at Richard Grannon who doesn't even claim the "high" prestige title of psychiatrist and says he's a "life coach."  He also says he is "spartan," but he's clearly a big, cheerful, empathetic and irreverent guy.   This piece is called, "The Tao of Unsuck"  2015  I expect his clients fall in love with him.

Someone brilliant (however you want you want to define that ) set these two men up wearing crisp white shirts in a solarium with a garden nodding in the breeze outside the window and let them talk.  They are not the two sides of the brain.  Vaknin is a whole brain.  Grannon is a whole body, Brit and a little bit zany.  They make each other laugh.  It becomes a series.  I love it.  This clip might be a good place to start.  Vaknin is mostly wrong about brains and computers being enough alike to merge, because he thinks a brain can function in a bucket -- without a body.  Embodied thought shows this is silly.  But his matter-of-fact bragging shows he's no dummy.

But Vaknin has been every place and Grannon's interest in all those adventures never fails.  Vaknin would agree that he's getting a narcissistic supply from Grannon's admiration and it makes him happy.

Here's another example:  It's interesting to speculate why Grannon is so interested in Sam.  Grannon is full of psych jargon, but some of the pop concepts are pretty useful.  A "reality tunnel" is something to think about that's pretty useful.   More organizing and rewarding than the IQ, a source of snobbism and oppression.

Thursday, February 07, 2019


This morning is forecast to warm up to ten degrees above (f.) then the arctic air will return for more days.    The house is a reeking mess because I am still crippled by dislocating my shoulder which also tore muscle and made bruises.  I'm still typing one-handed.  But still reading and thinking.  What follows are notes to develop later.


A play is the big gestalt metaphorical context, often very rational, structured and even objective.  It is the context for everything else.  The actual acting is quite opposite.  Each character has its own metaphor that draws on the penumbra of meaning around a symbolic entity -- a gun, a ripe peach, a thunderstorm, a silver fork.

The modern understanding is that there is no final God-determined "reality".  This is because the process of on-going reality is always changing its interaction between mind-patterns and the flow of information events.  But the aim of the stage is to capture something truer, more real, and more memorable than daily life.  The philosopher's attempts to define and "nail" reality are irrelevant.  Of no use.

A psychotherapist, Carl Rogers, famous for echoing what clients said, was convinced that getting into their mind-frame would illuminate their thoughts.  He did this in part by going near them, assuming their posture, muscle tension, expression, as closely as he could "be them."  Sometimes this worked very well, even for people thought to be catatonic, unreachable.  They suddenly made contact.

Similarly, the acting classes of Alvina Krause were assigned to visit the Field Museum in Chicago.  The Hall of Man by Malvina Hoffman was then intact with life-sized statues of all "types" of people.  We were assigned to "become" one of these people, taking their pose, building empathy, studying their culture and times.  Their depicted bodies were our access to them.

"The Method", a theory for acting that depends upon the actor calling up from the past a moment that echoed the moment being enacted, depends upon the body's way of "filing" such moments complete with the surroundings, so that a sensation (sound, smell, taste), weather, someone's face -- would bring back the memory as if it were happening in the resent.  Today this is also referred to as "triggering" or "flashback" in terms of trauma in the past.  It's pretty well known as an aspect of combat PTSD.  It is physiological.

One of the differences between analytical logical patterns and embodied patterns is that the latter are emergent -- they arise spontaneously.  Sometimes they are a surprise and even unreasonable.  People express a hunger for experience, even if it is intense or via empathy, story, imagination.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


Lakoff gets all the attention about reigniting the long tradition of embodied thought, but Johnson's books hold the real keys.

Below is his blip from the U of Oregon faculty cast of characters.  Sorry the format didn't travel.

Mark Johnson
Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon
My co-authored book with George Lakoff entitled Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (Basic Books, 1999) investigated the changes in our conception of philosophy that come from taking seriously the way meaning, concepts, thought, and language are tied to bodily experience. What I find particularly interesting are the ways in which patterns of our sensory-motor experience play a crucial role in what we can think, how we think, and the nature of our symbolic expression and communication.
In my latest book, The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding (Chicago, 2007) I tried to delve even more deeply into aspects of embodied meaning and cognition that have traditionally been ignored or under-valued in mainstream philosophy. I’m thinking here of qualities, feelings, emotions, and temporal processes. This attempt to go further into the ways our bodily engagement with our environment makes thought possible has led me to pay special attention to what have traditionally been called the "aesthetic" dimensions of experience, meaning, and action. I have been led in this book to a Deweyan view that aesthetics concerns every dimension of our experience and understanding that gives form, significance, and value to our lives.
Currently, working from an embodiment perspective, I am returning to my earlier interest in a non-reductivist naturalistic understanding of human values. Part of this project is an attempt to critically assess the recent upsurge of attention to empirically-based naturalistic conceptions of moral deliberation, judgment, and valuing. It seems to me that, in spite of much exciting work in this area, we still do not have a fully adequate and existentially satisfying overall view of what morality is, where it comes from, and how it changes over time.

As far as I know no one is writing about these matters from the point of view of clergy, particularly outside formal institutions.  Yet I see the sacred as spontaneously arising from the natural interactions among self and circumstances according to the experiences of those involved.

Neither do I know of anyone writing about the thought resources of actors who use nonlogical means to explore their own inner resources in the interest of empathetic communication with an audience.

Below is what I'm reading now, very slowly since my bruised and torn shoulder won't let me hold a book comfortably and because I want to take the time to really "get it."

The index is from the U of Chicago Press.

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272 pages | 25 line drawings | © 1987

"There are books—few and far between—which carefully, delightfully, and genuinely turn your head inside out. This is one of them. It ranges over some central issues in Western philosophy and begins the long overdue job of giving us a radically new account of meaning, rationality, and objectivity."—

Introduction: The Context and Nature of This Study
1. The Need for a Richer Account of Meaning and Reason
2. The Emergence of Meaning through Schematic Structure
3. Gestalt Structure as a Constraint on Meaning
4. Metaphorical Projections of Image Schemata
5. How Schemate Constrain Meaning, Understanding, and Rationality
6. Toward a Theory of Imagination
7. On the Nature of Meaning
8. "All This, and Realism Too!"


Tuesday, February 05, 2019


Research shows that the story of God making a little clay man is outdated.  In fact we have the remains of several primal hominin prototypes.  As for "us", this is the story so far.

Some suggest that an animal is a collection of collaborating eukaryotes.  Even a one-celled eukaryote can sense when to go forward for food and when to go backward to escape danger.  This is basic in all animals because everything builds on what went before, though the genetics become adapted to new circumstances or might be changed by an addition or deletion.  

(The space where something used to be counts as a "thing.")  The early one-celled sensors persist in the brain as grid cells and other single-cell neurons and still tell us the basics of which way we're headed.  Some authorities think there may be more than a hundred of these "one-off" sensors.  Not all are even in the brain.  They look different from other neurons,

A human being is a recombinant offshoot collaboration that begins in the life support system of a mother and creates a trajectory of experience through its specific times and circumstances.  Regardless of genes, no two are alike because the context is always slightly different.

The earliest act of the individual is attachment when the blastosphere attaches to the wall of the uterus and grows an umbilical cord so it can move around while staying attached to life support like an astronaut tied to the mothership.  The experiences of the mother go directly into her occupant.

After birth the baby stays attached through "gaze".  The body stays alive through homeostasis, that is, self-correcting systems of the body, at first through the attention of the mother and then gradually becoming separate.  Too this or too that and life is lost.  This includes attachment, though a partial attachment can create a damaged but living individual.

In the course of this pursuit the person forms metaphors.  One is idea of the path.  Another early one is the circle.  They interact.  For instance, some people will not venture outside the circle -- others actively search for a path out.  Both seem so natural, so inevitable that they are close to invisible.  People rarely ask what path they are on, where the edges of their circles might be or what consequences will ensue.

These patterns are expressed through story/imagination, which are entwined in every human enterprise whether art or cold hard math.  The underlying force of all is time.  Everyone has an unknown "amount" of time.

If a person uses the circle as a limit that is "safer", so there is more time, their experiences may be too limited to develop very far.  They may fear what is beyond the edge and fear might cross the boundary, getting in.  One can easily develop this politically.

I'm typing one-handed.  Now I'll go read some more.

Monday, February 04, 2019


In the movies dislocation of a shoulder is pretty simple.  Some strong person just pops it back in.  Everything works and pain is minimal.  My case is different.

I had tempted the gods by deciding to get a new hot water heater on credit.  The trapdoor to the underfloor -- where the heater is -- was built through the floor of an alcove.  I had put a stick across the alcove and used it to hang coats and jackets.  When I moved them out of the way into the front room, heaped on a chair, I didn't note an old jump rope from an attempt at regular exercise.  I'm almost 80 -- there have been a lot of attempts, not much exercise.

My foot caught in a loop and I went down like a late-season calf at a rodeo.  My shoulder left the socket to the back instead of the front with damage from elbow to spine, but no discernible tearing of blood vessels or nerves.  I also clipped my forehead on the edge of a bookcase shelf.

The luckiest part was that this was just before the cold and snow hit.  I called 911.  We're known to each by now.  This is a village of several hundred.  The closest hospital is 30 miles away.  "Try to get a friend to take you to the EMT -- the ambu is horribly expensive."  I couldn't understand why the big animated trees -- ents-- had anything to do with it.  She explained,  "Emergency Management Team."

In awhile my brains came back enough to think of a friend.   (I'm a loner.)  I put credentials and diabetes meds in a ziplock and she promised to get me back home if they didn't keep me overnight.

The doc wasn't an MD but one of those enriched nurse categories, second generation military, handsome, intelligent, capable, and brisk.  It soon became obvious that my shoulder damage was not mine anymore -- it was theirs.  They made all decisions and carefully explained them, but I was just there to have a dislocated shoulder.  I was happy to be passive and obedient.

They did a clever x-ray as I lay there, thought the ball of my arm bone might be cracked, and attached me to an IV tree.  I was "gone" then so didn't find out what fetanyl was like.  Recovery went ok and my friend took me home.  The cats were indignant.  Their shoulders are entirely different which is why they can't throw a ball.

My new war was with the elastic/velcro restraint harness they put on me after a struggle with my ample but slippery and shapeless old boobs that slid above and below the wide elastic around my midriff.  A loop around upper arm and a kind of holster for my hand.  This was Thursday.  By Saturday night the elastic had rolled itself into rough cord capable of sawing wood.  With much difficulty (the velcro closure was in the middle of my back) I got it off.  I found a tea towel and made an old-fashioned Red Cross sling.

This is Monday.  People are supposed to call me but they don't.  Roads are nearly closed.  It's too cold for my old pickup to start.  I'm supposed to report for therapy in Great Falls (80 miles) but I won't.  Two of the cats are nearly bursting with kittens but the babies refuse to come out.  I'm watching YouTubes about dislocated shoulders.  There might be a break in the weather on Thursday.  

PS:  4pm and I'm coping.  Even figuring out how to wash dishes with one hand. Thanks to those who are worrying.

Sunday, February 03, 2019


Our knowledge of existence now exceeds our understanding so completely that it has escaped knowledge as we have known it.  This has started a massive sea change in our thinking that is far beyond arguing about the concepts of ancient mono-theism and instead turning to our ways of thinking, our methods.  The Enlightenment scientific method and its ancestor, the logical reasoning of the Greeks and Romans, have been exceeded.  We now look for other methods and sources of thought, not to deny what we have done but to add neglected methods like "feeling."  More than the brain is a source of thought.

And again we have exceeded what we know already in multiple ways as we access a vast source of understanding and guidance.  What is called "deep time" and "thick history" have presented us with so many new and sometimes contradictory ideas that coordinating and reconciling them will take more than decades.  What do we know from discovering the magnetic orientation of the isotopes of ancient rocks?  What does it mean that the ocean itself is full of floating bits of DNA?  The ideas are inconceivable, literally, because the concepts haven't been formed yet, much less named.

Religion had settled into something like spiritual nations, bureacracies with boundaries and names -- sometimes in alliance with political nations.  Focussed on moralities and proprieties of the past, it struggles with effective contraception, sexual binaries becoming continuums, demographic changes, the distribution of wealth, and the impact of the internet.  Sometimes we all feel like that tribe on an untouched island who meets investigators with a storm of arrows.

This manuscript copes by focussing closely on thought about Mircea Eliade's distinction between the sacred and the profane.  It has little to do with the idea of secularity, which is about rules and oversight.  Rather it is about sensitivity to certain places and times that are "valorized", to use his word.  A new cross-disciplinary field has opened up, sometimes called "embodied cognition", that suggests new approaches.  

In the most concentrated and memorable form, we might call this whole-person knowledge an "epiphany."  Originally referring to Jesus appearing after death as the risen Christ and sometimes to the day of his baptism on January 6, today "epiphany" carries a range of meanings, including "an intuitive grasp of reality," "an illuminating discovery, realization, disclosure, or insight," or simply "a revealing scene or moment." One writer suggests, "My definition of an epiphany is 'a moment of sudden or great revelation that usually changes you in some way.'"  

The experience is so intensely vivid that people say it is supernatural, not of this world.  At least not in their experience.  Not everyone has an epiphany.  Some feel it is uncontrollable, but many rituals are meant to call this experience.  Others conflate it with "theophany", associating it with a "god."  A sort of spiritual orgasm.

Most of the content of human "feeling" is subconscious, down where it keeps the heart beating, the lungs inflating, the organs doing their work.  A small proportion is conscious and deliberate, the thinking we do at work, in school, with family, and with the help of memory.  We think of ourselves as limited by the boundary of our skin except for the air exchange and the world that passes through our insides as food.  In fact, both philosophically and biologically we are in constant contact with other humans and with the rest of the world.  More than contact -- interpenetration.

Our five sense organs (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin) are backed up by primordial senses in single cells, some in the brain and some elsewhere.  Among them are the ability to echo the thoughts of others -- not just to have a sense of what they're going to do next -- but an actual faint co-experiencing with their muscles and emotions.  This has been our growing evolutionary edge and promises to continue in that role.  Again, much of it is unconscious.

One of the great puzzles affecting spiritual practise has been how the conscious mind, so preoccupied with the daily, can affect the mysterious but powerful unconscious mind.  Also, which is the best way of the many enduring pattern metaphors -- sometimes invaded by fathers and turtles -- can be an overarching inclusion to reassure us when we discover yet another shocking revelation of research.  On what can we depend?

Today for me Sam Vaknin went down in flames like the Hindenburg crashing.  Interviewed on "Intellectual Explorers Club", he cheerfully and accurately described himself as an elitist -- even going so far as to say fascist.  His example of a person who didn't deserve to live was a "gardener with an IQ of 70."  (This is his equivalent to the nude 400 lb, hacker sitting on the foot of a bed in a low rent motel our president sees in his nightmares.)

A gardener was a bad choice of Vaknin's.  Of all the things people enjoy, gardening is one so easily and gratefully shared, so full of all-body intelligences, that it cannot be defined by a bogus arbitrary IQ,  Vaknin reveals that he is only an elite in his own self-defined world of physics, math and "cold" therapy.  The old-time Indians would describe him as "pretty proud of himself", a quality they did not consider elite.

A person who does not realize he or she is elite only among those of specific qualities and beliefs is not very smart.  Vaknin himself says that an elitist narcissist without compassion is malevolent and possibly a psychopath.  So many of the people I have respected and loved have simply not survived this changing world with my opinion undamaged.