Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a manifold sense of self formativity

One might find a philosopher’s obsession with child development rather odd, especially my interplay of phenomenological and psychological stances. Yet, it’s easy to appreciate that somehow the nature of our humanity is ontogenic (actually, evolutionarily developmental). Living beyond eras that took the gods to heart, we can only appreciate ourselves as somehow-natural inquirers cycling a young star in nothingness, lusciously growing and assembling what matters in light of legacies that don’t portend how creatively we may further them, even originating what they could not even imagine.

I do my little things with the time I have. I’ve more or less finished my current excursion through child development (though I have one more near-term topic to do, probably mid-January), all of which was intended, this past season, to preface an extended excursion into positive psychology’s sense of developing authentic happiness. And that is medial for more ambitious work, planned a couple of seasons ago, that being medial to a Project that has grown hilariously elaborate in recent years.

So, back to childsplay: I’ve “completed” my little phenomenology of developmental learning (including some spun-off postings noted in that page); and true to form, it just makes me eager to move on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

developmentality as generative modeling

There are many ways to approach human development as such. My way of thinking about it is very hybrid, in terms of well-worn clinical and empirical research. But currently, I only want to highlight the scale of possibility that the notion of development may provide for integrative inquiry.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


My preciously-titled posting yesterday has implicit motives related to my implicitly prevailing Project; but I also had in mind the Christian originality of highlighting the extraordinary child—indeed an extraordinariness belonging to human potential as such, symbolized in an initial possibility of wonderful potential, exemplified (in principle) by every birth. Strip away all the theocentrically cultic aura and practices, we still have a universalistic, humanistic valuing of human potential in a gift to one’s world we may presume as the gift of the child. (This is about the born and desired child, not a politics of “Life” that posits theologized humanity in the unviable fetus. We all agree that the born and desired child deserves all our hopes and grants of opportunity.)

Christmas day is an oasis in an unfortunate economy of consumption. It’s about a retroactive sanctification of a teacher’s short life, in the folkloric Image of an impoverished birth (as Christianity as such didn’t arise for decades after the death of Jesus, didn’t become doctrinal for centuries, and didn’t cause prevalence of this holiday until a millennium later).

Love has become such a trite notion, bandied about by vacuous lives that sustain vacuous economies. Finding philosophical importance in the notion is like expecting appreciation of a great poet in a mall. Many philosophical ethicists may find dim importance to the likes of Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt, whose stellar career might be capsulated as one of finding love of reason in reasons of love—like finding a love of humanity in one’s humanity of “love.”

To love our own nature is to love our ownmost futurity, and this is reflected in one’s child, but not as ours—not as one’s own (not as a child living for us—for our satisfaction, for there being fulfillment to the adult’s life, as if the meaning of life is to reproduce and have the result mirror our hopes, let alone our expectations). The “our” belongs to us, all together loving the mystery of a new generation that will carry on, even forgetting us in most genuinely embodying our legacies.

The light of the child is the child of the light: time and being.

Friday, December 24, 2010

dear diary

It’s not surprising
that clearly-unextraordinary minds
(including myself) might want
to understand clearly-extraordinary minds as well
as one can, dwelling
with their traces (their works)
of peak experience, Moments
in evolving weaves and histories of high
humanity: peaks or points a dweller may
design into novel meshes
for further dwelling
and weaving

Sunday, December 19, 2010

broadening oneself

Notions of enriching oneself are innumerable. But I’m gradually introducing a specific model of learning in creative individuation that has persuasive empirical bases. Part of that is the notion of building oneself, discussed last week. Today, I’m exploring one more aspect of the model (albeit in my own way): the intrinsic appeal of broadening oneself.

with respect to post-religious spirituality

I’m fond of the California legacy first associated with the “human potential” movement of the ’60s, especially inasmuch as it (or they or one) avoids/avoided (in the ’70s and ’80s) “New Age”y fantasy rhetorics.

My history here is long. I’ll just note that I’m also fond of authentic Jungian views of “individuation” (now an ordinary term in my thinking, but it came into my life from Jungian engagements many years ago, though I would not call myself Jungian). I’m not as enthusiastic about Buddhist views, but I have affection for their studied simplicity. I believe that the Esalen Institute has a fine legacy, and regional resources such as Tassajara, Green Gulch, and Spirit Rock are darling. MindBody interweaving should be integral to health care, and mindfulness is integral to living well.

Those modes or levels of engagement and appreciation can have wide relevance for folks—offering important aspects of living well that may be widely relevant. This pertains to, let’s say, the midland of our humanity, which is the great common ground of our belonging together in our humanity. Aspiring to explore heights is wise to appreciate that the heights depend on the surrounding midlands.

I’m aspiring to explore heights, but that presupposes good (excellent, I hope) appreciation of midland conditions of possibility, which explorations of human development in general must include. However, conceptualizing generally-relevant developmental aspects of flourishing, relative to an interest in aspiring to explore heights, likely doesn’t relate well to a general audience that the aspects can be about. In other words, the “same” belonging together in “living well” may be understood in various ways (e.g., relative to all kinds of approaches to living well by various health care specialists and various psychologists). What I’m doing—on a road to doing—is not exclusive of other views of living well. But a good inclusiveness depends on the developed view that would show how the inclusiveness can go well or work well. So, my attention to showing inclusion is distant, while my influence by those I feel inclusive with continues in the background of the road displayed. (See narrative like a road—ancient trope.)

I can’t imagine agreeing wholly with everyone I feel good inclusion with. I might even cringe at some choices of understanding. For example, I’m quite wary of most “spiritual” modes of expression (or rhetoric, in the best sense that good philosophy involves a high acuity of rhetoric). Yet, I’m appreciative of what authentic expression is seeking to evince or show. Usually, I have no trouble being rapportous (another of my little neologisms).

I bought a nice book yesterday, titlted to sell, but written by someone who seems to be a very wise psychotherapist, in the best sense of the California legacy: Daring to Trust: opening ourselves to real love and intimacy, by David Richo. Like many therapists, he survives (I suppose) in a difficult economy for wise guys and extended learning processes by giving workshops and publishing books through little presses. Part of the economic “problem” here is that desire to do good prevails over desire to make money. So, “Dave,” who has many books (though I hadn’t heard of him earlier), has taken kernals from many and put them into a sequenced presentation of what he’s doing, which makes an interesting synopsis of what the California legacy is, called “human becoming.” It’s endearing—well-suited for a mind/body communication for couples workshop in a medical center.

I note that as a good example of what I find inclusive (in a very accessible mode) of what I’m exploring in my own way, which is going to go uphill for a little while before coming back to aspects of ordinary empathy, good relationship, love, and mindfulness in that pursuit of mine to understand “authentic happiness” (mid-2011). Then, the road will go uphill again, into highly conceptual adventuring (late 2011? onward—onward), unlike anything I’ve done online so far (having rather rigorous, very discursive focus).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

building oneself

Generative feeling of childsplay makes itself into aspiration and sustained purpose having promise of fulfillment.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

valuing satisfaction for its place in a promise of fulfillment

This is about actualizing a long-term conception of who one is.


I need ‘mindality’ relative to terms—mentality and mind—that don’t work for what I have in mind.

Friday, December 10, 2010

thinking after Habermas

In my grand plan for conceptual gardening, I want to situate Habermas’s work in detail relative to my own projects, but without inviting more attention to my discursive play and prevalently non-Habermasian political interests than suits a specific focus on his work.

So, I’ve initiated a new blog. (I like the simplicity of its template.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

cultivating self-enhancive curiosity

The heart of a growing mind intrinsically reaches into all the little mysteries it can find for enjoyments that draw one into more reaching, never ending.

Friday, December 03, 2010

ontic lightness with an orange

An orange” is one among oranges, including a hue of orange among hues of orange. “Orange,” then, is an emblem for a range of hues whose boundaries might be a matter of taste.

What, after all, is a hue? Life is full of spectra, and we have innumerable emblems for innumerable characters. So, thinking of conceptuality in light of orange might make of its gathering of hues a symbol of conceptuality.

Carrots used to be purple, grown in the Middle and Far East, until the Dutch introduced orange carrots in the 16th C. (So, it wasn’t mere reverie to see in the carrot a violet soul.) Purple carrots have become rare because intensive breeding has made orange carrots more widespread (though your modern carrot may range in color from white through red to almost black—let alone hues). However, many modern carrots aren’t especially healthy; meant to be orange, they’re kinda yellow or brownish; same with the fruit. A really good orange is a sign of health.

So, the character of the orange concept has legs.

Walking well and a lot is healthy, too. Doing so with a good, orange sense of humor amid so much conceptual pretense here is even better.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

a feeling for Self formation

What I’ve finished is an attempt to emplace my sense of feeling with aspects of self development, relative to adults as well as children. But it’s not a systematic coverage of anything. It expresses what interests me, as I move further into an approach to developmental learning that appeals to me. It’s also a critique of a leading (?) sense of “positive emotion” in psychology. It’s numerous discussions. It’s fulfilling. It’s long. It’s done.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a portrait of Edith

Edith is my grandmother, figuratively speaking.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

feeling as minding

Good understanding of “True” feeling is relative to one’s engaged life. Enowned emotion serves valued attentions. Feeling might be usefully understood as the embodied valuing in care.

The linked discussion has been very difficult for me to do satisfactorily. It’s clear to me now, though probably not to others. But that’s OK. Elaboration of what feels clear is relatively easy (and employment of what I’ve done, for upcoming work, will feel apt). Unlike an earlier version of the discussion, the now-finished page has section headers which are evocative, if not helpful.

I’m a happy traveler now, set to move on to an evidence-based sense of developmental learning, anticipating (way up the road) a high mindfulness of especially-fulfilling lives.

Friday, November 19, 2010

aspects of Saul’s century

This week in The NY Times Book Review, Saul Bellow’s friend Leon Wieseltier (literary editor of The New Republic) reviews the recent publication of a selection of Saul’s letters. Here’s my selection of things from the review:
…and here I must disclose, or confess, or boast, that the volume includes also some gorgeous letters to me, written in the fullness of our friendship decades ago, when we used to worry over metaphysics and the novel as we chopped wood….the poetry of his prose, its force of consciousness, lay always in its fidelity to….the revelatory details. Bellow was a giant of description, and he knew it. About the editors of a certain magazine he wickedly remarked, in 1991, that “I could make those people very unhappy by describing them.”….“a work of art should rest on perception.” ….“a novel, like a letter, should be loose, cover much ground, run swiftly, take risk of mortality and decay…." Bellow’s cause was actuality, the whole mess of it. His ideal was wakefulness. …The justly celebrated vastness of Bellow’s metaphorical field was owed to this fight for veridical observation, this longing for true knowledge. … and so the range of a writer’s metaphor is a measure of the range of his cognition….“The 19th century drove writers into attics,” he tells Alice Adams. “The 20th shuts them in nutshells. The only remedy is to declare yourself king, or queen, of infinite space.”….he has found spirituality in the enterprise of fiction. …Of all modern writers, Bellow somehow managed to combine intellectuality and vitality without compromising either of the indispensable terms. The life-force never deserted him, even as it was always attended by interpretation. The unruliness of existence was Bellow’s lasting theme; but while he studied it, he never quite ordered it. In his fiction and in his life, he seemed to believe in the fecundity of disorder…..“Bitter melancholy” is “one of my specialties,” he tells Edward Shils in 1962. About “the power to despair,” he writes to a friend in 1961 that “having myself felt it, known it, bathed in it, my native and temperamental impulse is to return to sanity in the form of laughter.” …There is an almost erotic charge to Bellow’s endless affirmations….“The real thing is unfathomable,” he declares in 1974. “You can’t get it down to distinct or clear opinion. Sensing this, I have always had intelligence enough (or the intuition) to put humor between myself and final claims.” ….But the laughter in Bellow is mainly philosophical laughter. He had Camus’s lucidity, but not his solemnity. …There was nothing hip or cynical or self-satisfied about Bellow’s hilarity. It was a boisterous stoicism, a technique of perseverance….. stubbornly animated by ultimate questions, motivated by mind, an intervention in society as well as in literature. …“Ideology is of no use to us in refurnishing the empty house,” he observes to Leslie Fiedler. What is of use, by contrast, is humanism. Humanism is “the most subversive of all — and I am a humanist.” The absence of irony from that avowal is like a cool breeze. ….Bellow was forever chasing the answer, but his disappointments in belief never dissuaded him from the chase. “The best of me has formed in the jumps.” Finally he was — may this, too, be said without irony? — a seeker after truth….nothing ever robs him of the free and unfettered use of his powers. “A language is a spiritual mansion from which no one can evict us,” and in that palace Bellow was sovereign. “The only sure cure is to write a book,” he advises Alice Adams. …he is a large man growing larger, a spirit expanding, an unabating lightstorm, and “the name of the game is Give All.” He never loses his constancy of purpose. In the penultimate letter in this volume, in the winter of 2002, he sums himself up for a distant relative in a casual Abschied: “Actually, I’ve never stopped looking for the real thing; and often I find the real thing. To fall into despair is just a high-class way of turning into a dope. I choose to laugh, and laugh at myself no less than at others.”
Yes, the entire review offers much more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

a kind of feeling for what happens

Wanting to understand “the” mind—my own apparently-intrinsic philosophicality (?), literary mindedness—is integral to me. I’m intrinsically curious, which takes me to The Edge, too readily perhaps. I play with transgression because that creatively leads to discoveries (often enough). But I’m a rigorously ethical person, so I know I’m harmless. And I’m not afraid of falling.

All in all, I trust my intuition. Writing myself through psychological fascinations (via “life world,” etc.) ultimately into some horizonal mystery—be it eventually “literary” or not—expresses a true love, worth avowing. Meanwhile, my near-term excursion into a conceptuality of authentic happiness isn’t a compensatory symptomology. It’ll lead (I hope) into creatively good work.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a musing happy developer

The essay on feeling that I did Sunday is being rewritten. Though I got clear to myself about what I was doing (writing as exploration), I wasn’t oriented enough to cogent readibility. What I turned out was another conceptual proem, and I decided not to keep that online (though I still archive everything I do).

Damasio’s new book is a godsend, for the sake of self confidence, but quite awhile may pass before I focus on what he’s doing with the concept of self. He really corroborates my ambition (as practicable ambition) in the so-called Perpetual Project which has been all along (over past years) about evolving mind, especially in terms of senses of self and relations of this to cultural life. It’s a relief to see a leading researcher on the brain (also being director of a Center on Brain and Creativity), writing a book about the evolution and development of self. It makes me very happy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

where am i?

In my next life, maybe I’ll become a molecular animator.

I guess I’d need a good background in molecular biology to understand the dynamics. But look at this: “BioVisions.”

At the main page, click “The Inner Life Series.” button on the left

Millions of cells make up emergent tissue, of course, and cellularly-huge volumes of tissue make up an emergent organ in a manifold organization of an emergent being who can inhabit so many days to be able to sit here and realize millions of cells….

Monday, November 08, 2010

a preface to exploring empirical feeling

I’m settling well into my upcoming excursion into some leading psychologists’ sense of “positive emotion,” but I’m still prefacing. Now should be the end of it.

feeling time

I want to write about “emotion” relative to recent work in “positive psychology,” but I have an aversion to necessarily-constrained empiricist mindsets. I’ve indirectly expressed that aversion today through more trOpical license, and I feel better now.

So, onward to entwining myself with very constrained frames of mind.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

an article of faith

We put obviously-gifted kids in special programs, though (but so that) a very few will actualize their potential is some lasting way. Likewise, we must proffer and facilitate curiosity, imaginative feeling, and creativity everywhere in order for as much talent as possible to be eventually actualized in some lasting way.

Education is, at best, an extended wager of hope, good faith, and generous “reading” of the early days of others’ journeys. We simply must believe in the implicit presence of creative potential around us.

There is no better faith than this.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

a note on being drawn by intrinsic appeals

Saturday, 10.30 — 9:44 pm

I want to exemplify how the generativity of our evolving through creative and empathic human development can have a philosophically tenable conceptuality.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

“…you hear a feel,…and you really absorb it somehow.”

Keeping a sense of humor in good stead is very wise for mental health. For example, if someone won’t talk about their alienation from me (e.g., someone’s teen self sense resurrected by my presence), I keep a sense of humor about it (or try my best). If their alienation is innocuous (let me call it good faith alienation), they’ll see that teasing them about it is innocent; I just want to understand. If the alienation is in bad faith (e.g., projecting bad feeling into me that isn’t actually mine), then they’ll likely have no tolerance for being teased about their alienation.

If (As) I have good feeling toward someone else, I’d laugh when I’m told I always leave the room when they enter it. That’s ridiculous. It’s funny. We might recall the series of coincidences that caused the departures. We might laugh about the way that coincidences fall into patterns. Maybe I just have such high esteem for their presence that I assume they need me to stop my prattle with someone and move on. Maybe they’re so affecting that I lose my thought in what I was saying to others and leave—too much light, but I’ll never confess it to them.

Having no humor about odd patterns is symptomatic of a problem. In such a case, it’s good practice to want to get beyond the problem.

Suppose I have a friend whose blog I respond to regularly via another blog of mine (one blog writing in part to another one, as well as doing other things). I presume that he’s aware of what I’m doing. (He does know about my blog “to” him) and seems to post as if he knows I read him). Suppose I have an awfully-alienated actual scene with him, thereby concluding that he’s not aware of my ongoing praise of his work. This could be a quite-dramatic occasion for realizing a difference between reality and actuality. An impish side of me, feeling that the situation is daimonically delicious (a haunting of the Halloween aura?), could revel in the difference—except that his ignorance is painful.

So, just tell him the reality?

He doesn’t [now removing myself—or just a first-person voice—from the narrative], and he wonders why.

I wonder how narrators ever know such things (presuming he isn’t an author’s alter ego doubly displaced through a narrator’s entertainment of the other).

I’ll let the little drama remain a treasure of the difference, trekking a dependence on the other’s curiosity—i.e., lack of it, thus his living against a darkness of what’s lacking, a little tragedy of lost time.

But I’m just prospecting. Stories emerge from somewhere.

“If you don’t care enough about your discomfort to want to address it, thus find out the degree of my good feeling toward you,” the story might go, “then that’s a problem—ours? yours? not mine.” All he can do is be open, good humored, and cordial (though he would wonder deeply about his fidelity to the reality/actuality difference: his requiring the other’s curiosity). Someday, the other might have a great laugh, when the other discovers how dearly he regarded the other’s stances, views, wit, self deprecations, little obsessions, what all.

Anyway, genuine rapport is a wonderful experience. When it comes naturally with someone else, but later ceases, it’s good to want to restore it. If the other doesn’t want to, that deserves respect. But also deserving of respect is wanting to restore the rapport (disregarding weird motives of self withholding). Relating to the other as if there is rapport when there’s not can get surreal, but it’s healthy to be open and rapportous, even when the other is not. This is an important part of living well: always being open to gaining rapport, repairing lost rapport, and being ready to do what one can to have it or regain it. If the other persistently doesn’t want good relations, so be it. But it’s saddening to see, for example, someone say they’re not uncomfortable with someone else when the actuality is clearly otherwise, but the first person would sacrifice a friendship rather than try to find out and repair misunderstanding.

Caring about endearing fools is another feature of living well. Being saddened by their presumptuousness is no good reason for pretending that rapport isn’t valuable and possible, though it gets surreal to act rapportously with someone who acts as if I’m severely missing something by not acting coldly (as if I have some weird need for their attention).

A posting on good stances toward others (and fictional prospecting) looks like an abrupt departure from praising a venture to study Obama’s thinking, which looks like an abrupt departure from a fascination with childhood curiosity, discussed over a week ago, as if I’ve departed from that interest altogether—no way valid.

That’s the way points occur in a landscape—like improvisational music. As Esperanza Spalding says today in an interview: “And when it comes time to write a balanced piece…, all you’re listening for is what sounds right in that moment. It doesn’t matter what genre or idiom or anything that it comes from. It’s just, what’s going to make this piece work?”

Esperanza gives me tears.

Curiosity, imagination, empathy, caring widely and deeply, aspiration, audacity, improvisational courage—yet prudence: ambitious and patient. Singular lives, singular times, and so on.

“...a kind of philosopher president, a rare breed...”

Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg is publishing a comprehensive study of Obama’s thinking, which places him in a lineage of American pragmatism.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

intrinsic power of curiosity

6:58 pm


10:55 pm

This is a good point in my ongoing onwardness to address an interesting question: Who am I to say that [insert any broad-stroke truth-functional claim or any apparently-speculative audacity in any of my postings or webpages ]?

I imagine what would happen if one of the Wikipedia police assessed one of my pages, if it was at Wikipedia: There would be many scoldings like “Needs Citation,” “Original Writing Needs Authoritative Reference,” etc.

Obviously, claims must be articulated and hypotheses must be stated before there’s anything to substantiate (or question—or inspire occasion to learn from critical others or from collaborative others!). I’m developing a coherent (to me) position irt an array of topics, and I implicitly claim (and presume on the reader) that anything I write is emblematic of a larger-scale discussion, which I would be quite happy to pursue. That is apart from the creative license of a writer, of course, which might well be improved by editorial or critical response. Please indulge yourself (cogently); I enjoy perceptive critique. Again, I want to learn from others.

So, I welcome a challenge on anything I write, as to what resource background gives tenability to what I claim—or I welcome questions about apparent confusion, obfuscation, obliqueness, etc. I welcome critical claims (cogently proffered) that I’m verbose in specific instances, have ill-considered formulation in specific instances, and the like. Implicitly, anything I write is an invitation to a more-detailed conversation, explication, or inquiry.

One might imagine a tediousness to detailed examination of any of my themes or discussions. I don’t claim anything that I don’t believe I can further clarify (when that’s called for) or justify (ditto). But I need to tailor that to specific concerns, because I have enough to do, just doing what I do.

I know what I’m doing. But those evidence-implicative contexts are also mixed with my own conceptual work, whose tenability depends on discursive presentation, which is more usefully done relative to a specific questioner’s terms of interest or contention. And such response works better as a dialogue (e.g., extended email exchange), rather than guessing how someone’s interest/questioning/inquiry goes, based on an intial communication.

See, my online work is part of a manifold dialogue: between topics (each potentially calling for furtherance, especially relative to other topics, more so as future topics appear); between myself and given readers; relative to others’ work (which will become more and more the case); and between aspects of myself, which I share online. Text can be a very resonant phenomenon implicitly associating to a lot or anticipating a lot.

Where you can’t give me the benefit of the doubt, re: the tenability or credibility of what I’m doing, let me know. I’ll be happy to get into detail or depth or explication, whatever (if you’re not being obviously vacuous; e.g., you didn’t read what you’re concerned about).

Otherwise, give me a break and accept that I genuinely claim that I know what I’m doing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

an Emersonian moment

When Ralph Waldo Emerson was 61 (1864), he wrote in his journal “Within, I do not find wrinkles & used heart, but unspent youth.”

In the current issue of The New York Review of Books, the reviewer of the recent publication by The Library of America of Selected Journals, 1820-1877 (2 vols.) begins by noting that “Emerson’s dominant passion was not to know but to grow. ‘Expression is all we want,’ he wrote in his journals….What must grow, ever anew, day in and day out, is one’s inner genius, which his essay ‘Self-Reliance’ defines thus: ‘To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius.’”

Well, not quite—except inasmuch as one’s private heart is exemplary of humanity, a rather audacious pretense (yet, a pretense I’m exploring in a 21stC context). But we read Emerson as the genius in the flesh that sought a sense of genius in our humanity—though relative to 19thC conceptions of self expansiveness or high scale of belonging or being.

I haven’t read Emerson extensively. I’m not, in the following, recommending that one buy the 2000+ page selections from his lifelong journaling of an original, couragous 19thC mind. But he’s a precursor for my postmetaphysicalist sense of expansive, inclusive (non-egoistic), and appreciative sense of self. I would call myself Emersonian. But more aptly, I would argue that there’s an American ethos of thought, stretching from the founding to the present, which is Emersonian, and I’m an American Earthling. [Some of the NYRB review is involved with aspects of the publication or Emerson’s life, rather than his thought, highlighted below. The best pages of the 12-page review, in PDF here, are pp. 1-2 and 6-10.]

The reviewer notes:
Self-expression through writing was an almost organic need of his, as if his genius received its daily bread from his pen. For over fifty years he spent a good part of his time writing in his journals, fostering the growth of that forever embryonic inner self whose health depended on it: “Writing is always my metre of health—writing, which a sane philosopher would probably say was the surest symptom of a diseased mind.”
As remarkable as his obsession with writing and his lusciously secular expansiveness of self was his hope and optimism in the face of grievous loss, such as the death of his wife, Ellen, the young death of his brother, and the death of his son, Waldo, when his son was 5.
Emerson’s reactions to these overwhelming losses have tended to baffle scholars. The journals show that in each case, with the possible exception of the last, the deaths were followed by extraordinary surges of inspiration, vitality, and self-affirmation. After Ellen’s death, Emerson experienced a sense of wonder in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. In his ensuing state of exuberance, he conceived and drafted the ideas that he would subsequently publish in his seminal first book Nature, which lays out his lofty Transcendentalist doctrines about a benign cosmos, the divinity of the self, and the deep correspondence between the spiritual and material worlds.


As loved ones fell from him, one after another between 1831 and 1842, Emerson held on to his core conviction that there is a divine, pre-fallen self within us that cannot be touched by disease, disaster, or even death. His journals tell a fascinating story of how Emerson, against all odds, resolutely refused to give in to disappointment, which is an almost inevitable destination for the exalted and the hopeful. He somehow avoided its trap.


Emerson, especially after the death of Waldo, found in the sequence of days the place where life, in its intrinsic generosity, offers itself to our reception. Everything is given in and by the day. That is why life for Emerson was a “journey,” a day’s travel. The day, in turn, gives itself in “hours,” which is the most important word in Emerson’s lexicon. Just as life is a sequence of days—a journey or journal—a day is a sequence of hours. If there is a philosophy in Emerson’s lifework—be it his journals or his essays or both—it is a philosophy of the hour. Our perceptions, thoughts, moods, and convictions unfold with the days, which in turn unfold in hours, so “let us husband them.”


Because [any] series [of hours or days as such] has no endpoint we must find ourselves in each of its successive moments, must find ourselves in the day, as it were. Each day is an end in itself, just as each of Emerson’s essays is an endpoint in the series. By the same token, each of Emerson’s paragraphs is an endpoint of any given essay. Scholars have remarked that Emerson’s basic unit is the paragraph, yet just as a day is made up of hours, a paragraph is made up of sentences. When Emerson is at his best, his whole philosophy finds summation in the quintessential sentence. For example: “To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.”
The reviewer closes his account of Emerson’s thought by noting “the incorruptible trust he had from early on that the universe is friendly to our innermost selves, that there is something prelapsarian in the human soul, and that, despite whatever befalls you in your experience, there is no reason to doubt or forsake the ‘selftrust’ he so passionately advocates throughout his essays and journals. Knowledge follows upon such trust, it does not provide foundations for it.”

I’d say it’s wisdom that follows from trust, and I suppose that’s what Emerson had in mind with his sense of ‘knowledge’. In upcoming discussions, I rely on a sense of trust (or belonging) in childhood love of learning which is also integral to ethical life and integral to an inclusive, expansive sense of self in creative development.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

feeling like an endless preface

Prospecting my upcoming prospecting is a kind of sketching the far stretch of a beginning—an initiation rite, maybe.

I would, ideally, continue at that window I mentioned Friday (and tonight) in the blog to you.

Monday, October 04, 2010

enabling a child’s own desire through entrusting confidence

Ironically, the more secure a baby’s attachment to the primary parent, the more interested in exploration and independence the child becomes.

10.17.10 — 2:54 pm

Today, I rewrote the piece.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

being in time

A horizoning child muses about the layers of its projective nature.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

growing children as venue: packing for a conceptual adventure

This is the first of three postings in a series: Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

This one (linked at the end here) is more theoretical than the others, difficult in places, but not altogether. The next one is more, well, poetic (or phenomenological). The third is very accessible, as will be most others in coming months.

I’m beginning a long agenda.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

memo to Rilke and others

The themes I want to address soon, relative to the entire idea of my website (an idea that’s not represented anywhere yet), are like focusing on a few plants in a garden that has scattered kinds of plants, but no design (like a pointillism without enough points to make a gestalt). Yet, there’s an implicit philosophical design that I’m confident of, though it’ll emerge gradually. Topical excursions deserve to stand on their own. (Up the road, the website will gain better design. What I have now serves developmental purposes.)

I feel eventual emergence of an inner conversation to be known through synergistic pages, finding the singularity of the Project, discursive and poietic, in a conceptuality that’s evolving, as if the language of philosophy beyond metaphysicalism stands in the topography of Time like a long poem cohering peaks of mind.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

anyway (always open to moving on…)

Intending to background my sense of creative individuation in terms of developing authentic happiness is not about suppressing awareness of our world’s struggles. Relative to that, my interest is implicitly about how progressive contributions by a life may someday arise.

Yet, also it’s valid to simply wander more into understanding the primordial futurity of being human.

stand in

A simple act may echo deeply.

Monday, September 20, 2010


An exploration of senses of ‘self’ on the way to a psychology of self.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

realization vs. actualization

We commonly don’t need a clear difference between these terms. But I wanted to explore some conceptual differences with the terms, which was fun to do—though sometimes difficult to read as a result (not largely).

Bear with me. I’m headed into a more accessible venture. But I want to do some conceptual preliminaries for the sake of terms I later depend on, whose planned use might otherwise seem capricious.

So, today’s excursion is one of only a few in upcoming months that will be difficult (I anticipate).

After all, what kind of authentic happiness is inaccessible to others?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

conceptual gardening as jazz doing 70

interviewer: [Now 70,] Herbie Hancock’s own musical journey began as a boy in Chicago. Classically trained, he was good enough to perform with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at a youth concert at age 11. Turning to jazz, Hancock gained sudden and international fame in his early 20s with his first great collaborator and mentor, Miles Davis. An early lesson came at a concert in Europe. At first, Hancock says, everything was going right.

HH: We had the audience in the palm of our hands. And right as everything was really peaking, and Miles was soloing, I played this chord, and it was completely wrong. [laughter] …And Miles took a breath and then played some notes, and the notes made my chord right…. Somehow, what he chose to play fit my chords to the structure of the music….What I learned from that is that Miles didn’t hear the chord as being wrong. He just heard it as something new that happened. So, he didn’t judge it. I learned the importance of being nonjudgmental, taking what happens and trying to make it work. That’s something you should apply to life, too…. If you’re not judging what happens, then you’re trusting what they’re doing, what you’re playing, and trusting what you’re playing. And it can lead you to other ideas, to something maybe you hadn’t expressed before…. We should keep looking at finding ways to combine, because, I mean, how do you make different colors? You make different colors by combining those colors that already exist…. You know, to me, that’s what makes the world interesting. That’s what makes the world continue to evolve.… And, also, it takes a lot of focus. Doing this musically takes a lot of concentration and being willing to be naked, in a way, being vulnerable. That’s the best place to be in playing jazz and in improvising and reinterpreting.

from an interview today of Herbie Hancock.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

passing time

The days of freedom are too short, too few. Prefacing, intended, gets pushed back by prefacing to that. It’s frustrating enough that a past is preface, being a potential narrative that calls for lots of time, as if the genesis of any life is feasible (as [auto]biography is likely a metonymic gesture). So, a theory of genesis might represent so many untold lives? How a horizoning child may, in a sense, parent the adult is just so long a story. So, a few conceptual touchstones stand for more than they should.

One’s way to a beauty of goodness of truth in finding happiness, no parent can ensure, but at most model and facilitate importances such as open feeling, curiosity, individuation, and creativity. Self-actualization emerges from the life; it can’t be instructed or fully educed. However, we might know what’s most likely fruitful in parenting, though conceptual writing about this can’t be directly useful for parental practice for the sake of raising happiness for the greater good.

So, I thought I’d make a good beginning this weekend, but I’m just too distractible, basically because I’m too eager to mentally travel into the landscape that my interest in good individuation prefaces. The preface inflates into what needs prefacing, and I wonder into happenstances, due to bookstore browsing, one book which sends me to the library, taking a break from hours of play with notes for soon-upcoming pages. Why do I bother so wanting to write?

Gabriel Jasipovici (lovely name) begins his “Introduction” to On Trust: art and the temptations of suspician, 1999, noting “the need to write as something almost physical, like the need to breathe;...[but, in our time,] it is somehow no longer possible to treat writing as a craft and thus often being reduced to feeling it is an indulgence” (1). Jasipovici has just now published a new book, which is what I saw in the bookstore: What Ever Happened to Modernism? Yale UP, 2010. What ever happened to “art coming to consciousness of its own limits and responsibilities”? Placing the book on my Amazon.com “Wish List,” I see note of On Trust, so I sought that book before deciding to buy What Happened. Jasipovici ends his “Introduction” to On Trust by saying:
If the sense of a craft tradition has indeed gone for good in the arts then at least it may be possible to put together a sort of tradition of those who have faced this situation in all its implications....I will be exploring the dangerous but necessary journey every post-Romantic artist has to make, without maps or guides, into the unknown, a journey which will never get under way so long as the artist imagines that he can rely on past traditions, but which will founder if he lacks the trust to go where the forms of language and his instincts take him. (5)
A similar sentiment has been integral to my life.

The back cover of What Happened quotes a praise from a writer I’m not aware of: Miquel De Beistegui, author of The New Heidegger, which seems to me an odd title. (Can there be anything new to say about Heidegger?) So, I find that book at Amazon.com, and I’m surprised by the praise indicated for the book by philosophers I esteem. So, I read the “Introduction,” available in full at Amazon; and I’m very impressed, which becomes the second reason I was off to the library. De Beistegui captures something else integral to my life. Listen:
...[E]very great thinker is an inventor—an inventor of concepts. Why? Not for the sake of inventing concepts (as if this were an easy thing to do), of clouding issues and making things difficult for the reader, but simply because, driven by an inexorable need to take problems further, or in a different direction, the great thinker thinks precisely at the limit of what has been thought up until then, and so at the limit of conceptual language itself.... Heidegger’s prose evolved from the very conceptual...to the (apparently) more ‘literary’.... All this is to say that there is an irreducibly experimental side to any great philosophy, much in the same way that there [was] something experimental in Cézanne or Picasso, Debussy or Joyce. All try to invent a new idiom. This experimental dimension is precisely where thinking at the limit takes place, where the singularity of a given thought is being shaped. (1-2)
So, we take lessons from extraordinary minds, welcome Literary influence (in some high sense of what’s “literary”) and do what we can.

This includes starting all over, as if philosophy is something that died with the end of metaphysicalism, but may be regenerated in terms of our shared lives and world, finding what’s philosophically important emergent from what’s most important to our shared lives.

To prospect conceptual features of child development is not an alienated abstraction from real lives, but an honoring of the basis of philosophy in what spans our developments and joins lives as our shared human being in time—the time of a day, the time of a life, an era, all unwittingly prospecting the emergent nature of our evolving.

Monday, September 06, 2010

a philosopher of human development confesses

So, the point of “‘God’ as Good luck’ is not religious, but conceptual.

Friday, September 03, 2010

“God” as Good luck

expanded, 9.6.10, 9.10.10, and 3.6.11

This is a test: In any situation where someone speaks of “God” (as, it seems, no two persons ever imply the same meaning for the term ‘God’), substitute “luck” or “Good luck” (capping the ‘G’ to express high esteem for goodness). That gives fictional God a proximal connection to realism that better complements the psychology of Faith and the anthropological nature of worship, part of our cultural evolution which is expressive of our ultimately evolving developmentalities....

Thank [Good luck], the storm didn’t come through here.” Actually, there’s a scientific explanation for why storms change paths. When a disasterous result is borne, the so-called “act of God” is actually an abandonment by any goodness of luck, if not a punishment by personified luck (analogously as the notion of royalty is amplified to universal proportions—deemed divine—and “found” to have punished its subjects via exclusive, excommunicative, condescending disdain).

“I pray to [Good luck] that s/he beats the cancer.” But access to leading health care is more relevant.

“In [Good Luck] We Trust.”

A NY Times column last month noted that Abraham Lincoln said that “the Bible is the best gift [Good luck] has ever given to man.” And woman. Actually, the development of the Bible has a very discernible history of cut-and-paste, revision and redaction—a lucky formation, in fact (among texts that didn’t survive, among cultures that didn’t develop writing as well as did luckily-hybriding Mediterranean societies). Like the sedimented character of all great stories, sagas, and wisdom culture, the Bible is a freestanding combine [previous posting here].

Indeed. There’s no transcript of what the rabbi named Jesus said. Writers with agendas made versions for decades before a council decided on what versions to accept (and ordered other versions destroyed throughout their kingdoms). “Jesus” is as much a hybrid figure—a literary formation!—as is any sense of “the” singularity of “God.” The well-known, now-very-senior Biblical scholar James Robinson went looking for the best case for what the composite rabbi was saying and caps his (Robinson’s) career with a report on his “historical search.” The message of Jesus is: “[T]rust [Good luck] to look out for you by providing people who will care for you, and listen to [Good luck] when [Good luck] calls on you to provide for them....This radical trust in and responsiveness to [Good luck] is what makes society function as [Good luck’s] society” (viii). The “reign of [Good luck]” is a humanistic union (“kingdom”) of Good luck.

“In the beginning, [Good luck] created the heavens and the Earth.” Indeed, theoretical physics now commonly toys with notions of multiple universes and the great improbability of one in which matter prevails over anti-matter (or vice versa) at its Big Bang, such that there arises an expansive universe (that doesn’t annihilate itself at inception). We are—the universe is one that improbably happened. We reconcile ourselves to the incomprehensibility that we Are by writing stories about resulting from Intentional Design (enough of which we hope for our lives—that they last long). The tiny number of us with exceptionally good luck explain their status as essentially linked to the Good luck of there being anything As If they are ultimately intended, too, thus deserving of their improbability as some special—Yea, specie-al—entitlement.

But increasingly likely, the happy mix of factors that resulted in Earth (life and intelligent life) may be replicated countlessly in inaccessible star systems among the greatly larger array of star systems with bad luck in this universe.

freestanding combine

Musing. Amusing myself with free association, like hunting aimlessly through an antique show. Or wandering from Web page to page.

On my desktop, what an odd array of things (icons metonymic of things) have resulted from recent days, including URL icons of things to be read in the next few days (indexically reaching into the planetary ether), merely belonging in what they have: shared location in a life advancing some proximally incongruous array of interests—interests that are not primordially incongruous (I claim).

Take a gathering of ideas, points, calling for an unfound coherence, like a Rauschenbergian heir on his studio floor before a thing is concerted out of the mess that looks like a child’s playroom.

Another week, another life, a temporal point of a species that forgets most everything, a sign of our finitude, at best (or primal vacuity, at worst). Limited in intelligence and time for understanding, one archives, anticipating a role for understanding the next thing in a future architecture.

And we can only bear so much that we grant deserves to be understood, someday. Otherwise, one lets go, lets die, not feeling guilty about the necessity.

Leading notes (emergent from The Inestimable) gravitate into leading pages, projects in a sense of going on that’s just relative to my own desire, curiosity, love of provocation, portending some numinous hybridity, fissions, synergies amid an inestimable array of promising things.

One might regard Rauschenberg as a cliché now, though he’s really monumental in the conceptual evolution of art.

You’ve seen a photo of his 1950s goat with a tire around its middle: “Monogram,” 1955-59. Four years in the genesis?—during which surely much other work was completed, in development, and still developing, when the thing was deemed done.

On the montagial surface on which the tired goat stands, things were emplaced and removed over the years until, finally he lets go: It is that concept of a bricolagic incongruity of his time embodied finally by the thing that is a trace of the work, like appreciating the standing of the goat’s enabling of Greek-to-Western civilization is a trace of what we became, a work (like any work?) expressing an estimable mental archive of things pretending to belong to the world intruding on mediality, variably asserted by the artist to belong, as deserving of Art’s pretense as any other happenstantial assemblage called natural or proffered by design—Intended, the artist proclaims, like gods intended as we intend them, released as work Done, emblemized by the trace of the sojourn: the thing called the work of art that’s really the metonymn, the allegory of the working that is the real art, no longer the gravity of his play, like one’s child grown into its ownmost futurity, releasing hiermself into unknown days of which sense is to be made in light of vintage conceptions, though, hopefully, way beyond.


A NY Times headline reads “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime.” It’s the busyness—so much “necessity”—of extrinsic life.

Once upon a time, long ago and far away... The literary reader is rapt in lingering through a story, like true friends in a garden, absorbing shared solitude—like willows in slight breeze.

Stories are free to presume what makes totally no sense to literal days, like outrageous improvising.

There, vulnerable candor is immune to distrust.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

for anewing play, with true feeling

Creatively speaking, fidelity to one’s development (or art) tends to (wants to—as if the developing has a mind of its own that carries one’s reflectivity in its current) override the importance of relations to non-instrumental others. So, it’s easy to question its ethicality, like a teenage love of transgression. But clearly to me, creative fidelity is not egoism.

But how so, exactly? Though I’ve been familiar with pathogenic narcissism for many years, I didn’t feel I knew enough about it, this past spring; so, I delved into the subject, which led to stunning realizations about narcissism in my life (not me, but—well, we all could stand to admit narcissism in ourselves, especially when seeing egoism easily—too easily?—evident nearby), quite beyond the vanity fair of “sophistication” instanced “everywhere.”

There are so many fascinating aspects of severe egoism (clinically speaking), including specific features of early childhood (e.g., having self-aborbed or careerist parents) leading to willful (ingenuine) extraversion. But a keynote (especially interesting to me) is difficulty with empathy. Empathy is so important to my life that the chronic lack of empathy from others is especially evident to me (which feels tragic).

There’s a mirrorplay of internalism (Self) and externalism (interpersonal life) normally in life, such that warmth toward others is entwined with warmth toward oneself. Lack of authentic warmth toward oneself is mirrored in lack of genuine warmth toward others. Aversion to self expression is mirrored by aversion to understanding others. Excommunication of incoherence is legion, just as suppression and repression is so “normal” that it’s thought to be a kind of mature stature, a control that should be admired.

But I barely touch the matter with brief comments. As I immersed myself in accounts of narcissism, my prevailing interest was to understand what happens in good self development or healthy individuation, resulting in sustainable curiosity—toward others and toward oneself, as well as toward non-psychological interests; vitality of engagement; easy warmth and empathy; mindfulness; pleasures of meaningful engagement that aren’t exclusive (i.e., defensive); and more, of course.

Altogether, I saw myself returning to longstanding interest in understanding the “nature” of fulfilling well-being (returning from another little odyssey to know a new sense of home for the first time), but especially now for the sake of fruitful intimacy between creative self formation and good relationship—something I probably need to better understand in my own life (besides desiring to understand more), but which appeals deeply to my curiosity (the desire of a philosophical psychologist).

In the venture, I’m regularly bothered by realizing how much I don’t know, but especially how much a promise of sustainable meaningfulness depends on aspects of growth (or reparenting or educating unfinished aspects of growth) that I haven’t intended to retrace soon (as this is a longstanding interest that I had hoped to more or less shelve for a few years, after so much earlier excursion). So, I resist writing a lot soon about ontogeny. But I can’t ignore the inherence of ontogenic factors in any promise of healthy, creative, empathic, fulfilling well-being.

I want to move on to my preferred excusions into (and of) creativity. But the horizoning child echoes in every feature of lifelong living well. It seems that the whole topic of living creatively, yet empathically, is about an ontogenic efficacy in desire to play genuinely, having good prospects of discovering new facets of you (or whomever), as well as anewing myself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

before theorizing authentic happiness

Simplicity, heartfulness, no presumptiveness, no veils, no masking, transparency without question of fidelity because the Flow is me, because I’m where I can be so, letting go, without fear, accepting what happens, easily laughing about what I should have learned and learning it—easily crying when that’s happily evinced (e.g., giving in to a sappy movie—good release).... But “normal” life doesn’t easily afford unguarded opennes, so veils defend against veils, veils reflecting veils, appealing to me for some theory of genuineness in the drama of being “social,” because I hope for dissolutions (veil as entrance, prelude) and then happily learning from what happens in the Open of simple presence.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

creative self absorption can also be quite empathic

I’m not a depressive person. Expressionless serenity may look depressive, but it’s not: Pensiveness, daydreaming, thinking, being in love with self-absorption may “fail” to attend to how I look, but only because I’m not attending to being seen, though I easily can so attend (which can feel vain).

I love sharing what absorbs me. I love absorbing the other into myself, as well as being absorbed by the other—being absorbed by-and-to the other, as well as absorbing the other. This isn’t empathic, but it’s ideally what empathy can educe. (Empathy itself involves understanding the other’s situation through feeling and imagining their point of view or situation as they understand it—which requires asking and talking and seeking to shape understanding with the other of the other’s felt sense of things.)

But my being highly sensitive (cf. Elaine N. Aron on “the highly sensitive person”) can cause undue vigilance, which can cause action toward surmises that don’t really call for action. So, I learn something. I do try to not make the same misstep twice.

Yet, missteps are part of venturing. I welcome chances to learn from brash missteps. Misstepping is not a flaw. It is innocent. Others who can’t find innocence in that have something to learn about open-mindedness. In particular, not seeking to talk about another’s troubling action, thus presuming an understanding of it with minimal evidence, then excommunicating the other is not good practice; it’s egoistic. I can understand how my overcaring may be regarded as suspicious: intrusive, needy, or symptomatic. But it’s not.

A sad affair is the person who doesn’t communicate what they’re going through or what they perceive or understand, then blames the other for misunderstanding (i.e., for not intuiting).

I want to learn from others; I want to grow through others. I want candid communication from others that they believe I need to hear. Those who see the need but lack the interest—or courage—to disillusion me (or whatever), please get interested; you probably need the practice. And those who lack the courage, don’t worry: I don’t bite well-intended misperception. I don’t blame others for being wrong. And I certainly don’t bite empathic criticism; it’s what I’m inviting!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

note to baby

revised from 8/1

I had a genuine “Eureka!” experience last weekend, elatedly echoing deep into my belatedly-blooming background feeling for what gives in a healthy self-absorption, from an accomplished general trustfulness to a durably purposive life—the hedonic basis of “eudaimonic” humanism!—how infant fascination with surrounds grows into durable love of learning others (potentially beautiful) and landscapes (with their rocky challenges—trOpically speaking)—love of learning that’s the basis of lasting Relationships, born from loves of the day (a grand book on “positive psychology,” a moment of culinary genius, a Literary mind overwhelming an era of a life) and friends—toward a love of eudaimonia, about which I’ll soon have much to say (rather mundanely, in the short run) about a great giving way of time echoing in durable appeals (after intoxicating elation) sealed in our vitality of engaging sensibility—in the long run for a primordial play, an artistic bearing, deeply from a textual intimacy that hides from casual entertaining.

So what (I would say to those casual others) that we tend to be alone in aspiring, beyond archetype, to embody—well, “the” meaning of all humanity through our weaving.

Friday, July 30, 2010

there he goes again: “symphonicity”—laughter

Jeffrey Brown of the PBS News Hour interviews Sting today, who’s touring with parts of the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra:


JB: But is something lost? I mean, as someone who grew up with rock ‘n’ roll, including your music, much of the power of that [to me] is the rawness and the edge.

Sting: Yes.

JB: What happens without that?

Sting: You have to make a trade between having this huge, very rich palette of color to work with, which is the symphonic—symphony orchestra, as against having this edgy, kind of spontaneous, almost improvised feel of a rock song. So, you give that up.

But, in exchange, you get this huge, almost like a continent of color. And so it’s an exchange I have been willing to make. There are compromises you have to make. Classical musicians hear time in a different way. Time for them is much more elastic, whereas time for rock musicians in modern music is very, very strict, in strict tempo.

Time in classical music is—it’s much more—kind of breathes more. And so you have to learn how to do that.…


JB: You know, you were talking about the ego of having the orchestra. You know, in some quarters, they’re—they’re—people roll their eyes, right? They say, there he goes again, right?

Sting: Yes, I like that.

JB: You like that?

Sting: Because there I do go again.

JB: Uh-huh.



JB: Even if you get accused of various pretensions for the lute, trying the lute, and now the orchestra, and the...

Sting: I love that word, “pretentious.” I’m not quite sure what it means. It means pretending. And, for me, it’s about experimenting and taking a risk and putting yourself in the position of a student constantly, where I’m here to learn something.

I’m here to learn how to play the lute. I’m here to learn how to sing in front of an orchestra. I’m here to learn how to arrange for an orchestra.

I’m not a finished product. I never will be. I’m a work in progress. If that’s pretentious, guilty. I’m card-carrying, bona fide pretentious.


JB: There is the—inevitably, the aging—well, there’s the aging baby boomer. There’s the aging rock star, right, trying to do it gracefully.

Sting: I always found that phrase odd, “the aging rock star.”

Aging to me doesn’t seem to be particularly a pejorative. And, in many ways, I have enjoyed this decade—I’m 58 now—more than any other.

JB: Because?

Sting: So, by extension, I’m hoping that my next decade will be just as much fun.

But I think it’s really about flexibility in the mind, you know, being able to take on new things, learning new skills. That’s—that’s how to stay at least young in spirit. And I think I have managed that.

But the cliché “young in spirit” is just an easy way of referring to the creative edge that has nothing to do with youth per se at all. Potentials begin in youth, and time at its best ages that, like gaining a vintage. No vintage wants youth again. But the creative edge!

Learning never ends. And experimenting is intrinsically “at risk” of pretentious pretense in pretending to validly act, to write in the improvisation, as so—becoming at best some edgy continent of color in elastic time, even breathing others’ vintages, like poets imbued with echoes, into something truly one’s own.

Monday, July 26, 2010

one as yet

Originality is difficult, improbable. It’s best to just seek to express what you have to express, let others worry about the originality. Is what you have to show fullfilling?

The road to that may be long. I go through periods of feeling I have nothing to say anymore; also, periods of knowing I have something I deeply want to say, but don’t know what it is. Elated, I write to find out.

Other times, deeply wanting to say something, I’m not ready to try: Words just don’t arrive, yet. But that doesn’t mean I have some general problem with expressiveness; only that what I want to do is yet to arrive.

This is common with writers. Ironically, the writer may write slowly (though conversely, the writer may zip along, inspired). It’s common that words are difficult for someone drawn to write.

A talent may be substantial, but its creativity is not yet producing (especially when one’s younger). This might be especially the case with talents that aren’t yet venturing the road they need to live first, or they’re not yet at home in their medium, e.g., a visual talent or a musical talent in a world of words, too much away from their own means. So, she (I choose a gender) goes years believing she’s inept, when, in reality, she’s not in her element.

And also, she may have not yet finished a dark night of the abyss through which she finds her own light. The well-known psychiatrist, Kay R. Jamison, who writes extensively about her struggles with depression, quotes Herman Melville:
The intensest light of reason and revelation combined, can not shed such blazonings upon the deeper truths in man, as will sometimes proceed from his own profoundest gloom. Utter darkness is then the light....Wherefore is, that not to know Gloom and Grief is not to know aught that an heroic man should learn.
Jamison quoting Melville is quoted by a psychological researcher, James R. Averill, writing about “emotional creativity.” Averill has been working for years with an assessment tool he developed, the Emotional Creativity Inventory (discussed in “Emotional Creativity,” Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2009, ch. 23).

Part of the results of his research indicate that a potentially very creative person who is having difficulty with emotional expression may show assessment results that are the same as a noncreative person who has a disabling difficulty with emotional expression. (If the creative person tends to devalue herself, she can easily mistake the difficulty of expression for a disabling condition, rather than as a sign of her need to venture her own way for a long time before she’s fruitful.) He writes (252):
People who are emotionally creative as well as those with alexithymia have difficulty identifying and describing their emotional experiences.... However, the source of the difficulty is different for the two conditions. For people with alexithymia, the difficulty stems from an impoverished inner life; for emotionally creative persons, it stems from the complexity and originality of their experiences.
For example, reading widely in literature may fill one’s sensibility with so much wealth of yet-unshaped material that one may feel like running away from the overwhelming feeling, just to have peace of mind, when the reality is a wonderful sensibility—an improvisational assemblage of feeling, like unarrayed points that are not yet given to their gestalt.

“Like a tree,” notes Averill (253), “language sends its roots deep into the soil from which it draws sustenance.” I would say that of emotion, where the soil may be given so much more than the fruit its current expressibility can bear. And anyway, “language” is so much more than words, emotion so much more than what a given repertoire may yet be able to capture (calling perhaps for a “language” of dance or drama or music or canvas, etc.), “and the soil may be transformed in the process. Yet even at their poetic best, words are often insufficient to express some of our most profound and creative emotional insights, including those that we might label mystical.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

to whom it may concern

Posts may seem arbitrary, as a matter of what purpose the blog serves (“Whatever you choose, evidently”—and why not?), but there is a plan—though little time to carry on.

I sometimes respond to appealing ephemera, you know (e.g., appearance of an appealing book) or to some issue suggested by someone’s presence. Yet, a stable agenda exists.

I have an enduring interest in better understanding creative growth, you know, relative to making good lives, understanding the range of “loves,” and for making good sense of our ultimate condition.

I’m a literary-philosophical psychologist wanting some lasting sense of our humanity—beyond my capabilities, perhaps, but the venture can stay fruitful (given time).

Also—and modestly—I want to capture a tangible art of living that may grow to belong to oneself easily. I want a lasting hold on conceptions of happiness, beyond the living happiness that makes conceptions of it possible. And I want that to belong naturally and intimately to advancing humanistic union globally, not Romantically, but really.

Can there be something new to say about senses of The Good or conceptions of the beauty of days going by? What may be lasting purposes in elations of solitude?

Autopoiesis in nature leads to we humans who can live in light of autotelic appeals, like some self-begetting writer pretending to be living into a long poem worth more than the idiosyncrasy of one more Earthling, first half of one more evolving century.

Anyway, there are many kinds of writing, obviously: essayistic (non-fictionally narrative), confessonal/autobiographical, poetic/fictional, conceptual, discursive.... My intention to someday weave them all into a singular ongoingness must involve many pieces along the way for later deeply engaging an intergenric Intimacy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

empathy for persons with little empathy

Some people don’t easily empathize, so they may be alienated from those who do easily empathize. The non-empathizer may be ashamed of their lack of empathy, not realizing that empathizers would want to understand the non-empathizer’s lack of empathy and would accept the non-empathizer as they are. This acceptance is very alien to the non-empathizer. It can cause chronic avoidance of others which is misinterpreted by those caring others, because the non-empathizer’s lack of communication leaves others trying to imagine the non-empathizer’s behavior from a common point of view, which may look rude and narcissistic to others, though the non-empathizer is not intending to be rude.

Non-empathic persons can be easily loved, but that’s scary to non-empathic persons: how they could be easily accepted when they don’t understand their own confusions of feeling.

The non-empathizer might also find alien that others may learn quickly from being wrong about them, and easily look freshly, in order to understand better. The non-empathizer may feel that gaining any total view of something is so elusive that wrong or right is secondary to having coherence—a total view gained is done for good, unchangeable because a total view is so elusive, thus so difficult to give up, once gained. Starting again to understand is just so difficult. Others’ ease with new beginning is alienating. It may be better, in the non-empathizer’s view, to insist that the wronged or/and the caring who were wrong just go away.

But background is rather irrelevant to going forward, inasmuch as learning to articulate, share, and trust is always feasible. Backgrounds may explain difficulties, but good potentials are proven by one’s desire to enjoy self-expansion. One has intrinsic desire for good flow of feeling and expression, higher or deeper appreciation, good friendship, easy love, and Flow of natural creativity that others in one’s life haven’t appreciated about oneself. To have the best intentions of oneself taken for granted in all events (until proven otherwise—unlikely) is basic to being loved.

Monday, July 05, 2010

aging is fun

revised Sunday, 7.11

I might regret to inform you that my idea of fun, on a day off from work, is to read some chapters from The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, but I have no such regret.

I hoped to have something awesome to post today, but I made things more complicated for myself this weekend than I’d planned—normal me. I’m clarifying some essential aspects of loving practically (as well as—earlier expressed—truly, which isn’t, by the way, romantic, for me—nor Romantic, since, I’ve concluded, that’s essentially narcissistic, which was nonetheless partly valid: an often luscious confusion of overriding and overbearing self-absorption).

Speaking of daemonic ideas (Friday)….This review of Speak, Nabokov (link opens a PDF; be patient) is not only fascinating, but reveals the narcissistic genius to have gone to his grave absorbed in that pursuit of the boy-man’s search for the archetypal feminine of his era that returned in Ada and was supposed (formally Willed) to be burned [notecards for The Original of Laura (dying Is Fun)] when he died. But alas, his wife betrayed him; then his son published the stuff.

Friday, July 02, 2010

a little formidability

“So, you think I’ve got some problem, wanting to research love and intimacy”—as if our narrator is pursuing some absence mirrored in the dance of life, yea!, in the house of some summer night where we were writing our cosmos of poiesis….

So, Vendela Vida is married to Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), founder and editor of McSweeney’s (San Francisco). Dave, this weekend, is coincidently reviewing the just-published novel of one alleged genius, David Mitchell, of whom it was written, in 2004, that this other Dave (British) writes a novel (Cloud Atlas) that “finds itself staring into the reflective waters of Joyce’s Ulysses.”
It is a devious writer indeed who writes in such a way that the critic who finds himself unresponsive to the writer’s vision feels like a philistine. So let it be said that Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.
And now, British Dave’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is reviewed by San Francisco Dave, titled “Empire of Desire,” the genius now advancing “an achingly romantic story of forbidden love,” in Edo-era Japan (early 19thC). “After a brief encounter,” writes Eggers,
during which [the Japanese woman, Aibagawa Orito, reflecting what draws the Dutch de Zoet] hands him fruit from her garden and he blurts out his interest, he climbs the island’s watchtower, his head swimming in thoughts of her. And here Mitchell’s incredible prose is on stunning display. It’s worth a long excerpt, so here goes:
Hollows from the fingers of Aibagawa Orito are indented in her ripe gift, and he places his own fingers there, holds the fruit under his nostrils, inhales its gritty sweetness, and rolls its rotundity along his cracked lips. I regret my confession, he thinks, yet what choice did I have? He eclipses the sun with her persimmon: the planet glows orange like a jack-o’-lantern. There is a dusting around its woody black cap and stem. Lacking a knife or spoon, he takes a nip of waxy skin between his incisors and tears; juice oozes from the gash; he licks the sweet smears and sucks out a dribbling gobbet of threaded flesh and holds it gently, gently, against the roof of his mouth, where the pulp disintegrates into fermented jasmine, oily cinnamon, perfumed melon, melted damson . . . and in its heart he finds 10 or 15 flat stones, brown as Asian eyes and the same shape. The sun is gone now, cicadas fall silent, lilacs and turquoises dim and thin into grays and darker grays.
….It’s a novel of ideas, of longing, of good and evil and those who fall somewhere in between.
That’s me: fallen—but no genius; just happily possessed by daemonic ideas.

You wonder why I bother here to note another narrative of displaced longing, now reviewed by an author of voluminous jest married to an author of displaced grief.

I don’t know. Today’s a relaxed vacation day, and I love to read and write. Also, I’m enchanted by notions of intimates living some complementary artistry, by the pretenses of literary longing, and by ideas of genius (our secular angels).

Thursday, July 01, 2010

for a deeper prattle

Today, W.S. Merwin was made Poet Laureate of the U.S.

This is greatly satisfying to me, since he’s been one of my favorite poets for decades—no mere coincidence of private taste, but recognition early on that became part of my mindal fiber. He reads on the PBS News Hour today from The Shadow of Sirius I wanted to swim through in my own narrative way.

It would be vain to claim a pulse of humanity coursing through my sense of things (or in my affection for worn tropes, sometimes echoing archetypes).

Street life, the office, couldn’t care less.

You might have thought my play with pointillism implied there’s no real road I’m on, since I exuberantly draw tangents into my tree, as if I won’t make choices or can’t stay on course.

Stay with me. The years will betray neither my pretense (I hope) nor your good faith.

Someday you may deeply know how lucky I was to meet you, lovely persiflager.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

talk about “love”

If one wants to understand love (beyond “love”)—presuming one doesn’t adequately understand it so far (safe bet)—look to a woman rather than a man, right?

Not strictly speaking, but history’s in my favor. So, Vendela Vida (lovely name!) published this month her third novel (accomplished writer), The Lovers—a good bet for better understanding love? Maybe, maybe not. So far, I’ve merely read a review of her novel, though I bought it last week.

The Lovers is about a widowed woman on a quest for self.

Your face, Vendela, seems to expect an authentic directness while you offer an authentic receptiveness. The world sorely needs that. It’s part of what deep friendship can take for granted. (I bet, though, that you more usually take the matter-of-fact stance of someone who may be a little tired of marketing her book.)

I suppose the lovers of the novel are the main character’s—Yvonne’s—self-conscious construction of a past in which she is both a part passed and a narrator presently defining her part in that past (and herself going forward), as the novel is overtly a quest (the reviewer implies), including (as Yvonne travels) reading Duras’s The Lover, which is about no valid lover at all, rather about Duras’s ambivalent love of colonial southeast asia, a book so well written because Duras was for so long rewriting her autobiographical story, as if the quest can be never captured; or one’s life is compelled to distill into some singular story, for the promise of a singular sense of self cohering the years, drawn nearer by the next version (or veiled in a new narrative presence). Vida’s The Lovers is, according to a reviewer, not only Vida’s third novel, but her third exploration of grief. Duras might be understood, too, as having lived an entwinement of love and grief (in the lack of true love that was burned into her discovery of sensuality).

I know grief. But I’m writing for love before the grief; or for life afterward. Love without the grief is not about a sense of life without loss. But what else ultimately heals grief? Not necessarily love of some one new person (though, what could be more elating?); rather love of whatever: the days, the gardening, the trails, the trees.

I’m confident that those whom we survive would have wanted us to let the love prevail over the loss as we move on, in light of them. I trust, Vendela, that such a sense is part of what you found: an origin ever drawing you on.

“You do not know who I am”

So says Emma Recchi (embodied by Tilda Swinton) to her husband at one great plot point of “I Am Love,” which I saw last night.

According to a reviewer: The Italian Director/Writer Luca Guadagnino “calls food ‘a tool to express the utter giving that a lover can display to the other without words.’” At an earlier great plot point, Emma dines on glazed prawns (atop ratatouille with sweet and sour sauce)—a sparse-covered plate looking like prototypical California cuisine, a matter of delicate flavors and textures to be savored, not quantity to fill (but it’s genuinely Italian, evidently: inspired by a well-known Milan chef, advisor to the film). She convincingly conveys an erotic experience of the flavors (seriously, not comical; it’s revelatory for her character Emma) “Ms. Swinton herself calls the moment ‘prawn-ography.’”

Biologists say that olfactory sense is the first mode of intelligence to evolve. Indeed, it’s arguably as primordial as life gets, as cellular “communication” or chemical signaling is, in a sense, smell between cells. Biosemiosis is chemical signalling, and smell is literally a mental translation of chemical sensation intrinsic to cellular bonding.

The point’s not academic. Consider that one’s Self expresses a whole-brain-mindedness (more than a mentality, which a mind contains)—mindality I like to say: Self is The All of “I” flowing in doing whatever, the doing. Savoring another may touch one’s emotional heart in a literal way, thereby seeming to express something eternal, as if tastes weren’t already colored, if not orchestrated, by confabulations of desiring mind: that “you” be so savorable forever.

The modes of Self that we may distinguish as adults emerge from the modes of mindality made possible by the brain growing in prenatal ontogeny. The brain stem generates olfactory sense early on (primal Self), and other senses form later (other capacities of oneSelf), lastly the prefontal cortext that makes a refined palate possible or complex appreciability of each other. Smell and flavors touch the emotional heart of mind, of Self, giving such value to that part of The Sensuous, a primal aspect of our being, as if the savored thing or lover is belongs to oneSelf intrinsically (or one belongs with the other) because s/he is primally appealing—which may be valid beyond the the primal appeal.

But True Love’s savorability, another’s appeal to and of mindally-refined “palate,” is a highly derived phenomenonology of Self conception, though potentially engulfing all of me showing in the Flow of my going on, into the appeal of all the world through another.

So, the heart’s drawn into all its flavors of savoring, perceiving, understanding, comprehending, enjoying—exuberance, ecstasis, awe—according all that may be with my own potential for appreciation, thus to be savored, my full concert, my expansive complement of mental flavors embodied, being delicately or passionately taken into or taking, giving, being given over to, or giving in.

At first, little does Emma know that she’s implicitly longing for an ecstatic synergy of Self in nature (and as a Russian), sensibility, sensuousness, and rapture for/with another who appreciates her for herSelf, rather than class symbolism (a treasure of the industrial collector). The appeal of such synergy is primordial—a thought expressed in a final and lingering shot in the film (after the titles have begun, then fade to show one more scene, barely discernible in its literal darkness)—call it the eerie origin of our folktale of The Garden.

Friday, June 25, 2010

being here now, there then

More quiet tonight in that high field, wind through the surrounding forest of eucalyptuses, soothing (if you need soothing), serene.

Walking back, a car with loud music passes: rhythm of voice and sound texture a hybrid of reggae and hiphop. What intensely-practiced performance-spontaneity pop music is.

Flow of play in true spontaneity—unwitting self expression (shameless incrimination)—bricolagic, impromptu, ad hoc truth of presence doesn’t resort to such terms as “unwitting self expression” or bricolagic et ceterationalites.

So, you wondered how our play could have involved mine truly, since I write like this: no tweety texting blogicality, rather as if everything is proem or serious conceptuality.

I loved you being there, however—play just flowing along happens so easily.

I choose to write deliberately. I act deliberately when that’s called for—apt.

But I’d rather play. Don’t we all feel that way.

Unfocused going with the flow is complemented by focused acting, “deep writing” (a coach specializing in creative efficacy calls it)—the Literary may be that.

The tissue of our being, cohering time, is, among other “things,” cordiality, graciousness, constancy, openness, rapport, empathy, cheerfulness, playfulness, being exactly who one seems to be; and appearance is reality.

I feel loving friendship is born in a sense of this and knows how to stay so.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

welcome, summer

I did not start the day intending to write a long letter that I didn’t send. But the presumption early on that I’d send a short email flowered into—what the hell—a long email that would surely be sent soon (actual intent to send draws it all on). I was indeed enjoying myself. Paragraphs became pages.

But it wasn’t sent; and won’t be. Yet, I got great material from the endeavor!—as if the agency of one’s dreaming prevails on the day’s freedom.

I can stand back from the result and recognize a character compelled to create significances in a landscape (basically implying the importance of the character to the landscape?)—the integrity of giving importance, the doing of that.

So, I get a study in the potential of a character to opt for meaningfulness over others’ pretenses of meaninglessness, at least exercising our character’s professed ease of finding meaning everywhere.

A tiny part of what he said:
All of life’s a kind of theater—tragi-comic at best, maybe ultimately ironic.... It’s not that life should be otherwise, such that we lament that we created the gods in the first place that would betray us. It’s great that we make the meaning that we sustain. That’s the essential message of the dramaturgical sense of life, and it’s wonderful. It’s the answer to the tragedy of so much life: that a new season is made. Out of tragedy (autumn, the fall) comes irony (winter), then comedy—and then romance! That was the Shakespearean cycle.