Any attempt to label an entire generation is unrewarding, and yet the generation which went through the last war [WWII], or at least could get a drink easily once it was over, seems to possess a uniform, general quality which demands an adjective ... The origins of the word 'beat' are obscure, but the meaning is only too clear to most Americans. More than mere weariness, it implies the feeling of having been used, of being raw. It involves a sort of nakedness of mind, and, ultimately, of soul; a feeling of being reduced to the bedrock of consciousness. In short, it means being undramatically pushed up against the wall of oneself. A man is beat whenever he goes for broke and wagers the sum of his resources on a single number; and the young generation has done that continually from early youth.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Vitually Ethical?

Technology is destiny.

        -->  HANS JONAS

A Civilization unable to differentiate between illusion & reality is usually believed to be at the tail end of its existence.

         -->  JOHN RALSTON SAUL

       We live in a society today such that our forebears (counting generations on two hands, not some long-distant past) would have had to resort to the supernatural to exxplain even what is quotidian to us.  The politics of speed and efficiency have changed the manner in which we relate to each other, the way we work, play and even love.  Many times have we seen products come to market seemingly a benison to the consumer, only to have such a product spit out by the market because of the strong taste of grave "externalities", one of those squishy pseudo-scientific terms to which economists cling lest there tenuous status as scientists be noticed by those with real power.  No, they don't want such externalities noticed after touting this latest commodity as sector-saving innovation; nevertheless, it is all too common to discover unforeseen negative consequences associated with such products.

     And don't forget the truly new tech routinely foisted upon our society.  Square watermelons.  Cloned sheep.  Select serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  "Beats" headphones.  And perhaps it is true that we will be happier music connesieours as we forage through the modern savanna of the local grocery store.  But what of the externalities we should be intelligent enough to suspect.  Will they be mere inconveniences?  Or will we perhaps discover suicidal ideation lurking beside our lighter mood.  And maybe there will be other ways in which the quality of life will be seriously degraded by the experimentation taking place in the glittering test tube that is consumer society.

       One of my favourite courses in university was called Society, Technology & Values, a course taught by that increasingly rare breed, a philosopher.  There was a quote from the text he authored that has stuck with me to this day that seems a propos to a discussion of this sort:"

       "One thing we have discovered in this century is that technological advancement outstrips society's capacity for conceptual development.  That is, while we may be able to develop rapidly, new technologies for maintaining life or for altering it, our capacity as a society to redefine essential concepts - like life and death for example - moves at a snail's pace by comparison."

 One of the problems I find is that there are so few willing to have a serious, open-minded discussion regarding this era of mindless comsumption.  One of the few academics willing to face the realm of technology in its entirety is the French philosopher, Jacques Ellul.  Here's a snippet of his critique:

      "The traditional ethical mileiu and the traditional moral values are admittedly in process of disappearing, and we are witnessing the creation of a new technological ethics with its own values.  We are witnessing the evolution of a morally consistent system of imperatives and virtues, which tends to replace the traditional system.  But man is not necessarily left thereby on a morally inferior level, although a moral relativism is indeed implied - an attitude according to which everything is well, provided that the individual obeys some ethic or other. "

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

     Ten days ago, months of training finally came to fruition.  As some of you know, I begun taking exercise seriously (if not borderline obsessively).  It all started back in 2008 when my medication regime changed, elevating my mood to the point where I no longer felt that stillness, whether on the couch or in bed, but preferably in front of the video teat that fed me comforting pap that obviated any need to be ambulatory other than to eat and execrete, was the highest goal that I could aspire to.  Once I began feeling, if not happy, then at least as if I had lost the need to be comfortably numb, I began to go for walks.  These slowly progressed into runs and only got more elaborate from that point on, especially once I noticed the hugely beneficial effect extended cardio had on my mood and energy levels.
     Hence, I took the next logical step and signed up for a tri-a-tri at Toronto Island.  It went swimmingly and I was hooked.  I did another slightly longer one earlier this year.  But about a week and a half ago, I took it to another level after training 5-6 days a week all spring and summer so I could enter an Olympic distance triathlon event.  It took place at Wasaga Beach on Saturday, September 10.  The course consisted of a 1500 m swim, a 40 km bike ride, and a ten km run.  And now I can proudly say that I am a triathlete that completed an Olympic length course in 3 hours, 15 minutes.  Now I realize this time is nothing to boast about in serious athletic circles but I am just proud that I accomplished my goal of finishing the event without stopping.  Besides, I am willing to wager that many readers of this post would not even get past the initial 1 1/2 km swim, let alone the rest of the race.
    Of course, many of you have families, while I myself am single.  While this can be at times an (excruciatingly) lonely lifestyle, it definitely lends itself well to the necessary training regimen as I don't have to worry about dirty diapers, quality time, and all that healthy social interaction stuff that psychologists are always on about when they try to deliniate what brings a contented, well-balanced life.  Nevertheless, living alone does have it's advantages, at least one of which I have availed myself.  My heart may be broken, or at least graffittied over with other's messages, emotionally a dysfunctional peice of organic equipment but physically, it is a powerhouse, providing energy for work, play and the strength to put up with idiots and assholes, a mainstay of my working life.
    Anyway... that's enough ranting for one entry.  I hope you found it interesting, at the very least in a kind of "Hey, hon - check out this delusional guy's blog!  He's somekind a wacko..."  But for the record, so was Jesus, Ghandi, Siddharta, Noah, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others.  All I wish for you is the peace that has been provided to me through exercise.  Talk my word for it - go for a walk, then work your way up to a run.  You'll be amazed at how much your mental well-being improves.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

acceptance to an MA program

I got an email today that I took in which I took a great deal of pleasure. It informed me that I will be offered a admission to the MA program in the Philosophy Department at the University of Waterloo.
All that stress, at times on the edge of a complete breakdown, paid dividends (although the price was exceedingly painful at times).

Friday, August 20, 2010

...every once in a while, you have a few days that are beatific and make it all worthwhile!

Over the past few days, I received a few pieces of good news which I would like to share with everyone.

To begin with, I received an email from the manager of the Service Canada office in Kitchener today officially offering me part-time work from September to December of this year, every Friday from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.  This is exactly what I was hoping for:  enough work to keep me afloat financially as I finish my final term at University of Waterloo but not so much as to distract from my studies.  Furthermore, this gets my foot in the door and could potentially lead to full-time employment in the future.

I also got emails from both my current and former undergraduate advisors, both of whom have told me they would be willing to write me letters of recommendation, one of the major hurdles for any graduate studies application.  It is fantastic to know that I have that option still open to me.

Finally, I got an email from the production editor at Spontaneous Generations telling me that the article I mentioned in my last post will officially be published on August 23.  The email came with a link leading to a very polished and professional-looking .pdf of my article, so it is actually going to happen - I will soon be able to claim I am a published author!

Friday, May 21, 2010


About a week ago I got an email from an graduate-level, peer-reviewed, online journal telling me:

Congratulations! Your article "Otto in the Chinese Room" has been accepted
pending revisions for publication in Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science.

Then this morning, I fired up Mail on my MacBook to find an email reading in part as follows:

I am contacting you because we have decided to publish a select group of
papers from the conference. In fact, we are starting an online undergraduate
philosophy journal that will publish the top 20 papers or so from the conference. Yours in one that we would like to publish in this journal.

Considering there were about 150 articles presented at the conference, I am ecstatic about this development!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I just had that distinct pleasure peculiar to that time in one’s life subsequent to a time of intense intellectual pressure of reading a novel for pleasure, the narrative unfolding in time with the blossoms on the magnolia behind the house in a space akin to the breathless, sweaty cool down after a long run on a hot summer’s day. Serendipitous synchronicity meant that I found “Point Omega”, the latest novel by one of my favourite living authors, Don Delillo, as I decompressed after exams in the public library. Published by Scribner, this text is sparse to the point of bordering on novella status. As I’ve heard Joan Didion say in an interview of her novel “Play it as it Lays”, a story that came to mind more than once reading “Point Omega”, writing in this telegraphic style, with short chapters and a lot of white space is much more difficult than most people intuit. Threading the fabric of the narrative with themes light enough to ensure the resulting garment breathes, yet still has tensile strength and a stylish sheen is a craft, and the author, like a good tailor, hones his skill at it over many years as has Delillo.

One such theme is sewn on like epaulets, one on each side of the main narrative, by entitling the preface and epilogue “Anonymity” and “Anonymity 2”, sections populated by a mysterious character who frames the ensuing encounter between a marginalized, wanna-be film maker and his desired subject of a film, a retired intellectual named Elster from the intelligence community, an encounter filling only four chapters. The defence consultant’s daughter comes to visit them in the Arizona desert, her time with them ending inscrutably. Connections to the frontispiece and ending text are mere hints and shadows, like waves of X-ray radiation that only later are developed so that a fracture in the bone can be seen. The violence of the desert landscape, family and film, intelligence and coincidence, all wrapped in paper like the cigarette smoked by that stalker of synchronicity, the war on terror.
Delillo is a master at incorporating other media into his narrative. I, now more than ever, want to visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York, to see a videowork called "24 Hour Psycho" used as the setting for the beginning and ending of "Point Omega". As the title suggests, this exhibit is the film "Psycho" stretched and slowed to fit it’s running time to one day. The character that opens the book spends immense swathes of time in the room where it is screened, his cogitations caught on the page as they weave from one side of the film to the other, in sinister time with the silent screen showing images meant to be building a suspense familiar to an entire generation but impotent in this regard as each frame lingers, a discrete swathe of imagery. There is an irony here, showcasing Delillo's exquisite artistry, as these celluloid picture chunks, drained of their original neurotic foreboding, are used to help fabricate the creepy consciousness of the anonymous character, the resulting blanket of text smothering, swaddling the reader in the very same sort of suspense that stalked the audience with the shrieking violins of the shower scene in the original movie.

Not that "Point Omega" is solely about psychopathology, although that is one of the more interesting subtexts working at the micro-level of the individual. Another great strength of Delillo's writing is his ability to craft character detail deftly, while using those threads to sew together the big picture, giving the reader a macro-level socio-political commentary. Here again, he uses the description of another medium, the academic journal article, specifically one written by Elster, to advance an exploration of the practice of rendition by the American intelligence community. Our erstwhile filmmaker describes reading it prior to his sojourn to the desert in his attempt to convince Elster to appear in a one-man, one-take concept documentary talking about his experiences in the military-industrial complex. The published article is balanced, complete with a portrait of etymology, ideologically obscure motivation, and nested footnotes, against the stream of consciousness spool of ideas for this potential film documenting one man’s experience with politics of terror, a fine juxtaposition.

“Point Omega” may have been a quick summer read, yes, but it will occupy my mind for untold lengths. I highly recommend it. Also worth watching is Delillo reading from a CIA memo on torture.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Two more conferences!

My recent attendance at the Dominican University College Student Association 10th Annual Student Conference was a fantastic experience. It was a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by kindred psyches, not having to worry about people looking at me oddly when I mentioned eudaimonia in casual conversation. ;) That weekend I was pleasantly surprised to receive two more emails regarding other conferences:

1. The School of Thought Conference at the University of Western Ontario

2. 'Critical Reflections': An Undergraduate Philosophy Conference sponsored by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Windsor.

Both informed me that my submission, 'Otto in the Chinese Room', had been selected for presentation! I was delighted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Presentation of Paper at the Pacific University Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

A paper I wrote last term for a Philosophy of Mind course has been accepted for presentation at this undergraduate conference, an honour with which I am quite pleased. It is entitled "Otto in the Chinese Room" and has to do with the idea of artificial intelligence and various understandings of "mind". Oregon, here I come!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied." Really? 'Cause we all know where that got him - drinking hemlock and dead. But seriously, Mill has not yet, as of Chapter III, dealt with my greatest concern about utilitarianism: that the greatest happiness and least pain for the greatest number is in no deterministic way calculable. Remember that chaos theory craze of the 90s? You know, Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park explaining there is no way to predict which way the water will drip down his hand, or the butterfly flapping its wings in Japan, causing a hurricane in the Carribean, to mention but two pop culture references of thousands. Well, trite as this meme became, it did so because there is a kernel of robust validity to it. Just as we have immense trouble fully accounting for initial conditions or predicting the future states of dynamic systems such as weather, so too predicting the consequences of our actions so as to maximize happiness would seem nigh unto impossible, given all the unforeseen collateral effects all our actions have. The economists have a word for this: externalities. If you've never come across this concept, it is a fine implement to add to your intellectual toolbox: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality

Granted systems like weather can be probabilistically predicted, at least in the short term. So I can see the value of utilitarianism in that sense. But I think taking onboard cognitively the pragmatism of the sort Dewey formulated is the morality I'm personally going to espouse. To my understanding, he saw value in all the moral heuristics we have examined in this course, and, depending on the context, would figure out what each would recommend, then decide on a case by case basis. Virtue ethics, it seems to me, is best at the individual level when dealing with interpersonal issues but not technological issues. At the collective level, I see Kant's kingdom of ends as an inspiring ideal to strive for, yet a probabilistic hedonic calculus should be performed to see if there are clear, proximal consequences that should override the categorical imperative. A messy solution, I know, but hey, it is a messy world out there.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Virtue Ethics in the Global Virtual Village


I recently read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Much of what Aristotle advocates is admirable. However, there are some gaping omissions from his discussion: he writes, 'But not every action or feeling admits of the mean...because they themselves, not their excesses or deficiencies, are base.' Here, in this passage of not even a whole page, Aristotle manages to create an opt-out category for those who have as their agenda labeling an action wrong; for who is to determine which actions or feelings are of this kind? For example, here in Canada, our government has decided euthanasia is illegal (which many people, rightly or wrongly, equate with vice). However, there are countries (the Netherlands comes to mind) where euthanasia is considered a virtue, an act of compassion. (For the record, when the time comes, I'm going to have a stockpile of morphine and Gravol.) So in this tiny little passage Aristotle has managed to avoid having to deal with some of the thorniest moral issues.

It seems to me that his virtue ethics is very much a product of his times as well. Living in Athens, appearances accorded pretty well with roles and one could enjoy the fruits of his labour, at least in part. However, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the Information Age, such straightforward associations have been almost obliterated. Because in Aristotle's day one had a few well-defined roles that changed little and there was an immediacy to one's actions, reinforcing the notion of responsibility, virtue ethics, a morality revolving around the agent, made sense. However, things have changed (I wish there was an emoticon for understatement:|) Now longer are the fruits of many farmers self-evident. Instead of enjoying their crop, it is often sold and transported thousands of miles, far removed from the agent. Furthermore, a farmer today may have a PhD in neuroscience or be cooking crank in his barn (or both!) My point is that our roles in society are never completely obvious, and we see our identities as fluid, something I imagine would be anathema to Aristotle. A fixed identity and being responsible for action undertaken when that identity has been assumed leads, in a seemingly natural progression to virtue ethics since they help delineate that identity and holds people accountable for their actions. For example, potters in ancient Greece often used to make jugs and cups from which people would drink. Now because the potter is on speaking terms with his customers, when he makes a cup with a jagged rim, the customer knows that the cup is the result of the potter's labour and that the cut on his lip from the jagged edge is the potter's responsibility, a situation with a straightforward remedy. Now consider a plastic cup manufactured today in a factory in China. The factory produces hundreds of thousands of cups a day due to large scale automation.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've been doing some interesting reading for a philosophy of mind course; 'The Theory of Human Problem Solving' by Herbert Simon and Albert Newell fascinated me. In the early 70s these two authors decided to attempt a general theory of the processes underlying problem solving. This was a departure from previous research in this field, which had, in large part, focused only on insight and the cognitive processes involved. They begin by delineating some general propositions, which their paper goes on to elaborate upon in the body of the essay. A search through a problem space during human problem solving is a plausible idea. In fact, the structure of the problem space is so important it can delineate possible programs as functional or impossible to implement, thus having a large impact upon behavior. Perhaps they could be blamed (or praised) for the death of disco. The sartorial structures were just completely unsustainable: high heels for men (with dead goldfish inside), pants and dresses so tight it’s a wonder people could walk in them, let alone dance, and a plethora of Quaaludes, a hypnotic that turned your legs to jelly, obviating the ability to dance. This is an example of a problem space with obvious and drastic effects on problem solving. If you watch the ‘Simpsons’, Disco Stu says its true!

Another really interesting text that crossed my cortex was 'Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture: A Critical Analysis' by Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn. Connectionism was a theory very much in vogue in the 80s, the Madonna of the theory of mind. However, academia, like pop culture, has its own trends and fashions. The public’s music tastes swung back towards guitars and real instruments after growing weary of the tinny constraints (at that time) of synthesizers, culminating in the early 90s with the grunge movement. In an analogous manner, the academic community began to challenge connectionism and its limitations. This paper is one of the first to attempt this, making Fodor and Pylyshyn akin to the Pixies or Black Sabbath, both progenitors of the grunge sound. They begin with an introduction to Connectionism and its clash with Classicism, pointing to problems with Connectionist diagrams that claim to be Representationalist, a claim that is reevaluated. Connectionist models and the part mental processes play in them are examined, instigating a preliminary assessment of the ideas of ‘productivity’ and ‘systematicity’. In this light, they end by redefining Connectionism as a theory different from what was accepted wisdom at the time. Fascinating stuff but I think I might smash my TV if the authors got their own reality show like Ozzy Osbourne did.

As much fun as using metaphors to explain different theories of the mind is, at least one academic thinks we need to get over it. The cool thing is that the guy advocating this is actually a professor at my university: Chris Eliasmith. Check out his cybercredentials:


Past approaches to understanding the mind, including symbolism, connectionism, and dynamicism, have all relied on the metaphor to ground their theories. Discarding metaphor as a tool to build his theory but utilizing all the strongest aspects of those theories he has left behind, in 'Moving Beyond Metaphors: Understanding the Mind for What It Is', Eliasmith postulates a neural systems theory rooted in representational and dynamic concepts (R & D Theory). Neural representation is delineated by coding and encoding relations. These representations can be transformed by variables consisting of neural groups that determine the change by decoding. Furthermore, by cconsidering these neural representations in the context of neural dynamics, they can be perceived as control theoretic state variables, the upshot being that the operations of neurobiological systems are amenable to control theory analysis. Brilliant stuff (and I'm lucky enough to have people like him around all the time!)

Each of these articles had something worth pondering, which should be the goal of a nonfiction writer (or blogger). For example, in the first article one must learn to always be ready to think and explore outside established parameters. Likewise, the second article reminds us to challenge orthodoxy and think critically. (Incidentally, Curt Kobain was left-handed and couldn’t afford a lefty guitar, so he played his instrument upside down.) My favourite article was the third one. Eliasmith strikes me as intellectually flexible, yet with a brainstem of steel. He seems to be a pragmatist in the sense that Dewey would have used the word, something I greatly admire. Realizing there were several concepts of value in the theories he couldn’t abide by, he discarded the theories but took whatever procedure or concepts were useful to him. Furthermore, I have long thought (pretty much since I started Philosophy in 1994) that speaking about the mind in metaphorical terms has limited usefulness. If we look back over the history of the philosophy of mind, the dominant discourse has usually revolved around the technology of that time. It has been helpful in some respects but I am not sure we learned much about the true nature of mind, but rather how we see ourselves reflected in the world, an unadmitted ego validation.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

[ Eudaimonia ]

I'm rereading Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics in which he claims that the purpose of life is to achieve a state of eudaimonia, a Greek word most often translated as 'happiness'. More accurately tranlated, it is a state of flourishing, a holistic, balanced achievment of a virtuous life that would for most include happiness.

Eudaimonia: a target I am aiming for but often miss, a goal one can attempt but never truly achieve, for reasons which sometimes one has no control over. For example, my recent surgery proved to be a complete failure; a lot of pain for an outcome worse than before I went under the knife. I still am not supposed to do much cardio and the lack of exercise in turn affects my concentration and attention. This affects my ability to think rationally, which Aristotle sees as the way to achieve eudaimonia.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Toronto Island Triathlon

Five months of training culminated this past Sunday, when I finished the HSBC Toronto Island sprint triathlon in 2 hours and 16 minutes. The course involved a 750 m swim in Lake Ontario (not at all gross as I was expecting), a 30 km bike and finishing with a 7.5 km run. I was in the bottom quarter time-wise, but I accomplished my personal goal of finishing the course which is all that really matters to me.

And, hey, at least I wasn't one of the 53 people who didn't finish!

The time in this picture is from the start of the first wave. I was in the second wave which started about 25 minutes after the first one.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The rewards and pitfalls of a mature student..

This summer, I enrolled in two classes at the University of Waterloo to further my long-term goal of obtaining the Ba in Philosophy I started many, many years ago (it is almost painful to consider how many years have passed). All my classmates have student identification numbers that begin with 20_____. Not me. The first two numbers refer to the year the student first enrolled. Me? I'm the campus dinosaur; my ID# starts with a 94_____. Many times when I am over on campus, I see young people huddled together, earnestly discussing what appears to be matters of utmost gravity. The air of dignity enveloping them lasts until I come within earshot, then evaporates like evanescent morning mist obscuring the far shore of a lake when I realize their deep and serious conversations are about drinking: the best way to get minors past bouncers (girls of age flirt with the bouncers, while the underagers slip past covertly), who looks enough like a legal acquaintance to use their ID, what kind of drink get you the most pissed, how a friend couldn't get to the bathroom in time the night before so puked in the dog dish, the prestige of winning at the beer pong competition at their house party last night, and on it goes like a magic bottle that never empties despite the entire student population taking swig after swig... My bottle, however, I licked the last few drops from years ago. I guess I just don't see the appeal anymore of a drug that impairs your motor functions, makes you think it's OK to say things that the next morning make you cringe, makes it illegal for you to drive, too much of which leaves you with a headache and nausea the next day and, let's be honest, tastes awful enough that no one would drink it at all if it didn't have inebriating qualities. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a cold beer on a hot patio as much as anyone (except maybe an alcoholic stranded in a desert dying of thirst ;) ).

Right, where was I going with this before I got lost in the desert? Oh yes - my point is that it can be difficult to relate to what at times feels like a different species, a species of which I have trouble conceptualizing myself being, although intellectually I know this to be true. There are other species differences too: the university species seems to have in such a manner as to have selected for various electronic appendages, the loss of which seems to have serious emotional and behavioral consequences, including increased anxiety, an inability to remember tasks, repetitive strain injury caused by the unfamiliar use a writing implement such as a pen. Furthermore, many having this evolutionary adaptation have the annoying habit of talking, loudly, to their devices in almost all settings. It can be quite distracting.

Wow, that philippic wandered so far from my original path, it almost got run over by a bus because it was so busy looking at students it didn't notice the light had changed. Anyway, where I was originally headed was the outcome of the courses I took. I wrote my last exam on Thursday and, damn, does it feel good to be done! Furthermore, it feels fantastic to know that I didn't just finish but that I did well, of which the posted pictures are evidence. I think there is a good chance I will end up with both marks being in the high end of the 80th percentile.

It is the paper to the left which which I am particularly pleased. I was terrified that the professor was going to be harsh grading it because of an email I had sent earlier in the term asking some questions about the assignment. The problem arose because I wrote the email in Notepad, the Windows plain text editor and added a post script there that took the form of the following off colour joke:

Q: How many Freudians does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two - one to change the light bulb and one to hold the peni - I mean, ladder.

Of course, I intended to cut out of Notepad and paste into gmail only the body of the email. However, I got distracted, forgot about the PS, and selected the entire text. When I realized what had happened, I tried to get in touch with my prof to explain but she was away for about a week at that point. Needless, to say anxiety was high on the list of cognitive activity I engaged in that particular week. Fortunately, as soon as she returned, she sought me out in class and - get this - apologized to me for not responding to my email sooner! I apologized profusely, although at first she wasn't even sure what for. I explained how the completely inappropriate post script had come to be a part of my email. She chuckled and told me that she had much worse. The tension draining out of me was so intense I felt it might almost splash others.

And I have more good news: my success this term means I will be returning full-time to the University of Waterloo to pursue my long-held ambition of completing my degree, a unrealized goal that I feel has held me back for years. It is going to be fantastic!

Friday, April 3, 2009


clouds like static
fill the automatic sky
a television sun
Dolby winds stammer in surround

My private panoptic e`den
history makes me a man
software makes me a Poet
since the Author died

Pale fire in Xanadu
as the electric sign sighs,
sounds of the funeral pyre text,
and reveals itself like
a phosphene seraphim

This fearful angel guards me
in my e`den prison sphere

No matter
where still I wander
at the centre
I stay
the circumference
of my mediated garden nowhere
to be found
as I tread the paths of paradox

a pamlimpsest sun

still static clouds
blur the illuminated sky

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Das Kus" by Gustav Klimpt

The two embrace, melting, molding to one another, becoming one, as if growing up from the ground. Flowers gaze up from the earth the lovers kneel upon, and share their desire. Vines, like anklets, trail over her slender ankles down toward the abyss, the entire universe. They can feel the essence of this universe in their kiss. Effacing the vicissitudes of daily life, the lovers become one. Her pale skin contrasts with his dark complexion but their differences, the infinite idols of individuality, blur into a pantheism of passion. Manly lines and feminine circles unite in a perfect chord of harmony. He leans over her with ardour, lust, intensity, eager to share his passion with her soul. Her eyes are closed but she is still able to sense the fervour of his being. Her arm encircles his neck. He cradles her head gently with both his hands. Her face betrays no emotion; she is open, vulnerable to his obsession. They breathe together and their breath is one. For them, there is no past, no future, just an immediate existence of yearning in one kiss, one love, one lifetime. Death comes to us all, but these two have the lifeblood of eternity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

beautiful word clouds

A fellow L'Abri alumni turned me on to this really cool website called wordle. It takes text that you give it and makes word art out of it. I put in a journal entry I wrote just before going to L'Abri and here is the result:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

morphogenetic fields forever!

I was on the way home from the gym listening, as I usually do in the car, to CBC. It was just after 9 pm and weeknights at that hour they have this brilliant show called "Ideas". This week they were featuring a biologist named Rupert Sheldrake. He has a homepage you might want to check out as he has some rather unorthodox ideas such as his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance. Anyway, why is this in any way relevant to my life? Well, back around the turn of the century I was couch surfing at a friend's one bedroom apartment in Ottawa. Nevertheless, we managed to get along well enough for him to loan me a tape (yes, remember those dinosaurs of the audio medium?) with some hard beats on it labelled `Synthesthesia`.

Years passed as they tend to do, and I found myself back in Waterloo where I met a student involved with the university radio station, CKMS (there is a tale worth telling there presently but that will have to be fodder for another post). We became friends, bonding as I recall over psychedelic trance music, so he invited me to come and co-host his show, aptly named `Lithium Brownies`. Apt since it was just three hours of him spouting whatever insanity happened to fire in his neural network interspersed with (mostly industrial / electronica / metal) hard hitting tracks. The first day I showed up for my co-hosting duties, he pointed at the shelves covering the walls floor to ceiling and told me to pick out some CDs we might be able to both agree should be played that show. It was a fairly extensive CD library and it occurred to me that they might have a (digital) copy of that `Synthesthesia`album that had made such an impression and was definitely hard enough to meet my partner`s stringent musical criteria. Lo and behold, there it was sitting on the shelf, to wit with a green dot sticker on it, meaning it helped us fill our Canadian content obligation.

Well, on that album there was a track called 'morphogenetic fields forever'. And here is where the many digressions come back to Rupert Sheldrake, his relevance to my life and synchronicity. Here's the actual show I heard, but be forewarned: it requires Real Media player garbage.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

no wonder there are so many Muslim viewpoints

I have (sporadically) been recently reading the Qu'ran over the past 8 months or so and it has consistently fascinated and surprised me. Surprising to me, coming from a Christian background, is just how many different narrative elements the Qu'ran and the Bible share. I find it fascinating because there are passages that can be interpreted in radically different ways. For example, in 2: 191-192 it says

"Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love aggressors.
Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drive you."

Perhaps a case could made that the U.S., with it's covert incursions into places such as Pakistan and overt attacks like the first Gulf War, could be considered to have been not only to have made them the initial aggressors, but also having had the effect of driving Muslims out of such places. Thus interpreted, Al-Qaeda's actions are justified by their sacred text. Of course, it is also possible to that the actions taken by the U.S. are not undertaken against Muslims but rather criminals and terrorists hiding in Pakistan and a corrupt and brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, who invaded without provocation another sovereign nation, Kuwait. In any case, I can see why one religion, Islam, can accommodate radically different perspectives.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

why bother?

Just feeling a little blue, I suppose.  But there is nothing to do but to keep on living, keep on trying to be a better person.  That's why I dragged my ass to the gym, even though I didn't really want to go.

I'm reading a really cool graphic novel right now called "Joyride", a compilation of the "John Constantine:  Hellblazer" series.

And maybe that is the reason to bother - because once in a while there is something brilliant like this...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Killian cull

February 14, 2009

Here is some fiction I wrote recently, for what it's worth...

It was time for a major cull. The lease on the apartment was up and there was nothing
keeping him in this burnout automotive armpit of Canada. You could
still see Detriot across the water on clear day, still the motor city
but crippled, the industry going in fits and starts as if there was
an intermittent fuel line leak. And with economic uncertainty like
that, nothing but inertia and several lingering attachments to women,
those rare few whose behaviour is truly outside the more of pair
bonding and lacks guilt about it.

Melissa. He would miss Melissa, seeing her even now, her mental image conjured with
breathtaking precision as he watched her toss her wavy red hair, and
ask yet again, 'But what do you think, dahhhrling?' He might get as
far as 'I think...' before her dowturned face, pouting lips and her
eyes upturned, each retina tripping with a psylocibin mushroom, a dim
blue glowstick beacon, strangely alienating while inviting a sense of
intimacy, especially among those immediately knew that here was
someone that had gone through an unusual cognitive experience much
like one they could remember vividly but only bright sharp shards.
Killian tried without success where he had first seen Melissa...

But enough procrastination; the cull must be pursued without mercy. He picked
up a garbage bag and strolled back to the bedroom, the bedroom that
presently had clothing strewn all about the room, some of it
discovered in the deep recesses of his closet and not worn for years.
Such items would go to Goodwill and, frankly, good riddance -
a silver shirt? Really? And are there lasting repercussions
for fashion victims? Should I be worried? These days I find I can't
go wrong with black. But what if bad fashion is like trauma,
situations that are dormant for years then SMACK, you see a long
repressed face, and suddenly you are back there, gasping for air,
knees trembling, looking over your shoulder, sure that you felt his
breath on your neck. Welcome to the wonderful world of Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a useful paradigm for understanding
what just happened to you. PTSD, while something Killian explored
and perhaps suffered from at times, is no longer a worry for him.
One Temazapam tablet and 20 minutes later, Killian wonders why he
couldn't catch his breath. But fashion, fashion could be different,
unamenable to pharmacological intervention. And the timing was just
about right. He remembers wearing the glitterati shirt to an event
at Cherry Beach, an outdoor goa / psychedelic trance party which
would have been the late 90s. Ten years later he runs his hand along
the slick synthetic fabric and wondering what he was thinking.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Howl [illuminated broken text mix]

Pro(se) and Cons(sciousness)

Can I put something out into the illuminated ether that will be worth someone's time to read? Well, there is nothing to do but try. So this blog will be some of my annotations from underground. Dostoyevesky understood; consciousness is a disease. Today, I might call it a meme host. Regardless, there must be something in my neural net worth pushing onto the internet. The Beat generation had their metaphor and a good one it was. Yeah, they were down, they were marginalized, but they were not broken. Generation X though - something gave. The Berlin Wall came down and with idealism. The World Trade Centre crumpled and terror broke the spirit of a demographic. We are not just down beat, our troubles put to the jazz beat. We are the breakBeat generation. I put the first few lines of Ginsberg's classic into an online cut-up engine. It seemed appropriate somehow in this age of retooled samples and derivative prose. Here it is:

For Carl Solomon

HOWL I madness, starving hysterical naked, generation destroyed by connection to the starry dynamo in the ery of night, angry fix, the best minds of my For Carl Solomon heavenly the negro streets at dawn I saw machin- looking for an dragging themselves through angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient
I hope the breakbeat beauty I find in random places is enough to sustain me.

Abraccess Maxwell, member of the bre@kBeat generation and the initial PoMoMeme.


annotationz from underground

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chronicler of the bre@kBeat generation