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Rachel advised me to tell the story of my shift from not having a future to discovering my future was always there, waiting: to be known for who and what I am in this universe.
In a nutshell, when I left Del Mar in financial and emotional ruin, I had no future and the only direction was, north. I traveled for four years mostly near the coast to Federal Way and turned back, when I realized that my future isn’t out there because it didn’t exist. In the meantime, my Pomeranian companion, Bear, died and so did the royal cat I inherited from a mother I loved dearly and I found myself alone with myself and I sort of, wasn’t there but I knew that logically, he must exist somewhere, posing the question proves this.
I squeaked by on a pension of $964 per month by living in an ancient motorhome. I could park free in parks, industrial streets and Walmart parking lots when I needed money for fuel and when I hung around a place, I could park in RV parks and avail myself of local food banks.
I lived around field workers, displaced factory workers and retired government employees and they all viewed me as a strange, unrecognizable kind of man. I was comfortable, I slept well in my modest home, a city boy from Philadelphia and a Jewish intellectual. Middle class types were frightened, the alcoholics among them, terrified. Always curious, as I imagine a indigenous people in what is now called, Florida, might have been, when Albert Nuñex Cabesa de Vaca dropped in.
One night, when I was working as the campground host in Jackson State Forest, miles from civilization, parked in a clearing in a redwood grove beside a tributary fork of the Noyo River, Bear died in my arms of Lymes disease.
When I awakened in the morning, I felt stunned that the world was still there. How could that be? My world died last night. But I awakened because I distinctly heard a voice say, “I love you, Michael” and the commitment expressed by that voice made me glad to be alive. And awakening to Bear’s absence reminded me immediately that I had nothing for which to live. Then I also realized that it was my voice that I had heard, that I had said it aloud. And then I realized that I’d never before even thought to say, “I love you, Michael” and that I had always felt guilty about loving myself.
For a couple months, I hung around Fort Bragg, walking, taking pictures, playing my guitar. Early one Monday morning, I retraced a path that I’d previously followed with Bear in the neighborhood of Caspar, a few miles south of Fort Bragg. I began to photograph a full scale carving of a redwood log of a Bear holding a cub.
The homeowner’s idea was probably meant to communicate, don’t mess with female bear’s cubs but it looks like a Russian bear or a big Steiff toy, I couldn’t take it seriously. Besides, I had nothing to lose.
A large, stout man appeared. Broad around the torso, blue eyes, greying hair, white skin, trimmed beard, firm demeanor.
I asked him if he was concerned about burglars and vagrants and explained who I am and the nature of my visit. He must have detected that acute grief had captured me. Out of the blue, he began telling me that, at a low point in his life he found Jesus and life has smiled on him ever since. I in turn explained that I am a practicing Jewish rationalist and although I’ve experienced the supernatural in forms of yoga, when he says he found Jesus, it sounds to me rationalizing a decision and yet I know that’s not what he meant.
I started capturing images of an unusually designed redwood house, which had attracted my attention to the place and when I turned around, he was gone. Things like this happen all the time in Fort Bragg and I gave it no further thought. Hungry, I drove my 1980 6-cylinder F150 four miles across town to the Redwood Senior Center to catch the noon lunch. (RSC and Cotton Auditorium are adjacent parts of the elementary school in Fort Bragg and the most unique of all expressions of Mendocino County’s current culture. ) Most of RSC is the former community dining hall of the company town, the company being, Union Lumber. Both it and the auditorium have redwood walls and ceilings and they are nearly the same volume. The dining room has oak floors and the redwood panels are sealed to keep their natural colors and the panels in the moldings in the auditorium are fine-grained, polished and sealed to a dusty rose.
The dining room contains about 40 circular tables, each on seating 12 to 20 people at a time. The meals, which cost $4 or a donation that fits your budget, are served to people at the tables by women who are generally over sixty. Maybe they are volunteers, maybe not. The tables are communities. People don’t move from table to table except for important reasons, otherwise, a regular participant would lose his or her place with people they get to know each day. I was invited to join a table, which I did but I wasn’t a constant guest.
After talking to the man who had found Jesus by the redwood Russian bear and her cub, I found myself seated with some people I hadn’t met before, one of whom was an attractive woman of 60 or so. Her hair was graying blond, her eyes blue, prominent nose and a form fitting black ribbed sweater was stretched across he ample bosom. In the course of conversation, she told me that she is getting a master’s degree in art at the Art Academy University but that she was taking courses online and she is painting everyday.
The next day, after determining that I wanted more than anything else in the world to master the art of music composition, I found that this very school had a music for film curriculum, which, because of my professional experience as a filmmaker and my bachelor’s degree in radio and television production, I could qualify to enroll by passing a test in music theory, notation and history. Music had been an avocation forever, I could read for flute, bass and guitar.
Hearing this seems pretentious but it’s a simple truth; deliberately hidden from me by my family until last year, when I finally learned about my father, Samuel Myrow and it’s very likely that I’m the last male Romanov, a bastard but then, so are we all, everyone of us else we’d all turn out like Juan Carlos or George Bush and that’s close enough to the truth in places in the midwest.
My father, Samuel, was the youngest son of Dora whose grandparents were Jews in Petersberg during the reign of the last Tsar, Nicholas II. Samuel hinted to me about this, the one time I met him but his words were meaningless since I couldn’t imagine this.
Rachel suggested that I tell you the story of my not finding Jesus in Fort Bragg in 2011 and how what I found instead of Jesus turned out to be as good as finding Jesus. Romanov is more a by-product of the whole thing. Relevant but not the most important aspect. As Joseph Goebbels might say (assuming he didn’t), truth is a person convinced of a story. For instance, the law of gravity is a probability curve between everything going up coming down again and nothing.
What it takes to convince someone about this story relates to this, so, here’s the story Rachel told me people would like to hear:
Seventeen years ago, I was living in Del Mar comfortably an apparent bourgeois success but my happiness was disturbed by a kind of envy and disdain. I’d written a book called, Architectronics, because I always knew I would be a published author and I had some ideas about life I wanted to see in print. I’d rewrite it now for emphasis, not for accuracy. I think of the Del Mar period as Michael the Creator. I’d been living in a little house near the beach for 15 years, comfortable, not wealthy but I had enough.
I was running on the beach one morning when this thing happened. All my life doctors had mentioned to me a genetic heart defect that used to end our lives at 50 but I didn’t realize that the defect is triggered if we are athletic. My genes are suited to intellectual pursuits but I am gifted with a love of dance and movement. I fell unconscious into the sea while running on the beach.
I don’t know how long I was unconscious in the water. The next thing I recall is observing the sand and pebbles. Then a force I don’t own changed this, it felt involuntary, and water was draining from my nose and mouth and then cold air filling my lungs and flowing through my sinuses. My head lifted because my eyes refocused on the bluffs of Del Mar and the beach below it and the blue blue sky. And it was good! A seagull flew by and it was beautiful. A neighbor’s window reminded me of the neighbor who reminded me of all the rest of my life, a sort of palpable nightmare of inauthenticity.
My survival may have resulted from qualities of character but I beat the odds, which favored drowning. How? Why? Who am I?
Tsar of Russia or technically, Tsar of all the Russias.
During most of my life I haven’t known I am the last male heir to the Romanov dynasty, nor anything at all about my connection with my surviving cousins otherwise known as the dynasty.
My mother and her family determined to hide my identity from everyone, but, especially, from me. They did this from compassion, of course, the typical reason. They may infer that I’m the crazy one, not them. Tsar? Tsar? That’s a laugh. What knowledge was passed on through successive generations in the construction of our brains? A Russian Jew. No one alive a this times is not descended from a child produced in a union outside a existing sanctioned relationship.
In a hospital in Oklahoma City, I met Ron Elkins, a surgeon who, with his team of masked men and women, sawed open my chest, took out my heart and put a cadaver tissue flapper where the pulmonic valve was and grafted the pulmonic valve in place of the calcified aortic valve. I met Ron in his office, checked into the hospital and saw him a couple times more before I returned to San Diego a few days later. He asked me if I wanted to take my dead aortic valve home with me to California. I declined. The experience had affected me emotionally, I was traumatized. Why was I living now? What future?
I’d like to forget and would if I could drink a lot. My writing is a survival tactic as well as a quest for having a future, permanently. But writing requires that I see things as they are or imagine them in a way consistent with some intention. It helps me to understand who it is that is observing. We have no closer observer than we are ourselves, if we can only tell the truth. Life is a laboratory for consciousness, a paradox when you’re doing the experiment. When I look now at images of the persona I’d identified with since the age of 16, I see a chrysalis from which I’ve recently emerged. The person I’d thought of as “myself” could not have predicted my present self. My reactions were not conscious choices yet my expectations are a consequence of personal history I’d never carefully researched.
It happened that following the surgery, it took about seven years for the picture you might have taken before the surgery was shattered to smithereens. My mother died, I’d lost my job, my girlfriends, then my house, my money, everything gone. I wasn’t suicidal, however, because I had the cymbalta and modafinol if I got drowsy. And I had the dog and my mother’s cat and my camera. I was good as we say.
I bought an ancient motorhome and went from town to town along the Pacific coast and staying for months at a time in beautiful places, in affordable RV parks and state parks. The cat died of Lymnes disease and a month or two later, so did the dog. In my arms in a redwood grove where I was camping several miles from Ft. Bragg. Darkness descended. For a few months, I hung around Ft. Bragg and then I went up the coast and stayed in towns in Oregon and Washington, turned around in Seattle–lost interest in the search.
The contradictions are all apparent. The ballad of Nicky and Mikey.
When I learned the truth, I was of course suspicious. Now that I’ve been convinced of it, I’m not moved to claim prerogatives of my position. I wouldn’t turn down a Fabergé egg or Winter Palace or white princess if they are offered to me but I don’t expect it. It is only important to me that I give expression to something inside me.
Inside my head is the myth of Russia. Russia is a euphemism for “everything”. You are Russian, most likely, a freed serf and I am Tsar. Tsar of all the Russias, for one very simple reason that no one can disprove. I am responsible to God. To God alone. Yet the burden of this responsibility is that I must be as God in my acts and words. My predecessor, Nicholas II, was unfortunately for everyone, knew the value of life but was no more able to stop powermad police and entrepreneurs from firing guns into a crowd of peacefully protesting people. For this weakness, a mob of idiots, lacking the natural instinct of reptiles, sought to destroy the very idea of Tsar and Russia together.. They couldn’t kill Russia without extinguishing themselves, which in fact, is what they accomplished. They would be upset today to know that I survived. They, however, are dead. They are dead Russians. They also failed. Three survived.
I’m writing a symphony now, using this computer with a software program called a Digital Audio Workstation with which I am able to produce and hear orchestrations that took Rimsky-Korsakov so long to write that he never got to hear much of the music he scored. And look at the other differences in our experience.
Rimsky-Korsakov lived in St. Petersburg, a contemporary of my great grandfather, Tsar Nicholas II, who was murdered by a motley gang of Bolshevik fools in the cellar of a house in Ekaterinberg, along with my great grandmother and two young woman who were aunts.
Nowadays, like in San Diego, California. Every other day, regardless of weather, I paddle a kayak out into the ocean to Ballast Point. In the days, when my family’s celebrated balls were described on the front pages of newspapers in every major capital of the world, sailing ships would anchor off Ballast Point to stow rock collected at the base of the cliffs as ballast after emptying their holds of cargo. The trip for me is about 6 miles each way. I do this for a breath of fresher air and an imagined escape from my self-imprisonment within this military base called, San Diego, where I feel safe. On my way out of the harbor yesterday, I was intercepted in the channel by a navy patrol boat. From behind a cannon, a sailor politely asked me to paddle across the channel, nearly a mile out of my way, while a submarine with nuclear warheads aboard, maneuvered from it’s berth, out into the harbor and out to sea. As it passed me, 300 yards I thought about the nuclear weapon inside its thin black metal skin, that would end all life on this planet. What must they be thinking? Like the thugs who murdered my great aunts, they are not thinking.
I look at this old photograph that Anne W. made of me when I was 27, when we lived on 18th Street in Santa Monica. The person in this photograph is foreign to me yet I remember being that person. Though he longer exists, I am still privy to his thoughts. He tried to make sense of things and not knowing who he really is, how could he?
His voice, gestures, physique, taste, appetite were things he derived from exposure or perhaps, inherited or perhaps, absorbed as we come to resemble pets. I couldn’t see him then as I do now. And he did some impressive things that he’d not imagined he could do.
Recently, I noticed that I’m in love with fourteen women. I’ve always found polyamory awkward yet I am comfortable with a harem because, as a sultan, I’m the soul of generosity. Tomorrow it could be fifty, seventeen one or none… To me they are vaginal colleagues, located around the globe. Some of them are my cousins.
It isn’t lost on my, however, that if I’d known what I know now, I’d never have met Louise, not to mention, Anne, Beth, Sarah, Lisa, Kathy, Barbara. My Tzaritsa, Virginia Jean, would have surely kept me from them.
There are lines of demarcation in the transformation of the fellow pictured above, the man who would have been me at the time this photo was taken by Louise after I painted this shirt. But this is how a Tsar looks, you see, without the posture and the pretense.
There were turning points in the story of my life: there was the egg and the larva and although the most important event was the opening of the chrysalis and emergence of the present form. The distinction, butterfly, is the possibility butterfly existence, which means that the chrysalis opening was an event of consciousness.
Running on the beach one morning in May, 1997, I fell unconscious into the sea. I awakened on my hands and knees with water draining from my head and lungs and for a while, my senses fed images and sound but until memory returned, I knew not who, what or where I was.
My doctor, who knew about the inherited genetic defect in my heart, explained that calcification kept the aortic valve from opening enough to supply sufficient oxygen to my brain while I was running, I simply passed out while running and fell into the sea. That I hadn’t drowned was was luck. I could have just as easily drowned.
The calcified aortic valve was replaced with my own pulmonic valve by a surgeon in Oklahoma City, a place that, after Philadelphia and Gary, Indiana, where I’ve never felt comfortable. Chicago is marginal. The anesthesiologist for the “procedure,” who was a medical intern recently hired from Pakistan to serve his residency at the teaching hospital, allowed me to awaken for a moment when my chest was being opened and again when, following the surgery, after my heart was restarted, my body refused to breathe. I was awakened again while suffering acute asphyxiation.
More important to the condition of my heart in a figurative sense was that, during the surgical procedure, my now former fiancée was having sex with a man she met in the hospital waiting room.
Following the surgery, my emotional response was attenuated and though my fiancée’s behavior was also depressing, I felt I couldn’t hold it against her, since I felt I had no future. I was of use to her.
So, I began to read and to write. I read translations of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and adapted one for SanDiegoRadioTheater.com/ Projects/Don Quixote. I read through stories of ancient and modern times in Greece, Iran, Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa, India and the Americas. Reading was an escape from depressing reality. I’d given up television and movies decades before and after the operation, low testosterone rendered me celibate. There was time to read.
I felt at the time that something supernatural is behind my not drowning and surviving the anesthesiologist. There had been too many coincidences. I wanted to believe this. There was something I didn’t know but what? Why am I different? Why me?
To further confuse matters, the name, Michael Myrow, is on my certificate of birth, not Michael Winn, the name I first used in my freshman year at California State College, Long Beach, when my stepfather, Warner Edward Winn, adopted my older brother and I. You will find no record of Michael Winn before this time; he showed up then, a fully formed if adolescent male yet as much a fiction as any person described in this history, in which any resemblance to any other real persons is purely coincidental.
Michael Winn is now recognized by many. His story is the most convincing story I’ve invented to date and the most challenging.
To begin with, although I know he’s a complete fiction, not one person has ever denied his existence. Everyone takes it for granted that he is real, albeit proven only by ink on laminated cards.
In scripting him, at times, I’ve felt I’m channeling Ernst Von Stroheim; punctuated by incarnations of Turgenev, Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky with notes from Satya Sai Baba, a werewolf descended from Zola’s wife and occasional contributions from Poe, Frank Norris, Ivan Turgenev, Guy de Maupassant, Thomas Mann, Carson McCullers, Gunther Grass, the Baroness Von Blixen and the Marquis de Sade. My literary process in this re-creation resembles a consultation in a time-traveling surrealists’ salon.
If everything is illusion, according to Albert Einstein and Hindu mythology, connection is the only real thing in life because it is something that is done not a state of being. t’s an action which conceals the illusion of separation.
(Note re attribution: Unless otherwise attributed, as in the caption of the above image of a painting by Marc Chagall and the photos below of Kate McGrew, all images, music and writings on this website are the original product of Michael Winn. Written permission is required for reproduction or publication. You may request permission by email to email@example.com.)
“You’re really fit [for your age], aren’t you,” she said, “$300 an hour.” Kate describes herself as an absolved sex worker. She wears a symbol of a Trojan (condom) on her head.
The last two women I dated before discovering my true identity turned out to be waxologists, that is, they pull out pubic hair for a living. The two woman I dated prior to the waxers asked $300 for their company with less specific services but I know they would have gladly accommodated me had I wanted my pubic hair ripped out.
I was having trouble fitting Winn’s persona with the 20th century. It turns out this was for good reason. The worm had begun to turn when I saw death, it shocked me awake but, like any newborn on the cusp of consciousness, I only haltingly began to think, which is when in a dream, I heard Sammy Davis singing,
“Methusela lived nine hundred years. Methusela lived 900 years. You can’t call that livin’ when no gal will give in to no cat what’s nine hundred years…” (except for money or drugs).
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
When I began to write Architectronics (as Winn), I reasoned that, with a few exceptions we take separate existence for granted but if separation isn’t real, why and how are we so convinced of our separate existence? The answer is found in literature: Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Desdemona, Helen and Paris, Cupid and Psyche, Don Quixote and Dulcinea. Abraham and Isaac.
We think of media as entertainment and information but from media we are steeped in myth, the product of which is then and now, you and I, them and us, he and she: separate existence in which arises xenophobia, jealousy, greed, narcissism, envy, bigotry… desire.
But according to Albert, inclusion includes exclusion, exclusion excludes inclusion and thus, inclusion excludes: separate existence. (Memorize and recite this three times with your eyes closed.)
So what? Why should I care about this? H.C. Andersen’s parable, Great Klaus and Little Klaus elucidates the problem: pride (hubris).
Acting as if separate existence is illusion is dangerous, since people are attached to property and title insurance would be impossible. Every hierarchy is based on ownership. If everyone’s husband or wife is also your husband or wife, jealousy disappears. 95% of all fictional stories are non sequitur. But if this is the reality and, statistically, everyone alive today is descended from an extra-marital mating, with a slight adjustment of attitude, you could enjoy the experience of owning that luxury yacht or sleeping with that ingenue. Media provides such adjustment in imagination. It is important to draw this distinction, however, to properly understand the relevance of my title, The Tsar, of all Russia. I am not the man who would be Tsar, I am Tsar material. I am Tsar.
Religion is actually a more rational approach to separation since, regardless of our unique circumstances, in our souls, we are present to the clarity of being, of which Albert speaks and we feel the conflict between this reality and our pretense of separate existence.
Those who are more in touch with reality are seen as lacking social intelligence, in extreme cases, their cognitive dissonance is mistaken for a personal mental illness; their experience of discomfort is attenuated by SRIs or they self-medicate, using toxins like alcohol, caffeine or nicotine or they may exercise to release endorphins, considered preferable to suicide but quieting the symptoms doesn’t address the fact that they are at the affect of a cultural illness, elevated these days by stresses due to the disconnections felt living among thousands of people who don’t relate to each other as the population grows, with the experience further amplified by advanced technology such that our failure to recognize our separate existence as an illusion prevents us from organizing our civilization sufficiently to sustain the quality of life, which failure now threatens to destroy the planetary ecosystem on which biological life depends.
Would Albert have said what he said about the illusion of separation if it wasn’t urgent and relevant?
Winn and I are cooperating in our studies. We have begun to address the separate existence problem. A solution is at hand.
Our commitment to believe in separate existence is tied in to root themes and values of our culture. It’s written in the bible and koran. It’s keyed into limbic responses, foremost of which is sexual. We feel that generational separation, which is naturally associated with sex preferences is close to the heart of the matter. Imagine two horny people in a dark room, unable to hear or see each other but for our experiment, they are appropriately chosen to be stimulated by each other’s bodies by touch. They are 25 and 75 but don’t know this.
Fashion exploits neotony and we speculated that, rather than promoting cosmetic surgery, if we can loosen the hold of agism in the beliefs of older people, we might alter the way younger people are conditioned that separates them from those who are older and the limbic systems of their progeny will mutate. Just by dispelling myths of aging in the minds and hearts of older people so they are empowered to see themselves as desirable they will act accordingly.
What does it mean to be an older person? If a projected lifespan for me is c. 100 years, I’m closer now to the end of life than to the beginning. In itself, this means nothing despite the assumptions I meet in most interactions I have with people of all ages. So I have distinguished things about my age that are not assumptions but empirical: for instance, my brain contains a greater volume of memories of a greater variety of experiences, which includes ideas about getting older and being young. My body is aging and I am not my body. Biological aging is related to qualities of cells and such and so some of my appearance is different from that of my body when I was a young man and when I was a toddler. My mind is as clear as it ever was, my desires and limbic responses are intact, memory is more reliable and I’m learning language and technology and more creative than ever. However, the awareness of mortality affects me and the assumptions of age bigots I’m not used to and it is in this sense that this idea of separate existence is enormous.
Aging does not automatically mean impaired brain functions. My parents and grand parents, aunts and uncles haven’t suffered dementia, meanwhile, both mainstream and fringe books, plays, movies and television, portray older people as if dementia and physical decrepitude are a consequence of an aging body, while in reality, they are a consequence of genetic inheritance and lifestyle. Those who become demented are a different breed but physical decrepitude is more a consequence of lifestyle. We are shown examples of how we should look, walk, speak and act in media. The myth of aging created in media serves an economic purpose that is ultimately not to your advantage unless you die young.
Awareness of mortality is connected with resignation and thus, depression, which might explain a lot of behavior among older people in the United States and alcoholism elsewhere. But it is not the age of the person which causes this, but rather the separation experienced by an older person who is both patronized and denied the opportunity to contribute, perhaps, feels purposeless.
Still, the hardest issue is confronting imminent mortality. This is the trump card for religionists, i.e., that “there are no atheists in foxholes”. This thought is not the same as confronting death itself for there is uncertainty in that situation. The difficulty is when death is present as unavoidable and lifespan statistics and health care make an ironclad argument for imminent death. How we deal with mortality is thus a defining concern of older people and instead of examining this for its social ramifications, we see it as personal, just as we do in the case of our views of people who are blind or deaf.
Our illusions of separation are like card tricks: as you get older, you’ve seen them so often, their true nature becomes apparent while at the same time, as you become more aware of the illusory nature of separate existence, you become more sensitive to the fact that people around you are deluded in this way. Meanwhile, when you can’t imagine a future you want to live into, connection seems futile and without engagement, participation and connection, it feels like a kind of death. And Albert Einstein said,
“…free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Without his hair, Einstein looks like anyone with a shaved head…
Marvelous to see people relaxing in the illusion of safety while hurtling towards each other in metal boxes at impact speeds exceeding 140 mph, their bodies separated by an imaginary boundary the location of which is indicated by a stripe of white paint, or zipping through the air in an aluminum tube 33,000 feet above sea level; in both situations, illusions are supported by fashionable plastic cabin appointments and smiling attendants.
Fashion is the nexus between global warming and generational segregation otherwise known as agism. Nobody cares about agism until they reach the short end of the stick. And the irony is that although aging is an illusion, it is supported by limbic responses to perceivable changes in appearance, gait and self-reflection. In this way, it is like other forms of bigotry based on physical appearance.
I’ve learned to identify myself with my body and for most of my life, sexual exchange was about mutual appreciation. I was seen as a prospective genetic donor and support network but now it seems I must pay for sexual attention and I’ve felt that I’m asked to pay because I have less to offer but the other side of this problem is that my sexual interest is impersonal. My money receives the attention.
There was a time when I cared less about my partners, as in a one night stand. Each person I connected with was like reading a book, some more interesting. Now I find the connections left some imprints.
Then there came a time, when my mind, previously a shadowy participant, refused to be dominated by my body. My mind sought connection, too.
“Agism” involves assessments on a scale at one end of which is neotony and neotony is the gold standard of media. How do we embrace all living creatures when our brain chemistry, not rational decisions, inform illusions of youth vs. age? It’s more likely that we would strip away the fashionable decor of an airliner, leaving only the aluminum wall or make transparent the shell of the automobile and reveal our bodies hurtling through space or even strip away our clothing than to expect people conditioned as they are in this culture will abandon the bigotry of agism that justifies everything that keeps a world in place that thrives on consuming the future.
“…embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Take for instance, the illusion we call, Earth, and the ecosystem in which human being has evolved for a few million years. What does it mean that, to preserve biological life on the planet, we must embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty?
When I was busy exploiting youth, setting up my life like an ant or beaver for maximum happiness and minimum despair, this conversation would have been boring. The idea that aging is a product of not including human beings of all generations in the community paradigm never occurred to me. People who were older were quaint, over the hill, impotent, uninteresting, and so on.
One result was that “future” became an oxymoron, since the past was made irrelevant. It’s the inclusion/exclusion paradox.
We want to be bonobos but has she noticed that bonobos are inclusive without respect for their age or sex?
We shouldn’t need to reprogram the limbic system so that people see themselves as sexually attractive and respond regardless of the apparent age of their appearance? Rationalizing aging confronts a culture that has built an economic system with institutionalized discrimination based on age, which gives youth competitive advantage. Make older appearance fashionable? Punish young people for complaining about the attention of older people? However, we could try rewarding those who respond to such attention with generous stipends.
Imagine a world in which generational segregation is viewed as an illusion that civilization can’t afford, since it disempowers and renders unproductive more than 50% of the population, creating stress that leads to medical expenses when we still have half an average lifespan to live. As racism was in the 20th century, in this brave new world, agism is exposed as xenophobia rooted in primitive fears around notions of scarcity in sexual competition.
Sex must be included in healthfully aging. New models of inter-generational sexual response; ending the categorization of older people with pejorative views. Appropriate longer term solutions for environmental preservation, addressing problems like global warming by including needs of the entire population.
It seems unfair to require prostitutes to make their services available preferentially to older people, so the solution must be to motivate them with stipends for sex work, which entails de-stigmatization of the profession. Aside from the economic benefits for sex work, medical costs will be reduced among the largest segment of medical service users in our population. Yet another benefit is revitalizing stale domestic partnerships, and so on.
Like the scene in Yojimbo in which Toshiro Mifune is left for dead by his adversaries, I felt my emotional body was as if dead, and like Mifune’s character, I hid out deep inside a primal forest, a place where I was known to cougars, bears, ravens and small creatures, while, I practiced synthesis, honing a persona as a gymnast works the parallel bars.
Community is defined by what isn’t tolerated. To distinguish the values of the community, see who is excluded. Reasons given for the exclusion are a cover-up. This relates to the price of an escort; you’re value to me is less than my value to you, so you pay…
Lady (Kate Mc)Grew says, “bad girls rule the world.”
I agree. They have for at least 30 millennia. Logically, the condition of the world is their fault and not the fault of men. This is why “the devil made me do it” isn’t a legal defense in terms of spousal abuse. Gunther Grass accounts the history of this female domination in his book, Der Butt (The Flounder), which was misunderstood by the lesbian community in Germany, who didn’t see the acknowledgment.
And where have the bad girls led us? Global human being is required to address global environmental and socio-economic issues but since community is based on exclusion and since bad girls separate the world into those who can and can’t afford their attention, we’re lost unless we financially nurture the world’s second oldest recognized profession (after the matchmakers).
That’s all very funny but the environmental issues are real. Not to mention the wars, the catastrophes, the starvation…
During one of the extended periods, when I take the kayak out into the Pacific Ocean, exploring the edge of direct physical experience, which I’ve done regularly after returning from the forest, I decided to move from my motor home into a house in San Diego the other occupants of which I eventually learned are criminals. When I moved in the only difference between them and everyone else seemed to be eccentricity, their predatory behavior emerged over time. Criminals see “others” as potential value and they hoard things.
One of my cohabitants in the house was a politically conservative unconsciously sociopathic kneeboard surfer with a clinical case of homophobia, who prefers assholes to vaginas and recycles aluminum cans for pocket change and flushes petrochemical solvents in the driveway or sewer drains. The other criminal trims marijuana and is paid in kind. He then sells his earnings and lives in a constant series of manic episodes induced by excessive drug use and refined sugar poisoning. It was an enlightening reintroduction to so-called civilization in San Diego, in the last month, sleeping with a cell phone set to dial 911 at a touch and a gun on the night stand.
Mitch was like the thugs I run across in the bay, or more accurately, who are trying to run over my kayak in the bay. If you can shout, “throw me a beer!” above the roar of an engine at the thug who aims his truck-size power yacht at your kayak in San Diego bay and if he hears it, he’s more likely to bear away and not run you over and will likely throw you a Bud. From a courtesan’s point of view, however, you and the thug are equivalent, he’s another John, just like you. Mitch revealed the criminal code to me: you know you’re winning when your opponent is angry. Winning is to upset another. This is important to for you to consider, Winona.
Few are the women like Arabella Steinbacher, who create heaven with a little wooden box, wire, gut and horsehair or write like Carson McCullers, however, the vast number of women who have been brilliant in relationship to men is obvious as they are principle subjects in literature, drama and science. Do they rule the world?
This is the value of verbal distinctions, that we may call a spade by any other name.
Ten thousand a month? Reminds me of a story by Guy de Maupassant, Von Stroheim, Blind husbands, Foolish Wives, Turgenev, Smoke…
On another note.
I use a Macbook Pro, midi controllers, a digital audio workstation and a library of recorded samples of musical instruments. Arabella’s wooden box required discipline at an age when commitment was a product of conditioning, whereas, my music box requires pro-active unsupported discipline and learning new tricks and teaching pigs to sing. Pigs can and do sing and old dogs require testosterone.
There are links to music on this page and to a play and screenplay about sex and relationship in progress. To write authentically about sex and relationship means to reveal an intimate self, rendered best with images. However, most things about relationship are reliably evoked only verbally, a weakness in pornography that focuses on objectifying body parts and facial expressions and you identify, imagining a relationship with the objectified person. Men ejaculate up to 30% more semen when they are being watched by another man who will shortly follow them. Extrapolated, a genre of women enjoy the productivity of men who are not their spouses.
Music links on this website consists mostly of pieces I wrote and synthestrated, arranged, mastered and recorded. Synthestrate combines two words: synthesize and orchestrate since the voices are renderings of digitally recorded samples of acoustic instruments.
Near the top of this page there’s a synthestration of my own composition called, New Moon. The link below this paragraph is a synthestration of the second movement of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. These were exercises, experimenting with the sample library produced by Vienna Symphonic Instruments. Creating them is a task analogous to copying masters in a museum. I absorb the composers’ technique and sense of harmony, melody, rhythm, orchestration, texture, timbre and their musical invention.
I inherited a family name that on my father’s side, produced several composers, however, I grew up among working class people with a master chief in the U.S. Navy, a man who ran away from a sexually abusive situation on his family’s farm in Creston, Iowa at the age of 13, joined the Navy and worked his way up through the ranks in the engine rooms of ships that were torpedoed and sunk during WWII. This is why I know the U.S. Navy has no purpose today, obsolete. It exists because it is funded each year by a congress composed of representatives of people in towns and cities who are employed either by the navy or a contractor. It is a form of welfare.
Thanks to the influence of my stepfather, Warner Edward Winn, I have learned to respect mechanical systems and technology and thanks to my biological inheritance, I combine this with the talent and imagination of an artist, poet and composer. My formal education has been mostly in media and literature and I practice most of the plastic, material arts. Below is a photo of a guitar stand I made, when I needed one, from scraps of wood I picked out of the trash at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking School. In the background is a radial saw I rescued and restored.
Click on the above photo to see other works in wood done at the same time. I’ve worked in many forms of creative enterprise, from ceramic sculpture to symphonic composition. At one time, I developed apartments that are affordable for poor families, providing homes for thousands of children. I am careless about acquiring capital of any kind, I believe this attitude has saved my life.
What have I done?
While doing things for money, I created a program in the mayor’s office in San Diego that invited all the children in the city to be heard by local government so that their parents’ needs were better served.
I made films.
When I was making films (documentary, educational and commercial titles), among other things, I produced media to convince local governments in Southern California to approve the regulations that made the air in Los Angeles and Orange Counties safer. This seemed humane to me but later I learned my talent had been exploited by the urban sprawl industry so it could continue building freeways.
Re: Stravinsky Transformation (above link): I imagine a place where Beethoven, Debussy, Satie, Ravel and Stravinsky collaborate under the watchful eye of Arnold Schoenberg, while Alban Berg smokes, Gypsy Rose Lee dances and Carson McCullers drinks her vodka tea.
Stravinsky Transformation is variations on a melody in the finale of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. In the preface to Structural Functions of Harmony, Arnold Schoenberg says that his task amounts to addressing the question, “where did that come from” since modulations within a movement are merely deviations from, and not negations of, its main tonality. He gives examples from impressionist and classical romantic references and contemporary music.
I caused the incorporation of a city.
Along the Union Pacific tracks that run beside highway 101 in the City of Solana Beach, there’s a strip of unpaved land where I enjoyed running and biking for exercise. One day, a restauranteur, his name escapes me now but not his angry face, had persuaded the county planning commission to allow him to lease this land from the railway to use as parking for a restaurant he had built called, Diego’s. Unwilling to lose my bike and jogging trail, I staged a public protest to which I invited press and media as if it was a popular uprising.
Since I’d rather not be concerned with government, anymore than I’d like to be concerned about any other business from which I derive a service, I didn’t know my protest was just before an election in which there was a ballot measure that proposed formation of a new city, which would give control over this land to the people who live around it. My protest motivated people to vote to control their local environment and as a result the city was formed, which then made the land a public park and bought the restaurant building which is now the city hall. I created a monster!
I also kept music education in the schools.
When the neoconservative elements eliminated all the arts from public education, I voluntarily produced educational media that continues to provide music education in the schools where I live and as a result, children who passed through these schools since 1989 have learned what music is and what it can become for them.
I developed the world’s smartest building.
I talked an office building developer in LA into building in an ethernet local area network equipped with file servers, scanners and “gateways” into global telecommunications networks. Because the building leased up in six months in the most over-built market in history, the Urban Land Institute called the Olympic Plaza (on Olympic Boulevard in West LA the smartest building in the world. However, it served as a model of integrated telecommunication, which was visited by every major technology company and this model has since become ubiquitous. The publisher of Architectural Record invited me to write a book about it, which became, Architectronics, McGraw Hill, 1987, my first publication.
I started a hydrofoil ferry service.
At the turn of the 21st century, I worked with two neoconservatives in environmentalist clothing, one of whom was a program manager for weapons development programs for the Pentagon. Stan Siegal wanted to convert an experimental hydrofoil to demonstrate offshore coastal transportation as an alternative to paving the world with concrete and moving people around in metal boxes called, automobiles. My job was to write the funding proposal, then for six months, I documented the operations and effects as two to three hundred people commuted to and from San Diego in an experimental hydrofoil that a marketing consultant Stan had faith in called, The Wave. The service worked even if the marketing failed. The significant phenomenon that I noticed, which was of no interest to my partners nor the state or local funders, was that our passengers discovered they lived on a coast of an ocean in which whales, dolphins, sea lions, pelicans also lived.
In 1979, I had a conversation with Buckminster Fuller.
He’d just returned from a conference in Bali, where he’d talked about the urgent need for environmentally sustainable management of global resources. The very idea that all natural resources are global is still beyond the ken of local politics and I was hired by the Southern California Association of [local] Governments. I felt that he was exasperated that his words fell on deaf ears and that he was reluctant to let these bureaucrats use his ethos to implement yet another useless strategy, the real purpose of which was to allow them to continue unsustainable urban development. He met with me because Neal Katz, my landlord’s accountant and his nephew asked him to help me.
In his room at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel I explained the value of the media I was making to sell smog regulations to local politicians in all the communities that would need to vote for new laws. Neal was a fly on the wall as I asked Fuller what he believes is the key problem that prevents us from solving the ecological dilemma created by a growing population and careless technology. A stupid question, perhaps, but there you have it. His reply was horrifying in its simplicity since neither of us saw how it could be addressed, nor that the media I was producing was the only thing that could. He said,
“The problem is that every human being has a different gestation period in terms of consciousness.”
This could mean that mass media holds the solution, provided, of course, that the purpose is to create consciousness, promulgating a myth of global human being, which seems to conflict with global economic hegemony. Kennedy tried it and look where it got him.
Never the less, mass media holds the solution. What mass media?
The following link reflects some of what I learned about composition and orchestration from studying the Beethoven piece. It is an orchestral transformation of a song from G.F. Handel’s Christmas Oratorio, Unto Us A Child Is Born (Unto us a child is given.)
Finally realizing that I am in reality, a werewolf.
I accidentally learned that I’m a werewolf but now that I understand this about myself, I’d like to make some plans for how I shall live the rest of my life, perhaps a few throats to rip out, of course, but I want a strategy that will employ my potential as a werewolf to fulfill some grand goal or purpose and foremost is my desire to address the problem of global warming. First, I wanted to understand what I am and how I work and I began by revisiting my personal history, why it is that at the age of six, my best friend was a dog named, Betsy.
Anything you want to know about my human side, you can find explained in Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.
I was born in Chicago and was present and accounted for, when required, in Camden, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Norwalk and Long Beach, California where I was gifted by the university with a license to practice media, specifically radio and TV.
A friend suggested I tell you the story about Max and Oscar.
This happened when I was three years old or possibly four: My mother and I were living in my grandmother’s apartment, a flat above her second husband’s store on Kaighns Avenue in Camden, New Jersey with her second husband, a pole named, Oscar Shelansky who had become successful in the new world as a tailor such that he owned the building pictured above, which is today, the only structure preserved by the city in a recent restoration project. My brother, Jan Charles, was at this time boarding with my Uncle Joe’s family in Merchantville, the middle-class Jewish suburb of Camden, and, with my mother working at the Navy Shipyard and my grandmother, Bertha, had her hands full dealing with the store and Mr. Shelansky’s terminal lung cancer. Shelansky had a spitz-collie dog named, Shnookie, who attacked black people, preventing their presence on Kaighns Avenue between 4th and Broad Street and he also tried to bite the tires of passing motorcars.
The smell of cigar smoke makes me nostalgic. I found no problem occupying myself in the building, which was full of treasures, especially the basement, where Shelansky was storing his vast collection of seltzer bottles that had gone out of vogue when the pop off bottle cap came into its own. And when, on account of imagined rats (none of whom I saw in the basement), the basement was declared off-limits, I began to leave by the back door and explore the city of Camden, New Jersey, leading to adventures.
When my mother took me on the 105 “Crosstown” bus that stopped in front of the store to visit her sister in Merchantville (now Cherry Hill), I noticed that you are granted free access to the bus if you are three years old or younger and shorter than a red line painted near the door. The first time I tried it, the driver scrutinized me and following this, he accepted my transgression as part of the routine. I was fascinated by the changing world we passed each day as the bus circled through all the neighborhoods of Camden and returned until one day, my mother greeted in me in an unusual, for her, state of high emotion, which went quickly from tearful anxiety to outraged anger and I was forbidden the back door as well as the bus and my grandmother the next day said, “where do you think you’re going?”
I thought about this for a day and came up with, “the toy store”.
“You don’t have any money.”
“I can look at things.”
“Don’t be a nuisance.”
The toy store was owned by a married couple of dwarfs, Max and his wife, Marlena. Max gave me the same kind of reception as had the bus driver, a kind of curious scrutiny. He was at first suspicious and asked Marlena to keep an eye on me. Marlena, however, had other things to do and so after ascertaining that I am her landlord’s grandson in-law, brought out a plate of cookies and told Max that I was his responsibility as she had “clothes to iron” to which Max said something in yiddish and climbed back onto the high stool from which he was able to manage the normal-sized cash register at the normal height counter on which he’d spread the racing form. Marlena brought a second stool for me from behind the counter.
Max asked me a few routine adult-child questions. How old? Four. School? No. Shull? No. Grandmother? Yes. Oscar? No. In between these questions, he marked the racing form with a pencil. What is that, I said. Max looked at me over his reading glasses and removed his cigar from the left side of his grey mustachio, looked toward the back of the store into which Marlena had disappeared, sighed, and said, this is a racing form. What is that? He told me about horse racing, showed me the photographs on pages of horses. I admit the concept was difficult for me to grasp as I hadn’t seen any place around Camden where horses could run without running into a car or building and the only horses around were pulling wagons since horses were used for drayage in Philadelphia into the 1950s. Max explained the concept of placing a bet that a horse would win and he showed me how the pencil marks he made were part of his system. Can I do it? What? Can I pick one? He hands me the yellow No. 2 graphite pencil. Sure, pick one. How do I do it? Doesn’t matter, just close your eyes and let the pencil fall, that will pick the horse. Really? I assure you, Max said, it is what I do amounts to in the end.
To Max’s surprise and great joy, Cherry Cake, the horse I’d picked, which was a longshot, won and paid him 40:1. For two weeks, I continued to pick winners for Max until Marlena insisted that they share the proceeds and I was offered any toy in the store. I chose a magnificent plastic water gun.
“Where did you get this, Michael?”
“Max gave it to me.” She wasn’t buying it.
“I’ve told you about stealing. You know better.”
“Max gave it to me.”
“Why? Why did he give you such an expensive toy, Michael?”
One of the reasons my mother had left my father was his relationship with the former Las Vegas mobster, Bugsy Siegal and his penchant and gift for gambling. My mother had words with Max and my world was constrained a little further, Oscar’s cancer took a turn for the worse and we soon left Camden.
The picture on the left was taken shortly after or before we moved from Kaighns Avenue across the Delaware to 3228 North 15th Street in Philadelphia, where I learned to love to ride trolley cars and even more, the subway.
The years in Philadelphia were as solitary as Camden, with the exception that there were no constraints on my ability to travel. My mother left for work at 7 and returned at 6. My older brother, Jan, when he was around, was a menace. I found the subway trains and would spend hours riding them back and forth over the bridge to Camden, raising my curiosity about the abandoned station we passed each way.
I started going to school when I was 5 and a few years later, when I was expelled from the white protestant/catholic school, I found myself the only white kid at Gillespie Junior High School, a fact that interested Dizzy Gillespie when I met him in 1969. My canine tendencies served me very well during this time since, in order to get to and from Gillespie, I had to cross the black neighborhood and I managed the fear of black people I’d learned from Shnookie by designing a route passing the yards of several guard dogs, I was always within running distance of a protector. At first, they ran up to the fence snarling but meeting my acceptance of them rather than fear, they settled down and accepted me in return. I knew no other way to be. Neither did the dogs apparently because this worked very well until a gang from school figured it out and caught me unawares. They were only curious about me but I was scared out of my wits and I did not return to that school nor any school in Philadelphia.
In 1952, my mother announced to Jan and me that we were moving to California. I thought this was a ruse. Then one day, she said we were moving next week.
When she came home with the car, a 1948 Nash, I climbed into the back seat and refused to leave the care until we were in California.
In 1962, to avoid being drafted into one of the U.S. wars of world domination, in deference to my stepfather’s view of what would be “good for me”, rather than dodging the draft, I chose a practical alternative available for rich white guys and one Filipino or black kid each month, to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. Rich we weren’t but my stepfather had some clout with the recruiters.
The Coast Guard was an excellent exercise in mob mentality but no place for a werewolf. I found it difficult to stay out of the kind of trouble that werewolves instinctively get into. Had I only known how I was different, my life would have turned out another way.
A long period of confusion followed this during which I had a career in filmmaking a wife and daughter, two dogs and several relationships with women that began and ended.
My first professional career was writing, directing and producing motion pictures: documentary, educational and commercial.
My career in films began serendipitously, I was at the Huntington Hartford Theatre with Anne for a performance of Albee’s Tiny Alice.
And I ran into a former classmate, in the lobby. He said he was directing films, put a business card in my hand and invited me to stop by the studio. Two days later, he wasn’t in when I stopped by. His producer invited me in and shortly thereafter, I was producing and directing my first film about physics, What Makes Things Move.
In 1970, my daughter, Liberty was born and now I have two amazing grand daughters. I’ve worked as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, recordist, lighting and set designer, actor, sailor. Reads like an obituary, as it should. I’m not the same person but my mental and physical body evolved from his.
The second career, in community development, began with a project with Xerox Corporation after I’d learned all I could about making movies and wanted to do something with a tangible product.
It was called, The Olympic Plaza.
I’d written a treatment for a movie about an intelligent building and decided to develop the thing for real. Afterwards, in 1982, Urban Land Institute described my project with Xerox, on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, as the world’s most intelligent building. “If this is true”, I thought, “we are all in trouble”. It was true and we are.
Technology companies sprouted up all around me, welfare for engineers bent on destruction of community and artful living. In the final chapter of Architectronics, I speculated that capitalism in building homes transforms community into real estate.
I developed 400 homes affordable for “very low income” families.
By founding San Diego Community Housing Corporation, a nonprofit community development organization, on behalf of which I developed four hundred rental apartments in San Diego, California. Rent is permanently affordable to very low income families.
The community housing adventure ended when I fell unconscious into the sea while doing my morning jog. I miraculously didn’t drown and after a heart surgery during which I awakened from anesthetic while my sternum was being cut in half, I was left with an untreated case of PTSD; that is, I recovered physically but not psychologically. Meanwhile, the life I’d built following the success curve for economic growth in a capitalist culture was proving illusory. The woman I thought was my mate, for instance, left at the first hint of diminished income. Like me, she thought I was done for. A German friend took me on 5-day bicycle rides in Europe while I organized funding for a demonstration of commuter hydrofoil ferry service between Oceanside and San Diego but my heart wasn’t in it.
The last words of Immauel Kant, whose image I post above as if as good as my own, were, “it is good”. Unlike Kant, I’m not sanguine but he was imminently dead and I’m not…yet. We are shaped by the past. We deal with consequences or they deal with us.
I’ve been composing and producing using Vienna Symphonic and some other sample libraries and a range of soft synthesizers using a digital audio workstation, mainly, one called, Logic. I continue to write and make pictures but I’m focusing on composition and sound in my playwriting, addressing the issue of simultaneous gestation of consciousness in the global population. (It has happened before, at Hiroshima and Fukushima and at times when individual people had that effect: Charles Lindberg, Napoleon Bonaparte, J. F. Kennedy.)
Cinema has changed vastly in some ways. You see it in the real estate market. The tent pole movie, having reached a pinnacle of sorts, along with Jay Leno, has moved to Las Vegas. We’re moving culturally toward the security of intimate venues–wrap-around theaters with surround sound and concerts performed by the aging sidemen of former pop musicians. On the stage, more intimate stories can be told today, immersing you in business that happens around you. What if media reflected the real mentality of people? (Stroheim)
I feel I’ve been fully awake only over the last few years, previously, I was somewhat of a human recorder, using a camera and writing and so forth and reading a lot of things I wished I’d wanted to read much earlier in my life when I wouldn’t have understood.
Adult content in some of this website and reflections on events prompts me to write this introduction to ask your forbearance.
(Not forbearance with sexual content about which I’ve always been fascinated but with my analytical mind. Kant. Yes.)
“You think too much.” Yes.
An acupuncturist in Berkeley told me my body is more sensitive than most. Tiny amounts of substances like THC, cocaine, LSD, throw me into orbit. A woman’s caressing touch even through layers of clothing astonishes me, catches my breath.
I’m still very curious and interested in discovering and at the same time my mind wants to run away. Run it says. Run now.
I can and have imagined myself into a corner, misled by fear of an absent bear but the pain I’ve seen is that of self-loathing not of thoughtlessness and acquisitiveness. That is not the issue, here, of course, I have sinned. God and I came to terms, his terms.
Focus and intuitive imagination, when accompanied by knowledge can lead to synthesis of something new. But not necessarily. Which is where, I again direct your attention to Immanuel Kant, in as much as I have offered to stand in his shoes here. Today. Tomorrow, it will be Turgenev and after that, who knows? Stroheim.
My obsession with analysis is apparently not helpful in personal relationships since I sometimes miss obvious hints and only those who respect me as I am will get to know me. Oscar-Claude Monet was like that, too, on the word of Sacha Guitry. And Carson McCullers on the word of Virginia Carr. Can you imagine?
Can you imagine the mind of a man like Immanuel Kant here in San Diego? If God, Jesus or Mohammed was here, you’d never know it. It wouldn’t be printed in the Union Tribune, anyway.
My talent isn’t best for all applications. I can do so many different things well. Monet was probably an excellent botanist, cook and friend as well as an amazing painter of images that honor nature.
Recently, I found some of myself in my memories. I grew intolerant of myself. Eventually, when I came to terms with this relationship with my past self, I made some decisions about people in these memories and camouflaged as just another white guy with a secret, I went about unnoticed. Before long, I felt starved for attention and I found that people insisted that I live up to their expectations of me.
Uncertain how to perform, I read biographies of writers I admire, who differ widely in genetic heritage and culture but we all seem to employ imagination in the same way.
Bertha Siegelman, maternal grandmother at age 13
If you subscribe to popular theories of genetic evolution, you might hypothesize that, in the earlier history of our species, some of those people who acted on the suspicion there was a bear in the cave may have accidentally killed their own kind but more often this didn’t happen, it was a real bear and they survived these predators. These successful ones passed on their genes and, as a result, our species includes imaginative male paranoids. The female population on the other hands leans toward the intuitive analysis about whether there’s a bear in the cave or not and wouldn’t have developed this quality with the same intensity.
Both imagination and the feeling of paranoia that can evoke it’s imagery, are useful traits, not only xenophobic, which addresses the problem of dealing with same-species predators. Perhaps, our ancestors killed and ate those of other tribes, clans and/or families.
Xenophobia logically leads to homogenous population groups with similar traits. Carried to an extreme, in-breeding leads to greater vulnerability to parasites, diseases, dead-end mutations and its a statement about human civilization that incest is still possible, adultery is essential as well as non sanctioned mating of young females with males of other tribes and enslaving some of them, perhaps killing and eating the males after obtaining their dna, possibly all of this figures into mainstream culture. Only a hundred years ago, people were captured as chattels and used for reproducing, seldom eaten, except ritually before, during or after sex, giving rise to the modern expression, “don’t worry, it’s all good”.
As our national, regional and global populations grew, genocides were employed by social organizations to expand their franchise, since it is more efficient to wipe out entire related groups of “others” instead of killing and eating them individually. The director of the World Bank today proclaimed that global warming will lead to battles for food. He is Chinese. National identities evolved within defined geographic boundaries in which members shared discrete languages, customs and hierarchies, with written code describing the boundaries of intolerance. Commerce, slavery and inter-marriage between members of national groups evolved new social organizations with discrete customs and jargons that are not defined by geographic boundaries and they, too, participated in targeting nonmembers with pogroms and socioeconomic predation. Capitalism has proved to be very efficient but at what? Are we or are we not painting ourselves into a corner and is that corner not a global population vs. resources scenario? In the face of this awful problem or awesome opportunity, depending on your religion, isn’t the consequence of giving control over our government to our capitalists setting up genocide and food wars?
Aside from economic manifestations of human interaction, our capacity for imagination is the important defining characteristic of human being, allowing empathy, the glue of social organization. We must imagine in order to recreate the ideas of another. It is what you are doing now. What we imagine to be real is like verisimilitude. Art is a verisimilitudinous rendering of imagination. Media is verisimilitude representation of objects, feelings, concepts, ideas to create commonly understood models of reality; leading populations to commonly accepted ways of perceiving and interpreting. Several lines of study branch off about this, some of which are explored in stories on this website, for instance, in the area of sex and mating relationships and in the expressions of art, mathematics and science.
In earlier epochs, imaginative people like me were put to work painting ceilings, carving wood or composing; some were possibly burnt at the stake or supported logistics of military campaigns, designed the quarters for the stone cutters and slaves building canals, aqueducts and pyramids and so on. In our era, however, imagination lost its currency in favor of engineering skill. Now that we have machines that make accurate reproductions at lower cost, average human intelligence is less important, expensive, a pain in the ass to maintain. Predictably, human beings on smarter side of the bell curve are of less interest to potential mates. Dumb and dependable is a better bet. This is reflected in popular TV programs: Walking Dead, Survivor, things made by machines lack qualities of human touch but they look fine and they are more dependable.
We are using machines that are somewhat capable of discernment and they are much better at determining whether there’s an intruding bear in the cave or it is Henry stumbling along. Today, it was announced that some scientists have duplicated a mouse brain in electronic circuitry. If it can include the aberrant potential of error, this may have the potential to imagine, however, what it is exactly that will observe the imagined object is uncertain. Any machine as intelligent as human beings would be just as stupid, inefficient, error prone, undependable and unpredictable, which raises a question not addressed by AI engineers.
Except for a few human beings that remain beyond the boundaries of “developed” civilization (if some remain when you’re reading this), the rest of us are at a fork in the road about perception vs reality because of what is now known as “IT”. “IT” is an acronym for information technology and also a euphemism for the Orwellian monster that Orwell analogized as “Big Brother”. Google could be a close relative of Orwell’s Big Brother. (NSA is more of a minion.)
How IT works in this way is important since the prudent young man or woman, who recycles plastic and aluminum containers and has little time for questioning perceptions of reality, feels mortally threatened to consider denying themselves the facility of their smart phones and apps and is sanguine about NSA’s universal surveillance. As long as there’s food on the table, while we may feel concern that engineering has put us in global ecological peril, media teaches us to ignore things over which we have no direct control.
You can see how your values are shaped by media by noticing your expectations and responses to yourself and others. Personal responses vary based on childhood environment and genetic code, but you will find your core values agree with those of your peers and key values promulgated in the way people and their relationships are depicted in stories and talked about in news programs. (Some of your personal genome was altered by experiences of your parents and some of your experience will alter the code you pass on to your children. A mother’s emotional experience in gestation influences the way genetic code develops in the foetus. We are individuals but we share similar values that we adapt from peers and the media.) Some individuals relate to these values by rebellion. (The Outsider, Rebel Without A Cause, Giant). Others by cooperation. These values are deciding factors in mate selection, with the caveat that the particular values of this era value a kind of narcissism and cupidity, which allows us to relate but not reliably with each other.
The significance is that we are managing population growth by neglecting the ecosystem on which our species depends through massive engineering solutions that are not thought out. In response to the threat of planetary ecological collapse, the business model of our culture seeks to make us comfortable with the risk of disaster by promoting extraterrestrial solutions and science, while distracting us with pornography, clever technology and popular music. We then ignore the cultural cause of the ecological situation: our core values. We can talk about sustainable ways to do unsustainable things and ignore cupidic decisions for commercial gain. A miracle is needed.
Miracles always occur in the domain of perception. In his story about his incarceration as a prisoner of war in France, the poet, e.e. cummings, drew a perception of life as an enormous room. Imagine that humanity is all together in an enormous room hollowed out like a dent in the physical universe. Imagine that there are real bears in the room with us and we don’t perceive the bears because we are conditioned to be guided by agreed upon perceptions and it is common knowledge that there are no bears in the room. The limits of tolerable behavior in the room do not permit the recognizance of bears. When occasionally, people are eaten, the events are ascribed to other causes, sometimes supernatural, whatever. In this analogy, the bear stands for unconsciousness when conscious thought is needed. Media invents stories about zombies, alien life forms, terrorist organizations but the bears we can’t see are the bears that we are ourselves. Now imagine that the mudslide in Washington state this week was an incident set up by human unconsciousness.
It is for this reason that I say to those who criticize my “over-thinking” that harm is done by under-, not over- thinking.
Painting this kind of picture may lead some to feel hopeless about a possible triumphant outcome. “It is hopeless and we are doomed.” is the common refrain of those who are resigned. Yet it should be obvious that this isn’t how I feel about it at all. To those who advocate that the wise don’t worry about that which they can’t act to change, I say this is a politically correct form of resignation and it is specifically this kind of resignation that is my adversary and from whence, if there is one, a miracle would deliver us.
Relationship of perception to reality is referenced in the words of our language, our gestures and monuments, which children learn by rote. These perceptions are mythical. For instance, “old woman” evokes a myth that shapes expectations of lifespan, competence and ability associated with other myths of aging and politically correct behavior. Pejorative terms like, kike, nigger or fag are outré today while terms like krone, viejo, coot although also categorizing and pejorative are tolerated because, in our worship of youth, those who are not young are perceived to be less potent, whether they are or not. This myth is institutionalized in commercial media, athletic competitions, and also, in organizations like AARP, which survive by mischaracterizing and categorizing aging in media. The problem arising from this is that just as people begin to get a clue and might contribute solutions, they retire from the stage.
We inhabit myths rather than the other way around since they are the mental constructs by means of which we recognize things and situations and respond to them, making them real, regardless of what they really might be if we looked closely. Descriptions on this website present the real existence of people who only lived in my perceptions because they existed in this way in the moment I described them. That is called artistic license, a permission granted in the form of art called, story-telling. These perceptions are to be imagined rather than believed. A truth believed is a lie.
In telling its stories, this website may deploy motion pictures, sound and music, as well as verbal descriptions, to evoke experience through the process of imagination. I believe there are sometimes judgmental statements but it should be at least clear, if you have followed this conversation without too much confusion, that judgments about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Josef Goebbels, etc., are judgments about the qualities of illusions and by the same token, judgments about family members, present and former friends and lovers are merely about illusions of different origin. Not the people.
The capacity for imagination has vast possibilities and though it’s exciting to take a leap into the unknowable unknown when writing from imagination, true innovation usually meets resistance. If there is no mental discomfort about the thought evoked, it probably isn’t art. In the words of Lenny Bruce, characterizing Billy Graham in a monologue, “That’s right, go ahead and laugh! Look at the dummy up there! Go on and laugh! I don’t know how much a stack a’ nines are! But I got a Lincoln Continental in the parking lot, laugh that off…”
An artist or any innovator is by definition, eccentric but not all eccentric people are up to innovation or art. The artist and/or innovator can only be judged by objects made or expressed. Since creative processes are genetically primed, an artist is a tool of the process: art uses the artist in applying the cutting edge of thinking and technology even more than do merely scientific and material objectives because art lives within the spiritual realm, the mysterious grey area in which resides Einstein’s question and Hawking’s answer about universal laws of existence.
Like Rodin, Dali, Gaudi, Monet, Rembrandt and Da Vinci, whom experimented with pigments, anatomy, astronomy, physiology, psychology, mathematics, semantics, my artistic mission involves state of the art knowledge of technology and human understanding. J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart studied time keeping, sound production, instrument design and examined the nature of hearing, cognition and interpretation. Bach advised the building of huge mechanisms involving complex mechanical systems for vibrating columns of air and taught strings to exact frequencies and adjusted the temperament of clavichords and the behavior of violin strings and wooden chambers in organs. They used faster and more precisely accurate methods for tuning than my Korg CA-30 chromatic tuner.
Some pages on this website are articles, others are autobiography that is honest to emotional perceptions, which may not always be factually accurate but enough fact fictionionalized for reader interest. If I ere in one direction somewhere, I give back in another.
Below are some principles and premises I’ve adapted to my purpose, to guide this website, a work in progress, that may need correction.[The right to use anything, including all links, images, words and media on this website is reserved. Please, ask for permission.]
The subject is my life and times a look at my perceptions of the world I’ve inhabited and people encountered, the past.
Yet, the image on the left is of the person within me when I look in the mirror now and wonder. For me to have that expression, someone said something that pleased me and I believed them. He said, “think about your best friend”.
There are articles about places, where I lived or passed through during a recent five year odyssey that may be of interest to people in these places.
Most recently, I’ve been studying composition and producing music, plays and media that was produced by the person in this photo.
Communication: This website informs me of your comments and registration. You may write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current creative projects: Fast Cars, a play, and Up for Grabs! (working title), a screenplay, are the primary focus of my attention, 5-in-5 is a master’s thesis media project I’m working on and a proposal for a sequel to my script for The Nature of Sound is on the table. They are all ambitious projects and not merely vanities. A protagonist in Up For Grabs! asks, “Is Alzheimer’s a disease, a fate or another myth?” Except for the music subject of the sequel to The Nature of Sound, our unconscious bigotry about age is an important theme of my fictional dramatic works, and the connection of sex and sexism in this bias. The music educational subject is presented for elementary school age children–we’d be wrong to say pre-adolescent since this nomenclature projects an idea about sexual awareness informed by moral ideals rather than by anyone’s real experience. Music, especially music with saxophones, which includes a lot of jazz, is very much a part of our culture’s protocols in courting and mating and the purpose is to encourage and inspire musical self-expression.
Over-arching purpose is a gestalt.
An author can’t be the same person he was at times he writes about. Memory is shaped by emotional relationships with events, however, and it’s impossible not to feel and take things personally. I don’t show up in my memories as a different person; I imagine myself in all past situations. For this reason, the past doesn’t live in memory as complete and over and when it is recalled, it is relived at a time when it is possible to observe it with some degree of detachment and then, if I tell the truth about it, I feel a kind of release. When I feel I can’t in good conscience ignore something I remember, I examine recourses.
This is analogous to noticing something that took place long ago when for one reason or another, you were not paying attention. I’ve found that it feels good to me to tell the truth about my perceptions of history, regardless of accuracy, to myself at least regardless whether or not my perceptions are the same as those of others who were involved. My koan for this is, “truth believed is a lie”. But I’m also aware that people I’m writing about may be looking over my shoulder and, whether I’m favorably impressing them or not, I may disguise things out of concern for the feelings of others.
Copyright and Creative License:
When I began writing online, I tried to second guess the bias of readers. Authors of the 1800s and 1900s, a period when theater and fiction reached an apogee cinema was born, produced many fascinating stories. They are my models. Their work preceded the current obsession with capitalizing intellectual property like data, a focus that works to the detriment of the artist.
On his own admission, had Cervantes had the “benefit” of copyright protection, he wouldn’t have written Book II of Don Quixote, which was, according to most acclaimed writers of fiction was the first modern novel, which in turn eventually led to the form of cinema four hundred years later. Cervantes wrote in the preface to Book II, that he had to act to protect his franchise by preventing other writers from inventing untrue stories of Don Quixote, as he himself had done in his book with characters like, Roland and Orlando. It was conventional in his time. Had Cervantes the benefit of copyright protection, he may not have written Book II or if he had, he could have taken the plot in other directions. It is somewhat true to say that we owe both modern literature and cinema to plagiarism.
If he could sit as a spectator now, Cervantes would know he inspired the writing of novelists as diverse as Dostoevsky, Flaubert, McCullers, Hemingway, Marquez, Melville, Proust, Mann, Conrad.
Premises and Principles (Koans)
Koan 1: The truth doesn’t mean anything, it just is, believed, the truth is a lie.
Premise 1: Reader and writer define each other’s existence, forming a unique temporal Unity, called, a conversation. We communicate asynchronously and imagine each other. I plan to revise the site to allow you to post in your own voice . Our complimentary actions, though different and imaginary, can create something real.
Koan 2: “If you keep saying it the way it really is, eventually your word is law in the universe.” – Josef Goebbels
Premise 2: No regret, no redemption.
We are graceful dancers, simple or complex. We are childlike, self-inflating, self-conflating, self-defeating, self-protective, self-assured, perpetrators and victims, enlightened klutzes, grand parents and delinquent parents, thoughtless relatives, inmates of prisons and mental hospitals, shamans and shameless con-artists, watching porno on an internet device in a stockroom, trimming pot, checking groceries, convalescing in rehab, police officers, military servicewomen, parish priests, students, pornographers, meth-stoked tweakers, civil service and/or sex workers, undertakers, derelicts and determined entrepreneurs, human capital or garbage, gangsters, precocious teens, retired stoners, aliens from other dimensions, inhabitants of unimaginable worlds. All of the above. But when we accept each other, such categories become oxymoron . Unity is the conversation, not the content. Something unexpected and counter-intuitive is at work that is rooted in self- forgiveness and therefore love. No regret, no redemption.
Premise 3: Conversation is a work of art. In the same sense as any sculpture, book or painting or film or Tunick’s nude assemblies. It is not data. Rather than being a tool for delivering or selling content, this website is an object, like one of Rodin’s bronze products, a painting by El Greco or the live performance of a Beethoven quartet.
The design of this website includes written verbal content, links to manuscripts and recorded musical composition, images and articles, the content of which is subject to change from day to day, evolving in response to new information and ideas.
Koan 3: “Obviously the truth is what’s so. Not so obviously, the truth is also, so what?” (Werner Erhard)
Premise 4: We are mistaken to take less interest in the artist than in the art. When I read a great book or see a wonderful play, I want to hold it close to my heart as if I could incorporate something of it into my being, have the feeling accessible to me like a complex lover. We know little of the intimate life and thinking of others: artists, writers and composers we revere and we surmise, based on clues in their works, letters and journals. If they’d developed their work in public! Warhol was going there but had no internet. Sketches by Picasso, Da Vinci, Rembrandt and others and letters and fragments of notes of authors like Mann, Dostoevsky and Stendahl provide clues but mostly we assume things about them based on finished products.
Premise 5: This webpage is a form of art, mostly writing in real time publication. Fyodor Dostoevsky fell in love with a woman he met in one of his classes in Petersburg. If he’d written The Gambler online, as I’m doing with Fast Cars, I’ll Do Anything and Don Quixote at The Orgy, we’d see his relationship with her and learn about Pollina.
I’ve not produced a Notes From Underground. I’m not attempting to write in a form that is extinct in America.
On other pages, there are additional links to original music, video, images, plays, articles and other manuscripts. They are the latest versions of work in progress. A “permanent” archive allows views of the evolution of every work. This process reveals me to myself as I describe my experience of the world and relationships, providing insight into how I’ve responded to new information.
Koan 4: You don’t get to vote on the way it is, you already did.
Premise 5: I can directly know only my own mind, which isn’t guaranteed or predictable.
I trust women much quicker than men. Why? It’s counter-intuitive. My father, whose peripatetic disposition I feel I’ve inherited, married and produced children with four wives in serial fashion, producing four sets of siblings who knew nothing or next to nothing about their half brothers and sisters. His absence from my life incidentally left me in the predicament of having a sibling rival who was also the adult male in the household and generally without remorse. His own predicament: losing a father at the age of three while at the same time seeing in me a rival to the attention of his mother, led him to want to destroy me rather than understand me.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I had serial relationships. If you need advice about it, I’m an expert in separation anxiety. For a long time, I felt I was different in this respect. Then I began to read: Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Stendahl, de Staehl, McCullers, Dinesen…
Koan 5: You don’t have to go looking for love when it is where you come from.
Premise 6: A different psychology unites the outlook of each gender that is a complex response influenced by the state of hormonal balance and conditioning. This may now be openly observed in the media phenomenon called a webcam room.
Female mating behavior is related to status or security but not always. Women who are by nature nurturing may also be faithful and selfless but they are lovable by nature. Men grow less lovable as they mature (when they mature) and become lovable again late in life. Men vary in the degree of unlovability and the age when lovableness leaves us, but, we tend to reflect this pattern in our lives.
Above is an image of two male human beings. Leni Riefenstahl is said to have loved Hitler. Had these men survived, they may have grown to be as lovable as they were in childhood, notwithstanding that their careers made them poster children for the unlovable.
Lovableness is a less socially relevant quality than are other qualities but this one feature reveals the ordinariness of psychosis expressed by males in authoritarian cultures in which children grow up to murder their own ecosystem as well as other human beings. The psychosis derives from not being lovable to ourselves. While, it is true that women may feel this way, too, yet it is different for them. Why and how this is so is the subject of many novels.
During most of my adult life and adolescence, I’ve neither loved nor understood myself. This self-image was a side effect of my older sibling’s domination, coupled with the absence of parents in our home. As a child, although lovable, I was a mystery unto myself and I remained so for most of my life. One must know oneself to know what there is to love about oneself.
Premise 7: “Literature” is that which, by means of recorded language, has allowed us to virtually experience the essence of being human through the expressions of others. When I read Euripides, Homer, Cervantes, Sterne, Stendahl, Dostoevsky, McCullers, Gogol, West, Faulkner, Flaubert, Dinesen, Marquez, Mann and so on, I’m curious about those who supported them, who had faith in them before they were recognized. Literature is an archive of views of the soul created by those who were supported in doing something tedious, difficult, speculative and strange. I’m indebted to those who served these writers more than to the writers they supported.
Premise 8: Artists are prophets for their respective civilizations. For more than two thousand years, our civilization has interpreted the words of a few ancient poets, Moses, Mohammed, Christ. For economic purposes, populations have been conditioned by media to ignore contemporary angels, saints and prophets; those with whom they share space and time. Today, when population growth coupled with priorities of short-sighted engineering has placed the global ecosystem on which human being depends at risk, leading us toward global suicide. The extraordinary human resources of contemporary prophets are ignored at the cost of life itself.
“Ted Talks” are our current demographic’s format for the truth that is believed, promulgating politically correct superstitions. What are these brilliant people telling us? How does it guide our progress?
Art, which allows artist and viewer to become a Unity, suggests an answer. It would produce miracles if this culture began to distinguish art from kitsch for we would begin to nurture and support creative people and this would alter the course of history. What is an artist?
Skill in performance does not alone define an artist because art occurs as a connection between subject, artist and viewer through the object of art. American culture must understand why Felix Krull and Mick Kelly are as significant to civilization as the life of Christ.
I’m examining the relationship between art and life through my direct experience as well as indirectly, in the experiences of other artists. How much we might have learned about creative thinking and human being, if we knew what went on in Dostoevsky’s life, or Mahler’s or Cervantes’? Carson McCullers is our Jeanne d’Arc. Can we imagine the circumstance in which our population awakens to its obsessive commitment to warfare and poverty?
This website is thus a studio in which I sculpt the dynamic world of my personal experience. I am using this medium as McCullers and Cervantes used words printed on paper to bring their characters to life in their stories. Words are primary tools for me as well; each story here is analogous to a multidimensional, dynamic sculpture that may not ever be a finished object. Like Dostoevsky, who evoked a tangible, compelling experience of Germany in 1860 in The Gambler, I too race against time, with everything at stake to write truthfully. My characters come to life and do unexpected things. Sensations I describe shape and cast visual impressions of them. My own idiosyncrasies inform facets of characters and my conscience reveals workings of my own mind even when disguised in fiction.
Felix Krull knew that telling the truth isn’t practical, however, it isn’t ego that compels him to reveal all in an autobiography but the need to be in the face of nothing. Brook Magnanti withheld her sex-work occupation from the man she loved, while she writing explicit stories about her assignments an autobiographic blog. Ostensibly, she knew it would change their relationship, that he would be angry at her betrayal and she would be vulnerable. She left him for a wealthy client and long after they separated, when he learned and feels she’d made a fool of him, he blames himself, of course, over something over which he had no control and he feels victimized by her.
Where shall we go from here? You might click on the link to a semi-biographic fiction titled, “Overture”.