15 April 2023

Of cats, cones and painkillers

Ashitaka and Kashmir proudly sporting our Wolfdog-Malamute’s cone (and as kittens furthest right) 


We have four cats. One is the mother of the twins above, the fourth a rescued black tom called Nokoribi. We’ve known the twins since birth, so, perhaps more than Firefly (mother) and Nokoribi, they feel like our own children to us. Caring for living beings, providing them with everything they need to survive and thrive, is a sacred and daunting duty. When it comes to caring for non-human animals, one is often obliged to do things to them they most definitely would rather did not happen. What is in your heart when you grievously intervene to curtail another’s free will is very important to how those interventions are experienced by those you care for, and thus how they recover.

This is a true musing about lockdowns, medical interventions and what quality of care might bring them about. 

Too many cats!

We have four cats. The small street we live on is home to about 10, and neighbouring streets are home to many more. So there are lots of cats around these parts, and all across the UK; we don’t need them breeding like flies, to put it crudely. When their time was due, we had the twins – boys both – neutered. Ashitaka’s operation ran smoothly. Kashmir’s followed a rather different course.

The vet’s fondling informed her that only one of Kashmir’s testicles had descended. Bring him back in six weeks, she said, and we’ll take another look. Six weeks later, his second testicle was still nowhere to be found. The more expensive, hunt-the-ball operation would begin that very morning, but first a few questions. How was his most recent stool? Soft, I replied, mousse-like. Ah … well … better not operate, just in case. Reschedule, please. So we drove Kashmir home, unscathed, for a second time. 

He must have wondered why, randomly, we took him to see an odd-smelling woman who fondled his scrotum, only to drive him back home again. Twice.

10 days later, though, the fondling was finally followed by an operation. 

When we collected him, the vet seemed a little discombobulated. She wasn’t sure if she had found the second testicle. She had sent a sample to the lab and would find out within two weeks if it was indeed testicular matter she had cut out. We would not be charged for a subsequent operation if such were needed.

Unnerved, we drove poor Kashmir home. 

Still heavily sedated, he was in no pain. Back in his familiar environment, as soon as I opened the door of his carry-cage, he bolted out and ran up the stairs. He was by turns exuberantly playful and excessively affectionate, behaviour we had seen before, after Firefly’s spaying, while she was still sedated. 

When we saw his wounds, we were alarmed. 

Of course he was trying to clean them. We did not want to cone him, as both his brother and mother had reacted wildly when coned after their operations, and we figured he would react similarly. We let them deal with their situation cone-free. After gentle correcting, both learned to leave their wounds alone. We felt it safer to take the same approach with Kashmir. 

But the larger of his three scars, right down the middle of his belly and about three inches long, started pumping out a clear, pinkish liquid we later learned was plasma. It was horrible to watch. Had he been properly stitched up? Was it a botched operation? When we then coned him, he thrashed and writhed, causing more plasma to pump out. He left pools of it wherever he stopped. So we removed the cone again and resolved to be by his side, in shifts, to gently stop him licking his wound, until it had properly closed. 

This did not work. The leaking plasma matted his fur, which he desperately wanted to clean. This made it very hard to police his cleaning effectively, to make sure he was not cleaning and worrying his wounds. The hours crawled by but the wound would not close. And he was too playful, active, insistent … uncontrollable. We had enjoyed success with this policing strategy with Nokoribi after a cat-fight wound had become an abscess. Not so with Kashmir. 

Finally, though not trusting the competence of the veterinary surgery much at all, we called up and asked for advice. We were told not to worry, that weeping wounds were not uncommon, that we really had to cone Kashmir and wait out his thrashing and writhing. We followed these instructions and, after about 20 minutes, he accepted the cone and settled down somewhat.

But his wound would not stop weeping, even through the next day. In no pain, he was still too physical, we thought.

To kill pain, or not to kill pain, that is the question

Pain is information, feedback from our body about how to behave, what precautions to take. Sedated, Kashmir behaved far too recklessly – it seemed to us – for his wound to heal. We had been given fairly potent painkillers we were to administer 24 hours after the operation, then repeatedly in 24-hour intervals until they ran out. We discussed whether to use Kashmir’s pain to control his behaviours for his long-term benefit instead, and decided this was, on balance, the wiser course.

Next day, coned and miserable, his pain made its presence felt. He hunkered on the blanket we had prepared for him and slept, rousing only when thirst or hunger became too strong to ignore. Coned throughout, in serious pain, we brought water and food to him. He was with us in bed for days. We surrounded him with love, and it was clear to us our love, our deep care, gently eased its way through his balled defensiveness. 

The wound stopped weeping. Every opportunity we had to inspect his wounds told us he was healing beautifully. It was a very moving experience, though one shot through with concern.

Our three-way bond grew deeper. Kashmir knew, as all non-human animals know, that we meant him no harm, that our emanations were loving, that he was being bathed in love from morning to night and back around again. But we don’t want to put him through another operation again. The results from the lab were inconclusive: Whatever it was that the vet had partially cut out of Kashmir, it was not testicular. In Germany, vets use an ultrasound device to locate the undescended testicle before operating. Not so here in the UK. So not only was the operation three times more expensive than it would have been had both testicles descended, it was an ugly failure. 

Our experience with the medical profession, especially after lockdowns and ‘vaccine’ mandates, after being on the receiving end of its opprobrium and icy disdain for daring to disagree with its assessments, has been badly negative more often than not. This includes an almost fatal mishandling of my wife’s hyperactive thyroid that went undiagnosed throughout an entire pregnancy, and the non-diagnosis and arrogant disinterest in my own extreme shoulder pain, which turned out to be a very bad case of frozen shoulder and bursitis. There are good doctors of course, but one has to find them. It is worse in the UK than in Germany, and I can’t speak for other countries, but our experience has distanced us from the medical profession. Our trust in it has been cut to the bone.

Watching Kashmir manage his healing as guided by his pain was, as said, a beautiful thing, though also fraught. I dealt with my own potentially deadly illness, possibly c19, which I think became pneumonia, without any help at all from any doctor or hospital. I allowed my body’s communications to guide me. I stayed calm throughout. People who care about me were around me. I made a full recovery. Perhaps this was reckless of me, but my personal conviction is that we moderns are too afraid of pain, and of death. There is most certainly a place for the wonder of modern pain-management drugs – I would never argue otherwise – but who can put their hand on their heart and say we have not coddled ourselves too much?

Wisdom is the doctor

The body knows. When we freak out, our body cannot be heard. Any kind of hysteria is a wildfire-malfunctioning that burns all useful information to ash. The more we are exposed to learning how to handle our pains and illnesses, the wiser we become, the more seriously we take risks to our health, and the more confidence we have in what the body can do. Health-for-profit is bound by its own economic logic to interrupt this, to intervene, to exploit.

Specialisation makes wisdom seem remote from us; we outsource most of what we could do ourselves to others. If we perceive this dynamic as counter to our interests, we can choose to learn how to help ourselves where possible. While I do not advise anyone on their own health concerns, I do humbly suggest my reasoning here is generally warranted. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, goes the saying. Wise prevention and wise self-management harm health-industry profits. 

Imagine a world without junk food, imagine populations everywhere thriving from meaningful contributions to their communities. Imagine a world of healthy soil, water and air, of social governance structured by transparent knowledge accessible to all, a world in which the bling and glitter of consumerism were a distant memory. What kind of health industry would fit such a world? One very different to the one we have.

It is its very difference, so easy to picture in broad brushstrokes, that is so redolent of what ails us today. 

Fear does not foster health. I did not feel the interventions of lockdowns and mask and ‘vaccine’ mandates during the ‘pandemic’ to be healthful, or loving. Corona measures were both fear inducing and induced, and thus as far from wisdom as it is possible to be. Kashmir knew my wife and I were wholly concerned with his wellbeing as we locked him down and coned him. Sometimes these things must be done. But I know management of whatever c19 is/was was not similarly intentioned. It felt sinister from the start: totalitarian, designed to herd people into something … into more obedience and away from wisdom and love. Towards more fear. And now 15 minute cities feel the same, like a continuation of sinister intent. 

Am I allowed to ask whether global warming is a bad thing? Is there truly such a thing as “runaway” global warming? Or is the fear too great to permit disagreement, to admit discussion. Why is “anti-vaxxer” a pejorative? When I try to discuss such things, I am told there is only one side: Science. “If you question me, quite frankly, you question the science.” I cannot imagine a more religious, or more chilling, statement.

In what kind of system are we living when there is only one side?

In fear, it is as if our fear is the only thing keeping us alive. Those who question our behaviours and beliefs are thus dangerous fools. We need our precious fear to make it through! But all emotions feel justified. Indeed, while felt, all emotions must be justified – i.e. have a cause –; otherwise they wouldn’t occur. Earned wisdom penetrates this sense that an emotion triggered by an issue is somehow The Truth of that issue. 

It is utterly non-controversial that fear is bad for health. Why were/are we kept in fear, why do we seem to want to remain afraid? I look around me and see no imminent danger, but almost everyone seems existentially afraid. Why? This state of affairs hasn’t materialised out of nowhere, uncaused. 

Kashmir is not afraid of me. He knows I love him and want what’s best for him. He trusts me totally. Being forced or finessed via a generalised Stockholm-Syndrome into ‘trusting’ authority has very different psychological colours. You can feel (not emote) the difference between genuinely earned trust, and ‘trust’ forced upon you by whomever, just as you can feel the difference between an imagined health-care system rooted in wisdom and love, and one rooted in the profit motive.

This, for me, is the lesson of the pain of this historical moment. This, for me, is the cultural wisdom these horribly interesting times can yield. 

Will yield; as the pressure mounts, our hunger for something wiser, something truly organic, is becoming irresistible.

10 April 2023

Ideology: the enemy within


When you know with stainless-steel conviction you are wholly right in your worldview, any disagreement with your position is evil and may not be countenanced. Without knowing it, you have become the enemy within, but can only see enemies, potential or actual, everywhere else. This is the state of being of the ideologue.

Ideological fervour blinds us to nuance, causes us to react to any disagreement as unforgivable heresy, to react to pragmatic subtlety as malicious subversion, and so on. It has an hysterically narcissistic quality, as if the rest of reality must orbit our needs and wants as obediently as planets orbit the sun; anything less than total subservience is a flagrant attack. 

This is how I see The West. It is not, I should point out, how I see the West, which is in my view suffering, mostly unwittingly, a kind of mass Stockholm Syndrome as it struggles to survive and appease the insanity of its leaders, an insanity the West is still too afraid to face. I believe events are now overtaking us, though, and will soon force our eyes open.

“Free will is sacred” is a refrain I use perhaps too much. I also say “there is nothing but God”, also perhaps too much. These statements do not constitute ideological fervour; they instil in me a profound reverence for other people’s godliness, and a humble conviction that everyone must develop their own wisdom their way. Grass does not grow faster when you shout at it. Each of us is the creator of their own wisdom. The result is a uniqueness that makes us impossibly beautiful, beautiful beyond comprehension and description. This is what supports my assertion, or position, that Health <=> Love <=> Wisdom, a ‘trinitarian’ unity or symbiont that is the dynamic essence of reality, of “there is nothing but God”. 

What I see behind the rapidly collapsing West is a sickening or perverted rejection of this deepest truth. The collapse is bringing to the surface, for us all to see, accumulated poisons and bile we must confront and process before we can evolve to something healthier. It is a lengthy and horrible ordeal.

This deepest truth situates in each of us final responsibility for our own wisdom, our health, for the quality of our love. This responsibility is our duty, the service we can offer to the world, that we can offer to God, in glad reverence and humility, if we so choose. But the last thing this commitment is, is easy. We can only fail, repeatedly, to then be helped back to our feet to find our own unique way back to our path once again. 

Always find your way back to love.

“Love is unconditional. If it isn’t unconditional, it isn’t love.” (Tom Campbell) I cannot think of a more revolutionary truth.

14 March 2023

The perils of certainty in an uncertain world

 DeNiro: This is this

“This is this. This is this!” Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter. But how helpful is Michael’s certainty? After all, even though a bullet is indeed a bullet, the USA lost the Vietnam war after firing far more bullets than their enemy.


This article examines how decisions are investments in the future, and how consequent systemic inflexibility can lead to very ugly outcomes as we double- and triple-down on prior investments when refusing to read the writing on the wall. It posits wisdom, that unquantifiable, uncertain phenomenon, as the main ingredient needed for best navigating this inevitable pattern.

This is an article of two halves joined together by an examined thought. We begin with a look at the long-term challenges of industrial war, currently a hot topic for NATO and very relevant to US dreams of perpetuating its cherished unipolar power, and then proceed to revisit some issues surrounding money that I have begun to reconsider.

Bogged down in the world The West built

Power can paint you into a corner as surely as any lack of foresight can. Because of various complex realities pertaining to munitions manufacture, The West is now in a bind in its Ukrainian misadventure. Below in list form the considerable challenges of long-term shell manufacture as recently expounded by Dr Jack Watling in The Daily Telegraph (hat tip to Alexander Mercouris for discussing Dr Watling’s article):

  1. Ukraine’s rate of shell consumption is many times higher than the West’s shell-manufacturing capacity: the West’s defence industries are thus in the spotlight
  2. NATO has been hollowed out since end of Cold War
  3. Shell manufacture consists of five separate processes, with explosives production being highly demanding: expensive, significant quality-control and regulatory restrictions; each shell must be close to perfect to be safe to use
  4. Ukraine uses 17 different artillery types of both NATO and Soviet designs
  5. Economics: Shells used in vast quantities during war, but hardly at all in times of peace. Must be produced at slim margins during war to keep cost to state low. Incentive to mass produce shells in peace time thus very low. A shelf life of approx 20 years makes stockpiling shells problematic. Excess capacity requires companies to keep factories idle for decades. It is a serious challenge to keep a skilled work force available in own population, and very demanding to keep machinery in good working order when kept mostly idle, etc.
  6. The West’s focus economically is mostly services, having outsourced its manufacturing for the most part. For this and many other reasons, the West is in no position to quickly establish the correct economic conditions to even begin to meet Ukraine’s munitions demand.
  7. Defence industry incentivised to manufacture high-profit munitions such as complex, high-tech missiles, fighter jets, etc. (see Mercouris quote immediately below). This over time governs what type of war the West is best at waging. In conjunction with other factors, this slowly evolving character becomes increasingly difficult to change, until it becomes effectively impossible, especially within the timeframe (a few months) required of the West by the Russia-Ukraine war. 

Western ideas of fighting wars with a limited number of highly trained troops operating ultra-sophisticated but extremely expensive weapons [has been] shown to be wrong. […] The West has disastrously over-invested in air power. – Alexander Mercouris (my emphasis). 

In other words, The West has a catastrophically inaccurate perception of Russia, one on which it has gambled its own prosperity and Ukraine’s viability as a nation. Its miscalculation flows directly from prior decisions, which themselves flowed directly from earlier decisions all flowing from the West’s foundational values and assumptions. My argument is that the West has failed to favour wisdom and quality over narrow intelligence and quantity-based ideas of value in a very particular way. It is this deep character trait that has led it to its current crisis.

Russia is fighting a war of attrition, not a war of rapid territorial gains The West prefers, a strategy aided and abetted by domination of the skies and the long-range naval projection of that dominance. Victory in wars of attrition are decided by who has artillery/missile dominance. As Stalin put it: “Quantity has a quality all its own.” This is not troop size or the myth of “human-wave tactics”, this is industrial prowess imposed militarily over an opponent.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is thus an industrial war as much as (or more than) it is a technological war; mass-production of munitions looks to be the decisive factor. It is thus a war that is exposing the West’s inability to keep up with Russia industrially, and therefore more so with China should China choose to engage. Furthermore, the likelihood that Russia deliberately and carefully opted for this strategy without having the industry to back it up must be vanishingly small; the stakes are too high, and Russia is too cautious and conservative a culture to fluff a decision of such existential importance. Ergo, The West has gravely miscalculated its way into a fight it cannot win. The bitter tragedy is that Ukraine is paying the price for The West’s hubristic arrogance. 

For me, then, the Russia-Ukraine war is a darkly brilliant example of how a civilisation’s foundational value system steadily percolates up to control almost everything, slowly setting everything in place in a particular constellation of institutional and business power structures. In the West’s case, value is determined almost entirely by money/price/markets, and is thus essentially associated with number, with quantity, but in the abstract rather than the physical sense. If a thing does not generate a sufficient quantity of money profits, that thing is not worth pursuing. The West’s sense of what it can and should do is therefore governed almost entirely by pure number-quantity considerations, where numbers can be increased to infinity (and beyond!). The West’s consequent hubris leads it wildly astray. The real world can only fail to disappoint The West’s heady ambitions.

Such folly is, I believe, less true of Russia and China, who are reflexively wary of market-based price-discovery, seeming to prefer top-down command processes to ameliorate what they likely think of as market instabilities and excess. How effective or wise this is, is not for me to say. Equally, Russia and China favour manufactured hardware, food production, functioning infrastructure etc. as engines of growth, over service and FIRE sectors and the quick, heady money-profits the latter can generate.

Blurring the boundary between quantity and quality

By now you should have noticed an apparent contradiction in my position, best captured perhaps by Stalin’s words: “Quantity has a quality all its own.” The point I’m trying to bring into relief is a subtle one: The West now has a crass relationship with quantity that has been stripped of any wisdom it might once have had. In obsessive pursuit of efficiency of value creation and throughput, The West has outsourced its wisdom to airy automated processes – i.e. The Market – via endlessly proliferating number measurements in the now reflexive certainty there is little more to value than number/money. 

Russia and China appear to me to have a more nuanced and wiser relationship with the complex interplays between quantity and quality, as Stalin’s famous quote implies, as the delicate avenues of Confucian thought suggest. By this I do not mean China and Russia are as wise as it is possible for a culture to be, merely that they appear to me wiser than The West on this point. I take my evidence from how they are better handling their respective relationships with the rest of the world, while acknowledging that another factor could be how historical timing favours their current roles as rising powers benefiting from The West’s decline.

(I’m well aware of the argument that The West is in fact statist and not a ‘purely’ capitalist enterprise – ignoring for the sake of brevity the many subtly different interpretations of ‘market economics’ applied by the West’s different nation states –, but this is not an argument I take especially seriously. I’m more persuaded by reasoning that casts money as a creature of the state, not some neutral, natural emergence from an Adam-Smith-like, trucking and bartering homo economicus. As such, I see the state-market dichotomy as at best misleading. Each entity interferes with the other; they are in my eyes two halves of a very complex symbiont, Siamese Twins eternally joined at the money system, each as concerned with power as the other. Money-as-power is for me the issue of concern, not how ‘purely’ capitalist or socialist or communist a state might be.)

Of course there are also all sorts of international-trade interdependencies adding their dizzying array of complexities – the West as China’s source of insatiable demand, for a simple example. These factors closely tie nations of differing socioeconomic preferences and prowess to broadly similar economic vectors, such that each enjoys and suffers the other’s trade turbulence to varying degrees, with the US still top dog in this regard. That said, a careful decoupling is now underway, as the non-Western world gently frees itself from the West. But as gently as they try, it is of course proving a turbulent process, as all epochal change is. 

But beneath these economic factors, nations can be in competition with one another in more fundamental, culturally reflexive ways, as we currently see between The West and Russia, and between the US and China. These sorts of tensions develop unpredictably in the fine detail, as determined by the character of whichever governments happen to be in charge, and by each permanent state’s geopolitical sensibilities and ideologies. This is extraordinarily complicated territory that is only partly determined by economic considerations. Here things like ideological fervour and personal psychological profiles are very significant factors. Add in the unavoidable rise and fall civilisations are subject to, which determines how venal a civilisation and its states are … well, we can see that wars bubble up from very murky pools, and are of uncertain outcome. There is much more to it than a bullet being a bullet.

How wars shape up and play out is, as we’ve just touched on, determined by a huge number of factors, but relative defence-industry prowess turns out to be, once again, one of them. When the US attacks countries of the industrial calibre of Iraq or Libya, the balance of power favours The West. When it comes to Russia and China as opponents, things are significantly different. With an increasingly senile president ‘in charge’ of the US, with the UK and EU struggling with their own difficult economic realities, with Russia facing significant growth potential domestically and in international trade, it’s clear why unbiased and well-informed observers are increasingly advising The West – with a capitalised “The” I mean essentially the neocon cohort’s influence on the West – to find an exit strategy as quickly as possible. Recent insinuations against the Ukrainian regime in a New York Times article that sets out, very vaguely, how six “pro-Ukrainian” people in a yacht blew up the Nord Stream pipelines constitute a very redolent and, for The West, profoundly embarrassing case in point. 

The panic levels must be at fever pitch among neocons; the story floated in the NYT and repeated only somewhat elsewhere is being treated with chill and biting skepticism in Germany, where the Seymour Hersh article setting out with more detail who more likely lies behind the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines is making serious waves. These waves are in turn piling pressure on Scholz, who is a weak leader of a fractious coalition government that has pledged fanatical support to what it bills “Ukraine: Europe’s Eastern Bastion of Freedom and Democracy”. If the German people is persuaded that the US was indeed behind the terroristic destruction of its prosperity, it will not bode well at all for NATO, nor for Germany’s decades-long and fervent atlanticism, regardless of how fervent their loyalty is. 

Events are overtaking them. The West’s deeply held certainties are turning soft in its increasingly anxious grip.

Certainly uncertain: the value of value

Let us return to our main theme; decisions are investments in the future, and cumulatively so. In many ways, money and compound interest reflect this fundamental truth. It is why I so repeatedly promote organic wisdom over intelligence, over automation and any other mechanical or computerised system. If we fail to regularly clear out the crap (malinvestments) earned from our less wise decisions – a process that requires wisdom, which itself requires humility –, we face an unmanageably large correction when events overtake us. I believe this is what is happening to The West. 

If we fail to value wisdom, which can be neither measured nor quantified, our chances of catastrophic corrections are far higher. Without wisdom, how can we recognise when best to self-correct? We are in effect leaving it up to fate, and fate can be a brutal task master.

This leads to a question I am increasingly asking myself: Can money as market-based price/value-discovery system indeed be the ‘automated’ or ‘organic’ cultural wisdom some seem to want it to be (“Hand, The Invisible” as Zarlenga wittily put it)? I’m beginning to waver on this point. Does my uncertainty here mean I favour Russian/Chinese over Western cultural reflexes on this issue? No; I favour anarchic solutions that systemically encourage wisdom both individually and thus, necessarily, culturally. On the whole, though, I try to describe what I see without then prescribing the best solutions.

Civilisations are built on certain operating assumptions that must be treated as sacrosanct for its vision of How Things Should Be to be realised. Building a civilisation is far from easy. As a civilisational vision beds down over decades and centuries, so systems become less and less adaptive, more and more institutionalised – in the absence of sufficient cultural wisdom, that is. With insufficient wisdom, what was once clearly the foundational reason for greatness slowly and invisibly becomes the cause of decay. As argued above, one of the West’s foundational assumptions is value as number as money. In seeming direct consequence of this, money now appears to be our god. I see this as one of the root causes of our impending demotion.

So what is money, then? Here is Alan Greenspan talking about the slippery difficulty of pinning it down:

This is not to say that money is not relevant to the economy. For a central bank to say money is irrelevant is the deepest form of sin that such an institution can commit. The problem is that we cannot extract from our statistical database what is true money conceptually, either in the transactions mode or the store-of-value mode. One of the reasons, obviously, is that the proliferation of products has been so extraordinary that the true underlying mix of money in our money and near-money data is continuously changing. – Alan Greenspan, FOMC Transcript, June 2000.

It might seem a small leap to think that holding up a dollar bill and shouting “This is this!” into the face of some good-for-nothing layabout tells us all we know about money. But, just as with bullets, money is more complex than such gestures can capture. We may well like simple certainties, but our preference does not make simple certainties helpfully accurate descriptors. Furthermore, holding up a gold ingot rather than paper money does not really improve the picture. In fact, it might well exacerbate our difficultly in penetrating a fog we refuse to acknowledge. So I believe Greenspan is voicing a generalised exasperation still prevalent among his peers that will in fact never be solved. Money will never be that certain thing our reflexes currently want it to be. 

In the tension between wilful expectation and reality, things are falling apart. Our power structures have become morally moribund and brutish, and thus wholly incapable of navigating the challenges before us with anything remotely approaching wise foresight. Our core value system has steadily selected for icy ambition and greed as required qualities for promotion, rather than wisdom and humility. I see this as a crass quality-versus-quantity issue.

To go over old ground, there can be no objective or falsifiable store of value. Value is relative. The proposition that we can have the objective unit “1 Value” is meaningless. More meaningless, in fact, than looking for discreet millimetres in an object by cutting it open. And while there are indeed institutes of units and measures that set standard specifications on what constitutes a meter, a gram, the speed of light, etc., these measurements become fuzzy at very fine granularity, so even here objectivity has its limits. Leaving that irreducible fuzziness to one side and to return to value, value cannot be specified like weights and measures can. To repeat, unlike meters, value is fundamentally relative; you don’t need to know what inches are to understand and use meters, nor do you need to understand wood and metal.

Were we to attempt to specify 1 Value, it must then equal some other thing, very differently to the standardised “from here to there” of distance. But what other thing should 1 Value equal? 1 Gram of Gold, perhaps? But what do we do with that gram of gold, what utility does it have, what is the purpose, the value of measuring value? 

Well, we would use gold as money to buy things. This means that “1 Value = 1 Gram of Gold” can only have value in a market. In other words, there must first be market-based trading – which includes dynamic price discovery (value discovery!!) – before an effort to fix value to a specific measurement (money) can have any use in the first place. What happens in markets? Truck and barter. Truck and barter cannot happen over metres and kilograms. Look at how gold prices and currency exchanges fluctuate over time. Ergo, neither gold nor any other money can be an ‘objective’ store or measure of value other than we reflexively, culturally believe it to be. And I don’t mean any of this disparagingly, nor that this is some new observation. My point is that Western cultural reflexes seem not to take it sufficiently into account. On the contrary, they lionise money with a stubbornness that blows my brains.

Nevertheless, Greenspan knew we do not understand money. He also knew we are culturally invested in it, and deeply so: “to say money is irrelevant is the deepest form of sin”. Money is a creature of culture, of power, of belief, of symbols. To my eyes, it is a societal magic. It is a part-designed, part-evolved system that guides societal action right across the planet, as if by magic (Hand, The Invisible moves in mysterious ways). It is thus existentially important that money ‘work’ (whatever ‘work’ means), and that it be at least somewhat controllable. With insufficient control, our ability to correct in the face of financial troubles before correction becomes unmanageable diminishes cumulatively. The FED and other central banks are thus, in essence, necessarily under-equipped guardians of the existentially important belief they have sufficient control, despite the fact that it can never really be so. (Hat tip to Jeff Snider for laying this out in such a clear way!)

But while I’m not convinced markets ‘know’ better, I do tend to feel they cope better when allowed to decentralise via innovation and general historical turbulence than any centralised state apparatus could; they deliver more immediate corrective feedback. This possibility applies no matter the origins of money, and no matter how inextricably intertwined the state-market symbiont is. Markets are a technology one way or the other, a technology that delivers benefits and risks as all technologies do. The same goes for statecraft. With a wise handling of both sides of this complex pairing one should enjoy the best of both. Balance in all things, as they say.

The eternal danger is how money equals power and how power corrupts. Knowing that there is no ‘perfect’ system – where “perfect” tends to mean “nobody need suffer ever again, and especially not me” –, knowing also that there is no “perfect competition” to prevent the emergence of monopolistic or oligarchical power in real-world markets, I do accept that idealistic sensitives like Yours Truly ought to be very wary of slipping into ideological certainties. What does seem clear, though, is that ideological certainty is one of the root causes of The West’s current predicament, and it has befallen power players of a very different character.

I continue to believe that additional fundamentals are being ground down by historical change, these more global in scope. They remain in my thinking as warnings advising me to stay loose in my loyalties to this or that ‘solution’. We’ll touch on those fundamentals in passing as we close out this tricky article.


When we have a mid-50% labour-participation rate in the US, flourishing obesity in many Western nations despite similar labour-participation rates, recalcitrant inflation, rapidly improving robotics and AI, computerised market trading, etc., it is easy to see that money itself should be in the spotlight, whether fiat, crypto, gold, vouchers, etc. Money is an issue because we are so heavily invested in it, and, far more importantly, in over our heads with our poor understanding and therefore poor relationship with it. We want to have a “This is this!” money, but I suspect we can never have it. 

We, the People should therefore insist on more suppleness and wisdom in our power infrastructure, as systematically as we are able to embed it there, and consequently allow, via decentralisation and localisation, the best mix of alternative monies to rise to the surface.

For the moment, it seems we simply do not want to know how uncertain and magical money really is. The exact same dynamic is at work regarding materialism and the nature of reality, I believe. This paradigmatic crucible is exactly what this blog fumbles to understand. 

We know full well that we pay an horrendous price when we lose control at the civilisational scale. My hope is that the core reason for current crises is our over-investment in an erroneous understanding of the nature of reality, an error that yokes us to control itself as a culturally reflexive imperative. This reflex blinds us to feedback from left, right and centre, bellowing at us to change course.

Dauntingly for us, it is somewhere in the process of letting go that wiser, more supple solutions will emerge – not before; only a Fool’s Leap can reveal such treasures. As Ukraine is ground down by forces it does not want to understand; as international trading systems groan once again under the multiple strains generated by lockdowns, bossy governments and hubristic organisations like the UN, WHO and WEF; as we suffer at the hands of fervent ideologues in power positions; and as our cultural addiction to certainty in a fundamentally uncertain world condemns us to inappropriate knee-jerk reactions to events, so the need for clear and bold out-of-the-box thinking mounts. I suspect for most this sort of thinking is still anathema. But I strongly sense that for a small and quickly growing minority, this need is becoming clearer and clearer. 

Though terrible storms lie just ahead, more distant signs of the times are improving solidly. The outlook just over the horizon looks brighter and brighter. Let’s not forget that when the storms land.

25 February 2023

The West stands alone on Ukrainian debris

Having become caught up in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, I have been listening daily to reports from Alexander Mercouris, Alex Christoforou – both individually and as The Duran –, from Colonel Douglas MacGregor, Scott Ritter, Garland Nixon, and Brian Berletic. Never believing they could possibly be correct about everything, I have found them jointly and severally persuasive, especially as events on the ground have panned out in approximate accordance with their analyses. Far more so, I should say, than the fare on offer from The West’s almost unitary media. Seeing as I lost faith in its output in 2008, and lost what was left of that faith during 2020, this is hardly a surprising reaction on my part. That said, I should point out that goodish reporting on Russia-Ukraine does make an odd cameo here and there, but The West’s shrill chorus is most pervasively, determinedly on display, and most directly at odds with reality.

For well over a decade, I have watched The West descend ever more deeply into the bottomless pit of its own godless narcissism. How much this descent pertains to or influences the non-Western world is far from clear to me. As I recently commented, I’m almost certain we are living through The West’s demise – in its current form – and the rise of … well … something else. Time will tell what shape “something else” takes.

(Or I may have been persuaded by the wrong analyses. I doubt it, but am open to the possibility I’m seeing events incorrectly. I am no expert in war and history, cannot see everything that is happening, but do have a fairly detached approach to What’s Going On, so can keep myself from becoming over invested in this or that perspective.)

China has just voiced strong commitment to its growing partnership with Russia. It announced itself impervious to “third parties” seeking to drive a wedge between them. China’s commitment is anathema to The West, which has been loudly proclaiming Russia’s isolation since the war began. The more this lie is revealed, with India and others also drawing closer to Russia, the shriller The West becomes in proclaiming it. As its nihilistic mania oscillates out of control, The West can no longer conceal the smell of its insanity. Why won’t the world do what I want, it seems to howl. Having fallen victim to its own propaganda, having convinced itself of its exceptional specialness, having nothing nobler in its ambition than commanding the rest of reality to conform to its demands, it now stares up at the rising face of the mountainous correction looming before it, and pales. 

Isn’t this exactly how history rolls? Who didn’t feel this coming, at least as a dark suspicion?

What happens next is what really interests humans. At least, that’s what John Cusack’s character reveals towards the end of a TV series (Utopia). There’s much truth in what Cusack says, and are we not royally entertained! Sadly, with the world’s most renowned investigative journalist having published an article detailing how the US – Biden, Sullivan, Nuland, Blinken – cooperated with Finland to blow up the Nord Stream pipelines back in September 2022, which essentially constitutes a terrorist attack on an ally’s vital infrastructure; with the naked Satanism on display at the Grammies; with endless Western fawning around the PR ‘hero’ president of Korrupt Ukraine, so lovingly photographed by Tatler magazine, what happens next to The West should not be too hard to predict. The West is in a state of rampant and open moral collapse, lost to the crazed delirium of its guttering hubris as it devours Ukraine’s life-force in obsessive pursuit of the impossible.

What happens next, ‘win’ or ‘lose’, is ignominious defeat, comeuppance, hard karma, correction. For health to reassert itself in the West, as it will at some point, correction must happen first. We must pay for the things we broke and are breaking.

What happens next in detail is far less clear. How desperate are the neocons? How thoroughly dumbed down are we Westerners? How bitter, how cynical, how angry, how afraid? What chops do we have when it comes to painfully needed dialogue, reconciliation, justice and a return to simple decency? Are we still able to pick out decency from a line-up of possible contenders for that noble quality? In other words, will the West, with all it has to offer, survive its long abuse at the hands of The West, that pompous faction that has dominated too long? I dearly hope so.

Ukraine has become a tragic poem of how wrong things can get. It is its bitter poetry that so occupies me. And Ohio’s dioxin clouds, monstrous elite insensitivity repeated over and over again as if amassed money denotes nobility of spirit, as if brute power can convince us all of anything, forever, no matter how absurd, no matter how evil, simply because it says so. With millions dazed in their fogged twilight of Stockholm Syndrome and idealogical fever-dreams, distracted this way and that, headed every way but love, all The West’s rot descends on Ukraine like a plague. Or erupts from its soil as detonated limbs and burst faces. Why did Ukraine absorb all this, admit all this evil into itself? I will never know. But there it is for all the (non-Western) world to see.

My prayer is that we take this apocalypse, this revelation, this Enttäuschung (German for disappointment, but it means, literally, de-deception) deeply to heart, and learn. If we succeed in that, it won’t have been in vain. If we pass this difficult test, we will have a good chance of fashioning something beautiful from our ruin.

22 February 2023

A defence of health

I have repeatedly asserted that reality corrects towards health over time. This appears to flatly contradict how events and ‘things’ are subject to entropy, to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. So it seems at the very least wishful and naïve of me to argue that somehow, magically, health is in fact reality’s driving force. I’m going to address that wishful naïvety in this article, albeit briefly.

We start with a simple observation. In purely ‘physical’ terms, reality has managed to proceed from the chaos – maximum entropy – immediately following the Big Bang, across aeons of uncertainty, to human life on this planet of exquisite complexity. Were there only entropy, this could not have happened. Hence, we need to bear in mind that negative entropy is also at work.

The second observation is more slippery and controversial: Materialism cannot account for consciousness. (I argue that materialism cannot fully explain matter, energy, space and time either, but that would be too much for this article.) This is to say that there is considerable uncertainty in the realm of ontology, generally speaking. Indeed, if we are strict ontological materialists, there can be neither consciousness nor free will. This means, by extension, that there can also be no meaning. And yet here I am making some. And there you are making your own meanings from my made meanings. I take this fact of our being meaning makers as solid, even irrefutable evidence that materialism, in its stricter sense, is fallacious. 

Another way of expressing all this is that there is more to reality than the laws of physics; there’s plenty of wriggle room here.

As a man who believes (knows) there is only consciousness, that there is nothing but God, I make it my business to try to think organically; to use logic, intuition, instinct and reason together, rather than reason alone. I also see the mechanistic aspect of reality as a subset of the organic. I see things very differently to prevailing orthodoxies. 

So how do I understand health? In a nutshell: Health is why we incarnate. 

Sickness – departure from health and yet part of health’s broader vector – is a learning curve that makes our return to health more than a mere return to some immutable root state. Everything is always evolving. Indeed, falls from grace, slides into depravity, collapses into disease and malfunction all enrich evolution, are counterintuitively necessary essences of health as it serves evolution. “Health” is for me a word that poetically captures this dynamic, this fundamental truth.

Fundamental to our experience – to our duty – as human beings is how ego-fears generate the stresses and tensions that inexorably turn our attention toward understanding, toward actively pursuing, health. This mindful pursuit of health, this desire to learn about health at all levels as profoundly and humbly as we can, is what I think of as the Love Path. We could equally appropriately call it the Wisdom Path.

Hence: Health <=> Love <=> Wisdom

And yet sickness is easy to slip into. It is not immediately obvious to the ego that the self-mastery, humility and discipline required to nurture your own health, forever, is worth the effort. The payoff is not only in the (apparently) distant future, descriptions of such dedication initially lack allure. We want an easy life. We want to ‘fix’ problems once and for all. For example, junk food is far easier and more fun than a healthily balanced meal carefully prepared; the latter takes work, might seem less enjoyable, and its benefits are long term. Ergo, the former has more appeal, is more tempting.

So departure from health is the easy option, the likelier option. Wanting to stay mindfully true to all aspects of health, really wanting to pay our dues in hard work and perhaps, in decadent times, even gladly enduring ostracisation, seems first to require plenty of compounded error, exhausted narcissism and clearly diminishing returns from multiple addictions before what health offers becomes sufficiently and meaningfully attractive. And yet there are always corrections nudging us towards the health vector if we but heed them. When we don’t, the corrections get more and more bleedin’ obvious until we either die and move on to our next adventure, or begin our journey over to the love path, in earnest, in our current life.

Because of this sense I have of health, I often publish articles that deliberately expose my failings and weaknesses. Anger is one, self-pity is another, and of course there are yet others. Sometimes I choose to reveal facets of these things as poems or more poetic pieces, sometimes as arrogance or incredulity, but I always share them uncommented. I walk the walk in my life – probably “stumble the stumble” is truer – and talk the walk at my blog. 

Pursuing health, as I understand that process, requires this sort of non-signposted disclosure of me. I do not want to prescribe, do not want to browbeat, do not want to be a hypocrite, and I will not vainly try to present a (seemingly) watertight description of reality. We must each make our own wisdom, which will always be unique to us. It is precisely this uniqueness that makes love so impossibly beautiful, so far beyond mechanical automation, beyond bureaucracy, beyond utopia, that it exists as a wholly different music. Our interdependent experiences in ‘physical’ reality contribute mightily to that music, but as humans we can do little more than deduce this in a fragmentary way, with apparently random blinding insights permitted to us from time to time. 

As the saying goes, God moves in mysterious ways. 

In summary, my sense of All That Is understands entropy as a necessary process serving evolution. It is our great human difficulty in handling our egos that makes this seem violently, brutally cruel, as if we are for the most part unfairly, pointlessly imprisoned in the devil’s playground.

So when I talk about the health-wisdom-love triad, I’m referencing something more fundamental than the human ego and its endless concerns, and also more encompassing and thus beyond materialism’s tenets. The triad is to me something that operates beyond opposites as we experience them. As such, this fundamental triadic unity hovers at a distance from us, a little like the horizon does: an emergent ‘illusion’ resulting from a constellation of interoperating factors, including but not limited to our egos’ perceptions, the tight constraints of ‘physical’ existence, cultural reflexes, and personal habits of thought. 

Like the horizon, health is something we aim for but can never quite reach while seeing through ego’s eyes. As self-mastery and humility begin to find their feet in the quality of our being, as ego fades to translucency, the health horizon moves toward us as an earned and supportive embrace, in whose arms problems become challenges willingly met. 

Well worth it, don’t you think?

17 February 2023

When the sky goes

I finally let go in the small hours of February 9, 2023. It was an almost stranger I burned to tell first, though that burn cooled with the risen sun. Curled in her words like a cat in a cupboard, I had waited in vain too long.

For years, I have felt miles removed from what makes me me. The life we designed for ourselves, Annette and I, got bombed by circumstance to become a shatter zone of irksome demands and interruptions. The wholly understandable fact that no one need care – that no one should care – eats at me, which is itself a fact that eats at me. In my perception of my recent past – last decade or so –, I gave everything I have to life in as moral, loving and good a way as was in my power to do, deliberately, diligently, to unexpectedly produce a heap of dissonant events of little value or meaning to anyone but me. What remains is the stubborn sense that, having been broadly right all along, I got everything wrong.

Sometimes being on the right side of history is for the dogs. At least, that’s how it seems. 

My past now embarrasses me. It has amassed more weight than my enthusiasm, my ambition. I embarrass me. Who follows their heart so assiduously only to end up in a bitty, unattractive situation, in half-hearted isolation, as I managed? Maybe most who take on this sort of thing? (Or perhaps my heart is not what I thought.) 

So I gave up, and it took minimal effort. Something slipped off the edge of my life and dropped into oblivion.

My advice would be to follow your heart in secrecy, if you can. But perhaps, when history collapses in on itself, and just before narcissism breaks against the hard truth of its insoluble hollowness, all the air of the world can only be thick with the reek of it, a rot the best makeup artists, fashion designers, directors, producers and SFX wizards can never fully conceal. In times like these, there is no escape. I’d now say there never is.

So if you too saw the pig not the lipstick, if the world makes you soul-sick, you might well be one of those who now feels no pride or joy or satisfaction in having seen straight all these years.

But yes, I embarrass me. Not only can I make no clear sense of anything, I am as far as it is possible to be from knowing or sensing that any attempt to understand the depths is worth it, or could possibly be of value. So here I am with my future stretched out before me, a lifeless road dressed in no scenery, skewering an emptied horizon, under no stars, no sky.


It could not be more perfect. How else am I to be made properly sensible to what must be felt, how else properly inured against my many egoic sensitivities?

06 February 2023

A disjointed quartet of cartoonish provocations

The perils of automation

When human societies specialise into a fracturing myriad of skills, when they establish money and global markets, when, further, they automate large swathes of global production processes, what they also accomplish is a growing dependence on remote abstractions of what humans actually depend on. 

(Is this a negative of monstrous productivity?)

Instead of being intimately responsible for our survival – instead, in other words, of knowing with organic vitality how to survive and thrive – we drift from the intricacies of our immediate environment and learn how to prosper purely in terms of status, money-profit and power-gain. But such things can only ever be proxies for what we really need: that which yields rich meaning. Moreover, such conveniences seduce us, each from the other, into idiosyncratic bubbles we autistically demand and fashion from modernity’s brilliant but sterile cornucopia.

(Is this a bad thing, a fragile, precarious thing?)

As we automate production and distribution processes, as we make life ever more convenient for ourselves, we forget how to live; we diverge far from immediacy and float blindly into the multi-threaded abstractions that make up modernity’s dazzling web. Its dazzle clouds our ability to discern what is going on, blinds us to our addictions to highly complex networks of automated systems that cannot care about us – except as addicted users –, and so dehumanise us, denature us, plump us up for rot. 

We are Hansel and Gretel afraid to see how caged we are.

What else describes modernity? What am I artfully omitting?

The fruits of automation

I love my slaves. One is taking accurate dictation from my busy fingers this very moment. This, my favourite slave, is so totally obedient to my whims I could not love it more. It is so excellent, so elegant, I can comfortably overlook my dependence on it.

Thousands of years ago, my dependence would have been on the vicissitudes of my jungle home. Today, I am at the mercy of the caprices and techno-organic vicissitudes of my gadgets and the web of remote technologies that sustains them, and connects me to you, stranger.

Today, barring the wildly improbable, I can stroll safely to a supermarket and forage for a bag of pre-picked (and washed!) salad leaves, a loaf of packaged and sliced bread, a tub of fresh humus, and stroll safely back home to make myself a sandwich. 

Is this heaven, or what!

Maybe I’m a member of a gym. At the gym my multifaceted needs for physical fitness and adventure can be almost assuaged by various machines that can put my body through its paces in a variety of ways. I can even admire myself in mirrors as I sweat and bulge. Sweet! (And safe, too!)

And the entertainment, the culture, the art … the cornucopia at my fingertips is endless!

Is there anything else I am deliberately omitting?

Modernity spills out of itself and into itself to become modernity again, forever

It has been modernity since the year dot. 

Way back when, the Big Bang was the very latest technology. Later, flints to tame fire and whittle spears were cutting edge. In between, all sorts of things like cells and vegetation were breathtaking evolutionary accomplishments.

Whichever way you slice it, stuff is always cutting edge right now. But when we look back, we tend to infer “old fashioned”. In a certain light and mood, we can even discern progress. Such are deceptively informative perceptions that reveal much.

I’ve come to understand my efforts here as concerned with wisdom, another word for which would be love. Health is yet another. For me, these three are mutually explanatory synonyms. 

I have come to think that they are very important, pivotal even, to our historical moment. Call me a romantic, but I feel something evolutionary at work in the very fabric of reality. I intuit our position as a species, which is in many ways this universe’s vanguard, situated at a most profound inflection point, a crucible if you will, whose fascinating complex of pressures worry us towards the very maturation in wisdom needed to navigate it well. 

Either we choose maturation, or regression to something ugly, something Orwellian. 

But while both vectors are theoretically possible, my intuition also informs me that we’ve got this. The maturation vector will take everything we have, but the crucible is such that it can only induce exactly that from us; the best and the worst, with the best winning out as it must.

Whereupon we shall want to notice that more care is needed in how we go about living. Whereupon we shall want to notice that the right kind of care, grounded in love, is the best way to treat each other. And it will be from this very noticing, this deliberate mindfulness, that a new way of doing civilisation will arise. 

But, where once in my idealistic naïvety I chose to sense a mighty global awakening, I now welcome the slow and steady growth of this new thing from the fertile rot of the old. I feel its contours and content will surprise us all.

The Way is hard

We have also been accelerating. Bumps in the road, born of unintended consequences, spill much of history’s baggage this way and that. Our load lightens abruptly, regrows slowly, lightens again as we hit another bump. 

Yes, our pace has been accelerating of late, I’d wager as never before. In my eyes, the landscape is now whizzing by like white noise, the baggage heaped atop our crazy vehicle has grown mountainous. 

I want to squeeze my face shut and scream “STOP!” I crave peace, affection, beauty, calm. I want my efforts to have an effect.

I see us as a convolution, a grotesque of locked-in souls bound to what we have become by the exhilarating pace of change, the pressures of life, the glittering distractions, the hurts, the crimes, the spiralling temptations. I find it hard to blame anyone for anything.

To point this out is to wound. 

Today, to be true is to betray. 

If these are accurate, though colourful, observations, we are indeed at a burning crossroads. To select a different vector beyond this point surely requires of us a different quality of being; one quality of being led us here, a different quality will lead us elsewhere.

The journey is the destination, the means are the ends. If the contorted grotesque we have become (who is we?) grew directly from too much fear and greed, then self-correction towards wisdom and love will lead to something healthier, will manifest that different quality of future we long for.

To me, this is coldly logical, not airy-fairy. I am unaware of any sound counter argument. Those that cast human nature as our fixed doom grossly underestimate how flexible we are, and how powerful health is.

(Can a cynic be happy? Why is cynicism sickly? Why does pride suffocate courage?)

One way or the other, we will always be in modernity. We will always perceive problems, fix those problems, and thereby create new problems we will then try to fix. Accepting gladly this is how we are is part of the new way forward. 

But what do I mean by “new?” Well, not love itself, nor wisdom, nor health. I mean the context in which we rediscover their value, their essence, their organic vitality. What will be new is how we relearn that object and context are inseparable: reality as ever changing flow.

Mindfully and culturally holding in our awareness the contorted entanglements we can create for ourselves as a species will require more time for reflection and dialogue, with far less systemic pressure to accumulate more and More and MORE! stuff. And much else besides will need to co-evolve to facilitate that wildly improbable transformation. The task seems impossible, laughable! But surely it will all emerge naturally from a simple desire to find our way back to love, deliberately, over and over again. 

Though easy to identify, the Way is hard. The pressure to walk it is growing by the day, by the hour. Our choice is as bleak as it is magnificent. Things could not be more appropriate.