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Field Mapping

Complex Systems and the Six Realms of Dharma —                                                                                         Photograph by Andy Ilachinski It was while reading the somewhat scandalous thinker Wilhem Reich that I first encountered the idea of emotional traumas being encoded into the flesh and blood circuits of the body. Freezing into a kind of “armor,” these encodings work to shape and delimit the ways we perceive the world, hence wielding an out-sized influence over the course our lives take. This was in the early 1990s, and I was reading Reich along with some of the Frankfurt School thinkers (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, etc.) who (broadly speaking) collide psychology and social theory to see what falls out. … [Read more...]

Wallace Shawn and Our Planetary Fever

Material and Mystery on a Bathroom Floor –  Ignoring their embedded-ness, complex systems relate to the environment with greed and aggression. If world religions are based on any one experience, it’s the kind of night Wallace Shawn documents in his play The Fever. We’ve all had them. The harsh inner judge shows up with his clipboard and his tilted scales demanding full access to the heart. In flashes of self-recognition we glimpse the demonic patterns that have covertly governed the course of our lives. Cherished self-images collapse in on themselves as the mind swirls around in a soup composed of everything it feels disconnected from. Delivered as a single long monologue, The Fever manages to link an experience of this kind to material … [Read more...]

Theory of Miracles

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Disposable Plastic At a party at the Edendale Grill in Silverlake shortly before Christmas I learned about the five vortexes of disposable plastic, vast as continents and indestructible, that swirl continuously in the world’s oceans. I was talking to a woman named Sara Bayles who, in the hope of drawing attention to the problem, collects plastic trash choked up by the sea each day on Santa Monica beach. The image of the vortexes seemed to echo, dreamlike, the armada of environmental alarms that have circulated below the surface of my emotional life since childhood. And yet, at the Edendale, I noticed that something had shifted. Confronted with new evidence of environmental degradation the familiar … [Read more...]