Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Marble Of Madness


My mind,
This marble of madness
This swirling, round world of cloudy colored rock.

I hold the marble betwixt thumb and forefinger,
Aiming a slight angle at the target inside the ring.
Connect, and I’ll claim my right to all the worlds,
Miss and I’ll lose this, my only mind.


Holding still,
With this marble of madness
My mind quivers silently.

Raging on,
With the wayward ways waiting,
My decision won’t be born of meekness.

Finding this circle,
Broken and begging in a ripped asphalt square
Off the road to Westland,
Was luck of the man eating kind.

The marble is to be held,
For looseness makes your mind wander,


Marbled stone and glass,
Remembering promises,
Curling litmus sweat around the past.

Remember who I am,
For me when I do not.
Tap my shoulder
On the destined day
In this broken parking lot.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Bit More On Mumford


...from Donald L. Miller's autobiography: Lewis Mumford, A Life.

Technics and Civilization is a pioneering work in the history of technology, a book that would begin to establish Mumford as this century’s leading critic of the machine age. Along with Siegfried Giedion’s later work Mechanization Takes Command, published in America in 1948, and Abbott Payson Usher’s more narrowly focused study A History of Mechanical Inventions (1929), it created the new field of the history of technology. It is both the first full-scale study in the English language of the rise of the machine in the modern world and one of the first scholarly studies in any language to emphasize the interplay of technology and the surrounding culture. Mumford describes not simply the work of inventors and scientists but also the cultural sources and moral consequences of the breakthroughs in technology and science. He places technology squarely within the context of what he calls the social ecology.

Drawing on the latest German scholarship, Mumford analyzes the process of ideological preparation for full mechanization. Before his book appeared most English-speaking scholars placed the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century, when Watt introduced his steam engine and when machine power was applied to the production of textiles. In Munich, however, Mumford discovered a challenging new literature on the history of technology that caused him to locate the origins of the machine age as far back as the Middle Ages, when a number of cultural transformations occurred that prepared the ground for the larger technical revolution that altered all of Western culture. “Men became mechanical,” in Mumford’s words, “before they perfected complicated machines to express their new bent and interest.”

The passion for order, regularity, and regimentation appeared first in the routinized world of the medieval monastery, then spread to the army and the counting-house before it finally entered the factory. In this mental transformation the clock played a crucial role. It, not the steam engine, was the most important machine of the industrial age, an interpretation now widely accepted by historians of science and technology. The mechanical clock brought a new regularity to life, for it was not merely a means of keeping track of the hours but of synchronizing human behavior. The first primitive clocks were used in monasteries to regulate the ringing of the bells, which in turn regulated the daily movements of the monks; later, to become “as regular as clockwork” became “the bourgeois ideal.” Timekeeping also became essential to an efficiently run system of production and transportation.

With the new conception of time came a closely related concern with exact measurement; together these developments led to the emergence of what Mumford calls a new scientific picture of the world. In its urge to comprehend and control the physical world, the new science, he argues, defined as “real” only those aspects of experience that were external and repeatable, that could be studied and verified by careful experimentation. Existence was separated into units that could be “weighed, measured or counted”; all else was judged “unreal.” This denial of the organic, in Mumford’s view, allowed the West to surrender to the machine, to turn inventions and mechanical contrivances that other cultures, such as the Chinese, possessed in abundance, into what he calls “the machine.” By this term he meant not only mechanical devices but a mode of life geared to the pace of high-speed technology, and committed to the technological ideals of specialization, automation, and rationality.

For Mumford, then, the emergence of the machine was fundamentally a mental revolution, a movement from organic to mechanical thinking; this is in direct contradiction to Karl Marx, who saw technology shaping values and ideas, and no the reverse. Mumford’s refusal to see the machine as a force independent of human will and purpose explains the underlying optimism of Technics and Civilization. Rejecting all forms of technological or economic determinism, he insists that human desires, decisions, and dreams influenced the course of modern invention fully as much as invention influenced modern sensibility. Our modern machine world was a creation of human effort and will, and any thoroughgoing change would first involve a change in values and social priorities. Mumford had said this before, but from this point forward this theme became the theme of his life and art.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Bit On Mumford


-from Donald L. Miller's autobiography: Lewis Mumford, A Life.

Moreover, like Plato and Emerson, Mumford held strongly to the notion that the good life involves more than a reordering of economic and political institutions. While essential, this would have to be preceded by a transformation of the mechanistic mode of life--the psychological submission to the machine process and the power state--that had created a new personality type--bureaucratic man--in capitalist and socialist societies. Mumford called for a complete transformation of the consciousness of industrial man, the creation of a "new humanism," an organic mode of thinking and acting that recognizes "the inner and the outer, the subjective and the objective, the world known to personal intuition and that described by science [as] a single experience." While some radicals expected such a value change to occur after the revolution, for Mumford, this value change was the revolution.

The place to begin this process of cultural change, Mumford declared, was not with the nation, an artificial creation of statesmen and politicians, but with the geographic region, an area possessing a common climate, natural environment, and culture. He urged his fellow reconstructionists to begin by thinking small. Avoid sweeping national crusades for change and start immediately in your own region and locale to lay the basis for the renewal of life, he advised, just as Geddes had done in Edinburgh.

Mumford saw Patrick Geddes's civic survey method--a detailed, firsthand diagnosis of a region's natural and human resources--as the starting point and foundation for all regional reconstruction efforts. The outstanding feature of Geddes's sociological method, in his view, was its union of "concreteness and synthesis." The solid foundation of "localized" knowledge that would emerge from the survey was precisely what he found absent from most radical and utopian schemes, "paper programs for the reconstruction of a paper world." But in synthesizing the work of a number of regional investigators from a variety of fields and professions, the survey avoided as well the narrow compartmentalization of knowledge and the restricted vision that characterized specialist studies. Geddes had pioneered a sociology that combined theory and action, detailed field research and daring synthesis. In his own way, he had outdone Marx.

More than Geddes, however, Mumford emphasized the role of the creative artist in the process of social transformation. Attracted to both sociology and literature, he described a role for the insurgent intellectual that perfectly embodied his twin interests. A systematic sociology, Geddes had taught him, must be linked to a vision of the good life; and in The Story of Utopias Mumford declared it the responsibility of the artists to suggest this. They would be responsible for the first, the most important step in any general reform--the reconstruction of our inner world--by suggesting images of a more balanced, spiritually satisfying life. These could then be woven into the plans of the regional surveyors, whose job it would be to recommend social programs for each of the various regions of the country.

Unlike the Utopians he wrote about, Mumford was not driven by the dream of social perfection. The world would never be swept clean of evil and injustice, so rather than trying to imagine an impossible "no-place" where all was well the modern reformer should concentrate on the practical task of building Eutopia, the best place possible.

Mumford possessed no natural instincts or abilities for politics, nor did he consider political change important at the moment. "Our most important task at the present moment is to build castles in the air."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Crisscrossing Floods


Xmas Flood

Tides roll across my body,
Like suns fighting over the void of space.

The lies that made me
Have ripened into truth.

A mother’s child forgets her not at all,
This child’s mother forgets him not at all.

So what metaphor should I lay on you now?

Cause we’re not here for the weather report,
Or to read aloud the phone book,
Though we all do rage with the seas below us,
And above us.

We feel what’s yet so far out to sea.

With so many names listed within our hearts,
We have nearly forgotten our own,
And in owning our names,
We cease to Be,
Named Eve or Adam or Spartan
Or Bush or Clayton or Wilber,
For we are all special.

Barnyard animals still finding our feet in the straw
As, the first grasping adventurous,
The first needy land walking fish did.

We look down and ponder
What is this gift of mobility,
In our hearts,
In our lives,
This Strange ponderous Nature upon Earth
That throws us as surely as we throw ourselves
Upon the shifting beach,
The shifting wet water filling sands of life.

And believe me,
It is all one big pun
On the name, the sound, and accident
Of God.

So the tides flood,
Give seasonal push, off season.

We feel a time and place that is not our own,
And mourn the loss of that which we never had.

This is the curse and Fury of imagination and Eyes.

Streetlight Fearless,
Low inside the life of Light.

Change the bulb,
Change you and me,
It’s in your closet.

And believe me,
I don’t know what to say.

Grab hold of the Main.
Ride this horse the same way.

I love you.

I know it’s true even if so far away,
In space and time.

I’m seeking the Superluminal stride,
Between the Tides with you.


“The sound of the faces in the crowd.”


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Keeping An Eye On Steorn

...from somewhere in the back of my SciFi saturated brain,
the plot-detail of the Free Energy Revolution centering in Dublin
seems to make sense...

(maybe the Irish will take over the world after all?)

...continuing the eye's cast upon...


Steorn Finalizes Contracts with Validation Jury

"Twelve qualified scientists have signed contracts to design a test procedure to properly analyze the free energy technology of Steorn, then report the results, laying to rest the controversy."