The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

Month: March, 2009

The Death Penalty and Kantian Ends

I begin with the proposition that there are no absolutes except subjective existence. Everything is reducible and exchangeable except for the subjective qualitative experience of living — for humans most of all, but for plants and animals as well. This proposition is related to the Kantian maxim that humans should always be treated as ends-in-themselves, never as means to some other end.

From the infinite, irreducible, unexchangable nature of human existence, we see an insidious effect of the death penalty being levied for murder — a subtle suggestion that human life is, at the margins, even if imperfectly, exchangeable. That in some way the offering up of the villain’s life in some way compensates the universe for the loss of the victim’s. From a purely economic perspective, we know this is wrong. Two deaths do not equal one life. Though in a reversal of logic, perhaps we are merely reifing a new equation of murder — that the murder takes two lives. In terms of net morality, this is probably correct.

Still, we speak of justice, and we speak of capital punishment being justice — but it is not. Thus the common refrain — it won’t bring back my daughter. Rather, murder is the crime from which there can be no restitution. To attempt such restitution, through execution or through wergild, is to deny the ultimate and unredeemable loss society has faced.

Better than not to kill killers, but rather aknowledge the societal loss and the limits of justice — that with murder, the debt cannot ever be repaid, that human life is precious and unique and when it is gone, it is gone forever.


Seventh Avenue

I’m riding a bike down Seventh Avenue, against traffic.
Along the sidewalks, girls in white dresses walk and talk,
with dogs and boys and shopping bags.

To my right is water, brick buildings to my left
the ride is like a song – it keeps happening
I enjoy the view while I can
One minute later and its gone, replaced

In the evenings, I tell jokes uptown
Long and complicated jokes about Wittgenstein
and Nietzche – I leap tall buildings in a single bound –

Lately, I’ve been learning how to yo-yo, yo-yo,
makes it easier to walk the dog.

And when I ride my bike on Seventh Avenue,
I where an American flag on the back of my back
but instead of stars, it says
If you can read this, you’re too close

Four Winds, Bright Eyes

Lyrics by Conor Oberst

Your class, your caste, your country, sect, your name or your tribe
There’s people always dying trying to keep them alive
There are bodies decomposing in containers tonight
In an abandoned building where
A squatter’s made a mural of a Mexican girl
With fifteen cans of spray paint in a chemical swirl
She’s standing in the ashes at the end of the world
Four winds blowing through her hair

But when great Satan’s gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can’t sustain the pressure where it’s placed
She caves

The Bible’s blind, the Torah’s deaf, the Qur’an is mute
If you burned them all together you’d be close to the truth still
They’re poring over Sanskrit under Ivy League moons
While shadows lengthen in the sun
Cast on a school of meditation built to soften the times
And hold us at the center while the spiral unwinds
It’s knocking over fences, crossing property lines
Four winds cry until it comes

And it’s the sum of man
Slouching towards Bethlehem
A heart just can’t contain all of that empty space
It breaks, it breaks, it breaks

Well, I went back to my rented Cadillac and company jet
Like a newly orphaned refugee, retracing my steps
All the way to Cassadaga to commune with the dead
They said, “You’d better look alive”
And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps
In the black hills, the bad lands, the calloused east
I buried my ballast, I made my peace
Heard four winds leveling the pines

But when great Satan’s gone, the whore of Babylon
She just can’t remain with all that outer space
She breaks, she breaks, she caves, she caves

The Enlightenment and Enlightenment

East meets West. Both under the precept of sapere aude — “dare to know.”

Ship of Theseus

Janus, God of Doors

In Greek mythology, Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes: the month of January, which begins the new year, and the janitor, who is a caretaker of doors and halls. — From Wikipedia, Janus.

God Created the Integers
God Created the Integers: The Mathematical Breakthroughs That Changed History is an anthology of English translations of important works in

God Created the Integers

“God made the integers; all else is the work of man.”
– Leo Kronecker

(Unsure if this is actually true; Under what basis can one argue that pi is not a real empirical number. Though it’s a good question — are there real circles in nature? I think so. The sphere or almosts-sphere is definitely empirical.)


Everything we know about the universe is from telescopes, mirrors bent backwards, looking, light. Even just so, we are all telescopes, gazing out into the void.

A Day in the Life

(Phish cover, Hampton 2009 II)

I read the new today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the house of lords.

I saw a film today oh boy
The english army had just won the war
A crowd of people turned away
But I just had to look
Having read the book
I love you turn on

Woke up, got out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head,
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

I read the news today, oh, boy
Four thousand holes in blackburn lancashire
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the albert hall
I’d love to turn you on

Crying Vincent

467px-vincent_willem_van_gogh_002Oh Vincent — Oh Vincent — inhaling green smoke in Amsterdam and staring at your pictures — you had a good run — ten years as you deconstructed thought and vision — pain too — pain I know (or maybe don’t) — Mad Mad World — whose madder, the Hatter or the Hare? Rats in a maze. Wingless Angels. Perfect Beings without Care or Concern, surrounded by True and Inevitable Suffering, the Endless Unceasing Suffering of Others — I am a Malingerer, a Faker, a Fraud, I have nothing to cry about, nothing to worry about, I am a Child of the Beautiful Universe and Gifted by the Strength and Power of My Parents Who Gave Me All Things — I dance fantastic, I love and am much loved — I have what I want — I am learned and halfway wise when the wind blows southerly — I ape Great Princes as I, Former Slave, walk free through this Kingless World — everyday I get a little older — everyday, enact my part of the worm’s dance, aerating the soil if you will — the Great Dance of Worms and Quarks and Gluons — Light bouncing, the Devil hopping on a light-beam, trying to capture the View.

In the wake of Death, I cried out a challenge to the Universe and asked someone to face me — and in my dreams, the figure of a wrestler grew, and I went forth to the battle, hoping to either fail or triumph, either way restoring my betrayed faith and honor — for many long years, I held on tightly to the wrestler, never letting go, neither in summer nor in winter, holding fast its ankle, even as it held fast to mine, eight long years, in city and country, in beds next to women, in sun and in storm.

And then one morning (a morning past, this morning, or a morning yet to come) I let go of the wrestler, allowed it to slip away and made my obeisance to my opponent, the Cruel and Total Universe. Kneeling in its Light, I asked it for a blessing.

Israel, it named me. Wrestler.