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... read David Levy's lucid and interesting paper about how busy and fast life is getting as technology speeds us up. He quotes interestingly and at length Vanaver Bush and Josef Pieper. Bush, famous for inventing most of the conceptual framework that underlies modern computing, was actually most important as a science administrator, an early head of the National Science Foundation. Bush foresaw the explosion of information, that it would make useful knowledge and creative thinking less rather than more possible, and saw computing as a way of processing the more mechanical aspects of thinking, so that creativity could be freed up against the onslaught of too much data. But — at least on the everyday level for the ordinary person — it hasn't worked out this way. There is less rather than more time to think. More distraction, information overload. Pieper, a German Catholic theologian (who sounds a lot like Heidegger in his deeply skeptical view of science and technology, modernism in general) argues after the World War II German defeat that Western Civilization needs a new way out of the blind alley of materialism/rationality, into an opening of spirit.

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Train rolls by fields. Hay ricks (is that it, “ricks”?) very shiny in the sun, some sort of skin on them reflecting strong light. Cylindrical, in yellow cut fields. And much corn in flower in fields as we pass. Neat stands of dark green trees, seem to be (I imagine them to be) poplars. Some suburban houses, but either modeled architecturally on farm houses, or built in square blocks of apartments, so don’t seem suburban in the American sense. Like the square multiple dwellings in old Italian cities. All seemingly more reasonable, more appropriate to “dwelling” (in the sense Heidegger uses this word in the essay I just read, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking”) than American “ranch” houses, or the modified castles of suburban developments there, both seeking to dominate the landscape, or ignore it entirely. But houses at Muir Beach are nicer than this, meant to be lonely expressions of sea-inspired landscapes…

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Reading a bit more Heidegger, "On the Origin of the Work of Art." Surprising how simple and straightforward it is (compared to my memory of reading "Being and Time" years ago, which seemed so impossible). Like Stein. Like some of the theory I write: just start from first principles, like an idiot, and think "What is it?" and see what it is, what you think it is, what thinking suggests to you. So Heidegger writes, well art must be what produces artists and art works (which produce each other) and of course there's no "art" to be found outside artists and art works so it's a circle, it can't be sensible. When we think about art we revolve in that circle. Then he says, "Well all arts works are things, though we know they're more than mere things, but to appreciate the difference between an art-thing and a regular thing we have to think, ‘what is a thing?'" Which he goes on to do for many more pages. Images: what's an image? This is the age of the image, a billion images. Am I an image to myself?

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“If, on the contrary, man’s personality (or, I guess this means personhood) is not acknowledged to be something wholly and entirely real, then right and justice cannot possibly be established.” - Josef Pieper “On Justice” p 20.

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I will read through the poem sometime when the television is not on. Right now Dominique is listening to Segolene Royale trying to save her chances to be president of France. She's not doing too well. I read the first part of I Was Blown Back and was impressed by several of the poems. When I write about your poetry I should make a list and say this one and that one, but when I read them, they go by and when a poem strikes me very deeply I read it again and go on to the next one. Sometimes I find it again when I start reading from the beginning. You have a rather strong sense of irony, even disappointment in the way things are and how we go on with it.

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March 28, 2007

Mar 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, Myogen Steve Stucky was installed as abbot of Zen Center in the Mountain Seat Ceremony. Feb 24 Jiko Linda Cutts stepped down. I was supposed to have attended that ceremony and spoken but it was Kathie's birthday, (our son) Noah and (his girlfriend) Ann were visiting, so we all went wine tasting instead. I didn't realize they were expecting me. Some kind of communication glitch. Many people afterward told me they missed me, were worried about me, where was I, it was embarrassing etc. But I did manage to go, as planned, to the Mountain Seat Ceremony next day. As a former abbot I had, with Blanche Hartman, Mel Weitsman, Linda, and Paul Haller, (the sitting abbot), a special seat on a ceremonial chair.

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New Abbot at SFZC

Mar 03, 2007

Sunday, February 25, Myogen Steve Stucky was installed as abbot of Zen Center in the Mountain Seat Ceremony. Feb 24 Jiko Linda Cutts stepped down. I was supposed to have attended that ceremony and spoken but it was Kathie’s birthday, (our son) Noah and (his girlfriend) Ann were visiting, so we all went wine tasting instead. I didn’t realize they were expecting me. Some kind of communication glitch. Many people afterward told me they missed me, were worried about me, where was I, it was embarrassing etc. But I did manage to go, as planned, to the Mountain Seat Ceremony next day. As a former abbot I had, with Blanche Hartman, Mel Weitsman, Linda, and Paul Haller, (the sitting abbot), a special seat on a ceremonial chair. Wearing my fanciest robes, holding my red, silver, and gold Japanese fan. Hoitsu and Akiba were also there, with their fans, up on their fancy chairs, representing Japan. Zen Center’s Buddha Hall, which years ago seemed such a large room, containing universes, is actually quite small. Most of those attending the ceremony had to watch from the dining room, on closed circuit television. So I was fortunate to have a front row seat. I somehow did not notice the video camera.

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Muir Beach

Mar 01, 2007

I will read through the poem sometime when the television is not on. Right now Dominique is listening to Segolene Royale trying to save her chances to be president of France. She’s not doing too well. I read the first part of I Was Blown Back and was impressed by several of the poems. When I write about your poetry I should make a list and say this one and that one, but when I read them, they go by and when a poem strikes me very deeply I read it again and go on to the next one. Sometimes I find it again when I start reading from the beginning. You have a rather strong sense of irony, even disappointment in the way things are and how we go on with it.

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Went to the new Modern (where I saw Koons’ famous, but really not so terribly impressive, three basketballs suspended in water in a glass case). What an odd experience! The whole perplexing lunacy of what art is, or what anyone thinks it is. On display in this new, outrageously expensive, post-modern space, open so that in one room you can see many other rooms and on one floor many other floors (as if, acknowledging there’s no landscape-gazing in New York, so the mind’s confined, one’s got to create – it begins to make sense in the logic of New York space and mind – indoor landscapes, heroic indoor views) the great works of Modernism, the ground-breaking works, the ones you see in all the art history textbooks.

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March 13, 2007

Jan 10, 2007

Went to the new Modern (where I saw Koons' famous, but really not so terribly impressive, three basketballs suspended in water in a glass case). What an odd experience! The whole perplexing lunacy of what art is, or what anyone thinks it is. On display in this new, outrageously expensive, post-modern space, open so that in one room you can see many other rooms and on one floor many other floors (as if, acknowledging there's no landscape-gazing in New York, so the mind's confined, one's got to create — it begins to make sense in the logic of New York space and mind — indoor landscapes, heroic indoor views) the great works of Modernism, the ground-breaking works, the ones you see in all the art history textbooks. The Picassos, the Braques, the Matisses. The Pollacks, de Koonings, Rothkos, etc.

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