The Empty Hills

The grandeur of deep afternoons,
The pomp of haze on marble hills,
Where every white-walled villa swoons
Through violence that heat fulfills,

Pass tirelessly and more alone
Than kings that time has laid aside.
Safe on their massive sea of stone
The empty tufted gardens ride.

Here is no music, where the air
Drives slowly through the airy leaves.
Meaning is aimless motion where
The sinking hummingbird conceives.

No book nor picture has inlaid
This life with darkened gold, but here
Men passionless and dumb invade
A quiet that entrances fear.

— Yvor Winters, born this day in 1900

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Biological Inheritance of Memories

The idea that a parent could pass inherited characteristics to a child was thoroughly discredited in the 20th Century. The idea that the parent’s learned memories could be transmitted seemed beyond the pale.

Now experiments have forced us to accept these things as possible, perhaps commonplace, though we have very little idea how they work.  We can talk about small RNA molecules and epigenetic imprinting.  But to conceive that these chemical stamps can form a robust language capable of comprehending a broad range of things that an animal might learn—this strains the imagination.

Article in Quanta Magazine

Micrograph of a roundworm with fluorescent green and red highlights of its germline cells and neurons.

Every so often, an inspirational speaker is truly inspiring

Forty years ago, I missed Jean Houston the first time around; but at 82, she’s still at the top of her game.

Space is collapsing, time is warping. The breadth and complexity of our experience as individuals is ten or even a hundred times greater than our ancestors of just a century ago. Today, we are being invited to become worthy of the challenges and opportunities that present themselves. We are asked to recreate ourselves, so that we can respond with creativity, courage, heartfulness, and deep insight and intelligence, to a world that accelerates beyond anything humanity has known before…A thousand years from now, in the fourth milennium, people will look back at us with words to the effect, “Well done, you ancient ones! You gave us our hope, our lives, out history—well done!”

 

20th Century Monoliths

The great pyramid at Giza was built from 2,300,000 stone blocks, each weighing many several tons. Two smaller pyramids brings the total over 5 million blocks. They were carved flat and square with great precision and transported over river and land from quarries a few miles to several hundred miles away.

The standard account from archaeologists is that this was accomplished by people who had not yet invented the wheel, or smelted iron tools. Doesn’t it stretch common sense to imagine this could be true?  Can you imagine 10% of the population, perhaps 200,000 people spending their entire lifetimes cutting, measuring, and polishing huge pieces of stone with other, smaller stones?

I think they knew something we don’t know. I don’t imagine backhoes and hydraulic cranes, but some kind of technology that is both alaien to us, even unimaginable, and also quite powerful and reliable.

A slight and unassuming 20th Century Latvian immigrant to Florida claimed to have re-discovered their secret.  He spent 28 years building his own stone sculptures cutting, moving and 10-ton pieces cut from coral/limestone with no power tools. How did he do it? He was fond of saying “it’s not hard once you know how.”

Coral Castle Museum, Leisure City, Florida - The Coral Castle is fascinating. Take the tour to hear the story about a lonely little man with a reported penchant for levitation who built a castle from giant coral rocks for the woman he loved. She never came to him but you can see from the grounds that he had big plans for a wife and several children. He carved bathtubs, cradles, armchairs and lots more out of the stone.

Cui (pronounced ‘tsway’)=Gathering together

I used to see the world as separate things
And tried to understand how they relate,
One to the other, how their acts create
The waves that flow forth in concentric rings.

More recently I’m inclined to suspect
The nodes at which relationships congeal
May constitute the objects we call “real”,
In truth it’s the connections they reflect.

The clarity that this perspective brings
Has demonstrated power to abate
This constant, primal loneliness I feel,
Erode the barriers that I erect,
Diffuse the pride of my internal kings,
So free the heart to swell and spread its wings.

— JJM #45 from the I Ching Sonnet Project

 

Peace

Last night, I read the Tao Te Ching with a group of friends. Lao Tzu tells us over again that good and evil are yin and yang, part of the way of the world, and that we needn’t take sides, certainly not try to impose the way of the Good on those we know to be Evil.

But. (You knew there was a but.)

But he seems to make an exception for war. Over and over, he tells us that the Master never goes to war. He is more subtle than to say “War is evil”, because that would undermine the picture of evil counterposed to good that he has painted elsewhere. So he goes beyond good/evil to tell us in no uncertain terms, “Stay. Away. From. War.”

Today I am joining a March on the Pentagon.

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