Saturday, December 24, 2016

Solstice Party

Bar Carlo

I'm fortunate in having entre to a series of winter holiday parties.  This year (2016) I was especially lucky thanks to Laura and Rick, whom've not been in my blog for years, though I did see Rick at the Portland Tech Crawl not so long ago.  I'd never met the younger of their two boys, now about five, to give a sense of time passing.

The Wanderers have a solstice potluck, also a favorite.  However Deke and I had been stuffing our faces at Round Table on Foster, an all-you-can-eat he treated me to, in exchange for driving out to the horse farm.  Ergo, I ate sparingly at the Linus Pauling House (across from Third Eye, if you know Portland), sampling a couple goodies while sipping red wine.  A few came over to my house afterwards, and continued with festivities.  Bob and I traded off as veejays (VJs), calling up favorite Youtubes on various themes.

Today I was back on Foster, right near Round Table, for brunch, at Bar Carlo, which brilliantly doubles as a record store at one end.  Rosalie has medical conditions that keep her from traveling, however in spirit she's been standing with the protesters at Standing Rock, an unfolding chapter in American history.  Small eateries such as this one perform important service in their neighborhoods, as do food carts. Networks form.

In this age of social media, vicarious participation in protest actions, disaster relief, and refugee camp community building, is afforded by such as Facebook.  I mentioned our zip code's wheelchair guy with the dogs, who says he's been out to Standing Rock by bus, with other vets.  There's a place there called Facebook Hill where you get the best reception.

Zip Code Node

I'm expecting to switch to Soylent for much of the remainder of 2016 as we take stock and restock.  More walks up Mt. Tabor are also "in the cards" (are those proverbial cards in some kind of Tarot deck, that tells the future?).

At Wanderers I chatted mostly with Bob and Marianne.  Bob is a nurse-in-training, already with a lot of experience in care-taking.  He came to Esozone that year (my second time to hear Paul Laffoley speak).  Marianne is in her 90s having escaped Berlin in her childhood.  She's like a psychoanalyst by training.  One of her sons, Alex, is a Hegel scholar.  Our conversation wandered, and was somewhat esoteric I suppose, not surprisingly, given the mix.  Dream interpretation and all that.

Bob wanted me to summarize Wittgenstein's philosophy in a succinct way and I came up with a pithy way.

First imagine getting it distilled down to this question, as within it are many others of a philosophical flavor:  "how do words mean?"  Wrestle with that for awhile, through observation and investigation, don't quote authorities, then come back for this second koan:  "words to not point."

Bob questioned that and I told the story of the screwdriver, how it took shape in our language through its utility, without pointing to anything in particular. Think of all words more like tools, in a machine of so many moving parts (yes, an analogy, and way of looking).

A segue from "words do not point" is to a discussion of "spin" in the sense of applying a layer of interpretation.  Facts under-determine the story we tell.  Even with all the facts in, how the story is told is not nailed down.  Is it shared as a puppet show?  An animation?

In the American lexicon we have this term "spin doctor" with somewhat negative connotations in the sense that spin may sometimes be a cheap substitute for substance.  "Connotations" come to the foreground when discussing "spin" I think it's safe to claim.

Today is when I learned of the death of Kenneth Snelson, from a Facebook post by Gerald de Jong and shared to my profile by David Koski.  He'll continue in our conversations; I've been sharing about our friendship. He had a wonderful life and loved his family. To this day I treasure the small tensegrity sculpture he gave me as a thank you for doing a first website for him in the early days of the web. To quote myself on Facebook:
The sheer scale of some of his sculptures puts him in a class by himself. He was head and shoulders above everyone else doing tensegrity as an art form, as most artists would gladly admit or acknowledge. He also helped open a portal into a whole new way of thinking about tensile forces, part of a longer historical arc that includes bicycle wheels, suspension bridges, and ephemeralization more generally.