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April 2012

April 2012

Spontaneous emergence.

Origin of symbols.

I keep returning to returning.

My travel demon appears right on schedule.

Altitude adjustment.

All that red dirt...





Cryptic conversations. Esoteric commentary.

On the road, experiencing past, present and future, it is easy to see cycles.

Big easy.

New Orleans fence.

Perennial growth.

Jet travel.

Wilting mid-bloom.

Gather energy and await focus.

The land forms the lakes.


It's still going, you know, back and forth in my mind, trying to decide, does the ocean shape the land or the land shape the ocean?

The river rose all day,
The river rose all night.
Some people got lost in the flood,
Some people got away all right.

-Randy Newman, "Louisiana 1927"


The strange thing is...it's hard to explain...how the outside and inside worlds suddenly overlap...or maybe it's synchronicity that allows one metaphor to function in both ordinary and non-ordinary ways...

Okay, forget that crap. This is what happened:

For no reason other than it was messy and overgrown, I started clearing brush from the area behind the studio. I raked away the leaves and dead branches, making it easier to walk down and visit the little stream that's back there. Then I gathered some of those square pieces of shale, the shattered remains of young Appalachian mountains, you know, the flat, gray rocks scattered everywhere. I got a bunch of them and lined the newly raked out path; putting the bigger pieces next to the water for standing on while not getting your shoes muddy.

I find real joy in this kind of work, especially on an unseasonably warm spring days following a very mild winter. The repetitive physical activity frees the mind. Today I used the extra mental bandwidth to mull over my newest piece of software, the first algorithm that has fascinated me in years. What I realized was, quite apart from the computer and quite possibly because I was outdoors, if I just ran the algorithm in my head, the thought pattern it induced was a quick way for me to reach a deep meditative state; a quicker way than if I was just sitting and keeping my thoughts clear.

Here is where the metaphors start to overlap. While I was clearing away dead branches and leaves, opening up the forest ground for new growth, new growth sprung up in my mind. Outside I was making it easier to get to the stream, removing sticker bushes and dead branches, and inside I had found an equally convenient way to get to the stream, to meditative flow. Did my actions influence my thought patterns, spurring on the new understanding? I don't know.

I know that while making a new path, I found a new path; while clearing a path, a path was cleared. And I don't think I can say it any more directly than that.

Chopping out a root, raking back ground cover, big ass thorn in the finger, stressing out about poison ivy (which is everywhere), testing branches to see if they snap, deciding the fate of saplings, putting bits of trash in a bag, the rolling starts, bending a lot, rhythm of work, the software of a swarming mass is there to consider, the swarm seeking the center moves the center to a new place to return to, moves the place to return to, moves the place, moves a pile of leaves and sticks to the burn stack, moves a log to reveal more path, over the path, year after year in the future, seeking a center, making a home.

Looking up, the path is established, an hour has passed in five minutes, and I am very centered in a moving center, an automated swarming center, which is easier to maintain than trying to stay centered on the idea of a center.

Given: Things distributed in space.

Allowed: Movement toward the center.

Shown: Restless mind.

The software is simple to describe but impossible to predict.

There is only one rule: return to the center.

The initial mass of boxes swirling in space is a visual metaphor for the restless mind arising from a group of independent thoughts. Each box is moved step by step toward the averaged center of the mass; but every time a box moves, it shifts the position of the center slightly. The shifts are amplified into endlessly changing forms; sometimes dense and structured, but more often swarming, flocking and chaotic.

A thing that I am starting to get from watching this software run: a cycle is a subset of a swarm.

Three tasks of equal importance, each demanding my full attention. Is it possible to be centered in this mix? Or is the reality of this situation formed from the constant struggle of each to be noticed?

At any moment a thought is present. What makes up the thought? Is a chaotic deterministic system a source of creativity?