Monday, October 22, 2007

Buddhism via Backroads

Thoughts from my little black book:

Well now aren't we scaring ourselves?
Aren't we trying to hard?
Look no further,
It's in our hands.
It always was.
There will be no search party for us.
No black ribbons tied on antennas.
No one's going to stop traffic for us.
When we're gone, we're gone,
You know it's simple as that.
So Many Dynamos
You are the only light there is
For yourself my friend.
Gogol Bordello

To some Christians, taking responsibility for anything is seen as a sort of foolish pride; that you are somehow not resting in God or trusting him. Doing their best to trust God, they go reflect on God's purpose for their life specifically and find themselves at a standstill — unable to initiate independently, and without divine direction.

One response, from the Christian perspective, is to accept your "purpose" as something much more general — something that applies to everyone, along the lines "love God, and your neighbor as yourself".

There's another perspective. It acknowledges the expanse of all that exists, and our minuscule representation within it. If you look at the stars, or the oceans, or mountains, you see how little consequence we have on the majority of reality. Most things are indifferent to us; they have their own path and logic that refuses to mirror our own.

We may melt glaciers, but the oceans will only rise. In some time a new equilibrium will come. We're like bubbles rising from boiling water, or subatomic particles emerging from the vacuum — temporary discontinuities. We have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. Our very nature is that of impermanence, and the only response to this is an overwhelming peace.

No fear, no hope, just peace — and this discontinuity.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Alternative

Wikipedia lists possible reasons for writing a suicide note as:

  • To ease the pain of survivors by attempting to dissipate guilt
  • To increase the pain of survivors by attempting to create guilt
  • To set out the reason for suicide
  • To gain sympathy or attention
  • To give instructions as to disposition of remains

A particularly interesting suicide note comes from Christine Chubbuck, a news anchor who prepared a press release for her suicide before shooting herself on air.

In this vein, I would like to prepare a press release describing my decision to live. Not permanently of course, as I may change my mind at any moment, but for the moment it was written. The title would be something like "Local Student Commits Unsuicide".

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trading Secrets

At two (or more) sites, a small booth containing a computer terminal is prepared. Participants are invited to enter the booth and share a secret. Once they leave the space, they see a secret projected onto the booth — but not theirs. It is a secret typed by a participant at the other location. But onlookers do not know this, and associate the label with the person who last entered the booth.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Climate Control

Bart Woodstrup, an MFA student at RPI, is currently showing "a series of climate-interactive electronic installations and eco-visualizations intended to address the personal detachment felt towards global climate change." (iEAR Presents)

A "manual" for the installation describes some of the transformations ("data interpretations"): "Power: plant height and rate of growth; Irradiance: sun/cloud/moon animation; Ambient Temperature: leaf color and brightness; Module Temperature: flower head hue and saturation; Timescale: 1:1,800 seconds".