Natural heart shape of bee hives. Bodiam Castle in Robertsbridge, United Kingdom

I’m experiencing the coronavirus as the hard slap that brings an hysteric to their senses.

For a long time, the pell mell hurtling of our culture, the bizarre unsustainable system of our economy, the rising hatred and fascism throughout the world, has felt like a runaway bus, a weapon racing through scattering pedestrians with passengers trapped inside. People have regarded, ‘Move fast and break things,’ not as the saying of a madman, but as wisdom.

Now, in one crumbling moment, many things become clear. We are utterly intertwined and interdependent. We need each other. Hatred doesn’t work. Life is balance and exchange. To pile too much in one corner of the boat, capsizes the whole thing. What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.

Every single person who self-isolates and rigorously works to slow the coronavirus is literally saving lives. If you jumped off of a bridge to save a drowning child and did save that child, there would be days in your life, bad, heavy days, where you would comfort yourself with ‘ But I did save that child.’ If you stay home, if you wash your hands, if you find ways to get food and soap and cheer to your neighbors, you will have that comfort, too. It isn’t as dramatic, but it is as real. It is in fact, likely that you will save more than one life, and among those can be your own.

We are a nation and even a world of innumerates and we just do not possess the feeling for what exponential growth really is, whether we call popular videos ‘viral’ or not, we don’t hold the pattern clearly inside us. So when everything seems fine and no one you know has the virus, it’s hard to credit it. It’s about time – how quickly something can happen. Time is our perceptual problem with climate change as well. The slowness of how it is coming upon us has lulled us. Just as we must wait anxiously for the coronavirus wave to sweep over us, half-unbelieving, the climate change wave rises, rises in front of us and we stare mesmerized and unbelieving.

This virus is very painful, what we will endure is full of grief. If we allow this hard smack to awaken us – and at the same time slow down our maniacal culture, we can at least put this scourge to use. For many, perhaps most of us, the virus is stopping our lives in its tracks. Financially and for our health, this is disastrous. The gift inside the disaster is that it is making us stop.

I find myself confused all day long. Should I take my gloves off before or after I touch the front door? How much alcohol might we need? Did I just rub my nose? Should I wash it? How many paper towels should I order? What is fair, how do I share? Decisions must be made every moment, where to put my hands, where to put my energy, where to put my money, where is my money?

It’s exhausting. And we will figure it out. Everything takes longer, everything requires more attention, everything is demanding consciousness. Right now we need to apply that to soap, but it needs to be applied to figuring out the new way of life, a way of life that is sustainable, a way of life that requires us to Move slowly, consciously and mend things, create things. There is pain all around. Creating the new ways will also be full of joy. There is nothing more joyful than creative flow. And it is something we will do together, so it is not only the ecstasy of new ideas and the satisfaction of making them real, solving the obstacles, but the joy of working together on something that matters and the inevitable love that grows between us as we do it.

This is it. Now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



It’s getting dark out there. Shorter days and though I enjoy the morning light being color corrected, sundown comes as shock often before I can take an evening walk. I am thankful for the relief of returning from the too light side. Daylight savings time is just one more way to misalign ourselves away from the frequencies that keep us in balance. Noon when the sun is straight overhead is what? too logical? too close to earth rhythm? Too good for our equilibrium?

As a general question, who benefits from our always being off balance?

It’s getting darker out there. In the USA, white people are about to be the minority and our darker brothers and sisters become stronger. In Europe the far right is growing mainly in response to the melanin-rich.

One of the questions I had when I set out to write and create, The Birth of Color, A Marriage of Darkness and Light was a desire to explore the geographies of Darkness and Light. The entrenched picture of light – good, dark – bad doesn’t begin to describe the beauty and complexity of it. Don’t sleep for a couple of days and the wisdom of darkness will become apparent. Surgical light probably won’t do a lot for your sex life. Over-rationality leads to Frankensteinian data points of light algorithmic control by the borg.

As dazzling and beautiful as light is, I wanted to explore the larger geographies of both, the good and bad, the positive and negative frequencies, of both darkness and light as vast realms of qualities and experiences, especially the darkness, whose wonder, mystery and beauty is often neglected.

Here are the words, written by poet David Brendan Hopes to the song Dark in the Frequency Opera, The Birth of Color, a Marriage of Darkness and Light.

The night pearl among the pearls

What came before comes at the end

which also is before

the last gate before

the time coming.
The cleansing sorrow.

Convulsion of joy.

Dark of the One’s Dream


and here is the song




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

hope is a thing with tiles

Mohammad Reza Domiri1*2pRPTWR1Lrkq4i_dw7EJiQ

I admit to a prevailing hopelessness lately about the state of the world. The wind blows better some days, but the news is pretty unmitigatedly bad, in the sense of people acting from their worst instincts and fears, whipped along by a level of cynicism and yeah, wickedness, from people with power, that can be discouraging. The antidote to discouragement is encouragement, which at core is courage. One of the most helpful things for courage is wind in the lungs from hope – and I often find that in beauty.

I see the thing and my breath comes in deeply and then hope and courage follow. In that spirit I’d like to share this from Iranian photographer Mohammad Reza Domiri. Large swaths of the Muslim world are going through a bad patch and it’s good to remember that they, and we, have had better days, which we are capable of having again.

Here is the remarkable photo-essay:

View at


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment



Commander Pigeon was an old decrepit warlord, a broken-down woman. Lonely, she survived on attention, on her ability to inspire fear through the power of her own myth. In Afghanistan, the ability to create a mythology is powerful, maybe even more powerful than military prowess…

She hated the Taliban more than the Soviets, but the Soviets marked the beginning of jihad. Summertime, she remembered, about noon. The watermelons were ripe. She had been in her bedroom, talking and drinking tea with the women. Her son was cutting grass and her uncle milked the cows. Her whole family was outside tending the farm when the Russian commandos landed on the hill. They shot her son dead. She had no weapons and so she picked up a scythe and killed the commando who did it. She killed for hours and stole weapons from corpses. There were bodies everywhere. They hung from the trees. No man questioned her. *

This is almost the same description as the beserker state of Kali. The old ones knew this, the old ones had seen this. We, with our hygiene and our our manners, we pretend we don’t know this Kali in ourselves. We pretend, and you, Soviets, Americans, Europeans with your faux clean hands, your bidets and your OxbridgeHarvard industrial complex, your Manhattan projects and your shock and awe, you need to know this.

The iconography of Kali is terrible indeed to those who first encounter it! She is most often depicted standing over Shiva who lies on the battleground. All around are severed body parts and the weapons of the demons she has slain.  Shiva’s trisula is in her lower right hand, her own blood-stained sword in her higher right hand, the severed head of a demon in her higher left hand and a bowl to catch the blood of the demon in her lower left hand. She wears a garland of severed demon heads and a skirt of severed demon arms. Her hair is disheveled and her tongue protrudes from her mouth.

When deciphering the symbolism, it is of foremost importance to note that Kali is the dutiful wife of Shiva, whose body she has conquered. The body is not who Shiva is, but rather a vehicle of the Soul. Thus, while Kali conquers the body, she defends the Soul. She holds the trisula that Shiva gave to her when the Trimurti wished her into being. Now, even Shiva is under the influence of Kali’s power. **

Kali is not an isolated being, she is the other face of your pretty wife, not something solely in herself. Your pretty wife, your pretty self, whose child is murdered on a watermelon afternoon.

I came across Commander Pigeon in an article in the New Republic by Jen Percy about an Afghan warlord, a mother who has become a warlord and have here interspersed quotations from the article with descriptions of Kali. The bloody-minded but ineffectual people who plan modern wars do not understand the story of Kali or of the Hydra. They do not want to understand the Hydra that they fight as ‘terrorism’ nor to face themselves therefore as the creators of terrorists. In whose interest is this?

Commander Pigeon is a collector of lost and exiled men. The quietest soldier once belonged to the Taliban. He had been captured by local police, escaped, and having heard about Commander Pigeon, walked miles to reach her home. He fell to his knees and begged for protection. She made him swear loyalty. I asked how she knew he wouldn’t rebel. “I’m watching him closely,” she said. “I’m converting Taliban to normal people.” *

* Jen Percy

** Theresa St Amant

photo of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma adoring Kali, circa 1740, courtesy of  Los Angeles County Museum of Art 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

you are what you eat

The responses to the two projects Dahlan and I have been working on this summer have been intense and sort of surprising. It’s only surprising I guess because for a long time now, I just make things as best I can and follow the will of the thing and try to get it right and that is so consuming that when the responses happen, it’s a shock to realize Oh! this is happening in public, people are listening… Anyway, more than a few people who participated or listened to and watched the recording of The Birth of Color and the development and performance of the Puebla, Mexico Creativity in Captivity spoke of them as transformative experiences. That was amazing, glad.

When I say ‘to get it right’, I mean something very specific about accuracy. Technical accuracy and spiritual accuracy. The effort is made because we are what we eat. I found this charming film by the Paris production house chezeddy, when I was looking for any possibility of a truly erotic movie, not porn and not soft-core porn and not girly-stuff porn. For some reason this piece was in the mix. Somehow there’s some poetic justice in that. It seems a lot of people don’t take seriously that we consume art.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


It seems to me that most ethical questions, possibly most philosophical questions, most life questions are at their core, questions about how to manage our relationship to pain. Everything that comes into our field of vision, of hearing, of touch is inwardly met by moving toward or moving away, sympathy or antipathy. I like that music, I don’t like that music, this tastes good, this does not, I want this person to touch me, that one, no.
What we say no to is connected to our perception of suffering. While most things do not rise to the level of ‘suffering’ per se, it is a continuum that begins with distaste and ends with torment. As far as I can tell, one of the secrets to life is having a lot of interior silence that makes sympathizing/antipathizing about every little thing unnecessary or at least smaller and less identified with.
Being in pain and around pain heightens our senses. This video is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in a while. The first video on the photographer/artist’s site (and you need to go there to get the picture of what it’s all about) is just takes of the pain response, but what interests me is the one I’ve included here, with the givers. All of these people volunteered and it’s apparent that some of the givers were also receivers. I wouldn’t conclude too much based on the expressions on people’s faces, particularly the laughing. Trying to parse the emotions is important and interesting, but look more deeply, just at the elevation of energy, of life force. These reactions are facts and will be most useful without judgement or over-confidence that we know what the people are feeling and thinking. They are useful as a statement of phenomena. Just look at it. Be quiet. Try to describe what you see objectively.

This is us. This is us no judgement. But when we have to decide things about dealing with ourselves, keep it in mind.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

this guy

Tree of 40 Fruit   Sam Van Aken

Tree of 40 Fruit Sam Van Aken

This guy, Sam Van Aken, made me think a lot today about what an artist is. What he is is someone who looks around and sees things and then he devotes an extraordinary amount of time and detailed attention into responding physically. As is often the case with art, beauty is an integral part. Man I’d like to have one of these trees. I love him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

this is a nightmare to those who rely on us feeling frightened all the time

When we put together the Applied Mythology course 7 years ago, the lead in our ads for it was Thoreau’s quote, Read not the Times, read the Eternities and if there is any advice I would give as general suggestion, it would be that. One of the great modern mythologists was Mircea Eliade and his most famous book is called, The Myth of Eternal Return, which is, as might be surmised, centered on the cyclical understanding of time that particularly prevails in most tribal mythology as well as Hinduism and many other cosmologies.

One of my practices during the month of Ramadan is neither to watch nor read nor listen to any news. This is in the interest of one of Ramadan’s main purposes, which is to quiet the feelings, cleanse the soul of hysteria and re-immerse oneself in what is most centrally important. It also presses me to read longer and deeper and farther afield without disturbance from all the twittering. I came across this in an interview with the very interesting Zia Haider Rahman, who has made quite an impression with his first book In the Light of What We Know:

Every general election anywhere seems to mark a turning point, we’re told. Or something is a landmark event. Every military surge is a new initiative that will turn back the tide. The consumption of news would fizzle out if it did not bear the sense that what is happening is new in the sense that it is bringing in change, is going to alter the way things are. We all like to plan—we can plan like no other animal—but our ability to plan goes hand in hand with an appetite to learn what’s new, what’s news, what might affect our plans. News media feeds this appetite endlessly and would do itself out of a living if its reports ran along the lines of, say: Such and such happened today and it’s terribly similar to what happened ten years ago and also to what happened forty years ago and everybody thought then that it was going to change everything but it didn’t.

There is hubris in regarding ours as the pivotal moment in history—a shocking hubris given that every age has thought this way—but it is vital to the sale of news to maintain this pretence. To see the repeated patterns may not actually make it easier to resolve the problems we now face—after all, the most common repeated pattern is one of failure—but I have wondered whether it would lead to a feeling of familiarity, which would have a calming effect, a sense that we are not at the edge of a precipice without parallel. Of course, this is a nightmare to those who rely on us feeling frightened all the time.

Zia Haider Rahman


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

been in budapest

A strange and beautiful city, people struggling through the rubble of empire and communism, quite going about their business, quite a part of everything and yet, apart, if for no other reason than their language is hermetically sealed off from everyone else, not Romantic, not Indo-European, not anything of this world. It’s supposed to be related to Finnish but no one from either language group says they can remotely understand each other.

That splendid Parliament on the Danube, the largest in Europe, is now the house of one small chamber – but man is it good looking. We went to Buda and to Pest searching for some of the best singers in the world – and found them, eating goulash and pizza, with iPhones and Palinka at the ready. These were the singers trained at the Zoltan Kodaly Institute. Amazing. Amazing.

So, we are well begun with recording the music from The Birth of Color, A Marriage of Darkness and Light. Here’s an intro by the incomparable Harlan Coburn with some history by lyricist and poet, David Brendan Hopes, an extraordinary man who gets to the heart of the matter, and shots of composer Lucio Ivaldi in action.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



You and I are alive at the moment when the most profound change in human culture is cracking the floor beneath out feet.





Much more profound than the internet, space travel, even reading or the wheel, it is a change that challenges every part of life. The shift is something that is beginning to free up more power, imagination, pleasure and capacity than cars and machinery  and electronics ever have.

What is it?


It is the entry into the public sphere and the balancing of power of women alongside men. This is new, very very very new. Why is it so profound? Well, it happens from the level of culture but penetrates biology. It disrupts basic cultural and psychological ground. It frees the contributions of half of the human race, and so opens the entire human race into the areas for which an individual is best suited. It will eventually change every institution and structure we have. One reason that it is so monumentally stupid to perpetuate privilege is that the cures for AIDS and cancer, for environmental degradation and energy production will be found more quickly and with better results when everyone of every race and gender is working on it. The changes will be more and stronger than any other parity. This is because men and women are different. They are much more different than black and white and brown and green and all are from each other. Men and women. Different.

So, just where the body meets the soul, just talking biology – there are species in our line – the primates – where the female is dominant. Bonobos and lemurs. Lemurs, I’m not sure how it goes (though those babies sure can jump) but with bonobos, it seems a pretty direct link that unlike the male dominated chimpanzee (bonobos are a kind of chimp) social tension is primarily dealt with through sex instead of violence. (So listen, guys, things could be looking up). But I’m not talking about dominance, I’m talking about true power balance.

This has been made possible by effective and widely available birth control. Effective and widely available birth control is also the only non-violent way we will make it to the 22nd century. That is why people who do not want women’s equality also usually do not want birth control, or apparently, to make it to the 22nd century with science intact.

Aggression and sociability are positively correlated with creativity. We don’t want to drum that out, we need to put it in harness as best as possible. I so wish people could see the purposes of bacchanalia, wrestling, sport, wild sexuality. We need competitiveness, tension, daring, aggression, fierceness, physical power. We need maleness and we need men. What men need is to fucking relax.  Jesus, how insecure are you ? What men need is women. You need our brains, you need our different sensibilities, you need our motherliness, you need our caution and our fierceness, you need our love. You need sex, you need beauty, you need intelligence, you need someone to make a family with. You need comfort, you need challenge. So shut up about what you are losing. How bad could it be in bonobo-land?



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment