Grizzly Bear – Sleeping!!

Quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever heard 🙂


The Powers and Perils of Intuition

“Intuition is bigger than we realize. It feeds our expertise, creativity, love and spirituality. It is a wonder. But it’s also perilous. Today’s cognitive science aims not to destroy intuition but to fortify it, to sharpen our thinking and deepen our wisdom. Scientists who expose intuition’s flaws note that it works well in some areas, but needs restraints and checks in others. In realms from sports to business to spirituality, we now understand how perilous intuitions often go before a fall, and how we can therefore think smarter, even while listening to the creative whispers of our unseen mind.”

The story behind the book “Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio”

“One spring morning in the 1850s, Gennie found an intricate bird’s nest that neither her father nor Howard, her younger brother, could identify. An inquisitive mind, she set out to find a book that would solve the mystery, only to find that no one had ever written one to help people differentiate the nests and eggs of various birds. What followed was a remarkable story of art, science, and entrepreneurship, full of tragedy and triumph, as the Jones family embarked upon filling that void in natural history, told for the first time in America’s Other Audubon by former National Endowment for the Arts librarian Joy M. Kiser.”


“Analysis and intellectual rigor were essential, because an artist does not draw what she sees, she draws what she understands.”

The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane:  book review by Alexandra Harris

“Leys, dykes, drongs, sarns, snickets  bostles, shuts, driftways, lichways, ridings ” Macfarlane will have many of his readers dreaming in path-language this summer. Certain images keep glimmering in the dark when I close my eyes: fragments of white china clay scattered as a trail across the bogs of Dartmoor; marker stones on Bodmin guiding a parson safely around his parish; posts sticking up from the water in the monochrome mirror-world of flooded Doggerland where the narrow “Broomway” leads out to Foulness.

Macfarlane’s first two books, Mountains of the Mind (2003) and The Wild Places (2007), were published to huge acclaim and have achieved the status of modern classics. The Old Ways joins up with them to form what Macfarlane calls “a loose trilogy about landscape and the human heart”. That definition is striking. It takes some courage for a writer to say that his subject is “the human heart”. It sounds a little old-fashioned, a little out-of-step with modern detachment. But that is part of what makes Macfarlane’s voice significant. He willingly declares his love of things. He brings his powerful intelligence to bear on the need to express sentiments and sensations.

He keeps asking, “what does this feel like?” Walking barefoot on Lewis: “The peat was slippery and cool, and where I stepped on sphagnum it surged up and around my foot, damp as a poultice.” Or in Hampshire: “I was walking in a stormlight that made the linseed pulse a hot green  Dark shoals of rooks over the woods, and billows of rain like candle-blacking dropping into water.” He is wry about his own romanticism (“what I thought was the first star turned out to be the night light for a plane coming into Luton”), but he wants to make space for it.

One of the most compelling chapters is concerned with a path across the Isle of Lewis to shielings, or stone shelters, built by crofters near their summer grazing grounds. The path is detectable only by learning how to read the stony landscape. “Look for what shouldn’t be there,” Macfarlane is told, so he looks for minor disturbances in the lay of the land, dots that only become visible when connected”

“Macfarlane is delighted to discover that the verb “to learn” links back etymologically to proto-Germanic liznojan, meaning “to follow or to find a track”. The walking of paths is, to him, an education, and symbolic, too, of the very process by which we learn things: testing, wandering about a bit, hitting our stride, looking ahead and behind. That is the rhythm of learning in all kinds of disciplines and ways of life. ”

Full article:

Living in the Age of Extinction: The Lost Bird Project

“On the tree of life, the branches of the Passenger Pigeon and Carolina Parakeet have been cut. In the biosphere, there are now holes shaped like the Great Auk and Heath Hen. In all our technology, there’s not a single recording of the call of the Labrador Duck. In a sense, it would have been more appropriate to have installed the moulds at the locations rather than the sculptures so that we could contemplate the shadows that these birds have cast upon us. Perhaps that’s too negative a message for public art? Instead they are solid, smooth, tactile, reverent. ”

ImageThe Great Auk sculpture on Fogo Island , photo by The Lost Bird Project

The Beautiful Inscrutable: Khunrath’s Fabulous Alchemical Exploratorium, ca. 1600

Some beautiful images here, and lots of helpful links

“While these Discontents continued, severall Letters past between Queene Elizabeth and Doctor Dee, whereby perhaps he might promise to returne; At length it so fell out, that he left Trebona and took his Iourney for England. The ninth of Aprill he came to Breame… Here that famous Hermetique Philosopher, Dr Henricus Khunrath of Hamburgh came to visit him.” – Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum, (London, 1652), cited in Frances Yates’ The Rosicrucian Enlightenment

“From Kant to Schelling to Process Metaphysics: On the Way to Ecological Civilization” by Arran Gare


I stumbled upon this great essay on Schelling and process metaphysics recently published in the journal Cosmos and History by Prof. Arran Gare. He really makes it clear how compatible Schelling’s Naturphilosophie is with Whitehead’s cosmological scheme.

“From Kant to Schelling to Process Metaphysics: On the Way to Ecological Civilization”

Here is a sample:

Schelling’s work is now more relevant than ever before. The situation we are in was very succinctly summed up by Richard Tarnas: “In the absence of any viable, embracing cultural vision, old assumptions remain blunderingly in force, providing an increasingly unworkable and dangerous blueprint for human thought and activity.” By overcoming the limitation of Kant’s philosophy, Schelling has provided the basis for definitively transcending scientific materialism, in doing so, overcoming the opposition between science and the humanities and enabling people to understand themselves as culturally formed, socially situated, creative participants within nature. Most importantly, Schelling confronted and charted…

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You Who Never Arrived by Rainer Maria Rilke

I was introduced to the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke through his Duino Elegies, as analysed by James Hollis in his book “The Archetypal Imagination”.

Hollis is a Jungian analyst, and the chapter on Rilke begins with Hollis writing:

What we wish most to know, most desire, remains unknowable and lies beyond our grasp. In this chapter we will celebrate the power of speech to assist us in our task of articulating this deep longing”.

I wouldn’t be able to do justice to the chapter to try to summarise it here, but my new-found love of Rilke’s poetry led me to a poem of his that Hollis did not allude to; the author is focusing primarily on Rilke’s mystical longing for glimpses of the divine world and how Rilke’s poetry illustrates the capacity of the archetypal imagination to “name the gods” by providing images “which link us to the numinous”.

This poem, however, illustrates Rilke’s versatility, that he understood that we live in the ‘space between words’ and that his ability as a poet was not solely to ‘bring us closer to the sacred’ but also to render the invisible world accessible.

You Who Never Arrived

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt
landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and
unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house– , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

Rainer Maria Rilke

Huxley, Hesse and The Cybernetic Society By Timothy Leary and Eric Gullichsen


Aldous Huxley





Hermann Hesse


An excerpt from Timothy Leary and Eric Gullichsen’s unpublished book The Cybernetic Society, written in 1987.

“Up here in the Electronic ’80s we can appreciate what Hesse did, back down there (1931-1942). At the very pinnacle of the smokestack mechanical age Hermann forecast with astonishing accuracy a certain post-industrial device for converting thoughts to digital elements and processing them. No doubt about it, Hesse’s Bead Game anticipated an electronic mind-appliance which would not appear on the consumer market until 1976.”


“We refer, of course, to that Unauthorized Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge called the Apple. In this Old Testament scenario Eve and her assistant Adam became the first psyber-punks; they committed the Original Sin. To Think for Yourself.


I, for one, first heard of Hermann Hesse from Aldous Huxley. In the fall of 1960, Huxley was Carnegie Visiting Professor at MIT. His assignment: to give a series of seven lectures on the subject “What a Piece of Work is Man.” About 2,000 people attended each lecture. Aldous spent most of his off-duty hours hanging around the Harvard Psychedelic Drug Project coaching us innocent novice Americans in the history of mysticism and the ceremonial care-and-handling of what he called “gratuitous grace.”

Huxley was reading Hesse that fall and talked a lot about Hermann’s theory of the three (3) stages of human development.

  1. The tribal sense of tropical-blissful unity.
  2. The horrid Newtonian polarities of the feudal-industrial societies, good-evil, male-female, Christian-Moslem.
  3. The Einsteinian rediscovery of the Oneness of It All.

No question about it, Hegel’s three thumb prints (thesis-antithesis-synthesis) were smudged all over the construct, but Hesse and Huxley didn’t seem to worry about it, so why should we untutored Harvard psychologists?

We all dutifully set to work reading Hesse.”


“Gentle consideration for the touchiness of the times was, we assume, the reason why Hesse, the master of parody, leads his timid readers with such slow, formal tempo to the final confrontation between Alexander, the President of the Order, and the dissident Game Master.

In his most courteous manner Knecht explains to Alexander, The Prince of Cyber-crats, that he will not accept obediently the “decision from above.”

The President gasped in disbelief. And we can imagine most of the thought-processing elite of Europe, the cyber-profs, the intellectuals, the linguists, the literary critics, the editors of magazines joining Alexander when he sputters, “… not prepared to accept obediently … an unalterable decision from above – have I heard you aright, Magister?”!

Later Alexander asks in a low voice, “… and how do you act now?”

“As my heart and reason command,” replies Joseph Knecht.

With this noble espousal of “the unauthorized life,” Hermann Hesse becomes a Patron Saint of Cyberpunk.”

Follow this link for more of this excerpt from the unpublished book: