Rain is Fun!

After three weeks of hot, hot weather, stretching the summer deep into the fall, gloriously, rain! Here are the first drops…P1490976 It’s like the moon!

P1490977 Why not. The moon came from here.


And the scent that the rain and earth give to the air on impact!P1490988 Oh my! There’s just nothing like it.

P1490989 It’s like Proust and his madelaines, it is.P1490990 Now, here’s a cool effect: a tiny drop hits a rock and expands. I mean, really expands!P1490995 Oh, a bigger view (yes, I’m getting wet and hiding my camera under my shirt in between snaps)… P1500016 Neat, huh. Pshaw, that’s nothing. Look closely:P1500034Look how the earth just embraces that water, eh! That’s the way things are done on this planet. And from the other direction, so see how the light handles it:P1500033It handles it well! And pulling back again (because we can)…P1500022 Ah, we could delight in this moment all day, but it’s just that, you know, a moment. It passes. You have to enjoy it when it comes.P1500039 What a party it is!



Whoo-hooo! That moment billions of years ago when the comets first struck the hot earth, well, it lives on! How cool is that!

Did You Lose Your Mind? Don’t Worry. I Found It.

Ah, the noble stag, majestically ruling its wild kingdom in parallel to the worlds of men. Here you can see a young mule deer buck framed against a hillside sculpted by humans into muck.P1500473 If you are a human and not a Google Bot looking at this, do notice the exquisite metal sky put up to keep the stags from floating up off the earth into the pinot gris. Majestic! Romantic, too.P1500524 Here’s a stag posing nobly beside a waterline that delivers water across the weed belt (Except for a couple sages, there are no native plants in this image.) into the gewürztraminir and pinot noir plots.

P1500512 Not just King of the Weeds, but King of the Weeds and the Muck!P1500504

Again, if you’re a bot, this is probably lost on you, but if you’re a human the scene will likely give you a sense of complete satisfaction. After all, that bottle of plonk you had with dinner last night was romantically created out of just this romance. Here’s the big picture: two stags wandering through the wasteland. Nothing to eat for miles, except some bushes down in a ravine and, um, well, the predators hang out there, too, so you’d have to be a porcupine to feed on anything down there.



Locally, these are called problem deer. Here’s one of them 2 evenings ago, as the sun was going down, pulling the purple, red and orange colours out of the sage. As for the sage, yes, it’s native, but that amount of sage is a result of over-grazing and under-burning. Yup, you got it right: weeds, again. This is on the edge of that ravine no self-respecting deer would enter (you have to cross the freaking coyote trail just to get down into the deeps). You got it. Nothing to eat for miles.



The kings of the wild are living in a new wilderness: Weed Planet! That’s what we have made. It is an image of ourselves and an image of the poverty of our social and scientific understandings. One might think human kind has completely lost its mind. No. Look. I found it. Yesterday!








The Technological Applications of New Scientific Thinking

I promised I would talk about practical applications for science based on observing the world in its own language. (This is commonly called phenomenological science, but I’m trying to find a simpler expression for that.) Better just to jump right in! OK, so here’s my wasp and her grub.

P1490820There are a bunch of different ways of thinking about her.

1. We could talk about the wasp laying her eggs in the living grub, so it can incubate her eggs and then provide food for her larvae. This is an evolutionary strategy. Discussions of this kind of science have so far lead to methods of using wasps for pest control.

2. We could talk about how the wasp is doing on a multicellular level what cancer does on a cellular level. This is an ecological strategy. It means a couple things. First, that the wasp has randomly found a successful approach that allows it to survive across generations by using surrogates. Second, that it is even possible to consider higher orders of life operating as cancers. Discussions of the latter kind of science will lead to technologies that use living hosts to transmit genetic material across boundaries that would otherwise destroy it. For the wasp it is winter. For humans, it is what we can imagine. Travel to Mars, perhaps. Deep sea travel. Who knows. Currently, such technology is most prevalent in cancer treatment and in computer virus transmission. Pretty aggressive military stuff. Note that the wasp does not have a military strategy. There are alternate technologies within that.

3. We could talk about the wasp as a wasp. It lifts this grub, with intent, and moves it through gargantuan expenditures of energy. To the wasp, this is not a grub. It is a reproductive chamber. It is its self and all its future. A human mother might look at a house in much the same way. The existence of a creature with this degree of intent, with, as well, a tiny nervous system and brain, should be enough to challenge human notions of identity and superiority. If the wasp can do all this with a tiny nervous system, what is our huge nervous system for? Variability? Potentiality? Is each of us all the wasps in the world?

And here I should stop, because it’s obvious what’s going on: in each case, technological application are easily applicable, yet they are always on the order of observing a behaviour, abstracting principles from it, and applying them to new circumstances, in machine-type ways. However, the wasp is just a wasp. The technology should be applicable in a wasp-fashion, or even in a human fashion, without resorting to technology. That’s just a language (and a powerful one at that.) What if there were a different language? What if we stopped thinking about the wasp and evolution and all that jazz? What if we looked at where she lives?


The forest boundary berry of the Northwest. (Here, it’s growing on a lakeshore.)

Now we have three players: wasp, grub and kinnikinnic. Might as well throw in the stump, too. And the carpenter ants (no doubt) within it. And the grubs tunnelling (no doubt) under its bark. And the bear who comes by every few years, maybe, to shred the stump looking for them. If we think of them all together, then there is no evolutionary strategy, on behalf of the wasp, but, rather, a balance strategy. There are threads of energy in this environment. Evolutionary science reads them as competitive pressures, leading to temporary balances. What if they were balances, which led to temporary competitive pressures? Such an approach to science would lead to different medical technologies, one which included the artistry of its practioners. What if there were no individual species present here, but, rather, a constellation of species, that might be differently constituted elsewhere? Would not balance provide the stories, then, rather than evolution? Might it not lead to technologies which included points of balance? Usually, such technologies are called religions, but what if devices could be made that, in accordance with human input, could deliver individual results, depending on what a person needed? Would this technology be a kind of amulet? Yes, I think so, and I think this would, again, commonly be defined as a religion. Might it, not, however, be a form of psychology? Might the way forward for psychological science be not ESP and other measurable (or not) effects on matter, but on its ability to change the observer, so that he or she observed different material and thus had before himself or herself a different set of possibilities? Why not. Just a metre away from our wasp and her grub are the tiny fish among these stones, and the algae growing on them.



Yes, there are fish. Look again, if you missed them. 

Lake and shore. Two different environments… or is that just a human bias? What if they are one, and the force that creates the wasp creates these young trout? What is their balance point? What is their surrogate, if they have one? The technology that comes out of such questions will lead to a healthy planet. We really do have to choose. Technology can be a set of mechanical tools. It can also be a set of energies. Those energies are not limited to the exchange of electrons to transfer electrical signals to effect certain results. What if the earth were your brain? What if its most important work were to stop action rather than to create it? That’s not a suggestion to stop action, by the way, but to transfer it into balance. This is why the scientist-poet Goethe said we should stop listening to Newton. That was 200 years ago. I think it’s about time. What are the technologies? I don’t know, but I promise, they are as large as the set created by Newtonian science. Some already exist. I’ll walk about some of those in my next post. Thanks for swimming with the fish with me!



The Secret of Life

Last week, I was speaking about alternative science. This week I am going to be talking about some practical applications of it. But first, one final illustration, because I find it so beautiful, and I like sharing beautiful things.

P1490763Sugar Lake, by Water

Here’s the scene as transmitted by air.


Both are images of light. One is transmitted by water, and contains the energy flows within water. Life, of course, is carbon, water, and energy (or light). This is close:


It just needs some carbon, to hold it in place. Yes, there is life on earth. It is the earth. That’s the point. To find life on Mars, one must first understand Mars. What one finds will be totally alien. That’s the point. Life on other planets? Earth is another planet. That’s the point.


Vineyards in Germany and Canada Compared

Here’s the wall of a vineyard road in Germany (Schlossberg, Rüdesheim am Rhein)


Vineyard Stair, a Self-watering garden zone.

The wall collects water and delivers it to a reservoir. Here, the land is reformed to grow a native plant, riesling.

Here’s the wall of a vineyard road in Canada (Vineyard at the Rise, Vernon)


The native plants are gone (erosion), the soil is flowing away (erosion), water is piped in (erosion.)

So live the Canadians, on land that is not theirs. Pity them. They don’t have a clue.



Vertical Rivers and Walking on Water

Just look at this aspen pouring up into the sun.


Aspen Copse with Beetle-Killed Fire Pine, Big Bar Lake 

My sister.

To Newtonian science, this is an image of organized physical processes viewed by means of light. To Darwinian science, it is a moment in a process of continuous change and adaptation. To Goethean science, it is an image of spiritual energies, arranged in forms commonly called life and colour. To the poet Rilke, at the end of the war of 1914-1918, it was “this tree in front of me now, and nothing else.” This observation, in the poems Rilke wrote in the Rhone Valley in the last years of his life, make Rilke a leading 20th century scientific philosopher, and even a leading 21st century one. In the next image, for example, are these water striders making use of a physical adaptation to walk on water, or are they making use of a spiritual one?

strideThey are spirit walking on spirit, or, as Rilke, Newton, Darwin and Goethe would put it, they are these water striders right here, right now, and no others. The observation has largely lain dormant since 1925. It is time to stop taking the world apart and to acknowledge that what we seek is what we will find. It is that kind of universe. I find that very energizing.

I Love Water


Big Bar Lake, with Damselfly

The green colour comes from the bright lake bottom, which is the remains of the bed of an underground glacial river, made of tiny, flat, oval pebbles ground off the uplifted seabeds of the mountains just above the lake. The river flowed 10,000 years ago as the continental ice sheet was melting, then flowed around a 5-kilometre-long block of ice, no doubt encasing it in blue-grey gravel, which kept the sun from it. Eventually, the ice melted, the gravel became the lakebed, and the ice became this water, which is replenished with every winter’s snows, with its waving underwater leaves and that damselfly, moving between the dimensions. 

Who would pump this stuff into the rock to extract oil, and remove it from life forever? Only an agent of death.

Canada and the Okanagan

Canada does not deserve this land. It burns it…

P1420057 Forest Fire Smoke Over Okanagan Landing

… it tries to make it hotter than it is …P1420206


Plasticized Soil (Weeds, plastic, clay), Bella Vista

The goal is to increase the heat of the season.

… it xeriscapes it, for maximum water efficiency …


Note the fireplace ashes.

… it allows wild creatures to survive in road ditches alone …

P1420064Waiting for the Mower Man

This is where the water collects, hence where the life will be, but the mower comes, like clockwork. Gotta protect that infrastructure.

… it creates drought …

P1420086Invasive Cheatgrass Drought

(And the high country water that might have staved off the forest fires. Note the smoke.)

… it disrespects the gift of life …


Ponderosa Pine Cones in the Garbage

Here is some sign of a badger cleaning up on the gophers invading abandoned orchards …

P1420084Here is the abandoned orchard, gone feral …

P1420076A country that sustains its land values for only one generation does not deserve that land. Its days are numbered.


Frankenstein, Humans, Art and God

There is a seed in the pile of broken glass below.


To put it another way, humans see. The earth seeds. They are the same thing. See?


Making Seed: Male Sumac Flowers in Full Glory

Only in human sight do they look like spiritual energies, like this.

The spirit above is a human signature. When it is absent, humans say they are in the presence of the dead. Still, there is the seed produced by the action of bees on these flowers, and then on the female flowers on sumacs down the path and around the corner and the other corner a ways. That is a different kind of tracking from a human one, but not one that a human cannot follow. How it is followed, ah, that’s the rub.


Female Staghorn Sumac?

No, It’s the Big Bang

Humans often seed the earth with human-ness. There’s a human mouth in that pile of art studio raw material I showed you above. This human mouth was shaped out of sand, filled once with sweet Rhenisch (from the Pfalz) or Rhenish (from the Rhine Gorge) wine, and then broken down into raw material. Not into sand, though:


What it was broken down into is human raw material. This is what “seed” looks like in human language. This is ‘seed human’.  From it will be made a human social product called art, which is a way of honouring human history, just not in Herodotus’s long-winded stories of the self. It honours it in the unfolding presence and interactions of objects and a certain kind of energy that is commonly called “wildness” today (more on that below). This is one way in which humans see the earth in themselves. It’s like this show at her Headbones Gallery that artist Julie Oakes has made out of the glass I showed you above:


Julie Oakes’ Blue Toronado http://www.julieoakes.com/Awestruck_Calendar_of_Ecology/Blue_Tornado/blue_tornado.htm

A complex scripting of beauty and violence: the same, separating, coming together, and exploding in blueness. This is the way to make human self images into piles of broken glass and then to guide them by touch into new forms. The “touch” is inferred, but no less felt for that. Contemporary humans would say that all this happens through the visual cortex. Ancient humans, the ones who started the art processes that Oakes is keeping alive, would point to non-visual forms of perception.This, too, is part of the tension within these pieces. Much is being honoured here. Breakage is part of the honouring.

Another way in which humans see the earth within themselves is in the echoes of water and sky within the ruins of industrial and social process (below). There’s no water in the following image, and no sky, but lots of human-ness, in many forms: industrial processes, trade, fullness, emptiness, bling, breakage, beauty, violence, and so much more. It’s a powder keg of undefined human form and connection.


This pile (and its re-creation into new tracks) is how humans talk. They make paths through their perceptions and memories of earth and sky and water. They do this by tracing their interactions with each other and examining the spoor of their own feelings and cognitive and biological attention as rigorously as they would the tracks of a leopard and a springbok. Then they make maps of what they “see” (to accent the spiritual component within the “modern” visual process). Like this:


Katie Brennan Gives Us 32 Views of the Bow River (Or Is It Just One?)


It’s not a map. It’s not a quilt. It’s not a human. It’s not the earth. It’s not a deconstruction, because it’s also a reconstruction. One could go on, playing the old Monk’s game that by name what God is not, in the end the un-nameable God will be present by default.

In the end, reductions like Brennan’s come to this: maps of (or moments of attention to) perception and intuition are, really, humans. They’re not biological humans, but they’re humans nonetheless. In other words, the image below is Frankenstein (who was cobbled together from corpses and blasted with electricity so that he’d get up and walk and talk [in Frankie's case, with bolts in his neck.])


Frankenstein 2014!

In this case, the ‘electricity’ is human. To make art that isn’t just a mirror, or isn’t a substitute human, an Adam or an Eve or a Book of Noah, that’s a most difficult thing, and usually it’s just not going to be art, because art is that human-ness.That pile of blue glass above, for instance, is the dead from which new life springs. It’s not a pile of human ancestors, such as exist within each word we speak (for more of this, do check out www.earthwords.net) but human meta-ancestors, those artificial humans — those Frankensteins — that other humans have made before, such as this:


Frankenstein, Downtown Vernon

Looking for friends, he is. I mean, beyond his Sancho Panza, that bungie cord to the left.

And yet, if you remember, there is that seed.


And, well, this:


Headbones Gallery Parking Lot Installation, Swan Lake

 The cart that was full, which is now empty, the cart that is in the shadow while the blue, perhaps it’s former load, is in the light, the ruined Eden surrounding it, the blank canvas of gravel before it, and the shock of all that blue. “Painting” would reduce this.

Another human! Just a bigger one, that you can walk around on and in and through (you can even pull up your artificial human, your Honda, let’s say, and leave it there, so dead without you, while you huffed up the steps to the gallery, sensing yourself getting ever further from it, feeling the line of energy that binds you). The one thing, though, that you can’t do, ever, ever ever ever, is walk out of that artificial human. Here, for example:


Frankenstein 2014 (aka Yellow Dock Seeds), Bella Vista

(Yellow for the root, not these pink and mint beauties)  This invasive weed is taking over swatches of old Syilx “medicine” hillsides, where the activities of humans (trail making that cuts into the soil atmosphere of a syncline slope) make more room for human followers (weeds) than the plants that humans followed (medicines, or traditional ‘wild’ crops). Note: not a bit of nature in sight.

Here, too:


Frankenstein Allium, the Vernon Queen

She’s a fun type, for sure. What a party girl Frankenstein, she is! Note the beige artificial humans in the background and the herd of metal frankensteins resting ‘dead’ in front of them, plus the carefully channelled and regulated track for moving these frankensteins from place to place.

The trees and flower in the above image are called nature. They represent a non-human life drive, that makes biological humans less ill-at-ease within their maps of the dead and artfully made, and provide as well the potential of a continuously available source of energy outside of the social. That’s comforting, and humans, being mortal creatures, need a bit of comfort, now and then, in the face of oblivion. Mind you, those “plants” are, of course, socially planted, as manipulations of human states of mind. See: http://earthwords.net/2014/04/23/grow/


Three Points of the Energy of Growth …placed there to mine it.

(From earthwords.net)

That’s art. This artwork, this Frankenstein, is ‘nature’. Or, to put it another way, in the industrial era, Nature became Frankenstein. Like that blue glass, transformed by fire from sand and gold, there’s no way back. You have to go forward, eh.


Frankenstein, the Grass Version, The Rise

This Frankenstein (Nature) has a crown, as befits a goddess.


This is Not a Grassy Field

This is alien grass sewn to prevent erosion, after creating house building lots (for the visual view) by moving vast amounts of old glacial till around with a bulldozer. This is pretty much a one species environment, fulfilling its intended goal, with the illusion of being nature, because nature is the point of views. These are pure signs of the presence of Frankenstein. 

Nature (Frankenstein seen through the looking glass) is very big, but she’s not the earth.


Deer and Geese at Daisy, Washington

This Nature. She is the intersection of impounded waters of Lake Roosevelt, behind the Grand Coulee Dam, with the old Inchelium world the reservoir (in the parlance of Nature, “lake”) replaced. Whatever the earth is, she is an energy outside of this. 

Nature is a created artifact. (That’s not the same as saying that the energies that, in the Western tradition, flow through Nature are not vital. They are.) This, for example:


“Nature”, as Humans Call It, Making Her Move

In this world of interlocked artificial humans, Nature is much like a mosquito, that you want to swat, to get it off of yourself, or a spider crawling down the neck of your shirt, eeeeyewwwweeeeeeee! It takes some acculturation to see this wild lettuce as both art and child, to be nurtured, but there she is. (Note as well the discarded bouquet of flowers. Seemingly, this space of “nature” viewed as garbage was deemed the appropriate receptacle for some dead “nature” after it served its purpose as a human social gesture.

It’s quite a thing to be human, to have consciousness, of a sort, and to have to deduce the living earth from tracks of your own body and mind. It’s not the earth that humans see, or work with, but the effects of their working with the earth, and somehow, humbly, or with flaming pride (or, as usual, some muddle in between) humans sometimes task themselves with bridging that gap and becoming all facets of that moment at once: human and earth together. It is one solution, to be the moment of these interactions all at once, but it is, of course, not sustainable (Note: Heaven, as humanly conceived, is the deferred state of final attainment of this unity.) Humans call that art. It is a way —a path. It is not a destination, because you cannot stay there.


The Art of the Syilx, the People of this Place, Was to Make Rich Tapestries of Life

This “life” bridged human and non-human energies. It was not called Nature.

At other times, humans call art the use of the materials of the earth to intentionally create physical maps of human social and cognitive states, like this:



You could call this the tattooing of the spirit or the dancing of the leaf within the mind, but then you’d be talking like a poet, one who walks between worlds carrying material back and forth and breathing with the earth, and that’s a different way of paying attention.


The Poem Formerly Known as Harold Rhenisch Speaks

Ah, even for the poet on the edge of the human and the flame, there is a tantalizing sense of wildness that is called the earth, even within human speech. You could just as well call it life. Dylan Thomas did. He called it “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower…”


Yes, That’s Dylan Thomas Gathering Pollen on His Fused and Exploding “Poem”

Forget Freud! This is a female structure.

Whatever humans are channelling in their tracking and art making and travelling between worlds is that force. Contemporary humans often call it “wildness” or “presence,” if they don’t just give up and call it “nature”. These are just words. There’s an energy there, of course, despite that. It’s a bit of a maze, which is one reason we have art, to guide us through it in pre-verbal ways (or, in poetic terms, in ways in which the words are spirit). To define that wildness against the background of human activity, however, as is common contemporary practice, is a sure guarantee that one is not talking about wildness. At that point, one is talking about relationships and interrelationships of human power. One is talking about this:


A Linear Garden of Eden Designed for Viewing at Speed by Car

If you walk this trail it just looks so completely impoverished. It is not meant for viewing at biological speed. To do so is like standing in front of your big-screen TV with your face 2 inches from the glass.

At that distance Angelina Jolie is going to cease to be an illusion and start to be a grid, like a bee’s eye.


Angelina Jolie, Up Close



Angelina Jolie as a Pile of Yellow Glass

Art as speed, written in mathematical vectors across the living Syilx earth, is also the face of art. Here, once again:



Notice the crushed bedrock (from below the floors of ancient seas) used to decorate the sidewalk (and to keep down weeds… um, yeah, sure.)

This kind of art-making uses the same basic materials as Julie Oakes’ pile of blue glass, but rearranges them towards a different line of energy and power, one which negates the past and creates a present out of the intersection of civic regulations, Frankenstein technology, and human biological perception. (In comparison, Oakes’ pile allows for outcomes that dip into the past and into the future… each a new organization. It is a giving away, as opposed to a capitalization.) Frankensteins themselves would find this roadway artwork looking much like Oakes’ pile of blue glass does to humans: the broken shards of Frankensteins, to be built into post-Frankensteinian dreams. This, maybe…


A Home for Frankensteins? Or Just Another Frankenstein?

High country water funnelled through petroleum tubes and called “life”. Such art installations are the purpose of the road above. It is meant to convince humans to feel safe within them. It appears to work very well.

Humans are spiritual creatures. That they see themselves as practical ones is sheer hubris: a transcending of ethical and spiritual norms that leads to the state of tragedy. As an illustration of where that can lead to, here’s Satan in his moment of hubris:

800px-Paradise_Lost_12Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling from Unity to Earth (Doré’s Paradiso)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris#mediaviewer/File:Paradise_Lost_12.jpg

There are many ancient guides to hubris, most of them spiritual. They come from the ability of humans to set up a very special type of artificial human called a god, to which humans then give a large part of their cognitive ability. In other words, these guides come from a time in which humans allowed for their consciousnesses to exist outside of their biological bodies, and were comfortable with that. I should say “are”, because these guys still operate like that, although in a recognizably cynical contemporary way:


ISIS at Work in Iraq

The whole artifice of rationality was meant to be a work around against distortions such as the one above. Well, it’s a world in which humans don’t always have the above form of comfort. Societies still resisting the transformation of rationality into irrationality, as evidenced in the image above, have the university tradition and its work at deconstructing human biological motives in favour of cognitive distances, on the one hand, along with industry, which mines the earth for energy, so that humans don’t have to be mined for it (a treacherous distinction) and, on the other hand, art, poetry, and other forms of attention to tracks laid down in pure energy, and their interactions with matter. The latter attempt to manipulate the social processes within the blue glass heaps of the other two approaches. Poets and artists have been comfortable in their skins, as representing those parts of tradition that stand apart from or against exploitation, violence and power. Hardly so. The question is not how to stand apart from artificial humans but what kind of artificial humans one is going to make. The faculties of attention one uses in work at human-making goes into the humans one makes. A combined stop sign and street sign, perhaps, for organizing and regulating traffic?


(Note the shadow.)

Or an early Christian cross?


Or what? There’s no use asking “What is art?” The question is absurd. It asks “what is the abstract generalization I have made by observing human-making” by viewing particular instances of human-making. It’s like saying, “I will measure my actions by a particular class of artificial human called “reason”, in place of the old one called “God”, by creating a class of actions which are not “reasonable” but are biological, and then comparing the “reasonable” ones with the “unreasonable” ones. Well, you can have a nice philosophical debate with yourself that way, but in the end, there is, still, a seed.


It catches something unseen, called ‘wind’. While some people put it to use (or dis-use), some people keep it alive and blowing. A society that does not keep this dynamic alive will die. Rationality (or irrationality) is no defence against that.