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Monday, December 15, 2014

Can't Get Enough of that Rhythm

Goodbye snow, frozen ice,
Polar woes bring solar highs.
Now the ocean waves are lapping,
How the city knaves are clapping.

Somewhere in this pile is a sock that matches
If I sort awhile, and make matching batches.

A sock once paired, decreases the job,
Of finding mates, for the sock that's odd.

A sock that's odd, or a sock that's flawed,
May ridicule or blister cause.
Once thrown out, the other will haunt,
Like a lover without any toes.

I remove my shoes to catch the draft,
Of frozen air, whatever's left.

I texted a gal back in school yea,
A Connecticut pal named Julia,
We spoke of love, and the gods up above,
And how money and sex can fool ya.

A digital hug is best on a rug,
but a virtual kiss is a tryst that was missed.

If I kiss that berry in her well,
I'll know the risk of going to Hell!

I dreamt of stars, galaxies above,
The entire Cosmos, and all she wove.

Letters, lines, verses, pages,
In fetters try to learn in stages.
Play on strings, feed the crow,
Tell you things you need to know.

Grab that pencil, open your letter,
Make sure you read it, start feeling better.

When misery and hatred have left the earth,
Will the visibly sacred bring a deft rebirth?

If a memory you have, is of a lady you tossed,
Then a century might pass, as she fades and is lost.

Memory eats, at a heart that is longing,
Reveries a feat, to part from belonging.

Pain is a whisper, that makes a small breath,
From the center of all, to the knowledge of Death.

Grasped were the facts, of life as it was,
Tasked by some acts, of strifes between love.

If a basin of tears means sacrificed love,
What's waiting for fear of devices above?

What militant computers lack in heart,
Diligent suitors hack with art.

Russia's ruble is cheaper than oil,
Yet Putin's shoe-bill is as dear as his girl!

Then and there shards were broken,
Men beware what words are spoken.

Go on the lam until they shoot ya,
Me and my bottle of ole kambucha!

Something's worse than fecal matter,
And that's the curse of legal data.

Lauren Lauren I hear water pouring!
Lauren Lauren it won't be boring!

Paris stumbled, asked if he'd fallen,
Into the formidable crevasse of his dear Helen.

Sharenne, my dream are you carrying?
Sharenne, my queen what are you wearing?

Was the pussy shot a feline shot?
Or a glimpse of crotch just done ad hoc?

Before a tearful yellow dazzle,
Germany scores seven at football Brazil.

The worst is to suffer from an internet fling,
She isn't your lover but hurts like a sting.

Lelia Ophelia, how does life deal ya?

If I kiss the berry in your well,
I'll know the risk of going to Hell.

While he searches, she'll return to him,
A lovers urge for for eternal whim,

I'll pinch those strings and hold them tight,
and with my tongue I'll push all night.

Stroke your doves, let them be shown,
Sex is a bitch who loves to moan.

A shed of stars warps galaxies above,
Where looms a Cosmos and all she wove.

When the question rose what form to turn,
An answer lept forth as from an urn.
Thoughts coalesced, lit into a word,
'Throw a bowl' said the form interred.

Putin gasped in Rasputin's chapel,
"Why falls my ruble, like Newton's apple?"

What builders conceive takes effort to believe,
Starts far from the standard plan.
Though possible to say that blueprints portray
A treasure that one day is man's.

What cries and gnaws, but doesn't hurt?
A lover with fuzz, who makes you work.

On motion'd feet I carry speech,
But when you eat, I've got no beat.
Close by a yard, or ocean waves,
Spoke by a Bard, or Celtic Vate.

What adds but cannot think,
Or ferments to a hearty drink.
Newton's notion of a forces unseen,
Sits between me, and what you're seeing.

What rules, hear howls.
There are wolves in us all.

All the gals that got away,
Are still the ones I hope to bed someday.
Alas our time is running short,
My list grows longer I sadly report.

A quick review of those inspired hussies,
Who flew by my window, and left me crusty.
Many seemed they wanted to nest,
Not enough who wanted good bed rest.

My ego pursues a fox,
Through sunlight and the dark,
Should it happen in a forest?
Or should we do it in a park?

Whether the Euro members mesh,
Germany will take a pound of flesh.
Printed funds from a paper sock,
To buy Grecian homes on white bare rock.

Riptide in a town that was tawdry and dark
I met an old fish with a guitar made of bark.

Medicine or poison done just right .
I’ve drunk so much, I've lost my sight.

Those warmongers won't take blame,
They want more war for their defense-gate game.

Caffeine goes, peed away,
Poisons generated, unfortunately stay.

What fair trade is coffee black?
Kali’s drink, welcomes me back.

What ominous spire makes a crow inquire,
And perch to look out below.
The heights of empire shall not equal a flyer,
So much as the most humble crow.

Which from the Crypt doth first appear,
The Raven or her Master?
One drinks and feeds, while the subject bleeds,
Death comes on so much faster.

If the myths of state are history,
Bricks of fate are illusory.

Monday, December 8, 2014

'Horny Old Man', or, the 'Unexpurgated Tinder Poems'

One myth about Han Shan, 寒山, the great Tang Dynasty poet, claims he wrote his famous "Cold Mountain Poems" on the bark of trees. Well true but not true. He wrote poems, and left them all over, and were it not for another monk named Lu Ch'iu-yin all would have been lost to time.

"I ordered Tao-ch'iao and the other monks . . . to hunt up the poems written on bamboo, wood, stones, and cliffs - and also to collect those written on the walls of people's houses. There were more than three hundred.  . . It was all brought together and made into a book."

       ['Preface to the Poems of Han-shan by Lu Ch'iu-yin' fr."Cold Mountain Poems", trans. Gary Snyder.]

The internet forest provides plenty of bark, wood and stones, alas as an impermanent medium. There aren't enough trees on a galaxy of Earths to record on paper what's written on our fairly young net. Yet almost all of it will be lost in time.

One assumes everything will last on a server forever.

Try this. The net is an abyss, a black hole, engineered to receive the 'flower of mankind', his 'swan song', everything from the content of his DNA to every last translatable scrap of poetry, every image, every email, every web page, every text. In short, the written and visual of everything human. One might think of it as reams of paper brought by a jailer to an inmate on death row.

Yet the net is more than what we record . .  increasingly it is what we do. The web is an activity unto itself. At the moment it serves as a massive collective memory, and as a cortex it is evolving. The web is beginning to think, and creates new realities, which in turn we may think of. Eventually it begins to think of these things itself.

Some believe once the net begins to create realities it will view humanity as a subservient species unnecessary for its own survival. It will craft robots that last longer than humans to do the work. And so, all will be lost. From our side of things it will appear as a pit, a burial ground for centuries of destructive behavior by a species out of control. Will we terraform planets and take all this with us? Might a silicon-based life form on earth take over from us. then propagate itself?

Where does this leave the living, breathing joke-making, eating, farting and love-making mortal Homo sapiens?

He throws creativity into the web. . .  and watches it float on an event horizon of certain destruction. Comprehend the stars, even they are mortal. Nothing lives forever. At some point the masses of data about human beings will simply cease to exist, and will be obscured by an unsearchable darkness, a compression created by so much information.

It will have other uses, as a kind of informational compost. So why not lob invectives into the vortex of certain destruction? Things beautiful and experiential, heartfelt confessions, that might amuse others as they fall with us into the void. Use the web to seduce and amuse!

Which brings me to the new app called Tinder which I now use as 'bark' for writing rhymes to anonymous women that I'll never meet.

You're reading the journal of a Boswellian who isn't ashamed to admit the current form of debauchery offered by our modern age. In the Victorian era we would have reviewed the opposite sex beneath gas street lamps, today we swipe right or left. Boswell wrote his famous journal between bouts chronicling the life of Samuel Johnson.

" . . . a girl in the Strand; went into a court with intention to enjoy her in armour. But she had none. I toyed with her. She wondered at my size . . . " Note: 'in armour' or 'with armor' refers to the use of a prophylactic sheath. [Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763, Frederick A. Pottle ed., Second Edition, Yale University Press, 1950, p. 49]

Indeed the internet today provides one massive prophylactic. Direct experience has been replaced by internet experience. Even so the shock of an internet matchup throws the psyche into a stunned space. It bends time. Instant knowledge without learning, forethought without notice, memory without experience. We're hit by shrapnel; time warps, endorphins kick in. Something unpredictable has happened. Tinder provides this collision between souls on a mutually consensual basis.

Below the cleavage posts the phrase: "The silence is deafening. Someone has to break it."

Many of these gals spend hours creating dummy profiles and going through reams of man-data. Most likely they're just trying to make ends meet for an hourly rate, with a disk full of phony photos, fronting for flowers of the night who are sleeping off their exertions, limbs akimbo, in a limo.

It must take time to make that profile, attach photos, think up a name, and go through databases filled with man-fodder. No wonder they get mega-annoyed if you report them as 'scam' or 'inappropriate'. They have to start all over.

In that silence after the matchup, with that short fuse burning, I saw the greatest opportunity to write witty custom poetry on demand offered by the whole World Wide Web.

In order to be your Tinder lover,
I'll have to win you from under cover!

The objective's to write a just a few lines that win me a "Ha Ha!" A comic poet that wishes for more is delusional. Women love to hear their own name! I'll write poems that celebrate that most precious of sounds! Just a few minutes to charm these ladies before they dump the connection.

So it started:  Success would mean getting any response at all, ranging from "That's very funny Mark, hey come sext with me on" to a whole night of texting with an true innocent seeking true love, nervous about having a Tinder account.

These gals are charmed, and they chat. . . a few love the poems. I mean who is normal doesn't like a poem written with their name?

I wonder about Han Shan's life before he moved to live on Cold Mountain.

In my first thirty years of life
I roamed hundreds and thousands of miles.
Walked by rivers through deep green grass
Entered cities of boiling red dust.

         [Cold Mountain Poem #12, translation Gary Snyder]

I've not yet found my Cold Mountain. I've still to write an "Account from my Hut", or summarize the life of a writer-scribbler in the dusk hours of late life. Swiping right, swiping left, I'm covered by 'boiling red dust' of the city.

Here follow my unexpurgated Tinder Poems, written on internet 'bark', grouped by the Muses they were written for.


"Ruth oh Ruth it would so soothe me.
 If Ruth oh Ruth, you could unclothe me!"

"Ruth oh Ruth could I rudely grab you?
 Get uncouth in a booth and nudely have you?"

At this point Ruth responds, a cryptic "Ha ha LOL!" . . and I realize that she's four thousand eight hundred miles away. I ask her where she is and she tells me . . . Rio de Janeiro in Brazil!

Distance that allows the fantasy of a verbal romance! The technique works at breaking ice . . but it seems only to break ice with gals who are far away!

"Ruth, oh Ruth, are you still down in Rio?
 Would it be crude if I asked, "Are you real?"
 Let's go to a show and open the door to a booth,
 Only then will I know, on the floor, that you're Ruth!"

After milking the sound 'uuuth' for all it was worth, Ruth seemed to suffer fatigue. Then, after a long two-week spell of silence, and feeling miffed, hurt, snubbed and refused in spite of my gallant verbal seductions, I 'unmatched' her! Many of the poems were lost forever. Forgive me for my immature reaction Ruth, I still miss you. . . Ruth do you read this. . . I'm sorry, come back to me . . .  ;)

It wasn't long before I got the notification. "You have a new match: Rachayl.

Rachayl was trying to find supporters for her Instagram account. She wasn't particularly talkative, but she did tell me that she had a laugh or two looking west across the Mediterranean from a vacation resort with her parents on the Israeli coast. Israeli coast? See the pattern? 

"Rachayl Rachayl you seem so pale!
  Bake in the sun, while in Israel."

She's a college gal on vacation, doing the home country. 'Gotta run now!' - "Ta ta!"

"Rachayl, Rachayl you play on Tinder,
 Do you tease the boys who'd like to win ya?"

"Rachayl, Rachayl, remember that spelling,
 Rachayl of Tinder, my member is swelling!"

"Rachayl Rachayl if poems impress,
 I'll reach for your tail and hope you undress."

"Rachayl, Rachayl let me give you a facial!"

After this Rachayl responded with a big "Ha ha ha! . . . and a huge  pink smiley! 

Thank God for the smiley. Was that appropriate? Suppose she wasn't the 21 years she claimed? Encouraged I redoubled my efforts to amuse her with decency. The internet allows explicitness between strangers as a way of creating trust. We then spent an hour or so texting normally. Wailing wall, Temple on the Mount. . . all that.

My interest in Rachayl isn't religious or racial!

"Rachayl, Rachayl with the Atlantic between us,
 I see you romantic on the tip of my penis!"

A few more "Ha ha!'s" then Rachayl's vacation schedule must have picked up pace, Her trail went cold. 

"Rachayl Rachayl I'm under your spell!
 Rachayl Rachayl you've left me in hell."

"Rachayl Rachayl come tease out my cudgel,
 Rachayl Rachayl say cheese and then snuggle!"

"Rachayl, Rachayl where did you go?
 Miles away, love's impossible in snow!"

A comment from the moderator on the Rachayl thread. I suspected she felt she had crossed a line and wanted to destroy the damning evidence. I woke up the next morning and found myself un-matched. Terminated. Thrown away. Discarded. Used, abused, and forgotten. :(

"A letter from Jessey would be better than a blessing!"

Ha! I like that!

"Much better dear Jessey, to get wetter and messy!"

:0 !!! 

Then dead in the water the next day. Emboldened, I start over . . . trying a different, non rhyming approach. The images would have to be short, metaphoric . . . dreamy, imaginative, magical . . . 

"You seem as blue as the other side of the clouds."

"Do you weep rivers in the morning when it rains?"

"Do you smile crops into bloom?"

Unattached metaphors, headless horseman, wander the internet, seizing hearts, seeking a brain.

"Do you weep like a Goddess for her God?"

"Beauty, what do you weep for?"

"Do you love the sons you might not birth in this life?"

"Your smile rips a hole in time and sets me there to fight a war."

Back to my rhyming . . . the faster the better. Athena attaches a 'moment', Tinder-speak for a candid selfie. She's posing seductively by her bathroom mirror . . . 

Athena :

"Athena my Goddess don't be modest!"

Athena does not dally with mortals.


"Let's get away from the crowds and wrap up in yur shrouds!"


"Alexa Alexa, do you get wet when I text ya?"

LOL!! Perv man I like this!


"Bobette, Bobette  my sweet little pet,
 Get yourself wet then come to my bed!"

Bobette scribbles: "How did you do that so fast?" 

"Bobette Bobette, we're not at the park yet!"
 Not much of a pitch, I'm too shook up to lob it,
 I never thought it a cinch, to hookup with Bobette!"

Remark to self . . the art of the rhyme is completely lost.

Bobette keeps her ears on. The connection's still open. Hope clings eternal.

Arlette 's another Muse with a name ending in -ette. Tinder has birthed an explosion of erotic identities, mostly looted from body parts of living mortals.


I send you these rhymes 'cuz I really can't stop it,
One night I'll spend time with the baby named Arlette!"

Arlette breaks silence to deliver an icy: "What is all this?" I carry on.

"You're a burst of shells in a faraway sky!"

Arlette's MIA . . . Easy does it. Slow down . . . Subtlety!


"It's Siobhan, Siobhan I'd so like to lie on!"
 Siobhan pardon me but I've got a hard-on for thee!"

Siobhan replies . .. "I'd love to have a Mark on my record!"

"It's never quite dark enough to make love in a parking lot!"

Lo! and Behold, out of the mysterious internet dark, Siobhan replies with an address . . . I google it . . . alas it's the middle of a park.

Winter comes to Cold Mountain.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Etsy Pot Poems

"My wife's old man was a guy named Pan,
  He had goat feet and he carried a gun.
  And though he was the clod that made her,
  I never could love that grisly Satyr."

"What keeps time without making sense
  Reminds our life, of the present tense,
  Distracts the mind from flows of fear,
  From deep inside, our eyes might tear."

"The Clown, the Chief, and some of their pals,
  Rode to Laredo to pick up some gals.
  But when they got there Laredo was closed,
  A war had started, and no one had clothes."

"If the gals in the room liked the guys we'll assume,
 Why bunch up in packs with the men to their backs?"

"One fine gentleman demonstrated,
 to some lady friends, then all went native."

"I saw my King down in the town,
  I set off to make my plea.
  If Queen then puts the drawbridge down,
  Will I hang if she takes me?"

"You’ll visit the palace and greet all their souls,
  You’ll give love to the lovers, and top up their bowls."

"I want to go a-birding
  I’ll hunt for the Great Toucan
  In Mexico I’ll be calling,
  Through Jungles of Yucatan."

"Les gens pensent, 'Ils sont mieux!
  On veut danser avec les deux!"

"Some say love's an emotion,
 Others say love's in the head.
 Some complain love’s a commotion,
 And maintain we should keep it in bed."

"In old Mexico, I shared love with a girl,
   in an ruin called Casa Moreños,
Her old family home, of aristocrats gone,
   they served me some Chile rellenos."

"If Arabia's faithful meditated,
  Would Palestine get liberated?

The showers of time spill over to rhyme,
Like a pot fired twice is bound to be nice

"A Buddhist from Iran who followed the Koran,
  Said "Violence! I'm sitting cross legged!"

"A Boddhisatva sat in lotus,
 At his altar Zen he showed us."

"Three beauties of that continent,
  made moody by our sentiments."

"A Shaman, a Cook, and a Clown
  Looked for women in a faraway town.
  Lacking the knack they took none to the sack,
  And went home after getting turned down."

"When they open up this old clay box,
  They'll find inside some poems that shock.
  Then I learned my family above,
  Put deep inside my memories of love."

 "It's never quite dark enough to make love in a parking lot!"

"A Shaman hunter, while walking in the snow,
 Came across two women, whom he liked but did not know.
 The erotic gals were naked, but weren't all shivering cold,
 'They might be curanderas, why else would they be so bold?' "

"Wearing headdresses, of fur and feather,
 Some dutiful Shamans, got together.
 They met two sorceresses from a foreign tribe,
 And tried to forget their Shamanic vibe."

"High in a palace in old Indonesia,
 There once was a Queen who practiced amnesia,
 She gave up all knowledge in exchange for her vows,
 To meditate on the Buddha without wearing clothes."

"Liquid lines in fires of chance,
  Make flesh shine, and appear to dance."

"After the ball she put in her mask,
  With beaked noses, of lovers past."

"Give up old morays, but when push comes to shove,
 Make some bold forays into temples of love."

"Three storybook critters put on clothes,
  And headed to the city, . . .
  . . . for what reason? Who knows?"

"What keeps time without making sense
  Reminds our life, of the present tense,
  Distracts the mind from flows of fear,
  From deep inside, our eyes may tear."

"Drops that fall are driven by sun,
 Watery thoughts may merge into one."

"Shaman in the Snow"

"A hunter-shaman, while walking in the snow,
 Came across two women, whom he liked but did not know.
 The erotic gals were naked, but weren't shivering cold,
 'They may be curanderas, why else would they be so bold?' "

Most of my content laden work is about mendicants, Buddhists, lovers, spiritual interactions with the physical plane, and often seems to be loaded with sexual innuendo. Sex, and provocation, are the impetus for the soul to improve itself. Insofar as human desire can be channelled, enlightenment can sometimes follow. This is the essence of tantra.

Sometimes my drawings don't have much of a drama going on. This is the state of aimless flux in which we live the daily moments of our lives. Then something happens, and it becomes a bit of a story. So it is with these drawings.

What would you do if you found two frozen women in the snow? You'd take them home, throw blankets around them, administer hot tea and brandy and warm them up of course!

But what if the women, or men for that matter, weren't even shivering, or acting cold? You might be suspicious, or even nervous! If you were a Shaman, a brujo, or person of spirit, you'd recognize these were like-minded persons, possessed with extra powers. You'd care for them just the same, but with a certain wariness.

This pot is on Etsy.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Shaman's Love Box"

"Wearing headdresses, of fur and feather,
 Some Shamans and Brahmans got together.
 They met two sorceresses from another tribe,
 And tried to forget their Shamanic vibe."

This is another one of my crazy figure drawing boxes that I've listed on Etsy.

Why do I put these hats that look like sandwiches on people's heads? I'm not sure. All I know is that I like drawing hats, and the hats that really impress me are the really big ones, the elaborate ones.

Shamanic hats from around the world are unique in shape and design. Traditional native American and Siberian shaman's dress in colorful finery of furs, and feathers, and beadwork. Such costumes speak of a connection with a psychic and mythological world, a connection with forces beyond the daily realm of experience.

The Shaman lives on the periphery of society. He or she is generally not included in most group activities. He is tolerated, paid for, kept up by a kind of group will as a sort of insurance practice for bad times. For when were Shamans consulted? When all was well, when crops were good, when the tribe was at peace? Not on your life. During such times the Shaman would be laughed at, and barely thrown a bone to nibble on. But as soon as some reckoning with the underworld needed to be made, some dialogue with primal forces of nature, or a debt settled with ancestors, or ghosts, or demonic creatures, then the Shaman was in huge demand. It was in such times that he or she was paraded out in the open in all his or her finery for all the tribe to see.

Naturally the Shamanic caste and Brahmanic castes have something in common. They are conveyors of cultural liturgy, of knowledge, of the power to heal, to worship to conduct rituals, marriages, death rites etcetera.

Shamans are people too . . . they marry . . . they suffer all the usual temptations  . . infidelity greed lust, the coveting of power etcetera. However their profession places their work in a kind of sacred trust, which they must never betray. This is why Shamans, when they are not Shamans, are in a kind of ecstasy. The weight of the world has come off their shoulders.

Hence Shamans and Brahmans are, and were similar . . . and always will be.

"The Buddhist Queen"

"High in a palace in old Indonesia,
 There once was a Queen who practiced amnesia,
 She gave up all knowledge in exchange for her vows,
 To meditate on the Buddha without wearing her clothes."

This box is a what I call medium sized . . nine inches in length, larger than the other boxes here. More views of this piece are on Etsy.

Again the recurring theme of a woman in meditation . . . this time I exploited the flow of temoku loosely applied over Shino and wax resist to create the shimmering halo effect of a crown.

The rhymes and titles are something I write to complete the work, in my mind, in my imagination. My pots are never perfect, but by writing something about them I hustle them along towards their destination, a little like a shepherd calling out to a flock.

"Move along there!"

"Night of Revelry"

"At a festival in France that was somewhat arty,
  People danced, to enliven the party."

This is a High-Fired Carbon-Trapped Shino Glazed Stoneware Box, decorated with Figures. The lively white lines with lascivious tones of red made me think of the title, "Night of Revelry".

Of course the title, the name, even the images on the side are all fantasy! The work is just a piece of ceramic, innate rock, as truthful to fire as a puddle of melted pyrometric cones. Everything we do is marked and defined by perceptions. The effect of naming is key in this process. The assignation of words to an object forever colors its perception, even to those who cannot read.

The effect was made by drawing on the Shino glaze with wax resist, and precisely controlling the flow of reduction atmosphere around the piece during the firing. There is no application of oxide washes.

Approximate Measurements 7 1/8" Long, 4 1/2" Wide, 31/2" High, and weighs 1.43 kg. It's listed on Etsy.

"Box for a Masked Ball"

"After the ball she put her mask,
 With a beaked nose from a lover past."

I think these boxes are a place for me to develop subconscious content, in so far as I have no idea what I am going to draw until the drawing's done. Then I have to identify, for myself only, why I made it, and what it's about. Hence the rhyme and title, they are for me. You may think my notions about my work are entirely incorrect, or even inappropriate. 

An artist is simply one that recognizes that the subconscious is the real motivator in life, and one who learns to work with it. 

There are some other pictures of this piece on Etsy.

"Three Critters went to Town"

"Three storybook critters put on clothes,
  And headed to the city, . . .
  . . . for what reason? Who knows?"

Another of my boxes made with a light high-fire clay, glazed with Shino, and drawn on with a brush and various oxide washes before firing at Cone 10.

This box is on Etsy of course.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rise of the Book of Science

Part II of an essay about Science and Poetry


Glimpses of truth or beauty however apparent, are not absolute, or lasting, and must be appreciated within a given context, time, and place.

Poetry and science both must observe rules about these contexts. There's a time and place for each type of explanation, even notions about behavior, conduct, for reflections on honesty, about meter and grammar, about frames of reference, about measurement. The languages of both are just that, languages, and so context is everything.

In short there are rules. Initiates to poesy and science both are educated in these behaviors as part of their training. However fashionable it would be to imagine a freedom without restrictions, such a reality does not exist and neither for the student of language or science. These codes of professional conduct, though for the most advanced of scientists, and poets, freedom is found in negotiating around 'rules', a perception that such constraints are non-existent, for a brief moment anyways.

Lets imagine these guides to conduct highlighted in an imaginary bibliothèque carried in the minds of scientists and poets alike. Conduct within the body of science, just as conduct within the body of the Church, is codified, set down as a list of standards, which all scientific adepts have memorized.

Poets also in ancient times, learned complex meters, developed an ability to compose extemporaneously, trained in the cannons of poetic tradition, ability to compose freely, but within previously established forms.

These established forms represent the 'academy' of poets, when all with even a hint of native genius know that great poetry is not created by adherence to these rules.

Indeed revolution revitalizes both the arts and science, and those that seek harmony and stability do just that, they harmonize and stabilize, but they do not create. The greatest of poets and scientists act by throwing the established order off balance.

And indeed when early science is confronted as an activity of Western Christianity, that examination shows it to be structured in the same manner as biblical myth. Most of the West now accepts science unquestioningly, even with a zeal that at times seems religious.

I'm not quarreling with what has been learned from science. Indeed the enormous endorsement of science is modern technology, which verifies the utility of scientific theory.

Note that technological advance has been steady throughout human history, and has not relied solely upon a scientific framework of thought. The best steels were produced by medieval Japanese, who had no scientific theories of metallurgy, or inorganic chemistry to inform their practice.

I'm simply observing modern minds accept the scientific method as a superior way of thinking without question.Scientists uniformly believe this manner of thought won out over all the others due to inherent superiority of method, and that it will not be superseded or followed by another system of thought,for a very long time. Science is not a passing phase, say as one might characterize Greek paganism, or it's predecessors alchemy, or astrology.

Yet the pagan myths of the Mediterranean ruled humanity without question for about ten thousand years, the monotheistic systems, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, have been around for just two thousand or so, whereas science as a system of thinking has been fully enthroned for just a few hundred.

So goes a myth, the structures of thought which we do not question.

How did this happen?

Middle Age Europe, deeply gripped by a pervasive Christian mythos found itself threatened by scientific and mathematical ideas emerging from the Islamic and Vedic East, and an illicit culture of domestic paganism in the form of astrology, and alchemical sorcery. Along with other pagan remnants, witchcraft, prognostication, and folk medicine these forces jostled and shook the regimented modern hierarchy of organized religion and were combined in a blender of civil strife that dominated Europe from the fall of Rome, until the rise of science.

So our textbooks would have us believe.

Not easily, not clearly, not all of a sudden with a capital S. No. It happened slowly, as theories to explain the growing 'evidence' of experiments by alchemists, doctors, naturalists and others compared notes on the natural world and slowly glued those observations together with a growing body of theory to produce a body of work called science.

The glue of theory, while it tries to explain the why, why, is of late begrudgingly admitted to be a model for reality, a conceptual model, that is no closer to the why than any of the earlier primitive modes of thought.

For example mercuric oxide when heated in a closed retort produces mercury and what later would be known as oxygen. A theory of atoms and molecules then postulated why this happens, and that successful theory proved itself by being able to predict additional experimental results.

The body of theory functions well as a model of reality. Science is very good at predicting. At mid-level phonemena while it appears to offer explanations, it does not, simply because if you dig deeply enough you note that the final frontiers of science are essentially a periphery of unanswered questions, for which there is no explanation at all, only models.

Theory, on it's own is just theory. It's a body of thought, yes some of it is written down, but it is nothing tangible or physical. There is so far as we know, no part of the galaxy where the 'settings' for atomic behavior or 'theories' are stored. We generate theory. Humans do. So long as our theories match observations of the natural world, all is well. If the observation of reality run counter to what a theory predicts, then the theory must be wrong.

So the scientific method burst into reality. And this method itself, was like a theory. Again, it is man-made fictitious stuff, seeking to explain what scientists do. You won't find that migrating whales discuss human theories, nor photons or black holes. They do what they do. And we do what we do, which part of the time anyway, is to theorize.

Let's review for a moment.

Christianity, under attack from foreign, pagan, and Eastern influences, begins to admit that some things were happening in the natural world that cannot be explained by the Bible.

If you are a designer of electric motors, you probably believe science to be the new and greatest system of thought, and you probably doubt that it has any flaws. But as one who needs a complete theory to accept only part of it, then electricity itself is without final explanation. Quantum electrodynamics, while it can predict behaviors in electric fields, offers nary a mote of a word about why.

An 'electrical field' is a theoretical concept. So is gravitation.

The 'Bible' didn't have all the answers, but neither does the new book of science.

So a new mythos rushed into life to take it's place. That new myth claims to have answers, but really what it has are approximations, mathematical models to describe and predict reality.

The myth is that science is a fount of answers, not a construct of models. The greatest scientists are the first to admit how shabby the models really are.

The reality is quite the opposite. Look at the number of times science itself has reversed position on the most fundamental phenomena.

In fact science is constantly working hardest in the areas where scientific evidence and scientific theory do not agree.

So if you're with me, and haven't hung up, let us then ask ourselves how a new dominant mythos might suddenly rear its head autonomously from within the bodies of much older parents?

Is it not logical to believe that the structure of a new thought system would be patterned after the DNA of its parents?


I'll continue this essay with an examination of how science is structured along lines of biblical myth. Perhaps I'll even compare it to Islamic myth. We'll see how the many systems of thought that compose science are actually a smooth continuum from many ancestors and many sources.

Of Truth and Beauty

There is a persistent modern myth that the beauty of poetry, the mysterium which poetry produces in the listener, is in some way a product of work, talent, or craft.

Explanations for natural phenomena seem existentially bound to material explanations. "What makes a plant grow?", The seed, the code of DNA, a set of reactions inside the cells? What makes a car steer? The wheel. What makes a car run? The motor.

Surrounded by ready answers, depictions of reality gloss over a thick coating of myth, an opaque polymer of material causes. The water soaks the paper. The rain wets the field. That drink quenched my thirst.

What makes the walker walk? His feet? Aristotle's final cause, 'the desire to get somewhere', is not at our lips.

Yet human endeavors in this second millennium are are ubiquitously propelled by understandings that only look to the walker's feet, the car's wheel, or the plant seed.

What makes these things happen? 

What fuels life? What runs the universe? Why does gravity work? What is gravity? What is an electromagnetic field? What causes light appear to bend objects placed partly in water?

Yes we have models that attempt explanation, but even while accurate predicting these behaviors no fundamental understandings are offered. As seekers we are left with our own constructs. Models are human made stuff. Moreover the models in use have changed significantly over time, and over the life of science and are likely to change again.

Our science, our methodology for seeking knowledge, whispers nothing, dry mouthed.

Poetry similar to science, has chewed up the lives of millions of devotees and seen imaginative minds toil under similar rules.

Science proceeds, so we believe, incrementally, towards truth, just as poets often deceive themselves that the object of their progress is beauty. Exceptions to all rules abound, and so with a few hundred years of science and many thousands of years of poetry at our backs, it appears that some progress has been made, though the mysteriums left to uncover seem infinite, and in the case of science, perhaps too costly to ever finally unmask.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Vase Post

This year I've made a lot of vases, large and small, beginning with the form used to do so many of my lidded boxes. They're similar in proportion, turned on end given a neck and a lip. Sometimes they're rectilinear, sometimes curve sided.

The fun is endless variety coaxed from what seems like only a few variables, pattern, execution, choice of clay, glaze, application, and firing.

A few variables, but the possibilities become infinite. The orange-peel effect if reduced a little more, might have had glaze crawling off the pot and onto the shelf. A bit heavier reduction and the result could have been all black, a slight change to the glaze and the effect could have been glossy.

So with all these inputs what makes one's work personal? I mean where does the unity of one's work come from?

The discovery that Shino can turn black without having a pot that falls apart in the hands was like a light going off somewhere in my dim mental universe. From orange to black and back! What a journey. It felt galactic somehow both towards, and away from starlight.

I'll post more to this file as I get pots photographed. My 2014 Vase post. One for the year so I don't bore my readers silly. Most of these are on Etsy. Here's a link.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"The Music Lovers"

"What keeps time without making sense
  Reminds our life, of the present tense,
  Distracts the mind from flows of fear,
  From deep inside, our eyes may tear."

Music of course! Why did I name this box 'Music Lovers'?

I noticed everyone's standing around with Austrian hats on, and this guy in the center of an end panel is holding something like a violin.

Why do we do what we do? You tell me.

This box is on Etsy

"Clown, Chief, Cowboys and Cowgirls"

"A Cowboy, Chief, a Clown and their pals,
  Rode to Laredo to pick up some gals.
  When they got there Laredo was closed,
  A war had started, and no one had clothes."

I honestly think that as I do this, I'm taking elements of stories read to me as a kid, and corrupting them with that coming of age curiosity about things that are adult.

Maybe my father had a smirk on his face as he read Dr. Seuss and Mom told him to shut up. 

Doesn't matter. If life doesn't hold fantasy it isn't worth putting anything into.

This box is on Etsy.

"Water Lovers"

"Drops that fall are driven by sun,
 Watery thoughts may merge into one."

I think this couple loves the water. She's ready to go in, he isn't

For her the water is real. For him it is imagined. It's a symbolic idea.

They look at it. Water, real or imagined, is always a mystery. It holds as thoughts the things we aren't ready to say.

This pot is listed on Etsy.

"Girls Hang Together"

"If the gals in the room liked the guys we'll assume,
 Why bunch up in packs with men to their backs?"

I must have been thinking about how at a lot of parties women hang together in a bunch. That makes the men hang together in a bunch of their own. 

Both sides cast glances at each other. Sometimes this happens before a pairing off of the obvious match ups. At other times the drones of each group do everything in their power to prevent that.

This usually happens when there's someone really attractive to one bunch or the other. A kind of jealous clotting effect occurs. The room configures to latch onto the desirable parties and prevent them from doing their thing. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Let Me Show You"

"One fine gentleman demonstrated,
 To his lady friends, before all went native."

Another box on Etsy.

This one has a trio of three figures on front. The fellow is showing something to the two ladies, right and left. 

What? I have no idea. 

It's all hand movement informed by the inner psyche of yours truly. But by your inner psyche as well. For whatever we think is most ours is actually the firm property of the collective unconscious. None of us invents anything. We're nerve endings to a vast organism, called planet Earth, which is heavily invested right now in one species. Man.

We all struggle with the infinite connections that make us do what we do, think what we think, and hope what we hope. But we're far less autonomous than we imagine. 

The ego of that species is starting to cause Earth serious problems. Worry not, the planet has made transfers from one type of life form to another very easily in the past. The problem for the ecosystem right now, is us. Yours and mine truly. As a 'problem' species, Homo sapiens is just preparing the planet for another quantum leap forward. We'll be succeeded by another life form.

Our ego driven kind is actually already solving a planetary emergency. We bring carbon up to the surface of the earth where the plants, much older than us, can use it. We're reversing billions of year of carbon fixing by plants and plankton. We're a great problem solver, like the funghi, who arrived to break carbon down so that it could be recycled by photosynthesizing plants.

It is thus likely that we'll have a more modest, somewhat hidden role, on the planetary surface in the billions of years that lie ahead. We'll watch other newbie species garner all the attention of the Sun. We'll watch them like the flashes in the pan that we ourselves are right now.

We always thought plants and funghi were dumb, but may have to revise that way of thinking. They're welcoming us already to their old boy's club, where I imagine, we'll sit around and tell tales.

"Genji-san's Diary"

"If I see my King down in the town, 
  And set off to make my plea.
  Then if Queen puts her drawbridge down,
  I'll hang if she taunts me."

Sometimes the royal scene gets into the subject matter of one's work. I haven't such a good relation with royals, viewing them as most Americans used to, as sycophants, living free off everyone else.

Nevertheless there are great works of literature about royals. One of them is "Tale of Genji".

I reference Genji here because of the very worn feeling to this box, an old Japanese artifact. The carbon trapping seems to add a millennium-old patina to the work, like faded fabric.

"Gathering of Souls"

  "You’ll visit the palace and greet all their souls,
   You’ll give love to the lovers, and top up their bowls."

Carbon trapping if done at the right moment in the firing, can affect the most ordinary Shinos as well as Shino mixtures intended to carbon trap heavily. 

This is a piece where the edges are tinged with grey carbon trap. This is as much to do with packing of the kiln (boxes close to one another) as it is to do with timing though. It makes a nice frame for the drawing.

One never knows how this sudden in-blast of carbon into the kiln when heavy reduction starts to smoke up the interior, exactly how the drawings will fare.

"Birdman and Ladies"

"I want to go a-birding
  I’ll bird for the Great Toucan
  In Mexico I’ll be calling,
  Through the Jungles of Yucatan."

Another Etsy box. This is one of the ones with a bold cobalt based wash over a white shino.

Lightly reduced to Cone 10.

What else to say? Breaks just like any pot!

"How did you Get Here?"

  "Les gens pensent, 'Ils sont mieux!
    On veut danser avec les deux!"

Another Etsy box. This year I've made quite a number of these, and now that they're starting to crowd us out I realize it's time to share them with others.

The drawings are a way of spelling out some kind of subconscious script. I'm still learning about what it all means. The title, "How did you get here?" is what I imagine myself, and the other people standing on the front of the box, asking the two women who are kneeling on the ground. 


But there's also a chance that I'm asking myself how I got here, how did I end up making so many boxes and painting on them with a brush.

There is a history to all this, and I'll relate it as efficiently as I can.

My father was an art teacher, landscape and portrait painter. He also made quite a few boxes, out of wood, utilizing old desk drawers and packing crates, which he installed with bits of sculpture and objects he collected. He was a great admirer of Joseph Cornell. 

When he attended meetings at the school where he taught, he was typically very bored. So he used to sit and doodle until all the faculty were dismissed. We called these drawings his meeting drawings. 

Dad's meeting drawings became a record of his subconscious content. I could always see the difference between the freedom of his meeting drawings and the straight classical rigors of his portraits.

His boxes escaped the problem by not involving drawing or figurative form. Dad even ripped off some of my sculptures and put them into his boxes so that he wouldn't have to deal with the 'I'm making a figure" strain on the ego. I"m doodling in just the same manner as my old man, letting the psyche breath, letting the soul expand, letting it grow and take on nourishment. 

I soon realized after starting ceramics that if you want do do brushwork on porous clay you have to be totally free. You cannot think. You have to just let it pour out. So I make the problem different by transforming it. I'm not about designing anything. I'm only trying to draw and not really be conscious of what I'm drawing.

We'll see where it goes.

"Temple of Love"

"Some say love's an emotion,
 Others say love's in the head.
 Some complain love’s a commotion,
 And maintain we should keep it in bed."

This is one of my recent boxes, other views visible on Etsy.  After a while all this drawing becomes like writing. Making bodies becomes like script. At some point the scene that's in the head begins to dictate what actually gets written.

High-fired Shino, lightly carbon-trapped at around Cone 09.

This box has ghostly remnants of some imagined architecture. Hence I'm calling it a temple. "Temple of Love." Yea baby!

"The Arab Buddhist"

  "If Arabian faithful meditated,
   Would Palestine get liberated?

Another of three boxes listed on Etsy with a Buddhist theme.

This followed a period when I was mentally noting the features of different hats from around the world. I drew this kid sitting in meditation then put an Arab headdress on him . . . then I wondered, what a wonderful addition to Islam, to Christianity and Judaism would be the practice of mediation!

A young boy sits on the ground, shielded from the sun by his keffiyeh. He sits between two panels illustrating distractions, one a scene of debauchery, the other of death and destruction.

A fairly standard white Shino, fired to Cone 10, light reduction.

"Iranian Buddhist"

"A Buddhist from Iran who followed the Koran,
  Said "Violence! I'm sitting cross legged!"

One of my ceramic boxes listed on Etsy. Been making quite a number of these lately. For me the adrenaline rush comes from drawing with a brush of oxide wash and painting rapidly on the white porous unfired Shino glaze. It's like drawing with India ink. No goofs allowed.

For you potters out there this is a Fergusen-McKenzie shino lightly reduced starting at around Cone 08 fired to finish at cone 10.

This is one of three such boxes with a Buddhist theme.

"Buddhist Primer"

"A Boddhisatva sat in lotus,
 At his altar Zen he showed us."

This is a detail of a box listed on Etsy. I wanted to paint something with a meditating figure, this was the first one of several on this theme. I just thought about the scene and the figures appeared. The ape-like qualities of the figures in front were not intentional, they just happened that way. The meditating figure is larger and has no face . . .hmmm. . . so I thought, this has to be a lesson in Zen mediation.

Later boxes from this series show the meditating figure with a distinctly Arabic or Palestinian hat, which led me to wonder, suppose the Palestinians in Gaza took up Buddhism, while at the same time remaining Muslim? I wondered, briefly, before fighting broke out again, what would happen if a meditative religious practice were grafted onto today's instincts for jihad.

Would mediation by either side, help lead to peace? One thing may be said about both sides in the conflict, neither religion has a tradition of meditation for clearing of the mind. Neither does Christianity. The monotheistic religions suffer from their own motivational myths, jihad, conquering, subjugation, being chosen. The religions of the word are ego inflating by definition. Nowhere in the core of these practices is a process of emptying the trash of the mind. If anything, they conflagrate mental debris by accentuating and emphasizing the power of the word which gets taken straight to the ego, and from there to anger.

That's it! The word has taken over! We need to clear our minds, forget our language, at least for a few minutes every day!

"Beauties of the Continent"

"Three beauties of that continent,
  made moody by our sentiments."

Another Etsy box . . . Ferg-McKenzie Shino, light reduction.

I wanted the idea of people crowding around beautiful women, which they do, particularly in Europe. Hats, hats hats. People on the continent wear more hats than here in the US. All types, men and women both.

Enough banter . . . have to list another.

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