20 May 2007

We are drawn into destiny by compelling intuitions; we are tempted into tragedy by compulsive apparitions. As we approach the fork in the road, the two experiences can be maddeningly difficult to distinguish. Learn to recognize which inner motives are worthy of our trust and faith, which are symptoms of distress or addiction this is the highest form of the Oracle’s imperative: ‘Know thyself.’

~ Josh Mitteldorf

19 May 2007

If I could only live at the pitch that is near madness
When everything is as it was in my childhood 
Violent, vivid, and of infinite possibility: 
That the sun and the moon broke over my head.

Then I cast time out of the trees and fields, 
Then I stood immaculate in the Ego;
Then I eyed the world with all delight, 
Reality was the perfection of my sight. 

And time has big handles on the hands, 
Fields and trees a way of being themselves.
I saw battalions of the race of mankind 
Standing stolid demanding a moral answer.
I gave the moral answer and I died 
And into a realm of complexity came
Where nothing is possible but necessity 
And the truth wailing there like a red babe.

Richard Eberhart, 1904-2005

(Editor’s note: I remembered the first line of this poem from a high school project years ago, but was unable to find the poem online.  Copyright zealotry has purged the Net of most modern poetry.  But Google Print gave me the second line when I input the first line.  A crazy thing about the current system is that it permitted me to reconstruct the poem line-by-line, because searching on each line of the poem would bring up a snippet including the following line.)

18 May 2007

Extreme hopes are born from extreme misery.

Bertrand Russell, philosopher, humanist, war protestor, born this day in 1872.

17 May 2007

“My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

~ J.B.S. Haldane, studying evolution in the 1950’s, was the first to make quantitative estimates of the speed at which evolution might be expected to progress.  This is still a great unsolved problem of evolutionary biology.  For example, the historic fact that natural selection required a few billion years to lay the biochemical foundation for complex multicellular life is something that we are very far from being able to calculate from first principles.  This embarrassment is commonly buried for fear of encouraging creationists. 

Haldane’s Dilemma is the name applied to a computation he did in 1957, suggesting the inadequacy of standard accounts of selection on one gene at a time.

16 May 2007

Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits.

Insightful and utterly unpretentious, he gives us America through compassionate eyes, without the air brush.  Studs Terkel is 95 years old today.  

15 May 2007


My thought has learned the lucid art
By which the willows lave their limbs
Whose form upon the water swims
Though in the air they rise apart.
For when with my delight I lie,
By purest reason unreproved,
Psyche usurps the outward eye
To trace her inward sculpture grooved
In one melodious line, whose flow
With eddying circle now invests
The rippled silver of her breasts,
Now shaves a flank of rose-lit snow,
Or rounds a cheek where sunset dies
in the black starlight of her eyes.

– Roy Campbell

14 May 2007

“The more one sees of human fate and the more one examines its secret springs of action, the more one is impressed by the strength of unconscious motives and by the limitations of free choice”

Carl Jung, 1875-1961