synthetic zero


November 16, 2005

I sometimes find that the most interesting things come from first allowing myself to feel or almost physically respond to a complex thought (or a thought complex)... when I hold those thought/feelings in mind, I can relate from that position.

Just moved. Sad to leave the loft ... but it is in the service of a larger project of moving back into the building later, as an owner.

November 13, 2005

Day 1 of my new plan to make something: spend at least ten minutes a day on the project. It is 3:25am but I figure what better time than now to begin?

A few thoughts, to begin with: something Steven Tainer once told us --- "don't even start."

I am very thirsty --- thirst surrounds you. It makes you feel as if your brain is drying up. Reminds me of something Miranda once wrote about the importance of drinking --- when you're thirsty your brain cells have already started to die. So drink before you get thirsty.

I'm thinking right now of boxes filled with light of different colors. A box with the light of a day that is far off, like days or centuries or millenia far away. Not so far away that the climate of the Earth is substantially different --- just another ordinary day like today, but not today. You can peek into the box, open it, and on you will shine the light of that day, just as though it were coming straight from that sky to you now.

So parched. I feel my brain cells dying. But I must continue.

It's strange what happens when you label a stretch of time and say "this is its purpose." It changes the architecture of the space. Strangely, limitations actually can create possibility; we tend to think of limitations as merely constraints --- but they can also open things up. New ideas flow in when you don't just let things be "whatever." Why? Because having no constraints often means habits become your constraint.

This is why it can be dangerous to say "I don't like to talk about theory." Sure, "direct" presence is more interesting, in some sense, than theory --- yet without considering theory (and in particular the precise limits of knowledge), one often simply lazily ends up using preconceived habits as your theory. Theory-free is impossible, just as "whatever" isn't really free.

November 11, 2005

Basic things that people often overlook. I've decided to write up some of these things as they come to mind.

Strict distinction between outside and inside: bunk. Where is the boundary between the so-called "inside" and the so-called "outside"? At your skin? But there are constantly particles of skin coming off --- when does it stop being part of your body and part of the outside? When it is dead? Our hair and skin are dead but we would not survive without skin. We are integral parts of living systems: we take in solids and liquids and gas and excrete solids and liquids and gas, we reorganize the world around us and we reorganize the way we perceive the world around us. We participate in systems, we breathe the world in and breathe into the world. We are not little closed-off billiard ball objects bouncing around the universe.

Meanwhile: eat for pleasure and be happy.

November 7, 2005

Re-watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a beautiful film --- I am struck by the thought that, actually, the people close to us are interwoven into our lives in ways that can't really be easily untangled; we're interwoven processes, part of a fabric. We bloom into being in the matrix of life and we disappear, but we don't really disappear --- we're not three-dimensional objects, separated from the world, but we breathe into the world and breathe the world in, and thus, when we die, we're not gone, because our presence in the world was what it was entirely, at that moment, and that creates a cascade of effects that continue on. Just as we owe a debt of gratitude (or blame) for the billions of years before us, our existence contributes to what happens after us as well. In a way, that's partly what the movie was about --- the impossibility of erasure. It's something we would like to do but cannot.

Not that I really believe in time, history, and sequence, in this sort of simpleminded way --- I also think in a sense we create our past when we look into the past --- yet we, right now, are at least in some sense the past of some other beings in the "future" --- though where we are the most real is right now.

I've decided I am pretty happy with my Palm T|X (or TX as people seem to like to call it). It has Bluetooth, WiFi, 128 meg of RAM, an SD card slot, a 320x240 TFT screen, and a nice battery life. Built in software includes a web browser, music player, word processor, spreadsheet, etc. The WiFi feature is more useful/fun than I had anticipated --- though you can only pick up a signal here and there, in most places in the city if you walk a couple of blocks you can find an open network and surf the web, etc., at fairly high speed. If you don't have a network nearby you can connect to the net via a Bluetooth phone.

I don't particularly find Palm PDAs very useful right out of the box --- they gain their power from third-party add-on software. Here are the applications and accessories I personally rely on quite a bit and use constantly:

1 GB SD card - For storing maps, music (see below), etc.

Vindigo - Restaurant, store, and movie listings, updated every time you sync. WiFi wireless sync is great on the road. Subscription price is $25/year.

Mapopolis --- the best Palm mapping software I've used. Fast, does point-to-point driving directions with voice prompts if you have a GPS. The software itself is free, you pay for the maps ($99 for North America). Buy the Navigator maps and then download them all to your computer, and copy your frequently-visited states to your SD card. Mapopolis will dynamically load maps from an SD card, or for faster operation you can just load the maps you use the most into RAM. I have seven western states, most of the Northeast from DC to Boston, as well as Quebec and Ontario all on my SD card with room to spare.

Aerodrome Aeroplayer, the best music player I've found for the Palm so far. It supports Ogg Vorbis playback, a much higher quality codec than mp3, it sounds great even at 50 kbps. I have hundreds of songs on my SD card encoded with Ogg Vorbis, and it sounds wonderful. Aeroplayer also plays AAC, mp3, and WMA files, but you have to purchase licenses for each of those codecs. If you only use Ogg Vorbis playback, it is free. Get skins here.

FitalyVirtual is an essential product for Palm devices, in my opinion. Makes it far easier to input text. It doesn't work on the Palm TX out of the box --- there is, however, a workaround. Another fast text input software which does work out of the box with the Palm TX: MessagEase. FitalyVirtual is $25.

Causerie is an instant messaging client that works better than AOL AIM client. Lets you log into multiple instant messaging services at the same time. Runs in the background, so you can do other things while still logged in. $35. VeriChat is also slick but it requires an annual membership fee of $25/year for the basic software, and $40/year for the premium version.

The best picture viewer: Resco Viewer, the zoom feature allows viewing large images in detail -- particularly useful for maps (such as the New York subway map). The built-in web browser will download a large image but won't display really huge pictures --- but you can tap and hold and save them to the SD card or internal RAM and then view with a picture viewer like this. Palm's built-in Media app will show these images but typically scaled down to the screen size.


November 6, 2005

My old Palm died, erasing all data I had entered since I last synced, including a bunch of ideas for entries. I decided to upgrade to the latest Palm; they've been faltering as of late, but this latest model is quite a nice combination of features --- the Palm T|X. I've radically customized and upgraded it, and I will post some details of how I did this later.

Meanwhile a new vow to increase the frequency of my posts.

A quote from D.T. Suzuki:

It is not a religion in the sense that the term is popularly understood; for Zen has no God to worship, no ceremonial rites to observe, no future abode to which the dead are destined, and, last of all, Zen has no soul whose welfare is to be looked after by somebody else and whose immortality is a matter of intense concern with some people. Zen is free from all these dogmatic and "religious" encumbrances. ...

As to all those images of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Devas and other beings that one comes across in Zen temples, they are like so many pieces of wood or stone or metal; they are like camellias, azaleas, or stone lanterns in my garden. Make obeisance to the camellia now in full bloom, and worship it if you like, Zen would say. There is as much religion in so doing as in bowing to the various Buddhist gods, or as sprinkling holy water, or as participating in the Lord's Supper. All those pious deeds considered to be meritorious or sanctifying by most so-called religiously minded people are artificialities in the eyes of Zen. It boldly declares that "the immaculate Yogins do not enter Nirvana and the precept-violating monks do not go to hell". This, to ordinary minds, is a contradiction of the common law of moral life, but herein lies the truth and the life of Zen. Zen is the spirit of a man. Zen believes in its inner purity and goodness. Whatever is superadded or violently torn away, injures the wholesomeness of the spirit. Zen, therefore, is emphatically against all religious conventionalism.