Monday, August 31, 2009
Our time here is but small.
Happy Birthday to the Wild Woman of Borneo, who attains her majority today and spends it yet a free woman.
As gift I have only my enduring love and affection, offered freely.
The gift I receive and treasure on these days is the memory of her birth, which day is blurred in parts and in parts burned in as by fire. My wife and I are intimate creatures, drawn to our small world, and that day was one in which our small world contained the whole of creation, made for and by us and like any worthy thing did nearly destroy us in its coming.
And has not yet completed its destruction.
I settled in my mind early on that love was what mattered to me and would be the flag I carry into battle, the land on which I spend my blood and sinew, and it is my pride that I have done so as a man.
In all the ways that matter, I am innocent of all knowledge or wisdom. But I am contented to take the bit in my teeth and go on. There is work, there is love, and there is leisure. We are each of us being led to the slaughter and will not be spared. Nor one of them we love. Nor blade of grass nor spark of light.
I raise my glass to you. To my child on her eighteenth birthday, to the woman who brought her forth, the our parents and their parents, and to you and yours and our numberless progeny and ancestry.
May you be calm.
May you be at peace.
May you be happy.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
plate no. 17
I have a book on my shelf entitled "Forensic Taphonomy" that details for me all kinds of postmortem changes that dead human beings can be subjected to. It shows me what happens when a body is left underwater for a few hours, a day, a few days, a week, a month, a year. It shows different effects of predation. It shows the effects of heat, moisture, dryness. Acid baths, chopping up, smashing to bits, etc.
It shows a photograph of a retarded man who covered his entire head in duct tape and suffocated. He had done it a number of times. It was an obsession with him.
I have a book of wax models of a dead woman with a fetus inside her. You can take out the organs, the womb, the dead wax baby. It is Italian, from the 17th century. La Specola museum, something like that.
I keep a copy of Gray's Anatomy, too.
I have a book of murder scenes and different wound patterns from gunshots, knives, ice picks, hammers, baseball bats, fire, poisons, acids, machetes and axes, etc. Strangulations of differing types.
I refer to it often.
It has been so hot here. Over a hundred the last two days. So last night we slept in the lair, out in the backyard.
Under the three-quarter moon. Among the chirping crickets and occasional sirens and gravel trucks passing by on Main street.
Avec le bulldog.
Last night I made hummus and a chilled shrimp, kalamata, tomato salad, and a chilled cucumber, feta cheese, greek yogurt salad and these crazy spice-rubbed bacon-wrapped broiled scallops.
A cold, cold bottle of Justin chardonnay.
And for after, home-made lemon sorbet.
I ate myself sick and had to lie down.
Today the heat wave has broken and we walked along the cliffs over the ocean in rolling fog and cold, tangy salt air. We held hands and talked quietly, as is our way. I rambled on and on about the nature of reality, the impossibility of moral action, the heat death of the universe.
She smiled quietly to herself.
Now I gotta make us some lunch.
The dead continue their dirt naps.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Orthetrum Sabina Sabina
do not judge what you cannot apprehend.
I have returned from my travels. It is good to be home.
I am engaging in the Saturday routine. Coffee, art, breakfast, walkies, housecleaning, dogwashing, dinnermenu planning and shopping, cooking and eating. And reading. And napping in the hammock or the lair. Handholding.
I don't know what I'm going to cook, but I do know there is going to be a big, fresh, juicy salad and a lush bottle of wine. Something earthy and complex as a main course. Some good veggies. Crusty bread.
I'll let you know.
My daughter is harder to figure out than chinese arithmetic.
She is the Higgs boson of my life.
May you get what you want today.
I decree it!
Friday, August 21, 2009
I love this image.
Today I am cleaning the house, one of my favorite things to do in the world. I didn't used to be a clean freak, but after standing around in enough tweaker shitholes I started to seriously want everything I looked at and sat on and slept in and ate off of or showered in to be clean.
My wife hates a lot of stuff about my job. She doesn't complain much about the cleaning part.
I am craving the mixed seafood quesadillas at Pier 46, which is this tiny and awesome land-locked fish store in Templeton, forty miles from the closest water. But the owners are passionate and crazy and they have live crabs and lobsters and oysters and mussels and clams and fat loins of sashimi grade tuna and fresh ceviche and I am going there with my gorgeous wife for the quesadillas and I will buy three pounds of green lipped mussels and I will cook them for dinner in a godawful mess of garlic and butter and we are going to eat them and drink a cold bottle of something white, something I've never had before, and goddamn if we won't have chocolate souffles and ice cream after and then watch something Japanese and snuggle up on the sofa and that, dear reader, is my precise and compricated pran.
I am not any more disturbed than it is useful to be.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Struggle For Supremacy
Today was liars. Asking me for help and lying about why. Lying about what. Demanding I do this and that. Putting a plate full of shit in front of me and telling me to eat.
The woman in tears asking me to find her son.
The man begging me to get his daughter back from his ex-wife who kidnapped her.
The woman who said her husband's been molesting their daughter.
The man who said he hasn't been locking himself in his daughter's room for hours every night.
I could hit someone, I swear to god.
Get in line.
So after work today I am driving to the store to get more vodka because I have gone through the last bottle already and there is some fuck in front of me going too slow.
There is a dreadlocked dirt-head in the intersection walking in circles, dazed, smiling.
Slowing me down.
There is an old lady in the checkout paying with singles and nickels and pennies and I'd like to snap her neck. There is the fucking semi-retarded clerk making her start over with the counting of pennies.
A guy backing out and blocking the exit.
I am on a short fucking fuse today.
You come here, you read this shit I put out, you might get the wrong idea about me. I sometimes aspire to spiritual creaminess, but don't get me wrong.
There is in me a slithering meanness.
I do not mean to complain about my small troubles. I just mean to say that it is often a mistake to hold others in high regard.
For we are flinty-souled and poor in spirit.
We have bad dentition.
Try a little tenderness
I can breathe because I have a small refuge from the world. My wife and I have built this craft that carries us on the waters. Sometimes we raise the sails and the sun shines and the wind fills the sails and we drink wine and laugh and squint into the abundant sunshine and sometimes the wind fails us and the sky grows featureless and the waters still and I man the oars and sweat and heave and haul until my hands blister and bleed and my back aches and I collapse and then she mans the oars until her hands blister and bleed while I sleep or whimper or just stare out to sea. We get storms and hard weather. We see mirages. The food spoils. Hull springs a leak and we spend days and nights bailing. We drift off course.
But we don't abandon ship.
We paint her and decorate her, we bring her gifts. We tinker with her engine, we keep the fuel cans clean and full. We ask everything of her and we withhold nothing from her. When we get to port we haul her out and scrape her clean before we take our own showers, before we run into the dark jungle for more mangos.
We bind ourselves yet tighter. Sinew, bone, and blood.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Self Portrait with Wedding Ring
I know I am going to die. I know. My wife, my child. My mommy and daddy. My friends and enemies.
I just don't believe it.
I just read Didion's Year of Magical Thinking, because it is about the axe-fall of sudden loss, which interests me. I did not like the book and found myself not liking her because she was too rich, too privileged, too precious for me to take her suffering seriously.
How fucked up is that?
I guess what that book showed me was that it really doesn't matter how tragedy and loss do their work, it always feels sudden, complete, overwhelming. I find it so compelling and strange that it seems such an insult when the wheel of life turns and crushes you beneath it. Like, "Man, I didn't see that coming!
You didn't notice it happening to every single other person on the planet since man walked the earth?
But we don't. Not really.
Not until it's our turn.
I suppose it keeps us sane. That peculiar kind of willful seeming blindness.
Keeps us paying our mortgages and fixing the roof.
Thing is, if we could only keep that horror fresh, in front of our eyes, see it for what it is, wouldn't that make our lives so much richer? But it slips away. I mean, I see truly awful shit every day, it's how I make my living. And I'm interested in it. I actively seek it out and study it, look at it hard, taste it, but still it mystifies me and won't stay in focus.
I keep thinking it's not really going to happen to me.
Next week I'm going to sunny San Diego for a week long class in investigating child abductions, the child sex slave trade, and child murders.
After I get back I'm going out to Front Sight for another four-day pistol class. I'm a lefty, but I'm going to go through this class right-handed.
I don't know what's wrong with me. Am I supposed to figure that out?
Meanwhile, other people suffer.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Cripples At Baseball
Yesterday's dinner was dead good. We had my Dad and Stepmother (not evil) over. We ate and drank wine and talked story.
It was fine.
Today we are both dragging ass. The cops came to the door in the middle of the night. We've had a lot of the in the past four years, so we were steeled for more bad news, but it was the wrong house or some shit, I don't know.
After that we couldn't sleep. We watched The Life Aquatic again. Tried to get our heart rates down.
So today has been lounging about, a walk on the cliffs, lots of coffee and internet and scrambled eggs and bacon and leftover potatoes and french bread and she's working on a new quilt and I did a little bit of...well, call it art for lack of a better word. I don't know what it is, but it makes me happy. I get a charge out of working with these images. That photoshop makes up for my inability to draw and paint. I get to make art anyway.
I love that we can have a whole day to lounge about, lick our wounds, eat, sulk, snuggle. Take insanely hot showers and ice-cold showers and drink coffee and watch crap and read good books and keep each other in sight, in a casual way, like it doesn't matter all that much.
But it does.
Hope you are living it real. I know you are.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Glazed Pork Loin with Cilantro and Garlic
You make a marinade with Apricot nectar, ten cloves of garlic smashed up, chili pepper flakes, a half cup each of kosher salt and sugar, two cups of water. Pop a couple of pork loins into a big ziploc bag and fill it with the marinade and chill several hours or overnight.
When you're ready to cook, remove the pork, pat it dry, and coat it with canola oil then rub in the spice rub, which is ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, dry mustard, cumin, salt, pepper, brown sugar, lemon pepper, chipotle chili powder, and whatever else you like. Cover the loins with the rub and put them in a 350 oven until the internal temp is 135.
Pull them out and brush the glaze over them.
Glaze is a half cup of apricot preserves, juice of three lemons, a clove of garlic smashed up or grated, salt and pepper, and a big bunch of finely chopped cilantro. Mix that together and brush over the pork loins, but set at least half of it aside for later.
Pop the loins back in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes, until the internal temp is 145.
Let them rest for ten minutes or more. Slice into 1/4 inch slices, then dredge them through the rest of the glaze.
Serve with oven roasted potatoes, which is super easy- cut up a mess of red potatoes, leave the skin on- halve them, quarter them, slice each quarter into thirds. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add any other herbs you like, but wait until the last five minutes to add the herbs. Place on baking sheet in oven at 450 for thirty-five to forty minutes until they are dark and roasty.
I'm also doing this salad:
Fig Salad with Goat's milk yogurt and Arugula
which is as many mission figs as you can find or two dozen, halved, on a bed of baby arugula, drizzled with red-pepper infused olive oil and the dressing:
half cup of goat's milk yogurt
half cup of crumbled soft goat cheese
juice of three lemons
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
salt and pepper to taste
After dinner is the key lime cheesecake I made this morning.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Night Falls, Now Listen
I love this goddamn world. It is a fucking catastrophe. I wish sometimes that I'd be spared, but I won't be. Neither will you. We're both for the boneyard.
Let's not squawk about it, okay?
Let's have a little dignity.
I have found that I love to cook. I love it in the same way that I love to fight or shoot. It is like car chases and doing art and writing a good poem and hitting someone with a solid right cross.
Only it tastes better.
Test of a man:
Chop down trees and build a log cabin.
Build a boat and catch fish and cook them in a cast iron skillet with onions and fennel.
Get the best woman there is and make her love you. Don't give her a choice.
Go into the woods and find the monster living there and fight him and either break him or kill him, his choice. Cook him and eat him or throw his rotten body into the sea or burn it up or become best friends.
Write a good book and read all of the good ones you can get your hands on.
Save a damsel in distress.
Get a tattoo from a disreputable character, drunk or sober.
Fight a lion, a tiger, and a snake. Win or lose, it don't matter.
Bury someone for a friend.
Do what's required, damn the cost.
Love with abandon, harder than you ever hit anyone.
Lash out in fury. Make the earth quake in fear of you.
Look death in the eye and watch him blink.
Put your daughter on your shoulders as you walk through the crowds at the fair. Give her the giant pink bear you won at the bottle toss booth.
Change the tire.
Take out the garbage.
Fix the roof.
Kill the chicken.
Put out the fire.
Get the cows in.
Batten down the hatches.
Do what they're afraid you'll do after all.
When it's time to go, go down swinging.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Programed Cell Death In Disney Land
From 1942 to 1944 Rita Montalcini looked at chicken embryos under a microscope in her small room, after it was forbidden for Jews to attend university.
She cut off the tiny legs or wings of the embryos and then noticed that there were some cells that died in the spinal cord, some nerve cells. She figured out that if the nerve cells didn't receive some kind of signal from the missing limb, they would die.
She did drawings of sections of the cells hour by hour.
It turns out that programmed cell death is a vital process in every living being. We are created as much by death as by life. In any hour, billions of our own cells are told to kill themselves, which they do. Apparently without complaint. And their bodies are subsumed by healthy cells.
We start off with our little fingers and toes webbed together. It is programmed cell death that kills off the webbing and leaves our digits free.
Death is the same thing as life.
It isn't any different.
I've been bothered in the past few days by my feeling that there isn't any such thing as a soul, any such thing as an afterlife, anything after this life for me.
I found myself feeling very much as if I didn't matter, that none of us do, very much. Not the individual, at all. It's the multitude of us that counts, the species, the hairy fucking breath of life that courses through our cells, our bodies, our multitudes- that's what matters.
I started to feel like it might be okay to die, or to kill off this one or that one, for whatever reason. I mean, what's one life in the big scheme of things? If there is no soul? No God? No Buddha? No judge, no jury? Just the blind mechanism, working away?
But then I started to think that that only made each individual life even more precious, more rare and heartbreakingly unique.
I mean, if you get to go to heaven, or get reincarnated, then what the fuck? What happens to this bag of bones, this rag of flesh, it isn't really important. A few score years in the vast sea of timelessness, of eternity.
But if this really is it?
My God. It's worth the world.
Each precious second ticking away is a vastness of wealth lost and lost and lost again.
We are made paupers.
We are bankrupted.
I love this life. I love my mind and my body and my wife and my child and my dogs and my job and my friends and sex and drink and food and strife and struggle and the cessation of struggle.
I love the oar and the sea and the strong muscles of the back and arms and the hot sun and the salt spray. I love to fight and fuck and eat and cry and long for what is lost. I am a bum and an idiot and a failure. I am a genius and an artist and a god, a snake and a saint and a fool.
I keep thinking of that guy who threw himself off the Golden Gate bridge. The second his hands left the railing, he knew he'd made a mistake.
Our understanding is but small, but perhaps sufficient to see that our world is an unending wonder factory.
Mine seems to be.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Tied To You Like The Buttons on Your Dress
Friday, August 07, 2009
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
From Each Accordion To His Need
Lately it seems to me the only thing that makes sense is that we are not any different to ants.
Do you believe that an ant has a soul?
Or are they just little bitty robots?
Maybe there is a dim little light on in there somewhere.
I keep seeing ants in my mind's eye, scrambling along some scent-path on a vast expanse of asphalt or concrete or dirt, stopping now and then to wave antennae at an ant going in the other direction, toward the piece of candy melting in the sun or back to the nest...maybe stressed out about their production level last month, not hitting their numbers, gotta beat that asshole from sector nine this quarter for sure...and then I step on him, or a car runs him over, or his little machine just quits and he keels over.
How many ants die a day?
Run that number for a few million years. And remember that the biomass of ants outweighs our biomass by, what, a factor of nine or ten?
Anyway, it seems that ant colonies get along perfectly well without the need for an individual ant to have a soul, or even a personality. What makes us different? Well, we have a more complex neural network, a much bigger brain. Our bodies are bigger, too, and more complex, but it seems a good bet that in terms of complexity the primary difference is upstairs.
So if we look to anatomy and biology and evolutionary biology especially, we can see that the mechanism driving both ants and man is DNA on the inside and the planetary, physical setting on the outside. I can see a mechanism for increasing complexity there, and there is a step-by-step route to get from ant to man biologically that makes some sense. We are related, at least we are, you know, made up of cells full of DNA and various combinations of cells into tissues and organs and systems. We are born, reproduce sexually, work, live, fight, build, eat, shit, kill, attack, defend, nurture, farm, explore...I mean, you could argue that the primary difference is simply scale.
So why do I need a soul if the ant does not? And what does it mean, anyway? Let's say for the sake of argument that the ant does have a soul. I think that from our standard conception of a soul, that is, let's face it, my soul is really me, the important part anyway, that is immortal and forever and can never die; that concept of a soul would say that ant number 3,112,456, lets call him Billy, well, Billy gets born and does his little dance and then he dies and then what? He goes to ant heaven where there is dropped candy everywhere, and no cars, no birds, no people to smash them or eat them, where he lives with his little golden halo and his tiny feathered wings and eats sticky candy and hangs out with the Ant God forever and ever and ever?
Or goes to ant hell if he was bad?
Or gets reincarnated a billion, billion times?
What the fuck for?
Why doesn't he just, well, die? I mean, in a sense he gets reincarnated, sure. His little body died, his little heart and his little bitty brain and his stick legs and hairy abdomen and his antennae died, but his atoms didn't die. They just get scattered and then they go be a part of something else for a while.
So is that where his soul is? In each atom? Or subatomic particle?
Is there anything we could call awareness in there?
It gets to be a meaningless idea, it seems to me.
Even the buddhist idea of reincarnation, if you read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Sogyal Rinpoche's version anyway, he'll tell you that your soul, the part of you that gets reborn, doesn't really equate to your ego, your sense of self at all. So when Billy dies in Buddhist thought, and gets reincarnated along with the Karmic debt he incurred as a little ant, what gets reborn as another ant, or a yeast cell, or a professional basketball player, is not really at all the same as whatever was animating dead Billy while he was alive.
There isn't a Billy that connects dead Billy the ant with new, live Billy the yeast cell.
Something moves through, something connects, but it's something ethereal and not related to the idea of self.
It becomes so dilute as to be meaningless, at least as concerns the idea of a me that gets to keep on living after my meat suit dies.
Just what I've been thinking about lately. In a kind of messy, retarded way.
I just don't think right now that there is a mechanism for a soul to even exist in any way that could be meaningful to the ego at all. If there is something eternal, it's so divorced from my concept of me that it's like saying that there is a weak electrical force that binds electrons to the nucleus of an atom...it don't mean nothing to me personally.
Which is all a way of saying that I feel like I have maybe outgrown the concept of a paternalistic, all-seeing, personal GOD in white robes and beard who sees each sparrow fall and doesn't like it when I masturbate and curse and is keeping score of all my many sins, and maybe I am now in the process of outgrowing the more esoteric and slightly more mature idea of a depersonalized god or spiritual force, even the idea of my own soul, my own precious self that gets to stick around forever.
Maybe this physical world is it. How can it be otherwise?
But isn't it magical? Isn't it limitless? Vastly huge and impossibly tiny, and mysterious, and wonderful, and enough?
Isn't this multitude, this orgiastic glory, enough?
It's an embarrassment of riches.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Last night I made a pork loin with apricot cilantro glaze and three-cheese scalloped potatoes.
It were good.
But that salmon and leek pie from a couple days ago?
Today I made a big pot of chicken soup and took that and some of the scalloped potatoes over to my grandparents house so they wouldn't starve.
It's kind of funny to make chicken soup for your Grandma.
What kind of crazy, mixed-up world is this, anyway?
Our child made a brief reappearance before running off with some smelly, but nice, hippies. This is the kind of thing that happens around here, I'm afraid. Did you ever see that Norwegian film, Elling?
It's two guys who get out of the funny farm and get set up in a little apartment by the benevolent government so they can transition to living back in the world. Anyway, whenever the telephone rings in their apartment, the camera goes all tilty like they are suddenly at sea.
That's how it is for us, too.
Who could that be? What do they want now?
If I could I would cook all day. Well, cook and eat. With lots of wine, preferably. Throw a nap or two in there, some reading, maybe a gunfight once a week, I'd be good. I guess I need my job because there is just not enough assholes around here for me to deal with and I'd get bored if I couldn't get all confrontational every now and then.
I love this stupid world.
I gotta go watch a movie with my wife now.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I always wanted more.
I wanted to meet alien beings. I wanted to travel back in time and see the dinosaurs. Pilot a ship at warp eleven through the asteroid belt. Read minds. Bend spoons.
Nowadays I can't hardly stand how fuckin' weird things really are.
I mean, seriously, WTF?
I always was a spiritual kid. Meaning I believed in spirits, but also I believed in capital "G" God and the concept of God and of myself as a spiritual being, a soul, ensconced in a physical, human body. I believed in Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I wanted to be good. I remember watching the Sunday morning evangelist preachers on television when I was like four or five years old and sitting real still to see if I could feel Jesus calling me to be saved.
I was pretty sure I felt it. I could almost make out his voice, calling my name, asking me to put my sinful four-year old ways behind me.
I got baptized in the lukewarm, chest deep water behind the pulpit at the First Southern Baptist Church my grandmother went to. There was a mural behind the baptismal of green fields and a blue sky and a river coming down to the water like you were really standing in a river and not in some supersized bathtub. You took three steps down into the water on one end of the stage and the preacher grabbed the back of your head with one hand and covered your mouth with the other and dunked you down, praying loud all the while.
It felt pretty good.
I read the bible. I read science fiction. I read everything I could get my hands on. Still do, for that matter. History, geology, anthropology, philosophy, cosmology, neurology, physics- regular and quantum. Robert M. Pirsig and Thomas Pynchon and Vonnegut, Loren Eisley, Gary Zukov, Doonesbury, whatever I could find.
I thought there was a mystery to figure out.
I thought if I could figure it out, I'd get to participate in it. Like Carlos Casteneda did- he left the safe environs of the campus at UCLA and went out into the Sonoran desert and ate mescaline and datura with a crazy old holy warrior and he rolled around in the dirt with the gods. He pierced the veil.
That was what I wanted.
Hell, I still do.
But I'm feeling more and more that there really isn't any veil to pierce. That fantastical imagination is really more like a failure of imagination- that is, to be able to see what's real, what's really real and all around you all the time, there for your taking, always, eternally- that's the fucking challenge, isn't it?
What Jesus said about his father's kingdom is all around us. Within us and surrounding us. It isn't someplace else. Nor something else.
It is merely this place, here and now.
If I have a soul that lives on after my body dies, there has to be a reason for it. A real reason, one that justifies all this over the top creation of billions of galaxies worth of stars and planets, and billions of years worth of time, and billions of lives created and destroyed, the long, slow, impossibly vast march of time and space toward this very moment, toward the creation of me. Which does imply a god, which does imply a moral code, which then brings up the sticky question of the suffering of the innocents.
I mean, I get it that we're supposed to suffer under this idea of a moral universe, a fatherly God. We fall short, we sin, we suffer and are punished for it.
But all those murdered children, hacked to death by machetes or drowned or starved to death or locked in a closet, raped, etc.
I mean, you're just left with this bullshit about God works in mysterious ways.
But if I'm just what you see, a guy on the earth who got born and will die, and that's pretty much it, then it kind of all makes sense. There's no need for an eternal soul for me, or for anybody else, because we are a symptom of complexity- we arise spontaneously when the conditions are sufficient. Just like our brains developed consciousness spontaneously when they grew sufficiently complex.
How a simple set of rules, a simple program, run infinitely many times over a vast amount of time can result in ever-increasing complexity that in turn generates emergent properties that were unforeseeable if all you ever looked at were the handful of simple rules and conditions that kicked off the whole shebang.
So, there isn't any point to the thing, except the point of doing it- throwing off energy and complexity and patterns and pattern making and repetition and experimentation and galaxies and planets and life forms vast and limitless and ever changing.
I am a flowering of an energy pattern, a dance of atoms, that has arisen and will crest and fall and dissipate and that's me.
That's what I get.
I get to participate.
Namaste, you sons a bitches!
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.
This place is where I get all my gear.
So, I am in the midst of some kind of religious conversion experience in how I view the nature of reality. Like an atheist's religious vision.
Replete with wrestling with an angel till dawn.
Getting my hip dislocated.
My angel is not Gabriel but neuroscience and physics.
I've been reading Tor Norretrander's "The User Illusion", among others, and I just got this feeling that the whole endeavor of religion and spirituality was, of course, a search for meaning, a desire to know the structure and purpose of reality, but one driven primarily by the desire to reconcile the difference between the way our conscious selves and our unconscious selves process our environments.
Since our conscious minds have a relatively narrow bandwidth, a lot of the processing our sensory apparatus does is simply the discarding of information before it gets to the conscious mind. The unconscious gets access to billions and billions of bits of information that the conscious mind never gets to see or be aware of- because that much information would only gum up the works of the conscious mind and shut it all down. So the unconscious gets all this information- the pressure of the chair on your ass, the sounds of the house creaking and cracking around you, the temperature, the movement of the air, your gurgling stomach, etc, etc; meanwhile your conscious mind deals with what you are thinking about, what you are trying to say, what the person you're talking with is saying or even what they mean or might mean, etc.
What Norretranders says is that our conscious mind is like the operating system, Windows or Mac, and that the unconscious is like the binary 1's and 0's that all that stuff is made of inside the computer. If you didn't have your conscious mind, you'd be inundated with all this flood of data you just couldn't make sense of. With the conscious mind you get to have a pretty interface with reality that makes sense to you. You click on something, you open a folder, drag something to the trash, it's all concrete. You can see it and understand it.
So what happens is that there is this huge gulf of unprocessed information between the unconscious mind and the conscious mind, and that is the source of all of these interesting things that happen that don't make sense to the conscious mind because it thinks it knows everything and doesn't realize or want to admit that it is being kept in the dark about 90 percent of what goes on. So the unconscious mind is reading your partner's body language and knows she's about to do or say something and it tells your body or your conscious mind to do something and before you know it, you're reacting to something you think you had no idea that you knew.
It's possible that this is the source of our ideas of God, ghosts, ESP, magic, etc.
The thing is, the world as it is is impossibly complex and beautiful and amazing, and the massive amount of stunning wonder available in a single moment of time is sufficient for any one of us to gaze upon in open-mouthed awe for a billion years.
Why do we go looking for something else? Something more?
Our tables are piled to the heavens with numberless blessings.
"The sun come up, it was blue and gold.
The sun come up, it was blue and gold.
The sun come up, it was blue and gold,
ever since I put your picture in a frame..."