Texanah

in the North where
the beauty wears magnificent trees
and glacial rock sculptures
they still have to borrow sky
from Texas, Texas is nine parts sky
and blanketing above, that
cloud-boil, above the cities too
where the deer trails are paved
is not a place, not kept, not held, no vault
an Olympic tangle of mind and air
roads chalkline straight
tide pools French-curve shallow
horizon a dazzling shaft of lightsaber
and skylight so thick
you could build a house on it
and think about retiring

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Occult

A dream world, where money is thought to be real and intelligence is the artifice of enmeshed gears having turned, is now fully realized within the vacuum of the cloud by machines incapable of wondering exactly what happens to you when you die.”

The meaning of death is that you can’t think your way through it, and meaning is something always arrived at by thinking. So it’s kind of confounding, a paradox, and a bit frightening because we depend on thinking to get through everything. And yet, some of us want machines to think through things for us in a kind of dereliction of duty, a kind of meta-mistake where we shift responsibility for increasingly important, mission critical activities to a churning host of algorithms which we think can’t make mistakes. If that is an extension of our own thinking (the one place in the universe where mistakes can happen) then it isn’t necessarily bad, but it must share space within the same confines.

“I think, therefore AI.”

Thinking likes knowledge, the accumulation of correlated things, but wisdom just wants to see clearly. Wisdom has no bonafides, it shuns accomplishment. It sheds credentials the way a snake sheds skin. You see clearly. The material which appears when the light shines, it appears to the wisdom in you. If you want to reflect upon it afterward there’s nothing wrong with that, unless that thinking supplants the view. And that is what thinking tends to do. It is sometimes called reflection because thoughts can become the cause of more thoughts, leaving us even more removed from the glimpses of wisdom which are endlessly obscured by that wall where the pride of intellect displays all its trophies. In this sense, the material world, the world we embrace through thought, becomes the occult. And AI is just one of the many monsters hiding in its darkness.


Update 20170925 – Aside from my dark ramblings about death and the forces which obscure wisdom, this:

“Should Zuckerberg or Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey be summoned to Congress and peppered with questions about the inner workings of their companies, they may well be ill-equipped to answer them. Because while they might be in control of the broader operations of their respective companies, they do not appear to be fully in control of the automated algorithmic systems calibrated to drive engagement on Facebook and Twitter.

And they have demonstrably proven that they lacked the foresight to imagine and understand the now clear real-world repercussions of those systems — fake news, propaganda, and dark targeted advertising linked to foreign interference in a US presidential election.”

(emphasis added)

Also, the irony of having to have a Facebook account to comment on this article.

Harvey

they express to us often
our customers, that their relationship
to books is sacred

and I don’t push my view
that it is the right to publish
and read freely that is sacred

it’s their business
if they want to practice idolatry
or view their shelves as altars

the books themselves are
no more durable than the
knuckle skin

of a man heaving soaking
wet books by the boxfull
into a dumpster

but, we do understand
these bound signatures are
in fact the medium

of something more potent
than mere talk, or knowledge
that has never been shared

and not just objects
to be bought and sold
by jaded, heartless merchants


I work at the used book store in Galveston, Texas, where our neighbors on the mainland to the North have been flooded catastrophically by a week of unrelenting, unimaginable rain. We got enough water in the store to ruin some of our used stock, and were back up and running a day later. Can’t stop thinking about our big sister Houston, and her suffering right now.

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

Sunday Brunch

Last Sunday, at the east end of Galveston Island, a diverse gathering of waders convene in one of the Apffel flats retention ponds, enjoying brunch, feeding casually like at a banquet where you’ve rented the hall and are in no hurry to leave. The egret appears to be the leader but I’m guessing she would just as soon be fishing on her own. The stilts and the ibis do seem a bit cliquish but it is heartening, isn’t it, to see different varieties commingling and at peace. The brown ibis are immatures, ready to molt into adult plumage in a few months. Continue reading “Sunday Brunch”