An Unknown Life

Here is one of those incidents that happen without getting much attention, Iowa City woman found in Iowa River identified (Lee Hermiston, The Gazette). The woman died, probably as she lived, largely unknown. A passing stranger in the world. Her death is a mystery and probably will remain a mystery, although there may be people who know something and are afraid to speak to authorities.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is running into an unexpected problem in investigating the death of a woman whose body was found in the Iowa River last week.

“We know that people are not answering the door when we’re standing at them,” Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said Friday.

Pulkrabek believes people are not talking with his investigators in the death investigation of 30-year-old Darling Yosseli Acosta Rivera because they are concerned the questions will turn to their own immigration status.

My brother thinks he saw this lady before she drowned. Working for the City Parks department, he and a coworker were locking up bathrooms in Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, along the Iowa River. Someone was inside one of the bathrooms and, after knocking, a woman came out a few minutes later. She had a backpack and he assumed she had been sleeping there, indicating she was homeless.

They later saw a backpack that looked like hers stashed under a bridge near the river. It had been there for a couple of weeks and had been rummaged through with the contents strewn about. My brother’s coworker checked it out. In it, there were things that identified her, including a passport and a badge for a local temp agency. The coworker brought these to the temp agency where he was told her body was found in the river.

It seems highly probable that it was a suicide. If she were an undocumented immigrant and if she were alone and homeless in a foreign country, she obviously was hitting a low point in her life. But it could have been homicide, as being a homeless woman is not a safe situation to find oneself in. There are many ways to come to a tragic end as either an undocumented immigrant or a homeless person.

Like so many other things going on in the world, it makes me sad. We live in a heartless society. There should be somewhere to turn to for help, for people like this woman. Instead, she seems to have been forced to seek temporary refuge in a public bathroom during an Iowa winter. One could imagine she lived in fear of the authorities and other systems of help, as do many people in that kind of situation.

It’s likely she was a refugee from the US-promoted violent conflicts in Latin America, as she had a Guatemalan passport which is one of the major places of civil unrest and mass violence. Being deported might have seemed worse than even being alone during an Iowa winter. Whatever the cause of her death, it was surely preventable. She likely had come to a point where she had few options left and found herself in a bad situation.

Such suffering exists all around us. Yet few ever see it. These are the invisible people, unheard and unacknowledged. They go on with their lives largely unnoticed and they disappear unnoticed, at best local media reporting that their body was found. But that body once was a person who had friends, family, and a home. Someone somewhere cared about her and will miss her. At least, she has been identified and so will be buried with a name on her gravestone.

Self, Other, & World

The New Science of the Mind:
From Extended Mind to Embodied Phenomenology
by Mark Rowlands
Kindle Locations 54-62

The new way of thinking about the mind is inspired by, and organized around, not the brain but some combination of the ideas that mental processes are (1) embodied, (2) embedded, (3) enacted, and (4) extended. Shaun Gallagher has referred to this, in conversation, as the 4e conception of the mind.4 The idea that mental processes are embodied is, very roughly, the idea that they are partly constituted by, partly made up of, wider (i.e., extraneural) bodily structures and processes. The idea that mental processes cesses are embedded is, again roughly, the idea that mental processes have been designed to function only in tandem with a certain environment that lies outside the brain of the subject. In the absence of the right environmental mental scaffolding, mental processes cannot do what they are supposed to do, or can only do what they are supposed to so less than optimally. The idea that mental processes are enacted is the idea that they are made up not just of neural processes but also of things that the organism does more generally-that they are constituted in part by the ways in which an organism ism acts on the world and the ways in which world, as a result, acts back on that organism. The idea that mental processes are extended is the idea that they are not located exclusively inside an organism’s head but extend out, in various ways, into the organism’s environment.

On animism, multinaturalism, & cosmopolitics
by Adrian J Ivakhiv

If, as Latour argues, we are no longer to rely on the singular foundation of a nature that speaks to us through the singular voice of science, then we are thrown into a world in which humans are thought to resemble, in some measure, all other entities (think Darwin alongside Amazonian shamanism) and to radically differ, though in ways that are bridgeable through translation. This would be a world that demands an ontological politics, or a cosmopolitics, by which the choices open to us with respect to the different ways we can entangle ourselves with places, non-humans, technologies, and the material world as a whole, become ethically inflected open questions.

Can “Late Antiquity” Be Saved?
by Philip Rousseau

This issue of a Eurocentric “take” on the late Roman world now finds itself swept up into what has been termed the “ontological turn,” which I suppose is where the “new humanities” come in. More and more people are becoming familiar with this debate. It centers chiefly on a conviction that, in any one place at any one time, the people alive there and then had a sense of “reality” — a word we’re quite rightly not entirely happy with — that was unique to themselves. Indeed, more than a sense: their understanding of “that which is the case” was not simply a symbolizing reaction to a set of experiences that we otherwise share with them although respond to differently — that is, the material, anthropocentric, individualized world that we tend to suppose has always been “out there.” They (like many now) lived in a world (rather than just in a frame of mind) that was itself totally different from the world that we (whoever “we” are) experience. Actually (another tell-tale word), phenomenology, cognitive science, and quantum physics, if nothing else, have shown us what a far from enduring particularity the “out there” world is.

Retrieving the Lost Worlds of the Past:
The Case for an Ontological Turn
by Greg Anderson

Our discipline’s grand historicist project, its commitment to producing a kind of cumulative biography of our species, imposes strict limits on the kinds of stories we can tell about the past. Most immediately, our histories must locate all of humanity’s diverse lifeworlds within the bounds of a single, universal “real world” of time, space, and experience. To do this, they must render experiences in all those past lifeworlds duly commensurable and mutually intelligible. And to do this, our histories must use certain commonly accepted models and categories, techniques and methods. The fundamental problem here is that all of these tools of our practice presuppose a knowledge of experience that is far from universal, as postcolonial theorists and historians like Dipesh Chakrabarty have so well observed. In effect, these devices require us to “translate” the experiences of all past lifeworlds into the experiences of just one lifeworld, namely those of a post-Enlightenment “Europe,” the world of our own secular, capitalist modernity. In so doing, they actively limit our ability to represent the past’s many non-secular, non-capitalist, non-modern “ways of being
human.” […]

This ontological individualism would have been scarcely intelligible to, say, the inhabitants of precolonial Bali or Hawai’i, where the divine king or chief, the visible incarnation of the god Lono, was “the condition of possibility of the community,” and thus “encompasse[d] the people in his own person, as a projection of his own being,” such that his subjects were all “particular instances of the chief’s existence.”
12 It would have been barely imaginable, for that matter, in the world of medieval Europe, where conventional wisdom proverbially figured sovereign and subjects as the head and limbs of a single, primordial “body politic” or corpus mysticum. 13 And the idea of a natural, presocial individual would be wholly confounding to, say, traditional Hindus and the Hagen people of Papua New Guinea, who objectify all persons as permeable, partible “dividuals” or “social microcosms,” as provisional embodiments of all the actions, gifts, and accomplishments of others that have made their lives possible.1

We alone in the modern capitalist west, it seems, regard individuality as the true, primordial estate of the human person. We alone believe that humans are always already unitary, integrated selves, all born with a natural, presocial disposition to pursue a rationally calculated self-interest and act competitively upon our no less natural, no less presocial rights to life, liberty, and private property. We alone are thus inclined to see forms of sociality, like relations of kinship, nationality, ritual, class, and so forth, as somehow contingent, exogenous phenomena, not as essential constituents of our very subjectivity, of who or what we really are as beings. And we alone believe that social being exists to serve individual being, rather than the other way round. Because we alone imagine that individual humans are free-standing units in the first place, “unsocially sociable” beings who ontologically precede whatever “society” our self-interest prompts us to form at any given time.

Beyond Nature and Culture
by Philippe Descola
Kindle Locations 241-262.

Not so very long ago one could delight in the curiosities of the world without making any distinction between the information obtained from observing animals and that which the mores of antiquity or the customs of distant lands presented. “Nature was one” and reigned everywhere, distributing equally among humans and nonhumans a multitude of technical skills, ways of life, and modes of reasoning. Among the educated at least, that age came to an end a few decades after Montaigne’s death, when nature ceased to be a unifying arrangement of things, however disparate, and became a domain of objects that were subject to autonomous laws that formed a background against which the arbitrariness of human activities could exert its many-faceted fascination. A new cosmology had emerged, a prodigious collective invention that provided an unprecedented framework for the development of scientific thought and that we, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, continue, in a rather offhand way, to protect. The price to be paid for that simplification included one aspect that it has been possible to overlook, given that we have not been made to account for it: while the Moderns were discovering the lazy propensity of barbaric and savage peoples to judge everything according to their own particular norms, they were masking their own ethnocentricity behind a rational approach to knowledge, the errors of which at that time escaped notice. It was claimed that everywhere and in every age, an unchanging mute and impersonal nature established its grip, a nature that human beings strove to interpret more or less plausibly and from which they endeavored to profit, with varying degrees of success. Their widely diverse conventions and customs could now make sense only if they were related to natural regularities that were more or less well understood by those affected by them. It was decreed, but with exemplary discretion, that our way of dividing up beings and things was a norm to which there were no exceptions. Carrying forward the work of philosophy, of whose predominance it was perhaps somewhat envious, the fledgling discipline of anthropology ratified the reduction of the multitude of existing things to two heterogeneous orders of reality and, on the strength of a plethora of facts gathered from every latitude, even bestowed upon that reduction the guarantee of universality that it still lacked. Almost without noticing, anthropology committed itself to this way of proceeding, such was the fascination exerted by the shimmering vision of “cultural diversity,” the listing and study of which now provided it with its raison d’être. The profusion of institutions and modes of thought was rendered less formidable and its contingency more bearable if one took the view that all these practices— the logic of which was sometimes so hard to discover— constituted so many singular responses to a universal challenge: namely, that of disciplining and profiting from the biophysical potentialities offered by bodies and their environment.

What Kinship Is-And Is Not
by Marshall Sahlins
p. 2

In brief, the idea of kinship in question is “mutuality of being”: people who are intrinsic to one another’s existence— thus “mutual person(s),” “life itself,” “intersubjective belonging,” “transbodily being,” and the like. I argue that “mutuality of being” will cover the variety of ethnographically documented ways that kinship is locally constituted, whether by procreation, social construction, or some combination of these. Moreover, it will apply equally to interpersonal kinship relations, whether “consanguineal” or “affinal,” as well as to group arrangements of descent. Finally, “mutuality of being” will logically motivate certain otherwise enigmatic effects of kinship bonds— of the kind often called “mystical”— whereby what one person does or suffers also happens to others. Like the biblical sins of the father that descend on the sons, where being is mutual, there experience is more than individual.

The Habitus Process
A Biopsychosocial Conception
By Andreas Pickel

The habitus-personality complex is linked (at the top) to a social system. As I have proposed earlier, habitus is an emergent property of a social system. The habitus-personality complex is also linked (at the bottom) to a biopsychic system which generates a personality as an emergent property. Thus there is a bottom-up causality and a top-down causality at work. The habitus-personality complex, while composed of two emergent properties (bottom-up: personality; top down: habitus), can also be seen as a process. In this view, the habitus mechanism refers to the working of system-specific patterns of wanting, feeling, thinking, doing and interacting, while the personality mechanism refers to individual forms of wanting, feeling, thinking, doing and interacting. The two simultaneously operating mechanisms produce self-consciousness and identity, and what Elias calls the “we”-“I” balance in a personality (Elias 1991).

How Forests Think:
Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human
By Eduardo Kohn
p. 6

Attending to our relations with those beings that exist in some way beyond the human forces us to question our tidy answers about the human. The goal here is neither to do away with the human nor to reinscribe it but to open it. In rethinking the human we must also rethink the kind of anthropology that would be adequate to this task. Sociocultural anthropology in its various forms as it is practiced today takes those attributes that are distinctive to humans— language, culture, society, and history— and uses them to fashion the tools to understand humans. In this process the analytical object becomes isomorphic with the analytics. As a result we are not able to see the myriad ways in which people are connected to a broader world of life, or how this fundamental connection changes what it might mean to be human. And this is why expanding ethnography to reach beyond the human is so important. An ethnographic focus not just on humans or only on animals but also on how humans and animals relate breaks open the circular closure that otherwise confines us when we seek to understand the distinctively human by means of that which is distinctive to humans.

Vibrant Matter:
A Political Ecology of Things
by Jane Bennett
pp. 8-10

I may have met a relative of Odradek while serving on a jury, again in Baltimore, for a man on trial for attempted homicide. It was a small glass vial with an adhesive-covered metal lid: the Gunpowder Residue Sampler. This object/ witness had been dabbed on the accused’s hand hours after the shooting and now offered to the jury its microscopic evidence that the hand had either fired a gun or been within three feet of a gun firing. Expert witnesses showed the sampler to the jury several times, and with each appearance it exercised more force, until it became vital to the verdict. This composite of glass, skin cells, glue, words, laws, metals, and human emotions had become an actant. Actant, recall, is Bruno Latour’s term for a source of action; an actant can be human or not, or, most likely, a combination of both. Latour defines it as “something that acts or to which activity is granted by others. It implies no special motivation of human individual actors, nor of humans in general.” 24 An actant is neither an object nor a subject but an “intervener,” 25 akin to the Deleuzean “quasi-causal operator.” 26 An operator is that which, by virtue of its particular location in an assemblage and the fortuity of being in the right place at the right time, makes the difference, makes things happen, becomes the decisive force catalyzing an event. Actant and operator are substitute words for what in a more subject-centered vocabulary are called agents. Agentic capacity is now seen as differentially distributed across a wider range of ontological types. This idea is also expressed in the notion of “deodand,” a figure of English law from about 1200 until it was abolished in 1846. In cases of accidental death or injury to a human, the nonhuman actant, for example, the carving knife that fell into human flesh or the carriage that trampled the leg of a pedestrian— became deodand (literally, “that which must be given to God”). In recognition of its peculiar efficacy (a power that is less masterful than agency but more active than recalcitrance), the deodand, a materiality “suspended between human and thing,” 27 was surrendered to the crown to be used (or sold) to compensate for the harm done. According to William Pietz, “any culture must establish some procedure of compensation, expiation, or punishment to settle the debt created by unintended human deaths whose direct cause is not a morally accountable person, but a nonhuman material object. This was the issue thematized in public discourse by . . . the law of deodand.” 28

There are of course differences between the knife that impales and the man impaled, between the technician who dabs the sampler and the sampler, between the array of items in the gutter of Cold Spring Lane and me, the narrator of their vitality. But I agree with John Frow that these differences need “to be flattened, read horizontally as a juxtaposition rather than vertically as a hierarchy of being. It’s a feature of our world that we can and do distinguish . . . things from persons. But the sort of world we live in makes it constantly possible for these two sets of kinds to exchange properties.” 29 And to note this fact explicitly, which is also to begin to experience the relationship between persons and other materialities more horizontally, is to take a step toward a more ecological sensibility.

pp. 20-21

Thing-power perhaps has the rhetorical advantage of calling to mind a childhood sense of the world as filled with all sorts of animate beings, some human, some not, some organic, some not. It draws attention to an efficacy of objects in excess of the human meanings, designs, or purposes they express or serve. Thing-power may thus be a good starting point for thinking beyond the life-matter binary, the dominant organizational principle of adult experience. The term’s disadvantage, however, is that it also tends to overstate the thinginess or fixed stability of materiality, whereas my goal is to theorize a materiality that is as much force as entity, as much energy as matter, as much intensity as extension. Here the term out-side may prove more apt. Spinoza’s stones, an absolute Wild, the oozing Meadowlands, the nimble Odradek, the moving deodand, a processual minerality, an incalculable nonidentity— none of these are passive objects or stable entities (though neither are they intentional subjects). 1 They allude instead to vibrant materials.

A second, related disadvantage of thing-power is its latent individualism, by which I mean the way in which the figure of “thing” lends itself to an atomistic rather than a congregational understanding of agency While the smallest or simplest body or bit may indeed express a vital impetus, conatus or clinamen, an actant never really acts alone. Its efficacy or agency always depends on the collaboration, cooperation, or interactive interference of many bodies and forces. A lot happens to the concept of agency once nonhuman things are figured less as social constructions and more as actors, and once humans themselves are assessed not as autonoms but as vital materialities.

Animism – The Seed Of Religion
by Edward Clodd
Kindle Locations 363-369

In the court held in ancient times in the Prytaneum at Athens to try any object, such as an axe or a piece of wood or stone which, independent of any human agency, had caused death, the offending thing was condemned and cast in solemn form beyond the border. Dr. Frazer cites the amusing instance of a cock which was tried at Basle in 1474 for having laid an egg, and which, being found guilty, was burnt as a sorcerer. ” The recorded pleadings in the case are said to be very voluminous.” And only as recently as 1846 there was abolished in England the law of deodand, whereby not only a beast that kills a man, but a cart-wheel that runs over him, or a tree that crushes him, were deo dandus, or ” given to God,” being forfeited and sold for the poor. The adult who, in momentary rage, kicks over the chair against which he has stumbled, is one with the child who beats the door against which he knocks his head, or who whips the ” naughty ” rocking-horse that throws him.

Architectural Agents:
The Delusional, Abusive, Addictive Lives of Buildings
by Annabel Jane Wharton
Kindle Locations 148-155

The deodand was common in medieval legal proceedings. Before the recognition of mitigating circumstances and degrees of murder and manslaughter, causing the death of a person was a capital offense. At that time the deodand may well have functioned as a legal ploy by which the liability for a death might be assessed in a just manner. Although the deodand seems to have almost disappeared in England by the eighteenth century, the law was revived in the nineteenth century. With industrialization the deodand was redeployed as a means of levying penalties for the many deaths caused by mechanical devices, particularly locomotives. 9 Legislation was passed to protect industrial interests, and the deodand was eliminated by an act of Parliament in 1846. Premodern intuitions about the animation of things allowed those things a semblance of the moral agency associated with culpability. With the rational repression of that intuition in modernity, the legal system required revision.

Kindle Locations 245-253

Now, as in the past, buildings may be immobile, but they are by no means passive. Our habitus— the way we live in the world— is certainly informed by our relations with other human beings. 24 But spatial objects also model our lives. Some structures, like Bentham’s infamous Panopticon, are insidiously manipulative. 25 But most buildings, like most people, can both confirm our familiar patterns of behavior and modify them. We build a classroom to accommodate a certain kind of learning; the classroom in turn molds the kind of learning that we do or even that we can imagine. Modifications in the room might lead to innovations in teaching practices. Buildings, in this sense, certainly have social agency. Indeed, the acts of buildings may be compared with the acts of their human counterparts insofar as those acts are similarly overdetermined— that is, fraught with more conditions in their social circumstances or individual histories than are necessary to account for the ways in which they work.

Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
by Timothy Morton
Kindle Locations 547-568

While hyperobjects are near, they are also very uncanny. Some days, global warming fails to heat me up. It is strangely cool or violently stormy. My intimate sensation of prickling heat at the back of my neck is only a distorted print of the hot hand of global warming. I do not feel “at home” in the biosphere. Yet it surrounds me and penetrates me, like the Force in Star Wars. The more I know about global warming, the more I realize how pervasive it is. The more I discover about evolution, the more I realize how my entire physical being is caught in its meshwork. Immediate, intimate symptoms of hyperobjects are vivid and often painful, yet they carry with them a trace of unreality. I am not sure where I am anymore. I am at home in feeling not at home. Hyperobjects, not some hobbit hole, not some national myth of the homeland, have finally forced me to see the truth in Heidegger.

The more I struggle to understand hyperobjects, the more I discover that I am stuck to them. They are all over me. They are me. I feel like Neo in The Matrix, lifting to his face in horrified wonder his hand coated in the mirrorlike substance into which the doorknob has dissolved, as his virtual body begins to disintegrate. “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” The mirror itself has become part of my flesh. Or rather, I have become part of the mirror’s flesh, reflecting hyperobjects everywhere. I can see data on the mercury and other toxins in my blood. At Taipei Airport, a few weeks after the Fukushima disaster, I am scanned for radiation since I have just transited in Tokyo. Every attempt to pull myself free by some act of cognition renders me more hopelessly stuck to hyperobjects. Why?

They are already here. I come across them later, I find myself poisoned with them, I find my hair falling out. Like an evil character in a David Lynch production, or a ghost in M. Knight Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, hyperobjects haunt my social and psychic space with an always-already. My normal sense of time as a container, or a racetrack, or a street, prevents me from noticing this always-already, from which time oozes and flows, as I shall discuss in a later section (“ Temporal Undulation”). What the demonic Twin Peaks character Bob reveals, for our purposes, is something about hyperobjects, perhaps about objects in general. 2 Hyperobjects are agents. 3 They are indeed more than a little demonic, in the sense that they appear to straddle worlds and times, like fiber optic cables or electromagnetic fields. And they are demonic in that through them causalities flow like electricity.

We haven’t thought this way about things since the days of Plato.

Midwestern Green

The Midwest is a very green place. There is good reason that this is called the breadbasket of the world.

Growing up in the region, I never realized how different are large sections of the country. That changed when I moved to South Carolina. The soil, instead of dark and rich, is sand and clay. The woods, instead of thick and lush, is sparse and dry.

The stark contrast didn’t really hit me, though, until I moved back to Iowa after high school. Now, I’ve been living in Iowa for a few years shy of two decades. I have once again grown accustomed to the green.

I’m looking outside at my parent’s backyard. The flower beds are full. The lawn is a deep carpet. The woods at the back is a solid wall of foliage. It is green upon green, endless green. It is life frothing at the bit. I’m in the city and yet life surrounds me. Bunnies and squirrels and a thousand birds tweeting.

This all hit me again because of my recent road trip out West along a more southernly route to the coast. The Southwest for damn sure is dry. Even the Bay Area of California can’t compete with the summertime brilliance of the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

There were only two small areas we visited that would be comparable: far down in the canyon of Zion National Park and halfway down the Grand Canyon in Indian Gardens. A stream flows through the Zion canyon. However, despite the relative greenness, there was no apparent life in the stream itself… which I thought very strange. Indian Gardens is an even smaller area. The smaller area coincides with a concentration of life. It is an island amidst dry rocky terrain.

It wasn’t just life or lack thereof that stood out to me. I was sometimes surprised by what kinds of life I saw, what kinds I didn’t see and where.

Down in Indian Gardens, I saw Box Elder bugs. I saw those little critters several different places where one wouldn’t expect them. They weren’t present in the massive swarms I’d see as a child here in Iowa. But how did they end up at all in Indian Gardens? What strange wind blew them across the surrounding arid land?

At a rest stop in the middle of desert, there was a few trees and a leaking faucet. A flock of pigeons lived there. After some travelers got up from the picnic table, the pigeons cleaned up the crumbs. Pigeons in the desert? Probably hundreds of miles of dust and rock in all directions, but that man-made oasis was able to support a decent sized population of non-desert creatures. I’d assume those poor pigeons were trapped there. Once again, what strange wind?

So, what didn’t I see?

I’m sure there were rabbits somewhere in the various areas I went, at least jackrabbits if nothing else, but I didn’t see them. Here in the Midwest, little bunnies are like flies on shit… and they breed like, well, rabbits. Another animal common in Eastern United States are domestic cats, whether pet cats being let outside or strays. There is a large stray cat population in this neighborhood. There were even quite a few cats down in South Carolina, despite there not being as many rabbits for them to feast upon. Out West, I only saw one cat the entire time.

There was only one animal that I saw in many different places. Deer. They seem to be versatile creatures. North, South, East, West. There are deer everywhere. If you see one of them, there are probably a dozen more nearby.

Coming back to the Midwest after the trip, everything was greener than when I left. It was greener in my perception because I had been away from it, but it also was literally greener because it had rained a lot in the meantime. We had drought conditions last year. We are far from having a drought right now. Farmers lost crops last season, but the Midwest is now back in business.

I’ve known many people from many places. People tend to like the place they came from. My South Carolina friend thought the woods there was beautiful, but not I. Green, deep dark green. That is what I like. Green is life. The more green the better.

Marmalade’s Meandering Mind

Marmalade’s Meandering Mind

Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
Here are the things my mind was contemplating this fine evening…

I was walking home with an empty aluminum can that had a screw-on lid.  As it was cold, the air in the can took up less space.  The can contracted into the shape of a square.  That amused me for some reason.  Why did a round shape contract into 4 sides rather than 3 sides or 5 sides?  This incites my child-like curiosity… for whatever that is worth.

Another mildly interesting observation….

While still at work, I was talking to my boss.  His son has a learning disability.  I asked him about it.  His description of his son could just as well have described me as a child.  His son… has recall issues with words and facts (such as abstractions like dates and phone numbers), has good spatial ability in figuring out mazes, does math by breaking down numbers, and likes nature which he enjoys learning about (meaning he can remember certain types of facts that traditional schooling doesn’t care about).  What was particularly interesting about this is that my boss reminds me almost exactly of my mom, and deals with his son’s disability as my mom did. 

Its strange how humans fall into similar patterns as individuals and also in relationships.  Is there a connection to why a parent like him (and like my mom) might have a child like his son (and like me)?

Okay, next thought…

I started reading a new fiction book: Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory.  I picked it up because it plays off the idea of VALIS from Philip K. Dick.  Anyways, the character hears these sounds that no one else hears, and even he has a hard time of explaining the sounds themselves as they aren’t normal.  It reminded me of certain experiences I’ve had.  I don’t hear unusual sounds or anything, but I’ve had many experiences that are hard to describe.

I don’t know about other people’s experience.  I’d guess that everybody has experiences that aren’t easily described, and probably for that reason most people don’t try to describe them or maybe even try to think about them.  Its easier to just ignore the unusual.

So, about my experiences… I’ve had certain experiences that are very specific.  I’ve had these experiences at different times of my life but not very often.  However, every time I experience them, I very clearly recognize them and remember having had them before.  The thing is that its hard to recall these experiences when I’m not having them.  They are state-specific memories of specific states of experience.

At this moment, I only vaguely recall one of these types of experiences.  The closest I can come to describe it is that its like what I’ve felt while under the influence of Nitrous Oxide.  Its a cool buzzing sensation as if I were a contracted cloud of energy… or something like that.  I have no clue where this experience comes from.  I don’t even remember the last time I experienced it… maybe several years.  It doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, no explanation or cause.  Its just there and then its not.

And the last thought…

For some reason, I was thinking about audio book services.  Finding some spoken word on Rhapsody and Last FM reminded me of how much I enjoy listening to people read.  Its the main reason I fell in love with Burroughs work.  He has an awesome voice.

There is a demand for audio book services.  There are many services, but they’re not very innovative compared to the music and movie industries.  Why is that?  My favorite movie service is Netflix and my favorite music service is Rhapsody.  Why isn’t there a audio book service that compares to either of these?

I’d be willing to pay for such a service if it was comparable to Netflix or Rhapsody.  So, why isn’t any company willing to offer it?  Why does this industry lag behind all others?  Is there just not enough demand?  Am I unusual?  Are most consumers of audio books happy with services that compare to where the music industry was 5 to 10 years ago?

Here I am just wanting to give my money away to some company.  Yet, no company seems to want my money enough.  Well… their loss… fine, I’ll just keep my money.  Ha!

That is the end of today’s broadcast.  Tune in next time for more deep insights and probing observations of life.

Access_public Access: Public 3 Comments Print Post this!views (148)  

about 3 hours later

Centria said

Ben, it feels like you’re in a really creative open period of your life right now. Is that true? You’re branching into fiction and flash fiction and meandering. I am smiling to see this energy coming out in different directions. Have fun!

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 6 hours later

Nicole said

yes, it’s a delight to see your curious mind exploring 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Creative open period? It does sorta seem that way going by my recent blogs. I hadn’t really thought about it. I just felt like blogging and so I did. I do feel a bit more free in my blogging.

This is the result of something in particular. I decided to refocus on my own blogging a while back. Then the holidays hit and I had a bunch of free time. In refocusing on blogging, I also refocused on looking at other sites to blog at. In considering all my options, it reminded me of what I wanted out of my own blogging.

I felt somewhat restrained about my blogging in the past. For isntance, I felt reluctant to blog about my interest in horror here on Gaia as its not exactly a horror-embracing community. However, I can only be creatively free if my curiosity is free which means free also to explore the dark side of life. Now that I let my dark side show more, my light (and silly) side will also show itself more again. The two sides of me are inseparable… can’t have one without the other.

I was glad to return to fiction finally. The thinking about horror helped with this also. I’m not sure exactly why that was. Maybe its because horror is a good meeting ground between fiction and nonfiction, and so was useful as a means of transition.

The recent fiction sort of came out of the blue. My mind had been on fiction, but I hadn’t thought about either of those stories before writing them. With both stories, an image popped in my mind and I wrote the whole story down immediately.

The creative juices seem to be flowing. I was born in the winter time (December). Winter, like the night time, focuses me on more introverted activities such as writing.

Where in your life do you follow your heart?

Where in your life do you follow your heart?

Posted on Apr 12th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This is in Response to the Questions and Reflections for April 12, 2008:


There are only two times that I feel fully in my heart, but I don’t know if that means I’m following my heart.  Those two times are when I’m meditating and when I’m walking alone in nature.  However, if I spend enough time in these activities, then I can feel more fully in my heart at other times.  When in the right mood, I can listen to and through my heart while at work.  I have a job where I interact with many people, and interacting with people can help me to get out of my head.
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Tagged with: QaR, heart, love, intuition, life, calling

ohmsmom : Proud Research Associate

about 1 hour later

ohmsmom said

those quiet walks in the woods do it for me too!

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 2 hours later

Nicole said

this is fantastic, my friend

victoria : B* R* E* A* T* H* E, you are Alive!

about 4 hours later

victoria said

I forgot who it was that mentioned that getting from our head into our heart is a small but critical 18 inch journey…happy to know you have made the jump !

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

I wasn’t expecting several comments to be waiting for me.  I guess following one’s heart is a popular subject.  Yeah, Victoria, I’ve made that jump… back and forth many times.  : )

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 19 hours later

Nicole said

didn’t you find that it was harder at first to go from head to heart, but gets easier and easier all the time? like anything, it’s a question of practice…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 23 hours later

Marmalade said

It is easier than it once was to move from my head to my heart, but I still find it challenging.  Its not only challenging in moving into the heart, but also in remaining centered there.  And its challenging in what I’ve discovered there, its challenging in seeing the world from there, of relating from there.

Yes, its a question of practice, but maybe its more simply a matter of patience.  When entering the realm of the heart we’re touching upon something greater than us as individuals.  Essentially, practice is only useful to the degree that it creates an openess for that Other to enter, to the degree that it creates a space for that Other to reside.

In a sense, I’m not sure it ever entirely becomes easier.  As we open more to compassion, the more we become open to the suffering that we normally hide from.  The challenge of the heart never ends.  It just changes form.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

that’s very insightful, as always… yes it changes and in a way gets more challenging as it deepens and as we become more compassionate and encounter the shadow more frankly. patience is indeed an important factor, a quality with which i am not naturally blessed 🙂 but which i am slowly learning with the help and support of my friends. joy and blessings

Death: PKD, WSB, & Derrick Jensen

Fred: D… Substance D. “D” is dumbness, and despair, desertion-desertion of you from your friends, your friends from you, everyone from everyone. Isolation and loneliness… and hating and suspecting each other, “D” is finally death. Slow death from the head down. Well… that’s it.

Why does Control need humans, as you call them?
Answer: Wait… wait! Time, a landing field. Death needs time like a junkie needs junk.
And what does Death need time for?
Answer: The answer is sooo simple. Death needs time for what it kills to grow in, for Ah Pook’s sake.

The conversion of the living to the dead has been converted from a moral, human, question into a technical problem to be solved, and, if at all possible, profited from.
 ~ Derrick Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe (p 568)

New-Path resident: Living and unliving things are exchanging properties.
Second New-Path resident: The drive of unliving things is stronger than the drive of living things.
Freck as New-Path resident: The living should never be used to serve the purposes of the dead. But the dead should, if possible… serve the purposes of the living.

Fred: I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field.