Category Archives: featured

My Fuzzy Life

Something odd is happening. I wonder if it’s just me.

As time has passed my body has eroded a bit. I have some hearing loss. I have Nystagmus, which does a number on my visual acuity. Hell, there’s probably some basic cognitive deterioration, too.

The upshot is that, when watching a show on television (for instance), I frequently miss a chunk of what’s happening. I often don’t catch dialogue (turning the closed captioning on helps a lot, although then I miss may visuals because I’m focused on reading what’s being said). I may miss fine image details, especially if the picture is dark, and I’ve discovered that even a slight loss in visual fine-tuning damages my ability to grasp important subtleties (as in, if two actors look sort of alike, I easily confuse them).

In other words, I sometimes have almost no idea what the heck is going on.

Blade-Runner-double-ex

Here’s the weird part: it doesn’t matter. I’ve discovered that I can watch a show where I’m totally lost and still enjoy it. I suppose I’m attuning to texture, mood, atmosphere, and so on. It can be a very impressionistic experience, if not downright abstract. (To a degree maybe I’ve always had this tendency – there are songs I love, songs I’ve heard a zillion times, where I still don’t know the lyrics. And my favorite movies can be heavier on style than technical precision. My all-time favorite flick is Blade Runner, which in places connotes a lot more than it denotes.)

Obviously I’m missing the story – the linear narrative largely eludes me in these cases – but the experience is fine. Maybe wonderful.

I’m not sure what’s happening inside, but now I’m thinking about how hard it is – how much I resist, even resent – things that demand my “attention”…

If We Shouldn’t Judge the Founders by Our Values, Should We Live by Theirs?

Philadelphia Union honors those killed by police.

Philadelphia Union honors those killed by police.Our recent protests, sparked mainly by the Minneapolis PD’s nonchalant murder of George Floyd – with the cameras rolling, even – are roiling American society. Institutions are challenged. Assumptions are ravaged. The whole of the American metanarrative is seemingly up for review. Read more

Quantum Enlightenment and the Watched Pot

Sogi-vs-IkkyuSōgi bows before Ikkyū.

“Master Dōken rebuked me this morning,” he says.

“What did you do this time?” replies Ikkyū.

“Nothing. I merely asked why the bird sings in its gilded cage.”

Ikkyū sighs. “What was the Master doing?”

Sōgi reflects for a moment. “At the time he seemed rather agitated at a pot of water.”

“What did he say to you?”

“He cursed the stove. Then he cursed my gilded bird. I explained that the cage was gilded, not the bird, but that upset him further. Then he asked did I not know a watched pot never boils?

“Master Ikkyū, I am unfamiliar with this wisdom. What is its meaning?”

Ikkyū laughs. “Young Sōgi, that is not wisdom. It is mere frustration with the perceived perversity of the material universe.”

“But … Master Dōken is the embodiment of enlightenment.”

“Master Dōken isn’t enlightened until after he’s had his coffee. Before then he’s just a grumpy old man.”

_____

Later, Sōgi again approaches Ikkyū. “Master, I have been thinking on your lesson this morning.”

“It wasn’t a lesson. I just explained why Master Dōken was upset.”

“Indeed. So, the other day Master Haisen was reflecting on the quantum nature of enlightenment.”

“Here we go…” Ikkyū mutters under his breath.

“He holds that all we perceive is merely the expression of one potentiality. There are infinite possibilities, he says. Infinite universes. ‘Infinity awaits our notice,’ he says. Nothing becomes real until it is observed.”

“Yes,” says Ikkyū. “That sounds like something Master Haisen would say. In this continuum, anyway. Who knows what he might say if a raindrop fell on the fly instead of the honeybee.”

“I believe his insight must mean Master Dōken is wrong,” says Sōgi.

“Wrong? How so?”

“If Master Haisen is correct, it means a pot never boils until it is watched.”