august 29th, 2007

a night at casa de la memoria in seville

casa de la memoria – waiting to see if i can attend this flamenco show here. i should have made reservations, but as usual, i didn’t, so i am on the waitlist. i got in! i walked up just to check and see what was going on. then i heard the guy running the desk say “bikram” and a blonde headed kid reply “bikram?”

the show has started – this is a very intimate setting. i stand, the sides and backs of the guitarist and singer to me. vines stream down from the ceiling on the back wall, and arches held up by white pillars cover the room. the guitarist has his capo up really high. the long haired, earring studded guitarist is really good. the piece he is playing is somber, the vocals of the singer echoing that sobriety. the room is warm, the tarp of the ceiling holding the heat in. almost all the audience members are fanning themselves with the cardboard fans given to us at the start of the show. the guitarist is playing a version of soleares, somewhat different Juan Martin’s flamenco method, but with definite touches of his own. the singer, lungs full of emotion, empties them with bellowing cantar. a woman in a red dress with white dots sits to my left, fanning herself with a red fan.

a new song just started – the guitarist looked as though he made a brief mistake, with a grimace on his face – he quickly returned to perfection. the female dancer just entered. gorgeous. she is wearing a brown, short sleeved – collared blouse with a vertically striped yellow skirt whose frills at the bottom are yellow, green, orange and red. her arms twist and turn, her shoulders at opposite angles. her brown, thick heels pound against the floor like a machine gun. none of the dancers that I’ve seen so far have such power in their legs. her face is twisted and mired in raw emotion.

a new, even more somber romantic strum sends her body into fantastic twists. the connection with the earth is strong, her feet stomping against the floor with unparalleled power. her black hair is held back with two red pins and a flower next to her left ear seems to be alive. how can music be created like this with no guitar? the men clap as she attacks the floor with her heels. the piece is finished and it ends in claps, hoots and hollers echoing through the small venue. the guitarist is now solely on stage. he dropped his tuning to drop-D for some reason. there is no capo on now – the tune is fantastically slow, with the tremolo sending rain into this room.

the pieces here are distinctly more sober ones – the Arabic influence is clear. he begins to play this entire piece in tremolo, and then returns to the deep, soulful portion of his piece. when he finishes and applause from the audience resounds, he seems unaccustomed to the clapping. both dancers arrive now, the female dancer in all black with black frills along with her male counterpart in all black with a black and white-dotted scarf. they clap and stomp in unison and the earth takes a beating. together, they easily defeat any duo seen thus far, be it in flamenco or elsewhere.

looking as though she were about to cry, tears hugging the hem of her eyelids, this dancer must have felt something more than simple satisfaction. their dance is a tale of unrequited love, filled with aggressive passion. why they cannot be with one another is unknown – but they can’t, and she has made the decision to his horrific despondence


august 27th, 2007

night in Madrid

the sun just set. I still haven't procured a watch, so I must guess the time is around 9:30pm ( 21:30 ). I'm seated in corral de la moreria – a flamenco dinner (tablao) neighborhood in western madrid . the guidebook said it was easy to find, and at first I couldn't find the place, but after watching the sunset for a bit and crossing a street I originally hadn't planned, it was there before my eyes.

a slick haired gentleman was standing in the doorway, not unlike a bouncer one wanted find back in the states. but it seems, slick haired, bouncer-looking folk in the capital of spain are much friendlier than their American counterparts. he informed me the show started at ten (the guidebook said 21:00 ). i spent a few more minutes outside watching the orange red sun set against the horizon and then decided it was time to enter.

corral de la moreria is swathed in browns and reds, deep browns and even deeper reds. the walls, coated with paintings of spain , from mostly images of flamenco and dance to those of bullfights and dark haired, red lipped damsels from what must be tales of princesses rescued from Moorish throes by the knights of the Christian Reconquest. that tale seems to play over and over again as the guitar in the background slowly builds up from the despondent beat of soleares to the heartful, joyous allegria. the guitar is then eclipsed by the singer, who now beckons fro me to begin my meal, while my pen tells me to write more. but, it seems my stomach agrees with the singer.

the meal is finished and now this glass of 2002 marques de rascal and I await a "selection of Spanish dessert," as the menu calls it. what I, personally, and will go out on a limb, and assume that this glass of red too is waiting for is the performance!

flamenco guitarists and dancers are always different to watch. I first broke my duende cherry at the age of sixteen (or fifteen?) in Miami florida . it was one of those university auditorium filled experiences where one sees viewers from all ages of life, from the toddlers who have never seen a guitar in person to those whose faces have seen enough winters to turn Camaron's bones cold. there is one thing similar each time. each time, I fall in love with the dark haired, ruby lipped dancer and awe courses through my veins at the music wrought by the guitarists.

that's about where the similarities end. each performer plays a role in their performance – what twich of the shoulder, what swivel of the hips, what smile will they capture as their own? what strum of the six-string, what dancing rain will come from their tremolo, what rasguedo will they embed with their own signature? these are the questions that run through my head as a show is about to start.

the Spaniards truly do have no real concept of time. it feels well past ten, and the show hasn't started. but then again, without a watch, its hard to corroborate that comment.

the lights have dimmed! Spanish is being yelled to and fro. cheers and claps abound. the guitarist, with his gleaming orange guitar, and his counterpart, with his red guitar begin to play. the first dancer steps on stage. she is beautiful, with her hair tied back with bits of green and white flowers, her black skirt freckled with white and green. three dancers on stage now, the third in clinging red, her skirt ruffled in a beautifully classic way. one of the dancers made eye contact with me and I smiled. did she smile back? I can never tell with women. who am I kidding – the audience from their perspective is blanketed in darkness, or is it? a hopeful part of me remains.

there is no other art form, no other performance, nothing, that gives me the types of chills that flamenco does. just look at the passion in their face, their eyes closed, teeth clenched. what else could they possibly be doing, but this?

the male dancer has just joined the stage. he is not as colorful as his female counterparts, but the passion in his eyes rivals theirs. his dance starts slow, but in a fleeting moment, he finds himself gripped by something he can never explain, and his clenched teeth, turn to a grimace of joy, adulation. he twirls here and there and the audience claps as his arms are upraised in a final clap.

all four dancers, three women, and the lucky man danced around each other for some time. guitars were strum, voices bellowed, and castanets rattled their haunting, punctuated echoes through the small venue. it all ended with a flourish, the kind that makes dead men weep.


i am watching orfeu now.

there is beautiful guitar in this film

sometimes it makes me wish i was born brazilian

the sun rises as if it had been set for a thousand centuries
with brilliant splendor

"it offends even God that he plays so well."

can you imagine playing as well as orfeu?

there is a beautiful brazilian indian girl in this film.
fair skin, dark eyebrows.

"ah, it's a summer shower. it comes suddenly without warning. then it's gone suddenly, like love."


why are we here?
what is this?
where are we going?
why are we going there?
what are we doing?

who are we?


painted sorrows never feel the glee
of harmony,
nor that of victory.


hushes of darkness
light cupping the horizon
the sky bears red fruit


the universe is just one giant puzzle.

the universe is just one giant puzzle. all the pieces that make it whole are strewn across the far reaches of the galaxies.

the oceans are millions of miles away from the earth. the clouds are eons away from the sky. like blades of grass, there are only pieces.

ages pass and the pieces swim closer to one another. but like the prelude to a reconciliation, there is no sound, there is no light - there are only glimpses of day and night.


when you look at a mask, do you ask yourself who you are?
something happens to you when you listen to norah jones at 1:30 in the morning. tears grip the hem of your eyelids, your heart ebbs and flows with emotion and your ego is quashed by truth. you may ask if the past offers you comfort, but you might have no answer, except that it offers memories.

she looked around the corner,
seraphim eyes, hidden under the sunset of shade
the rumble of an engine came to a sweet stop.

sharing of a moment unshared for years,
passion intertwined with branches
where serendipity and felicity met.

a few turns here, a few turns there,
and off to the south the two flew
a brilliant dove to the right.

laughs and giggles ensued.
moments of silence interrupted by the wind above,
whisking down a one way highway.

a touch, a kiss, a whisper.
a walk on earth and through water.
wistful yearning flourished in goodbyes.

radiance was never a match for felicity's smile.

nor will it ever be.


for thatha

R. Chidambaram was one of my grandfather's prized students when he taught physics earlier in his career at IISc. I thank him for his kind words.

"When I joined the Indian Institute of Science in 1956, R. S. Krishnan, the Head of the Physics Department, told me that I would be working with G. Suryan. ‘He is a man full of ideas’, Krishnan added. And indeed he was!

Suryan wrote his first paper on acoustics when he was thirteen years old. He was the first person in India to observe the phenomenon of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. The flowing liquid method he developed to bypass the saturation of NMR signals was a brilliant idea and was widely cited internationally. My Ph D problem involved building a wide-line NMR spectrometer. His exceptional knowledge about materials and techniques was valuable in building this kind of spectrometer for the first time in the country and it worked very well for a couple of decades, much after I had left

the Institute in 1962 to join the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. The seed of my continued interest in indigenizing advanced instruments can be traced back to my early years with Suryan. He did not co-author the paper I wrote on the NMR spectrometer and other papers I wrote on hydrogen bonding studies using it, due to some principle or some stray comment from a colleague which upset him; I could never make out.

For my M Sc degree by research – I had the B Sc (Hons.) degree from the Madras University – I worked on a magnetic storage system designed by Suryan for Fourier Synthesis in X-ray crystal structure analysis. This was a clever idea of synchronous recording of harmonics on a magnetic drum with controlled amplitudes and phases and reading out with a long pick-up head. Chithralekha, as it was called, worked well and was a great leap forward from the Beevers–

Lipson strips the crystallographers next door in the Physics Department had to toil with. This analogue computer, on which S. Krishnan was already working when I joined, took us to front-line electronics areas of those days like phasesensitive detection. In the late fifties, the rapid advances in digital computing overwhelmed analogue computers of this type. Suryan’s Chitralekha, was one of the front-runners at that time for Fourier synthesis, along with Ray Pepinsky’s machine in Pennsylvania State University.

S. Krishnan and I were also enormously impressed by his rare mechanical engineering skills. Both of us remember the 16 profile cut disks with an illuminated slit and photocell on either side used to produce the harmonic wave forms. The huge gear-box, with all different gear ratios between adjacent shafts, which were approximately equally spaced, was a marvelous achievement for a physicist and to realize the actual spur gears, selecting the actual cutters to be used and every detail of the gears was, we think, a remarkable achievement of Suryan. It would be that even if the other limitation of a shoe-string budget was not considered. We remember the many discussions with the foreman of the (central) workshop, in every one of which the didactic Suryan was instructing the other party, who was struggling to understand the basics of milling gear wheels!

He was one of the rare scientists who was comfortable in his interactions with industry. The pioneering efforts with Mettur Chemicals for building India’s first silicon foundry and his later interest in glasses are examples.

A man of many parts, very simple in his habits, and a man very devoted to his family, brilliant and original, Suryan perhaps did not get fully the scientific recognition he deserved in an academic value system, which over-emphasized – and which still overemphasizes – the number of publications as a measure of scientific achievement. But today’s India, on a fast-track growth path, also needs more Suryans."

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre



"I will not attempt to support this argument here with systematic quantitative evidence, although it is possible to develop measures which show how far middle-class speakers can wander from the point."

William Labov, "The Logic of Nonstandard English", Varieties of Present-Day English, R.W.Bailey
and J.L. Robinson, Eds., 1973, pp. 329-30.


a long empty road

"Myth makes Echo the subject of longing and desire. Physics makes Echo the subject of distance and design. ... And where there is no Echo there is no description of space or love.

"There is only silence."

Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves, Pantheon,
2000, pp. 41, 46, 50.


ok i think i have a crush on her:


i love her expression around 1:38


desirous red dawn

like pulsating grace
heralding the day
desirous red dawn

god in the forest

Of all trees I am the holy fig tree.
- Bhagavad Gita


mirrors and dust

mirrors and dust are but a canteen of tears

as you walk through this desert, empty and forlorn.

the light of grace shall touch you

when i do not know.


i had a dream the other night that i can't stop thinking about. i was walking along a bridge, and another person was walking towards me. from far away, this person wore tan colored clothing and on further inspection, i noticed the person was a man, and that his clothing was that of tan colored robes.

to the right and to the left, under, around and surrounding the bridge, there was crystal clear, blue water. the sun was shining - relentless, but soothing.

the man came up to me and i came up to him. he wore the traditional tan robes, his head was shaved and he had round spectacles that garnished his nose and ears. he was holding a bag on a stick, which he had slung over his left shoulder. he was not hunched, not standing perfectly straight either. but he stood before me with great might.

both of us chanted the words of praise to krishna to one another. hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare. hare rama, hare rama, rama rama hare hare. he nodded, and continued walking, passing my right. and i continued walking, passing his.


staring at the world through my rearview

no one says it better than the master lyricist himself - tupac:

"I'm seein nothing but my dreams comin true
While I'm staring at the world through my rearview"


Dear Lord,

you humble me.

thank you.


shelter against a downpour

quiet blue, soft gray
wrath of wind rustling behind
bring me closer home.


of whiskers and snow
of light, warmth and the sunshine
[frames within the frame.]


"Medieval China led the world in technology. The long list of its major technological firsts includes cast iron, the compass, gunpowder, paper, printing, and many others mentioned earlier. It also led the world in political power, navigation, and control of the seas. In the early 15th century it sent treasure fleets, each consisting of hundreds of ships up to 400 feet long and with total crews of up to 28,000, across the Indian Ocean as far as the east coast of Africa, decades before Columbus's three puny ships crossed the narrow Atlantic Ocean. Why didn't Chinese ships colonize Europe? Why did China lose its technological lead to the formerly so backward Europe? ..."

"[The answer is] a power struggle between two factions in the Chinese court. The former faction had been identified with the fleets. Hence when the latter faction gained the upper hand in a power struggle, it stopped sending fleets. The episode is reminiscent of the legislation that strangled development of public lighting in London in the 1880s, the isolationism of the United States between the First and Second World Wars, and any number of backward steps in any number of countries. But in China there was a difference, because the entire region was politically unified. One decision stopped fleets over the whole of China [and] became irreversible.

"Now contrast those events in China with what happened when fleets of exploration began to sail from politically fragmented Europe. Christopher Columbus, an Italian by birth, switched his allegiance to the duke of Anjou in France, then to the king of Portugal. When the latter refused his request for ships in which to explore westward, Columbus turned to the duke of Medina-Celi, who did likewise, and finally to the king and queen of Spain, who denied Columbus's first request but eventually granted his renewed appeal. Had Europe been united under any of the first three rulers, its colonization of the Americas might have been stillborn. In fact, precisely because Europe was fragmented, Columbus succeeded on his fifth try..."

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Norton, 1997, pp. 412-3.


of bikers and cars

this shot was taken in san francisco while i was waiting behind a couple cars, which in turn, were waiting behind a red light. for some reason, the cyclist in the bright yellow jacket really got my attention.

the world tends to be blue when it rains, and the stark contrast of the yellow jacket against that downpour resonated through the streets.

is it worth it?

i'm trying to figure out how i feel about black and white pictures of fire.

are they good? are they worth taking in black and white?

or are they lacking that powerful milieu of oranges, reds and yellows [and sometimes blues] that turned humans once into worshippers of this masterful beast?

fallen chess pieces

cool word!

tohubohu (TOH-hoo-BO-hoo) noun

Chaos; confusion.

[From Hebrew tohu wa-bhohu, from tohu (formlessness) and bhohu (emptiness).]

-Anu Garg (garg wordsmith.org)

"Our problem is tohubohu. Our industry is drowning in it. But somehow, even with all the confusion and disorder, we manage to develop systems."
Jerrold Grochow; Take a Little Tohubohu Off the Top; Software
Magazine (Englewood, Colorado); Nov 1995.


when it rains inside

the day was spent taking pictures in the rain, and even after going indoors, it seemed to be pouring from above


the light's telling you to stop, but everything else is telling you to go

other times in life, the entire world smiles at you, but something's holding you back

you've got the green light, but the world's red around you

sometimes in life, everyone tells you to stop, that you can't do it, but something inside keeps you going...


I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.

--Oscar Wilde


"It was John Kenneth Galbraith, the hyperliterate economic sage, who coined the phrase 'conventional wisdom.' He did not consider it a compliment. 'We associate truth with convenience,' he wrote, 'with what most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort or unwelcome dislocation of life. We also find highly acceptable what contributes most to self-esteem.' Economic and social behavior, Galbraith continued, 'are complex, and to comprehend their character is mentally tiring.
Therefore we adhere, as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding.'

"So the conventional wisdom in Galbraith's view must be simple, convenient, comfortable, and comforting--though not necessarily true. It would be silly to argue that the conventional wisdom is never true. But noticing where the conventional wisdom may be false--noticing, perhaps, the contrails of sloppy or self-interested thinking--is a nice place to start asking questions."

Steven D. Levitt, Freakonomics, Harper Collins,
2005, pp. 89-90.


winter's chill has arrived
and the old man gnashes his teeth
as he grips the reins of
his steed below,
ready to rumble,
ready to tumble
through the countryside.
i really like rachel yamagata's forward in her album happenstance:

"I try my best to write of love and pain and explore how we humans treat each other, and what our souls are trying to get out at the same time. Performing is my meditation; writing my traveling companion. These songs are as truthful and in the moment as I could be at this point in my life. They are observational, touching, but with a sense of hopefulness that every piece, and each bit of pain had a reason. So that nothing is wasted. The never can be happenstance."
- rachel yamagata, happenstance (2004)


alma, corazon y vida

so if you look above, you'll see a term in spanish. it's also the name of a song of a favorite flamenco guitarist of mine named paco de lucia. i love the song. after listening to it for years, i realized i heard a story when the song is playing. it is the story of a spanish gent who is in love with his girlfriend. but he did something foolish and now realizes he wants to marry her, but she's not having it. she's admonishing him, but feels a little perplexed! she loves him but he sometimes acts the fool:

guy: me alma, me corazon, me vida.
girl: no no no [wags an admonishng finger at him]
guy: me corazon, me vida, me alma, me amore
girl: [smiles, but puts her index finger against her pursed lips]
guy: me amore, me alma, me corazon, me vida
girl: [she smiles and thinks "FINE" and says yes!]


the sweetest of honeys will never match the most tender touch of sorrow. to live is to breathe - to breathe its brisk, unrelenting nighttime air.


listening to enya before i go to sleep is something i enjoy very much. her voice, beautiful, resonant takes me to far away lands. her voice, mysterious, touching takes me deeper within.

she is able to create watercolors with her voice and pastels with lyrics as dreams edge closer to reality.


to my guitar

let my fingers entwine yours.

let your gasps be those of precious melody.

and when happenstance requires of us our goodbyes,
know that it is only for a moment,
and that our fingers will touch again.
it's interesting how many adjectives apply to people. demanding folk definitely exist, and now that i think about it, those requiring urgent attention do too!

exigent (EK-si-jent) adjective

1. Requiring urgent attention.
2. Demanding; exacting.

[From Latin exigent-, stem of exigens, present participle of exigere (to demand, to drive out), from ex- + agere (to drive). Ultimately from the Indo-European root ag- (to drive, draw) that is also the source of such words as act, agent, agitate, litigate, synagogue, and ambassador.]

"Taiwan's vast reserves of foreign exchange can be tapped once, perhaps twice, in exigent times. But these reserves ... must be used sparingly."
Mark T. Fung; Rumblings from Taiwan;
The Christian Science Monitor
(Boston, Massachusetts); Jan 10, 2001.


I learned this, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.

- Henry David Thoreau


next to hearing the caress in a woman's voice as she says your name, one of the most wondrous sounds is that of a newly strung guitar. every note so bright when struck, with so much energy ready to be spent. a touch can send sparks flying, leaving fingers numb, and a heart aching for more. and so you begin playing. sounds rush here and there, melodies on the horizon. you find yourself halfway through a song, wistful of what had passed, jubilant about what is to come. sounds rush there and here, the horizon within footstep. caresses drift into tunes and tunes give birth to the caresses that brought them to life.

and then you sigh.


"The most common sort of lie is the one uttered to one's self."
-- Nietzsche


It’s windy outside, and the echoes of fall are perched upon branches – yellows and some bits of orange amongst feelings of green. Today’s rain, heeding not the whims of flight, nor those of fancy, pours endlessly. Drops of her touch leaving whispers of smoke and mirrors on the windows. Whistling wind, he troubles himself for but a moment to enter this room within, circling incense smoke swallowed whole. Tears of folly, tears of felicity, tears of fable, all join hands as the evening grows calm and deeper into its own mind. Whistling whispers, whispering whistles take a moment to rest. Beyond the window, she and he grasp each other, gasping for eternity – of passion and night, of dreams and the quiet setting sun.


i think we all know those who are oscitant, or "strangely oscitant" as mr coleridge would put it!

oscitant (OS-i-tant) adjective

1. Yawning, gaping from drowsiness.

2. Inattentive, dull, negligent.

[From Latin oscitant, present participle of oscitare (to yawn), from os (mouth) + citare (to move).]

"Southy, who has been my corrector, has been strangely oscitant, or, which I believe is sometimes the case, has not understoodthe sentences."
- Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Kessinger Publishing; 2005.


fiction reveals truth that reality obscures
- jessamyn west


rain whistling deeply
the sky, flourescent purple
the wind smiles and howls


who is writing this? is it me, who i naively think i am, that is writing this? or am i being channeled by something else that wants this written? am i the writer or am i an instrument of the WRITER. this can be expanded to more than just words. forget the writer for a moment. he or she is forgotten. i have forgotten him, if only for a moment.

let us now think of the actor. who am i when i act. am i me? or am i an instrument of the ACTOR?

thinking of this ACTOR does not help me. we must return to the WRITER now.

so once again, another fundamental question. am i the writer? or is there a WRITER who needs, for whatever reason, if any reason at all, this written. how much control do i have over what is given life in words?

something more fundamental comes to mind. am i thinking this? or am i once again, an instrument of another - in this case, the THINKER? what pushes my thoughts in one way or another? how much control do i have over them? does free will reside in the mind?

and who is this "i" that is referred to above? who are YOU, or perhaps it is you.

what is this "i?"


last fall around this time (i think it was around this time. yes, it was around this time), when i was back in san francisco, the commonwealth club - the name itself evokes images of a pre-1991 eastern europe, but it was nothing of the sort - who's events i attended had something called LitQuake. i remember this being a really fun week - authors from a huge diaspora of genres came together each night of the week at a different venue and would speak over whatever was the topic that night, or read from their works. wines, cheeses, authors and readers abound - there were even some wines older than some of the participants!

the event that i remember most clearly, most distinctly was a panel discussion on science and literature. in fact, the title of the panel was "Science is Sexy." not a too hard name to forget about. the panel members ranged from journalists to published authors, but all of them had some relationship with science: james calder (of the Bill Damen novel series - i've never actually read any of these, but i think it's fiction surrounding futuristic - science fiction, some would call it - genetic research), michael chorost (author of rebuilt: how becoming part computer made me more human), david ewing duncan (journalist), michael pollan (us berkeley professor of journalism) and richard rhodes (pulitzer prize winning author of the making of the atomic bomb). they all spoke about literature and science, how to maintain truth to science but make it interesting at the same time.

usually when i tell people about this experience, i talk about richard rhodes, and how interesting and friendly he was when i talked to him. not to say that he wasn't, or isn't (wouldn't want to offend the man), but i rarely mention the others that were at this event.

michael chorost was particularly interesting - he talked about how he has been deaf for most of his life and recently receieved a cochlear implant which allows him to hear. one of the more interesting things he had to say revolved around the whole concept of technology and what it means to be human. he is a human with a technologically advanced cochlear implant that allows him to hear close to a 100% level of a non deaf individual. that's one implant. there are other individuals with metal legs or even artificial hearts! first a cochlear implant, next maybe your arm has been replaced with a fiberglass one, and so forth and so on as your appendages and body parts turn from the organic to the inorganic.

is there a point at which you are no longer human? is the point when you replace your brain with something artificial make you non human? is there a direct border that once is crossed, humanity ceases? one can imagine this scenario, i suppose, as an asymptote, towards which a curve approaches a line but never quite touches it. on one end you have humanity, plain and simple, what people around us (correctly or wrongly) define it as. and this same group of people would refer to the other side of the line as what humanity is NOT.

like most questions i have, in many ways, i feel this problem brings us to a question of infinity, both in the infinitely large direction and the infinitesimally small direction. as one line approaches an asymptote, it becomes infinitesimally closer to the asymptote without ever touching it. one response could be, well, the person is always human, but becomes less and less human as he or she approaches the asymptote. imagine the x-axis as incremental operations to the human body with technology and the y-axis as humanity.

i know what some of you are already thinking of in your head. i am not looking to model humanity on a graph or equation (although i do think certain human behaviors can be modeled so). i am simply using the graph as a representation to this problem. i want to make this clear before i start hearing fluffy statements like 'humanity is indescribable' or 'humanity transcends equations.' please, people. WHAP, i'm a gonna slap you.

ok back to the representation. two things come to mind. if the curve never reaches the line (always remains asymptotic), then this representation reflects the possibility that regardless of the number of operations on the body, some infinitesimally small amount remains, even in death. if the line is able to cross over, i.e., there is some point at which humanity ceases, then that is a different claim altogether. the problem with the former scenario, where the curve is asymptotic, it doesn't really explain a specific situation of death, or how two different people, with different experiences with operations and transplants will both die and thereby cease to be human. another question that comes to mind is whether or not death precludes humanity. and a more fundamental question arises as to what humanity is.

is being human binary? does either humanity exist or does it not in some framework, be it a human being or something else? or are there gradations of humanity? if there are gradations, then this concept of infinity and infinitesimally become important. are there two ends of the gradation spectrum - pure humanity and pure inhumanity?

as a sentient being with free will, are we able to achieve either end of that spectrum through thought and/or action? is it necessary to do so to define ourselves or another as human or inhumane? i think these are important questions to ask before we can jump to label anyone as anything - and more specifically, before we can claim to call someone humane or inhumane!

thank you mr. chorost - not sure if you expected some sort of camus-like diatribe to arise from your predicament, but your question about humanity and its relationship with technological implants brings forth a number of additional questions and thoughts. science definitely is sexy.
vying for planets,
a celestial courtship.
stars in the heavens.


i'm losing my voice!


a sky, full of stars
has been covered with canvas.
bereft of brightness.
we all have the ability. the difference is how we use it.
-- stevie wonder (musician)


when words wrestle wantonly,
awash, away.
floundering flames feel furiously, fail.


My new favorite singer said the following, and oddly (or not oddly) enough, it wasn't from a song. She relates it from the context of her singing at an early age, through her teens into what eventually became her life. Or maybe it was always already her life.

"I didn’t know how to manufacture an opportunity, but I was determined that when a chance came my way I would be ready."

These are pretty amazing words to live by - to hone, encourage and intensify one's skills and passions regardless of what is ahead. To live your life with the sole purpose of knowing that you will have your chance. To have faith that destiny will give you a chance to not simply use, but live those very same skills and passions that have now flourished - this faith requires courage and some level of blindness. How much faith can you have in a chance that may or may not exist? How sure can you be of so sure of something that you put your all into these skills and passions? This is a true, pristine faith - a faith that allows you to receive your chance when you are ready. As you should.


om namah shiva
her alluring voice, breathless
enchants destiny
thirty four thousand years have passed, and I can’t see any more than I could back then. it was more quiet, then, and now things have become more noisy. and nosy, people have become more nosy. please stay out of my life, why must you enter it again and again? do you have a need to place me in difficult situations, unconsciously or subconsciously or underconsciously? or do i place myself in these situations, or have i placed myself in these situations?

thirty four thousand years have passed, and at that very moment, back then, time was still, time was quiet and time never seemed to bother me. now it does as i look upon the forests ahead, with a machete in my left hand and a flashlight in my right, i notice that the sun has not set. the future is still bright. but where does this future lie? what lies perpetuate a misunderstanding, or full understanding of whether or not you or me, or you are me and that senseless gaze. your gaze is constant, it attempts to follow me and i push your gaze away in disgust, in hatred, attempt to cut you down with this machete.

thirty four thousand years have passed, and where my hands were bare once, now they are full of technology and weaponry. every year is a hundred fold and when a thousand becomes two, we have a billion. i lose count after six. loath is your way, too predictable, yet you seem to always follow me. what foolishness you bring, please step aside. just leave me alone and allow me to use this machete for more important things. you are not important. you are small and weak and i have no need for you. you came as my friend as my hands were empty those thirty four thousand years ago. you seemed to come with strength that i didn’t need, draining me of a lifeforce that would never breathe. alone and unencumbered, you seem to want something, yet in offering it, i would fall. an eternal fall, and below there was no cushion until i landed, on this hard, time weathered soil. you make my blood burn and boil.

thirty four thousand years have passed, and not a year less or a year more. in this second, these truths are the same. why must you be involved so? please stop and step away, and let not another thirty four thousand years pass into ether. let there be some level of knowledge, of wisdom. a cease and desist order, for an internal new world order. this forest before me is foreboding, like those in the stories of yesteryore. as i step forward into this unknown, please leave me be. you will not survive in this forest. it is dark, deep and there is too much truth for your blind eyes to handle. i hate you, you are blind, you are weak and the fact that makes me hate you makes me hate you even more. stay away or i will tear you down with this machete. i will drop this flashlight – i have more light than i need to see. it is off now, and from my left to my right, this machete has moved. my grip is tighter, my walk lighter, and my trust, my trust is nonexistent for you. stay away or you will fall too.

thirty four thousand years have passed, and you are the same. step away, or you will be struck down, like lightning from the skies below, above, they are all the same. in one more attempt to drain, you will be drained. stay away. and if temptation should arise, you should be advised, that i will not step aside.


the final frontier
above and through the cosmos
beautiful, you are
let loose emotion
away from Your fallacy
away from your Self


that which is not known
that which is not knowable
that is what i seek.
ephemeral reach
stars and galaxies, abound
where are you my friend?


someone wrote this haiku to me. i don't know why, but it's really beautiful:

subway on the east
swimming amidst many souls
i try to make waves

from where it was inspired, it brings to mind the vast sea of madness known as new york, from its people to its cars to its buildings. i wouldn't venture to call the city serene, elegant or even beautiful. there is something to that city though that no other city has, and i can't think of a word for it right now. but anyone who has lived there would agree -- there is no other city quite like new york.


time waits for no man.

but love, i hope, waits for this one.



Make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
Where there is injury pardon;
Where there is doubt faith;
Where there is despair hope;
Where there is darkness light;
Where there is sadness joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.
Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.

- St. Francis of Assisi


if my sky should fall...

why don't we spend a weekend inside on a hammock?

as it rains outside

in each others' arms, listening to a bit of norah

as she asks 'what am i to you?'

you know very well what you are to me.

oh, let the rain ensue

as you lay on top of me, our hearts not letting the other miss a beat

your eyes are closed more often than mine
i can't help but look at your beautiful face

lest i miss those beautiful dark orbs looking into mine

sweet words, a lovely touch
it's only saturday morning, baby

and i have my entire life here in my arms.


his peace is constant, his heart is compassion and his soul is eternal

om mani padme hum

hail the jewel in the lotus

nuzzled between the lotus of the himalayas and the western land mass of india, darjeeling is the most beautiful jewel i have ever seen in my life.

i was with a friend there during the monsoon season. they told us it would be wet, cloudy and that we would be blind to the mountaintops. oh, how they were wrong!

the sun rises early in darjeeling. if you leave your window blinds open you will see a blue stream of light fall on your room. that same blue stream woke us up at 4 am.

and that first hour of light was glorious. not a sound but that of your own heartbeat lends itself to an environment of utter beauty.

the clouds disappeared that morning into whatever nether regions they heralded from, leaving the snowcapped beauty of the himalayas behind them.

my breath was taken away at the mountain peaks.

is this where you are, Shiva, tearing evil asunder?

is this where you visit, Avalokiteshvara, saving mankind from the pains he brings upon himself?

what other secrets exist in that jewel of darjeeling?

oh, how i wish to know.


there is change in the air

the woman was a dream i had
though rather hard to keep.
for when my eyes were watching hers
they closed,
and i was still asleep.
- Bouncing Around The Room, Phish

i find myself bouncing around the room, thinking about that woman that was a dream i had. that woman now is change, and now that my eyes are watching hers, i understand a bit more of her role in life.

change is eternal. she is constant. she pushes you into new circumstances, new situations. she heralds a new day, a new year, a new life. she guides you through the darkest of tunnels and the whitest of clouds. she is your companion when there is none other.

her poetry will bring tears to your eyes, as she has brought to mine, over and over, time and time again. her whisper, a sweet breeze on a quiet june day, will grip your heart, holding love and everything else that is important right before you.

gently take her hand and let her take you where you should be. accept change - she is your friend, your eternal companion.


a psychological disorder

sometimes i think i have a psychological disorder.

or maybe no one understands me.

or rather, maybe i don't understand myself.

it's somewhat calming to attribute misunderstanding or lack of understanding to an innate psychological phenomenon. i guess my troubles stem from the way i think. my mind constantly races and the only solace i have from it is in sleep.

my mind constantly runs from one thought to the next. questions arise from nowhere and somewhere at the same time, leading to an extreme lack of satisfaction.

i woulldn't say that i am discontent. i am just unsatisfied with the world around me and where it seems to be leading. i don't even think i'm a pessimist. at least that would offer a rational explanation for my mode of thought. the most alarming factor is that i think i am an optimist. it just doesn't make sense.

so much about me doesn't make any sense. i find myself sometimes thinking that i understand it all, that i am satisified with the events and people in my life. and other times, i am at the opposite extreme. i can't tell you why. i can't even tell myself why, so don't worry. it's not you.

so where do i go with all of this?

i'm not sure yet.

but what i am sure of is the following:

i have a number of things i need to complete. and sometimes i let insanity get in the way of those goals. and i want so hard to say, 'not this time.' but it's hard. it really is.

i try so hard to not let my inspirations be stomped upon.

and i don't have anyone but myself to help me destroy the herd of insanity stampeding and rampaging my way.

but if i don't stop that stampede, if i don't stop that rampage, i will cease to be myself.

and i don't want to be anyone but myself.


a hazy san francisco night


oh, evening sky
from blue and violet
to red and orange.

with shades of serene

i have nowhere but above
to look and smile.

to feel again
more of my worth.



i'm feeling really uninspired lately, or maybe just today. i'm not usually like this. i don't know what's going on. i'm so uninspired that i don't even feel like writing about being uninspired.


Six Fifty is That-a-Way.

Even stuffed doggies need money.


the dream

i struggled for a moment in coming up with the title for this blog. at first, i thought "the american dream" would suit well. it doesn't though. it quells the true nature of "the dream." it quells the drive of everyone outside of what is now known as "America" who seek something greater than themselves. "the american dream" is something i've often viewed as pretentious and ostentatious and not representative of the population as a whole. in short, it excludes the vast portion of humanity - the community of six billion who want something more.

but then again, thoreau had said that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

so i challenge all those who read this not to live that life of quiet desparation. there is nothing quiet or desparate about your lot in life.

and there is nothing quiet or desparate in mine.

i have never been so happy with my choices until now. i am offered - no, granted - full control over my life. i have not felt that way in a long time, if ever. terms that have often been thrown around that may be appropriate are those similar to 'the sky's the limit.'

in this case, however, in my lot here in life, it is not the sky that is the limit, but the outer reaches of the stars. every night, i try to stare up at them, and in this case, i am offered a profound sense of humility. that sense of humility translates into confidence, and i smile as i look back down at the world i frequent every day.

one of the best things about awakening early in the morning, and especially from a good night's rest, is the ability to see the stars as soon as one wakes up. maybe that's why i choose not to take my contacts out as often as i should.

so i rub my eyes as i wake, sometimes prompted from an internal alarm. the first thing i see is the sky. the first thing i hear is the wind rushing in through the window. the first thing i smell is whatever the cool breeze chooses to bring in that morning. and the first thing i feel is a sense of purpose, of drive and desire to dominate the world in which i frequent.

the best thing that happened to me. it opened my eyes, although they may not have openly been closed, to a world that exists in-and-of-itself, outside of that aforementioned dream. there is no dreaming in that world. there are no stars. there is no moonlight streaming through the man made ceiling above. even sunlight is scarce on the most clearest of days. there is no dream in that world. the dream may have been born once, but it is dead now. the dream is dead and can only be rekindled by the strongest of flames.

but despair not, i said to myself as others said to me - as Thoreau whispered through the netherworld into my thoughts. then was not the time to despair. fear destroys even the strongest of men as i have often seen.

confidence evokes the deepest of passions, it arouses the strongest sense of self and lays asunder all those who stand in The Path.

so now i am at a place where the dream runs wild, where the line between the dream and waking life is non-existent, where The Path is infinite. in this place, this place of magnificence, the dream controls you as you control the dream. once dreaming, truly dreaming, it is impossible to turn back, to look at the dead life that is now behind you.

when one dreams, whether awake or asleep, one can do anything. there are no bounds to the course one wishes to take in life.


From Time.com (http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1022603,00.html)

The Sins of the Mothers
A courageous documentary shows kids trying to escape Calcutta brothels. Some make it, some don't

Feb. 7, 2005
Zana Briski is soft-spoken and rather shy of manner. Willowy of frame, stout of spirit and compassionate of heart, she naturally possesses the qualities shared by the best photojournalists. But even by the standards of that difficult craft, the assignment she imposed on herself a few years ago was formidable. She would live in the brothels of Calcutta, India, and record the lives of their inhabitants, particularly the prostitutes' children.

It took Briski months to overcome the suspicions of the hookers and their hangers-on. The kids--bright, cheerful, curious--were easier. She passed out simple point-and-shoot cameras and offered rudimentary instruction in the art of photography. Her Oscar-nominated documentary, Born into Brothels, which she made with Ross Kauffman, offers an astonishing record of her technique's success--and its limits.

Taken together, the children's photos form a surprisingly sophisticated chronicle of their daily lives. In their hands, the camera becomes an instrument that allows the children to step outside their lives and peer back in at them. In turn, that allows them to contemplate alternatives to their hopelessness.

Briski, who is almost as much the film's subject as the children are, is seen arranging interviews for them at schools that offer opportunities to leave the brothels. But the mothers are not universally encouraging about escape. They seem to believe that this brutal, poverty-stricken life is all their offspring deserve.

In the end, only about half the children get out. The rest have apparently sunk back into hopelessness. For her part, Briski keeps trying. She has a foundation. She has her passion for righteousness. And now she has this very moving film, which at the least must awaken our compassion and, perhaps, our donations. The question is, Can it awaken the imagination of the mothers of these children, encourage them to let them go, let them grow? --By Richard Schickel


in nyc.

an understanding of humanity is what is most desired - just a basic understanding is all that has been asked. not pieces of understanding. not disjoint understandings. but a combined influential and inspirational lucidity transcending all the little disjoint gestalten. does this come with age?


Happy New Year everyone.

and may all thy wishes be fulfilled.


a surreal sign

I dare you to figure out what this is.

My first attempt at impressionist digital photography.

An impressionist flame.

My first impressionist digital spider.