On Medieval Cathedrals and the Limits of Proprioception


The inevitable question arrived via Twitter. “If civilization is all bad, what about the cathedrals?” I must say I invited this kind of question, literally asking for examples to unpack…. Still, I’m leery of the exercise. I don’t write to convince anyone. I write as a record and a way to extend and fill outContinue reading “On Medieval Cathedrals and the Limits of Proprioception”

Craft’s Collision with Civilization, a starting point


Andrew Taggart recently asked me to clarify how I see the deterioration and loss of Craft resulting from its confrontation with civilization. This is a big question! Let’s begin with a few definitions. I’m beginning to see Craft as a central focal point in examining how our confrontation with civilization has led us to whereContinue reading “Craft’s Collision with Civilization, a starting point”

Austerity’s Place


Following the last post, Crafting Awareness, here is a series of statements that arose as the result of that insight. The following is no more than a listing of these points as they came up. They are suggestive of directions of inquiry implied by the assertion that craft has roots beyond civilization and that theseContinue reading “Austerity’s Place”

Crafting Awareness


Skeins of various threads spiral around me. Their common center may be craft. Craft. It’s an interesting word. It seems straightforward enough at first glance but once we start to look more closely it expands. There’s a broadness to it. It means making. It also means a vessel that transports us. It denotes a varietyContinue reading “Crafting Awareness”

Shaping Awareness, part II


This post has been pressing for the last few days. Of course so was the track of Hurricane Irene. Still not sure if I’m ready to proceed, but I would like to capture some of the conditions swirling around this situation. A giant storm like Irene is physically a dynamic interaction of air and waterContinue reading “Shaping Awareness, part II”

Notes on the Sources of Art


This piece has grown during the writing, pushed ahead by the ambition of its title, only slightly modified by the insertion of the word “Notes…” I’m resisting the urge to break it up into my customary 1,500 words. I need to break that habit as much as we all need not to get too comfortableContinue reading “Notes on the Sources of Art”

Innovation as Impermanence


Watching this BBC documentary about the Islamic History of Europe I came across the Islamic roots of Convivencia, a term I’ve associated with Ivan Illich, perhaps its most recent heir, himself part of an Hispanic tradition going back to Al Andaluz. This film is a refreshing look at the contributions of Islamic Culture to theContinue reading “Innovation as Impermanence”

Innovation, Creation, and Change


Sick as we are, finding further bad news of our diagnosis and prognosis at every turn; we look to innovation, creation, and change for some way to turn back the clock, or at least carve out some detour from the horrors we see in our path. This is understandable. Predictable. But is it good orContinue reading “Innovation, Creation, and Change”

Afloat, not Adrift


A fresh breeze blows in my window this morning, cutting through the haze of so many muggy hot days. I awoke in a dream of delayed sailing, a farce in five acts of finely delineated procrastination on the verge of setting sail, but never getting there. The excuses kept unrolling before me like a finelyContinue reading “Afloat, not Adrift”

Stray thoughts on the purpose of gatekeepers


I’ve had difficulty dealing with the disruption in publishing over the last decade or so. I was unlucky to find myself entering the lists just as the publishing world began to fall apart. Those fragments of an old guard I was fortunate enough to encounter showed enthusiasm for my fiction, though in trying to findContinue reading “Stray thoughts on the purpose of gatekeepers”

“I never thought of that!”


How unintended consequences wreak havoc on our expectations concerning the connection between intention and responsibility. I’ve been looking for ways to illuminate the space hidden behind our expectation that the only way to be responsible is to plan and then act out our intentions. Everyone I know, including myself, has had a hard time dealingContinue reading ““I never thought of that!””

On Conservatism


Humans have been profoundly conservative for most of our existence. That statement is rendered meaningless if we take conservatism to mean what is sold in its name today, or believe in what passes for the span of human existence as our self-professed conservatives would insist it to have been. Let’s pry the term away fromContinue reading “On Conservatism”