Thursday, April 30, 2009

Factories of Fantasy

In his history of the national security state, Gore Vidal says there are two formidable factories of fantasy in the world: one is located in Hollywood, the other in Washington, D.C.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cultivating Insight

Where they sought a molecular mechanism, she sought a conceptual structure supported and made real by the coherence of its inferences and its correlation with function.

She had developed a unique virtuosity at integrating disparate clues into a coherent and meaningful whole. Her ability to identify those clues that were worth following, her instinct for what was important, grew steadily.

Her belief is that the mind functions like a computer--processing and integrating data far more complex than we can possibly be conscious of. Those who learn to cultivate insight learn also to respect its mysterious workings. They come to know trust and value it.

--A Feeling for the Organism by Evelyn Fox Keller

Friday, April 17, 2009

Recovery and Return

At the end of the forested canyon where I live is a footpath that follows a cascading stream up a flank of the mountain to a ridge that looks down on a valley of old-growth redwoods known as Muir Woods National Monument. Beyond that is the Pacific Ocean.

When the largest of the trees in Muir Woods were young, one third of the population of Europe and the Middle East were dying from the Black Plague, and suffering greatly from social and religious hysteria. Their economies and governments were in turmoil; corruption and depravity were rampant. Recovery from these traumas was doubtful.

Across the Pacific at the time they were seedlings, gunpowder had been in use for as long as they have now lived. The loudest noise that reverberated through the valley, though, would have been the rare thunder or perhaps drums of the Miwok Indians.

Just before dark on New Year’s Day 2003, I walked through the monument with visiting friends who were startled by the copper silver flashes of salmon and trout splashing their way through the rippled spawning redds in muted spotlights of dusk. They were surprised Coho and Steelhead still returned from feeding in the Pacific to this creek where they were born.

Watching the ocean fog sail overhead this morning, I ponder thoughts of recovery and return and what they hold in store for the seedlings I see walking through time.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Strait Stuff

On the silent rise in the pines overlooking the tidal beach, we could pee in the lee of the fir tree without losing sight of the kiting Osprey at hand or the sound of wave-washed pebbles below. Thick duff and wild rose held the bluff at bay while scent of pitch oozed down.