Alan Watts on past and present

“You cannot compare this present experience with a past experience. You can only compare it with a memory of the past, which is a part of the present experience. When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is as impossible as trying to make your teeth bite themselves.”—Alan Watts, from The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

Book spine poetry: The Human Cycle

I recently took an interest in book spine poetry. I posted my first effort, The World Without Us, at another blog, Science Word Geek. Here’s a new one:

book spine poetry 3

The Human Cycle

A gradual awakening,
Moments of being,
The voyage out in search of Eden.
The immense journey from certainty to uncertainty:
Inevitable illusions, being wrong, stumbling on happiness, doubt.
The sense of an ending. Nothing to be frightened of.

I’m grateful to the authors: Colin M. Turnbull, Stephen Levine, Virginia Woolf (two titles), Leo Hamalian, Loren Eiseley, F. David Peat, Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Kathryn Schulz, Daniel Gilbert, Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Julian Barnes (two titles).

Recent Nature issue on depression

Nature recently devoted an issue to depression, and some of the articles (commentary rather than research reports) are available for free download as PDFs. Start with this infographic about depression worldwide and scroll down to the list of other titles at the bottom. All of the titles from 2014 and two from 2013 are currently available at no charge. Lots of interesting stuff there, including a comparison of research on cancer and on depression and a discussion of current ideas on what makes cognitive behavioral therapy work.

Our spacecraft, ourselves

Last week I watched live video from the European Space Agency on the day Philae landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as part of the Rosetta mission. When the people in the control room first heard from the lander on the surface and burst into cheers, I yelled and pumped my fists and cried a little. Maybe that’s one reason that I Continue reading →

Pericles on what we leave behind

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”—Pericles (more or less; probably a paraphrase of a longer passage)

The trees are balding

In fact, many of the trees are already bald. Autumn is well advanced. Last week we celebrated Halloween, which is followed by the Christian feasts of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. These two days commemorate the church’s saints and its rank and file dead, Continue reading →

Thinking Meat is waking up

Greetings to any loyal readers who are still out there. The Thinking Meat Project is about to waken from its long hibernation.

When I started Thinking Meat in 2005, I envisioned it covering a broad range of topics, all related to what it’s like to be thinking matter (as Richard Feynman memorably put it, “Atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity”). Continue reading →