Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Touchstones (Unity of Being)

Now that unity of being sorta popped out of the ether and into a post I figure I'm going to be saying more about it, whatever it is. So, it would be useful to have this bit of my intellectual autobiography posted here. It's about events in my undergraduate and early graduate years. I originally published it in a journal edited by Art Efron: Paunch 42 - 43: 4 - 16, December 1975.
[I’ve added some contemporary comments in italics, right justified in brackets, like this.]

* * * * *

Touchstones

The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties,–this knowledge, this feeling. . .that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious Men.

– Albert Einstein, "Science and Religion," Out of My Later Years
In the fall of 1968 I began my Senior year at The (and they are most particular about that "the") Johns Hopkins University, where I was a philosophy major who had become sick of philosophy courses (which is not the same thing as becoming sick of philosophy–that has yet I to happen to me). Since I had enough philosophy credited I to my account it was unnecessary for me to earn any more. And so I found myself studying Romantic Literature, taught by the late Earl Wasserman. This essay is around and about an experience I had while preparing a paper for that course.

First we studied Keats, then Shelley, and finally Sir Walter Scott. The experience, involving the exercise of negative capability, occurred while writing a paper on Keats. But I have not told you enough about myself, not yet.

That was the Fall semester. Enrollment dropped in half for the Spring semester. This distressed Wasserman a great deal–though not graceful in eliciting contact with his undergraduate students, at least not with this hairy bunch, Wasserman valued such contact highly. He therefore decided to teach one of the discussion sections in the course. And I was in that section.

We studied Wordsworth first. Nothing strange happened to me while writing on Wordsworth, no spots of time opening fissures in the surface of my self possession; but that was the best paper of my undergraduate career. Then came Coleridge. That paper contained the seeds of my Master's Thesis, and my doctoral dissertation will be an attempt to propose solutions to problems raised in writing that thesis.

I received my Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in the Spring of 1969–at about the same time I was convincing my draft board that I was a Conscientious Objector. That Fall I entered a Master's program in the Humanities Center at Hopkins. I intended to do a detailed analysis of "Kubla Khan" in conjunction with creating the theory–from bits and pieces of Lévi-Strauss, Merleau-Ponty, Wittgenstein, and Nietzsche–needed to do the analysis. Wasserman and I had many fine conversations about Coleridge–often coming close, so it seemed, to levitating his desk with the force of our excitement. My theoretical studies were directed by Dr. Richard Macksey–who had been my loophole in the system when I was an undergraduate, giving me independent study credit for pursuing my interests.

[Seems like I’ve been marching against war all my adult life. Well, there was a big timeout during the last quarter of the 20th Century. But come C21 and post 9/11 I put on my marching shoes again. When I wrote this piece the Cold War was still going strong. I figured it would go on until the day I died. It was just the way the world was. I was wrong about that, of course. The Cold War came to an end about 15 years after I wrote this piece. And a decade after that I was, once again, marching against war.

Oh, and Dick Macksey's finally retired. Has an email address too.]
During the Spring of 1970 I began to realize that I was embarked on an endless task. And so I stopped typing, on page 142. That version of my Master's Thesis never got any further, for I had ceased to understand what I was doing.

However, in the process of writing that draft, I discovered a most remarkable structure in the poem. I had begun a standard Structuralist analysis in terms of bipolar oppositions and quickly discovered that two fingers were not sufficient; at least three fingers would be necessary to account for the structure of the poem. I found that the first 36 lines of the poem could be broken into three semantic units; the middle unit could in turn be analyzed into three; and the middle unit of that analysis could be analyzed into three units–I had a box, within a box, within a box. All other units had a binary analysis. I made a similar analysis of the last 18 lines–a box, within a box, and within the innermost box I found the first 36 lines of the poem. Line 47, which turns out to be the middle of the middle of the middle of the last 18 lines of the poem, reads: “That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!” That is a repetition of line 36–“A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!”–which my semantic analysis revealed to be an emblem of the first 36 lines of the poem. Therefore it seemed to me that on a deep structural level the first 36 lines are embedded in the context provided by the last 18 lines of the poem. Thus the poem became a box1, within a box2, within a box3, within a box4. I had no way of accounting for such an extraordinary structure.

I made those discoveries by treating the punctuation of the poem as a means of dividing the text into hierarchically ordered units in the same way that parentheses, brackets and braces are used in grouping elements of mathematical expressions. I hadn't expected such at thing at all. It helped me bring order – those embedded structures for one – to a myriad of observations I'd made about how meaning was organized by the text. I was later to discover that the rhyme structure matched the semantic structure and the syntactic structure (as indicated by punctuation). What was going on? I still don't know the answer to that question.
[Still don't.]
But I knew that I needed to know more about language. And so I decided to learn more about transformational grammar. As a Sophomore I had been introduced to the work of Noam Chomsky by James Deese in a course on Language and Thought. I intuited, vaguely but surely, that there was a similarity between Chomsky's deepest discovery about syntax and the box within a box within etc., which I had discovered in "Kubla Khan." I knew that I would be able to give reasoned order to my intuitions about "Kubla Khan" only if I could apply Chomsky's discovery to the study of literary semantics; otherwise I would be stuck with a prose form requiring endless writing–endless in the sense in which Lévi-Strauss's Mythologiques, though halted at the end of four volumes, is without end. I would have to attempt giving mathematical form to a study of poetry.

For Chomsky had discovered how to give mathematical form to the study of the grammar of natural languages, The mathematical form came from the theory of recursive functions.

The principle of recursion is one of the deep discoveries of modern mathematical logic. I don't understand it very deeply, but I can give you a useful example.

As a child, perhaps I was 7 or 8, I received a toy. The toy came in a box. And the box fascinated me. On the top of the box was a picture, and in the picture was a boy. In the boy's hand was a box. And on the cover of that box was a picture. In that picture was a boy. And that boy was holding a box. And on that box was a picture. ETC. And that "ETC" is what recursion is about–a way to use a finite number of symbols to indicate an infinite process. I would stare at that box and think, and stare, and think. For I perceived that the pictures of boys holding boxes went on and on and on. Only most of them were too small for me to see. But, though I could not see them, I knew that they were there.

At about the same time I had my first cosmological idea. It seemed to me that the entire world was but a motion picture which God projected onto a large screen for the pleasure of His Son, Jesus. Having figured that out, I was puzzled. If we were images on a motion picture screen, then how could we see one another, around one another? Motion picture screens were flat, and so were the images projected on them. But I was not flat. It was to be a long time before I became sophisticated enough to realize that three- dimensional objects are "flat" in a four-dimensional space, or, more generally, that N-dimensional objects are "flat" in an N-l–dimensional space,

This example also embodies the notion of recursion, but I'm not sure how or where. The example is perhaps a deeper one. In either case you should note that the questions I am trying, as a man, to answer, are the questions which I, as a child, posed. The child is father to the man.

And so I studied Chimpsky Chomsky. And Eric Lenneberg's fine book, The Biological Foundations of Language, introduced me to the study of the phylogenetic origins of language and the neurological foundations of the mind.
[Lenneberg’s book is still worth a read. He says some things about rhythm and language that remain worth thinking about. As for Chomsky, yes, he influenced me a great deal during my undergraduate years. But I’d lost interest in him by the time I got to graduate school. He didn’t have anything interesting to say about semantics, and that’s what I needed. By reading around in the linguistics books in the Hopkins library I’d found my way to Sidney Lamb’s stratificational grammar. I liked the diagrams. But what I really liked is that he used the same formal mechanisms for all the strata in his model: phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. When I got to Buffalo I ended up studying with David Hays, a friend of Lamb’s. Lamb took time out from the academic world to form a company that sold parallel processing to the emerging microcomputer market. The company went bust, and Lamb went to Rice, where he’s now emeritus.]
All through this period I smoked dope – not like a fiend, but enough. And I thought a great deal about what I experienced.

Meanwhile my draft board recognized that I was a Conscientious Objector and I went to work in the Office of the Chaplain at Hopkins. That was the Fall of 1971.

(Incidentally, I accidentally mistyped "Chomsky" as "Chimpsky" three paragraphs above. Which reminds me, one of the chimpanzees being taught to communicate in American Sign Language has been charmingly named "Nim Chimpsky.")

My Master's Thesis remained unfinished as I began my Alternative Service work. But I continued my studies on my own time. By this time I had fantasized my work-in-progress into being my first masterwork. In it I was to explain the origins of language, the structure of the mind, and wrap it all up with a brilliant discussion of the semantic grammar of Coleridge's poetry. I often delivered fantasy speeches to fantasy audiences in accepting fantasy awards for brilliant, but only fantasied, accomplishments.
[Hmmm…Do I still do this? A bit of it. Something like. But I’ve got more things under my belt than I had at the time I wrote this. Heck, back then I still thought I’d be doing my dissertation on “Kubla Khan” instead of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129. Nor did I have any idea I’d one day open for Dizzy Gillespie, who shares a birthday with Coleridge.]
And so matters went until January of 1972 when, for the first time in my life, I ingested a tab of ISD. That story begins, perhaps with my first cosmological idea, perhaps even earlier than that, in the very early childhood of which I have no memory, perhaps later, when I began to wonder, "Before there was the world, what was there and how did the world, a something, emerge from that nothing?"–this was when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, when I also began to realize that the arithmetic I was being taught was just a set of conventions for symbol manipulation and was devoid of intellectual content; I wanted to know what numbers were, not how to push numerals around on paper. Perhaps the story begins still later, in 1963 or 1964 when I read an article on Popular Science or Mechanics Illustrated which explained how you could improve yourself through self-hypnosis. That was for me. The first part of the process was conscious relaxation. I tried it and on several occasions entered what would now be termed an Altered State of Consciousness. My body dissolved and I felt like I was floating. After that I would simply drop off to sleep. I never did manage to re-create myself, presto change, through hypnotic suggestion.
[Only in Disney’s America could a magazine devoted to pop science and tech run an article on how to achieve an altered state of consciousness without drugs and without Oriental mumbo jumbo. Instead, they framed it as self-improvement! Which, of course, it is.]
However, let us pretend the story of my first LSD trip begins with my Freshman year at Hopkins, when I read Aldous Huxley’s Heaven and Hell and The Doors of Perception. Where was this other world? Or was it merely a reorganized perception of this world? Were heaven and hell in the eye of the beholder? Those questions puzzled me deeply.

In my Sophomore year I took a course in developmental psycho1ogy and became acquainted with the thought of Piaget. In order to understand him I tried to imagine how the world would appear if I had only the cognitive capacity which the infant had. Have you ever imagined how the world would appear if you had no way of differentiating between your own movement and the movements of objects? And so I became to believe that the effect of ISD and of marijuana, which I had. not yet tried, involved a temporary return to the more primitive perceptual capacities of the young child.
[That course in developmental psych was with the late Mary Ainsworth, one of the developers of attachment theory. Later I did an independent study with her in which I read the typescript of John Bowlby’s Attachment and read several early monographs on primate ethology. That all became part of my basic intellectual tool kit. I naively treated it as what all scholars knew, but they didn’t.]
That theory is certainly inadequate, The adequacy of the theory is of no concern here. This is the point: for six years before I took my first trip I had been actively theorizing about the nature of the experience. My theorizing involved an attempt to understand how the brain organized such an experience and was tempered with some study of the secondary and tertiary literature on mysticism.

What happens on an LSD trip is intimately bound up with one's expectations. I had lots of them. I expected to receive an insight (at least one!) into my study of language which would make it possible to write my masterwork. I had also expected to experience all kinds of nifty sensory effects. None of my expectations were met.

The sensory world remained the same and I spent two weeks living the life of a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel. I was on a quest and every event I faced was a test of my herohood. Nothing was what it appeared to be; everything had a hidden meaning. If I succeeded in my tasks the world would be saved and I would be inducted into the Secret Society of Master Creators (I didn't call it that at the time, but that is what it was) and spend the rest of my life as a Master of Improvisational Musics.

Winter in Baltimore is a dreary rainy affair. But those days in January were like the first days of Spring–proof that I had succeeded and the world was being reborn. I received a letter from a friend which was misdated; the year read “1973” rather than “1972.” But I didn't think it was misdated; I merely assumed that self-sacrifice (as in Christ and Oedipus–sometimes I lay in bed at night pressing my palms into my eye sockets wondering if I would be called on to blind myself) had eliminated a year from time and that it was in fact 1973. (I didn't bother checking calendars.)

In high school I had been in the marching band, The school animal was the ram, so the band was called the Marching Rams. I still had my high school ring, though I never wore it. I now understood that ring to be a secret link to the Secret Society of Master Creators, which was organized into groups with animal totems. For the man under whom I had been doing my thesis was Richard A. Macksey–R. A. M. And Macksey was certainly a member of the Secret Society of Master Creators.

The ram is not unlike the goat. And so there is a link through Giles Goat-Boy to John Barth. Barth had studied at Hopkins; and when he had been there he had been a member of the Tudor and Stuart Club, of which I was then secretary. Another link to the Secret Society had been established. I was beginning to realize that Johns Hopkins was the Eastern Center of the Society's activities in the United States.

I went about dressed in one of two ways. Sometimes I wore my blue corduroy bell bottoms (I love the feel of corduroy) with my pink bird-print shirt, my red leather belt and my tan boots (red and blue had been the school colors of my high school). On other occasions I wore my black corduroy bells with a white lace shirt (an outfit I bought when I joined a rock band), a blue paisley scarf and black bells. I forget the significance of the color schemes; but I do remember formulating the principle, “Red above and Blue below.” A friend (in whose front room I had painted a mural) was painting his staircase red from the first floor of the house all the way up to the third floor. He thought of it as the backbone of the house. Applying the principle, “Red above and Blue below,” I told him to paint the cellar steps blue.

I also, at some time in this two week period, left him a cryptic note which, had he deciphered it (which he didn’t–or did he?) would have led him into my apartment one evening when I had gone to a movie. There he would have found my notebooks, the blue one on the bottom and the red one on top, and my aborted Master’s Thesis (now you understand why it was a Master's thesis–or do you?), on the floor with a kitchen match on top of them. He was to take them to the country, burn them, and bury the ashes at the place where he had had a particularly significant acid trip.

For I had come to realize that I was not to become a scholar. Rather, it was my destiny to become a jazz musician. Early in the morning of July 6, 1971, one of the true Master Creators of the century died. Ever since I was thirteen or fourteen years old I had loved the music of Daniel Louis Armstrong and now I was being called on to continue in his path. Part of his very beautiful soul had become reborn in me. So I prepared to cease my academic activities and, once again, to pick up my trumpet. I destroyed my thesis (but not my red and blue notebooks, which I still have) and signed up for trumpet lessons at the Peabody Conservatory.

Many of the people around me surely thought I was going mad. But none of this seemed in the least bit incoherent or confusing to me. And, as my cryptic messages went unanswered, as events refused to follow the course indicated by the signs, I realized that I had been acting out fantasies but that I had not broken free of them. My ego had been inflated, but not transcended. The dance had been exhilarating, but it lacked grace.

I continued my trumpet lessons and practiced diligently. My practice has been rewarded with increased flexibility and breath control–for I really did learn something about breath control on my trip. My knowledge of and love for music, especially jazz, have grown deeper, my sense of tradition, of kinship with others who play(ed) the music, has grown stronger. Through music I can experience and express joy and connection which I have difficulty reaching in any other way.
[I studied trumpet with Harold Rehrig, who taught at the Peabody Conservatory, which is now a part of Johns Hopkins. He was a fine old gentleman. Had spent his professional career with the Philadelphia Symphony. 
The  following paragraphs seems  bit over-wrought.]
Then, in the Spring of that year I began a new thesis on “Kubla Khan.” I had come to realize that communicating what I had discovered was more important than saving everything for some fantastic masterwork. Though I still have the masterwork fantasy, it no longer cripples me, and it doesn't occupy so prominent a place in my fantasy live. No longer is it my goal to write a work so brilliant that it will never be changed or improved upon–thus giving me the specious immortality of unceasing citation in dreary article after dreary article. Rather, I am trying to realize that the work is more important than the identities of the people who perform the work and that I must be as clear as possible so that others may understand, improve upon, and ultimately replace my work as quickly as possible.

And, as I have loosened my grip on the masterwork fantasy, I have been able to see how it cripples others, making them unable to do the work of which they are capable. That is sad enough, but it is even more painful to see what they do to their students if they are teachers.

Yet, before I go on to a discussion of the opening of that new thesis, honesty demands at least this much more of me: The masterwork fantasy is but a manifestation of a narcissistic need/desire to make oneself the limit and definition of the world. Narcissism grows in layers, like an onion. Peel off one, and another one remains. In me, the masterwork fantasy is a relatively superficial layer. That has been peeled away; but other layers remain.
[And they still do. Seems like every time one layer gets peeled away another one pops in to take its place. Layers, elephants, turtles, whatever they are, there's a lot of them. Just how one carves some unity out of this turkey is more and more a mystery.]
The first section of my thesis is entitled "Shadows and Things" and it opens with an account of my Keats experience, which happened while writing an essay on Keats for a course in Romantic Literature which I had taken in my last undergraduate year at Hopkins. I tell the story like this:
As Borges’ Pierre Menard re-created portions of Don Quixote, so I once re-created the second stanza of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” I was revising an essay on “To–[Fanny Brawne]” in which I argued that Keats was faced with a contradiction between what he espoused as a poet, that love is higher than art, and his fear that love–his for Fanny–would destroy his poetic gifts. As a matter of rhetorical strategy I placed him between the horns of a dilemma, thus, “does Keats remain a poet, or does he hew true to the poet’s creed and become a lover and perhaps a doer?” At this point in the revision an impulse hit me, a way to produce a deft ironic twist. I typed, “Unfortunately, he did neither. He died.” As I typed the word “died” something snapped in my mind. The brute finality of the word altered my intention, or, if you will, my intention altered itself through the word. To continue with my original text was impossible. I went on to type a passage from one of Keats’s last letters to Fanny:
“If I should die,” said I to myself, “I have left no immortal work behind me–nothing to make my friends proud of my memory–but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember’d.” Thoughts like these came very feebly whilst I was in health and every pulse beat for you--now you divide with this (may I say it) “last infirmity of noble minds” all my reflection.
          God bless you, Love.
J. Keats–letter to Fanny Brawne, Feb. 1820
Though this passage was copied, I experienced the act of typing it as though I were writing a letter of my own.

This done, words and phrases we're floating about in my mind and vague feelings were astir. Searching for the source of these phrases I found the second stanza of “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
    Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d
    Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
    Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
        Bold lover, never, never, canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal–yet, do not grieve;
    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
        For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
As I read those words, silently, but with rhythm, my gaze seeming slightly ahead of my comprehension, and comprehension flowing from me into the text, I experienced a complete and absolute understanding, a perfect feeling, of those words–as though I had for a moment re-created within myself the consciousness of John Keats, thereby making his words, and the intentions incarnated therein, mine.

Now those words convey no more to me than any other fine passage. At times I return to that stanza even re-read my old paper, but to no avail. The magic is gone, gone “like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but alas! without the after restoration of the latter!” Unlike the fair youth I am not suspended in time. I had my kiss.
Thus began “THE ARTICULATED VISION: Coleridge's ‘Kubla Khan’” and it ended, 73 pages and 8 diagrams later, with “read and be silent.”
[That thesis was my first major piece of intellectual work. That made me an independent thinker with responsibility for my own intellectual agenda. Though I didn't realize it at the time, not quite, that meant that when I went off to Buffalo to do a Ph.D. I was operating more in the mode of a post-doc or junior faculty. I'd found myself intellectually. I knew what I was doing. I had a specific intellectual mission: to find the mechanisms behind “Kubla Khan.” As defined, that mission failed, and still has not been achieved some 40 odd years later. It's like this: If you set out to hitch rides from New York City to, say, Los Angeles, and don't make it, well then your hitch-hike trip is a failure. Didn't get there. But if you end up on Mars instead of San Francisco, just what kind of failure is that? Yeah, you’re lost. Really really lost. But you’re lost on Mars, boldly going where none have gone before! How cool is that! 
Of course, it might not actually be Mars. It might just be an abandoned set on a studio back lot.]
That experience gave me a good deal to think about, For one thing, it was precipitated by typing “he died.” How could typing that turn my head inside out? For another, my silent reading of the poem was definitely rhythmic; and I did not control the rate at which my eyes moved across the page. They moved and I followed. The emotions I felt, the lump in my throat, the tears in my eyes, the outflowing of love energies, belonged to an I, but that I was not Bill Benzon; yet the body in which those emotions were felt did, in most situations, belong to Bill Benzon–though Bill Benzon did have some awareness, during, the experience, that something strange was going on. The experience was not a reaction to feeling expressed by another; it was grounded in its own energies.

It seemed that a Self deeper than my merely personal self, the bearer of my personal history, had defused (though not completely) the personal self by telling the personal self that it could achieve an ironic effect in the essay by typing “he did neither, he died.” For this deeper Self knew that the personal self was temporarily committed to an identification with Keats which could be manipulated into a cessation of that personal self by pushing that identification through an assertion of Keats's death. With the personal self out of the way the deeper Self was then able to take on a form given by the words which Keats wrote and, in so doing, to become Keats.

As a consequence of this experience, and a few others, I have no trouble accepting the idea that the personal self is but a mask, a fiction, a tool, used by the brain to obtain satisfaction for felt needs, particularly needs for companionship. This isn’t the only interpretation available–I could have decided that I was going mad aid sought psychiatric help. This in interpretation assumes that the personal is the alpha and omega of existence, that life is to be lived as homage to the personal self. One can live that way, but I am choosing not to do so–such a life is too much like the intellectual life of a second rate thinker who is more concerned with publishing an impressive vita than with the validity of his work, who works so that his colleagues will confirm him in his role of preserver of culture and, perhaps, creator of knowledge, rather than to discover truth, especially truth which his colleagues might not accept.
[Sounds a little, hmmm, dangerous, like one of those elephant layers is popping up and cavorting around a bit.]
Or, I could have taken the experience as evidence that I am the reincarnation of John Keats. I find this interpretation less objectionable than one which asserts that I am mad, but I have reservations about it. For one thing, my thought processes are too deeply imbedded in the scientific tradition for me to be comfortable with reincarnation and souls and life after death, etc. The experience I had was real, and was not the product of psychopathology, but ta1k of reincarnation carries no explanatory force for me; such talk belongs to a different language game, a different universe of discourse, from the one(s) in which I prefer to formulate explanations of psychological phenomena. A rather different objection to the reincarnation hypothesis is this: Such an experience is, in principle, available to everyone. Are we all, therefore, reincarnations of Keats? Perhaps we are, but such an account stretches the notion of reincarnation beyond the point where it is useful

Instead, I am trying to understand how the brain creates the persona, the personal self, and how it uses that creation. The question raised by my Keats experience becomes: How does the brain temporarily divest itself of the persona it has created and live through a written manifestation of someone else's persona? This line of explanation is by far the most difficult one to pursue. I have no guidelines available to me, there are few people I can talk to about my theories, and a great deal of misunderstanding is directed my way by people who aren’t sufficiently patient with material which isn't immediately perspicuous aid acceptable to them. But it is the only line of investigation which offers me the chance of real intellectual growth. And intel1ectual growth is, for me, a vehicle for personal growth; what I can think about and understand intellectually is intimately related to what I feel and experience emotionally. I am not capable of explicating the nature of that intimate relationship. But I can, to use Wittgenstein's phrase, make manifest that relationship. This essay has been part of that picture. It is also a part of the life pictured. In saying that I intend no paradox, but if you wish to read a paradox, that is your choice. As for my choice, I choose to stop writing. What 1 can say I have said. What I cannot say has, I hope, been unaffected by my writing.
[What I’m thinking about, wondering about, are the evolutionary seeds of an intellectual vocation. Such things, I’m pretty sure, are not native to the monkey genome within, but they’re constructed from bits and pieces of things that are native to that genome. What pieces? Well, let’s suppose there are various ways to do it. I’m thinking that, for me, my intellectual life is a bit like gardening, and so has a big component of nurturing and generosity. I tend to my idea garden, planting seeds, pulling weeds, trimming, harvesting, caring for it.]

* * * * *

 You can download a more recent version (with a few new comments) at my Academic.edu site: https://www.academia.edu/9814276/Touchstones_Strange_Encounters_Strange_Poems_the_beginning_of_an_intellectual_life

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