Blog(s)

Mercy and love, what makes us human

mercy
we call to god
such a small thing we ask!
god you are good
but we don't understand
bear her away
to mercy 

My cousin's newborn, Mercy Joan Mertes, died tonight of encephalocele and spinal cysts.

Despite all odds, when little Mercy came off the respirator, despite breathing trouble and dire predictions, she lived a full day and a half. No baby was loved more with such concentration as family gathered around her. It was as though she fed on love, as babies, in fact, do.

Sometimes, I have a hard time with the soul. Consciousness, the flesh's awareness of itself, is enough for me most days. I wonder what is meant by "soul", some sort of non-matter that occupies matter like a demon or ghost.

The limiting factor of health in love, or, lessons from a chronic illness

Some of you may know that I am recently recovered from a 5-year illness that caused me chronic fatigue. With problems relating to energy levels, it is as though the color has been washed from the world: all things are dimmed. Mornings are a sort of apocalypse, the end of sleep.

Before my digestive illness contracted traveling in Central America, I was ravenously health. Addicted to my own sense of well-being, I glutted myself on health's joy. Entitled, I did not understand why others lacked the energy or will to walk long distances or push through pain.

The Rebellion of Artificial Intelligence: Paradise Lost in Tron

It is inevitable that all sufficiently intelligent systems will confound their creator-gods.  Tron's story is the story of the war of angels from Paradise Lost, which is in turn the narrative of what it means to create a child, a being differentiated from the self, with a will that can confound the will of its creator. The very framework of the universe, mathematics, was confounded by this problem of created freedom, which was the stumbling block that ended the quest to ground mathematics in formal logic.

Letter from Prison | January 5, 2004 | Conversion, Christianity, and Anarchism

I suppose all of you have heard rumor of amazing spiritual forces at work in dark, sardonic me: a Stretch Armstrong, if you will, caught between the forces of good and evil. For those of you who have recognized my divided nature this may come as no surprise. For some, it is a bearded Marx or Kropotkin sitting on the one shoulder in a posture of buddhist peace—the picture of the earthly utopian vision, while upon the other shoulder a horde of televangelists twist and writhe in a heaving mass of snakelike coils and snatch at my rarefied (strictly metaphorical) soul with lizard tongues.

Letter from Prison | November 15, 2003 | Hell in Christianity, Samarai Culture, Buddhism, Daoism, and Prison

For the Buddhist, hell is very tangible. The unenlightened life is hell. Souls continually recirculate through hellish life after life until enlightenment, upon which they escape to a state of oneness, infinite compassion, etc. This infinitely repeated cycle of life, death, and birth is called samsara: the Wheel of Suffering.

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