Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cosmic Radio

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So what was on the cosmic radio this afternoon? As I walked to and from Safeway I was bombarded by an ongoing philosophical discourse inside my head. This first post concerns the most esoteric part of this broadcast. Another post on russellpop.wordpress.com will take up the cultural and misleadingly superficial aspects of that broadcast. I get so bored with my own soap opera at times that I have to disconnect from my fragile ego and listen in on something far more interesting and engaging than my own tedious neuroses. Today was such a time. I posed the question to myself, ‘what is actually going on?’ as opposed to what I think is going on. Our perception of reality is determined by our internal dialogue. But we miss out on a lot, some of which is trivial and some of which could change our lives. It is up to us which channels we attend to. There is the practical channel which prevents our running into lampposts and reminds us of why we are out here on the sidewalk walking. We do in fact have a destination, and unlike the gentleman to my left who is talking out loud, I actually know where I am going and why. But this utilitarian shopping channel doesn’t take up much space in my hard drive and I am free to tune into more interesting material without fear I will have an accident of some kind. So once again, ‘what, in fact is going on?’ I reiterate. Well, if we look to science, to the most precise measures of actual nuts and bolts physical stuff, we get an interesting conclusion. Nothing actually exists, and conversely nothing can be said to not exist either. Both are wrong. Our tools are insufficient to describe what is actually going on. Our language necessitates a subject and object, a duality which does not actually exist but works wonderfully as a descriptive device enabling us to investigate in our limited fashion this something/nothing within which we lead our daily lives. But whatever we manage to come up with, that ain’t it. Scientists aren’t bothered by this. They are routinely satisfied with approximations of reality. It is the best we can do given our limitations.

But for us regular folks it is frustrating, aggravating, take your pick. The truth will set you free but at first it will piss you off. Truth? Reality? What’s the difference? Is there a difference? My older brother has been hammering away at this philosophical conundrum for some time now. I agree with his conclusions as I understand them, knowing that whatever I write about it, it isn’t precisely what he is saying. I’ll do my best to do justice to his masterwork. Reality is what we perceive, which is colored by what we feel, think, what we have learned, been told, and whether we are coming down with a cold, in short, reality is our shared experience. The more something is shared the more real it becomes. Reality appears obvious to us, it differs from belief in that reality is what we know to be true. When someone says ‘Duh!’ in regard to something we have said, they are referring to reality. It is what everybody knows, and therefore, for most of us it is indistinguishable from the truth. But is it? What we know to be true is subject to a high level of distortion. It is conditioned by our own perception, our life experience, and the propaganda barrage we are subjected to daily. So what is true? Good question. The truth lies beyond our ability to communicate at this time in our evolution. All we can really do is say, ‘nope. that ain’t it. that isn’t it either. Close, but no cigar.’ The truth is elusive. So close, yet so far from paradise. We can approach it, but even to say that is misleading because how can you know that you are approaching the truth when you don’t know the truth? Duh! The answer I like, is that we are the truth. There are only two accurate statements, ‘all of it is true’ and ‘none of it is true’. Back to the existence/nonexistence conundrum. It is in the nature of language that nothing makes sense taken out of context. So we cannot talk intelligently about a context which contains all other contexts. It becomes unintelligible. You have to define what you are talking about, or in other words, put it in context, before it can make sense. But this necessarily distorts the information, causing it to become false. All reality is contextual, and therefore false to a degree. This is the principle behind the concept of maya. Maya is the phenomenal universe, or reality. (although even the nonphenomenal or noumenal universe is also reality, albeit much more subtle). If you can talk about it, strictly speaking, it isn’t it. You are inevitably off the mark, if only by a tiny tiny bit. Scientists are comfortable with this, and although they wouldn’t like to call it this, they take it on faith basically. Faith is what you have when you can’t verify your data, but nevertheless are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you suspect is true, is in fact true. Once again I am attracted to the notion that the truth is where all of this is headed and it is where all of this came from. This idea of time, of something happening in a linear fashion is nothing more than a philosophical and also a scientific convenience. It is so hard to talk about any of this without that convenience. Time is a measurement of change in the data. That’s all. It doesn’t exist, in the same way that numbers don’t actually exist but are philosophical tools to enable us to communicate about something we don’t fully understand. Allow me to indulge in a brief analogy to help unclog all this stuff I just wrote. A bit of philosophical Drano if you will. Languages of all sorts, mathematical and linguistic serve as the software, a translation of the machine code which God only knows who can read that stuff (literally!!). You could say that the machine code is like the quantum foam at the very heart of physicality. Binary. On/Off Exist/Not Exist This duality allows a pattern to emerge, and this pattern is reality, if you will (or even if you won’t, the foam doesn’t ask for our opinion, or then again, does it?) Who are we? Who am I? Do I reside within the quantum foam, or am I somewhere else? I think most would agree that our bodies are definitely a product, ultimately, of this quantum funkiness, but are we something other than our bodies? Sorry, no dependable data on this question. I prefer to think that we are intangible. We lie outside the either/or universe of quantum indeterminism. We both exist and do not exist, or neither, or I don’t know, feets don’t fail me now! We are not the data, we are collecting the data. We lie outside the experiment. Or do we?

So, clearly this radio could continue it’s program for as long as I, or you, or anyone would care to tune in. But you can see that the lines of communication are corroded. I was getting a bad translation. There was a lot of static on the line. It can’t be helped. Inevitably, as I grappled with this philosophical problem of what is actually going on, it become more and more unintelligible. I found myself seeking refuge in analogies and elegant solutions which may or may not have anything to do with the price of eggs in China. What is actually going on? Nothing. A program is running, and so something appears to be happening. At various moments, the device breaks down, or the program attempts to execute a bad block of code, and we discover that what we thought was happening was just an enticing puppet show of sorts, and we glimpse something else. Something that isn’t properly anything at all, just this indefinable suchness which can only be pointed at, but not intelligently discussed. Perhaps we can approach such things with poetry. Perhaps we know, but cannot tell, struck mute by our linguistic and mathematical limitations. That is how it feels to me, at any rate. So, there it is, the rough approximation of this afternoon’s broadcast of the cosmic radio. As always it leaves me unsatisfied. What was that all about? Nothing. and yet and yet, I can’t help feeling that I am on the verge of a great discovery, which would change everything forever, and for the better.

Can’t you see?

It isn’t like that at all!

It is so much better!

If only I had the words to tell you,

you would be so happy.

But I don’t.

It is just a cosmic radio,

for whatever it is worth.

Chronicles of Russell

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I CANNOT RECALL WHERE I BEGAN

MEMORIES BECOME DREAM BECOME SAND

A PUBIC PORTAL POPPED OPEN

TO THE EAGER PENIS’ DELIGHT

AND THE MAGIC BEGAN IN THE NIGHT

PAIN AND PLEASURE

WITH A SUDDEN FLASH OF LIGHT

I AM RUSSELL FREE TO BE

IN A MOMENT OF ETERNITY

NO MORE

I IMMERSE MYSELF BY CHOICE

WITH BOTH FEAR AND REMORSE

INTO THIS FUNKY MESS

THIS THRILL OF SEX

WITH APPROACHING DEATH

I FIND IT MORE WORTHWHILE

RUSSELL WAS AND IS AND SOON

WILL BE NO MORE IN TIME

I STAND OUTSIDE

NO TIME NO CHRONICLE

NO RUSSELL

JUST AS IS AS IT WAS IN ETERNITY

AND A NEW IDENTITY

Philip K. Dick and the Cosmic Wikipedia

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Philip K. Dick android missing head by Niki Sublime. Somehow if feels right to have Philip K. Dick's head watching us as we ride the subway. This is from an interesting website, http://afflictor.com/tag/philip-k-dick/

Yesterday I was thrilled to discover that the SF Public Library had Philip K. Dick’s exegesis on audio. It is 43 compact discs. If you don’t know who Philip K. Dick is I can’t help wondering why you are even reading this. But for those few uninformed souls, Philip K. Dick was a science fiction author, quite a prolific one given his short life. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report are all based on his novels. In 1973 he had quite an extraordinary experience. A woman showed up at his door, wearing a Christian fish symbol around her neck. The sight of her and this symbol triggered something. The question is what. A beam of pink light, if in fact it was light, struck Philip in the forehead and he heard what seemed to be an artificially intelligent voice emanating from a satellite. This voice identified itself as VALIS, a vast active living intelligence system. It told Philip many things. It let Dick know that he in fact existed in the first century AD, at the same time as 1973 AD, and that in fact everything since the first century AD was an artificial construct. In fact, the Roman Empire never ended. There was a great deal of information which Philip K. Dick attempted to come to grips with in three novels, Valis, the Transmigration of Timothy Archer, and the Divine Invasion. He also kept a journal, or as he called it, an exegesis, which wasn’t meant for publication. It was his musings on everything and anything, sort of like my blog, come to think of it. Except his exegesis all ultimately came back to VALIS and it’s message. He thought he may be succumbing to schizophrenia, and then felt he was privy to a divine revelation, or perhaps some kind of download using a pink laser. He speculated that the message ultimately originated from Sirius. Sirius. It always comes back to Sirius. It is hard to take it Sirius. Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Sirius plays a role in the history of esoteric knowledge. Some insist that the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians were in direct contact with Sirius, or even that the human race was created by Sirians. They may be our ancestors. Sirius, for the uninformed reader, is a double star system many many light years away. We don’t know if it has planets. But interestingly, there are maps of Sirius created by ancient Africans who did not have the means to physically see the star system. I’m not sure what to think, but it certainly stimulates my imagination. One thing is for sure, the Sirians have been trying to tell us things for centuries. VALIS is one of the more interesting examples. It is hard to know if Philip Dick really thought the communication was from Sirius. He would argue with himself in novel form and in the exegesis. He tried out different scenarios, both as ideas for novels, and as serious philosophical speculation. To tell you the truth, I don’t think Phil knew quite what to think about his experience except to insist that it did indeed occur, and leave it at that.

But it is damn near impossible to leave it at that. I have only listened to a tiny tiny portion of the exegesis so far, and I listened to it on shuffle because it makes sense to listen to random portions. This is not a linear narrative to begin with. What is clear from the outset is that Dick is a brilliant man. He refers to religious sources, philosophical sources, and combines them in novel ways. He arrives at ideas that are sometimes obtuse and hopelessly obscure, or startlingly lucid and clear. Could we be software? Could we be virtual avatars? Is the universe part of a vast network of intelligence far beyond our ability to comprehend? That is certainly what the Hindus appear to have believed and their writings are among the Earth’s oldest. Could it be that the multiverses interact in a way quite similar to the internet? It may be that what we learn about cybernetics could provide insight into the very structure of reality. Maybe. Who knows? I try to stay grounded when I go off into wild speculations inspired by this exegesis. So did Philip K.Dick. He knew much of what he wrote seemed crazy to a lot of people, and in many ways, he didn’t care. He had lived his life on the fringes of society for so long it no longer mattered what the mainstream media thought. I applaud his courage. He could have kept his speculations and his bizarre experience veiled within his fiction, but instead he declared it to be true. As I get further along in my listening to his exegesis, I will likely post more about it. We are so limited by our senses and our feeble tools. There is undoubtedly a lot more going on than we have a clue about. Philip K. Dick may provide us a window into this vast unknown. Check your library, or check online for a way to purchase this amazing bit of writing. It is probably most suitable for Dickheads like myself, but you may get a lot out of it anyhow.

Happiness Makes Me Horny

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Happiness makes me horny. Should I be ashamed or embarrassed? Should I recognize that there are some things that are not shared in polite company? If I have the right feel for the sort of people that enjoy my blog, I would guess you would respond to such questions with a resounding No!

But many people get funny around sexuality, and I mean funny weird not funny haha. That is because most of us are uncomfortable with sexuality, especially our own. We both enjoy it and don’t. We seek it and censor it. We pretend we don’t indulge in it. Who me? I’m not an animal! I don’t do such things! I am a spiritual being. Of course it does no good to deny sexuality. It rears it’s ugly or beautiful head in spite of our best efforts. The solution lies in how you handle it, if you will pardon the expression.

But have you noticed how you are rarely if ever horny when you are depressed? No. Horniness rides the wave of joy. Sex is about happiness. When things are going well abstinence loses it’s appeal. You want to partake of all the physical pleasures while you still can. But because horniness makes a lot of people very nervous, you don’t share your newfound enthusiasm for the carnal knowledge. You keep it clean, and tell everyone that your happiness has renewed your avid interest in stamp collecting. You learn to keep your funkiness to yourself. Personally I think this is stupid. Actually it is worse than stupid. The denial and suppression of sexuality leads to perversion and ultimately violence. Strange things grow in the dark, which is why I would like to bring sex into the light.

The misguided way we think about sex and the even more misguided way we actually behave sexually has led to many tragedies. I would love to help bring this horrible trend, centuries in the making, to a stop. Happiness makes me horny, but it also makes me think about my horniness. I resent the shame which accompanies horniness. It is a perversion of sexuality. You see, perversion is all about hating yourself. Shame is self-hatred. Perversion thrives on shame. The more ashamed you are the more likely you are to reinforce that shame with still more shame, until it is the shame that turns you on. That is when you realize you have taken a stroll down a very dark and dingy street. It is hard to make your way back, when the culture in which you are immersed reinforces this vicious cycle. When you reach a point in which unhappiness makes you horny, you are in sad shape indeed.

I don’t pretend to know the answers to this dilemma. I do know the costs of allowing it to continue. Rape. Murder. Child Molestation. Lives ruined because of misguided sexuality. What family exists that does not have at least one shameful secret lingering around in the closet somewhere? Sex mishandled breeds monsters. What to do? Well let’s talk about it for starters. Let’s bring it into the light. When I look out at the world and see the consequences of our sex-obsessed yet sex-denied culture, in which we are encouraged to be sexual only to be stigmatized by it, it seems hopeless, and I feel really depressed. You want to talk about nasty? Our culture is nasty, and not in the way you may think. Nasty in it’s approach/avoidance insanity surrounding sexuality.

The ideas I have are outrageous. They are so outrageous I have to disguise them as satire. That is because I believe we really need to rethink and refeel how we approach sexuality. The cost is too great for us to continue down the same old road. We need to learn to celebrate sexuality and that means celebrating all of it. We need to find joy in our bodies, however they may be. Shame is not allowed. Shame lies in intent. It is not an inherent part of sexuality. Celebrating your body and other’s bodies and the wonderful way sex makes all of us feel when it is not ruined by our culture, is an urgent need. I can see that I have gotten far too serious for what was intended as a fun, tongue-in-cheek post. But the truth is, I cannot just smirk and shove the ugly truth about sexuality under the proverbial rug any longer. The ugly truth is that our view of sex is so distorted that it is criminal, and it is destroying our delight in just being alive. Sex lies at the heart of being alive. It is what brought us into being, and should be one of our highest priorities. You know what? I don’t feel horny any more. This post has brought me down. Satisfied? Now all I want to know about are the specials at Safeway. I can get mixed vegetables two for one? Excellent. Can’t get too many veggies!

Sex? I am way too old for that. Sex is for young people. Good looking people. Old people read good books and take their dogs for a walk. I watch all the stupid ads just like you do. I know what old people do with their lives. But I suspect that later, when I feel another surge of happiness, I will be horny again. I look forward to that. Horniness is a good thing. It is all in how you handle it, you see.

My Life in HD

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The view toward Alcatraz as I can see it today. In fact this photo isn't as detailed as my present vision.

I never thought that a simple trip to Safeway could be so enjoyable! I could see every detail of every automobile, every sign, every person, stood out in vivid detail. This was my life in HD. All because of a simple lens inserted into my eye, and the removal of those pesky cataracts which had given me a blurry existence for several years. Those cataracts very likely cost me my job, and this time around I had no intention of allowing them to cost me another job. As I type this on a very white screen, I see ‘floaters’, little scraps of eye-stuff floating around inside my eye. They were there before the surgery, and there doesn’t seem to be more of them, so I am not very worried. Also my retina got checked out yesterday and it looked fine. Still, floaters make me nervous. The white screen makes them very visible. But back to the good news!!! I can see at a distance with almost perfect clarity. I can return to my walks throughout San Francisco, enjoying the scenery and the buildings, like I used to do! In fact, I can see better than at any other time in my life. My vision without glasses, as far as distant vision is concerned, is better than when I had glasses and hadn’t yet developed cataracts. I call it HD, high definition, vision, because it reminds me of the way HD television is overwhelming at first, providing the brain with too much detail.

I am primarily a visual person. I enjoy music and the sounds of nature and even the urban cacophony doesn’t bother me. But the look of things, the architecture, the beautiful women, the lovely landscape, the ocean. I relish everything I see. It was a profound disappointment not to be able to see clearly. It made me inward, more serious, and a bit depressed. Now, I am having to deal with some delicate adjustments associated with the healing process, but I am also thrilled with my new found cornucopia of visual delights. I want to check out everything! Go back out to Alcatraz, take a stroll through Pacific Heights and ogle the mansions, and just take in everyday things in a new way.

I am reminded of how delicate we are as physical beings. A simple blow to the head could cause my retina to detach, leading to almost instant blindness. My heart is dependent upon the stints in my primary artery to the heart. I depend on medications to regulate my blood pressure and cholesterol. We are fragile beings. I do try to be careful, but at the same time, you have to live your life. I can’t just hunker down and live my life in fear of mishap. Life is risk, as I coldly advised myself before this surgery. You have to deal with it, whatever cards are dealt. Someday I will face other health crises, and someday my physical journey will reach it’s end. I will cope as best I can. I am adjusting to my new situation, the inconveniences and worries that accompany the healing process, and the thrill of having my sight restored. With each thing that happens, adjustments occur, even after death. With each adjustment there is fear, uncertainty, a deep dark chasm of the unknown. We each enter this place by ourselves. We can do so courageously or kicking and screaming the whole way. Either choice is a learning process.

 

Compare this post to this past one: MY LIFE IN 2-D

looking towards alcatraz, as I see it.

I had a good morning. I paid off my rent, thanks to the help of friends, one of which I ran into as I stood in line at Wells Fargo.  She looked cute in her stylish hat. It is nice to have friends.

But enough sunshine and daisies, I had wanted to bitch on this post so here goes. I love San Francisco. I came here partly because of it’s unique beauty, and now I can’t really see it! My vision is shot to hell. I don’t care if prospective employers see this, they would figure it out soon enough. I can still do a job. I’ve learned how to compensate. I am still a wise investment. I’ve got a brain and I know how…..Ok Ok!! I’ll stop trying to sell myself. But, anyhow, as I walked down Polk St. to the bay, checking for help wanted signs, and other places where I might work, I was unable to enjoy the city I love. No more 3-D. My life is now in 2-D. Not literally of course, but that is how it feels. Out of focus, with a bit of double vision. I gaze out on the bay at fuzzy dots. Are those boats? It is more than enough to make a cheerful guy like me pretty grumpy.

My life is flat and dull. I don’t have all those sharp edges anymore. It isn’t just because of the cataracts. My brain is dull as well. I have come to accept a lot of things that used to drive me up the wall, or leave me in a deep depression. I thought I would never get used to losing my sight in my left eye. But I did. I accepted that fifty percent of life would be shrouded in darkness. I simply lived my life to the right. There is no left as far as I am concerned. (and I think the same is true of Barack Obama). Unfortunately, when I first began living my life on the right, I was still driving. I almost side swiped another car on the interstate. I was unbelievably close! The other guy’s eyes were so wide! Scared the shit out of me! That guy was living his life on the right and left. So I gave up driving. Once in a while I accidentally ran into somebody. I mean, I literally ran into them. They look at me like I am a total jerk, and it usually doesn’t do any good to explain. I was in the wrong. Even though my left is in darkness, it is still there, and I have to take it into consideration.

The uncertainty and fear I feel could be considered a part of that dark left side of my life. Rather than let it lie in darkness I need to bring it over to the right, so it doesn’t just fester, grow mold and poison me. Awful things can happen in the dark.

So even though I live in a 2-D world, it could be worse. How about 0-D? So I carry on. At some point I will likely get an operation to remove my cataracts, even though I risk total blindness. Seeing well was an important part of my life. I want it to be again. Otherwise all those beautiful sights in San Francisco are going to waste!!

Operation Successful (slow recovery mode)

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9:23 pm Thursday April 19 I don't need glasses, but everything is blurry because my eye was dilated earlier.

So the operation was a success. It didn’t hurt at all. I was awake and alert the whole time, and it was quite a colorful light show. I started hurting later as I lay on my bed listening to music. My vision is really blurry right now, so I will undoubtedly need to edit this tomorrow. I probably have a few typos. My eye was dilated earlier today and the retina looks fine. My vision has been restored. Of course, right now it isn’t restored, but before the dilation, I could see in the distance pretty darn well. It was like when you make the transition from regular tv to HD tv. I was overwhelmed by the detail. I will be more excited when I get through the recovery period unscathed. I still need to take it easy, because my eye has not fully healed. It still feels weird, as though it has rocks in it at times.It really felt that way yesterday. Like I had been in a sandstorm. I need to make sure not to overdo it, and take things slow these next few days. I should return to work Tuesday. This is just a short post to let everyone know that I am ok, and the cataract¬† surgery went well. I will write a lot more tomorrow when I can actually see.

Love and Trust

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I just got through having a long conversation with my brother, David. He called because he saw that I tried to reach him a couple of times recently, and he knew I had cataract surgery coming up tomorrow. We talked about many many things as usual, covering a very wide gamut of subjects. But two things stand out in my mind. Love and Trust. Of course, trust naturally flows from love, so that is a bit redundant. Love is the only thing that matters. Love without definition. Just love. We all know what it is, and only get confused when we try to think about it. It is a simple thing. When David told me he had come to the realization that to love is the whole point, I felt no need to elaborate or clarify. Of course, the whole idea of love drives a lot of people crazy because love has all manner of implications and caveats and whatnot. I’m not talking about that kind of love. That kind of love isn’t love. It is addiction, a soft fuzzy burden which smothers all it touches. Or it is hatred disguised as love. Love with an agenda isn’t love. Love just is. You can’t get it or lose it. Love does not lie outside of yourself, it is yourself and every other living being as well. God is Love.

Ok so all that sounds good but so what. I am about to go into a frightening situation in which I could conceivably lose my sight. How very nice to know that I am loved, but it doesn’t change anything, my skeptical mind complains. That part of myself really hates it when all the ‘love’ talk begins. Sure, I agree, I say to that part of me. I could lose my sight, I could get in a car accident on the way to the hospital, or I could trip on something at home and bust open my skull. Who knows? There are all kinds of gruesome possibilities. But I ain’t worried, because I have trust. I trust the surgeon is going to do his best. The nurses are going to do their best. I am going to bend the quantum mechanical curve, my friends! My positive attitude which does not allow for mishaps or the odd chance of disaster, but embraces the high probability of success, can actually have an effect upon events. Sure it does! my skeptical mind retorts. Retort all you wish, I reply, but I refuse to be rational at a time like this. It doesn’t satisfy my need for magic. I need for this surgery to work magnificently. Of course I am nervous and I worry, but I trust that it will be fine, even better than fine.

Love and Trust are the foundations of a happy, successful life. Magnificent things can come out of simple trust. Someone who is trusted can perform miracles. Love can transform any circumstance into an opportunity for growth. Whatever happens to me in my life I will use it to learn and help others learn. I feel that this is what we are here for. To learn how to live, how to love and to trust. Part of me rebels at all this stuff I am writing. It distrusts my own belief. Beliefs are for wimps. What I am peddling is much stronger stuff, which the skeptical, rebellious part of me cannot fathom. That part of me does not have the language to speak of such things. A belief is but a pale shadow of the thing itself. I am not satisfied with mere belief. I want to be swept off my feet by the truth, and struck speechless by the magnificence of my own certainty. And yet my mind chatters on…..So be it. It is in it’s nature to chatter. I need to go to bed now, feeling a bit of trepidation mixed with the bright light of foolish confidence, and the cool pragmatic logic which provides it’s own form of comfort. Thanks to everyone for their loving concern for my welfare. It is appreciated. Whatever happens I am loved.