Archive for August, 2008

Pop Goes the Art

August 24, 2008

Managed to make it to an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria just before wrap-up. Entitled Warhol: Larger Than Life it was a fascinating window into the über-famous artist’s life and work. A visionary valet of the cult of celebrity, Andy Warhol knew everybody worth knowing from the early 50s until his death in the late 80s. His imagery is flighty, flippant and yet strikingly profound. Perhaps the best way to encapsulate such a bizarre collection of portraiture (including everybody from Wayne Gretzky to the Queen of England) and pop is with the following quote by art critic and philosopher Arthur Danto:

“True fame in the modern world is to have one image recognized by persons who never knew anything but the image. True immortality is to achieve an image that outlasts oneself, and that continues to be part of the common mind indefinitely.”

Cosmological Inconstant

August 23, 2008

Feeling the heat death of personal cosmologies. Massless multi-verses of meaningless mind-stuff. Emotional entropy scattering soul through the universe. Looking to the next nova in search of wholeness. Blinding points of light. A singularity of consciousness. Identity coalesced to a moment of infinite density. Knowing, seeing, being — all in harmonious orbits, gravitationally locked. Universal understanding.

Challenging the laws of personal physics, that. Miscalculation. Not accounting for all variables — dark massive objects, newborn stars hidden within foggy nebulae, comets — oh those dusty devils! — drifting through the field of view. Many fellow travelers, contributing their own inevitable pull. A melange of Newtonian notions — microgravity acting across parsecs.

The soundless dark. Directionless space. No main sequence sun announcing, once and for all, that “this side is up.” No up, down, left or right. Just endless panoramas of rock and gas. Organized, yet lifeless. Like city streets at dawn. Is this the star-rise on a lonely, quiet, forgotten moon? A stellar show without audience? Besides, in space no one can hear your rebel yell.

Quiet now. Contemplative. Super hot gases dissipating into the absolute zero of deep space. Floating between systems, far from the light. Seeking ideal concentrations of energy. Agglomerations of meaning. The steady, strong pulse of a nifty neutron star. The perfect spiral color of the ultimate event horizon. A cosmological constant…

Pacific Sunset

August 21, 2008

Wasting Time

August 20, 2008

Why are human beings so good at wasting time? Perhaps it is born of the arbitrariness of artificial time. “Real” time, natural time, lived time — these are ours. We inhabit them like bodies. Everyone has their own clock.

Sharing time — an agreed upon arrangement — becomes significant in comparison. A convention of great import. We agree to meet and interact at points in time, building systems and infrastructure around its abstract reliability. It thus becomes indispensable. The chief knot in our social fabric.

But what is it? A glimmer into the grand plans of the Great Watchmaker? A pre-existing imperative we’ve fortunately happened upon? Unlikely. This seems too perfect and tight a fit — like the enmeshed movements of a precision-made clock. Perhaps it is as created and conceived as these devices. The original mechanical marvel. And less than ghostly.

In contrast to lived time — a moment-to-moment mystery — artificial time is the ultimate ubiquity of modernity. Unquestioned and unquestionable. To defy its martial, disciplining will is to swim against the current. Or leave the river entirely.

But if you can, you may really find a flow…

A Plurality of Worlds

August 11, 2008

A noteworthy review in The Washington Post of a new biography of the Dominican philosopher Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake for heresy in the Campo De’ Fiore in Rome in 1600. Bruno, who some call “the first martyr of science”, was a thinker ahead of his time. Among other things, he proposed — in a European philosophical and scientific world dominated by a “closed-system” cosmology still under the influence of Aristotelian conceits — that there were a “plurality of worlds” out there in the heavens. He also pioneered the use of mnemonics and memory tricks of all sorts, leading some to accuse him of practicing the art of “magic”. In the sense that he was open, imaginative and creative far beyond the limits of his time, Bruno was, indeed, quite a magician. This before Galileo pointed his primitive telescope up at the heavens in 1609, and long before the innovative mathematics and physics of Newton’s Principia.

I recall being deeply moved seeing Bruno’s brooding form in Rome, his monk’s cowl pulled ominously low over his brilliant, rebellious head. Of all the amazing public artworks in the city, his statue is one of the most compelling. It seemed strangely appropriate located in the Campo De’ Fiore, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Rome’s busiest open-air marketplace. Full of life and vigor.

Much as Bruno suggested the universe was…



August 6, 2008

You Know You’re Living in a Quiet Neighborhood When…

August 5, 2008

You get on the bus with eight gray-haired little old ladies. Geez…


August 5, 2008

Taken from Baker Beach in the Presidio.


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