Letter to Dan Ellis


Good to hear from you. Hopefully your strategic successes will overwhelm your tactical challenges.

I have included my friend, Ed Lawry, in this discussion, as Ed is not only a storied philosopher, but a scholar of aesthetics as well.

As for Kant. Though it’s likely I live much of his philosophy each day, it’s been a long time since I’ve read him. I am reading mainly fiction and poetry these days. As much as philosophy teaches me, at this point in my life I am focused on fiction and poetry to enrich my understanding, allowing me to break the bonds of analytics.

For Kant Psychological principals would be those governing our thought processes. The laws of cause and affect, for instance, are reflections of the structure of our mind/brain (let’s not complicate things with Descartes for the moment.) We think one thing causes another because we consistently see the first thing occur immediately preceeding the second (constant conjunction), and our mind posits that the first must be the cause of the second. It’s a very happy way of walking around the world without falling off a cliff.

What we don’t really know is whether this way of making sense of the world corresponds to the way the world really is, or if it’s merely a result of the way our mind must, due to the way it’s structured, process our perceptions.

Thus we live our lives ‘as if’ we perceive and understand ‘things in themselves.’

But we can never know ‘things in themselves.’ We only know things as we perceive them. Thus both empirical and psychological principals are based on our perceptions, which may or may not correspond to the ‘real’ world, and thus could never function as a reliable basis of a true demonstrated science.

This brings me to ‘Art For Your World,’ the statement on your website.

I have never thought of the mantra ‘art for art’s sake,’ as imposing such a weighty obligation on the viewer. A freeing of the artist, certainly.

Now I am going to bastardize Descartes. ‘I create, therefore I am.’

One of the great lessons I took from running the gallery is my definition of a true artist. It was a great experience to help so many aspiring artists exhibit for the first time. Most were, as you were at the time, burdened with the unreasonable capitalist imposition of paying rent.

You had to do your art after work, on the weekends, using your sick days that I did not pay you for.

I discovered that some people have to create. Like my beautiful wife Peggy McGivern, they have to physically change the world they live in. This is what I call a true artist.

Many people love art, and many are smitten with the romantic notion of being an artist, or bohemian, or rebel, or don’t like their life.

But a true artist is compelled to create. It’s therapy, exercise, as necessary as breathing, filtering ‘things in themselves’ through the nose hairs of their minds, existing ‘as if’ the cause and effect structure of their existence was malleable, invoking the same instinct to control their world as Kant is trying to understand when he embarks upon ‘The Critique of Pure Reason.’

Is it, as you suggest, a failure of the modern art avant-gard if the artist does not have the viewer in the back of her or his mind when comsumed by creation?

Is the viewer sinning when s/he doesn’t at least attempt to take the artist’s intentions into account?

Maybe we all just owe it to ourselves to contemplate creation; seen, heard, felt, processed, as if…

Give my love to Brenda,

After and Before

Having lived a life full of children and grandchildren, spouses and lovers, work and adventure, with enough integrity in the end to apply the vague term happiness, Chandra is strangely disconcerted to discover death does not equal non-existence.
At first Chandra assumes the windy, dark luminescence is part of the death process, until there is no sequence of events, no movement, no curiosity, and no reason to get there.
Yet Chandra remembers being Chandra, indistinctly, as if memories are dreams of time and space minus history and reason.
Chandra has a sense, not one of the five, but complete and neutral. Chandra wants to call it a feeling of the soul because there is no choice but to borrow familiar nomenclature.
The dark wind feels like enveloping water, Chandra drowning calmly without fear that time will lead to an unknowable future, or that space could propose any obstacle.
And the familiar is a cookied page haunting Chandra’s soul, filling its emptiness, blowing in the luminescence, a benign virus swirling in the water.
When the water breaks and the womb births Chandra remembers Chandra for milliseconds or millennia before the nurse slaps Chandra’s bottom, a new breath is drawn, and the memory of Chandra is lost in the after and before.

A Funeral is a Family Reunion

A funeral is a family reunion
All the elements of love are there:
Deep Memories (Anger)
Surprise (Evolution)
Empathy (Emptiness)
Regret (Desire)
Sincerity (Latent Interpretation)
Ego (Agenda)
Forgiveness (Hierarchy)
Breaking Bread (Stirring the Pot)
Compliments (Envy)
Honesty (Novel Interpretation)

By now the sadness has passed, a half-life of reflection lingers, a posthumous friendship, mortality respected.
And a moment of joy may be as simple as forgetting the petty details, or waking up in the morning, not knowing why.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

I navigate home from work all day
Move things around the yard
Plants waiting patiently
Pretending for the neighbors

The sun mercifully sets
I lock the door
Television quietly minding its own business
Books and laundry calling to me
Unaware of the dishes

I am grateful that pens rarely run out of ink
Before things get lost
Like phrases I’m enamored with
Perfectly fine words deleted
Afraid of cultural deficiencies

It’s cowardice
To live inside
Draw meaning without love
Have so much to say
As if being a member was preferable

Dreaming is an excuse
Between now and before
Intermittent story hours
Until I don my costume
After one-hundred years of solitude

Drone and Consume

Death in a world of 7 billion
Drone on and on
Little pieces of property
Assasinate a Human Being

Like too many thoughts
To consume in an email
My distant Pride
Diminished Redemption
*”Tell him,” the Colonel said, “that a person doesn’t die when he should, but when he can.”

*Quote from “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Under the Radar


The word can intimidate, it is dismissed; like a lover it is often misunderstood.

It makes many people turn the page.

It is the most influential ignored factor in our lives.

You might argue the computer has taken this role, but the computer would not exist without philosophy, that’s how under the radar philosophy is.

We mostly skim the surface of life, everyday needs require it, our brains are wired to form and take shortcuts, so we don’t have to reason out the gritty details of why we do what we do from moment to moment.

That’s what philosophy is, reasoning out the details, attempting to bring them to the surface. It’s a difficult task, because it’s impossible to function below the surface: Who has time, moment to moment, or even hour to hour, to reason out how the phone lines’ vibrations more or less faithfully reproduce my voice? Or why my grandaughter learned irony by age four? I make the call, I smile at her intelligence.

I love doing the reasoning, reflecting on the ‘deeper,’ more important things in my life, in life. I love philosophy. I love the tingling in my cortex when I read Heidegger; he leads me down creative pathways.

I try to live my life philosophically (this is radically different than adhering to a philosophy.)

And I am diappointed that more people don’t share my passion.

Philsosphy gives my life meaning. Without it, I am just taking up space, filling time; and it’s the only time and space I have. Be immoral to waste it.

Maybe I’ll have Wittgenstein for lunch.

The Heart of Darkness

‘To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe.’ – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 1902

Absolute privatization (Freedom) is as Dark as absolute tyrranny (Control)

The village digs a well for the general welfare

Buraucracies expand

Slavery didn’t end with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Unions overeach

The free market didn’t desegregate the schools

Corporations are selfish

The free market didn’t incentivize the Interstate Highway System

The ship of state turns slowly

The response to 9-11 wasn’t to privatize airport security

We have proven poor students of History

An excess of Courage is Recklessness; A deficiency of Courage is Cowardice- Aristotle

Treat others as if you were in their place- Kant

The Founding Fathers settled on a system of Checks and Balances

Respect is Wiser than Ideology



*Origin of fiction? (family) Who am I? (inalienable right to privacy) Mixed up Intentions? (dreams) Chosen One? (friend) Why am I? (others) Theoretical Depression? (religion and philosophy) Most Sane Environment? (work) Management of Others? (politics and religion) Mind vs Body Confusion? (individualism) The Most Misunderstood Concept Dreamed by Human Beings? (freedom) Better than Religion and Philosophy? (love) Altruism? (medicine) Most Ignored and Avoided? (spare time and responsibility) Confused with Freedom? (auto-mobile) Individualism? (fashion) Art? (see who I am) Rational Thought? (see freedom) Redemption? (read from *)

Dancing on a Tightrope

Full disclosure. Though I don’t  like the term, I’m a job creator. I own two businesses and have added approximately twelve jobs over the last year and half to the economy.

I also like facts, instead of rhetoric. And I often espouse views that are less radical then my personal views, because I recongnise that most people don’t share my views, and I enjoy living with, debating, and learning from them.

Having said this, it  is becoming increasingly difficult  to respect views of individuals that refuse to give facts a chance. If one doesn’t want facts to have a bearing on one’s life, if one refuses to even consider science as having relevance to the truth, then please don’t use antibiotics, computers, or depend on our military, because without scientific research based on scientific theories, none of these exist. Without evolutionary theory, the process of developing and manufacturing vaccines is not possible.


“No Republican president since the Great Depression has presided over a four-year term with four per cent average growth. Only Democrats have done this well (or better) – and indeed, every Democrat except Jimmy Carter managed this level of growth for at least one term. Ronald Reagan’s second-term 3.7 per cent GDP growth – the best Republican record in this era – trailed Bill Clinton’s 4.4 per cent second-term growth, while George W Bush’s best – 2.2 per cent – was just half that of Clinton’s. While Johnson topped five per cent, Truman barely missed that mark and FDR topped 7.8 per cent his first term and just missed 15 per cent during World War II. There’s an old saying from the New Deal era: “If you want to live like a Republican, you must vote like a Democrat.” Three generations down the road, the historical record still bears this out.”


“But we already have a market-based healthcare system, which not only leaves tens of millions of us without medical care, it produces per capita costs roughly double those of the rest of the developed world.”


“In fact, as economist Paul Krugman notes, Medicare’s administrative costs of two per cent are far below private plans. Medicare Advantage plans average 11 per cent costs, and when profit-taking is added, this rises to 16 per cent the amount not going to actual medical care.”

Quotes from Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor of Random Length News

Our problems are too large to ignore facts. Should public policy be guided by our values and compassion for others? Of course. And we should be willing to accept smaller economic growth to make sure our fellow humans have a decent life.

The fact is, we are all wealthier and healthier the broader the sharing of the wealth is. Completely free markets do not product broadly shared wealth, they produce winners and losers, with very little trickle. I challenge anyone to site one instanc of trickle down economic theory effectively ending a serious recession.

The fact is, like the difficult decisions each of us makes everyday in our lives, like who our friends will be, how  much risk to take in our economic decisions, who and how to love, or who to vote for, smart regulation that promotes economic justice for all and doesn’t stifle personal incentive, freedom, and innovation, is dancing on a tightrope, and also the right thing to do.