So let’s see. What’s happened since last I daylogged over a month ago?

Well, I applied for a Guggenheim a couple days ago, which really ain’t much more than an elitist liberal arts version of a scratch-n-win. Still, you gotta play to win, right? I’ve applied twice before, both times with what I thought were strong projects, but as my Pulitzer Prize-winning, former Guggenheim fellow friend reminded me, they’re not so much impressed by the quality of your project as that of your curriculum vitae. Grant givers invariably care more about the cachet an artist or researcher can bring to them, rather than vice versa. And really, can you blame them? I put my chances at somewhere around one in a hundred. Much better than the Lotto.

Found out yesterday that a job I was up for, executive assistant to an info systems VP at a large bank with a growing national presence, went instead to the woman that was temping at the desk already. Even though I interviewed three times, I’m still not all that bent about it. I understand going with a known quantity over an unknown one, and I’ve been on the other side of that equation as well so... back to the hunt I guess. The job market’s grim here in Seattle, even grimmer than elsewhere.

I’ve continued to node my play Louis Slotin Sonata, though that’s been a somewhat thankless labor of love. Lately, I’ve been adding side notes, telling little stories about the play’s development and production, but to little avail, rep-wise. By and large, I think folks are pretty bored by plays here. And I can’t say as I blame them, really. Plays are meant to be seen not read. Still, it gives me some sense of satisfaction that when I’m done noding it the play will live on here, if only a half-life (pun intended).

A few weeks ago I finally received the first payment on my commission to write another science play. All right already, why am I being so cagey? They want me to write a play about the human genome and the race to sequence it. Maybe someone out there has something personal they want to share on the subject. I welcome all comers. Obviously, at first I was more than a little daunted by the scope and unique challenges of staging something about this, but I think I have nifty handle on it now. And I’ll remain cagey on that point until I get at least a first draft written.

As for the TV pilot I wrote, since I sent it down to my producer/friend in LA over a month ago, and he, in turn, sent in on to our one solid lead, an actor who starred on a popular show on Fox in the 90’s and said star had not replied at all., I was convinced it had died the death of rag doll; but low and behold I hear back from my producer/friend that 90’s star couldn’t open the pdf that we sent to him, so producer/friend is gonna drive over to 90’s star's house (mansion?) and hand deliver it. So you’ll know when I know (or at least within a month or so).

Had a birthday. I’m... well... let’s just say kindly say mid-thirties and leave it at that.

Oh yeah, and my dad died. Glibness aside, it really does feel like an aside sometimes, coming to mind only after I’ve ploughed through all the more mundane junk that fills up life. To be completely accurate, he was my step-father, but considering that my biological father died before I was born and that this guy married my mother when I was about three, he’s the only father I’ve ever known. He was a mild menace to us kids most of the time I was growing up, though his real enemy was himself, overeating, over-smoking, and definitely over-drinking in petulant defiance of his many ailments: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, chronic back problems. In the final years, we step-siblings began to crack wise on how many ways he was dying. They took one foot, then the other; then the rest of one leg up to the knee, then the other. He had colon cancer, then lung cancer, with mild heart attacks sprinkled through it all along the way. My brother liked to say that the Maryland mountain stock my step-dad came from were “the Michael Jordans of living”, the champions of surviving on through terrible illness after terrible illness when our own Philadelphia shanty Irish breed seems to die if the wind blows too hard. My sister used to say that if she ever finally got the call saying the old man had passed, she’d reply: “Are you sure? Go poke him with a stick to be safe.” Of course, when the time actually did come, we all realized what a huge piece of us he was, for better or worse, and were more than just a little bit shattered. Every death takes a hunk out of you. Another part that has gone somewhere you can’t follow. Until . . . Anyway, Godspeed old man! You were better than most, you taught me to love baseball on the radio, and I’ll miss you.

Carrying a camera changes everything.

By morning I'm the web designer for the construction office at my university. About twice a month I take the office golf cart out on campus along with the trusty digital camera to take pictures of new construction projects in progress. Most of the time I take pictures of a building's skeleton: framework, girders, and cranes hoisting things into the air. When a building is complete and ready for use I go inside and walk the halls to take pictures of finished hallways, offices, classrooms, and other facilities. I dress in my casual street clothes - jeans, collared pullover shirt, sneakers - and present myself as a friendly guy just out doing his job. My interest is structural, not personal. And yet people always freak out when they see me coming down the hall with my camera.

October 2002

I was sent out to the Greek Park section of campus (which houses all the fraternity and sorority houses on campus) to take pictures of the existing houses for an animated map I was creating. The idea was to click on the overhead map and see a picture of the house as well as its vital details (age, size, etc.). So there I am at 9:30am walking from yard to yard with my camera and taking pictures of the various houses. Due to the hard partying that goes on in these houses overnight, the residents were just beginning to stir at this time of day. It occured to me that I was a 22 year old male student with a zoom-lense-enabled camera taking pictures of the sorority houses with the big windows with no curtains during the time of day when the ladies therein are just getting up and getting dressed. I finished my photo project and took off back to the office before some half-naked girl by a window called the police to report a camera-toting pervert.

August 2003

The new sports complex had just opened for habitation and I drove the golf cart to the north end of campus to take some pictures of the interior of the building. I was taking some nice shots of the hallways when a nebbish middle-aged man approached me and, putting on his best "tough guy" act, asked me just what I thought I was doing. I explained who I was and why I was there and he told me to carry on, although I did notice him discreetly tailing me all the way through the building. He eventually lost interest, thankfully. Before long I came to the last room in the building: the weight room. Imagine a gymnasium-sized room with high ceilings and full of exercise equipment and you'll have a good idea of the place I was about to enter. I had my hand on the door handle when I looked through the window and saw who was inside: the female athletic teams were working out in their skimpy athletic wear, and here I was about to go inside with a camera in my hand. Convinced there was some downside to being beaten down by one hundred scantily-clad women that I wasn't seeing, I decided not to go inside and vowed to return another day.

September 2003

On this particular day I took a ride out to the new teaching academy building to take pictures of the inside of the about-to-open complex. Actually it was already open unoffically, as about a dozen students were milling around checking the place out and about three classrooms were in use. A number of office staff were also in the process of setting up shop. The first room I went to photograph was a playroom-type area for upcoming elementary school teachers to work with little children. I'm snapping pictures when a staffer comes in and asks the questions I'm so familiar with: who am I and what am I doing there. I explain all of this and she tells me that I really should speak with the woman in charge of the building, because the building isn't ready to be seen yet and I really shouldn't be taking pictures like this. Well 1) I'm looking for pictures of the unfinished sections and 2) if it's not ready, then why are all these people in here? There were no easy answers, so I went on about my photographing. As I moved through the four story building I found that everyone I encountered became very anxious whenever I raised my camera. People would shove whatever they were doing into a cabinet, drawer, or backpack. They close doors and scurry into restrooms. I eventually encountered the building manager who wanted to spruce up the conference room before I took the picture, and even still she wouldn't let me near it if it wasn't organized to her satisfaction. There were still other places she insisted I not go because they were "too messy" - in short, storing things that she didn't want seen by the public.

It's occured to me that people fear being caught on camera doing something they feel they shouldn't be doing. These things look pretty mundane to me: reading, writing, or the act of just being in the room. I try to crop the people from my pictures anyways, but even when I'm not pointing a camera in someone's direction, they run off. Since they fear being seen doing things on film, I know what to say when they ask me why I'm in the building with a camera...

I've come to capture your sins.

{on watching the California Gubernational 2003 Recall Debates}

I don't watch a lot of television. In some ways, it's like an alcoholic avoiding bars. I know there is something inside my television. A world that lazily kreeps and transforms into a key, opening a door into my childhood passion: Nick at Night, trashy movies, and wild life documentaries.

Tonight I saw the best thing since Most Extreme Challenge. I saw candidates arguing and interjecting their thoughts. The bronze big man slurry stuttering his words and spitting them over the others. And then, this rider coming out of myst. His words struck like thunder, I felt emotional all over, and I wanted him to take California back.

I left California almost two years ago and moved on up here to Portland, OR, not really knowing what muse I was following, but it was green mist. I wanted the trees, the fog, the rain —and maybe I even like the moss best. But I'm still a Californian, and in some ways I feel more invested in interest in it than when I had still lived there. I left for a number of reasons from San Francisco. My entire life felt like this heavy clamp, metallic tasting and suffocating was surrounding me. Homeless everywhere. Living costs: incredible. In some ways I was looking for somehow to have a place to run away from all that to. There was an insanity inside of me.

I'll probably go back there some day. As I get older, and I think more about what may be happening in my life, I know I'm on some kind of trajectory. Unless chaos herself comes down from the clouds, or up from the earth, or just squeezing into reality through the very atoms of existence! There was a life I once thought I was going to get to live. And then I got lazy. Complacent. Emotionally distant, mindwarp crumbling. Hopes abandoned, and the words stop coming through my fingers.

But the debate, is something different. I wandered. I felt moved when I heard him speak.

I want my              back.

And then, I knew that I had someone to confide in, because I wouldn't have to tell him anything.

On one of my lists, a small apology rolled sideways and dropped itself into the water. I didn't know how it started. It was a list long forgotten, with hazy names and cloudy memories drifting through the air, curling, unfolding. One by one I saw the ripple move out, riding on 'OMGs' and subdued gray on profiles, so indirect and faint. I didn't know, I wouldn't know, you know? Another shot in the dark, another one bites the dust. Summed up nicely in a eulogy, compact enough to take up less ground space, for the hordes to come, but would they have enough money to pay?.

She was a memory, floating in the dust in particles waiting to be caught with a beer glass, upside-down over the table watching its tail light up greenish-yellow. At night, lights would dance here and there, a ball of branches stretching out, bouncing vulnerably against the glass, hitting its head in limited exasperation.

I asked him, and he couldn't find it, and he asked me whether they were a local band. I told him that they were pretty well known, but sorta Indie, and that most stores wouldn't have it. After I set that off, I could see him churning underneath his Newbury Comics shirt, and behind him rode waves and lines of music and lives compressed onto flat disks. I left the store, and it blew up behind me but I wasn't sure because I didn't look behind. All I felt was the shockwave muffled underneath the roar of the engine. Compression seems to be the hot new thing lately. So is depression.

And so the sky was blue, and the clouds were purple, lit up underneath by burning cities and dying people that made them fire-orange and blood-red, alien beings in the sky, about to land but not yet, hanging in space and drifting lazily. I smiled at the person next to me because my necklace had lost its owner, and I was his reincarnation. Sunsets shouldn't be this beautiful every day.

I was down, and someone dragged me out into the cold air and revived me with fifteen jabs to the chest and two french-kisses. The cold meant that it hurt, not enough to get frostbite, so I was standing in the middle of Harvard Square listening to old music for old times' sake and trying to hide my freshness with a cloak that I swirled around myself and fastened tightly so that nothing could leak out. The thing that disgusted me at that lunch table was the fact that she was talking on the surface like light and delicate water-striders that skim upon the surface without ever seeing the absence of light underneath, and nothing else. It saddened me and I had to turn away and into one of my cups of iced tea and I thought no-one noticed but someone saw me and asked me how the new soup was and I excused myself and ran away dripping.

Sometimes those hills are so hard to climb, sometimes today will be excellent and superb and perfect, and the next day will be the bottom of the bottom, the edge of the world before your ship tips forward and you see everything revealed in an instant before you plummet forever in Zee-Row-G. Terse and cold jabs to the bone that vibrate and chill and my muscles tense up and firm corners of mouths and hard chiseled eyes make their eye contact before spitting out lives on the ground and grinding them in with the heel of a shoe. "It's a bug eat bug world out there", says the spider to the fly and the joker to the thief. Irony swims its way through text, uphill between lines and under the text like a submarine pulsing gently probing questioningly with wide open eyes wrapping a fierce inborn cruelty within welcoming outstretched arms and a warm heart.

Exoskeletons tend to crush the things within, but it's convenient since brown juice doesn't get all over everywhere but is instead contained within the unmoving body of the dead. A paper towel in the trashcan and all is solved, and nobody has to worry about formal things like WhoWillTakeOutTheTrash or HowWillWePunishHim, so that the powers that be may dive down and peck at small fledglings without hindrance. I'm sleepy, but I can't sleep. I will never call again, again.

Silhouettes of people lined across the sky conjure images of misunderstandings and quaint misinterpretions that follow images like the dull disturbing probings of gentle and lumbering giants overhead who cannot understand. Small things, like requests that ask of the impossible or latex applied like makeup, except portable without the need of a compact. The late-night requests that stretch me out without anything to put me back, and when the knob turns my head turns and flashes in expectant euphoria and happiness.

The more I start to sink, the more water I push out of the way.

A hybrid of fiction and daylog, because this is how I see.

Welcome to the Terrordrome

So, finally, I have come in from the cold. I have stepped into heaven itself, the motherlode, the epicenter of the thing itself, and I have been paralysed. I find that now that I have access to the full system, I know nothing.

Now I wander the nodes of everything, an empty shadow of the man I once was, every few minutes rushing to node the unnoded, only to find it analysed, described, projected and deconstructed beyond my imaginings, even. Where I find lacunae, my heart races, my breath quickens, and only then do I realise that I don't know enough to fill in the gap.

For a while I shall remain, until I fade away.

It also appears that having purchased an "Italian" copy of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" a couple of weeks back to have something to fuel learning-by-translating of Italian, that I have in fact purchased a Portuguese copy, a fact immediately and painfully obvious in the first moment that I sat down in the barber's shop with my brain turned on and gazed at the title "Harry Potter e o Prisoneiro de Azkaban", the lack of z's and the over-use of cidillas in the rest of the text. The clincher was publication in Lisboa. 16 times.

I'm infinitely impressed by the mozex plugin for Mozilla, which has finally granted me the power I've always wanted most from a web browser: the ability to edit a textarea field in a web page using a reasonable editor like vi instead of the piece of shit browsers always ship with.

It's been over a month now since we moved into our new house. I expected the exciting, new feeling of the place to wear off quickly, but really, it hasn't yet. It's sort of blended into a comfortable feeling more than an outright twitch inducing thrill now, but it's still amazing to me that this place is really mine.

It takes time for certain things to really sink in. Moving into your first house brings on a lot of these, and they're just now starting to hit me.

It really is my "home." It's not just some apartment unit in a building I don't own surrounded on all sides by other unrelated people who don't know or care about me in the slightest. There aren't hundreds of other households immediately surrounding me full of disgruntled, angry humans struggling to make ends meet.

It's not "my parents' house" either. Although my wife lifes here with me and it's hers as much as it's mine, we are the only two people here. Nobody to scold me for playing music too loud. Nobody to send me to my room. The whole damned building belongs to me, and I can drill holes anywhere I want to, paint the walls whatever butt-ugly colors I want to, and if I really feel like it, I can jump on the bed without disturbing anyone (well, assuming my wife isn't sleeping in it at the time).

It feels "right", where apartments never did. Sure, I usually never had any trouble getting to sleep at night, and I've never been the paranoid type who feels outright insecure in an apartment, but none of the apartments I've ever occupied have ever made me feel at home.

It didn't hit me at first that this house, just a big pile of wood, metal, concrete, and wiring, just seems to welcome me to it. For the first time ever, I actually feel comfortable, welcome, and calm living somewhere. It's corny, for sure, but just the fact that I own it makes it the nicest place I've ever lived. So many personal security issues just vanish in owning a home, that I didn't even notice them until they'd gone.

I'm not worried anymore about any landlord pulling any evil stunts, like spontaneously deciding to come into my home to perform maintenance without so much as a knock. Now I can legally beat the bejeezus out of anyone who succeeds in breaching the locks on my doors and windows, whether they've got a good reason for doing so or not. I no longer worry that my wife pulling another stupid temper tantrum and punching her fist through a door will cause me great financial hardship. Sure, hollow-core doors are $40 or so, but I won't owe a landlord $80 in parts and labor to fix it.

In short, this is the first place I've ever lived that just gets out of the way. It's spacious, well-constructed, and nobody has ever lived in it before we moved in. There's no longer a six page document looming over my head controlling what I can do inside my own home (ironically, with the homeowners association here, it's grown to over one hundred pages, yet somehow isn't as restrictive). Most importantly, it's comfortable. It's peaceful. There's no loud noises at all hours of the night. There's no sounds of other people moving around in the building, because there are no other people.

The mortgage payments are scary. Holy shit. I was paying $785 a month for rent. Now I'm paying, including the HOA fees and taxes, nearly $1,400 a month for my home. Too bad that with the $785 per month rent payment I only had $300 or so left each month. Fortunately, coming up with an extra $600 per month isn't terribly difficult, even in this shitty economy.

The funny thing is, even though the payment itself is frightening, the mortgage itself isn't. For two days last weekend, I couldn't fall asleep because I'd run the monthly budget and realized that once I'd made this month's mortgage payment (the first one), we'd have exactly zero dollars after the other bills had been paid. No cash for groceries, gas, etc. Then, even the most paranoid part of my brain was finally beaten down by logic: even though more money is involved now, losing this home is even harder than losing an apartment would be. If I missed even a single payment to an apartment complex, they could evict me in as few as six days in some jurisdictions. In a mortgage situation, though, foreclosure isn't quite as easy, and the bank sure doesn't want it to come to that. My best estimate is that where I could have had a sheriff throwing my crap out onto the street just a week after a missed rental payment, now it's a matter of months before such a thing could remove me from this house.

No, I don't plan to miss any mortgage payments, but it's nice to know I'm not completely fucked if one comes in late.

As far as the less esoteric topics go, I'll just describe how things are going for us lately. We got everything out of the apartment about two days before we had to be out; I'd planned to have it done much, much sooner, but my wife myteriously twisted her ankle during the 8 hour period I had the U-haul rental truck and left me to move absolutely fucking everything myself. The couch, the washer & dryer, the bedroom set, the mattresses, all the furniture, etc. All by myself.

I'd written previously that I hurt from getting things moved in here, but man, did I ever underestimate how bad I could actually feel. She will probably go to her grave insisting she really did trip on a rock and twist her ankle, but the lack of visual injury, the miraculous timing of both the injury (right when the hard work started) and its healing (right when the hard work was done), and her general attitude about it tell me she was just being lazy.

Moving right along, we've most got everything unpacked now. Boxes can still be spied in every room in the house, but their numbers grow thinner with each passing day. All the furniture is set up, the TiVo sits atop its throne on the highest shelf in our entertainment center purring like a kitten, and we've got the basics taken care of (shades and curtains for the windows, light fixtures for the rooms, replacing all the incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent light bulbs, etc.). All told, we've settled in pretty nicely.

I got a great deal on a brand new lawn mower, and promptly chopped off one of the sprinkler heads in the sprinkler system in the larger section of grass in front of my house with it on just my second session of lawn mowing. Dammit. Fortunately it'll probably only cost me about $15 and a half hour of work to replace it. Not that I have that kind of money just floating around freely anymore.

Sleep is becoming difficult again, but not because of where I live, which is a nice change of pace. The demons of insomnia have returned and seem pretty feisty this time, but at least here my wife doesn't pester me so much to go to bed. She falls asleep more easily here too, which has been a saving grace since the day we moved in here.

I'll try to have a more coherent dose of blathering tomorrow, assuming I get any reasonable amount of rest and get a break from real life long enough to write it down.

Last Thursday started out normally enough here in Richmond. I'm never one to pay too much attention to the local news, especially when they go into panic mode, so even after 3 days hearing about how Hurricane Isabel was possibly going to wash the entire state of Virginia into the Atlantic, I wasn't overly concerned. In fact, Thursday morning started with me falling down outside my apartment building, leading to what is now a kickass bruise and a skinned knee.

Anyway, we got out of work at noon on Thursday. There was already some general blusteriness (is that a word?) going on, and it had started to rain. I sat myself down for some quality time with Y&R, but the local news stations all had TEAM COVERAGE of the hurricane. This included my favorite part of any hurricane coverage, the correspondent out at some beach telling us all that "The wind is really starting to pick up!!" It's especially good when they wear hats. I don't know what leads these numbnuts to believe that gale force winds will rip trees out of the ground, but won't blow hats off their heads.

So, at about 3 pm, as I was watching a Lifetime movie starring the incomparable Jennie Garth, the power went out... it's been out now for a week. My office has power, which I'm torn over. On one hand, I can get online, and experience fluorescent lights, and generally have something to do. On the other hand, I have to go to work, which I could do without.

Things around here are still a mess. Trees and telephone poles are down everywhere. Worse yet, there are traffic lights out all over town, so there have been lots of accidents involving people who don't understand that Just Because You Don't See A Red Light Doesn't Mean You Can Barrel Through The Intersection. I'm smack in the middle of a pretty large area without power, including my apartment complex, a couple of residential subdivisions, and an office park. The cool part is the nighttime visibility that we're getting as a result of the lack of light near us. I've seen stars over the past few nights that I know I haven't seen in years.

It could be worse, of course. I could have had a tree fall on my car. I could have had a tree fall on ME, for that matter. My apartment could have flooded. All in all, a week without power isn't all that terrible, I guess.

Snaps to the Amish. I don't know how they do it.

Random Thoughts

Last night I had a random thought. You know whenever a person asks you who was all at a party or something and you say yourself first. Like they don’t know that you were there. I have noticed that everyone i know always does that. Last night I spoke to one of my friends and she asked me who was all somewhere and I started off by saying, “well me…” that is so stupid but you say it without even knowing it. Like she didn't know I was there. Like I had to point out that i was there also even though she knows I was.

I also had another random thought last night. Does anyone ever notice that when someone calls your phone and you don’t know the number you ask someone else if they know the number and they don’t know it either but they say, “... but that sounds familiar.” You could make up a number off the top of your head and someone would still say that it sounds familiar. Weird huh?

Also, whenever you are telling someone about a phone conversation you always hold your hand up to your ear like you are talking on the phone. Am I the only retard that does this without realizing it?

It's getting colder outside and I couldn't be more excited. I love wearing sweaters, but not wool sweaters. They itch the hell out of me. This made we wonder: Does wool itch sheep? Maybe they are happy whenever they get sheared and they are like, "Get this shit off of me!" You never know!

I think that is all for the random thoughts for the day.

I was reading some of the nodes on graduate school and I couldn't help but think about how ill-prepared I was for it. So, I would advise if you are seriously considering graduate school to get a Master's Degree (or PhD) in an area of engineering as I once did, you should definitely visit the school, and while you're there, talk to the professors in your particular areas about the background in mathematics you will need. See, I did none of these things, and as a result I was almost kicked out of the graduate school at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign while studying for my graduate degree in electromagnetics.

The first mistake I made is that my mathematics background was not sufficient, at the time, to study in the electromagnetics program. Had I taken the time to ask, before applying, what the recommended prerequisties in math were, I would have learned that on top of maths such a calculus and linear algebra, I would also require courses in vector calculus, complex analysis, partial differential equations and integral equations. These courses were not part of the undergraduate EE curriculum at Auburn University. I should have taken these at a local college first, but I didn't, and I ended up paying for it.

The first mistake led to the second mistake, in that I had to drop too many courses I was unprepared for, and take fewer courses (such as complex analysis) to make up for it. After two semesters of this, the Dean called me in and said that taking so few courses was unacceptable, and if I did it again I would lose my research assistantship. The RA position, where I was basically paid slave labor for my professor, is what allowed me to go to school there. It took three semesters for me to get the basic maths I would need. By then, regular grad students are supposed to have written their thesis and graduated, but I was just getting to where I could understand the math in the required coursework.

After the fourth semester, I had finally completed most of the required Master's level courses in electromagnetics. Then the Dean called me in again. He said that I had been there too long and that this was also unacceptable. He said that either I take the remaining courses the following summer semester, and write and submit my thesis, or I was to basically get the fuck out and don't come back. I finished that summer and left.

I might be somewhat justified by the fact that electromagnetics is not easy, and none of the faculty at Illinois asked if had taken certain math courses. If I was teaching graduate electromagnetics, I would definitely give each prospective student a list of math courses that they absolutely must take before coming to study under me. Having said this, I should have known that and at least asked a professor at Auburn what maths I should study before getting in over my head. Now, to show for it, I have a master's degree and I am totally qualified in the areas of electromagnetic theory and scattering. However, I have an entire department of academics at Illinois that won't return my emails.

On the commandment to "Love God".

In a discussion in the e2religion usergroup, I mentioned "love God" and "love thy neighbor" as truly universal moral laws, to be contrasted with "do not commit adultery", which I think is culturally-based and, in the final analysis, just a corollary of "love". A couple of noders (ac_hyper and Oolong, I think it was) disagreed with "love God" as a universal. The logic of "love thy neighbor", the categorical imperative, is easy to grasp. Loving God, on the other hand, struck ac_hyper (a self-professed atheist) like a command to have affection for a fictional character, like Santa Claus, or an imperative to direct warm feelings in the general direction of cold interstellar space.

While I am not an atheist I frequently have skeptical moods in which the same thoughts occur to me. While I profess to believe in God, sometimes that belief does seem rather empty and foolish, like wanting to love Santa Claus even though I know he is just a marketing gimmick. Ultimately, since a concept of God must encompass the infinite, all descriptions of God are bound to be flawed, yet some are more flawed than others.

My least favorite is "God as the one True Explanation". Throughout history, a "God" or gods have been posited to explain phenomena and answer questions of natural science, like: "What causes lightning?" "Why are there different species of animals, and why just these species?" as well as questions of morality or eschatology, like "How shall we behave?" and "What happens when we die?" True skeptics quickly realize that these explanations in fact explain absolutely nothing and do not tell us anything about God. Consider:

Q: What causes lightning?
A: God.
Q: How does God make lightning?
A: God can do anything. (Translation: "I don't know")
Q: Why does God make lightning?
A: Somewhere, someone is angering God by asking stupid questions.

Despite the inherent flaws in this approach to God, it seems to be by far the most popular, and people become heavily invested in the notion that God created the World as a non-explanation for the World. You can tell when people have pinned too much on God-as-explanation when they react poorly to an alternative explanation, as for example, Fundamentalist Christians have reacted poorly to the theory of evolution. There are diverse species because God made them that way. Period. Why is this such a big deal? Because their only knowledge of God is "that guy who made all the animals". Take that away and they have no God. I also have a hard time generating "love" for God solely on the basis of the created world. In fact, I am somewhat displeased with this God for having created mosquitos and some of my colleagues in the legal profession.

A slightly different, but similar flawed concept of God is the Deus Otiosis: God who has Withdrawn. This is the deist God, the creator God as clock-maker who made the world, wound it up, and then withdrew, and has no current involvement with the world. This God is the god of philosophers and logicians: a God who is logically necessary and most certainly exists, since at the end of any series of questions lies an "I don't know". God the clock-maker appears in Aristotelian thinking as the "Prime Mover", and in Kantian thought as the "unconditioned" which stands as the terminus of any series of conditions. The problems with this concept of God are two fold. First, all we know about the God is negative: it is the God that lies beyond everything knowable, explainable, perceivable: the Unknown, Unexplained, Unseen. Second, this God is always remote: far away, deep in the past, smaller than the smallest thing and bigger than the biggest thing. This concept of God very unsatisfying to any relgious or spiritual yearnings, which seek the immediate and personal presence of God. It's hard to love a God who has withdrawn like a deadbeat Dad.

On other days I have some inking or sense of God and the will to love God. Unfortunately, my explanations for these feelings tend to be unsatisfactory, like explanations of truths apprehended while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, or like Star Wars characters talking about the Force.

When an atheist such as Miss Hyper asks what "loving God" means, I tend to equate God with Life, as the impetus of all living things and a sort of counter-entropic principle. Thus, "loving God" means embracing and appreciating life and living things qua living. It is what (I think) Ranier Marie Rilke was getting at in this excerpt from the Book of Hours:


All life is LIVED: now this comes home to me.
But who, then, lives it? Things that patiently
Stand there, like some unfingered melody
Sleeping within a harp as day is going?
Is it the winds across the water blowing,
Is it the branches beckoning each to each,
Is it the flowers weaving fragrances,
The ageing alleys stretching endlessly?
Is it the warm beasts moving to and fro,
The birds in alien flight that sail from view?
This life - who lives it really? God, do you?


I am dissatisfied with the notion that God is "the Force" because I am fairly convinced that God is a person not a thing; "who" not an "it"; a subject, not an object; and end, not a means. Rilke's poem suggests God as the "subject" of Life: the one who lives. At this point, however, I am way past the point where I know what I am talking about.

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