When my agent called to make a pitch for a deal to illustrate a book by a semi-famous writer, I didn't want to do it. I hate commissions like that. They kill any creative desire I have, but I could always use the money. I had my expenses down to the bottom, which meant a little old log cabin up near the top of a ridge near Starr School. It wasn't high enough to be hit by the high winds, which is probably the only reason it was still there, but it was high enough that my cell phone worked. Mostly. I never have understood what makes the service fluctuate.
So -- reluctantly -- I agreed. In preparation I got my good friend Max to put up my tipi near the cabin. it's not big and I haven't gotten around to painting it yet, though I have some designs sketched. I don't want it to be tribal -- since I'm white and am already trespassing to be living on the rez -- but I don't want it to be crazy either. I'm not putting it up for this scribbler to use, but for myself. Scribblescribble can stay in the cabin. He'll have electricity in there, but the biffy and pump are outside anyway.
He would fly in, using a pilot since the small plane would have to go back to the county seat to be safe. Anyone who uses this little Starr School airport will soon be surrounded by kids and then the old pickups will begin to gather. Maybe a few older kids on horseback. Not a good idea to leave an airplane out there overnight.
I don't usually do illustrations anyway, but the guy's book is supposed to be about wolves and I love wolves. I know wolves. I once raised a wolf -- well, it was part husky -- and still grieve that it was shot. The reason was sound -- it had gone rogue and was killing sheep. I'm sure it was the dog inheritance. I know that's not rational but domestic dogs do plenty of damage to livestock.
My phone rang. It was the sheriff saying that he'd just gotten radio contact from the pilot bringing the scribbler. I should go to the airport. So I did. I even got there soon enough to run off a half-dozen cattle. The landing was without incident. The guy only had one bag and even as he hiked over the grass to meet me, the pilot left again. I suspect he was a little spooked and anxious to get back to the county seat where there was a motel and a decent bar. There are neither in Starr School. Our only amenity is a Pentecostal church.
Scribblescribble wore a classic blue-striped shirt with jeans and a carried a jacket that wasn't black leather. I was surprised: he was Black. Though he stretched out his hand in greeting, his own eyes were going up and down me in equal surprise. I was old, I was female, and I was white. So? If he wanted to call it off, the plane would have to come back. He'd best take the chance this would work.
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This above is the beginning of a story that will be a discussion of ways of approaching the idea of the wolf, which is a concept that holds many ways of thinking cross-culturally and cross-discipline. It's partly a reaction to a vid on The Edge where I found a discussion of minds and ways of approaching intelligence. I tend to drift away from the the Edge despite its hippie beginnings because it still ends up being old opinionated white men. Alison Gopnik was one of the exceptions.
I keep coming back to the idea that the Sixties and Seventies are repeating now, both the disruptions and assassinations meant to prevent change and the other end of the spectrum, which is romantic and seeking. One of the first persons who charmed me then was George Dyson, who had rebelled against his distinguished family and amazing father by going to live in a kayak on the PNW coast. He was sixteen, brilliant, and tough. He made his own kayak, which was a particular kind developed by indigenous people. Here's a wiki-squib.
"George Dyson (born 26 March 1953) is an American non-fiction author and historian of technology whose publications broadly cover the evolution of technology in relation to the physical environment and the direction of society." I would add that he doesn't claim to be a scientist but a naturalist. This pleases me very much, as I think that science has become a religion. "Naturalist" is more honest.
But he still talks bafflegab, which is necessary when having to invent concepts and words. He's trying to contrast the idea of deliberately coded computers with analogue computers, which he defines as "pulse frequency code" and "continuous infinities". He claims human brains are analogue. The point, as I get it, is that this method is based on reality/experience rather than pre-determined assumptions. In the end he makes a pitch for God NOT to be determined by dogmatic faith but to be assumed as a mystery because that doesn't close down possibility but leaves it infinite.
This puts him within range of the Templeton Foundation which made its first award to Ralph Burhoe, who was loosely connected to Meadville/Lombard because of editing Zygon, a journal that sympathetic. I read about Templeton but when the same award went to Mother Theresa, who has successfully hoaxed the world, I was outta there. But now I'm hearing that Templeton, thinking analogously, has moved from being so intent on the white Christian English understanding he learned as a boy, and is ready to think more about science, as it grows and learns.
Here's the Templeton wiki-squib: "The John Templeton Foundation is a philanthropic organization that reflects the ideas of its founder, John Templeton, who became wealthy after a career as a contrarian investor and wanted to support progress in religious and spiritual knowledge, especially at the intersection of religion and science."
"The question is less whether Templeton is giving grants only to researchers who will reach a religion-friendly conclusion; several philosophers involved in the debate said it’s pretty clear that the foundation is not attaching ideological strings to the mission. Instead, they have a broader concern: how the influx of money from one donor, with a specific worldview, could transform the discipline in the future."
So now I'm going to set myself a little puzzle: can I tell a story about wolves, naturalistic, that is at the intersection of science and religion by using two relatively non-mainstream characters in an atypical setting, one I know. One will be my stand-in, the old female artist I invented for "Both Sides Now" and the other one will be a writer, young and male -- I guess I'd better make him Black. Urban? Dunno. Maybe over-educated. Of course, there will be a dog. The wolf -- maybe better to remain a mystery.