The best reason to learn German

Rainer Maria Rilke always convinces me there is profound meaning hiding behind the words, just out of reach. He is reason enough to study the German language.

Da neigt sich die Stunde und rührt mich an
mit klarem, metallenem Schlag:
mir zittern die Sinne. Ich fühle: ich kann -
und ich fasse den plastischen Tag.

Nichts war noch vollendet, eh ich es erschaut,
ein jedes Werden stand still.
Meine Blicke sind reif, und wie eine Braut
kommt jedem das Ding, das er will.

Nichts ist mir zu klein, und ich lieb es trotzdem
und mal' es auf Goldgrund und groß,
und halte es hoch, und ich weiß nicht wem
löst es die Seele los...


The hour is striking so close to me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now. There’s power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.

I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

— from a translation of the Book of Hours
by Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy

Book of Hours tiles

Rainer Maria Rilke was born on the 4th of December, 1875.

I am too alone in the world,
yet not alone enough to make each hour holy.
I want to know my own will, and to move with it.
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed.

Sustainable Agriculture

Everybody knows that the predominant agricultural practices around the world are unsustainable. We are losing topsoil every year. The energy cost of fertilizers and transportation has become a large and growing part of the price of food. We need larger and larger applications of pesticides as insects evolve pesticide resistance.

But what can we do? With 7½ billion people to be fed, the human race has become addicted to the high levels of productivity that only high-tech agricultural can provide.

What if it isn’t true?  Suppose that permaculture could be practiced in a way that actually produces more food per acre than monoculture.  That would be one of the most optimistic and hopeful directions for the human future, second only (perhaps) to direct interventions by ET.

Here’s someone who thinks permaculture can beat the “green revolution” at its own game.

Here’s a more fleshed-out version of the argument, in print with footnotes.  Chapter 8

What does ‘sesquicentennial’ mean?

The Tides of Change

Herewith is Beauty fashioned? Canst thou deem
Her evanescent roses bourgeon save
Within the sunlight tender on her grave?
Awake no winds but bear her dust, a gleam
In morning’s prophecy or sunset’s dream;
And every cry that ever Sirens gave
From islands mournful with the quiring wave
Was echo of a music once supreme.
All æons, conquests, excellencies, stars,
All pain and peril of seraphic wars,
Were met to shape thy soul’s divinity.
Pause, for the breath of gods is on thy face!
The ghost of dawns forgotten and to be
Abides a moment in the twilight’s grace.

George Sterling was born 150 years ago today.

The faith to feel sadness, and the Reward on the other side

Poignant transformations emerge from the depths of despair, but they result, if one is fortunate, in the heights of renewal. Certainly this was true for me, and many of the people I’ve known or worked with. What could be more precious than the gift of liberation from crippling despair, of being freed to pursue what deeply matters? What could be more critical than participating in – really grappling with – the rescue of one’s soul?

Yet what I’m seeing today throughout our culture is an increasing tendency to skip over this grappling part of the equation and to shift abruptly to the transformational part.

Today, how many children [not to mention adults] are encouraged to work through their torment – or even to supplement their medication with an emotionally supportive encounter?

The most popular [psychological therapies] today, such as medication and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are often short-term and have a mixed record with regard to effectiveness. The emerging view is that they are helpful for relief of symptoms such as negative thoughts, poor appetite and phobias, but questionable when it comes to complex life issues, such as the search for meaning and purpose, and the struggle with love.

Kirk Schneider goes on to describe the transformation that is sometimes available when people have the support and the patience to work through their grief and their fear to a renewed elation and sense of wonder that is larger than our suffering.

Read the rest from Kirk Schneider at


Gratitude for what we once had

To separate is sometimes in the cards.
Though you may feel relief, it makes you sad
To contemplate the scattered, broken shards
Of intimate relationship gone bad.
Your consolation lies in moving on,
But at your peril you neglect to mourn.
For new connections there is time anon;
The old must die before the new is born.

The hardest gratitude is what we’ve lost,
Appreciating that which did not last.
To feel this is to know the future’s cost,
And free yourself to leave behind the past.
It’s difficult, but trust yourself to cope—
To step into the unknown, ripe with hope.

— JJM, #56 from the Yi Jing Sonnet project

Image result for slipping through my fingers

An Uber-Successful Capitalist Critiques Capitalism

We’ve been told that unregulated competition leads to greater wealth for the masses. We’ve been told that higher wages just makes people unemployable. We’ve been told that free markets ensure that everyone is paid exactly what he is worth. None of this is true. They are just myths that serve the mighty, and prevent the rules that could create a more equitable system. The whole “science” of economics is a rationalization for rules that give the rich an unfair advantage over everyone else, with no basis in objective reality.

The worst of the capitalists have hijacked our democracy and captured the agencies that are supposed to regulate their activity. We the people can put democracy back on top of capitalism, where it belongs.