I am intrigued by the sense that culture itself has a wild edge. As Claude Levi-Strauss remarked years ago, the arts are the wilderness areas of the imagination surviving, like national parks, in the midst of civilized minds.

This is a quote, tweeted by a Gary Snyder Quotes Account, from the book The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder, published in 1990.

Wilderness of nature and wilderness of culture. Wilderness outside and wilderness inside. I believe we need both to flourish. Some people are uncomfortable with wilderness of nature or of culture, but they also reap the rewards of it. One example of that is the amount of medicine found in the wild corners of the shrinking Amazon forest. In terms of music think of how much bass playing was changed by the wild Jaco Pastorius or guitar playing by Jimi Hendrix. When they first exploded onto the scene there may have been many who didn’t like it, but now there is hardly a bassist or guitarist who was not influenced by them.

I think this dovetails nicely with my old Spinning circles image of culture.

In the fringe is where everything exciting happens, never in the center. Cultures are like spinning circles. In the center they don’t move very much, that’s where the traditionalists live, the conservatives. Towards the rim is where the action is, that’s where the artists hang out. Life is a little more out of balance there sometimes and the spinning can make you dizzy there. What is most exciting is that many of the culture circles overlap and if you can stay in a spot where several things overlap you can find new clouds of ideas. Ideas are not bound to any individual, there are bound to a time. Many people in that spot will come up with similar ideas. Sometimes this cloud of ideas forms a new circle and the center of it hardens and becomes a new tradition. The longer it can remain liquid the more alive it will remain. Life is change.

Rant #5


Yesterday, I dropped my car off for an oil change before 08:00 and since I don’t like sitting in a room with a blaring TV (((why do car dealers always have a TV set on stun in their waiting rooms?))) I walked to the Treehouse for breakfast. At 10:00 I got together with Michael Chavez, who arrived on his BMX bike, for a fun hour of Bulerias-playing in my studio. After Michael left I enjoyed a few hours of guitar playing – I started playing the 2002 Negra for the solo performances in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and it was like visiting an old friend – and a few hours of work on the slideshow, which I think is coming along well. Here are a couple of new clips:

Today, I woke up to heavy rain. No leaks in the house, outside everything was glistening, and the trees were reaching toward the sky. Amazing how much growth piñons can produce after a rain!

First movie premier on YouTube:
Home by Yann Arthus Bertrand. You can watch it for free on YouTube until June 14th.

This sounds great!! Can’t wait to see it myself:

Inhabitat » New York’s High Line Park in the Sky Opens Today!
An elevated park in the sky built on top of the skeleton of an old rail system? It may have sounded impossible only five years ago, but today, the eagerly awaited High Line elevated urban park officially opens for thousands of New Yorkers looking to escape the hubbub of the city below!

File under education, culture and future:

Slashdot News Story | China Dominates In NSA-Backed Coding Contest
“With about 4,200 people participating in a US National Security Agency-supported international competition on everything from writing algorithms to designing components, 20 of the 70 finalists were from China, 10 from Russia, and 2 from the US. China’s showing in the finals was helped by its large number of entrants, 894. India followed at 705, but none of its programmers was a finalist. Russia had 380 participants; the United States, 234; Poland, 214; Egypt, 145; and Ukraine, 128. Participants in the TopCoder Open was open to anyone, from student to professional; the contest proceeded through rounds of elimination that finished this month in Las Vegas. Rob Hughes, president and COO of TopCoder, says the strong finish by programmers from China, Russia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere is indicative of the importance those countries put on mathematics and science education. ‘We do the same thing with athletics here that they do with mathematics and science there.'”

That last sentence is funny/true enough, but along came this commenter who put it in perspective:

Slashdot News Story | China Dominates In NSA-Backed Coding Contest
What’s worse, the quote isn’t even true.
We don’t do the same thing with athletics here as they do with math and science over there. In fact, they do the same thing with athletics as they do with math and science.
That is, they consider athletics to be important and encourage every child to participate in at least one sport.
We, on the other hand, idolize a very small number of top achievers and encourage every child to watch them on TV.

Why don’t they get it?

You know that I am all about pushing bikes and cycling, but why do some people take such a narrow view of things? Take the post below, at Copenhagenize.com, for example. Not everyone who doesn’t ride a bike is fat or lazy. My dad, who contemplated buying a Segway in his late Eighties, would have loved this machine. He could have used it instead of a car for most of his daily errands. Because a knee was failing him when he was 91, he had to drive a car to the grocery store that was about a mile from his apartment. I am perfectly able-bodied to use a bicycle, but this GM/Segway product pictured is fantastic for the elderly and people with a physical handicap. Come of your high horse bicycle advocates. I’d rather see people use these great little vehicles, which are electric and don’t take up a lot of space, than tool around in an SUV. I imagine a bicyclist coming together with this vehicle stands a bigger chance of surviving that when s/he gets hit by an SUV.

William added this piece from an article, asking the question: “Haven’t they heard of bicycles?!”

General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway Inc., maker of the upright, self-balancing scooters, to build a new type of two-wheeled vehicle designed to move easily through congested urban streets. The machine, which GM says it aims to develop by 2012, would run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate cities.

Funny… I’ve been moving easily through congested urban streets for years, in cities all around the world, on a bicycle. And by the looks of that machine, I’ll stick to my bicycle. Although fat, lazy people will probably love it.
(Via Copenhagenize.com – The Copenhagen Bike Culture Blog)

We can do better

What Bruce Sterling Actually Said About Web 2.0 at Webstock 09 | Beyond the Beyond from Wired.com
But you know, I’m not scared by any of this. I regret the suffering, I know it’s big trouble — but it promises massive change and a massive change was inevitable. The way we ran the world was wrong.

I’ve never seen so much panic around me, but panic is the last thing on my mind. My mood is eager impatience. I want to see our best, most creative, best-intentioned people in world society directly attacking our worst problems. I’m bored with the deceit. I’m tired of obscurantism and cover-ups. I’m disgusted with cynical spin and the culture war for profit. I’m up to here with phony baloney market fundamentalism. I despise a prostituted society where we put a dollar sign in front of our eyes so we could run straight into the ditch.

The cure for panic is action. Coherent action is great; for a scatterbrained web society, that may be a bit much to ask. Well, any action is better than whining. We can do better.

Inspiring, I think. Works better for me than this collection of 40 inspirational speeches.