The Confusion of Cost & Value*

Economics is a fiction attempting to turn linear costs into a semblance of a circular system. We’re fed the line that by paying a cost we provide a benefit and, in turn either directly or indirectly, another benefit will come around to us. This is a line, a lie, since economic costs all ultimately settle onto “externalities.” While these are external to the economic fairy tale, they directly impinge on the Earth’s capacities – including all of our human capacities. We all pay costs, most of them hidden – not so successfully any more, just look at the Gulf of Mexico, before the media has messaged us all into believing it’s “normal” to have a dead sea pumping oil out into the Atlantic in a Gulf™ Stream. These costs accrue and compound and eventually come due; but not in the way the economic fairy tale would have it.

Survival of the Fittest

Is this really such a difficult concept? I don’t think so, its just inconvenient. It’s so much more gratifying to claim that all of our culturally induced pathologies are somehow reflections of our “true” natures and therefor “inalienable.” Couple this with the related notion of American, Western, Civilized, even Human Exceptionalism and you have a sure-fire antidote to the intrusion of any reality into our frantic displacement and projections.


Externalities. The term has been hidden within Economics since the beginning of its study of human endeavor and its look for potential ways to measure our activities. It’s been there since the first human error in judgment, the first break with the world of pure instinct, our first attempts to outsmart the balanced books that were our pre-human inheritance. The behavior was there, but until a profession created a meretricious term for it; giving these blunders a safe place to hide on our balance sheets, we were ashamed, or at least embarrassed by these holes in our understanding of how our accounts broke down.

Menacingly In Green Depths

This is an example of a dive we all need to take, to get past our terrified aversion to look at what’s going on around us and begin to take in what’s at stake.I’m devoting my energies to finding how to do this without our being crushed by the pressure. I want to help find ways to combat the “Bends ” that threaten us as we try to come up from these deep dives. There is a space between blissful ignorance and bottomless despair. In this space we can make a life, even in the face of such enormity.

“What Do I Want?” continued…

This question, What do I want? lays just beneath the surface always.  I’m aware of it, but it remains an inchoate, ineffable pressure, building, but for the most part, unable to break through to the surface.  I maintain a certain patience regarding it.  Its immanence feels like a good quality, its inexorable build-up seems aContinue reading ““What Do I Want?” continued…”

What do I want?

What do I want?  This is the hardest question for me to answer!  I don’t know if that’s a general problem, I suspect it is.  You would think that a question that doesn’t require that I deal with any outside power, or look for external approval – It’s not, “What do I want to do?”Continue reading “What do I want?”

The Present

The present is, of course, a preparation for the future; but if it’s not appreciated for what it is, one squanders life away, always ahead of one’s self, looking for the arrival of some “starting line” where “real life” will begin. This is real life.  No external gate-keeper, success, or validation will suddenly change that. Continue reading “The Present”

On Painting

Notes to a fellow painter, I’ve been thinking about your paintings and what you wrote about them. Part of the reason I’ve waited to respond has been wanting time for my thoughts to percolate. It’s so good that you’re painting. Carving the time and dealing with the logistics. That’s tremendous and shows the tenacity IContinue reading “On Painting”

Introduction to Shoal Hope

Introduction to Shoal Hope Last night I watched Bill Moyers delve into a chapter of his own history that has been central to the shaping of all our histories.  He went through Lyndon Johnson’s Oval Office tapes as if through a scrapbook of his own youth.  In it he found snapshots of what it wasContinue reading “Introduction to Shoal Hope”