Articles taggés avec: Ricker Winsor

What I Know about Art (continued)

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 12 mai 2018. dans La une, Ecrits

What I Know about Art (continued)

We need skill ; there are technical aspects, but the important part, as I know now, is honesty, sincerity, purity, true feeling, those kinds of qualities. When you know art history from the Venus of Willendorf to the work of Cy Twombly, or Horace Pippin, or Pierre Bonnard, or Joan Mitchell, you will know this is true. Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about art at all and real artists suffer from that, being compared unfavourably to the slick practitioners who fill the commercial galleries all over the world. That’s why most artists give up, fall by the wayside or sell out, even the most talented ones.

At about the time I made my journey to see Ansel and find out about photography as Art, I met Herman Cherry, a first generation New-York School abstract painter and friend of David Smith, the sculptor, Ruben Kadish, the sculptor, Charles Pollock, Jackson’s brother, also a painter, and many more. He was part of the scene from the beginning and knew them all. I was twenty four when I met Cherry and he was fifty nine. We met through a mutual friend, Zena Voynow, a film editor who was the sister in law of Sergei Eisenstein, the legendary Russian film director, someone you study if you study film. We met in East Hampton, the most important place outside of New-York City for artists. Jackson Pollock had a studio there and Willem de Kooning whom I got to know.

My first wife, Melynda, and I were sitting on the veranda of Zena and Andrew’s house and some small crab apples came rolling off the roof and onto the veranda. « That’s Cherry » said Zena, and so it was. We hit it off immediately despite the fact that when he took us over to his house and showed us his new paintings, I said, innocently, « They look like what Frank Stella is doing ». Of course that is one of the worst things you can say to an artist, since artists, as I have mentioned, try like hell to let their own individuality come out, not someone else’s. Zena told me very quickly, pulling me aside, « Don’t ever tell an artist his work looks like someone else’s ». I remembered that.

I think Cherry appreciated my innocent honesty even if it hurt. At that time he was stuck as a painter, and not long after that he stopped painting for a number of years and wrote poetry, quite good poetry. He published a few volumes and was respected as a poet. From that point on I saw all of his life since we became good friends. I did some abstract acrylic paintings, small ones, which he liked and he was very appreciative of my photography. I became friends with his friends, Edie and Ed Dugmore were favourites and I still admire « Doug’s » abstract paintings very much.

What I Know about Art

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 05 mai 2018. dans La une, Ecrits

What I Know about Art

What are we doing here in this life anyway ? For a lot of people, a six pack of beer and a football game answer that question very nicely. For others it’s family, grandchildren, and community. To be an artist is to not be satisfied by those happy ways. To be an artist is to be an outsider looking in, like Thomas Mann’s « Tonio Kröger », a character to whom I related strongly as a teenager. All those material and social comforts are not for us.

An artist has to find his own way, driven to respond to his experience of life in the best way he can. As my teacher and friend Harry Callahan put it, to share « what I feel and have always known ». That is the motivation, to do something, say something, make something that is a deep expression of who you are and how you feel about this mysterious life. On the most basic level, the artist is someone who produces something, but to be called Art the thing produced must have special qualities attached to it. Skill coming from talent is appreciated by everyone, easily appreciated. Skill is important but, to my mind, other values are more important.

In the best work there is a sense of passionate intention, the desire to capture a feeling in whatever medium. I started as a photographer and the great photographers were able to do that. My heroes were Cartier Bresson, Danny Lyon, and Harry Callahan. I knew them all. But for me, the simple, direct approach of a reed pen drawing in india ink on paper and oil paint on canvas provided a more satisfying experience. So that is what I have been doing now for over forty years.

How did this all happen ? Why did it happen ? The oracle of Apollo in Delphi said in Greek, « Gnothi Seauton, Know Thyself ». It is a hard directive, easier said than done. For whatever reasons, this idea attracted me strongly from a young age. When young Holden Caulfield of « Catcher in the Rye », smack dab in the middle of teenage angst and confusion, went on a quest « to find himself » I related.

The affluent world I was in after WWII was not satisfying to me. And I noticed that it didn’t seem to make the adults I knew very happy either. It certainly didn’t solve the problems of our family, something I wrote about extensively in my book, « The Painting of My Life ».

What did make sense was my father’s clever and skilful cartoons, his writing, my mother’s excellent painting, the painting of my sister Mary, and the good reproductions of Van Gogh paintings on the walls of our house, La Berceuse and Boats at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, as well as my father’s black and white photographs. Our neighbour Rowl Scherman was a teen idol with the guitar and later a fine photographer working for Life Magazine. A book and a film about him came out in 2016 : Eye on the Sixties : The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman. His brother Tom was exceptionally talented in drawing and went on to work at Disney. Down the street, a woman twenty years my senior, Lee Schoenburg, was the editorial director at Magnum Photos. We became lifelong friends. My godfather, Paul Rhymer, wrote over three thousand episodes of Ma Perkins, one of the most popular shows on radio before television took over. He is considered one of the great American humourists of the twentieth century, in a class with Will Rogers. That is a whole lot of background, something I haven’t mentioned before.

Unhallowed Beats/Another Look (continued)

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 03 mars 2018. dans Souvenirs, La une, Ecrits

Unhallowed Beats/Another Look (continued)

The impulse of humanity is toward freedom. At least that is true in the West where we are brought up on a diet of independence and rugged individualism. When the beats came of age, society post WWII was conformist and materialistic, affluent but boring and facing serious problems such as nuclear destruction, civil rights, and, a bit later, a very destructive and confusing war in Vietnam.

In my own case I felt stifled and constricted, unable to breathe in the middle of a comfortable suburban existence. The movie, Rebel Without a Cause, has to be seen as an important moment in the culture. Starring James Dean, Nathalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, it expressed what a whole generation was feeling to some extent or another : alienation, ennui, and angst, in what should have been a perfect world. It is hard to explain that rebellion other than by some need of the human spirit that is not met by the values of Main Street. Are peace and freedom incompatible ?

Jack Kerouac, so important to it all, was the closest to normal of the group, if normal can be accepted as a condition. He was Catholic, a fine athlete from the lower middle class, able to go to an Ivy League school, Columbia. And yet he became unglued from that and proclaimed the value of excess, spontaneity, and instability. He was an alcoholic and died an alcoholic. Despite his contribution, he was, for me, the most confused of people, a mystery even to himself.

The wild chances the beats took with their lives in terms of sex, drugs, alcohol, and relationships were what they wanted to do and needed to do in order to create some side streets off Main Street. Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud were precursors. The idea was that it was ok to be wild ; in fact, it was necessary.

Following that path, a lot of my generation got washed up on the shore, addicted, disillusioned. The ones, like myself, who didn’t see the beat model as fruitful long-term, turned to nature, a simple life close to the land. A percentage of a whole generation turned their backs on the bright lights of the city and settled in the country, grew gardens, and tried to live the good life as exemplified by Helen and Scott Nearing. Many succeeded and are still there. One of them was the poet David Budbill, RIP, who lived in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and David Kherdian, still writing, now in his eighties.

Unhallowed Beats/Another Look

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 23 février 2018. dans Souvenirs, La une, Ecrits

Unhallowed Beats/Another Look

There are strong currents underneath the great flow of history, currents that follow their own direction even as they are carried along. It is the counter culture, going against the flow.

I suppose I started early with my questions about it all. I was looking for something beyond the comfortable suburbs of my growing up and was attracted to Greenwich Village and « the beats ». Now, I have taken on, at this late stage, a more concerted study of them. Barry Miles’s biographies of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, each containing about six hundred pages of amazing description and detail provide the information. One wonders how his portraits could be that complete except that both Burroughs and Ginsberg were famous for a long time and both had numerous friends, lovers, situations, teaching gigs, and on and on that gave the biographer rich sources of information.

The average Romeo, who might consider himself an athletic, sexy type of guy, might be shocked, pissed off, and disturbed by the wild and crazy sexuality of both these men. Include Neal Cassidy, who could « throw a football seventy yards and masturbate six times a day », and you get the kind of picture that would make the average Romeo look like a boy scout, no a cub scout. About Ginsberg’s sexuality, or Burroughs’s, you can almost smell it. It’s like that.

This group remains mythic for a lot of reasons including their talent and the amazing chances they took with their lives with the idea of liberating the psyche and stretching it toward infinity (I guess). That would be the generous way of looking at them. Another way would be to consider them delinquent, dirty bastards with deep psychological issues, the types of people who should be sent by boat to a small island with the job of making big rocks into small rocks. And in the fifties and early sixties « the establishment » overwhelmingly considered them in that way.

Allen Ginsberg was twenty years older than I. My older sisters and I were rebels without a cause in the wealthy suburb of Pelham Manor but not more than a half hour fast driving to McDougal and Bleeker Streets in Greenwich Village. Things were going on there we wanted to know about, things that gave us another view of our predictable and comfortable, conformist lives, the ones we were expected to live into the future.

« The Times They are a Changin » said Bob Dylan, and a truer lyric was never written. The history of the epoch known as « The Sixties » has been explored in countless ways. It affected everyone and everything in very personal ways. The bigger question for me now is why rebel ? Why do we seem to hate peace ? Because it’s boring ? I wonder about that.

Sniper, a dog story (part two)

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 18 novembre 2017. dans La une, Ecrits

Sniper, a dog story (part two)

If you know about Border Collies, they are not even recommended as pets. My friend Charlie, the veterinarian, advises people who want to buy a border collie to also « buy three sheep ». That’s because border collies are super energetic and, without enough to do, these working dogs can raise a whole lot of hell. Lucky for us, and not knowing any of this at the time, Sniper was already two years old and not totally crazed but plenty strong and energetic. I walked him three times a day, every day, a long one in the morning and two shorter ones so he could mark his territory and feel some freedom.

I found that I couldn’t dominate him the way you can with a Labrador or other dogs like that who are so eager to please and so submissive actually. He almost bit me a couple of times, not a bite really but enough to show me that I had better be careful, that this was more a relationship of equals and not the master/slave thing. Once I got over the shock to my ego I accepted it and learned. He taught me that what we do together is something we share. It is quite amazing and I love how that has evolved. It was less easy for me than it was for him.

I found that his tail had been broken in a fight and hadn’t healed very well but healed it did with a crook in it now. I learned that he is a tough, dominant dog who will attack any male dog whenever possible and win. He has bones like a Swedish peasant and can pull me miles, which at my age is not a bad thing. Having him in the harness, you could plow a field. We found he had some medical problems, liver problems, and that required a couple of trips to the veterinary hospital and medication and x-rays. We learned how to feed him better as to not stress his liver and he is super healthy as a result. My wife cooks for the dogs twice a day, bathes them, and treats them like the children and family they actually are for us. I don’t see a lot of difference between their antics and affection and those of a couple of five-year olds but that is a whole different discussion.

After six months and with « peace in the valley » domestically, one afternoon a Papua man I had never seen came to the gate and wanted « to take Sniper out to play ». That was not something I wanted to do and I told him I was not comfortable with that. He was drunk, a young Papua guy with shaggy hair, strong, getting mad. He started yelling and pushing on the gate, shaking the gate back and forth and then the gate broke, a crucial weld having given way. I retreated to the house pushing my wife back and locked the door while she called the security station and also her mother who lives not far away. I grabbed an iron piece of exercise equipment and waited to see what would happen next as he pounded on the door. He stepped back and took the broken piece of metal from the gate and slung it against the door and then retreated to the street. The security man finally showed up, not too happy since they are scared of Papua people and are not used to having to actually act like security. Mostly they usher in cars at the gate, waving and taking it easy most of the time.

Sniper, a dog story (part one)

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 11 novembre 2017. dans La une, Ecrits

Sniper, a dog story (part one)

In Bali, we adopted a village-dog puppy we named Nana. She and her sister found their way, at about seven weeks of age, to the workplace of our neighbor. The office security people there were about to throw them against a wall, the customary way to kill puppies.

The dog situation in Bali is always out of control. Many dogs run wild, some with rabies, especially in the villages. Puppies can be born with rabies, a disease that kills them and the people they bite. Every once in a while, the government issues an order for the police to « thin the pack ». The last time this happened the dog death squad shot about nine thousand dogs.

So, the situation in Bali is different than other places. Once in a while, I would wake up in the middle of the night and look out on the street. Making their way silently, five or six very strong, healthy, wild dogs were carefully checking the garbage at each house. Medium-sized, strong village dogs, streamlined, well proportioned, like a pack of tropical wolves, they commanded respect and some fear. The street belonged to them. Once the sun was up they disappeared, vanished like the night.

Minutes before the puppies were about to be killed, our neighbor, Hanny, got involved and saved them. He is a nice man and took on this responsibility despite having two dogs himself. Hanny offered us one of sisters and I refused knowing how much a dog changes your life, no matter how great it is. But I have always had dogs and my wife also loves dogs so I took a careful look and I saw that one of them had long legs like a ballet dancer and perfect proportions, some kind of a Dalmatian mix with black and white patches. We named her Nana.

We brought her with us from Bali to Surabaya and settled in. She is a great dog but not in the way we know from Labradors and Goldens and Shepherds, dogs like that. A village dog has literally thousands of years of DNA tweaked by their special lives lived surviving on the street, avoiding endless dangers including poison. They are not the loyal dog we know who can’t wait to lay down its life for you, not like that. They don’t trust easily ; it takes time, but they are more interesting and a lot smarter than the « normal » dog but paradoxically not in trainability. A friend who has had one of these dogs for many years cautioned, « There are some things they just won’t do ». In some ways, they are smart more in the way a cat is smart. It is difficult to explain. I tell a good friend, a veterinarian, that she is more like a fox than a dog and that seems almost right.

Finding Indonesia

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 06 septembre 2017. dans Ecrits, La une, Voyages

Finding Indonesia

After four years as an expat here in Indonesia, with permanent residence status and no idea of turning back, I might be able to say a few things about this extraordinary country, a country made up of seventeen thousand islands stretching three thousand miles. It is the biggest Muslim country in the world.

Seven years ago, during a long-distance call, I said yes to a school director in Surabaya, and, within three weeks, packed up my house, found some tenants, sent a parcel ahead with books and art supplies, and got on the plane. I think I had just enough time to look at my atlas to see that, yes, Indonesia did exist, and, yes, it was « over there », wherever that was, in Asia.

It is worth mentioning that this happened in the afflicted year of 2009. Like so many other people, I was affected by the greedy worshipers of Mammon having stolen everything in sight by selling junk bonds, phony mortgages, and things of that nature at the expense of the helpless citizenry. My job as a part-time college administrator was eliminated so « Indonesia here I come ».

I wrote extensively about my initial year here in my first book, Pakuwon City, Letters from the East. I only stayed a year at that time due to many things including homesickness, tenants in my house deciding not to pay, things like that. But the fine woman I had met in Surabaya followed me several months later and that autumn, on a crisp October day, we were married in Vermont, in a field belonging to the justice of the peace. After a year in the snow and two more teaching in Trinidad, we came back to Indonesia, first to Bali for two years, and then to Surabaya, my wife’s home town.

Now I have a Chinese Indonesian wife, an extended family, two language teachers who teach me twice a week, a teaching job twice a week and full life in all ways. I am on the East side of Surabaya, the old side, and not the side where one might find other foreigners. I go months without seeing another bule, (pale face), which is fine with me. I speak Indonesian and have an Indonesian driver’s license and a Kitap Visa, permanent residence status. This is not so easy to obtain since they, perhaps wisely, and perhaps as a reaction to three hundred and fifty years of colonial life under the Dutch and three under the Japanese, don’t want foreigners involved here too much. Makes sense to me.

That being said, there are plenty of foreigners if you look for them, mostly in Jakarta or in Bali, and they pay their visa fees and enjoy a fine life. All this is a very brief introduction to what I want to say, that Indonesia may be the best place in the world to live at this time, perhaps at any time. And that is not because of the cost of living or the excellent cuisine. It is because of a culture of non-aggression, non-confrontation, a culture « sopan dan rama » which means polite and friendly. The subtlety of this goes down levels deeper than I can venture yet. Even the beginners’ depths are astoundingly different from what I am used to as a product of a violent, competitive culture, America.

Faith (Part II)

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 10 juin 2017. dans La une, Ecrits

Faith (Part II)

A consideration of these things depends on an understanding, a knowledge or belief that there is life beyond this life, that there is continuity even if we don’t know the details. A poet friend of mine, David Kherdian, said : « The evidence is everywhere », which it is for the believers.

Paul, who was formally Saul, a hunter of the followers of Jesus, put it this way in his letter to the Romans, « …ever since the creation of the world, the invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind’s understanding of created things ».

In these current days, it should be easier to see than ever before since our understanding of the magnitude of the universe has expanded exponentially in the last few years and it keeps expanding, becoming more complex, vaster beyond the mind’s capacity to grasp, adding other dimensions, throwing into doubt everything we know of time, cause and effect, logic. Even the fundamental accepted notion of a « big-bang » is under reconsideration, a new idea being that there never was a beginning and there never will be an end. It is in sync with a prayer in the Catholic Liturgy : « Glory be to the father, to the son, and to the holy spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen ». « Now and ever shall be, world without end ».

Instinctively, to me that seems right that we manifest for reasons we cannot know ; we play our part and move on when it is time to do so. The eastern view is that we keep coming back to this life until we « get it right » have come to completion. Then we don’t have to incarnate any more, at least not here.

Most spiritual thinkers I have studied consider our inchoate longings, our alienation, just a desire to return to unity with LOGOS, the assumption being that, at some point, we knew that state and miss it deeply. We were in the garden of delight and then out of it, a perfect metaphor for how we feel. The farther we are from « the garden » the more painful it is.

Perhaps « playing our part » well in life allows us to « move on » to a situation that gets us closer to that ultimate completion we seek. This is a satisfying way to think and suggests logical assumptions about the fates of saints and criminals beyond this life.

Spiritual progress does not depend on faith. In more than one place in the Bible it is stated that « if someone does his best according to whatever understanding he has, he is justified ». And that also makes sense. I have known many people, including atheists and agnostics, who did very well in spiritual terms according to their understanding. Faith is pleasure, like icing on the cake, a comfort but not a necessity to living a great and generous life.

Louise Wade was black and from South Carolina. Her grandmother was a slave. Louise ironed shirts and underwear and pants for rich white people in the town where I was raised. Her son had died, been killed somehow back in the South. All her hair had fallen out. That is all we knew. She only wanted to iron down in the basement by the washing machine and the furnace, an unfinished basement. She would never enter through the front door of the house. She sang hymns softly while she did her perfect work.

A Higher state

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 03 juin 2017. dans La une, Ecrits

A Higher state

In nineteen sixty-eight I was part of a Hindu meditation group that included Alan Ginsberg. Earlier, Jack Kerouac and others had brought an awareness of Buddhism into popular culture. A flood of influence was coming from the east. At the core of it was the idea of bliss, that it was achievable through practice, dedication, and discipline.

In our monthly meditation group in lower Manhattan we repeated the mantra « Ram » silently and sat in meditation. Swami Kumar, a philosophy student from India, told us about the goal of « realization ». At one point, he asked our group of about twenty-five aspirants, « Who among you believes he will be realized in this lifetime ? » I was the only one who raised a hand, naively maybe but still… Kumar looked shaken and asked me to explain my answer. I backed off and mumbled something about « to the extent that I can » or some such thing, which made him relax a bit. But truthfully, I raised my hand in sincerity, the hand of an idealist, someone who has slipped the grasp of this world to an unusual degree.

This is not to suggest that I, at age twenty-four, felt perfect in any way ; quite the contrary. I felt lost, struggling, confused, not sure of myself, and mal adapted to the adult world I was suppose to be joining. And yet I was aware of something untouchable by the world and a sense that no matter how bad things got in this life it was still ok. How to explain that ? Where did that come from ? I expect it is something all people have in common but mostly without being aware of it. Speculating about that makes no sense. It is hard enough to know our own truth. My interest has always been in my own experience, my perceptions, my reactions to the world. It sounds selfish, but for me it is all I have.

There was nothing egoist in my gesture at that meeting, just a reaction, but one that now seems particularly interesting after forty-eight intervening years, years which have included the practices referred to above, to study, to time spent in monasteries, to conversations with priests and poets, a lifetime of years.

The pitfall of this topic is self glorification. I know a man, a pastor, self-appointed, an ex alcoholic who was saved by Jesus and has dedicated his life to spreading the gospel. He runs workshops and evangelizes all around Southeast Asia. He is intense, intelligent, and knows the Bible very well. At a gathering recently, we ran into each other and I mentioned that I had taken on reading every word of the Bible, something that seemed important to do for many reasons. If nothing else, the Bible qualifies as an essential part of a classical education in the same way that knowing Homer does.

I mentioned to him that I felt there was a benefit beyond knowledge to this activity I had taken on, that there was a mystical type of support coming from the activity itself, something I felt. He laughed and said, eyes gleaming, « Thanks for telling me, Ha Ha Ha », the idea being that I couldn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know and better than I did. He went on to say, in so many words, « When, like me, you can see it all from the other side, then you will know something ». He followed up with, « I don’t mean to say I am better than you or other people », but it was too late. The ego had already reared its head. Spiritual superiority is insidious and ugly.

So, what is this really all about ? I long had the suspicion that « realized » people were among us and not necessarily sitting on pillows surrounded by tambura music, incense, and « followers ». They would be barbers, maids working in houses of rich people, teachers, farmers, anybody. And it is not clear that they would even consider themselves « realized ». The only thing the Buddha said about the state he achieved after huge effort was, « I am awake ». It wasn’t the epileptic ecstasy we think of as a nirvanic state. I use that term because I witnessed epileptic ecstasy.

The Persistence of Ignorance

Ecrit par Ricker Winsor le 15 avril 2017. dans La une, Ecrits

The Persistence of Ignorance

A young student asked me recently, « Mr. Winsor, do you think history is important ? » I said, « When I was growing up we heard that history is important to know so that we learn from the past and don’t repeat our mistakes. But now that I have lived seventy-two years I have to wonder about that. It seems to me we haven’t learned anything ; we keep repeating the same mistakes, so maybe history isn’t important. It is always subjective anyway, always written by the winners ».

The human community has been in trouble since the beginning and holds fast to that trouble despite a choking amount of information to help it out of that trouble and despite having the greatest tool to do that, the human brain itself. It has only been four generations since television was invented and spread around to almost every house. There was an expectation that this amazing invention would educate people and bring them out of ignorance. It hasn’t worked. Most people are lazy, it seems, and only want television to help them escape or have it tell them what they already believe and want to hear about issues. There seems to be no need to be challenged by new information, new ideas.

One of my friends is a doctor, an atheist, and an expert on evolution. He says, « The human brain is wired to be curious, to be seeking understanding, making discoveries. If that is not happening, there is something wrong with the wiring ». Based on what I said in the previous paragraph, it would seem there is a great deal wrong with « the wiring ». Either that, or evolution has screeched to a halt.

 Another friend is an enemy of « left leaning liberals ». He is on what I would call « the rabid right », the alt right being the proper term ; not thinking, dangerous. But he is a loyal friend from childhood. I sent him a link to « The National Review » because it is a thoughtful, conservative « rag ». My friend is a CPA accountant, not a dummy. He wrote back, « I don’t read left-wing rags ». I said « The National Review is a conservative voice started by William F. Buckley ». He answered, « I know that. Never cared much for Buckley », by which I understood that he didn’t know that and didn’t bother to make two clicks on his I pad to find out about it, something that would have taken less than thirty seconds.

In researching this topic, I came across a thesis stating that our ideas are so deeply held as to be actually physical. Seeing new or opposing evidence just makes a person struggle harder to defend what he already believes. In other words, a considered good argument will have very little effect on changing a person’s thinking.

As we grow up and develop our personalities, a number of core ideas get bundled together and become an unassailable fortress against new information coming from the world. I suppose this makes things simpler. I came up with a phrase to help me explain this phenomenon : « Ignorant people want simple solutions to complex problems ». It provides them relief from what is otherwise a permanent condition of stress to make sense of a world that mostly does not make sense.

What will it take to change our thinking if we are totally invested in a set of ideas ? It won’t happen by argument ; that is clear. My own experience is that if I give myself a little distance from that bundle of ideas I carry with me, there is a chance I can accept another way of thinking about things. It is almost a spiritual technique of non-attachment or at least of loosening one’s grip on that attachment. Life is short ; we live in a mind-bogglingly immense universe that only seems to get bigger as our knowledge increases. How important can one’s political ideas actually be ? The humility that comes with this kind of thinking is liberating, actually pleasurable.

My atheist friend, the evolution expert, gets great peace from his acceptance of annihilation. « When you really understand evolution and DNA you don’t need religion ». About life after death he says, « They will never know how wrong they were (the believers). We become stardust, nothing more ».

[12 3  >>